MTT: Asian-style Broth With King Prawns

 

Breast feeding makes you HUNGRY. So hungry. According to an article I read recently it burns 500 calories A DAY which explains how I lost 5lb in 5 days and also means I will be breast feeding Huxley til he’s 18. Anything to avoid exercise.

I’m eating a breakfast, elevensies, big lunch and big dinner. Plus biscuits. I need my three meals a day and am craving all sorts of veg, carbs and protein; this is tougher than it sounds with a clingy toddler (there’s only so much colouring she wants to do) and a baby who wants to be cuddled by his mama all the time. Baby cuddling + a gas hob = a one-way ticket to a visit from Social Services.

So these days dinner preparation takes place in snatched moments when babies are asleep or between 8pm-8.30pm when Will gets home and I can hand Hux off to him between feeds. Last night was a 30 minute special full of veggies, healthy and filling that I adapted from a recipe on The Londoner, a blog choc-full of healthy recipes that don’t compromise on flavour. I still ate a chocolate pudding afterwards, but this can come off my new 500 cal allowance.

Pretty much all ingredients in this recipe come in convenient ready-to-cook packs but don’t let this put you off; it’s what makes the broth so ingeniously quick and easy.

MTT Quickie: Asian-style broth with veg and noodles
 
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Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tin beef consommé
  • 1 pack fresh veg, such as sugar snap peas and baby sweet corn
  • Handful chopped mushrooms
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 pack cooked prawns
  • 1 small pack straight-to-wok noodles
  • Fresh coriander to garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the veg (excluding the mushrooms) in a dish with a lid with a tbsp of water and microwave for 2 mins, or half the specified cooking time.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan on a medium heat.
  3. Add the microwaved veg plus mushrooms and cook for 2 mins. Add the prawns and cook for a further 2 mins. Add the noodles and break up.
  4. Add the tin of consommé to the pan with the fish and soy sauce. Chop and add the chilli.
  5. When piping hot serve in bowls with the coriander sprinkled on top.

 

Wrists Don’t Get Fat: Bracelets

I have previously written on this blog about how frustrating it is to go shopping as a pregnant woman. There are always beautiful clothes you want to buy that won’t fit over the bump and you don’t know how big your boobs or even your arse will be after you’ve given birth. It took me 12 months to regain my pre-pregnancy figure after Elfie was born, and then I was pregnant again straight away. Therefore from winter 2009 to now I have bought clothes spanning four sizes. It’s a tough time for a shopping fan.

But one part of your body that doesn’t swell when you’re pregnant? Your wrists! (You hope) Bracelets are an easy purchase, and I got well into them when I was too bump-y to fit into anything else. I’ve really enjoyed the colour and interest that old-school friendship style bracelets bring to an outfit and the fact you can mix them up to create different looks.

These skull bracelets by Elkin have featured far and wide in the print fashion mags recently and I have loved plotting what colours to buy next (the full range can be purchased online from POP The Fashion Store, from £35). Wear them dark and moody, as in the Telegraph, or in complimentary girly colours like mine. I like to stack them with these leather and brass bracelets (£7.50) from Paper & Chain, a gorgeous homegrown Jewellery brand from  Worcester-based Ismay and Naomi. A couple of cheap Primark metal bangles are added and my wrists are dressed!

What I’d Forgotten About The Newborn Stage

Pretty much everything to do with breastfeeding: the pain, the cracked nipples, how the right one leaks when feeding from the left and vice versa… The first time around I remember being pretty shocked that nobody had told me what a tough old journey breast feeding could be (imagine barbed wire being fed through your nipples… Yep) and I’ve been similarly surprised this time around. IT HURTS. We have conquered it though, Hux loves the boob, and im really proud to be feeding him breast milk exclusively. Because of Elfie’s health problems she went onto a diet of pumped breast milk and formula within about a week and I always felt sad I wasn’t able to feed her longer.

The size of my boobs: They are huge and literally exploded overnight. Seeing Will’s reaction to my brand new DDs was hilarious; instant boob job. It’s just a shame they are keeping me from being able to sleep on my front.

