Monday, October 31, 2011

recipe: garbanzo bean salad

sometimes i am really good at meal planning (i like it when that happens).  sometimes i decide what i am making as i am making it.

that is what happened this weekend.  yesterday, our church had a potluck and kickball game.  i ended up not having a key ingredient for the first thing i was going to make, so i ended up making up a recipe on the spot, throwing together a couple things we had on hand.  it ended up tasting pretty good, so i wanted to share the recipe with you all.

garbanzo bean salad

1 lb of garbanzo beans, soaked, cooked and drained (about 4 cups cooked, or 2 15oz cans of garbanzo beans)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 white onion, finely diced (if you don't have a white onion, leave this out.  i find brown onions to have much too strong of a flavor in dishes where they are raw. a red or purple onion might be ok, though)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp dried basil (although fresh basil would taste better if you have it)

mix everything in a big bowl.  if you have time, refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld.  but it would also taste delicious served right away.

i'm excited to finish off the leftovers for lunch today, topped with some leftover canned salmon for a protein/healthy fat/calcium boost!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

for your christmas shopping (or otherwise) consideration... three etsy stores

i guess i just run in creative circles: i have three friends with etsy stores.

what is etsy?  etsy is a marketplace for handmade and vintage items on the internet.  thousands of sellers from literally everywhere... you can find tons of stuff on etsy from lamps to towels, artwork to clothes, purses to shoes.

why shop at etsy? and in a country with increasing anti-big-business sentiment, shopping at etsy is a perfect way to support small business owners.  furthermore, the items on etsy truly are unique.  they are often handmade and literally one of a kind (if not one of a kind, usually only a few others like it have been made).  many shop owners are willing to customize items to fit exactly what you are looking for (which they can do since they are making the product just for you!).

whether you are new to etsy or an experienced shopper, i give you three shops i'm sure you will love.

urban allure: soft, beautiful and comfortable

the urban allure shop will draw you in with its luscious scarves and attractive wallets.  the scarves are the kind that make you long for those crisp autumn days where you can wrap your neck in warm, stylish love.  with a variety of premium yarns and unique accents you are sure to find something feminine and functional... no chilly neck even on the harshest winter day!

the leather wallets with croqueted accents will make you want to hold on to your wallet all night long... just so you can show it off.  they are cute enough to even function as a clutch style purse.

for those of you who are bargain hunters... urban allure will be having some sales in the coming weeks... so visit the shop, find what you love and stay tuned!

pinklotus: sexy, silky, stylish

what i love about pinklotus' silky scarves is how versatile they are.  they can be worn as an accent to an outfit that needs some spicing up.  they can be worn in your hair   they can be tied around the neck for sexy way to warm a cool day.  they can be casual or dressy.

not only are these scarves made of real silk, but they are hand painted, creating a truly unique experience for each person.

full disclosure:  i was sent one of these scarves, but not so that i would review the shop.  so i can say (from personal experience) that i love this shop!

jennasaurus: silly, cute and cheery

this is truly a creative shop, carrying everything from croqueted beanies and headbands to upcycled christmas ornaments.

i'm pretty sure there is no way that you can have a bad day while wearing one of these items.  it will make you feel like a kid again... and definitely in a good way.

i am also intrigued by one of the shop's newest items: upcycled starbucks cap christmas ornaments.  this would be a great gift for the coffee lover in your life!

full disclosure: i haven't been given any of these items but i would love it if jenna gave me a croqueted coffee sleeve.  please and thank you.  if she does i promise to write another review. :D

i encourage you to check out each of these stores and make your christmas gifts truly unique this year!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

pros and cons of a hospital birth

we had no choice.  esther was born in a hospital.  well, we could have gone with a home birth or birth center, but it would have cost a lot more.

knowing that it wasn't my ideal, i had to trust God with giving birth in a hospital.  but i did struggle with some worries in the weeks and months leading up to the delivery, that something would happen and they would make me get an unnecessary c-section, episiotomy or epidural.

by God's grace, everything with her birth went well and i didn't have to get any kind of medical intervention (besides an unwanted IV).  i am very thankful for this fact.  and, surprisingly, there were actually some things i really did like about giving birth in the hospital.

since then, i have reflected on the pros and cons to my birth experience in the hospital.


