Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sick Day

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Normally, on a Monday, my little angel and I go to a class that combines postpartum tummy exercises for mums and little exercises for babies to work on their balance, tracking, co-ordination etc.  We love these classes.  My angel especially loves me singing all the nursery rhymes to her as we do the different exercises.  I really don’t know why she loves that part as I don’t have the greatest singing voice in the world, but she doesn’t seem to mind. 🙂  Sadly, today I was really sick due to my anaemia and my body’s reaction to the medication I’m on to treat it.  My little girl’s also feeling a bit under the weather too, so we had to miss it.  I can’t wait for the day when I am feeling much better.  Until then, I’m gonna try and enjoy this day on the couch with my sweetheart.  Having to come to a complete stop has given me a chance to pick up the knitting needles again.  I’m not a great knitter….in fact unless it’s basic stitching and straight lines I’d probably fail to complete the project, but I love doing it as a hobby, and it’s nice to escape the chores that constantly call my name and do a little something I like to do just because I enjoy it(a luxury in these early days of mummyhood).  So having a sick day post pregnancy illness has it’s advantages I am finding.  Plus, I get to snuggle my baby all day long instead of busying myself in the house with chores etc which is the most wonderful thing in the world.  I’m savouring every opportunity to do this however it comes to me as I know one of these days before I know where I am she’ll be too grown up for snuggles with mummy…tear 😥  but I won’t think of that day just yet.  I’ll just try to keep looking for the positives in an otherwise not so nice day.  What’s your favourite way to pass time when sat at home sick?

April Showers

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“April showers bring May flowers”.  I’m sure we’re all familiar with that little rhyme, and with the downpour of rain we’ve had here over the past few weeks, I am certainly expecting there to be lots of flowers next month 😀  But, hopefully, by the end of today, we’ll have a different kind of shower around here.  When we bought our house, the bathroom was in need of some serious work, but we couldn’t afford to fix it up.  My parents kindly gifted us the money last year to have a new shower, bath etc fitted and to retile the room.  After getting all the stuff and finally finding a plumber and tiler, work commenced last August.  It took quite a while to complete (mainly because the tiler dragged his work out) and at the end of it we had no working shower as it was discovered that the boiler system in the house was too old and didn’t supply enough pressure to get the water up and out of the new shower we had picked.  There were two options we had: to fit a pump to get the pressure or fit a whole new boiler.

Paying for a boiler up front was far too much so we opted for a pump.  The only thing was, the plumber disappeared!!  He said he’d fit a pump and was going to research which one we’d need, but then didn’t return any calls.  We then found another plumber who came out and looked at it and called us back with a quote, but then never returned any calls to arrange actually fitting the pump.  We were then recommended another plumber who was told of the previous issues we’d had and he promised he wasn’t like other plumbers(I’m beginning to think they’re all the same!)who came out looked at it, went away to price a pump etc, never returned calls, finally got him and he said he’d been so busy, but he’d call us the following week.  We’re still waiting to hear from him and that was 2 months ago!

My mother in-law, when visiting our daughter, was telling us she was getting a new boiler fitted through this scheme that helps people to replace their old boiler for a new and energy efficient one.  So, we made enquiries, decided we’d be able to afford the work plus it’d be best all round to fit the boiler as eventually we’d need to do that anyway, and today the work is being done!  Yippee!

I’m so excited and cannot believe that after all these months I may finally be able to use the lovely shower we have instead of just looking at it there on the bathroom wall.  The downside is, I shall no longer be able to ignore cleaning the glass shower screen that goes with it! 😀  It would’ve been nice to have had it done during my pregnancy when, with my symphysis pubis disorder, once I was down in the bath I couldn’t get out without assistance.  But I’m so thankful it’s finally being done.  Life will be that little bit easier now.  No more waiting around 30 minutes for water to heat to fill a bath.  No more waiting for it to reheat so another person can get washed.  No more having to hope that the little one stays asleep long enough for the water to heat, the bath to fill and me to get washed and dressed.  Ah, the joy of quickly hopping in the shower, turning it on and having instant hot water and getting the whole experience over with in 10 mins instead of an hour.

