Cooking, Life

Adventures with yeast.

Recently I have started using yeast in my baking. It is far easier than I thought it would be. So far I have made cinnamon buns, spinach, bacon & feta scrolls, and finger buns. I was quite pleased with how my cinnamon buns (pictured) turned out. They were delicious, and got the thumbs up of approval from my partner too. The spinach, bacon & feta rolls were also super yum, however partner didn’t eat them because they were, and I quote, “too healthy”. Oh well, more for me.

I have made 2 batches of finger buns however and neither of them worked at all. The first batch was far too dense, a far cry from the light and fluffy finger buns you’d find at Baker’s Delight. The second batch was considerably less so but still nowhere near as fluffy as I’d like. 

I have no idea what I’m doing wrong! The first time I suspect the milk was too hot and killed the yeast, but the second time it was perfectly warm. I hand-kneaded the first batch, used my dough hooks on the mixer for the second. I let them rise twice for at least an hour each time. If someone who knows more about yeast than I do could give me some tips, that would be fantastic. Or better yet give me another finger bun recipe to try.

Baby Number 3, Babyloss

how many children do you have?

In my babyloss circles, I’m always hearing people talk about the question ‘how many children do you have?’. I have never denied my boys, I’ve always said I have 3, and sometimes awkwardly explained that my sons’ aren’t here anymore. That is until last week.

I was down the street and an old man stopped to coo over my daughter (as the older generation often do). He asked if she was my only child. Now, I knew this man, and I had actually been asked this before by him and explained about my sons. I didn’t feel like explaining it again, I was in a rush and my daughter was a little grizzly and quite frankly I didn’t feel like receiving those pity eyes I usually get; not twice from the same person. So I said yes. Instantly I felt terrible.

Every day, I feel further away from my sons. Saying yes seemed to ricochet them even further. It wasn’t right. I wanted to correct myself, to let this man know that my sons did exist. But it was too late, I had said it and the conversation was basically over.

I guess this incident has just reaffirmed why I always tell people about them. My sons were here. Explaining to people that they’re not any more is always awkward, I haven’t quite figured out how to do it. But that awkwardness is better than the knot in my stomach when I deny them.

Do you tell people about your lost little one? Does it make you feel conflicted?

Babyloss, Life

Mental Health.

Mental health awareness is a big thing right now. Every time I hop on Facebook there are statuses, blog links and even memes about mental health. I won’t say I’ve never posted one. However, while in general I don’t keep the condition of my mental health a secret, I don’t talk openly about it openly either. I will talk about it for a minute here, if you don’t mind.

I have always been an extremely anxious person. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t. I worry about every tiny thing, imagine crazy impossible scenarios, and have to reassure myself constantly. Even just taking a signed permission slip to school when I was young was nerve-wracking. When I was really young, I went to the school counsellor. Mostly we talked about how I hated school. My attendance was pretty poor, although my grades were great. Looking back, I’m not sure those counselling sessions were helpful at all, because I now realise I hated school thanks to my anxiety, which wasn’t picked up on back then. 

After we lost our sons I started actually focusing on my mental health for the first time in my life. I was formally diagnosed with severe anxiety (also depression), and fully realised just how deep and how far my anxiety went. I went to psychologist sessions. I wanted to get better.

I do feel like losing my boys was in a way a catylyst for some of my mental health issues, or at least the diagnosis and treatment of. As I said, I have always been anxious, but while I was pregnant with them my anxiety really peaked. Because, while pregnant, the worst case scenario was no longer “the permission slip fell out of my bag so I miss out on the field trip”, but the death of my sons. The last week before their death was particularly anxiety-ridden for me, mostly because my doctors had told me my boys were more at risk after 36 weeks gestation. I was genuinely anxious something bad would happen and I wouldn’t even know until it was too late – because you can’t see inside your belly you know. I spoke to my doctors about this fear, and I guess I was passed off as an anxious first time mum, which is in truth exactly what I was (although my anxiety did run a little deeper than that). 

This put me back so far in terms of my anxiety. My whole life, I have spent reassuring myself that all the “worse case scenarios” in my head are so improbable and that it was irrational to be so anxious about them. My whole life, I have (mostly) been right. Almost none of those scenarios have ever happened. And then my boys died. The crazy, impossible scenario my anxiety had conjured up in my head actually happened. And it was the worst possible one to come true. Can you imagine that? I have fought to convince myself to ignore that anxious voice inside my whole life, even when my boys’ movements slowed down and we started heading to hospital I was thinking this was just another one of my anxious moments. I was trying to convince myself it was all going to be okay. To be so devastatingly wrong just fuelled my anxiety even more.

The reason I don’t talk about my mental health often, though, is because I don’t want to use it as an excuse. My anxiety (and more recently, depression) is sometimes the reason I don’t want to leave the house, but I will not use it as an excuse not to. Today has been a bad day, and it’s not because of my mental illnesses. It’s because today, I let my mental illnesses win. Tomorrow, I will fight harder. In the end I am not my mental illness. It’s all down to me.