The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

People say it all the time. You don’t know love until you have a child. Well, I knew what love was. My parents, my grandparents, my husband, my siblings. But you don’t know pure love, love without consequence or ultimatum. Love without boundaries or limits until you have a child.

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If you told me 10 years ago to just hold on. Just wait. Life will make sense again. Maybe I would have lived a little differently. But I would literally change not one thing up until the moment I conceived Chase. He was always meant to be.

If you have children, I don’t have to explain how this feels. You don’t want to envision a world where they don’t exist. What was I doing before I had him? I was binge-watching Netflix, going to the gym, doing laundry and trying to be skinnier, prettier, happier.

Little did I know how little everything else would matter after I was blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I laugh now (9 1/2 months later) at what was concerning me even up until Chase was born. After 6 weeks I was going to return to the gym. At least 2-3 times a week (hahahahahahaha)!!!!!! I think I’ve been to the gym a total of 3 times in almost 10 months. I’m sorry to anyone who has to look at me in a bathing suit BUT I’d honestly rather play with my son.

I took Chase with me to the gym and attempted to drop him off at the daycare for at least 30 minutes while I did some cardio. He screamed and cried when I handed him over and I kept going back to check on him through the glass wall. He was so unhappy and confused. I took him back and told the nice caretaker that it just wasn’t worth it to me. I didn’t need to work out that badly. She explained that it was totally normal for him to have that reaction but to keep coming back so he could get used to it (I will) but then she leaned in and whispered “I like what you said, though”. “What did I say?” I asked. “That working out isn’t that important”. I grabbed my baby who was now smiling in my arms as I hugged and kissed him and went home to play. The gym will be there tomorrow, but he won’t always be this little

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I am not proud of the person I was for most of my 20’s. I didn’t realize how selfish and self involved I was. I thought mostly only of myself and how things effected me. Was something convenient for me or was something too hard. What was the most fun and lets do that. It wasn’t until I became someone else’s whole world that I grasped how different I would become and how it would just be a natural reaction to motherhood. Selfishness is not in a mother’s vocabulary, at least it shouldn’t be.

I’m not talking about taking time for yourself (which I am only now realizing how important that is) but who you are as a mother. Like my husband says, if you have the best intensions for your child, you’re doing a good job.

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I don’t deserve Chase, I shouldn’t even be alive. Between asthma attacks leaving me intubated or a car accident leaving me without a dear friend and in ICU for weeks, I understand now why God kept me here, I was always meant to be Chase’s mother.

You don’t realize the magnitude of love you feel and how you are completely humbled by God’s grace until you become a parent. That goes for adoptive parents, step-parents, grand-parents, etc. There are always things in life you wish you could change or at least have a crystal ball to see into the future but I seem to forget everything else when I hear my baby laugh or he puts his head on my shoulder.

What would I do without this little angel of mine? Now that I have him, picturing my life without him is crippling. 

As I’ve said in previous posts, I had pretty bad anxiety after he was born, so holding him a lot made me feel calm and that I was keeping him safe and forming a strong bond. 

Everyone has their opinions so I heard a lot of “You need to put that baby down!”

Why? Why do I need to put him down? I don’t have any other children to take care of, the house is a mess, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to change any time soon, should I be worried he won’t go off to college some day because I held him too much as a baby? 

My cousin sent me a quote a couple months back that read:

“‘I wish I had held my baby less’ – Said no mother, ever”. 

Did I have a hard time with napping because I held Chase while he slept for most of his infancy? Yes. Do I regret it? Hell, no. Your baby will only be tiny for such a short time. 

I remember posting a picture like this and someone commented “Oh, I miss my son letting me snuggle him like that!” And I thought to myself: Her son is still a baby! But it’s true, they don’t stay that little for very long and before you know it, they won’t want you to hold them and rock them. You’ll have to chase them to try and steal a quick hug. 