nurse care and meals- the nurses i had were really nice (even when i got blood all over the floor... more on that below).  i didn't realize how out of it i would be after delivery, and i was so thankful to have people there to get me water, help me go to the bathroom and do everything else.  the meals weren't amazing, and they were supplemented by the actually healthy food i brought with us (for some reason hospitals just take all the salt out of food and think that makes it healthy...) and food my mom brought for us, but it was nice to have someone just bring me a meal and not have to worry about it.  i'm sure if we were at home or elsewhere that alex or my mom could have done all of this, but i was also thankful that they didn't have to (next time maybe they will!).

soonest possible diagnosis for esther- because of the standard newborn screening test done at the hospital, esther was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism.  the soonest they can do this test is 24 hours after being born, and hers was done at almost exactly this time, right before we left the hospital.  five days later we got the results and she was put on medicine (time is critical with this diagnosis... the sooner the better the prognosis of the baby).  had we had a different type of birth, it is possible it would have been a few days later that she would have been diagnosed.  a few days probably would not have made a difference ultimately, but i am thankful that we found out as soon as we did.

no clean-up- about an hour after delivery, i got up out of bed.  it wasn't pretty.  lets just say that it looked like someone may have been murdered in our hospital room.  i cant imagine what our carpet at home would have looked like... in my defense, no one told me not to get up, and being that it was my first birth i didn't realize how much i would be bleeding... i felt bad and apologized a lot to the nurse :/

up and down bed- i dont think i could have gotten out of bed or fed esther that first day without this kind of bed (the one with the button that you push in order to sit up and lay down).  i was so weak and sore! this was probably the biggest plus about giving birth in the hospital.

stealing esther- this is also on the con list.  even though esther roomed in with us she was taken several times for medical exams that lasted a couple hours each.  i was so tired that honestly it was nice to have a little break.

stealing esther- but on the other hand, i would rather have had her in the room with us the whole time.  when i was tired, i'm sure alex would have been willing to hold her.

when to go and the car ride there- being that it was my first time giving birth, i didn't really know when we should leave the house to go to the hospital (i know that they say when your contractions are a certain length and interval, but that is so textbook.  i wanted the least amount of time at the hospital as possible, so i waited longer than that).  it was a little stressful deciding when to leave, since i didn't know if we were going too soon.  fortunately, we got the timing just about right.  however, the car ride was especially miserable, considering we left at the peak of LA traffic hour, and it ended up taking about an hour to get there, twice as long as it should have.  in a home birth situation, this would not have been an issue.

germ fest and eye goop- i am not a germophobe.  but i am an anti-biotic-phobe.  i don't like medicines and especially anti-biotics, so my main way of dealing with illness is prevention, which means avoiding germs in the first place (along with building up your immune system so that they never take over).  the whole time we were there, i felt like the hospital was a big germfest.  and considering that babies are born with almost no immune system and a sterile gut (ie no healthy bacteria to protect them from the bad ones), i wanted to protect my fragile baby from all the germs.  originally i requested that esther not get the standard procedure eye goop (an antibiotic that is used as a preventative measure against infants getting eye infections).  but my midwife strongly encouraged it, and in the end i consented, mainly because i knew that esther's chances of getting an eye infection there in the hospital were higher than at home, due to all the germs.  i dont know if i would do it again, if we give birth in the hospital again, but i do know that one plus of giving birth at home would be that it would feel and be much cleaner.

fetal monitoring- i have not seen any evidence that electric fetal monitoring is safe and effective.  often times it leads to unnecessary medical procedures when doctors and nurses overreact to slight changes in the baby's heartbeat.  monitoring the baby through other means has been shown to be more effective.  during delivery, esther's heartbeat was dropping, and they suggested that her cord may be around her neck and i was pretty concerned that they were going to make me get a c-section.  fortunately, she popped out so fast there wasn't time to even suggest this.  and her cord wasn't around her neck. (for the record, if the cord had legitimately been around her neck, i would have consented to a c-section... its just that often this risky procedure is jumped to way too quickly).

