Friday, December 27, 2013

7QT - December Style

Note to Kristi:  You get a magnificent FAIL for blogging this year.  That being said, here are my seven quick takes of December.

1) I totally turned 33 a week ago.  Am I the only adult who LOVES birthdays?  We had nothing major planned, I wasn't expecting any sort of fabulous gift, and I know that "33" isn't a milestone at all.  But I still LOVE my birthday.  I have no problem being in my 30's or telling people how old I am. I totally don't get the whole "not revealing my real age" thing because each year means more knowledge and less bullpoop surrounding you as far as I'm concerned.  It rocks. I'm looking forward to the year!

2) Winter is just not my season.  I can't handle being cold.  We have these friends in Canada who would love for us to move closer, but I would be absolutely no fun to be around if I had to live in their weather.  When -15C is a "warm" day because they're used to -40C... Yipes.  I shiver at the thought. I'd much rather it be a humid 95... even if that's icky... than freezing my ears off.

3) I cannot get enough of the song "Royals."  I will karaoke it soon.

4) On a frequent basis, I look around the room and go, "Woah, I have FOUR children."  That's kind of a lot of kids.  They're neat kids.  And cute kids.  But, holy moly, there is a LOT of them.  Had a conversation with Andrew on the way home from Christmas about what the next car would be if we're blessed with two more children (we can fit one more in the mini van.)  Turns out the next upgrade is a 12-passenger.  I'm cool with that as long as I can paint it like a VW bus from the 70's.  We're the next Partridge Family, people!


5) Most of my readers probably know this but our family doesn't really do Santa.  And up until now, we haven't really received too many questions from the kiddos on our stance.  They don't know if there is a Santa... they don't know that there isn't.  They just think it's cool that they get 3 presents under the tree on Christmas. (Because Jesus got three).  A couple of weeks ago, the 6 year old danced over to me and said "Santa isn't real."  I asked her where she heard that, fulling expecting to here her say "Daddy," but she just said she didn't know.  It wasn't the kids at school (and she hadn't told that to anyone at school according to her *thank goodness*).  I'm pretty sure they think Christmas presents come from St. Nicholas because he brings them a gift on St. Nick Day on December 6... but they've never really said that nor have we exactly told them that.  We still have mystery in the house... it's just not the "Big Fat Man comes down the chimney and showers you with things you've always wanted and generally makes no mention of Jesus" kind of mystery that the normal world has.  I thought I'd be all sad when Andrew told me he didn't want to do Santa... but I'm kind of thinking it's awesome now. Ask me how I feel in a week when Mia loses her first tooth and I have to figure out how to make THAT fun without a tooth fairy. Oy vey!

6) I feel like 2014 should be a new start.  I want to go back to a low wheat, little sugar diet, and get back to exercising more frequently again.  I have a hunch that my little William might have some allergies that we're not addressing, but I haven't had him tested yet. It will be trying to get that boy completely off of dairy, but I'm afraid that might be the direction we're headed.  If I can plan out our meals correctly, I can make this happen without too much complaining from the peanut gallery I think.

7)  I read a cartoon on Facebook the other day that said "There's an odd person in every family. If you don't know who it is, it's probably you."  In my family, I'm pretty stinking sure it's Andrew and I.  We are much nuttier than the rest of them.  I'm happy they still love us.  In Andrew's family... the jury is still out.  If anyone put his whole family in a blender, we'd make a delicious nut butter. :)

And I'm out.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dedicated to the One I Love

My dear husband or "DH" as they say in the message board world turned 33 this past Friday, so I thought I should write a short post all about how much I love love love him.  So here's 7QT all about Andrew.



1)  There's just something about Andrew.  I have seriously never ever met anyone with as many quirks as he has.  Whether it's his passionate stance on the metric system, how he can talk your ear off about local government, or the fact that he hasn't had meat (other than your random wild-caught animal) for over 10 years... he's just a little cuckoo.  Of course, none of those facts do justice to just how strange he really is.  But if you've met him, you totally know what I mean.

2)  That dude LOVES his kids.  Sometimes I see him smile at one of the kiddos in a way that only a Dad can smile.  Even when they're being crazy hooligans, he just gets this grin on his face that shows how much he digs the little people that they are.  I love how much he loves them.  And I especially love that he's helping them be at least slightly strange just like he is.

3)  Though he isn't the most romantic fellow in the world, he has given me a few trinkets of memory throughout the past 8 years that make me swoon.  Like when he showed up at my house on our first date with a pink rose in hand.  Pink because white means friendship and red means love... so pink was a mixture of that.  Or when he lay next to me on the big grass covered hill behind my parents house and told me that someday we could get married in the little Church that my mom, grandma and great grandma all got married in.

4)  His faith.  I love how he'll take the two littles to daily Mass on Fridays.  And how he makes sure we don't shop on Sundays because everyone needs a day of rest.  And how he'll pray over me if I ask him to... especially when I'm pregnant.

5)  His knowledge about politics.  He was the man who finally made me wake up a little bit a pay attention to our government.  He has taught me so many things about how some of our "pro-life" politicians are not doing very pro-life things, and how people really need to educate themselves before they vote along with write letters and make their voices heard.  And he does all of that... and that's cool.

6)  His heart.  While he doesn't really have the gift of empathy, I think my social working husband really does feel for the people he helps every day.  But he also wants to call them up to something greater.  He does such a great job when he works with nutty teens, because he knows they can and expects them to make better choices.  I think this is also part of what makes him a great dad.

7)  Everything else.  There are days when everything about him drives me absolutely to the nut house but I can't help but still think he's one of the greatest things God ever put on earth.  And I know he's the greatest thing for me and our family.  He makes me laugh constantly... sometimes with him, sometimes at him, sometimes at myself... but always laughing.  Never a dull moment.

Andrew, happy happy happy 33rd birthday.  I love you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

I don't really follow recipes.  I like to google 4 or 5 different recipes for the same thing and then sort of mix and match and modify to come up with my own creation.  That's how I came up with these delicious muffins.  (I would post a photo, but we ate them too fast for me to get one.) I started with this awesome recipe and made my modifications.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups oats (old fashioned is best)
2 eggs
1 very ripe banana (the riper, the better)
1 cup pumpkin puree (about half a can)
1/2 - 3/4 cup honey (or sweetener of your choice)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp  pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or spray down a cupcake pan. I really like how they turn out in my stoneware cupcake pan, but I've not tried anything else.  Word on the street is that they will stick to paper liners, so silicone or stoneware greased well is probably your best bet.

