Babywise; not so much.

When I learned that I was pregnant it was not long before I got my hands on some books I had heard all about to prepare me for life with a baby. One of those books was Babywise by Gary Ezzo.

babywise

The biggest POSITIVE take away from Babywise…the “eat, wake, sleep” schedule. As a new mom who is completely clueless as to what you are supposed to do with a baby, or how to care for them, this could be a pretty helpful tip. Your baby should take a nap, eat when they wake up, have a play time, then go back down for a nap. Ok. That makes sense to me (We’ve broken this “rule” which I explain later on). Another positive take away is an idea of how long your baby could go without eating at a given age. I believe that its good to know so you can monitor your babies growth and progress, or if you’re nursing and have to leave the baby with someone.

Other than that, I found it completely useless. It just did not work for us AT ALL. (If it worked for you, power to you…this is just MY post on why it did not work for me.)

When I read this book I was DEAD SET on following its principals and having a baby that could fall asleep anywhere, take awesome naps & sleep through the night ASAP. Boy oh FREAKIN boy, was I wrong.

Why did Babywise not work for us? Let me tell you:

Ok so lets see…for one, (once he was no longer nocturnal and actually was awake during the day) Jackson would only ever take 20 min naps. TWENTY MINUTE NAPS. I would have finally gotten in the shower after eating a meal and be lathered with soap, and hear him fussing or babbling in the crib. When he was 3 months old we went in for his check up and my pediatrician suggested extending his awake time to 2.5 hours instead of 1.5-2 hours to see if that helped. That was what finally got us to 40-45 min naps. BUT Babywise said that he should be up for 1.5-2 hours and then he’d sleep for 1-1.5 hours until his next scheduled feeding… … … um, wrong. I would call my sister and say, “Why is he not napping as long as he is supposed to?! I fed him like I was supposed to, he was satisfied, he was tired, he wasn’t overtired. I. don’t. get. it.” Her response? “Melissa, he isn’t SUPPOSED to do anything; He’s a baby. Get that out of your head.” Ooohhhh. Right. Duh. For FAR too long I was wondering why oh why is my baby only taking 45 minute naps; “What’s wrong with him??” NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with him!!!!!! He is a short(er) napper. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is not even close to abnormal. Some babies take 45 minute naps. As long as a baby is not overtired it should not effect night time sleep. He was on three 45 minute naps until about 8-8.5 months and then he transitioned to two naps. One is 1.5-2 hours and the other is about an hour; it switches from day to day which one is longer or shorter. He averages 3 hours of nap time a day (usually), which could not be more normal. (So, rest assured if you are a mom out there going through the same ?!?!?! I was.)

Oh yea, and you have to love the “Wake them up at the same time everyday” thing. “Ok, so I say your wake up time is 6:30am, Jackson. Wait, why are you awake at 5am? Your wake up time is 6:30am; should I force your eye lids back shut? Because you know, your schedule is going to be totally off now. I mean your nap was supposed to be 9am, but now its going to have to be 7:30-8am because there’s nooooo way you’re going to make it til 9…unless I want to torture you by making you completely miserable until 8:30-9am…you wouldn’t mind that would you? But then it wouldn’t matter because you’d be so overtired that your nap would probably only be 30 minutes anyway, and that really isn’t helping anyone is it?” GIVE ME A BREEEAAAK. If my baby wakes up early I can see waiting 15 or 20 minutes to see if he will go back to sleep, but I am not pretending he doesn’t exist until his scheduled “wake up time.” When I told my pediatrician that, she thought it was ridiculous. AND the days when he wakes up early or late, he usually somehow gets himself back on track before the day is over. AND my kid is the happiest kid ever so you know what, I’ll take it.

Then there were the days when naps would be boycotted. I put him down at 1pm and it is now 1:45pm and he is still not asleep. 1:50pm, 1:55pm…ah 2pm, finally asleep, that only took an hour. Babywise says to wake your baby up from a nap so they stay on schedule. That’s fine if that works for you, but my baby JUST fell asleep 30 minutes ago…no friggin way am I waking him up from that peaceful snoring slumber. If he is an hour off it has no effect. He didn’t/doesn’t sleep through the night on schedule or off, so I’M LETTING MY CHILD SLEEP.  Not to mention, like I said before, he usually somehow gets himself back on track…so AGAIN, I would rather not have a miserable baby for the sake of a schedule.

Feedings. Sigh. Babywise’s theory: Make sure your baby gets a full feeding at the scheduled feeding time (Remember the “Eat, Wake, Sleep” concept I mentioned before?). Has Gary Ezzo ever nursed a 6 month old or a teething baby? No. So he wouldn’t know how nearly impossible it is to make them NOT get distracted.  Or how you’re a nipple would feel after being chomped on 5 times in a row. My son is an INCREDIBLY alert, active, curious baby. Who needs food when there’s a very intriguing TV remote across the room on the coffee table begging to be chomped on? Seriously, I could hide that thing under the couch and he would sense its presence. Yup, tried the nursing cover. Tried the dark room. I’m sorry (actually I am not sorry), but I found it impossible to force my baby’s mouth onto my boob. SO. I let him play until he was interested in eating again. If he wanted to nurse a little more before a nap, then I nursed him. Why? Because I would rather him eat more, sleep better, and nurse more during the day than during the night.  As far as the biting while teething – sometimes you have to put them down and let them see that biting means no nursing. My son got the hint, but it took nursing him NOT at his scheduled time. Another reason why you may not want to stick to a certain feeding schedule is because when breast feeding your supply is effected by demand. The more your baby eats, the more you will produce. When my supply dropped, nursing my son more (not following the clock) got my supply back up WAY more effectively than the pump.