getting an iv- i requested not to have an iv during labor.  upon arrival, first thing they did was hook up an iv. >:/ they told me that i was dehydrated, even though i had been drinking water all day like it was my job (i still don't know what their proof was for saying i was dehydrated).  the iv, along with the HUGE thing of juice i drank right after delivery (like, uber big-gulp sized) caused me to have to go to the bathroom, causing the above mentioned bleeding incident.  that incident caused them to give me yet another iv (originally i was promised just one iv).  three days later, i was dealing with really uncomfortable engorgement.  what is one of the main causes of engorgement?  iv's during labor.  grrrr...

would i do a hospital birth again?  i wont say no, but probably not, for several reasons.  the biggest reason would be because next time i hope to have a water birth (i labored in the bath tub for a while with esther and found it really comfortable, so i would love to be able to try a water birth).  also because the hospital was a bit stress inducing (because of the risk of unnecessary medical procedures, the germs, etc.), and i think a different location would be more relaxing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

for the love of butter... and other healthy foods

over the last year and a half,  my homemaking and personal health philosophy has changed pretty dramatically.  while i am still very frugal (as i have always been :) ) i spend money much differently than i used to.  while i am still like to cook healthy meals, my "healthy" cooking has moved away from being low-fat and is now much more buttery (yum!).  i have moved away from killing germs with dangerous chemicals like triclosan, bleach and alcohol to growing bacteria to make foods like kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt.  and while i still place a high value on exercising,  i rarely do long distance running and now focus more on functional fitness.

let me explain the shift.

it all started with a book called "the maker's diet" (cheesy title, but good info).

i had been battling daily GERD/heartburn for almost two years and decided that i was done.  not only did i want to be off of medicine (it didn't make sense to me that someone in their mid-twenties should be on a daily medicine, plus i knew there had to be lasting health effects from it), but i noticed a trend among people my age having frequent heartburn.  this isn't normal, and so i knew there had to be an answer besides medicine.  a friend had told me about this book and how some of the people who followed the diet had their persistent heartburn cured.

the book was eye-opening to say the least.  the writer's diet philosophy was completely antithetical to everything i had ever been taught about healthy eating.  he purported that too many carbohydrates like sugar and grains (even whole grains) were to blame for weight problems, and not dietary fat, which is usually blamed.  in fact, his diet even emphasized the types of fats i had been previously told to avoid, like butter, animal fats, and coconut oil.  he also showed the importance of healthy bacteria for digestive health, though unfortunately these days due to pasteurization, refrigeration and processed foods, we kill or discourage the growth of bacteria in our food, much of which is actually beneficial (previously i didn't even know that there was such a thing as good bacteria!).  he also pointed out many common lifestyle factors that degrade our health, such as exposing ourselves to toxic chemicals through household cleaning products and health/beauty products.

since then, i have continued to do research into these things and found a lot of confirmation from numerous other resources, such as the weston a. price foundation.  i feel like my eyes have been opened to a lot of things, and i have made many changes.  many of the changes have been baby steps towards better health, and some have been pretty big.  some of the changes have required a lot of prayer, as i have had to seek the Lord for wisdom in the midst of conflicting opinions (such as the argument over whether or not meat is healthy... there are strong opinions on both sides and evidence for both sides as well.  i land in the clean meats camp... the belief that meat is healthy if it is clean... ie no hormones or antibiotics, and fed a healthy, pasture-based diet).  overall, i would describe my current philosophy as a traditional diet and lifestyle... cooking, cleaning and exercising as people have been doing for thousands of years, without many of the modern diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer) that we deal with today.

as i continue to take more steps towards healthy living, i wanted to share with you some of the changes i have made, and how it has been for us.

less processed food, more homemade food.  this shift has happened for two reasons: for our budget and for our health.  it is pretty hard to afford organic bread, tortillas and granola on our budget, but we can more easily afford organic flour and oats for me to make these things homemade (especially when i buy these items in bulk from our co-op).  also, by making things myself, i know that we are avoiding preservatives, artificial colors, MSG and the other added chemicals of processed foods.  moreover, i have more control over how things are made.  for example, when i make grains i prefer to soak or sour them first, a process that breaks down the phytic acid (something in whole grains that blocks the absorbtion of minerals in the body).  it is almost impossible to find processed foods at the store that have undergone this process before being prepared.

