Lennon's Birth Story [Part 1]

Lennon's birth story Part 1 | edible perspective

I’m going to be sharing the birth story of our daughter in the next 2 posts. Things are about to get wordy. I realize this is a food blog, but if you’ve been a longtime follower, you know I enjoy sharing personal stories as well. If you don’t enjoy reading birth stories that might have some TMI parts, please feel free to skip over these posts. I’ll be discussing certain labor induction methods we tried, but please talk with your doctors/midwives before trying any of these out on your own.

The story of how our sweet Lennon entered the world is not even close to the story I thought we’d be telling. She was due on 12/31/16 but ended up arriving 17 days late. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined she would go past the 42 week mark. Finally, nearly 3 months later, I’m working on typing up all of the details. I’ve always loved reading birth stories, so I definitely wanted to write about our experience before the detailed memories start to fade (I think they already have a bit!). I also hope that maybe this will help someone out there who needs to (or chooses to) stray from their birth plan, in knowing you can still make the experience a memorable one. Our story is the furthest from what we expected, but none of that mattered the second Lennon was finally born.

We’re lucky to live in an area with a few amazing birth centers. Chris and I were both fully on board with this type of plan for my prenatal care and birth. The centers all have certified nurse midwives (CNMs) and the center we chose is about 1/4 mile from an excellent hospital. (They run drills for emergency situations, which only happen about 1-2% of the time, and are fully prepared for all types of birth scenarios.) We absolutely loved our experience at the birth center and it was definitely the right fit for us. The midwives were all so kind, patient, and loving. The birth rooms felt like a swanky but incredibly comfortable hotel.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 1 | edible perspective

There is so much more I could say about the care we received, but I will just wrap it up by saying I can’t imagine the care being better anywhere else. We felt so loved and taken care of, even as our plans changed. They fully supported any reason for needing to transfer to the hospital before, during, or after labor (whether it be for an emergency or simply deciding you want an epidural). They weren’t going to risk our comfort or safety and we felt very confident about that.

My pregnancy was pretty amazing, and I still feel so unbelievably fortunate for that. I wasn’t struck with morning sickness, I didn’t experience food aversions or bizarre cravings, I worked out right up until I gave birth, and I was able to keep photographing and cooking through mid-December. I was somehow able to shoot 2 complete cookbooks and quite a bit of other freelance work during my pregnancy. Such a gift! Sure there were aches and pains, tons of peeing, restless nights, crazy fatigue (especially in the first trimester), but I generally felt pretty great. We had one little scare with Lennon’s heart rate in early December, but got checked at the hospital and everything was completely fine.

We attended birth classes at the birth center (they don’t teach any specific type of method, which we liked) and also hired a doula in preparing for the birth. I didn’t want to set a rigid birth plan, because I really had no idea what would feel right while in labor. The only thing I kept saying was, “Our plan is to hopefully have the baby at the birth center.” To birth at our specific BC you must be between 37 and 42 weeks, for safety reasons. We toured the hospital so we would have some familiarity with it, just in case we needed to transfer. There are reasons you might need to transfer mid-labor and post-delivery and also reasons the baby might need to transfer post-delivery as well. We mentally prepared as best we could, but pretty much assumed all would go as planned since my pregnancy was going so well. It’s easy to say you’re mentally ready if there’s the need for a transfer, but you can never really fully prepare.

Lennon's birth story Part 1 | edible perspective

Friday, December 30th (39 weeks + 6 days) we had an appointment at the BC. Everything looked great. Our midwife estimated the babe to be about 7lbs (solely from touch on the outside of my belly). They checked my progress for the first time and I was at 0cm. For a first time mom, they said this was completely normal and really doesn’t mean much. You could go into labor that day or it could still take awhile. We were prepared for a late baby and a long labor, so I still felt really good about everything. The plan from here was to have an ultrasound at 41 weeks to make sure my amniotic fluid levels were okay. Then, I would check in with the midwives each day after that and try different natural methods for labor inductions, under their advisement. My mom came out on January 3rd and Chris was back at work while we waited. It was so nice to have my mom here while Chris was working, so I didn’t lose my mind at home alone. I was still working out at this point, lifting some and going on daily walks. (I had also been going to barre classes all throughout my pregnancy, but around week 37 it became a bit too much.) I walked up and down our stairs and did squats through braxton hicks contractions, hoping it would help get things moving. There were a few nights I was up for hours thinking things were starting, but they obviously never did.

