I'm sitting on my sofa looking outside at grey, cloudy skies and a thick blanket of snow that fell last night. I have a small cup of coffee in my hands and I'm soaking up a few quiet moments before the little one wakes up. Even if I get no more than 5 minutes of such peace, I'll be happy. In 5 days, this will all be a distant memory, I'm sure. The only thing that would make this moment even more perfect would be a bowl of this coconut muesli.
During the rare moments of quiet, I spend most of my time thinking about my first pregnancy. I'd like to share some of that with you, if that's OK. (If you're not into hearing birth stories, I won't be offended if you move on to the recipe portion of this broadcast.) We were living in Japan, which meant I took the train from our quiet train station in the 'burbs to one of the many bustling city centers called Omotesando. The train ride alone took about 20 minutes, but it was the walking part that was most difficult. At 9 months along, I was heavy in the waddling phase and it took what felt like an eternity to walk a few city blocks. When I finally arrived at the doctor's office, I would have an ultrasound (yep, they did those at every appointment) before meeting the doctor in his office to discuss any questions. It was very business-like, as you might have guessed.
My due date came and went, along with 10 more days after that, before anything else happened. During those long days of waiting, I could be found on the couch, impatiently waiting while alternately binge-watching friends and taking naps on the sofa. One night, Brad and I went for a long walk. Our apartment sat at the top of a large, steep hill. At the bottom of that hill was a shopping area and a cluster of ramen shops and izakayas. We ventured down the hill, picked up our new, upgraded iPhones that had been waiting for us, picked up some shumai and sushi for dinner (yes, in Japan all pregnant women eat sushi and it is wonderful), and ever so slowly, but with much determination, made the walk back up the steep hill that would lead us home.
By the time we arrived home, I was feeling some serious pain in my lower back, which I figured was due to the ridiculous amount of walking that had just happened. It wasn't until the next morning that I finally realized I was having contractions. By then, they were 5 minutes apart and we still needed to call a taxi to take us on the 45 minute drive through Friday morning rush hour traffic (on a rainy morning, by the way) to the hospital. So, off we went. By the time we arrived at the hospital, I had almost no break between contractions. They were constant, with peaks and valleys but absolutely no respite in the middle. I naively thought this meant we didn't have long to wait. A mere 20 hours later, I finally requested an epidural. Shortly thereafter, it was determined that the baby was under too much stress and we would need to do an emergency c-section.
Finally, we heard our baby boy screaming with his healthy lungs. Thank the Lord.
I was beyond exhausted when all was said and done, and I have very little memory of the hours following my surgery. Nothing had gone as planned (I know...planned...so funny). I didn't feel the way I expected to after meeting this little human. And on top of it all I had to recover from emergency surgery, which was certainly not something I had mentally prepared to deal with. We had learned that we were pregnant just days after the big earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011, so I suppose what happened the following morning was appropriate: we experienced a rather strong earthquake that made the tall hospital building sway back and forth. I lay there in my bed, still unable to move my legs, telling my mom and husband to take Riley and leave me there.
In the end, we all settled in together and fell in love and can't imagine life any other way, which makes the entire experience 150% worth it.
Shortly after the birth, we learned that the reason I wasn't progressing was because our Riley was stuck. No matter what, the only option would have been a c-section. So, after much thought and soul-searching, I came to the decision that for baby #2 I would schedule a c-section rather than risk going through a similar experience a second time. It took me a long time to feel comfortable with this, but I know in my heart that this is the right decision for me. I will be a better mother to our newborn and will avoid putting the baby through any additional, unnecessary stress. It's strange knowing the exact day our baby will be born as opposed to simply waiting and waiting and waiting. Strange, yes, but also comforting.
I'm still prepared for our 'plans' to be derailed in one way or another. And I'm also aware of how exhausted we will all be in less than one week. I guess that's the beauty of going through it all a second time; it's not all such a surprise.
For the next 5 days, I'll be enjoying the last few moments as a mother of one. We've been going on dates that involve hot chocolate, kale smoothies, and haircuts that make Riley look 16 instead of 3. And, because he's 3, we've been struggling through the normal tantrums that make me wonder how we will survive with another baby in the house. Still, I'm soaking it all in because life will be oh so different starting on Wednesday next week. Filled with more love and baby snuggles than I can comprehend? Yes. But also full of exhaustion and crying and all of the things I can't predict.
One thing I can predict is that this breakfast will be happening regularly during those first few weeks with our newborn. Seven Sundays makes amazing muesli and they are a Minnesota company, which makes me so super happy because each bite makes me feel more "at home". I received their new gluten-free muesli in the mail yesterday (hooray!) and had to give it a try asap. I don't need to eat gluten-free foods, but for this muesli I'd be happy to do so every morning forever and ever. And did I mention that there is no refined sugar happening in this muesli? Hello, Go Sugar Free members! This is for you!
It's cold everywhere right now, so of course I made hot muesli by simmering it in some coconut milk. Garnished with some banana slices and a few roughly chopped almonds for some crunch, this is a breakfast that will provide me with nourishment and comfort on even the most exhausting of days. Thanks, Seven Sundays, for helping us #celebratemornings all week long!
*Seven Sundays Gluten Free Muesli is available nationwide starting today, January 9!
Hot Coconut Muesli
Makes 2 servings
- 1 cup muesli (Seven Sundays GF Blueberry-Chia Buckwheat Muesli is excellent)
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine the muesli with the coconut milk and maple syrup (if using).
- Microwave for 3 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
- Spoon into two serving bowls and top with the banana slices and almonds.