This is all not to mention the books suggestion on crying it out. Gary Ezzo says repeatedly that it is not harmful to let your baby cry until he or she is sleeping, even as long as 45 minutes. I have done a variation of crying it out with my son, but I opted for Dr. Ferber’s method where you check on your baby in increasing increments until he or she falls asleep without you in the room. My issue with Gary Ezzo’s method, at least from what I gathered from Babywise, is that he does not specify when an acceptable age is to let your baby scream or cry him or herself to sleep. He does not suggest going in to check on your baby. He doesn’t address what is emotionally going on with your baby AT ALL (other than the fact that your baby will still love you when he or she wakes up and you will not scar your baby for life. So relieving… … …). It took me months before I was able to let my son cry for longer than 5 minutes, and we didn’t do the Ferber method of crying it out until he was 6 months old. I have seen mothers on a Babywise Facebook page ask if it was ok to let their 6 week old cry it out (:-| 6 weeks is still soooo little. Like, they were in the womb 6 weeks ago.). I have seen mothers who are desperate, who have just heard about Babywise, and that it promises to get your baby sleeping through the night in the early weeks, asking about how to let their baby cry it out without even reading the book or TRYING to understand the methods beyond just letting their baby cry. That is dangerous in my opinion. (In case you were wondering, after doing the Ferber Method of cry it out Jackson slept from 7p-4a for about 3 weeks, but then he got croop, followed by teething. So, that was the end of sleeping through the night. We all share a room because of our living situation while we wait until we close on our new house so we are holding off on any form of sleep training until we have separate rooms. But this just shows you how much change goes on with your baby and just because they start sleeping through the night, doesn’t mean they will STAY sleeping through the night. So, don’t freak out and think there is something wrong with your baby. He/She is just being a baby.)

Does any of this sound familiar to you??

The more I got into the whole parenting thing, the more I realized how UNNATURAL some of the ways of Babywise are. I am an A + B = C person. I like structure & predictability to a certain extent, which is why I think Babywise initially appealed to me. My greatest lesson: Babies aren’t predictable. Babies are not machines or robots. I have come to accept that, and that Babywise, for the most part (in my experience), goes against the nature of babies. They are individual little growing beings that are going through SO much change and growth it is literally impossible to comprehend. I started to get to know my baby; to pay attention to his needs and what he was going through and I let that guide me. Not what a book said to do. Gary Ezzo’s method is founded on being “parent directed” rather than being “baby lead”. I guess I say why pick one or the other? To survive this parenting thing you need to be out of the box. You need to be creative. You need to be flexible. You need to be strong. You need patience. You need divine wisdom. You need to be able to put yourself last. You need to trust your instincts, as well as your baby.

Some of this may sound kind of strong as far as my opinions and feeling go. It is that way because as a new mom I was so impressionable and desperate to do what was best for my baby, like I know EVERY new mom is. I was putting all my confidence in the words of a MAN who never in his life nursed a baby or was a stay at home mom with a baby literally almost 24/7. Thank God it clicked one day that I was my child’s one and only mother and I could do whatever I thought was best. I was made to be a mother. If you are a mom, you were made to be one too. I FINALLY decided to be confident in myself and make my own decisions, and you know what: I was never happier or more stress free. You know what else? My kid is perfect…in his own unique and special way. 🙂 We have areas we can grow in, but who doesn’t? Books about parenting have their pros, but just remember who the parent is. You. Be confident in who you are as a parent, and do what is best for your family.

I want to thank all my mommy (and even some daddy) friends out there for the wisdom, support, advice and guidance. You are all the best teachers I could have asked for on this mommy journey!

Jackson thanks you too! 🙂

"Yayyyy!" My happy clapping boy. <3

“Yayyyy!” My happy clapping boy. ❤

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Jackson’s Birth Story.

The Story:

It all started Wednesday the 15th of May into Thursday, the 16th. I got a chiropractic adjustment Wednesday afternoon and by that night, after I watched American Idol and had a glass of wine, I went to bed with contractions 10 minutes apart. By 1 or 2 am they were 7 minutes apart, but then they stopped by 3 am. I was slightly frustrated considering I was now going on 10 days late. Some background: starting at 37 weeks I was literally doing everything I possibly could to help naturally encourage labor; i.e. primrose oil, walking, squats, sitting on an exercise ball, climbing the stairs multiple times in a row, eating pineapple, spicy food, adding basil & oregano into everything possible, etc. I learned that he was not coming out until he was ready!

I woke up Thursday with no contractions, but had a midwife appointment with Laura that morning to monitor the baby for 30 minutes, followed by an ultrasound to check fluid levels; standard post date stuff. While at the doctors Laura swept my membranes, which she had done the previous Monday as well; then while hooked up to the monitoring machine, I started having contractions recorded at 5 minutes apart. This was around 9 or 9:30am. They weren’t super strong, but definitely noticeable. Joe was with me, but had to go back to work. I didn’t want to go to my ultrasound alone in case things were to progress to the point where I couldn’t drive, so I drove to my sister’s house and she came with me. It was around 11am when we arrived at the Yale office where I’d get the ultrasound. At this point I was saying “ouch” to the contractions, still 5 minutes apart or so, but again it was more like a severe menstrual cramp than anything. After the ultrasound we drove back to my sister’s, picked up her family and headed to a local library to get some Sugar Bakery cupcakes since their truck was there for the afternoon. Once I had my cupcakes I headed home to eat some lunch.

I was dicing up veggies to make salsa and remember my mom texting me asking me how I was doing. I told her I was having contractions 5 minutes apart and making salsa. She thought it was funny that I was having contractions and making salsa. I was hungry! 🙂 At this point it was around 1:30pm. After I made the salsa I texted Joe and told him he should come home soon in case anything were to progress. I ate lunch and waited for him. He got home around 2:30pm, he ate lunch, and then we went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day outside!

Back home from the walk we decided to eat one of our cup cakes! It was around 4:30pm now. I sat on my exercise ball and thoroughly enjoyed my Snickers cup cake while conversing with my husband. I think I literally had just swallowed the last bite when I felt a contraction, and then all of a sudden kind of pop in my stomach, almost like a water balloon popping, and Jackson’s head drop really low. The contraction immediately became like 20x more painful. Oh boy. I thought to myself, “Oh God…I felt a pop, the baby’s head pretty much just dropped into my pelvis, and this contraction suddenly SUCKS. Holy crap, I think my water just broke.” Sure enough I stood up and started walking to bathroom and with each step: gush, gush, gush. I pretty much just stood in the shower and let it all come on out. Then…I had to poop. And let me tell you I pooped more than I have ever pooped in my ENTIRE LIFE (haha). {Listen, this is my birth story, and I like details, so you’re getting all the details. ;)} Joe called the midwives to tell them my water broke. Because the fluid was yellow and Jackson was 10 days late Laura advised us to go to the hospital right away to make sure there was no meconium in the fluid. So, I got changed, we grabbed our stuff and Joe told me to head to the car and he would tell my dad we were leaving. Joe got to the car with my dad trailing behind him. He came to my side, kissed me on the head and told me to remember what his mom always said, “Women are stronger than men, that’s why they are the ones who have babies.” Lol, thanks Daddy.

