Best baby advice given to me before birth

A co-worker, who already had a child and was expecting another one around the same time as I was, told me not to have high expectations and that it wasn’t always going to be easy.  I thought this was the best baby advice given to me before birth.  Truth be told I’m a glass half empty kind of person, so I didn’t think it would be easy.  Call me pessimistic, but I think it’s the best way to live.  Having low expectations means having little disappointment.    Anything above and beyond what you expect would be a bonus.  So, we had breastfeeding issues and baby did not sleep well the first few months, no sweat.  Having a baby isn’t easy.  😉  With time and consultation with a lactation consultant, the breastfeeding issues were resolved.   She also slept better after some sleep training.  It got easier, until something else comes up, like teething or a cold or what we are dealing with right now – separation anxiety.

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As I look back now, my co-worker probably also told me that although it won’t be easy, it would be worth it and that I should savour every moment.  I was probably just too focused on the negative to hear the latter.  I tend to do that – focus on the negative rather than the positive.  If someone were to ask me for baby advice, I would definitely tell them to savour every moment because in a blink of an eye, your baby would’ve changed and not be the same as they were last month or last week or even yesterday.  In a blink of an eye, they would no longer be that tiny newborn who could barely keep their eyes open.  Before you know it, they will start to roll over, then crawl and run.  They change so quickly and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  I would advise moms to be to cherish the first smiles, hiccups and giggles.

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This is where I’m at now.  A year has past since my baby girl was born.  I cannot believe how fast it’s gone by.  One minute, I was having contractions and the next, my little baby is now a toddler who would prefer to furniture surf than be held, who is no longer content just sitting in one spot but is curious and prefers to explore.  I am in awe of the new things she learns everyday and her increasing understanding of language.  I look forward to the day when she can walk, speak and feed herself, but I also miss the “simplier” days when she was content just eating and sleeping the day away.

What was the best baby advice given to you?

 

Easy 30 minute dinner

Here’s a quick and easy 30 minute dinner for you:  Korean style pan-fried fish and stir-fried zucchini.  In any other Korean household, these dishes are considered sides or appetizers, but in this household, they make a perfect mid-week meal.  Being married to a Korean man, we cannot go more than a week without having Korean food so it’s nice to have these simple recipes to fall back on when there isn’t much time for extravagant meals.  Unlike most other Korean dishes, there are only a few ingredients for these dishes and all ingredients should be easy to find.  The only ingredient you might need to make a trip to an Asian supermarket for is fish sauce, which I use instead of the saeujeot (salted and fermented tiny shrimp).  Both dishes are easy to make and should only take 30 minutes or less to make depending how much fish you have to fry up and if you can multitask. 😉  These dishes may not be fancy or very attractive, but if they’re good enough for my in-laws on new year’s day, they’re good enough for me!

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Saengseonjeon (Fish Pan-fried in Egg Batter)

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Hobak Bokkeum (Stir-fried Zucchini)

Enjoy!

Recipes (adapted from Korean Bapsang)

Saengseonjeon (Fish Pan-fried in Egg Batter)

  • 1/2 to 1 pound flounder or cod fillet (or any white fish)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour
  • vegetable or canola oil for pan frying

Sauce (optional):

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • pinch pepper
  1. Rinse fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the fish fillet into 1/2-inch thick, 2-inch long slices by running the knife diagonally through the fillet. Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides.
  2. Dredge both sides of the fish in flour, one piece at a time. (Do this step for all the pieces before the next step.)
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet with a tablespoon oil over medium low heat. Dip each piece one at a time in the beaten egg, and carefully place in the heated skillet. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes each side, adding more oil if needed, until slightly golden. Do NOT brown.
  4. Repeat until all the ingredients are pan fried. Add an additional tablespoon of oil each time.
  5. Serve warm with the sauce.

Notes and Tips:

I used my hands to rub the salt on the fish and also used basa fillets because I couldn’t find flounder or cod.  You can also pan fry zucchini and prawn using the same method (see Korean Bapsang for more instructions on how to do this).

Hobak Bokkeum (Stir-fried Zucchini)

  • 1 medium zucchini (about 10 – 12 ounces) or 2-3 small ones
  • 2 or 3 tsp saeujeot (or fish sauce)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  1. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise (I cut mine into quarters because mine was round). Then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  2. You can use saeujeot as is or finely chopped. This is very salty, so use 2 teaspoons first and add more if needed.
  3. Heat a pan with the oil over medium high heat. Add the zucchini and saeujeot (or fish sauce) to the pan. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes, stirring well.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes, stirring, until the zucchini is softened and turns translucent.