It should all be done later today if no problems arise(I’m sat with baited breath as this house seems to throw problems in your face at every twist and turn)and, as soon as the workmen are gone, I may just have to have a shower just because I finally can 😀

Lamb Tagine/Tajine

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Lamb Tagine...the end result

Before we got married or maybe just after getting married, my husband bought me a tagine as we liked the sound of tagine cooking….it got its first airing this weekend after nearly 3 years!  I cannot believe it’s taken this long to actually use it.  Anyway, this is the recipe we used.  It was my first time making something with cardamon and, as we couldn’t find any ground cardamon, we had to buy cardamon pods and grind up the insides ourselves.  What a pleasure for the senses smelling that after it had been ground up in the mortar and pestle!  So fragrant!  Do bear in mind the lamb needs to be left to marinate in the fridge for 8 hours before cooking.  It says it serves four, but I think it could stretch to at least a fifth  person with a side.  We served ours with cous-cous.

Ingredients

Serves: 4

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1kg (2 1/4 lb) diced lamb
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 medium onions, halved then cut into      wedges
  • 5 carrots – quartered, then sliced      lengthwise into thin strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated root ginger
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 400ml (14 oz) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon water (optional)

Preparation method

Prep: 45 mins | Cook: 2 hours

1.

Place diced lamb in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and set aside. In a large resealable bag, toss together the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, ginger, saffron and coriander; mix well. Add the lamb to the bag, and toss to coat well. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

2.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add 1/3 of the lamb, and brown well. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining lamb. Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh garlic and root ginger; continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.

3.

Return the lamb to the pot and stir in the lemon zest, chicken stock, tomato puree and honey. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.

4.

If the consistency of the tagine is too thin, you may thicken it with a mixture of cornflour and water during the last 5 minutes.

