thoughts on public transportation, Snapchat + more

pizza

Pizza with friends at Two Boots

I never understood why people who owned a car in New York would drive everywhere. I thought, But the train! The train takes you everywhere. Why would you drive and spend money on gas/sit in traffic/waste time trying to find parking? But now that I have a car, I get it. I really do. After being on maternity leave and not taking mass transit for over 4 months and now having to take it everyday to go to work…well, I’m over it. I’m over obnoxiously loud teenagers, manspreaders, huge backpacks, pole hoggers…basically people with no consideration (which feels like everyone these days).

My parents have booked a rental for all of us to stay in Cape May this summer for a week. To say I’m excited is an understatement. Bob and I had such a great time last time we went so I’m super pumped. I’ve already started planning out where we’re going to eat and what we’re going to do. It’s so much fun planning a summer vacation when it’s 20 degrees outside. It gives me something to look forward to.

On Sunday, Juliette went down for a nap, so I took the time to make some brunch. Something I haven’t done since before she was born. And aside from being awesome (honey on warm biscuits? hello deliciousness), it felt great to get back to something I once loved and did pretty regularly. Little by little, I’m getting better at  incorporating more of my pre-Jules life into my present life and it feels so good.

Note to self: Next time I want to be healthy and buy a $6 juice that contains kale, spinach and cucumber, remember how, um…green it actually tasted. Drink water instead.

Speaking of water, I was reading an article in Real Simple that stated if you drink two glasses of water before each meal, you’re more likely to eat better/lose weight. I might have heard that before, but either way, I’m doing it.

We hired a home-cleaning service to come in and clean the entire apartment and it was the best money I’ve spent in a while. I don’t think I’d ever seen our place that clean before. Honestly, I always thought of hiring someone to clean your house as frivolous. Why spend money when you can just clean it yourself? But in the true words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. Or rather, making time for it is a giant pain, so we’ve agreed to  have the house cleaned by the pros once in a while and try to maintain in the interim. It’s one less thing I have to do and I feel loads lighter because of it.

bloomingdales

Taken last year on a rainy day in Midtown.

Some things about Juliette: 1.) She is teeny tiny. She photographs large and chubby, but don’t be fooled, this girl is a peanut. She was barely 13 lbs. at 6 months! Which, if you have no concept of how small that is for her age, puts her in the 2nd to 3rd percentile (meaning about 98% of babies her age are bigger than her) 2.) She LOVES peas and carrots, but isn’t sold on sweet potatoes or avocados yet. 3.) She loves to be hummed to sleep. Some faves include Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb and Christmas songs. 4.) She hasn’t started crawling yet. Instead, she rolls over until she is where she wants to be. 5.) She smiles and laughs so easily and it just warms my heart. Her gummy grin is all I need for a good day.

I’m on Snapchat and I mostly find it amusing to watch others on it. I don’t actually know how to  Snapchat though. I’ve had it explained to me twice and I still don’t get it. It’s like math. Does. Not. Compute.

Currently, I’m in recovery from a surgery to repair internal damage from childbirth. It’s not nearly as painful as it was when I was recovering from the episiotomy, but damn…I just want to feel whole again. There’s a small part of me that’s anxious to know if the surgery was successful. There’s a 75% chance that it worked, but I won’t know for sure until 4 weeks from now. And if it’s not, well then…I have the surgery again. So as you can guess, I’m really hoping that it’s successful. Stating the obvious here, but recovering from surgery sucks and I’d rather not go through it again.

I’m looking at the snow plow map for NYC right now and it seems our neighborhood, among just a few others in Queens, have still not been plowed after this huge snowstorm (one of our worst in history!). We are the forgotten neighborhood apparently.

…and a happy new year!

lightsDepending on the year, what kind of mood I’m in and where I’m at in my life, I will likely have a different opinion on New Year’s resolutions. There have been years where I deem resolutions entirely unrealistic and unnecessary. But this year, I’m all about the fresh new start.  I’m feeling the need for some healthier habits again. I think—no, actually I’m sure that pregnancy threw me off my healthy game this year. There were many times I’d just order in because I was too exhausted to cook and that even continued until after Juliette was born. Though recently, Bob and I have decreased our meat consumption considerably, so we’re heading on the right path. Our hard rule is no meat Monday through Thursday. If you’ve been following my Pinterest food board closely, you might notice I’m bookmarking more vegan dishes because I’m also trying to limit our dairy intake by incorporating more plant-based fats like nuts, seeds and avocados into our foods.

