Friday, October 28, 2016

Cranberry Butternut Muffins


I've been trying to find activities to keep me grounded in real life as we get through the election. I forgot that I love cooking, almost as much as I love writing.

I haven't written here since May of 2015. I feel like a different person, but that's probably a whole other story.

I love this cookbook that's come into my life in these oh so many months: The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook. Mostly I carry it around flipping dreamily through it's pages as my kids do whatever activity they are at. But last weekend I snatched a few minutes to get some of the ingredients, and then during the week I found myself waiting for the universe and working with a bunch of nervous energy.

If that's the kind of gift you find yourself with, here is what you need to make Kate O'Donnell's fabulous Cranberry Butternut Muffins. I think you will find this so uplifting, to make and to eat!

2 eggs (she also gives instructions to substitute w/ 2 flax eggs: contact me if you crave instructions on how to make flax eggs)
1/2 cup cooked butternut squash
1/4 cup maple syrup 
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp Everyday Sweet Spice Mix **
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
2 tbsp shredded coconut

OK. These ingredients took time for me to gather, over a couple of paychecks quite frankly.  I look forward to a day when whole yummy ingredients are more accessible to more people more of the time. I do love eating these muffins so let's get to the making....

OH ** you make this in advance. I encourage you to check this book out on your own - from the library or at the bookstore -- so that you can further explore how it brings seasonal ingredients together in a way that's really quite healthy for your body. But for now, here, make this spice mix:
(page 112)

2 tbsp cinnamon powder, 2 tbsp ginger, 1 tbsp cardamom.

If we live closeby, I could give this to you.

The colors together are delicious.

I'd love to learn more about Ayurvedic medicine. I think I just made a new year's resolution, or something like that.

Anyhow,  preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin tin with baking cups. (spoiler: I ended up with enough batter for 12 small muffins. I only had 5 baking cups though so coated the other 7 muffin spots with coconut oil.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk your eggs briskly, 1-2 minutes with a fork. Add the squash and mash into the egg. (Don't you wish we had more opportunity for the word MASH?) Stir in maple syrup and melted coconut oil.

In a  separate small bowl, mix together the almond meal, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spice mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir together. Do not overmix. (This feels like important life instruction.)

Stir in the cranberries.

OK. And thanks to the folks on Facebook who helped me with my cranberry question.

Divide the batter into 6 muffin cups (as stated above, I made 12). Dust with shredded coconut.

Bake for 25 minutes or until 25 minutes or until tops begin to brown. The muffins will be soft and will firm up as they cool. Let muffins cool completely before removing from tin. (Go meditate or take a bath or drink some wine. Don't even think about being impatient with this.)

Why yes, those are Star Wars baking cups.

Enjoy muffins with others or perhaps alone with favorite broken mug. The cranberries are beautiful and your house smells yummy. Inhale.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Loss Follow Up

Hi, Jennifer,

I'm not sure if you'll remember me or if you're still the genetic counselor there. I terminated a pregnancy due to Trisomy 18 in September of 2011. I had follow up genetic testing with a subsequent pregnancy, William, born in July of 2012. He was conceived 6 weeks after our loss, and now that he's almost 3, I'm just taking some time to grieve.

This might be weird but I'm sure you get a lot of weird questions… You answered so many of my questions then, and I'm realizing there were some that I didn't ask.

I think a lot about my abortion. Unfortunately. I wouldn't have made a different decision, but the experience itself.  I was just beyond 14 weeks by the time I terminated. I had a D&E at BWH. I wished then,  as I do now, that my experience could have been different.

I read that termination via induced L&D is sometimes offered after 14 weeks. So I also realize that would be way more expensive but curious if it is actually ever offered as an option?

You had referred me to an online support group. I have recently reconnected there and am thankful for that group. Many of the women have foot prints. Or were able to scatter ashes. You know what I mean. But, do you know what they do with the babies, at Brigham and Women's? The doctor definitely didn't know why I was there. The big pregnant intake person hadn't understood either. What do they do with the contents of the red plastic box?

I understand that her body wasn't a body that she could have lived in. I know it would have been difficult, but could I have been awake? Could I have placed my hand on her skin?

Thank you, Jennifer. I know this is a tough email and I'm sorry for dumping it on you, but I have to answer some of these questions and come to peace with their answers. I have to do this so that I can have this life with my wonderful little boys. I can no longer spend whole days with this grief.

Thank you again, and best wishes.

Jacqui Morton

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I vote for life.

This is an important read on misogyny and reproductive justice. 

I honestly don't believe most anti-choice folks are full of hate. I just think they're terribly confused about where life actually is happening. Like for example, last week, on my way to pick up my kids, a car scooted in front of me - without even the friendly wave of acknowledgement. I was at first reminded of my own sad experience, by her bumper stickers. I started to cry as I slowed behind them: "CHOOSE LIFE" and "I VOTE FOR LIFE," side by side, evil eyes above her license plate. And then, as quickly as the bumper stickers had ruined my day, they were gone. She sped up and flew through a red light in a school zone. 

