Category Archives: Pregnancy & Parenting

Happy Mother’s Day!

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day…that I knew about. One year ago today we found out about our sweet little Cupcake.

May 15th will always be a special day for our family.

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We bought a house in 2015.

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We became godparents in 2016.

We actually became godparents on the same day we realized we were parents. That is so special.

Looking at that picture above was what made me take a pregnancy test, actually. Was I just bloated, or could it possibly be…?

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I posted this picture on social media as a “one year later” happy homeowner pic. Truthfully, this is the first photo of us as parents. After that first positive pregnancy test. After going to the store to get another one to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

I wish we could find out about our babies the moment they’re conceived, but we are not that advanced yet. To find out the real exact moment we become parents. Those lines on a home pregnancy test (or 3) will have to do.

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From the moment the strip turned pink I was a different person. A mother.

I was carrying my child. My parents’ and in-laws’ grandchild. My siblings’ & siblings-in-laws’ niece. My friends’ godchild. So loved by everyone well before she came out of my body.

Not a ‘potential’; no longer just a hope & prayer. A real, living human being. 46 chromosomes. Irreplaceable & unrepeatable.

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Today, I’ve been a mom for a whole year.

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Why Having A Freezer Stash Of Milk Before Returning To Work Is Important

My maternity leave was 12 weeks long – which isn’t very long at all! I started thinking about it being over even before it started. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed Cupcake for as long as possible & therefore would need to pump milk for her to eat while I was away from her.

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Having a freezer stash before returning to work is important for two reasons: baby needs to eat (duh!), & mama needs peace of mind.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lactation expert or health professional. The views expressed here are only my personal opinion & what worked for me. Nursing & parenting are not one-size-fits-all, so please do what is best for you & your family!

The first day back to work is stressful enough without having to worry about how your baby is going to eat on your second day back to work. If you have at least a week’s amount of food in the freezer you will feel a lot better. I know I did.

Some of the blogs/articles I read prior to returning to work say that you only really have to have a couple days’ worth of milk in the fridge/freezer before you go back to work. That’s technically true, since you will be pumping at work to replace the milk your baby drinks.

I personally wasn’t totally comfortable with that idea. I just kept thinking my baby would run out of milk or be hungry. Or that pumping wouldn’t work out well. My first day back at work was the first time I was away from my daughter for 10+ hours (8 hours of work, 1 hour of lunch, plus the commute). Sure I had left her with her grandparents a few time while I was on maternity leave, but never for more than like 4-5 hours. They’d ask me how often she eats & when she had to eat next & I would just say, “I don’t know, when she seems hungry just go ahead & feed her 4 oz.”

I wasn’t even totally sure about the 4 oz part – I only said that because I freeze milk in 4oz increments. When she’s with me she eats as much as she wants, whenever she wants, & it’s nearly impossible to tell how much she’s really eating. Only that she’s eating enough.

My first day at work I had no idea how much or how often she’d really eat. Every 3 hours? 4? While I didn’t love the uncertainty, I didn’t see it as a total negative. When I’m with her I 100% nurse on demand & never look to the clock before offering the boob. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now that I’ve been back to work for a while, I know that Cupcake usually eats three 4oz bottles while she’s away from me. So 1 week’s worth of milk is 60oz. I had about 80oz of milk in the freezer before I returned to work, which I knew would be enough.

There are lots of ways to go about building a freezer stash, but here’s what worked for me: I pumped at least once a day.

That’s it.

Now, I started pumping when Cupcake was 1 week old due to engorgement issues. Many moms do wait until nursing is well established, 3-4 weeks, before pumping & bottle feeding. My milk came in all at once on day 3. Cupcake actually lost too much weight her first week because I was so engorged she couldn’t latch properly. I met with a lactation nurse & we got pumping and feeding down pat. Thankfully Cupcake did not experience any nipple confusion, considering I started pumping & bottle feeding earlier than most. I’ve been very blessed that our breastfeeding relationship has gone smoothly after those first rocky weeks.

To build my stash, I didn’t try to pump 3-4 times a day or get on any kind of schedule or anything. Once Cupcake was feeding properly, I just made sure I pumped 1-3 ounces a day during my maternity leave. Some days I pumped more than others (whether it was more ounces, or more times), but not with the intention of purposely growing my stash. What I mean is that while I do think it’s important to build a stash, I didn’t stress about it. I built it slowly over my entire leave, only dipping in to it a handful of times before returning to work. Hey, date nights are important!

