These vegan, Eat to Live friendly treats aren't really cookies. More like breakfast bars, but calling them cookies makes me love them more. They are Eat to Live Friendly, vegan, and delicious.
Eat to Live Friendly Pizza (no crust!)
Preheat oven to 350. Blend oats in a blender to create an oat flour. I leave mine a little chunky.Mash bananas in a mixing bowl, add peanut butter, and vanilla.Add in oats and mix until combined.Form cookies on your parchment paper covered cookie sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 servings
This pizza saved my Eat to Live 6 Week Challenge. I love pizza (who doesn't?), and I needed to find a pizza recipe that was Eat to Live friendly, and satisfied my craving. Well, this pizza did the trick!
Eat to Live Friendly Pizza (no crust!)
1. Slice tofu into four square slabs by cutting down the long edge2. Dip each slab in the nutritional yeast and make sure it is all coated.3. Sprinkle each slab with the Italian seasoning.4. Lay on a greased pan or parchment paper and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.5. Remove from oven. Add a layer of tomato paste, sprinkle again with the Italian seasoning.6. Add toppings (anything you’d add on a normal pizza) and vegan cheese if you want. I don’t really love most of the affordable vegan cheeses, so I don’t usually add any.7. Return to oven for about 10 minutes to let your toppings cook.8. Allow to cool and then enjoy!
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 servings
I'm calling this My Everyday Oatmeal Breakfast because I could eat this every day and never get bored of it, and most days I do eat it!, especially when the weather is cold. It is filling, warming, and satisfying.
My Everyday Oatmeal Breakfast
Combine oats and water in a microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave for 5 minutes on medium power. If you don’t do this, your oatmeal will bubble out of your bowl and make a huge mess. You’re welcome. ;) Alternatively, you can cook it on your stove top or in big batches in your crock pot.Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and enjoy.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 serving
I love this stir fry sauce! It is vegan and if you’re doing the Eat to Live Challenge then you can substitute the soy sauce for tamari or liquid aminos. It goes well with just about any vegetable and makes tofu decadent. Best of all, it is versatile. If I feel like ginger or spice, I can add it or not and still end up with a delicious meal. If you don’t like tahini, use peanut butter. I’ve even added a little nutritional yeast and balsamic and put it on my salad. You can make big batches if you plan on using it often, but honestly, it takes about 3 minutes to throw together so I just make it as I need it.
Easy Tahini Stir Fry Sauce
Combine ingredients in a mason jar and shake them up.Pour onto your stir fry about five minutes before you are finished cooking.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:
Since becoming vegan and doing the Eat to Live 6 week challenge, I have become OBSESSED with lentils! How did I ever live without this recipe in my life? I make it, or some variation on it, twice a week most weeks. Want the scoop on the variations? Sometimes I use white potatoes, tofu, chickpeas, or cauliflower instead of sweet potatoes. I also sometimes use split chickpeas (also called chana dal) instead of lentils.
Super Simple Lentils with Sweet Potato
Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.Reduce heat to simmer and allow to cook, covered, about 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally to make sure you don’t completely run out of liquid and burn it (like I did).When lentils and sweet potato are cooked through you can serve with rice.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings
This is Part 3 of my three part series on my experience doing the Eat to Live Six Week Challenge. This challenge is outlined in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live. In this part, I will give an overview of how Damian and I have decided to proceed after the 6 week challenge.
No one having completed this challenge, who experienced such an improvement to the quality of their life that I did would go back to eating the Standard American Diet. Damian and I both knew we wanted to continue with a slightly less stringent version of the Eat to Live Plan, but what did that mean?
Our Life Plan:
Mostly Whole Foods
I try to exclude as much processed food as I can, and I include all the whole foods I can.
No Animal Products
During Week 6, I discovered some informational and inspiring videos on YouTube made by whole food vegans. I started learning more about veganism and plant based eating, and the more I learned, the more I was inspired to give up animal products for good. So I did. Damian occasionally (like once a month) has sushi or some other treat, but I am 100% done with eating animal products.
