Why we spent our Chubby Vegan Thanksgiving in the ER

No, unfortunately, it wasn't because I was having my gigantic baby boy. Although, we are technically three days away from FULL term, so in three glorious days it will be time for all of us to hope this little boy decides to at the very least be on time, if not a week or few days early. I'm an impatient, uncomfortable mama and this little boy has been trying to get out of me via the movie "Aliens" style  for the last month.

Seriously, do you remember those old cartoons where Daffy Duck and Wiley Coyote would get bonked over the head and they'd push the bump in, only to make another one appear? And then they push that one in and like three more smaller ones protrude out? That's kind of what this baby feels like these days. He sticks his little foot out my side and I push it back in ... which gets rid of the foot problem, but only leads to him sticking his butt up and getting rid of my belly button or a jutting knee somewhere else uncomfortable.

Basically, the last month of my pregnancy is cartoon-like.

Back to the real story here though, the reason we spent Chubby Vegan Thanksgiving 2012 in the emergency room and why my husband is never allowed to take two consecutive days off from work EVER again.

Let's start with Thanksgiving eve. For once, we had gotten off our butts and prepped for our big carb-filled, probably-too-sweet feast the night before. Chubby Vegan Dad peeled all the potatoes for me (something I'm petrified to do because I'm convinced I'll peel my finger off), I had them boiled and assembled in their dishes, simply awaiting further baking or garnish the next morning. I got every last bit of our dessert assembled (and boy was it cute!) and we had finally prepared enough the night before to be able to wake up leisurely the next day and not have to cook everything off. The only thing we had left was the stuffing, the easy, easy stuffing.

Right before we went to bed that night Pearyn started complaining of a burning sensation when she peed. You may remember last year's debacle where we found ourselves wrist deep in pee and fully enlightened on the topic of toddler bladder infections. Of course being the "glass is probably half empty when it comes to sickness around the holidays" that I am, I assumed it was a bladder infection and gave the doctor on call a quick ring. He told me to go ahead and look for any external reasons it would be hurting and sure enough, our little girl was a little red. So we treated her redness and for the next 18 hours, Pear didn't have anything else to say on the topic.

I thought we were in the clear.

Thanksgiving day was pleasant. We got to my parents house early (thanks to all that prepping the night before) and we seriously gobbled up some Gardein turkey cutlets (I was too lazy and giant, crabby pregnant to tackle making our own seitan roast this year), some sage and brown butter mashed potatoes, a sweet potato casserole (complete with candied pecans and vegan marshmallows), stuffing and roasted lemon broccoli. We even had a chance to try the perfectly set-up pumpkin pudding pie "lust" cake. (Recipes to come later this week). It was pretty much magical. Chubby Vegan Dad watched some football and Pearyn even laid down for a nap, with ease.

I should have known something bad was headed our way.

Pearyn woke up from her nap on the less-than-angelic side, in fact, she was downright pissy. It only took about 10 minutes for her to start wailing and clawing at her stomach, which of course set off the "crap, she does have a UTI" alarm in me. I spent the next hour or so feeling like the worst mother in the world (something that happens more than I'd like). After deeming her inconsolable, we packed up and headed to the emergency room, because it was Thanksgiving and there was no where in the world that was open. And the last thing I wanted to do was wait around a whole night for this to get worse.

They collected a urine sample, they took her temperature, they pushed all around her stomach and a few hours later we found out, there was no bladder infection.

But there was another partial blockage in her intestines.

ANOTHER blockage, because the one we faced in Hilton Head during the great cantaloupe-induced samonella poisoning of 2012 wasn't enough.

I should have known better. I should have seen the signs. She acted in the exact same manner as she did the night we rushed her to the hospital in Hilton Head, scared to death that she was having an attack of appendicitis or something else every parent dreads.

Instead, she had a bunch of poop stuck in her intestines. AGAIN. Of course, she hadn't had any loose stools and even had a completely normal bowel movement not even 12 hours earlier that day, so how she got blocked up is beyond me.

How a two-and-a-half-year-old child that eats better than most adults (sorry guys, she eats better than even Chubby Vegan Dad and I) can end up with another blockage is baffling to me. It's so baffling, that it's keeping me up at night. She gets plenty of fiber. She drinks water (although we are pushing more of this), almond milk and a very limited amount of juice a day. She eats edamame, fruits, peanut butter sandwiches and prefers broccoli to chocolate bars.

I know children that live off of a diet of goldfish crackers and chocolate milk, or worse, McDonald's  How the heck is SHE getting backed up?

