Wellness

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Recently, I had a meal train created for Keith and I to help us get through the first month of parenting, and one of the main pieces of advice I kept hearing from the mums bringing over meals was lactation cookies.

I wasn't having issues with my milk coming in (mine came in on day 2), but since deciding to exclusively pump, I thought it could be helpful. The only brand I was able to find was one sold at Target (really shocked Whole Foods didn't have anything) and each little bag was 2.50. I tried them. They were okay. The texture was the equivalent of Cookie Crisp cereal in my opinion. So I decided to see if I could make my own.

cookie batter
cookie dough

Technically, I could just eat a bowl of oatmeal with some flaxseed and call it a day, but where is the fun in that? Plus, I needed an excuse to use my KitchenAid mixer. Also, the secret ingredient to better milk supply is supposed to be the brewer's yeast, but if you don't have it or can't find it, oatmeal and flaxseed should still do it. you just won't have super powers like me.

oatmeal cocolate chip

I got the original recipe from here but made some modifications, which I have listed below. This isn't vegan, but you could easily replace the egg. Anyway, I refuse to keep you waiting.

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (or 2 cups rolled oats and 1 cup of steel cut oats for a little crunch)
1 1/2 cups oat flour (if you can't find this at your store, just throw 2 cups of rolled oats in a blender till fine)
5 tablespoons brewers yeast
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups organic coconut sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks

Directions

Preheat the oven the 350 degrees F.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, yeast, flaxseed, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy.
  3. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  4. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again.
  6. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined and mixed.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
  8. Scoop the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart and slightly flatten with a fork.
  9. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

That's it. Less then ten steps! Do not over bake these! When you take them out, they should still be soft (they will get firmer once cooled so make sure the bottoms are light to medium golden). I have made two batches and made the mistake of leaving the second batch in for an extra minute and they wound up extra crunchy when they cooled.

Also a note on brewer's yeast. Make sure you get one with reduced bitterness or no bitterness. I did not  know there was a choice but thankfully  I did not make this mistake! Anyways, let me know what you think! 

 

Diminished Expectations

Disappointment. Frustration. Anxiety.

Not what I expected to be feeling completing thirty-eight weeks of pregnancy. Accomplishment. Joy. Relief. This is what I ought to be feeling at this moment. I was told to expect now. To plan for now. But now has come and gone, leaving me questioning how well i know my own body, its capabilities, and even the idea of its incompetency.

We thought we would be bringing home a baby by now. Starting our tiny family. But instead, I am at yet another obgyn appointment being told i am still 3 cm dilated.

Its normal for pregnant mums to hang out at 3 cm for weeks, the triage doctor who discharged on friday informed me. But the fact is, that this pregnancy hasn’t been considered normal since i was diagnosed with incompetent cervix. I was given the impression that if the cerclage came out too soon, or if i stopped taking my progesterone too soon, my cervix would collapse like the walls of Jericho. ok a tad dramatic, but still that was the sentiment.

But here i am at thirty-eight weeks, debunking the assumptions I have been fed. It has left me wondering if i indeed have an incompetent cervix. After a weekend of brewing in my own emotional deflation, I think it is good that i am here, with no expectations. This entire pregnancy i have been guided by benchmarks, milestones, and achievement. My pregnancy, for a time, existed within twenty-four weeks. When i achieved twenty-four, i graduated to thirty weeks and then finally thirty-seven. I have never looked beyond the perimeters set up for me. It would have been too much to hope or expect more.

But now I have nothing but birth to achieve and there is no real date for that. Even my estimated due date is just that--an estimate. I realize it has been easier to live with stability rather than unpredictability. Delivering Isaac at almost 24 weeks was unpredictable and the cost of that was devastating. The thought of a structureless pregnancy intimidated me, and so I have spent the last nine months with blinders on, with the end barely in my periphery.

Now, there is nothing standing in the way of the end and me. It feels like i am a marathon runner told the race would end here, but as my body brushes up against the finish line ribbon, I find that it has been moved forward another five miles. But, I must either hope and persevere, or stop living. Stop enjoying this transition as it is meant to be enjoyed.

I must choose perseverance.

 

joy and sorrow

after what we experienced with isaac, keith said somberly. i can no longer live in this selfish state of mind that this life is promised to me. isaac lived sixteen days. some live sixteen years. others live till they are sixty. when you are looking death in the face, every moment is precious.

i remember the day before isaac passed. he had just come through surgery successfully. keith yelled at the top of his lungs outside thank you jesus before breaking down and crying. we had surrendered what we thought was everything to God. we thought he was only testing us and that we had passed the test with another day with our boy.

i remember going home that evening and singing a worship song with keith in the dark. oceans. the rain came down that night and keith and i sat on the porch and watched lightning flicker across the deepness of night. doctor orsini's call the following morning was slightly concerning, but we were still so hopeful, even then. our doctor's eyes were wet with sadness. isaac was not going to make it. 

we breathed in while sobriety coiled around our words in our silence.

