Visiting the Domestic Endeavors farm is always an exploration in creativity and analysis. Miz Carmen is one of the most creative and innovative minds I know and it is pure pleasure to visit her, any time of year. At our last canning soiree, it was a pleasantly baking 90ish degrees (anything is pleasant after the saturating humidity and soul-sucking heat of 110 in Virginia Beach, right?), and she kept us all hydrated with a variety of homemade drinks, including her custom tweak of a Trim Healthy Mama favorite, the Good Girl Moonshine.
One of the greatest features in this icy drink is the ginger ice cubes, which can be used in any of a hundred thousand of your own beverages – adding zip and raw goodness to lemonade, apple cider tonics, Ningxia Red, sparkling water or whatever else your dehydrated body yearns for.
Ginger Ice Cubes
How potent should they be? That’s up to you. Miz Carmen states that she uses five ounces of peeled root per Vitamix-load of water. Stronger ice cube flavor means saving more room in your freezer, because you can use just one, instead of two – so mess with the numbers and find your happy place! (Comment below if you have a dream measurement!)
Organic ginger root, peeled with a spoon
Filtered or clean water
Nut milk bag (I like this one) or linen cloth
Ice cube trays
Vitamix or blender
Throw ginger in a Vitamix or blender and fill to manufacturer’s recommended volume (so, do not OVER fill) with filtered water. Blend and increase speed to HIGH for about a minute, to hyper-rupture the cells of the ginger for maximum flavor and nutrient release.
Strain through a linen cloth or mesh nut-milk bag, squeezing the root to get all that goodness.
Pour liquid into ice cube trays and freeze until solid; store in the freezer, obviously. Use in the following recipe.
Peeling ginger with a spoon is a handy trick I learned in the restaurant kitchens of Virginia Beach!
How much water you use – it is entirely up to you.
Blend on HIGH. The Vitamix has the capability to hyper-rupture plant cells, like the advanced cold-press systems used for making juice today. Read more about ways to use the Vitamix on my popular blog post, 70 Awesome Things to do With Your Vitamix!
Domestic Endeavors Makes Good Girl Moonshine
The original recipe comes from the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook – you can read more about their food philosophy in the Trim Healthy Mama Plan. They call this an all-day sipper – a metabolism booster that doesn’t spike insulin or provide significant fuel that could throw your fuel/burn plan.
1/2 Tablespoon THM Gentle Sweet or Super Sweet (depending on your sweet tooth)
1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) to 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar or make your own
2 teaspoons caramel extract (Miz Carmen used this one, so I got some on Amazon)
1 – 2 ginger ice cubes (see recipe above)
Handful of regular ice cubes
12 ounces filtered water or sparkling water (or one can of La Croix)
Load a quart jar with ice cubes and the ginger cubes. Add other ingredients and stir briskly to combine. Sip all day!
Salute to staying cool and hydrated even on the hottest days!!! You are my sunshine!!!!!!
We all know those energy drinks are so horrid for you. And beautiful, lovely coffee is a toxin that, as fragrant and heavenly as it is, brings our frequency down, raises our acidity and makes our heart race.
What are some other alternative sources of energy?
To start with, getting sleep on track is the most important factor. According to neurologists, if you wake up to an alarm – you’re sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation is the start of a slippery slope of brain damage. Scary, right? I’ll share more about sleep in a follow-up post (link will be added here when it is live).
So here we are, and we need energy. What are some alternative sources?
Choffy is super delicious. It’s crushed cacao beans that you can brew in a French press just like coffee – it’s high in iron, has the delicious aroma of chocolate, and packs a punch of clean energy that doesn’t have a caffeine crash. It is non-addicting, but I have to say I love it so much that maybe I got addicted after all? Pictured here: my Paleo bulletproof Choffy latte (vegan option), recipe follows!
I think you have to purchase through a distributor, but I get a steady supply from my aunt who has a friend who sells it, so I’ve never actually purchased it myself (lucky, right?!). If I ever find out where she gets it from, I’ll add the link here!
Bulletproof Choffy – Paleo, Vegan
Printable PDF Recipe
Brew 8 ounces Choffy – I love the dark chocolate version.
Heat 4 – 8 ounces almond milk (the frothiest) or coconut milk while Choffy is brewing.