A Labour of Love

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Pretty much from the moment I knew my baby was on the way, I started thinking ahead to the labour.  I wanted to give my child the best start possible in life.  I did a lot of research and found out what my rights were as a mother in the UK……I find too many people just blindly accept the advice of the medical professionals assuming these people have their best interests at heart.  Thankfully, I had a most wonderful midwife who supported me every step of the way.
I knew the things I didn’t want in my labour, and I was very firm about those.  I had so many comments from people saying, “you can’t refuse x.”  “if they advise y, you’ll just have to go along with it!”  or “you will just have to have an induction if you’re two weeks late!” Says who?!  I’ve got my baby’s health to think about which is more important than my comfort, or medical timetables.  I wanted a natural labour as much as possible.  I refused countless attempts by the consultant to have me in for an induction at 38 weeks due to my heart complaint.  I believe babies come when babies are meant to come (trust me I wasn’t a very patient or happy person having to wait til 40 weeks plus 2 for my child to arrive despite this!), and after researching the effects the drugs could have on my both me and my child, the risks were far too great for me to even be tempted by an induction.  They also told me I needed to be in hospital for constant monitoring ie being sat strapped to a machine for the duration of the labour.  I told the consultant in no uncertain terms that the only way she’d see me in hospital would be if I came in an ambulance (we had been in and out of the labour ward multiple times with stuff during the pregnancy, and each time the fear of having to labour under the care-I use that term VERY loosely-of the midwives and consultants etc in there just grew).  Home was where I felt safest and most relaxed and those two elements are extremely important for labour to progress well.  In the end she agreed with me that I was right.  We prayed hard and God removed my heart condition for the last 3 weeks of the pregnancy.  I wasn’t bothered by the racing heart rate and fainting for those last weeks, and I can only give God the glory for that.
The morning of the birth arrived.  I was stood up when my waters went.  There was meconium in it….my husband and I chatted for a while about what to do.  Should we call the hospital and tell them?  Should we wait?  As we knew meconium isn’t always a sign of stress in a baby, we took the decision that for both my sake and our child’s it was best for now to wait.  I had breakfast and contractions started.  I lay in the bath for about 3 hours breathing through them all, talking with my husband and just enjoying the last few moments of being “just us”.  When I got out of the bath, I felt it was time to call the hospital to get the community midwife round as I was planning a homebirth and things seemed to be progressing.  We omitted the information about my waters.  When the midwife arrived and asked if my waters had gone we told her, and, of course, following protocal she wanted us to go right away to the hospital.  We said no, and I praise the Lord for having a strong husband who fights my corner for me and protects me.  I told her she was free to monitor my baby’s heart rate throughout the labour and unless there were any signs that baby was in distress, I would be staying put at home(the mere thought of having to go into hospital was already causing me to panic).  And there we sat, in the bedroom.  Me on the gymball, my husband by my side, and the midwife in a corner.  It was a most silent affair really(boring is how my husband described it haha).  With each contraction, I did breathing exerices, rocked on the gymball, prayed or repeated verses etc in my head to give me the strength to keep going and had a puff of entinox when needed. I felt the contractions were such a liberating experience; a chance to become very in tune with my body, going with the flow and using that contraction to aid me, not to overwhelm me.  It was also an experience in which I learned a greater dependence on God and leaned in His grace and strength to carry me through.  And, of course the baby’s heartrate was absolutely fine as I knew it would be 🙂
During the pregnancy my baby had been back to back.  On the day before labour started, I had an appointment with my midwife and she said the baby had turned around again-yey!!  Sadly, on the day of labour it was dicovered that the little monkey had flipped again.  So after about 9 hours I started to feel the urge to push and I pushed for 2 hours.  All that pushing was helping my baby to flip back the rigth way in the birth canal.  Not a pleasant experience at all (the worst part of the whole process for me), but it was a time when I really felt connected to my baby.  I got myself into a position to give as much room as possible for turning(unfortunately for my husband this meant leaning on his leg causing it to go numb), I pushed with each contraction, and I could feel my baby’s feet walking their way around my insides.  Unfortunately, unknowingly, I was severely anaemic (this was discovered after birth), and I started to feel very weak.  The midwife examined me and said it’d be a few hours yet as the baby had only turned sideways and still needed to complete its turning, and there was still some dilation that needed to take place.  At this point in the evening after 11ish hours of labour with 2 of those hours spent pushing I felt that I needed to go to hospital and get some pethidine.  I figured that if it was going to be a while I needed something to knock me out for a few hours so I could sleep and then carry on.  I was so disappointed in myself, and I still didn’t really want the medication, but something told me I needed to go to hospital.  An ambulance was arranged, and, before I got in, the midwife said she’d examine me again and if baby was ready to be born then we’d stay at home, but at that point there was no change. 😦 So off we set.
I had a 5 minute drive in the ambulance to the hospital.  It was the most terrible journey I’ve had to endure.  I had to lie down on this slippy gurney…at that point lying flat on my back was the LAST thing I wanted to do!  I then had to try and keep myself on the gurney with 1 hand while holding the mask for the gas and air with the other while being flung around.  For some reason you don’t need to be belted up when you’re in the back of an ambulance!!  I was wheeled into a room, and after a quick examination for the new midwife to determine what pain relief I could have to help me sleep a bit, it was discovered that there was no need for anything as the baby had finished turning and was sat waiting to be born!  Within 45 minutes at 8:45pm my baby was born, a healthy 7 lb 15!
I was sorely disappointed that I had made the decision to come to hospital and felt that I had cheated myself and my husband out of that glorious moment of welcoming my baby into the world in my own surroundings.  However, I soon discovered that God had his hand on me and there was a reason why I needed to go to hospital.  He allowed me to complete 11 hours and 20 minutes or so of my 12 hours and 20 minutes of labour all relaxed in my own surroundings.  He got me through the whole labour with only the use of gas and air as I wished.  He allowed me to stay active and mobile the whole way through instead of being strapped to a machine and lying on a hospital bed.  He kept both my heart rate stable and protected my baby, who, despite the meconium, needed no medical treatment at all, not even a clearing of her airways!  But He knew also that I was severely anaemic, was going to lose a lot of blood and that my heartrate would race again causing me to pass out twice in a very short space of time after the birth and that I would need a lot of medical care.
So, while the end might not have been quite as I had planned (I certainly didn’t expect to be so ill afterwards) I got all the major elements of my birth plan honoured (even if we did have to fight for a few and go against the medical tide).  I am very fortunate to have had such great labour support from my husband.  As well as protecting me and our child so well, he was also a great encourager, and a great carer for our baby which is just as well as I couldn’t do anything but feed her for the first day.
Despite the not so nice ending after the birth, I loved my labour and I say that honestly.  I LOVED it, and I would do it all over again just as I did this time.  Every decision I made before and during my labour was driven by love for the tiny life within, and there was nothing greater than seeing her little face for the first time.  And, it no longer matters that she wasn’t welcomed into this world in her home (but I would still plan for a home birth every time).  All that matters is that she arrived safely, I got the medical care I needed right when I needed it instead of the situation being even worse by having to rush to the hospital post birth, and we are both enjoying getting to know each other very much. 🙂
I’d be interested in hearing other people’s thoughts on their labour.  How did you find the pain of contractions?  What did you use/do to see you through them. Were there any unexpected twists along the way or did it all go smoothly?  Did you have your baby at home or in the hospital?  What are your thoughts on a home/hospital birth?

