The days are starting to turn into a blur again and my life has turned into a constant cycle of 3-hourly feeds, burps, issues with gas and poo explosions. Who knew something so tiny could possibly be considered a weapon of mass destruction?? Lucky for him, he’s pretty cute and I’m not so bothered about poo anymore.
Eating has become something that happens when it happens – my body clock is all over the place and often breakfast is somewhere around lunchtime because sleep > food. Every time.
Also, it has to be convenient – none of this la gourmet stuff for me at the moment – I can tell you scoffing down a handful of grapes while having a baby attached to your boob is a skill.
The other day, I had a few moments to myself and I was pottering around in the kitchen when I thought I should make some granola. I had some greek yogurt cups in the fridge that would make a quick a tasty snack or breakfast when I needed something quick.
Then I couldn’t actually be bothered turning the oven on, given Rehan could wake and demand SOMETHING with the potential to crack it to high-pitch squealing standards and so looked for something non-bake.
And then, this.
BETTER than granola, but unfortunately I didn’t have all the ingredients to the original recipe. So I subbed what I had, omitting the puffed rice and sticking with oats and just adding whatever I could find in my pantry.
AND, since I used rice malt syrup (brown rice syrup) – it’s also conveniently fructose-free.
At the last minute, I noticed the bag of cacao nibs I had bought on a whim a few months back (as Evs rolled his eyes and placed in the pantry with all my other “healthy shit”)and never really found the time and recipe to use them in and decided to add a handful in. Cacao nibs are made from raw cacao beans and full of antioxidants and magnesium.
Best. Idea. Ever.
It turned it from a peanut-butter granola bar to a CHOC peanut-butter granola bar. I have since made 3 batches of this, and it has become my go-to meal when I am feeling peckish. The last batch I made, I probably added in a *touch* too much syrup (was wanting to finish the bottle) and they became delightfully sticky that I turned them into balls rolled in shredded coconut rather than bars.
5 minute No-bake Choc Peanut-Butter Granola Bars
(makes ~ 12 squares, adapted from here)
These are really good on the-go, new mum or not – they’re easy to make when you have a few minutes to spare, packed full of nutritional goodness and really filling to boot. They are vegan, gluten-fee (if you use gluten-free oats) and fructose-free if you use the rice malt syrup. The best part is that it can be easily modified to suit all tastes and combinations – sub maple syrup/honey if you like, chocolate chips for the cacao nibs and you can definitely add whatever you like as well!
Dry (use scant measurements)
1 & 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 TB ground flaxmeal
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional – can use to roll in)
Wet (use generous measurements)
- 1/2 cup rice malt syrup (sub for honey (will not make it vegan)/maple/agave syrup)
- 1/3 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy and loved the peanut bits in it)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence (optional)
1) Add all dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl and mix together.
2) In a separate (microwave-safe) small bowl – add wet ingredients together and heat for 20-30 seconds. Mix together.
3) Pour wet mixture into dry and mix until well combined and it’s all evenly distributed.
4) Put mixture into a shallow pan and spread and flatten it down so it covers the pan.
You can then cut it into 12 now and store each one separately, or leave them in the pan. If making into balls, wet hands and roll into balls, covering them in the shredded coconut. Store them in the fridge – this will help bind the ingredients and make them easy to grab when hungry
Seriously good – even Evs liked them and said they tasted like healthy Reeces Pieces. Check out the original post for some fun modifications and combinations!
Parts 1 and 2 here.
Luckily for me, that particular midwife left and another came onto shift who, to my relief was a little more accommodating to my requests. There was also a student midwife there and she was particularly helpful and helped me feel at ease. The contractions started to come a little more frequently now and I gritted my teeth and breathed through them. I had hired a TENS machine, small electrodes that attach to your back as a non-drug method of pain relief. Every time a contraction happened, I would press the booster button which would apply a buzz that would distract me. I had no idea before this what a contraction would feel like – they came in waves and I would ride the discomfort and pressure on my uterus until it faded. Because of the hormone drip, I was limited in my mobility – going to the toilet with a IV stand wasn’t much fun. I also had a monitor tied around my belly to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. I wanted to use the shower to get some pain relief through the hot water, but again my request was denied.
My mum and my sister alternated their time in the birthing suite with me, I would grip their hands and Evs would rub my back and talk me through each one. My mum would sneak me some grapes, because I wasn’t allowed to eat much in the event that I would need to go into surgery. For hours, this is how I laboured – sitting on a large fit ball, head down on the edge of the bed and moving around when I could.
