Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mommy Diary Take Two: 17 Weeks

April 18, 2014
Dear Asher,

This week has been a bit of a struggle for us. You have been fussy and inconsolable during the day; often crying and desperately gnawing on your fingers to relieve the pain you are definitely feeling from teething. You have so much drool your little chin gets raw if I forget to put your amber necklace on you. You just want to be held and nurse, you're not even napping very well or very long. Other than during a wonder week, this is the most fussy we have ever seen you. It breaks my heart there is so little we can do but keep you entertained.  You do love chewing on anything we give you: frozen toys and burp cloths are constant favorites. You also have gotten fairly automatic in rolling yourself, so much so that we cannot leave you unattended anywhere. You can flip yourself over in your car seat, rock'n'play bassinet, and swing if not buckled in. You do enjoy jumping in the Jumperoo now, especially when your brother talks to you--he can always make you smile, even now. It is awesome to see you two grin at each other all day.

Love,
Momma

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies


This sugar cookie recipe from Alton Brown has never failed me, gluten or no gluten. I've been using it for years and has always been really consistent.  Lloyd loves helping now and these have even turned into our Christmas Eve baking tradition (I make them mint flavored during the holidays, they're wonderful).  I usually use my standard gluten-free flour mix but recently tried a new one I found in the Divvies cookbook that doesn't contain rice so all of Lloyd's class (one of his friends has a rice allergy) can enjoy the same Easter bunnies.  They turned out the same! I was so relieved. Both mixes follow the recipe. I also always use the egg replacer in lieu of a real egg, this recipe holds very well.  It would even be vegan if you swapped the butter for margarine.

Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free Sugar Cookies

3 cups gluten free AP flour blend (see below)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 egg or equivalent egg replacer
1 Tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract, peppermint extract, or orange/lemon zest (or other flavoring of your choice)
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Sift together flour, baking powder, Xanthan gum, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg (or egg replacer), vanilla (or zest), and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and mix until completely combined--scraping down sides to make sure all flour is incorporated. Divide the dough in half, wrap in Saran Wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight (recommended).  Dough will seem soft, refrigerate until it has hardened to standard cookie texture--I usually make the dough the day before and put it in the fridge until I'm ready.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Sprinkle surface (silpat recommended) where you will roll out dough liberally with powdered sugar. Remove wrapped packs of dough from refrigerator, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Any thinner and they will be too crunchy, make sure to be consistent. Move the dough and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. When dough has begun to warm during rolling, wrap and place into the freezer to quickly cool back down. Dough will become sticky when too warm and difficult to handle. 

Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on parchment paper, place entire sheet in freezer until cookies are all re-chilled, then remove and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges. Watch for browning carefully, they may seem soft when coming out but will continue to harden on cookie sheet. Let sit on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes after removal from oven, then move to complete cooling on wire rack. 
Standard Gluten Free Flour Blend
3 c brown rice flour
1 c potato starch
1 c tapioca starch/flour

Divvies Gluten Free Flour Blend (rice free)
2 c millet flour
2 c sorghum flour
1 1/3 c tapioca starch/flour
2/3 c potato starch

I always decorate with royal icing. Which is technically egg whites and powdered sugar. Because of Lloyd's egg allergy I now just mix sifted powdered sugar with a splash of almond milk until it's just thick enough to spread but not drip. Then let it harden. I even invested in dye-free food coloring and that has been really fun to decorate with without worrying about his dye allergy. You can add zest or mint extract (or oil) into the icing too for a nice extra flavor. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asher's Birth Story

Now I can finish my baby book for him.  Check that off the list!

So we really had planned for weeks to be induced right at 39 weeks based on Asher's size, my sciatica, and general readiness.  But come the week of the delivery, I got a call from my OBs office saying we would have to push it to Friday because Thursday was booked. It totally broke me down and I was completely hysterical for about 30 minutes. So bad I called Coach at work and he had to leave class to talk me down. If that wasn't an indication of how ready I was to give birth I don't know what is.  Thursday night I started having legit contractions, but nothing to prompt an early check-in. Enough to wake me up multiple times at night, not that I could have slept anyway.

8:00 am: We check in up at L&D.  We had already discussed not trying the pitocin until after my water is broken with Dr. Wiley to see if that would just get me going.  Our day nurse Nyssa was just wonderful and very encouraging about this.  I was already feeling contractions that had started the night before and had slept poorly, so I really did have fingers crossed we would be able to avoid the pit.

9:00 am: Dr. Wiley shows up and I'm no more dilated than I was the day before (3cm and 50%) but she goes ahead and breaks my water, leaving orders that if I want to start the pit they can.  We all decided that if I'm not doing anything by noon we will start on a low dose.  Coach and I walk around the halls, I sit on the birthing ball for a long time.  Nothing seems to be happening except slightly closer together very weak contractions--the kind I'd been having for a while. 

12:00 pm: Dr. Wiley shows back up and since I haven't progressed at all and I'm feeling super deflated about it, we decide to go ahead and get the pitocin started.  It doesn't take long for the contractions to begin getting stronger, fortunately they let me stay sitting on the birthing ball with intermediate monitoring.  It was so much more comfortable than the laying in bed was with Lloyd.  

