Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (with Superfood Spice option)

Cookies! More cookies! And more cookies!

Okay, we all know that I love to create and bake. There is nothing quite as satisfying and making a new recipe and having it work out. It is even better when there are friends and family around to eat them the MINUTE they come out of the oven.

That was the case with these ones.
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Warm, coconut rolled oatmeal spice cookies with.. what? Superfoods? Healthier cookies?
Yes, they still contain sugar, gluten and dairy, but there is an added option of adding in a few ingredients to boost nutrition.

Maca! Maca is a superfood that has been used to boost energy, sexual function, hormone production, and adrenal function (to name a few).

Brewers yeast! Brewers yeast is one of my favourite ingredients to use in the postpartum period. Used as a galactagogue, brewers yeast is also high in b vitamins and contains an abundance of minerals. *you will want to try and get a reduced bitterness brewers yeast as it is VERY bitter.

Tumeric! Tumeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory aid (it contains high amounts of curcumin), helps with menstrual irregularities, and is very high in antioxidants.
I`ve added a crack of black pepper to the recipe as it ignites the healing properties of tumeric.

Cinnamon! Cinnamon is an incredible flavour powerhouse that has been used to aid in menstrual irregularities, contains anti-inflammatory properties, can aid in regulating blood sugar, and works as a digestive aid.

And a blend of warming spices to add flavour to these decadent cookies!

Give these cookies a try, play with the spices, tell me what you think!

3 eggs– room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins (if desired)
1 cup butter– room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar(or coconut sugar)
12cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut (or chopped nuts)
*add in extra nuts at end or chocolate if desired
Spices if desired

1 tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp brewers yeast
1 tbsp maca powder
dash of nutmeg/clove/black pepper/chilli powder
 (please follow your heart with measurements if you have digestive troubles)

1) Start by creaming the shortening for approximately 5 minutes until it is airy. Add in both types of sugar and vanilla and combine. Add in eggs and aerate the batter again.

2) While the dough is mixing, combine all dry ingredients in a bowl along with the spices.

3) Gently fold in dry ingredients with a spatula and then mix thoroughly. Using a teaspoon, form balls with the dough and press onto a lined/greased baking sheet.

(I also rolled the dough in a coconut and sugar blend if desired)
4) With 1 cup shredded coconut with 1/4 cup brown sugar in a bowl. Drop dough into mixture, roll then press onto baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes depending on oven or rotating part way through baking if needed.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

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Gentle Ways to Bring Yourself into the Moment

We live in a world of to-do lists: groceries, extra-curricular activities with our kids, laundry, car repairs, you name in. It’s great to have the drive to do all these things but we rarely allow ourselves the time to go without this thought process of thinking ahead.

Ah, the present moment. How we can’t go without it yet we spend our time within it thinking of the past or future experiences. How can we guide our minds to stop jumping to and stressing out over conclusions that haven’t even taken shape yet? How much do we manifest that does not serve us?

When was the last time you were able to sit down and witness the present?

The way the trees are gently swaying outside (without thinking about any storms coming up or cleaning the yard).
 The way your toddler and infant interact (without being on guard with ways to dilute a screaming match that may appear).
The way your partner has fallen asleep mid-day on the couch (without waking them with the reminder there are things to do).

When was the last time, within all the chaos that may appear, have you stopped and checked in with yourself and your surroundings in the present moment?

It’s hard.

Some of us believe that we can’t do it but let me tell you, you must make time to do it.
Find the time to love yourself more, to witness yourself in the moment, to feel your breath.

But you have a toddler, you’re at work, you don’t have any time.

Allow me to bring focus to your power. You DO have time, it’s all based on perception.
If you begin to feel yourself drifting off into a thought pattern that ignites stress ie: you’re thinking too much about the past or manifesting the reactions to a situation that hasn’t happened yet

STOP!

Take a deep breath and witness yourself doing the activity you’re doing.

 Find something with a rhythm, like your pulse, and match your breath with a few beats.
Think my heart is beating to provide nourishment to my body, I breathe deeply to provide nourishment to my body, my mind is present, my mind is calm.


Try to give yourself a few minutes a day to observe your activity or the activity of your baby. This could be when your baby is most active or after a meal to help you digest. Feel the movements of your baby, explore your tummy and your growth from the days before.
Hello baby, my hands stretch over you to let you know I love you. My skin it regenerates to give you a safe space. My food digests to nourish your growth.

