Why A Birth Center and Midwife

I want to be clear first: I think modern medicine and hospitals are awesome. Seriously, they have been my good friend this pregnancy. Rehydrated me 6 times now due to hyperemesis. My son bashed his chin open a few weeks ago and the wonderful local children’s hospital glued him back together. I had repeated tonsillitis and ear infections (so bad it was damaging my immune system) in college, my amazing ENT took out my tonsils and my hospital took great care of me afterwards. Seriously, wonderful and totally awesome when you need that kind of treatment. But I don’t view a pregnancy with no major complications as a something that needs that kind of treatment.

 

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Jack was a few hours old, both of us doing good.

Jack’s birth was good. Nothing horrible happened and we were both given reasonable care. It was very standard Medical Model of Care. They followed protocol and did all they could to ensure we both were healthy and alive. I gave birth in a very busy county hospital, so some resources took longer to get. But when they did come, they tried hard to give us good care with the limited time they had. Overall, I say it was just good.

However, now that I am more educated on birth, I want better than good. I want my requests respected (within reason). I want the Midwife Model of Care this time. In a nutshell, the Midwife Model of Care believes that birth is a natural process that your body already knows how to do on its own. You just need a little guidance and enough time to relax to do it. There is still medical care offered—a midwife doesn’t just leave you alone for 40 weeks and only show up if you have a problem in labor. Standard procedures like blood tests, ultrasounds, and exams are offered. The key difference is you build a closer relationship with your midwife, so you feel comfort and trust her during the birth process.

That last part was what drew me to midwife the most. My OB with Jack was not the person who delivered him. I adored her and wish she had delivered him, but that’s not how my clinic worked. The on-call OB at the hospital at the time delivered Jack. I had no idea anything about her, only her name and that she was a doctor. I didn’t know her stance on natural childbirth practices, c-section rate, or anything else. And I had no choice but to just trust this random woman when I was the most vulnerable. It was worked out okay, but it’s not something I want to do again. There are a few things I want to avoid now that I know better.

First of all, when I got to the hospital, they did not believe me that my water actually broke. The triage nurse looked at me like I was lying…despite the fact that I was carrying a SOAKED towel between my legs. She left me standing next to the bed leaking and gave me no instructions. I had a contraction, so I leaned over the bed and set my towel on the tray. She came back in and freaked out! Threw the towel at my husband and said NO NO NO! She immediately got cleaning supplies and sanitized everything again…leaving me hunched over wanting to cry from the contraction and still no instructions. Then she left again. I just grabbed the gown on the bed, got undressed, and laid down. She came back in and asked if I was having contractions. I looked at her crazy and said yes. I told her they were 2 minutes apart and 90 seconds long. She kinda rolled her eyes. She hooked me up and looked very surprised to see I was right. Then she asked for a urine sample. I told her I did not have to pee and really needed to lay down because my contractions were coming faster. She said I had to, they needed a urine sample to admit me. So Michael helped me hobble to the bathroom. I tried, but only got a big gush of fluid. I came out and told the nurse I couldn’t. She took the cup and said fine, she will check to see if it’s actually amniotic fluid. Then she announced it indeed amniotic fluid and without saying anything else really, she checked me. I was 2 cm. I was kinda bothered that she didn’t ask first, but it got me away from her faster so I didn’t argue. She left without saying anything again and came back close to an hour later. At this point, I was starting to transition. I couldn’t talk during my contractions and was started to shake. While Michael was asking if I wanted him to sign the epidural form just in case, I started to vomit. The nurse once again couldn’t believe it so she checked me again, I was close to 5 cm. They quickly took me to my room and I was so happy to be away from that nurse. Looking back, I can understand her attitude. She had to follow the Medical Model of Care and I was not following the procedure she was set to do. I didn’t come in as a women not sure if she was in labor who had the time wait as she checked all the boxes. That being said, she did have poor bedside manner.