Later that day, I saw that the Governor of Kansas, in a photo with four women standing behind him, also made a decision to disregard the lives around him, signing a bill that will make the safest procedure for second term abortion illegal. WTF? Sad as that is, many Republican governors around the country would like to do the same. And then there is the scary elephant in 2016, when many people will vote against reproductive rights and compassionate care for women and families. 

Many people that will vote differently than me will mention, fairly, that they have to make the choice that makes the most sense for them and their family - and that they can't vote based on one issue. I get it, and I make choices that are best for my family.  I'm not ashamed to say I vote for choice. See, I'm sorry if that means I seem oblivious to other issues. I'm really not. 

But my abortion was a D&E at 14 weeks, just into the second trimester. The ultrasound appointment that turned into the appointment for diagnostic testing (via CVS) could not happen before 11 weeks, then full results take a week -- and after learned my baby had Trisomy 18, and determined that I had to let go, I waited over a week for an appointment, even in Massachusetts. It was the saddest day of my life and while I didn't get to hold my baby, it was over quickly. I didn't have to explain to my toddler that I would be at the hospital for an undetermined amount of time, in labor, to deliver my baby into a life that would have been sad for us all. 

Women that have later term abortions are likely having them for similar reasons -- devastating abnormalities found later in pregnancy, or a complication that could  jeopardize life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 1.4 percent of all terminations take place at 21 weeks or beyond. And if you're suddenly faced with this kind of diagnosis, you're feeling traumatized and scared and you are grieving. You are living the most painful moments of your life. 

For me, it's easier to write about this than it is to talk about it, probably because it makes people so uncomfortable. The technical term is dilation and evacuation. The anti-choicers refer to it as dismemberment abortion, formerly known as partial birth abortion.What they don't tell you is that the D&E has been found in medical studies to be the best way to care for that mother. 

The anti-choice friends will tell you, you are going to feel sad. But what they don't tell you is this: People will support you and your choice. People will love you and that you can still love yourself. You can even talk about it. 

The anti choice folks don't tell you that when the mother is anesthetized for the procedure, the fetus is anesthetized. In some cases, an injection is given prior to stop the heart. We must know, there is indeed peace.  I'm thankful to know this, but I have to tell you, it would have been nice to hear it then. It would have been amazing to have support then, in those most painful moments of my life. I'm grateful to have found a community of people who have shared sad experiences. It is this community that I can turn to, when suddenly, between deadlines and before preschool pick up, I find myself wondering, what did the hospital do with her remains? Could I have asked? Why didn't I ask?  

I wish the anti-choice folks could see the love in the world, here, where we all live together. It would be amazing to create space in our society for this "procedure" in a way that honors a family's experience and emotions, and helps them memorialize and process a great loss. Instead of making this an issue on which to build a political platform, we could serve families, and provide counseling - not the kind of counseling anti-choicers normally talk about, but rather the kind of counseling women need in a time like that -- grief counseling. 

It would be amazing to just tune out all of the political noise, to be honest. But, it's hard, too. I'm going to stay away from politics on Facebook! And, to that lady in the speeding red car: do know that I will vote for life in 2016. I vote for my life. My family's lives. Here, in this world, where my heart beats. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day of the Dead in the Mall

I don't usually post my own poetry, but haven't updated my blog in a while, and this poem seemed to accomplish what a blog post sometimes does -- random words finding homes next to each other, hoping to write my way through a difficult moment. xxoooo 

Day of the Dead in the Mall

I handed him my phone shrouded in a zip lock bag.
Two days ago, I added tape. A two-inch square
of packing tape, from an orange dispenser that dangles
on a screwdriver that stands in a pink flowerpot turned
pencil cup in the corner of the kitchen. 

Actually rectangle, not square. 
Folding the plastic over and sticking it down
seemed to accomplish more than should be asked 
of a simple act. 

Slit a slash for the power cord to root.

My friend had told me to look for the Russian guy
at the kiosk across from Victoria’s Secret.
Sadig, he said, when I asked his name,
and when I asked where he’s from, he said
it’s troublesome for most Americans to say,
but Azerbaijan.
After I got it quickly he said I could watch
but I told him I would walk around.

I told myself I wanted to savor the mall alone,
looking at other parents with kids flailing about
on the floor and in their strollers and in their arms.

I went to Macy’s because I had fifteen dollars on a gift card
and wanted a big sweater.

Not sure if it had been 30 minutes or 60
I sobbed between Macy’s and the kiosk,
but was ready to pay up and get out of the mall.

