3.26.2014

Camp Huck Turns TWO!!

On St. Patrick’s Day, our sweet Huck turned two years old! We had so much fun celebrating and it started the day before his actual birthday, with our families gathering to celebrate. I planned a woodland themed/”Camp Huck” party with all sorts of woodsy touches and details and it was such a cozy, warm-our-hearts, kind of a day, as we got to party with the people who love Huck the most!

A couple weeks before the party, I sent out these adorable invitations that my friend Mackenzie of Cotton Flower Press and Honeycomb blog, designed for me (in an absolute time pinch too). I printed them on craft paper, enclosed them with little fern stickers, and of course had to get nature detailed stamps too… they were so perfect. 

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For Huck’s party attire, I picked out a woodland inspired outfit that was cozy, comfy, and cute. I found the this perfect “Brother Bear” shirt from Loved by Hannah and Eli. I loved that it would work for his birthday and as a “big brother” shirt throughout this pregnancy and on the day the baby is born, so that I could really stretch my dollar and the use of such a cute little tee. His Elk leggings are from Etsy shop DandylionCo (she is also a local Portlander and waived the shipping for me) and I loved the mustard color and Elk design to match the whole theme of the day. 

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Andrew and I picked up the supplies for an A-frame tent and followed a tutorial I had pinned from a blog. After picking out the fabric, Andrew made the entire tent for Huck himself and got major daddy/husband brownie points! 

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I put a flannel blanket under the tent, tossed in Huck’s reading cushion and the cutest Huckleberry Finn Baby Lit board book. I was most excited about this adorable fabric campfire set from the Land of Nod. I had bought it for Christmas, but it was backordered and didn’t arrive until after the new year. It was a splurge (even with a discount code), so I decided to save it for Huck’s birthday and base his whole party around it as inspiration. It’s super cute and a lot of fun to “build” and “roast” over. I also tucked some of Huck’s animal friends into a basket beside the tent, so there were campfire critters to join the fun, like a fox, bunny and deer.

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The main table held all the “camp grub” and it was fun to put together. The wood table itself made for an easy main focus, and I hung chalkboard pendants from Michaels Craft store over the area on the wall and wrote “Camp Huck” on them. I also found some forest tree scrapbook paper and cut out fir trees to string on twine for an added woodland detail. On the table I set out fresh daffodils in an enamel pitcher, and these lovely twiggy branches with blossoms that we have outside our front door in an old glass bottle. I put silverware in mason jars and found the perfect timber napkins at IKEA, as well as a silver lantern, complete with a flickering tea light. I also found some kraft-colored divided paper plates at Whole Foods that added a nice “mess hall” or “camp” look to the food table.

For extra touches I put all our food in containers we already owned, like wooden bowls, plates, platters and cast iron ware. I picked up some cheap tin foil bowls at the dollar store and one of my favorite touches were the birch tree straws that I found cheapest at a local store (New Seasons) and displayed them in an enamel mug, alongside a tiny red one for Huck.

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Since we eat a whole foods, plant based diet, I knew that all the food we served would be vegan (and a majority also gluten free), but wanted them to go with the camp theme and not scare anyone off. I picked up a Costco pack of Field Roast sausages and cooked them in our cast iron skillet, which also served as a decoration. They were a big hit and are soy free, made from lentil, spices, wheat flour, vegetables and other wholesome ingredients. The smoked apple and sage was the perfect flavor for the party, but everybody loved sampling them all and they were gone in no time. I added some whole grain mustard into a honey bear squeeze bottle that I found at Whole Foods (and was given for free!) and set out little toothpicks for easy snacking. 

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I picked up Trail Mix granola bars from Trader Joes and cut them up into bite size pieces. I’ve found that the smaller the portions at parties, the more likely and comfortable, people seem to feel filling up their plates, or sampling a bit of everything (and the less waste leftover). 

For simple things like carrots and celery with hummus, I gave them a woodland name of “rabbit food” and put the hummus in a tin container, as well as placing popcorn/”for the birds” in a tin foil bowl and calling pretzel sticks “kindling”. I also made “ants on a log” with almond butter and raisins for a nice throwback to childhood. Super easy and cheap, yet still on key with the theme.

My mom provided a big fruit salad, full of lots of berries and I baked fresh cornbread that morning from Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten free mix. I made it vegan with flax egg substitutes and coconut oil instead of butter. They were a huge hit and pretty cute in the red and blue gingham cupcake liners I found in the dollar section of Michaels. 

All the food labels were printed onto kraft colored paper with a font called driftwood, that I downloaded for free online. 

We also had a drinks and dessert focal point in the kitchen… 

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I made a big batch of cider in our enamel dutch oven and it made the entire house smell delicious. We also has “fresh creek water” that I tossed frozen blueberries into and lemonade served in mason jars with twig straws and glass milk bottles that I have had for a couple years for parties. 

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Over the drink and dessert table I hung a pendant banner on twine that was cut out of this great wood styled paper I found at a local craft store called Collage. I also hung up the gold glittery “Happy Birthday” banner from his St. Patrick’s Day party last year. To add some “nature”, I used fake green plants in metal pots that we already had in our kitchen window, and set out all the goodie bags for the little friends and cousins. They were actually never were given out due to a playdate cancellation, etc., but they were still  a nice decor touch. I stamped the little ones names on the bags and inside were woodland stickers and bubbles for our playdate party friends, and some adorable twig colored pencils, woodland stickers, bunny gummies and the cutest little deer bowls (from Target) for cousins at the family party. I secure the back of the bags with the cutest woodland animal washi tape that I picked up at Collage.

