Back when I was a nanny, I often said to myself, “I will NEVER do {insert things employers did that annoyed me here}!” One of those things was, “I will NEVER hide vegetables to get my kid to eat them! S/he will just…EAT VEGETABLES!”

That worked for awhile when my baby was excited to have anything other than formula and donor milk in her face. She was all up on the beets, green beans, and green pepper strip with a fierceness I’d only seen while watching her daddy eat peanut butter pancakes.

Then she turned into a toddler, and toddlers are jerks. Big ol’ adorable veggie-striking jerks. I’m lucky if I can get her to eat a half cup of veggies a week on her own. FYI I accidentally typed “vaggies” at first because that’s what happens after I check my search terms and then do an entry. Anyway.

So. Since the first rule of parenting is “learn to eat your words” and the second rule of parenting is “make sure your kids eat their veggies,” I’ve started hiding vegetables. First up, chocolate beet muffins.  These are a sometimes food because of the chocolate.

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Cake Student. You can check out the original (with MUCH better photos) here.

My version:

Ingredients
1 10 oz bag of bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
1/3 stick unsalted butter
2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour (I used Arrowhead Mills)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup beet puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used The Greek Gods full fat this time but would normally use Straus)
1/4 cup milk

I’ve made these with three types of beets: small, organic beets from my CSA box, already peeled and steamed from the store, and big ol’ conventional beets from our local market. The ones made from the CSA box beets were a deeper red and a bit sweeter. If you don’t mind some extra peeling, look for lil baby organic beets!

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Line muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray (I ran out of liners and did a mix of both; they turned out fine both ways).

2. Peel, steam, and puree your beets. I steamed until they were fork tender and pureed using my stick blender.

Mmm, beets.

Mmm, beets.

3. Melt together butter and 2/3c chocolate chips over low heat. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Stir in the melted chocolate.

6.  Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring gently until combined. Some floury spots are ok. You will get a big bowl of weird pink fluffy stuff. Yum!

Pink mess

Pink mess.

7. Spoon into prepared muffin tins, right up to the top. I doubled the recipe and got 29. Bake 15-18 minutes. Muffins are done when you gently push the tops and they bounce back.

8. Let cool and shove in picky toddler’s face. Watch in horror as s/he gets chocolatey muffin everywhere.

These muffins are toddler-approved.

These muffins are toddler-approved.

 

 

Thirteen years ago, a series of events big and small lead me to cower in my closet maybe once or twice a week for about six months. I went to sleep around 5am every morning, woke at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and spent the majority of my awake time in my bedroom. I left the house so infrequently that my eyes burned in the sun on the short walk to the mailbox. I left a few times – once or twice to go to the grocery store with my mother, once to go to the record store to order the latest from Kill Rock Stars, and once to shop at a used book store down the street.

I timed my day so that I only had to leave my room when my family was away or sleeping. I learned every crack in the floor so that I could tiptoe through the house without making a noise. I developed a hyper-vigilance that allowed me to hear the tiniest turn of a key, click of a lock, feet slipping into or out of shoes, so that I could slip away before anyone entered the apartment or the room.

My room was the safest place in the world, but there were times when those four walls weren’t safe enough, when I was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. There were nights when I felt as though my body was coming apart, floating away, space between every cell with electricity shooting between. It hurt. It physically hurt. I felt raw, exposed, and most of all, scared. On those nights, I went into my tiny closet, took all of the fabric out of my sewing box, and piled it on top of me to make my body stop floating away. I sat there under pounds of velvet, flannel, and cotton and waited patiently with my eyes closed for the feelings to be drowned.

That’s where I was when I wrote and posted my last entry, and it’s why it’s been so long in between. I had no safe place, no closet to hide in, I didn’t have the luxury of irresponsibility, I had a baby (now a toddler!) and a boyfriend (now a husband!) and I had to be there. I had to put raising our child first and in the process, I had to let my body float away, feel that electricity, get overwhelmed by that fear.

