thesmilinlife

Thoughts of a 20-something


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Breastfeeding

Prior to giving birth, I was 100% on board with breastfeeding. It’s the most natural option for feeding your baby, it’s free, and it helps form a bond between you and your newborn unlike any other. (note, I would never judge anyone for choosing to formula feed or not to breast feed in general. But for me, this was never an option.)

I was naive in thinking that breastfeeding would come so easily and would simply work. You hear some stories about women having difficulty, but that absolutely would not happen to me. You know that sometimes you don’t produce enough milk but that was not an option for me. I was made for breeding; everyone said so (seriously, Travis once said he picked me because I had good hips and would be able to give him babies. come on)

Breastfeeding started out okay. Charlie didn’t want to eat initially and we were told her stomach and intestines were so full of meconium and amniotic fluid that she just needed time. When she did latch, she ate voraciously. We had no issues with going home after only 24 hours in the hospital, and thought things were going great.

Fast forward to Saturday night and me sobbing uncontrollably with my daughter screaming in my arms feeling like an absolute failure. I hadn’t been able to nurse her for hours. Every time I put her to a breast, she would start screaming, waving her arms, and kicking her legs. It felt like she was rejecting me. I felt like a failure as a mother and a woman. I called the lactation consultants at the hospital we had delivered at 4 am and left a message.

We got a call back early in the morning after getting no sleep and had an appointment for that morning with the lactation consultant. I was so thankful that she could get us in right away. Of course, as soon as we go to latch and figure out what is going on, Charlie latches fine and eats just like there had been no issues at all (ugh of course she performs when we had an audience). The consultant was wonderful and gave us some recommendations for the future, and we were off, feeling much more hopeful than we were when we arrived.

Sunday evening got even worse. We called the pediatrician at 2 am to try and decide what to do. We were told to pump and give her any milk that came out in a bottle. This sounded like yet another way that I had failed. I cried the entire time that I was hooked up to the pump. It felt so unnatural, and I felt so miserable, and defeated. Prior to giving birth and all of this ordeal I had been adamant that we wouldn’t use bottles or any sort of “unnatural feeding” for at least the first 3 weeks. I didn’t want to cause nipple confusion or do anything that would interfere with my breastfeeding plan.

After several pumping sessions and bottles to my newborn, we had an appointment to check her weight with the pediatrician Monday afternoon. I showed up with puffy eyes and couldn’t help crying as we sat in the room talking to the nurse and then the doctor. I felt so much like a failure. And sure, everyone was nice, saying that breastfeeding is hard and I can’t expect it to go well right from the start and both Charlie and I are learning how to do this and so on… but I was convinced they were just being nice and I was a failure. We went home with the plan of seeing the lactation consultant on Tuesday and pumping/bottle feeding as needed.

I know that the important thing was feeding my infant. Obviously, that’s the priority, especially with my little peanut who needed to put on weight so badly. I knew that she wasn’t going to starve and that I was making sure that she was staying alive and doing what was best for her… but my plan was ruined. I was so hormonal and constantly on the verge of tears that my parents, husband and even the doctor were worried about postpartum depression. The only saving grace was that my unhappiness was linked solely to breastfeeding.

Tuesday morning, after a long discussion with Travis, we opted to try not pumping, as that was causing me so much distress. Our main goal was still to breastfeed. We tried this first before pumping and a bottle to see how she would take to it. I was nervous that she would have a hard time going back to the breast after using bottles for the past day, but luckily she took it just fine.

At the lactation consultant’s, of course, Charlie did great. Again she had some recommendations for us and was able to help with latch issues that we had (ANYONE who tells you breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt initially is a LIAR. Getting a perfect latch is difficult at first, and even if you do no one is used to having their nipples sucked on so frequently and so hard.) She was a big help and suggested we use a My Brest Friend nursing pillow. (which we love and went and got one right after we left). Ever since then, Charlie and I have been on a much better path with breastfeeding and have been doing better.

What is most upsetting to me is that Prior to giving birth, no one talks about how HARD it is to breastfeed. Sure, you can read some success stories that discuss the difficulty as it’s kind of glossed over. Sure, you can read stories of women who have given up, but the actual difficulties and the real discussions about how truly difficult breastfeeding usually is aren’t there. There’s so much pressure these days to breastfeed and you hear all of the benefits of it to both mom and baby. You hear thst its such a wonderful experience. It’s upsetting. I know that there are support groups and there are places and friends that people can turn to in order to have these real discussions but what about the woman who doesn’t have someone to turn to? What about the woman who gives up quickly and decides that breastfeeding isn’t for them, but is left feeling like a failure?