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I made a little coloring station with crayons and a big piece of paper taped to the table with a little campsite drawing and greeting. I printed out some woodland drawings onto kraft printer paper that I had downloaded online for free. 

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The cake was one of my absolute favorite touches to the party. It was a “two-ingredient cake” and perfectly fit with the theme (see the big reveal below) and my desire to have a natural, no sugar, treat for Huck. I used two sparkler candles from Target, and at Michaels I picked up two little deer as cake toppers and a wooden plank as a cake stand that everyone ooh’ed and aah’ed over as such a perfect detail for the day.

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I also bought some vegan Trail Mix Cookies from Trader Joes and made some vegan, gluten free S’more Cookies. They were the perfect camp treats to serve our guests and were really delicious. 

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Huck wasn’t sure what to think of everything being moved around in the house and set up, just so, but he sure liked the attention and all the fun new details and decorations. He is also a master at hiding… 

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And he is just plain cute and makes a very handsome two year old. 

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Here are some random photos from throughout the party (opening presents, photos with Mommy and Daddy)…

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Now for the big cake reveal! First off, it was incredibly funny to watch Huck have the same expression as last year when it came to singing “Happy Birthday” to him. Clammed up and looked all confused, and concerned about the fire…

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The two-ingredient cake was made from… (drumroll)…

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Watermelon and whipped coconut cream. That’s it! I got the great idea from former Portlander (and awesome vegan lady) Sayward of Bonzai Aphrodite. Huck LOVED it. Two of his favorite foods! 

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It was a great trip “into the woods” and we loved seeing everyone wearing their flannel, loving on Huck and enjoying all the food and attention to detail that I put into this party. I love love love planning events and hosting parties and celebrating. I am not trying to be a “pinterest” mom, or make things over the top - I just love doing this, and I still enjoy the day and all the little moments that come with it. I know Huck will not remember this day, but I will, and these pictures and words will serve as a memory of such a special day for such a loved little two year old! 

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Comments

10.21.2013

Our annual pumpkin patch family pictures (2012 & 2013). ;-) I can’t believe how much Huck has grown and changed since last year. A year ago he loved staring at all the bright orange pumpkins and snuggling close to me in his ergo. This year he was trying to carry every pumpkin in the patch and giggling at all the farm animals. Watching him enjoy and take part in our favorite traditions, makes the growing up part a little less bitter and a lot more sweet! 

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9.17.2013

Our Birth Story: Huck James

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                         Visiting Disneyland, one week before his 18 month birthday. 

At 18 months old, I finally have the courage to post Huck’s birth story. I wrote this in the weeks that followed Huck’s birth, so that I wouldn’t forget… but I was always too nervous to share it. I was worried I’d be judged, and more importantly - I felt some negative and anxiety-filled emotions about the birth. I still remembered it all too well. However, as time has passed, I’ve felt more secure and accepting of Huck’s birth and my story. I’ve felt more empowered and strong. And I’ve come out of the fog, that lingered all too much during his first nine months or so of his life (a story for another brave day). So, as my baby turns one and a half years old, I will celebrate with the sharing of his birth story…

Huck James Havens: Our St. Patrick’s Day Baby

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(The last photo of my belly, that I took while waiting for contractions to begin. 3/16/17)

I got the birth I wanted and at the same time my birth was not what I wanted at all. It was not an easy labor and delivery. It was extremely difficult and it was exhausting; physically and emotionally. I realize that any labor is - but I don’t mean it in the obvious sense. I mean that this birth went far from what I had envisioned. I can’t quite put into words how something so beautiful, can be so painful and dissapointing at the same time. I didn’t really have any expectations about labor (except that it would be a natural, water birth) but I had no idea I would have to push for as long as I did to bring my baby into the world.

Also, I want to say that this is my story. Not everyone will agree with decisions that my husband and I made about our birth. Not everyone chooses a natural birth or to labor in a birthing center. Not everyone will think we made the right decision - but I assure you that we researched everything thoroughly and we both believed and still believe that this was the best birth for our baby. This was the birth experience I felt the most comfortable with and positive about. We were never, ever in any danger or harm. We were monitored constantly and closely and had anything arisen that needed serious attention, we would have been swiftly transferred to a hospital. Also, I do not believe I am a better mother than anyone else for having a natural birth. In fact, after my birth I gained an immense respect for women who choose to receive an epidural during labor or have to get c-sections. It’s just that this is the labor I chose. Just as I respect other women’s labor decisions, I hope people can respect and admire mine.

The beginning:

I was due March 22nd. I was convinced that I would have my baby on his actual due date or he’d be a week late. So imagine my surprise when I woke up on Friday, March 16th at 5:15 am. Within a couple of seconds I felt a warm gush of water begin to leak down my legs. I shot up in bed and exclaimed “Oh my God!”, and quickly got to the bathroom, saying “Oh my God! Oh my God!” the entire time. When I got in the bathroom, I just stood there in shock as warm water continue to run down my legs into a puddle at my feet. I shouted for Andrew and through the door told him my water broke. I think he said something like “Really?!”. We were both shocked and surprised. 

