Miss P’s Birth Day

My daughter’s birth was an odyssey.

I felt the first contractions just after midnight, on Wednesday October 2, and Poet Victoria – Miss P – was born on Friday, October 4th at 4:34 AM. I got to hold her for a fleeting moment while someone snapped a picture, then she was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“Meconium,” I heard someone say in the background. “It’s the meconium.”

I’d spent the months leading up to Miss P’s arrival preparing for and fantasizing about her Birth Day, which was to take place at a nearby free-standing birth center: It would be a water birth, of course; I couldn’t think of a gentler transition from womb to world for my baby. The room would be dimly lit with the scent of lavender essential oil dancing through the air. Norah Jones would be crooning in the background on shuffle, and the few people who were present would speak in hushed voices, respecting the sanctity of the event unfolding before them. After the birth, Miss P and I would move from the tub to the bed where my husband, Tim – Daddy – would join us, and the three of us would gaze at each other as if we were dreaming.

After “The Golden Hour” -which they often referred to in our childbirth classes- had passed, Tim would call my parents, and they’d join us for a nourishing meal and, of course, to meet their long-awaited granddaughter.

Instead, I lay

alone

in a hospital bed.

There was commotion in the hallway, and the bright lights hurt my eyes. A nurse scoffed at me- something about bending the IV- an IV I wasn’t supposed to have – as I gripped my cell phone and tried to focus on the 2″ X  3″ photo of my baby girl the student midwife from the birth center had sent to me before she left; I longed for my baby to be healthy and in my arms.

How did things go so terribly awry?


COULD THIS BE?

It all started two evenings before, on Tuesday, October 2nd. That night brought with it a sense of restlessness, and as the darkness slowly transitioned into Wednesday morning, I realized that the discomfort I’d been feeling had, in fact, been contractions (waves or surges, in HypnoBirthing terms). The surges were completely different from the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been experiencing throughout the past few months. This time, they started in my lower back and seared as they pulled around to the front, like elastic being stretched far beyond its capacity.

These early surges were met with equal parts of fear, excitement, and uncertainty. My pregnancy had reached 41 weeks and two days, and I’d been anxiously awaiting any sign of impending labor, but I still wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was real.

I woke Tim up.

He gathered pillows and blankets, and we camped out on the couch like kids at a slumber party.

The surges were coming every 15 minutes or so and felt nothing like I’d expected. They were painful, sure, but not unbearable. Still, I couldn’t relax enough to sleep, so, I watched Tim sleep from my end of the couch and waited for the sun to rise. I wondered if tomorrow would be the day we finally got to meet our sweet girl.

When 8 AM arrived, I called my midwife and told her I’d been having contractions since 1 AM. I was hoping this would excuse me from the next round of tests I was scheduled for that afternoon.

No such luck. 

Since my pregnancy had extended beyond 40 weeks, I was expected to go to the hospital for a biophysical profile (a type of ultrasound) and a non-stress test (NST) to monitor my baby every other day until her birth. I was told these tests were administered as a precaution because the placenta can begin to deteriorate at this point.

After the tests, I was scheduled for an induction acupuncture session based on the recommendation of my midwife. Our window to deliver at the birth center was between 37 and 42 weeks. Since my pregnancy had already extended beyond 41 weeks, she was eager to help me avoid a medical induction – a fate that terrified me – at the hospital.

Speaking of the hospital, by the time Tim and I arrived for the tests, my contractions had subsided. Still, I was excited as I told the nurse what I’d been experiencing.

“On a scale of 1-10, how painful were they? She cocked her head as she wrapped the elastic band that held the fetal monitor in place around my belly for my NST.

“Mmmm, maybe a four? Yeah, I’d say about a four.”

“Were you able to talk through them?” she asked. She pinned the band closed.

“Yeah, but I couldn’t sleep.”

She looked at me incredulously. “Those weren’t real contractions. Trust me, when they’re real, you’ll know.” She smiled as she stood up to adjust a knob on the monitor.

I left the hospital, once again, with reassurance that my baby was doing well, but as we headed to my acupuncture appointment I couldn’t help feeling a bit defeated. I was so excited I’d finally started having contractions just to be told they weren’t even real. Why wasn’t my body doing what it was supposed to do?

Since Tim and I were at the hospital for so long, we stopped at a little sandwich shop on our way to my acupuncture appointment. We sat on either side of the booth and made small talk as we ate, having no idea this would be the last official dinner we’d eat as a family of two.

***

YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT blared the GPS as Tim approached the driveway.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” I asked, looking around with uncertainty.

He nodded, and we got out of the truck.

A cat rubbed its back against the tire as Tim shut the driver’s-side door, then it trotted along behind us. There were sprawling plants every which way leading up the front walk, and I felt, for a moment, like Mary from A Secret Garden.

The front door swung open, and we were greeted by the acupuncturist herself. After a quick exchange of hellos, she ushered us down a hallway, past several wagging dogs in various sizes, and through a couple of rooms until we reached her workspace. The dogs followed us closely, but stopped at the entryway as if held back by some invisible force.

I sat next to Tim on the couch as I glanced around. The space hosted numerous books, pillows and tchotchkes, all tidily arranged on the walls, shelves and floor. The room was dimly lit, and it seemed to buzz with positive energy. I was beginning to think this acupuncture business just might work.

The acupuncturist spent a few minutes talking with us, then she asked me to take my shoes off and climb onto her table. I was dizzy with a mixture of uncertainty and anticipation as my head sunk into a pillow that rested on the tabletop, and I rattled off something unintelligible because that’s what I do when I’m full of nervous excitement.

She explained what she was doing as she tapped the needles into my skin in swift motions, concentrating on my lower legs, feet, and hands. I didn’t feel most of the needles going in at all, but there was one that gave me a jolt like I’d just stuck my foot into a light socket.

“Think of it as a disconnect that’s been reconnected,” she said, and I pictured energy, which, in my imagination, looked a lot like rainbow glitter, swirling through my body. I felt wild and exhilarated.

Next, she mixed a homeopathic remedy for me. She took turns pouring drops from several tiny vials into a large plastic bottle full of water. After each new addition, she shook the concoction vigorously. While she worked, she explained the basic concept of homeopathy: Something about throwing a stone into water and ripples traveling away. The way I understood it was that homeopathy is basically a thing that’s diluted so many times that it becomes nothing, but still something. Confusing, yet intriguing. I had a burning desire to learn more.