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The Best Baby Advice I Got

Melissa recently asked me “What was the best piece of advice someone gave to you before you had your baby?”

The Best Baby Advice I Got

“It’s not a sprint.”  I got that piece of advice early in my pregnancy, and it wasn’t until my daughter was almost 2 before I realized it was the best parenting advice I was given.  At the time, I thought it was a backhanded comment and I was being chided for being so high strung.

I knew I was a perfectionist, and I liked to plan for contingencies, so while this understandably got on some people’s nerves, it served me well as a project manager. And it was why I was often put in charge of process improvement initiatives.  “It’s not a sprint” is now one of my key parenting mantras.  It’s not a sprint.  Heck, parenting is not even a marathon.  It’s…just life.

The first two weeks when my newborn daughter was still sleeping like a champ, I stayed up day and night, despite the choruses of “sleep when you can, sleep”, because I was so busy cleaning, and preparing and planning.

Now I know I really should have been sleeping because none of my cleaning mattered, none of the preparation prepared me for when my daughter refused to sleep again for the next 22 months, and none of my well intended plans came to fruition because baby came first and baby doesn’t care I had plans.

Now?  Some days I go to sleep even though my house is in a state of emergency because it was hit by a rainbow tornado.  It’s okay to wait to clean another day because it’s not a sprint.  I can sleep first knowing we had fun making a giant paper Mache Easter Egg.

I now also know that some things just aren’t up to me.  All my so called contingency plans had underestimated how much influence/ sway my little baby, now preschooler, has over me.  Irrationally, my fear of her shiny little tears and the desire to see her giggle just get so much more weight in daily decisions than I imagined.  Some days she is extra fussy and just wants to cuddle and read books together so I “couldn’t” get groceries and make dinner as planned.  I just boil some frozen dumplings instead and it’s okay.  It’s not a sprint; not every meal has to be three courses and balanced, as long as it is mostly and generally healthy in the long run.

The long hours I had poured into my work soon paled in comparison to the hours I am a parent (because it’s all the time- it’s not a sprint) and the pace I had taken was just not sustainable.  For almost two years, I stayed fully engaged and this allowed me to limit screen time to practically zero.  Right now, my daughter is watching Bubble Guppies and eating a popsicle while I type this.  I just needed a break, both mentally and physically, and it’s a hot day, so it’s okay since a little screen time (and sugar today) can’t be more damaging for her than if I burnt out as a parent.  I’m glad I got to sprint a few years, but now I’m at a better pace to enjoy what I hope is many many more years together…life.

“What was the best piece of advice someone gave to you before you had your baby?”

 

My Birth Story

As my due date drew nearer, I found myself visiting a lot of mom blogs to see birth stories for an idea of what to expect.  It was my first time and I was clueless. I had taken a birthing class but it seemed too textbook: there are three stages, labor, birth and afterbirth.  Don’t go to the hospital too soon, or you’ll be sent home. Don’t go too late or else…

I did pay attention, I really did, but it was months ago and I just couldn’t get a good idea of the general timeline or how I would know how everything is proceeding, well or not.

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My Birth Story

So here is my birth story.  The shortish version is that my water broke, sorta, and so I was admitted into the hospital before my contractions started.  Turned out I had a double amniotic sac and only the outer layer had broken.  I ended up getting an amniotomy (AROM) because my unborn daughter and I both developed a temperature.  I also ended up getting an epidural with mixed feelings as it wasn’t originally a part of my birth plan, but having it resulted in such an easy, enjoyable, painless (except for the burning sensation from the Pitocin) and most importantly quick delivery that with 20/20 hindsight I wish I had gotten it as soon as it was offered.  Another benefit was I didn’t feel the episiotomy or the stitches afterwards, although a part of me still feels like I missed the full experience of giving birth to my daughter.  And in the future, when she is being an insufferable teenager, I can’t say I had a rough time bringing her into this world.

Just kidding.  But not really.  Anyways, now the loooooooong version.

3 AM – Water Breaks

According to Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, a pregnancy and childbirth expert, only 13% of water breaks before labor.  Well, two days after my due date, I think my water broke. At 3 AM in the morning, a warm wet feeling in my nether region, like a heavy period or a (female) wet dream, woke me from my sleep.  I had started wearing a pad and was sleeping on a few towels just in case (yeah, I am prepared like that!) so I wasn’t worried about cleaning up, instead I was staring at a damp pad. So did my water break? I didn’t have any contradictions yet so from what I can google, I shouldn’t be going to the hospital either case.