So far the only answer we've been provided with is "it can be common in children this age, until the age of five even." But after having a doctor tell us that in young girls, UTI's can be incredibly common as well and then finding out that meant 8 out of 100 (which I don't know about you but doesn't sound very common to me), I'm left racking my brain at night trying to figure out what to do for her.

She's not normally like this, she's had battles with small stomach bugs that have left her unscathed, in fact, you could hardly tell anything was even bugging her, so for something to be making her lash out this violently and scratching at her stomach, waking up in the middle of a sound sleep crying "ow my stomach hurts, make it stop." it makes me worry.

We have an appointment to talk with her doctor about things, I'm hoping at the very least if we don't get some sort of answer we at least get some help in the right direction.

All I know is that I can't bear to see her feel like this anymore and to be honest, I'm not sure how much more of it this sleep-deprived, zombie-of-a-mom can handle either, without snapping on the whole world.


Starting a new tradition this holiday season

Despite the whole being vegan, having tattoos and living a generally alternative lifestyle, our little family is actually quite traditional when it comes to how we do things.

The day Pearyn was born we read Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss. It didn't matter that we had been up for more than 24 hours and spent 18 of them laboring, it didn't matter that we had hardly anything to eat and were getting used to being parents, we decided before our little girl arrived that we would always, always read this story to her on her birthday, even when she's 16 and hates us, we will read this story to her. 

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

And regardless of what we've had on our plates, whether it was planning a double birthday bash or traveling three hours for a wedding, we have read those words, that story, to our little girl every year now since she was born.

We're the kind of family that albeit a bit oddball, we really like our traditions.

Even when Pearyn was still in the womb, couldn't even hear yet and we had no idea that she was, in fact, a "Pearyn," we started our tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas as a family on, you guessed it, the night before Christmas. 

When Pearyn finally became a member of our family in the outside world capacity, I still remember sitting in the rocking chair in her room and reading the same book we bought the year before to her. It didn't matter that she was wiggly, had no idea what we were saying and that we were sharing our roof with my brother, sister-in-law and their two kids, we upheld our tradition.

And now, because Pearyn is finally old enough to start getting excited about Christmas and understanding the concept of naughty and nice, we've introduced another tradition to our family this year.

It's official, we're "those" kind of people now, the kind that drive cars with little stick family figures on the back and the kind that fell into the Elf on the Shelf trap. In our defense, it's not actually a trap, it's the most adorable little kit that contains a little elf and a book that talks about what this elf's duty is. 

Long story short, you inform your kids that this magical elf appears during the holiday times (for us it will be Thanksgiving eve) and flies back to the North Pole at night to tell Santa whether or not the kids in the family have been good. Then, the magical little elf flies back home before morning light so the little ones can wake up and hunt for where their elf friend is hiding.

I know, it sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but watching Pear read through the book and pick a name for her very own elf, Emma, was more than worth the money we've spent and the mockery we'll probably take from some people out there. 

I realize our traditions aren't the most original, which you probably wouldn't expect from a family that seems so different in every other aspect.

I've learned a lot over the years, namely though, I've learned that being original just for the sake of it doesn't make you original, it makes you fake. And traditions don't have to be unique to every family, they just have to mean something special to yours.

And now, I'm going to waddle my giant pregnant self out to the living room and find somewhere magical for Emma to wake up tomorrow, because I can hardly wait to see the look on Pearyn's face when she realizes the next tradition she's in store for. 


Five things you never, ever say to a pregnant woman

With five magical weeks left until this little boy makes his appearance (hopefully, this mama would really like a baby for Christmas), the pregnancy hormones or maybe just the regular Chubby Vegan Mom hormones are in full gear now.

That and it's basically obvious to the entire world that I'm pregnant. There's no more wondering whether I'm just fat or hosting a little parasite in my body, everyone I come into contact realizes I'm about to bring a kid into this world.

Now, I'm not sure if it's just me reading into things too much, but it seems like once this time comes in pregnancy, once the general populous can conclude easily that I'm with child, it's exactly at this time that the absurd comments and questions start coming in. Most of them very open, proud and downright slap-worthy.

So in the event you're about to cross paths with a very pregnant me, or any woman for that matter, let me give you a few tips on how you can avoid getting your head bitten off by keeping your mouth shut.

No. 1: "Wow, you look like you're ready to pop!" Seriously, it doesn't matter if I'm as big as a cow, overdue by 90 days and carrying 14 babies in my uterus, there is never, ever an appropriate time to tell a woman she looks like she's about to pop. Do you know what that translates to in girl language? "Wow, you're freaking gigantic, is that really the baby or have you just been eating too many donuts?"