In my room, I was progressing so fast and was exhausted. I knew I needed an epidural to relax. They needed my blood work results before the anesthesiologist could come. One nurse really fought for me. She put a STAT order on my blood work and refreshed the screen every 5 minutes to check. Then once the results came, she called the anesthesiologist immediately. She held me while the needle went in and stroked my hair when I had contraction at the same time. So, I know nurses can be very amazing and really help you when you need it.

 

Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?
Would you keep telling this face they need to flip on their back?

However, there were some other issues. She and another nurse kept insisting that I had lay on my back for continuous monitoring. I physically couldn’t. That made contractions unbearable. Plus, I knew on your back is the worst position possible for labor progression. And continuous monitoring is unnecessary if there are no complications. I did go onto my back for a bit every hour or so to check if Jack was still okay, but flipped back on my side once they said it was good. I finally asked if there a major reason why and they said no, just protocol. Then they backed off. Once again, they didn’t do anything bad really. They had a system to follow, but my body’s needs didn’t fit into it.

 

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Taken the day I posted this. The red mark is permanent. It should have been our consent to give it to him.

I pushed for 1.5 hours and Jack was stuck with his 1 head inch out. The doctor stuck an external probe on Jack’s head to check his vitals since he had been in there so long. No one said anything to Michael and I, just told me to stop pushing for a second. At the time I didn’t really realize what she was doing. He was fine so she told me to push again. In general, I have no objection to having this done. He was stuck for awhile and it was important that she made sure he wasn’t in distress. But, it left a scar on Jack’s forehead. If anyone was going to make the choice to permanently mark our child, it should have been ours. I would have totally understood if they said “I’m going to stick this on his head to check his vitals, okay?” It was not an emergency situation, no one was rushing, they did have time to ask. I resent the lack of communication and consent, not the actual procedure.

 

About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said...
About this time is when I saw what the IV bag said…

After Jack finally came out, they plopped him on my chest and encouraged me to nurse him. I vaguely remember them saying my placenta came out intact and no excessive bleeding. I thought yeah yeah, I’m trying to feed my child. Then I looked up at my IV and saw the bag said Pitocin. I really wanted to get mad. I said out loud and in my birth plan that I did not want Pitocin unless it was truly necessary. They started a bag to get my placenta out quickly and never mentioned it to me. They gave me a medication I did not consent to. If they said something like, “We would like to start Pitocin right now to get your placenta out quickly because we need to make sure you are okay before the doctor has to leave for the next delivery”, I would have totally understood and said okay. I know this is standard Medical Model of Care, but I resent not being informed of what was happening to my own body.

I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don't let the smile fool you.
I was one EXHAUSTED and stressed mama, don’t let the smile fool you.

I also hated my hospital stay. The nurses were all super busy because the ward was full. Many of my questions and requests barely got answered. Also, being woken up to be checked every few hours stressed me out beyond all belief. I was exhausted and the hospital was not restful. The second night there, Michael went to sleep in the car because he was so exhausted and had to drive us home the next day. I was alone in the room with screaming Jack and so exhausted I couldn’t even think straight. I burst into tears and was shaking. The nurse came in and said I just needed to sleep. I explained that I can’t because he won’t calm down, and you are going to come back in shortly to check us. She just shrugged and left. I know there was nothing she could do, that was not her role and she was just following the Medical Model of Care once again. But it was stressful and hard for me in that moment. It made me feel like I was already a horrible mother.

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This time around, I know what I want in my birth experience. And unless there is an emergency, I don’t want the Medical Model of Care. There are women who truly need this type of care all along (my friend who has Sickle-Cell Anemia and fought infections most of her pregnancy definitely did). So, it is wonderful this type of care exists. However, I want something different this time. I want a connection with the person I am trusting to touch me when I am the most vulnerable and help bring my child into the world. I want her to know right off the top of her head that I do not want Pitocin. I want to labor on my side without question and not have to argue for occasional monitoring. And I want to recover in a relaxed, comfortable setting with my husband and newborn. I want my provider to believe me when I say something is happening. With the Midwife Model of Care at a birthing center, I get all this. They are not crazy things to ask for at all. I want to be respected, informed, and comfortable. All medical patients deserve this, especially women who just giving birth.

