"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Sunday, August 26, 2012

WAIT! I didn't know!

Ivy in her hammock

OK, we didn't tell anyone what we were naming Ivy.  Ivy is my favorite girl name of all time.  When I was a girl we had a bed of ivy in our side garden, and the little purple flowers, something like stars, were my favorite, more than any flower in my mother's amazing gardens (yes, plural... there was more than 1).  It was originally intended for Rosemary (Rosie), but we took a lot of heat for it from, shall we say, various sectors, and I wanted to name a baby after my maternal grandmother, so in the end, we decided to switch our first daughter's name to from Ivy Rose to Rosemary Catherine (also due to my then-recent obsession with Catherine of Siena). 

Then Rosie was born on the feast of St. Ives, which we didn't notice till she was a month old.  When I told Ed, he wanted to change her name.  No kidding.  He was more than upset and really, so was I.  But Rosie was already Rosie, and we knew another baby girl would come.

And come she did! 

Since I didn't want any more guff about baby names, during the pregnancy we just didn't tell anyone our name.  After all, once a baby is born and named, no one feels very free to say things like, you know:

"That's an awful name!"

"I hate that name!"

"Oh, like poison ivy!?!?" (Ummmm, so clever, people.)

After a baby is born and named, people say politely, "O how nice," and then go talk about your baby's name behind your back.  Right?

So unfortunately


Blue Ivy, actually.  Or that Ivy is currently on a Disney Channel show, once appeared on 90210, and is also featured on some popular video game.  Or that Ivy is currently in the top 100 baby names in Great Britain, according to some sources.

Well, rain on my parade why don't you.  I thought people would just think I was odd, and slightly eccentric, maybe obsessed with herbs and other plant life, when I introduced 2 daughters named Rosemary and Ivy... now- horror of horrors- people are going to think I'm TRENDY.


Now every time someone asks her name I'm going to want to say "Ivy- but really, I didn't know about Beyonce' when I named her.  I had the name picked out for YEARS..." while blushing and feeling really dumb.


Don't tell anyone your baby names in advance of said baby's birth... but, for heaven's sake, don't forget to consult Google.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."


I'm still babymooning, but soon I'll return to my regular old blogger self...  I've got some allergy remedies to share, a new cough syrup recipe, and some gluten-free recipes to share.  Gluten-free recipe development is a pretty slow thing, I'm finding, so bear with me.  Heaven forbid I post any recipe here before achieving 100% success.  You know, gummy cookies-  I just can't do that to you.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

sorry, no more entries being accepted

Ivy already won Cutest Baby in the History of the World:

mom, this is overkill... it's 65 degrees!

he got jealous of the pilot's cap...

"An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship." 
~Spanish Proverb

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Hi, friends! 

Just a quick post to let you know that www.vitacost.com has almost all their gluten-free products an extra 20% off right now.  I have no affiliation with them and receive no compensation for advertising for them!  One of our favorite premade snacks- Larabars- are included in the sale (most flavors under $1 per bar!), even if you are not GF, you may find some great deals.  If, like me, you are a little too tied up to make everything from scratch at the moment... mosey on over and see what you can save on:

vitacost GF sale


Monday, August 13, 2012

Ladies and Gentle-women: Bind Yer Bellies!

I became interested in postpartum belly-binding during my third pregnancy.  Like many mamas, my abs were pretty well split by the time I got pregnant the third time, and I was more than a little concerned when they split even worse due to swimming and yoga in my third trimester.

My midwife suggested binding my belly after birth to assist with healing the muscles, so I read ravenously every word I could find about the practice.  There isn't a lot out there, though. 

Belly binding is a common practice in non-western cultures.  I'm not aware of any longitudinal studies such as we westerners set such great store by, but here's what info I have been able to scrape together from online sources and real-life midwives who  encourage it:

To begin with, let's get vanity out of the way!  Yes, you look better with a bound belly in the first weeks after giving birth.  After my third child was born, I went in for a thyroid xray when he was 4 weeks old, and the nurse nervously asked me if he was adopted.  Yes, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, but she said, "You just look too good to have such a new baby!"

You look good because that extra... stuff is getting squished back into place.  And it feels good, too, to not have a swinging tummy.  I don't know why, exactly, but the skin and, um, droopiness? just melt away much more quickly.