only buying organic meat.  this has been more difficult on the budget, but i have been able to work it in through buying less expensive cuts of meat, and stretching the meat through making a meatless meal once a week or so, and making dishes that call for smaller amounts of meat.  because of the hormones, antibiotics and concentrated pesticides, i see meat as the most important food to buy organic.  we made the transition over a period of a few months, and now i almost never buy non-organic meat.  More on my meat philosophy and how to save money on it here.

using all homemade cleaning products.  i clean our entire house with vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and water.  not only do they work just as well as conventional cleaning products, but they are MUCH cheaper!  it makes me happy that i can carry my baby in a sling while cleaning the house with no worries about how it will effect her health.  i have also started to make some homemade health and beauty products (toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, moisturizer, diaper wipes and cream), which has also saved money and is also healthier (especially important since these things go on our skin which can absorb the toxins which are in many conventional products).

cooking with fat... lots of fat.  its true.  i went from being a low-fat nazi to cooking with so much butter it would probably make most americans nervous. i also switched from non-fat milk/yogurt/cottage cheese to full fat dairy products.  i cook chicken with the skin on and eat the skin first... previously i would have cringed, now i think its delicious!  i love to douse my salads with my homemade olive oil salad dressing.  and the list goes on and on.  and contrary to popular american thought... i didn't gain a pound (before getting pregnant)!  even when i was pregnant i gained a healthy 25 pounds (the general thought is that pregnant women should gain 25-35 pounds), and i have already lost 20 of it (3 weeks after giving birth).  i never would have believed it even 2 years ago, but dietary fat IS healthy and it does NOT make you fat.

walk, don't run to better health.  when alex got certified as a personal trainer, one of the surprising things he learned was that long distance running isn't as healthy as it is sometimes portrayed.  it puts a lot of strain on the body in an unhealthy way, especially in how it builds up cortisol in the body, a stress hormone that increases fat reserves and decreases lean body mass (ie muscle).  running used to be my sole form of exercise, but since then i have moved more towards lifting weights, walking, biking and staying active with housework (things like gardening).  even carrying a baby in a sling is a form of exercise, especially when mixed with other housework.  now i try to stay active throughout the day and i only formally "work out" a couple times a week.

have these changes worked?  yes, i am happy to say that i have been off of heartburn meds for almost a year now (it was just in time... i am very thankful that i was able to have a med-free pregnancy).  that is more than worth it in my eyes.  other than that i cant say that i have seen huge changes in our health, but i do feel very good about the changes we have made.  it makes so much sense to make food and other things the way people have been doing it for thousands of years.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

thoughts on esther's diagnosis

as he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. and his disciples asked him, "rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him."

[john 9:1-3]

when esther was four days old, i got a phone call from her pediatrician.

"we need you to come in as soon as possible, esther's newborn blood test came back abnormal."

my heart sank.  my voice was shaking as i asked "what was abnormal?"

"we can't say right now, but can you come in tomorrow morning at nine?"

"yes, i will be there."

a few days later, after some confirmatory tests, esther was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism.

congenital hypothyroidism in a condition in newborns that can lead to heart problems, mental retardation and growth retardation.  fortunately, when it is caught and treated early, the prognosis is good.  since esther started taking medicine at 5 days old, it is likely that she wont have any lasting effects, though she will have to take medicine daily for her whole life.  

when the diagnosis was first confirmed, i was really sad, wondering if she would have any permanent mental or physical problems, feeling the burden of daily, lifelong medication for her with frequent doctor's appointments.  but God has been good to calm my heart and help me trust in him.  and he has made me very thankful: thankful that it was caught early, thankful to have good medical care and doctors to treat her.  here are some of the things i have thought about and learned through this process:

*"why esther?"  of course this question has gone through my head many times.  from the medical side of things, there is not really an answer.  some doctors think congenital hypothyroidism is genetic, but others don't.  some resources i have read say that radiation can cause it, which makes me wonder if the lovely radiation cloud from the japanese nuclear plant that came to the US early on in my pregnancy could be the cause.  we will never know.  theologically, though, we do have an answer.  from the above scripture, i know that if i were to ask jesus "why was esther born this way?  did i do something wrong?  did alex do something wrong?", his response would be "its not that either of you did something wrong, but it is so that the works of God may be displayed through esther".  God created her for His glory.  period.  and i praise Him for it, and trust his plan in it.