We cleaned up and I hopped in the shower as Andrew texted our midwife. Then we got back in bed, knowing that this would be our last chance to sleep for awhile. I was excited, thinking “This is is it!”. I laid in bed for maybe two hours or so, trying to sleep and having lucid dreams, wondering when my contractions would start. I paid attention to the baby, who was still moving and kicking, and felt some Braxton Hicks. 

I let Andrew sleep in for as long as he could, but I felt the urge to get things done. I ate a good breakfast, read my favorite blogs, ran loads of laundry and swept the house. I began to get discouraged when nothing seemed to be happening. My water had broken, but labor hadn’t even started. I was getting more Braxton Hicks, but they were not uncomfortable. I felt really defeated. I was also worried about the possibility of an infection because my membranes were ruptured. I knew the longer your membranes were ruptured, the more chance you had of bacteria entering and that made me feel worried. I knew that if nothing happened after 24 hours (sometimes people can go days after their water breaks before active labor begins) I would make a personal choice to go to a hospital, where I would probably be induced. I didn’t want to do this, but would make the decision for health reasons after a day, so I felt uneasy and anxious for contractions to begin.

Around noon, we decided to rent some movies so that we could pass time. Andrew went to the store to get some movies and I began to have some uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions. They didn’t hurt, but they were really tight and slightly crampy. Sometime around 1:45 pm, I decided that these were possibly becoming contractions now. They were becoming more rythmic and crampy - causing me to pause whatever I was doing during them. They felt like a strong menstrual cramp, the kind that make you have to focus on getting through the pain. We decided that we should return the movies, because I would probably go further into labor and end up with a huge charge to our card. Andrew took back the DVD’s and I told him to hurry because I didn’t want to be alone for very long. I hadn’t been showing him that my contractions were picking up or becoming more painful because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of something I was able to manage - I knew in the grand scheme of things, these were harmless. I also felt kind of embarrassed and exposed during each contraction. I would just lean against the counter, bed, or wall during them, close my eyes and breathe through them. I still didn’t think I was truly in labor yet, even though the contractions felt like intense cramps now. I thought this was just the early stages of labor, which technically it was - but I flew through this stage so quickly, I don’t think I really ever grasped that it was happening. 

By 4pm I was having regular contractions that were becoming more and more powerful. I began to time them on a contraction app on my phone. By 6pm they were happening every 2 1/2 minutes and lasted around 30-60 seconds. They were not the supposed “411” contractions, so I still thought maybe I wasn’t in labor yet. The “411” refers to when it’s time to go into the birthing center (or hospital). When you have had contractions lasting a minute or more, four minutes apart, for an hour. Well mine weren’t lasting as long as a minute, but we’re coming twice as fast as they said and hurt. They were starting to hurt enough that I had to close my eyes and breathe through them, blocking out the rest of the world, but I could still manage them  without too much effort.

We had arranged an appointment to go into the birthing center at 6:30pm and meet with our midwife and apprentice midwife. Since my water had broken, they wanted to do vitals on the baby and I and make sure everything was okay. I knew there was no way I was coming home with my contractions picking up, so we packed the car. I had several contractions on the way (oh those horrid car contractions that people love to tell you about when you’re pregnant - yep, just as bad as they say!). Once we arrived we told the midwives about my contractions and they were super excited. And very, very quickly my contractions became stronger. I needed to wrap my arms around Andrew’s neck, lean into him and sway my way through them. I couldn’t listen to anyone talking to me. I couldn’t deal with them on my own, and they were becoming more intense each time. 

Our midwife suggested I take a walk around the neighborhood, walk the stairs in the building and move as much as possible to help labor progress. However, labor was getting intense fast and by the time we loaded all our stuff in from the car, I was asking when I could get in the tub. It was almost as if once we got to the birthing center, my body knew it was time to do it’s thing. I was progressing really quickly.

The tub felt great. I was warm and felt lighter, but with my contractions coming closer and harder, I couldn’t enjoy it much. This is where everything starts to become a time-warp-blur to me. I remember it, but time passed really quickly - or so it felt. It’s funny because this was the most painful part of labor for me, yet my idea of time was gone and it felt pretty quick. By this point my contractions were so intense that I could no longer breathe through them and I no longer wanted Andrew to help me through them. I don’t think I looked at Andrew again until the baby was born (sad, but I am sure there is something psychological about it). I wanted him at my side, but my eyes were glued to my midwife… glued.

With every contraction I stared deep into my midwife’s eyes and felt like I was getting strength from her - like I couldn’t do it without her. She left at one point to use the restroom and another time to rest (but further in labor when I felt delirious) and I remember trying to tell my body to hold off on contractions until she came back. I remember thinking “I need her eyes! I need her guiding me though my contractions!” I remembered reading (side note: it’s weird how many things I thought about while in labor) that women often display this type of action during childbirth where other women are present who are acting as midwives, doulas, etc. That at some point in labor women will reach a point where they need other women around them and will have someone that they may need to stare at. Something like that… Anyway, as I stared into her eyes she guided me through different breathing techniques (probably because I was not exactly breathing great through them… more like clenching my whole body and breathing through gritted my teeth and scrunching my face up) and after awhile my breathing turned into noises that I didn’t know I had the capacity to make. But I had to make them, they brought me through the wave of contractions.

