Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

How My Newborn Saved My Life

imageI have spent the past couple of days deciding if I really wanted to write about this. My newest birth story is a hard one. Most of the seriousness hasn’t totally hit me, yet.

My pregnancy was difficult. It started with headaches so severe and strange that my general practitioner had me get an MRI. The headaches faded away along with my morning sickness as I entered my second trimester. Things went pretty well for a little while, then as I got closer to my third trimester, I started to experience muscle and joint pain.

My midwife and I put it off as ligament pain. She did have me go in for a few extra tests and I did come back as very anemic. I started taking an iron supplement and started physical therapy in hopes of helping my poor muscles work better.

I now know that a good number of these symptoms are the lesser symptoms of something pretty serious. Well, something life-threatening, if you want to get to the bare bones of it. I just didn’t show the main symptom of high blood pressure. My bp was actually really great most of my pregnancy. Until I became anemic, then it dropped. And, along with the anemia, my heart rate rose.

My pain became so severe that I was unable to even drive my car. My ribs started popping out of joint at the slightest movements. I was forbidden to sweep or clean. We had to send my youngest son to the grandparents because I was unable to bend down to help him with anything. I had a hard time dealing with him being away from me. My in-laws asked me to stay with them. Partly because they felt bad for me being away from my kiddo and partly because they were really concerned about my health.

On the night of December 22/23, I started feeling pretty regular contractions. I finally woke up my husband at around 4:30. We got dressed, ran home, and grabbed the emergency hospital bag I had packed when I started to hurt. I was 36 weeks and 3 days, which means that I was not allowed to have a home birth.

We went to the hospital and were sent straight up to labor and delivery. My contractions were pretty light, but regular, so we were put in an exam room to determine what was going on with me. They took my blood pressure and then immediately ordered blood tests. My blood pressure had shot up.

When my results came in, my nurse came into my room and told me that both doctors wanted to talk to me and she was going to have to transfer my care to nurses who were more experienced…

The doctors came in and point blank told me that I had HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia. My blood platelet count was down to 24,000. A normal platelet count should be 150,000 to 250,000. Looking me straight in the eye, they both told me that there was a chance that I would die. The cure for HELLP and preeclampsia was to give birth as soon as possible, so I was moved to a regular room and hooked up to pitocin in an effort to really get my contractions going.

I hate pitocin. That stuff is nasty and rough. And because my platelets were so low, I was not allowed to have an epidural. I was also not even allowed to have general pain medicine such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen due to my liver and kidneys not at optimal functioning. I was given a straight drip of pitocin along with magnesium to keep me from having seizures, two bags of blood, and a bag of platelets. I had IVs in both hands. It was as if I had wings of IV drips.

The pitocin started as a low dose. They were hoping to get things going. They slowly cranked it up.

I don’t actually have much memory of the active labor. I know the nurses kept telling me not to push. I pushed anyway. I know I had the whole L & D floor running to my room and the doctor made it just in time to catch the baby. I nearly crushed the fingers of my husband and doula and I guess I was screaming because my throat hurt afterward. I like to think I roared that baby out. It was probably less dignified than that.

Thankfully, I did not tear. I did have more bleeding than normal, but it did stop. Probably due to the clotting shot I was given. I don’t remember what it was called.

And thus was Baby Max introduced to the world. He was placed immediately on me, skin to skin. And we snuggled and I weakly attempted to breastfeed him and he weakly attempted to eat. What a pair we were. I was weak from my malfunctioning blood and he was weak from coming so early.

It has been a week now and my arms still look like I was on the losing end of a fight. I am still in some muscular pain and I have discovered that I really do have to take it easy. If I try to go grocery shopping and do dishes, I am totally wiped out afterwards. I am getting better. With my last lab work, my platelets were still low, but staying steady. I get to have more lab work next week.