We were going to be delivering Jackson at Yale New Haven Hospital. On the drive there I remember being like “ooooooowwwww!” Once we arrived and checked in the attendant asked me if I wanted a wheel chair, but I declined thinking of what Louise, the nurse whose birth class I attended had said, “When they offer you a wheel chair say no. You can walk. You’re not sick; you’re just having a baby.” That was her mantra, “You’re just having a baby.” Well, I half regretted not getting the wheel chair lol. But knew it’d be best to walk.

By the time we got up to the L&D floor it was around 5pm and the contractions were making me nauseous and faint. We were greeted by a nurse who informed us that there were no rooms left in triage so I would have to be checked by my on-call midwife, Elise, in the C-Section recovery room, which is like it says – where women recover after having a C-Section. Now, at some point I am pretty sure I already started kind of grunting or groaning through the contractions; just what these poor women who are recovering from surgery want to hear. I remember then getting ready for Elise to check me and realizing that blood comes out when you have a contraction. And it was now on the floor near my feet. I also remember hating the fact that I had to climb up on a bed and be checked during a contraction. After checking me out, Elise said that, 1.) I was only 2.5 cm, 2.) there didn’t seem to be meconium , which meant I technically did not have to stay at the hospital, and 3.) it was too soon for her liking to admit me. She suggested I go back home or go walk around the hospital or outside, basically wherever I would be most comfortable.

My state at this point was dizzy and faint, a bit overwhelmed at being in the hospital in an unfamiliar/uncomfortable environment, as well as by what I was feeling and experiencing in my body and being in very little control of it, and distressed at the thought of experiencing this in the car, outside on the public streets, or at home where my parents were (no offense mommy & daddy). I looked at Elise with the saddest face ever and told her I can’t get back in the car, and not to make me go out there (downtown new haven). Elise, being the most glorious woman and best midwife ever responded by saying, “Okay listen, go up to the 7th floor. There is a healing garden on the roof up there that is quiet and peaceful, and there is usually no one up there. Go out there and walk around and come back in a couple hours and we’ll check to see how you’ve progressed.”

Joe and I got up to the garden that had a pretty landscape of plants, a stream, benches and a path intertwined through it all. I definitely enjoyed the scenery and fresh air right away; it made me feel like I wasn’t in a hospital anymore. As nice as it was I confessed to Joe at this point that I just wish I had a pillow to put my head down on because of feeling faint and tired. I was thinking to myself that I really didn’t know how I was going to get through this entire labor if I was already feeling like this. I decided to go kneel in front of a bench and put my head down. Joe took the inserts out of his shoes to pad my knees. Such a great hubby. I think he started playing some music also. Even though I was outside with the evening sky and breeze, with my husband, listening to worship music, I just did not feel comfortable, or as comfortable as I could be while having contractions. I needed my doula, my dear friend Chrisy Kendrick. Joe called her to come meet us, and after Joe and I had been up there for about an hour she arrived. The first thing she did was get down next to me to encourage me and pray for me for the rest of the delivery. I finally felt the faint and dizzy feeling lift and decided to get up and walk around. Now with each contraction what felt best was for me to put my arms around Joe’s neck with my face in his chest and squat a little in front of him. Chrisy would rub my back and hips through the contraction. This pretty much got me through my entire labor. We circled the garden like this for about an hour and decided to go back down to get checked out; back to the C-Section recovery room for my labor sounds to disrupt the recovering women.  I remember walking by the waiting room where families were waiting to meet new babies right outside the L&D doors, getting a contraction, and thinking “Why God?!”.  I really did not think I was going to be one to make loud noise while in labor, but that was not the case. I was definitely a deep guttural, pit of your stomach noise maker. It was just how I needed to deal with the contractions; unfortunate for innocent by-standers. So, turns out in those 2 hours or so I went from 2.5 cm to 3 cm. I was not too happy about that; I wanted to progress quickly, but who wouldn’t really? At this point I think that Joe or Chrisy had gotten in touch with my dear friend Alayna Wetherhead who I also wanted there. She met us back there at this point. Elise told us that they were going to get me the tub room (Yale L&D has one room with a big tub in it), which I was incredibly thankful for, but that it could take about 1.5 hrs, so I should go back to the garden. I found out afterwards that she told Joe, Chrisy & Alayna to keep me up there as long as possible. It was around 8-8:30pm at this time.

The worst part about going up to the garden was walking the hallways with contractions. There were multiple times when I would be having a contraction and a random doctor would ask, “Is she okay?” Um. Really? She’s having a baby. Have you never seen a laboring woman before? Other times I would be having a contraction in the elevator and it would stop at a random floor. When the doors opened and revealed my laboring self, the person waiting on the other side would usually give a half smile and say, “I’ll wait for the next one.” Good idea.

Back up in the garden we walked around for a while but it got to the point where I just wanted to kneel and lean forward over a bench. I remember shoving my fingers between the slats in the bench, gripping it, shoving my face into my arms and half yelling, half groaning through the contractions. I also remember feeling more and more pressure and thinking if it wasn’t intense before, it was pretty freaking intense now. Joe said afterward as we were reflecting on it all that this particular time – seeing me go through what I was going through and hearing me in pain was rough for him to. All I had in my mind was that I heard Elise say it would be around 1.5 hrs at most before the tub was ready. So, after I really couldn’t stand it anymore I asked my birthing crew if it was time to go down yet. Chrisy confirmed that it had been 1.5 hrs and that she could tell a difference in the intensity of the contractions and we could go down.

THANK THE LORD when Elise checked me this time I was 4 cm; she said I was in a new phase of labor – active labor, and I could finally be admitted. I was like yes a new phase; get me the heck out of the old phase. I want the TUB! Bad news: they needed 15-20 min to fill the tub. My thought: “There was already 1.5 hrs to fill the tub!!!” I hated having to sit and wait in that C-Section recovery room, but tried to remain patient. I took the time to change into the birthing attire I spent $37 at target on (that made my husband happy… 😉 he was like why did you spend almost $40 on clothes that are going to get ruined?!) (They didn’t get ruined by the way.). Once the room was ready, around 9:45pm, I made a bee line for the tub. The warm water felt amazing. I really was so happy that I could labor in the tub, it was a Godsend. I continued to labor through the contractions just the same as before, leaning over the side of the tub onto Joe while Chrisy or Alayna rubbed my back. Elise put a pillow on the edge of the tub so I could relax in between contractions. At one point I heard Will Reagan & United Pursuits “Endless Years” album playing in the background and I was thankful for whoever put that on (Alayna, I think.). I started to get hot after a while so one of the girls put a cool cloth on my neck and forehead which was comforting. They were constantly offering me water and juice in between contractions to make sure I was staying hydrated and energized. In the moment I couldn’t even think of eating or drinking and could barely take the little sips, but I was thankful for their care and knew it would be best to stay hydrated. For 2 hours I continued through the intensifying contractions with the increasing urge to bear down into that pressure. I was making the typical laboring sounds trying to keep the sound out of my throat and into my stomach. At the end of those 2 hrs, around 11:45pm, Elise checked my cervix during a contraction and found I was 5cm. I was thinking dear God help me. She said that because Jackson’s head is right up against my cervix, my bearing down and groaning into my stomach is causing too much pressure against my cervix. It isn’t ready for that yet so it’s not dilating, or even worse could swell or tear. She suggested we bust out the typical 70s labor method of the “hee hee hee hoo” with each contraction, keeping it very breathy & up in my head, if that makes sense, and asked Joe to do it with me to help me keep with it. This would keep pressure of my cervix and help me progress faster, hopefully. I prayed, “Please Lord, let Elise know what she is talking about.”

