Ten Things I Didn’t Know About Having a Baby…Before I Had a Baby!

 

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I think it’s safe to say I thought I was prepared.  Ask my family!  They would tell you that I’ve always been semi obsessed with pregnancy/childbirth/being a mom.  I read books.  I read blogs.  I read magazines and websites.  I talked to my mom.  I talked to other moms.  I went to every class the hospital had to offer.  I was so ready and knew all I needed to know about having a baby….. or not!

Starting the second my midwife laid my sweet baby on my chest, things started happened that I was so not prepared for.  And the kicker???  The list of things I didn’t know has just kept on growing!  So here I am 19 beautiful months later sharing some of those with you… maybe then you’ll be a little more prepared.  Probably not (because honestly who’s really prepared to have a baby!?) but at least a few things won’t be such a surprise!  Hang on tight because it’s going to be a long, sometimes graphic, ride!

1. Labor hurts… A LOT.  Okay so this one seems like DUH, but seriously you guys it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.  I mean think about it.  Your body was designed to push a baby out without you even having to consciously push – there’s bound to be some serious pain involved.  In order for a watermelon to come out of an opening the size of a grape it’s not going to be pretty.  It’s kind of hard to describe how it feels but imagine it like this: you’ve got a 200 lb weight sitting on your stomach while your insides literally feel like they’re being ripped out along with intense pressure similar to feeling like you need to poo… now multiply this pain that you’re imagining by like 50.  Nope, you still don’t have any idea. That’s okay, you will…  But are you ready for the craziest part of all???  5 minutes after it’s over, you’ll be thinking “that wasn’t so bad”, 2 weeks later “I really thought it was going to be worse” and a year later “I think I’ll do it again!”  Isn’t it amazing that God erases the memory of pain almost immediately – it’s so you’ll have more!!!!!  And although at some point you will think to yourself, and possibly even shout it from the top of your lungs, that you can’t do this, can’t go on, have to stop…you can, you will and no you don’t.  It won’t last forever, the pain is temporary and you will get through it.  Isn’t that awesome?!

2. While we’re on the topic of labor – let’s talk about your hubby!  All along I assumed he’d be Mr. Tough Guy while I’m doing the hardest work of my life to pop his kid out, right?  Not so much… Okay actually I was pretty lucky – my husband has always been super supportive of me, especially my wishes during pregnancy and labor (ahem all natural, tell me I can do it, don’t offer the drugs, you get the idea).  However his first mistake was not going to bed at a decent time so he’d be well rested.  I mean here we were 6 days past my due date and when I told him at 8:30pm that I was going to take a shower and go to bed because I was having contractions and wanted to see if resting would make them stop, you would think he would’ve gone to bed too, right?  Wrong!  When I woke up at 12:30am and my water started to break… guess where he was.  Downstairs.  Still awake.  No sleep for him… Second mistake: not eating.  By 7am not only had he not slept since the night before – so well over 24 hours at that point, but he also hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before.  Not a good combo.  We’re talking dizzy, feeling like he’s going to pass out, needed to sit down right as I’m going through the hardest part of labor!!!  Thank goodness for my mom who not only took care of me, but him as well! 🙂 Lesson learned: make sure the hubby is well rested, FED!, and has additional snacks/things to drink during the process.  That way you don’t have to add being worried your husband’s going to pass out before the kid is even born to your plate during labor.  All jokes aside – my husband was right there by my side the entire time (with the exception of the few times he had to sit down and take a breather!) and was a great source of support and encouragement! 

