Friday, January 31, 2014

Going Dairy-Free

Based on our family history of babies who are sensitive to lactose, I have begun the transition to dairy-free for the upcoming breastfeeding journey. It's no fun for someone who loves sweets, cheese, and butter but it's much, much better than dealing with a miserable baby who constantly fluctuates between being constipated and... not.


When Little K was born, I didn't make any changes to my diet and her poor tummy suffered (and so did we) as we figured out what was causing her discomfort. By the time we were done eliminating things from my diet, I was down to plain chicken breast and un-dressed salad for most meals. NOT FUN.

However, this time around, we have several things going our way. First, I know what to expect and am taking preemptive measures to keep Aaron's tummy safe. Two, my sister was vegan for 3 of the past eight years, so I have a pretty great resource to help me identify non-dairy substitutes. Three, I'm not coming straight off of low carb (with the achingly wonderful cheese and cream habit that comes from that particular diet) so I'm not as attached to dairy as I was before. I must admit, though, that I still can't get behind drinking almond milk or putting it on cereal. It just doesn't taste the same.

With all of that being said, here was my grocery list for substitutes:
  • Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Silk Original Plain Almond Milk
  • Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
  • Enjoy Life Dairy/Nut/Soy Free Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Shaklee Lactose/Gluten Free Vanilla Protein Powder
  • So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt

These will be used to make:
  • Fruit smoothies (Shaklee Powder, Vanilla Almond Milk, So Delicious Yogurt)
  • Homemade Dairy-Free Cream of Chicken/Celery Soup Base (Plain Almond Milk, Earth Balance)
  • Smitten Kitchen Meringues (Enjoy Life Choc Chips) *aka my favorite cookie*
Edited to add: I almost forgot! I also picked up nutritional yeast with the plan to replace the parmesan cheese in my fave roasted cauliflower recipe. Hoping it's great!

The fruit smoothies will be replacing my Greek yogurt habit for breakfast. I've actually been making these smoothies with regular yogurt for the past week and love them, so the only big change will be the coconut milk yogurt.

My lunch entree each day for the past several months has been a two-egg sandwich on enriched buttered bread, so the only change will be from butter to Earth Balance.

The meringues stay the same except for the brand of chocolate chips. Very minor.

I've never attempted to make homemade cream of (fill in the blank) soup base before. It's always been easier to just by a can! And we don't use it very much - just in three dishes. But those dishes freeze VERY well, so I'll be making a couple big batches this weekend for post-baby freezer meals.

The chocolate chips and Earth Balance will also be used to make these lactation bars dairy-free. They are super delicious! (Note that, due to the high-fiber in these bars, momma can end up pretty darn gassy. Just so you know.

My goal is to be completely dairy-free by February 15th so that my milk supply won't be tainted in March. And so that I'm used to the change before we dive deep into babyland. Wish me luck!

And keep any recipe or brand recommendations coming!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Quilt

It may not be perfect, and the picture is definitely sub-par, but it's done and I LOVE it!

Aaron's Woodland Quilt

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dairy-Free Suggestions?

I'm asking you wonderful readers for your best dairy-free recipe suggestions. I would prefer to avoid soy milk if possible, simply because I don't care for it, but almond milk is just fine.

These don't have to be just recipes that replace dairy products with non-dairy, either. Got a fabulous recipe of any kind that doesn't involve any dairy? Lay it on me!

Thanks in advance!

Monday, January 27, 2014

One Year Later: Faith and Provision

This past Saturday was my Dad's birthday. It was also the one year anniversary of me being laid off. As I think back to this time last year, I am amazed at what God has done.

When I was laid off, I did have moments of fear. I cried briefly once I pulled safely into my garage. But, overall, I remained confident that God was still in control. He had a plan to provide for our family. He knew our financial needs and had already set into motion those things that would bring provision to us and glory to Him.

Now, one year later, I still look back in awe at what the Lord has done. We faithfully pursued the opportunities in front of us and ended up with exactly what we had prayed for all along: a work from home position that paid even a bit more than my previous position. In less than two weeks! It was in that moment that I truly began to believe that our IUI would be successful. After all, our prayer had been for both of us to work from home if we had another child.

My new employer has been a huge part of God answering prayer for our family. We have been amazingly blessed! And, I believe, that is in part because - from the very first moment of crisis - we trusted God. Allowing ourselves to experience whatever emotions we felt (fear, disappointment, vulnerability) while still remaining focused on God's promises of provision and His ultimate control.

I'm praying that we all continually surrender our circumstances to the Lord and thank Him for His answered blessings, which are already on the way.