I really suggest you check out Birth Without Fear. It really changed my views on birth and helped me process some of the issues I had with Jack’s birth.

Grateful But Miserable

Yesterday I gave myself a Mother’s’ Day treat, attending Birth Without Fear Conference in Portland toddler-free. I attended last year and loved it. I really hoped to return this year pregant, and I was lucky enough for that to happen. But this is not quite the pregnancy I expected to come with at all. First of all, I never expected to be carrying a rainbow baby. Second, I never expected to be this miserable pregnant.

In November, I posted about how I had a miscarriage. As I mentioned, this totally blindsided me. I have no issues getting pregnant and already had a healthy baby. I never had much time to deal with what happened, I had to leave for babywearing training in Seattle the next day and was very busy after that. I became determined to get pregnant again as soon as possible, so I focused on that more than dealing with the loss. Two cycles later we got pregnant with this baby and I was happy…for the most part. I was happy but afraid. I waited for the 6 weeks 5 days mark (as far as I got with the miscarriage) to pass before I accepted mentally it was for real.

But do you know what also happened about this time? Hyperemesis kicked in.  There was no way I could get excited now. I was too busy trying not to throw up and die every day for months. I thought it will get better when I get to the second trimester—just get to 12 weeks I told myself. I thought all the nausea will go away and my chances of miscarriage drop way down, so I will be able to relax. Nope.

Guess what happened next? Shortly after I wrote my hyperemesis post, I went in for my another ER visit. I was having horrible stomach pain and they were concerned I had appendicitis. I got two bags of fluids, a Benadryl shot to calm my horrible headache, and a Zofran shot. Then an ultrasound to check baby and my appendix. But, she couldn’t find my appendix, so I got an MRI. Do you know how fun an MRI at 2 AM when you are exhausted and loopy from Benadryl?!?! I ended up just having extreme intestinal distress and I was told to just drink more water….great advice to someone who can’t hold down much.

A few weeks later, something really scary happened. I started to have slightly painful cramps. They were more than menstrual cramps, but less than contractions. It reminded me of the cramps I had the night my water broke with Jack, so I worried. I called my midwife who told me to rest and drink water to see if they stop. If I stayed laying down, they stopped. But as soon as I got up, they came back.

Jack assisting my midwife check my cervix
This went on for 2 days my midwife had me come in.  She became a bit concerned because I was 1cm dilated and had a lot of discharge she didn’t like. She took a vaginal swab and sent me for a ultrasound that day. I was so afraid. I had Jack with me so I needed to keep it together for him. I rushed to drop Jack with my mom and picked up Michael. I am one of those people who will totally lose it I panic so I just stayed calm and didn’t make it out to be a big deal to everyone. But I was so afraid. Terrified.

The ultrasound ended up being okay. I was very dehydrated so she couldn’t get all the pictures she needed. But my cervix was closed internally and high. I had a plenty of amniotic fluid and baby looked good. They could not confirm gender (we did genetic testing so we know it’s a boy). My midwife called a few days later to say I had a vaginosis and an irritable uterus. Neither is necessarily bad, but both can lead to preterm labor if untreated.Several more days of bed rest and more cramps plus antibiotics. And my parents went out of town so I couldn’t really rest like I needed because I had to chase Jack.

So, at 19 weeks pregnant , I spent an evening at my birthing center getting rehydrated for the FIFTH time this pregnancy. They couldn’t get a vein on me so they had to do it the other way. That’s right, they gave  me an enema. Took the needle off the IV and inserted the catheter right in my butt. I didn’t care though. My cramps stopped within minutes and I felt so much better. I’m in my second trimester, I’m supposed to be feeling the best my whole pregnancy right now and it’s only getting worse. And I am still worried that this constant getting dehydrated is going to cause real preterm labor. Now I am telling myself just get to 24 weeks, when most babies born early care considered viable. Then I can relax, hopefully.