The next contraction came and it took all my strength to keep my body from going back to what I was doing before. I wanted to be all crazy intense, aggressively getting through the contraction, but this was very calm and soft; I think it made me focus on the pain more. Basically, the next 2 hrs were the hardest 2 hrs of my entire labor. I was thankful for those who were with me praying for me, and for the prayers from those praying at home. My contractions were getting more and more and more intense, the pressure was getting more and more and more intense, and along with dealing with that, I had to fight against what my body naturally wanted to do. If Joe was not there with me during every contraction, especially the “hee hee hee hoo” ones, I don’t know if I could have made it. He is such a servant, often putting himself last, that he did not even pee when he had too! Finally around 8 hrs in he decided he needed to relieve his bladder and stretch his legs that were asleep. Elise came to take his place, letting me lean on her. She was so sweet whispering encouraging words to me, and rubbing her finger on my forehead to relieve tension. I remember playing with her hair while I was hugging her trying to calm my breathing after a contraction was over; for some reason it was just comforting to me. I had an incredible team with me.

Drawing near to the end of those 2 hours the “hee hee hee hoos” started sounding sadder and sadder, with the “hoos” extending into half crying. Elise and the sweet nurse, Rachel, would say let that contraction go, it’s over, let your breath be normal, but I would say but it still hurts and I still feel pressure!! Probably around 1:30am I looked up at Chrisy and Rachel and said/cried, “I can’t do this for anymore hours! I can’t.” I remember Chrisy saying, “It’s not hours it’s just the next contraction. You just have to get through the next one,” and Rachel, “Every contraction is just bringing your baby closer.” Me: “No. No more. I can’t do it anymore.” Joe chimed in there, “The Lord has given you the strength and everything you need to get through this, you can do it.” Me: “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M FEELING RIGHT NOW.” Clearly I was done!! 😉 Later on Rachel said she knew in that moment I hit transition, and she was right. To the grace of God Elise did know what she was talking about; she checked my cervix and with a little help from her I was finally 10cm dilated. Can I just say that I thought that moment was never going to come and I was going to die in that tub? Not really, but kind of.

Just as much as I wanted the tub before, I wanted out of the tub now. I hopped out of it so fast; I was SO ready to push. I went from on the verge of delirious with my eyes rolling in back of my head to lets freaking do this.

I pushed for a total of 2 hrs. I started with squatting with the squat bar, went from that to laying back and pulling myself forward with a towel wrapped around the squat bar; from that I went to all fours, followed by sitting on the toilet. I mean, where is the most natural place to push like you’re pooping? I remember practically jumping out of the bed to get to the bathroom. I was in beast mode. I asked Elise if he was going to fall in the toilet…She said he wouldn’t, but if he happened to she’d get him out (haha). She also laughed at me because she would tell me not to keep pushing if my contraction was over, but I always gave one extra little push at the end. Listen, I wanted to meet my kid. She was all geared up for him to come out on the toilet, but decided that she thought I did the best with pulling myself forward with the towel, so we went back to the bed to try that method again. It soon became clear that this is how he was coming out. They put a mirror up for me so I could see what was going on down there, which I found very motivating. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember being so happy pushing and even joking around. I loved hearing Joe’s reaction every time Jackson’s head would show. I don’t really remember what he said, but I got the sense he was like oh my gosh this is crazy and that looks nothing like a baby’s head and is that really my kid?! He and Alayna were holding my legs and cheering me on while Chrisy was encouraging me on the side. I constantly heard everyone saying great job, and that was an awesome push, etc. I also heard Elise joking that she was wearing goggles because she thought a flood of fluid was going to come out behind Jackson and hit her because there hadn’t been that much fluid before. Ok, so finally after almost 2 hours of pushing his head half emerged. Can I just be frank? The boy’s head was half way out for a lot longer than I would have liked. I heard Elise or the nurse tell me to just relax and let him stretch me out. Yea well, they don’t call it the ring of fire for nothing. Finally, after a few more contractions and crazy with all my strength pushes I felt our little boy make his way out and he was plopped on my chest. The cord was wrapped around his neck so Elise cut it right away, which Joe didn’t mind as long as Jackson was safe.  Apparently he did some fancy move on the way out, and both shoulders came out at the same time with his arms crossed in front of him with his hands by his face. Typical Jackson. Oh, and the first thing he did was poop all over the place. Also typical Jackson. 🙂

Literally everything I had just been through faded away when our son was in my arms. I couldn’t believe he was finally here and laying on me! I just kept saying “oh my gosh,” and Joe and I both could not stop saying hi to him. We were in awe of him and his sweet little face. I think the first thing I really noticed were his hands and finger nails. His hands were big! He had long fingers and long finger nails!! I thought that was so funny. Piano hands, just like his dad and Grandpa Jacobs. And those gorgeous eyes as he was blinking in front of us for the first time – breathtaking. At first Joe just saw this purple creature that looked more like an alien than a baby. He was amazed that by the time he was plopped in front of us his coloring was normal and he actually resembled a baby…a very cute baby at that! We were so so so in love.

All in all I was 11 days late, and my labor from the time my water broke was 11 hours long. Jackson was born on May 17th, 2013 at 3:44am. He was 7lbs 15oz and 21.5in long. I did the whole thing completely natural, which was my plan.