Friday, January 24, 2014

34 Week Quickie

The Stats:
  • 2 lb weight gain in two weeks, not too shabby
  • Blood pressure 87/55, fantastic
  • TDAP Booster Received
  • Fundal Height 35 cm, measuring one week ahead
  • Aaron's heart rate in the 150s
  • Belly button has become completely flat but hasn't fully popped... yet
  • Still no stretch marks
The Plan:
  • Preemptive appointment with Lactation Consultant at 36 weeks
  • Complete birth preference edits and provide at 36 weeks appointment
  • Get back into walking daily, despite the cold weather (zero degrees with wind chill? NOOP)
  • Begin researching dairy-free recipes in preparation for breastfeeding
  • Sign up for new mothers ministry at church
It's late here - signing out!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day

What was originally a five-day weekend has turned into a six-day weekend with the snow. Little K is outside making snowballs with R as I warm up by the fire. I want to say I'm sipping hot chocolate or a latte but in reality it's water and a bowl of Greek yogurt. So it goes.

Our last guest, my mom, left yesterday morning and will be back in five weeks to help us with final preparations for Aaron's birth. She will be staying until March 12th at the latest, so we are really praying Aaron chooses to come sooner rather than later.

We are all slowly recovering from the sickness. No one's appetite is quite back yet but we are all able to keep down food again. I've washed all the towels, sheets, blankets, and pillow cases in the house and am considering having the throw pillows dry cleaned just to be sure this nastiness is gone. Thankfully, since we all had our flu shots back in August, it isn't the flu. Just a gross stomach bug. UGH.

We had Little K's well child check-up yesterday. She is in the 67th percentile for height and 64th percentile for weight (good, considering her height). Her eyesight, hearing, and blood pressure are great. Developing normally, no abnormalities. The pediatrician is still a little concerned about the lack of fruits and veggies. Sigh. I did explain that we have cut all corn syrup and artificial dyes from her diet, eat whole grain and organic whenever possible, and have invested in some really great vitamins. Basically, since her palate is so limited, we are very mindful of the quality of what she does eat. That seemed to satisfy the doctor. Although she did remind Little K and us to continue trying different kinds of produce every day. Will do.

Aaron continues to grow monstrous and move around a ton. I've just gotten to the point where the top of my stomach and my lower back are sore by the end of the day. I'm trying to get back into my water consumption after being sick since I know it's good for him and keeps contractions at bay. No big labor signs yet, which is good since we still have six weeks to go. Ask me that again in four weeks and I may give a different answer. Heh

With maternity leave looming, my work has picked up significantly. Gone are the days when I could take a short nap in the afternoon. I'll be working all the way to Aaron's birth but have some big projects due before I start my leave. Aiming for getting everything done by mid-February just to be safe.

R and I have both been hit with the reality of how much will be changing once Aaron arrives. I think a lot of that comes with having had Baby M with us for five days. She and Little K were super sweet together, so our concerns about the transition are slightly abated. But it was also a little loud, Baby M's nap needs dictated what we did and when, random fussiness during the night... Things will definitely be different.

I think that's it for now. I'll be back with more after my appointment on Friday. Getting closer!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Quick Weekend Update: The Sickness

We had the joy of my sister, Baby M, and mom coming in on Wednesday for the baby shower. Bestie W (current resident of FL) completely and wonderfully surprised us all by showing up at our door on Friday evening for the shower.

And then me, Little K, and my mom came down with a horrible stomach bug in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Thank God (seriously) that Bestie W had arrived Friday night because he was able to take care of all of us: running to CVS for medicine and gaterade while also taking care of Baby M so my sister could get ready for the shower.

I managed to pull myself together enough to attend the shower but mom and Little K stayed home. We slept the rest of the day and most of Sunday, too. R came down with a light version of the bug Sunday afternoon and then Bestie W came down with it early this morning. We are a hot mess over here.

(My sister and Baby M already had the bug earlier in the week and *hopefully* won't get sick again.)

Praying for Bestie W who is traveling home today with the bug. Health, a clear head, concentration...

Praying for my sister and Baby M as they fly home today, too.

I'm off to Target for more detergent because SO MUCH LAUNDRY from all the sickness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

32 Week Update

We received some great news this past Thursday at our ultrasound. The placenta previa found at our anatomy scan has completely resolved. Praise God! This is a huge answer to prayer and means we can move forward with a vaginal birth. R and I are incredibly grateful for this news.

We brought Little K to the ultrasound with us and she had a great time. She had lots of questions before, during, and after, and wanted to use the ultrasound wand. Maybe we have a future ultrasound tech on our hands? Her comments have been: watching his heart beat is creepy, the ultrasound goo is icky, he is really flexible.

Aaron is doing great. He is head down and has already dropped, which is a relief to my lungs. He is measuring in the 55th percentile, right on target. He is still moving a lot and those movements are really big. We are really looking forward to meeting him!