Before labor, I thought I wouldn’t be one of those women who “moans” during birth. However, when you’re having a natural birth, you can really slow down labor by not giving in to your body. It was awkward, but the deep, animalistic, or “tribal” noises (as my apprentice midwife put it, which I hated hearing at the time), were important for me and really helped me to do something during each contraction. I felt really vulnerable making them, but I had to. They were part of my work of birthing my baby. With that said, we have a rule in our marriage that we are never ever to bring up/imitate/joke about, those noises… because it maybe happened once and I was not cool with it. 

During each wave of contractions I would think to myself during each one “it’s almost over…. it’s almost over”. Even from the very beginning, when I knew it wasn’t. But there was always that peak during the middle where I truly knew it was almost over. My problem was letting it go when it was. I was still breathing hard after them to try and regain comfort. As a sidenote, it’s amazing how much stuff I thought about during labor. I don’t remember any of it now, but I did for awhile and it was all random. Although now, I look back and see it as a hindrance. I wasn’t focused on my birth, because I was trying to distract myself from the pain by thinking about everything else. I think with my next birth, I want to try and be really present with focusing on my birth and having positive, focused thoughts about opening up, and visualizing the baby coming down. I honestly think it would help… hypnobirthing would probably be a great tool for me next time (as I am actually afraid of labor now… and wasn’t before, imagine that… thanks hard first labor!).

Anyway during contractions, which were now becoming quite unbearable, I would think “I am going to tell them I want to transfer to the hospital for an epidural… I will tell them after this contraction ends—-” and it would end and I would be too exhausted and pain free to say anything. Someone once asked me after Huck was born what a contraction felt like. They asked if it was like a really painful cramp. I laughed. I went home that night and told Andrew that I couldn’t even think of how to explain what the worst of the contractions feel like… until it came to me. I said “It feels like the worst cramp of your life. Times a million. Plus it feels like your abs are splitting open from the inside. Like inside you are burning and on fire… like you are giving birth to a semi truck inside you, on fire, and you have to push it out of you. And it feels like you are splitting in two.” Andrew looked at me, frowning and said “That’s terrible!”. And I said “I know, and just so you know - if my next labor is anything like my first… I get epidurals after those two. No more natural births”. To be honest… I still feel that way. 

So after contractions that felt like that (well actually before contractions even felt like that)… I did it, I told them I couldn’t do it anymore and that if I was at the hospital I would be getting an epidural. I wanted one. My midwife said “I know honey, and that is why you’re here”. I thought to myself “Oh… yeah…” I also told them I was tired and that it hurt. I remember wanting to make these statements through many contractions, but I also knew that these are the tell-tale sign of a woman about to enter transition - and I didn’t want to jinx it. And after I said these things, I thought how I said it too early. But no… I was definitely transitioning. 

As my contractions built, I sipped an insane amount of water (but was unable to pee during labor and ended up needing a catheter at one point - having a handful of contractions with that going on is purely horrible!). Eventually my secondary midwife’s apprentice showed up and in my pain, I decided I loved her and her presence was the most comforting thing in the world, even though I had only met her two days prior and she mostly sat in a chair recording everything and occasionally bring me water and cold washcloths. Something about her quiet, calm nature (and knowing she had 9 natural childbirths), made me feel so secure.

Around midnight, about 5 hours after we arrived, I found myself including a little push without even trying. I remember thinking “I just pushed a little… I pushed! I am close!”. In our birthing class we had learned that after transition, that they will hear women make a little “push” sound when they go through contractions and that as a midwife they get super excited (but don’t show it) because that means it’s close. I had to be 8-10 cm dilated if I was pushing. I had to be within an hour or two of meeting our baby, right? 

Wrong. I pushed for seven more hours, but let’s talk about those hours first. 

I should mention that I never knew how dilated I was. During my pregnancy we had made the decision that I did not want to be checked, not only to limit bacteria being introduced with exams, but also because I thought it would only create discouragement if I was not progressing quickly and I wanted to follow my body’s cues for labor. However, I am fairly certain I dilated quite quickly for a first time labor. My midwife was checking me for the baby’s head position, and I am certain to know my progress - but I never asked. 

Anyway, I continued laboring in the water, mostly on my back, floating around and then arching my whole body when contractions came. Andrew said he was watching me and I would push my body up in the water with my arms every time a contraction came and he thought about how sore I was going to be later. He was right. I didn’t want Andrew in the water with me at the time, but I think next time I will try because then I will have someone to lean against and help me physically through contractions.

At one point I opened my eyes, looked around the tub, then at my midwife and said “I moved…” (like how did that happen? Beside the fact that I was floating in water and moving through contractions…). She just smiled with a little laugh. I think midwive’s should write a book about all the things women say in labor. 

Mine would include: Is he close? Am I getting closer? Is he getting closer? Am I almost done? When will he be here? Am I making progress? I was driving my midwife crazy with these questions (but in my defense she told me when we arrived at the birthing center that based on everything she was seeing, she though my baby could very well be here that night… so I kept waiting for that to be true). At one point she didn’t answer me and looked at me a little sternly. I got mad (in my head) at her. This ended my need for her and in all honesty, I spent the rest of the labor kind of annoyed with her (I absolutely love and adore this woman, but for some reason labor made me really frustrated with her. I hear this also happens often). I was also annoyed with my apprentice midwife after she stated “Looks like you’ll be getting your St. Patrick’s Day baby!” I never knew what time it was, so that remark made it obvious to me that it was now the early morning hours and I remember thinking “He better be born before the sun comes up! If the sun comes up I am DONE!”.

