BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Welcome to the world

Being induced wasn't much fun.  They managed to "blow" (apparently a technical term) two of my veins before they got the IV in for the Oxytocin.  Then I was strapped into a contraction monitor, a baby monitor, and a blood pressure cuff (on my ankle, having destroyed my arms trying to get the IV in).

I wasn't allowed to eat, and the oxytocin was only increased every 1/2 hour to an hour "just to make sure" that all was well as they slowly got to the dose that would kick my body into labour.  It was a long boring wait.  I was allowed to be unstrapped for 20 minutes at a time to walk around the delivery wing of the hospital, and it was clear that I was the only one there for a birth.  So there was little to distract me from being nervous about the impending labour, beyond the nurses all hanging out and playing games on their cellphones.

Once my body kicked in labour was quick enough. A few (painful) pushes later and I was done in less then 25 minutes.

So here she is... Ms. Uliana!  At just 7 lbs, she seems so very tiny to me.  (Uliana is Russian for Julianna and is pronounced Oo-lee-Anna.)

As it turns out Christmas is a great time to be at home with a newborn. All you do is eat and sleep anyways!  Nikolai is adjusting well too, though he definitely is uncertain about his relationship with me.  I've made a special effort to spend time connecting with him and it seems to set his keel straight whenever he starts to steer off course. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The unknown illness

My pregnancy has been defined by TOO MUCH HORMONES.  Excessive morning sickness... pelvic problems... and now a new condition. Cholestasis.  Something I'd never heard of before Tuesday when I went in and mentioned incredible itchiness to my midwife.

The itchiness was waking me up at night, and though it was all over my body, it was my feet that were the worst.  I was sent off right away for some blood work which came back the next day with elevated liver enzymes.

After spending the whole afternoon at the hospital yesterday being poked and prodded, I now know the following:
-the baby is healthy
-I have a "starry sky" liver (and I'm not including a link for that one because it is a technical term so all the links were technical and scary)
-the only conclusive test for cholestasis is done in Edmonton for the whole country, and only done when they have enough people needing the test to be done.  Since this is pretty rare, it could be a week or so.
-they have no idea what causes cholestasis, other than it's a reaction to pregnancy hormones

The cure for cholestasis is to deliver a baby. So today I will be induced.  My very non-medical plan of a home birth is gone to the wayside and replaced by what will undoubtedly be a very medicalized birth.

So now I must focus my head on the positive side of all this.  (Hence the blog... I think best in writing and a public declaration of my positivity can only help to keep me focused.  Yesterday was for crying, today is for having a baby.)

1. At 39w 3d I will be having a healthy full-term baby.
2. My cervix is favourable for induction, so I likely won't be having a c-section.
3. I can still have a drug-free birth (and considering I have a certain degree of liver damage, that will be a priority for me).
4. I still get to be delivered by my midwife.
5. The baby won't be born on the 24th or 25, so we'll get to enjoy our Christmas.
6. I will heal and since I have a fairly late onset, the baby probably hasn't been very affected by this.
7. I get to pack well for the birth, and did a bunch of grocery shopping (I explored the hospital food options yesterday, and they pretty much were stuck on sandwiches and donuts.)
8. We kept the receipts for our home birth supplies!

Below is a fun picture of Nikolai commanding his sleigh, and above is a fireplace stocking waiting for a name tag.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Adventures in Chocolate

There are very few resources out there for people on a low sucrose diet that aren't all about being diabetic.  However, that is probably because complete CSID (congenital sucrose isomaltase deficiency) is rare.  Those individuals (depending on their genotype) cannot handle even the smallest amount of sucrose and have huge failure to thrive once they start on solid foods as babies.

Nikolai is a recessive carrier, meaning he produces only about 1/2 of the enzymes that he needs.  This is much more likely in the population... and after getting his diagnosis it didn't take us long to figure out who else was carrying the gene in our family (my mother, and I have never been big sweet-tooths and get sick after eating too many carbs). 

A recessive carrier can handle about 2 servings of starchy foods a day, and less then 2% sucrose in a meal.  The stomach issues generally affect children more strongly... however if you find yourself getting nauseous just thinking about eating a gummy bear, then you might want to consider the fact that you could be CSID recessive.  This website is full of great information.  It talks about the genetics and breaks down the sucrose and starch content of various foods.  Sticking to a diet based on the information on that website has worked wonders for Nikolai.  He's even started self-reporting stomach aches when he eats something that is too high in sucrose.

However, this means that Christmas treats all need to be sugar-free.  I have found two decent sugar-free recipe sites to help us with our baking: Sucrose Free Living, and Sugar Free Recipes.  However, they don't cover the plethora of foods we want to make.  Also they use artificial sweeteners or those high fiber natural sweeteners (xylitol, agave).  I'm not interested in either of them, as they are all hard on your system.  The occasion use of xylitol or agave is not problematic, but it certainly wouldn't work as a sugar replacement.

Anyways, this means that I need to be creative.  So after 3 batches of "recipe testing" here is my chocolate recipe! 

Honey Chocolate

With this recipe all the usual rules apply to prevent the chocolate from seizing.  So, I've yet to figure out how to add a flavouring extract. 