She held the bottle out toward me, and my head whirred as I accepted it.

“Take a sip every 30 minutes or so,” she said. “Swish it around in your mouth, and hold it under your tongue for a little bit before you swallow.”

Like wine, I thought, trying to distract myself from the fact that I was about to ingest some unknown substance. I won’t lie; I was scared to drink the whatever-it-was, (I’m funny about stuff like that) but I did it anyway. Sure, I’d just met this woman, but I found her fascinating. She seemed to know exactly what she was doing, and I trusted that she wouldn’t give me anything that would harm me or my baby.

“It tastes kind of like printer ink, but mostly like water,” I told Tim as we drove home. Don’t ask me where I came up with this considering I’d certainly never tasted printer ink before. I took another swig and swished it around just as I’d been instructed.

“Yep,” I said. “Printer ink.”

“Oh yeah?” He kept his eyes on the road. He was used to my offhanded comments by now.

Then, somewhere along the 30-minute drive home, I began having contractions surges again, and, this time, they didn’t go away until Miss P was in my arms.


THIS IS IT

I sunk into my yoga ball, closed my eyes and tried to breathe through the surge.

“Well?” Tim’s voice pulled me back to reality.

“They’re about 15 minutes apart,” I said, “but I feel like they’re lasting longer than they should.”

I’d taken two different classes during my pregnancy: HypnoBirthing and general childbirth education classes at the birth center we planned to deliver at. I remember both classes covering signs of early labor. I tried to remember how long they said the initial contractions would last.

I continued to take deep cleansing breaths and rock through these early surges on my yoga ball.

By midnight, the surges were so strong they had me hopping around the house in agony. I needed support. Since Tim had already been asleep for hours, I called my midwife.

Yes, yes, she thought this was probably the beginning of labor, and she urged me to get some rest because this was likely only early labor and I was going to need my energy later on.

Rest?

Was she out of her mind?

I tossed my phone onto the chair as I stood up to brace myself for the next surge. The searing pain left me tense and bouncing around like I was barefoot on a floor of hot coals.

In between surges, I made another phone call. This time to my doula, who told me the same thing the midwife did. Rest! I was going to need this rest later.

I sat on the couch fighting back tears. I was alone and scared, and these surges hurt!

My stomach gurgled and lurched. It felt like the time, years and years ago, that I’d been sick after eating a rancid club sandwich at brunch while vacationing in Myrtle Beach. Suddenly, I thought about the mysterious homeopathic concoction I’d been sipping on for the past few hours. Always a worrier, I began running scenarios through my head.

Had I been poisoned?

What if the concoction had harmed my baby?

What was going to happen now?

I tensed up and braced myself against another surge. When it passed, I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. I was unable to do the one thing I’d learned was the key to a peaceful labor: relax.

How could I relax? I was scared, and I felt foolish for ever subscribing to the idea that labor was something I could endure naturally. So far, my labor was nothing like the way they’d presented it in my classes; it wasn’t neat and consistent like the one-size-fits-all descriptions printed on the stack of handouts I’d been studying.

I fought each surge armed with equal parts of anger and fear: Anger, because I’d been deceived, and fear because, going forward, I had no idea what to expect.

After a couple more frantic phone calls to my midwife, she decided to come over to check my progress around 5 AM. I was two centimeters dilated at that point, so things were slowly unfolding, but she stressed that I really needed to rest and pace myself.

My doula, Anasuya, wasn’t supposed to come to me until much later, but I was a physical and emotional wreck, so after one more phone call, we decided she’d head over that morning.


MIND OVER MATTER

I took a shower and tried to relax as the hot water washed over me, and, for the first time since the surges began, I felt a sense of calmness. After the shower, I just had this urge to be in Miss P’s nursery, so that’s where I headed.

I turned on the Rainbow Relaxation from my HypnoBirthing CD, and as I settled into the glider I’d been eagerly waiting to rock my new baby in, I began to feel much more centered and at peace. Sure, the surges were still intense, but the more I surrendered to them, the calmer I was able to remain.

Anasuya arrived around 10 AM bearing all kinds of goodies. She put Tim to work gathering up household items we would need throughout the day while she steeped some lemongrass from her garden for a tea.

We set up shop in Miss P’s nursery.

Anasuya began diffusing essential oils while I sipped steaming tea from my favorite mug. It was instantly soothing, and after I finished drinking it, Anasuya instructed me to lay down in the nest of pillows she’d created on the floor. She got me situated, propping an arm up here, a leg up there, and she massaged my ankles and legs with bamboo sticks. The surges made me want to crawl out of my body, but between the tea and massage, I was so relaxed that I was actually able to get a much needed, albeit short, nap.

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Napping during early labor.

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Lemongrass Tea, the lemongrass straight from my doula’s garden. Delicious!

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My doula came equipped with plenty of all-natural comfort measures. 

After my nap, Tim made us lunch – Chickpea of the Sea (vegetarian mock-tuna salad) sandwiches. My surges were closer together and longer in duration now – about six minutes apart, lasting over a minute each- and lunchtime paused with the onset of each one.

Anasuya brought a long soft tube stuffed with rice (or something to that effect) that you warm in the microwave and apply to an area you’re trying to relieve. She warmed the tube and wrapped it around my lower back, and it was pure bliss.

In my moments of freedom, she taught me how to work with the surges. When one came, she taught me to sway and rock my hips and also to use my voice to expel the energy build up. This was pretty much what I did from that point on. Thinking back, I must’ve looked and sounded so ridiculous! It was so primal, so natural feeling. I slipped into my own little world where I was beyond my physical body – perhaps this was the Birthing Body that was often referred to in HypnoBirthing class. In this place, the surges were intense, but there was also a gentleness in the way they rolled in and over and away from me. They were me, and each rhythm brought my baby closer and closer to my arms.

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My doula and I enjoying “Chickpea of the Sea” sandwiches during labor.

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Oh, rice sock, how I love you.

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This is what labor should look like: Peace, calm, and comfort.

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The rest of the day included some yoga and a lot of “me” time. There were moments where I just withdrew from everything and allowed my mind and body to just be. The four of us, me, (Miss P), Tim, and Anasuya, spent a lot of time in the nursery. It was calm and peaceful. Not painless, but still beautiful.