I wasn’t sure if my water broke but I was too excited to fall back asleep so I just wandered around the house organizing this and that until around 6 AM when the mister woke up for work.

He called the 24 hr answering service for the obgyn office and left a message.  The obgyn who was on call returned his call around 7 AM and after asking about my COAT (color, odor, amount and time) told me to go to the hospital for a check up, given the fact I had no check ups the 3 recent weeks, and that I was already past my due date.

8 AM – Arrive at Hospital

Since we only lived 10 minutes from the hospital, I took a shower first and ate breakfast and still arrived before 8 AM.  However, the receptionists, reasonably, admitted the moms arriving in active labor first so I wait until almost 10 AM before seeing the room where the magic will happen.

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My newborn awaiting testing in the hospital delivery room

I still had no contractions and not sure if the water broke so a nurse examined me and confirmed with litmus paper, and reconfirmed under the microscope that the water had broken.  But by noon (8 to 9 hours since my water broke) I was still only a few centimeters dilated and didn’t have contractions yet.

3 PM – Started Temperature (Fever)

Over the next few hours, I started getting contractions.  They were fairly regular, intense and lasted 45 to 60 seconds and were 3 to 5 minutes apart.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is the active labor phase and when I should have headed to the hospital.  With my contractions, I also felt chills and started to shake uncontrollably. I had a fever/ temperature and was given antibiotics through IV.

4 PM – Amniotomy

The obstetrician examined me and said my amniotic sac was still intact and after conferring with the nurses and reviewing the test results, determined that I had a double sac and only the outer layer had ruptured.  I don’t recall making a decision but the obstetrician performed an amniotomy, otherwise known as an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM). I didn’t remember reading or learning anything about this before but apparently it’s common although not always necessary.

5 PM – Epidural

The obstetrician and nurses who came to check on me, and there were many had all highly recommended I get an epidural.  I was originally noting down people’s names so I can send thank you cards, but there were approximately 5 new faces every 4 hours. By now I had been introduced to at least 20 different people.  I declined the epidural repeatedly, partly because I am scared of needles, and even more scared of urinary catheters, and partly because I had wanted to feel the whole birthing experience.

I persisted until my daughter’s heart rate stayed high even when I wasn’t having contractions and I started having a temperature.  The obstetrician said if things don’t progress really really quickly, it’s highly likely I would need a cesarean section and then I would have to get an epidural or anesthesia anyway.  I didn’t want to risk my daughter’s health so I readily agreed to an epidural at this point.

She also wondered if I might be suppressing the contractions to limit the pain (only normal right?) and so it might progress faster if I wasn’t feeling the contractions.

An hour later, I met with the anesthesiologist.  The anesthesiologist was very nice and addressed my concerns and tried to calm my fears.  The local anesthesia felt like a small cold pinch – like a typical flu shot or blood draw.  It worked quickly because I didn’t feel any pain when the epidural needle or the tube that replaced it were inserted. I had sat and leaned forward for the procedure.

In less than half an hour, I suddenly felt no more pain.  Wow!  I can feel the tightening and the pressure of the contractions but there was no discomfort.  Did I say wow?  The epidural tube was connected to an automatic pump so the dosage could be dialed up or down easily.  I had requested the lowest dose possible to start, knowing that I can always increase the dosage if required.

With the epidural at the lowest dosage, I could still move my legs if I tried to, but I didn’t feel any discomfort from the contractions.  I also didn’t feel the episiotomy, a surgical cut in the perineum to facilitate delivery and reduce the likelihood of tearing.  I also didn’t feel the urinary catheter insertion which was one of my biggest fears for getting an epidural.  My grandmother, before she passed away, had told me several times she mostly dreaded her hospital stays because of how uncomfortable it was to have a urinary catheter inserted so I had not wanted to ever experience it for myself.

In fact, the Pitocin, a hormone to cause uterus contractions, which made my hand and most of my arm feel like it was burning, was the most painful part of the whole delivery.

9 PM – Delivery

Just 3 hours later, maybe because of the epidural, or the amniotomy, or the Pitocin, or some combination of those three, I was ready.  The nurse called the obstetrician because I was crowning.  I of course couldn’t feel it.  So I pushed when they said push and 4 pushes later, 3.5 pushes if I want to be exact, my baby was out.  It could have been only 3 pushes, but I ran out of breath on that third push it was totally weak sauce.

My newborn came into the room and said “eh” once.  And that was the end of my birth story and the start of a completely new one where we are both still writing together everyday.

