Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Miriam's Birth -- Part 1 (written July 29)

One week ago, at this moment I was on my way to the hospital!

In the afternoon of July 22, I'd gone to a routine midwife visit in the city (Washington, D.C.) at 38 wks 5 days pregnant. A few days earlier, I'd had a late-term ultrasound that had estimated my baby might already be 9 lbs 9 oz. I was worried that this estimate might scare the care providers and make them encourage an induction. Imagine my surprise when not only did the OB say he wasn't worried and there was no need for induction, but also on Friday my midwife Ashlee even discouraged natural means of induction. She stressed that the most important thing was for me to relax and trust that my body would do what it needed to when it was the right time.

Ashlee also felt my baby from the outside and said that she didn't think this baby was over 9 lbs. She listened to me share how it could be tricky for me to be relaxed while also helping my teenager navigate her tumultuous feelings about the baby's coming. Ashlee recommended Naomi be at the birth, and said that it might be just the thing to form a strong bond with the baby. I left that appointment feeling encouraged, not only because I could now relax about the timing of this birth, but also because a care provider had taken the time to really listen to me and offer me hope.

I ran a few errands on my way home. Steve's birthday was the next day and I was buying groceries to host  some friends coming over to celebrate. I remember going a little slower than I usually do in the stores, as I felt like I had pulled a muscle and it hurt to walk. But the pain was gone by the time I got home. Right before dinner I had one more store to stop in and I remember having a sensation while walking out, that felt like the baby was really pushing on my bladder. It wasn't so much pain as it was pressure.

Steve, Naomi and I sat down for dinner and "The Empire Strkes Back" at around 6:30. I felt more of the bladder pressure moments, and after maybe one or two of them, Steve looked at me and said he thought I was having contractions. "Contractions?!" I replied. "No way!" But sure enough, they kept coming about ten minutes apart, and I'd have to close my eyes and consciously relax during them. They didn't feel like cramps, but they definitely didn't feel normal.

I hadn't yet done my hour of exercise that day, so had been planning to go swimming after dinner. I still suited up and started walking to the pool. But in the less than five minutes that it took to walk halfway there and then turn around and come back home, I had another 3 contractions. I decided I need to call my midwives and see what they thought. (I still wasn't actually thinking of coming in to the hospital; I mostly wanted reassurance that I could indeed go swimming!) So I made the phone call around 8 PM. Nora was the midwife on call and at first she said that it didn't sound serious, but then when I had a contraction while on the phone and couldn't talk for a minute, she changed her mind. She said to come in to the hospital whenever we could.

Funny enough, my boys had had their 'emergency bags' packed for at least a week but they were currently away at camp. And those of us left at home? Neither Steve, Naomi nor I had actually fully packed. So we scrambled around for about 45 minutes and finally took off at 8:45. At least I'd spent the morning putting together the freshly-washed baby carseat! Thankfully the contractions were still bearable even on the 25 minute drive downtown and Steve did a great job navigating. And bonus: we were able to find street parking for free since it was a Friday night.

Since Nora was in the middle of helping another mom in labor, I was put in a triage room with a kind nurse named Marina. Steve and Naomi stayed with me, and we all watched the monitors track the baby's heart rate as well as my contractions for the next 30-40 minutes. At one point I started to lie down, thinking that it was necessary as they began to monitor me, but my contraction pain was so much worse when I was reclined compared to standing that I never did that again. I stood the whole time I labored, finding that the contractions were quite bearable that way.

Eventually a doctor gave me a brief exam to see what was happening, and it turned out I was 8 cm dilated and 100% effaced. That meant that everyone got hopping to get me into a labor and delivery room because things were moving FAST!

Persian Meat Casserole (Kukuye Gusht)

My mom lived in Iran for a few years, before she got married, and has loved Persian food ever since. She gave me this recipe some time ago, but I'd only made it once before last night. It was so long ago that my kids didn't remember it. But I remembered that they'd liked it. So I cooked it last night and everyone loved the delicious flavors and moist texture.

For me, the experience of making this dish yesterday was even sweeter because of the way my kids took part. I was lacking a few ingredients but didn't have a car, so I suggested that a few of us walk to the local grocery store together to shop. I carried Miriam in my sling and Josiah and Ethan walked alongside. While at Giant, I let the boys each pick out a donut (a special treat in our house!) and then showed them how to use the self-checkout lane to buy vegetables.

When we got home, I also asked the kids to all help in the dinner preparation. Naomi held the baby, Ethan broke and beat the eggs, and Josiah washed and cut the herbs. Ethan said he'd always wanted to feel raw egg and asked if I'd let him put his hands in the bowl before we added other ingredients. I said "sure" and he delighted in the gooey texture. Meanwhile Josiah was enjoying the smell of parsley (he usually comments on scents while he cooks) and also discovering what it means to 'chop finely.'

So after a group effort, we got the casserole in the oven (our 'new' used one that was graciously given to us after ours was broken for 8 weeks), and then reveled in eating it together for dinner. Here is the recipe:

2 T butter
1 lb. ground beef (I used turkey)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 c spinach, chopped
1 c parsley, chopped
1/2 c leeks or green onions, chopped
 1 1/4 t salt
1 t curry powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t pepper
5 eggs

Saute meat and onions in butter about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add spinach, parsley & leeks. Add seasoning and mix well. Beat eggs slightly and add to the mixture. Mix well. Spoon into greased 9" pie pan. (I used an oval casserole dish.) Bake at 325 F for 30-35 min. (I added maybe an extra 10 minutes.) Serve warm, or cool with plain yogurt.

Hopefully your family will enjoy it as much as mine did! It's a winner in my book!