It really was.

When it was time to move on to the birth center, Anasuya mentioned that she had a birth tub in her car.

“I was thinking maybe we’d have an accidental home waterbirth.” She smiled at me.

I didn’t really feel comfortable with that, so off we went to the birth center.

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One last picture before we headed off to the birth center.

Tim folded the truck’s back seats up, and I kind of stooped against the seat-bottom, rocking through each surge along our 15-minute drive. In between surges, I peered out the window. It was bright outside, and hot, and there were so many mundane things going on: a person standing on the corner waiting to cross at an intersection, a woman holding her cell phone to her ear, a cigarette waving out a car window, and panels of dangling signal lights stopping and starting the evening rush .

The ride pulled me out of my zone a bit, but I still felt safe and in control.

There was no fear; this is what my body was made to do.


BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR

It’s really difficult for me to chronologically place the events once we arrived at the center’s Cherry Blossom room. I remember certain things: the space was dimly lit and serene. I spent some time bouncing on the yoga ball. I spent a lot of time in the tub; I loved the tub so much. Tim and I embraced each other and swayed together, he caught up in the rhythm of each surge alongside me. I ate bananas and drank coconut water. I joked and laughed with the midwives. Anasuya sang Portuguese lullabies to Poet while I was in the tub. The Rainbow Relaxation played on repeat in the background.

At some point, one of the midwives checked my progress while I was in the tub. I was in transition- the phase between being fully dilated and pushing. She remarked how if you’d told someone I was in transition at that point, they wouldn’t have believed it. I was so calm and relaxed. She also recommended I get out of the tub, as it seemed to be stalling things a bit.

The beautiful Cherry Blossom Room

Laboring in the tub

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Enjoying a moment of peace with my wonderful doula

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I got out of the tub and walked the birth center’s hallways with Anasuya. We stopped in the waiting room to work through a couple yoga poses to help the baby settle into an optimal position for birth. It was probably around 9 PM, and the calm I’d previously felt quickly gave way to anxiety in the dimly-lit quarters. I was mentally and physically exhausted.

“I can’t do this anymore,” I said, which was a lie because I was doing it.

Things become blurry here.

There are gaps missing.

Eventually I was back in the Cherry Blossom room, seated on the toilet and surrounded by midwives.

Tim was beside me.

The midwives wanted me to start pushing on the toilet because they said the reflex was similar to when you’re going to the bathroom.

Nothing was happening.

They moved me to the bed and broke my water in an effort to prompt things along. I remember the sharp pop and forceful gush.

“Meconium,” said one of the midwives as another jotted something down on my chart.

I shuddered at her observation. I’d always thought meconium stained amniotic fluid was a cause for concern, but she didn’t seem troubled by its presence, and there was no time to dwell on the issue because I was already being instructed to move into a different position, then another, then another.

Nothing was happening.

I have no idea how much time passed.

Hours?

Miss P wasn’t coming, and I was starving and exhausted. Anasuya fed me honey from a straw, and one of the midwives poured some homeopathic beadlets under my tongue. I slumped back. I couldn’t do it anymore.

I was done.

Then the midwives were scolding me. Miss P’s heart tones, which they’d been carefully monitoring since my arrival, were off. I needed to push this baby out, now. They were going to have to transfer me to the hospital at this point. We were out of time. I told them I couldn’t do it. I kept trying. I kept pushing, but she wasn’t coming.

Before I knew it, the door to the Cherry Blossom room was open, and there were two EMTs with a stretcher in the hallway. I felt like a teenager who’d been caught redhanded throwing a party while my parents were out of town- like I was doing something so terribly wrong and got busted. I was angry and ashamed.

What if Miss P wasn’t okay?

What if I’d harmed her by electing to deliver outside the hospital?

After months of careful research, I knew free standing birth centers were a safe option, yet in the moment, I doubted by choice.

What if?

The EMTs wheeled me into the elevator on the stretcher.

What if?

I watched the doors close, saw my reflection in the cold shiny metal.

What if?

My head felt weightless – hallow- as if it might float away.

What if?

So many thoughts spun through my mind on the ride to the hospital. Tim must’ve been scared as well. They wouldn’t let him ride in the ambulance, so he followed behind us. So did Anasuya and one of the student midwives.

Inside the ambulance, an EMT sat on either side of me. The one on my right tried to insert an IV into the top my hand, but couldn’t get it.

“You’re really in labor right now? asked the EMT on the left.

“Yes.”

Now it was Lefties turn to try for the IV. No luck for him either.

“Are you guys sure you know what you’re doing?” I half joked as I looked down at my hands, which were quickly swelling at the attempted insertion sites for the IV.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, I was a wreck. As I was wheeled down a stark hallway into a room, I was terrified that Miss P  was in grave danger, and the surges, which were now coming one on top of the other, were completely overbearing. The chaos coupled with the harsh florescent lighting pulled me from the safety zone – the Birthing Body – I’d been laboring in. Each time I tried to sit up and lean forward to brace myself against another surge, a nurse snapped at me.

You need to lay down.

You need to lay down.

You need to lay down.

The nurses voice was stern.

“I want a c-section, right now!” I demanded. I felt helpless and ashamed as the words escaped my lips. “Please.” I looked up at the nurse.

She told me I needed to wait for the doctor to arrive before they made any decisions, and I needed to lay down.

“I want this baby out now. Right now.” My cheeks grew warm, and I felt like a child throwing a tantrum. Miss P was in danger, and I wanted her safe in my arms. If that meant facing my worst fears to get her there, so be it.

Suddenly, the student midwife who’d followed us from the birth center was at my side, or, perhaps she’d been beside me all along, and, in the momentary pause from my hysteria, I’d just noticed.

“You don’t want a c-section,” she calmly urged. “That’s the last thing you want.”

She was right.

In the event of a true medical emergency, I was grateful I had the option, but until the doctor arrived to assess the situation I needed to find that zone of calm and focus and trust where I’d previously resided.

“I release my birth over to my body and my baby.”

A round of fetal monitoring verified that Miss P’s heart tones had returned to normal; she was no longer in distress, but the nurse was concerned about the note on my chart stating there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. She explained that though this didn’t necessarily signify a problem – it actually wasn’t too uncommon – a team from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit would be standing by incase of complications.