There were a few times when I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I didn’t want to kill myself – that would take too much effort – I just wanted to be gone. To go to sleep and not wake up or to wake up numb or, I don’t know, something. Anything but waking up to literal and figurative open wounds.

There’s a pretty big gap between how I felt then and where I am now, and I don’t know how to narrate that. There wasn’t really a solution, no defining moment of clarity, just me very slowly trying to climb up from the bottom of a very deep hole without a whole lot of places to turn. I know I’m leaving a lot out, but I just want to put something here to bridge the gap between January and tomorrow.

So, that’s it. That’s what I’ve not been saying for eight months. I’m mostly better now. There are residual physical and mental quirks here and there – adhesions that pull, a dimple in my scar, an occasional moment of anxiety – but it’s all in check. I feel safe and happy and capable again.

Hi.

Being her mother is amazing. Entering motherhood, not so much.

Entering this phase of my life in a whirlwind of pain, confusion, and abandonment hurt. At its worst, I felt like I was hanging on the lowest rung in a pit of despair, fighting desperately not to fall down completely. I begged my therapist for an appointment over Skype a few days after getting out of the hospital, while sitting in a Walgreens parking lot. We were buying formula for my skin-and-bones baby who was starving and screaming because I couldn’t make milk. Days after leaving the hospital, I had to return to have my incision reopened and an infection drained. I continued to go every few days for months. I had to hand her over to others while I sobbed uncontrollably over still being on disability, still being a patient, still packing an open wound three months after surgery. I had insomnia for almost five months because every single evening was spent replaying my labor and surgery, wondering why my midwife became distant and then disappeared, and trying to figure out how to dissipate unspent energy left behind when we stopped pushing and started cutting. I hid from my friends for three or four months because the staph infection I picked up at the hospital spread to my skin and a third of my face was covered. These last six months haven’t been kind.

Her half birthday is a special day for her, and for us as a family. We celebrated and reflected on the time she’s been with us and marveled at how much she’s changed and grown. It’s an anniversary too though – one that I recognize silently so as not to detract from this special little person’s day.

In between hugs and kisses, my mind raced back to laboring at home, going from excitement to urgency to transfer. And I tried to remember what happened after.

That’s the hardest part – not having memories. I don’t remember the sound of her crying in the operating room or the first time I saw her in recovery. I don’t remember much of the good stuff from the first two days at all. I remember alarms going off in recovery when my blood pressure dropped, going in and out of consciousness while waiting for them to bring her in, wondering if they’d even be able to if my blood pressure kept dropping, I remember the hospital midwife smirking as she pressed on my fundus so hard that I tried to scream but could barely manage a sound, doctors and nurses in and out of our postpartum room scrutinizing my erratic blood pressure and dark orange urine, I remember wanting desperately to go with her every time they took her to the nursery to do a check-up or draw more blood but I wasn’t allowed to stand up, I remember the intense and unusual feeling of sharp, stinging pain mixed with numbness all over my belly. Most of all though, I remember the unexpected and frightening feeling of the incision inside of me – the one on my uterus – the burning, stabbing, and piercing sensation migrating slowly down my abdomen as it shrank in the days following the birth.

Of all the physical feelings, that’s the one I’d most like to forget. I still have phantom pains. I had them all day on January 2nd. I have them sometimes when I lay awake at night questioning what I could have done differently or trying to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together to convince myself that I did everything that I could. “It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault…” replays as the phantom pain moves down my stomach. It’s worse than the pains of surgery that I felt when the final epidural failed. I feel those sometimes, too.

I can’t pretend it’s all negated by having the privilege of being a mom. I’ve been cut deeply. I hurt, physically and emotionally. I have to hold two spaces – mother, and me. I feel wounded and broken. I don’t have my strength back. My incision hurts still, every day. I have a lot of healing and forgiving to do. I’m also experiencing joy and love I never thought I’d know. It’s confusing, being a mom and being me. It’s hard to find the balance, hard to stop and find space for me, to treat myself kindly and tenderly, when all I want is to make it all go away so I can be strong and happy, so I can just be a mom and focus on her and stop worrying so much about me.