A Salad a Day
The HUGE salad a day keeps me feeling good, and keeps me eating right because instead of salad for lunch I would probably have something quick and easy and highly processed. I also just love salad, so it works out.
Breakfast is Boring
I keep breakfast boring. I don’t want to think about it. I have oatmeal or in warmer weather I have cereal (the less processed the better).
Cheat Days are Okay
Occasional cheat days are ok. There are vegan options in my area for eating out when we are in a rush (any one try Taco Bell’s vegan menu? It’s not half bad!), and sometimes I just want chocolate cake or french fries.
I struggled with wanting more grains than the 1 cup. I decided that it is probably fine to enjoy a bit more than that. Most days I eat around 2 cups of grains or potato a day.
So that’s the plan! I can’t say that I am great at sticking to it all the time. I have not purposefully eaten any animal products since before the Six Week Challenge, but some days I don’t eat my salad, or I have a couple too many cheat days, but life isn’t about being perfect. So this is the plan I strive to follow, and I mostly do! And it has to be good for me because I feel amazing!
Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for more information!
This is Part 2 of my three part series on my experience doing the Eat to Live Six Week Challenge. This challenge is outlined in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live. In this part, I will give an overview of my experience during the six weeks.
I was so excited to start eating healthy (and hopefully to start feeling like a human again) that I started the challenge a day earlier than I originally proposed to Damian. We started February 28th, 2017. I was enthusiastic. Damian was skeptical, but supportive and 100% along for the ride.
This is what I ate that first day:
Breakfast: Strawberries and bananas sprinkled with ground flax seed, a coffee with almond milk creamer and unsweetened almond milk
Lunch: a huge bowl of veggie soup (barley, butternut squash, black beans, kale, cauliflower, diced tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms)
Dinner: A HUGE salad (spinach, iceberg, black beans, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and cucumber)
Dessert: Pear and half an ounce of cashews
It was a simple way of eating, and just right for the first day of the challenge. There is a learning curve with this new way of eating. It takes time to find recipes that you love, but these basic staples will keep you satisfied until you find them.
That first day went well, and I felt great. I was starving before I ate my lunch and a little lightheaded, but that was the most discomfort and hunger I felt all day. I ended the day encouraged.
Week 1 and 2 were by no means easy, however. I fought cravings, and in between meals I would become very hungry right before it was time to eat again. I dreamed of cheeseburgers, but I told myself, I could have one in 6 weeks, and that I’d eaten enough cheeseburgers in my life that six weeks without one wouldn’t kill me.
By the end of week 2, I was noticing a difference in my energy levels. I still wasn’t ready to jump out of bed in the morning and do 100 jumping jacks, but I had more energy for longer in the day. Before starting the Eat to Life Challenge, I’d crash around 2, and I would be only minimally productive the rest of the day. Now I was still feeling energetic until about 8 o’clock. At this point, Damian wasn’t feeling any better, but he wasn’t feel worse either. So we kept going.
Week 3 was a turning point because Week 3 was by far the hardest week. I was craving pizza (ie cheese) hard core. It might have been PMS, or it could have been my body screaming out in one last hurrah for its drug of choice, who knows? But Week 3 kicked my butt. I was researching new recipes constantly, searching for something to satisfy this craving. I knew if I couldn’t find something, I was going to struggle through the next three weeks instead of power through them. That is when I came up with the Eat to Live friendly pizza. I thank the universe for this moment of inspiration because I needed it! I pushed through Week 3, and in the end, I was hopeful that I could give up cheese at least for the next 3 weeks and perhaps beyond.
What? You say in outrage! Give up cheese forever!?!? That’s crazy! Believe me, I know how crazy it sounds. At one point, I would have laughed at the idea of giving up cheese, but that was before the Six Week Challenge. More than anything Week 3 taught me that I am highly addicted to cheese (among other foods that are not good for me in the least), and when you are addicted to something it can be difficult/impossible to regulate yourself around it. Once I beat the cheese craving, I decided I didn’t want to risk it coming back with such force again.