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I have lost a lot of weight from this pregnancy, which I think some people would think a good thing. And while I do not mind some of the weight loss, I do mind the muscle mass that I am also now missing. I can now pick up a dinner plate and a full water bottle, but it is more effort than it should be. At least I do not have the pain that I had when I attempted these tasks while pregnant.

Now, I am healing. Max is growing. We are going to be ok. I will be making sure to get back to my gym as soon as I feel able to. I plan on getting a session with a personal trainer to set me on a track to rebuild what I lost. I think I will set a goal of at least one 5K this summer or fall.

Oh Hai

It has been forever since I have written a blog. Well, almost a year. Which is pretty much forever in internet time.

With my last post, I had started the Couch 2 5K program again. Which, to be honest, I did not keep up with very well. I do my best at the gym if I go in the morning. I also like to take it easy in the morning with a cuppa and some Daily Show from the night before. Sooo. Yeah.

Anyway, on to May. My husband and I found out we were expecting our next baby the day before Mother’s Day. We made the decision to keep it quiet due to the miscarriage from the year before. It was really pretty traumatic for me to have to tell everyone about that. I know that for some people, it is a healing thing to be able to share experiences like that. Not so for me. In fact, it took me nearly a full year to even be able to mention the loss.

We told our close family when we were about 8 weeks along and we made it public at about 12 weeks after my first midwife appointment. I am now 31 weeks along. This new baby is due in January. And has caused me issues every. single. step. of the way. I am not sure if it is because I am considered an older mom. Or it might be because this is baby #4. Or it might just be because every pregnancy is different.

Just after we found out we were expecting, I had to set up a doctor appointment to figure out what was going on with an extreme headache. It was so bizarre. I started to call it a head pain because it was not a typical headache for me. The focal point would move around my head and radiate out. I called my general practitioner when the pain moved toward the front of my head and made eating difficult. As I was pregnant, there was not a lot he could do for me. He was concerned enough that he contacted the women’s clinic to see if it was safe enough for me to go in for an MRI. Doing my bit of research, I used my mom to contact an OB from the Mayo Clinic to be sure an MRI would be ok. I went through with it. And I now have proof that my brain is normal.

Along with the head pains, I got to work through some food aversions. My morning sickness was more acute than it usually is, but since I had so many food aversions, my trips to the toilet resulted mostly in dry heaves. I survived mostly on salad and protein shakes. I couldn’t even look at eggs, pizza, cheese, milk, tomatoes, and the list goes on. All sorts of smells would send me running to the bathroom. I lost somewhere around 11 pounds. At 31 weeks, I am still dealing with some of these aversions. Sometimes I can eat scrambled eggs, sometimes I can’t.

Once the morning sickness started to fade, I guess my body decided I needed some other inconvenience. So, my relaxin hormone production went into overdrive. It took me awhile to figure this out. I had a cold at the end of August, early September (back to school crud, yay!). That incident led to me actually sneezing so hard that I popped a rib out-of-place. It was so painful that I went into the ER. I honestly had no idea what was going on. I just knew that I suddenly couldn’t breathe and was in huge amounts of pain. That was a particularly pricey visit just to have someone tell me that my rib was knocked out and the pain was from muscle spasms. I got it under control with heat, ice, and a chiropractor.

The first rib incident was actually a clue for me about the relaxin. My rib has now popped out 3 times and my hips are trying to disconnect from my leg bones. If you are not totally sure about what relaxin does, it pretty much matches its name. It relaxes the ligaments connecting the bones to allow movement for childbirth. Why my body is prepping so early, I have no idea. It has made it very uncomfortable to walk and I am on a lifting restriction. Sitting, standing, and laying down are all also very uncomfortable.

The good news for this pregnancy is that Baby is doing incredibly well. We found out at my 20 week ultrasound that Baby is a boy, so this will be boy #4 in our family. He will have no lack of clothes. Though they may be a bit worn. He is super active and is constantly pushing out on my belly.