I started to say to myself “I wish I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I am so miserable. I just want this over.” Then I realized the horror in what I said. I wished no longer be carrying my rainbow baby. I know this is not what  really meant, but even implying losing this baby was horrible to me. At this time, my best friend was afraid she would never be able to have children. She had just undergone exploratory surgery with fears should would lose both her ovaries and fallopian tubes (ended up only losing one of each). How could I say such things when she might never be able to have children period?!?!? I want to be clear that I want this baby with all my heart. I needed this baby. I am not ungrateful for this baby, I know how lucky I am to be pregnant and be able to have children. But I am miserable and still afraid.

At Birth Without Fear, there was a speaker on pregnancy loss. I debated the whole train ride to the convention center if I wanted to listen to it. I didn’t want to face my fears. I didn’t want to hear stories of babies who didn’t make it for fear I would actually lose this baby. I didn’t want to admit the horrible thing I said when I am lucky enough to be carrying my rainbow baby. Once I got there, and saw how many other women went into that session, I knew I needed to go. The speaker was Jessica Daggett, a Doula and a mom who has experienced two losses herself. She and other mom’s shared their stories. It was hard to hear at times and ramped up my fears, but it was also healing. It was healing to know she was afraid with her pregnancies after her losses.

Then later on in the afternoon was the harmony circle. I decided to sit at the loss group. Five other women, including Jessica, sat at the table. Each shared their stories, each one a little different, but all the feelings were the same. One mom was her in second trimester but afraid to enjoy it because she lost twin baby girls due to preterm labor. One had lost her baby in March. One was struggling with IV after having her one working tube wrongfully removed after a miscarriage.  One had a miscarriage from preeclampsia when she didn’t know she was even pregnant. But all of us felt fear, guilt, and sadness.

The greatest part was to hear them all say I was not a bad mother for not enjoying my pregnancy, and even hating it. And it’s okay for me to be afraid of losing my baby. The fact that I care enough to care that I hate it is proof. I want to repeat this:

It’s okay to not enjoy your pregnancy. Especially if you have hyperemesis or other complications.

It’s okay to fear loss. Especially if you have lost before.

But you need to deal with your emotions and not let them consume you forever. Please seek help from a professional if these feelings are interfering with your daily life. I have not gotten to that point, but it’s nice to know it’s okay to have these thoughts.

I am beyond grateful to have an amazing two-year-old and be pregnant with my rainbow baby on this Mother’s day. But I can’t wait until I am done being miserable.  Thank you Birth Without Fear, Jessica, and the other moms at my table for giving me the courage to write this post.

Pregnancy Belly Wrapping 

You are tired, sore, and swollen. And sometimes, you feel anything but pretty. It’s all part of the pregnancy experience. The only real cure is to get through it and deliver your baby. One thing can give you some temporary relief: belly wrapping.

I’m not talking about those weight loss shrink wraps or coreset waist trainers. (Your supposed to get a big belly while pregnant, it’s unsafe to try to prevent it). I’m talking about supporting your belly gently while it grows with a babywearing wrap.

It is a safe way to give you little extra support. It’s similar to belly bands and belts commonly found it in maternity stores. They are so much prettier and easier to adjust to your body shape. It’s also a great way to break in a new wrap before baby comes!

There are several ways to wrap your belly during pregnancy. There is no best method, it will depend on your body’s needs and personal preference. Here are four basic methods, give them each a try and see what you like. However, there are two schools of thought when it comes to this subject: cover the belly or not. Some believe that it’s bad for mother and baby to have the entire belly covered. Stating it constricts fetal movement, possibly effecting growth and causing stress. Others believe that as long as you don’t over tighten and cause pain, there is nothing wrong with covering your entire belly. Most maternity pants cover all the belly, often with elastic to add tension support. There is little scientific evidence to proof/disproof either school of thought, so at this time it is not fair to say either one is correct. As for my personal opinion as an educator, I am comfortable recommending the entire belly covered as long as the wearer can still move easily and the wrap is truly giving her relief.  I will post some links at the end of this post for more information.