When he gave me my phone back.
It felt smooth, not a plastic over broken glass sort of smooth.
Newly put back together again smooth.

I wanted to ask Sadig about his mother
but quickly moved on with my big sweater --
something to cover the grief
that somehow comes alive in the mall.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today Is The Day

Three years ago today was  a dark, cold, rainy day. We arrived at Brigham & Women's Hospital at 7:30 am, where I would wait a few hours for my cervix to ripen, with the help of medication, in the form of a lozenge under my tongue. I had the ultrasound at 11 weeks, but the abortion was two weeks later, just into the second term.

My husband could not be with me, but the abortion itself was over quickly.

I had thought about Sylvia, or Nina. Her middle name was Rose. I couldn't give her a first name without meeting her. But what would this world have been like for her, if I did get to bring her home --

I had wished, that maybe the nurses at BWH could connect me with others who had also terminated a pregnancy due to a devastating and potentially fatal diagnosis like the one I received. But today I feel at peace with my decision, though the feeling of loss is one I know I will never fully shake. It lives in the moments where I am alone, sometimes when I walk around this lake where I walk, and in other moments, when I'm not with my wonderful little boys.

When the feeling of loss takes over, my body is back in those few days, the days before my abortion, when I moaned with my tears and grief took over any conversation I tried to have. Although I had known something was wrong, the people close to me knew I was pregnant, and I wanted them to know before it was over that it was going to be over.

Because I didn't want to talk about it after it was over.

I started talking about it after about a year, because while I felt alone in my grief, I knew I was not alone. Many women share my story. Many mothers share my story. Talking about it has helped me heal, and I hope that in some way, my talking about it could help another woman.

But still, we don't talk about these things.

I think I once thought I was grateful to be able to make the choice I had to make, and that I was here in Massachusetts where I had access to safe and compassionate treatment. But I no longer feel grateful. Because that choice was not a gift. It was my right. The gift was knowing something was living in my body that couldn't actually live a life -- and the ability to have diagnostic testing which helped me confirm what I already knew and make an informed decision about my body.

Now, I feel angry. Not angry that this happened "to me." I feel angry about the way women's lives are regarded in our world. Angry that a woman in another state, needing or wanting an abortion for a reason similar to mine, or very different than mine, may not have access to safe and immediate care. I'm angry at the men who would like women to be subjected to an ultrasound and to hear a doctor tell her about it. Angry that a woman would be forced to hear the heartbeat of a fetus they couldn't deliver into a life.

I'm angry at these men and I am equally angry at the women who stand with them, and behind them.

Today isn't just any other day for me, and I may moan with my tears. It will also be a day in which I spend time with my husband and my sons. I will do some work. I might walk. I will not feel sorry for myself. I won't stop to say, my goodness, I was so lucky for that choice. I will say I'm so grateful for the family I have.

And I will continue to be angry -- angry that we can't trust women to make decisions about their lives, their families, and their bodies. Because if we could, we'd all be so much better off.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

#Gratitude Moments

At 11:11 I wish there were not so many dead babies in the news. Sometimes it seems that thoughts are all we have, it makes sense to put them to good use. 

I'm maybe calling quits on my #100gratitudemoments posts. 

Seriously, you're thinking, does she think we really care

But I am trying, in imperfect ways, to teach my almost 5 year old what it means to finish what you start. Or explain yourself. 

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about anatomy & physiology. I've been drinking a lot of coffee. I know it's not the best thing for me, and I have this addictive little personality. But it's so wonderful. 

Gratitude. Mindfulness. Mental health. Hashtags. 

I breathe in pushing my belly over the keyboard as I type. My cat is clawing my skirt. We were away for 6 days and she's glad we're back. 

My chest is tight. #noticethebody

We went to Martha's Vineyard. My husband's family, 18 of us, a reunion of sorts, with lemonade and nieces and nephews and sisters that are mine but not really mine, from New Jersey and California. I could tell you I'm grateful for all of this, family, vacation, children. And that would be true. 

For 6 days I exhaled, mostly.*

There were other adults and other children and this big huge lawn.  There was an activities calendar. Aside from yoga, we didn’t use much of the activities calendar but I’m pretty positive we would never be staying somewhere with an activities calendar, let alone on Martha's Vineyard, if it were not for my husband's mom and step-dad. My in laws. 

I have two father-in-laws. Like I have two fathers.

When my parents divorced, I was close to the age of my smallest son. When my husband's parents got divorced, he was a little older than my bigger son. 

The sum of these things is heavy. 
Recently Ben asked some questions about death and whether my stepfather was someone that my mother married after my father died. In reality, my father is Grampie and we've talked about some kids having two daddies or two mommies. 


Anyhow, I recently had reason to tell my almost 5 year old that some moms and dads don't live together. He didn't say too much more after that. Neither did I. 