Not to mention you can rarely tell when a woman is about to pop. And heaven forbid you say something like this to a woman who still has a month or more to go, because NO WOMAN wants to be reminded first, that she is in fact swollen and huge, and second, that she still has more than a month to go. Just safe face by saying "You look great, how much time do you have to go?" Even if you both know it's a complete and utter lie, at least for one second she'll think you meant it.

No. 2: "Wow, you look so tiny, are you sure you're due in XX weeks?" I realize that based on number one, this might seem like a safe bet. Not only are you not insinuating that the pregnant woman is as big as a house, you're even asking her how long she has left. Here's the thing though. When it comes to weight, you usually can't make a pregnant woman happy.

There are those on the thicker side who are envious of all those tiny pregnant ladies, the ones who wear their pre-baby jeans home from the hospital, meanwhile, there are those tiny pregnant women who want nothing more than to be as big as a house so that the whole wide world can tell they're pregnant BEFORE they're actually popping. To be on the safe side, just tell the mom-to-be what a cute bump she has and ask her how close she is to the big day!

No. 3: I think this probably goes without saying, but if you even think of uttering the words "Oh, you're pregnant? You really shouldn't have that coffee/chocolate bar/sushi roll/McDonald's Cheeseburger/tofu" just be prepared to get punched. Really, really hard. Most of us pregnant women have doctors. And most of our doctors are doing a great job of telling us what we should and shouldn't be having. So unless you're about to tell me the veggie hot dog I'm about to devour is laced with hemlock, do yourself a big favor and just shut your mouth.

Being pregnant is hard enough. We spend half the day thinking about all the terrible things we've probably done to the fetus this far (Why did I have that margarita the day after he was conceived, did I really need to eat that entire box of Oreos?), we don't need you to do it too.

No. 4:  Oh you're having a baby? My mom's, sister's, best friend's, dog walker's, aunt's, great cousin's, niece-twice-removed actually lost her entire vagina during the procedure (or insert your favorite incredibly unrealistic medical meltdown in here). I don't know what it is, but when people find out you're pregnant it seems like they want to scare the hell out of you.

Do you know what hasn't happened to me when I tell people I plan on birthing in a natural center? Not one person has ever said "Oh, childbirth wasn't that bad, it hurt a little, but it's worth it in the end. I'm sure you'll do great!"

Do you know what has happened to me on numerous, numerous occasions (even after already birthing one child and being pregnant with my second? "OH MY GOD you're going to die! You know women die in childbirth right? It's supposed to be the most painful thing on Earth. Your poor vagina. Do you think you'll be able to do it? I know five women who have split their pelvic bones and lost all their stomach muscles from giving birth."

Seriously, QUIT scaring the pregnant lady, we're already scared enough. Once you become pregnant you realize how much has to go right in order for you to bring this lovely little being into the world. We're scared nearly every day that something is going to go awry, so don't remind us that in the 18 hours of labor prior to meeting our bundle of joy something terrible could happen too.

Just DON'T.

No. 5: And lastly, the absolute, guaranteed-to-have-your-face-ripped-off inducing statement you could ever make to a pregnant woman would have to be "You haven't had that baby yet?" (Especially if said pregnant woman is even one minute past her due date). Trust me, all of us pregnant women know that D-day is just an estimation, it's not a deadline or eviction date for the baby. But that doesn't stop us from hoping. It doesn't stop our stretched out uterus and baby-addled brain from hoping, praying and nearly convincing ourselves that our little bundle of joy is going to come into the world on that exact day.

So when we end up being a little overdue and you think you're being cute or supportive by asking us if we've had that baby yet, don't be surprised if we reply with a snarky "yes, I did and I'm miraculously nine months pregnant ALL over again" or "yes I did, just carrying around some extra baby weight!"

Seriously, if a pregnant woman is even 10 second overdue, just don't say anything. Just bring her a cupcake and tell her she's pretty.


Vegan pregnancy the sequel: the homestretch

I don't actually know if I'm really in "the homestretch" of this pregnancy. With just a little more than five weeks to go until I reach my due date, I feel like the fact that we've made it through more than 34 weeks now means we're close enough to call it the homestretch.

Just over five weeks to go!
I'm really, really hoping I don't go two weeks past due. I'm totally willing to let this little boy hang out until he's fully cooked and ready, but judging by his estimated size in all the ultrasounds we've had (which I know they can be a little off) AND the sore spots he leaves along my tummy, this seriously not-so-little guy is packing a punch.

