milestones part II

today marks two years since dennis and i got married!

IMG_0147and i thought wedding planning was stressful. i still can’t believe i have a baby. dennis and i talk about how we feel like we are babysitting long-term.. it’s just all so surreal.

since dennis is working 2-10 today we celebrated our anniversary yesterday with a dinner and a movie. it was our first date night since penny was born! we were apprehensive about leaving her and kept thinking about her the entire time. she was in good hands but we had never left her in someone else’s care until then. mil came over, and penny ended up sleeping for 3.5 hours and then finished eating right as we came home.


white sangria


it felt great dressing up and being able to go out


since we were gone from 4-9pm i packed my pump… how romantic, huh? we went to market grill for happy hour and drinks – my first one in ten months! – and then i pumped in the car while dennis went to purchase tickets for jurassic world 3d. we had been highly anticipating watching this movie and it ended up being alright. chris pratt is awesome though.

another milestone that recently occurred was penny’s 6-week mark. we had heard the 6-week growth spurt can be pretty brutal, and it didn’t spare us.  it can last up to a week for some people but thankfully ours was 2 days… 2 long days.

penny would not nap longer than 30 minutes and just wanted to continually eat. when she wasn’t eating, she was being fussy. last thursday was tough because i was by myself. dennis got out of work at 4 that day so he was able to help in the evening. he had friday off and assisted me all day.. otherwise i would not have been able to eat. for those that have/had babies, you know what i’m talking about… you’re stuck on the couch/recliner/wherever until the baby is satisfied. i try to surround myself with a full glass of water, snacks like a banana and a nature valley bar, and my phone to browse websites while i’m breastfeeding. it can be a l-o-n-g process especially during a growth spurt.

it’s very helpful if you have support during these times. i try to breastfeed whenever possible so dennis helps by refilling my water glass, feeding me, burping penny and putting her down for a nap. for those that bottle feed, it’s a little bit easier since someone else can do the feeding but then you still have to pump to keep up your supply. i hate pumping so i breastfeed as much as i can. i do continually add to my freezer and fridge stash by pumping before i go to bed and twice more during the wee morning hours when i have the most milk. penny usually feeds off one breast during the late night-early morning hours so i pump the other side after i put her down.

what made going through this stage a bit bearable was that penny has become a lot more active and social. she coos and gurgles often like she’s trying to talk. it’s so adorable!

she also has become more aware of her hands. she’s begun grasping things on her own and also becoming more sensitive to touch. today, since she wouldn’t nap (again), i put her in the baby bjorn and went out for a walk taking yuri along as well. she was fussy for the first ten minutes but soon fell asleep. i looked down at her and noticed that both of her hands were grasping the baby carrier. all the other times she had been in the carrier, her arms had hung limply by her sides. any changes i witness, big or small, i quickly record them in the Notes app on my iPhone so i can write them in the baby books when i have time later. if possible, i want to be able to remember everything so i try to document as much as i can.

IMG_0065 IMG_0061

you really can’t help but smile back when a cute baby is this happy…


the above picture is of my sister, jen. she came to visit last wednesday before the growth spurt started.

it’s great to have visitors when you’re up to it.. make sure they bring goodies like food especially during the first few weeks when you don’t have the time nor energy to make food.

IMG_0068 knowing my love for cupcakes, jen brought me a dozen mini ones 😀

dennis and i also went up to massachusetts for the day on saturday. we were nervous about bringing penny up for the first time because of her growth spurt. she was constantly cranky from not napping and we were worried about the 1.5 hour car ride each way along with how she was going to be being out and about all day. it seemed that the growth spurt ended friday night because she slept during the entire car ride and the majority of the time that we ate lunch. my parents own two korean restaurants in boston – they had three but sold one several months ago – so we ate lunch at one of the locations.


탕수육, or tang soo yook, is lightly battered pieces of pork or beef with a tangy sweet & sour sauce


we also ordered 두부김치제육볶음, tofu kimchi stir-fry, and 순두부찌게, or the soft tofu stew


i love this backdrop. we took some engagement photos here as well.


family portrait thanks to our selfie stick


we met up with my sister, jen, and her boyfriend, brendan.. and our friend, almex

but the main reason for our trip was so my grandma could finally meet penny, her 17th great-grandchild!


praying to God

IMG_0125ever since i got married, my grandma has been telling (pressuring) me to have a baby so when i told her the good news at ten weeks, she was ecstatic. i just wish we lived closer so she could see penny more often. 😦 i’m hoping to go up in a few weeks again… penny is growing so fast and it makes me sad that my family can’t see her as often as we’d all like. since we take so many photos of penny, i told myself that i’ll develop a bunch and mail them to my grandma so she can witness the growth and changes as well.