3.  Breastfeeding is not easy.  At all.  As in it’s actually really hard, doesn’t seem at all natural at first and is something that you have to work at.  Who knew, right??  I mean I had this idea that I would breastfeed because it’s what my body was made to do and that I would produce enough milk and it would all be a piece of cake.  HA HA!  First of all, it’s really awkward at first!  I mean here you are having just had a baby and all the sudden you’re supposed to just “know” how to nurse her.  And if you don’t, well that’s okay because the nurse or lactation consultant will come in, whip your shirt up and be all up in your business making sure the baby is latching correctly and everything looks right!  Luckily for me, M took right to it and it wasn’t so bad.  However, no one warns you about the pain!  By the 2nd or 3rd day in, we’re talking major pain the first couple of sucks… of every feeding!!!  That Lanolin cream works wonders, but it still doesn’t completely alleviate the pain of your bra rubbing, the water from the shower or baby’s hungry mouth.  All you can hope for is for those babies to callus quickly!!  I have heard however that you can help prevent the pain by “toughening” your nipples ahead of time.  This was something I found out much later after having nursed M so I can’t speak to this – but it’s worth a shot!!  In addition to how painful it can be, milk production is a very sensitive process.  For example, you aren’t drinking enough water?  Your production will go down.  Baby isn’t nursing as much one particular day?  Your production will go down.  You aren’t taking in enough calories?  Your production will go down.  Do you catch my drift?  Here’s my best piece of advice: breastfeeding is hard work.  Get all the assistance and help from lactation consultants that you can, go into it trying your best, but realize that it’s not for everyone and if you aren’t able to continue… you haven’t failed!  I lasted 3 months, but I gave it my best and am proud to have lasted as long as I did.

4.  This one might be my number one thing that no one EVER told me, so listen up.  You think labor is painful?!  Postpartum is wayyy worse!  Everyone knows labor isn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I had no idea how much worse it would be afterwards!  Yeah I had my baby and everything was great, but talk about discomfort and pain!  While the magnitude of labor pain is much worse, postpartum pain goes on and on for days… sometimes weeks.  That is just not a good time!  You’re swollen, bleeding, there’s a pretty good chance you’re stitched up from having been nearly torn in half (okay that might be an exaggeration but it sure feels like it!)  It hurts to sit, there’s pressure when you stand and don’t even get me started on going to the bathroom.  Peeing is bad enough… it burns, but luckily if your hospital is like mine, they give you this fabulous numbing spray, a squirt bottle to keep everything clean and witch hazel pads to ease some of the discomfort.  Combine that will this most amazing cream by Earth Mama Angel Baby called “Mama Bottom Balm” and you’ll be good to go for the most part.  However, poo-ing is a completely different story.  I think I was more afraid to go number 2 after labor that I was to push M out!  I cried.  I’m not kidding.  The thought of sitting on the toilet, pushing it out when I was still trying to recover from first pushing experience (when she was born) was enough to make me lose it!  No one tells you about that!  The terror, anxiety, desperation you will feel!  It’s not fun.. all I can offer you is good luck, but just know that it’s coming.

5.  While we’re on the lovely topic of poo, let me tell you something else disturbing.  There’s a chance, okay a really good chance, you’ll poo during labor.  Here you are bare for the world to see and you just might lose control of your bodily functions.  Lovely, huh?  Luckily those labor nurses?  They’re amazing.  They will have just finished cleaning up vomit (oh yeah, did I mention you might puke, too??) when they’ll have to switch gears to clean up another sort of *ahem* mess.  See why they’re so great? (okay seriously pregnant mamas, how excited are you for labor right about now?!)

6.  You will absolutely, most certainly, no doubt about it need help.  When someone offers it, take them up on their offer!!!  Even if it’s just half an hour to take a nap!  We were so, so lucky when it came to this.  Not only did my mom (who only lives about 5 miles away) stay with us the few couple nights home from the hospital to assist with nighttime feedings, but she also came over and made/dropped off dinner for like 2+ weeks after we came home from the hospital.  Oh, and she cleaned my house, did the dishes and did the laundry that whole time, too.  See, I told you we were lucky!  The moral of the story here: take whatever help, as much help, as you can.  You’ll be glad you said yes.  Side note – let’s say no one offers, you have no family near by, etc…. forget about your house, the dishes, the laundry and sleep when the baby sleeps!!  I know everyone says that, but trust me… DO IT!