The easiest thing to do is throw all of the ingredients (minus the choco chips) into your food processor (I used my Ninja Pulse) and grind it up until it's pretty smooth.  After you've got it smooth, stir in some chocolate chips (or nuts).  Note: The mixture is usually a little too thick to poor into the pan so I scoop it out with an ice cream scoop.

Fill your twelve muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes.  And then ENJOY some delicious health fiber-rich and vegetable-laden muffins.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Years Later

I know every parent says this... but time blinks away so quickly when you have kids.  The last time I checked I was taking care of this little dude...


He was my first little boy. The kid whose birth gave me such fervor to have another natural birth some day.  My little 9lb 6oz'er was born without pain meds, after contracting on pitocin for over an hour, and I was enamored with him.  I still am.  Little Vince is not so little anymore...


This little man turned 5 just two days ago.  Here are a few of my favorite things about Vince:

1) He's a "words of affirmation" person, just like his momma.  You can frequently hear Vincey passing along compliments.  And when you give him a compliment, he always answers with a "Well thanks!"

2) He loves cars.  Every night he asks me what to dream about, and no matter what I tell him, he always adds on something about car racing.  Dream about bananas, Vince.  He'll dream about bananas racing cars.  Dream about eating a giant house-sized cake, Vince.  He'll dream about a house sized cake that you can race cars into.

3) He's best friends with his big sister.  When you tell him to hug out a fight with his brother, he will squish that little guy so tight that they both fall down in giggles.  And he's enamored with his new baby sister.

4) He loves his daddy.  Every morning, he asks who will go to work first... mom or dad.  And he's ALWAYS bummed if it's Daddy.

5) No matter what time of year it is, whenever he goes to get dressed he asks "Will it be hot or cold today?"  Even in July. In Kansas.  When it was 103 the day before.

Sometimes during night prayers, he'll come over to cuddle with me and I cherish every squish I get.  I can't believe that one of these days he'll be too big to cuddle, but it's happening so fast.  I love you Vince-a-roo!!!!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blast from the past

Well, this shows how much the hubs and I have aged in the last 6 years.  But OH the fun we had!


video

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nablopomo2013

People, it is national blog posting month, and I have already failed in my attempt to post each day.  But I had a fabulous weekend with great friends so I'm not even going to apologize.

Let's start this year's NaBloPoMo with 7 quick takes:

1). As discussed in my last blog post, I really don't like having lots of friends on FB.  Strangely enough, I've had like 4 friend requests since that post.  Pretty sure I only said yes to one.  But now someone else has got to go... Who will it be?!

2.). I got to spend time with bunches of my friends from back in the days of the Daisy House this weekend.  Man do I love those people.  FJ said the other night that it meant a lot to him that we were good enough friends that we could just invite ourselves over to his house. I kind of agree. I appreciate that my besties are comfortable rummaging through my kitchen for food and helping themselves to whatever. I also love when they invite themselves over.

3.). Related- have people lost the art of going visiting?  I totally remember buzzing around in my grandma's car with mom and gma when I was a kid and just randomly visiting their friends.  I really don't think anyone ever called ahead.  They just walked on up to their friends/family's door and invited themselves over for a visit.  It seems weird now. My house would be in total disarray (as it usually is) if people popped in on me.  Maybe back in the 80s people just didn't care as much what others thought so it didn't matter how they were dressed or what state their children or houses were in when visitors came.  That sounds nice. And terrifying.

4.) I just noticed that my punctuation is different for each of these numbers.  I'm not even going to fix it. #recoveringgrammarnerd

5.) What does the fox say? Ahe Ahe Aheeee. :-).    You're welcome!

6.) The other day I told Mia she needed to try to take a rest during nap time.  When she came out 30 minutes later she said she wasn't tired so she said a decade of the rosary instead.  This little girl blows me away.  Who does that at age 6? My kiddo inspires me and that's just neat.

7.) I'm concerned I will have nothing to write about this month since I drew a blank as soon as hit this number 7.  If you have suggestions or requests, I will happily take them.

Kristi. Out.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kristi's Guide to Purging Facebook Friends

There's a lot of talk these days about people who are wanting to "quit" Facebook.  Maybe it's a time suck.  Maybe it's a privacy issue.  Maybe it's just too much drama.  Well, I say don't quit... just widdle down your friend list!  It's both fun and freeing!  Here's a little guide of how to decide who to purge from you social network.

Worth noting:  I do not advocate purging immediate family members or people you frequently see in the real world (you know that place where you walk around and speak audibly with others).  Purging people such as these tends to make life more difficult.  How will you respond when one of these purged people comes up and says "Hey... did you leave FB? I don't see your posts anymore." (And you know they would do that... because if you unfriended them, it's probably because they're totally weird.) Can you say awkward dot com???


On with the purging!!  These are the questions I ask when I'm in the mood to downsize my friend list:

1.)  Have I seen them or wanted to see them in the last year? - Now we all have those friends from college and high school that we like to keep in touch with, so I'm not saying scrap them all.  But if you haven't seen them in a year or more, and especially if you don't really care to see them in person, let them go.

2)  Do they perpetually use Facebook for lamenting? - No one wants to be friends with someone who spends all of their Facebook posts complaining about poop... or their lack of boyfriend/girlfriend... or how work is the most horrible place in the world.  Facebook should be a fun way to chill out after a long day of dealing with the above problems.  Not a place where you beg for attention due to your terrible life. Get rid of those Debby Downers.  They are crying for help in the WRONG place, and if you're not there to offer it... you best let 'em go.  Don't bring me down, BRUCE!

3)  Can you name their spouse/significant other/best friend?  If you don't know at least one important personal fact about your FB friend... it might be time to let them go.  Which brings me to #4...

4)  Are they a Facebook lurker?  - Lots of folks out there spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook just lurking around and seeing what others are up to... but never actually updating their own status/photos/timeline or offering a silly tidbit of their life.  I don't know about you guys... but these peeps FREAK ME OUT.  If it seems as though they aren't using FB, but randomly they comment on stuff... well... that's a little odd.  Stop stalking me unless I can mutually stalk you.