Week 4 and 5 were much easier. I got into a rhythm with meal prep. I began making 3 days worth of salads at a time and trying to cook enough for leftovers, but this is hard to do because we all love the food so much, we were devouring it. I still fought cravings, but it was nothing like the pizza craving I had squashed, so I managed. I continued to feel better, more energetic, and to lose weight. I began to do light exercises because I had the energy to do it, and I wanted to feel stronger. Damian was shedding weight like crazy, and feeling good too!
Week 5 was a special week because I began to develop an aversion to meat. DUring the first few weeks, I was longing imagine the cheeseburgers I would eat when my six weeks were over, but suddenly the idea of eating animal flesh disgusted me. In addition, I had developed a general guideline for eating that worked for me.
Breakfast: .25 cup of oatmeal, a banana, ground flax seed, unsweetened almond milk
Lunch: a HUGE salad with beans and/or legumes
Dinner: cooked veggies which usually included mushrooms and a cruciferous vegetable
Dessert: roasted chickpeas and a fruit (sometimes I’d make these cookies or a smoothie instead)
I also developed a bunch of recipes that I loved.
My Everyday Oatmeal Breakfast
Easy Tahini Stir Fry Sauce
Eat to Live Friendly Pizza
Super Simple Lentils and Sweet Potato
Oatmeal Banana Cookies
By the end of Week 6, I’d achieved what I’d sought out to do. I was no longer depressed. I was no longer exhausted, and I’d lost a little weight to boot. I lost 12.8 pounds and Damian lost 15.3. The difference in my energy level was the most noticeable change. It was like being handed back pieces of my life. Hours of my life that had previously wasted away were given back to me.
During Week 6, Damian and I began talking about our plans for the future. How would we proceed once the challenge was over? That’s what the next post is about!
This is Part 1 of my three part series on my experience doing the Eat to Live Six Week Challenge. This challenge is outlined in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live. In this part, I will describe where I was at before I started the challenge, and I will explain why I decided to do the challenge.
I started 2017 saying that it would be a great year, my year, but it would not be the year I lost weight. I was trying to do a lot in 2017, and I didn’t want to add the behemoth goal of “lose weight” to my growing list of things to do.
Well, things change.
Halfway through February, it turned out that 2017 would be a challenging year. To explain why, you might want a little back story. In November of 2016, we happily welcomed Madeleine into our family. We love her to pieces, but she is not an easy baby. Drake and Devin were fairly happy as infants. They liked snuggles and were easily entertained. Maddie is a different breed of baby. She required a LOT of attention and constant and ever changing entertainment. To top it off, we moved into a smaller apartment in December, Drake stopped attending preschool because he refused to take the school bus, and Damian was in his last semester of his Associate degree while continuing to work full time.
I had three kids in a tiny apartment - one with Autism, one hitting the “terrible twos,” and one just a few months old. It was winter. We were stuck in the house, and I was essentially on my own. I didn’t have the time or energy to pursue any of my passions (like blogging), and I missed my husband!
I was depressed, and it wasn’t surprising. I was eating like crap and feeling like crap with frequent headaches, body aches, and zero energy. I felt heavy and sluggish. Things were bad, but I have struggled with depression in the past, and beat it back, so I knew it was possible to do it again.
We all know that in order to be a good mom, we need to be well. It is hard to nourish our children’s hearts and mind when we haven’t taken good care of our own.
But, what could I do? I knew I had to do something. Continuing the descent into depression was not an option. My family needed me well, so I had to get well. It is amazing the things we will do for others that we cannot always do for ourselves.
I struggled and I fought back. Everyday I tried to find a way to flip things around, to rekindle my joy, but there were no easy answers. I felt horrible, and the lack of energy meant halfway through the day I would crash. I’d feel tired after doing just about anything. I’d spend hours carrying Maddie around the apartment trying to keep her from screaming, and trying to keep the house clean and her brothers fed during her naps. The lack of energy was the biggest obstacle to my happiness because whenever I could get a break, I wouldn’t take care of myself, I’d collapse in a heap with a bag of chips and binge watch Gilmore Girls. (For some people, this would be considered self care. For me, it was not.)
