Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Fiona Kathleen: A Birth Story April 25, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy,Uncategorized — gastromami @ 7:06 pm

I honestly can’t believe that it has been 12 days since this beautiful little girl entered our lives.

Today is the day she was “due,” but, in true Alfonso fashion this child would not be held back!

So here is the story of our little girl’s fast and explosive entry into our world!

Someone (Nana and Papa?) was looking out for us up there.

On Monday night/Tuesday morning I woke up at 2:15 with some uncomfortable, but not painful, contractions.  Unable to fall asleep I timed them and they were running about 3-5 minutes apart.  Is this labor?  Is this not labor?

At 4:30 I finally called my mom and told her I thought I was in labor and to please come to Philadelphia that day.  I told her not to worry about flights because I could get a sitter, so around 6 am she left Erie.  Once she was about halfway here, and it would have been silly to turn around, labor stopped.


I slept for a few hours and woke up feeling slightly stupid and embarrassed about the 4 am phone calls to my mom and doula;  not to mention the fact that now my mom was in Philly and I felt so bad that she might be just sitting around with us for 2 more weeks – a woman who has never been known to sit around in her life!

Tuesday rolled along with a few, random contractions but nothing registering pain or making me stop what I was doing.

I went to bed around 9:30 that night and slept until about 2:15.  At that point I woke up, mind still churning with guilt and the feeling that this baby was going to hang out for a few more weeks.  I read a little bit and fell back asleep around 3:30.  At 4:15 I heard Reny get up to go to the bathroom (he had been sleeping on the couch) and I asked him to come up and lay with me.  We talked a few minutes and then fell asleep.

At 5:30 I woke up with some cramps.  I went to the bathroom, came back and closed my eyes.  Another crampy feeling.  Around the 3rd feeling I felt the urge to vocalize through the contraction.  Went back to the bathroom.  Came back and laid in bed with Reny.  I had 3 or 4 more contractions that were painful and I held Reny’s hand (I don’t even think he remembers that – in fact at one point he mumbled, “Reny stop” – they have been doing a lot of cosleeping over the past few months!)  Between the need to hold his hand and vocalizing I thought that maybe this was the real thing – but wasn’t counting my chickens just yet.  I decided that I needed to change positions to see if anything changed (or stopped) and start timing.  I got in the shower and had a few contractions but the water felt good.  While I was in there a certain little boy ran up the stairs and my mom followed asking if everything was ok – I said yes, that I was having contractions but they still weren’t too bad and that I would be down soon.  I went downstairs, made a cup of tea and sat down to watch Ren and my mom read some books.  My mom then poured Ren a bowl of cereal and I sat down with them but I didn’t sit too long and the next few contractions were more comfortable on my hands and knees.  At this point I called upstairs to Reny that he better call for someone to open the restaurant that morning – I didn’t think he would be making it!  I had the sudden urge to go to the bathroom – so I did and had a few major contractions while on the “potty.”  I called to Reny and, once I was relaxed enough to move, went upstairs and jumped in the hot shower with him.  The contractions began coming faster and faster at this point and I needed him to apply pressure to my lower back.  We got out of the shower and I attempted to dry my hair

… umm yea   …

At this point I was falling down to lean on the toilet every minute or so and calling for Reny to apply pressure to my lower back.  I had texted Brittany while on the toilet not 20 minutes before and now told Reny he better call her and tell her to meet us at the hospital.

7:48 AM

Reny calls Brittany to meet us at the hospital

While on the phone with Brittany my water broke and I knew that we better hurry up.  I threw my hair in a ponytail, Reny ran downstairs to grab a water bottle and my mom ran up to help me get dressed.  I ran down the stairs and had to stop in the hall with a contraction.  When we got outside, I had to get down on all fours, in the rain, on the sidewalk, with another strong contraction.  At this point I kept thinking/saying “I can’t do this.  I can’t do this,” and I knew then that I was in trouble, that this baby was coming soon!  Reny threw the bag in the car, got me off the ground, into the car, and got out the phone.