C-section moms, of course, have long been known to be more comfortable with at least their incision area bound.  It's certainly easier than hugging a pillow every time you cough or laugh!

Bleeding is decreased with belly binding, according to my current midwife.  She was pleased to learn that I was planning on binding my belly, because she was a bit worried about further bleeding after the initial hemmorhage I experienced.  She was, I don't know, relieved? when I came in at 48 hours and she palpated my uterus through my knock-off Spanx.  (I was her first outside-of-hospital hemorrhage, and I think she was a trifle traumetized.  Ed is worried she'll never agree to catch a baby for us again, but I hope he is wrong!)

Also, the back and abdomen are TIRED after 9 months of lugging a watermelon around supported by 2 measly ligaments, and a bound belly gives good support to those tired muscles and supports the spine.  It encourages good posture- and wait, did I mention it looks good?

There are many folkloric reasons for belly binding, but for me, decreased bleeding, muscle healing, skeletal support, and looking less postpartum-ish are MORE than enough reason to bind the 'ole middle. 

Is it necessary to spend a small fortune on a fancy binder?  No.  My sister-in-law, after 5 c-sections, swears by the shapewear sold at Wal-Mart for about$10- $15 a pop.  I like "Assets" which is a Spanx under-brand sold at JC Penney.  I also recommend the ones that go from your thigh (like shorts) up to your ribcage.  These prevent riding up in the underwear area and the edges don't roll or bunch up.  I think some moms have problems with the tube-shape ones sold specifically for postpartum because the upper or lower edge can roll up or down.  I used a "real" Spanx after John Paul and definitely had that issue with the waistband.  You may need 2, though, say a size medium for the first week, followed by a small after you've shrunk some.

Definitely note that to gain the full benefits of belly binding, you will want to bind in the morning and not unbind till bed for at least 10 days, but more like 30-40 days. 

"The great advantage of living in a large family is that early lesson of life's essential unfairness. "
~Nancy Mitford

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Red Raspberry Leaf: How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

A brief herbal history:

In the "olden days," midwives were often also herbal masters, and mixed in with more or less old wives' tale-type folklore, they often could heal maladies better than your run-a-day early American doctor.  Many herbalists were persecuted as witches in Europe and early America for their "magic."  (Think The Crucible and the Salem witch trials, and some Spanish Inquisition junk....)  Now, all I will say is that some herbs are so amazing, I often find myself thinking the word "magic" as I use them.

It's also somewhat mind-boggling when you begin to realize that some of the mostest amazing-est herbs are... well... weeds.  Dandelion, anyone?

Bottom line is, herbs are powerful things.  Many modern, main-stream healthcare sources, though, seem to indicate that herbs are unsafe because they are so powerful.  While at the same time, said sources will also try to make you believe that herbs are ineffective as well!

Really, you just need to know how an herb acts and what its contra-indications are before you use it.  Many herbs, such as red raspberry leaf, are quite powerful, but totally harmless, without contra-indications or side effects.

Raspberry leaf is what is known as a 'tonic herb.'  Tonic herbs are not used to cure acute problems, but are meant to be taken is generous doses over time.  They strengthen and 'tone' their targeted body system and promote robust, resilient good health.  While raspberry leaf is an excellent uterine and overall female reproductive tonic, it is also an 'everyone' herb. 

Why?  Well, red raspberry leaf contains high levels of bioavailable iron.  There may not be as much iron in raspberry leaf as in other foods, but the iron in raspberry leaf is easy for your body to absorb, so almost all of it can be used by your body, unlike, say, the iron in vitamin pills that your body can't assimilate very well.  Also, any excess iron in the herb that your body doesn't need is very easy to excrete.  Excess iron from supplements is taxing for your body, specifically your liver, to flush out. 

Its blood-building properties make it invaluable for anyone prone to anemia.  Prepared as I suggest below, it is easy for kids to take.  Much easier than iron pills or even Floradix, a popular but nasty (and wickedly expensive) herbal product widely used for children and especially pregnant women.

For women, red raspberry leaf keeps the uterus in shape.  As we have more babies, it is easy for that stretched out uterus to stay stretched out and not regain its tone.  It also can help relieve excess cramping during menstruation for the same reason.  Women who drink high levels of the tea in pregnancy report shorter (ahem),  faster (aHEM), and easier labors.  Many women report that the FER (fetal ejection reflex) takes over and they don't actually push the baby out at all, but the uterus itself just swooshes the baby out on its own.  (In my experience that is a pretty calm way to describe FER, but exactly how to communicate it in words....)