I needed to get my energy up before I could pull myself out of depression. So, it was midway through February when I told Damian that I wanted to start eating better, and he was supportive. (It is the best to have a husband who supports me through my dreams. I am so grateful for him.) I didn’t know how to proceed. There is a lot of information out there about how to eat well. Most of it focuses on weight loss, but that was not my biggest priority. I wanted to lose weight, but it was more important that I regain my energy and eat food that was nourishing my body. I also needed something simple. I didn’t want to have to count calories or drastically restrict my calories.
In the past, I’d tried a number of different diets including Weight Watchers, the mediterranean diet, calorie restriction, vegetarianism, and even the Eat to Live Diet shortly after Drake was born. I remembered the Eat to Live plan making a lot of sense to me. It is (mostly) a whole foods, plant based diet. There were strict rules, but you didn’t have to restrict your calories and all the food on the allowed list were foods I knew would nourish my body.
The first time we tried Eat to Live, we only lasted three weeks or so. The main issue was that I didn’t know how to cook well enough to make the food good. I wasn’t an atrocious home chef, but I lacked experience especially with vegetables, and I didn’t have a food prep mindset. My inexperience with cooking did not mix well with my learning to be a new mom and my work ever changing work schedule.
Even though we failed to transition to the Eat to Live lifestyle, I began incorporating more vegetables into our meals over time, and trying foods I’d never tried before (swiss chard, brussel sprouts, beets). Over the next six months, I lost 15-20 pounds, and got pregnant with Devin. I more or less kept those pounds off, but my eating slowly began to falter, and it didn’t get any better while I was pregnant with Madeleine.
So, despite having failed in the past with Eat to Live, I still had good feelings about it. I reread Eat to Live this February, and once again it spoke to me. It was simple, no calorie counting, and I could eat as many fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes as I wanted. I wouldn’t have to be hungry. I’d also learned a lot more about cooking and meal prep since the first time we tried, and I was desperate to feel good again. This desperation would fuel me through the next six weeks.
Read about my experience during the first six weeks here.
I need to start by saying having a budget and sticking to a budget are two different things. We have a budget, and since I am nothing but honest, I’ll admit that sometimes we stink at following it. I don’t have any excuses but to say that it isn’t easy!
When I first started to create and implement a budget, I ransacked the internet looking for advice and systems that others have used. I tried enveloping, and I’ll probably try it again. It sounds like such a good idea… if you can remember to stop at the bank before you go to the food store which I never remember to do. I’ve tried apps and software which were all too complicated and cumbersome. I’ve tried just putting everything on automatic payments and crossing my fingers (not recommended).
Finally, I hit upon a simple method that works for me. It has two parts -- a homemade spreadsheet and chart. The spreadsheet (above) lives in Google Drive where I won’t lose it or spill coffee on it. You can see I have information about our bills followed by a column for each month. I put notes on the bottom like when our next car payment is due since we pay ahead. When I pay the bills for each month, I write in the amount I paid. We keep some bills on autopay -- our car insurance gives us a discount for having autopay, the boys’ health insurance is too important, and the Time Warner Cable website gives me hives. This part of my system helps me track which bills I’ve paid and which are coming up.
The paper chart is kind of like a rough copy of the digital. Once Damian’s paycheck hits our account, I pull out a calculator and start with our account balance. I deduct all the bills I need to pay out of that paycheck. I pay them online as I go, and I write in the amount I’m paying on the chart and in the spreadsheet. Some rows are left blank because a bill might not be ready to pay yet. Any leftover money, if there is any, gets allocated towards extra expenses or put towards our debt. At the end, I double check my work by adding up all the numbers in the column and check it against our account balance. This is why the chart is necessary. It shows me exactly what is coming out of one paycheck. Then I’m done for two more weeks!
I also use three simple strategies to help manage our budget.
Don’t pay bills when their due. Pay them with money from the paycheck you get after their statement becomes available. This way you’re never late, and you’re always a little ahead.
Split the expense between two paychecks for larger bills like rent. This takes the some of the bite out of those larger bills.
Budget all of your money. Know where every little bit should go. If you are lucky enough to have extra cash, put it towards a vacation fund, savings, or retirement.
Budgeting isn’t fun. It isn’t glamorous, especially when the you’re struggling financially, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. Sticking to it is the hard part!