These are the discussions that need to be had. These are the stories that need to be read. I wish there was more of a platform for these very important, very real discussions.

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Charlotte’s birth

“Oh my god I have a baby!” I said this about a hundred times in the first 24 hours after giving birth. Are they really trusting me with a newborn? I get to take home this precious life that I created?

Giving birth was one of the hardest, scariest, most rewarding experiences that I have ever gone through. Here’s my birth story, more for my own memory than anything else. (it’s already starting to gloss over so I want to make sure to remember it as well as possible.)

Tuesday my water broke at noon. i was walking down in to the basement to switch laundry out. I actually was able to hear a pop as my water broke and next thing I know, it feels like I’m wetting myself. I was to meet my aunt at 1230 for lunch, so my first call was to her to cancel (I wish I hadn’t cancelled). Next phone call was to doctor to see what they wanted me to do, and then to hubby. My aunt came to pick me up and bring me to the doctor, where they tested the fluid to make sure it was in fact my water breaking.

Well, it was. (the feeling is pretty unmistakable, but having not felt it before I wasn’t 100% sure obviously). Doc also checked how dilated I was to see how far along I was. I was 1cm dilated and very posterior. They sent me down to the hospital where I checked in around 1:30.

Upon checking in, I told the nurses and docs what my doctors had said about how far along I was. They brought me right down to labor and delivery and got me comfortable. Travis had rushed off of work and came quickly. My mom and sister also came right away. I had the best support system ever between the three of them.

The hospital always give an IV to their moms. They had a hard time finding a vein that worked for me, and ended up putting it in my hand which wasn’t comfortable and included a TON of tape to keep it on. Not fun. I was having irregular contractions and they weren’t too terribly painful. I would walk around the hallways and try to keep my mind off of them. The doctor said I could eat and my mom and sister went to pick up Chipotle around 5. (This was a bad idea).

My contractions started getting stronger around 7. They were more frequent and more painful, to the point where I threw up the dinner that I had. The nurse said I was throwing up because I wasn’t breathing correctly, but I think that at least part of it was due to the pain as well. I should have eaten prior to going to the hospital, not while I was there.

Around 9, the doctor came in to check how far dilated I was again. Unfortunately, I had made no progress and was still 1 cm and very posterior. I was starting to get more painful contractions and it was hard for me to relax. In fact, I was kind of writhing in pain with each one. The nurse and doctor were recommending something to help me with the pain and to help me sleep. I got the shot and started dozing off around 9:30. I’d be woken up every so often by a contraction as they were getting worse and worse. Around 1 am, the nurse came in and started talking to us and decided that she wanted to check how far along I was. When she checked me, she looks up and says “You’re going to have a baby!”

I remember being so confused, and saying “wait, I know I’m having a baby, but when?” She ran out in to the hallway to get my mother and sister who had since gone to the waiting room. Everyone came rushing back in to find out I was 9cm dilated and ready to start pushing.

Around 1:45 or so, my nurse and doctors had me all set up to start pushing. Travis was on my right holding my leg and helping me breathe, my mom was on my left holding my leg and helping me breathe, and my sister helped by giving me an oxygen mask in between contractions. As each contraction came up, everyone helped time my breathing and pushing. It worked! Within 20 minutes, Charlie was crowning and the doctor was yelling at me to slow down and not push so hard. (Which, by the way, is physically impossible. When you get the urge to push, there is NOTHING that will stop it.) After that, I felt some of the worst pain of my life and Charlie was half out, the next contraction and my baby was being placed in my arms. 2:16 AM, my darling baby girl was born. 6 pounds, 5 ounces.

One more big push to pass the placenta, and Travis was cutting the cord as my sweet baby girl cried in my arms. I had some tearing, so the docs numbed me up and gave me some stitches. Within an hour or so I was getting up to use the rest room, my baby was cleaned up and Travis and I were in absolute awe with our little girl. I was moved to recovery at 5am and settled in to the room that would be my home for the next day. We got very lucky in that my labor and delivery not only went quick (once it started moving), but we loved the doctors and nurses that we had and were able to go home on Friday.

