Creamy, dreamy scrambled eggs for a homemade Sunday brunch.
Here’s a nice supersized clickable list for your pleasure. Because it’s Thanksgiving week and I’m feeling especially generous. And because I’m finding it somewhat difficult to get back into the whole blogging game and a “click on these” post is the easiest gateway into getting back in the saddle. And because…why not?
- Do you want to laugh? This’ll do the trick. And if you have a few extra minutes, see here for even more hilarity. Some of these had me dying.
- The 4-year old who loved CVS so much, her birthday party was inspired by the drugstore. Cute.
- Have you heard of Masterclass? I’m so intrigued by it. Here’s what happens when an accomplished writer takes a Masterclass from James Paterson.
- I’m pretty much obsessed with Frank’s Red Hot right now, so these buffalo chicken bowls are calling out to me.
Happy (long) weekend!
Let me just start off by saying this is not a post about postpartum depression. The word ‘postpartum’ is often associated with depression, but this isn’t so in my case. To be clear, this is about my physical and emotional experience following childbirth.
This post might fall under the category of “too much information”, so if you’re disgusted by bodily functions and fluids, then I implore you to stop reading. But I think my story is an important one to share because not enough women discuss their postpartum experiences. I think for some, it may be an off-limits topic because who really wants to hear us complain about how we basically have a six-week long period after birth? Or how we need to take stool softeners to make using the bathroom easier? Or how we sweat profusely at night, soaking the sheets? Well, I for one, would have liked to hear it from an actual person and not an impersonal book that spends half a page on it. So here I am, making up for that by sharing my in-depth, personal experience.
The night I went into labor, Juliette’s heartbeat wasn’t as strong as we had hoped. When I started to push, her heart rate slowed even more. The doctor then decided that the baby needed to come out immediately so in addition to an episiotomy (an incision on the perineum), she used a vacuum which would extract the baby quicker. Within no time, this beautiful and healthy baby girl was born and put on my chest. It took a good 20 to 30 minutes of stitching me up, which didn’t phase me one bit because Juliette was in my arms and the epidural was keeping the pain at bay. I was kissing and cuddling her, while the doctor told me, “Your recovery is going to be slower than most people’s because blah blah blah…” That’s all I heard. I was so entranced with my little one that I just kind of shrugged it off. Little did I know the road to recovery would, in fact, be a long one.
After the medication wore off, I felt immensely sore. I could barely walk or sit. The pain was so consuming, there were times I’d go to the bathroom just to cry privately. The only thing that made me feel physically better were the Percocets. The nurse had warned me not to rely on them too much since they were highly constipating, but I wasn’t too worried about it. I would pop a pill every few hours and I’d feel normal again. I could care for my baby, do housework, stand, sit, walk.
I read that it usually takes a few days, maybe even a week, after childbirth to have a bowel movement. After five days of not going, I finally felt it. I woke up at around 12:30am with this intense urge to go. My body just took over and started pushing. I had no control over it. I was pushing for hours but, to my frustration, nothing was happening. I was stressed out, panicked and terrified of popping a stitch from pushing too hard. I called the obstetrician at around 3am, who suggested I use glycerin suppositories. Bob ran out to CVS and when he came back, I was so exhausted from pushing that he found me laying on the floor between the bathroom and kitchen. After the suppositories didn’t work, I’d had enough. There was no more energy left in me, but my body still wanted to push regardless. We headed to the ER, while Juliette stayed with Bob’s grandmother, who conveniently lives downstairs. It turned out I had a fecal impaction, which basically meant it was impossible for me to go without medical intervention. Being in the ER was an incredibly humiliating and humbling experience. I was in a semi-public room with dozens of other patients. The beds were just inches apart – Bob couldn’t even stand next to me – and only thin curtains divided us from our neighbors. And here I was in a diaper, while the enema took effect. Like I said, HUMBLING. It was surprisingly painful too. My stomach cramped and didn’t stop cramping until 4-5 hours later when my system was completely cleared out. Bob was such a sport about it too. He was operating on no sleep because he had spent a good portion of the night trying to comfort an inconsolable Juliette. And yet, he was right by my side, trying to keep the situation light and humorous.
Over the next few days, ironically, I had incontinence. There was no control whatsoever. I barely had time to make it to the bathroom before I started to go. I worried and wondered, what is going on with my body? I made an appointment with the doctor that had treated me in the ER and she put me on a temporary diet of starchy, low-fiber foods such as white bread, white rice, bananas and highly processed foods, which would help with binding. Even though I felt like crap eating white foods every day for a week, I was at least making it to the bathroom, though I still only had a little control. For the next few weeks, I stayed home and only went out for short periods of time. Unfortunately, that doctor hadn’t give me much information on why this was happening, only that it was birth-related. So I accepted that.