Having that much breastmilk in the freezer did wonders for my mental health returning back to work. Pumping is very different from nursing, especially when you’re at work. You have to get into a nursing mindset while being far away from your baby & using a loud mechanical device. If you’re too anxious about how many ounces you need to pump, this works against your body & you may pump less. Since I knew this before I returned to work, I tried to set myself up for success by having a nice freezer stash. That way if pumping took a little while to get the hang of, I could still give my baby breastmilk exclusively.

To this day I pump once a day, in the morning, & add that milk to my freezer stash (which now that we are using it to feed Cupcake while I’m at work is no where near 80oz!).

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The hard work of pumping is totally worth it!

Nursing Mommy’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Cupcake is 2+ months old & growing like a weed! It’s very satisfying to look at her double chin & chunky legs & know that I did that.

Thankfully breastfeeding is going very well with little intervention from me, but every now & then I’ll drink some Mother’s Milk tea or malta to ‘help’ my supply. I haven’t actually had any supply issues, but eating yummy galactagogues can’t hurt.

What’s a galactagogue, you ask?

Milk

Do galactagogues really work? It’s debatable. I am not a doctor or a lactation expert, so please consult a professional if you are having any issues breastfeeding. The list of foods classified as galactagogues is long & includes lots of healthy & delicious foods. A lot of very common foods are on it, so there’s a good chance any breastfeeding mom is already consuming at least some.

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I’ve also been drinking this shake from time to time. It’s a nice treat between meals. This shake has ground flax seed & puffed wheat, two of the aforementioned galactagogues. Ground flax is not just good for lactation – it’s full of omega 3 & fiber. I’ve been putting it into all sorts of things from drinks to baked goods & even pizza. The shake also has peanut butter for protein & a packet of chocolate Carnation Breakfast Essentials. I’ve made similar shake recipes with cocoa powder instead, but the Carnation stuff is much tastier & full of vitamins. Now, this isn’t exactly a health food. I called it a shake instead of a smoothie for a reason! I used sweetened puffed wheat & regular Carnation stuff, but you can use unsweetened puffed wheat & no-sugar-added Carnation to cut down on the sugar.

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One packet of the breakfast powder makes 2 servings of this shake, so I either share with my husband or blend everything but the ice together & save half in the fridge to blend later.

Is this shake going to help with breastfeeding? I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you it is tasty & fun!

Nursing Mommy’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Makes 2 servings
  • 2 Tb Peanut Butter
  • 2 Tb Flax Seed
  • 1 cup Puffed Wheat
  • 1 packet Chocolate Carnation Breakfast Essentials
  • 1 cup milk
  • ice
  1. Blend all ingredients except ice together for a few minutes.
  2. Add ice, blend until desired consistency.

 


Even though I’m posting more intermittently than ever, I was touched to see this:

100 followers

Thank you for all the follows ❤

Meet Our Little Cupcake

I have a really good reason for being M.I.A. lately.

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Our little Cupcake was born in January.

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We are head over heels in love with this little girl.

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She has taught me so much about life in the few weeks she’s been here.

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God is so good ❤


Pictures by  Love Photography by Cara, Inc.

Check them out if you’re in the South Florida area!

Pregnant Tiramisu

I have been pretty good this pregnancy about following the guidelines of what not to eat. Not too paranoid, but definitely avoiding the basics.

No alcohol. No cold cuts. No sushi. Limited caffeine. Nothing with raw eggs.

Raw eggs is one that seems straight forward, but isn’t. Meringue frosting? Raw egg whites. Homemade mayonnaise dressings? Probably has raw eggs. Tiramisu? RAW EGGS.

I had never made tiramisu before, but earlier in my pregnancy I had a hankering for it & looked up some recipes to see if I could substitute the obvious non-pregnancy friendly ingredients out. I was surprised when nearly every recipe called for raw egg yolks, & some also use the raw egg whites!

I figured tiramisu was just one more thing I’d have to add to my  ‘No’ list. Until I came across this post by Lily from Little Sweet Baker. She did it! An amazing egg-free tiramisu recipe! With a few substitutions, baby & I could enjoy tiramisu after all!