I held him while Elise and the Rachel continued to work on me. Rachel kept trying to get a good cry out of him, so she eventually took him for a minute to do a deep clean of his throat because he wasn’t really giving her the screaming cry she was looking for. To this day he rarely cries like that! Such a good boy. She was thoughtful in doing that so the nurses on the recovery floor wouldn’t have to take him from us to clean his throat later on. Finally, I was in a wheel chair ready to head up to the recovery floor and Rachel handed me Jackson all bundled up. She told me some nurses won’t let women hold their babies up to recovery, but she was so cool and totally fine with it. Joe was alongside, and we were on our way to start our first night (or day really) of this new adventure together as a family.

Things we learned about Jackson in the hospital those first few days:

  • He busted out of swaddles and loves his hands near his face.
  • He loves to hold things: our fingers, shirts, blankets, etc.
  • He is very alert & curious.
  • He was great at pooping.
  • He learned to latch almost immediately, and was a great eater.
  • He liked to suck in his bottom lip.
  • He smiled when he ate & slept.
  • He was born incredibly cute & loved; the nurses there loved him…along with everyone else. We got many messages from friends saying he was the cutest newborn they had ever seen.

My reflections:

Labor was definitely more intense than I anticipated. I knew it was going to be hard work, but I imagined it more like a challenging yoga class or something that I would just have to power through. No person, book or piece of advice can really prepare you for what you experience. It is a pain like no other, but the reward is also like no other. I can’t say it was easy, but it was perfect. I would not have had it any other way.

I am so so so so so so so blessed by my husband. We really labored together for our little one. He was there for me every single second, emotionally and physically. He does not have good shoulders or a good back, and he sacrificially let me lean on him for pretty much 11 hours straight. We were both sore the next day. We have always been all about being a team and this labor and birth was no different. He is my MVP. 🙂

My birth team was all around amazing. It was such a wise move to have a doula, and close friends there who have been through it before. It was great support for me, but also for Joe. It was so special for me to share this amazing miraculous experience with them, and I am so incredibly full of gratitude for the sacrifice of time and sleep they made to be there with me.

If anyone lives in the New Haven area and is in need of a gyno/midwife practice, do yourself a favor and go to Women’s Health Associates. Joe and I loved all three midwives from the start (Deb, Laura & Elise), but after our birth experience we cannot be more fond of or speak more highly of this practice. When you are in labor it is so hard to think clearly at times. You need to have someone you trust to know what you want and what you need to guide you. I didn’t know it in the moment but looking back, it was as if Elise knew exactly what I wanted and what I needed when I couldn’t realize it or verbalize it myself. Childbirth is crazy. It is a rollercoaster ride, and she helped make it so I had the birth I wanted, as well as facilitated a pleasant experience in the midst of something that could easily go off track and be not so pleasant.

Overall, I see the hand and favor of the Lord over me and my growing family. I know that He is the one responsible for blessing me with a great birth experience with no complications, creating a perfect little boy for us, and keeping him safe throughout it all. Every single person involved was ordained to be there by Him. It was truly a gift. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Lights in whom there is no shadow or variation. He is GOOD.

Pictures:

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Joe & I enduring a contraction in the tub.
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So grateful to have this man by my side!
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Elise stepping in for Joe, Joe encouraging from the side & Chrisy massaging my back/hips.
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Me wanting to be done, and Joe giving me some motivation.
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Husband & Doula helping me make it through the final stretches.
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He is here. Jackson Bruno Jacobs.
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Family

Expressions on a Rainy Wednesday

Disclaimer: long post ahead.

Today is May 8th.

That makes me 40 weeks & 2 days pregnant.

I know that everyone says majority of first time pregnancies will go over 40 weeks, but I have to say, I’m kind of not feeling that.

This last week or so has probably been the hardest for me so far, mainly on an emotional and hormonal level. It is something that I can’t quite explain, but if you are 9 months pregnant, or ever have been, maybe you understand. Maybe not. I kind of feel like hiding away until he decides to make his appearance. As a 9 month+ pregnant lady who was expecting to be holding her baby by now, being asked everywhere you go about it doesn’t make me feel happy. I get it, people care and are excited, and that’s nice and all. But yea. Like I said, I’m emotional and hormonal, and overdue and YES I’m ready to have him, YES I’m large and how the heck do you think I am?! 🙂

Throughout my pregnancy I have imagined & prayed for what I want my labor to look like, getting to have him in my arms on Mother’s Day, also things I did not want to happen. I DO NOT want to be induced. The thing about pregnancy, especially waiting for labor to start, is that you have no control. From the very beginning you can’t make yourself get pregnant. You can’t make your baby grow a certain way or any faster. There is no getting around waiting around 9 months before you can meet your baby. There is no microwave that speeds up the process. And there is no making yourself go into labor. I have literally done everything humanly possible to try to naturally induce labor, or at least help the process along. I am still pregnant. 🙂 Bottom line is…it doesn’t matter what you do. The baby is coming when the baby is good and ready. The reality is that things don’t always go the way you anticipated, wanted or expected. That isn’t always an easy thing NOT pregnant. So again, I say: GOSH the last week or so is HARD. I think the world should know this and love on pregnant women every where.

If there is one thing I have been learning in this realization of how little control I have, is how desperately I need patience, and to trust in the Lord’s perfect timing & care for me. Why????? is. that. so. HARD? I’ve actually been joking that it is taking me back to when I was waiting to get engaged. Haha. Those days of wondering when it will happen, feeling like it might never happen, and knowing it is completely out of your hands. And the day comes & you absolutely can’t believe it!

Jackson Bruno Jacobs will be here soon enough, this I know. I cannot wait until the day we meet our son!

Now onto another topic that I have been wanting to touch on, also relating to pregnancy: Pregnancy & food.

As most people who know me know, I adopted a plant based diet about a year and a half ago. Over the course of being pregnant my diet has changed a little bit. Before becoming pregnant I was completely vegan for a 9 month period. About 3 months or so into my pregnancy I had a craving for eggs, and so one day I ate them. That was pretty much the only non-vegan food I ate for a while, but over the remaining course of my pregnancy I have also eaten dairy in the form of some cheeses, milk & cream. Everything I prepare myself, for myself or my husband, from meals, snacks, desserts, beverages, etc., other than eating eggs for breakfast, has remained vegan. Basically, if I eat non-vegan I am usually out to eat, at a party, or at a friends house.