The cuddles: Huxley likes to be cuddled all the time, including night time if possible. This would be lovely if all I had to do all day is focus on him and watch Masterchef whilst breast feeding  (ahh, lovely summer 2010 memories of Australian Masterchef when Elfie was a new born) but I want to make sure that Elfie has as much attention as possible. Luckily she has warmed to her little brother although the amount of toddler tantrums have gone up by about 200%, I’m hoping once Will is back to London full-time that she’ll feel happy, secure and loved, and that we can calm her compulsion to give Huxley big huge squeezy cuddles (cute but lethal).

The nights: Hux refuses to sleep in his lovely co-sleeper cot and instead favours the spot beneath my armpit. This is lovely as theres nothing better to wake up to than his squashed up face, but I’m not quite relaxed enough to fall into a deep sleep with him so within squishing range. Co-sleeping does make it easy to feed though and I’ve started going to bed topless (much to Will’s delight, though not so sexy is the muslin I fashion into a boob tube to prevent leakages) so I don’t even have to make the effort to get undressed when feeds through the night.

The Toast Diet: I named my blog ‘More Than Toast’ because it was all I had time to eat after Elfie was born, and just shoving stuff on to a bit of bread is near enough the easiest meal you can do. What did we have for lunch today? Scrambled egg on toast. The Toast Diet is back.

My time: I seriously have no time to do any frivolous things that I liked to do before, such as blow dry my hair or go on the computer. I have tried writing blog posts on my iPhone/iPad but they always end up sounding like complete nonsense and it’s only thanks to some great apps that I’m managing to keep on top of my online shopping habit. So if I owe you an email please expect a response by December, I should be able to get through my inbox by then.

The smell of a baby: the top of a baby’s head and the creases of their arms, mm, they smell divine. But I’d completely forgotten about the other smells that come with newborns; the sickly sweet milky nappies that need changing all the time, the smell of Sudocrem all over my fingers and most of all the smell of milk over all my clothes/sheets/kids.

Everyone else’s obsession with baby: of course I know that my baby is The Bomb but apparently everyone else thinks so too. Which is amazing, and not just because this means he’s had tons of presents. Huxley Harold rocks.

The Homecoming

 

We came home yesterday.

Let me tell you, a whole week in hospital on a hot, noisy maternity ward with your new baby really makes you think about and appreciate the small things. Especially when neither of you are ill so the stay seems kind of futile. I  tried to view it as extra healing time for me and extra bonding time with Hux, but I missed Elfie and our home so so much. Our families were brilliant and rallied round so Will was able to be at the hospital the majority of the time but I think he was driven slightly mental by the whole noisy ward experience – as was I.

We were in awaiting the results of tests that Huxley needed to see if he was born with the same condition as Elfie. Because what she has is so rare and not very well understood they were being super cautious about releasing us, but yesterday we were given the preliminary all-clear and allowed to come home. There are still more tests to come back but everything looks good and we believe Huxley will not be affected. The relief was incredible and I was so happy to get him home yesterday.

 

The amazing thing about hospitals (alongside their ability to look after and cure people) is the sheer melting pot of people they attract. Like the post office. So many times I wished I had the energy and means to blog about what was around me, it was so surreal and weird at times.

There was the woman who I was placed opposite on the ante natal ward when i was admitted at 2cm who was on all fours with a canister of gas and air, howling like a banshee and screaming that she needed to push. After a very loud examination (midwife: “I haven’t touched you yet, please stop screaming”) she was carted off to the labour ward. At 3cm dilated. According to Will, my face at that point was a picture, but really her screams were totally One Born Every Minute-esque and not good for the mental state of a woman who planned on calmly and quietly breathing through labour, i.e. me.

 

Then there was the relief I felt when the consultant started talking about a c section which would take place at 39+6 (though my notes said 40+1?), because even though I felt like I was letting myself down by not attempting to move forward with the VBAC I knew I couldn’t take any more sleepless nights of ineffectual contractions along with the decreased movements and slowing heartrate; it had been four days already,  I may have gone mental. At that point there is nothing I wanted more than a lovely kind surgeon to cut my abdomen open. They did a pretty thorough stretch and sweep but put me on the emergency list for the afternoon of the 16th May should that not bring on more contractions. It didn’t.

Let’s not talk about the surgeon who put in my cannula IN MY TWEETING HAND when I specifically requested it go in my left, and instead feel thankful that it didnt work so someone had to swap it around.