 

It’s hard to describe accurately the amount of pain that was experienced. It’s difficult to explain the overwhelming joy that is felt. It’s impossible to accurately capture with words the emotions that are felt with such an incredible event. It hurt. It hurt more than anything I had felt before, but it a pain that I would happily go through again knowing that it brought such joy in to my life.


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Pre-Baby Freezer Meals

With a my due date looming, it’s time to really start preparing for the post-baby stress and lack of time that I know is coming. I’ve been reading tons about freezer meals and prepping them (and I did a batch of crockpot freezer meals not too long ago which turned out great.), so I’m putting together my list of what I’m making including my shopping list here. Recipes will be linked for references. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, something that I never skip out on. For lunch, I usually like to have a salad or some leftovers. Dinner I like to be adventurous, and for right now I need to concentrate on time-saving!

Breakfast

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread – Hubby doesn’t like Pumpkin, so even though I’m going to double this recipe, I’ll be making sure to freeze it sliced so that I don’t have to pull out the whole loaf at once.

Breakfast Burritos – This is more for Hubby, but something quick and easy that we can both appreciate.

Spinach and Cheese Strata – This looks so fabulous, and would be a perfect weekend meal for hubby and me.

Dinner

Italian bake – Recipe is linked for a gluten free version, but just trade out for regular rotini pasta and it works just the same. I used vegetable pasta, and doubled the recipe to make 2. Just something that my mom has thrown together. But I will bake it into a tin pan so that it’s easy cleanup and can go straight from freezer to oven.

French Dip Sandwiches – This looks so simple and easy. Just need hoagie rolls fresh and probably some cheese. SO easy!

Pineapple BBQ Chicken – I love things that are so few ingredients. Not only cost efficient, but easy for me or hubby to get together.

Mexican Stuffed Shells – This looks so fabulous. I love Mexican food and to put it in such an easy and portable shell will be super convenient.

Chicken Tortilla Soup – This is something that I’ve made before and I know how delicious it is. Never put it in a freezer meal before, but I can imagine it’ll freeze super well.

 

shopping list : this includes the basic pantry staples that you likely have, such as salt and some basic spices.

Normally I like to do about 15 of these at once… but when I’m 9 months pregnant, I get much more tired, much more quickly. I think starting with these recipes will make for a busy afternoon, give me some starting food, and leave me with enough energy to still get some other stuff done during the day…. hopefully.

Update at the end of the day… I made 5 of these 7 recipes before my feet and back screamed at me to stop. I’ll finish the last two tomorrow, and update with more info in general.

Total shopping cost: $140. Total time in kitchen today: 2 hours. Yield: 2 Italian bakes, the strata, the BBQ chicken, chicken tortilla soup, Mexican stuffed shells and french dip.

 

Update the next day after everything is done:

This was great. I think grand total I spent 3 active hours in the kitchen. My freezer is pretty well stocked, and I’m really happy with everything. Here’s my schedule of how I went through these recipes:

First thing, I did the dump-recipes… you know, the ones that you thaw, throw in the crock pot and then leave all day. This includes the french dip, the chicken tortilla soup, and the bbq chicken. Then I tackled the italian bakes and the strata. The italian bake is an easy recipe to double, so I made two of them, and the strata was nice and easy as well. It did involve some sauteing, but this went quick. I put these 3 things in a tin pan and covered with foil to freeze. Finally, I got to work on the stuffing for the mexican stuffed shells. I decided to freeze the stuffing on its own, knowing that I can thaw this to stuff the shells anytime.

Today, I tackled the parts that I knew were going to take awhile. I started the pumpkin bread first and ended up baking it in a bundt pan. This is still cooling on the stove, but I cannot wait to try it! I also did the breakfast burritos. I knew that wrapping and freezing individually would take me awhile, and wanted to get everything done at once. They didn’t take as long as I had expected, although the recipe did not yield as many burritos as the recipe had said. (I got 9 and it claims to give 16…. These are mostly for hubby so maybe I stuffed them a little more than I should have?)

For all of these recipes, we’ll get several meals from them (the half-pans should each yield at least 5 servings, and the stuffed shells looks like it’ll be a huge amount of food), which makes me think we’ll be fairly set for food for a couple of weeks! not including any generosity from family and friends. I’m super pleased with everything, including the cost! Hubby even said good job 😉

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YNAB

As a follow up to me being a bad millennial, I wanted to share my experience with You Need a Budget. I feel so strongly about this app that I think it’s important to have yet anther positive review out there for it.

