He’s Here! Birth Story

I haven’t been on the computer much these last few weeks because our handsome little man has been keeping me busy! Gabriel Joseph was born on May 12th, at 5:22am. We named him after Marc’s father, Joseph Gabriel (which we planned even before we knew we were having a boy) and it just so happens, they share the same birthday as well! Gabriel also decided to make his appearance the day before mother’s day (the day before I was due), so it was an extra special weekend.

Dad holding his son for the first time

Gabriel is currently asleep, snuggled onto my chest; the perfect spot to give lots of baby kisses. We are absolutely in love with him and think he is the sweetest thing ever. He is quite alert, even in the beginning, but he has been quite kind in the sleep department at night. In fact, there has only been 2 sleep-deprived nights, and that was a result of food I ate that didn’t sit well with him (broccoli the first time and Chinese food the second time). He sleeps 2.5-4 hour stretches at night, and usually goes to sleep easily after being changed and fed. We feel truly blessed!

Now onto our birth story, which is not sugar coated, may be a little TMI for some, but it’s the honest truth (click the “more” link under the picture to continue reading)

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37… or 36 Weeks Along. EDD and Induction Rant

Sunday I supposedly hit the 37 week mark in my pregnancy. Although, when I count from ovulation, I am about a week behind. So really, I am closer to 36 weeks than 37.

Does a week off really matter? I guess only if the little Mr. decides he wants to be in there for 42 weeks (well, technically it would be only 40, since the first two weeks you aren’t even pregnant…). Most midwives and doctors alike don’t want you going past 42 weeks, so if they say I am 42 weeks, but I know I am only 41 weeks, it could be a problem. But we can cross that bridge if we get to it.

I’m feeling brave. Here’s the latest pregnancy picture:

Have you ever done internet research on due dates? It’s pretty crazy. Maddening really. There is really no accurate way to estimate due dates – even with a scan. Even searching “how to estimate due dates’ can get a bit confusing! I know exactly when I ovulated and when the egg implanted (thanks to Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness Method), yet the doctors have my estimated (key word there) due date about a week off.

You are considered full term at 37 weeks – 42 weeks (God forbid you go over!), yet two of those weeks you are technically not even pregnant. This logic states that you ovulated about two weeks after you started your period; something I do NOT do, and can vary with many other women.

For those who have absolutely no clue when they got pregnant (often due to hormonal issues; PCOS, Menopause, etc.), they have to depend measuring correctly via sonogram or ultrasound. Did you know that ultrasounds can be 2 pounds off? There is a big difference between a 5 pound baby and a 7 pound one (about 4-5 weeks gestation, sometimes).

So if your doctor estimates your due date 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, come 42 weeks they want that baby out (even if there is no sign of distress from mother or baby), and you can be induced and deliver a baby that is really only 39 weeks. And not all babies at 39 weeks are ready to be born (hence why you probably haven’t gone into labor yet).

It just amazes me (and annoys me) how much information there is out there about why you shouldn’t induce in almost all cases, yet we live in a time where (according to the CDC) about 20% of labors are induced (another study, placed the rate at closer to 40%). I’m not just blaming the doctors either – mothers play a big part in it as well.

I guess this rant/babble goes along the same lines of why I get so confused when pregnant women make no attempt to educate themselves about anything regarding the health of themselves and their baby during pregnancy. There is so much information out there so readily available, why not take advantage of it? Even 5 minutes on Google and you could learn a few things.

I’m not saying there is no reason to induce, sometimes there is. I’m not getting on a high horse and saying that all women, everywhere, should have a natural, unmedicated birth. I’m saying that no matter what decision we make, it should at least be a somewhat educated one. And if you have internet, there should be no excuse.

It is also very easy to get biased information. If you are searching around on a certain topic, make sure you look at both sides and check your sources. It is very easy to find the information you want to see by how you word the search terms.

Anyways *gets off soap box*

I’m in no hurry for this little guy to make his appearance just yet. It may be uncomfortably warm, painful to roll over in bed, and unpleasant to have feet jammed up in my ribs, but we need to get moved and settled into our new house (which would close already if the selling bank would submit a from). I think my thighs are growing exponentially and it’s getting quite difficult to bend over, but I would rather not have to bring a baby home to a house full of unpacked boxes! We can revisit these feelings if we ever get settled into the new home.

 

Super Easy Slow-Cooker Chile Verde and a Trip to the City

(Click “More” link at bottom of page for recipe)

Marc had the Monday holiday off and we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in San Francisco and I managed to slip in a trip to Ikea on our way back. While our ideal diet is grain-free (even if I eat more sprouted grains now that I am pregnant), processed foods-free, and only whole foods, we do splurge and treat ourselves. Marc’s a bit of a beer-lover (and a bit of a beer snob) and I will admit, when I went completely gluten-free, beer was actually the hardest to give up than anything else. Being pregnant has me not drinking at all, but when I wasn’t pregnant, I would enjoy a [good] beer now and then.

