IMG_9226Are you looking for a nifty way to use up some of the pumpkin that’s languishing in your fridge? Do you want a one handed snack that’s plump with protein, savoury yet mellow and can help stop you reaching for a piece of cake at 3 pm? Are you looking for an alternative to polenta chips or toast – by which I mean something that can be crisped in a panini press and served with cured meats, bitter leaves for either brunch or a light supper? Are you optimistically hoping to find a new snack your toddler will eat? If so, I might be able to help. These Pumpkin Quinoa Bars may be what you’re looking for. If you’re in a hurry, skip straight to the recipe at the bottom. If you have the time and patience for prattle about birthing new life and the end of a chapter, read on.

And so, here we are. It’s pumpkin time. Well, to be accurate, it was pumpkin time a week ago, but life has got a little full since then. The due date for our poppyseed came and passed. She was 40 weeks. She was the size of a pumpkin. She was certainly making her presence felt. And then she got stage fright. After a few not-so gentle prods from an obstetrician, plus a supporting cast of acupuncture, raspberry leaf extract, evening primrose oil and all those other things you read about on mad parenting forums she attempted to make an appearance at 39 weeks, 6 days. For four hours from 2 am there were contractions every four minutes, lasting a minute with burning intensity. Then at 6 am her big brother bustled into my bedroom and demanded a smoothie for breakfast. And then, she retreated behind the curtain again and it all went hushed. And so the pattern was set. The next night the same thing happened. Except this started at 7.30 pm. By 9 pm we called my father and asked him to come and have a sleep over, just in case we needed to rush to hospital at 3 am. There she was, with metronome consistency, every four minutes from 7.30 pm – 1 am, the creeping squeezing hands of a contraction, fizzing and stretching like an uncomfortable embrace from a friend you remember from years ago. And then at 1 am I finally fell asleep. I woke 30 minutes later and realised once again that she had retreated to silence once again.

At 4.30 am I had the brilliant idea that if only we went for a walk, then things would start again. So I roused Andy and at 5 am we had the bags in the car and were walking along Manly Beach, urging her to get going again. And yet, she was shy. Then things get a little less fun. She then went really quiet on us. Not no-contractions, but no-movement quiet. We head into hospital for monitoring. In a haze of exhaustion and frustration I asked for an induction. ‘It’s pumpkin time’ I said. I’m done. I’m spent. And yet- it’s Sunday. There is nobody around to do it. We’re sent home with assurances she’s ok, encouragement to rest and the promise that perhaps we can make it onto the induction list for the next day.

We then have three more false starts, as well as being told three more times at four hourly intervals that there is no room at the hospital for an induction. It’s the hot weather you see. There’s been a rush on babies. There may have been some tears. And then at 11 am on Monday morning it all kicks off again.

IMG_9364There’s the drive to the hospital, with the TENS machine cranked. There’s four hours of enthusiastic pacing around the hospital grounds and dancing along to Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ in a birthing suite, punctuated by contractions every 3 minutes to help move things along. How do you know that labour hasn’t really kicked in? A woman can take a selfie in between contractions in a bathroom mirror.  And then at 4 pm we get checked once again. And the frustration peaks. We’re still at 2.5 cm dilated. It’s time to break my waters. And this is when warp speed descends.

Just 90 minutes after a beautiful blonde English midwife punctures the waters, my daughter was in my arms.

IMG_9376I am still trying to process the volition of what happened. Will’s ten hour birth was calm and measured, punctuated by deep breathing and a profound desire to only lie horizontal, then stand up and lean against The Hungry One, breathe deeply and usher life downwards. This was like watching ‘Star Wars’ on fast forward, with everything flying past at a frenzy. I feel like I have grasped the edges of the universe and peered over the edge into the maw and darkness.

There was no time for the obstetrician. There was no time for medication. There was only the sense that a trapdoor inside was opening with great force and great speed. Days later my throat was still burning. I’m told I didn’t yell, but there were noises that erupted that did not come from the me I previously knew. They came from an element somewhere beyond.

She was birthed by the calm cool hands of a midwife and put immediately on my chest. When Will was born I wept silently with joy. This time there were heaving sobs and I shook and shook from shock, my body only quelling when we were both covered by a blanket. Later when they examined her cord they found a perfect slip knot formed in it. Sometime early on she had tangled herself. Yet we both walked away from the birth without a scratch on us. We are so, so lucky.