*like every mother, i want a typical, healthy child.  but more than that, i want a child who loves and follows jesus.  esther's condition may be an answer to our prayers in that it could be used by God to draw her to Himself.  maybe it will make her more salient of her mortality, which will lead her to trust God in a way she otherwise wouldn't.  we dont know how God will use it, but we do know that he works all things together for the good of those who love Him (romans 8:28) and we know that this will be true of this as well.

*her diagnosis has been humbling to me personally because of my general dislike of western/allopathic medicine.  i was annoyed when we were in the hospital and they had to take her blood for the newborn screening.  but this situation has been a good reminder to me that allopathic medicine does have a very important role to play in people's overall health, and of course now we are very,very grateful for the newborn screening that uncovered her condition before it was too late.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

our birth story

disclaimer: i used to think birth stories were silly.  but then i got pregnant and read ina may's guide to childbirth, the first 100 pages of which are filled with different women's birth stories.  i found it incredibly helpful to read and get a better understanding of the wide range of things that can happen during a normal birth.

so i present to you here our birth story.  i pray that it will be an encouragement to you wherever you are at in life, whether or not you have ever given birth or hope to.

to give you some background to my pregnancy, around 30 weeks my midwife expressed concern about the size of my stomach, which led to tests and eventually my pregnancy being labeled "high risk" when our baby appeared to be significantly smaller than she should have been.  the last 3 months of pregnancy i had to get non-stress tests twice a week to make sure she was doing ok (which i disliked and tried to get out of doing, but the doctor who ordered them wouldn't change his mind :/ ).  a few weeks before the due date, i started to suspect that the due date i had been given was probably a little off (too early) which would have explained her small size.  unfortunately, the doctor who works with my midwife wasn't willing to change the due date (my midwife seemed to also suspect the due date was wrong, but it wasn't in her power to change it).

some other important background to know was that we had decided very early on to try to have a natural birth: no epidural, no pitocin, and definitely no cesarean section, Lord willing.  i always said "Lord willing" because i do realize that there are situations in which all of these things are helpful and necessary, but i believe that they are vastly over-used in our country, and they should in general be a last resort because of the risks to mother and baby.  the diagnosis of the pregnancy as being high risk gave me some concern because i knew it made it much more likely that i would have to get one of these interventions but i also had assurance knowing that my midwife is a big advocate of natural birth and would be key in making the type of birth that we wanted possible.

how it all went down...

my due date came and went, with no signs of our baby wanting to come out to the "real world".  fortunately, neither alex or i were too antsy for her to come, and it even worked out well because he was able to be a groomsman in our friend's wedding that we weren't sure we would be able to attend (the wedding was a week after the due date).  after the wedding the wait became a little harder because we were in a bit of a crunch: she had to come before i hit 42 weeks or my midwife would be forced to hand my case over to a doctor (because i would be considered really high risk at that point).  the hard thing about that was the fact that i felt like the due date was wrong, so it was uncomfortable to be under such an arbitrary (and possibly inaccurate) deadline.

two days before the deadline, i finally started to have regular birth rushes, about 2 every hour (a term coined by ina may, i prefer "birth rushes" over contractions, but i use them interchangeably in this story).  but they were really light and didn't seem to be progressing towards anything.  the next day i had my last appointment with my midwife, where she did two things to hopefully naturally kick-start labor: sweeping the membranes and prescribing a high dose of castor oil (which releases oxytocin in the body, the hormone that increases during labor).  then i sent a message to pretty much every christian i know asking for prayer that labor would start, so that i wouldn't have to be artificially induced the next morning.

God answered pretty quickly.  that morning right after the appointment the birth rushes started coming about every 10 minutes.  they weren't too intense to start out, and i was able to run some errands.  after lunch they were a bit more serious, and i needed to lie down for a bit.  at that point, they were coming every five minutes and lasting about a minute each.  this is usually about the time they tell you to head to the hospital, but i wanted to stay at home as long as possible, and i doubted that i was very far along in labor anyways since it had just started a few hours previous.  to relax better and ease the intensity, i took a long bath which felt amazing (makes me highly consider a water birth for our next!).

after getting out, alex asked me how it was going.  in my head, i was realizing that we needed to start thinking about going to the hospital, but was hoping to wait til after dinner.  when i told him the frequency and intensity of the rushes, he got concerned and said that we should consider leaving sooner.  at that point, they were just under a minute long, but coming every 3-4 minutes.