2:00 pm: I'm only 4cm dilated and 75% effaced; they keep telling me that the second goes quicker and easier but based on the slow-poke speed with even a second increase of pitocin, I start to get nervous it's going to be another super long marathon. We kept the lights dim and I was reading on my phone and talking to Coach the whole time; when the contractions pick up I just close my eyes and zone out. Being on the birthing ball was really wonderful and they still weren't very painful.  The nurse encouraged me to walk around a little once they started to pick up intensity around 5:45.  What a mistake, the second I got up to go to the bathroom I could barely move. Just walking around the bed made everything more painful.  I tried to get back on the birthing ball but everything started to hurt and my legs were getting weaker with each contraction.  I decided to just go with the epidural even though I was afraid I would stall out.

6:30 pm: The nurse anesthetist comes in and gives me the epidural.  Coach is allowed to hold me this time.  Which made everything much calmer and I felt better.  The process was a lot shorter than it had been with Lloyd too, although I could feel her jabbing around in there a good bit and it scared me.  Once it's in I start to feel more relaxed almost immediately and it doesn't take long for it to start numbing everything.  

7:00 pm: We loose our day nurse during shift change and pick up Marni, our night nurse.  It was hard to say goodbye to Nyssa, she had been so encouraging that we could do everything the way I wanted.  She had really stuck up for what I wanted without having to ever say anything.  Marni turned out to be super sweet getting all our information ready and was also really telling us it won't be long.  

8:00 pm: Marni checks me and I am 6cm dilated and 80% effaced. I had hoped to be much further along but she says it will start going quickly soon.  She puts me on my left side to rest for an hour with plans to come back and turn me to keep me comfortable.  Coach goes out to eat some dinner in the waiting room with a work friend who came up and were so kind to bring him dinner.  It was really nice just being able to lay in the dark room, have some quiet, and relax before whatever was to happen happens.

8:45 pm: Marni comes back in to check my monitors and I tell her I'm having a little pressure during contractions, but it's hard to tell.  We are talking about Lloyd and it calms me down a lot to be thinking about how much different this labor has already been.  

9:00 pm: Marni goes to roll me and notices I've got a lot of show.  She decides to just go ahead and checks me and I am fully complete. We decide to see if I remember how to push and I do one practice push and am told to quickly stop because he almost crowns. I feel so incredulous: he will be here soon, I was just at 6cm an hour before, how could it go so quickly?!  I'm excited and so nervous for everything to finally be at the end.  She goes and pages Dr Wiley and gets Coach from eating dinner in the waiting room. When she went to get Coach she said "it's time" and scared the bejeesus out of him making him think I'd had the baby and he would be in deep trouble because he missed it.  He was laughing about it when he came back in the room, making me laugh as we waited for Dr. Wiley to return.  

I start pushing at about 9:20. First set of contractions come and I am told to push gently to slowly bring his head down. Dr. Wiley starts laughing and exclaims "Colleen, you're having a ginger!" and I just look at Coach with a stunned feeling, laughing inside.  We had joked about the posibility for months and a friend had even sent me a funny photo of a red-headed baby just an hour before.  Marni peaks around the blanket and starts laughing too, he has red hair! 

The second set of contractions his head is out and shoulders come out. Dr. Wiley tells me to reach down, I grab him and push once more to pull and deliver him onto my chest. He is so calm; he breathes but only cries briefly when they really rub him.  He just snuggles right up and stays there for almost 20 minutes, burrowing into my skin and our hearts. His hair is so red and looks almost curly; he pees all over me. We laugh. 

I start to really cry when it hits me he is here and he is safe, there is nothing at all wrong with him, and  against all the odds he has arrived into this world.  We cannot quit kissing his perfect face.  His cheeks are bruised and blue looking from hitting my pelvis coming out so quickly, he looks almost like he isn't getting enough oxygen but everything else is pink and looking perfect.  He starts rooting so I place him to my left breast and he quickly latches with almost no assistance and stays there happily eating for 30 minutes, then place him on the right for the same. He was so happy and curled up on me.  I'm half naked but I don't care for a moment as everyone is just letting us go at our own speed.  It is so beautiful and we are so happy together.  It is nice to get to see every part of him as he is laying against me.  Marni takes him to the warmer to measure and weigh him around 10:30.  I finally announce his arrival and post a photo on facebook because he has only been breast feeding so far! Asher is 8lbs and 12 ounces and 21 inches long. He goes back on the breast for a little longer, then Coach gets a good hold while I get cleaned up and ready to move to post partum.  He falls into a deep and beautifully calm sleep all bundled up.

It was perfect.  I got the exact delivery I wanted and he was so precious.  It was calm, happy, and just lovely.  There was laughter as he entered the world and was immediately surrounded by so much endearing love.  I love you my miracle boy.




He is here! Safe and beautiful at 9:32. Sorry for the delay but he nursed for an hour, just now getting stats! Picture and info soon!  — feeling wonderful.
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