Pour hot milk, hot Choffy, and a tablespooon of grassfed butter, ghee or coconut oil in a blender; hit on high for a few second or until frothy!
Serve immediately. Yum!!!!
Essential oils are loaded with pure energy that boost your body’s natural ability to burn, fuel and clean up any systems that are clogged with synthetic chemicals or addictive substances. You can order Ningxia products by going here.
Ningxia Red is loaded with powerful plant purees and essential oils all known for feeding our body and cleaning out the “rust” we build up over time. Cleaning up your own body is one way to start to burn cleaner, more efficiently and feel better all at the same time!
Ningxia Nitro is a tiny energy shot that has all the same energy plus a boost from black pepper and green tea. Ningxia Zyng is a canned beverage that is fizzy and loaded with plant power!
My favorite Ningxia Mocktail recipe follows!
Ningxia Red Mocktail
Printable PDF Recipe
16 ounces carbonated water (La Croix, Soda Stream, Pellegrino, mineral water)
2 ounces Ningxia Red
4 drops Orange Vitality Essential Oil
1 tablespoon dried Ningxia wolfberries
Combine all four ingredients in a glass jar or bottle. Swirl to blend and serve in a wine glass!
You can apply oils to your body – blends such as En-R-Gee, Motivation and Citrus Fresh are designed to help boost your energy capacity and get more done!
You can also diffuse them – citrus oils are great for boosting energy, and frankincense makes a great pair with any citrus.
Do you have a favorite diffuser blend for increasing energy?
Love and energy to ALL!
It’s time. I think we’ve all had enough of it.
What is a food snob? A food snob is a colloquial term for someone who deviates from eating whatever is perceived, by the accuser, as being “normal” food and eats something perceived, by the accuser, as being “different.” For purposes of distinction, we should make note of the fact that a food snob does not necessarily compel anyone else to participate in their particular program – the food they eat may well affect only themselves.
A food snob could be a vegan, a vegetarian, a Paleo advocate, or someone on Whole30. It could be someone who shops at Whole Foods or in the produce section at Walmart or goes to the farmer’s market. It could be someone who doesn’t eat kale salad because they don’t like how it tastes. It could be someone who declines a certain brand or variety of food in favor of another, or – and this seems to be the culmination of cultural blasphemy – brings their own food to an event in order to maintain a certain variety or level of nutritional intake. The term food snob can also apply to persons with allergies, sensitivities, auto-immune diseases, genetic markers and random personal likes or dislikes of foods that are out of their control.
Most often, food snob is the term used for anybody who deviates from the modern, standard American diet, especially someone who chooses to forego many processed foods.
Shame on you for eating something else … Calling someone a food snob is to participate in a rampant shame culture that, among other things, determines that anyone who does anything different than the individual(s) defining the norm is bad and must be forced, through humiliation, exclusion, belittling and rejection, both subtle and blatant, both public and private, to conform to a perceived norm.
I can see you. The astonishing thing about a shame culture, however, is that it opens a page into the private heart of the accuser, to those who know how to read it. In her book Daring Greatly, social researcher Brene Brown tells us, “What’s ironic … is that research tells us that we judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame … If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived shaming deficiency. It’s hurtful and ineffective…” (1) The more someone belittles another for their food choices, odds are the more guilty and ashamed that person feels about their own food decisions. A person who feels confident, comfortable and secure in their choices has no need to make another feel small for their choices.
Don’t feel self-righteous just yet. This is a knife that can cut both ways – someone who is adhering to a specific food plan can pick relentlessly at those around her or him, becoming an annoying and aggravating source of unwanted information. So to the person accused of being a food snob – don’t be a snob. Snobs are annoying. There is a way to be snobbish and rude and annoying about your food choices, and there is a way to be loving, and kind, and open-hearted and generous about your food choices. You have a story of healing to tell, and that’s why you’re here, making the choices you do! Share your story with authenticity. Don’t play the martyr, or the saint, or the food snob.