Newborn foot print

The nurse made a foot print of our newborn for us upon request after her bath. But they no longer did hand prints.

Looking for more birth stories?  Check out Melissa’s amazing home birth story!  They are more rare than my birthing class led me to believe.

 

Creamy Chicken & Green Beans on Rice

This easy creamy chicken and green bean on rice is a new family favorite.  The creamy sauce on rice is super comforting, and the stirfried green beans are a tasty way to eat more vegetables.

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While this creamy chicken and green bean on rice wasn’t a one pan meal, I did only use one pan if you don’t count the rice cooker.  Who is counting?  First I stirfried the green beans with some minced garlic.  Then using the same pan, I added more garlic and browned the chicken.  Then using the same pan, with the garlicky chicken juices and all, I added butter and made roux and then cream sauce.  The browned chicken was then returned to the pan of sauce and simmered until done.

Creamy sauces on rice is one of my favorite comfort foods and I usually end up over eating.  So to cut back on calories, I used skinless chicken thighs even though it would be more flavorful and juicy with skin on and bone-in.  All three toddlers finished their plates and two kiddos even got seconds so I say this dish gets to go on the regular dinner rotation 🙂

Recipe:

serves 4 to 6

  • 3 cups rice

Garlic Green Beans

  • 1 lb trimmed green beans
  • 1 tbls minced garlic
  • 1 tbls oil
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon dissolved in 1 tbls chicken broth

Creamy Chicken (Sauce adapted from food.com)

  • 2 lbs chicken (cut of your choice)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 3 tbls butter
  • 4 tbls flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and cook rice and place in bottom of serving dish.  I cooked two cups of rice with one cup of quinoa instead to add a whole grain to the meal.
  2. Stir fry green beans:  heat pan, add oil and minced garlic.  When oil is hot and garlic is fragrant, add green beans and stir to coat beans in oil.  Let pan fry over medium high heat for 2 minutes then add season chicken broth and cover with lid and steam until pan is almost dry, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic green beans on top of rice.
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  4. Add crushed garlic to pan and brown chicken, approximately 8 minutes per side.Browning chicken in pan
  5. Set aside browned chicken. Lower heat and add butter to pan. After it melts, blend in flour, onion powder, salt and pepper until mixture is smooth and even. Pour in chicken stock, turn up heat and stir until smooth and boiling.
  6. Return chicken to pan, add heavy cream, cover pan and lower heat.  Simmer until chicken is no longer pink inside, approximately 20 minutes for boneless, and longer for bone-in.
    Simmer Chicken in Creamy Sauce
  7. Enjoy!

So what do you think?  Would you give this recipe a try?

Best Housewarming Gift Ever

I am sorry if you thought you were going to get a list of most awesome housewarming gift ideas.  What you’re going to get instead is so much better – a recount of how I came to have a home birth.  😉  Bear with me, this is a long one.

Let me start by saying that it was not how I had imagined I would have my baby.  I thought, like the majority of births in Canada, that I would have my baby in a hospital.  In fact less than 2% (7000/380000) of births in 2012 were outside the hospital.   A similar statistic  is seen in the United States (53,000 home births in 2012 out of 3.95 million births or 1.36%, the highest % since 1975).  I did not that know what I did was so uncommon.

My plan was to also have a physician deliver my baby.  There were a few reasons why I ended up in the care of midwives.  I didn’t have a regular family doctor, well not after I became an “adult”, anyway.  I went to walk-in clinics when I needed to.  So when I became pregnant, I went to my usual walk-in clinic to confirm the pregnancy and they referred me to a maternity clinic near where I lived.   This clinic was supposed to call me for an appointment but they never did.  By the time I finally got an appointment with them, there was a mad rush to try to get me in for the prenatal genetic testing.  We were able to have the testing done in time but it was stressful not knowing why I wasn’t contacted for an appointment and that I might have missed the window for the testing.  Aside from the mix-up, I had 3 appointments with the clinic and each time the appointments before me ran late and I had to wait for 30-60 minutes for 10-15 minutes of face time.  Is this the norm in other places?   Being busy and not having a lot of time to read on my own, I wanted more time with the experts to answer all my questions.   Also, there were 7 physicians in the clinic and whoever was on call the day I go into labour would deliver my baby.  So there was a high chance that I wouldn’t even know the doctor that delivers my baby if I don’t meet him or her during my prenatal appointments.  I wanted to build a relationship and have a rapport with the person who was going to “catch” my baby.   These were the reasons I decided to seek out the care of midwives.