as i spent the last few hours praying for and singing to my dying son, i realized then what surrender was. that there was no test. this was just life. one year later, as keith and i were trying to pick out a tree to plant for isaac while his sibling grew restless inside of me, i wished with all of my being that isaac could be here with us now. that is when the painful realization squeezed my heart. our two children could never coexist on this side of eternity. if isaac were still here, we wouldn't have started trying so soon, and we would not be experiencing this particular child.

it is here where joy and sorrow coexist for me. i cannot experience one without the other. i believe that is what most who have lost a child and gained another wrestle with. while the world around us celebrates the new life that we bring to it, we are constantly reminded of why that life came to be. we cannot forget, so don't ask us to.

there is a part of me that cannot wait for may to be over. i have been so overcome by my emotions, which is a lot to admit to since by nature, i am a big feeler. today, i slept till almost noon, the heaviness of it all crippling my already ailing pregnant body. i wonder what propels me forward despite my anguish.

mercy, keith mentioned. we don't have a choice but to show others mercy. to give them a sense of dignity, no matter how long they have on this earth.

men and meteorites

a tomb robbed my inheritance. it
ascended into daylight.
my love stripped down to a hollow. tomorrow
is today's twilight.

yesterday is but a dream deferred.
yesterday, a mother's scorn.

a phantom of my past life rests
in the quiet of his room, where the
dust agitates my eyes, and
healing didn't come soon.

tears kiss my face as my pain struggles
to be at home in your love.
will someday hope, or is this the end of me
stirring your heart to be moved?

yesterday was a dream deferred.
yesterday, a prayer unheard.

when storms collide with sunsets,
fall wet lines of color, faint in the bright of that
space between the world of men and
the world beyond meteorites.

my tongue unhinged, the words within me
rushing t'ward daylight.
my bones now clothed with joy and sorrow,
resurrected from the twilight.

yesterday was a dream deferred,
but today hope is restored.

 


written in memory of my sweet son isaac who passed away a year ago today, and to my sweet baby who is nestled in that space between men and meteorites.

Exercising with a cerclage

Since my surgery in January, my activity level dropped drastically. I scoured google in search of some cerclage-friendly exercises to keep my body in shape, but was bitterly disappointed.

There isn’t much out there for us cerclage-bearing mums, and when I tried to ask my high risk doctor, he was skittish of everything. Initially, he told me nothing that bears down on the womb. So, no bending over, and that is regardless if i am working out or not. But as I have gotten further along and the contractions have been a frequent visitor, anything but rolling over in bed seemed to be off the table.

To be honest, i am not sure that they really know what is good, because for the last decade, women with cerclages were almost always put on strict bed rest. So no one has even tried to figure out a routine outside of walking.

Walking was fine to do,  but my uterus gets really fussy after about ten minutes and lets me know with a few braxton hicks. So, i decided to just focus on stretching and breathing. Yoga was good during the middle of the second trimester when I was smaller, but even some of those moves were a bit precarious when a stitched up cervix is at stake. Still, I took some of the techniques, got some resistance bands and created a fifteen minute routine for myself that at least keeps the blood clots away.

bicep curl resting
bicep curls

First, I do basic bicep curls using my band (or five to eight pound weights). i always do this seated because I get rather dizzy or winded when i stand up and try to lift weights. 3 sets of 20.

The next two exercises I snagged from the pregnancy and newborn magazine while in the waiting room. I do 3 sets of 20 for each side. In between each set, I breath in deeply for five breaths.

clam shell stretch
clam shell stretch

This one is called the clam shell stretch and is supposed to help with the glutes and lower core. I lay on my left side, my legs bent at a forty-five degree angle and closed. Keeping my feet together, I open my legs like a clam and then close it again.

Next is a modified side plank. In a seated position i bend my knees at a ninety degree angle, body facing forward. With my hand planted to my side, i push my side up off the ground and then return it to the ground.

modified plank
modified side plank

These three routines give you a little bit of cardio, but for the most part are modified strength training routines. I know it doesn't seem like much, but really this is enough to keep me feeling like my body isn't entirely falling a part.

The next few exercises are for stretching and i prefer to do them after i have warmed up my muscles with the previous three. 

I start in a seated position with one leg in front of the other (i like to elevate my hips with a pillow sometimes. I take ten slow, deep breaths, focusing on my diaphragm and core. 

breathing

Then I grab my stretch band (whatever resistance feels good), extend my right leg out to the side and wrap the the band around my foot. I lean in the opposite direction and point and flex my feet slowly for 3 sets of 10 reps. I get a nice stretch in my calf and hamstring. After this stretch, I stretch both legs out to the side and repeat my breathing again for ten deep breaths.

resistance band
IMG_0612.JPG

Finally, I repeat my point and flex routine for the opposite leg, making sure to bring the first leg in. Once I am done, i return to both legs to my first pose of this circuit and repeat my breathing exercise as part of my closing of the routine.

That's it. Super easy! If I wasn't pregnant with a cerclage, I would probably add a bit more, but this routine has been very relaxing and it has opened up my hips a lot. If you  have been put on some sort of bed rest, you could do any one of these without leaving your bed. Anyway, this is just what I like to do since its pretty low impact and keeps the blood circulating.

 

i am not a doctor, so please do not consult me for approval on these exercises. ask your doctor or midwife, what would be best for your needs.