5)  What kind of a friend are they in real life? - Are they a person you enjoy hanging out with?  Or do they make you want to slam your head against the wall when you spend too much time around them? Yes, I'm here to tell  you that you CAN purge these little wonders of nature.  But be careful... some of these folks might be in the "see too frequently" or "family" categories that I mentioned earlier which is probably why you friended them in the first place.  You might be better off blocking their posts from your feed.

6)  Do their posts always piss you off? - This one is kinda like #2. I myself tend to be quite the potstirrer on Facebook (always posting some anti vaccination thing or some attachment parenting thing) but I also try to throw in some happy updates and silly statuses here and there.  If your FB friend constantly posts things that anger you, don't waste your worry, just un-friend-away!  I've been unfriended quite a few times for this one I think.  Oops.

7)  Would you attend their funeral? - People, if you don't care enough about your FB friends to at least attempt to make it to their funeral, maybe you shouldn't be a part of their online life.  You know their friends, their problems, how many kids they have and that they'd really like to buy a dog by February, but boy howdy... you would NOT go to their funeral.  You don't really need to know all that other stuff.

So there you have it... Kristi's Guide to Purging your FB Friendlist.  I have the best time attempting to keep my list at or below 200 people.  I challenge you to experience the joy of unfriending your "friends."  Feel the freedom!  Enjoy the click sound when you weed the garden of FB friends!  Good luck, dear readers and please don't come find me on Facebook. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quite the spectacle!

Apparently something shifts in the minds of others when a family goes from three kids to four.  I can't tell you how many times since Greta was born that we've heard the question, "So are you done?" or "Is she your last one?"  Our canned answer is always something like, "Who knows..." or "We'll see," or "Well... we can fit one more in the van so..."

I guess it's unusual to see a family of six when all the kids are under 7 years old.  It doesn't seem that strange to me because we live in a place filled with big families, but maybe that's only in our little Catholic microcosm.  I really get a kick of watching people's faces when we're in a store or restaurant now.  It's like you can actually see them count the little people as they parade by.  This is always more entertaining, of course, when said little people are behaving themselves.

Speaking of little people, the tiniest one has decided to wake and holler so off I go.  Suffice it to say, I'm kind of liking being a spectacle!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Greta Girl - A Birth Story

How do you begin to write a birth story that everyone told you you would never experience? This is the difficulty I've been having over the past few days.  Greta made such a graced entrance into this world, but few people know the fight we had to go through to get her here that way.  This is our story.

Though she was only just born on July 26, our story begins more than two years ago at her brother's birth.  Little William arrived 7 weeks early in 2011, by emergency caesarean, and at my 6-week check up, my OB informed me that any future children I decided to have would have to be delivered by repeat c-section at 36 weeks due to the type of incision they had to give me (a classical/vertical scar on my uterus).  I left that follow up feeling broken.  Feeling scared.  Feeling defeated.  She had basically told me that I would have preemies the rest of my life... and after having spent 2 weeks in the NICU with Will, that just didn't appeal to me.  But what were my options?  I didn't know... but I was determined to find out.

Most OB's will tell you that with the type of scar I have, there would be a 10% chance of uterine rupture were my body to go into labor.  Rupture could mean severe complications for baby and I... even including death if they couldn't get to baby in time.   But as I dove into the research on my own terms, I found that the 10% statistic the OB's quoted was FAR higher than research stated.  I found a group of women who had the same kind of scar as mine (www.specialscars.org), and many of them had vaginally birthed a child since their special scar.  In everything I looked at, I knew that I couldn't just agree to another caesarean out of fear of the "what might go wrongs," and I definitely wasn't okay with bringing a baby into this world a month earlier than he/she was supposed to get here.

But I was afraid.  There were about 4 months of time in there, once Andrew and I felt it was safe to conceive, that I actually prayed I would not get a positive pregnancy test.  I was scared.  The way I chose to birth our next child was going to be dangerous whether I conceded to a repeat c-section or whether I attempted a VBAC.  Would I even be able to find a provider who would assist me and respect my desires?  Could I handle the inevitable mental stress of this pregnancy and still be healthy and strong?  But when I finally got that positive test in November of 2012, a wave of peace washed over me.  It was as though I knew I could handle the pregnancy and I was determined to set myself up for a VBAC even if something changed and I needed to c-section in the end.

When I started looking for a new OB, I was at a loss.  The first doc I visited wouldn't even touch me once he read my records.  He said they would c-section at 36 weeks, no questions... and if I wasn't open to that he wouldn't even start a chart on me.  He told me that not only did I have a 10% chance of uterine rupture, but that if I DID rupture, there was a 50% chance I would lose the baby or my own life.  I knew his statistics were inaccurate.  I knew they were scare tactics.  The real stats say that I had AT MOST a 4% chance of rupture and only 6% of those were catastrophic (meaning loss of uterus, baby or mother.)  But still I left his office in tears.

And then I found Dr. J.  He is by far the most VBAC friendly doctor in my town.  So I knew if I had a chance for a VBAC, he would be it.  And even he pretty much told me no way.  He told me that even if I had a healthy and successful VBAC, he would still get "one of those letters" from the board reprimanding him for letting me try.  However, he did say at my first appointment that he didn't buy into the 36 week c-section and he would let me go longer than that as long as I was feeling good and everything looked fine.  So I stuck with him.  I figured if I couldn't get my VBAC, at least I could avoid having another preemie... and maybe just maybe I could convince him to support me in a trial of labor.

I did as much as I could to maintain an extra healthy pregnancy this time.  I exercised until 37 weeks, I ate way less carbs and sugar, I tracked baby's position, and paid extremely close attention to all aches and pains I had.  I was perpetually aware that there was a small chance that my uterus could spontaneously rupture... But I tried not to dwell on it.  And I never wavered in the peace I had about trying for a VBAC.  Andrew and I hired a doula for the first time as I knew having someone familiar with birth would certainly help me were I to go into labor on my own.  I also refused to let fear dictate how I would deliver this child.  But fear did creep in A LOT.  Once I hit 33 weeks, I knew my uterus was stretching past where it had with Will.  The aches and pains arounnd my belly button scared me but I reasoned that it was just scar tissue stretching and it usually went away pretty quickly.  I witnessed two great friends go through miscarriages and wondered if this was just the year of losing babies.  I avoided all conversations of VBAC with my OB because I didn't want to hear the blown out of proportion risks.  But even in the fear, there was always peace. And Andrew and I agreed that not only for this baby and this pregnancy... But for the sake of any future U-babies, VBAC would certainly be the optimal way to have this kiddo.