After I switched to midwives, I still had to wait for my appointments, but the waits were shorter and the appointments longer (at least 45 minutes) so I had more time to connect with each of them.   There were 3 midwives who cared for me rather than 7.   Since I was having a low risk pregnancy, we had discussed the option of having a home birth, but this wasn’t an option for me.  I was set on having a hospital birth.  I thought I would be more comfortable with that.  I thought I would feel more secure in a hospital environment.

Our baby decided to arrive 10 days after we moved into our new home.  She had perfect timing!  I was already off work and had unpacked the essentials for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.  Our new sofa had arrived and the living room was pretty much set up.  My husband played his last round of golf the morning before my contractions started and we even managed to have my in-laws over for dinner.

My contractions started around 10:30pm that night.  Maybe baby wanted to come out and have a taste of Japanese food herself.  😉  The contractions started at about 10 minutes apart and progressed, in my opinion, slowly.  I couldn’t sleep all night.  It was too painful for me to lie down or sit during the contractions so I was standing or pacing into the early morning.  During those wee hours, as I tried to cope with the pain, I thought about how I was going to go to the hospital when the time came.  How was I going to sit in the car during the contractions when it was too painful to sit?  How long would it take to get to the hospital?  The hospital was only about 15 minutes away, but what if we hit rush hour traffic?  What if there was an accident?  The contractions were not 3 minutes apart until about 7 am.  My husband called the midwives at around 8 am.  By then, I was almost certain, but not positive, that I didn’t want to go to the hospital.  The midwife came a short time later.  She checked on me and the baby.  We were both doing fine, aside from me throwing up all over the powder room floor from being exhausted.  I was only 5 cm dilated so there was still some time to go.  The midwife reassured me that it would be safe to have to baby at home, so that’s what I decided to do.

When I made the decision to not go to the hospital, I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural if I wanted one.  It wasn’t in the birth plan.  I wanted an un-medicated birth, but at times, the pain seemed so unbearable that I think I would’ve asked for an epidural if I was in the hospital.  To cope with the pain, the midwife suggested I soak in the bathtub.  I’m not a bath person (think it’s gross to soak in dirty water), so I was reluctant, but I gave it a try and it really helped.  That was another perk to staying at home, since the hospital I planned to deliver at didn’t have tubs, only showers.

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When it came time to push, we tried many different positions, and moved from bathroom to the bedroom floor, to the bed.  Obviously, we were not prepared for a home birth since we didn’t plan for one.   We hadn’t bought one of those home birth kits, which basically includes a bunch of plastic bags to keep your furniture clean.  But the midwife was resourceful.   She put a shower curtain under our sheets to protect the mattress.  And it didn’t get too messy aside from a few dirty towels.  Sorry if this is too much information.  We even learned a few things like use cold water, instead of hot to rinse out blood stains so that the stain doesn’t set and add salt to washing machine to get rid of the stains.

We didn’t let either of our families know that we were having the baby at home.   I didn’t want to hear their opinions on my decision or have them worry about whether it was safe or not.   We didn’t even tell them I was in labour until after baby arrived.   My mom wasn’t too happy about not being present, but I had everyone I wanted with me (my husband and the midwife).

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My baby arrived just before 3pm on our bed after about 2 hours of pushing.  She was perfect and healthy.  I had a bit of tearing which the midwife took care of.  In the end, having a home birth was the right decision for me.  Although we were only in our new place for a short time prior to the birth, I was comfortable there.  I was surrounded by the people I wanted to be present at the birth.  I was confident in the skills of the midwives and knew that they wouldn’t let me have a home birth if it wasn’t safe.  My daughter was the best housewarming gift I could’ve gotten.

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Pregnancy challenges and cravings

Have you read Charlie’s post about her three pregnancy challenges?  I, too, got leg cramps, but not to the extent that she did.  Ouch!  These were my pregnancy challenges and cravings…

I had a relatively painless pregnancy, well until the end anyway, but that’s another post to come…. This easy pregnancy was surprising to me because I am a high stressed/easily stressed person.  Given my personality, I thought I would have a tough pregnancy, but I didn’t even have high blood pressure the entire time.