8:05 AM

We call the midwives to tell them we are on the way to the hospital.

We then headed out in rush hour traffic.  I couldn’t sit so I leaned over the back of the seat, Reny applying pressure to my back while driving.  When we arrived at the hospital entrance (about 8:15 AM) the entire driveway area was full so Reny parked in the middle of 8th St. and I got out, immediately collapsing onto all fours on the sidewalk.  A (very pretty – very Irish!) woman walking by asked me if I was ok and if I wanted her to get a wheelchair from inside.  I just looked up at her and I guess she took one look at my face and turned to run inside – all I heard was her click-clacking as she ran into the hospital lobby.  Reny came up from behind me, picked me up and helped me into the lobby where, once inside the doors and out of the rain, I again got down on all fours.  The security guard told me he called for a stretcher and, at about that same time, I saw 2 women in scrubs running toward me.  They got me in a wheelchair and ran to the elevator.  We had just gotten on the elevator when I heard “please press 2” and the nurse said, “unless you want to help us deliver this baby on the elevator we are going to 3 first and the rest of you can get off where you need to after”

We got off on three, they ran me into a delivery room (yay!  No triage!)  and starting firing questions at me as they got me undressed like “whats your name?  Who’s your doctor?”  Seriously – it was going super fast.  I laid down and a resident checked me saying “6cm”  Really!?  6cm!?!?  I knew there was no way I was only 6cm!  I immediately rolled over on my knees, holding on to the top of the bed and my midwife, Judy, came in.  She asked “are you pushing?” and I said “I think I am” and she checked me and said “there’s no cervix”  (2 minutes after the resident said 6cm … body knows better than doctor!) and I said “I need to poop” and began to push.  At this point Judy looks around and says, “where’s Dad?” and I think my reply was along the lines of  “I don’t know but I need him!” and at that point I looked up and saw Reny and Brittany running into the room (she was at the elevator when he came in from parking the car)

I said I was hot and Brittany put a cold cloth on my head, took off my gown and I began to push.  I pushed and thought (said?) “I don’t remember how to do this!” and immediately remembered reading in Ina Mays book that when you say/think that, you are doing exactly what you should be doing.  I pushed again and “oh my God” it hurt – it really really hurt but I felt the baby’s head pushing down, every inch of her body pressing against mine, the midwife massaging my perineum and asking me if I could lay on my side (I was on my hands and knees).  I said no, pushed again (ring of fire) and then gush/explosion/force of energy she rushed out.  I was watching between my legs and, while I didn’t see her face, I clearly saw her girl parts and said “it’s a girl?”  It took me a minute or so to relax and roll over and they handed her to me and I asked again, “Is it really a girl?”  I could not believe it!

I got check out – no tearing, nothing.  Beautiful and easy (?) this girl was all ours!  She latched on and nursed for a solid 30 minutes, the midwife came in multiple times looking for a birth weight but the girl would not stop eating!  Must be a Dahlkemper!

Honestly, I still can’t believe she’s here.

All day yesterday (Easter) I kept thinking about the fact that I had planned out a maternity Easter outfit, not a postpartum one and that I expected to be waddling to Church and brunch, not wearing my daughter all wrapped up and cozy in my wrap.

I can’t describe how amazing it felt to push her into this world, to feel every little cue that my body provided, to feel her body and mine working together.  The experience of having a completely natural birth left me in awe and wonder at what my body and mind can accomplish.

There are many more aspects of her birth and 12-day life but this birth story is exactly what I wrote on April 13th.

More to come I’ sure … 🙂

Lots of love from the very blessed and lucky Alfonso family of 4!


“Lara Bar” Truffles April 4, 2011

Filed under: 'Nack! (Snacks!),Dessert!,Entertaining,For Helpers!,Pregnancy — gastromami @ 4:09 pm


Thanks to my wonderful husband

I was able to sleep in this morning!


The blissful morning took a 180˚ turn, though,

when, after coming home from Smith Memorial Playground‘s Opening Day Celebration

my poor kid came upstairs in new clothes,

asked for “leche,”

curled up next to me

and promptly passed out.