At one point in early third trimester, my doula insisted that I make my wishes clear to my doctor.  He listened to me.  He accepted the research I gave him, and he respected my wishes, but he still couldn't support my VBAC.  I think, however, he knew that I would refuse a scheduled c-section unless there was a complication.  At 38 weeks, my doc was to leave on vacation, and labor did not seem imminent.  During my last check up before he left, he pulled out all the stops to get me to agree to a csection... Even going so far as to describe the agony of having a still born.  I was distraught leaving that appointment.  I begged Andrew to reassure me we were making the right choice.  Andrew never waivered.  He believed my body would do what it was built to do and said again that we shouldn't choose a surgery just because something MIGHT go wrong.  Later that evening our phone rang and it was my OB.  I was just sure he was going to give it one last try to get me to come in for a section.  But I was wrong.  He said he had talked to the specialist in his office, the risk management people at the hospital, and his on call doc, and they all agreed they couldn't force me into surgery (that would be battery by the way). So instead they were going to do all they could to support me.  He had worked it out that when I went into labor the hospital would admit me into the labor room closest to the OR.  They would be prepared for the worst but support me in my fight for the best.  My relief was so great after this phone call that I couldn't even report to Andrew what he had said because I was sobbing with joy.

40 weeks pregnant!
And then came the last three weeks of pregnancy.  I went into false labor 5 or 6 times.  Each time my contractions were timetable and painful, but after an hour or two, they would fizzle.  It was physically and mentally taxing.  I had convinced myself that this kid would not be a 41 weeker like Mia and Vince.  Surely this one would come early since I now had a scar.  But still we waited.  And each morning I woke up disbelieving that I was STILL pregnant.  My due date passed uneventfully.  

On Friday, July 26, I woke up at 5:50 am and had that same thought, "Ugh... Still pregnant." Five minutes later I had a contraction that seemed different from all the pre labor I had been experiencing.  It was more painful and felt more productive, but I didn't let myself get too excited.  These contractions went on for two more hours.  I went ahead and showered and got ready for te day, but I let work know I was not coming in.  I called my folks as well to tell them that I was pretty sure I was in early labor but that they shouldn't rush to get here, because it might not be real.  I don't think Andrew believed labor was really happening because at one point, I walked back to our bedroom to find him getting dressed for work.  I had to tell him, "Um... You're not going to work today... We're going to have a baby."  he was a little surprised I think.  By 9a we were calling our doula to report contractions.  She said she'd come over in a couple of hours, but that we should prepare for a long day.  My sister in law came to pick up the three bigs, and Andrew and I were left to labor alone.

In the two hours we waited for Cynthia (our doula) to arrive, comtractions really intensified.  I was almost to the point that I wanted to call her and just have her meet us at the hospital, but Andrew convinced me that we were fine, and I should wait for her to arrive because we didn't want to be in the  hospital that long.  I'm so glad we waited because once she arrived, she helped us to realize that things were progressing normally and my contractions, while productive, were not super regular so we probably had some time.  Cynthia had Andrew and I go out walking.  After two trips around the block, pausing every two minutes for a contraction, I needed a little rest.  I labored on my birth ball in our dining room and Cynthia lead Andrew and I in a prayer for safety and wisdom.  Then she asked me to climb the stairs a few times.  Let me tell you, doing that while in labor is not easy!!  Andrew was a trooper and helped me with all of these activities.  Finally my contractions started to intensify again and I was having Andrew give me counter pressure on my hips and back to get through them.  Cynthia told us that it might be time to call the doctor but she wanted us to pray on it and discuss it first.  Andrew and I weren't too sure. We knew that going to the  hospital would mean the likelihood of pressure to section.  We had come so far, and we didn't want to cave at the last moment.  But we finally agreed to go because the contractions were intensifying, and we both had peace with going.  When Cynthia called my doctor he assured her he would call ahead to the hospital and tell them we were coming. He also said he would give strict orders to leave us alone. This made me happy.

Contractions continued during the drive to the hospital.  I was having to really breathe through them and concentrate.  The walk from the car to the birth part of the hospital was interesting.  I absolutely wanted to walk it, but I got some crazy looks from people.  One cleaning lady nearly begged us to let her go get a wheel chair, but I assured her I was fine.  When we got to the desk and told them I needed to check in... they asked the reason.  Uh... Labor?? Duh?? The pre-registering that I had done a few weeks earlier did absolutely no good at all so I was left to fill out paperwork whilst managing contractions in a waiting room.  Once the paperwork was finished Cynthia encouraged me to walk around the lobby and lean on Andrew when I needed to.  We did that through about three contractions before they walked us down to our room.  Our nurse was a gem and didn't make any comments about my VBAC.  She just got us all checked in and set up.  I got changed into a hospital gown and made my way to the bed so they could get the monitors hooked up.  I gave them my birth plan and everyone seemed pretty cool with my wishes.  They put a hep lock in, but I didn't have an IV or any fluids at all hooked up.  We did end up allowing continuous fetal monitoring, though they let me stay on the ball as much as I wanted and no one freaked out when the baby would move out of range or the monitor would slip out of place.  That was a welcome difference from my experience with Vince when anytime the monitor would fall off, the nurse would freak out.