41 weeks came and we had the ultrasound (at the hospital) to check the amniotic fluid. There was plenty. Yay! We joked she must be having fun in her wave pool. At 41 weeks + 2 days (Monday) we headed to the birth center to be checked. The baby’s heart looked great and I was close to 1cm. Finally. Something! We were scheduled to come in the next day and they would start pulling out their “bag of tricks” to hopefully get things moving.

At 41 weeks + 3 days, the first thing the midwives suggested trying was a foley balloon. Basically the opposite of fun. Since I wasn’t dilated at all, they couldn’t do any membrane stripping and they told us it doesn’t really have a chance of working unless you’re at least 1.5cm. I’m not going to go into much detail on the balloon, but they inflate a small balloon inside the cervix with saline and leave it there for up to 12hrs, to hopefully start the process of dilating. It will fall out on it’s own once you’re at 3-4cm, or it can easily be removed at the 12hr mark. I remember the car ride home after having it placed, wincing in pain. It did not feel natural to have something going up where the baby should be coming out. It was one of the first times I had cried during my pregnancy, not from the pain but from the uncertainty of everything.

Once we got home I rested a bit and then I started having contractions every minute or so for hours, some more painful than others, and some that I had to really breathe through. We were thinking this was the start of labor. We got some of our bags out and ready. I was feeling good and as prepared as I could be for labor. Around the 10 hour mark we had to remove the balloon because of a slight issue. I was beyond relieved to have it out (and everything was fine), but from then on contractions faded. I was still feeling positive overall and had so much support from Chris and my mom (and of course other family and friends). It kept me busy sending everyone updates.

At 41 weeks + 4 days we were back at the birth center for the next step. Still no more progress. Now it was time for castor oil. I was NOT excited about this, mainly from stories I had heard from others about how awful it was. Many of these interventions can send you into false labor as well, which is a major bummer and also exhausting (mentally and physically). Our midwife said this works about 75% of the time, so we were hopeful. After a not so enjoyable evening, nothing happened. I was getting pretty discouraged at this point and knew in just a couple days we’d be at the hospital for a real induction.

We headed to the birth center again the following day. 41 weeks + 5 days. The last thing we tried was breast pump stimulation and taking special herbs mixed with water. I did this for 10min on, 10min off for 2 hours, while bouncing on an exercise ball (something I did for hours each day at home). We had a heart to heart with our midwife about the next step, which was heading to the hospital the following day at 8:30pm to start an induction. Cue the tears. I had so many emotions as we said our goodbyes to the amazing midwives and staff we grew to know and trust so well during our pregnancy. It was difficult leaving the birth room, where I mentally prepared myself for birthing our baby. All of our prenatal care took place in the birth rooms, so they really felt like home to us. It was scary not really knowing what was ahead and how things would feel once we were at the hospital. The hospital has their own team of midwives who would take over our care, along with the labor and delivery nurses. We were confident everything would work out, but it was still a mental hurdle to overcome.

We arrived back home and updated family and friends. We tried our best to have a relaxing evening at home, still hoping maybe it would happen.

Our deadline day came, 41 weeks + 6 days. I of course made a big waffle breakfast for Chris, my mom, and my amazing friend Ann. I knew hospital food would be sub-par, so waffles were necessary. Ann brought a bunch of my very favorite cookies from a nearby restaurant, and I stashed them in our hospital bag. We repacked our bags for a longer hospital stay (you only stay at the birth center for 4-6hrs after birth), took a long walk with the dog, ran last minute errands with my mom, cleaned the house (me...neurotic), and ate Chipotle for dinner. I remember eating about 5 bites and then only being able to stomach the rice. Nerves were majorly setting in. We hugged my mom goodbye (she stayed at our house) and headed to the hospital. I remember texting updates on our way there and thinking how uneventful the car ride was. I had always imagined lots of screaming and pain, but this was so different. We walked into the hospital with our bags and joked that it felt like we were checking into a hotel. It was all a bit surreal.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 1 | edible perspective

Part 2 coming soon!

Thanks so much for all of your love and congrats over social media these past few months, as well as for your patience as I slowly make my way back to this space. 