As an aside, the president will be on Martha's Vineyard next week. My husband’s step-dad and I feel somewhat differently about some things, so we didn't talk about this. But there was one moment where we were talking about anxiety (mine) and worry (mine) and my wishing my husband seemed more anxious, I guess, on edge. Well we weren't exactly talking about that but sort of, and he told me to relax and at first my skin crawled. I think he saw my tears. Words sometimes feel in ways they are not meant to feel.

But I realized I'm quite grateful for the people in my life that tell me to relax, though it is sometimes hard to hear. And I know that's sometimes hard to be around. #sorrymom

My quest to post #100moments of gratitude indeed helped me take some time each day to focus on something I am thankful for. Here's my deal: I love this exercise. I love reading the posts of others and I love participating, but truth is, you have to do what works for you. For me, I (yes, seriously) sometimes feel stressed to think: "YES. Thank you so much for that. YES, type words about this now. Go on Facebook! Go on Twitter! Go!" 

I've never done this before, bringing my thoughts back to my breathing while also typing. 

I don't write about my marriage ever, but in the toughest of moments, I remember the snow angel he made on my front lawn after our first date. 

Bringing thoughts back to my breath.   

I could tell you I am grateful he and I met, three or four times over a period of a few years, one of them when he picked me up hitchhiking.

If you think about it, you'll realize you hold your breath a lot.

Looking back, I was lucky in lots of ways. 

In very tough moments, I'm grateful my mother pushed me, that not being educated was never an option. (Is that a double negative?) 

Recognizing what you have, what you've earned and what you continue to work for also means acknowledging what others don’t have and what you have been given along the way. My parents were divorced, but my childhood was fine. I grew up in a middle class family in a suburban town. I didn't always know what I was working for and there were times where I wish I worked harder. 

Blessings is a tough word for me. I do believe in the power of manifestation but really, I believe in working hard and being nice.   

Sill, in the tough moments I am grateful to know we have a safety net that so many don't have. In the toughest of moments, I have to think about what we have that others don't. 
See: cycle.

I often wonder about alternatives and I wish so many. Words feel so small but beyond thoughts, words are what I have.

My chest seems to open with each breath. 

I struggle with how to teach my almost 5 year old about gratitude. When I tell him I love him as I leave his room at night, he sometimes doesn't say it back. #thingsIdon'tpostonfacebook #thisisnormalright? #howcouldI

He yelled at me the other day to not sing Let it Go in the way that I was singing Let it Go. These are things I don't post on Facebook because I feel scared and vulnerable. 

When he says mama I love you while I'm just driving the car, I sink into my smile. #thingsIdon'tpostonfacebook #deadbabiesinthenews #iwishthatmotherhoodwereanoptionforeveryone

I do not feel completely sure about how to raise my kids and that makes me feel scared and vulnerable. 

I think that perhaps one or two of the people saying relax has a point

It is easier to fill up the belly than it is to fill the chest.

I have to help my children recognize a cycle of privilege, and this is stuff I don't post on Facebook because a) scared and vulnerable b) it makes me sad to think that lots of people might laugh at this statement. #weallwanttofitin 

My husband doesn't have it easy around here but I'm grateful that we work to fit in with each other. 

The other night, our last night with this family that was once much smaller, I had a bit of a crying session. Ridiculous, right? Leaving the pool attendant and path to the beach -- the one we wished we used more but, rain. Who complains about a rainy day on Martha's Vineyard? Me, sortof, while trying to communicate gratitude on Facebook. 

Do you ever feel hopelessly misunderstood and yet at the same time, desperate to explain?

Anyway, while I was crying in my room, my niece popped into the space left by the sliding glass door, barely closed during our stay. She asked what was wrong.

"Oh I’m fine," I told her.

She told me where all of the adults were and where all of the kids were and asked why I was crying. I told her, finally, in this way that seemed to flow as if rehearsed for a child, that I sometimes just get sad. That no matter how happy I am, I just sometimes am a little sad, and I can't explain it. Also, that when I spend a lot of time with a lot of people this just sometimes happens. And that even wonderful things can just be so overwhelming. 

She seemed to get it. I was grateful for her hug, and for the chance to tell her that it's amazing what you can learn about your own body over time, even if you don’t become a physical therapist, and that even though I'm your aunt we can talk about stuff any time you need to. <3 

*Did I mention the small man-made pond in the middle of the lawn and the early morning dream I had about my 2 year old?

Exhale and release what you cannot take into tomorrow.  

I'm grateful that I sometimes know when I start to ramble. 

Anyway, I love hanging out with you on the internet and I'm not sure if you'll realize I didn't reach an official #100gratitudemoments. I just may get there. But if by chance you are counting, I guess I just wanted to say, I might not be as explicit, but I’m thankful. And I realize I have a lot to be thankful for.