Give your body the validation it deserves.
Try giving yourself (or asking a partner) to give you a gentle massage and let your eyes rest. Focus on where their hands are leading and think about that portion of your body, how strong it is or its purpose. Another great place for this activity is in the shower—focus your mind power on where you are washing
I cleanse my arms to lift my child, I was my feet to support my blooming body.

And a HUGE one:


Recognize your food.
Humans were not designed to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at specific times. This goes against our natural rhythm for nutrition. You may find that you’re eating at the same times every day(and that’s completely okay—even good for you IF it is because your body is letting you know it’s time for caloric intake) but you also might realize that if your foods are nutritionally dense, your eating  times may change on a day to day basis.
So what do you do?
Try to place importance on the preparation and consumption of food.  Don’t just shop with a random grocery list, listen to what your body needs:

Maybe it’s root vegetables because it’s cold and damp outside.
Maybe it’s a smoothie because you’re overheating and sensing a bit of fatigue.
Maybe it really is that piece of chicken with butter on it because your body is saying “I think we need these proteins” but your vegetarian and aren’t exactly sure how you feel about it.. But you take a bite anyways.. and then you realise that maybe just maybe you’re in tune with something that ethically confuses you because you’re a vegetarian so you say “baby wants baby gets!”.
And that is totally okay and you’re not the first to do it!

.. Back to the point:

Focus on your plate, put that phone away, watch the way your other children play with their food, do that too, and most importantly—try and take your time!
I chew my food to break it down so it’s easier for us to digest baby. Soon you will get its nourishment.
Oranges—the texture of each segment is so interesting, holding vitamins to replenish my liquids, sugars and mind. The smell reminds me of my favourite brunch. The juice makes my fingers sticky.
James calls his cucumber rounds “wheels” and drives them around his plate. They do a loop and then end up in his mouth. I will chew when he chews and break when he breaks to give my body the time to digest. My food might get colder, but he is exploring and I can use this time to practice breathing and breaking down my own meal. Here goes the wheel..

Of course, there are challenging moments in most days and I am not going to sit here and pretend that sometimes we just need to get things done asap, order take out, fall asleep in your work pants, but if you can start to dedicate a few moments to some of these suggestions, you may find your stressors changing, you may rest a bit easier, you may feel a little less victimized or passive aggressive towards some moments, you may start to fill with love where you thought you couldn’t/shouldn’t.

What do you for self-care? Please feel free to email me and share parts of your routine or if you would like any suggestions for your current lifestyle. There is no shame in seeking a positive solution when things are rough or feel out of line. We are here to support one another!
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With Love, from Ficus.

Ficus Holistic Doula Services
www.ficusdoula.com
ficusdoulaservices@hotmail.com

Crunchy Chocolate Super Food Popcorn

Anyone who knows me knows that I will try and live off popcorn. Sweet popcorn, savory popcorn, popcorn on my pizza, in my salad, on my soup, you name it.

The best thing about popcorn: it is the ultimate vessel for any toppings.

When I am preparing for a birth, I like to make a batch of popcorn to bring as a labor snack. (talk to any doula—we all have our favorite snack recipes hiding somewhere and trust me, they’re all good)

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Mine is crunchy chocolate super food popcorn! What makes it super?

A little bit of:

Maca: for mood support, energy enhancement and sexual function (if you find you experience bloating/cramps during births)

Chia Seeds: high in fiber and protein, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids

Coconut oil and coconut: full of medium chain triglycerides that increase energy and stabilize blood sugar

Nut Butter: packed with proteins and fats to provide nutritional density

Honey: for a natural sugar source that immediately enters the blood stream

Cacao Nibs: a gentle stimulant that is full of flavonoids and packs a wonderful chocolaty crunch

 

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And a handful other other delicious ingredients as well.

Let’s just say some sugar spice and everything nice to keep me alert and moving without inheriting bad breath or having my food go mushy or cold.
During labor, it is important for the birthing mother to keep her calories up but birth partners need to be aware of their intake as well. We may only have minutes or seconds before a contraction comes and we need to react– just like the mother, but it is important for all of us to try and keep hydrated and aware of our caloric intake.

The nice thing about this popcorn is you can use it for any event. Have a movie night, relax with your partner. Take it to a picnic or make popcorn balls with it. This recipe isn’t just for labor but it most definitely keeps me fueled.