The doctor arrived a bit later. She looked over my birth plan, and we agreed we’d keep trying for a natural, unmedicated birth- an opportunity I’m so grateful for.

“I’m prepared to calmly meet whatever turn my birthing may take.”

In some ways it feels like only mere moments passed between the doctor’s okay and Miss P’s debut, in others, it feels like an eternity.

“My baby moves gently along on its journey.”

In reality, it was a few hours.

“Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.”

At 4:34 AM, Poet Victoria was born 100 percent naturally, albeit not so peacefully.

BABY TIME

The moment Miss P was born, time was suspended like the lingering pause between a bolt of lightening slashing the night sky and an angry crack of thunder in the distance.

She didn’t emerge with gusto, the way some babies do. Instead, she was limp and silent. The doctor rushed to cut the umbilical cord as she mumbled something about meconium. She swaddled a languid Miss P in a receiving blanket, and placed her in my arms just long enough for someone to snap our first family photo. I barely had the chance to look down at her before she was taken from me, rushed to the NICU.

The whole thing was so far from the peaceful private entrance I’d been fantasizing about since we switched to midwifery care and found a supportive doula.

Meconium aspiration.

Our birth plan clearly stated that in the event of a medical emergency, Tim and our baby were not to be separated, but he was told he had to stay behind. It was terrifying because we didn’t know if she was okay, and it was heartbreaking knowing that she would be looking for Mom and Dad, and we wouldn’t be there.

Tim got to see her an hour or so later. She was okay- just a rough start. He said she was crying when he walked in the room, and then when she heard his voice, she stopped.

I finally got to see her and hold her a few hours later, and, that part, well, there really are no words.

Less than halfway through her first day, Miss P was breathing unassisted, alert, and nursing like a pro. Even so, the first 48 hours of her life were spent in the NICU under observation. During this time, Tim and I were allowed to stay with her. We were allowed to hold her and care for her, though not quite in the same ways we would have had the situation presented itself differently.

I find myself often wondering what it would’ve been like had Miss P not been pulled from my arms moments after her birth- to have experienced the mythical Golden Hour in all its glory: no weighing and measuring, no bath to compromise the precious vernix, no generic blanket and cap to mimic the warmth of that initial skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

I wonder what it would’ve been like to hold her close without a tangle of cords hooked up to various monitors intruding between us, to know the sound of her breath without the drone of equipment – equipment that in our case was completely unnecessary. I also wonder how I would’ve felt had I not had to watch a nurse push the empty plastic bassinet from my hospital room, its wheels squeaking across the tile floor.

When Miss P was 24-hours old, I called my midwife from the hospital to thank her and to let her know we were all doing well. During our conversation, I was forced to think about what might’ve happened had Miss P been born at the birth center. I felt the sting of salt behind my eyes.

“She’s a smart baby,” said my midwife. “She knew where she needed to be born.”

It was true.

Sure, I didn’t get the birth center water birth I’d planned, but I got the peaceful birth center labor and the midwifery care my mama-to-be-spirit yearned for and the hospital birth Miss P needed.

“I put all fear aside and welcome my baby with happiness and joy.”

Welcome, Poet Victoria:

Poet: “A maker of verses.”

Victoria: “Victory.”

Apropos. 

Welcome to the world, Miss P

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Enjoying our first week home.

Works cited:

Mongan, Marie F. “Affirmations for Easier, Comfortable Birthing.”Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method: A Natural Approach to a Safe, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 2005. N. pag. Print.

Woodland Explorer Cap Giveaway

Our Etsy shop, The Tiny Acorn By J Lee is very excited be holding our first self-hosted GIVEAWAY!

 

Woodland Explorer Cap Giveaway

Owls and foxes and acorns, oh my!

This darling little beanie crown is my mother’s take on a similar cap given to me by my Great Uncle when I was a kid. Throughout the years, she’s fondly referred to it as a “Jughead Hat,” and having a new little one around inspired her to create her own version.

Each hat is made from 100 percent premium designer cotton and features a sweet and whimsical woodland print. Hats are available in infant and toddler sizing (winner gets their pick). 

Simply click the link below and follow the instructions for your chance to win a sweet little unisex beanie crown from The Tiny Acorn By J Lee.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, Dear Readers!

Meatless Monday- Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Meatless Monday is upon us once again. Things have been crazy hectic around here over the past couple weeks, so I’ll make this short, but very sweet.

The other evening, I was so excited when Tim came home from work bearing three beautiful avocados a client had given him from her tree. (Okay, so  maybe there are some perks to living in South Florida.) For me, the hardest part of having avocados in the house is mustering up the patience to wait for them to attain the perfect level of ripeness. When that day finally came, I decided to make myself a little treat.

This recipe comes from NeeNooBug’s Nest, and it’s quickly  become one of my favorite desserts. It’s super fast and easy to whip up, and it’s absolutely delicious. Give it a try!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Avocado Chocolate Mousse3

Short on time, but craving a decadent dessert? Avocado and raw cacao play superstar rolls in this rich and creamy chocolate mousse. It’s also raw vegan and gluten free.

Makes approximately 1 cup (Yield will vary depending on the size of your avocado.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1-2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 2-3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional add-ins:

  • shredded coconut
  • hemp seeds
  • chia seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • goji berries

To prepare:

  1. Add all ingredients to food processor or blender and mix until well combined.
  2. Chill before serving. (Or don’t. Either way, it’s delicious!)

Seriously, that’s it!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse2

Avocado Chocolate Mousse1

I topped my mousse with shredded coconut. Yum!

Dig in!

(Chocolate lovers rejoice!)

Meatless Monday- Chickpea of the Sea

One of the greatest challenges I faced while transitioning to a plant-based diet was finding healthy, satisfying, and, of course, tasty, alternatives to the foods I had regularly consumed up until that point. Sure, this task may seem like a piece of {vegan} cake now, but the majority of that first year was spent eating heavily processed convenience foods that hid under fancy labels plastered with words like OrganicAll Natural, and No GMOs. I was suspended in a world of sodium-laden cans of soup, frozen entrées, packaged snacks, and far too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Oh, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good ol’ PB&J, I really do, but my meal plans were in desperate need of some variety. Plus, I needed to learn how to prepare some fast and easy menu options that were lower in sodium and less processed in comparison to the food-like substances that had infiltrated my diet.