Pausing for a photo between
contractions on the birth ball.
 We were at the hospital around 2:30 p.m. and all checked in by 3:00 p.m.  When they checked my progress I was at 7 cm and nearly fully effaced which was AMAZING news.  I kept expecting to be "in transition" any time soon, but my contractions were still at least relatively bearable at that point.  When I was on the ball, I pretty much had to have Andrew within arm's reach so he could rub my back or hold my hand through the contractions, but they were nothing like the pitocin induced contractions I remembered with Vince.  At 3:30 p.m., Dr. J arrived and checked me again.  I was 8 cm by that point with a bulging bag of waters and he asked me if I would like them to break it.  I talked to Andrew and Cynthia about it and made absolutely sure that baby's head was low enough that there was no risk of cord prolapse before I agreed.  They discovered that my waters were a bit stained with meconium, but no one indicated that I should be terribly worried.  I of course was worried.  Had baby breathed in the meconium? Was he/she okay?  But heart tones were fine.  My contractions picked up just a little bit after they broke my waters but I really was pretty comfortable still.  The next hour really reminded me of the morning of my wedding.  I remember that all of my bridesmaids were just lounging around my parent's house as if it were a normal Saturday.  No one was freaking out. No one was prepping.  We were all just chill.  That was the exact atmosphere of my birthing room.  The doctor, the doula, the nurse, Andrew and I were all just sort of in waiting mode.  The contractions were still coming but it certainly didn't feel like transition to me.  I kept asking if this was normal that I was still smiling and chatting and Cynthia assured me it was normal for me.
Andrew's hand got squeezed pretty hard a few times.
Cynthia, my doula and I.
The cervical checks were the WORST part of labor by far (and I will likely avoid them all together if there is another baby in our future).  Everyone was telling me to push against the pressure of doctor checking my progression, but I didn't feel the need to push so all I felt was immense pain.  I was nearly 9 cm by 4:00 p.m. and doc told me I could push whenever I felt the need.  I finally decided to get back on the ball to see if I could encourage baby to labor down farther.  That seemed to pick things up.  Once the doc noticed that contrax were getting a lot tougher, he again wanted to check me to see if we had progressed. I believe we were complete by 5:00 p.m. or so an I was back up in the bed sitting upright and really fighting through the contractions.  I didn't feel pushy quite yet which surprised me because with number two, my body did all the pushing.  I couldn't have stopped it if I tried, but with this one I just didn't have that urge.  Finally I could tell the contractions were forcing baby down and said I felt a little pushy.  The nurse and doula held my feet and legs up so I was in a squat position and told me to push against the contractions.  Andrew told me later that he thought I did a great job and was always in control, but this was the part of labor that I felt most out of it.  I was crying and groaning as I pushed.  I don't remember the "ring of fire" pain from my first two vaginal births, but this one was very apparent.  They told me they could see hair, and just a few more pushes would have her out.  It was only about two more and our little baby's head was out.  And one more push and out baby came.  I looked down as I asked Andrew "What did we have?"  And as I saw her, he saw her too and exclaimed, "It's a GIRL!!!!"  He was crying with joy as they placed her on my chest.  I was a ball of emotions.  My thoughts kept swirling between disbelief that we finally had the baby girl that we were all praying for, that I just had a VBAC that no one said I could do, that we were both healthy and unmedicated for the whole thing, that Greta was earthside now and laying on my chest... I couldn't focus on anything for all the joy surrounding me.   They let the cord stop pulsing before they asked Andrew to cut it.  My beautiful little girl lay on my chest as pink as can be and began nursing within minutes.  We cried and marveled at our sweet little girl who looked so much like her siblings.


When my parents arrived with the kids about an hour later, they were just ecstatic to find out they had a sister. Mia said a few days later that Greta was "A dream come true."  Everyone is loving on her, although William (our 2 year old) is having a little trouble getting used to the new baby in the house.  But I imagine time will make that better and they'll be great friends.  After an hour of cuddle time, we found out that Greta was 8 lb 10 oz and 20 inches long.



I couldn't have prayed or asked for a better birthing experience than I had.  I was so grateful at how smoothly everything went despite all of the risks and warnings with which we were bombarded.  I trusted that my body had healed from my section, and even though I was fearful at times... I just kept leaning on the peace I felt around me when I considered my birthing options.  Our little Greta is a beautiful gift for which we will be forever grateful.  I'm still amazed that she's here and healthy and my birth went down the way I hoped it would.  As much as I didn't want to let all the naysayers get into my head, they certainly did get in there.  It has taken me the last few days to just realize that everything is real and we really are both doing well.

If I've learned anything from this experience, it's that it is so important for moms and all people to really be their own advocates.  Do your research. Stick to your guns.  Know what you want and be informed of your risks (but your real ones... not the ones they make up to scare you.)  The biggest pet peeve I had this entire pregnancy was getting the question from people that involved the word, "Let".  "How long will your doctor let you go?"  "Will they let you have a VBAC?"  "Will he let you refuse a c-section date?"  Something that our culture has forgotten is that birth is natural part of life.  It is not a medical condition.  Doctors don't LET us do anything.  They can encourage us or advise us, but when it comes down to it, we pay them.  They work for us.  So they don't get control over our decisions unless we hand it over to them.  I really believe moms have an intuition that we have forgotten how to tap into.  I krusted that if I had ruptured or started to rupture, I would likely be able to tell the docs something was wrong before they would have even picked up on it.  And I also trusted that if I wasn't meant to have a VBAC that God would make that clear to me before I even tried for one.  With Andrew's support, and a lot of prayers we stayed at peace in this whole process and really gave it to God.

I imagine there will be some out there who feel I put my baby at risk or maybe even my own life at risk. But my honest answer to them is that a second c-section carried just as many if not more risks for both of us.  Had I stuck with my former OB, Greta would have arrived 5 weeks before she was ready.  I would have been left to care for three big kids and a preemie while recovering from major surgery or dealing with complications from that surgery.  I had pain for at least 5 months after Will was born, but now, after Greta, I'm feeling almost back to normal only a week later.  Do I feel I took a risk?  Honestly, I feel like getting in a car is a risk, sending my kids to school each day is a risk, eating food that's less than nutritious is a risk, just getting pregnant is a risk.  For the future of our family, VBAC was clearly the lowest risk option for us and thanks be to God that it worked perfectly.  I only wish that more moms would advocate for themselves and really challenge our culture's c-section mentality. If only doctors would stop being so afraid of litigation that they could remember that birth is a natural process... Not a medical condition... Not something to be feared. That is my deepest wish for the future of obstetrics in our country.

Sorry this has been so long.  I've been contemplating what to write for 9 months and keeping my wishes for VBAC relatively secret much longer than that.  I have so many people to thank for helping Greta and I to and through this amazing experience.  First and foremost, I am so grateful for my Special Scar sisters.  They gave me courage, inspiration, research, and cheer leading through the whole thing and I love these women who I've never even met except thought Facebook.  And then to those who trekked this journey with us... Andrew and his unwavering support, Cynthia, Dr. Jamie, Dr. J-my OB, my parents for making me explain the whys of what I wanted and voicing their concerns honestly and still supporting me, and all my Daisy friends and parish friends for their prayers.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


For more information about the Special Scars group, please visit their website at www.specialscars.org.  