Other good news is that I do NOT have gestational diabetes. Not that it matters since chocolate and some other sweets give me massive heartburn. I joke that this baby is forcing me to eat healthy. Well, I mostly joke. I would kill for a doughnut. This whole eating healthier has been beneficial seeing as how I am not up for pretty much any exercise. I have not gained back much of the weight I lost during my morning sickness. Baby is still growing very well, so he is definitely getting the nutrients he needs. If I did not have the constant pain, I would actually feel really good. I’ve even been enjoying the onset of the Braxton Hicks contractions. Well, except for the one that hit me when I was grocery shopping. Whew. That was came out of nowhere and left a lingering pain. My body is prepping to bring this guy earthside. After all the issues I have had, I am really looking forward to meeting this new person.

Week One. Completed.

I decided to join the Gold’s Gym 12 Week Challenge. And I am using my Couch 2 5K training alongside the challenge. The C25K training (for those who do not know) is a nine week-long training session that should prepare a person for running a full 30 minutes without stopping.

I had my measurements done last Monday. And was pretty disappointed in myself on how out of shape I have allowed myself to get. This past year has been a hard one, and I really let myself just eat and lay about. So, this week was challenging in that I had to keep reminding myself that I was not allowed to have this or that. I didn’t totally take out treats, but I have definitely done better about keeping treats in their place. Treats are treats. Not a replacement for a meal or a snack.

Inadvertently, I also managed to eat strictly vegetarian Monday – Friday. With beans, quinoa, and dairy, I still managed to make sure my protein intake was really good (yay for FitnessPal!). It was really good for me. I try to eat more veggies, but I know I don’t eat enough, so a vegetarian menu really helped with that problem. However, I did have some issue with my sodium intake being a bit too much. Probably because I do use canned beans. Gonna have to try to use more dried. I don’t really add very much salt to my food, so that is where I believe the sodium levels are coming from. I will have to start adding recipes again. I made a 3 Bean Chili that was fantastic. Especially added to cauliflower tortillas (low carb, low-fat, high in vitamin C). I also experimented with a chickpea salad sandwich (think of the texture of egg or chicken salad with a more hummus-like taste) that I found on it doesn’t taste like chicken. That blog is pretty awesome if you need some easy vegan recipes.

On Week One of C25K: I did alright. I will actually be doing Day 3 tonight as I was not able to do it yesterday or Friday.

Overall, I am already feeling more energetic and I have already lost a few pounds. Not sure if I will win the 12 Week Challenge, but getting myself into it was definitely something good for me.

Frustration

It’s been a long, long time since I last posted about my middle son, my Little Owl. He was delayed in his gross motor skills probably from birth, but it was not noticeable until he was 4 months old. He is now 4 years old. And he is still slightly delayed. And we still do not know why.

We just made a trip to a neurologist in Seattle. Who pretty much told us that, yes, there is something going on with Little Owl, and no, we still do not know why. Which is all stuff I already knew. We just spent $100+ (with help from the in-laws) on a trip to hear stuff we already knew. It is really becoming ridiculous. The docs in Seattle want to see us every 3 to 6 months only to tell us the same goddamn stuff every time. Just call me on the phone and bill my insurance for your time. Save me the gas, food, and lodging.

The neurologist IS ordering a slew of new tests. Which I am hoping our new insurance will cover. They have already denied the genetic test ordered by Little Owl’s biochemical geneticist. I’m not sure they are going to approve an MRI and a spinal tap.

Now, I see the improvements Owl has made. I just want to make sure he keeps improving. We do not necessarily need a diagnosis, but it would be handy to know what we are dealing with. Is it something that we are already treating correctly with the vitamins we are using? Is it something that could be helped with other medications? Are the vitamins actually doing anything? Could a change in diet help? These are questions we can’t answer because we have no clue what we are dealing with. It could be Congenital Myasthenia Syndrome. It could be a slight variation on Mitochondrial Disease. It could be a number of things.