This first one uses a stretchy wrap to basically do a Front Wrap Cross Carry without a baby.This carry provides full upper body support. The cross in the back provides support to your back and shoulder, while the giving your belly an extra lift at the same time. Great for back pain and general muscle pain from carrying a heavy belly around. I really recommend a stretchy wrap over a woven wrap for this. I find a woven wrap just does not get as tight over your shoulder to give you that nice lift.This would work with a Moby, Boba, or other stretchy brands. I am using a Wrapsody Hybrid Stella One Size. This wrap is equal to a size 8 woven wrap or 5.7 meters. For this carry, your need a long wrap. As you can see in the video, I had a lot of tail left over.  I’m petite and only 19 weeks along in this video. On a non-short person who is further along, there would be less left over and tying in front would not be an issue.

Next is a long woven wrap. I guess this would be similar to a Torso Carry, just around your belly without a baby.This one provides support to your lower back, belly, and most importantly the pelvic area. It’s great for round ligament pain, too. Just a little lift, without all the passes limiting your range of motions on your shoulders.The key to this one is getting the bottom rail nice and tight. This carry should be done with your base size (keeping in mind that during pregnancy it may change, I went from a base 5 to a 6).  If you want a less bulky knot, use a thinner wrap. I used a Bijou Babywearing Wildthing Crush Size 6.

The last of the fully belly support is the ring sling. It’s pretty much like doing a front carry in a ring sling, but on your belly and not cover one shoulder. The ring sling provides all over, even belly support for those days it feels like your skin is about to burst into pieces. And there is the added bonus of no bulky knot getting in your way. Just make sure the rings a laying flat so they don’t dig into your side (threading properly will keep them from turning into you). There isn’t much lift, but a gently tug keeping everything supported. Any ring sling that fits around your belly will work for this carry. I recommend medium size rings if possible,  the smaller the rings the less likely they will be to dig into your side. I used a Wrapsody Cara Ring Sling 78″ (about a size Medium).

Lastly, a carry that does not cover the whole belly. There really is no babywearing carry like this, it’s more like a support belt. This is perfect for those days when your body starts loosen all the joints and your hips feel like they are going to rip apart. Just enough tension to gently push them back together so you can walk without pain. It also offers a dash of back support to keep you from wanting to cry stand-up to go to the bathroom for the millionth time. And your baby is free from constrictions, able to move and grow as they please. I am using a Little Frog Pyrope Size 3. I recommend a base minus 2 for this carry. Keep in mind what I said earlier though, your base size may have changed from your pre-pregnancy size. I had to tie on the tails because I guessed too small, a size 4 would have fit much better.

There you go! Four ways to wrap your belly during pregnancy. I hope of them gives you relief and you use a wrap that makes you feel beautiful.

Here are some links on belly wrapping:

Healthline, “5 Reasons You a Pregnancy Belly Bands”

Midwife At Your Doorstep, “Belly Binding for Optimal Fetal Positioning”

Beyond Birth Support, “A Few Thoughts on Prenatal Belly Wrapping”

LiveStrong, “Neagative Effects of Tight Clothes on Pregnant Women”

Babywearing International of Cleveland, “Belly Wrapping for Pregnancy Support”

And lastly a link on Woven Wrap Sizes.

I Never Thought I Would Need A Rainbow Baby

This is not the post I wanted to write. I was hoping to announce that we are expecting our second child. I was hoping to talk about morning sickness, sore boobs, and how much it sucks to chase a toddler when exhausted. But I am not. Instead I am writing about having a miscarriage.

I know it sounds cliche, but I really never thought this would happened to me. I know that even though many women chose not to talk about it, it is a fairly common. I recall learning somewhere that as many as 1 out of 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. So, majority of women walking around on the planet experienced a pregnancy loss in their life. But this really blindsided me.