Caribbean Black Bean Soup

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So, we decided that, due to our new addition, we should start cooking in bulk so that on days when I’m plain exhausted, I just have to pull something from the freezer and know we’ll have a good meal that night with minimal stress for me.  We tried this soup at the start of the week and I must say it was delicious.  A little on the spicy side, but not too much.  We used canned black bleans instead of soaking dried ones for 8 hours(mainly because there were no dried ones to be found where we shopped) so that reduced the cooking time.  We also didn’t bother blending it…seemed like far too much effort and far too much washing up at the end!

Ingredients

Serves: 12

  • 500g dried black beans
  • 1.5L water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 sticks celery with leaves, chopped
  • 475ml water
  • 2L chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons soured cream
  • 4 tablespoons chopped spring onions

Preparation method

Prep: 30 mins | Cook: 3 hours | Extra time: 8 hours, soaking

1.

In a large saucepan, add dried black beans and 1.5 litres of water, cover and let soak overnight.

2.

In another large pan, heat olive oil and add onion, minced garlic and chopped celery. Saute until vegetables are softened.

3.

Drain and rinse soaked black beans. Add pre-soaked beans or drained and rinsed canned beans to vegetable mixture along with 475ml water and stock. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer.

4.

Add cayenne pepper and ground cumin. Partially cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until beans are soft.

5.

Puree soup in batches in food processor or blender. Return pureed soup to stock pot and simmer.

6.

Add vinegar, sherry, soy sauce and pepper. Serve hot with a dollop of soured cream or yoghurt and chopped spring onions.

Tip

If using canned beans, reduce cooking time to 40 minutes after adding the beans.

Real Nappy (Diaper) Week

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So as this is real nappy week, I thought I’d see who out there uses cloth diapers for their babies and what you use.  I agonised for months before my baby was born and after she was born about which make to buy and which type to buy.  Should we do pocket ones like the BumGenius Flip?  An all in one?  A shaped nappy?  What about the lovely colours and  cute little wraps?  So much choice.  I read countless reviews of ones I was going to buy and then didn’t.  In the end after she was born we finally settled on a Birth To Potty kit from Little Lambs.  I chose the Bamboo kit as until we had finally settled and were using disposables we had so many leaks and poo explosions it was unreal, so I wanted something that was going to hold it all in.  Little Lamb Bamboo nappies got great reviews, and I must say after using them for a while now we have had no leaks over clothes….except for once in the middle of the night when my husband was so tired he forgot to put the waterproof wrap on over the nappy!!  They are simply great and great value for all that comes in the kit. For Real Nappy Week Little Lamb Nappies are doing some special cost price offers, check them out at Littlelamb .  If you cloth diaper your baby, which ones have you found to be the best for you?

The Hard Road of Pregnancy

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finally posing for the camera

Amazing to see a glimpse of a new life being formed 🙂

 

Before becoming pregnant, I had these romantic ideas of what it would be like to have a little life growing inside, of the wonder and joy, of the deep bond that would form with this person who was part of you….my experience, however, was far removed from those ideas!

The first week and a half after we found out was great.  We were excited and elated as would anyone in our situation be who had just been handed such a blessing from God after being given no human medical hope of conceiving naturally.  But like a tornado ripping through a town, my life changed in an instant.  I was ridiculously sick.  I couldn’t keep any food or drink down without the help of medication and even then the amount that stayed down was minimal.  I needed help to get out of bed and help to get washed etc.  I had read about “morning” sickness but this was beyond the textbook case of morning sickness even at its worst!  I tried all the remedies, sea bands, ginger, sniffing lemons, flat coke, you name it I tried it on top of the pills that were already supposed to be stopping me from being sick all day long!  I was never without a bucket.  The only thing that gave me any relief was my reflexology treatment every other week.  It helped rebalance all the hormones and I’d get about 3 good days before it all kicked off again.  I kept getting told “oh it’ll pass by 12 weeks” then 16 weeks, then 18 weeks.  Eventually they admitted that I had hyperemesis gravidarum or EXTREME morning sickness.  It lasted right up til the end of my 40 weeks and 2 days.  Good intentioned advice such as “you’ll have a healthy baby because being sick is a good sign your hormone levels are really high” did nothing to make me feel any better.  I often found myself thinking “well, I’ll trade places with you and then we’ll see if you still think it’s good being this sick!”