penny put up a valiant fight over taking her afternoon nap today. my mil came over with homemade mandoo (korean dumplings) and put penny to sleep while i finally ate. she has the magic touch because penny’s been sleeping for almost 2 hours now! i’m hoping i have time to eat 김치찌게 (kimchi stew) and wash the dishes before she wakes up.

enough writing today.. precious minutes are ticking away..


in my last post, the tone and mood was that of despair and frustration. one of the hardest things a first-time mom can experience is breastfeeding. we hear how wonderful and natural it is, but don’t realize how painful and difficult it can actually be until we have a baby of our own.

so much has changed since that fateful entry. to ease the suffering and quicken up the healing process i took a break from breastfeeding – this lasted from sunday evening to early friday morning. in the meantime, i pumped and penny was bottle-fed. during this short period of time, i was happier than i had been since penny was born! it really goes to show how much of a toll breastfeeding had taken on me. “my girls” were also able to heal effectively and i slept much better at night (without pain, i might add).

also during this time, penny began consuming 4 oz. of breast milk. i could never tell how much she ate when i breast fed her but i was able to see that she was eating more (up from 3 oz.) initially, i was worried because i thought she may be overeating. the downsides of bottle feeding is that babies can overeat since the flow is faster from the bottle than from the breast, and the milk can pour down their throat. we try to fill the nipple halfway with milk (per the lactation consultant) to mimic breastfeeding. a sign of overeating is spit-up.  babies tend to spit up after feedings, but copious amounts can signal that a baby ate too much. penny has also been really gassy lately (another downside of bottle feeding) even though we give her gas drops and hold her upright for at least 15 minutes after feedings. still, we have seen improvement and her appetite is as strong as ever.

currently, penny is 5 weeks and at her 1 month check-up she weighed 9 lb. 11 oz! She most likely has surpassed the 10 pound mark by now.


this boppy lounger has resulted in less spit-ups because she isn’t laying flat on her back. i know that babies aren’t supposed to sleep on them for safety reasons but she is usually about 4~5 feet away from me and we constantly watch her like a hawk.

as for breastfeeding, i decided in the wee hours of friday morning that i would give it another go. i eased into it using a nipple shield and was extremely relieved that it didn’t hurt as much as before. it was still sore afterwards but there wasn’t any excruciating pain, and there hasn’t been since. now, i’ve been using a shield every time because it’s much easier for penny to latch (saves me the pain too!) using a shield can cause discomfort for the baby because they take in more air when breastfeeding. this just means i have to be more vigilant about burping her often.

penny has been fighting sleep lately so i’m still very much sleep-deprived but i am absolutely grateful to be free of pain from breastfeeding. i honestly thought i would have to give up breastfeeding. there’s nothing wrong with bottle feeding (we still give her the occasional bottle to give me a break) but i don’t like the hassle of having to warm up a bottle and pumping constantly to have the supply ready. i still pump so i can add to my stash for when i return to work, but less frequently than before. really, there are upsides and downsides to both bf and bottle-feeding; i’m just happy to have the option of doing both again.

another milestone that penny has reached is that she social smiles! newborns smile in their early days but it’s really a reflex and not a genuine smile. however, we noticed that penny has been truly smiling since about week 3. we can see the expression in her eyes and her smiles are a response to ours. she also smiles a lot while bf when she’s half asleep. a few times, i have heard her laugh and my heart swelled.


i caught her smiling in her sleep!

penny has also begun focusing more on objects. in her pack ‘n play, there are 3 plush stars that hang down and she tends to look at them when she’s laying down in it. she also took notice of the chandelier in her room early this morning when i was putting her down for a nap. as i walked around, her gaze kept following the chandelier. a few hours later, i was holding her in the sun room and her attention was on the ceiling fan; so, i turned it on for her so she could see it in motion.

she has also been more alert (as noted by the decrease in naps). she still needs to nap frequently since she’s still a newborn but when she is awake, she’s more active lately. i take advantage of that by playing with her. as soon as i see her giving me cues that she’s tired (i.e eyes slowly closing, rubbing eyes, less focused) i stop play immediately and start putting her down for a nap – this is usually me rocking her while playing white noise in the background. lately, i’ve also swaddled her and held her to encourage sleep.

yesterday was father’s day and i made sure the first one was special for dennis. i ordered a onesie from etsy for penny to wear. unfortunately, dennis was already on his way to work when i was changing penny so i just took a pic of her and sent it to him. i think it made his work day that much better!

isn't it cute?

isn’t it cute?

we received two handprint kits as gifts, and dennis and i had made imprints of penny’s hand and feet about a week ago. without his knowledge, i painted the handprint one and wrote a message on it for father’s day.


it was tough pressing her little hand into the mold since she has her hands clenched into fists most of the time. this was the best we could do!

another gift i made for dennis was 3 portraits of penny holding up letters to spell ‘dad’.


i did everything myself on saturday. she was in a good mood after a feeding so i quickly put a headband on her and arranged the letters.

