September 30, 2014

Chicken bits in my hair

It's no secret that I love to watch TV.

Wait, no.  I take that back . . . it comes as a surprise to people who don't know me all that well, because it's a bit of a guilty pleasure that I don't advertise that much.  But if you really start to engage me in conversation, it's bound to come up and my secret is out.  Whether it be something I saw on the news or a quote from HIMYM, the truth always comes out.  Please don't judge.  Are you judging me?  If so, just keep reading, because this post has very little to do with television. 

I have a trusty DVR to keep me entertained as I work, cook . . . or breastfeed.  One of my favorite things about the first few months of my baby's life is the excuse to lock myself in a room with just her and watch whatever I'd like.  Because of my love/hate relationship with breastfeeding, this is sometimes my motivation to keep it up.  It's well documented that I think the best time of year to have a baby is right before network sweeps.

Obviously, with each subsequent child that gets more difficult.  Right now, I'm often nursing while quizzing Jack on spelling words, pondering Ben's "what if" scenarios and/or reading "Are You My Mother" to Claire for the 55,000th time.  But during those late night nursing sessions, or when Kyle's home and I get that chance to sneak away and watch something, I savor every moment.

One show I added to the lineup this time around is the Pioneer Woman's cooking show on Food Network.  I love her blog, so I was sure I'd love her show.  I can bake pretty well, but I'm not much of a chef.  Watching her in the kitchen, though, makes me think that I can do it, too.  You just throw a little of this and a little of that into the pot, give it a stir, and viola!  A culinary masterpiece!  It's truly mesmerizing. 

On last week's show, she made chicken and noodles.  As I watched her cook and create, I was inspired.  It seemed so simple. In a moment of pure stupidity, I added it to my menu as tonight's dinner.  Why would anyone with a newborn add to her menu a meal that requires more than heating and serving?  I really don't remember how it happened.  I'll just blame Hattie.

The recipe calls for a whole chicken already cut up. They didn't have that at our local grocery stores.  I probably could have looked harder and found one, but when your baby is on a feeding schedule, and your grocery shopping trips have a very specific time limit, you take what you can get.

I asked the guy at the store if it was pretty easy to cut them up.  He looked me up and down and replied, "For me?  Yeah." 

Um, excuse me?  Challenge accepted, buddy.

I asked google for information on "how to cut up a whole chicken" and found this tutorial from the New York Times Food section that made it look so simple. Just cut here, and pop there . . . it just kind of came apart for the lady in the video.  Oddly enough, it didn't do that for me.  The fat lines are not, in fact, a "grid for where to cut", and the joints do not just "appear" when I pop bones certain directions.  That tutorial is full of lies and I'm vowing here and now to never subscribe to the NY Times. 

It was a disaster.  At one point, I considered chucking the whole thing and making something else, but this chicken gave its life for our sustenance and it would be totally ungrateful to just waste it (see that right there . . . that's from watching too much Naked and Afraid).  I got the legs off (kind of) and then just decided to throw the whole thing in the pot, NOT cut up, to see what happened.

I let the whole thing boil, and it seemed to be working out okay.  When it came time to take it out of the pot and shred the meat, I grabbed a slotted spoon that I THOUGHT would be strong enough to support the chicken, but as I was lifting it out of the pot . . . SPLASH.  That sucker fell right back into the broth, leaving my whole kitchen, and me, covered in little bits of chicken.  And chicken fat  Oh, and not to mention . . . boiling hot water.  You don't realize how greasy chicken is until you're having to wipe it off of your floor, cupboard doors and counter tops. And let's not forget that moms of littles don't get to take showers whenever they feel like it.  In fact, this post was inspired a few minutes ago when I pulled a tiny bit of chicken out of my hair. 

The meal was tasty and Jack even asked to take the leftovers in his lunch. So all's well that ends well, am I right? 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take the first of the 1,000 showers that it will take to get the chicken smell off of me.

September 28, 2014

Hattie's birth story . . . part 1

I should be sleeping right now.  Right?  I have four kids, a job, a business to run and I moved into a new house last month.  Oh, and a newborn.  So sleep is what I should be doing.  I'm well aware.

But it's been more than a month since Hattie's arrival and I've written nothing about it.  Or about her.  This leaves me feeling a little bit guilty, but mostly sad.  These days have been no less meaningful than the days after her brothers and sister were born.  I'm as in love with her as I was her siblings.  Isn't that amazing?  That having more children divides my time by 4, but multiplies my love by 4,000?  She is so precious.  That said, my blogging time is still much less available.

If nothing else, I do need to tell about her birth day.  The details are already starting to get foggy - something I didn't think would be possible.  But I won't get ahead of myself . . .