When Travis and I realized that we wanted to get our finances in order, we looked at multiple options to help us budget. The biggest factor that pushed us toward YNAB was my cousin telling us about how much she liked it. We signed up for the free trial the next day, and I started attending the classes as soon as I could with my schedule.

The first thing that I noticed was that there’s a learning curve.

While any budgeting app will be helpful to keep your purchases fresh in your mind, The more frequently/often that you use YNAB, the better it will be long term. Saving up your purchases and logging them in bulk at the end of the month won’t be as helpful as logging them daily or weekly. Once you realize the benefits of logging your purchases regularly, you really start to see the benefits.

Which brings me to the next thing that I realized, budgeting with two people is hard.

When Travis and I first started budgeting we had different ideas about what would constitute a “Long-Term Goal” and what would be an “everyday expense”. Coming to an agreement took a bit of time and some compromise from both of us. The good thing was that we were both able to agree on our major savings goals and what our priorities were as far as paying off debts. Once we agreed on categories, there’s the issue of making sure that the register is updated regularly. No matter what, that has to come down to both people involved. This is an ongoing thing that needs to be done. I recommend logging purchases as you make them, or at the VERY least, weekly when you update the budget.

Realization number 3: A budget needs to be flexible and worked on regularly.

I mentioned in my last post that we have an unexpected amount that we owe to taxes (think thousands, not hundreds ugh). But aside from the initial panic of owing money, we know that we’ll be okay and can redistribute our finances and budget as needed. When we had some emergency pet or car troubles, we know that we’ll be fine and that everything will be okay. But it takes work and discussion and a certain amount of flexibility. I’m not always good with the flexibility (have I mentioned I’m a control freak?), but I’m getting better at it and know that it’s better to be flexible than to go in to debt for an emergency situation.

 

Bottom line, YNAB has changed our life. Our relationship has improved, we no longer fight about money, and we have a certain level of security. We’ve increased our net worth by 5x in a year, and we know that emergency situations happen and are preparing for them. I would spend hundreds on YNAB, and I highly recommend everyone else try it. Give it a full month before deciding for or against it.


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I’m a bad millennial…

Sometimes I worry that I’m young-adulting wrong.

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I always feel like I’m adulting wrong to begin with. Like, shouldn’t I still be in high school and worrying about dating idiots, not worrying about bills and how to make ends meet? People say that high school years are the best years of your life, and while I disliked high school, I miss being worry-free. Now, with bills, family obligations, work stress… I’m more stressed out and crazy than I’ve ever been before.

But then I read stories about everyone who lives paycheck to paycheck and who has thousands of dollars in credit card debt. I feel like I’m doing it wrong.

I mean, I have zero credit card debt. In fact, the only debt I have is my car and my student loans. My husband had credit card debt that we paid off within months thanks to some hardcore budgeting. We managed to put away all of my income from summer school last year, and have a nice little pocket of savings money thanks to that. We pay our bills each month and have some extra play money left over. Are we rich? Hell no. Are we comfortable? yes.

We go without for some things. Or, rather, we wait for them and save our money when we can. We have a baby on the way and I have 6 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Are we nervous? Yes, but I know that we’ll be okay.

I hear horror stories from my friends about maxed out credit cards and not being able to buy groceries because they’ve spent all their paycheck before it even comes in. That terrifies me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m such a control freak or what, but I can’t even fathom this.

It’s tax time and my husband and I have a huge surprise amount that we have to pay to both federal and state taxes. And while this is definitely not fun or something we were counting on, we have the money. We were counting on it for other purposes, but we can redistribute our plans and make sure that we will manage.

Do we still live paycheck to paycheck? well, yes. We plan out each dollar that we make and we budget(although sometimes hubby doesn’t stick to this as strictly as he should). We prioritize and we discuss money often. Occasionally this leads to arguments, but in general our fights about money have lessened.

I’m attribute a lot of our success to You Need A Budget. If you’ve never heard of it, try it out. It’s a strict budgeting app that seriously has made a huge difference for us. We’re slightly addicted, and recognize that without it we would not have been able to increase our net worth more than 5x in the past year. Nor would we realize exactly how much we spend on things like groceries, clothes, or dates. It’s truly amazing.

But when I compare myself to others in my age group, I worry that I’m not living life to the fullest. I don’t go on crazy vacations regularly that put me in to debt. I don’t buy ridiculously expensive handbags or jewelry unless I have that money set aside. And I don’t stress about emergency financial hiccups that come up…. which brings up the question, am I young-adulting wrong? Or are they?