IMG_0005 IMG_0006 IMG_0007 i’m thrilled with the results!!!

dennis' reaction

dennis’ reaction

the last milestone has to do with our dog, yuri. saturday, 6/20, was her fifth birthday and we wanted to make sure we didn’t forget it.. especially since all the attention we used to lavish on her has gone over to the baby… it’s obvious that yuri is more despondent and needy lately. she follows me around everywhere even when i’m feeding penny (although late at night, she stays in bed with dennis).

yuri with her scrumptious dinner

yuri with her scrumptious dinner

we used to get her special treats and a cake from a dog bakery but she doesn’t really like them. she’s more of a meat girl.



lastly, this is what we had for dinner last night! dennis’ parents came over, and my mil made bibimbap for us. it’s a korean dish with a variety of vegetables mixed with white rice and sweet chili paste. it’s also great topped with a fried egg. we didn’t have a gift for my fil but we are going to present one to him later on today. we got him a really nice bicycle. since he’s been retired, he’s been mostly homebound save for the occasional bike ride. we hope that this will encourage him to get outdoors more often 🙂

speaking of outdoors, today is dennis’ day off and we are going to meet up with the gardners later on. the boys plan to go bike-riding at west hartford reservoir while the girls take a stroll either at the same place or blue back square, a shopping plaza. we’re really on our babies’ schedules so hopefully we can work this out!

it’s not about you anymore

—- 6/10/15 —-

motherhood has been extremely taxing since day 1. as mentioned in my previous post, i’ve had to deal with latching issues. though it was resolved for the most part, i developed mastitis in my right breast due to plugged milk ducts. i produce much more milk than penny, or the pump, can drain so it gets backed up. when this happens, the breast gets infected and swells. some symptoms are a fever of 101.5 or higher, flu-like symptoms such as chills and body aches, redness (wedge-shaped) on the breast, and burning pain that can extend from your breast to your back during and after breastfeeding. i woke up on friday morning (6/5) with chills and body aches. although you’re miserable and in great pain during this time, it’s highly recommended to continue bf as nothing can drain the breast of milk more effectively than your baby. this is clearly easier said than done – it’s difficult battling flu-like symptoms without having to constantly nurse a newborn, and i tried to tough it out the entire day. i knew it was bad when i found myself crying in the nursery while my mother-in-law sat oblivious downstairs. i was too proud to tell her at the time because i felt like i had failed as a mother. let me tell you, it’s hard maintaining a positive attitude and staying strong when problems keep arising but one look at penny and i know i would do anything to keep her happy and healthy, even with my own pain and suffering.

currently, i’m on medication and i’ve been feeling better. i make sure to massage the affected area thoroughly before and after a feeding or pumping. applying heat also helped – before a feeding, i made sure to hold a heating pad to both of my breasts. i also felt much better after a hot shower. a helpful tip i received from a fellow mom was to apply lanolin to the nipples before getting in the shower to help with sensitivity. i still have to take a shower covering my nipples with my hands because the water pressure is painful.

as i sit here writing this, the lo (little one) is snoozing away in the pack ‘n play. it’s 3:22 in the afternoon and it’s a balmy day. the weather app on my macbook says the current temperature is 80 degrees but it was probably hotter earlier.. who knows? i have yet to step outside today which was not by choice.

i was looking forward to today because my friend and i had planned a playdate for our girls. since penny is now 3.5 weeks and olivia is about 9 weeks i guess the “playdate” is really an excuse for us newly-minted moms to get together to vent, get fresh air, and attempt to remain(?) sane.

clearly, i’m still new to this game. though the car was loaded with all carefully packed baby essentials, i had underestimated the power of a newborn. yes, i was nervous about going out on my own particularly since i hadn’t driven in nearly a month and now i was toting along a very precious cargo. but yet, i kept hoping that everything would run smoothly – i would try to time her feedings and naps so we could leave the house by late morning/early afternoon.

penny has been fussy lately during the evening and nighttime hours which is normal for newborns. it’s been difficult trying to time our dinners – usually one of us (dennis, mostly) has to abandon our meal at the table to go console penny. and to console, we go through a list of troubleshooting methods: swaddling, holding her, singing, mamaroo, baby carrier, diaper change, feed, pacifier, and go for a walk to name a bunch. it’s quite exhausting and frustrating. last night, i had to forgo second helpings of dinner so i could feed penny. i resumed eating about an hour later.

there are also days that penny is fussy in the early to late morning hours. lately after an early morning feeding at around 5:30am, she’ll want to cluster feed again and doesn’t end up taking a nap. she becomes overtired and agitated making it harder for us to put her down. this is what happened this morning. i fed her nearly every hour (one was a 50-minute session!) until noon which was the last feed before the car ride so she would be all set for a few hours. although she had fallen asleep on me, she woke up crying when we tried to place her in the car seat. of course, changing her bottoms from bloomers to pants didn’t help (the car seat straps were digging into her bare legs). dennis tried soothing her by holding her and gently rocking her back and forth while she sucked on a pacifier but he had to get ready for work. if it was this difficult trying to get out of the house, i didn’t want to think about the half-hour car ride and trying to walk around blue back square, an outdoor shopping plaza in west hartford. so, i canceled the date and now i’m sitting here forlornly, wishing i could be outside.

to be honest, planning dates and going out with a baby solo is probably all too soon just like dennis suggested. it has only been three weeks and moms are recommended to get 6 weeks of recovery and low activity.