This is going to be detailed, because it's for me more than anyone else.  I want to remember.  Her story isn't all that dramatic or unusual, but it's significant to me.  Delivering her into this world was just as life changing and important as it was the first three times I did it.

So here we go . . . on Monday, the 25th, I did something to my back that made it really, really hard to stand up straight.  It felt like I'd pinched a nerve in my back and I was kind of hunched as I walked for the first 10 - 15 steps after I stood up.  In retrospect, I think the baby had just dropped.  Even so, Kyle and I decided that we needed to go furniture shopping.  Our old furniture in our new house just wasn't working, and we'd had it for 10 years.  It was time.  We'd tried to go once before with the kids along, but I just couldn't focus.  Imagine that.  So this time it was just the two of us.

The salesman made me want to walk out the door from the moment I walked in.  He glanced at my swollen belly and said, "WHOA!  Shouldn't you be home?  Wow!  I can't believe it!"  Literally those words, with a level of shock in his voice that was . . . well, it was weird.  Apparently he'd never seen a pregnant woman before.

I share that story, because it kind of sums up the last 4 months of my pregnancy.  Starting in June, people said things about my appearance that were so rude and offensive.  I get it . . . I don't carry babies gracefully.  I get huge and swollen.  But it's not like I'm a tiny person to begin with.  I just don't understand why people feel that it's not offensive to make comments like that to pregnant women.  Ok, I'm done with that.

We didn't find furniture and I wasn't really in a decision-making mood because of the back pain.  I went to bed that night with what felt like a pinched nerve in my back, and no decisions on furniture.

I'd only been sleeping 2- 3 hours each night because of the pain from carpal tunnel (something I'm still dealing with pretty severely), so it wasn't a surprise when I woke up around 3. I went to the bathroom and noticed that my pants were damp.  I wondered for a moment if my water had broken.  I wasn't having any gushing and the bed wasn't soaked.  My pants were just damp.  I wondered if I was just thinning out . . . if you've had babies, you know how that goes. 

I went to the living room and sat down and thought about how if she came that day, she'd arrive on her actual due date AND share a birthday with her dad.  HER DAD!  It was Kyle's birthday.  I had no big breakfast planned and no gift.  As I was trying to think through what I should do for him, I realized that I had leaked through again.   So, I went to the bedroom and said, "Happy birthday, Kyle.  I'm calling triage."  Because really?  Who can top the gift of your wife pushing out a baby on your birthday?  No one . . . that's who.

I spent that morning cutting vinyl letters for over the girls' beds.

So I called triage and the midwife on call wanted me to come in, but I told her I'd wait it out.  The one thing I did NOT want was to sit at the hospital waiting for labor to begin.  That happened with Jack and Claire and it was not fun.  Bennett's labor and delivery was my favorite and I really, really wanted it to go like that.  I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible and then head to the hospital.  And I wasn't even 100% sure if my water had broken.  After all, maybe I'd just wet my pants. She reluctantly agreed as long as I was still feeling good movement from the baby.  About an hour later, I had my first contraction. 

The (very early) morning of the 26th
Contractions were weird and very sporadic.  Nothing really time-able.  Nonetheless, we decided to head to the hospital just to be checked, but not before another walk through at the furniture store.  We took the kids to camp to hang out with Kendra for the morning and arranged for Kyle's mom to pick them up at lunch.  Then we came home and did things like, you know, pack our bags, take the car seat out of the box,etc.  All of the things that one should do long before her due date.  But let me remind you. . . we'd moved into our house (from a trailer) two weeks earlier and were literally living out of boxes.

We packed up and headed out.  We hit the furniture store, Target and then sat down to eat a birthday lunch at Outback.  I was having contractions every 15 - 20 minutes at that point, but when we started eating, they were coming every 5 - 6 minutes.  I made a comment that I wasn't sure that we'd make it through lunch.  As soon as the words left my mouth, the contractions stopped.

When we got to the hospital, the contractions were back to being sporadic, I was just barely dilated, and the test to find out whether my water was broken was inconclusive.  I was pretty sure she'd send me home.  However, my midwife did an ultrasound and found that my fluid was low, so either my water had broken, or my placenta wasn't doing it's job.  It was around 4:00 PM that they decided to keep me.

I started balling.  I was being admitted and labor wasn't really progressing.  This was the opposite of what I wanted to happen.  I just wanted to go home and wait.  I wanted to put my kids to bed, and keep unpacking boxes until the baby was ready to come.  Around that time there was a huge storm rolling through and there were announcements that we were under some sort of warning.  I barely remember it because I was so enthralled in my little pity party.

To be continued . . .