Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Breastfeeding.... Counting My Blessings

From the time I started doing research about pregnancy, I knew from then on that I wanted to breastfeed. Although I don't think I had ever seen anyone breastfeed before, never talked about it to anyone, and I didnt have any feelings towards it one way or another until I got pregnant. But once I did my research I became determined that it was the natural... and much much cheaper, way to go. I had also been determined for an all natural birth, and that didnt happen due do a plethora of different reasons, and I ended up with the biggest intervention of them all, the c-section.

Let me tell you, I was soooo afraid that my milk wouldnt come in and that I would have to do all sorts of things and techniques to establish my flow. I was even ready with the locations and times of local La Leche League meetings. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was hoping to leak colostrum like I heard so many other mom's on my pregnancy chat board talk about. If i really squeezed and massaged during my shower I managed to get a drop or two.

Then I had the dreaded c-section. I was afraid that since I never gave birth vaginally, that since Kayla never even made it to my birth canal, that it might hinder or limit the hormones that told my body..... "hey you had a baby, start making that milk".I had given the hospital specific instructions not to give her the bottle. I was also afraid that since I was so out of it after my section and it took almost an hour for me to come to (i wasnt knocked out, just exhausted and pumped full of drugs) that they might give her formula to hold her over. But they didnt, Kayla was fine, she latched on the first time I held her. And the time after that. And after that.

The 2nd or 3rd day I woke up in the hospital I remember looking down and saying "babe, do my boobs look bigger to you?" They felt heavy, not huge, just full, my milk had come in!!!

In the beginning I had to correct Kayla's latch a few times. Around the 2nd or 3rd week, I developed scabbing. Holy shit that hurt!!! But I was prepared. I had some Lanisoh cream and some all natural Nipple Butter. The butter worked wonders. It hurt like a bitch every time Kayla latched on for about 2 or 3 weeks but then it healed. And all was well.

At no time did I ever feel like I wanted to give up breastfeeding. It was wonderful to be needed in a way only I could fulfill. And Tony was very much aware and jealous of that. I remember telling him to suck it up because she was going to be a daddy's girl for the rest of her life so let me enjoy this :-D.

I started pumping at about 2 months, after the scabbing had healed. Boy did I have an abundance of milk. I was able to pump anywhere from an extra 4-8 ounces everyday because my supply had not yet settled. I was making my stockpile for when I went back to work (turned out I never needed it).

I went back to work when Kayla was almost 4 months. Pumping at work was..... well it sucked. My store was so busy that I could only pump during lunch. By the I got home my boobs were so engorged I literally would come home, take off my coat and/or shirt, and shove Kayla's face in my boob. This worked for the both of us because Kayla only ever drank enough from the bottle to hold her over, she was always hungry when I came home.  Pumping sucked at worked. I only ever had time to grab my lunch from outside, get back to the office, pump while I ate, then go clean the pieces, and back to work I went. No respite for the weary. 8 out of 10 times I was also working on the computer or taking a conference call while I was pumping.

But the whole time I was working I never gave Kayla a bottle, only Tony did. And even when I tried its like she could smell me and refused bottles from me. At least some part of my grand master plan went right.

Even as I was pumping while working my freezer supply did the opposite, while most working moms didnt pump enough, my stockpile got bigger. To the point that I was considering buying a small deep freezer. Then.... job gone. No more pumping. So what to do with this stockpile??? Well, through an awesome Facebook group, Human Milk 4 Babies, I was able to find someone to pick up about 300 ounces of milk to use for their own child. That was totally awesome. His baby had a problem latching because of he had tongue tie, and his wife was having trouble keeping up through pumping. And lo and behold, after he left, I found another 100 ounces or so in the back of my freezer. I am keeping it for now in case I need it for transition to whole milk but I have an idea Im going to end up giving that away too.

So here I sit, Kayls is 9.5 months old (how time flies), and Kayla has never had a drop of formula. And we continue to breastfeed exclusively. Kayla tried solids but she doesnt have the patience to eat and entire "meal" yet. She starts playing within a minute.

I consider myself so lucky to have had what I consider such an easy road. It was never even close to the point of bringing me to tears with frustration or pain. Maybe it was due to all the research i did beforehand and expecting the worse. Maybe its because Kayla latched on pretty well relatively easy. I also always had Tony's unwavering support of Kayla breastfeeding (he even criticizes women who he thinks gave up too easily, like his sisters, lol). But it was and still is easy for me. Even now as Kayla gets her teeth in, she rarely ever bites, and even if she does the pain is very very temporary.

Tony on the other hand is starting to miss my boobs, he wants them back by her 1st birthday. LOL. We shall see, I am going to let Kayla self wean.