I was overjoyed when I came across a recipe for a mock tuna salad of sorts – Chickpea of the Sea – on the blog Live.Learn.Love.Eat. Unlike many faux animal products, this one’s bulk is comprised of whole food ingredients, not soy protein isolates and other unpronounceable and equally scary sounds ingredients. Chickpea of the Sea makes an excellent sandwich filler, pita stuffer or spread for crackers or veggies. It’s now a regular in our kitchen.

(By the way, if it’s outstanding recipes comprised of whole-food ingredients you’re after, I very highly recommend the blog Live.Learn.Love.Eat‘s recipe page. The author is absolutely fantastic at creating wholesome family-friendly vegan dishes without the processed ingredients and refined sugars. Seriously, this blog has been my go-to since I stumbled upon it.)

I’ve been craving Chickpea of the Sea sandwiches and tomato soup for the past week. Considering we enjoyed these sandwiches while I was in labor, and Friday, July 18th, Miss P and I celebrated our Nine Months In/Nine Months Out milestone, it isn’t so strange that these delightful sandwiches have been on my mind.

Before heading to the kitchen to whip up a quick batch of Chickpea of the Sea, I decided to look through some pictures from Miss P’s Birth Day. I found two that Tim snapped of our wonderful Doula and me having lunch. Don’t let our carefree gestures fool you; these were taken during active labor. {Please excuse the blurriness, as I’m sure Tim was a bit distracted at the time.} 

Enjoying Chickpea of the Sea sandwiches with my wonderful Doula on Miss P’s Birth Day. (Actually, I should say the day BEFORE her Birth Day since she arrived after midnight!)

Riding out a surge, my sandwich on standby.

And there you have it: Lunch during labor. Be sure you don’t try this at home.

Chickpea of the Sea

Chickpea of the Sea6

Makes enough for 4-5 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (My favorite is Earth Balance MindfulMay0.)
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons kelp powder
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 2 dill pickles, diced
  • Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

To prepare:

  1. Mash the chickpeas in a large bowl. (I use a fork to do this, but feel free to utilize whatever fancy gadget you have on hand.)
  2. Add the mayonnaise, dijon, and kelp powder, and stir.
  3. Add the diced onion, celery and dill pickles, stir until well-combined.

Chickpea of the Sea3

Chickpea of the Sea4Chickpea of the Sea5

And there you have it; absolute perfection, and so quick and easy to prepare.

Enjoy!

Nine Months In; Nine Months Out

Forty-one weeks ago, Miss P made her long-awaited debut- all 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and 20.5 inches of her.

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Introducing Little Miss P

She didn’t emerge with gusto, the way some babies do. Instead, she was limp and silent.

We were transferred from a free-standing birth center to the hospital in the final stages of labor. Before Miss P’s entrance, a nurse explained that there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. Though this didn’t necessarily signify a problem – it actually wasn’t too uncommon – a team from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit would be standing by incase of complications.

The moment Miss P was born, time was suspended like the lingering pause between a bolt of lightening slashing the night sky and an angry crack of thunder in the distance.

“Meconium. It’s the meconium,” I heard someone say.

The doctor rushed to cut the umbilical cord, swaddled a languid Miss P in a receiving blanket, and placed her in my arms for a fleeting moment – a moment in which someone snapped our first family photo. I barely had the chance to look down at her before she was taken from me, whisked away to the NICU.

Suddenly, there was so much going on around me: bright lights, loud voices, medical staff shuffling back and forth. I could hear the incessant chatter and laughter of nurses seated at a desk in the hallway and the bleeps from equipment in neighboring rooms. A nurse scolded me- something about bending the IV – an IV I wasn’t even supposed to have – as I gripped my cell phone and tried to focus on the 2″ by 3″ photo of my baby girl the student midwife from the birth center had sent me before she left the hospital.

The whole thing was so far from the peaceful private entrance I’d been fantasizing about since we switched to midwifery care and found a supportive doula.

Then for the first time in forty-one weeks, I was completely and utterly alone.

Miss P had what we like to call a rough start, but less than halfway through the day, she was breathing unassisted, alert, and nursing like a pro. Even so, the first 48 hours of her life were spent in the NICU under observation. During this time, Tim and I were allowed to stay with her. We were allowed to hold her and care for her, though not quite in the same ways we would have had the situation presented itself differently.

I find myself often wondering what it would’ve been like had my baby not been pulled from my arms moments after her birth- to have experienced the “Golden Hour” they often referred to in our childbirth classes in all its sanctity: no weighing and measuring, no bath to compromise the precious vernix, no generic blanket and cap to mimic the warmth of that initial skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

I wonder what it would’ve been like to hold my baby close without a tangle of cords hooked up to various monitors intruding between us, to know the sound of her breath without the drone of equipment – equipment that in our case was completely unnecessary. I also wonder how I would’ve felt had I not had to watch a nurse push the empty plastic bassinet from my room, its wheels squeaking across the tile floor.

I don’t often recount the first days of our lives as a family of three, but when I do, most of my listeners tell me to move on. After all, I was fine. Miss P was fine. It was just a rough start. We live under the guise that a healthy mom and a healthy baby are the only things that matter when they are not. And, by the way, the term healthy isn’t limited to outright physical vigor. We can’t know for certain the repercussions – regardless of how delayed or seemingly unrelated they may be – of separating a newborn baby from its mother. I’m not sure I’ll ever emotionally heal from Miss P being taken away from me, even if it was only for a few hours, even though we both ended up being outwardly “fine”.

As much as I daydream about it, I can’t go back in time and make Miss P’s entrance a peaceful one. I can’t change the fact that she spent her first hours in a stark bassinet  instead of in the arms of her mother and father. I can’t change that she spent her first two days adorned with tubes and wires. I can’t alter the past, but I can move forward consciously and with intention.

I think this is one of the reasons I’ve really resonated with many aspects of attachment parenting. I didn’t set out to be an attachment parent; I didn’t read books on the subject or watch documentaries, I just started doing what, to me, felt natural, and I’ll continue to do what feels natural- to utilize the mother’s instinct that was born with my daughter. I don’t want my sweet baby to succumb to fear or loneliness. I want her to know I’m here for her, now and always.