These moments are so precious and sometimes I have had to pee so badly I didn’t make it to the bathroom in time! (I told you I’d be honest) but when my baby needs to be soothed, he looks to me for comfort. When he gets hurt or if he’s tired or hungry, he looks for me and knows I’m there to take his worries away. What a gift. 




There truly is no greater love.

The Worst 48 Hours of My Life

So my mom came and surprised us in the hospital after Chase was born. She flew to North Carolina from Boston to surprise us and it was so sweet and very emotional to have her walk into our hospital room. We were able to let Nick (my husband) go home for a night and get some sleep while my mom took over as secondary care giver.

The next day the 3 of us took the long (2 blocks) haul to our home with our new baby in tow. We spent our first day and evening with our son in his very first home and my mom flew back home to Boston the next day. I was nursing Chase and trying to get the hang of it, (which is no easy feat), while spending our 2nd day home when I noticed he was falling asleep right after starting to feed. Now, he had only been alive for a total of 3 days, so it’s not as though anything was common or uncommon for him at that point but I felt like something was off. I’m a worrier by nature, so Nick thought nothing of it. He was probably just tired, we decided. However, when he WOULDN’T wake up to nurse, I began to panic.

I tried everything I could to get him to wake up but he just wouldn’t. I finally handed him over to Nick and he tried all that he could think of: undressing him to get him cold and mad, tickling him, turning all the lights on to wake him, but nothing. I called the pediatrician and after hearing his state (plus, he was slightly jaundice) she suggested we take him to the children’s hospital. We couldn’t be too careful with a newborn.

Now, I remember taking our time because the pediatrician didn’t seem alarmed, and Chase was really just sleepy, as it seemed, but I’ll never forget when Nick put him in his car seat carrier and Chase didn’t move an inch that he looked at me and said “Get in the car. Now.” I knew we were in trouble.

The children’s hospital was really close by as well, thank God, but it was a long ride to say the least. I tried waking Chase up the whole car ride there and he wouldn’t even lift an eyelid. I was obviously already crying when we pulled up to the emergency entrance and when we got inside, they took us in right away.

As the first nurse checked us in and began asking questions, I could barely get the answers out. I was in complete panic. Something was wrong with my baby and he was only 3 days old. My mind started racing and all I could think of was “Please, God. Don’t take him from me.”

When we got into the ER to be examined, they took Chase’s blood and that, at least, got him crying but he was still extremely lethargic. They found that his blood sugar had dropped dramatically from what it is supposed to be. They tried giving him formula (I was breastfeeding but was willing to do whatever they told us) to get his blood sugar up, but he spit it all up. After a couple more routine tests, they sat us down and the ER doctors explained that they needed to admit Chase and he was going to need to have a full infection testing done. They explained that they needed to check his urine (this meant a catheter was required), his spinal fluid (a spinal tab would be required), and X Rays (his arms would be pinned above his head), and we would need to leave him for the spinal tap because they would need a sterile environment.

The doctor (who was extremely kind) explained that the spinal tap would be much like the epidural I got while giving birth to Chase. This broke me down. Not only was I not allowed to be there and hold him, but they were going to invasively stick a tiny tube into my son’s spine to extract fluid to see if he had some kind of infection.

I’ll never forget sitting in that waiting room while they did the spinal tap. Your mind takes you to some pretty dark places when you have nothing to do but think and wait. You learn a lot about yourself and your spouse in a moment like that.

After watching them put a catheter in my newborn’s newly circumcised penis and watching him scream in pain, I decided I couldn’t watch them pin his arms above his head to take his X Rays. I sent Nick in with him because I couldn’t take any more. I felt so helpless and completely alone. There’s no comfort you can give or receive when you’re watching your child in pain.

After every test, I grabbed Chase and held him and cried with him. I wanted to make the medical staff just do the tests on me instead. He was too little, too small, too new for all of this. Too innocent.