Jack was a surprise, we didn’t even have to try.  I had no major complications, everything went pretty good. I figured I wouldn’t have any issues having another baby. We got pregnant the first month we tried and it all seemed to go according to plan. I was so happy, so ready to have another baby. I was so happy to tell Michael, he was so happy too. I was happy to tell my two best friends. And, a few other friends and family as well. I figured we would do a big cute reveal in a few weeks to everyone else.

The day after telling people, I started spotting. I didn’t know that to do. I Googled “spotting in early pregnancy” and read that is was most likely a normal pregnancy symptom. So I took a bath and tried to stay calm. But something felt wrong. I woke up Michael (he works night shift now and sleeps during the day) and asked my mom to watch Jack.

We went to the ER. It felt like an out of body experience. This was not happening to me. I was seen quickly. Everyone was nice and took good care of me. But I was terrified.

I didn’t know what was happening. The doctor came in and asked several questions that I don’t remember. Then she said it. “Your pregnancy test was negative. You are most likely having a very early miscarriage. Probably a chemical pregnancy.” And I don’t really remember anything else she said after that. I didn’t need to know anything else at that moment. I was already devastated.

She handed me information on miscarriages and they discharge me. I think she told me to rest and take ibuprofen if I needed it. I was shaking so bad Michael had to help me get dressed. We drove home in silence. I felt very numb, I could not believe this as happening to me.

Mom hugged me when we got home and told me to go take a nap with Jack. I took him to our bed and nursed him to sleep. I held him tight and kiss his head. I tried to tell myself to be grateful to have a beautiful, healthy child. But that just made me feel more numb. I just went about the rest of my day—I didn’t know what else to do.

I hoped maybe the bleeding would stop and it was all not true, but I knew in my heart it was. I just wasn’t ready to deal with it yet. This was just horrible timing, I was leaving the next day for babywearing training in Seattle. I didn’t have time for this right now.

Michael asked if I wanted to still go, I said yes. I shelled out a lot of money for this training and needed this certification for my future career goals. Michael would have let me cancel the whole thing, no questions asked— even if it meant we couldn’t get our money back. But I knew I needed to go. If I stayed home I would have just moped around the house. Being around educated, strong women was what I needed. So I left bright and early the next morning.

About half way into my drive the worst possible song came on the radio. Sarah McLachlan, ” In The Arms of The Angel.” I lost it. I started bawling my eyes out and had to pull over for a while. Later, I arrived, got lunch, and went to my training. I tried so hard to pay attention and act normal, but inside I still felt numb.

That night I was excited to actually get a full night’s rest. But when got into bed, I felt so lonely without my husband and son.

I tried hard the next day to pay attention again, but I kept thinking about it. And thinking about it. And that night when I got home it was all I could think about. I went to work on some homework from the training and pulled out a wrap—the worst possible wrap. I have been eyeing  this Vanamo for months now, I loved it the moment I saw it. I got to borrow it for the night. I have been putting off getting it until I had more money.

But when I pulled it out, I realized it was covered in rainbows. A “rainbow baby” is a baby born after a miscarriage. Like the beauty that comes after a storm. Needless to say I finally accepted what had happened. I lost a baby. Yes, I was barely 5 weeks pregnant, but it was still my baby. A baby I really really wanted. I cried. I cried and cried.

I took the rest of the night to have some “me” time. Do some non-mom things.  I watched some Hulu, got a glass of wine, and took a long hot shower. I reflected on everything that happened in the past week.

I am glad that I told the people I did. I needed these people. I needed my mom to tell me it was okay to be hurt. I needed my best friends to ask me how I was feeling. I needed my other friends to tell me they are sorry. This is hard for me to get through, and it would have been crippling without others to lean on.

The rest of the training was easier to get through. I was so glad I went. I needed to company of compassionate, understanding women. Even though they had no idea what I was going through, listening to their stories and lives helped me more than they can understand.

I ended up buying the rainbow wrap. I kept it next to me in the front seat as I drove home, just in case a hard song came on the radio again, I had something to wipe my tears this time. I kept looking at it thinking how lovely it will look on Jack and I. And how lovely it would have been to wrap that lost baby in it. But most importantly, how lovely it will look on my rainbow baby.