The Bay bridge was actually open yesterday going West Bound (they had planned to work on it during the holiday weekend). We had ABSOLUTELY NO TRAFFIC. We didn’t even have to wait in line at the toll. We got to our SF destination in about 20-30 minutes less than usual.

We had planned to go to Thirsty Beer Brewing Company – organic craft beer + tapas. We even called on Saturday evening to confirm they would be open, and after finding parking, we walk up to the restaurant and it says it is closed for the holiday! I was a little hangry, but I’m not one to let little things ruin my day. I emailed them the next day and the manager was very nice.

Marc really wanted to go to The Monk’s Kettle and after rereading their menu, their hamburger sounded really good and I agreed.

It was probably a good thing the other place was closed because The Monk’s Kettle was fantastic!

What Marc ate (plus beer):
Seared veal sweetbreads, pickled apple slaw, parsnip
Braised beef cheeks, polenta, horseradish

So rich! I tried both of them; the sweetbreads practically didn’t require chewing they were so tender and I liked the apple and parsnip slaw. The beef cheeks were so so so so rich. I could barely even eat it. The crusty bits on the polenta was good though.

Marc greatly enjoyed their beer selection (which is ginormous and high quality). I think the most common beer on tap was the Alagash White or maybe Stone’s Pale Ale… I guess that is a little subjective to where you are from though.

I had the burger:
Fresh ground burger, onion jam, aioli, aged white cheddar, fries

Seriously one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. I’m one of those people who orders burgers WITHOUT cheese and then covers it in ketchup, but not this one! It was super juicy and tasted great. Their fries were really good too.

We were lucky to get a little table when we got there (a little one sandwiched between 2 other little ones) because by the time we left, the place was PACKED. The service was great as well.

We then walked a few blocks over to my favorite ice cream place – Xanath Ice Cream. I always get a small scoop of one of their vanilla flavors (so much vanilla and vanilla bean! The ice cream is a light-brown because of the vanilla!), and a small scoop of their toffee, which pretty much tastes like brown sugar.

Mission District never fails us when we want something good to eat!

So while we were out enjoying the culinary delights of the bay and picking up curtains at Ikea, we had our Chile Verde cooking away at home.

Super Easy Slow-Cooker Chile Verde Recipe:

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My Favorite Things + Life Update

*To those that get email notifications – ignore the email sent last night. Sorry about that!*

Busy weekend! The husband spent the day/most of the night in Oakland at the Social Distortion concert with the boys and my mom and I had a splurge day eating Chinese food and Cold Stone (their warm creations were disappointing). Sunday will be pent going to church then off to visit friends for their daughter’s 1-year birthday party!

I’m also 27 weeks along today! Just one more week and I will be into the third-trimester. It still seems so surreal, despite the fact that our little guy reminds me of his presence by wiggling and kicking (recently under my right ribs) quite often.

We are a few weeks into our Bradley classes and they are going well so far. I may forget some of the stretches/exercises that are assigned as homework, but I don’t forget the relaxation techniques that involve getting a massage before bed!

We are still waiting on the short-sale house we made an offer for (which was accepted by the seller, just waiting on the bank), so hopefully that goes through within the next few weeks. Having the house ready before the baby comes would be more than ideal.

For fun, here is a list of my favorite things / items that get me through the week!

Things that get me through the week

Cocoon sweater
$23 – target.com – I have the darker red/long sleeve version of this sweater and it has been a main staple in my wardrobe this winter – so comfortable!

Orange Essence Facial Cleanser- Burt’s Bees
$8 – burtsbees.com – The smell of this is divine! I mix it with some baking soda for a gentle exfoliation

Physicians Formula
$14 – physiciansformula.com – LOVE this powder! It is also a great concealer as well.

Buy GNC Pro Performance 100% Whey Protein, Banana Cream & More |…
$23 – drugstore.com – I don’t normally support protein powders, but I need to get more protein in my diet and this powder with milk is so tasty – just like a banana now’n’later (sp?). It’s also good blended with 1-2 servings peanut butter and frozen milk and ice cubes.

Hanes Womens Stretch Bikini 3 pair ET42LC at hosieryandmore.com
$11 – hosieryandmore.com – So what if they aren’t fancy underwear. These are super comfortable and don’t fall down my nearly non-existent rear when wearing maternity jeans.

Oh Baby by Motherhood Secret Fit Belly Bootcut Jeans
$64 – kohls.com – These jeans fit great. They are a little stretchy and still look good when I turn up the cuff (because I’m short)

Iron Fist All Hope Abandoned Flats – Black (Vegan) – Punk.com
$30 – punk.com – I love these shoes. Not much support, but they match 95% of my wardrobe and I think they are awesome
You can see the rest of the items by visiting the set.