So, here I sit, forty-one weeks later, with Miss P napping beside me. The room is dimly lit, piano music is playing softly in the background, and the scents of lemongrass and cedarwood tangle in the air as they escape the diffuser. This has become our evening ritual- a nightly Golden Hour of sorts, albeit delayed.

I can’t alter the past, but I can move forward consciously and with intention.

As I sit here this evening watching Miss P sleep, I’m trying to wrap my head around the significance of this extraordinary milestone we’ve just achieved as a family: nine months in; nine months out. Or, in our case, forty-one weeks in; forty-one weeks out.

It’s no secret that human infants are nearly helpless at the time of their birth. Though a full-term baby is born around the nine month mark, its gestation period most definitely continues outside the womb, and in many ways, the nine month milestone, with its bold determination and mobility, seems to bring this external gestation full-circle.

I think back to the night we brought Miss P home from the hospital. Those first few weeks were visceral. They were full of laughter, tears, ambivalence, joy, and utter mental and physical exhaustion.

Birth12

Relaxing during our first week home

Everything was methodical, and there were so many calculations to keep track of: last nursing session, which side it took place on and for how many minutes, wet and soiled diaper output, frequency and duration of naps, and duration of nighttime sleep.

What was her temperature? Did she burp after she nursed? Did she burp twice? Was she too hot or too cold? There was also the uncertainty about how much milk she was actually consuming- a figure that I now know wasn’t something I needed to worry about, yet I spent our first month together agonizing over this lack of information and intermittently texting my midwife for reassurance.

And don’t even get me started on the fit of anxiety that stems from clipping those itty bitty fingernails, keeping her floppy slippery body upright during baths, and pulling her head and delicate limbs through the tiny openings of her sleepers and onesies.

Now Miss P tries to climb right out of her bathtub, and she pulls her shirts up over her head to undress herself. She creeps and crawls and cruises along the walls and furniture. She points when something catches her interest, bounces when she hears a song she likes, and she clears out the kitchen cabinets at least five times a day.

She calls for our cat, Oliver, with me- says, la la, pssst psssst – and wobbles with excitement as he trots over to us. She buzzes and hums and clicks her tongue, and she never tires of smiling at her reflection in the mirror or probing her finger along the owl wind chime that hangs in our living room if you hold her up beside it.

She’s full of spunk and a touch of sass, and she has so much energy that all of our latest pictures are blurry because I can never get her to stay still for more than a moment.

Our baby girl has now grown outside the womb for more or less the same amount of time she spent developing within, and although her exit was turbulent, every day thereafter has been filled with peace and love and a surprising amount of clarity.

Sure, there’s clutter, and chaos, and exhaustion sprinkled in as well. There are often dirty dishes piled in the sink, and baskets of clean laundry that take far too long to get put away, and there are days here and there that end before I’ve even had a chance to shower, but there’s a certain element of beauty in imperfection, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

I’m constantly astounded by this little person who now consumes me. I don’t know how I existed before her, and then I remember I didn’t exist; I was born alongside of her forty-one weeks ago. And oh, how we’ve both grown!

9 months Chalkboard

Happy 4th of July. Miss P is 9 months old!

41 In 41 Out

Meatless Monday- Kale Slaw

I was introduced to the nutritional powerhouse that’s kale during my first MFA residency at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. It seemed that kale, or some variation of it, was featured at every dinner during my eight-day stay on campus – and, come to think of it, at every dinner over my next four residencies as well.

Ahhh, kale.

One of my favorite dishes from Goddard was a crisp and tangy kale slaw served alongside an equally delightful tempeh reuben. After scouring the Internet for the formula to recreate the mouthwatering green salad I noshed on in Vermont, I finally came across a recipe I was happy with on Almost Vegan Girl‘s blog (which I hope she won’t mind me sharing here.)

Here it is in all its glory:

Kale Slaw

Kale Slaw3

Move over, green cabbage: kale is the Super-Star here! Sweet and tangy merge with cool and crisp in this nutrient-dense vegan take traditional cole slaw. This is the absolute perfect summer salad- serve it as a starter, devour it as a snack, or make it a side dish at your next picnic. Any way you present it, it’s sure to be a hit! 

Makes a great big bowl!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed and very finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

To prepare:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, orange juice, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine kale, onions, and carrots. Set aside.
  3. Peel and grate apple. Combine with 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice. (This will help prevent the apple from turning brown.)
  4. Add grated apple and lemon juice mixture to kale, onions, and carrots. Mix.
  5. Pour dressing over salad, and mix well.
  6. Refrigerate and let sit for a minimum of one hour: this will allow the kale to soften up a bit and the flavors to come together. (To maximize both flavor and texture, I like to prepare this salad a day in advance. Of course, it’s still delicious if you just can’t wait that long to eat it.)
Kale Slaw1

Time to mix it all up!

Pots and Pans1

These days, Miss P is continuously finding new ways to “help” Mama in the kitchen, which, of course, includes rummaging through the cabinets and tossing everything inside onto the floor because, you know, preparing a meal just doesn’t provide the same element of thrill when you aren’t sidestepping two travel mugs, four plastic containers, the lid to a copper-bottomed kettle, and a nine-month-old.

Pots and Pans2All obstacles and adventures aside, I’m grateful when the Universe aligns and allows me to spend an hour here or there in the kitchen preparing wholesome meals for my family.

Kale Slaw3

This salad is budget friendly, super healthy, easy to prepare, and absolutely delicious! It’s definitely become a staple in our house.

It’s

Super –

k a l e 

– ifragilisticexpialidocious!

um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay…

Kale Slaw4

Nursing Necklace Giveaway

Our Etsy shop, The Tiny Acorn By J Lee is very excited have teamed up with Here for you reviews to bring you an exciting giveaway!

Giveaway Square- Lagoon

Around three months of age, Miss P began getting distracted during nursing sessions. Every sound and sensation was new to her, and she’d often yank my hair, tug at my clothes, kick her legs, scratch her nails across whatever surface we were seated on, etc. I started making these necklaces to keep her busy little body occupied while nursing, and for us, they’ve become a dependable solution. Miss P also enjoys holding on to these necklaces while being worn in a sling.

Nursing necklaces stimulate the senses and allow little ones to expel energy without losing sight of the task at hand- nursing! They also provide a source of security and comfort for baby and an opportunity for mom to accessorize with an item made from safe and durable materials. (And don’t let the name fool you; these necklaces aren’t just for nursing mamas!)

