Dispatch from the Other Side


…and here we are, the three of us, emerging with spring out of our shell and out of our personal war story.

They say to nap while the babe naps, but sleep eludes me, and capturing moments in text seems the only logical thing to do.

I should start by saying this: I called my friend who is due with her first baby in a week and a half, and I said to her: “Carrie, I am so excited for you!”

There—I said it!! Can you believe it? I can’t quite.

I have ventured over to the Members Only club of parenthood, one that rouses emotion that had been hiding in toenails, perhaps, or the farthest molars. One that compels you to get up yet again to feed the hungry monkey and to nibble on toes that curl every time you kiss them. It is sickingly joyful.


In the few moments we’ve had to debrief, to relive, to reminisce about the first–let’s call it challenging, shall we?–week, N asked me if I would do it again. I unflappingly said Yes. Which is odd, considering what I endured and my slow road to healing. Considering I have never liked babies.

But my baby, well, that is a different story.

I’m in the middle of typing up the story that was the eventful arrival of Luka Lee, and perhaps one day I’ll share that madness here. But before I forget all the hands that held us up that first week, I must give a WAT WAT to our Village.

It is true what they say, about a village and a child, and I must blink several times and shake my head fiercely when I think about the amazing village that has surrounded us in the short amount of time we’ve lived here.

There is the FarMor (father’s mother) who has washed and folded more of my panties than I’d care to count, and held LL so N and I could get some real shut-eye.


There are the heaps of friends who have cooked, baked, delivered full meals.

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There are the long-distance Grandma and Grandpa who have relished in the latest addition to the Kitchens clan and made me feel like this is their first grandchild rather than their fifth! (This, despite two trips to the hospital for them!!)

A been-there-done-that sister who texts daily baby advice and sends needed baby goods via priority mail.

There are the school folk and friends delivering first Easter baskets and heaps of Goodwill.

Long-distance friends who have listened to our birth story and its aftershocks and assured me, No, it’s not supposed to be quite that challenging.

I am certain that N, LL nor I would have survived that first week without this Village. To Mom, Dad, Jess, Brita, Lara, Amanda, Kerri, Anna, Carrie and Craig, Julie, Phoebe and Jonathon, and to those who I am forgetting due to lack of sleep. All of you saw us through. We are indebted and hope to return the favor.

For all my ambivalence and un-excitedness leading up to Luka’s birth, I am thrilled to be here. To cuddle up at night with this little guy. I am eager to point out to him his first eagle, to take him on his first hike up Little Mountain, to watch him gaze at his first snowfall up Highway 20.

One of my favorite quotes is from Into the Wild, where Alexander Supertramp writes: Happiness is only real when shared.

What a glorious thing, then, that I have two kindred boys with whom to share my joy.



Carrot Coconut Trail Cookies

What do you do when you are 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, on the verge of getting sick, cranky and stuck inside on a gorgeous day? (And then again at 39 1/2 weeks, waiting for Babe to arrive?)

Make cookies, of course!

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My darling husband reminded me that sugar does not stave off illness, so I pretended that because these had carrot, whole wheat flour, coconut, oats and that because I HALVED the amount of sugar (HALVED!! Have you ever heard of anything so foolish?!) that these were the prescription to my ailment. Truth be told, I like them better with the reduced sugar than when I’ve made them with the full cup and a half. I know–I must be ill.

(UPDATE: And today I’m making them with the idea that they will be good labor food. If they last that long…)

Also, they are vegan, so I could consume as much raw cookie dough as I damn well pleased without anyone pulling the “What about the baby and salmonella?” card. And if you needed another excuse to whip these up, they taste like macaroons. I promise you won’t even notice the carrots.

You can pass these off as healthy–okay, healthier–and I won’t tell if you lick your hands like I did. These make great hiking/snowshoeing/road trip cookies (but is there a bad road trip cookie??).

Carrot Coconut Trail Cookies  photo 1

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1-2 cups shredded carrot

1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used a combo of shredded and larger flakes; it provided a nice texture)

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1/2 cut canola oil

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350. Mix together fours, carrot, coconut, sugar, oats, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together water, oil, and vanilla. Add wet mixture to dry; mix to combine. Mix in chocolate chips.
  • Scoop 2 tablespoons into one ball onto a cookie sheet. (Note: the batter is loose and wet, so wrangle any stray odds and ends; this is also the part where you get to lick your hands.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool for 2 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

**Feel free to add dried fruit (cherries, dates, apricots work well) and/or chopped nuts, generally about 1 cup each. To freeze batter, roll into balls, place on cookie sheet in the freezer; transfer to a covered Pyrex container until the cookie urge strikes! No need to defrost before baking.


The Secret Gifts of Gestation

Full disclosure: Not my belly!

Full disclosure: Not my belly!

They call it “Lightening Crotch,” my friend whispers into the phone.

Lightening?” I whisper back, like the NSA is eavesdropping. Like it’s a code word for a Navy SEAL mission in Ukraine.