I think the hard part of this resolution will be the exercising. I’ve never been very active and lately the only workout I get is walking and simultaneously rocking Jules around the house when I’m trying to get her to nap. All attempts to exercise in past years have failed. I took up running for about a week. Hated that. I signed up for a year’s membership at Planet Fitness.That quickly got old. I even did a little bit of prenatal yoga, which bored me to tears. This time, I’ll take up running again. I know! But since Bob is joining me, I’m hoping that we will hold eachother accountable. If it turns out I still hate running—and, let’s be honest, I’m expecting it—then so be it. I’ll try something else.

(Of course, since my surgery is scheduled for the middle of January, I’ll be taking it easy for those first few weeks.)

Whenever I’ve made a health-related resolution in the past, it’s been just for that—my health. But this year, my other intention is to lose some of this baby weight. I actually don’t mind having some extra thickness around the butt, hips and thighs, but the gut I could do without. There’s also the matter of only fitting into 4 pairs of pants and a few tops. I never realized how tight some of my clothing is until I couldn’t fit into them anymore! As much as I’d love a whole new wardrobe, it’ll be healthier and less expensive to just lose weight instead.

Now onto more pressing matters. Do you have any exciting plans for New Year’s Eve? Bob and I are going out to dinner at Alobar in Long Island City, while his mother spends time with Jules. Then we’ll be back home to celebrate the new year from our couch with another friend. We’ll probably watch some Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. Should be pretty thrilling stuff.

I honestly love our “boring” New Year’s plans :)

Happy new year! See you in 2016!

 

christmas day 2015

village4
This year, Christmas was extra special for us because it was Juliette’s first Christmas. That morning, we put on some classics and tore into Santa’s gifts. As expected, she really took to the actual tearing of her gifts, more than the playing of her gifts. It was super cute, but I can’t wait for more Christmases where she’ll be more aware. I remember feeling like this was the most magical time as a kid. Of course, what child doesn’t love this holiday? But I had my little December traditions: watch Charlie Brown Christmas specials a few times, The Grinch etc. I’m so excited for when I can introduce Juliette to some of my favorite movies. I fully intend for her to love The Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story. I think this might be one of the best parts of parenthood—imposing your ideals on your kids, haha 😉

jules and grandpa

Watching the train run around the tree with Grandpa.

unwrapping

We got so caught up in Juliette’s unwrapping of  gifts that Bob and I almost forgot to exchange with eachother. How times have changed.dirty bib

Juliette’s dirty bib.

village6village5

Later on in the day, we packed up the car and headed to out Jersey to spend a few days with my folks. It felt like a little mini vacation because we partied and had lots of homemade coquito (like egg nog, but way better…and Puerto Rican) and then relaxed while my mom did awesome things like make us breakfast and sleep with the baby so that we could have a couple of nights of uninterrupted zzz’s. It was heaven!

tequilamike

ladies

Coquito in red solo cups, as we do.

Every year, I love my dad’s little Christmas village more and more. He likes to add a few new things to it and I have such fun pointing out what’s new and who’s going where. I told him next year, I might help him set it up so we can tell some new stories with the characters. I think it could be really fun (and tedious).

dinner tablesaladbeans

Can you believe 2016 is almost here? I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it because it’s an overused sentiment, but boy did this year fly by. I remember being pregnant in the beginning of the year and thinking, this year is going by soooo sloooow, I just want this baby to be here already. And then boom, once she came, it was like the clock sped up and suddenly she was 6 months old and we were feeding her solids already. Either way, I know 2016 will be another momentous year for us. It will be such a joy to watch this little girl turn one this summer. We may start looking for a house again towards the end of the year. And who knows? We may even take a small vacation? The year has many possibilities!jax and trethe boys

gold

How was your holiday? Wonderfully merry, I hope!

click on these

scrambled eggs

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!

my postpartum experience

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.

me and jules

 

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.

picking for apples and pumpkins

pumpkin

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!pumpkins

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.

juliettekaren and bob

family

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!

juliette sleeping

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.

fallen applesjaney and masebitten apple

All were absolutely delicious, by the way.

sisters

jax

jaxie

mase

janey and karenjaney and mase2green

 

click on these

pink

  • 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.

Happy weekend!

 

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