When I started a plant based diet, I did not do it for the sake of animal cruelty like many vegans out there, although I think it is wrong how animals are treated by the food industry; I did it for personal health and wellness. I felt better and the healthiest I have ever been on a plant based diet and I think that all people should eat in a way that makes them feel physically & mentally great. So, I planned on keeping my plant based diet throughout my pregnancy. Every test that I got done regarding vitamins, nutrition and overall health in the beginning of my pregnancy I passed with flying colors. I was not deficient in anything at all. It is possible to be pregnant and healthy eating vegan! So don’t let anyone tell you other wise! 🙂 Why did I reintroduce some animal products back into my diet then? Simply because at the time I wanted to eat them. I was a pregnant girl and wanted eggs…or froyo…or eggplant parm. It’s not often or every day that I eat non-vegan, but it happens and that is ok.

Another thing I have realized in this pregnancy is that life is to be enjoyed, and part of that is with food. I completely believe in a plant based diet for so many reasons, but I also am not holding myself in any kind of bondage or going to feel bad if I eat something that is not plant based every now and then. I am a person of conviction and passion, and I believe in being committed to eating in a way that is healthy for yourself and the environment at large. That is why I will continue to eat a mostly plant based diet, as cleanly as possible, and as consciously as possible.

My dad came across a very interesting article in our local news paper entitled A New Beef with Meat, Eggs?, by Dr. David Katz and I wanted to share a part of it that fits perfectly with some of these thoughts:

“There are many ways to be an omnivore. In our culture, the most common kind of omnivore is a devotee of the typical American diet. The typical American diet isn’t just a mix of plant and animal foods, however; it’s a mix of real food and junk. A third to half the calories in the prevailing version of modern omnivorousness come from junk food.

In contrast, vegans tend to be among the most conscious and careful eaters today. Being vegan generally indicates a commitment to some blend of health and ethics, and both require thoughtful choices.

A balanced, prudent vegan diet isn’t just totally plant-based, it is substantially junk-free. A comparison between a group of omnivores and a group of vegans is likely to be a comparison between one group eating badly, and another eating well. That such differences would influence metabolism, intestinal flora and health outcomes is far from shocking.

…There are excellent arguments for veganism. Eating only plants, done well, figures among contenders for the most healthful diet, although it’s not the clear winner.” (you can read the entire article here)

What matters is caring for your body and the environment, of which we are stewards. Veganism or a plant based diet is just one way to go about that.

So, now you are up to speed on the status of my pregnancy & food thoughts. I will continue to be sharing amazing vegan recipes, and CAN NOT WAIT to share pictures and stories of our little man when he finally arrives.

Peace & love!

TGI…Saturday.

Happy Saturday everyone! I am gladly spending this day doing not much of anything…catching up on the blog (obvi), finishing Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin (thanks to my good friend, Alayna, for letting me borrow it!), adding items to my baby registry (SO. much. fun. I can spend hours doing this!), and later we are going out to dinner with some friends.

Yesterday afternoon turned into quite the adventure. I had lunch with my Grandma and headed from there to my monthly midwife appointment. The traffic on the highway was pretty bad; it was backed up for 3 exits before the one I needed to take, so I decided to get off the highway and go back roads. Well, although I have lived in the New Haven area for my entire life, I knew I was not going to be able to navigate the way from the exit to the doctors office without my GPS. It was about 3:40 as I was driving down the off ramp. There was a glare from the sun on my windshield and I looked down to enter the address into my GPS, and then BOOM. I rear ended the PICK UP TRUCK in front of me. How I did not see a pick up truck, even with the glare, I do not know. I felt so awful, but was mostly shaken up because all I could think was, “There’s a baby in my uterus!!” The guy got out of his truck, looked at his bumper, said everything was fine and  just drove away. I was so relieved at that anyways. The drive the rest of the way to the doctors office was miserable. The GPS on the iphone often has the opposite orientation, and let’s face it, I am not good with maps. I took multiple wrong turns having to back track, fighting back tears and sheer frustration at uncooperative drivers, the fact that I was so late for my appointment where my husband was waiting for me, and really just the entire situation itself. I couldn’t believe what was happening. My poor husband didn’t know whether to comfort me or just leave me and the steam coming out of my ears alone.

When I finally got into the doctor’s office the women at the window said, “You know your appointment was at 3:45 right?” Oh yea lady, just what I wanted to hear. I had no response other than “Yea.” My husband, knowing my complete frazzledness & frustration & inability to gather a fruitful sentence, chimed in, “There was traffic.” We were informed that the midwife took her next patient & it would most likely be a half hour wait.

Once we were in with the midwife she asked me how I was. I was able to calm down and regain some peace by then, and so I told her what happened and that I was just a bit frazzled at the moment. She immediately asked if I told that to the women who checked me in, and I told her no, I really couldn’t even talk about it then. She compassionately encouraged me to make sure I tell them if something like that were to happen again, because obviously it is relevant to my visit, and also why I was late. So, she did the exam and the baby sounded fine (Who is a boy by the way! Who we are naming Jackson!).  But, standard procedure, for even the most minor accident, would be for me to go to hospital and have the baby monitored for 4 hours. Not exactly how we anticipated spending our Friday night, but obviously, we would rather be safe than sorry. So, off we went. It was about 5pm at this point.

I got checked in and three different hospital employees offered to take us up to our room. Apparently everyone wanted to escort us. It made us feel special. We had the sweetest nurse, and thankfully everything went completely smoothly. Jackson was as fine as ever, so at around 8pm, after 2 hours of getting to hear him, and watching some Restaurant Impossible, we got to go home. It wasn’t even until leaving the hospital did we notice that I probably need my bumper and hood repaired. Clearly that was the last thing on our minds! I couldn’t eat or drink while I was there and was starving by the time we left, so we stopped at Mamouns for some Mediterranean goodness. Oh, and the valet guy didn’t charge us anything to park our car. There were so many little blessings along the way, not to mention that our little boy is doing perfect. I am full of gratitude for that. When you adjust your perspective it is so easy to see how God really does pour out His good on situations that are not so good.

Me...listening to Jackson's healthy heart & little movements!

Me…listening to Jackson’s healthy heart & little movements! I’ll be back there in a couple months and then we’ll get to meet him!

So yes, after an eventful Friday, I am very grateful for this relaxing Saturday!

For  your entertainment check this video out: two Dutch men who host the TV show Guinea Pigs experiencing simulated labor pains. 🙂 Thanks for the entertainment boys.

Hope you all enjoy your weekend!!

New Seasons & Complete Faith

The last few days have brought that crisp fresh fall air, hinting that a new season is just around the corner.

Yes, I am a summer girl at heart, but the changing of the seasons always leaves me excited for something new.