After some time, I noticed that the midwives hovering around – she was concerned that the monitor wasn’t picking up the baby’s heartbeat properly and they said the best course was to have an internal monitor. This would be attached through a tiny clip onto the baby’s head and done when they performed my internal exam. Apparently my waters HADN’T fully broken and they were broken by the midwife which released a huge gush all over her. I continued to leak throughout the night.
I was found to be 7cm dilated, which they were happy with given the time and that I had not needed any medical pain relief at that point. However, having the internal monitor meant that I had to remove the TENS machine.
All this time, the hospital was a madhouse. Over the intercom, there was several codes called for emergencies and often the doctors who came to check on me were whisked away. They decided to stop my hormone drip, because the doctor was in surgery for the delivery for that night’s first set of twins. There were to be seven emergency caesareans that night along with twins and triplets. I had an hour or so of relief – my contractions continued to come naturally but not as intense and further apart. My labour was slowing again.
It was close to midnight by now on Thursday and I had been labouring for almost 24 hours. I sent my mum and sister home and only Evs and I remained. I sent several texts and calls to Jess but with no reply – the twins must have been keeping her busy there. Of all the things that happened, this is what I was disappointed with the most – I REALLY needed her there to help Evs and I navigate the medical choices we were being forced to make and deal with the way the labour was going.
The change of shift happened just before midnight and a new midwife came on call – I nearly cried with relief because she was a godsend. Her name was Zoe, and she was a midwife with the family birthing centre part of the hospital and she “got” what I was wanting. Immediately, she said I could take a shower and that she would adjust the portable monitor for the baby’s heartbeat so that I could go in – the hormone drip stand would have to stay outside the shower, but it could be done. I was in the shower for 30 glorious minutes before I was told I had to get out because the monitor wasn’t reading baby’s heartbeat properly.
Now that I didn’t have the comfort of the TENS machine or the shower to help me manage the pain that kept sweeping over me and I finally opted for some pethidine gas. This helped to take the edge off a little bit and I continued to labour and will this baby out of me. The hormone was cranked up to see if that would help, but all it did was to bring the contractions on harder and faster. My back was killing me and the gas wasn’t helping. My goal at this point was to avoid an epidural and/or c-section. Zoe, suggested that another drug-free method of pain relief was to inject four sterile water injections into my back that would take away the back pain. I nodded weakly, ready to try anything and barely registering that she said that it would hurt. At this point, I had been jabbed, examined, and moved so much that I thought that I could handle it.
Boy, was I wrong.
The PAIN from the water injections was like nothing I have ever felt in this world. Searing, hot stabs of blind pain into my back left me crying and begging for it all to be over. I took in big, gasping breaths of the gas – hoping that it would help, but all it did was leave me woozy. Evs was distraught next to me, seeing me in that much pain, and all I could do was hold him and weep into his shoulder. I think I called out for my mother at one point as well.
I was checked again and found to still be 7cm – I hadn’t progressed and there were mutters of a “lousy cervix” bandied around. I had been getting checks fairly regularly, something else that I wasn’t keen on, but the doctors were mystified to why baby seemed to be ok, but wasn’t descending. Again, the c-section word was mentioned.
The back pain had reduced to a dull throbbing, but it had moved to my front and I doubled over – certain that either I was going to die or this baby was coming.
I was exhausted,
I asked Zoe whether there was anything, ANYTHING else I could do.
Zoe looked me in the eye and gently said that while her philosophy due to her experience in the birthing centre was to try and encourage a natural birth as possible, she also knew when it was the right time to take medical action. With that, I asked for the epidural.
Finally, the doctor came back in and said that the baby’s heartbeat was dropping and that there was no choice left but to do an emergency caesarean. I had just taken the epidural and it was taking effect, giving me the first bit of relief in hours. I looked at her, and looked at Evs. He nodded at me wordlessly, and I closed my eyes and agreed. I barely heard her go through the list of potential side effects and signed my name on the consent form.
I felt defeated. I started crying to Evs and telling him “I tried, I couldn’t do it, but I tried.”
With that, the birthing suite was whipped into action. Evs was taken outside and told to put scrubs on and wait there until they wheeled me into surgery. I was drowsy from the gas and the epidural started to send me into violent shivers – a common side effect of the drug. It hit me, in all the chaos, that I was finally going to meet my baby – there was no other way about it.
I was wheeled to the operating theatre and I was relieved to see Zoe there, who rubbed my bare arms to help me stop shivering. Then Evs was there, stroking my hair and in the haze I felt a strange pressure as the doctors started the operation.
I heard the doctor’s gasp as they realised the reason why my baby wasn’t coming out – he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck THREE times.
Every time I had a contraction, the cords would get tighter on his neck. In this case, I was always going to end up with a caesarean.
Less than ten minutes later – I heard the most beautiful sound in the world.
My baby’s cry.