Toy clutter with two kids at this age (3 and 18 months) is overwhelming, and Devin is going through the dumping phase. It is a daily issue, an hourly issue some days! You think it’d be simple, but it isn’t. There are so many toy boxes and shelves on the market to help you organize toys, and most of them stink. See it doesn’t matter if you use a toy organizer if your tot’s favorite playtime activity is dumping bin after bin of toys.
Here’s what I need my storage solutions to do:
1. Keep toys visible. If the toys are out of sight, the kids will not play with them.
2. Keep toys from being dumped out and abandoned.
3. Sort toys by category and keep sets together.
4. Be repurposable as the kids get older.
With this criteria in mind, you can see that the typical toy organizer and toy box don’t work for me. The typical toy organizer allows for way too much dumping action, and toy boxes do not allow for organization or visibility.
If I had endless piles of cash, I would get pieces from Ikea's Trofast collection with lids or this style toy organizer, but I can’t swing the price tag of either of them.
After much experimentation, I use a combination of storage solutions to handle our toys. The $10 storage drawers pictured above are very important to our toy storage. The toys are still visible and dumping them takes effort. The drawers get dumped from time to time, but surprisingly, the kids usually just open the draw and pull out a few toys. They aren’t pretty, but they are practical and the price is right for us! We already had two in use elsewhere in the house, so we only had to buy one more. These are great for puzzle storage! I keep the puzzles separated in Ziplocs and put the bags in the drawers. I also use them for some of the train stuff, large transportation toys, and small blocks.
The inexpensive clear, plastic bins are also useful for sorting toys. Just to give you an idea, I keep our matchboxes, floor puzzles, a train set, and our music instruments in the small ones among other things. The larger ones I use for our play food, Devin’s age-appropriate toys, figurines, and a random assortment of sensory fun.
In addition, I use a few larger bins to store our train tracks, larger toys, balls, and some random stuff. We also have a toy box, but I only keep stuffed animals that the boys don’t play with in it. Its main purpose in our play space is to block an outlet. I can’t figure out how to hide.
Lastly, we have our books, which live in three large diaper boxes. We own a lot of children’s books, and with two climbing, jumping, thrill seeking boy, I do not want any sort of scalable shelving units around. In the past, I used small dollar store bins, but we out grew them. I should decorate the diaper boxes. I planned to, but I doubt it will happen. Just being honest. The boxes are too heavy for easy dumping, so if the books are out, it is because the kids are enjoying them.
Looking around, I think that is the majority of the storage solutions I use to keep the kids’ toys organized. Now if I could keep the art supplies organized!
It’s a new year, and that means it is time for a new bullet journal. (If you haven’t heard of bullet journals, you should check out the original creator’s video explanation.) I love, love, love my bullet journal. It keeps me on task and focused, and the task lists remind me that I am in fact accomplishing things on a daily basis. All around, I am more productive and happier when I’m using my bullet journal, and that is why I am sharing my set up for 2017 with you.
I decided the best way to share the pages was in a video on my YouTube channel, but below is a sneak peak of some the pages you will find!
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You don’t need much to start a Bullet Journal. The beauty of the system is that it can be as simple or as fancy as you want. All you absolutely need to start a bullet journal is a 20 cent notebook and that weird pen your insurance company gave you.
That being said, most people don’t keep it quite that simple. Some people have gorgeous, hand lettered, colorful bullet journals that are so pristine I don’t know how they dare write in them, while others stick to the basic framework. Most of us fall somewhere in between. My bullet journal is imperfect, practical, and fun. You won’t find fancy layouts or beautiful hand lettering in my bullet journal. Instead you will find cross outs, scribbles, and slanted lines. Still, I enjoy adding special touches even if they are amateurish. I do what suits me at the time, and that is the heart of why the bullet journal system works for so many people.
So, for the average joe bullet journal, what supplies do you need?
A notebook you love. I like a spiral-bound notebook with thick pages and a hard cover.
A ruler. Absolutely essential if you care at all about straight lines or anything that comes close to a straight line. I have one of these metal rulers, but I’d prefer one of these transparent, 6 inch rulers. I started out thinking I didn’t need a ruler, but after a few pages I gave in, and I’m happier for it.