Anyway, those 7 hours of pushing… I labored in the water in every possible position, on a birthing stool, squatting, on the toilet, on the bed… and it felt like the baby was coming at a snail’s pace. The midwives were dutifully listening to the baby’s heartbeat with every contraction, including his recovery afterwards. He was a champ. 

Then things changed - or didn’t change. The baby’s head was at my pelvic floor. My midwife could feel it, but it just wasn’t coming past it. I loved the water, but nothing was happening there and I was encouraged to try the birth ball or birthing stool. The idea of sitting on a rubber ball with a baby’s head in my pelvis, sounded horrible and I refused. They got me on the birthing stool and I pushed, but at one point I started to bleed and they were listening to the baby’s heart tone. I remember my midwife very quickly and rather scarily (or so it apperared to me at the time) saying “Ok, time to get on the bed. We’re going to have you lay on your left side.”. I was shuffled over to the bed quickly as I said “I’m bleeding… I’m bleeding…”. This was the first time in labor that I was truly concerned. The baby’s heart rate had made a change and I was bleeding.

They instructed me to lay on my left side on the bed and now they were monitoring me constantly. The baby’s heart rate returned to a beautiful swooshing noise, which reminded me of all our pre-natal appointments. The midwives would smile at each other with each contraction over how much my baby loved this position. It was as if he wasn’t being pushed down my body for birth. He loved it. I wasn’t a huge fan of being on land and in this position (that water makes you feel so weightless), but at this point I had been pushing for several hours and was exhausted and I would do whatever they told me to keep my baby healthy and stress-free. I was also now being directed to push, even if I didn’t feel like it and so with each contraction I pushed. 

Our apprentice midwife would hold my legs while I pushed and it was rough, tough work. I was sweating and so exhausted. I remember feeling so appreciative for my apprentice in those moments. I knew she was tired and it was work for her to bare the weight of my legs pushing. I remember that I began thinking that I couldn’t do it anymore and wondering how long it would be before they told me that I had to transfer for a c-section. I remembered wondering if this was what dying felt like - but thank goodness I snapped out of that and quickly thought about how this was what labor felt like. 

Then I got “the talk”. My midwife mentioned being transferred. She knew I was exhausted and it was taking a long time and would probably take bit more to get the baby out. She told me that if we transferred now, they would most likely use forceps and a vacuum to get the baby out. When I heard that - I thought there was no way I was having that birth, because I was terrified of it and I did not want to ride to the hospital. I also thought for sure it wouldn’t be those, but a c-section, and I was (and am) totally and completely terrified of having a c-section (unless it is medically needed). However, she said that we were not in harm, as long as I remained pushing in this position on the bed and the baby continued to respond well to it, which he was. She said he would come if I stayed at the birthing center, but it would take more pushing and it was ultimately up to us to make a decision, because she knew I was exhausted. I never really made a “decision”, as I was falling in and out of light sleep between contractions. 

I didn’t have to make a verbal decision after transferring was mentioned. All of the sudden I realized that I needed to push like the dickens to get this baby out. Prior to that I was just so exhausted from hours of pushing and really only pushing when instructed by my midwives or when a contraction forced me too uncontrollably. But now, now I realized I was in control and it was time. 

My next contraction came and I pushed so hard and so fierce. I knew I was doing something because my midwives perked up and were back to encouraging me like they had earlier in labor: “Good, Meghan!”. Every time I pushed and they didn’t say anything, I told myself to push harder next time. Their words of encouragement were what I needed. They could see his head with my pushes and I asked what color his hair was. My midwife told me it looked like a dusting of light brown hair. 

After another hour? or a couple more hours? of fierce, intense pushing and “Good, Meghan, good!”. Sweaty, exhausted and what felt like being barely alert, I pushed and pushed and I was finally making progress. I knew I was. I could just tell - finally! I didn’t want a mirror to look and I didn’t want to feel down there, but I knew he was finally going to come soon. Then my midwife asked me if I could get on the birthing stool or squat on the toilet. I asked for the toilet and I hobbled to the bathroom with my entourage in tow (it’s funny when you’re in labor - every time you move from place to place, you’re followed around with hands and towels and such, because you’re leaking stuff or who knows, your baby might fall out). 

We got to the bathroom and I had a contraction on the toilet. And everything changed. All of the sudden I was alert and awake. I was talking to people between contractions. “Dawn, how many times have you done this?”. I was telling everyone “He’s going to be here soon! I can tell!” and “He’s moving down! I feel it!” and “He’s coming soon!”. It was amazing. I don’t know how many contractions I had in the bathroom, but it wasn’t much, only a few.

Then - bam! I shot up like someone stuck an adrenaline shot into my heart. I stood up with a contraction that said there was no turning back. My baby was coming. I squatted over the toilet, standing up and I pushed so hard and the midwives were there, getting everything laid out and ready. They knew it, I knew it. My legs felt like jello and I had to use my arms on a support bar to keep myself up, I was so exhausted and I felt so much intense pain, I remember thinking I couldn’t stand up much longer.

And then the ring of fire came. 

I had heard it mentioned before and I thought I had already experienced it - BAH! No… no, no, no. It felt like I was pushing a semi-truck on fire out of me. It hurt and burned so, so, so bad. My baby’s head emerged with what felt like a “pop!” of fire, (it was probably my 2nd degree tear happening). It was so terribly painful. I couldn’t even focus on having slow pushes to prevent tearing. My body felt ripped open and dang it, I was getting him out. 