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Greta has arrived!

Margaret Thérèse arrived July 26 at 5:24 p.m.  8 lb 10 oz, 20 inches.  Natural and amazing birth!

Baby Greta's first photos...



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Loading... 75% complete...

I saw an awesome pregnancy shirt the other day that had a picture on it like you would see on a computer that was loading a program.  Totally made me smile.  I haven't really posted much on this pregnancy so far, so I thought it was about time for a quick update.  (I actually go back to all of my old posts on my previous blog about the other kiddo's pregnancies just to see how I was feeling/looking/doing at this point in pregnancy... and I get super bummed when I didn't post anything.)

Baby and I have reached Week 30.  Definitely into the third trimester.  And overall feeling really really good.  Thus far pregnancy #4 has been the easiest of all of them (minus the INSANE nausea I had first trimester.)   But I only had to deal with one puke-fest, so that was pretty awesome.  But I have a feeling that things will begin to get a little dicier as the third trimester goes on.  Since Will came at 33 weeks, my uterus is about to hit the size that it was when they did his c-section.  Research tells me that I'll probably start feeling pulling pains and aching around my incision site as the scar tissue stretches and the adhesions break up.  This will likely COMPLETELY freak me out, so if you've got some extra prayers to send my way over the next month, I'd be greatly appreciative!

I've got a new OB this time around and he's pretty much AMAZING.  He seems to have much less of a "god-complex" than the other OB's I've met with and that makes me happy.  He's also against doing the gestational diabetes test unless necessary which seriously rocks because who wants to drink that nasty sugar grossness that they make you drink?  He seems really willing to listen to my desires for this baby and how it comes into this world, and yet he still will give me the down-low of how he thinks things will go.

I've also, for the first time EVER, hired a doula to help Andrew and I this time around.  She's delivered over 300 babies and has 8 kiddos of her own.  She's uber faith-filled and really neat and I have a feeling she will be an asset to us as we approach our due date.  She's a great resource for me between appointments and she's worked with my OB many times which makes me happy.

This is also the first pregnancy that I've been working out at least 1-3 times a week the WHOLE time.  The girls at Curves marvel at how much bigger my belly is every week, and my working out always spawns great discussions about kids and birthing and the like which makes my work out go by super fast.  I don't know how long I'll continue the workouts, but I can pretty much tailor my workout to how I'm feeling on any particular day, so I'm going to try to keep it up as long as possible.

The biggest issue Andrew and I are having this time around is naming this kiddo.  Andrew doesn't come up with names (I guess that's my job), but he tends to respond with "I don't hate it."  I've gotten frustrated on more than one occasion and decided U4 just won't get named, but then I always have some new fun name pop in my head.  Which I share with Andrew.  To which he responds, "I don't hate it."  GAH!  Oh well... in theory, we've got a couple months left, so maybe he'll more than not hate something I come up with soon.

Hmmm... I guess that's about all.  I can't believe how big my belly is getting and I frequently ask Andrew, "Are you sure I get a LOT bigger than this?" to which he responds, "Oh yea... you get WAAAAAY bigger than that!!"  Yipes... Seriously?

(FYI, I actually wrote this post about 2.5 weeks ago, but it's taken a while to post it... So I'm actually even closer to U4's arrival!!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Love Story: Part II - The Bumpy Road of Engagement

You always imagine as a girl growing up that it will be so exciting to be engaged.  Planning a wedding, spending time with your beloved, knowing that soon your day-to-day life will drastically change.  But Andrew and I, while enjoying all of those things, found engagement to be incredibly trying and difficult.  I have heard from many friends since then, that they too, really disliked the period of engagement.

I don't think we surprised anyone too much as we started to call family and friends to tell them.  My parents knew it was coming because Andrew had asked their permission.  And the rest of our family and friends knew it was coming because most of them were avid readers of my blog, and they had read how in love we were.  My most favorite memory of announcing our engagement was telling our friend Erin.  She had told me months before that Andrew was delightfully quirky and "you MUST marry him."  When we told her, at her house, on the fourth of July she screamed and hugged us.  I made her re-enact it so I could get a picture.

But after the initial "WOO HOO! We're engaged!" wore off and we had to start planning things, engagement got a little more dicey.  One of the first problems we ran into was picking our wedding party.  It seemed only natural that since he had two sisters and I had two brothers that we would put them in the party.  But what about our friends?  And what do you do when you marry a man who doesn't have a ton of guy friends but you have some really great girl friends that you want to include?  A bit of drama ensued around that.  But nothing too terrible.  I ended up with three bridesmaids and three honorary bridesmaids.  And when you put 6 women together to plan showers and stuff... or even try to get 6 very different women to like the dress you pick for them... well, let's just say, it's not all roses and daisies.  They were gracious enough to keep most of their opinions to themselves but the bride always hears murmurings even if she's not supposed to.  Oh well.

Early in the engagement I had a lot of questions about my vocation.  I had felt that I had been fighting a call to religious life for at least 4 years, and I worried and wondered if I actually had said "no" to God when I said "yes" to Andrew.  But through much prayer and discussion, it just seemed right to be with Andrew. And I never felt I was fighting my call to be Andrew's wife.

By far the most disconcerting part of being engaged were all of the naysayers we encountered along the way. We had friends who told us we were spending "too much time together." We had family encouraging us to wait longer... think harder... even don't get married to each other at all.  Their opinions weighed heavily on us.  Their sentiments thwarted a time that I had imagined would be joyful. People weren't shy about expressing their thoughts to us.  They came from both sides of the family.  For different reasons and at different times.   We heard everything from, "She doesn't want to marry YOU, she just wants to be married," to "Are you sure you can marry a man who will never let you spend money? Can you be happy living that way?" Throughout marriage prep, I kept getting a sense that if God wants something to happen, then the devil certainly does NOT want it to happen, so I leaned on that and just prayed that our loved ones would someday understand why things were right between Andrew and I, and we really were incredibly happy, and we were very assured that we were doing the right thing.  There was a peace in our love that neither of us had ever experienced, and it seemed no matter how much other people tried to shake that peace, Andrew and I were always able to fall back on it.

