Monday, February 23, 2015

Any Guesses? to what I am currently working on?

To be continued in a later blog post...


This February weather has been gorgeous. Seriously feels warmer than some Junes here in Oregon!

It is so much fun to have chickens again. Of the chicks we started last September, we have 4 black sex link hens, 3 golden sex link hens and one oops of a leghorn rooster. Mr. Amore, as I like to call him ;) So far he is happily keeping occupied with his little harem and not bothering us humans, I think I will keep him as he seems to be keeping on the alert against hawks. 

The 7 hens are laying an average of 5 eggs a day - yum!

Here is Jed, throwing scratch grains over our future garden bed to encourage the chickens to scratch and till in the compost.

Luke, enjoying himself immensely!

 My raised bed of spinach and kale, so nice that it continued to slowly grow all winter and even in February I am harvesting loads of fresh greens!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Weston A. Price Traditional Pregnancy and Nursing Diet

People tend to shake their heads at some of the things I eat - and enjoy. Who in their right mind enjoys fermented milk and liver?

Well, at least in my case the first one is true... not so much the second.

You see, in spite of my best efforts, I am not a big fan of liver. Not even a little tiny fan. It is the weirdest texture combined with a taste that makes you feel you have a mouth full of dirt.

Anyways, the fact that I adhere in most other regards to the WAPF dietary guidelines makes me ashamed I cannot eat with relish those supposedly lovely, nutrient-rich organ meats.


So imagine my great joy when I discovered a way to get my daily ounce of raw beef or chicken liver from grass-fed animals without ever having to taste (or chew) said substance!

I pulled out the three pounds of beef liver (from our own cow) still lurking in the bottom of our chest freezer, and the bag of chicken livers from our fall batch of pastured broilers. Gorgeously beautiful livers. I am so happy to be able to finally use them :)

Lately I haven't been so good about making sure I am eating enough nutrient dense food to supply myself and Luke with the nourishment we need. I weigh less than I have since junior high and am still nursing a 10 month old who is not yet on many solid foods.

So back to the drawing board we go!

I love diet planning. It is the highlight of my day, sitting down with pen in hand, listing those food items I have available and those I would like to add to my diet, checking and balancing to see if I have a good variety of healthy, whole foods. I tend to enjoy the planning more than the executing, but manageable goals and checklists help keep me engaged.

Here is my plan for the next few months to help boost my body.


Supplements, including Green Pastures cod liver oil and royal butter oil

A mug of bone broth tea (chicken, at the moment)

A glass of raw milk kefir

Soaked oatmeal (only on those days I am not having grains with another meal)


Spinach and berry smoothie - added coconut oil, gelatin and pastured egg yolks

Fried eggs (2) - in butter

Liver pills (oh my lovely liver pills!) x 6

Luncheon and Dinner

Beef such as meatloaf, steak, taco salad, spaghetti squash with meat sauce, or chili
Sides - baked kale, steamed broccoli, cauliflower rice, or butternut squash - all with olive oil or butter
Salmon with quinoa and steamed broccoli
Chicken soup with homemade sourdough bread
Sausage with sauerkraut and avocado
Grilled cheese on sourdough bread with kale and applesauce

(Pictured: Cavegirl Paleo Meatloaf, steamed broccoli with butter, avocado)

Afternoon Tea or Dessert

Glass of raw milk or another glass of kefir
Nuts, dark chocolate or chocolate coconut bars - my life now feels complete

I also make sure to liberally include these healthy fats: butter from grass-fed cows, coconut oil, and lard.

I enjoy the primal diet, but feel I have more energy with some grains. The problem is I am trying to heal a couple pesky cavities from nutrient depletion that comes of two back-to-back pregnancies where my diet included a lot of juice, refined carbs and sugar, in spite of my best intentions. So to eat grains or not to eat grains? I will stick to one serving a day, for now, and only properly prepared sourdough or soaked/sprouted, if at all possible.

Progress, not perfection, people!

I grew up eating fairly poorly, though we usually had beef from our own pastured cow and eggs from our own chickens, for which I am thankful. My family had (and still has) a major sweet tooth which plays into my poor teeth. I have come a long ways, considering I am now addicted to fermented milk and green smoothies.

The day I become addicted to liver, I will let you know.