I knew his head was out, but I don’t remember if anyone was saying anything to me or now. Andrew was standing to my left and my midwife and her apprentice were at the bottom of me, hands able and ready. My secondary midwife’s apprentice had oxygen waiting and was taking time. Another contraction came (maybe two? I don’t remember) and I felt my baby slide out of me. My midwife caught him and apparently unwrapped the cord from his neck (which was wrapped around twice, one reason it may have taken so long - because everything could only move down together slowly). I immediately sat on the toilet and he was handed to me. I was shaking and my first words were “Oh, baby! Hi baby! Hi!”. Somehow  with assistance my sports bra was off, and my baby was against my chest. And as we were helped to the floor to lay down I said “This is Huck.” We laid on the floor which was covered in blankets and medical sheets, and he just cried and cried like a little goat. 

My midwife said he was telling his story. He had a long, hard journey too. We laid there and I just kept saying “Hi baby” over and over, my head in Andrew’s lap and our baby at my side, on my chest. He was staring at me and crying in his little goat cry. I said “You look like your dad!”. Eventually Andrew took his shirt off and the baby was given to him for skin to skin time while we got my placenta out (um, birthing the placenta felt like such a relief…) and I was checked out. 

And then the three of us got in bed. The post-partum part was truly horrible, but that doesn’t need to be included in my birth story. So my birth wasn’t exactly what I wanted - but my baby was safe and healthy the entire time and so was I, even if it was long and grueling. We had a natural birth, just as I had hoped and my body was able to do this miraculous and hard thing. I pushed for 7 hours, when most women push for one or two. I was a rock star. I was super woman. I still would have been, even if I had a c-section or epidural. We are all amazingly, strong.

This is my birth story. This was my journey to bring my son to the world. I did it, I had my baby without a drop of medication and it took 25.5 hours and I gave birth standing up over a toilet in a birthing center. I had a natural birth, not my ideal birth, but I did it. Look what I did! I am slowly learning to be proud of myself and not upset or have a sense of post traumatic stress about it. One day I will fully love myself for having this birth… until then I am slowly accepting it and learning that it’s okay, that it went this way… because look at the gift I got in the end. And I did it… I brought him here.

Huck James Havens was born at 6:42am on Saturday, March 17th, 2012. Our St. Patrick’s baby weighed 7lb 12oz (a healthy gluten free-vegan baby!) and was 20 inches long. He was, and is, perfect and loved. He was made from the love in Andrew’s and my heart, by the grace of God. And as he was born, so was I, as a mother.

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                       A brand new Huck James Havens. Our “Huck o’ the Irish” baby. 

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9.15.2013

Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice

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I may not be from the south, nor have I even been to Louisiana - but I still appreciate the flavors and dishes that seem to be symbolic of that area. I’ve made vegan gumbo, and Caribbean coconut rice - but my favorite “N’awlins” inspired dish has to be red beans and rice. It’s simple, yet bold and delicious. It is basically comfort food from somewhere I’ve never been! 
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There is a tea shop in town that serves red beans and rice every day, which is sort of random, but intriguing. I tried it once, then twice, then - well I loved it. So, so good. I knew I had to recreate the recipe so I could make it at home. I tried a few, but none of them were quite right, so I tweaked and adapted, until I finally came up with one that suited my taste buds.
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And the best part? It’s a slow cooker recipe. I used to scoff at the thought of using a crockpot, but then I had a baby and it became a game changer! Seriously. 
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So I present to you …
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Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice*
3 cans of red beans, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, diced 
4 celery stalks, diced 
1 15 oz can of petite diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 tsp oregano 
1 tsp thyme 
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper 
2 tsp hot sauce (I like Portland’s famous Secret Aardvark sauce)
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Combine all prepared ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over rice and with organic corn chips. You can even add more hot sauce, if you like it hot, hot, hot! Enjoy!
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** While it is not mentioned, I use mostly all organic ingredients. I also love to use brands like Eden Foods for the beans, and Muir Glen for the tomatoes, because they use BPA free liners in their cans. 

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7.31.2013

Jesse & The Rippers Reunite. I may have just cried happy tears… SO HAPPY.

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7.9.2013

Weekend Recap: Happy Birthday America

It’s been a busy week or so and I haven’t had much time to blog between the 4th of July, the heat wave, a wedding, a four day weekend for Andrew and a molar-teething toddler (uuuuugh to the umpteenth degree on that last one). 

Our four day weekend was fun-filled, busy and relaxing all at once. We kicked it off with a fun 4th of July. It was our second with Huck and after some delicious homemade vegan and gluten free banana pancakes, we headed over to the house of some church friends for a neighborhood parade. It was fun to see so many kids and families decked out in red, white and blue, with their bikes, scooters and bodies decked out in Americana pride. We put some stars on Huck’s stroller (which apparently was very concerning to him). It was something new and fun and perfect for Huck. 

                                   Check out those babiators!

Then it was time for lunch and a nap and I was feeling pretty bummed that we didn’t have any other plans for the day. We always spend this holiday with my family, celebrating the copious July birthdays, but this year, we were on our own at the last minute and I was a Debbie Downer. A friend called and invited us over for a BBQ, and then another friend, who has a little one too, invited us over after she got off work. So we went from having no plans, to joining a delicious BBQ at a gorgeous home and then hanging out with my a kind and fun family into the evening, where we had tacos, coconut bliss ice cream and the babies played in the dirt and squealed over fireworks. It was the perfect way to end the day and we so enjoyed our evening with these friends of ours. 