Although less documented, I have come across sources, as well as numerous midwives, who confirm that red raspberry leaf keeps the placenta strong and healthy during pregnancy.

Overall, red raspberry leaf is a good astringent (a compound which causes body tissues to shrink or contract), making it good for a mouthwash for mouth sores, a good treatment for diarrhea, and because of its high niacin and manganese content, it also helps with low energy levels.

Some sources say RRL is best avoided during the first trimester.  But in the later stages of pregnancy, the general dosage is at least 4 cups of the tea daily. 

To brew raspberry leaf tea, I liike to heap about 1/4 cup in a tea pot and cover with 2 cups boiling water.  Cover tightly and steep at least 15 minutes.  30 minutes up to a couple of hours is better.  This will produce a STRONG tea.  Drink it hot at full strength during the winter, with honey or stevia and lemon to taste.  It will taste a lot like regular black tea.  Or, dilute the tea in plenty of ice and cold water, with lemon and stevia, for a delicious iced tea during warm weather.

For a special treat, add 2 Tablespoons rose hips and 1 Celestial Seasonings 'zinger' tea bag (red zinger, berry zinger, raspberry zinger, lemon zinger) along with the leaf.  Steep as long as possible.  Dilute to make a 1/2 gallon iced tea with lemon or lime and stevia.  Tastes like pink lemonade or Kool-Aid, especially with the red zinger teabag addition!

Again, one of the best things about this herb is that if you don't 'need' all its magic, you aren't harmed by it, and you still benefit from the nutrients it contains.  Plus it makes a tasty way to stay hydrated.

"My idea of a good herbalist is not someone who knows how to use forty herbs, but someone who knows how to use one herb in forty different ways."
-Svevo Brooks

***None of this info is meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.  Information is shared for educational purposes only.  Herbs are not miracle drugs and will never make up for poor diet and lifestyle.  Use at your own risk.  Always consult your doctor.  Blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah.***

Ivy smiling, 4 days old

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Birth Story

*Ivy was due August 12*
Ivy Ana Armendariz
7 lb 12 oz, 20"
12:44 pm, Sunday, August 5, 2012

When I went to the chiropractor July 23, Ivy's teeny, tiny head slid down, down, down, into my pelvis.  For the first time in 4 pregnancies, I felt like waddling (which I did NOT allow myself to do- nothing worse than being huge AND waddling!).  The next day, I had a gush of blood while feeding the ducks at Boys Town with my little people, and my first thought was, "O no, that's my placenta!"  But my sisters, my mom, my husband, my midwife- everyone reassured me it was probably NOT the case.  (Terra, if you are reading this- I kept thinking of you and Jane!!!)  After a visit to the midwife, I came home and tried to rest, but couldn't.  I decided to check into the hospital my midwife catches at for a sonogram and non-stress test. 

The sonogram could not detect any placental issues, nor any cervical issues, so I went home, much relieved.

The following Saturday, I started having contractions and the bleeding started again.  This time, my midwife wanted me in the hospital, but I insisted I was fine.  I wasn't keen on another sonogram, having just had one, or more monitoring.  I just wanted to rest where I would be comfortable.  But, alas, no sleep could be had.  Contractions continued, picking up between 1am and 3am.  When I called my midwife, she wanted me to take a shower or bath and I got a little testy.  "If I get in the water, and I am in labor, I won't make it to you," I snapped.

So in we headed, with all 3 kids, at 3am.  Contractions weres still regular and strong- till we stepped into the birth center.  When they stopped, dead.  I was extremely irritated and didn't say much.  We hung out for a bit and went home, all of us falling exhausted back into our beds.  I was happy to sleep... except no sleep was to be had.  Contractions started back up, strong and steady, and lasted all day.  The bleeding had stopped, though, so I just laid down and tried to relax.  Things petered out about 8pm, and after checking myself (4cm dilated), I fell into an exhausted sleep and slept for 12 hours.

Then commenced a normal week, including a trip to Marysville, Kansas, with Ed.  I didn't want to be alone and I was happy to get away from the city for a bit with the kids.  Baby's head was still wedged so deeply that I was trying not to worry about how I could go possibly 3 more weeks like that. 