We were finally admitted upstairs where we would spend the next 48 hours waiting on test results, wondering if our new baby had meningitis, or worse. They would be pumping him with antibiotics (just in case he did have some kind of infection) through an IV in his tiny hand, which would be wrapped up in a cast made of a heavy stint and a diaper. This was awful because his tiny arm couldn’t hold the weight of the cast and he kept hitting himself in the head and face with it while trying to sleep.

They had an old, squeaky, reclining chair, a “couch”, and a little crib that looked more like a cage for a small animal. They us a few thin blankets and pillows. I couldn’t sleep and neither could Nick so we just took turns watching Chase while the other shut their eyes (eventually I just climbed into the crib with Chase to try to sleep, at least I could be near him). I was breastfeeding him every 2-3 hours and the nurses kept coming in throughout the night and day to check his vitals and push more fluids and antibiotics.

At one point, I sent Nick home to sleep because all we were doing was waiting. We also didn’t have anything with us as far as clothes or toiletries so I sent him home for a little while to try and sleep (which he didn’t) and gather some things.

The worst part was not knowing and just praying that Chase was ok. I had a lump in the back of my throat that was just waiting to break free with the sound of anyone familiar and close. It is extremely isolating, being in a situation like that without any family or childhood friends around. I felt really alone. There’s something about the way people who have known and loved you your whole life can make you feel safe. Even just safe enough to break down because I was trying so hard to keep it together and as parents, Nick and I were just trying to be strong. But as a daughter, I needed my own parents at that moment and I couldn’t have them, which was really hard.

After 48 hours of being stuck in that room, holding my little baby, watching him get poked, prodded, and examined, we were finally met with the team of doctors, PA’s, medical students, and residents who explained that all of Chase’s tests had come back negative. THANK GOD. They came to the not so clear conclusion that the combination of Chase being jaundice and not getting as much milk as we thought contributed to his drop in blood sugar. We had a lactation consultant come to the room and help me.

I HIGHLY recommend seeing a lactation consultant if you are a new nursing mom. They have all been such a huge help to me and were completely covered by our insurance. If it weren’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have continued to nurse because I was paranoid that Chase wasn’t getting enough milk and that this would happen again. These women were truly a huge blessing! The lactation consultant in the children’s hospital was like an angel. She was so kind and helpful. I ended up using a nipple shield for Chase because he was having trouble latching and my nipples were raw and chapped. She saved me. She was like having my mom there. she was so gentle, empathetic and kind. Sometimes all you need is another kind woman around to make you feel ok.

We were finally discharged after 2 days and we got to pack up and take our healthy baby home, which was such a blessing and huge relief. On our way out of the hospital, I looked around for the first time and realized I hadn’t left that room once. As we walked down the hall towards the elevator I began to feel really guilty. Room after room of sick children, some of whom won’t get to go home. Their parents are in there just trying to make their child happy and comfortable enough to put their little minds at ease and not think about their illnesses and pains.

I had been thinking about how long 48 hours felt. How uncomfortable I was and how I just wanted to take our new baby back to our house, to all of the comforts of home. Meanwhile, some of these people are just praying to stay there longer because that means their child is still here. How seldom we realize just how lucky and blessed we are.

As I said before, I am an anxious person by nature, I always have been. But after this stay in the hospital, I was about to find out what it really means to be anxious. If I thought I knew about anxiety before, I was about to have an awakening like a sledge hammer to the head.  If I thought I knew what it was like to worry before, I was about to find out what it’s like to have your heart racing out of your chest while you shake and sob alone in the bathroom so no one can hear or see you lose your mind because you’re certain your child is going to die.

Enter in: Post Partum Anxiety…..

(This picture was taken early in the day before we called the pediatrician. Chase looks so tiny, only 3 days old!)

 

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(This was in the hospital. One of the items I asked Nick to bring from home was Chase’s Rock N Play so he could be more comfortable and I could watch him sleep better from the couch. His cast was so big and this was the only way he could sleep.)

Preggo Tip: Make Your Own

Ok, so if you’re pregnant or have children, you understand the seriousness of a craving. All bets are off, you’ll walk across hot coals to get what you want.