The next day, Friday, we woke up bright and too early, after a late night out. We headed out to one of our favorite brunch spots and I got a matcha green tea waffle with spiced warm pear compote and a scoop coconut bliss. Delish! Huck took a nice, long, nap and Andrew picked up iced chai teas, while I got ready for the wedding of a sweet friend from high school. The wedding was in the early evening and it was beautiful and filled with so much emotion and joy. We had a great time and it was wonderful to see some friends from high school. 

Saturday I stayed in bed almost all morning relaxing and watching Brothers & Sisters on Netflix. I made some delicious burritos with mole sauce (brown rice, vegan cheese, pinto beans, salsa, and mole sauce) for lunch and then we headed out for bubble tea after the baby woke from his nap. For dinner we had tempeh BLT’s and we stayed up watching L.A. Story when Huck hit the hay. It was good to have a movie night and a night in on the couch after two late nights out. 

Sunday we went to church and Huck was super cranky (remember molars… uuuuugh) and napped fitfully, while Andrew and I watched Mrs. Doubtfire and made popsicles in the Zoku. We went out again for some tea and then stopped by a couple bike stores. Last week we became a one car family (not by choice but because 2013 is the year of the bad luck with cars). Andrew picked up some more clothes and some fancy biking shoes and pedals and then we hit up the car wash on the way home. Then it was pesto pasta primavera for dinner, a bubble bath for Huck and bedtime. Wee! 

It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend with the two extra days, but it ended up being pretty busy. But hey! I’ll take it, because it was a good one with my two favorite people!

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6.28.2013

Food-day Friday.

The theme of this week (though not intentionally) was Mexican-inspired dishes. Enchiladas and tacos and an authentic soup kept my craving satisfied! And burgers for the start of summer were also satisfying!

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Garden Enchilada Bake: This was a great casserole-type dish to whip up. I am not a casserole lover, though I love a good one pot dish. We added frozen organic sweet corn and spinach to ours and it was good. I think it would be great scooped up with tortilla chips or as a dip at parties. 

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Chick-Quin Patties: So these were interesting, and I mean that in a good way. I’d never think to add the ingredients together for a “burger”, but it worked! We had them on buns with butter lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mustard and a homemade cashew ranch sauce. They were tasty, but I think they’d be equally as good sliced warm on a salad. The crunchy, crispy outside was my favorite part (I never thought to use cornflakes!), though I will say, I don’t think these are for someone wanting to “try a vegan recipe”. Tasty and delicous, yes, but maybe for those not easily frightened by things claiming to be “chicken”/chick-quin. 

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Quinoa-Walnut Tacos: MmmHmm. That’s what I have to say about this recipe. I don’t know if I will ever go back to making bean-filled tacos ever again (I will, but only when time is short or it’s roasted chickpea tacos). These are the best tacos. The best. I’ve used this recipe twice now, once as seen below, with blue corn taco shells, lettuce, and salsa. But this time I used the recipe for a taco salad: romaine lettuce, quinoa-walnut taco mix, daiya cheese shreds, tomatoes, olives, green onions, crushed tortilla chips, salsa and extra lime juice. Make these!  

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Mexican Vegetable Soup: This was the perfect, feel-good soup for a rainy day. It was unlike anything I’ve ever made and I was so surprised at how incredibly flavorful it was. I will be making this for years to come. It reminded me of all the authentic Mexican and New Mexican cuisine I ate during a month long travel throughout New Mexico when I was 19. Here are a few changes I made: I used “not-chicken” broth, doubled the amount of hominy, added half a can of red kidney beans (that’s the only kind of beans I had on hand), used 3/4 a can of diced tomatoes in place of the fresh and used 1/2 tsp of Chipotle Chile in place of the fresh. Delicioso! 

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Eating a plant based, whole foods diet, means that I am usually making meals from scratch. I love finding new recipes and recreating favorites, so I decided to share our weekly meal plan every Friday; to give ideas, quench curiousity and prove that we eat some delicious food! All meals can easily be made vegan and gluten free (if not already).


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6.25.2013

TV Shows of Yesteryears.

OK. So this is going to be a nerd post. But if you LOVE shows from years gone bye, (aka if you were a child of the 90’s with awesome taste in television) you will like this.

SO. “The Babysitter’s Club” TV series is up on Netflix. You’re welcome. I’d really like it known that I miss 1990. Loved that year. Now of course, I wasn’t watching it in 1990 (I was 4, helloooo). But I watched the re-runs and I totally loved that dang show. I also maybe cried when the theme song and opener came on the other day? I was crying because I miss my childhood and 1990. I was crying because Mallory was soooo dorky and yet is actually quite fashionable for 2013. Hipster. 

So then I remembered how I YouTubed “Supermarket Sweep" last year. Please tell me you know that show? Please. I watched every. single. episode. last year. Huck was a newborn sleeping in his co-sleeper attached to the bed, at like midnight, and I was huddled under the covers watching the absolutely fuzziest, grainiest, low quality videos of Supermarket Sweep by the light of the moon. And then, Andrew got hooked! And every night we’d lay there watching those silly YouTube videos. I love that someone can get hooked on a TV show when you are watching it on like 2 inches of screen and you feel blind afterwards from squinting to see the through the "ants". Are we not a couple with the coolest night life?

