Monday, January 4, 2016

Birth Story - VBA2C

On Tuesday 22nd December my waters broke two weeks before my due date and the birth story of George William Blake Torrance began....

The plan was for me to give birth naturally after previously having two Caesarian births for my two girls (aged 10 and 7). My midwife and sister, Judy is very experienced with home births and owns The Birth House in Geelong where many women are encouraged and supported through their pregnancies and births either at home or at TBH where we planned to have our first little boy.

I was exactly 38 weeks pregnant when my membranes ruptured that evening after we'd celebrated
 Blake's first official day of holidays that day in Barwon Heads as a family. I'd finally accepted that I was best to hope for my due date of January 5 and try to enjoy that week of Christmas celebrations. My pregnancy had been long and difficult like the other two, vomiting until week 16, continued nausea, exhaustion and peri-natal anxiety took their toll and as I grew heavier and bigger than I'd been with the girls I couldn't help imagining an early birth as long as it was NOT near Christmas Day please.

Despite me being exhausted and ready for bed late in the afternoon, we got dressed for some family photos on the farm with Danna that evening. When I went outside to greet her at 7:15pm there was a steady trickle flooding my pads and after a while just pouring freely down my legs. We persisted with the photos, let Judy know and excitedly went to bed as normal, wondering what would happen over night.

I was still steadily losing fluid the next day but Blake and I went to the beach as planned for a walk and a little shop and treat (raw tirimasu slice at Surfcoast Wholefoods). We packed up and went home as we'd been staying at Chris and Judy's and they'd driven through the night to get home from their camping holiday incase my labour started on the 23rd.
Blake and I left the girls at home in the evening to eat Indian takeaway at the waterfront since I'd been looking forward to this final date and it was our last chance. Mild contractions started while we walked a little. At 38 weeks I was too tired to walk far or fast but it was good to be out together, chatting about the baby's name and laughing at the crazy week that was unfolding.

My contractions got stonger through the night and I was up at 3am timing them and becoming more and more uncomfortable. We woke the girls and headed to the birth house at 6am after I had vomited and was shivering with sleep deprivation and pain.
We took barely anything, expecting to be home later that day with our little man. I vomited again in the car and felt miserable but thankful that Judy would be there soon and we'd get this birth thing happening.
I vomited a few more times in the next few hours and threw up most of the fluids I was guzzling, tea, water, soda water. I finally kept down an icey-pole late in the morning and from then on Judy fed me icey-poles for the rest of the day to keep up my energy and fluids. During the morning my contractions climbed into active labour by around 9am and the regularity of them and the exhaustion I already felt had me in tears, worried that my body would not recover from this and that I felt such a desperate need for sleep.*

I pushed through and by midday had found relief in the shower and was able to smile and chat with Blake a little bit in between contractions. Up until then I'd just felt sick and exhausted. The excitement came back and as the contractions were every 3 minutes I thought we could be done in a couple of hours.
By then Blake had let his family know that we wouldn't be at Christmas Eve dinner that afternoon as planned.
Malya and Harper were restless and worried about me, about missing Christmas AND about Christmas being forever ruined with a possible birthday! I worried we'd done the wrong thing bringing them, and I found it hard to separate their concerns from mine and to relax and focus on what I needed to do.

By the afternoon the pain had become almost unbearable and I was forced to let go of much of my concern and as things got worse I was aware of the girls being more and more patient and sweet as they sat by the birth pool holding my hands, wondering when the 'head would come out'.
Judy supported, coached and encouraged me during each lengthening hour and as the pain became all-consuming gave me hope that this was the final stage. But the final stage kept going and going and the hideous pain in my lower back/bottom region got worse. I somehow found the strength to look up from my head rest in the pool every now and then to see if Judy's colleague Pia had arrived which might mean it was nearly over. Pia never came.

Back to the shower, the hot hot water on my lower back being the only relief. And on it went. I'd begged God over and over to make it stop. He was silent in those hours and I felt utterly abandoned, lost and scared with no hope of relief.

At around 6pm, 12 hours after we'd arrived at The Birth House Judy decided to check how far dilated I was as she could see that exhaustion was taking over and threatening my will to continue. She gave me the heart-breaking news that I was only 4cm dilated. I knew straight away that I'd reached the end of my strength a few hours ago and it was so instantly obvious to me that I needed pain relief to survive. We headed to the hospital while I despaired that it was too late, I couldn't face another contraction, why had we waited so long? I was consumed with worry that they wouldn't instantly end my pain. It was knocking the breath out of me and I wanted to scream and beg but could only yell and pant and wait and wait as they put in the canular, took blood and asked questions and talked to me while I had to face 10, 15, 20 horrendous more contractions while I waited and yelled and pleaded, no shower, no moving, just gripping Blake's arms, digging my nails in in utter desperation. 

