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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Cue the magic...

11 weeks ago, to the day, the most magical experience of my life occurred... I went from being a soon to be mum, to becoming a real life mum... for the first time... aaawwww!

I'm sure, for many women the thought of childbirth conjures up images of horror scenes from Hollywood movies showing women (with perfect makeup) sweating, hyperventilating and screaming things like "you did THIS TO ME!" or "GET OUT!!" or this hilarious scene from The Backup Plan. But for me, the experience was... magical. I can't think of a single better word to describe it. That's not to say it wasn't painful, it was, and at one point I did scream "get OUT" at my swollen belly... but somehow I still loved it :)

So here's a short account of my story... without the gore!

I had just posted up this entry and was chatting on the phone with my poor mum who had developed an awful cold and was sad that she probably wouldn't be able to hold bubs whenever she finally did decide to arrive. I was 11 days past my due date, very uncomfortable with huge sausage feet when I finally felt my first contraction at 11am. It was like an uncomfortable cramp, nothing too painful and I knew that I might not have another for an hour or so as is normal at the beginning of many labors, so I ignored it and kept chatting.

My next contraction came 5 minutes later... and 5 minutes after that... and 5 minutes after that! So I made an excuse to get off the phone and called the midwives who agreed it was time to go to the Birth Center. I called Mr Sabi and uttered two words "Home, NOW!" Thankfully he was just 10 minutes away, as by the time he got home my contractions had progressed to 3 minutes apart! So armed with towels, in case of a roadside emergency, I waddled to the car and we set off on our 25 minute drive to the hospital... which turned into a 50 minute drive thanks to darn roadworks!!

We had the wonderful experience of having a first year student midwife follow our pregnancy from start to finish - Miss Al. Poor Miss Al was having one of her final exams that day, but she met us at the hospital soon after. If she was still unsure whether she wanted to continue her career choice in midwifery, she would soon have all the experience needed to make that choice!

My labor continued to increase in intensity for several hours and after trying massage, having a shower, swaying to music and having a bath, the midwives suggested I try some oxygen. For me, this was a great choice. The oxygen just took the edge off the contraction and helped me relax a little more to let my body do its thing. It doesn't get into my, or the baby's blood stream, and as soon as you stop sucking on that magic pipe, the affects wear off... unfortunately!

Anyway, I promised to skip the gore, so let's summarize the next bit. Waters broke, meconium was present - this is bubs first poop - which meant I had to move out of the Birth Center into the main birthing suites of the hospital for monitoring. It's generally still safe to birth your baby, but the baby's heart rate needs to be monitored to ensure she doesn't get distressed. Once I was in my new room - 10 meters down the hallway - and the doctor checked "us" over, it was decided that it was time to push... which meant giving up the oxygen pipe! NOOOO!!! My wonderful midwife, Shari, pried the pipe from my hand and convinced me it was time and I needed to focus, so "no more gas now sweetie" she uttered soothingly, yet firmly, in her thick Eastern European accent.

Ninety minutes of pushing later, I looked up and noticed it was 11:50pm. If I could just hold on 10 more minutes, our daughter would have the coolest birthdate - 11/11/11! Yes, I promise the insane part of my brain actually thought of this and I could see that Mr Sabi and Miss Al were thinking the same thing... but 5 minutes, and a few squeals later, little Miss C was born!!

She was slippery and blue; fat and perfect, her big eyes looking up at me, curiously taking everything in. My birth experience was over! She was here, she was real! The tears and hugs flowed, but only for a brief moment.

Although my birth had virtually gone to plan, little Miss C had sucked in a lot of meconium and needed some help breathing so she was whisked away to NICU for assistance. I was devastated. Throughout my pregnancy I had prepared myself for all the possible birth situations: natural, assisted, epidurals, c-sections, whatever was needed to bring my baby into this world was fine with me, although natural was the preference. But I had never once thought that my baby would be born sick. It would be 5 stress filled days of breathing treatments, tests, infection spikes, almost no cuddles and even having to go home without her... a memory that still makes the tears flow. Some people were supportive, some not so much but the NICU Nurses always smiled and reassured us. There were so many truly sick babies in the NICU unit, some only half the size of our brave girl but all fighters. I pray that all those babies were able to go home with their families soon after us. 

Finally after 5 of the longest, tumultuous days of my life, we got the all clear from the doctor and it was time for the little family to go home!

It's been a fabulous journey so far. From time to time, I might even let you know what's happening. But let's not talk about poop! Why does everyone become so fascinated with poop once a baby is born?! It's really not that exciting...

Monday, 16 January 2012

"Sorry, I'm gluten intolerant..."

I bet if you went through your list of friends you could easily count half a dozen that are gluten intolerant. It’s such a common aliment these days. But don’t let it stop you inviting your closest friends over for dinner. (if you’re unfamiliar with gluten intolerance, check out Wikipedia for more info)

I am not a nutritionist or doctor and this list is by no means comprehensive, you should always double check all product labels (they change frequently) but here’s some pointers to help you out:

Stir-fry: steamed rice is always a good option but if you want to do a noodle dish grab some fresh rice noodles from the dairy case at the supermarket. I think they are even yummier then the wheat varieties and all you need to do is sit them in hot water for a few minutes, drain and add to your wok.

Cheese sauce: most of the time you would thicken a sauce with flour, but instead use cornflour. Most corn flours are gluten free (double check labels as some contain wheat) and in this case you can substitute your usual amount of plain flour for cornflour... you won’t even know the difference.

Pasta: there are lots of gluten free pasta’s available these days so find a variety that you like. Make a batch of cheese sauce and you could have mac and cheese or if you have some frozen Bolognese sauce, you could whip together a quick lasagne.

Corn tortillas and taco shells: Mexican style foods are always an easy option. So far all the taco shells I’ve found are gluten free but some tortillas are sneaking in wheat flour, so again, check the labels!

Crumbs: rice crumbs are easy to find in the health sections of most major supermarkets and are actually crunchier then bread crumbs, mmmm.

Dessert: go to the health section of your local supermarket and buy a gluten free cake mix! There are lots of recipes available but it can be very expensive to make a flourless cake as you need a lot of nut meal so this is the one time I'll let you cheat. Or your other options are something dairy based, like custard, ice-cream sundaes, crème caramels or mousse.

Hope that’s given you some ideas!