Because I had placental issues in the middle of this pregnancy, we've had a few more ultrasounds with this one than with Pearyn. And at every single ultrasound, this baby boy has measured at least three weeks ahead  in the weight department.

Pearyn wasn't a small baby by any means, she was five days late and nearly eight-and-a-half pounds. If this guy goes late, I have a feeling my lady parts won't be recovering any time soon. Isn't it funny how now matter what you call them, lady parts, vagina, hoo-ha, it still makes most people uncomfortable?

Speaking of my lady parts, I've had some followers checking in to see how everything is going, probably since I didn't talk anything baby for the entire month of October, what can I say, VeganMofo wore me out!

The good news is that the placenta has moved out of the way and I'm in the clear to birth in the natural birthing ward of my hospital. Yay big ole' birthing tub and a queen-size bed, oh, and the freedom to move around and give birth in a peaceful environment and all that!

Other than that, I've been surprised that a lot of other things have happened much sooner in this pregnancy than in my last. I know, I know, my body has been there, done that, so it's totally in veteran mode right now, but that didn't prepare me for the leaky boobs at 30 weeks. Seriously? I didn't even deal with that until like three weeks before giving birth to my daughter. And I think we all remember from my TMI pregnancy post that those puppies are already the size of my head, so I'm just hoping they mellow out some after I actually give birth to my babe.

The funny part about leaky boobs is that my daughter has no idea what is going on there. We haven't really explained the whole breastfeeding thing to her yet, not that we're avoiding it, we're really just waiting to see what questions she has once he's here and sees what's going on.

Regardless, she asked why mommy's boobs were crying one day and I told her they were just leaking. She kindly informed daddy that "mommy should probably buy some new ones."

Seriously, file that under "the most awesome things kids say."

Things are coming together at home. His room is nearly ready, we have clothes lining his drawer and we even picked out his "elusive" bring-home outfit. You'll be happy to know our little guy will be decked out in raccoon gear!

At any rate, it's crazy to think that next month, we very well might be a family of four. One large part of me is ridiculously excited to meet this little guy that's been beating me up for the last three months, but the happier I get to meet him, the more the guilt in me grows.

Pearyn has absolutely no idea what's going to hit her. When we go into labor she's going to go to grandma's not knowing anything has happened and when we get home her whole world will be turned upside down.

For two-and-a-half years it's been just us three. We've fallen into a routine, she's used to having our undivided attention (aside from work and everyday life), all the sudden we're going to come back and not only will she not have all of our attention, but she's going to be splitting it (sometimes unfairly) with this tiny, crying, pooping, spitting-up human being.

I know eventually, she's going to love her brother (well, hopefully). I know I'm "giving her the gift of a sibling," but it doesn't make the all-consuming guilt that I'm feeling any less.

I guess while I'm incredibly excited to start our journey as a four-some, I'm also still mourning our life as a family of three.


Seven things you probably didn't know about me ...

When you become a parent, there are inevitably hobbies, things you used to love, that get pushed aside because well, there are more pressing concerns, bedtime stories to be read, monsters to be chased off and sleep to be had (or, not had).

For me, there has always been one thing in my life I've refused to give up - reading. Whether it's perusing an issue of Parents, reading Anna Karenina for the fourteenth time or catching up with one of my favorite blogs, reading is the only thing other than my child that I'll lose sleep over. 

So seriously, in case you fellow bloggers out there didn't know, I love the hell out of you guys. Even if you fill your space recounting the seemingly mundane events of your day, providing me the five minute distraction from whatever task I'm avoiding is more appreciated than you'll ever know.

And because Blessed Vegan Life, one of the bloggers I follow regularly, was kind enough to pass on the "One Lovely Blogger" award to me, I'll play by the rules and continue to show some love. 

The rules are pretty simple. All you have to do is let the rest of the blogging community know the what blogger nominated you (and link to them if you're super awesome), then list seven fabulous facts about yourself that your readers probably don't know. 

After you've bared your soul, nominate anywhere from five to 15 of the bloggers you seriously dig for the award and let them know you've got their back. 