So, my new thrill in life (well…a more intense thrill) is food. I am pretty much known for my love of wine. In fact, we couldn’t even keep my pregnancy a secret because the second I turned down a glass of wine, everyone knew. Alas, I’ve always loved food, but now it’s all I can really get excited about on a daily (and hourly) basis.

I was picking up ingredients for dinner at the grocery store yesterday and began contemplating what to eat for dessert with our movie (Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, highly recommend for a good laugh!!). I had gone to the farmer’s market earlier and had some beautifully fresh strawberries to indulge on and was craving some strawberry shortcake. I saw a display at the store with strawberries, shortcake, angel food cake, etc. Of course, I look at the labels.

One of the first ingredients in any cake was bleached flour. Ugh. Why?? We are forever turning our food into something more “appealing” to look at (hence, making the normally yellow-ish flour appear bright/white and “clean” when it is anything but). In order to bleach flour, you need a chemical called Alloxan, which is a poison. Alloxan is used to produce diabetes in in healthy experimental animals so that researchers can then study diabetes “treatments” in the lab.

No, thank you. I’ll keep my off-white flour, it looks just fine to me. That being said, some people may argue that white flour, in general isn’t nutritious at all and here’s what I say to that: You can eat naturally gluten-free and paleo food all day…many times, I have. Right now, I’m growing a human inside of me and sweet potatoes aren’t cutting it.

I crave cookies, cupcakes, French toast and pizza. I could grab everything quickly off the shelf and satisfy my sweet tooth, but I’m choosing to make these goodies myself. Yes, there’s sugar and flour and butter, but I try my best to use unbleached flour, grass-fed butter and raw sugar. Does that happen 100% of the time? No. I do my best to feed this growing baby the best I can, including locally grown food and the least-processed ingredients I can. I grocery shop in about 4 or 5 different places throughout the week and educate myself.

This strawberry shortcake recipe was really easy and delicious. I bought whipping cream at Trader Joe’s, strawberries from a local farm and used unbleached flour. The heavy cream in the cake was not organic, nor was the sugar, but hey, you gotta live.

Here’s the recipe I followed, although I cut back on the sugar on the strawberries and I added a little more heavy cream to the cake batter:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/strawberry-shortcake-recipe3.html

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Healthy(er) Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie

In the spirit of St. Patty’s day this past week, I decided to make a shepherd’s pie. I didn’t have any ground lamb, as traditionally used in the Irish recipe, but I did have ground turkey, so I went with it. Cutting back on the calories and fat isn’t a bad thing!

Here’s what I did:

  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey Meat
  • 1 Tbs. Grape Seed Oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Beef Broth
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. Thyme
  • 4 Russet Potatoes
  • Butter
  • Almond Milk (or regular milk)
  • S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium-sized pot (on medium heat), I poured the oil and allowed it to heat a bit while I chopped my onion and carrot. I added those to the oil and allowed them to soften while I got the rest of the ingredients ready. I added the thyme and parsley and mixed together.

In a separate pot, I began heating salted water to cook the potatoes. I washed, peeled and chopped the potatoes and added them to the boiling pot of water.

Once the carrot and onion mixture had begun to soften, I added the ground turkey and mashed down with a fork, mixing all the ingredients together. I added the 1 tsp. of salt, Worcestershire sauce, covered, and allowed to cook together for about 5 minutes. I stirred the mixture and added the beef broth, covered again and allowed the turkey to brown completely, stirring a couple more times and removing from heat.

Once the potatoes could be punctured with a fork, I drained and moved them to my mixing bowl. I added some butter (about 1/4 Cup, give or take) and about 1/2 Cup almond milk. I beat with a hand mixer and added salt and pepper to taste. (Feel free to add more butter/milk to your liking).

In a glass pie pan, I poured the meat mixture evenly as my base coat. I then scooped the mashed potatoes into dollops on top and then evenly spread to the edges.