Ashley

Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats

Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats | Edible Perspective

This post is sponsored by Bob's Red Mill.

Of course I have to end the year on breakfast. It seemed the only way to go. But this is quite different from my typical breakfast recipes. As you can see from the photos it includes a hefty amount of chocolate, marshmallows, and a whipped cream topping. Holiday breakfast approved.

When I had the idea for this recipe, I wasn't sure if it would actually turn out or not. For some reason I wasn't sure about a bowl of chocolate oatmeal. Turns out, that was a silly thought, because it's pretty fabulous and seriously tastes like hot cocoa. It's a total comfort-indulgence meal that you must try very soon. Typically, I make 1/2 cup (uncooked) steel cut oats for myself. However, this recipe is quite rich, so splitting the batch into about 4 servings was perfect. 

Steel Cut Oats have been a favorite of mine for some time now, and of course, my top choice is always from Bob's Red Mill (whether they sponsor my posts or not). Their oats, flours, and ingredients never fail me, as I've mentioned many times in the past. I feel so fortunate to work with brands who align so well with my way of eating and who I love to promote beyond this space. Bob's Red Mill has been a particularly fun brand to work with because of the variety of ingredients I've been able to choose from and feature in my recipes. Let's rewind for a second to my BRM recipes from 2016:

I could seriously go for one of those muffins right about now, but let's get back to this pot of chocolaty goodness. Mmmmk?

Steel Cut oats do take quite a bit longer to cook in comparison to rolled oats, but I've never found them to take more than 20 or so minutes to finish. Definitely doable for a weekend or holiday breakfast. For me, it's hard to go back to rolled oats after getting used to the chewy bite of steel cut. However, if you're looking for a slightly faster cook time, simply put the steel cut oats in a high-powered blender and pulse until about halfway to flour. It should look powdery but with small bits still left. This is actually called Scottish Oats. They cook faster (in about 10-12 minutes) and have more creaminess, but still hold that chew I love from steel cut. Note that if you try this I would start with less liquid (about 3 cups total) and add more as needed. (You can also buy Scottish oats!)

I highly recommend not skipping the marshmallow component of this recipe. I was trying to recreate the Swiss Miss hot chocolate packets I so loved in my youth. And I'm definitely talking about the packets with the tiny marshmallows inside. I can still remember that foamy, creamy layer they created on top of the hot cocoa. Well, this is only about 10x better than that because they're folded into the oats and create a sticky, gooey, marshmallow mess. 

I also highly recommend toasting extra marshmallows for on top and finishing with a plentiful scoop of homemade whipped cream. You know, do it up.

What are you waiting for? 

Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats | Edible Perspective
Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats | Edible Perspective
Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats | Edible Perspective
Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats | Edible Perspective
Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats | Edible Perspective

Print Recipe!

Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats 

gluten-free, vegan option // yields 4 servings

  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (gluten-free if needed)
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or other sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2oz 65-80% dark chocolate
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • toppings: homemade whipped cream (or coconut whipped cream), toasted marshmallows, cocoa powder, granola, etc.

Heat a medium pot over medium heat and add oats, milk, water and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer (uncovered) and let cook until done to your liking (18-25 minutes). Stir frequently and add more milk and water as needed (equal amounts) to reach desired creaminess. 

Once done to your liking, turn to low and add 3 tablespoons sugar (less if using milk chocolate), cocoa powder, and dark chocolate. Stir until fully combined. Add a splash more milk if needed. Fold in marshmallows and serve as they start to melt. Add more sugar if desired.

Top with large toasted marshmallows (can be done carefully under the broiler on a parchment lined pan -- watch very closely!), whipped cream, and any other desired toppings. 


Notes:

  • Feel free to make ahead but leave the marshmallows out. Heat in a pan and add milk/water to loosen up. Once hot, add the marshmallows and serve with desired toppings.
Hot Chocolate Steel Cut Oats | Edible Perspective

Wishing you all the happiest of holiday seasons, and cheers for a fresh + bright New Year. You've all helped make this a special year once again. Thank you. Always.

Keep your eyes on my Instagram feed for an announcement when this little lady decides to join us. We kind of can't wait.

xo

Ashley

Today's post is sponsored by Bob's Red Mill. I received compensation + product for writing this piece. Opinions are always my own. If I didn't love it, you wouldn't hear about it. Thanks for your continued support!