7.  Your body will never be the same.  Ever again.  And that’s okay.  There’s something awesome that happens when you have a baby.  Your body changes.  There’ll be stretch marks, perhaps a scar, spider veins, tummy pouches.  And guess what?  They might not ever go away again.  But that’s okay because when you look in the mirror and see every one of those marks remind yourself that it’s like you’ve been branded forever.  A mommy.  And that little girl/boy standing next to you?  They’re your prize for having that body.  And they’re so worth every single blemish.

8.  No one tells you that you’ll never get sleep again.  I mean you expect it’s going to be rough in the beginning, right?  You have a newborn, newborns wake up to eat every couple hours, yeah yeah you get it.  But you don’t.  Here I am, going on 2 years later and guess what.. my baby bear doesn’t sleep all night most nights.  According to a recent sleep study, over 30% of children ages 2-7 wake up at least once a night, and almost every child studied has at least one night a week where they wake up.  So the whole idea that when they move past that newborn stage they’ll sleep through the night is a myth.  Sorry to break it to you.  And if your friends tell you otherwise, there’s a chance they’re lying.  Sorry again.  The bottom line: sometime near the middle of your pregnancy you’ll stop sleeping all night without waking up.. and this will probably continue until your child is in elementary school.  Although then you’ll be listening for them to get up sick or from a nightmare… so maybe it’ll continue until they’re teens.  Then again, by then they’ll be driving, sneaking out and just overall causing you all sorts of anxiety so you probably won’t sleep then either.  Maybe when they move out… but then you’ll be worried about if they’re okay, safe, etc.  Yep, it’s official.  You’ll never sleep all night again! 🙂

9.  You will never have “me time” again.  For the next several years you will always have a shadow, someone watching you, looking up to you, depending on you.  They’re always right there and you’re never alone.  It’s actually kind of fun!  However, you better enjoy always having an audience no matter what you’re doing.  Changing clothes?  Yep, they’ll be watching.  Going to the bathroom?  There too… even if the door is shut, M always ends up sticking her little hands under the door.  Taking a shower?  If they’re not in the shower with you, they’re probably still in the bathroom.  Are you catching on yet?  And even in those few and far in between times that you and the hubby might have a date night or you might get to run to the store alone, it’s like they’re there because chances are they’re all you’ll think about and talk about the whole time you’re away from them.  Your life isn’t so much about you anymore as it is them.  And that’s okay because that’s exactly the way it should be!

10.  And the final thing that although people tried to tell me, I really had no idea about before I had her was the love and joy she would bring into my life.  You think you know love.  That all consuming, lay your life on the line feeling, but let me tell you my friend, you have absolutely no idea.  There’s nothing like it.  It’s the best feeling in the world.  When that little baby, toddler, preschooler, child, teen, adult looks up at you and you’re all they see in the world.  It’s simply amazing.  No one will make your baby’s eyes light up like you.  No one will calm her fears like you.  Sometimes no one will matter but you.  And what a feeling that is.  To know that you love and are so loved, that you are literally the very being responsible for their life (other than God of course), the one they solely rely and depend on.  There is no way to describe the love that your child will bless you with.  And that’s all that matters and what makes it all so worth it.

 

 

Watercolor Butterflies

Alright mamas, I’ve got another fun and super easy craft for you to do with the kiddos today!!  It was Miss M’s first time painting and she loved it!  Hope your little ones have as much fun as she did!! 🙂

Here’s what you need!

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  • Coffee filters
  • Clothesline clips
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Watercolor paints/paint brushes

Step 1:  Paint the coffee filter.  **Be careful though because if it gets too wet, it’ll tear easily.  Allow to dry before moving on to step 2.

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Step 2:  After it’s dry, gather/bunch up the middle of the coffee filter – you can do it accordion style, or just pinch it into the middle.  Clip the clothesline pin around the center of the filter so that it makes “wings” on either side of the “body” (clip).

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Step 3:  Fold pipe cleaner in half, curl the ends and clip into the clothesline clip to make the antennae.  Ta da!  That’s all there is to it!  See, I told you it was easy!!