Now.... I am deathly afraid of baby #2...... if Kayla was this easy , is there some sort of comic balance that requires the next one to be difficult, or maybe it was just easy in my eyes and the next one will be laid back, very much unlike Kayla..... we shall see

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Love and the Art of Baking- recipe inside

I really really really like to bake.
I really really really REALLY hate my kitchen. (not a neccesary comment but I just feel like sharing)

I dont remember when it started. My mom taught me the basics of cooking. Spanish food that is. I think by the time I was 12 or 13 I could assemble a basic spanish meal. Rice, beans, and a meat dish. My mom never really passed me down recipes, it was more of a watching her type thing while I spent countless hours peeling and mashing garlic for Mami's sofrito. (Oh if I had only watched cooking channels back then to learn the easy way to peel garlic.. gah the pain I wouldve saved myself!!!)

Mami wasnt much of a dessert person either. She had her staples... her flan, habichuelas con dulce (Sweet Beans), and her pan de maiz (cornbread, hers was sweet with raisins, and was more for breakfast than a side dish). I know back in the day my mom used to have a stand mixer and a whole bunch of cake decorating accessories, but all I really remember is the bags they used to be in. But I dont remember her loving to bake, or even cook for that matter, she never really tried a lot of new recipes, she cooked because she had a family of 5 to feed. She liked to play hostess and have people over in the summer, but would leave the barbequing to me and my dad.

Anyway what I am trying to 'splain is that I dont know where my love for baking comes from or where it started. All I know is one day I found myself making cookies around 18/19 years old. Then all of a sudden I have spent 3 hours in the kitchen making 14 dozen batches of cookies. And as if that wasnt enough I had actually made myself little logos "Yours Truly" wrapping cookies in cellophane in cute little packages of 12. I made everything from plain sugar cookies to chocolate chip to white chocolate walnut to triple chocolate brownie cookies. I took orders from anyone and everyone at my job. Whatever you asked for I made. Chocolate chips or none, you choose the nuts, oatmeal cookies, done! Hence the name Yours Truly, because everything was custom made to your order, delivered by... yours truly. That was 6 years ago

Then someone gave me the Paula Deen dessert recipe book. And that was the beginning of the end. Pineapple upside down cake, Not-yo-mommas banana pudding pie, cookie bars, red velvet cake. If i had the ingredients, I tried it............ AND THEN... i discovered the Food Network while I was pregnant. World War 3. There is no turning back. Im a junkie.

And my sweet sweet love got me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for my birthday this past November. Quite possibly the best gift ever. I can make bread now?!?!? Oh its DONE... cinnamon bread, wait cinnamon ROLLS!!!!!! ARMAGEDDON, its over.

Baking is like a coloring book. You have to stay inside the lines, but you can pick any color you like. For example... cookies.... basic recipe:
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Cream white sugar and butter together. Add brown sugar. Mix in eggs well. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients well. Add too wet ingredients. Either butter cookie sheets or use parchment paper(this is best). Bake at 325 for 8-10 min, let cool.

Those are the lines. When it says 2 eggs, dont use 1 or 3. When it says teaspoon of powder, its 1 teaspoon of powder. Too much or too little of the main ingredients will throw you off. The way the ingredients are mixed are important too. From experience I have learned that softened butter is important.... if you melt it completely cookies come out too thin. If its straight out of the fridge its really difficult to mix the butter with the sugar and then the other ingredients.

So stay withing the lines, follow the directions, they are there for a reason in baking. However there is still the colors you can pick..... you can leave the recipe like that. Or add 1 cups of chocolate chips, or 1 cups of walnuts, or 1 cup of oatmeal.... or add all three. Or add white chocolate with macadamia nuts. Or oatmeal and raisins. Or add some chocolate powder to the dry ingredients for some extra chocolate. Or add a cup of peanut butter to the regular butter before the sugar. OOOOOOO man... make peanut butter cookies and then before you cool them down push in a Hersheys kiss.... OMG HEAVEN.

There are things you learn a long the way after trial and error, like cookies usually turn out better after you refrigerate the dough for at least 2 or 3 hours. Vanilla is almighty. LOL..... and dont skip the salt.... salt is... the bringer outer of taste. Whether in sweet or savory dishes salt helps to bring out moisture and enhances flavor. (Yay Food Network!!!) Salt doesnt make things salty.... dont skip it, dont underestimate it.

I am throwing a Superbowl shindig next month and of course, I know what I am serving for dessert. Mini cheesecakes (regular & one with oreo crust), cake pops, and football shaped Oreo truffles. The rest of it..... who cares??? But I shall post recipes as i try them...... oooooooh and I ordered necessary items to make Elmo cake pops to practice for Kayla birthday and they should be here by Thursday SOOOOOOO

I am OUT of shape (so sore)

No I don't mean that I'm fat, I know Im not. Yes I still have those final 15 pounds from my pregnancy, that technically its 9 months later I should've lost. And I firmly believe that I would have if I were still working, being a retail manager, man was I ever on my feet.