What do we do when someone calls us a food snob? Ouch. It is far more appropriate to show love and listen. The person accusing you the loudest of being a food snob is very likely the person hurting the most. Listen to their hurt, and employ shame-resilience strategies for yourself in the face of their criticism:
Acknowledge to yourself the wound of their insult, and respect the hurt it can bring and know that you are not alone in your pain. Feel gratitude that you are able the make the choices you do despite harsh comments opposing you. Stay engaged in the culture that gives you support.
Then move on from the experience and understand that no matter what you do, somebody out there will disapprove, because somebody out there is uncomfortable with their own choices! Unless they are going to be living in your body, they don’t get a vote. Provide the wonder and awe that inspires you to eat the way you do, and let the shamers continue on their path.
Thanks for listening. I love you guys.
1 Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Brene Brown. Page 99. Penguin Random House, New York. 2012
Adoring loving Readers,
This is the official BLOG LAUNCH of my Etsy store! WHAT? YEAH! MY ETSY STORE!
I just had to read that again to make sure it’s for real. #pinchme
I am running awesome Black Friday through Cyber Monday deals. Because discount? So yeah.
All those amazing and incredible things I’ve been posting about from our Make & Takes – yes, you TOO can have them! (That was supposed to sound cheesy!) But for real. I am so excited!!!!!
If you have some essential oils already, or dried herbs from your garden that you want to incorporate into lotions and salves, check out the pre-made “unflavored” base lotion, salve, rub and balm on the Etsy page!
Just a sampling of the items in the store right now (items in store may vary)
That Tummy Tuck tho? I can’t keep it in stock! It flies off the shelf! I make more every few days! It’s AMAZING.
All the deals I am running begin
Details on the Black Friday Specials
1. Order your first oils kit! Are you getting interested in adding essential oils to your daily routine and home remedy cabinet? I know, crazy stuff and lots to learn. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. You’ll be an educated, efficient and effective oiler! Your premium starter kit will come from Young Living, not my Etsy store. Go here to order your kit! Use PIN 4321.
Once your order your kit, Young Living will send me an email. I will immediately send you a custom code for $20 off a purchase in my Etsy store! This code will not expire so you do not need to use it right away.
2. Join Essential Rewards! Did you already get your oils kit? This promo applies only to kit owners in my oiling group (are you in? Ask me at andrea.globetrotter(a)gmail.com if you aren’t sure). If you sign up for Essential Rewards, I’ll send you a pack of containers, rollers, a foaming pump, and a base salve to get you started using your wonderful oils every day of the year!
Essential Rewards? This is the $50 minimum monthly order from Young Living. You earn points back for free oils and OTHER things that Young Living offers – like non-toxic and essential oil-infused dish soap, laundry soap, supplements, probiotics, diffusers, gift packs, fruit and veggie wash and more!
3. Make a purchase from my Etsy store – $50 or more – and take 30% off your total order with coupon code ALLTHETHINGS50. EVERYBODY gets in on this deal no matter what. Triple winning? You can combine this with the above two orders and walk out of here with your first premium starter kit, the Essential Rewards program, $20 worth of product in my Etsy store, a gift pack of containers and base for your oils, and 30% off whatever else you need to buy in my Etsy store!
There’s really no fine print on this one. Everybody gets this awesome gift!
MIND BLOWN? Christmas gonna be sweet at your house this year!!!!!
Ideas for using your oils …. make your family a customer roller for each person! Focus for the student, immunity for the kids, calming for mom, sleeping for dad … Make some healing lip balm. Aromatic sachets that calm and soothe for travel and drawers? Some oils to go with a beautiful diffuser bracelet or leather watch … Spritz your cards with Frankincense before you drop them in the mail.
YOU ARE THE BEST BLOG READERS IN THE WORLD!!!! Thanks for the love you send me from the other side of the screen every day – Happy Thanksgiving Aftermath, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond!!!!!
love love love
Bump me! andrea.globetrotter (a) gmail.com
Novemberites and lovers of fall and food,
Bone broth has to be one of the cheapest, most nutrient-dense sources of food out there. One of the oldest and most revered foods, it has long been the way matriarchs prepared nourishing food with meager expenditure. Cooked until the bone is crumbling and breaking, bone broth is rich in gelatin, collagen, protein, glycine and minerals. It creates foundational building blocks for our gut health, skin, hair, bones, teeth, and it can be a wonderfully soothing source of nutrition for the ill, or for anyone suffering from morning sickness.