As I waited for the epidural to work a doctor examined me and said our baby was laying 'Posterior' which explained the back pain and lack of progress. I felt better about our decision to move to the hospital already. The epidural was slowly working and the relief was amazing. My whole body relaxed and I lay in a haze of thankfulness and trust that I was in good hands. Judy took our brave and patient girls home to bed at 9pm and Blake eventually left too to wrap christmas gifts for the following morning and attempt to leave traces of Santa having come for Harper's sake.
I slept while Blake was there, and then the doctor came to check my progress and calmly announced that I was 9cms dilated. While we had accepted that surgery was imminent, We were amazed and excited that this meant we could go ahead with birthing vaginally, though my exhaustion made me apprehensive and I might have said yes to anything for this to be over.
Blake left, Judy came back and I slept some more, exhaustion making sleep so easy for once.
At 12am I measured 10cms and at 12:30am I was all set to start pushing with the help and support of midwives Lauren and Judy while Blake was happy to watch and encourage.
After pushing for an hour with some success, the doctors came in to assist with suction as our babe had been laying, wedged into my pelvis and ready to enter the world for many hours now.
The pain in the right side of my uterus had returned by now with each contraction despite me desperately clicking the top-up button. I was scared that the full blown back pain would return and anxiously checked to see if the button was working.
My legs were put in stirrups, the episiotomy done without pain, and I was told to keep pushing through contractions, though the pain meant that I couldn't push as hard and I felt weak and useless.
Very soon Judy encouraged me to feel George's little head with my hand as it was finally 'popping out'. I then felt the relief of the rest of him coming out (at 1:47am)as the doctors, nurses and Blake cheered me on to push with the last impossible dregs of strength I possessed, and he was handed up to me. I remember noticing the contractions stopped, I'd waited for this for the past 20 hours. And I had my boy on my chest and everything else faded away.

When I think about, or talk about those darkest 4 -5 hours of pain on Christmas Eve I cry, the memory of my despair and disappointment and loneliness despite my wonderful support  team is raw and deep.
Judy explained to me afterwards that getting to 4cm was in fact ahuge achievement and that had I not done this, the doctors would have strongly advised and pushed for a caesarean birth for me, a greater disappointment long term after working so hard to birth naturally. In hindsight I am deeply thankful for her wisdom and constant support in helping me birth naturally (VBA2C - vaginal birth after 2 caesareans) and at every step of the way from the evening of the 22nd to after the birth on Christmas morning and beyond. 
I learned later that our families and a couple of friends had been praying hard and I slowly understood that God had not abandoned me but was working all things together for mine and George's good. (Romans 8:28)

My thankfulness for Judy's knowledge, experience, calm support and encouragement and for the day we spent at The Birth House with the freedom to labour as comfortably and calmly as possible is intense. Also for your love as a sister.

The patience, calmness and care from Blake, I couldn't have done without, for the birth and for every day of the 8 months beforehand. I love you more now than ever.

I will never forget having our daughters present at The Birth House that day -24/12/2015- it was tough for you both, but your support and love even without full understanding meant so much to me. xx

*I've suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 15 years now which has made life physically and mentally limiting and natural childbirth was never something we thought I could manage....

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Raw Pepita-flour Choc-Chia Cookies

We go through almonds like crazy here. With my little gluten intolerant one and me being the same, nearly everything I make has almond meal in it. This is fine, I love sneaking the protein and nutrients into my pancakes through raw almonds mixed with buckwheat flour, but it gets expensive, and I'd like to sneak even more goodness into our meals and treats and create more variety too.

So I've been playing around with pepita flour and sun-flour (sunflower seed flour) and am a little bit excited by the results.  I followed this recipe from Paleo Movement blog to make Pepita-flour Pumpkin bread. I added mashed pumpkin and omitted the maple syrup for a more pumpkin-y pumpkin touch. Next time I'll be adding cinnamon and nutmeg but the pepita flour was perfect.

Yesterday I was craving chocolate by the usual 10am but with no such substance in the house I resolved to whip up one of my Thermomix chocolate ball/slices with what-ever I had available, plus the essential raw cacao powder.

I almost went a step further and added the baking soda to shape and bake cookies like these beauties but my need for instant chocolate and lack of time with school holiday activities whirling around me I ate a couple of spoonfuls and threw the rest of the flattened balls into the freezer. 