There’s so much going on when I’m Mama – so many things to distract me from the questions and memories (or lack thereof) and the lingering pain. I can be happy, whole, and present. And then in the quiet times, I crumble. Six months, crumbling and picking up the pieces. Over and over.

It’s getting better. Most of the time, I feel normal. Most nights, I sleep. I can reach my arms up high and not feel like I’m about to rip apart. I can laugh without bracing for pain. I can carry my baby without breaking a rule. I feel like I have so far to go though, and every day that goes by, every milestone reached, I wonder if I would have been a better mom and a happier me if I’d done something differently and done it “right”.

Six months is a good run, right? No judgment if I leave her with wolves? She’s clearly feral. A tiny, feral beast.

I kid, I kid.

My little baby turned six months old yesterday. I spent the morning looking over birth photos and marveling at how much she’s grown. At her smallest, she was 5lbs 11oz and now she’s a roly-poly 18lbs squish. She sat up straight at five months, rolled over from back to front and back again with the help of her cousin on Christmas Eve, she has amazing hand-eye coordination and motor skills, and she has the most captivating smile. She’s added in a little nose crinkle recently that melts me.

It’s amazing, looking back on ultrasounds. I can’t believe that a year ago, she was still inside of me, hardly big enough to notice but with perfectly formed little parts. We had an ultrasound done exactly six months before she was born. We were able to see that we’d be having a girl even though I was less than 14 weeks pregnant. Six months after that, she entered the world in a dramatic fashion that I will never forget. And today, she is her own little person with such a big personality that brings immeasurable joy to our lives. It’s hard to remember life without her now.

I was hoping that her half birthday would be more celebratory – we’d wake up and she’d have her first solid foods, we’d go to the park as a family and hit the swings (she LOVES baby swings), we’d do a little six month photo shoot with the Chewbacca doll to track her growth, and we’d have lots of nice family memories on what feels like her first milestone birthday. Our little peanut’s been sick for a week though, so instead we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office after we’d already been to the ER and Pediatric Urgent Care in the days leading up to yesterday. She’s at the tail end of her illness now but decided to go out with a bang – two bad ear infections. Maybe it was perfect timing after all though – we’ve been reminded of how difficult parenting can be, and with that we’ve been reminded of all of the rewards. Every tiny smile feels like the biggest victory. Hearing her laugh today nearly made me cry. I feel with a depth and intensity I didn’t know I was capable of. At times, it’s overwhelming. I can’t begin to imagine how this love will grow and change as she gets older and interacts in new ways – talking, kissing, hugging..! I can’t wait.

6 months

Aw man. Last night was heartbreaking! The Daddy got back from a 4-day business trip and when he held FSR after he got home, she just melted into tears. It wasn’t the back arching “get me away from this stranger” cry. She just collapsed into him like “OMG DADDY I MISSED YOU!” Now he never wants to leave again! I don’t know how people can do long distance relationships and deployments with kids, man. So much respect. We can’t even do four days!

As most of you know, I had complications with my incision. The right side felt hot to the touch while still in the hospital. I also felt a hard lump under that side. I mentioned it to doctors and nurses a few times but everyone told me not to worry, that it was most likely scar tissue. We went home without them doing much other than visually checking my incision.

A few days after we came home from the hospital, we realized it wasn’t scar tissue. My incision opened and started to drain in the warm spot with the lump.

The Daddy and I packed up baby and headed to triage. There, the resident stuck a very long cotton swab into my abdomen and swept it side-to-side to make a larger hole. You know what really hurts? Having a fresh incision opened up with a q-tip. The Daddy calmed me down by whispering in my ear and the attending physician held my hand and stroked my arm. Then they pressed on my abdomen to expel the contents of the abscess that had formed underneath my incision. Quite a bit of blood and pus drained out. The spot that had been sore and painful for a week felt better immediately.