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Happy crafting! 🙂

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“Stained Glass” Easter Egg Craft

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What better way to welcome Spring than by doing some fun Springtime crafts with the kiddos?!  Yesterday we made “Stained Glass” Easter eggs to hang on the windows.  So cute and so much fun!!

All you need is:

  • Contact paper
  • Tissue paper in a variety of colors, cut into little squares
  • Scissors

Cut out a square piece of contact paper and lay it on the table sticky side up.  Then the kids can stick the squares of tissue paper on however they’d like:

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When they’re finished sticking on all the tissue paper they want, cut out another square of contact paper and put it sticky side down on the decorated piece.  Essentially you’ve just laminated the tissue paper! 🙂  Here’s how it will look:

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The last step is to cut out the shape of an egg.  You can make them as big or as small as you’d like! If you cut them a little smaller, you could probably get a couple out of it!  This is what you’ll end up with:

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In addition to hand-eye coordination, you can work on color identification while making the eggs or after, patterns if you have the kiddos stick on their tissue paper in a specific order, and shapes by pointing out the differences between squares, rectangles and ovals.  Not only is it an educational craft, but you’ll love getting to decorate your windows with them!  Have fun & Happy Crafting! 🙂

 

 

Count the Kicks

English IA CountKicks 11x17 and 8.5x11 poster

Count the Kicks is a campaign started in central Iowa by a group of 5 women who each lost a baby girl near the end of their pregnancies.  Their goal was to start a movement as a tribute in memory of their babies, but also to help prevent other tragedies like theirs from occurring.  Stillbirth occurs in 1 in every 150 pregnancies in the United States and by participating in a simple daily count of your baby’s kicks/movements, you can help prevent this from happening to you.

What is it?

Count the Kicks is a program aimed at women in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  Starting around 28 weeks, moms should set aside time each day, around the same time of the day, to focus on their baby’s movement.  If sufficient amount of movement isn’t detected within the time frame allowed, moms have cause for concern and should seek medical attention immediately.

The How To/What To Do

  • Starting at 28 weeks, or 26 weeks if you’re high risk, choose a time each day to monitor baby movement
  • Pick a time where the baby is generally active, or after a meal time (for me, Little M was most active in the early evening)
  • Lay with your feet up or on your left side – if baby isn’t particularly active or is sleeping, try drinking a glass of cold water or orange juice or pushing gently on your belly to wake baby up!
  • Count each time baby moves or kicks until you reach 10 movements
  • Typically this will occur in less than a half hour (with M it usually only took 5-10 minutes), but can sometimes take up to 2 hours
  • Chart baby’s movements – this will help you to identify a typical pattern and will more easily alert you to abnormalities in terms of movement (see the Count the Kicks website for a printable chart or a link to download their free kick app!)
  • If you are unable to reach 10 movements within 2 hours, walk around, eat something and drink cold water and then try again.  If you are still unable to detect movement, seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY

Spread the Word

As of last fall, at least 15 babies have been saved thanks to the Count the Kicks campaign.  These mamas detected a decrease or no movement at all during their kick count and sought medical attention.  Thanks to their actions, their babies were delivered immediately and survived when they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.  According to a published interview with a Count the Kicks Ambassador, at least 22 states and 6 countries currently support the program, with more requests for information every day.  Help promote Count the Kicks in your community.  Share this post.  Like Count the Kicks on Facebook.  Request materials to take to your prenatal care provider.  Inform your friends and family.  We can all do a part in helping to save the lives of babies everywhere.

For more information visit: Count the Kicks and Healthy Birth Day

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http://healthybirthday.org

http://www.countthekicks.org

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20131021/LIFE02/310210016/Count-Kicks-program-helps-save-babies-lives

VBACs: What are the Risks, Myths, and Facts Surrounding Vaginal Births After Cesareans?