At the sound, I felt tears come to my eyes. Even now, just thinking back onto that moment, the tears flow. I heard Evs with tears in his voice tell me – “Look babe, there’s our baby boy”. Both of us were just swept away in the moment of our child being born.
He let out on lusty cry and then was quiet and alert as they wrapped him up, while waiting for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating (since I was keeping it, I had requested they only cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating. This allows up to 30% of the blood and nutrients from the placenta to still be given to the baby which is lost if you clamp it too early). Evs cut the cord and then he was placed onto my chest for skin-to-skin contact and I stared at this little wonder, this tiny human being that I had carried inside me for over 40 weeks – he was HERE.
He stared right back at me, and I swear it was like I KNEW him.
I have mixed emotions about Rehan’s birth – in the end, I had my baby boy but I cannot be honest and not say that I have been mourning the loss of giving birth to him naturally. It was far from what I had envisioned and imagined it to be, but as the days have gone by, I know I have to move on and realise that no matter what, I did everything in my power that I could and the doctor’s did what they could.
And now, I have the cutest, most perfect little baby boy. He is the reminder that I can and WILL do anything I can for him.
I always had a feeling that if it was going to happen – it would happen in the middle of the night. For the last couple of days Evs had half-jokingly been making me sit on a towel whenever we went out in the car, having been given this piece of advice from a friend’s husband who didn’t want their car ruined. So, when on early Thursday morning of the 4th of April, I heard a popping noise and upon further investigation realised that my waters had indeed broken, I wasn’t all too surprised. I had been getting antsy at that stage – baby was overdue by 3 days and I had just made an appointment with an acupuncturist for the morning to see if they could get my labour going naturally. I wanted to avoid the scheduled induction that had been made for me for the Monday and it seemed like that finally, things were going to happen.
I woke Evs up, who was quickly alert and ready to go when it dawned on him that I wasn’t joking. There was a sense of excitement in the air as we both realised that it wouldn’t be too long before we would meet our baby. I called the hospital who said to come in, but to take my time. I sent a text to Jess, our doula, to let her know and she advised me to drink some of the herbal tea she had gifted me previously and stay at home, relaxed for as long as possible. It was just after 3am at this point, and Evs and I finished packing the bags to take to the hospital.
For the next three hours, I laboured at home – alternating between taking in deep, calm breaths, walking around and drinking the tea. The contractions, that were once fairly spaced apart started to come more quickly and I started to time them. They were 3-4 minutes apart when we decided to make our way to the hospital. The drive was a short one – ten minutes away by any standard, in the early hours of the morning the roads were empty.
Since it was after hours, we had to make our way to the Emergency department which looked quiet. This is where the tale takes a turn.
My contractions were still a few minutes apart, but I was managing them ok. The nurse on call assured me that we were next (and the waiting room was empty), however it was to be one and half hours before we were seen. In that time, I felt my contractions start to slow and space further apart. Once headed into triage, I was sent to a small room where they monitored the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. I could see on the monitor that baby was fine, but my contractions were slowing. I was worried, but a quick googling assured me that it was quite normal – especially when moved from different environments.
At this point, Evs had called family to let them know that I had headed into hospital and soon my family was there (Evs’s family lives about an hour away). Jess had also come by, but she happened to have another client who was in labour at the moment with twins and she said she’d be back when I moved into the birthing suite. That was the last time I saw her.
While I was in triage, the hospital was a bit of a madhouse – there were codes being run and emergencies that seemed to be constantly happening. It was in triage that I got my first two pieces of bad news – one, I had tested positive for Strep B. This was an infection that could possibly harm the baby and while the test for this was meant to have been taken at 36 weeks – for some reason, I had only had mine at my 40 week appointment. A round of antibiotics would have cleared it up before labour, but given I WAS in labour – it meant I had to have a drip of antibiotics throughout the birth. Evs took great pains to tell me that he was glad I didn’t look at the needle going into my right hand, because it was HUGE.
The second piece of bad news, and more devastatingly for me was that, my labour had pretty much stopped. At this stage, since my waters had broken and I had tested positive for Strep B, they were reluctant to send me home and wanted to start me on synthetic oxytocin, a hormone that would artificially start my labour up again until my body started to do it again on its own. This was basically the same procedure as being induced, so it looked like I wasn’t going to avoid that after all.
I was a little more afraid now, up until this point I had been managing the contractions fine with the techniques I had learnt, but I knew once the hormone was given to me, it would bring on the contractions harder and faster and my body and mind may not have the chance to deal with it properly. I was left in triage for a few hours, as all the birthing suites were full (yep – it was going to be one of THOSE days) and about 10 hours since I arrived at Emergency I was finally taken to where I was going to give birth.