Then they delivered the bad news – The Daddy would have to irrigate the wound morning and night, and then using one of the same long cotton swabs, he’d have to pack the hole in my incision with a special gauze tape that looks like a shoelace. This would need to be done until the wound closed. We’d need to irrigate so that infection didn’t pool in the open wound. The packing was to wick out the moisture, for the same reason. With irrigating and packing supplies and a 10-day script for Clindamycin, we were sent on our way.

For about a week, The Daddy did the irrigating and packing. I’m not a very good patient though – I freak out when I feel like I’m not self-sufficient – so I eventually took over. Below the cut is an explanation of the process, and some pictures.

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Tomorrow will be 12 weeks postpartum. My goal was to make one post a week. Considering I haven’t posted in a month…yeah. We’ll call that a fail. I’ve gotten into this bad habit of starting entries in Google Docs and then never returning because it’s either something requiring research/citations (PCOS Awareness Month post), something that ended up too long (c-section recovery post), something that requires more pictures/less modesty (post about recovery complications, incision scar, etc) or something that felt too personal in retrospect (PTSD to C-PTSD shift and body disassociation).

Anyway. Here’s a quick-y throwback to the State of the Uterus posts.

12 Week State of the…I don’t know. Mom? Family? Stuff.

First, the happy.

-The Daddy’s mostly back to work and I’m doing the stay-at-home-mom thing. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, sometimes it’s isolating. Mostly, I love seeing my baby all day, every day without worrying about childcare stuff, job hunting, missing her, etc.
-There are no longer pieces of suture randomly coming out of my vagina. Not gonna lie, that could also go in the “sad” section because it was fun-gross, like a really good nose blow or pimple.
-FSR is growing like a weed. Her lowest weight was 5lbs 11oz and now she’s 13lbs. Kid likes to eat.
-We’re doing that thing that people tend to do when they have kids – we’re entertaining the thought of leaving the city. I would like to stay here forever, but the desire to give my kid a yard with dirt to play in is much more important, and that’s not really an attainable thing in the city. I’m a little sad about the idea of leaving, but I think that if/when it happens, it will be good for us all.
-Tomorrow is mine and The Daddy’s seven year anniversary. Holy shit.
-FSR laughed! A big, real laugh on the 21st. I was tickling her under her chin. Ticklishness! That’s a thing that’s happening! Yesssss.
-It’s almost Halloween, which means ridiculous things like CUPCAKE COSTUMES are on sale. And I buy them. FSR is not sure what to think.

-Friends are having babies! Two this week and more on the way.

So. Yeah. There’s the good stuff. Motherhood and family life in general is great and I love my little girl so much. I would not trade it for the world. Not everything is sunshine and roses, though. Some things are hard. Real hard.

On to the sad/bad:

-PCOS is back full-swing. Oh hello, adult acne! Has it been a year since you left already?! I’m having the worst breakout since…I don’t know when. I literally have zits on top of zits, and cystic acne. It hurts so bad, I want to claw my face off. Hopefully birth control will knock that shit out ASAP.
-SPD, still a thing.
-Baby weight, also still a thing. I decided that 2.5 months of legit disability means that the “9 months on, 9 months off” thing doesn’t apply. I get 11.5 months. May as well round that up to a year. This is bumming me out not because of a number on a scale or size on my pants but because I don’t feel like myself. My body shape changed. My old clothes that fit look different now. I have to re-learn my body, and that’s hard. So. Favorite jeans? I will see you next September. Maybe. I might not see you again at all and if that’s the case, hopefully I will be ok with that over time.
-I feel generally unwell/unhealthy because I’ve been more inactive than I have ever been in my life because of limitations brought on by recovery and complications. It’s seriously so bad, I gave up my initial goal of joining a boxing class and instead have actually been looking into mall walking because air conditioned walking on a flat surface is seriously the only thing that doesn’t sound horribly painful. Oh, god.
-Hole in my abdomen? Still got it.

There you go, folks. That’s where we are right now. I really do want to get on some of those other posts soon, but…yeah. Parenthood. Time constraints. Brain fog. We’ll see how it goes.

Until then, I’ll be over here…doing this.