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Not only is this recipe safe for pregnancy, it’s also amazingly simple – which is great since pregnancy brain is in full swing around here. To make the tiramisu truly pregnancy friendly I used decaf espresso & omitted the liquor. My husband & I switched to decaf espresso when we found out about the baby, so that was no issue. I also increased the amount of vanilla extract a little to ‘make up’ for the liquor taste.

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I ended up making this recipe several weeks ago when we had some friends over to watch a football game & it was a big hit! One of my friends is really sensitive to caffeine & was grateful for a decaf tiramisu recipe. So it’s not just pregnancy friendly!

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Serve with a decaf cappuccino & have yourself an (almost) authentic Italian night!

Pregnant Tiramisu

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups decaf espresso, cooled
  • lady fingers
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla extract.. Add mixture to whipped cream and beat again until smooth.
  3. Dip each lady finger into the cooled espresso. Do not soak too long or they will get soggy. Line a 9×9 square baking dish with a layer of dipped lady fingers.
  4. Spread half of the cream mixture over the lady fingers. Repeat another layer of lady fingers & cream. Chill for a minimum of 4 hours, best if overnight.
  5. Dust with cocoa powder before serving. (If you do this before chilling the tiramisu, like I accidentally did, it will still be delicious! Just a little less pretty.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I have more to be thankful for than ever!

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I’m so thankful for my family, especially my baby girl!

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Less than 9 weeks left to go!

I thank God for all these blessings & hope everyone has a wonderful holiday filled with love. ❤

Celebration Week!

This week is full of celebrations!

So many birthdays this week. Several of my friends have birthdays around this time.

My cat turned 11!

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My niece turned 4!

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& I’m 28!

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However, these are not the biggest celebrations of the week.

The biggest celebration is on Friday, the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment!

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For almost a year now I’ve been working with Secular Pro Life on a special project, #HelloHyde.

Enacted in 1976, the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding of abortion through Medicaid. It has received BIPARTISAN support every year since. This election year, it is under attack.

We are putting faces to the statistics thrown around by both sides. The abortion lobby says that the Hyde amendment oppresses poor women.

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We say that 1 in 9 of these people would not be alive if it weren’t for the Hyde amendment.

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So what the abortion lobby really mean is that 2.13 million people would have been killed if it weren’t for the Hyde Amendment.

My parents immigrated to the US from Communist Cuba while my mom was pregnant with me. My mom was never going to abort me, but if Medicaid did cover abortions, how many women in similar low income/limited resources situations would feel pressured to ‘take the easy way out’? Would someone have tried to talk my parents, poor immigrants without a penny to their name, into aborting me for free?

Abortion affects many generations. My niece & I are both Medicaid Kids, & I am currently pregnant, though not using Medicaid. Just because our parents were experiencing hardship around the time we were born, doesn’t mean we didn’t deserve the right to life.

How is repealing the Hyde Amendment NOT socioeconomic discrimination?

The Hyde Amendment shows women that might be facing less-than-desirable pregnancies that they CAN do it, & there are programs that can help.

Thank you to the Charlotte Lozier Institute  & Dr. Michael New for their study. The data was also broken up by state. Here’s Florida’s number:

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Find your state meme on Facebook.

We also have a YouTube video to share.

On Friday, September 30, we will be having a tweet fest. We encourage Medicaid kids to share their picture with the name tag found on hellohyde.org. We encourage anyone who’s not a Medicaid kid to retweet as much as they can & share the graphics.

See you at the party on Twitter! Happy 40th birthday, Hyde!


What’s next now that the anniversary has passed? Read here for the next phase of our mission!

It’s A…

GIRL!

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We prayed for 1.5 years for you. Our wished-for child.

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Our little cupcake ❤

Response To “So you’re thinking of voting for a pro-choice candidate…”

This election is ridiculous. I’m not going to pretend it’s not. I know I have only voted in 2 elections so far, but this one seems like one of those that the history books are going to be highlighting.

When I was in middle school, my classmates took a poll on who the students would vote for if they could. I was one of like 5 kids that said George W. Bush. Florida might geographically be in the South, but it’s a purple state at best & I definitely live in a blue county. Of course, back then my ‘politics’ was shaped by my parents. In high school when we could finally register to vote our senior year, I registered as a Republican. When I finally could vote, I voted Republican. As I grew older & went on to attend the University of Florida, a liberal university, my stance as a conservative solidified & my pro-life advocacy started.