Not only can you make it cheaply, but you can easily store bone broth by cooking it down and making bouillon cubes, or dehydrating and powdering it.
Bone broth can be expensive to buy, but preparing it from scratch costs almost nothing – even when you use the finest, grass-fed, organic bones and vegetables.
I use leftover bones from our meals (even the drumstick you picked clean at dinner – that makes great bone broth. Squeamish about cooties? Remember, it’ll be cooking for over 24 hours – even if there WERE any cooties on that bone, they’ll be gone by the time you strain your broth!). Wilful waste makes woeful want! Waste not, want not. I use fish-heads and bones from local fishermen, and carcasses from cutting up whole chicken or turkey for dinner. The bones from ham, beef and any other meat we eat go straight into a pot, along with any vegetable scraps from preparing dinner.
Rustic Bone Broth
2 pounds bones – leftover roasted poultry bones or piece bones, ham bone or pork chop bones, oxtail bones, fish heads or spines, or boiled and rinsed pig’s feet
Butt from 1 – 2 bunches of celery
Butts and/or skins from 4 – 10 carrots
Butts, skins and any pieces from 1 – 3 onions
Any other vegetable scraps, skins, tops, butts
2 – 4 tablespoons fat (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, bacon drippings, duck fat), optional
2 – 4 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (optional), to help draw minerals from the bones
Sprigs thyme, sage and a few bay leaves, salt and pepper
Prep the bones | If bones are not already cooked, heat oil in a large skillet. Add bones and herbs and sear them for a few moments on the stove. Note: Cover and let sit for 45 minute if you are using beef bones; or let them roast, uncovered, at 375F for 45 minutes. Beef bones should always be roasted for 45 minutes or more prior to use. Fish bones can skip this step entirely – do not pre-roast or sear them (if they are pre-cooked, that is fine).
Stovetop | Place all scraps, seared or roasted bones, herbs, any leftover oil and cider vinegar (if using) in a large stockpot. Add water to cover, or up to 2 gallons. Cover with a lid and bring up to a strong simmer. Turn down heat and let simmer for 24 – 48 hours.
Crockpot | Place all scraps, seared or roasted bones, herbs, any leftover oil and cider vinegar (if using) in a large crockpot. Add water to cover. Top with lid and bring to LOW temp; cook for 24 – 48 hours.
Continuous broth | Follow directions for crockpot. Every 24 hours for 5 -7 days, remove 1 – 2 quarts of bone broth and replace with fresh water. Use a large spoon to continuously break and distress the bones each time you remove broth.
Usage | Bone broth should be consumed daily; use it to cook rice, quinoa, millet or other grains. Drink a mug of it, well-seasoned, as a nourishing and comforting beverage. Bring a thermos to work or school. Use to cook pieces of meat and vegetables for delicious and nutritious soups!
We should visit more soon; have you checked my events page to see if I’ll be in your area? Maybe we can chat over a glass of kombucha, or a mug of steaming bone broth!
I’m not a doctor. I’m not anything.
I just love preparing good food, and studying food science.
Dear rice lover,
Calm down there. Nobody is going to make you give up anything you don’t want to.
After giving up all grains for sixty days (doing Whole30 twice, back to back), I’ve found that rice is one of the culprits that gives me heartburn and discomfort. I’m not too tempted to eat it.
But what if you’re okay with rice? What if it’s an integral part of your life? How to make it more nutritionally acceptable for a Real Food lifestyle? How to avoid the glucose spike that follows from eating a food that is, effectively, pure sugar?
Health advocate Ashley Grosch, leader of national health education group The Oil Tribe, suggests adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to every one cup of rice you cook. This converts digestible starches into indigestible (resistant) starches, so the rice doesn’t metabolize as glucose (unused glucose is what builds fat in our bodies!). Resistant starches are also prebiotic and complimentary to probiotic foods, as they feed the beneficial bacteria that inhabit healthy guts. Pair a bowl of prebiotic rice with some probiotic kimchi, and suddenly you realize why traditional meal plans have made sense for generations of humanity.
Keep your blood glucose from spiking after a starchy meal – rice, white potato – simply by adding fat – coconut oil, ghee, butter – to the starch! Who wants to eat a potato without butter, anyway? Not me.