Simply click the link below and follow the instructions for your chance to win a sweet and cozy handmade nursing necklace from The Tiny Acorn By J Lee in Lagoon.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, Dear Readers!

Meatless Monday- Pasta e Fagioli

Italian food has always been one of my favorites. I mean, seriously, who can resist a heaping plate of capellini smothered in robust tomato sauce and drizzled with olive oil? My mouth waters just thinking about it.

When I first adopted a vegan lifestyle, I quickly realized that Italian restaurants were more or less off limits: chicken, mozzarella, beef, mozzarella, veal, mozzarella, pancetta, mozzarella, mozzarella with extra mozzarella… {Gahh.} These places can inevitably become a vegan’s worst nightmare, yet it took me a long time to come to terms with this. Now when I’m craving Italian fare, I’m able to whip up a satisfying (cruelty-free) meal at home.

Learning how to prepare food from scratch wasn’t an overnight process, but it was absolutely worth the effort, and, as a result of this knowledge, I’m now able to recreate many of my former favorite meals in much healthier ways. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of preparing your own meals is that you have complete control over what goes into them and, perhaps more importantly, what stays out of them. (It should only take a once-over of the exhaustive list of ingredients plastered on most packaged foods for it to become startlingly clear that these products might, in fact, pose serious health risks.)

Before Miss P’s arrival, I often spent the entire weekend prepping food, in mass quantities, for the week ahead. With an increasingly mobile nine-month-old and several new business ventures underway, devoting that kind of time to our meals is no longer an option. Even so, I refuse to revert to highly processed foods, so, lately, I’ve been experimenting with dishes that are quick and simple to prepare, and let’s not forget, budget-friendly, because, let’s face it, in this single-income household, buying a $22 bag of Camu powder to round-off our green smoothies isn’t always practical.

This Meatless Monday, I’d like to share the recipe for one of our new favorites: Pasta e Fagioli. It couldn’t be any easier to prepare, and there’s a good chance the ingredients are already hanging around your kitchen just waiting to be turned into something delicious. As an added bonus, this beans and pasta dish is serious comfort food. Pair it with a colorful garden salad and a fresh loaf of crusty bread and you have yourself a restaurant-style Italian meal. Might I add that it’s also equally delicious the next day- that is, if you actually have leftovers.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli 8

Fresh Roma tomatoes, minced garlic, and Italian herbs cook down into a terrifically light sauce that pairs perfectly with hearty pasta (I like to use gluten free) and white beans. Top with a generous pour of white wine vinegar for a zing like no other. This is a fast, simple, and budget friendly – yet wholesome and satisfying dish. Perfect for summer!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
  • a few dashes of fresh black pepper
  • 2 lbs. Roma tomatoes, diced medium
  • 2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 lb small tube pasta (I used Ancient Harvest Gluten Free elbows)
  • 15 oz can white beans (no salt added), drained and washed

Optional:

  • fresh parsley, chopped (to garnish)
  • parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
  • a sprinkle of nutritional yeast
Pasta e Fagioli 1

Make this mouthwatering beans and pasta dish when Roma tomatoes are in season!

To prepare:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Warm olive oil in a second large pot over medium heat. Add garlic to the olive oil, and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant (about one minute). Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium, cover, and continue to cook until tomatoes are broken down and sauce has reduced and thickened (about 30 minutes). While you’re waiting for the tomatoes to break down, cook pasta according to package directions making sure it remains al dente. Drain pasta and set aside. When sauce is done, add two tbsp of white wine vinegar and stir. Add pasta and beans. (I like to use a wooden spoon and mix gently to keep my pasta intact.) Simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Pasta e Fagioli 2

Pasta e Fagioli 4

photo

Miss P likes to help in the kitchen by emptying everything out of the cabinets while I cook.

Pasta e Fagioli 3

Pasta e Fagioli 8

…so delicious that I actually ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture.

8 Months

8 Months Chalkboard

Tomorrow marks nine months for Miss P.

NINE MONTHS. I can’t get over it.

But, first, here are some eight month updates. (Better late than never.) 8 Months 1

8 Months 2

8 Months 3

June – Miss P’s eighth month – was a month of ups and downs around here: Miss P’s first airplane ride, adventures in Upstate New York, visiting family in the breathtaking rolling mountains of Pennsylvania, and let’s not forget the latest developmental milestone P’s been tackling- STANDING up and FALLING down, a new trick that leaves me rife with anxiety and hovering over her at all times. {Hello, porcelain tile floor!}

Miss P’s newly acquired mobility coupled with several projects I’ve been juggling over the past two months have kept me from this space. Gone are the days of spending hours at the computer while occasionally glancing up from the keyboard to admire my peacefully sleeping little one. Oh yes, long gone.

As the fog of being a new Mama lifts, I realize there are many things I’ve surrendered since Miss P’s arrival (some temporarily, some for good) such as: sitting down to a hot meal (actually, make that sitting down at all), the vast majority of my favorite tops and dresses as they don’t offer sufficient boob access, make-up (most days), the hair dryer and curling iron, running errands just because, doing anything – besides showering -quickly, napping because I’m tired or not feeling well, meeting a friend for an impromptu lunch or happy hour, etc.

Late nights out have been traded for late nights in, sky-high heels have been exchanged for flats, red wine replaced with tepid herbal tea, and reading time has dwindled from hours a day spent thoroughly engrossed in a quality novel to minutes here and there spent scanning poorly written articles – many of which condemn my parenting choices – shared over social media.

I scroll through said articles while standing at the kitchen counter and gently swaying from side to side as Miss P peacefully naps in our woven wrap or while nursing her to sleep at night in the glider or while patiently waiting for her to wake in the morning, pausing every couple of sentences to look over at her snuggled beside me in bed.

These articles often tackle controversial topics and cross into territories where the author, let’s call her Sally Sassypants, has no jurisdiction: Sleep training, anyone? No thanks, Sally. If my baby cries, I will pick her up, even if that means I’m “doomed” to comfort her throughout the night until she’s a teenager, which, by the way, is a major aspect of the whole parental role- you know, actually being there for your kids.

These articles often promote rigid schedules- schedules that don’t support the baby’s needs, and encourage incomprehensible ideas like letting your baby self-soothe, which we all know is just a euphemism for cry himself/herself to sleep, and I’m thinking, “Damn, we’re a little off,” because I’m not even out of bed yet, and I’ve already broken seven of Sally’s rules.