Needless to say, my anxiety was through the roof. I would dwell on what this meant for my future quality of life. What if I’m never able to go out again? Will I always have to be near a bathroom wherever I go? How will I go back to work like this? What if I have to use the bathroom during the commute? Will I have to wear adult diapers? Is this my life now? I felt hopeless. That is until, my appointment with the obstetrician finally came up. At this point, the incontinence was gone, but the strong urge to go was still present (basically meaning, when I had to go, I HAD to go. There was no putting it off). She referred me to a colleague of hers; a respected colo-rectal surgeon, who she said was “the best” and would be able to help me. For the first time in weeks, I felt optimistic.
In August, I met with the surgeon. After examining me, he confirmed that the traumatic physical events of Juliette’s birth are what were causing my issues. It turned out that I had third and/or fourth degree lacerations all the way down to the sphincter, which is the muscle responsible for “holding it in”. He was hopeful that the damage wasn’t permanent, but he also warned me it would take a long time for the area to heal. “It could take several months, ” he said. The next month, I had an MRI which confirmed his theory, but it also showed more internal damage than he thought. More specifically, a breakdown of tissue between the vaginal and rectal wall which would have to be repaired by surgery. The procedure, I’m told, is pretty standard but I’ll be incapacitated for a couple of weeks. “You’ll need to take time off to selfishly care for just yourself for at least two weeks,” he told me, while putting emphasis on the word ‘selfishly’. And so, after I have the surgery early next year, I’ll be staying with my mom who will be taking time off from work, while she cares for Juliette and I care for myself.
Right now, I feel good. My urgency issues have improved considerably. The pain from the incision and tearing is almost completely gone. I can go out now. I can commute with confidence. I can enjoy my life and my baby, all without anxiety. I am nervous about the surgery, especially since the recovery is similar to that of an episiotomy (which I dread having to go through again) but I have faith in this surgeon. And I have faith that my body will heal.
Would I have done things differently had I known what I was in for? Sure. The incontinence might have been unavoidable, but the severe constipation could have been prevented if I weren’t so reliant on the Percosets, thus saving me that trip to the ER. I would have made my appointments with the doctors much sooner and not have just stewed in my own misery. Most of all, I would have been more informed about the birth process. There are so many things that can happen during delivery, but if I’d just read up on what the interventions are and the pros and cons of each, I would’ve been better for it. If there’s any advice I can give to women who are about to give birth, it is to educate yourself. Doctors are smart, but they don’t always fill in the gaps for you. We have to take our health and pregnancies into our own hands with research and frank conversations with women who have been through it. In other words, let’s talk about this ladies! Let’s talk about all of it.
I was terribly excited to go pumpkin picking at Battleview Orchards in Freehold, NJ this year. Partly because it would be Juliette’s first time, partly because I was indisposed all summer and now I’m finally getting out a little more regularly. At last!
We always have a great time during our annual family pumpkin picking festivities, but I especially loved it this year because we got to pick for apples too. And there’s something about picking fruit straight from the tree that makes it extra special. We also had some hot cider with freshly-baked apple cider doughnuts because if you’re going to be a fall cliché, you might as well embrace it. The doughnuts were warm, pillowy and just the right amount of sweet. In other words, so sooooo good. I’m still dreaming of them days later.
Now, a preview of Juliette’s Halloween costume. She’s going to be an ewok. And the most adorable one at that.
Bob and I kept reminding ourselves to take a picture with Jules on a pumpkin (because pumpkins + baby = can’t even handle that cuteness), but unfortunately she fell asleep against Bob in the carrier. Picking is hard work!
That little face! She’s the sweetest.
There were two main patches of pumpkins, but there were rows and rows of various types of apple trees: Winesaps, Fujis, Empires, Granny Smiths and Braeburns to name a few. The abundance of colorful apples were a gorgeous sight. Some were rich red, some bright green and some a lovely mixture of both.
All were absolutely delicious, by the way.
- The photo above was taken by Bob who wrote this story on the resurgence of smaller, more humble 5Pointz (now in Brooklyn), a famous graffiti yard that was whitewashed two years ago (much to the dismay of many New Yorkers).
- Saved by the Bell fan? You need this in your life.
When Juliette was born, the nurses and lactation consultants were trying to help me to get her to latch, but her tongue-tie (short frenulum) was preventing her from doing so. I was determined to get her to breastfeed, but unfortunately Jules had other plans. And so, I gave in to feeding her formula. I felt like a failure. I knew early on in my pregnancy that I wanted to breastfeed and was absolutely adamant about it. But here I was giving her the bottle of pre-made Similac from the hospital that I swore I would never resort to. But she was being fed and I knew that’s what was most important so I tried not to dwell on my disappointment.
I did feel guilty though. The vast benefits of breastmilk are touted everywhere (even on formula bottles!) so it just felt like I was giving her something inferior. I wanted so badly to be able to exclusively breastfeed her for at least 6 months. No supplementing. Just straight immunity-boosting liquid gold.