Grocery Savings Challenge: Week 2

I’m actually finding grocery shopping a little more fun when I have challenged myself to eat good and healthy meals on a smaller budget. This week was a little harder, though, because I purchased splurge items for a Valentine’s Day dinner and dessert, and we were also out of expensive items like cheese, olive oil, and almond butter.

The Stores and their Deals
The Meal Plan
The Grocery List
The Final Cost

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Eating Healthy Whole Foods on a Budget

If you are starting to eat clean, whole foods on a budget, you may be having some sticker shock. Despite so many people saying “eating organic doesn’t cost more,” sometimes it does, especially if you are not used to buying bell peppers for $3 each instead of $3 a pound. Or hamburger for $5 a pound versus $1.20 a pound. Some things are just more expensive.

The good news is that organic, fresh, clean, and whole foods generally have more nutrients and are better for you than the other choices, so they leave you fuller on less. If you cut out all the processed junk in your diet, you will find that it is actually easier to eat less, since most of the processed foods are only empty calories anyways.

I’m going grocery shopping today. It will be a test to see if I can actually cut down our grocery bills and be a smarter shopper. In keeping balance of saving money and eating healthy and organic foods, there are some things I don’t want to skip buying because they are expensive, and some things I am willing to compromise on.

 

Whole Milk: We buy non-homogenized organic milk that comes from pastured cows from a dairy that is fairly near to us, that is sold at the store. It’s not ultra-pasturized like all the other milk (including organic) and it’s the only milk, other than raw milk, that isn’t homogenized (that I have ever seen).
Cost: $4.59 for a half-gallon. In two weeks we go through 2-3 bottles.
Where to save:  Drink less milk, eat less boxed cereal (which isn’t healthy anyways), and eat more of their whole milk yogurt instead.

Harder decisions:

Butter: we really enjoy the butter from the same brand as our milk (Strauss). It’s grass-fed, local, and organic butter. It is used mainly for cooking and when I make french toast.
Cost: $7.79 for a pound of butter, we go through about a pound a week.
Do we go for the non-grass fed butter? I feel that grass-fed dairy offers so much more than the other stuff, like more vitamin E and Omega 3’s.
Where to save: Perhaps we can buy 1 box instead of two, and cook more with other healthy fats.

Eggs: We have had a hard time finding local and pasture-raised chicken eggs, so we buy the organic eggs that come at least from our state, and claim to be pasture-raised.
Cost: $5.49 for a dozen. Or close to $8 a dozen in our CSA box. We go through about a dozen a week.
Where to save: We go through so many eggs, I think we will go back to regular grocery store eggs that are on sale for $1.80 for 18. Since being pregnant I can’t stomach a runny egg yolk, so must of our eggs are cooked on higher heats (which destroys a lot of the extra nutrients) anyways. There is a local egg place that sells flats of eggs as well – we need to look into that.

Produce: Some fruits and vegetables get sprayed with pesticides more than others and are more effected by chemicals. Certain produce products should be bought organic, but not all of them need to be. The “Dirty Dozen” include:

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

What can you buy non-organic? Here is the “Clean 15

  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Papaya
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Tomato* – on the clean list this year, but has been on the dirty dozen before, so I might exclude this one.

Other ways to save on produce: Buy local, and and buy in season! Where we use to live, the farmers market was huge and you could get a variety of organic and non-organic produce at super cheap prices (you could save $1-3 a POUND on produce!). But we now live in a different town where the farmers market is only during the summer and organic produce is hard to find. Luckily some of our grocery stores sell local (which they should, since we live in CA, and surrounded by all kinds of different produce all year round, yet there is still lots of produce from South America… even though we grow some of the same produce!). Buying at the farmers market usually ensures that you are supporting the farmer as well, not the big corporations.

Wondering what’s in season? A quick Google search will help you out, but our old CSA supplier has an awesome website where you can look up both produce and recipes by the season – visit them HERE.

Meat:  Grass-fed and pasture-raised meat products are again, much more expensive than other meat. Items I will continue to buy from pasture-raised animals: whole chickens and ground beef. If you make broth with animal bones, they should be from grass-fed animals as well.
Cost: a pound of grass-fed ground beef costs approximately $5. A whole chicken costs around $10-15
Where to save: Buy more bone-in poultry products and cheaper cuts of meat. We can also not go heavy on the meat everyday and substitute some of it for beans and extra veggies. Stew, soup, and chili dishes are great for making a little bit of meat go a long way.

Other money saving tips:

Make a meal plan before going grocery shopping: a plan will help to avoid those impulse buys, and on a related note, don’t go grocery shopping hungry!