Pens that write nice. I picked up a 3 pack of these Micron Pens on sale at Michael’s, and they were worth it! They make a nice smooth line and don’t bleed my pages. I use them to create my layouts, but not to write in my bullet journal because they are on the pricey side, and I write a LOT.
Colored Pencils. If you want to add color to your pages, go with colored pencils. They don’t bleed through the page, and they add a touch of color without being overwhelming. I use regular old Crayolas!
An everyday writer. This should be your favorite pen and reasonably priced if you plan to use it often. I love these Lamy Safari Fountain Pens with this refill adapter and Noodler’s Ink. The initial expense is high, but a bottle of the ink lasts forever and the pen does too.
That’s all I use for my bullet journal. My equipment works for me in practical ways, and it makes my journal enjoyable to keep. For the average person, the items on this list will get you well on your way to a great bullet journal.
Have you seen the gorgeous home libraries of children’s books neatly organized and colored coded? What a beautiful dream, but I just can’t see myself doing it. First of all, I can’t do shelves with these kids. Both of the boys are climbers and have no qualms about disobeying me when I tell them to stop climbing on top of the computer desk. That’s just life right now. Shelving would be unsafe and drive me nuts. On top of that, the kids are too small to help me keep the books organized, and without their help, it’d be impossible.
I do try, however, to keep the books somewhat tidy, and finding the right organizing principles and storage solutions has taken time. We own a lot of books. The boys enjoy being read to and “reading” on their own. I keep the books available at all times, and I don’t have restrictions about them. I only discourage damaging them, but otherwise, have at it! (Their love of reading and positive experiences with books comes first.) Finding a way to manage our library has been difficult, but I’ve finally hit upon a solution that works for us.
The lowly diaper box. It ain’t pretty, but they are the perfect width for children’s books, and they are big.
I try to keep them organized, but at the moment, and most of the time, they are a jumbled mess. I go through them checking for damage and sorting them into five categories. Honestly, it isn’t a high priority because organizing them doesn’t impact whether or not they are used and loved. It is more for me than anything.
I sort them into five categories, and each category gets its own bin or box.
1. Board books
2. Picture books (Not board books) -- I keep some of these in the livingroom for the kids, but many of them I put away so they don’t get damaged. When the boys are more gentle, I will bring them back out.
3. Favorites and books I want to read with them -- I try to keep a smaller bin to keep these books accessible.
4. Bedtime books -- These books live in the boys’ bedroom.
5. Christmas books -- I pack these up with our Christmas stuff so they stay fresh for the holiday season. After Thanksgiving, I bring them out.
Once the books are all sorted, the kids pull them all out again, and the disorganization begins anew.
Where have I been you ask?
Not only did we just have a baby and not only was Damian just finishing up finals, but to keep things at maximum levels of stress, we moved. Blogging and vlogging has not been happening at all, nor has most other things like my morning routine or anything that wasn't taking care of three small children and moving. I wish I could say that I was happen to keep all my plates spinning, but I didn't. It is what it is.
It's been almost a month since we started the move, and we still aren't completely moved in, but Damian just finished his last final of the semester, we turned in the keys to the old place, and Christmas will soon be over (not that I look forward to that!). There will be a lot of more time to tackle the last of our unpacking which is basically organizing toys (I have a whole new method that I can't wait to share!) and our bedroom/electronics/office-ish stuff.
I'm finally getting back into a bit of a routine. I've pulled out my bullet journal, which got abandoned half way through October. I'm trying to get back on track with my morning routine. The bullet journal and morning routine are the cornerstones of a happy mommy. They keep me centered, focused, and productive. By January 1st, we are going to be fully settled into this apartment, and I'm going to be ready to rock 2017!
On November 7th, 2016, we welcomed the newest member of our family into the world. She is happy, healthy, and beautiful! This is the story of her birth.It seems to be a trend with me. Just like with Drake and Devin, this birth story starts with a date for an induction. I was about halfway through my 39th week when I had an ultrasound that confirmed that Maddie would be a big baby. No one was surprised. We all suspected she would be big because Drake and Devin were both big, but this confirmed it. She measured 10 pounds exactly at that point.