With a fever of 103.5˚


Poor kid.


Besides a few ear infections

which are pretty much a given in the Dahlkemper family

this kid has never been sick like this.


After refusing food all day,

I finally got some ibuprofen in him to lower his fever for a bit

and we had to make a Whole Foods run for some chicken soup, bread and coconut water

in hopes of getting something in him!


I’ve actually been meaning to stop by WF for some labor food and drinks so,

as I was writing Luna/Lara Bars down on my list

I remembered a recipe that I saw for recreating Lara Bars.

A quick search turned up this post by The Nourishing Gourmet

so I added dates and coconut oil to my list (the rest we had in house!)



These decadent treats are a guilt-free way for me to give (both) of my kids a (pretty much) healthy snack!

(And Mama her chocolate fix!)

You can easily forgo the chocolate for little kids – which I might just whip up for Ren to ease my guilt a bit!


20 dates, pitted
1 cup of coconut flakes, fine
1/4 cup of coconut oil
Heaping 3/4 cup of walnuts, pecans, or nut of choice
2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
A few dashes of unrefined salt




Pit your dates




In a food processor combing:

pitted dates


coconut oil




Process until finely ground




Toast nuts over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning

Add to food processor and process until nuts are finely ground




Add chocolate to the warm pan you just used to toast the nuts and allow to slowly melt

(if you need extra heat, place over warm on the stove but do not let it burn!)




Add to food processor along with vanilla and salt

Process until smooth




Place mixture into bowl and refrigerate until firm enough to shape into balls

(about 30 minutes – 1 hour)



Roll into balls and refrigerate until hard

Will keep in a container in the fridge for a few weeks (if you can resist that long!)










3rd Trimester Survival Kit March 25, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy — gastromami @ 9:17 am

#2 is due one month from today!


We are so excited to meet this baby,

Ren laughs every day as his brother/sister fights for space while nursing

(sibling rivalry?)

Neutral clothes are out and ready to be washed, folded and put away

The box of small baby diapers are pulled out, ready to be washed and stacked

Our new double jogger is here, just waiting to be unloaded from its box

We are at that “it’s almost here but not close enough to set up completely” stage


I am at that, I am NOT ready to have this baby yet stage

(because this time around I KNOW it is easier to take care of this baby while he/she is INSIDE!)

but I am almost ready to have this baby stage

basically, because

My back aches

my feet are swollen and

my energy level is, well, what energy??

This last hump of pregnancy, as my own “hump” grows and grows and grows, can be one of the toughest points and there are certain things that can make life more pleasant, or at least tolerable!



Sneakers and Flip-flops

Basically the only shoes that will fit my feet at this point


Earth Mama Angel Baby Heartburn Tea & Tums

I can’t really complain about frequent heartburn but it does come and go in spurts and

this tea is amazing!  I don’t know how they do it but nothing works better on pregnancy-induced heartburn!

And Tums, it doesn’t work “great” but is better then nothing when we are out!



Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil

Soothes my stretched out tummy

(can also use for perineal stretching during the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy)


Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Balm

I alternate using the stretch oil and this thicker balm to help soothe my belly!


Greenbrier Herbalist Varicose Ease

Varicose Veins rank right up there with stretch marks as one of the worst “marks” of pregnancy.

At least, however, they (usually) go away!

This salve is a great alternative to the heavy, hot compression tights usually recommended – it immediately soothes my sore, achy legs.

Love, love, love it  (even if I hate, hate, hate the painful veins!)


Blossoming Bellies Organic Pregnancy Blend Tea

Drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy helps to strengthen and tone the uterine wall, relax smooth muscles, and make labor and delivery easier and speedier by helping the uterus contract more efficiently.

There are many sources out there for “Pregnancy Tea” but I love this blend from our doula, Brittany, which includes red raspberry leaf, nettles (for iron), oatstraw, alfalfa, spearmint and rosehips

I start drinking raspberry leaf tea by the start of my 2nd trimester but definitely up my intake during these last crucial weeks!


