A Tale of Two Breasts

The Hubby and I decided from the beginning that I was going to give breastfeeding a chance.  No one in my immediate family had ever tried to breastfeed and there wasn't a lot of hope that I was going to be successful, but I was determined to make it work.  I took classes, read books and utilized the Breastfeeding Support group at our local hospital.  And I was convinced the side effects from breastfeeding wouldn't happen to me.  I was certain that I would go from a borderline A/B cup to a solid B and stay as perky as ever.  Yes, you can say I was definitely a naive expectant mother.  

I watched my breasts transform before my eyes.  Every month that passed during the pregnancy brought an increased confidence in my chest.  I was proud to sport the new found cleavage and found my self feeling comfortable in the low cut shirts, contrary to pre-pregnancy (not that I ever lacked self confidence before... I knew that I was an A cup and was proud of it however pregnancy let me experience something I never had before.)  

The few days after pregnancy they went through another transformation, from a Pamela Anderson style to an Anna Nicole Smith...and I'm not joking, not even a little bit.  After a few weeks, they settled down to a nice perky B cup - very nice!  I was quite pleased and was convinced that what everyone said in the books just didn't apply to me.  "My breasts look great!" I remember thinking.  "Sagging, deflated breasts...they must not have been breastfeeding correctly."  

Fast forward one year...and I'm suddenly faced with a "What in the the hell happened!"  I went from a pre-pregnancy perky A/B to a solid perky B to a deflated negative AA.  Yes, negative AA.  I totally lost my chest.  As you faithful readers know, we're preparing for a vacation.  Part of the preparations included the check to make sure my post-pregnancy body could fit into my pre-pregnancy bathing suits.  As I tried on my favorite black string bikini, I was faced with a horrific sight.  Picture a 20-something woman with curves coupled with a pre-teen in a training bra.  Eek!  From the hips down, I look great...however I lost some proportionality in my upper half.   Not a good look with the string bikini!  I realized that this is EXACTLY the situation Oprah has in mind when she does her summer bathing suit makeover shows...knowing what works with your body and what doesn't.  So, it was off to the mall to find some new bathing suits in preparation for the trip.  

So what is the purpose of this post?  Well, a few things...
1. Your body just doesn't go back to 100% normal after babies...no matter how hard you try (unless you opt for the plastic surgery.) 
2. Chances are when people give advice, they speak from experience so there's a bit of truth to it.  

If I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now, would I do it?  Absolutely!  I'm a firm believer that every wrinkle in your skin is there for a reason - laugh lines, sleepless nights, intense work periods and wonderful holiday memories.  I am proud that I was able to breastfeed my little dude and provide nourishment and bond with him for the first 5.5 months of his life. My breasts are proof...and nothing that a Victoria's Secret push up can't fix! 


T-7 til Relaxation

One of my goals since starting this blog has been to be a bit more consistent with my postings.  It seems as though every second of every day is accounted for...work, daycare pick-up, kiddo dinner, playtime, kiddo bedtime, our dinner, laundry, more work, quickly check Facebook, bedtime.  Add preparations for a trip to the myriad of other 'to-dos' and voila, no free time :/  I could give up sleep, but I just love it too much...and find myself wanting more than 6 hours a night.

Thus, the only time for my 'creative space' is the weekend, so I can promise you at least a few posts over the weekends!  I've realized (AH-HA!) that if I'm going to be more consistent in my postings, I need to actually 'pencil' it into my schedule.

If you'll recall, last weekend, I made lists.  Lists and lists of what we needed for vacation, and for Roland and Nonna.  I'd like to say that I've made progress on the lists throughout the week, but no.  The anxiety picked up of having less than 4 days until I leave for Dallas and I realized that I needed to get serious about getting ready.

The Hubby, Roland and I ventured out to do some shopping for the trip.  During naptime, I organized Roland's snacks and drinks for the week and did some meal planning.  The bottles and cups are organized by day (2 bottles - one for the morning and one before bed, one mid-day milk cup, and a water cup).
Cups Labeled by Day

Roland is still on the bottle when he wakes up and before bed.  We've decided to wean him from the bottle after the vacation.  In case you're wondering, we use the Tommee Tippee design for bottles and cups and I would HIGHLY recommend them!  We had no problem going from breast to bottle and vice versa in the early days.  They really are intuitive for them to use, too!