Don’t get me wrong. My Little Owl is wonderfully perfect in his own way. His hypotonia will be with him for the rest of his life. I just want him to be able to understand it and be able to live alongside it. When his weakness hits, it hits hard. There have been times when he will lay down in the middle of a grocery store simply because he is so exhausted. He will literally play until he drops. I do not know of any other four-year-old who will ask for permission to take a nap (“Mommy, I am so tired. Can I please go lay down?”). And yes, I see you. You, right there. I have seen the judging looks you give to my child when he lays down in the store. When he wobbles his way up the stairs to go down the slide he loves to play on. I have learned a lot in living with Owl. I have learned not to judge too harshly or too quickly. We are getting better at living life in the moment, because the next moment may simply be exhaustion.

Veggie Shish Kabobs

Healthy + cheap are two words that most people don’t seem to think can go together. I started my Healthy Eating For Poor People series in an effort to quash that thought process. Not all of us can afford the current trendy organic, free-range bison meat. BUT, most of us can afford simple vegetables, beans, learning how to shop smart, and learning how to make your food in healthier ways.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

The veggies I bought for this meal cost me under $10.00. The receipt is a little misleading since I did not use ALL of the vegetables I bought. I will break down the actual cost at the end of this post.

A meal for 3 - 4 people for under $10!

A meal for 3 – 4 people for under $10!

This was one of the simplest recipes I could think of (aside from a salad).  The ingredients can vary, depending on what you like. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes, so I didn’t use as many as my husband would have. Gotta say – these tomatoes really were spectacular.  Now, there are some additional costs involved with this recipe: marinade and skewers. I already had marinade in my fridge, so that is what I used. I also already had skewers from kabobs a few months before this recipe. I paid about $2.00 for the skewers and $4 for the marinade. A pack of skewers will last my family at least a year. Less if we eat more kabobs. The marinade I used in this recipe is also my favorite chicken and steak marinade. From the size bottle I used (I can sometimes get a bigger bottle at Costco), I get about two – three uses out of it.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Ingredients:

2 Yellow Squash
1 Medium Onion
2 Small Tomatoes
2 Bell Peppers
2 Zucchini Squash
Marinade: enough to coat the kabobs and leave about 1/2 inch in the bottom of a cake pan. I think I used about 1 1/2 cups.

Items needed:

skewers
cake pan/dish to let kabobs sit
grill

Instructions:

Cut all the veggies into decent sized chunks. Not so big that they take up the whole stick, and not so little that they will just fall off. Approximately 2 inch cubes. The onion I cut into largish strips.

Slide the chunks on the skewers in any order you like. Since I had some veggies with really nice colors, I tried to display those colors as nicely as possible. I also made sure to add a bit of onion to add a little more flavor to the other vegetables.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Place the skewered vegetables into a cake pan or deep dish. Pour marinade over the top of the veggies. Make sure they are all well-coated. Cover and let soak for at least an hour. I mixed mine around so all the skewers would have a chance to soak in the marinade on the bottom of the pan.

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Light up your grill and let it heat for about 10 minutes. If you do not have a grill, preheat your oven to about 425º F.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Once the grill has warmed up, place the shish kabobs on it and let cook 10 – 20 minutes. Be sure to turn them over.
If you are using an oven, place the shish kabobs on a cookie sheet. I would spread the marinade left on the bottom of the pan on and around the shish kabobs. Check them about every 5 – 10 minutes. Be sure to turn them over.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

I like my veggies a bit crisp. If you want yours not so crisp, you may need to cook them longer.

This recipe made about 7 skewers and fed three adults and one child. It was surprisingly filling all on its own, though if you want to have more protein with your meal, you may want to finish it off with yogurt, have a side of cheese/quinoa/beans.

Fox & Broom|Veggie Shish Kabobs

Total cost:

2 Yellow Squash: $1.31
1 Onion: $0.28
2 Tomatoes: $0.82
2 Green Bell Peppers: $1.98
2 Zucchini Squash: $1.21
Marinade: Approx $2.00

Total: 7.60 ($1.90 per person for four people)

Nutritional Information (per serving for four people):

This is an approximate estimate. I have no idea exactly how much marinade stays on the kabobs. And, it turns it, my marinade is pretty high in sodium… I expected the fat, as it is an oil base. The salt did surprise me.