Saturday, August 4, I decided we needed to do some sightseeing here in Omaha, since all we've been doing since our move here 4 weeks ago is working on our house.  We spent the day away from home playing different places, and then we attended 5pm Mass, in our Saturday kicking-around clothes, which is very unusual for us. 

As soon as we got home, I started spotting- AGAIN- so I laid down for the night at 7 pm.  I was dog tired and that was a good thing.  I had about 3 contractions before falling asleep, barely conscious I remember thinking, "O, no, those don't feel good at all..."

I slept till 9am and woke to a hard contraction.  I kept thinking I'd get up and see what was going on downstairs, but every time I almost got out of bed, I decided to lay back down for the next contraction... although they were only 15 minutes apart and it really didn't feel like labor. 

Hunger finally got me out of bed at 10 am.  Over a bowl of oatmel with bananas and walnuts, I started thinking, "Gee, that feels funny... and uncomfortable."  I couldn't finish my breakfast and went to sit down on the toilet.  I had 1 contraction and started feeling uneasy... I was pretty sure I had involuntarily born down a little bit at the peak of that one.  I checked myself... and felt a head through what I thought was a bulging bag of waters, low and even pushing out.   I sent Ed for a mirror and when I had a look, I asked for the phone immediately.

I told the midwife I was seeing a bulging bag of waters, but it was dark red as if it was full of blood.  She assured me that was highly unlikely and the bulging was probably something else like a cystocele, and that she wasn't too concerned with the pushy feeling.  She said it would probably be tonight since my babies always come in the night- just let her know when I wanted to come in.

Her lack of concern calmed me, but I really needed some counterpressure on that bulge, whatever the heck it was.  So I had Ed scrub the tub and I poured in 2 cups of epsom salts and a wee dram of jasmine absolute essential oil, my traditional labor bath. 

The contractions- 2- in the water seemed more manageable, but the darn bulging was not cool.  I said my St. Gerard prayers and pressed my St. Gerard relic over my belly, also a personal labor-bath tradition of mine.  *TMI warning*- the second contraction, 20 minutes after getting in, pushed out some poop.  So I got up and showered off, then went to lie down.

The very first contraction lying down made me panic.  It was too hard.  I called my friend, then my mom, who listened through 1 contraction and told me to GO.  Even if I had to just hang out in the parking lot of the birth center.  I called my midwife and told her I was handling the contractions very poorly and I just really needed to come in.  In just a few minutes, my sister had the kids whisked away and Ed was packing the car.  I can't remember exactly what my sister said when she peeked in on me, but it made me feel a lot better.

The car ride lasted 22 minutes.  Suddenly the contractions were 3 minutes apart and I was vocalizing through each one; I also had to bear down with each one.  I tried to keep the pushiness low, only using enough to prevent the contraction from completely overwhelming me.  Or really, just trying not to scream.  At one point we came to a standstill behing a wreck.  I almost told Ed to pull over right there, since there were medics and firemen milling about, but then traffic went and we were off.  Very fast.  I was clutching my St. gerard handkerchef with the St. Gerard relic inside, to my belly and gripping the door handle with the other.  For dear life.

The last contraction as we were entering the parking lot was insane.  I *absolutely* decided I could not do this any more.  Period.  What if I'm at a 5 and I'll be in labor for 2 more hours?  I think the first word that crossed my lips to my midwife was "epidural."

Sadly, Ed decided to move the car, and therefore missed the birth.  I'm pretty sad about that still.  I did tell him to answer my phone, though, so it was partially my fault. 

I managed to walk to a room and throw off my robe.  My midwife started the whirlpool tub.  All I could see was a counter, where I wanted to lean.  So lean I did.  "Oh!" cried the midwife, "That IS your bag of waters!"  (No time to say I told you so just then...)  A contraction started, I whined, and then my water broke, blood-red and black with meconium, all over the floor and my shoes.

"No, no, no, really, I can't do this anymore!" I yelled at her.  "Uh, you don't have to.  She's right there, just push her out."

I really wasn't going to do it, but with the fading of the contraction, my body gave a heave and out she came, howling, into the ungloved hands of a very surprised midwife.  Ed dashed in, and I just stood there, rather in shock.

I took the baby and managed to slide into bed, unwinding the cord from her legs as I went.  We could tell she was no 9.5 pound baby.  She was, to us, teeny tiny.