{Plus, Fall means colored leaves, apple cider, all things pumpkin and some of my favorite spices.}

Just as the seasons are changing from Summer to Autumn, the seasons are changing here in the Jacobs household as well.

“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone…For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” James 2:19-24, 26

This has been a season of learning the completion of faith. Not just believing in faith. But acting in faith.

This month I left my “safe” and “familiar” office job, complete with benefits and a guaranteed sufficient paycheck to nanny a 2 year old 2 days a week.

I had been feeling the restlessness of needing to make a move for quite sometime; but the husband got a new job that was starting out part time and was settling into that, so he felt it was best for me to stay put for the time being. {Patience, Melissa, patience.} It was a good time to learn contentment and faithfulness, even when I was in a situation I did not want to be in anymore.

When August came around I started describing my job as a relationship where you know you need to break up with someone, but you just don’t because it’s easier to just stay in it; where you know it’s not healthy but you almost can’t picture your life with out it…yea. It was time to make a move. But to where?

That is when I heard that my friend, Alayna, was looking for someone to nanny her son 2 days a week. “Hmmm…” I thought, “I’d actually really like to do that.” “But that doesn’t even make sense.” “Why would I leave a 5 day a week 9-5 to watch a toddler 2 days a week?” “But I reaaalllllyyyy want to.” “I know I need to leave my job and start doing what I am passionate about. I love kids. I should do this.” {Don’t you love conversations with yourself? Anways…} Suddenly it clicked, do what you love. The only person who would make me stuck in a “hamster’s wheel”, going through the motions is myself. Or I can take a step of faith. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even knowing I would need to get another job to make up the difference, and not knowing where or how.

So, after prayer and consideration with my husband, I took the nanny job.

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

I told my boss hoping he’d let me stay part time and forgo the need to find another job. But not so much. God doesn’t always let us take the easy road. Why? Because He loves us. Because He has the best for us. Because He cares about the dreams & passions of our hearts.

So, to Craigslist I went, searching for cafe jobs in the area, and low and behold I found a listing for a brand spankin’ new cafe opening less than 5 minutes away from my house. The owners seemed super cool, the food would be from local farms in the area, and I thought it would be an overall perfect fit. I went to the open interview session, got called back for a 2nd interview, and GOT. THE. JOB. Wheelers Market Cafe y’all. Come visit us for the grand opening on Monday the 17th!

Not only do I get to serve people food, make smoothies & delicious lattes, amongst many others, I ALSO get to spread my writing and social media wings working on their online properties. Which is completely awesome, and a perfect opportunity for me.

Finally, my boss at the office told me that my last day would need to be September 7th. That same day Joe found out from his boss that they would like him to start full time on September 10th, much earlier then expected. Talk about perfect timing.

The moral of the story? God is faithful.

When we don’t have eyes to see, He sees.

When we don’t know where the path is leading, He leads.

He is good.

Here is to a good God and a great new season.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!” Psalm 105:1-2

Thank you, Lord.

Tuesdays…and Eggplant Basil Curry.

Tuesdays are busy.
I’m typically up around 6:15-6:30 in the morning and have about an hour of devotion time – reading my bible, prayer, worship, journaling, drinking tea…you know, all that good stuff. Then I’m off to work around 9 until 4:15 usually, get home, make dinner, head to the yoga studio for 5:30, clean and check people in, take class from 6:30-8, tidy up, head home, and sit down to eat dinner around 8:30 or 8:45 with the man of my dreams. Then it’s just kind of random tasks or wind down time until bed. Phew.
I’m sure you all know what it’s like! 🙂
I say all that to say, Tuesdays are typically quick and easy meal days. But that doesn’t mean it’s gotta skimp on taste!
A while back Joe & I went on a date night to Thai Pan Asian, a restaurant in New Haven, and I had an eggplant curry dish that I LOVED…and devoured. I love curry, remember??
This past Tuesday I thought I’d try my hand at crafting a dish with some ingredients from that date night meal.
I had an hour from when I got home from work to cook, clean up a bit, change, and be at yoga; so I chose to serve it over quinoa because it cooks a lot faster than rice. Other than that, my plan was keep it a simple, one skillet process that is still yummy. End result: success.
Eggplant Basil Curry with Quinoa
serves 4-5
Ingredients:
For quinoa:
1.25 c dry quinoa
2.5 c water
For curry:
Olive oil for pan
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 of large eggplant, or about 3 c or so, 1 inch cubes
One 15oz can chick peas, drained & rinsed
2 hot house or beefsteak (so ironic) tomatoes, cut into medium chunks
2-3 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp of crushed red pepper (1/2 for mild spice)
2 Tbsp of agave or honey
1/4 c veg broth
14 leaves fresh basil, chopped (see my favorite way of cutting leafy things…)
Directions:
Heat a large cast iron skillet, or other large skillet to medium high (7 or 8) heat.
Add oil and toss in eggplant and salt. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is browned and starts to become tender.
*Start quinoa while eggplant is cooking.* (read package for instructions, but generally: put quinoa & water in a pot, cover with lid & bring to boil. Once boiling turn heat to low & simmer for 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff. )
Stir in chick peas. Cook for a couple minutes then add tomatoes, 2 Tbsp curry, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, agave or honey & veggie broth.
Turn the heat up to high and let liquid come to a boil for 3 minutes then turn heat to low. Let it simmer on low for about 8-10 minutes until tomatoes are rendered down & eggplant is soft but not mushy.
Turn off heat, stir in basil and let the flavors meld for a few minutes. Taste to see if you need more curry or salt and add as your taste buds so desire. Then, serve over quinoa and enjoy!

Scrumptious – that’s a good word.

I am trying to get better at the whole measuring thing because I’m typically winging it, or eye balling it and going by taste!!!
I offer my experiences and encourage you to experiment, have fun and make it your own!
So, yes, Tuesdays are busy days…but being in the kitchen, preparing a meal for my husband and I to enjoy, grounds me again to gratitude in the present moment, and brings me back to that thing called joy.
Maybe your busy day is Monday or Wednesday, or every day these days. Find joy in the little things. See the every day moments you’ve become tired of in a new light. Life suddenly becomes more simple.
And at the end of the day, there’s always a simple plate of eggplant curry to delight you along the way.

I Witnessed a Baby Being Born

I witnessed a baby being born. Yup. Did.

When? Two weeks ago now, June 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm, to be exact.

I had the amazing privilege of supporting my twin sister, Erica, as she and her husband, Ebiel, welcomed their 3rd child, Lera Emery, into this world.