Give it a try, make some tweaks to suit your palette and enjoy!

Crunchy Chocolate Super Food Popcorn

4 ish cups popped popcorn

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons nut butter
2 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 tablespoons cocoa/cacao powder
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

1) In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add coconut oil, nut butter and honey. Whisk and cook together until coconut oil is melted and honey is beginning to bubble.

2) When the liquid ingredients are melted, add in coconut, cacao nibs and chia seeds. Mix with popped popcorn and sprinkle powders and spices on top.

3) Continue to mix all ingredients together until fully coated and no contents are sticking to the bottom of the pot.

4) Pour into bowl and try to share.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

The Sauer on Sauerkraut (A DIY explanation on the most underrated condiment)

Getting creative in the kitchen can be something a lot of us find intimidating. Between time, financial situations and reliance on convenience foods, we forget that a lot of those jars or bags of “this and that” can be made simply at home at a minimal cost.

I’ve always been one to experiment in the kitchen. Living with Celiac disease along side other food intolerance’s, I’ve learned that food isn’t just about fixing that initial hunger feeling but finding sustainable energy sources depending on what point of the day I’m eating, what the weather is like, how busy my work week is or the more enjoyable aspect of what I feel like eating.

Lately I have been experimenting with sauerkraut—a fermented cabbage condiment that most of us use along-side sausages, hot dogs or pierogies. As the weeks pass, I have learned sauerkraut can easily adapted into most dishes or at least used as a side dish or as a simple appetizer salad topping to kick-start our digestion before larger meals. It’s easy to make, delicious in flavor and holds many incredible health benefits.

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When we read the ingredients list on a jar of sauerkraut, it should be a very short list: salt, cabbage and maybe a little bit of this or that for some added flair. But why do we find ourselves intimidated by this simple jar?

Because it is pure science that many of us have been lead to believe we shouldn’t try at home. Leave it to the pros. Well let me tell you, it is MUCH easier than it seems and most definitely not scary. Most of the time, a fermentation crock is used to create the kraut but I have been using jars in a moderately cool room.

So let’s begin to understand the how’s and why’s of making cabbage go from a crunchy ball to a sour, flavorful nutritional powerhouse condiment.

Sauerkraut is made by a process called lacto-fermentation. This is when the good bacteria present on a fruit or vegetable called lactobacillus bacteria converts sugar into lactic acid. This acid is important because it is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of bad bacteria yet leaves all the healthy nutrients that our bodies need(it also gives the fermented foods their tangy flavor).

Sound familiar?

Most of us have heard these lacto terms being used when we talk about probiotics or foods like yogurt and that’s exactly right! Since lactobacillus is already present in our mouths, our gastrointestinal tract, and our vaginas (to name a few important places) we use these healthy gut bugs to boost our abilities to digest and optimize nutritional intake with a bacteria our body already knows and loves.

So how do we do it?

When we make sauerkraut, we slice the cabbage and then sprinkle and massage with salt to draw out the liquid and gases from the leaves. This creates brine that, in turn, creates an anaerobic fermenting environment.

Whoa whoa, big word big word.

In simple terms, when we massage the liquid out of the leaves, anything that is within the brine is in a “healthy growth zone.”
Anaerobic fermentation means no oxygen. This is the environment we need to ferment the cabbage because the bad bacteria that most of us are afraid of creating needs air to grow. If we minimize the products exposure to air, we minimize the bad bugs.

So how can we do this?

When I make the kraut and press it into the jar, I use a portion of the cabbage leaf to create a barrier that holds the loose cabbage down and allows the brine to cover all aspects of my creation. This cuts out the chances of my batch being exposed to air. Then I wrap the top of the jar with cheese cloth or a piece of paper towel and an elastic band for a number of days—usually 7-12. This allows air flow to the brine but keeps any dust or other bacteria’s out.

At the end of these days, I take the cloth off, remove the top piece of cabbage and any other pieces of cabbage that may have defied the barrier I created and entered air territory (it is okay if there is a bit of mold on top, just scoop it off and let the processes continue) and cap a lid on the jar.. After a few bites of course.

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Sounds intimidating? I also thought so.. at first.
But then I started reading, called my best friend (who is the most amazing mentor and chef I have in my life), and dove in hands first.. Literally.