Lazy Susan Neatly Organized

The snacks are organized so that Nonna can go to one place and pick the snack based on the meal plan (no, he will not have all the snacks that are labeled, I organized it so she would have options in case he gets picky!) I return from my business trip on Thursday so I plan to do the grocery shopping on Friday and organize the refrigerated snacks (fruit, veggies).

Speaking of the meal plan...I LOVE notebooks and notepads of all sorts.  I have a notepad that is organized by the days of the week - perfect for laying out Roland's meals and snacks and easy to follow for Nonna.

All in all, I'm not in too bad of shape.  Tomorrow's agenda - packing!


Vacation: The Lists

From the moment we decide to take a vacation, I break out the check lists to help me plan and organize the trip, and to ensure that we don't forget anything.

Typical lists include:

  • Travel Documentation and required items (i.e., Passport, Photo ID, AAA Card, etc.) 
  • Clothing - Swimwear, evening wear, shore-excursion clothing and my all time favorite vacation apparel: yoga pants...it's amazing how you can dress these up or down and they are SO comfortable.  In fact, they are very similar to the maternity pants we love so much!
  • Toiletries - make-up/hair products, hair ties for a quick up-do, and the Hubby's allergy and asthma medication.
Now that we have Roland, I find myself adding to my infamous lists: 

My Mama will be watching Roland while we are away.  While she is familiar with his schedule, there are  few things that I want to ensure I have written down, to help ease her concerns and make me less worried (I think I'm going to be a bit apprehensive during the entire trip, anyway.)  

There are the usual items such as his general schedule, meal planning, how and what type of medicine to give if he gets sick and the emergency contacts including neighbors, close friends and his Doctor.  I plan to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks planned out for the entire week.  There are a few things I'm struggling with, such as his sign language.  Yes, sign language.  Roland's daycare introduced him to sign language when he was about 9 months old and from about 11 months on, this has been our primary mode of communication.  I know when he is hungry, wants more or is finished eating, wants milk, is tired, or wants to brush his teeth (seriously...I should post a video, it's hysterical!) I know this isn't a show stopper for taking the trip, but it will definitely help Roland communicate with Nonna and ease his frustration.  
Signing for More Strawberries! 

I also want to make sure I have some meals made for Mom (lasagna, salad) have some reminders of  Charlie's schedule (our dog), directions to the playground, brief how-to's for operating the coffee machine, operating the remote and getting to the "On Demand" station so Roland can watch Sesame Street, Blues Clues and Barney. 

Then there's the one item that no one wants to think about...ever, and was certainly not on my list for prior vacations.  What are our wishes for Roland if something should happen to the Hubby and I.  Ideally, I would never have to think about this however, being a realist and understanding that something COULD happen, I want to be sure I have a plan, our plan, in writing before we leave.  We don't have a Will (and are now realizing how important it is to have one) and the likelihood of us having one drafted up before we leave is slim to none.  I do plan to write down our wishes, check out the available documentation and help guides on LegalZoom and place our information in our safe deposit box at the bank.  HOPEFULLY, this document will just sit in that box and never be used...and I've added one thing to my "to-do" list when we return!

I should add that the vacation is in 14 days, I'll be in Baltimore and Dallas for 4 of those days for work meetings...a lot to do, and not a lot of time.  Now...time to figure out if this post-baby body can fit into the pre-baby bikini's!! 


The First Vacation...Without

The Hubby and I grew very fond of our yearly vacations...we loved the planning, anticipation and most of all, the ability to experience new cultures.

We started our vacationing in 2005 when we decided to get married in Hawaii and honeymoon on NCL's Hawaiian Island Cruise on The Pride of America.  In 2007, we ventured to the Caribbean with NCL and visited Honduras, Belize, Cozumel and the Bahamas.  In November of 2008 and March of 2009, we decided to again cruise the Caribbean...yes, the Caribbean sun is hard to pass up! We toured the nutmeg factories in Grenada "The Spice Isle",  the Baths in Virgin Gorda and we loved the friendly people of Dominica.  Every vacation spawned a new appreciation of this wonderful world we live in and provided much needed R&R.