Being pregnant wasn’t like what I’d seen in the movies.  I didn’t have bad morning sickness (except for one minor episode).  I had some nausea in the early months, which was easily cured by snacking, which in turn helped the constant hunger I felt.   You don’t know how many times I went to bed, after I had brushed by teeth, feeling like I wanted something to eat.  Most of the time I resisted and just went to sleep hungry.  A couple of times, I asked my husband to get me a snack and I ate in bed – a no no in my books on a regular day, but being pregnant I thought I would give myself a break.  😉

Cravings

I didn’t have majorly weird cravings.  No desire for pickles on ice cream for this lady.  No siree!  I did have an affinity for spicy foods, and seemingly an increased tolerance for it because whether it was curry or kimchi, it wasn’t spicy enough.  Whatever I ate just didn’t seem as flavourful as it used to be.  Maybe the extra spicy foods I ate is why my daughter turned out so sassy – total opposite of me!

My husband claims that I once had a craving for jalapeno cheddar bagels from this particular coffee shop chain one morning and sent him all over the city to get it for me.  Truth be told, I merely suggested it for breakfast.  Turns out, the closest shop to us was closed due to renovations after a fire and he had to go across town to the next closest one.  Took him an hour to come back with breakfast.  It was very sweet of him, but I would’ve lived if we had something else for breakfast.  🙂

My major pregnancy woes were the constant tiredness and restrictions.  Let me explain.

Constant fatigue

I felt like I had a cold the whole time I was pregnant, and I did for a good four months.  I was tired, ALL THE TIME.  I went from sleeping at around midnight to being in bed by 9:30pm.  Just like that, I turned into an old lady (no offense to those of you who sleep early).  Though I was tired and fell asleep easily, I often woke up in the middle of the night, sometimes due to leg cramps and sometimes to use the washroom.  Other times, I would wake at 3 or 4 am and have trouble falling back to sleep.  During those times, I took the opportunity to update my Facebook status or message friends on the east coast, who were already up and getting ready for work.  Good use of time wouldn’t you agree?   Later on in my pregnancy, it become even harder for me to sleep because of my big belly, which made me wish I had invested in a pregnancy pillow.  Do those things help?

Restrictions

Two of my biggest weakness are coffee and….baked goods of course.  They go hand in hand, right?  I thought I would have a tough time cutting back on the caffeine, since I usually drink more coffee than water, but it really wasn’t that bad.  Maybe the early bedtime helped.  Even though I knew I was allowed 2 cups a day, I usually only drank about half a cup.  I have since more than made up for all the coffee I could’ve had but didn’t. 😉

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Being in a higher risk group for developing gestational diabetes, my health care providers advised that I cut back the on the sugar intake.  I had to cut the sugar out of my coffee, which wasn’t difficult since I wasn’t drinking much anyway.  But cutting out baked good was extremely difficult.  I used to bake a lot.  And although I usually say I bake for my husband, I probably end up consuming more of it then he does.  I have a major sweet tooth.  I even had to cut back on some fruits because of the high sugar content. 🙁

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I also had trouble trying to eat healthy and getting enough of the right fats, nutrients, vitamins, yada, yada, yada…. It was hard enough for me to keep track of when to take my prenatal vitamins and iron and calcium supplements, let alone making sure I ate enough of the right foods.  Why does it have to be so complicated?  I mean, what did people do in the olden days when there weren’t prenatal vitamins, etc, and they had to worry about more important things like not being eaten by a dinosaur?  But I digress.

What were your pregnancy challenges?  Did you have any strange cravings?

 

 

Roast Chicken and Potatoes

Remember those 3 whole chickens that I bought on sale a few weeks ago?  I used one to make Vietnamese style chicken curry and the second one to make roast chicken and potatoes.  This roast chicken recipe is so quick and easy to make, with very little prep time.  Just make sure you allot enough time for it to be in the oven.  Other than that, put in the oven and walk away.

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I normally don’t eat chicken skin unless it’s crispy (makes me gag otherwise), but let me tell you, I have no problems eating the skin (or any other parts) on this chicken.  It’s crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside.  The potatoes also come out perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  Yummy!
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I paired the chicken with kale stir-fried with a bit of olive oil, garlic, shallots I had leftover from the curry (you can omit or use onion instead) and salt and pepper.  Easy peasy.

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When the everything is done, just put the whole roasting pan on the dining table and carve the chicken as you eat.  No need to be fancy.  Well, you can be a little fancy and add some flowers to the table.  A girl always needs a bit of flowers in her life…

What should I do with the last chicken?