I started with very small mason jar batches to ensure my cost would stay low if I made a mistake but as the fermentation days passed, I realized my confidence was the only thing holding me back and quickly started experimenting with flavors. Each batch came out more magnificent than the next: I figured out flavor profiles that I liked for specific cuisines, protein choices or vegetables, incorporated lots of spices, played with the amount of days and salt added, and had delicious results.

I also recognized my skin clearing up, my bloating and discomfort after meals going down and my energy levels improving.

So I looked it up and this food medicine holds so many more benefits that I had imagined:
– high in dietary fiber(which is good for both your digestive and cardiovascular health)
– high in vitamin A, C, K, B.
– high in iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper.
– boosts immunity
– increases digestive enzymes
– reduces inflammation
– high in antioxidants

Plus any other health benefits from added ingredients you may desire!

So, I dare you to give it a shot. Test out your confidence, grow some bugs. It’s much easier than keeping a house plant alive and you’ll feel the results within the consumption of your first batch!
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(beet ginger kraut on zucchini noodles with almond sweet potato black bean meatless balls)

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Jars of Sauerkraut:

1 head of cabbage- red or green
about 1 tablespoon of salt
* the amount of salt you need is dependent on any other grated vegetables or spices you would like to use. You may have to create a quick brine with water and salt to completely cover your vegetable creation if you do not massage enough liquid out.

  1. Peel off the first few outer layers of cabbage and set aside. Finely slice the cabbage and vegetables and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and begin to massage and squeeze the chopped leaves for 5-10 minutes. Let the leaves sit for a few minutes to see the water draw itself out. If you feel the need to massage the leaves for a bit longer, do so.

2. Pack the wilted leaves tightly into a jar—pressing them down with your hands. The brine should begin to rise to the top of the jar. When you reach the neck of the jar, take a portion of the cabbage leaf you initially set aside and press it into the top of the jar. The brine should raise above the leaf—this is a good thing!

3. Wrap the top of the jar with a piece of cheese cloth or piece of paper towel and secure in place with an elastic band. Put the jars onto a tray and set in a room for 7-12 days. At the end of these days, take off the cloth and remove the top leaf. If there are any bubbles or mold, scrape it off as the material underneath will be okay. If you are concerned or your end result smells rancid, use your best judgement around consuming or discarding.

4. Put the lid on the jar, refrigerate, and use your kraut lovingly in many dishes!

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

 

Because you were Wild

 

This is a letter derived from the thoughts of some of the women that I went to school with. Shortly after our final days together, we learned that one of our own would be starting the journey into motherhood. It was an example for all of us as doulas and future parents that pregnancy is a time of physical and mental growth. Her hardships and moments of self realization shaped us. She let us in in ways we never could have expected.

Reflection: January 6/7 2014

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We were all chosen to be space keepers– no matter where we moved on to. Some of us were chosen to be her doulas– I was one of them. The night before her birth, I spent the evening tossing and turning in a pain that sent me to a different dimension. It was as if an animal was ripping into my wombspace, sending heatwaves through my veins and making me physically ill. I had never felt that way before. It was hours of recognizing something was taking over my being, my frame convulsing in a pattern so familiar yet unknown. It was something that had to pass on its own, something that didn’t seem as if it was mine. And then it went still.

The next day, I received the welcoming message to make my way over but time was not something that baby needed, time was not something that would hold purpose. Mother and child took the reigns on their rhythm.

The birth transformed them faster than we could have imagined, faster than mother could have imagined and a year later, we still sit in amazement for all that her, her partner and child have created. 

To the women who have become my tribe:

We are all streams leading to a pond of greater purpose. No matter where we are in this world, our light and love is intrinsic to the divine womanhood, to the goddesses that ground our intention. I feel you within the tides of my being, you create the shore line to my authenticity. We are sisters, we are one.

Happy birth day L, J, R.

From,

the Sisters,
R, A, C, S.

 

Because you were Wild.

I met her many moons ago, a spirit I learned to observe from afar until I could begin to understand her energetics.

She was quiet, she wasn’t still.

I could always feel her stirring and creating, learning and contributing to healing.
She tried to let her power remain unknown, but then you were created.

Her body shifted and swirled through a rhythmic wave of sensations. You sent her to places she could never create in a frame of mind that placed importance on money or social structure.

You sent her to the wild.