It is important I mourn and deal with my emotions properly, but I need to remember that this is not the end of line. Majority of women go on to have healthy babies after a loss. Hopefully soon I will sharing the happy news that we will having another baby.

Pilothouse and The Argonaut Cafe

A few weekends ago, Michael and I went on our babymoon in California’s Gold Country. Check out my pregnancy blog for a full review of the trip and money saving travel tips. We had both been dying for a Gold Country trip for over a year now, so this was the perfect way for us to have some quality time before the baby comes. We ate at two restaurants that really impressed me, so I thought I would share.

Old Town Sacramento at night.

We went on our babymoon starting the Saturday of Presidents’ Day weekend, so we decided to save our fancy Valentine’s Day dinner for that night. We both wanted a nice dinner in Old Town Sacramento, so I did some online research and found Pilothouse.

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The restaurant is located inside the Delta King Hotel, a retired riverboat docked along the Sacramento River. I made reservations online, but we probably did not need them. We came later in the evening so we missed the rush, and the hostess told me that the day after Valentines Day is never that busy. She suggested that in the future we always make a reservation just in case.

The staff was very friendly, though our specific waiter was kinda slow (Michael’s beer and our bread came about 15 minutes later). The atmosphere was very nice, the whole dinning room restored to it’s 1930’s charm. And the view of the river all lit up at night was lovely.

I ordered the beet salad (Michael just ate the cheese for me). It was sooo good. The beets were perfectly cooked and very juicy.

For my entree, I had to order the only vegan thing on the menu, Grilled Vegetable Tagine. I was a little annoyed at first there was only one choice, but it was tasted good so I have no complaints. Lovely crisp veggies served over rice, seasoned with a sweet but savory spice blend. I am sorry I don’t have a photo of my entree, I know I took one and somehow it vanished off my phone….

Michael ordered the Saturday Night Steak Dinner Special—nothing besides his starter salad was vegan. He always wants steak for Valentines Day. I can’t complain because I didn’t have to cook it for once. He loved his organic and antibiotic free prime rib. And was in heaven with his buttery mashed potatoes. Meh, I will stick to my still delicious healthier food 🙂

Aren’t we cute all dressed up?

This place is expensive, but it was a lovely treat. We got to dress up and snuggle up next to each other. It would have been even better if I could have sampled the wine selection…..

On Monday while visiting the Marshall Gold Discovery Park, we had a lunch at this adorable little cafe across the street from the Visitor’s Center. The Argonaut Cafe is an organic, farm-to-fork style restaurant. It’s a tiny little building, and even at 2:30 PM when we entered, it was pretty busy.

The cafe is decorated like an old Gold Rush era store, mostly wood and metal. There are a lot of picnic tables out back with a great view of the American River.

The menu is basic cafe foods, like soups, sandwiches, salad, and a few desserts. I ordered the Fresh Veggie Sandwich (without the cheese) on Sourdough and Michael got the Organic Smoked Turkey on Sourdough. My sandwich was heavenly. Fresh, crispy veggies with a creamy hummus. And I love buttery California avocados. I was so happy to find fresh organic food in such a small town at reasonable price (both sandwiches were $8 each).  The soup of the day was vegan chili, but I didn’t want to be too full and set off my acid reflux. It looked really good though, maybe next time.

We want to do a bigger Gold Country trip when Jack is old enough and I totally plan on coming to both these restaurants again. Though, Jack might stay the night with his Auntie who lives nearby when we go back to Pilothouse so momma can enjoy some wine in peace.

And see, it’s not that hard to go on a vacation and eat vegan. Just do some research and be prepared that your food will be delicious, just not a mound of buttery mashed potatoes. Or who knows, maybe you will luck out and find an awesome organic cafe!