VBAC

Several years ago, having a cesarean section meant that all subsequent pregnancies would end in one as well.  The fear of complications, for both the mother and baby, made it so that women weren’t even given the option to labor and have a vaginal birth once they had gone through a c-section.  However, in today’s modern medical world we have a lot more research on this topic which strongly supports the idea that women can indeed have a vaginal birth after a c-section without an increased risk of anything happening to her or the baby.  More women than ever before are having successful VBACs (vaginal delivery after cesarean) making it a safe option for mamas.

Immediately after going through a c-section, some women know that they will try for a VBAC with their next pregnancy.  Other women know that they will undergo a repeat operation the next time around.  However, for some women the choice isn’t such an easy one.  The decision will take lots of time, consideration and research – but remember, it is yours to make based on your pregnancy and personal wishes.

What You Should Know

Statistically, 90% of women who have experienced a cesarean section, whether planned or emergency, are safely able to have a VBAC.  There is an even greater likelihood of being able to experience a safe vaginal delivery if you have had prior vaginal deliveries.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 70% of women who try for VBACs are able to have a successful vaginal delivery.  In other words, if you desire a VBAC, with the right support and encouragement, your chances are very likely that you will succeed.

Some women fear that whatever happened the first time around – whether it be that the baby was too large, pelvis too small, cord wrapped around baby causing distress, labor stalling, etc. – that caused a c-section in the first place, will occur again.  First of all it is important to remember that not all pregnancies and labor/childbirths are the same.  Also important to know is that The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released a statement saying that there has been no proven labor difficulties associated with having a baby larger than 8 3/4 lbs.  There is no evidence to suggest that a large baby necessitates a cesarean.  Often times changing positions frequently, keeping in an upright position or squatting can open the pelvis by up to 10%, allowing the baby room to come out.

Thanks to medical technology, the baby’s heart rate can be monitored throughout labor to ensure that fetal distress is nonexistent thus negating the reason to perform a c-section based on the baby’s health.

Recently, research has proven that VBACs can lower a woman’s risk of dangerous bleeding and infections which will lead to a less painful and shorter childbirth recovery than if she had undergone a repeat c-section.  Long term, avoiding repeat c-sections can lower a woman’s risk of having complications with future pregnancies such as: placenta abnormalities/previa, bladder or bowel issues, or the heightened risk of a hysterectomy.

What Are The Risks?

The main risk associated with VBACs is that of uterine rupture during the vaginal labor/delivery.  According to the ACOG, if you had a previous cesarean with a low transverse (horizontal) incision, the risk of uterine rupture in a vaginal delivery is .2 to 1.5%, which is approximately 1 in 500.  However, uterine rupture is not always catastrophic.  There have been times where there is no indication of rupture but the VBAC attempt ends in a repeat c-section during which a small tear is discovered.  In this case, it would be repaired with no effect what-so-ever on the baby or mother.  Another factor that can inhibit the success of a VBAC is induction.  When you are induced you are given Pitocin which often times sends your body into sudden active labor.  Pitocin induced contractions can be much harder on the uterus (and baby and mom for that matter) than natural contractions and therefore can pose a threat to scar tissue and prior incisions (from cesareans).

VBAC is safer than a repeat cesarean, and VBAC with more than one previous cesarean does not pose any increased risk. -American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Who Can Have a VBAC?

The simple answer?  Almost anyone!  Women who have delivered vaginally before, or not.  Women who were told their c-section baby was “too big” or they were “too small”.  Women who’s c-section baby got “stuck”.  Women who’s labor “stalled/didn’t progress quickly enough”.  Women who had a breech baby or twins.  Women who’s c-section baby underwent fetal distress.  Do you get the idea here?  Anyone can do it!  If your current OB doesn’t support your wishes to try for a VBAC, find someone who will.  With the right support, motivation and mindset, most women can have a safe, successful VBAC.

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Interested in knowing more about pregnancy?  Check out the other posts in my pregnancy series: Where to Deliver, What’s a Doula and Midwives vs OB.  Be sure to stay tuned for my next entry: Baby Registry Must Haves!