However, it works great as a hard chocolate, and doesn't even require refrigeration once it's been set!  It also has a distinctly honey flavour. The best part is that the recipe is so easy that even my 4 year old can make it (with supervision of course!)

1. Prepare your molds by polishing them with a soft cotton cloth to prevent air bubbles. If you want to add dried fruits, nuts or cereals to your chocolate these are best added to the molds first. 
2. Melt in a double boiler over boiling water: 3/4 cup of cocoa butter, 5 Tbsp honey, and a pinch of salt. You can substitute up to 2 Tbsp of coconut oil for the cocoa butter.  This will add sheen to your chocolates, but it will also make them softer.  I generally just add 2 tsp of coconut oil.
3. Whisk in 3/4 cup of dark cocoa powder and add in any flavours you may want to include.  (My suggestions are: orange zest, vanilla bean, chili powder, cinnamon.)
4. Pour chocolate into the molds, or drop onto wax paper to create chocolate chips, chocolate buttons or chocolate bark. You can also use this chocolate to dip truffles or cream centres.  It is a good all purpose chocolate.  It won't harden quite as quickly as regular chocolate, so you will have to wait for it to cool in order to make chocolate chips, or use it for dipping, etc.
5. Tap molds gently to ensure that there are no air bubbles. Refrigerate until set (about 1 hour).  Depending on the amount of coconut oil you used, these can sit out at room temperature.  However, they will keep for longer in the fridge (1 month +).
For Christmas I've made chocolates with dried cherry centres, and ones with almond and dried cranberry.  (For anyone who's counting, the dried cherry centres are for Nikolai as the almonds are too high in sucrose!)  The photo at the top is Nikolai visiting with Father Christmas in the "old Victoria" part of the museum.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Strength in weakness

This is a super short blog update, as I failed to blog this week because of sheer exhaustion.  First Nikolai and Brad caught the tummy bug.  And then... it was my turn for the stomach flu.

Needless to say, it absolutely wasted me.  I was only sick for 24 hours, but that amount of time without calories and issues with staying properly hydrated were more than my body could cope with.  The baby always takes what the baby needs, so I was left with very low blood pressure and generalized weakness.  My midwife gave me a "prescription" with a recipe for three days worth of electrolyte replacement.

I'm now on my third day and I hope that I'll have my internal gyroscope back up and running by tomorrow!  (I've been taking all the good stuff that's available to us pregnant ladies.  Nothing as exciting as coldFX or oil of oregano.  But I feel confident that extra zinc, vitamin C and some probiotics will get this body back up to shipshape.)

Meanwhile, we did manage to get a tree up and decorated today!  It's our first Christmas tree EVER, so all the ornaments are hand-me-downs given to us by our parents.  I have goals to go out and buy some assorted red balls to brighten it up a bit, and take the edge off the fact that most of the ornaments are more than 10 years old (and I would be surprised if some weren't more than 30 years old!)  I'm sure that we'll have plenty of time to build our own collection of ornaments over the coming years. Now I'm just wondering if "Baby's First Christmas" will be this year or next...?

Friday, December 07, 2012

The waiting game

No stories this week.  I did eventually join the city-wide cold epidemic, so my head feels like it's in a submarine.  However, that's not really the excuse.  The truth is that at the moment our life is all about waiting. Like all children, Nikolai is waiting for Christmas to arrive. But mostly we are all really just waiting for one thing... and that's the arrival of the baby. 

Though the due date is not for another three weeks, the holiday season is so full of plans that I can't help but wonder... will I make it to that party? that potluck? the preschool Christmas concert? 

Anyways, here's a picture of my big belly in front of the crib (do I look like I'm a viral factory?), followed by a picture of Brad and Nikolai reading in bed.  Somehow we've managed to squeeze a nursery and a preschooler's bedroom into a small 9' x 13' room (a common size for area rugs).  We like to think of it as cosy!

And I'd like to include a recipe to finish this blog.  I recently found a website that is literally all about sugar free cooking.  I'm pretty excited to try out some of their sweets as a treat for Nikolai this Christmas.  I also like the way they refer to things as a granulated sweetener. I plan on adopting that myself as it's open to interpretation.  It allows most people to use sugar, whereas I would use fructose or ground dates.  The same goes for reference to flour in this recipe.  I honestly use rye for nearly all my baking these days.  It's low-gluten so a good replacement for pastry flour. But basically it's one of the cheapest flours out there, and nearly half the price of wheat flour (unless you're buying it as a "specialty" product).  I guess rye must be easy to grow!

Baked Fruit Pancake
This is pretty sweet for a typical pancake breakfast, but we like it with a side of eggs.  It would also make a nice dessert if sprinkled with icing sugar and served with cream.  

Combine 4 eggs, 2/3 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, 1 tbsp granulated sweetener, 1 tsp cinnamon and process until smooth. 

Heat 1/4 cup of butter in a large oven proof frying pan. Add 2 cups of chopped fruit and 2 tbsp of honey, and saute until the fruit is cooked and lightly caramelized.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of lemon juice.

Pour batter over the fruit and bake in a 450 F (220 C) oven for 15 min, or until browned and puffed up at the edges.