Monday, April 29, 2013

A Very Long Birth Story

One year ago today my labor started. It was a Monday evening. I was in the bathtub reading a book, my belly high out of the water, feeling you kick and squirm. Any moment now. The tabby cat sat on the edge of the tub. My belly was tightening and relaxing, tightening and relaxing. I read my book, a magical story about a snow child in the Alaskan winter. You kicked. Your daddy entered the bathroom, kissed me, touched my hair, dripped water on my belly. "I think it's starting," I said.

I knew the moment you were conceived. I felt it. A tiny lightening strike deep inside. There was nothing else it could be. We didn't mean to make a baby, but our love was big and powerful from the very beginning. It was cosmic and unstoppable. We talked about you. We said, "If we do bring a baby back from Thailand, would that be so bad?" The moon was new; we were learning to scuba dive, spending the days underwater or in a boat, napping in the afternoon, then in the evening walking to an open air restaurant called Fishy's, drinking Thai beer and smoking, eating curry or noodles, then falling into bed and falling in love all over again. It's no wonder we made you. We couldn't help it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why write your birth story?

I'm writing my birth story. It's almost finished, and I'm really excited about sharing it here. I read a lot of birth stories while I was pregnant and deciding where to deliver (home, hospital, or birth center), and then after I decided to birth at home, I read a lot of homebirth stories. I found the stories so poignant and sacred, such a beautiful glimpse into other families' most intimate moments.

But I was totally unprepared for my days-long labor and non-emergent transfer to the hospital. Since he was born I've felt disappointed that he wasn't born at home. I wanted the empowering, transformative birth experience that is described in so many birth stories; but by the time he was born I was just glad it was over. His birth felt anti-climactic. Is that weird to say? I thought, "It could've been worse." And tried to be glad that it wasn't. I wasn't scared, cut open, bullied, separated from my baby, or anything else that happens in hospitals. I grieved the loss of my homebirth, but since my hospital birth was "just fine," I couldn't give myself permission to mourn.

Part of me felt I wimped out by going to the hospital for the pitocin and epidural. Maybe he would've been born on Friday morning anyway, even if I hadn't gone to the hospital.  I've let all that go. In my baby's eleventh month, I joined a birth story writing group, so I've been doing a lot of thinking, remembering, and writing about our birth. His birthday was on a Saturday this year. On Tuesday night, I thought, "This time last year, my labor was starting." And for the rest of the week, as I worked at the hospital, shopped, cleaned house, and prepped food for the birthday party, I thought, "this time last year, I was in labor." It was such a long time. So many days. All in all, labor lasted about 84 hours. If I can do that, I can do anything.

I was fantasizing about getting pregnant again and having a perfect homebirth. I could labor in the tub, walk around in the garden, and give birth in our marriage bed. But then I felt it and believed it: my birth was perfect. It was long and painful, but it demonstrates my strength and determination. It is a testament of love for my child. And just like that, I found a new sense of peace, respect, and honor for myself.

And that, ladies, is why you should write your birth stories.

The essence of the rose is the thorn. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's happening in the garden? April.

The tomatoes are growing and growing. On the left are Cherokee Purple and Tye-Dye. The roma-type tomato on the right isn't doing so well--its leaves are brown and crinkly and its growth is stunted. It must have a disease, but I don't know what or what to do about it. I may just pull it out and plant something else. The romas didn't grow last year, either. You can see the zucchini squash in front. They are grown from seed and you can see they have some true leaves.
This is the Brandywine Yellow, and next to it is a cucumber start and a little basil plant. I haven't had much luck with basil in the past, but this year I plan to religiously prune those precious, delicious little leaves.
Here we have the carniverous San Francisco Fog, and Early Girl on the right. The San Francisco Fog is setting fruit already.
The first strawberries are ripe.

Happy spring.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No-stir Springtime Asparagus Risotto

To be fair, there is some stirring involved in this risotto recipe, but much less than the traditional method of risotto-cooking, which requires 45 minutes of standing before the stove and stirring your arm off. There are so many things to love about risotto: it gets along with butternut squash in the fall and with asparagus or peas in the spring; it's very pleasant by itself for lunch or as a bed for a lamb shank for dinner; it's easy to pull together from pantry staples and it is always warm and comforting.

I used to make it only for special occasions or cravings, but that was before this new method changed my life for the better. This recipe is adapted from the new kitchen bible, The Science of Good Cooking, from Cook's Illustrated. I'm considering getting rid of all my other cookbooks now that I have this one. It is that good and that complete.

No-Stir Springtime Asparagus Risotto

 1 large onion, diced fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I like the Better Than Bouillon paste)
1 1/2 cups water 
2 lbs asparagus
1 cup parmesan reggiano, grated
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the water and broth in a sauce pan, heat until boiling, then keep warm on a back burner.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness. Remove, shock in cold water, and chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot with a good lid. I use a dutch oven. Add the onions and saute until soft. Add the garlic. Add the rice. Stir about 3 minutes, until the edges are translucent. Add the wine and stir until it has bubbled away. Add 5 cups of the hot broth mixture, stir, cover with the lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 18 minutes, stirring a few times, until the rice is just al dente.

Add another ladle-full of broth and stir for about 3 minutes. The rice will become creamier and more like risotto. Stir in the parmesan and asparagus. Cover and remove from heat. After 5 minutes, stir in the butter and lemon juice. Add the remaining broth to loosen the risotto to your liking. Adjust seasonings. Top with more parmesan, lemon juice, and black pepper, if you like.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Orange miso farro and kale salad

Today I had food prep to do in the kitchen. I needed to hard boil some eggs for the baby, roast some potatoes, figure out something to take to work for dinner, and start using up that giant bag of baby kale I bought at Costco. I picked up a bag of farro recently, because we're eating more grains and bloggers everywhere love it, and we haven't tried it yet. I put some on to boil and the makings for this salad leapt into the bowl.

This is a healthy and filling lunch. I'll be making many more farro salads with seasonal fruits and veggies. 

Orange Miso Farro and Kale Salad

 1 orange, juiced
1 tablespoon fresh miso paste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 onion, minced
2 carrots, chopped or grated
2 oranges, chopped
2 1/2 cups cooked farro
4 cups baby kale
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds

In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, miso paste, olive oil, sesame oil, and lemon juice. Add the onion, carrots, oranges, farro, and baby kale and toss well.

Top with dried cranberries and almonds.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.