I did hemorrhage over the next hour, and then some (but the placenta came on its own, usually a problem for me).  1250 cc or 43 ounces, to be exact.  But I felt and feel just fine.  I've been using herbs and chlorophyll in the last few weeks in preparation for that, as bleeding during third stage is 'normal' for me.

Then I got super-duper shaky and freezing cold as the labor and birth hormones finally 'caught up' with me.  Maybe something to do with the pitocin and misoprostol I agreed to to help stop the bleeding, also?  I was going to eat placenta, but the meds were needed in the moment to get a fast, sure action.  I was not about to transfer NOW.  The cold shakes and bleeding prevented me from enjoying Ivy for about 2 hours in there, but she nursed through it all like a champ. 

I suppose I should have had the placenta, too, as everyone swears by it.  But honestly, as crunchy and hippie as I am... eating placenta has always freaked me out.  However, a wonderful lady is drying and encapsulating my placenta for me even as I write.  So hopefully I can force myself to down the pills.

The placenta did show an abruption.  But there is no way to know when it happened.  My gut tells me the original bleed was, indeed, an abruption.  But minor enough not to compromise baby.  This is the reason for all the blood in the amniotic fluid.  Luckily we didn't get there any earlier, because red blood in the amniotic sac would have been an automatic hospital transfer.  I was also the first official postpartum hemorrhage at the Bellvue Birth Center.  Woo-hoo.   

We came home at 6pm to meet the kids.  Aunt Katie said hello to Ivy and then we all snuggled up to marvel at baby.

Ed and I decided we just were where we needed to be, as much as we wanted a home birth, because many if not all homebirth midwives would have transferred for the blood in the waters/ meconium and/ or for the hemorrhage.  So although  the birth center was not our first choice, we feel it worked out well in the end. 

Why all the blood?
Why the nuts-o labor?
Why the small (for us) baby?
Why the abrupted placenta?
Why did Ed miss it?
Why not a smooth and easy birth like last time, so the kids could come?

Who knows.  I guess it's a lot about surrender.

Today I am feeling very happy and grateful- grateful the abruption didn't compromise baby, grateful we avoided an, in the end, unnecessary transfer, grateful Ivy is nursing well, grateful I feel fantastic despite all that blood loss (I swear by my red raspberry leaf tea and chlorophyll).

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say.  "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."  ~J.R.R. Tolkien, "Three Is Company," The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954

Monday, August 6, 2012

First Pictures of Ivy (that don't do her justice)

Daddy didn't even make it into the room before Ivy came.  It was a fast and wild labor, most of which took place in the car.  We almost got stuck in traffic behind a car accident and we seriously considered just getting out of the car on the side of the road to let the firemen catch the baby. 
I'll come back and post the full story, with all the gory details- hehe- a bit later.

Proud siblings were sad to miss the birth, but had a ton-o-fun at the amusement park with aunt, uncle and cousins instead.  (THANKS, Aunt Katie!!!)

"It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. "
~Albert Einstein

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ivy is here!

1 week early
after a very odd labor.

7 lb 12 oz
12:44 pm

We both are fine and back home already.

Hopefully pics and story tomorrow.

"Children make you want to start life over." 
~Muhammad Ali

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

If You Give a Pregnant Lady a Coffee Cake...

Last night the innkeepers brought some Dutch crumble coffee cake over.  I know exactly what recipe it was, from the 1970's Betty Crocker cookbook.  I've altered that one many a time.  It's also my choice for bake sale donations.

Ed thought it was too sweet.


And it would have turned my kids into crazy monsters. 

Naturally, I ate some.  Too much.  A sizeable chunk. 

Then I poured some water on it, squished it up, and threw it away.  Then I squirted some ketchup and mustard on top just to be sure. 

(Man, that is a good 'bad' recipe.)

I don't actually have a lot of self-control.  I would have eaten the whole thing.  I am, after all, 38.5 weeks pregnant, stressed, and attempting to avoid sugar completely till birthing my babe.  So set me down in front of a coffee cake, and ya, without doing something weird like that, I'd have eaten the whole thing by now.  Probably even if I had just thrown it away- hence the water-ketchup-mustard addition.

"We have a choice every day - to act on yesterday's good intentions or get an early start on tomorrow's regrets." 
~Robert Brault

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." 
~Robert Louis Stevenson