Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Homebirth: Nourishment, Part Two

I wrote about my sister Julie in yesterday's post.

Today I write about my sister Lana.

Lana has been at all three of my births as well. When we spontaneously decided to just skip the hospital and give birth to Jude at my cousin's house, Lana arrived with a basket, fully equipped for a homebirth. She always asks me what I want to eat after the baby is born. With Jude, I wanted spaghetti. One of the most honest photos I have of myself is after Jude's birth: I lie on a bed, my feet all waterlogged and white from the hours I spent in the shower and bath during labour. My t-shirt rides up a bit to show off my newly deflated belly. I am devouring a plate of spaghetti while our midwife checks Jude over. I worked damn hard to bring him into the world, and am thoroughly enjoying that plate of pasta!

With Violet, mom had made a pan of chicken tettrazini. Somehow pasta is the ultimate comfort food after giving birth, at least for me. My sisters also brought me a margarita to enjoy on the sunny evening of Violet's birth. The memorable photo from her birth is me nursing my newborn, holding up my cocktail (lightly dashed with booze) up for a toast!

As Margot was born at seven in the morning, the post-birth meal was bacon and eggs made by my dad. I was left in bed to nurse and rest, but it didn't take long for me to make my way downstairs, lured by the voices of my midwives, children, and family and the smell of coffee and bacon! A very memorable mental photograph is of everyone in our big sunny kitchen, tucking into a big hearty breakfast.

This post is about Lana, because she brings comfort to me in many ways during labour and birth. She is my "big" sister, in that she is six years older than me. She always generously let me wear her clothes and flirt with her boyfriends when I was just learning to flirt. She knows me like I know myself. She is the person who hops on the bed when I begin to push, to support my legs. Homebirth is a very intimate affair, and she has been there like a rock at every one of my children's births. I draw comfort from her familiar presence, as I have since the day I was born.

She is also the person I trust to feed everyone; even though I do not want to eat while in labour, I know that everyone else needs to keep their energy up. Her role is an important one: she plies the midwives, doula, and my husband with snacks, tea, coffee, or full meals depending on how long the birth takes. And she's there with a plate for me as soon as I can eat after giving birth. It's always something delicious, and exactly what I want and need at that time.

I'll be making a batch of her slow-cooker spaghetti sauce this week, to pop into the freezer for after the birth if the time of day is right or for the weeks to follow. I know its familiarity will be a comfort to my children as we navigate our way into "sixness".

Here's the recipe (I usually double it to feed our family of five for two nights!)

Lana's Slow-Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound ground beef, browned
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 5.5 oz can tomato paste
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 tsp garlic
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. parsley
2 tsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp liquid gravy browner (I usually omit this because I have no idea what it's made of!)
1 tsp beef bouillon powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook all day on low, or about 3-4 hours on high.


  1. I skip the gravy-browner, too! I put in some worcestshire instead, and sometimes a little red wine now, too..
    It is my pleasure to be of use during your labours and births. It is an honour to be invited and such a privilege to help in any way I can- holding your leg, feeding everyone, making margaritas, whatever you want or need.
    and p.s. I only let you flirt with my boyfriends until you changed from a gangly 14 year old to a knockout 18 year old. Then that was the end of that! Way to risky! hahaha!

  2. I think the best part of a homebirth, aside from the comfort of your own home, is the wonderful food after words, I swear after my births, no matter what I ate it was the most delicious, nourishing food I have ever tasted! Wishing you a beautiful birth welcoming your newest member.

  3. I have learned (from my own experience) to ask my doula clients to think about what they would like to eat after their baby is born. I will now send them in the direction of this post! The post-birth meal should not be forgotten!

    What a lovely post. And what lovely sisters.

  4. Okay, this is making me cry. Why is this making me cry? It's that tie from your own childhood to bringing forth your own children, all with the loving support of family. An umbilical cord through the generations.

  5. Reading this makes me even more excited for my own homebirth... any day now!


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