Big Leg Emma DVD

any concert DVD

For when I   Can’t.  Do.  Any.  More…

… Entertains Ren for a bit 🙂



Birthing Ball

I use a Pilates ball because

a.  it forces correct posture and doesn’t hurt my back as much as sitting on the couch


b.  by rocking back and forth and in circular motions this ball helps open your pelvis and tone your hips and butt, all beneficial to helping in labor!

We will use this ball both at home and in the hospital during labor as a comfortable way to squat and to help position the baby correctly


Here’s to surviving the next few weeks!


Got leche? March 23, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy,Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 11:52 am

I clearly remember saying,

“As soon as he can ask for it, I’m done”



But let me tell you,

the first time your child signs for “milk”

(or to nurse if you can’t figure that out)

your heart just melts

(and really, babies sign at just months old – not giving up nursing then, right?)



And honestly,

within moments after being born

your baby naturally nuzzles your chest

and isn’t that,

“asking for it?”



So, Ren isn’t really ready to stop nursing

And I’m not really ready to stop nursing

if my son isn’t



Ok, tangent.

If one. more. person. says,

“well it’s really also for you isn’t it?”

I.  Will.  Scream.


you try having a 25 lb. kid attempt to do acrobatics while attached to your nipple

and then come tell me that it’s

“all for mommy.”




But, to be honest

I have been pretty nervous about him sharing “leche”

once #2 arrives



So, we talk about all the things he is going to teach the baby:

caws (cars)


avi’s (planes)



ooo-ahhs (monkeys)

bubbles (in the midst of swim class can you tell?)


and leche


But I didn’t really know if he got it


And then we had a friend over the other day

and she nursed her new baby

and he said,

“baby, leche”

and then pointed to my belly,

and my “leche”

and said,

“baby, leche”


and I smiled.



And then tonight …

I told Ren to get “monks” and “blankie” for bed

and I went to the bathroom.

When I came back:




I think we’ll be ok 🙂




Happy St. Patrick’s Day! March 17, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy,Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 3:56 pm


Reny, 29 weeks





Reny,  22 months

#2, 34 weeks





Happy St. Patrick’s Day


la familia Alfonso

(the Irish-German-Cubans)


Mushrooms with Orecchiette March 9, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Pregnancy,Recipes — gastromami @ 8:35 am



I have been waiting and waiting for Ash Wednesday.


I know, not a “holiday” that is often anticipated

but, with a due date of April 25 (Easter is the 24th)

this Lent will also be the final countdown for #2.



Much like my first pregnancy,

Meat and I just aren’t really getting along

Which fits perfectly within this Lenten season

So, when my aunt served this easy, easy pasta dish a few weeks ago,

and I remembered just how much Ren likes mushrooms

(unlike his Godfather)

I picked up some (I had forgotten how cheap mushrooms can be!) different varieties of ‘shrooms

at the grocery store, pulled some stock out of the freezer, a bag of peas and some of my favorite pasta!

Orecchiette means “tiny ear” and it is hearty and delicious!

(and perfect for little fingers or a little fork!)







Boil pasta according to package directions



In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat

Saute 1 small onion, diced &

3-4 cloves garlic, minced



Add sliced mushrooms

(any mixture!  I think I used shiitake and crimini here)

Saute over medium heat until soft and caramelized



Add 1-2 cups frozen peas

1-2 cups stock (whatever you have on hand!)

Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat and simmer until sauce begins to thicken


Season with salt and pepper




Ren approved!  (LOVED!)


Spring Rain March 8, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy,Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 9:35 am


these old cobblestone streets, that seem to breed ice all winter,

are kinda perfect for the first warm spring rain


and brand-new, 2 sizes too big, shark rain boots

(this kid can’t resist new shoes, even if they were bought on sale for “down the road”)



and a Mama that desperately needed to get out of the house!




I don’t even look 33 weeks pregnant here …

Note to self:  more pictures from behind for the next 7 weeks