 

Next in my hospital chronicle is the anaesthetist who congratulated me on my excellent banter (he actually used those words) before telling me post-section my uterus was ‘flabby’ and warning me that the medicine he had to give me to contract it would make me violently sick, but that’s ok because that’s better than bleeding to death, right? I wasn’t sick (champion!) but did feel completely and utterly horrendous for the next eight hours.

Best of all was all the amazing midwives who were just superb and who made the experience so much more pleasant than it could’ve been.

My roommate throughout the whole experience was a heavily tattoed Biker/Butcher lady who had some very interesting opinions: 50 Shades Of Grey? Not that sexual according to her. Her baby was 6lb born at 35 weeks so was quite jaundiced and spent the whole week under lights. Happily she got to go home the day before I did, she was quite hilarious.

 

I think I did a pretty good job of staying positive when I was in there – I hated not knowing how long they would be keeping us in – and having poor mr Huxley poked for bloods every 6 hours was awful. The lovely people of Twitter went a long long way towards keeping me sane as well as helping me with breast feeding questions in the middle of the night when I felt like I was passing glass through my nipples (answer: plenty of Lansinoh and it WILL get better). I think my mental state was mostly down to the fact I daren’t hope to go home as I knew that if Hux’s tests had come back positive then we’d have be there for the foreseeable future. And that would have been awful.

Anyway, walking through my own front door yesterday felt beyond heavenly. I feel so lucky for my lovely little family, our beautiful home, my caring and thoughtful husband and all the people we have around us. And shit, I have 2 kids. How did that happen?!

 

Psst… don’t forget you can still vote for More Than Toast as Best Pregnancy Blog at the MAD Awards!

He’s Here!

 

Huxley William Harold arrived yesterday, the 16th May, at 3.04pm. He was born via semi-emergency caesarian after four loooong days of contractions, a worrying period of decreased movements, heartbeat decelerations and a lot of monitoring. It’s been a long week.

 

We are both doing very well in hospital and will be here for a few more tests until Monday at the earliest whilst the Doctors determine whether or not he has inherited the same condition as Elfie. So far so positive.

He is pretty amazing.

MTT: Mackerel, Beetroot and Sweet Potato Salad

Sometimes Will works away during the week, and whilst I miss him when he’s not at home I use the opportunity to indulge in my favourite faux-single gal activities. Because I am cool and hip these often include cleaning until the whole house smells bleachy, watching crap TV like The Real Housewives of The OC/NYC and eating food for dinner that Will doesn’t like. Sometimes I even take a bath or wax some body parts; it can get wild.

Two foods that I don’t get to eat much are beetroot and mackerel. Will dislikes them both, though in the early days of our relationship he ate my kedgeree on more than one occasion because he is a polite boy who didn’t want to hurt my feelings. One of my favourite spring/summer recipes is a salad that contains both mackerel and beetroot and I eat it often when he is away and I am alone for lunch or dinner.

I love salads but sometimes they aren’t substantial enough for dinner – the addition of sweet potato to this one means it fills me up til morning, plus you have the added bonus of both mackerel and beetroot being so-called ‘superfoods’. Should you be on a low-carb diet the sweet potato can also be substituted for roast butternut squash.

As if the mackerel and beetroot wasn’t enough brilliance on its own, this salad is also served with a side of horseradish cream. I love horseradish. I love cream. I love mackerel. I love beetroot. This is basically heaven on a plate.

Lest you think that all mackerel is created equal (it isn’t), think carefully before purchasing your fillets. I always  make a special effort to buy Tesco’s Sweetcure Mackerel fillets which are cured with sugar and then smoked over hickory logs. It gives the mackerel a delicious sweet taste that I think is better than plain old smoked mackerel.

Mackerel, Beetroot and Sweet Potato salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 mackerel fillets
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 4 small cooked beetroots
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche (I have also used sour cream in this recipe which worked fine)
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • A quarter of a bag of rocket salad
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop the sweet potato into cubes; place in a baking tray with the fresh thyme and a slug of olive oil. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees for around 40 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Meanwhile shred the mackerel fillets and discard the skins. Cube the beetroot and wash your hands right afterwards!
  3. Throw the mackerel, beetroot and salad leaves into a large bowl. Add the sweet potato as soon as it’s cooked with the oil it was cooked in. Mix well.
  4. In a small dish mix the creme fraiche with the horseradish and serve.