Until then, I will swallow them blissfully untasted!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Luke Anthony's Birth Story

Luke Anthony Horton
Born March 24th, 2014 at 9:13 PM
9lbs 8oz, 21 1/2" long

Finding out that I was again pregnant, not three months after going through the worst pain of my life, to say I wanted to be in denial and was depressed is an understatement. I was a mess. Crying every day, feeling like a failure, and dealing with my husband having to travel for his new job and me home in a dark city apartment trapped with nothing other than a fussy baby and my thoughts.

I wanted to be mad at the baby. I wanted to forget he or she existed. That I would just bond after the birth.

God had other plans.

I couldn't help myself. I fell in love with the little being in my womb. His kicks and how he reacted to his older brother's voice and kisses on my belly. Excitement to meet him and longing to see what he looked like, whether or not he would have dark hair.

I was also deathly afraid of him having birth defects, or having other issues because of me having two babies so close together. There are a lot of opinions about women who do not space their babies the 'appropriate' two or three years apart. I felt looked down on and scared that they would be right. I also feared going through the pain of labor. Amnesia - what a joke. I had no idea what other moms were talking about, labor was seared into my memory like a hot brand. It wasn't until recently that the memory has started to fade and I can imagine going through it all again. What conflicting emotions in my soul, but God brought me through.

Since his older brother was almost 2 weeks overdue, I prepared to go late.

The night of my due date, the 21st, my water broke up high, so I woke up to occasional trickles of liquid. My last labor it didn't break until baby exited my body, so I anticipated a quick labor!

It was not to be.

After reflection, I realize that since baby was transverse (exactly same position as Jed, apparently I have an ideal spot in my uterus lol ;)) and I did not work very hard to move him into a better position, the labor process dragged on longer than it needed to. Next time I will keep this in mind.

Contractions came every 10-15 minutes until morning, then slowed down. The next two nights were the same, and these contractions HURT!

Three days later, on the morning of the 24th, the contractions were 6-7 minutes apart, but slowed down whenever I lay down. I took a nap, frustrated. Worried, because I knew that after water breaks the clock starts ticking before the possibility of infection and other issues becomes enough of a reason to go to the hospital. Also frustrating not to be able to see if I was dilating, since we decided to forgo regular checks in order to keep risk of infection as low as possible.

Finally, we checked and my progress was maybe 4-5 cm. I begged my midwife Desiree to tell me some things I could do to try and get labor going, and immediately after starting homeopathics and directed breast pump stimulation, contractions came 4-5 minutes apart and stayed that way even when I stopped using the breast pump.

These contractions also felt more 'real' and LESS painful - which is ironic!

Within a few hours, at 5 PM I was dilated to 7.5 and I labored for a few hours in the tub. These contractions did not hurt very bad. I still had to breath through them, but I wasn't feeling any panic like last time. Isaac was my rock through the whole process, we talked and he made me laugh at his jokes between contractions. He held my hands every time I needed him.

Man, I love that guy <3

I began to feel a faint urge to push, but they were completely ineffective. When Desiree checked me again, no progress had been made and she noticed a bulge of the water sac protruding between my cervix and baby's head, keeping it from dilating.

While she was checking, I had a huge contraction and at that moment she made the executive decison to break my water. YIKES! That was the strongest feeling, a huge dull hurting POP and huge gush of warm water.

It's hard to remember too clearly, but everything went very quickly after that.

I got back on my hands and knees, hung onto Isaac's arms for dear life on the edge of the tub as I could feel my body gearing itself up for some major contractions. Contraction one started and then I was pushing. Isaac recalls the midwife telling me

"don't push yet, Emily, you aren't ready. Just relax!"

and me yelling back

"I have to get him OOUUUUTTTT!!!"

Needless to say, my body won out on that argument.

One push so intense it wracked my whole body and lifted me out of the water, and I felt baby's head slide into the birth canal, and the next two he crowned and was out. Seriously the most powerful urge in the world, and so much faster than the first time. Mere minutes between water breaking and baby out.

Holding my precious baby Luke felt SO much more natural this time! Like I knew what I was doing. I kept crying "thank you, God!" "hello little Luke, I love you!" over and over. I was thrilled beyond words to see the fruit of my months depression, anxiety and aches. He was worth every. single. bit.

I didn't tear at all this time. Again, my placenta came out with much effort and what seemed to be more bleeding. Herbs helped. My midwife mentioned I may have a cervix that closes extra quickly and therefore we may need to plan to get the placenta out earlier next time.