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As she created the space to grow, you showed her how to let go and transform. You showed her that she is divine and that between the two of you, you were going to tumble with an intention neither of you could predict. Her focus was your health; your focus was so much more than that. You showed her internal love, the ebb and flow of give and take.

You wanted her to feel, and you would never let her forget it.

With a connection I could only dream of, you demanded the desire for raw gratitude. You pulled down, you pulled from the sisters, the mothers, the fathers, the spirits. You demanded she feel you with her eyes closed, and she did. Her barriers broke and exposed the light I always knew was there, but it shone brighter than my eyes could see.

You wanted the world– She blinded us with your power. You reached for the elements and within the womb space of divine sensation, she presented them to you. You unearthed her world. You showed her what it was meant to be.

Your mother is a kind soul who without words knows exactly what your heart needs.

Grounded… Serene… Connected.. Rhythmic..

Because you were wild…. She fought for you, for your bond. She chased her own wildness and clung to her soul with each step in the dark. You have such a brave mama, and I have no doubt you will sprout and grow to be a courageously glorious woman like her.

 

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

Finding Balance within the Holidays

Finding balance within the holiday season has been something most of us have struggled with for years. From having visitors and family over to dinners and endless days of navigating through shoppers, it is easy to say Christmas is quickly overwhelming. We lose hours of sleep, eat meals that may not be the most nutritious and over-schedule to a new degree. It is hard enough on a human body but if you add pregnancy hormones, cold weather and edema, a growing baby and some of the discomforts that come along with specific weeks of pregnancy, you may feel as if you don’t want to leave the house.

It’s hard to find the time to care for ourselves when so much is going on but here are a few self-care tips to hopefully ease some of that holiday stress.
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1) Breathe.
You think you’re already doing it don’t you? In and out, in and out, we saturate ourselves in oxygen all hours of the day, but how often do you stop to think about breathing? When you draw attention to this mindless process, you may realise that your inhales are short and may only extend your chest. Try drawing in air and feel it roll down the back of your throat and into your belly. Feel your belly fill and slowly allow it to exhale.
That is a breath. It is releasing and full; It allows more of your cells access to oxygen, a vital element to our every moment. It provides mental awareness and flow within us.
Try bringing awareness to your breath in periods of stress or during conversations or activities that you may not be too fond of doing. Your breath will always be with you, slow and steady. You are in control of it and if you can turn your focus inwards, you are reminding your body of your power and connection to the elements. Try connecting to your breath in the shower, while driving, even when you’re walking into someone’s house. A few minutes a day of breath awareness can change more than a few minutes of tomorrow.

Here is a little article on the power of breath for you to enjoy.
http://nabeelafsar.com/2014/05/20/the-benefits-of-mindful-breathing/

 
2) Snack.
We all know the holidays are full of snack trays and meals. Look in any direction and you will find an advertisement for a peppermint mocha frapped eggnog  something or other or a tray of meat and cheese, cookies, crackers, nuts and my personal favourite—chocolates. Indulging is part of the holidays. We love to eat with people. Food is a language of its own and there’s no questions asked about why we always pile into the kitchen during any party: everyone loves food.
There is, however, a personal limit we all have to make when it comes to some of the highly processed treats we may have in front of us—especially if we are nourishing not only our body, but a placenta and a growing baby.
Try and watch how many cookies, crackers, and cakes you take in especially if they are made of highly processed ingredients. Crackers are a delicious vessel in my eyes, but vegetable slices or seed rich crackers are always a great alternative. If you know that your family or party isn’t too big on alternative options, be the person to bring them. Change their minds on ingredients and show them that flax and hemp crackers or cucumber can carry that cream cheese dip or hummus just as well as the saltines.
Better yet, bring something without telling them exactly what the base is made of and see if they can tell the difference.

 

Try these brownies from Minimalist Baker for example—They are so easy to make and I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t like them.
http://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-gluten-free-black-bean-brownies/

 

Find your protein source! There is always a way to either find a direct protein like meat or nuts or create one through a combination of foods. Protein can help take away some of the jitters of too much sugar or caffeine, it ensures that we have a stable energy source instead of a high followed by a crash and if you are experiencing morning sickness or food hang-overs, protein can help put your body back in check. If you are always running around, try keeping nuts in your purse. Make up some hearty salads with a quinoa, lentil or bean base and all in all sorts of veggies, fresh herbs or meat of your choice. A lot of the time we will crave sugary items when we need protein so try eating a piece of chicken or handful of nuts, maybe some cottage cheese or something with protein before reaching for a piece of cake to get you through.
I cannot tell you how much protein you need for your blooming body so it is best to take not only your physical stature into account, but your lifestyle factors and accessibility to specific protein rich items.
Here is a list of some foods that contain protein.
http://www.mynetdiary.com/protein-foods-in-diet.html