Roast chicken and potatoes (Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver)

  • 1 whole chicken
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large, preferably unwaxed, lemon
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, broken into cloves
  • a handful of fresh thyme or 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • olive oil
  • a handful of fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
  1. Rub the chicken inside and out with a generous amount of salt (I use about 1 tbsp) and freshly ground black pepper (~30 grindings). Do this in the morning if possible, then cover the chicken and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking it for lunch or dinner.
  2. Preheat your oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5.
  3. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
  4. Cut the potatoes into golf-ball-sized pieces, put them into the water with the whole lemon and the garlic cloves, and cook for 12 minutes.
  5. Drain and allow to steam dry for 1 minute (this will give you crispier potatoes), then remove the lemon and garlic.
  6. Toss the potatoes in the pan while still hot so their outsides get chuffed up and fluffy – this will make them crispy when they roast.
  7. While the lemon is still hot, carefully stab it about 10 times.
  8. Take the chicken out of the fridge, pat it with kitchen paper and rub it all over with olive oil.
  9. Push the garlic cloves, the whole lemon and the thyme into the cavity, then put the chicken into a roasting tray and cook in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes.
  10. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  11. Some fat should have cooked out of it into the roasting tray, so toss the potatoes into this with the rosemary leaves.  You can add carrots at this point if you want.
  12. Shake the tray around, then make a gap in the center of the potatoes and put the chicken back in.
  13. Cook for a further 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are golden. (You can tell the chicken is cooked when the thigh meat pulls easily away from the bone and the juices run clear.)
  14. Remove the lemon and garlic from inside the chicken, squeeze all the garlic flesh out of the skin, mush it up and smear it all over the chicken, discard the lemon and rosemary and carve the chicken at the table.

My 3 Unexpected Pregnancy Challenges

Mother’s Day is less than a month away and so we wanted to share some of the milestones and challenges on our journey to motherhood.  Overall my pregnancy was easy and everything had gone smoothly but, I faced 3 challenges that I want to share:  leg cramps, anemia, and limited access to care during the Christmas holiday season.

LEG CRAMPS/ CHARLEY HORSE

Overall I had an easy pregnancy- no morning sickness, no excessive mood changes (I think), no real back pain, and only slight swelling despite 60+ lbs weight gain at the highest (I actually lost some weight in the third trimester). But. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious.  Were the leg cramps horrible! I didn’t know leg cramps were common in pregnancies (they are, particularly in the 2nd trimester) so I hadn’t expected them which made the first episode worse than it was because it scared me as much as it hurt.  I was worried the cramping was a sign that something terrible was happening and I was going to lose my baby (again).  

They were so frequent too.  Almost every morning when I woke, I was greeted by an excruciating one. Anytime I tried to stretch, hello leg cramp.  In a meeting at work? Cramp.  Whenever I got to a good part of a movie? Yikes. Trying to eat lunch or dinner? Cramp and cramp.  Sleep? Nah, it’s cramp time.  I cramped so often that my legs were constantly tired and hurt like I had a really good workout.

They were so frequent that I couldn’t risk driving to work (or anywhere).  When it was a severe cramp, which it often was in the 2nd trimester, the muscles in my leg (never both at the exact same time) would knot/ lump up and be rock hard and I would almost be immobile until the cramping stopped so I was worried that I would get into an accident if my leg cramped while I was driving.

5 THINGS I TRIED TO HELP PREVENT LEG CRAMPS

  • Staying well hydrated
  • Eating a calcium, potassium and magnesium rich diet (e.g. spinach, banana, yogurt, lentils, nuts & seeds, avocados etc.)
  • Wearing compression stocking or socks (support hose)
  • Stretching (shin and calf muscles in particular) and exercising
  • Resting and taking breaks often (even from sitting or walking or standing)

I had originally dreaded wearing compression socks, also good for reducing swelling, because I had ignorantly thought they would look ugly, but there are compression socks that look just like regular socks.  There were a large selection of compression socks with fun prints too!

5 THINGS I TRIED TO STOP/ RELIEVE LEG CRAMPS

  • Running water down leg in the sink or shower
  • Standing/ walking barefoot on a cold surface
  • Straightening leg and flex toes  
  • Applying heat (heat pad)
  • Massaging


Running water down my leg helped me the most while straightening my leg and stretching during a cramp sometimes helped but sometimes made it cramp worse for me.

 

ANEMIA/ B12 DEFICIENCY

Just went my legs stopped cramping as frequently, either due to my efforts above, or just because I was now in my 3rd trimester, my memory and concentration started to get notably terrible.  I had thought maybe pregnancy brain isn’t just a myth.  Turned out I was anemic, despite watching my nutrition closely on a daily basis.  Ensuring I got enough of everything was partly why I had such a big +60 weight gain.