Calories: 203
Carbs: 37
Fat: 5
Protein: 3
Sodium: 1981
Sugar: 27

Overall, very simple, fairly healthy (depending on your marinade…) and CHEAP.

Gettting My Mind Back On Track

So, today, it is nearly 3:30pm and I am still in my PJs. I think I need a boost. So, I am going to try to get more recipes put up on my Healthy Eating For Poor People page. With summertime here, I have been thinking about a few grilling recipes and ideas. Even cooking just on my stove top makes my AC work harder, so cooking outside is definitely ideal. Feel free to comment with any ideas. I will be starting with a simple shish kabob veggie recipe. I think it will be interesting to see what the prices come out to be.

Working With Loss

The way that I deal with grief (or any strong emotion) is by writing. This post is one of grief. And deep loss.

Read more…

Oh Sammi

Me: “Sammi, we are going to have a new baby. How do you feel about being a big brother again?”

Sammi: “No. No. We don’t need another baby. We need a puppy.”

Long Overdue Update

It’s been a while since I posted anything. My goal was to post at least one thing per week. Life has other plans.

Anyway, I had been dealing with sickness in the house. Some sort of tummy bug has been bugging my boys. Nothing serious, just some potty issues. I have been feeling nauseous, myself, and just put it down to a mutant strain of whatever the boys were dealing with. . . Not quite the case:

Looks like I am going to be even busier than usual. And dealing with constant nausea to top it off. I am also aware this is really really early to announce something like this, but my husband was having trouble keeping it to himself. So, after sending this video out to all the relatives, I gave him permission to flap his jaw to his heart’s content.

 

Update: I have deleted the video. I was very proud of it, but I needed to take it down for personal reasons.

Cheesy Corn Muffins

I was looking for a yummy addition to our chili the other night and I came across this recipe from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense GuideI’m not totally sure why this book claims to be the commonsense guide. The recipes are not at all common… It does have good recipes, just not ones we are used to seeing. I also took a few liberties with the recipe, which I will note in my directions.

CheesCornMuffin|Fox & Broom Blog

 

 

Cost: VERY inexpensive
Skill Level: Novice. This is a super easy recipe, with minimal clean-up.

 

Corn Muffins
Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 310 g (11 oz/2 1/2 cups) self-rising flour [I measured out 2 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt into a cup, topped it off with all-purpose flour, measured out the rest of the flour – so total would be 2 1/2 cups, whisked it all together]
  • 75 g (2 1/2 oz/1/2 cup) fine polenta [I just used my regular corn meal]
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk [I had to add an extra tbsp of milk to my recipe]
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 130 g (4 1/2 oz) tin corn kernels, drained [I used about 1/2 cup of frozen corn]
  • 2 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped
  • 60 g (2 1/4 oz/ 1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese
  • cream cheese or butter to top

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 210º C (415º F/Gas 6 – 7). Grease two six-hole muffin tins.
  • Sift flour and polenta into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and season with sea salt and pepper. Pour into the well in the flour mixture and gently fold using a metal spoon [I used a wooden spoon] until just combined. Do not over-mix – the batter should still be very lumpy.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin holes and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 5 minutes before turning them out. Serve the muffin hot or at room temp, split in half and spread with cream cheese or butter.

You could easily add more things to these muffins (chives, dried tomatoes). They are NOT SWEET at all. Notice there is not sugar added. I really really liked them alot. My husband still put honey on them – he likes a little sweet with his chili – and said they were really yummy with the sweet added to them.

They also seem to last nicely. They are on day 4 and still quite tasty. They will probably be completely gone by the end of today.

I think I might play around with this recipe a bit and see if I can make a vegan version… If I am successful, I will post the recipe.

CheeseCornMuffin|Fox & Broom Blog

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