A few hours later my Raw Pepita-flour Choc-Chia Cookies emerged. Actually I used half sun-flour and half pepita flour but the name is already too long. I could squeeze 'gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, no-bake, paleo, vegan...' into the name too but hopefully you get the gist.

Here's my recipe:

-A cup of pepitas
-A cup of sunflower seeds (or any nut or seed you have handy)
-2 Tbs Chia Seeds
-1/4 cup Cacao or good quality cocoa powder (or more if you like a richer flavour)
-1/4 cup rice malt syrup (or to taste, you may need more)*
-2-3 Tbs Coconut oil
-2 Tbs water

Whizz up your seeds (and nuts if using) in your Thermomix or a high powered food processor, speed 9 for Themomixer's.
Add the remaining ingredients but leave the water until you have mixed all other ingredients together and tasted your mix. You will need to scrape down the sides and move the mixture to free up the mixture a couple of times to mix it thoroughly.
Add the water to create a more gooey mixture ready for rolling and flattening on a tray.
Pop your raw cookies into the fridge or freezer, I like to use the freezer in the hope that I'll forget about them and they'll last longer.

*You can use maple or agave syrup if you like but you'll need less as these are sweeter than rice malt syrup. I prefer the latter as it is fructose-free and helps create a 'gooey-er' texture.

You could also try pressing the mixture into a slice tray and pouring melted dark chocolate over it once it is chilled for a raw brownie treat.

Have fun playing with seed flours. I'm using them in place of almond flour where possible and hoping to replace coconut flour too as I seem to be reacting to some coconut products. The joys of the irritable bowel...


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Farm life in July

We always jump at the chance to 'farm-sit' while my parents are away. We love the break from home and fresh farm air. We love the manageable list of chores to do and we love tasting some of Mum and Dad's simple life in Mount Duneed.

We light the combustion stove each morning and let the kettle sit there for most of the day, with constant tea-temperature water. We have rare and short showers and use hot water bottles in place of electric blankets. We head out to the chicken shed in search of eggs for lunch and drink milk from the goats, milked the night before. We bundle up and walk up the hill to my sister's house and the kids are up and down all day, 5 of them, on mini-bikes or running at top speed in search of new things to do or to deliver messages.  We graze in mum's wonderful veggie garden for good things to cook. And we settle down at night in the kitchen to play Jenga over and over and read whatever Narnia book we are up to.

This past stay was a little different. It was uncomfortably cold and the wind and rain forced us inside for much of the time. We had to look a little harder for beauty and comfort. My sister has mastered the goat milking and feeding so we were less needed, and the young ones grew tired easily from the harsh weather.

But we found delight in a day or two of afternoon sun, and the peaceful wanderings to watch the milking with my nephew in tow and the others climbing trees and playing, Scout never far behind. My sister's family are easy to be with, generous and relaxed, their children blend easily with ours. 

I played All Sons and Daughters loudly while I cooked in mum's small kitchen and sat with my cups of tea, reflecting...

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings and turn routine jobs into joy.

-William Arther Ward


A Puppy Party for the littlest

Our littlest turned 6 a week or two ago. I've given up trying to slow down time. It just goes faster every year. So we threw a party, all about dogs, her favourite topic.

We did gross things like pick up 'dog poo', and slightly scary things like play balloon games with our rather large energetic dog Scout. The puppies up for adoption had crazy-big eyes but the kids each fell in love with their chosen pooch and officially named and adopted each one.

No girly colors or games for this Miss 6. She was happy playing on her new penny board or having Scout used for 'pin the no, tie the party hat on the doggy'.

She and her friends decorated cupcakes with doggy faces, watched Beethoven on the projector screen and when her Dad and I were exhausted, her big sister took over and played party games with doggy crafts for prizes.

Of course there were tears of tiredness for our little introvert near the end and the usual quiet promise to ourselves to not have another party for a few years. 

Sighs of relief when the last little girl and her puppy left, from Scout too I'm sure!


Friday, June 13, 2014

'Fudgy Chocolate Balls' - with hidden green things

Our littlest won't eat anything green, especially not vegetables. I struggle to get nuts into her when she needs some sugar-free energy, and of course she won't eat seeds, ESPECIALLY not pumpkin seeds.