Evs and I had our birth intentions written up and we wanted to make sure that whoever was on call would read them and be on our side. The first midwife that came to see me to put the hormone drip in did nothing to allay my fears. She read through them and basically rolled her eyes and said, we can “try” to accommodate them but to basically let them do their jobs and for me to just lay there and give birth. I didn’t feel like I was being particularly pedantic, for example, I had wanted the room to be dimly lit and calm, rather than have the harsh, bright lights on, but the midwife brushed me off and said that they would need to have light to see me. I felt myself getting agitated as I felt all semblance of control slipping away. This is not how I wanted this to go….
First of all, thank you all for your kind wishes and comments – I have read each one of them and feel truly blessed to have people who have taken the time to send a thought this way. I always am surprised that there are people reading, given that this blog is a place where really, I just talk about myself. And everybody know they are only really that interesting to their mums (and half the time my mother just indulges me as well!).
It’s been almost two weeks now that Rehan was born and I felt the need to write this down, because even in such a short space of time, I feel like he has been here forever and the memories of his birth already are starting to fade around the edges. This is going to be long, because I have so much to say and all these feelings inside me so bear with me… I will break it up, but I tend to ramble so just giving you fair warning. Feel free to skip the next few posts if this isn’t your cup of tea.
Let me start by saying – I had an idea of how labour was going to be. It wasn’t a PLAN as such, but I went into this pregnancy with the mindset that I was going to make labour a positive, empowering experience. I wasn’t afraid of it, in fact, I was welcoming it and even looking forward to it. Reality, in the end was a lot different.
I look back onto it now and can’t help but tear up – the word that comes to mind is one that I never thought I would associate it with the birth of my first child, but I can’t think of any other fitting word. It was traumatic, in a way. It was disappointing, in a way. I was naive, in a way, to think that I could completely control this primal act. But it was also one of the most emotional, heart-wrenching, joyous experiences of my life. I made choices that went against everything I had wanted for this birth, I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen the way I wanted to, and it was just the thought of my baby at the end of the tunnel that kept me going for 28 long hours. In the end, everything was worth it.
Going back to my pregnancy, I credit my positive outlook to two main things that influenced me – the one book I read religiously – Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, and the Calmbirth classes I took with Evs. I bought the book pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant after reading a few reviews about the holistic, natural approach this book detailed. I highly recommend it to anyone, because it took away a lot of the fear and mystery for me. It’s written by an American midwife with the idea of combating popular theories of labour (e.g. your pelvis is too small to give birth, thus we need to do a caesarean type of thinking) going back to the basics, given the country’s increasing rate of unnecessary medical intervention when it comes to childbirth. Australia from what I know isn’t as bad, but I did find it odd that while I was pregnant, from all the advice I got there were very few tales of natural, or more importantly, positive childbirth experiences.
Half the book is made of positive birth stories, and I read them in the last few weeks, deliberately closing myself off to anything else. Calmbirth was a labour class that was recommended to me by my sister’s friend who gave birth six months ago through a natural waterbirth. While Evs wasn’t quite down with the thought of a waterbirth, he did agree to come with me to the classes. It was done over two weekends, in a small intimate group of about five other couples at varying stages of their pregnancy. I was about 30 weeks along when we did it because I wanted enough time to really practice and immerse myself in the tools that I would learn. I didn’t know it going in, but Calmbirth derives a lot of its teachings and philosophy based on Ina May’s book which delighted me, because I already had it. I loved the classes – it taught me that labour and childbirth wasn’t just about me – it was about Evs as well and I realised how important he was going to be for me during this time. The crux of the classes were about harnessing the power of the mind and body together through breathing and visualisation techniques – to be used when labour started and I loved this too, because it drew on the meditative qualities of my beloved yoga.
Armed with these tools, I felt that I was in a good place to welcome labour and make this something I would remember. I also found myself a doula, a woman who lived nearby and had given birth to two children in the hospital I was going to be in and was totally on the same wavelength as me when it came to making this a good, calm, positive experience. A doula, for those who don’t know what it is, is basically a birth support partner. I knew Evs would be invaluable, but I also wanted someone else there who had been through it and would help me advocate my intentions to the hospital objectively if need be. My mum and sister were a bit sceptical about the doula and I think half of the reason was because they had thought that they would be in the room with me as well. I kinda didn’t really want an audience as such, preferring to be in a quiet, calm space but in the end I was so glad to have both of them there….
Just a quick post to announce the arrival of Rehan Bhargava Chapman, born 4:04am via emergency Caesarian on 5th April. He weighs a healthy 3.53kg and is 51cm long.
I am in love. This baby is so cute and I think he looks more like Evs than me but you know the best part??
He’s all mine
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