So here goes, the seven things you probably don't know about me (and maybe didn't want to!)
  1. I am a total sleeper creeper. I love my family so much and I seem to think they're the most adorable when they're fast asleep ... so I like to take pictures of them snoozing. I assure you that this is a habit I reserve solely for my family members and close friends, just in case you're afraid you're going to find me creeping around your house. I can't help it, Pearyn is seriously so darn precious when she's still.
  2. I refuse to take part in early voting. Call me silly, but there's nothing like the voting rush you get from being at the polls with all the other crazies on election day. I don't care if I spend my lunch hour waiting to fill out a ballot, it's tradition and it's one I'm sticking to.
  3. I originally went to college to study chemistry. However after taking what would be my last literature class ever, I got all sorts of sad and made the switch from science to English. The rest is history, well by that I mean I graduated with a degree in English. 
  4. I have the world's biggest girl crush on Zooey Deschanel. I don't think this needs much explanation.
  5. I have legitimately read Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina 13 times. I love it even more every time I read it.
  6. My best, best, best, closest, seriously soul-mate material from college and I established our friendship in college while she braided my hair and told me about the first time she had sex. To this day, she is one of a handful of people that I feel like I really, genuinely NEED.
  7. I can pitch a softball 64 mph - and my aim is impeccable. 
Now, to pass the love on, I've selected five of the blogs from my list that I think should cough up some deep dark secrets!


How these vegans get Halloween done

When people find out we're vegan, one of two things happen.

They shrug their shoulders and don't really think twice about it  (they just throw us into that category of 'weird people' or 'going through a phase'). 

Or, the questions start coming. Oh, the questions.

To be honest, I absolutely adore when people are curious about our lifestyle. It gives us a chance to explain to people what we DO eat and how our daughter actually isn't malnourished (despite not living off of cows milk and junk-filled chicken nuggets), contrary to popular opinion, uninformed opinion, closed-minded opinion and much of the general populous. 

My husband and I try not to parade our dietary and lifestyle choices to everyone. While vegan works for us, I realize it might not for everyone else in the world. We've kind of adapted the thought process of, you live your way, we'll live ours and we won't really talk about it, unless you start asking questions or start crapping all over our choices, then, we're going to fight back.

Once people have known us for a while, they kind of stop asking questions, mainly because they know the answer is probably "no, that has XXX hidden ingredient in it" or "you don't want to know I used beans as a binder in those brownies so just eat them and continue thinking they're delicious." 

Sometimes though, random things pop up and it reminds people that our veganism doesn't just touch our dietary choices, but our lifestyle, moral, personal and ethical ones as well. 

Halloween, is one of those things. 

"Well Pearyn can't eat most of the candy she gets trick-or-treating, so do you guys even bother going?"

Yes, yes and yes. 

Trust me, we realize most of the candy she collects contains a plethora of animal-ridden products, so no, she doesn't really get the opportunity to gorge herself on your run-of-the-mill Snickers and Reese Cups. (Hold on, don't go calling child services on us just yet). Instead, we raid our local health food store (the one that carries less-than healthy vegan candy options) and wipe them clean of all the vegan candy we can get our hands on.

The most popular with Pearyn? Definitely the Go Max Go Life vegan versions of all your favorite candy bars -- from Cleo's peanut butter cups to the caramel, nugget and nuts of the Jokerz bar -- we replace all those silly "fun size" regular candy bars with full-size (and seriously full dollar) vegan ones. 

We sneak in other regular, vegan-approved candy, like Sweedish Fish or Twizzlers too. (I realize some vegans avoid anything with uncharted processed sugar, I don't have enough money in my wallet or time in the day to start doing this too, we try to limit the amount of sugar we eat, however, if it makes us only 99% vegan then fine, I don't want to start any wars here). 

So honestly, Pear's trick-or-treat adventure really isn't a whole lot different from any other child's.

She gets to pick out whatever costume her little heart desires, she has two parents and a dedicated grandmother that have spent her last two trick-or-treats walking around the neighborhood with her while she runs up to houses whispering "Trick-or-treat" and then shouting out "thank you" when they put some kind of goody in her basket. 

Once she's tuckered out, we head home and "pull the switch." We take all the candy she collected from the evening and throw it into a grocery bag, while swapping in all the vegan-approved stuff. 

Honestly, it's not that much different than any other regular parent sifting through their child's goodies, looking for homemade stuff you can't trust or treats that might choke your small child. Instead of rifling through our daughters basket, we just make the switch. Last year and this year we've donated the candy to programs that send it to soldiers overseas. 

This year she asked why she couldn't have a few things, we just explained to her that we don't eat that food but she could have a piece of whatever she wanted from her bucket. 

And you know what? She ate a few homemade buckeyes from grandma and then pushed her candy aside.

She wanted noodles.

How many parents of toddlers can say their child opted for dinner before tearing into their treats? 

It was a proud, proud moment for us.