So when I was at Coles recently and spotted a bag of 'Trail Mix' packed with all sorts of good-for-you things and only one not-so-good thing: the dried cranberries have some sugar in them (but there were no preservatives-hallelujah!) I came up with a SUPER quick and easy way to hide all the good and green seedy bits:
I chucked the whole bag of Trail Mix into the Thermomix (a food processor would be just as good), whizzed it all together on speed 9, added 1/4 - 1/3 cup of cocoa powder and a dash of water to moisten the mixture and rolled these fudgy delights into energy balls for my ever-hungry girls. Win!

I recently made another batch with a slightly healthier trail mix from Aldi and added some dates for extra sweetening. Not AS popular with our little sweet tooth but she would eat them over plain nuts any day.

For a quick and easy gluten, egg and dairy free treat for the kids stock up on:

-Packets of trail mix or any nuts/seeds mix
-Quality pure Cocoa powder
-(dates/sultanas if your mix is fruit-free)

*Oh and coconut to roll the balls in (sulphar-free if possible)

Sadly they are not for me as they are not fructose-free. I make sure I'm stocked up on these yummy simple almond chia cookies for the perfect accompaniment to my tea.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Crochet inspiration from {little golden nook}

I'm racing to finish a blanket for our youngest whose birthday is next week and sometimes looking back through past projects helps to motivate me to keep going (I started this blanket a year ago!)

So I thought I'd share some of the finished work in my home with you. A fellow school mum stumbled across my feed on Instagram earlier this week and kindly messaged me to say how inspiring my crochet was (thankyou Deb), so here is some of it, plus a little peek at my home which is truly, honestly far from perfect looking in real life........

Add caption

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The language of Heaven

All my brokenness is a whisper that I don’t belong, and every time I don’t feel like I belong, the Scarred and Rejected God whispers, “Come here, my beloved.”
-Ann Voskamp

And suddenly its June again. Its raining. And its cold. But I can hear this magical sound, and I'm inspired again.

The past few months of illness and family and Church and work, play and sun have unravelled messily behind us, distant and blurry because of the pace we move at. Winter has settled down to stay here, down near the bottom of mainland Australia. We can light fires and drink more tea, make things with yarn and snuggle. But its still a challenge.

My beautiful friend Dee has pointed me to a place of joy lately and while I'm sure I'm probably the last one to find it, it is most definitely the right time for me to have 'a holy experience' on this crazy world of online distractions. My Maisy and I lay and listened to the beautiful music of David Nevue and both fell in love with the sound. An hour before I'd been touched by Ann's words and her little corner of joy and grace, her focus on Jesus.

{from this post}

So we bought the album, and I signed up to read when I can, it brings me back to a place where can drink in the beauty in my day and in the very place I am at, weary and clinging on, often hanging out for sleep time, and really truly it opens my heart to see some of the beauty of Jesus.

Lately my brief daily snippets of Spurgeon wisdom have nudged me, and the women who I meet in our community group have reminded me, and the Spirit is so gentle but persistent when He tells me that I must make time to be with God, to hear each day of grace that rescues a heart like mine and love that waits and stays and reaches out.

Its amazing how small life can get when we are missing that external thing that is bigger and greater than us. That thing that takes our eyes off ourselves and our family and our own pleasures or distractions. The seasons around us change gradually but yet so quickly and when the summer nights are steamy and blanket-less we can't imagine ever needing socks or electric blankets. I cannot imagine here in my warm bed in the middle of June, the feeling of a starved belly or no place to rest. I'm distracted by the list of things that need doing in my big house, the washing and the cooking, the endless cleaning and improving. Simple gratitude is crowded out by our need to do and to consume. We are small and our lives are so completely fragile in the eyes of a Creator who sees all. And when we are always looking down, the parameters of our hearts close in a little tighter and we miss joy and real beauty, and yes even as believers we miss the glory and grace of Jesus.

I am grateful that despite my semi-blindness I still see bits of beauty in my day, that I feel joy when a friend speaks of the smallest of gifts from above that are actually giant when seen through uplifted eyes. After a long, sick, low, frustrated day I might just want to curl up and wait for sleep time and the hope of new mercies tomorrow but tonight my family spur one another on amidst grumbles and bouts of frustrations at lost shoes and scratchy scarves to walk the dog in the dark under the fresh night sky. And the ten minutes of breathing and literally looking up together makes the day's disappointments fall away. He is in control. And I'm not meant to understand it.

So what pulls on my very being and what I seek to do often is to be quiet and still. Because my real home is waiting for me in Heaven, and my body tells me daily that I don't belong here, most especially in winter, I have to keep on learning to speak the language of Heaven.


When heaven is really your motherland, then prayer is really your mother tongue, and you can’t help but yearn to speak in the language of your Father now.
-Ann Voskamp