It wasn't always easy to regain that peace. I found out years later that Andrew nearly called off the engagement on numerous occasions.  But I vividly remember at least one conversation with him when I knew he was questioning us. We were standing by his car and I could see the worry and doubt in his eyes from a conversation he had just had with someone who didn't want us to be together. I was crying and crying because I just didn't understand why people couldn't see the peace that we felt together... the love that we had together... the depth that we shared.

I said to him, "Did you love me yesterday?"
"Yes," he said.
"Did you love me an hour ago?"
"Yes," he said.
"Then why would one conversation with someone who doesn't believe in us change your mind? I'm still the same girl you fell in love with no matter what they say."

We considered postponing the wedding on numerous occasions. One of our priest friends told us, "If you're going to get married, then get married!"  But we knew our choice of a May wedding would mean Andrew still had a year of grad school to finish, and we might not be ready for a baby right away.  We considered postponing to October so many times, but for some reason, the May date just seemed more right. (We now know that it was because our little Mia would be a wedding gift from God in May.)

Through all of the turmoil, angst and planning, Andrew and I made sure our communication was top priority.  If we had doubts, we talked about them.  If someone told us we were making a bad decision, we stood strong together.  We prayed together.  We talked to our Marriage Prep priest. We asked for our friends prayers.  We forged a relationship that could withstand the force of all kinds of things and it only made us stronger as we headed towards our wedding day. Although I would have happily avoided all of the tribulations we experienced, I think we are stronger for them today.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Love Story: Part I

On February 28, 2005, my Andrew and I had our first official date.  After a month of flirting and hanging out in group settings together, he had finally asked me to come to a basketball game with him, and I happily (perhaps even too-excitedly) agreed.  I was so nervous that day.  It had been months since I'd been on a real date.  Andrew showed up at the door holding a pink rose.  As usual, he was so confident and calm and collected, that I was put right at ease.  And off we went to eat at Il Vicino (where I stupidly ordered a salad that had anchovies on it because I was too nervous to read the menu). GROSS.  And then we went to watch the Shockers play some hoops.  Awkward moment of the night came when Andrew had to tell me that he had actually invited two other guys to the game long before he realized this would be a date... so we shared a bit of our first date... but it gave me a good dose of the reality that is my now-husband and it really didn't matter at all in the end.  He put his arm around me during the game. When he took me home that night, we prayed night prayer together.  And we talked and talked and talked about our pasts and our futures and all the things you're probably not supposed to talk about on a first date. He introduced me to Proverbs 31: The Ideal Wife.  I promised him I would read it.  I didn't know then that it would become one of the readings at our wedding.

That was the beginning, and it was a whirlwind romance from that day forward.  Our second date a few days later was a movie night at Andrew's apartment. He wanted me to see the Notebook which he had seen but I had not.  When I arrived he handed me a rosary and said "I thought we could pray first."  So we prayed together.  After the movie, he turned on some music, and danced with me in his living room.  I remember hearing "When You Say Nothing at All" and "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore."  I left that night in a dreamy daze.  The boy had still not kissed me, which I actually thought was super awesome, and I was quickly falling head over heels for him.

Days passed, and we became basically inseparable.  I can't remember whether our first kiss came first or Andrew said "I love you" first, but some time in the beginning three weeks both of those things blew me away completely.  Even though I knew that early in the relationship that I loved him too, I was totally not prepared to say it yet.  So I waited a little longer (but not too much.)

We only had one memorable fight during our courtship.  I got angry because Andrew would tell me he was going to call, and then he wouldn't.  Looking back, it seems really ridiculous that I was so mad about it considering we saw each other almost every day.  But for me, it was a trust thing... and when someone told me they were going to do something, I expected them to do it.  I was also projecting on Andrew some of the remnants of a previous college relationship where my trust had been completely violated.  It took months for me to realize that he wasn't going to lie to me like that guy had.  I think we almost broke up that night, but thanks be to God, we did not.

I remember a moment in late spring when Andrew insisted that we go to my parent's house. He was ready to meet them.  I was so nervous, but he was not at all.  They hit it off right away.  I showed Andrew the church where my mom, grandma and great grandma had all gotten married.  And he told me that we would get married there too.  At one point during that weekend, we were sitting alone in my folk's basement and Andrew put his hand on my belly.  We both closed our eyes and saw our future before us.  The marriage, the babies, the life filled with love.  So many people thought we were crazy and moving too quickly.  But there was something supernatural about the way we clicked.  For us, there was no doubt that God has put us together. By June we had met each other's families and were well on our way to engagement.

On July 3 (four months after our first date), Mr. Andrew put a ring on my finger.  It was a no-frills, unplanned, perfect proposal.  We sat on a couch at my house after a night on the town with friends.  Neither of my roommates were home.  Andrew looked at me seriously and asked, "Do you think I'm conventional?"  My answer (with a strange look on my face) was, "Um... no!!"  He got up... walked to the other couch (where I was apparently supposed to be sitting), and pulled the ring out from under it.  He came back over to me, got on one knee, and proposed.  We both cried.

...to be continued...

Friday, February 8, 2013

If I Could Turn Back Time: Advice for Rookie Preggos

As my Facebook posts, blog updates and general conversations likely indicate to those of you who know me, my birth experience with William profoundly changed the way I view pregnancy, labor and birth.  It changed me in lots of ways.  Probably the biggest and most important change I experienced was truly being able to "let go and let God."  I really DIDN'T have a choice in a lot of things with Will's pregnancy.  And no matter how much I longed for a "natural" birth, I knew it couldn't happen with him.  So I had to give it to God and trust we'd both be okay.

But through that journey with my little William and in the two years since, I have done some serious soul searching and internet searching, and REsearching on all things pregnancy and birth.  I've learned a great deal of unfortunate things about the American medical establishment and their current cultural view of how babies should enter this world.  I've learned that frequently moms aren't really given choices or options anymore.  They're told what the doc believes is BEST, and they're made to believe that this is their only option.  I've experienced it first hand.  It's sad, to say the least, that because of the tremendous amount of litigation in our culture, doctors are now afraid to "allow" women to birth their children naturally.  Induction is easier.  Sections are easier.  Scheduling is easier.  And though all three of those things increase the risk to mom and baby, and though the c-section rate in the United States is very close to an all-time high, that doesn't change anyone's minds.