Small Meal Ideas

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I mentioned in my last post that I am suffering from horrible heartburn/acid reflux right now. Guess my little son decided that my stomach was annoying and shoved it out of his way. As a result, I had to start eating 6 to 8 smaller, more simple meals to keep my stomach happy. I thought I would share the list of small meal ideas I came up. These are not only great for heartburn issues. Try them for kid’s lunches, party finger foods, and smaller meals for diets.

Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked with rice milk with a 1/2 a banana mashed and 3 chopped up dates
  • Smoothie: 1/2 an avocado, splash of apple juice, handful of spinach, and 1/4 cup blackberries
  •  Burrito: 1 warmed medium flour tortilla,  1/2 an avocado, handful of kale,  handful shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter spread on a piece of whole grain toast, and half a banana
Lunch:
  • 1 cup of my Feel Better Vegetable Soup
  • My rice cheese or Soy Cheese Quesadilla , but with salsa or hot sauce
  • Half Sandwich or wrap: 1 medium tortilla or 1 slice of bread, 2 tablespoon avocado, handful of greens, half a handful of shredded carrots, and a bit of stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup of plain cooked lentils over 1/2 cup rice with a bit of kale or spinach
Dinner:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta, a bit of olive oil, handful of sautee kale or spinach, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 of cup of chopped vegetable salad with a light apple cider vinegar dressing
  • 1/2 cup whole pinto beans, 1/2 cup brown rice
  • A plain Tofu Scramble—light or no spices, no tomatoes, and no onions
Snacks:
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds or cashews
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 8 dates
  • 8 carrots and 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1 small apple with 1 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 6 ounces soy or rice yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber and 1/4 cup whole wheat crackers

And remember to stay away from sugary drinks. Drink as much water as you can. Try coconut water to keep your electrolytes up.  And try some low sugar apple juice with a splash of apple cider vinegar to settle your stomach and soothe your throat.

Gender Reveal Blueberry Cake

I actually meant to post this like two weeks ago, but life happens (sorry). Anyways, we had the anatomy ultrasound at 19 weeks (I am 21 week now). The baby is looked all healthy, developing correctly, and heartbeat was great. We also found out the gender….we are having a boy! We were hoping for a boy too!

Everyone was betting it was girl, but I had a feeling all along it was my sweet little prince. We decided on the name Jack pretty early on. It is male version of my mom’s name and the name of my father-in-law’s best friend who passed away.  Both our families are very excited too. He is gonna be one very well-loved baby.

So I decided to make a blueberry cake as my gender reveal announcement. I see the ones where people dye cakes half pink and half blue then cut the corresponding color, but I did not want to eat all the artificial dye. Same with the putting blue or pink candy on the inside of a white cake, but again, I didn’t want to eat a bunch of junk.

I did use a both cake mix for this,  I just looked for a one that was vegan and no high fructose corn syrup. I don’t mind using box mixes on occasion and using healthier ingredients to prepare them.

If you were having a girl, you could make this was strawberries or raspberries instead to make it pink. For a gender reveal party, you could frost the cake with white icing then cut into it reveal the berry color. Or if you could just invite people over for dinner and serve the cake without saying anything, and wait till someone asks why a blueberry cake.


Blueberry Cake
Cake:
2 ripe bananas
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 melted coconut oil
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 box yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 cup frozen blueberries
Optional glaze:
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tbs lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Grease desired baking pan with a small amount coconut oil. I used a 13×9 dark metal pan.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas.

Add the cinnamon, coconut oil, and milk. Mix together well.

Add the oatmeal and cake mix. Mix together until it all the flour is incorporated.

Stir in the blueberries.

Pour into your baking pan and smooth out evenly.

I baked for 28 minutes, but you may need to adjust the time for different pan sizes. It is done when the center is firm to touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let it cool completely. If you want frost or decorate it differently, then go right ahead. If you want to make the glaze I did…

Add the blueberries, sugar, water and lemon juice into a small pot and bring to boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated and the berries are soft.

Let it cool to room temperature.

Pour evenly over the top of the cooled cake.

Now you a healthier blue cake to celebrate your baby boy (or girl if you do strawberries)!