 

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http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/vbac/basics/definition/prc-20020457

http://americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/vbac.html

http://www.vbac.com/making-informed-decisions-about-vbac-or-repeat-cesareans/

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/sexual-and-reproductive-health/articles/2010/07/22/vaginal-birth-after-c-section-4-factors-to-consider

http://www.acog.org

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TREhjh_pTEc/UKAUVXxGtoI/AAAAAAAAA4g/bc35H-U_9Pc/s1600/VBAC.jpg (picture credit)

Grilled Parmesan Asparagus

I like asparagus; roasted is really good, steamed isn’t my favorite, but I LOVE grilled asparagus.  It’s one of my most popular “go to” veggies in the summertime when we do a lot of grilling.  And the best part is, grilling asparagus is so easy!!

Here’s how I do it:

  • First you have to thoroughly wash the asparagus.  Pay close attention to the tips because sand and dirt like to get stuck in the little shoots there at the top.
  • Cut off the ends.  You can either break the ends off one piece at a time, or you can take the easy route by breaking off the end of one, putting all the pieces of asparagus together and cutting the rest of the bottoms off in the same spot.  If you don’t cut the bottoms off, they’re really tough and “bark”y.
  • Lay the asparagus in a single layer in a grill pan. *If you don’t have a grill pan you can make one out of tin foil, but seriously you should invest in one.  I got mine from Pampered Chef, but you can find them at most department stores with their grilling accessories.  They’re the best – especially for grilling up veggies!!!

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  • Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the asparagus.  (If you have a grill pan/basket like mine, make sure you have something under it do the oil will get all over your counter!)
  • Sprinkle whatever seasoning/spices that you’d like onto the asparagus.  I like to use minced garlic and a little bit of salt and pepper.  I’ve also tried seasoning salt, garlic or onion powder, Southwest seasoning for a little kick… the options are endless!
  • Put the grill pan/basket onto the grill over medium-high flame for 3-5 minutes.  Keep an eye on your asparagus though, because depending on the thickness of the stalks, they might take less or more time.
  • When I take the asparagus off the grill, I like to shred a little bit of fresh parmesan cheese right over the top. Yum!!

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See??  I told you it was easy!!!  Happy grilling!

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Margarita Grilled Flatbread Pizzas

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One of my very favorite things about the weather getting warmer is getting to grill!  It’s been beautiful here the last couple of days so we took full advantage and made yummy margarita flatbread pizzas!  Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Pizza crust
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic, pressed/minced
  • Tomato paste
  • Fresh tomatoes, washed and thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil, washed
  • Mozzarella cheese – I like to use fresh, the kind that comes in a ball
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Asiago cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper

The “how to”/”what to do”

Pre-heat your grill to 375.  Brush a little bit of olive oil on both sides of the crust and put it on the grill for 15-20 seconds on each side – I’ve found that pre made crust works best on the grill and I like to use Naan, an oven-baked flatbread.  Our local Target sells it and there’s a garlic flavored one that’s great!

PicMonkey CollageI made 2 types of pizza: a tomato base and an olive oil base.

  • For the tomato base, combine 2 tbsp. tomato paste, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on preference/their size) and salt/pepper to taste.
  • For the olive oil base, omit the tomato paste 🙂

Spread your base evenly over the pizza crust.  Now it’s time to build your pizzas!

Start with thinly sliced tomatoes, cover the entire crust.  Next comes the cheese.  Slice/tear chunks of mozzarella and top the tomatoes with as much (or as little) as you would like.  Top the cheese with fresh basil leaves.  Finally sprinkle freshly shredded Asiago cheese across the top.  I used a garlic, rosemary Asiago that was fabulous.

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Transfer the pizzas onto the TOP rack of the grill. They only take a couple minutes so be sure to keep a close eye on them or the bottoms will burn quickly.  If the cheese doesn’t melt as well as you would like, put the pizzas in the oven on broil for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

The final thing that I like to add before eating is some fresh parmesan cheese!!  Yummy!!

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I hope you enjoy my flatbread pizzas!  If you try them out, let me know what you think!  Happy grilling! 🙂

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