As for me, I'm doing okay. Physically, I feel fine. Better than a few weeks ago even. Now that Aaron has dropped, I can put on my own shoes and climbing into bed no longer leaves me out of breath. R and I just got started back into our walking routine after Christmas/sinus infection and the insane temps last week. I feel strong and healthy.

Emotionally and mentally, I feel like I'm struggling.

Warning: Stressed Pregnant Lady Ahead

Yesterday was a really tough day for me. Physically, I'm doing fine but, emotionally, I'm struggling. I spent the day (actually, it started on Sunday) feeling completely overwhelmed.

Part of it is the baby shower this weekend. I knew setting up our registry on Amazon could prove difficult for some people but our shower is just days away and... nothing. We tried so hard to only register for things we need, thought through each item, reviewed consumer reports. I'm afraid we will be well stocked with clothes but have none of the gear to get through those first months. I know that sounds selfish and ungrateful but that's where I am right now. Thankfully, we've had wonderful and generous family members provide us with some of the big items (stroller, car seat, rock and play...) so it's not like we are completely unprepared.

I feel like I'm already struggling with how to care for two children. Little K is a very high maintenance child and it's not like a baby is easy. I'm keenly aware of how important it will be to continue to meet Little K's needs the first few months, responding to her with the level of patience, calm, and empathy that she needs in order to thrive. Without this kind of response from us, we will be setting up years of rivalry and ill-feelings for her about Aaron. Unfortunately, although I've modeled this style of parenting for R for the past five years, he hasn't had much opportunity to be the one responding to her at her worst. I always step in to take the hard moments because I'm used to it (and even then it's a struggle for me). I feel like I've failed in preparing R for the road ahead as he becomes more active in parenting Little K.

I feel like I don't have a solid plan for how to do life with two children. I have no idea how I'll manage to get involved with the praise team again after Aaron is born. Little K has a lot of interests that I want to foster (cheerleading, music, swim team, drama) but don't know how I'll find the funds or the time. I also keep meaning to get her into some preemptive counseling because of our family history of mental illness and the divorce but time, money, and availability never seem to come together even though it would be best to get her into counseling before Aaron is born.

I'm no longer able to get my BSF done one day at a time like I'm supposed to and am, instead, turning into the woman who crams five days worth of questions into a single afternoon. My big plans to read Jesus Calling every day has already fallen to reading two or three all at once in order to catch up with the current date. Although Little K and I are able to keep up with the children's Jesus Calling and it's going really well.

My relationship with R has been suffering because of my current funk. He is so wonderfully caring and compassionate, pushing himself to be optimistic while I'm feeling down, going out of his way to help around the house, being gentle with me. And I'm feeling so out of sorts that I can barely be outwardly thankful for all he is doing. I want to feel better, desired, and cared for but I'm struggling.

I've been mentoring a lovely girl for the past two months and feel like all of these things stressing me out are attacks in order to break me down so I'm not as effective with her. I even warned her that the enemy's attacks become more specific and plentiful when God is at work in your life in meaningful ways. Here I am, in the middle of a storm, doubting myself for ever moving forward with treatment. I feel like I'm already failing Aaron and Little K. Like I'm setting up our family for hard, rough years instead of joy. 

I'm feeling listless and have trouble getting motivated during the day. I'm feeling overwhelmed with all the deadlines to meet before Aaron's due date, both with work and with baby projects. I just feel like a hot mess lately. My sleep is no longer restful. I have so much to do that I end up getting nothing done.

Today (actually, this whole past week) is the kind of day when I would usually take a 5-HTP. But it's contraindicated in pregnancy, so I'm just here. Struggling to put together the energy to do anything.

I called the midwife Monday afternoon and requested a list of medications, either prescription, herbal/homeopathic, or OTC that I can take for depression. I refuse to go into birth and early parenthood already feeling at a disadvantage.Waiting to hear back.

I also called a Christian child counselor and left a message yesterday in order to try to get Little K in within the next few weeks. We'll see.

Monday, January 13, 2014

32 Week Photo Dump

Warning: Bump and Ultrasound Pictures

I made a bookcase! From raw materials!

Isn't it pretty?

And Little K loves it!
32 Weeks

Monday, January 6, 2014

Just a Quickie

Since I've seemingly fallen off the face of the earth the past two weeks, a quick update. Between Christmas break, travel (12 days out of town, 6 of which were spent in the car), sickness (sinus infection for Christmas), getting back to work, taking down Christmas decorations, some nesting, general weekly chores, singing at church, and growing another (GIANT) person... I'm sorry. The point is: I'm pooped.

The good news is that we got back in town safely, had a great time, and we're all settling back into normal life. Little K is slowly working out her lingering stress for spending time with her dad. Aaron is growing and moving a ton. I'm feeling pretty good, just generally super tired and a little achey. R is SO happy to have his girls back home with him and we're glad to be home.

I will work on getting a real update out later in the week. For now, we're all okay.