The Baths in Virgin Gorda

Nutmeg Factory in Grenada

Beautiful Port in Dominica

Our last vacation occured in June of 2009 - we returned to Hawaii and visited our wedding spot, traversed the infamous 'Road to Hana' and spent a few days in the authentic Hawaiian Island of Molokai.  Coincidentally, nine months later, Roland IV was born... a trip to the Phallic Rock in Molokai may have helped.

Phallic Rock in Molokai
The first year of parenting can be tough.  It has been the absolute best year of my life, I've grown in ways I never knew possible, yet it was speckled with bits of mis-communication and mis-interpretations.  The Hubby and I have a fantastic relationship -  we have worked through the hard times of the year and finally understand the need and effort required to sustain a great relationship.  Together, we made a very difficult and exciting decision... to resume our annual vacations.   It will be a vacation without Roland (but I think Roland will LOVE being spoiled by his loving Nonna!)

Some may call it selfish, I think it's well deserved!

Join me over the next few weeks as I prepare for the vacation and experience the emotional ups and downs of leaving the little one for a week!


Sick Time: The Croup Returns

After a fun and exciting day of playing with Roland, I put him to bed and continued on with my weekend chores.  It was time to finish the laundry and make a quick trip to the grocery store for the essentials, plus, I was excited to pick up ingredients for our Cinco de Mayo dinner.  I decided that we would use the themed 'holidays' to try out new flavors and foods that we don't typically consume.  

I returned from the grocery store around 8:30 PM and realized that I still had to prepare Roland's food for daycare on Monday...(heavy sigh) it doesn't end.  After battling the Laundry Monster all day (and making significant progress, I might add), I was ready for some relaxation.  Sensing my frustration, Hubby came up with a fantastic recommendation, "Why don't we get up early tomorrow, eat breakfast and drink our coffee while watching the morning news and prepare his food."  It was a GREAT idea! We could spend time unwinding on the couch before bed and then start our day off on the right foot! I was really looking forward to it.  

We eventually made our way to bed and after an hour or so in dreamland, I heard a noise...bark, bark, bark.  What was that? Bark, bark, bark...I know I wasn't dreaming of seals playing with each other at the local zoo.  Bark, bark, bark...as I slowly opened my eyes, I realized that my fear was true.  The Croup Returned!  

Poor Roland was on fire.  He had a temperature of 102 (high, but still under the limit for the emergency room temp of 103.5 degrees).  I scooped him out of bed, wrapped him in a blanket and headed for the cool air outside.  After 15 minutes of admiring the night sky, we went back inside to get some tylenol and rock back to sleep.  It was 1:15 am at this point.  I rocked him to a relaxed state and put him back in his bed...9 minutes of silence, and then the crying and barking returned.  I tried to rock him, but he is growing so fast that it is hard for me to comfortably rock him in the rocking chair.  I knew he wanted to sleep, but was too uncomfortable with the fever and the barking.  So, utilizing my out-of-the box thinking style, I decided to crawl in the crib with him.  I rubbed his back until he calmed down, and I stepped out.  He was in the relaxed state, awake, but comfortable and drifted off to dreamland.  

The alarm went off at 5:30 am, just 3.5 hours after I went to bed.  I quickly decided to swap our morning date with more sleep (that's a no-brainer!) Roland woke up at 7:00, still very much congested with a slight bark, not nearly as bad as last night and a mild fever.  Daycare restricts attendance when a fever is present, so now we were faced with a decision...who was going to stay home?   Unfortunately, we have no family in the area so when Roland is sick it's either myself or the Hubby that stays home. I work in a slightly more flexible environment than the Hubby, so barring any customer meetings, I'm the one who usually stays home, catching up on work during nap times and working longer hours for the remainder of the week.  

My plan and assumption for the plans for the week quickly changed in just a few hours.  

Working Mothers: How do you handle sick time?  Are your employers flexible allowing you to accommodate, incorporate and balance your work and home requirements?