i didn't want to get hungry at the hospital (since they wont let you eat during labor) because that would make having a natural birth more difficult, so i insisted that we eat a light dinner before leaving.  i made smoothies and toast, which was a light but nourishing meal to power me through the last part of labor.  after we ate, we finished packing the car and headed out for the hospital.

the car ride was brutal.  the birth rushes moved from being really intense to actually painful, and i had nothing else to turn my attention toward (at home i was doing housework, the bath, making dinner, etc to distract myself).  i also couldn't find a comfortable position to sit or lay down.  on top of all this, one of my labor nightmares had come true: we were driving to the hospital during the heaviest hour of LA traffic (5pm on a weekday).  eventually (about an hour later) we got there, and i couldn't have been more relieved.

after parking and getting checked in (which probably lasted about 10 minutes but felt much longer) we finally got into the labor/delivery room.  i was eager to find out how far along i was, because it would give me an idea of how "close" we were, especially since i felt like i had to be pretty far along (at least over five centimeters i was guessing).  after doing some vital signs, the nurse reported to me that i was three centimeters dilated.  my heart sunk (ten centimeters is full dilation, at which point you can start pushing).  if i was only three centimeters at that point, it meant that i probably had a very long time to go before i could even start pushing.  i was beginning to highly doubt that i could go through the whole labor without an epidural.

my midwife got there soon after that, and i expressed my disappointment with my progress.  she suggested that we try breaking the bag of waters to speed things up and i agreed.  she broke it, and left to go home for a short time just to have dinner and change clothes, and then she would be back with plenty of time before i would need to start pushing.

after about 15 more minutes of labor, i started to feel an urge to push with the contractions, which i have read means that you are fully dilated and your body is ready for you to start pushing.  at first i ignored the feeling, thinking that there is no way i could actually be fully dilated at that point.  but after a few rushes that i was sure were pushing contractions, i called the nurse back into the room.  she checked me, reported that i was nine centimeters dilated, told me to make sure that i was NOT pushing with the contractions and rushed out to call my midwife to come back to the hospital ASAP.

the next 20 minutes or so were some of the longest, hardest minutes of my life.  when you have a pushing contraction it feels great to push with it.  it is torture to try to relax or fight against the urge to push.  at this point, the rushes were lasting about a minute each with only about 30 seconds to rest in between.  i felt like i was being hit by wave after wave of contractions with almost no rest in between, and without the luxury of pushing when i needed to.  the only thing that got me through was to concentrate on breathing, which distracted me a bit from wanting to push, because i knew that if my oxygen got low, they would have to perform a c-section.  to my embarassment i was in so much pain i was yelling, and i felt bad because i could tell i was scaring alex.

finally my midwife got back to the hospital, and i was allowed to start pushing.  during the first push her heart rate dropped very low, and they were concerned that the cord may be around her neck.  i was concerned because i thought that it might mean that i would need a c-section.  they put me on oxygen and continued to monitor her vital signs.

fortunately, she was out so quickly there was almost no time to consider anything like a c-section.  i cant remember exactly how many times i pushed before she was out, but it was something like four or five pushing contractions.  in other words, it was really fast.  all i remember is that they kept saying "she is coming!" but i didn't want to look and be disappointed if she wasn't as far along as i was hoping.  but before i knew it i felt her head slide out, then her body, and then they laid her on my stomach.

i was too weak/dazed to turn her, so i just stared at the grey-brown hair on the top of her head for a couple minutes.  i was a little bit in shock to actually see the little being that had been inside of me for so many months.

after she laid on me for a while and they cut the umbilical cord, they weighed her and she was 6 lb 15.5oz, which was my exact weight at birth!  the day before my mom said that she hoped esther would be the same birth weight as me, and it actually happened.  a few minutes later my midwife confirmed our suspicions: because of esther's weight and the amount of vernix she was born with, she was likely a 38 week old baby.  so she wasn't overdue after all!

the biggest thing i have felt about esther's birth is gratefulness.  despite various issues that came up, the delivery was unmedicated and fairly easy (even though the very last part of it was much harder than i anticipated!).  and now we have beautiful baby esther.

thank you Lord for your kindness to us. :)