Add even more nutrients to your rice (or quinoa, or millet, or whatever else you’re cooking) by cooking it in nutrient dense bone broth, or vegetable broth if you don’t eat meat.
Read more sciencey facts here at Perfect Health Diet, and do some of your own research! Or just take my word for it, and use the following recipe when you prepare rice (which, for the record, shouldn’t be at EVERY meal. I mean, our pancreas can only take so much).
Real Food Rice Preparation
This is a recipe for white jasmine rice. For brown rice, increase liquid to 2 cups, and cooking time to 30 – 40 minutes at a low temperature. For maximum benefit, serve this prebiotic, resistant starch with a probiotic food such as kimchi or kraut.
1-1/2 cups bone broth or vegetable broth
1 cup dry white jasmine rice
1 tablespoon coconut oil, ghee or butter
Rinse rice briefly and add to a cooking pot. Add broth and coconut oil. Cover pot, bring to a boil and shut off heat. Let rice sit for 15 – 20 minutes; remove lid and fluff rice deliciously to serve.
Do you plan to keep eating rice? Does this make you feel more confident about including it in your meals? Leave a comment and let me know!
All of my recipes come packaged in a downloadable
PDF that you can save to your computer.
Read on for the recipe packet from our fall menu!
I just like the way early Americans spelled pumpkin. Pompkin.
Pumpkins, squash, and all manner of root vegetables feature strongly in the fall. This is some of my favorite cuisine! Filling, rich and hearty, it qualifies for comfort food any day of the week. Buttery baked dishes, creamy soups and silky puddings dazzle me all through the long winter months! (Although to be honest, the winter in Virginia Beach is starting out a little weak – it was in the 70s last week, and this is October we’re looking at.)
And of course, I love everything about Thanksgiving. Candles, corn cobs, turkey and all that festive business sucks me in every time. I have so many deep and wonderful memories of family life associated with Thanksgiving – the turkey placemats my grandma made, the battered yellow tablecloth she used every year, the chaotic and sometimes argumentative and always loving gathering around that all-important Thursday.
Fall is just full of delight for me. I taught Cooking with Fall Veggies at Norfolk Botanical Gardens this week, and the class was a slam-dunk. I brought leftovers to my husband on base, and he and the guys there devoured it and pronounced it good. I made the baked root vegetables dish for an Oil Tribe class the following evening, and everybody was asking for the recipe!
Solid, simple food is the best. It wins our hearts every time! Our menu featured rustic, seasonal dishes.
The soup was a perfectly silken puree, topped with pepitas. For a vegan alternative, swap out the bone broth for a full-bodied vegetable broth made with dried shishito mushrooms for lots of meaty umami flavor, and trade the butter for expeller-pressed coconut oil or fruity olive oil. Filled with butternut squash and pumpkin, this dish is nourishing to body and soul.
The Maple-Glazed Baked Root Vegetables were a slam dunk. We chose to coarsely chop beets, carrots, celery root, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, parsnips and onions for our selection of roots and squash; any combination of these or other root vegetables is perfect.
A family favorite, Spicy Sweet Potato Fries make a special treat any time. I love to dip fries, so we created a special dipping sauce of mayonnaise (any homemade or high-quality store-bought, or aioli), blended with a lacto-fermented homemade sriracha sauce.
We also made a delicious Maple Cornbread, using coarse, colorful cornmeal from Indian corn. Colorful corn contains a little more nutrition than regular sweet corn – no surprises there!
And because she rolls that way, Lady Camille was in the carrier on my back while we set the room up for class. Once class began, our friend Mary snuggled baby during the whole thing.
Silky Squash Soup with Bone Broth
I created this dish while I was in Washington and wanted to serve a warm, filling meal to my family during the Seahawks game (we lost. It sucked. We needed comfort food). It’s simple, straightforward and truly not all that unique. There are millions of variations you could create from this basic dish, and the measurements I provide here are basic guidelines – you can do whatever you want, really.