The lactation consultant urged me to get her frenulum clipped by an ENT doctor and in the meantime keep pumping my milk to keep up my supply. So I did. I wasn’t making enough to feed Jules only breastmilk, so I was still supplementing with formula. The next few weeks were tough, as there were a few instances that prevented me from bringing her to my breast. I ended up in the ER for half a day (more on this in an upcoming post) and had pain meds in my system that weren’t safe for me to be passing on to Jules. Soon after, she got thrush on her tongue and I held off so that she wouldn’t pass the thrush on to me. Once that subsided, I ended up on strong antibiotics for almost two weeks from a supposed infection that I would later find out wasn’t an infection at all (more on this later too). Once I was finally able to breastfeed her, we had issues. She could barely latch properly and when she did she would get so frustrated with the slow flow of milk that she would cry and whine. After a few more attempts, I decided I would just keep pumping and feeding her with a bottle, the easier option for both of us.
Pumping is hard work and I commend any woman who has done it exclusively. Pumping on a schedule, every 3-4 hours for about 20- 30 minutes at a time is tedious and it doesn’t allow for many outside activities, like going out for a long dinner. Unsurprisingly, finding somewhere to express milk outside of your home is difficult because most places don’t have a designated private room for it. I’ve even been told on more than one occasion to do it in a bathroom stall. It’s also very time-consuming. With an electronic pump, you can’t really venture far from the outlet it’s plugged into so forget about being productive.
(Side note: this app is has been hugely helpful in finding places to pump wherever I go.)
After 4 months of pumping, I’ve decided to wean. I had been toying with the idea for weeks, but I always felt too guilty about giving up. Am I really going to not give my baby the better source of nutrition, even if I am only producing enough to feed her 1-2 bottles of milk per day? Am I really going to break the promise that I made to myself and to her? As ridiculous as it may sound, it feels like a selfish decision. Not only because it’s widely said and known that “breast is best”, but there are many people that knowingly or unknowingly make mothers who are unable to breastfeed feel horrible about their decision to formula-feed. To make matters more difficult, formulas are full of ingredients like processed sugar, palm oil (which isn’t easily digested by infants) and/or synthetic nutrients. Finding the right one required lots of time and research. A few weeks ago, I moved on from Similac to organic formulas. First, it was Honest formula and now we are switching to Baby’s Only because it is affordable, accessible and overall the best choice for Juliette. It may not be all-natural and from the breast, but it will keep her nourished and growing and that’s all that matters. It gives me peace of mind to know that I’ve made an informed decision about my baby’s health. There’s also the added benefit of feeling like I have a piece of my life back. I will no longer be a slave to this pump and have to work my schedule around it!
Oh and wine. I can drink lots and lots of wine once I’m completely off it. I look forward to the day.
Obviously my feelings are mixed. But ultimately, it’s the right call for both of us. I really do believe I will be a happier, more successful mother for it.
A long time ago, I promised to post some pictures from my sister Janey’s wedding. I know you guys were holding your breaths for this 😉 so here they are. She finally sent me the pro pics the other day and they were just to die for. I’m really excited to share them with you.
To be quite honest, there were many many more pictures I wanted to show here, but I had to edit myself and only include my favorites. Here we go:
The wedding party met up at a boutique hotel in downtown Brooklyn (the room had a hammock!) and then drove to the couple’s old neighborhood for some nostalgia and picture-taking. The ceremony and reception were at Deity, a gorgeous wedding hall in Boerum Hill.
The guys looking sharp
…and they totally know it.
The bride and groom looking lovely and so in love.
The ceremony was held in the loft, which was all red brick, twinkle lights and glossy wooden floors. It was just beautiful.
My dad giving a funny speech at dinner. I really had no idea he was quite the public speaker!
My nephew Mase tearin’ up the dance floor. He just gets better and better with age.
Someone get this kid on So You Think You Can Dance! (Side note: I reeeeeally didn’t care for the pointless Stage vs. Street theme this year. Discuss?).
We were all so fortunate to be part of this big moment in Janey and Tre’s awesome love story (and if you ever met them, then it’s guaranteed —those two will be your favorite fun-loving couple).
feeling warm and fuzzy when she looks right at me.
feeling even better when she smiles. She smiles now!
having to tie back my hair before I hold her in my arms. She’s discovered pulling (hard) with her fingers.
watching her sleep and then realizing that she’s too still so, panicked, I stare at her closely to make sure she’s still breathing.
ignoring the old adage “sleep when she sleeps”. Because when she sleeps, that’s my time to get things done!
eating solely on paper plates because having to wash a ton of bottles and nipples a day is enough.
feeling defeated and frustrated when she’s incosolable during her fussy time.
giving her kisses first thing in the a.m. And when I change her. And when I feed her. And whenever I pick her up. And whenever I feel like it (which is all the time).
feeling somewhat sad that her coughs don’t sound as tiny as they did two weeks ago.
cheering her on when she gives a good burp.
thinking she’s the best and most beautiful baby I’ve ever laid eyes on.