 

 

3) DRINK.
You know when you’re going back and forth from work to the store, picking up kids, hiding gifts or volunteering and then it hits you? That awful feeling of did I even drink a glass of water since I got out of bed? It leaves you light headed, feeling weak and can change so many chemical components within your body. Did you know your blood volume doubles during pregnancy? That is only one of many good reasons why it is important to be aware of your liquid intake. Water flushes toxins, it keeps your cells hydrated, it can be a vessel for many nutrients like when you have soups, broths, or herbal teas.
Again, I cannot tell you how much water your body needs to stay hydrated, but the recommended amount is 2 litres for an average body. If you are not drinking 2 litres a day to begin with, try increasing your liquids to that amount. Buy yourself a lovely reusable water bottle and add things like cranberries, lemons or limes, cucumber, hibiscus or herbal tea bases to keep yourself sipping. Yes, sipping.. All day long! It will help keep your electrolytes in check and ensure that your digestion is always in motion. If you find that you are waking up in the night to urinate more frequently than you would like, try taking in most of your liquids before mid-afternoon and avoid mugs of tea after dinner.

 

Here is some information on how to choose herbs for your stage of pregnancy (try making some mocktails, jazz the holiday season up!)
http://avivaromm.com/herbal-medicines-in-pregnancy-safety

 

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4) Kick your feet up, stay a while.

Yes, stay a while. Find the things that make you feel loved or calm and stay within those moments and put your feet up. Winter can be a harsh time for our bodies especially in the way of edema—swelling from excess fluids remaining stagnant in our body. Allowing your limbs the chance to defy gravity and stretch out can help with these discomforts—especially if you have been spending a lot of time on your feet. If you have the ability to rest your feet on a chair and gently rub your feet or stroke upwards from your feet to your thighs, you can gently relieve some of these discomforts. You can also include essential oils like rosemary or clove to bring extra awareness or warmth to areas of your body that may need it. *please be advised that these two oils have been used to raise blood pressure and must be used at your own risk.

Here are some tips from Modern Mom to help relieve swelling.
http://www.modernmom.com/e67a33f4-3b3d-11e3-be8a-bc764e04a41e.html

5) Release.

The holidays can be full of stress. We love our family and friends but there are times when it is just too much. In this society, we tend to take on more than we can handle and find difficulty in saying no. Add in the financial stresses and pressures of the holiday season and you may find yourself at a new breaking point. I only have one thing to say about these feelings:

Release them.
It is a beautiful thing to find the time to break down. We may have been told over and over that we need to hold it together, that we need to get everything done and smile, we need to be good and truthful. One major part in all of this that so many people skip is being honest with your feelings. If you feel like you need to cry, make the time to release the tears. Release your feelings and the sensations. Creating tightness and holding onto the things that do not serve you may only create tension or problems down the road. When you move this negativity or stress out of your body, you create the space to fill it with something that serves you. It is a beautiful thing to release, and it is even more beautiful to recreate. Shed, become aware of your boundaries, say no to something that brings you no pleasure, say yes to something new, say yes to comforts, say yes to your feelings. They are a part of you and you deserve the space to experience your feelings no matter what they look like.
The holiday season is a time for love, for laughing, for creating memories. I wish you all a wonderfully warm and safe holiday season full of experiences that you may treasure for the rest of your life.

With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

50 Years Since Birth- A visit with my grandmother about the birth of my father.

Yesterday I made time for a brief visit with my grandmother before heading home from work. I felt the need to stop in and see how she was feeling about something that I thought was an incredibly big deal. Today, December 3rd is a day that has always overwhelmed me in the most amazing way.

50 years ago today she gave birth.
50 years ago today she gave birth to my father.
50 years ago today she gave birth for the last time.

My grandmother has always had the same living room set up. She has two giant comfy chairs, one for her and one for my papa, facing a couch that the parents have always sat on leaving us grandkids all over the floor. On the special days when it is just her and I, I curl up on the couch and she sits ever so quaint on her chair telling stories of the old days and pointing to the different photos that hang on the walls. On her 75th birthday, my dad and his four siblings gifted her a photo of all of them together—something that has not happened since they all lived together back in their youthful days. Now they’re all grown up with their own children, some grandchildren. I have no doubt in my mind that she looks at that photo every single day and thinks about the children she raised.