4 cups bone broth or an alternative broth
2 cups pumpkin, raw and cubed, or cooked and pureed
2 cups butternut squash, raw and cubed, or cooked and pureed
3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 shallots or 1 medium onion
1 15-ounce can coconut cream
3 – 6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup butter or an alternative fat
Pepitas, dried pumpkin seeds, for garnishing
Salt and pepper
In a skillet, heat the butter. Add cubed pumpkin, butternut squash, carrots and onion; or add what is cubed, and reserve pureed mixtures. The goal is to cook the squashes down until they are soft. While mixture is cooking, crush garlic and set aside.
Once mixture is soft, use broth to help blend it until smooth; add garlic while blending, and then pour into a pot. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender for this step. If you are using pureed pumpkin or butternut squash, add it now, and any more broth, and begin to heat mixture. Whisk in coconut milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and serve hot; sprinkle with pepitas before eating.
If you use ghee, bacon fat, coconut oil, olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter, this dish qualifies as a Whole30 and Paleo soup.
I know you’ll feel just as indulgent and spoiled as I do when you get to enjoy these delicious foods … and let me know what your favorite tweaks are so I can try your versions, too!
(Tummy tuck? What? Go on, please!)
The husband and I came home to Seattle for a brief visit, and I kicked off the #seattleoiltribe happenings with a huge beauty make & take! We made four different items, using the Base lotion in some of them, and we did a lot of Zyto scans. And mostly, we visited, we laughed hysterically until we snorted (true story!) and we loved being with friends we hadn’t seen for months and years!!!
I flew out to Seattle with the two babies, and Gary followed a few days later. I met many wonderful friends on the flight from Virginia to Washington state, and they made my trip a peaceful and painless experience.
When I was planning my trip, I ordered essential oils, containers and ingredients for the make & take items from Virginia, and had them shipped straight to my mom’s house in Seattle. This was perfect! The first event in Seattle was on a Saturday.
We opened the doors early for Zyto scans and assessments. Using galvanic skin response, the same technology as a polygraph test, the hand scan takes about three minutes and measures 74 biomarkers in your body, seeing what is out of range. This tool does not diagnose or treat disease. Neither do I!
Before class began, we made a huge batch of the Base lotion. I mean, it was a bathtub-size bowl that my mom uses to make chocolate chip cookies at Christmastime. I used over seven pounds of shea butter in one sitting – and we blew through virtually the entire monstrous bowl of lotion over the course of the class. It was INSANE! I loved every minute of it!!
I live-streamed the event on Periscope (find me there, Andrea Huehnerhoff. You can watch my classes live, too!).
We made individual Zyto rollers for everyone, based on their Zyto scans – this is one of my favorite things to do. Immediate solutions!!
We made Sleep Rollers for rolling on your feet just before bed; Silky Foaming Face Wash for refreshing your skin.
Sun Block for both sunny AND cloudy days, because Seattle has the highest rate of melanomas in the United States!
And the insanely popular Tummy Tuck Lotion for those areas of skin that yearn to be tight again. We ran out of THIS before class even ended, and I’m making more already! The Sun Block and Tummy Tuck both use The Base lotion (recipe included in the PDF below), which was created by Ashley Grosch on her blog, The Oil Tribe. She is a master crafter when it comes to homemade beauty supplies.
And there are so many other things we can make!
Download all five recipes here
(Sleepy Roller, The Base, Tummy Tuck, Sun Block)
Tummy Tuck Lotion
I use this as a part of my post-partum tummy tightening protocol!
2 ounces base lotion
5 drops Geranium
5 drops Lavender
5 drops Grapefruit
5 drops Elemi
Where to buy containers, ingredients, and effective essential oils
Place base lotion in a 2-ounce container.
Add essential oils and gently combine using a chopstick or another small implement.
Keep tightly sealed in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
I look forward to seeing you at one of our events … online, or in person – in Seattle, or in Virginia – or anywhere else in the world!!!!!
I almost called the midwives that morning to tell them this was The Weekend. I had talked it over with Gary, and said if we could choose, what would be the best time for baby to come? He was in a Navy school and wouldn’t be able to take paternal leave until the middle of the month, and she was due on the 8th; he said Friday the 5th, or some time that weekend. It was the morning of Thursday, June 4th.
Three years ago Jakob had been born at home, with the same nurturing midwives that were attending this second birth. I had had a full 24 hours of gentle pre-labor before the midwives came to Jakob’s birth, and then I had true and actual labor all through the night until his birthday happened at half-past 6 on a Thursday morning.