She goes on to explain the searing, stabbing pain that attacks her nether regions, sends her whimpering for the handle of the Costco cart or skyrockets her off the sofa. Her husband looks at her knowingly: “LC?” he asks.

When I look it up later, I discover a handful of backroom threads devoted to the topic. Some refer to it as “Vagina Knives,” and when I experience it full throttle for the first time, I understand why. You’re cruising around the block, the sun shining on your face, filled with the joy that is the little one squirming about inside of you, the forsythia blooming, daffodil heads opening, thankful that you are still ambulatory, still smiling, and then…this.

Don’t get me wrong: this is not a moment in time for me to complain about the adversity of my pregnancy. Mine has been an easy one, so much as growing an entire human being is easy, for someone who is much too vain for her own good and on a normal, non-gestating day, tries on three outfits, two earring sets and both boots and flats.

But—but—there are a host of pregnancy symptoms never revealed to incubating women. I’ve rescanned every “What You May Be Feeling” section in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and have seen no mention of the following. Same goes for Girlfriend’s Guide, which I valued for its frankness and behind-the-scenes look at a woman’s real body during a woman’s real pregnancy.

I’ve done my research; queried every close woman I know who has had a baby in the last three years and literally said, “Give me all the dirty details.” There’s the mention of the bleeding, the swelling, the vague recollection of pooping on the bed…but none of the following were mentioned until I experienced them myself or until I was also pregnant, and other pregnant friend casually mentioned their most recent malady.

It’s like Fight Club: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

I think women are afraid that 1. No one wants to hear about this shit and 2. If they reveal all these dirty details, no friend or sister will ever venture into the realms of motherhood with them, and they will be the only one up attempting to nurse with mastitis at 3:14 a.m. and never have any one to commiserate with.

But I’m going to reveal these to you so that you can be prepared. So that first time, when you look into the mirror at your nipples and think, “Jesus, are my nipples falling off?” you can rest assured that this is yet another sign that your body is making way for baby.

  1. Nipple Cheese: Who knew that your once lovely, compact, non-invasive breasts (which have now gone through several bra iterations and rival the best porn stars) would begin their lactation efforts at about six months pregnant? Even my sister, three kids in, had no good explanation for nipple sluffage, and to spare you from TMI, I’ll post an excerpt here from Stacy of Frankly Pregnant’s experience with “nipple cheese”: “During my first pregnancy, I was alarmed when I noticed my nipples cracking up. They broke apart into lots of little sections that most resemble taste buds. “What’s going on here? Psoriasis? Dermatitis? Skin Cancer?” I later learned that my milk ducts were coming to a head. Did you know that a woman’s nipple has between 20 to 50 milk ducts and milk can squirt out of each one of them? I foolishly thought that the milk would neatly come out of one hole. So, in these crevices between the milk ducts, you can get nipple cheese build up, even after pregnancy.”
  2. Rank B.O.: For me, pregnancy has been a time when my hair has glowed as if it was a Pantene commercial and forgot to get oily 22 minutes after a shower. It used to be that my grease-trap hair compelled me to shower, but a new offender has taken its place: my pits. It is true that I eat a vegetarian diet heavily seasoned with onions and garlic, and that I use “granola” deodorant, but I have done both for the last four years and have never suffered from this malodorous issue. For those of you middle or high-school teachers, take the worst offending pubescent boy sans Axe body spray you can remember, then up the stank quotient by seven and you have my pregnant body funk. It is like the smell of old cooked broccoli mixed with rotting yogurt and the off-gas of a garlic factory. I shower at 6 a.m. and the toxic brew is back before noon.
  3. Niagara discharge: Suffice it to say that most pregnancy books, sites and personal anecdotes significantly understate the amount of fluid your body produces everywhere. Everywhere. Stock up on panty liners when they go on sale.
  4. Cellulite: Sure, my genes are prone to it. Yes, I consume cookie dough by the bowlful (I know, I know, the raw eggs!) I took a few deep breaths and got over the cottage cheese I saw on my upper arms. I rationalized that the accumulating back fat would be covered by clothes 94% of the time. But when I could not zip up my boots—when I had to squish the calf fat together to form pockets of what looked like tapioca pudding to even consider closing the last two inches of my previously loose-fitting boots, well, folks, I just about cried. The female body apparently stores fat in an attempt to ensure if my cave-man husband fails to slay the cougar, my baby can still siphon nutrition from my fat-laden body. I can assure you that the co-op has yet to run out of cougar and I have not been at a loss for calories at any point in this pregnancy. Come on, evolution! Let go of that which no longer serves you—and take my fat with you!
  5. Hormones to be reckoned with: I’ll just send you to read the hysterical comments on this post by Emily Henderson. When I read them, I couldn’t stop laughing, crying and thinking to myself: I’m normal. I’m so normal. This Jekyll/Hyde madness is normal!!

So there you have it, ladies, my personal list of The Secret Gifts of Gestation. I’m dying to hear—what havoc has been reeked on your body that no one ever told you about?