My obgyn sent me to a hematologist who recommended iron supplements and B12 injections.  Luckily my legs were no longer cramping frequently because I had to drive to the hematologist often during my last trimester.  After the initial 3x a week B12 loading doses, I still had to return weekly for the B12 injections.

I still got blood work every six months after giving birth because I had decided to nurse my daughter.  When I stopped nursing, I also stopped monitoring my blood and last month, when I got a routine check up, I found out I was anemic again and made me worry about my daughter (since we have a similar diet) and I saw that it may affect IQ in children so I switched her multivitamin to one that includes iron too.

HELLO?  IS EVERYONE SERIOUSLY ON VACATION?

I was supposed to get weekly B12 injections but the month before my due date, I was unable to find anyone to administer it.  The hematologist I was seeing had gone on vacation and I couldn’t get any appointments with the doctors covering her.  Getting care only got worse from that point.

My baby’s due date was right around Christmas, and at the beginning of December, at the 37 week visit, the obgyn said she was concerned that my baby will have a low birth weight (~6lbs) and referred me to a mfm specialist.  But after arriving at the mfm’s office, the receptionist insisted I had no referral.  I persisted so an assistant briefly talked to me- to advise me that the mfm can’t see me, but she had describe my situation to the mfm, and both she and the mfm felt that due to my size (only 5’3”) a ~6lb baby would be normal, not low or concerning, especially since fetal weight estimation by ultrasound had a 15% margin of error in 85-90% of cases.  They do not believe I require mfm care and won’t set up any appointments for me.

I didn’t tell her that I had overheard her conversation with the mfm.  I also didn’t tell her that she neglected to relay the part where the mfm’s opinion was that my obgyn was just trying to dump my care on her since it was the holidays.

When I went back to my obgyn, I suspect the mfm’s opinion was correct as my 3 remaining weekly obgyn appointments, made a few months in advance, were all cancelled without my knowledge.  It was impossible to reschedule as no more appointments were available.  As a result, I had no prenatal care or checkups for the last three weeks until I delivered.

These 3 challenges aside though, I was very lucky and had a relatively smooth and easy pregnancy.  What challenges, if any, did you face in your pregnancy?

 

 

NOTE:  Please note that there are some affiliate links in this post; these were just products I had success using and wanted to review and share.  This post and blog are for information purpose only.  I am not giving any kind of education or medical advice (I don’t know what’s what).  Please consult your health care provider (pediatrician, physician, obgyn, mfm, hematologist, etc.) for diagnosis, treatment and medical advice.

 

Links/ resources for Pregnancy Leg Cramps/ Charley Horses:

 

 

Affiliate links:

 

Ribs with Apricot Sauce

These tasty apricot ribs are super easy to make and smell mouth wateringly good.  The meat used were purchased with the intention of making soup and weren’t the best quality but the family still gobbled these up.

ribs

 

Recipe (adapted from Luau Ribs on Food.com):

Apricot Ribs

Serves 1-2

  • 2 lbs pork ribs
  • 8 tbls apricot preserves
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbls soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

IngredientsThe apricot preserve is the secret ingredient in this recipe:

Apricot

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse ribs and dry, remove membrane if necessary.
  2. Mix all ingredients.  Optional: marinade ribs a few hours up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.
    marinate Ribs in large bag
  3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 to 120 minutes or until done.  Baste with marinade while cooking.
  4. If sauce didn’t caramelize nicely, broil for a few minutes at the end and ta-da:
    ribs
  5. Enjoy!

Since the oven is already on, I like to throw in some vegetables under the ribs for a quick side.

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Root vegetables like carrots or potatoes are great.  Cauliflower works well too.  Season the vegetables simply with salt and pepper to taste and toss in a little garlic or olive oil and just let the vegetables soak up some of the drippings for extra flavor.

Don’t you just love the dark purple color of these potatoes?  Just picture them with some carrots and corn and it would be a colorful feast for the eyes.

Purple Potatoes

Add a salad for more vegetables and the sauce is also really good on rice or pasta for a complete meal.  My daughter asked to eat these ribs with a piece of cheesy toast.

When I try a recipe for the first time, I resist from adjusting it (too much); I might learn or find something new.  But if it only turned out good and didn’t wow, then I would try to make it my own the next time.  This rib smelled and tasted great but was no where near perfection so I might try this recipe again with a few changes.  Normally, I like making ribs with a rub, so the next time I will start with better meat, use a base rub and cook at a lower temperature for longer so that the meat falls off the bone before basting with the sauce.  What is your personal preference? Sauce? Rub? or Both?

What do you think?  Will you be having ribs any time soon?

 

 

 

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