Now it was another Thursday morning, and I was planning for a birth. If the baby comes today, I don’t want there to be dirty dishes, I thought, as I scrubbed the kitchen spotless. I’ll need food. I made two loaves of paleo almond spongebread, four batches of paleo carrot muffins, a mountain of bacon-wrapped pecan-stuffed dates. It seemed like now I was feeling something, an awakening in my belly, but it was hard to tell because couldn’t I just be imagining it, from wanting it so hard?
I was teaching yoga that evening; every Thursday, I taught a power yoga class at 5:00PM. My students infused me with love and inspiration – how long will you teach before baby comes? they asked me, joyful for my joy. Until the very last minute! I promised hopefully. I wanted to squeeze in every class I could.
Jakob was going to stay with Auntie Cass while I taught yoga. I packed him toys … and then clothes, and extra undies, and some money, and when I dropped him off I buckled his car seat into her car and told her, just in case, what if he stays here with you tonight…? I wondered if it could really be True!
I was signing students in for class. The owner of the studio, a gracious and humble yoga practitioner, helped me with the details. If you need me to teach class today, she reminded me, I came by just in case! I chuckled and said Nah, it’s fine. And then I thought, should I ask her to teach, and just go home now? But that seemed such a waste, I was already here; and anyway, I wasn’t really having a baby yet, actually. I kept poking my stomach – is it getting hard? Is that a contraction, or did I just flex a muscle by accident? Vagueness!
The class was incredible. The students were on fire. A mother and daughter were there, visiting from out of town. They decided to take a yoga class on their vacation, and bought clothes for it that morning. Everyone was excited about my belly and the promise of joy! I was moving between the students, assisting their poses, watching them blossom and unfurl. Then, yes, definitely. That was a contraction. I used the lightest touch to guide fingertips in Virabhadrasana II, and as I stepped away from the student’s space, yes, another one. Wow. I kept moving, talking. With a firm grip, I guided a student into her most expansive Trikonasana and she expanded more when I moved away, owning her pose, and I began to sweat because whoa, I can still speak, but breathe.
They all settled down for savasana. I gave them final adjustments as they slipped into a deep, conscious rest, recovering from the poses. For the first time as a teacher, I rolled up my mat and put it away during savasana; I put my blocks back on the shelf. I sat down to wait, and then slowly recalled them to wakefulness. Smiling and congratulating me, they all said We can’t wait to hear when you have the baby!!! I said, I take a picture of every class in my mind, and I wonder, is this the last class before baby comes? I’m taking a picture of you now!
The next teacher was already in the lobby, getting ready to check her students in. I had heard her come in. I walked from the studio into the lobby and, pulling the door closed immediately behind me I said, “My water just broke.” And the split second I said that, it did. June leaped from the desk. Oh my word! What can I do! I asked for a yoga blanket, and she brought me one. I draped it around myself and sat down, getting my phone out. I could feel Life now, wrapping easily around my abdomen and then gently squeezing, squeezing. I think I’ll call the midwife.
The students were excited, thrilled, everybody anxious to help. June said, What can I do? What shall I do for you? I went downstairs to the entry and sat on a chair, I didn’t think I could stand. I called the midwife and told her I felt fine to drive home, they didn’t seem very strong, I don’t really know, I don’t think there’s a big hurry or anything. I called Gary at work. He immediately headed home. There’s no big rush, I reassured him. There’s a big rush for me! he said. Later, the visiting mother and daughter recalled this moment as the highlight of their trip.
I got in the car to drive home, June offering to take me if I needed. I felt fine, and they weren’t so strong I couldn’t drive. I called Mom, and she was pleased. I hung up and then, Strong. It’s only a fifteen minute drive, but the lights were so long. Then they seemed awfully close, the contractions. I started noting the time each contraction started. By the time I got home – golly, three minutes, maybe four minutes apart, was that even possible?