Financial security is not something that I have achieved yet. But it is something that I’m working hard toward. And isn’t that part of what we are all supposed to be heading toward? The ability to buy a house, or a car and not have to worry (much). Or have kids and a steady job. Or be able to go on a vacation and not panic about making rent. So here’s to the ones who feel like they don’t young-adult properly. Believe me, you’re doing it right.

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Update

It’s been months. It feels like it’s been an entire lifetime. Highlights:

Pregnant – Ahhh first pregnancy. Due 5/8/16. Hubby and I are so thrilled and minorly terrified. I’ve never seen DH so happy and actually showing his emotions. He tends to be a very quiet internal person but he’s really super excited. As much excitement as I feel, I’m also nervous. We are just entering the third trimester and it’s getting real. I guess it’s time to put together the nursery a bit more and to make sure that we have the house settled!!

2nd year teaching Algebra – and man, is this year ever different from last year. The students that I have are polar opposites – this year they are polite and respectful, whereas last year… well it was a rough year to begin with.

Moose has passed away – poor puppy had some pretty advanced lung cancer by the time we caught it. He was put down shortly after Christmas, which was the right decision. We miss him desperately, and are heartbroken that our daughter will never meet him, but are so thankful for the 5 years that we did get to spend with the best dog in the world.

Honestly, I suppose that’s it. Mostly, I’m reviving this because of the pregnancy and impending family. I’d always meant to get more into blogging and I haven’t really made it a priority. I’d like to change that now.

So far, everything has been fairly textbook – normal symptoms (lucky me, I avoided most of the terrible morning sickness), normal check ups. I’m counting down the days to meet our daughter, and it can’t come nearly fast enough. At the same time, I don’t want to wish away this time as well.

I watched my coworker’s wife through her pregnancy last year. It was a hard pregnancy and I feel very blessed that mine hasn’t been terrible. I’d almost say that I’ve nejoyed being pregnant (although, its definitely not the best… I miss running. I miss bending over and painting my toenails and shaving my legs. And I miss a glass of wine with dinner. But the end result will be worth it right?). At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Here’s to the next 3 months and an entire lifetime after that!


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Lobster mac and cheese

Lobster is on sale and has been for weeks. Our local store has it for 5.99/pound….so we stock up. We had about 2.5 lbs of frozen lobster meat (often, the store will cook the lobsters for you. Then you just need to shell them! That’s what we did.). My mom and I were trying to figure out what to do with it and were thinking lobster mac and cheese would be phenomenal. We started doing research but couldn’t find a lightened up version of mac and cheese. We ended up making up our own. And it was amazing! Not only will we be making this again, but we will be making it again asap!!!

(I want to add that I don’t really consider this healthy- is mac and cheese ever truly healthy? You’re combining a huge amount of processed carbs with a huge amount of cheese – high calorie and definitely not a daily thing. But this is my lightened up version which will be a rare treat. I hope you enjoy!)

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Recipe

Ingredients
(all measurements are approximations. My mom and I rarely measure. Oops)
2 cups fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded cheddar
6oz fontina (swiss would work)
2.5 lbs lobster
1/2 cup milk of choice (we did almond milk because it’s what we had.) (Optional)
Dash nutmeg
Dash chili powder
Salt and pepper
16oz whole grain pasta
1 cup Panko  bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesian cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Boil pasta to package directions. Combine cheeses (minus parmesian), milk, nutmeg and chili powder and heat over medium low. You just want everything to melt together.

Taste cheese and add liquid, salt and pepper to suit  (we did 2 spoonfuls of pasta water).

Mic breadcrumbs and parmesian cheese.

In a lightly greased 9×13 pan, combine lobster meat and pasta. Pour cheese mixture over and stir until well mixed. Top with breadcrumb mixture and bake approximately 20 minutes, until top is brown and crispy.

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Oh my god. This was so good. And honestly not terribly unhealthy haha. My dad doesn’t like Greek yogurt but loved this-went back for seconds. My mom and I each had seconds. We served this with roasted baby squash. SO GOOD!

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(I’m doing the 21 day fix and, no, this is probably not on plan. But if I’m guessing, a 1 cup serving would be 1.5 yellows, 1 red and 1 blue. At least that’s what I count it as. And I won’t have a blue tomorrow…. and won’t feel guilty!!)