{Hey, Sally, how about you parent your way, and I’ll parent mine, mmmmkay? And here’s a tidbit for you, compliments of a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing Mama: Do us a favor, and run a grammar check on your articles before you publish them, because there are always, always grammatical errors, and that really compromises your credibility; just my humble opinion, of course.}

I know, I know, I really need to just stop reading this rubbish. I’ve been watching Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar collect dust on my coffee table for months now, a fate that, for me, is right up there with preparing my favorite meal only to gaze longingly at it, thinking how wonderful it would be if I were to devour it. (Maybe I’ll move The Bell Jar from the coffee table to the nightstand so I can partake in some real reading time in the fleeting moments that allow for it.)

So the fog – that haze made up of bliss, hunger, exhaustion, and, at times, the harsh realization that nearly every aspect of your being has been altered – has lifted, and I’m starting to realize that being a Mama can get awfully political if you buy into that sort of thing. I’ve also realized it’s not advice or reassurance I want or need because, at the end of the day, there are only two people it concerns if I choose to nurse Miss P to sleep each night, and I don’t have it in me to let either of us down.

Ah yes, so I’ve traded some things in, but look what I got in return:

P3

 P4

P1

P5

And really, I didn’t give any of these thing up. I’ve heard my share of moms boast that they’re “still the same person” after the arrival of their little ones. {Sally is one of those moms.}

I am not.

When I think of the former me, the “me” before P – and the place she has gone – the hauntingly beautiful description of visual memory Vladimir Nabokov provides in the opening pages of Lolita comes to mind. Nabokov asserts that, “there are two kinds of visual memory…” The me before P is best described as the second of these two: “(the kind) you instantly evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark innerside of your eyelids, the objective absolutely optical replica of a beloved face, a little ghost in natural colors.”

It’s actually the former version of myself that I’ve traded in; the me before P now exists only in photographs and on the dark innerside of my eyelids. She’s ethereal.

And as for the new me? I’m living more consciously than I ever have before because there’s a tiny person who depends on me, and my heart is so full of love and gratitude for her. As an added bonus, my floor is so clean you could eat off of it, and, I suppose, I can temporarily succumb to shoddy reading material and tepid tea.

On a lighter note, I leave you with some pictures from our recent trip to New York and Pennsylvania. {Oh, how I want to go back!}

plane

Miss P’s first plane ride. (She handled it much better than Daddy.)

NY1

I was so happy to see a lilac bush, even if it was a tad past its prime.

Miss P does the zoo

Exploring the Safari Bus at the zoo.

Miss P in Oswego

Miss P “strolling” down Bridge Street in Oswego, New York.

car ride to PA

Miss P’s first road trip! En route to Pennsylvania.

Welcome to PA

Oh, the beauty. Welcome to Pennsylvania.

View from the hotel

A view from the top.

gorge4gorge2

gorge3

gorge1

This place was seriously so gorgeous!

gorge landscape3

gorge landscape2
gorge landscape1

Meatless Monday Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza

This Meatless Monday, I’d like to share our typical Friday-night dinner – Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza – because, well, it’s one of our favorites. [In fact, it’s so good that sometimes we break down and make a second batch by mid-week.]

For us, Friday nights used to be a time to get dressed up and head to a local bar for drinks and a few hands of Texas hold ’em, but since Miss P’s arrival, that routine has been replaced with a new one: Our Friday evenings now entail a trip to the grocery store to stock up on necessities for the coming week, lots of playtime for Miss P and homemade vegan pizza for dinner.

[And if you’re currently thinking, “That sounds like a terribly dull way to spend a Friday night,” you’ve obviously never run errands with an infant in tow and you definitely haven’t attempted to prepare and consume longly stare at a meal until it’s ice cold in the company of said infant.]

This week was no exception! [And, in case you’re wondering, yes, the pizza is even delicious cold.]

Daddy & Miss P

Tim sporting Miss P! (I cannot believe how BIG she’s getting!)

Tim’s also sporting one of our handmade nursing necklaces – which Miss P absolutely loves – from our Etsy shop, The Tiny Acorn by J Lee. (We’d be honored if you’d drop by for a visit.)

Now, down to business: Tim’s been experimenting with vegan pizza for some time now, and he’s finally come up with a simple recipe we’re completely satisfied with. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza:

veggie pizza6

Move over, Delivery. Seriously.

Ciabatta bread bakes to a satisfyingly toasty yet toothsome pizza crust, and provides a hearty foundation for robust tomato sauce and all of your favorite toppings! Keep yours simple or get as inventive as you’d like. This meal is so quick – and easy – to throw together, making it an excellent choice for Meatless Monday.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • oregano (to taste)
  • basil (to taste)
  • garlic powder (to taste)
  • 15 oz. jar pizza sauce (We like Organicville.)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (We use Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds. It’s dairy-free and melts wonderfully, but you can use any brand you’d like.) 
  • 1/2 cup (or desired amount) red bell pepper, diced*
  • 1/4 cup (or desired amount) red onion, diced*

* We kept it simple and used red bell pepper and red onion, but the fresh veggie combos are unlimited, so feel free to experiment!

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the loaf of ciabatta bread in half, then cut each half lengthwise so you have four pieces. Drizzle each piece with olive oil (we use about 1 tbsp per slice). Spread sauce evenly over each slice (we use about 1/2 cup per slice), then dust with oregano, basil, and garlic powder, to taste. Next, generously sprinkle shredded cheese over sauce (again, we use about 1/2 cup per slice). Now you’re ready for your veggies, or other toppings. Add as many as you like; have fun experimenting here! (One of these weeks I’m also going to try fresh basil and sliced Roma tomatoes, yum!)

veggie pizza1

Olive oil

veggie pizza2

& sauce,

veggie pizza4

“cheese” & veggies, oh my!

Bake pizza at 400 degrees until bread becomes nice and toasty and “cheese” melts, approximately 16 minutes. Due to differences in ovens, keep an eye on your pizzas; they can go from cooked to perfection to charred in a matter of minutes, trust us.😉 This pizza was definitely cooked to perfection!

veggie pizza5

Behold! Vegan-cheesy goodness!

Much tastier than takeout and healthier as well!