Gary was getting the house ready, pulling out my birth supplies. The diffuser was sighing softly with essential oils. I took a shower. I kneeled down when I got out, to ride the contraction over, and then I pulled a shirt on. I was sitting on the toilet, gosh it was comfortable there. The midwife came in the house, and I knew she was near me but my eyes were closed so quiet inside, so peaceful in here. I made a sound because that seemed like what she would be expecting. She padded softly away and I heard her murmuring with Gary. “Beautiful … just fine … ”
I came out to the living room to visit. She was setting her things up, unloading her bag. I felt a little guilty. I hoped I wasn’t unnecessarily alerting everyone, maybe over-dramatizing my contractions. I would just feel so badly if she had to pack it all up and go home and come back later! Let’s listen to heart tones, she suggested. Whenever you feel ready. I reclined on the couch and she was listening. The other midwife arrived, and they smiled and approved of the heart tones. Baby was positioned just right!
I was sitting on the floor. My eyes had closed again, better to stay in here. It seemed so bright outside. Can somebody turn out this light? It snapped off. I should have babies more often! I could live like this! I think the midwife apprentice came. I think I was rocking maybe, and groaning through some of the contractions, or making heavy kind of dramatic-sounding sighs.
Can I sit on the toilet? They said yes. Gosh, it just feels so good to sit there. No pressure on the tailbone or anything. I was going through each contraction sort of curiously. I want to move through these, it’s a nice rest in between, just feeling the squeeze and the tautness.
Gary, I said in a tiny voice, and he was there. I had to speak just right, so small so I wouldn’t use any muscles by accident. In between surges of strength in my belly, I said, Could you put … Jakob’s little stool … by the bed … and lay a towel on it? It took so long to speak, but I couldn’t explain myself or open my eyes, because of using Energy. Then I moved out and kneeled on the stool, draping across the bed, and that felt so much better although comfortable didn’t exactly fit, but there I was, and Gary sat in front of me and I could hold his arms so I didn’t slide off.
Did I hear you push? said the midwife. She must be crazy, because I have no idea, really. It seems like I only just got home, and we must have hours and hours to go, maybe another day, so probably not yet. She’s coming in the room. Yes, the head is right there, she said, and like what? I’m not thinking lots of thoughts, just feeling, and just breathing as far down as I can like Pranayama, yoga here, in the bedroom, in the dark, with my eyes closed, making whatever sounds feel the best, and pulling on Gary’s arms, and I open my eyes just one second to see his face and then it’s better to close them again but he’s smiling at me, and she says behind me, Breathe down, breathe down, then push, we want to slow this down, and she had essential oils in a spray bottle because I had asked her to, and in between my teeth grinding together I say to her, Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it, so I can follow her words exactly with my eyes closed and not have to think up if I want to breathe or not, then, push, and head, and shoulders and the whole baby is here and I flop back onto towels because our floor is hardwood, and I pick baby up. Baby is in my arms.
I close my eyes, and lean my head back. The best and purest kind of exhaustion flows through me as I fold naked, slippery Baby in my arms. Two rivers of emotion rush side by side as I feel utter contentment and joy and Finished. The other river is sorrow and grief because some of my dearest friends had this moment stolen from them by Fate and the memories of the little souls are imprinted on me forever.
Then I look at Gary, who has such a face of love and joy. I don’t remember seeing the midwives but they were there. Somebody had a flashlight. I wanted to see if our baby was a boy or a girl, and when I pulled the towel back they shined the light and she was Camille.
I stood up with help and held my baby. She was still tied to me with the umbilical cord. She was born and not born at the same time, she was in two worlds. The blanket of the bed was pulled back and some absorbent pads laid there, and I crawled in so relieved to rest, so happy. So happy. The midwife helped me pull off my t-shirt and then Camille nursed, she knew her job. More contractions, the placenta, and then more contractions but softer now, because the uterus has to get small again and wait for the next baby.
The midwives went about their tasks – the mysterious and magical things that happen when a new soul emerges from the waters and welcomes us to care for it. They went over their notes in the living room while Gary and I rested on the bed. It was 9:30 – it had only been two hours. And I ate, I ate so much! The muffins, the bacon, nectarines, I drank water, I feasted! It wasn’t yet midnight when they tucked us in. Gary had sent a message to Cassandra, and Jakob was spending the night there and he was already asleep and Cassandra said he had so much fun playing and watching a movie. Baby curled up on my chest, unwashed, the vernix drying on her skin, and the three of us slept until morning.