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I’ve seen tons of “A Baby Story” on TLC, and have had semi-detailed conversations with my friends about their labors and deliveries, but still. When it comes down to it, what is it like to be IN the room; to be inches away from a woman pushing out a child? It’s one of those things you can’t really be fully prepared for.

So, I gave myself the job of being the best. encourager. ever. Whatever was happening, I was going to be nothing but encouraging, and do everything in my power to make my sister happy and as comfortable as she could possibly be. I think it went incredibly well. But that’s just me. I wasn’t the one in labor. 😉

It wasn’t an incredibly long process. I arrived at the hospital around 3:30 pm, met my sister and Ebiel in their room around 4:30 pm, and by 7:57 pm there was a new, beautiful, little person in the room.

Lera Emery moments after birth!

Such a cutie.

Some highlights:

  • I, oh so sneakily, got my sister some crackers and peanut butter when she was technically not suppose to eat any solids. She was hungry!
  • In an effort to help a sister out, I was holding a leg while reaching back to prop up her upper body. The nurse told me I would be sorry the next day if I did that. “Pick one: leg or back.” In my head I was like “pssssh lady, I work out. I got this.”  But, in reality, I respected her professional opinion and opted for the leg. Haha.
  • At one point I had my knee on the bed, and it definitely was in some kind of bodily fluid. My reaction: Whatevs. She’s my identical twin. We lived in each others’ bodily fluids for 9 months. Roll with it.
  • Oh my gosh PLACENTA. Seriously it looked other worldly. The doctor was standing next me as one of the midwives had her hands in it, scoping it out. I turned to him and said, “What the heck is that, and what is she doing?” He explained that that’s where the baby lived (midwife then lifts it up and stretches it out to reveal my niece’s past living quarters. Thanks.), and the other side was where it was attached to my sister (midwife turns it around and points out said area). They just check it out make sure nothing  weird is going on inside of it. That was better than any biology class experience I’ve ever had.
  • Seeing this:

    New life; Mami & Papi holding their bundle for the first time. Precious.

Oh, and the hospital food was not too shabby either.

Curry tabbouleh, falafel & veggie soup. Good fuel.

I know, I totally built up your appetite right??

It was honestly the most beautiful and miraculous thing I have ever experienced.

I am so grateful to have shared that moment with my sister and brother-in-law, and that I will have that special memory to forever share with my sweet Lera girl.

Being a Ti Ti, as I am so endearingly called, is one of the greatest joys of my life. Our nieces and nephews are such little treasures.

One day, when I am a mom, I will be more prepared for such an honorable role because of them. I thank them so much for that. And for all the ways they fill this life of mine.

Leilani, Lyric & Lera. Little loves.

After being in a hospital for 7 hours, we needed a quick and easy go to meal. Stay tuned for that recipe! 🙂

FOOD.

Food is incredible when you really sit back and think about it. It beautifully portrays culture, speckling the world with diversity, while drawing all of us unique beings together in commonality.

We all eat. We all need food.

If you are like me, your stomach is growling with the sound of the alarm clock in the morning. As soon as I wake up I am hungry. I typically stumble down the stairs and make myself a cup of tea to get my system warmed up before shoveling food into my mouth, but every now and then there’s a morning when the bananas just look to good to pass by, and I eat one before making it over to the tea kettle.

Anyways, food, it’s incredible.

The scent of a delectable concoction cooking on a stove can lure everyone in the house to the kitchen to discover what has baited their senses. (I once lived in a one family house with 13 people…bacon did it every time. It was like ants from the wood work.)

Food brings friends and families together to enjoy each other and the present moment. We celebrate and commune over buffets, potlucks and perfectly planned out menus. Grandmas pass their treasured recipes on to mothers, who pass them on to daughters, and something like a simple cookie becomes a vehicle of tradition, sustaining memories dear to our hearts.

Beyond the sentimental value we place on food, there is the reality that food holds nutritional value. Food is fuel for our bodies. Input effects output. It is completely fascinating to me that my physical body literally runs on what I put into it; that out of the dirt grows food full of life for our sustenance, and that this food has the ability to heal us.

My husband, Joe, and I got married in June 2011, a little over 9 months ago. Marriage is an exciting time for any couple, obviously including us. Our two lives have forged into one and we are growing a family together.

One day I was sitting in my back yard staring at this massive tree in my neighbor’s yard, and I started to wonder how old it was. How many families have come and gone from these houses around me that have stared at this very same tree? Did a swing ever hang from it? How deep are its roots? Then I had this revelation: Joe and I are like a new tree with fresh roots being planted. We aren’t grafted in to our parents’ trees, but we are growing our own. It was a freeing and empowering feeling all at the same time. In that moment, more than ever, I knew that there were better things for us than the generations before us. We would not struggle with issues – physical, emotional, or spiritual – that we saw our grandparents and parents struggle with, and we would flourish in ways that they did not. I know that this has so to do with so much more than just food, but this is the angle I am talking about right now.

My family is massive and Italian. And, if you don’t know my (AMAZING) dad, he is a cook by trade. So yea, food is kind of a big deal. I love food as much as the next person, and have enjoyed seeing the dining room table dressed with the familiar holiday feastings, but the thing is I don’t have to serve a honker of a lamb on Easter just because my dad did. I can take that tradition and make it better! Every Christmas my Grandma and mom make trays of anginetti. What if I took that cookie in all of its anise-y glory and made it healthier? Is that even possible? I’d like to find out. I won’t mention any names, but I have a cousin who once devoured a pound of bacon in a single sitting. Definitely not going to happen for me, but that may be an obvious one.

My point is that I am building a family with the love of my life, and we are laying the foundation for our (future) children to grow upon. I feel the responsibility as a wife, and one day, mother, to serve my family the very best way I can, and that includes serving them with the most wholesome food within my power to provide.

“She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens…She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” Proverbs 31:15, 26-29

For me, this meant cutting meat and dairy out of our diet. I will save why I made that decision for another blog post, but I started about 4-5 months ago and it’s been a lot of fun. Since then many people have asked me for recipes, as well as information and tips on eating this way, and that fueled me all the more to start this blog as a way of sharing what I have learned, and what I will continue to learn.

I am glad you are along for the ride. 🙂

Now, it is a beautiful Saturday morning and I have a birthday party for a sweet 2-year-old to attend, followed by preparing our garden for this year’s planting (which will already be an improvement from last year…I’ll try and scrounge up a picture of that mess!), so time to get moving.

Any gardening pros out there? What are your favorite things to grow? Give me all the tips you got!