We are so lucky to have a pigeon pair; William Frank and Evelyn Grace. We are so lucky to live in a country where maternal health is valued. We are so lucky to have been the benefits of the care and patience of midwives. In a week in which there are things happening to women’s rights across the world which make me quake and incandescent with fury, I’m reminded of this wonderful spoken word piece about the magic of midwives ‘”A midwife is a woman’s primary care provider throughout her reproductive years. We are the granddaughters of the witches they forgot to burn.”

For that I am ever grateful.

I am now home. I am writing this while my step mother comforts my sleeping baby in the next room. I’m spent and yet, so full. My body is like a colander, unable to hold things with certainty. My memory is a sieve. My son is needing particular care and love. But my daughter, she is perfect. By which I mean, feeding is a challenge, she doesn’t like to sleep much and she squarks like an injured sparrow at regular intervals- but she is perfect.

IMG_9531So please, excuse us for a little bit. There will be plenty of updates on Instagram and I’ll continue to be writing pieces for Harris Farm on everything from fruit salads, to toppings for toast but I fear that the blog may have to have a brief spell of maternity leave.

There may not be an OscarsFeast this year. But thank you so much for all your kind words and messages along this journey.

It seems some poppyseeds do make it to pumpkins after all. And I could not be more content.

IMG_9588Here are a few other things that are going on.

Writing:

This piece ‘Your Best Fruit Salad Yet’ for Harris Farm, including three recipes for some beautiful ones, including this one with watermelon, cherries, blackberries and tarragon.  Read here.

Loving:

Rite Aid Hydrogel Discs. Thank heavens to the midwife who introduced me to these. Breastfeeding can be brutal.    

Eating:

IMG_9499All the cured meats and soft cheeses. I can heartily say that a hospital omelette is greatly improved by the addition of some d’affinois  that’s been brought to the hospital by one of your oldest friends. Also great food gifts received include oysters, St Germaine triple cream, rose Moet and Chandon, Veuve Cliquot and jamon iberico. (Life is tough 😉

Also, the pea guacamole at Papi Chulo. On Monday The Hungry One and I treated ourselves to a date-lunch with Evie at Papi Chulo in Manly as a reward for completing the government Centrelink paperwork to register the birth and register for his paternity leave. (Meanwhile, someone would make a killing setting up a service that completed Government paperwork for sleep deprived new parents).  The pea guacamole is a controversial item (it made people furious on the New York Times in 2015 when they posted a recipe for it – even Obama weighed in).  Yet, from a commercial point of view I get it. Peas are a lot cheaper than avocados. And as long as it’s served cold, with good quality tortilla crisps and something frosty in a glass with a view over Sydney Harbour, then I’m hardly about to get stroppy about it.

IMG_9549Listening:

Podcasts are my go-to for middle of the night feeds (Evie Grace is currently feeding every 2.5 hours, for an hour at a time). I’m currently making my way through ‘Making Oprah’. I endorse it.  Listen here.

Reading:

This piece about a six kilogram baby boy born in Victoria. And being very thankful for Evie’s considerate 3.4 kg entry into the world.

Also this piece about why ‘You are not Equal’ on Medium- which sums up everything about why I wish I could have joined the millions of women marching around the world on Saturday.

Pumpkin Quinoa Bars

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Makes 10-12 bars

Shopping/foraging

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1 1/4 cups of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups/275 g cooked quinoa
3 eggs, beaten
70 g grated parmesan cheese
4 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sea salt

Here’s how we roll

1)  Grease and line a 20 cm square baking tin with baking parchment and pre heat the oven to 180C/350F.

2) Mix together the ingredients until you have a cohesive batter.

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3) Pour into the baking tin and smooth out the top. Bake for 30 minutes until firm to touch. Allow to cool before slicing into bars.

IMG_92234) Eat as is, or toast them in a fry pan or panini press and serve with bitter leaves and some cured meat wafting over the top.   

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Previously in Poppyseed to Pumpkin

Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far. (Nb, you can also see the poppy seed to pumpkin process in the app, or ebook from my first pregnancy with Will, or read about it on the blog here.)

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Week 38 Leek and White Bean Soup