Being a Republican is not a part of my identity. Being a Christian is, & being pro-life is. I’m also a wife & mother – my baby is almost 16 weeks gestation. Now that you have a little bit of a background on me, I’ll go on.

I am not sure who I will be voting for in November this year. What I do know, is that it will NOT be Hillary Clinton.

This post by Rachel Held Evan is well written & thoughtful. I read a portion of it last night when a friend quoted the section on Evangelicals on Facebook. That part resonates with me 100%, and that list is among the many reasons I cannot endorse Trump as the candidate. I suggest that, like me, you read that section first. It’s at the very end. My favorite line is, “how you can oppose sexual immorality while shrugging off the transgressions of a strip club owner who brags about his sexual exploits and extramarital affairs and who publicly sexualized both of his daughters?” In my opinion, porn culture, rape culture, & abortion culture go hand-in-hand.

There are some things in Rachel’s post I do agree with, but my conclusion is vastly different from hers. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. “So even though I think abortion is morally wrong in most cases, and support more legal restrictions around it, I often vote for pro-choice candidates when I think their policies will do the most to address the health and economic concerns that drive women to get abortions in the first place. For me, it’s not just about being pro-birth; it’s about being pro-life. Every child deserves to live in a home and in a culture that welcomes them and can meet their basic needs. Every mother deserves the chance to thrive. Forcing millions of women to have children they can’t support, or driving them to Gosnell-style black market clinics, will not do.”

Abortion is wrong in ALL cases. Abortion is the willful termination of a human being’s life. Whether the fetus is disabled, will die shortly after birth, the result of rape, or simply ‘inconvenient’ does not matter. Just like all children & adults all deserve to be treated equally regardless of education, income, race, ability, & gender, all human fetuses should have the right to live. People conceived in rape do not deserve to die, just ask Rebecca Kiessling & her friends at Save The 1%.

I don’t think Rachel agrees with me & other pro-lifers about making abortion unthinkable. It is not enough to make it illegal. Saying that every child deserves”culture that welcomes them and can meet their basic needs” sounds nice, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Children conceived in poverty are no less disposable than poor adults. Some very influential people lived in poverty & overcame it. We need to change from a ‘culture of death’ with its abortion on demand, capital punishment, & doctor assisted suicide to a ‘culture of life’. In a culture of life, women wouldn’t feel “forced” to have babies – they would welcome their unexpected miracles & have support.

Rachel says, “voting pro-choice is not the same as voting for abortion.” The words are true, but the action is not. Democrats For Life thinks the Democrat platform for this election is too abortion focused. They are fighting for room for pro-life people & ideas in the ‘big tent’. They are fighting for a culture of life.

Hillary Clinton will not get us in that direction. She’s not even touting ‘safe, legal, and rare’ anymore. She wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which has received bipartisan support since enacted in 1976. Repealing the Hyde amendment would mean tax-payer funded abortions for women on Medicaid. My mom was on Medicaid when she had me. She needed medical care for her & for me – not an abortion (she has always been pro-life, but why should abortion even be an option under Medicaid?) I am currently a board member of #HelloHyde, a campaign celebrating the 40th anniversary of Hyde this year whose aim is to put faces to the statistics that Hyde opponents like to throw around.

Medicaid does bring me to a point that I agree with Rachel on:

2.”Pro-life advocates should support, rather than oppose, efforts to help low-income families care for their children.”

This is something I can get behind 100%. We should absolutely fight for paid family leave, better childcare options, programs such as Medicaid & WIC, better foster care systems, etc. But, in the mean time, babies still don’t deserve to die. Rachel gives an example of a poor mother of 2 who is struggling to make ends meet & finds herself pregnant for the 3rd time. Rachel seems to suggest that OF COURSE this woman should get an abortion! That doesn’t sound very Christian or pro-life to me. I don’t know Rachel personally, & am not jumping to conclusions from one blog post. I am just pointing out how ‘culture of death’ that sounds.

Rachel points out that Hillary has addressed a lot of these programs & even made them “a centerpiece of her campaign.” That’s great; I’m not saying Hillary is the devil & incapable of doing any good. But Hillary only wants these things after a person has passed the magical line between uterus & outside world. I feel like I have to say it again. Babies don’t have to die for us to have these programs. It’s not one or the other. Shame on Republican officials who turn their noses up at these programs under the guise of being concerned about ‘government handouts’. Jesus said in Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep & the goats, “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Well, the least of these absolutely includes unborn babies.