So then I was thinking about Gummi Bears. BOUNCING HERE AND THERE AND EVERY WHERE! HIGH ADVENTURES THAT’S BEYOND A CARE - THEY ARE THE GUMMI BEARS! bears! bears! (that last part was the echo fading out). Sidenote: I have a bit of a legacy around these parts for thinking I know the words to a song, for well, forever, and singing them with such passion and believeability. And then years later someone in my family (really many people love to be the person to do this), tell me the actual words and my mind is blown.*  So those may or may not be the actual words to the theme song. But YOU WATCHED THIS SHOW RIGHT?    *Example: the theme song to CSI is not “cool water”, but it totally made sense to me, because of like dead bodies in rivers and lakes and stuff. I guess it’s actually: “Who are you?”, I guess that makes sense too. Pffft.

SO THEN. Then I was thinking about 7th Heaven. Full House. Saved by the Bell. OH GEEZ.

And then, sigh… my little heart burst as I remembered my undying love for BUG JUICE! OHMYGOODNESS! Bug Juice!! It doesn’t come in a jar, bug juice comes from who you are. My most favorite, and first, reality show of all time. Cammie (I wanted to be her bestie!)! Connor (hottie)! Rhett (what a hunk of a counselor)! Oh Bug Juice. I begged my parents to send me to Camp Waziyatah! Instead I got two weeks at Camp Hollywood in the back hills of nowhere, Washington (now that is a story for another day). The day they make that show on DVD, I am so there. What is also awesome is that when I found it on YouTube, Andrew had just walked in the door and said that I had this look on my face like I had “found old episodes of Bug Juice”!!! Is he not my perfect match? Boy gets me. We’ve talked about Bug Juice many times before, but still, come on now!

And did anybody watch Frontier House on PBS? Where a handful of families or friends signed up for a reality show/experiement to live like pioneers for something like a year? That was crazy. And I wanted to do it of course. Except for the part where that little boy lays on the floor and you see his little ribs poking out from hunger and they pretty much lived off biscuits or something. But I wanted to be on the prairie in my frock tending to the wheat. Who am I kidding, I mostly wanted to be on TV. 

Well, that concludes my first blog post on my favorite old tv shows. You bet your bottom dollar that it will not me my last. Thanks for strolling down memory lane with me. 

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6.20.2013

Food-day Friday.

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Ooooh, there has been some tasty meals created this week. These recipes were all so fresh, healthy and delicious. I guess it’s fair to say I was on a salad quick… because every.single.recipe. is a basically a salad. But who said salad can’t be delicious? The proof is in the pudding salad. 

This Week’s Meal Plan… 

Quinoa Fruit Salad and Honey Lime Dressing: You may have seen this floating around Pinterest. I saw it and immediately added it to the upcoming week’s meal plan. Then I saw it pinned over and over again. And it is worth following up on friends! This is a keeper! So simple. So fresh. Hits the sweet tooth, yet is packed with protein-filled quinoa. I used agave in place of honey and used thawed frozen mango chunks and extra mint. Perfection. 

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Spicy Chopped Greek Salad with Peperoncini: Here’s a little known fact… I love peperoncinis. So much, in fact, that in high school I had a contest with my friend Mikel, to see who could eat a dozen or so of them the fastest. I won. I kind of forgot about them until recently when I saw this recipe. And oooh the craving struck for those spicy, vinegary, little, neon green peppers! This salad was also a winner. And also will be made from here on out. I actually used Heido Ho’s vegan feta in place of the sheep’s feta, but next time will probably leave it out and sub Daiya, chickpeas or extra veggies. 

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Vegan Spring Rolls: Making spring rolls has been on my vegan bucket list for awhile now. They have always been so intimidating to me, but they weren’t so scary - though they weren’t exactly pretty and well rolled. I used this recipe as a launching point, but added mushrooms and mint too. I also whipped up some peanut sauce to dip them in and paired them with the salad listed below. 

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Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas: I love Oh She Glows, it is one of my favorite blogs and her recipes are always so delicious. This salad was no exception! The chickpeas were SO dang good, it was really difficult to not just eat them all straight out of the oven. They were crispy-crunchy good (I will totally make them to snack on sometime). The chickpeas with the peanuts and the cucumber… it’s just as the name says; hydrating and spiced. Yum. I will say however, that next time I will do a little less vinegar in the dressing. (Note: I’m waiting on permission to include a picture, but until then you can click on the above link to go to the original website and see just how tasty this salad looks!). 

BBQ Cauliflower Salad: Another well-pinned recipe. This salad was an interesting one. It was gorgeous and creative and as we were eating the first half, we were loving it. Then, all of the sudden, it was just a little too much for us. Too sweet, or something. Too ranchy, too barbeque saucy? We aren’t really sure. But we both said the same exact thing. I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that our BBQ sauce was very sweet (no spice at all) and the ranch was a bit sweet tasting too (we used the recipe in their link). I probably won’t make this again, and I really wanted to love it. But I do suggest giving it a try. Maybe it was my sauce? Let me know what you think! 

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»——»————————————-||——————||—————————»»»»»»»»>

Eating a plant based, whole foods diet, means that I am usually making meals from scratch. I love finding new recipes and recreating favorites, so I decided to share our weekly meal plan every Friday; to give ideas, quench curiousity and prove that we eat some delicious food! All meals can easily be made vegan and gluten free (if not already).

Comments