When making a meal plan, chose meals that have similar ingredients and ingredients you regularly use: If you are trying to save money, you are sabotaging yourself if you have to buy an expensive spice or ingredient to make one meal. I’m not saying not to try new things once in a while, but I can tell you that the $8 bottle of fish juice in the back of my refrigerator went bad before I used it for the second time.

Don’t buy junk food: Skip purchasing juices and sodas and packaged products that seems cheap, but are empty calories and only leave you hungry (or sick).

Don’t Waste Food: If buying pershible items in bulk only leads to it going bad before you can use them, either don’t buy in bulk, or prep and freeze the extras. Many of us are guilty of wasting food, which is sad for our wallets and for a world stricken with starvation.

 

How does everyone else grocery shop?

 

 

Major Savings Challenge Commences!

Marc and I are in the process of buying a home. We just had an offer accepted on a short-sale house, so we have anywhere from 6 weeks to several months (and please God, not longer than several months!) before we make our down-payment, closing costs, and sign the papers for our new home (and then spend money on small upgrades/needs, like paint and such).

Currently, we are pretty much able to spend whatever on groceries, eat out when we want (a little too often), and put some money away in savings too. But in a few months, things are going to get tighter:

A new home also means higher monthly living costs for us (because where we live, housing is not cheap, and the housing market here is not cheaper than renting, plus all those extra utility costs).

We have a baby on the way (due mid-May!).

My mother is living with us (and has not been able to find a job yet, especially since the county we live in, and all the surrounding counties are on the top 10 list of places with the highest unemployment in the country).

I would like to continue to not work, and stay home with our child and future children and on top of all that, I still have the joy of paying student loans.

We already do not pay for cable, just $8 for Netflix. Our internet and phone bill are also non-negotiable. Marc and I don’t regularly go shopping or buy things we don’t need. I don’t buy paper towels or napkins, and I wash my hair 2x a week, so there are mainly two places where we can save:

Grocery Shopping

Eating Out

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Coasting along and some link love

Seems like I haven’t been too productive these last couple of weeks. I pick up the house, I babysit my Godchild (who just turned 1!), make dinner (nothing new or exciting) and chill with the husband.

My pregnancy at this stage is super easy; feeling pretty normal except my stomach is growing and I still can’t stomach steak or bacon. Our little guy is moving around lots lately, which is always neat (except when he kicks in certain places that shouldn’t be kicked!).

We have started looking into purchasing our first home. We just started viewing potential properties this last Saturday. It’s interesting to see other people’s style and preference. House hunting also reaffirms that fact that I don’t really care to spend a lot of money. Our rental lease is up at the end of April and I am due mid-May, so it will all be very interesting to see how the last months of my pregnancy look like. I am generally a pretty laid back person but I wonder if I will be feeling rushed and overwhelmed; hopefully not.

Sunday we start our Bradley birthing classes, in the evening, much to the chagrin of my SF 49er football fan husband. He keeps asking me if the class will happen during the Super Bowl as well.

I have library books I need to read and three quilts that need to be completed; all of which are in different stages of completion.

Since I’ve been pretty boring, here are some great sites I have been frequenting lately:

Better After blog - an easy to read site filled with Before and After shots of homes, rooms, and furniture - most that the average Jane can replicate

 

The Gawkerverse – Craftgawker, foodgawker, etc.  Easy to view pictures and projects and lots of great blogs.

Also enjoying the blog and Facebook updates of Whole New Mom and Prudent Baby

Thinking Back and Looking Ahead: 2011

As we end 2011 I can’t help but think back on how much has changed in just a year’s time. Here are just same big things of this last year:

  • Marc got a new job
  • I quit my job
  • We moved back to our home town
  • We felt the heartache of infertility
  • Our diet significantly changed (get out processed grains!)
  • And because of it, we both lost weight and became healthier
  • We experienced the joy of conceiving (and found out it’s a boy!)
  • We became Godparents to my cousin’s adorable little girl who was born in January

And what will 2012 bring us? 2011 was filled with lots of personal growth and learning experiences and I am sure 2012 will be just the same, if not, more so.

So far, we are looking forward to the birth of our son, becoming parents, and purchasing our own home; you know, big grown-up things! While I generally forget big New Year’s Goals and Resolutions a few weeks in, these are some hopes for the New Year:

  • Continue cooking and enjoying real, whole food
  • Living life with as little toxins as possible (green cleaners, natural products, etc)
  • Purchasing a house and making it a home
  • Continuing to improve our marriage and grow closer
  • Giving birth to our son (hopefully naturally, without medications)
  • Enjoying becoming a parent and nurturing our child
  • Living life with less emphasis on material items
  • Try to be more generous and caring to others around me
  • Documenting more family gatherings with pictures
  • Finishing up a few quilts and make more handmade gifts

I’m looking forward to what 2012 will bring, what about you?