But alas! I have been home for 3 months now and I think i have exercised all of 3 times!!!! Ok so here are my excuses:
  • The only way I enjoy exercising is through dancing, and I am too broke and Kayla is too clingy for me to go to dance classes.
  • I dont like yoga, I am just not feeling all that breathing and stretching. Dont get me wrong, I have no doubt that it would work, I just dont like it.... and Jennifer not liking it = Jennifer not having any motivation to do it = Jennifer not doing it.
  • I am home now... which means I like to bake..... so while I dont eat as much fast food anymore I always get the itch for something sweet.... and baby when all you need is eggs, milk, sugar, and baking powder.........
  • I am just NOT self motivated.... at all when it comes to exercising, so unless someone is up my ass about it, not happening.
Soo yesterday I was watching TV in the living room with Tony and I caught the end of a commercial for the Pussycat Dolls Dance workout DVD... I looked at Tony and said "I want that". He looked at me like it was just going to be another one of my phases and said nothing.

Today, I don't remember why or what made me remember (I may have been watching MTV music videos which reminded me of dancing.....), I went on Amazon and I bought the DVD... there are actually two of them, one from 2009 and the one I saw the commercial for. They were $6.99 and $7.99 respectively. And since I am an Amazon Prime member free shipping <3 <3 <3 I figured that since they were that cheap they can't possibly be all that great but hey, they are still that cheap.

Out of curiosity I went on YouTube to see if there were any excerpts or something and the whole DVD from 2009 in parts was there. I started watching, and then I started doing. And i did for like 20 minutes. It was sooo much fun. I didnt feel like I was exercising and I was actually doing a routine. And since it wasnt just a dance routine the pace for learning the steps was actually perfect for me. The only thing that annoyed me from the routine that I was learning (Buttons) was that it was actually kind of short and once you learn it they do it over and over and over like 10/12 times. For me, being a dancer first and someone doing exercise a faaaar far 2nd, it got kind of boring. But there are 2 or 3 other routines that I didnt see yet so I am really excited.

And on the flip side Kayla was dancing with me!!!! Yes my 9 month old daughter is watching me, laughing, standing and moving while standing (which I interpret as dancing) lol. I only had to move her out of the way 2 or 3 times but she though I was playing with her.

Later, after Kayla REFUSED to take her afternoon nap and while i was just starting to prepare dinner I was sooo tired. And for an hour I couldnt figure out why. I was so out of it and my legs were starting to get sore, I was like WTF is going on???!?!?! And then FLASHLIGHT... DUH JEN DUH.... I had completely forgotten that I had done "exercise". It took so long to click together because in my mind I was just dancing, doing a routine, I completely missed the fact that I did "work". I was too busy trying to do the sexy roll bounce with pop to realize I was doing squats. Which is sooo totally awesome. So as I sit here my thighs are doing a slow burn (my calves feel better after a hot bath) and I hope Im not tooo sore tomorrow.... and I cant wait for my DVD's to come on .... oh snap, I just checked my Amazon account and the new DVD should be here tomorrow with the 2009 one the following day. Oh yeah!!! I <3 Amazon.

The sad part is though.... that I only worked out for 20 minutes and I am this sore.... speaks to how out of shape I am. But maybe this blog can be my motivator... it give me "someone" to report to.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hi, my name is Jennifer

Hi ......

My name is Jennifer....... where do I start?????
Let's see. I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, but I consider myself a Dominican since both my parents were born and raised in the Dominican Republic. I was really only born in P.R. to take advantage of the fact that its an annex of the USA. My mom flew over to have me (so I would be born an American) and then flew back as soon as I was old enough to fly.

I am 24 years old even though the thought that I am going to be 25 is beyond my mental grasp right now. I have 2 loves. Well 3 really but 2 are the most important. I am a mom (i still don't fully "feel" like a mom) to a beautiful and smart 9 month old baby girl named Kayla Raquel. She is really truly gorgeous, but that is for yet another post.

The father of my baby girl, my very own knight in shining armor, is Antonio, but we shall call him Tony cause that is what he prefers. Unless of course I am mad at him then I yell at him in spanish accented angry words and call him by his whole name. We have been together 3 years and 4 months. He calls me his wifey, but who knows, if things get better financially I might just actually become his wife in 2 or 3 years <3

My 3rd love is cooking and baking. I dont know which one I like more. I love the creative outlet baking allows in decorating and serving, and the math nerd in me loves the precision that is required. But I also love the freeness that you get in cooking, throw away the measuring cups and just go with your senses of sight, smell, touch, and taste. Equally important to me is people eating and enjoying my food.

I will admit, I do not like to clean. I prefer to organize. But straight cleaning, washing dishes, mopping, no not really.

On October 5, 2011, the DAY before I my 5 year anniversary at the Gap, I got fired. It was equal parts mistakes on my behalf, beaurocratic bull shit, and ass covering that got me fired. But some things are for the better. Im broke now, but watching my own daughter grow is payment enough.

So I have been home for 3 months now, and hence this blog. I spend A LOT of time on my laptop on the living room couch, reading, window shopping, buying on Amazon, on Facebook, and now Pinterest, while i simultaneaously watch Food Network & HGTV.

And now to boot, baby its getting cold outside. So bye bye random trips to the park and severely curbs my desire to go on play date. So....... I stay at home now. My journey of adjusting of going from working 50 hours a weeks managing a staff of 50 in a NYC retail store to watching my daughter and trying to entertain myself while being broke. If you are bored enough to be following me, kudos and thanks!!!