Healing-wise, I felt better almost immediately. Cramps were much less than my first birth (unlike what I have been told is the norm), and my only issue was having to carry my one year old and go up and down the stairs due to not having much help with my two babies. That was difficult. Isaac had some time off, but worked at the shop most days and needed his sleep at night (did I mention he is a very sound sleeper?). So I ended up on the downstairs couch with a crying infant some nights. Oh well, I hardly even remember that time, so soon does that season pass.

Jeddie was so curious about his little brother. Patted him on the head and called him "kitty-kitty" - his first and only word at the time ;) Watched me change Luke's diaper and acted concerned when he cried. I didn't notice much jealousy, but he would start whacking him every time I turned my back, not realizing he was a fragile little baby who couldn't play rough yet.

I remember when Desiree (who had listened to my fears of not being able to have a successfully nursing baby) helped me get Luke to latch on within an hour of birth and he just instinctively started to suck. I sobbed, I was so thankful and relieved. That was probably the single biggest worry of my entire pregnancy, not sure if it would be a nightmarish ordeal like last time. I was also able to pump an extra 10-20 ounces a day for Jed's bottles - sweet sense of vindication to be able to do that for him!

All in all, I love being a second time mom. Luke has been pretty easy going and I get so much less frustrated when he cries because I can nurse him happy. I just feel so bad that Jeddie had to play a lot by himself and many of his 'firsts' were dwarfed by my preoccupation with a newborn.

God knows. He wanted this little one even more than we did. Which is saying a lot, Luke is the light of our lives. His smile brings sunshine wherever he goes!

Jedediah James' Birth Story

Here, almost two years since the birth of our firstborn, Jedediah, and one year since the birth of our second son, Luke, I have finally written down their birth stories.

Jedediah James Horton
Born March 28th, 2013, around 12:30 AM
9lbs 8 oz, 22 inches

 A week before my due date I began to get a dozen or more braxton hicks per day. I kept thinking it could be early labor because they were really hard and came every 30 min. or so. However there would be a long break every once in a while that let me know it was just a warm up to the real thing. Jed was transverse most of the pregnancy so I started leaning forward on an exercise ball or on hands and knees to finish a friend's quilt before her wedding. He didn't actually move forwards until labor, he enjoyed his comfy position, obviously.

On my due date the contractions were harder and closer together - even my midwife thought it might be any day... but in the night they would stop. A few (agonizing, frustrating, painful) days later, I started getting more cramping contractions down low - they came usually at night and were enough to wake me up. I was getting discouraged. My ribs hurt constantly, there was no relief from aching and the contractions were relentless. What was wrong with me? This went on for 2 weeks. We were also short on money at the time, after several months of unemployment and job hunting after my husband, Isaac, finished trucking school. With no paid days off at his new job, every day he stayed close he wasn't getting paid. He eventually started working again and just hoped he wouldn't be driving a load to a far away state at the time I went into labor.

One week (well, 5 days) before Jedediah was born, my midwife very lightly stripped my membranes, but still no bloody show or water breaking.

On Tuesday, 41 weeks 3 days, we got an ultrasound to make sure baby was still doing fine. Plenty of amniotic fluid and baby was thriving, but I was so ready to induce and kick into full labor. What I will always remember is my midwife, Maryl, laughing when I asked her when she would try to induce me. Thanks to having caught hundreds of babies (including my four youngest siblings), she was completely relaxed and knew the baby would come when he was ready. Peace flooded me and I felt silly for worrying.

Every morning while we waited, Isaac asked if he should go in to work or not, and I had to say "um, sure, your guess is as good as mine!"

Wednesday morning I woke up with almost timeable contractions. Maybe 10-15 minutes apart. Isaac went to work. Around 10 AM I texted the assistant midwife, Kelsey, saying the contractions really hurt and were closer - but they still occasionally took a break, so I was confused (and embarrassed to inconvenience my midwives if I was just imagining things again). Around 1 pm, my husband was sent home from work early due to them not having another load for that day - and a good thing! I called Maryl because the contractions made me double over and feel like throwing up... but they were still 6-7 minutes apart and I had been told not to call until they were 4-5 min. Maryl thought it could be early labor (bless her, based on how many previous times I had asked "is this it?") and told me to keep timing and call her and Kelsey when I felt they needed to come.

Isaac and I took a nap, but I was too wired to sleep. Contractions would come every 6 min., then 4, then 7-8... it wasn't super consistent like I'd been told. Around 5 pm I finally called the midwives and they arrived at 7. As they checked baby's heartbeat, my BP, did a stress test, etc, it almost seemed like contractions got lighter and farther apart lol. I was so afraid I had called them in for nothing!