So my midwife decided induction would be best, and I agreed. I would start the long induction process on Sunday night with plans that she would be born on her due date which was Monday.
I hoped and wished that she would come before the induction (which happened with Devin) because I preferred laboring without Pitocin, but little Maddie refused to budge.
Sunday night I went in and the doctors gave me Cervidil to help things along. By morning, it was giving me crazy contractions. I called Damian and told him to get to the hospital before the nurse checked on me because the contractions were so close together. They removed the Cervidil and checked me before Damian arrived. I was a measly 2 cm dilated and the contractions stopped immediately. I panicked for nothing, but at least Damian didn't miss any of the action.
They started my Pitocin around 8:30 am. At the birth center, you can move around, eat, and drink as much as you want. They don't check your cervix every 5 minutes (thank goodness). I basically stayed in my room, paced quite a bit, and waited, anxiously for things to get moving.
The contractions weren't bad most of the time. I was able to breathe through them and rest in between. No problem really. If that was all labor was, everyone would be doing it! Around 1:30 pm they came in to check on my progress. At first the midwife thought I was only 2 cm still, but then she said “oh no, 4cm! We can break your water!”
I was happy because I knew that would speed things along, and I really wanted to have my baby and get all the painful parts over with. Once my water was broken, they had to kind of push on the baby's head a bit so the water could come out. Her head was blocking the way. The actually breaking of the water isn't painful, but the pushing on the head and such was pretty uncomfortable, basically like a prolonged cervix check.
Finally, they left me to it. My contractions picked up quickly. I already told the midwife that I would probably want some pain medicine, so my nurse was ready to give it to me when I asked for it. At 2:30 pm, I told my nurse I was going to wait until 3:00 for my pain medication, but I didn't make it. At 2:45 pm, I called her in and asked for the goods (Nubain, I believe). The pain was real. I was in an odd mindset with this labor. I really didn't want to go through it. I wish I'd had a better mindset as I think it would have helped, but there you have it.
The medication almost put me to sleep. I remember thinking about all sorts of random things, and every so often, I'd feel a contraction, but mostly I was feeling just fine. The medication makes you super relaxed, and it has always helped me get through the transition phase of labor. I'd do it again in a second!
An hour later, I began to feel the contractions again, and they were intense. I asked the nurse if there was anything else they could give me and she said we could do the intrathecal, and I thought about it. It is similar to an epidural, but you can usually still feel a bit and you aren't hooked up to it constantly. Like I said, I was very resistant to the pain this labor. I said I wanted it.
Too bad for me though! My midwife came in to check me, and I was 9 cm dilated. She said I could still have the intrathecal, but that likely the baby would be here before they got it to me.
Rock and a hard place. I told her not to bother with it, and labored on for about half an hour. I was not pleasant. There was a good amount of yelling/groaning through contractions and a fair bit of whining that I didn't want to do it in between. I'm not proud of it, but it was how I was feeling in the moment, so there you have it. I didn't yell at anyone, so I suppose that is good.
After those 30 minutes, I was in the middle of a contraction when I felt Maddie drop past my cervix. It was an odd sensation and not one I remember with my first two. It felt like a popping cork. I told my nurse something was happening. She checked, and I knew she would bump into the baby's head because I could feel where her head was. And so she did. She calmly called in the midwife and another nurse, who were there in less than a minute. I pushed once more, and then again, and then Madeleine Luna was born.
I held her against me, but I was in a position where I couldn't see her well. Once all the cleanup was done, I looked at my beautiful girl, and fell in love instantly. It is the moment that makes me forget all that happened before, and the moment that makes me want more babies. For me, in this moment, I have always felt an immediate connection to my new baby. I loved them instantly and always. My heart leaps to care for my baby, and that desire doesn't go away.
For video footage from the big day, check out my video on YouTube.
Welcome to the family!
We are a laid back, fun, family of four living on a dime in 900 square feet. Life might not be perfect, but every moment of every day, it is beautiful.