I baked the pie for about 15  minutes, just until the mashed potatoes began to get a little crisp along the edges of the pan.

Slainte and ENJOY!!!

Gluten Free Granny Apple Crisp

This is probably THE best dessert ever. Anywhere you go, warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream melting perfectly on top is just so comforting and this gluten-free version is no exception!

Here’s what I did:

  • 3 Large Granny Smith Apples (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Gluten Free Flour (Trader Joe’s)
  • 3/4 Cup Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup Melted Butter
  • Palm Shortening (to grease iron skillet)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease your skillet with some palm shortening and place the sliced apples. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients and pour evenly over apples.

Bake for 30 minutes and remove from heat. Scoop and serve with vanilla ice cream and ENJOY!!!

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Homemade Granola!!

Do you love cereals and granola but worry about the sugar content and other additives? Try this SUPER easy recipe and trust that you’re consuming delicious, natural ingredients without the preservatives or additives.

This granola was SO easy to make and probably the best I’ve ever had. I have enjoyed it for breakfast and as an after-dinner snack, both with unsweetened almond milk (you could also use regular milk or yogurt).

Here’s what I did (in approximation):

  • 2 Cups Organic, Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Grape Seed Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 Cup Mixed Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios and pumpkin seeds)
  • Sprinkle Cinnamon (to your liking)

I preheated oven to 300. In a mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut oil, grape seed oil and honey. Mix together well, you want the oats to be completely coated but not drenched. Sprinkle a little cinnamon, add the mixed nuts and mix together once more.

Spread this mixture out on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees (mixing a couple times) for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 250 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes, mixing again in between (you don’t want the granola to burn or cook unevenly).

Remove from oven and pour the dried cranberries on top. Mix together and allow granola to cool completely before eating.

*Tip* You can use any nuts you want, bake them the same way I did. You can use any dried fruit you want, just add it at the end the way I did when the granola is out of the oven but still warm.

*Skin-care tip* Oats are great for many skin conditions! Ever heard of an oatmeal bath? Known to sooth and calm the skin, lower blood sugar levels and prevent heart disease, oats are good for the inside out! Healthy skin starts within!

Spicy Red Curry Chicken

Are you ever in the mood for Thai food but don’t feel like leaving the house? Maybe you don’t know all the ingredients that the restaurant is putting in your food and that bothers you! Well, here you go!

Here’s what I did:

  • 2 lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 3 Tbs. Red Curry Paste
  • 1 Tbs. Curry Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Fresh Chopped Ginger
  • 1 Diced Garlic Clove
  • 1/4 Cup Fish Sauce
  • S&P To Taste
  • Dash Cayenne Pepper (to your liking)
  • Fresh, Steamed Broccoli (about 1 cup with stems removed)
  • 1/2 Cup Steamed Edamame
  • Brown Rice or Riced Cauliflower
  • Grape Seed Oil (about 1/2 Tbs.)
  • Fresh Sliced Mango and Cilantro to garnish

I sliced my chicken into short strips and heated them over high heat in a skillet with the oil. I seasoned with salt and  pepper, added the ginger, mixed together and allowed to cook about 1/2 way through.

In a small mixing bowl, I combined the coconut milk, curry paste, curry powder and fish sauce (I actually used a little less than the full 1/4 cup, I filled it about 3/4 of the way to 1/4 cup, if that makes sense).

I poured the mixture over the chicken, covered and reduced heat to medium/low. In my steamer, I steamed the broccoli, then the edamame. After about 15 minutes, I added them to the chicken, covered again and allowed to cook for another 10 minutes or so.

I served this dish over brown rice (gluten-free) but you can also use riced cauliflower (paleo) and sliced mango, which really complimented the flavors. Enjoy with a glass or 3 of Medaloni Cellars Sauvignon Blanc! (If you prefer red with this dish, I’d suggest a Pinot Noir)

*Skin-care tip* Tumeric is found in curry. Tumeric is essential in anti-inflammatory issues and is great at healing acne and even psoriasis!