 

I ended up being referred to a consultant obstetrician for the sickness and due to the fact that I had contracted malaria 5 times in the past.  About a week before we were due to fly to South Africa we had to come to the painful decision that because the safari park was in a malaria hotspot, and, if I got it again I could end up with a stillborn child, and also because I was too sick to travel, that we would have to cancel that long awaited trip.  I was so heartbroken as we had wanted to do such a trip since getting married and we had booked it and thought we’d get one last big holiday just the two of us before any children came along if God did bless us with any.  I know there is a reason why God brought our baby into being at the moment He did and I know there’s a reason he made me so sick as to not be able to go on the trip at that time, but I must admit I did feel quite angry and upset, especially a the time rolled round when we should be boarding our flight and instead of jetting off across the world(I LOVE to travel)we were heading to Yorkshire to stay with family……the dreary winter weather is no competition for warmth and sunshine!

If the sickness was all that happened to me, it’d be enough, but I developed symphysis pubis disorder and ended up on crutches.  It bothered me to walk from my front door to the car, which is a very short distance indeed!  I also had placenta praevia, which thankfully around 36 weeks righted itself enough that it was no longer a real danger.  And on top of that I ended up with a heart condition which started around 25 weeks called supraventricular tachycardia. My heart would race I’d feel dizzy and then faint.  It was the scariest thing ever.  We ended up in hospital quite a few times with it and I almost had an emergency c-section at 31 weeks as my baby’s heart rate dropped during one of my episodes, and my consultant wanted to end the pregnancy at 38 weeks.  I wasn’t allowed any medication for it as it would have slowed the baby’s heart rate down too much so near the end.

Through all this I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster.  Often I felt no love for thing being growing inside of me that was causing such trouble, then I’d feel guilty for not feeling love.  I went through fits of being angry with God wanting to know why He’d allowed me to go through such a horrible ordeal when all I wanted to do was enjoy being pregnant like my other friends who were all due 4 weeks either side of me.  God gave me the grace to get through to the end, He helped me to start to bond with my child before birth and to look forward to that first cuddle with great excitement despite all the troubles and ill health.  He has also blessed me with a wonderful husband who encouraged me, cared for me, cared for the house and everything else so I could rest.  He’s given me a wonderful family who helped out practically as well.  So in the midst of one of the greatest trials of my life, He opened my eyes to the blessings around me, and He used the time and the troubles to teach me lessons I otherwise would’ve been too busy to learn.  I never wish to go through another 9 months like it, but it has shaped me and taught me so much and for that I am thankful.  As a selfish human being I would have loved to have had an easy path, and, yes, often I was jealous of my friends who were able to carry on as normal throughout their pregnancies and go out for a meal, go out walking etc etc, but God met me in the valley and it was in that valley that He chose to bless me and teach me, so for that I must be forever grateful.  My road through pregnancy reminds me of the lyrics of a Third Day song called Mountain of God which sums me and my experience up perfectly:

Thought that I was all alone Broken and afraid But You were there with me Yes, You were there with me
And I didn’t even know That I had lost my way But You were there with me Yes, You were there with me
‘Til You opened up my eyes I never knew That I couldn’t ever make it Without You
Even though the journey’s long And I know the road is hard Well, the One who’s gone before me He will help me carry on After all that I’ve been through Now I realize the truth That I must go through the valley To stand upon the mountain of God
As I travel on the road That You have lead me down You are here with me Yes, You are here with me I have need for nothing more Oh, now that I have found That You are here with me Yes, You are here with me
I confess from time to time I lose my way But You are always there To bring me back again
Sometimes I think of where it is I’ve come from And the things I’ve left behind But of all I’ve had, what I possessed Nothing can quite compare With what’s in front of me With what’s in front of me

Is there anypne else out there who’s gone through a similar pregnancy?  Or is there anyone going through such an ordeal currently and needs some encouragement?  Please let me know.