We spoke of the olden days. We spoke of how proud she was to not only raise 5 wonderful children, but to actually love them. She told me stories about her friends and how it seemed as if they weren’t the happiest being mothers. Even though she had to work to ensure food was on the table, she told me she never regretted having any of her children. She was grateful for each one and thankful to be a mother. Their age gaps worked well–she started having kids young enough to recover easily after each birth, and everyone seemed to get along in a way that kept them strong. No questions asked, they just did as they were told or needed to do. Everyone slept in the same room and took on their own responsibilities as they got older. She laughed when she thought of days where my dad learned to peel vegetables for dinner, he was no older than 5.
“If they could learn to put their toys away, they were able to help out in other ways too. They just did as they were told. Your Aunt thought your dad was a toy doll when he was a baby. He was the same size; she even brought him to show and tell once because her teacher didn’t believe he was so small.”

 

I don’t know how many people get this kind of one on one time to learn  about the most important man in their life, but I am so thankful and so fortunate. I’ve always loved my grandmother. Losing my  other grandparents at a young age has taught me to cherish her in ways I am not sure I could describe. Her stories and memories have always meant the world to me. To know who she was before I existed as a physical being is incredible.

 

She told me details of his birthday.

Weighing only 120 pounds, my grandmother gave birth to my dad. He was born weighing only 5 pounds 3 ounces at full term. She felt great throughout the pregnancy with no complications but he arrived as only a tiny thing.
The part of the hospital where your dad was born isn’t there anymore. It was between the two wings, a wooden structure. The day he was born was cold. The windows were rattling and the drapes on the inside picked up on the draft. It wasn’t going to kill me to give birth. I was sure I was going to freeze to death.”

 


Her eyes were bouncing back and forth between me and the photos on the wall. She looked so proud to tell me about him and to know that I actually cared about what she had to say.

“He was so small when he arrived. They had to put him into an incubator because it was just so cold. Your dad’s dad wasn’t in the room. I am glad he wasn’t in the room, I don’t think he would have handled it well. Most dads didn’t handle it well back then. It was easier for them to be called in after the baby was born and we were cleaned up. I was okay with him waiting outside, women handle these kinds of things much better. Now things are different if they are able to do their research and are willing to open up and be aware that it may not be pretty. But even then, sometimes it’s just better for them to wait outside. One time when I was pregnant with your uncle, I had a mild back ache at 6:30 in the morning so I drove myself to the hospital and your dad’s dad was off work at 7:00. At 7:15 I gave birth to your uncle, he was the biggest baby I had, and then the staff called home at 7:30 to let your dad’s dad know he had another son.”

 

She spoke so simply, yet with such inspiration–bouncing back and forth ever so slightly between memories of each child. She had all the things she needed, guiding herself with the hospital staff, guiding herself time and time again through these life changing moments.

Many months ago she gifted me the books she used to learn about her changing body during pregnancy. The information was factual, not misguided, and most of it is still relevant to what we know about birth today. She didn’t over complicate things; she knew her body well enough to read into sensations. She birthed like a warrior.

50 years ago today, my grandmother gave birth for the last time. 50 years ago today, my grandmother gave me the greatest gift a girl could ask for. Simply, purely, the greatest gift I could have asked for.

Happy birthday Dad. You challenge me to acknowledge myself and all the things I can be, the things around me, and the steps that I need to take to find strength within vulnerability. You raised me with the ability to love to a capacity most cannot understand–sometimes I don’t even understand. You raised me to laugh, you raised me to fight for what I believe in, and most importantly you raised me to be who I wanted to be.
You were raised by a woman who let you be. You were raised in a family that worked together not because they had to, but because the value and roll of each family member was organically created.  You were raised by someone that has played a motherly roll for many more people than she can remember.

And I am the luckiest human in the world because I have you both.

Happy 50th anniversary, Granny and Papa Eddie. You are so important to me and I love you both tremendously. May you continue to grow, and may we all continue to learn.

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With Love, from Ficus.
http://www.ficusdoula.com

A doula diary with tips, tricks, recipes and comfort surrounding pregnancy and child birth.