Then they checked my cervix and left the room to discuss it privately. I was like "oh no...". Came back in and wouldn't tell me my dilation, just said I was indeed in labor and that Isaac should get the birth tub filled if I wanted it. We called my friend Sonia to come and she was a huge help throughout the night. Apparently I was already 7cm dilated and about to start transition! The midwives couldn't believe I appeared to be handling it so well. I spent the next 5 hours in the tub, laughing with Isaac and Sonia in between contractions. I really felt self-conscious that they saw me in pain, but gradually contractions took more and more concentration and I eventually didn't really notice the people near me.

I didn't want to move or leave the tub. Then I started to really dislike people talking around me and the midwives touching my belly every few minutes to hear heartbeat, check how I was doing, etc. I just wanted to be left alone, and didn't feel better in any other position I tried. My favorite was sitting on my hands and knees, leaning forwards.

Probably around 11 PM things REALLY began to hurt so I couldn't stand it. I kept moaning, squeezing Isaac's poor hand to death, saying over and over, "It hurts - I can't do this - HELP ME!!!", sweat pouring off my forehead. Sonia said she had never seen someone in so much pain, I wonder if I scarred her for life lol! The midwives stayed quietly in the next room during most of this stage, to my chagrin, I was like "WHY AREN'T THEY HELPING ME!!! DON'T THEY HEAR MY MOANING? WHY AREN'T THEY WORRIED!!!"

The one time Maryl did come in when I was panicking, she knelt down one inch from my face, held my hand and talked me through the contraction it in the most calm, powerful voice I had ever heard. It was incredible how much it helped me relax and know she was not worried, that I was doing exactly what she had seen a hundred other first time moms do during transition. Isaac just stayed right there with me (afterwards he told me it was awful, but to me he looked so calm and strong), I am so grateful he could be there for the birth.

The next hour or so dragged on but I had no sense of time, was only conscious of the rise and fall of pain and the thankfulness for each break in between contractions. The 'pushing urge' was also gradual. Eventually it felt like my hips were going to explode from the constant pressure and the pain no longer stopped between contractions. I guess I pushed for like 20-30 minutes, I felt his head almost crown, then pop back inside for several tries. At last I had 'something' tangible that let me know I was almost done. After his head was out, it took a couple pushes for his torso and another for his legs.

Big boy.

Then I turned around and saw the midwives bringing him out of the water. He didn't cry, was just looking around and already trying to hold his head up. I was shocked at his blond fuzz (Isaac and I both have dark brown hair), and asked if he was okay, since he looked like... well... a newborn. I honestly felt nothing, no automatic maternal instincts other than "phew, the little buggar is out, finally!" (I am only half kidding)

My was he slippery to hold!

My main thought was that I was a bad mother because his neck kept flopping and I was having trouble holding him. We sat for a bit, admiring this first look at our much loved and longed for firstborn son :) He had quite the furrowed brow and the midwives kept calling him a 'serious little man' and a 'Swede' due to his fuzzy blonde hair. He even had hairy arms and back, like a little Esau! Isaac got to hold him, how precious is seeing your husband with his little new baby! 

All I wanted was to lay horizontal after hours on my knees! So they moved us to the bed. My bottom hurt so bad I was sorry I moved ;) Ended up slightly tearing in two places, but they decided it wasn't quite bad enough for stiches. I have a feeling I would have gotten physically violent with them if they had tried getting a needle anywhere near that general vicinity. And the after contractions... they hurt worse when you're already sore and beaten up from labor, just sayin' :p

We couldn't get Jedediah to nurse. We eventually had to hand express colostrum and feed with a spoon. Nursing was never easy in the next few months. But that is another story.

While the midwives cleaned up, my mom arrived to meet her first grandchild while Isaac and I collapsed into exhausted sleep... or maybe stupor for me... I don't know if I really slept much that night. I will always remember the surreal calm, mellow feeling that remained with me during all the frustration of getting Jed to nurse. It was weird - I didn't totally bond with him until he was nursing better at around 3 weeks, but other than tears of exhaustion I have never felt so relaxed in my life! (the more you get to know me, the more you will see how UN-mellow I really am, haha ;))

Hormones are crazy things.

The most precious sight of the next day was the baby sleeping on Isaac's chest while they both slept. Birth and new life is incredible.