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!

 

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.

what motherhood means to me right now

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 (Instagram: @jillianm55)1C7WA2GYH81l9cEFeXqcBNWHMDK-c6mT7i74b_oTZco

It means…

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.

i had a baby!

juliette cute 2 edited

And her name is Juliette. She is beautiful and lovely and she is my everything. She looks very much like Bob in my opinion, but that depends on who you ask. We’ve got two firm camps of “she looks like Jillian” and “she looks like Bobby”, but either way, she is an awesome baby. I love her so much and I make sure she knows it with a million kisses and cuddles a day.

juliette wink edited

Things have been a little crazy around here lately. We’ve run into some hiccups along the way, such as issues with breastfeeding. Jules had a serious tongue-tie (aka a short frenulum), then a case of thrush and now I’m on antibiotics, which means I can’t give her my breastmilk so it’s a “pump and dump” situation for the next week, while she’s fed formula. Not to mention the physical and emotional stresses of the postpartum period. Let’s just say childbirth was NOTHING compared to what I had to go through immediately afterward. That may be a story for another day because I feel very few women share what the post-birth period is really like. It can be a long, complicated and painful recovery. There are all these websites and books that tell you what to expect from life with a newborn, but very few that discuss the mother’s recovery part of it. And even then, some don’t get into the real nitty gritty of it. I think because it might be an embarassing topic for most, which I totally get.

I don’t expect to be posting too regularly around here for the next few weeks, maybe something short now and again. We’ll see. But I do plan to be back once I’m fully healed and I find my groove. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram! I’ve got some pics up there and I promise not to turn it into a baby-only zone. Although, right now my life is consumed by this little munchkin so it might be a little baby-heavy for the time being, haha.

Thank you for sticking with me! I look forward to catching up with you all.

the adjustment period

new kitchen

The new kitchen (as seen on Instagram)

While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the belief in zodiac signs, I have to say the personality traits of my sign are completely accurate. I’m a Taurus and I’m down-to-earth and extremely patient, but I’m also stubborn and very uncomfortable with change.

We moved in to the new apartment this weekend. It went well, for the most part. I say “for the most part” because, while the actual moving was quick,  the day was exhausting. We had a goal of unpacking pretty much everything that night, but unfortunately that just wasn’t possible. It was late and I was hungry, tired and cranky and our bedroom was cluttered with bags, boxes and loose shelves on the floor. What is that they say about your home reflecting your state of mind? It’s true because I went to bed that night feeling like the apartment looked—messy, frazzled and generally not in the right space.

old living room2

Our old living room, almost all packed.

But the next day I was feeling more energetic as was Bob, so we knocked out some more boxes and the place was starting to look less like a warehouse and more like a home. Even with that said, I was feeling very homesick, which was completely unexpected, especially since I’d been so ready to be done with our Astoria apartment just a few days prior. I was missing the old place and my routines. I missed knowing where everything was and feeling familiar with my surroundings.

And I can’t seem to find my hair brush anywhere. This bugs me.

But I know I’m just getting used to all of it. It’s an adjustment and it takes time. I know this. But I just need that time to sulk a bit. I need to get it out of my system. A stage of grief to go through, if you will.

old living room3

Next is the part where I break out of my Taurus bull-headed ways and make the best with what we do have: a bright and sunny kitchen to cook in, a normal-size refrigerator (for once!), a new car (thanks to a very very very generous family member on Bob’s side) among a dozen other things I’m grateful for (See? Maybe my stage of acceptance isn’t too far off. Progress).  I’ll have to take after the Aquarians out there and learn to be a little more flexible. Although my dad is an Aquarius and he is probably one of the least flexible people I know, so…there’s that. I probably take after him. After all, we do have a baby on the way and that will be another huge change that I’ll have to adjust to. Maybe this is all just preparing for me a different kind of life. After years of routine and order, it’s time for a little chaos.

But if I could only find that hair brush, maybe, just maybe, life would feel a little less unsettled right now.

old living room

moving on

 

Me - movingTaken about a month after we moved in (a little over 3 years ago).

I am living in a home that will soon be another’s. It hit me last Saturday afternoon, when the realtor came in to show the apartment to a few prospective renters. Despite all the problems we’ve had with this place—constantly clogged drains, leaks, sudden water temperature changes, neighbors, dealing with the management company—I’m going to miss it terribly. I have loved living here. I love the open layout. I love how the sun pours into the apartment in the late afternoon. I love the area, which is quiet, clean and close to the park. But most of all, I love the memories that we’ve created here. Here is where Bob proposed to me, where I’ve made countless special occasion dinners and where we’ve built a home for ourselves (our very first one together, I might add). We’ve celebrated many occasions, like our housewarmings, New Year’s nights and most recently, our after-holiday party with close friends in which we revealed some big news! This apartment will always have a special place in my heart.

Watching these people walk through and assess what is still our home made me feel strangely territorial but I also wanted to sell them on the perks: “The parking’s not too bad around here”, “The area is quiet and nice”, “The bedroom gets so much sunlight!”. It was like a little tug-of-war in my brain.

Yes, this place will be missed. But I have one foot out the door. I’m ready to move on to the next. It’s funny because about a year ago, I probably would have left kicking and screaming, but now so many things have changed. It’s not just about the trendy or fun neighborhood to live in anymore. Now that we have Bebop and a future home to save up for, it’s about practicality. I know it’s best for us to save money and to live closer to some family, which is exactly what we’re doing. I believe we’ve made the smart decision and that outweighs staying in a neighborhood that we love for the vibe, walkability, food and bars but is rapidly increasing in popularity and price. Plus, our future digs have been painted to our liking and cleaned thoroughly and that’s just kind of exciting for me. The old place was dark and very brown and now it’s light and clean, giving it a more open feel. The baby’s room is a pale grey, which is the perfect complement for the light pink accents I have planned for it. I will get that dream nursery for Bebop after all! In the grand scheme of things, freshly-painted walls aren’t terribly important but they sure do feel good.

slinky

In about two weeks, we’ll be saying goodbye to this place for good. I’ve been taking random pictures around the house—mess, flaws and all—just to keep my memory of this place alive and documented. I’ll look back fondly at our time here. I’ll romanticize about the good ol’ days when we were just “kids” and say things like “Things were so simple when we lived there”,  “I miss being able to walk to the train station or the grocery store”. But I’ll always remember that our new place will be the source of more wonderful memories and one day I’ll look back at it just as dreamily and think the same exact thing: “I miss that place”.

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