Well, in all my reflecting, I've been pondering a list of things I wish I'd known when Mia and Vince were born.  These are just a few of my thoughts... more of them always seem to pop up.  But if you're a new momma, or an older momma who hasn't ever thought about questioning your doctor, I hope maybe my thoughts will at least give you some things to think about.

1) It's okay to say "Thanks. But, NO thanks."  I vividly remember the morning in the hospital when I was in labor with Vince.  I had gone into labor about 4 hours before my scheduled induction and my doc said it was "okay to let me go for awhile without starting pitocin."  But after 3 hours of laboring and continued progression, I guess things just weren't moving fast enough for her.  So she called the resident and said, "Let's start Pitocin to speed things up."  Momma instinct (and having experienced induction with Mia) kicked in and the first thing I said to the resident was, "Can I say, 'no'?"  The dumbfounded resident was all kinds of shocked that I would even suggest saying "no" to my doctor and thus offered me no reassurance.  And I let them start the dreaded Pitocin.  I regret that to this day.  An hour and a half of hell all because my doctor wanted to "speed things up."  LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCT.  YOU CAN SAY NO.

2) Don't trust the scare tactics.  It's so easy in late pregnancy to let your doc convince you that induction is a good idea.  You're tired of being fat.  You can't tie your shoes.  You want to meet your baby.  And if you're past due (like I was with #1 & #2), you've pretty much convinced yourself that baby will never come.  So when the doc tells you "This baby is getting really big,"  or "Your risks get higher and higher the longer we wait," it's easy to believe them.  And it's extra convenient to just get induced.  But induction isn't natural.  It increases your risk for so many things.  And, frankly, the PAIN from pitocin SUCKS.  Don't be scared.  Trust your body.  Your baby will come when your baby is ready.  It's absolutely normal to not have your baby until 42 weeks.  You think you're two weeks over, but on average, you're actually only a few days over when most kiddos arrive.

3) "All the matters is that you have a healthy baby." Sorry to break it to you, folks, that really isn't ALL that matters.  People love to give you this line when you've had a birth experience that was less than ideal.  They say, "But look at that little bundle you have... it's all worth it now."  Unfortunately, that just isn't true.  Birth is a profoundly personal and spiritual experience.  And while it is AMAZING to have that little baby in your arms, the way that baby gets into the world really REALLY does matter.  A traumatic birth experience can cause physical pain for years to come.  But the emotional and mental angst that can be caused by a bad experience, in my opinion, is far worse.  I know mommas who've had PTSD from their births.  I know mommas who can't even consider getting pregnant again because their fears are too high based on their last experience. After everything that went down with Will, of course I felt blessed that he was here, and we both were healthy.  But I still grieved.  I grieved the fact that I didn't get to hold him right away.  I grieved the fact that I had to go home without my baby for 2 weeks.  I grieved the fact that my guts had been cut open and my birth experiences from then on out would not be the same.  And I lived in fear of another pregnancy for a long time.  Could I go through it again?  Would it even be safe?  How much risk was I willing to take?

There are so many more little things that I could write about this.  And I desperately wish sometimes that I could go back to the births of #1 and #2 and tell myself these things.  But I can't do that.  So all I can do is hope that I can help other new mommies be educated.  Yes, you should be able to trust your doctor.  But you should also know that your doctor is human and your doctor has priorities that aren't always 100% in YOUR best interest.  It's okay to question.  It's okay to follow your instinct.  And it's okay to do research even if your doctor says "there are no other options."  You are the momma.  And you need to believe in yourself to know what's best for your baby.  And if you can't decide, then seek out experts to help you.  Find birth professionals like doulas and midwives who believe in natural birth.  Find other moms who have been in your shoes and talk out your fears with them.  You are not the first momma in the world to be worried or to have faced whatever problem you might be facing.  And when you find peace in one of your choices, you'll know which choice to make.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

I haven't blogged in two months, but tonight's supper was just too delicious to NOT post the recipe.  It was half from memory and half made up, but it turned out great, so here you go...

Easy Eggplant Parm
(all amounts are approximate)

1 Eggplant
Salt
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (or Parm/Reggano) - I used the fridge stuff, not fresh
3 cups Rice/Corn Flakes
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 eggs
Butter/Olive Oil/Cooking oil of your choice
Jar of Spaghetti Sauce
1/2-3/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese

The first thing you need to do is "sweat" your eggplant.  1-2 hours before you plan to start cooking, peel your eggplant and slice it into 1/8 inch slices (pretty thin, but not paper thin or anything).  In a colander layer the eggplant slices and salt.  You can really salt them up because you're going to rinse it all off eventually and the salt helps take any bitter-taste out of your eggplant.  Sit your colander of eggplant slices and salt in the sink and put something heavy on top of the eggplant to kinda smash it down (I use two glass bowls that would fit in the top of my colander).

Once you've waited 1-2 hours (or 30 minutes if you're in a rush), you can take the slices out and RINSE THEM REALLY WELL.  And, people, I've made the mistake in the past of not rinsing them enough, and salty Eggplant Parm is NO BUENO... so rinse those things!!!  Then lay them on a double layer of paper towels on your counter.  Meanwhile, you can prepare your breading.  You can be really simple and just mix some italian breadcrumbs with some parmesan cheese if you want, but I wanted mine gluten free.  So I put 3 cups of rice chex in my Ninja, then threw in some parmesan cheese, basil and italian seasoning and whirred it all together.  Dump that on a nice place or large flattish bowl.  In another bowl, crack your two eggs and scramble them together with a little bit of water.

Put your spaghetti sauce in a sauce pan and start warming it up.  (Mine was on medium low the whole time I was cooking the eggplant.) Melt some butter/oil of your choice in a big frying pan and heat to medium heat.  Now dunk your eggplant slices in the egg, then the breadcrumbs, and fry them up until they're golden brown.  You'll have to do this quite a few times unless you have a really big pan.  As soon as you remove the done eggplant, sit it on a plate with a paper towel (to soak up excess oil) and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. (You can keep this plate in a warm oven if you're concerned with it getting cold. I wasn't.)  After your last batch of eggplant comes out of the skillet you can start dishing up the plates.  Ours included a few slices of mozzarella-covered-eggplant, a nice spoonful or two of spaghetti sauce and sprinkle of parmesan on top.  We had a side-salad with our eggplant parm.

YUMMY!