3.”if we want to dramatically reduce the abortion rate in this country, we must support efforts to make contraception more accessible and affordable.”

This is one topic that definitely divides pro-lifers. I need to play devil’s advocate for a second: some hormonal forms of birth control can have abortifacient effects. Hormonal birth control is not the same as Plan B, which is not the same as the abortion pill. But what hormonal birth control & Plan B can do, is prevent a zygote from implanting. If like me (and like science), you belief human life starts at conception, then some of these products are unacceptable. Not to mention that hormonal birth control can also have some crazy side effects. I don’t judge anyone for using it, but I am pointing out to Rachel some of the reasons why this is just not a valid option in a lot of pro-lifer’s eyes.

That being said, barrier methods of birth control should be accessible to all, and people should know how to use them correctly. Regardless of whatever personal views people might have about sex, there should be some education on it. However, I certainly don’t trust Planned Parenthood to be the educators. Especially when they are constantly covering up statutory rape cases, refusing to report when girls as young as 13 are brought in for abortions, and telling 15 year olds it’s ok to let your partner beat you for pleasure. Well, guess who 100% supports Planned Parenthood & continually fights to keep them government funded? Hillary. Planned Parenthood calls her “Our Nation’s Best Presidential Candidate for Reproductive Rights, Hands Down.” So before conflicted pro-lifers such as myself head to the polls in November, they should know that the organization that kills over 200,000 babies a year thinks Hillary is amazing.

Rachel is right in saying that neither Trump nor Hillary are our pro-life saviors. I’m not looking for a savior, I have a savior. I disagree with her position that Hillary will be better for us to keep the abortion rate down. I don’t think that fact is being helped by Washington, DC, where the supreme court just said it’s OK for abortion clinics not to follow the same standards as other surgical centers. Are we going to drop the ‘safe’ part of ‘safe, legal, & rare’, too? What about the justices that next year’s president will appoint?

Rachel basically argues that the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. I disagree in this instance. Like I said, I don’t know Rachel Held Evan at all. Also like I said I don’t yet know who I will vote for in November. Maybe I will vote for Gary Johnson. Yes, he’s pro-choice, but he is for repealing Roe vs Wade, for late term abortion restrictions, and for state’s rights on the issue. Maybe I’ll write in some other candidate. Or maybe I will break down & vote for Donald Trump (probably not). But one thing is for sure, my pro-life conviction will absolutely not allow me to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Pregnancy Announcements

It has been FAR too long since I posted something, but I have a very good reason:

I’m pregnant!

(you may have guessed this from the title)

I’m about 10 weeks along, & while I made the announcement on social media a few weeks ago, I just have not had the energy to come blog about it.

First trimester fatigue is REAL, y’all. I recently saw it described as having not slept in 5 days, having the flu, and being hungover at the same time. Too true.

Anyway, I finally mustered up the energy to share the happy news 🙂

Below are some cute pregnancy announcements!


Cake

My mom’s birthday was a week after we found out, so we waited to tell my parents with cake!

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Pink & blue baby decorations, pink & blue cake, with blackberry filling!

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Best birthday cake a grandma could ask for!

T-shirts

That same night, we went over to my in law’s to tell them the good news. This time with shirts!

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It took my father-in law a little while to notice, but my mother & sister in law got it right away!

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Perfect for Mrs. Dessert Monster 🙂

We also used this picture to announce on social media.

Doggy!

I really have been away from this blog for too long – we got a dog! We adopted her from a rescue in Alabama while we were up there for Memorial Day weekend visiting my mother-in-law’s side of the family.

Her name is Dove, after the chocolates!

I had seen other pictures like this online & decided to make one of my own 🙂

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She’s going to be a great guard dog & companion to the baby!

Kitchen Fun

Finally, I could not resist putting together this cute little announcement!

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I love my Lodge cast iron pans. Look how cute the tiny one is!


We are so excited about this amazing blessing!

According to my Ovia pregnancy app, here’s how big the baby is right now:

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Hopefully in a couple more weeks I’ll have my energy back & will start posting on a regular basis – I have over a dozen recipes saved in my drafts!