—- 6/11/15 —-

the above post is all i got to yesterday. little did i know today would be even worse than yesterday. right now it’s 6:40pm and penny has been up since 7:30am!!! she’s been suffering from acid reflux so her naps (if we’re lucky to have her go down) have been cut short because she’s spitting up. she has her 1-month check-up on monday so we are hoping to get her zantac to help with the reflux.

i’ve been alone the past few days while dennis has gone to work. my friend, genie, was sweet enough to leave her lo with her mom and come assist me for a few hours. we took a walk outside which calmed penny down but the oppressive heat was too much for my dog so we had to cut it short. before dennis came home with food, all i had to eat today was a nature valley bar and 2 hard-boiled eggs. 😦 penny kept wanting to feed and that is all i was able to do today besides change my clothes and wash up.

here is penny in calmer times:


penny relaxing in her pack ‘n play


penny at 3 weeks


penny at christina & john’s baby shower – 5/30/15


this was also the day of her newborn photo shoot.. this shot was taken at the baby shower though

i keep hearing that “things will get better” but it really makes me wonder: when? and anyway, even if “this, too, shall pass” there will be other issues to deal with such as teething, and the dreaded growth spurt in the sixth week. what’s kept me somewhat sane during this time has been my wonderful husband. after hearing what a tough day i had had today, he came home from working all day to provide dinner while he took over finding ways to soothe penny. after i collected myself and ate, i found dennis upstairs doing skin-to-skin with our dd (dear daughter). it’s important to have a support system especially during the first month and i’m fortunate that dennis is so hands-on and encouraging. my friend, genie, (a recent mommy herself) and i also text back and forth all day sharing our joys and woes – usually we are up at the same time feeding our girls even at 3am.

i want to end this post by giving a s/o to the mommies and friends for their words of encouragement and advice: genie, christine, jules, alice, jen v., mouy, jisun, and dana. thanks also to grace k. for always bringing bubble tea when visiting! 🙂

i’ve been typing for so long, penny woke up from her too-short nap. time to resume the madness… but it’s all worth it, right?

the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby

i always knew i wanted to breastfeed when i was ready to have children. why? i had heard and read about all the advantages for both mom and baby in school, in articles, from other moms, and in baby care classes. even so, i had no idea how difficult and stressful breastfeeding could be, at least during the first few weeks.

most women who breastfeed will initially experience soreness and chapping of the nipples because of the friction from the baby’s mouth. since newborn babies feed every 2-3 hours, your nipples really don’t have much time to recover. when i say babies eat every 2-3 hours, you have to count the time from when the baby begins feeding. so, if your baby started feeding at 1pm and stops at 1:30pm, you may need to start feeding again at 3pm.

knowing there would be initial discomfort, i was surprised at how painful the first latch, and every subsequent one, was. thinking it would get better – because usually it does – i gritted my teeth and kept breastfeeding penny. unfortunately, the pain was becoming more and more unbearable with me yelling out in pain and breaking the suction from penny’s mouth. during my stay at the hospital, i met with two lactation consultants and they assisted me in trying out different positions for the baby to be in when feeding such as the football hold, cradle, and reclining. i was still in intense pain and began using a nipple shield. this is supposed to be a temporary reprieve from the pain and discomfort caused by persistent latching problems.

nipple shield

however, the pain and latching problems continued when i came home. it came to a point where i dreaded feeding penny because of the immense suffering i experienced every time. feeding her from a bottle was not an option at that point because a bottle’s nipple is different from an actual nipple and it can negatively affect breastfeeding. even with the slow-flow nipples, milk can come out faster in bottles so babies may not learn how to suckle correctly. many doctors recommend introducing the bottle once breastfeeding is well-established.

at penny’s first doctor’s appointment, our aprn noticed that penny had a posterior tongue-tie. this kind of tongue-tie is not as visible as a regular tongue-tie because it’s hidden under the tongue lining. a posterior tongue-tie results in a shorter tongue and the tip is rather flat making it hard for a baby to nurse properly. our pediatrician performed a quick incision underneath her tongue and i nursed her right away to ease the bleeding and pain. again, for me, it was a temporary reprieve because the next day the pain and onslaught on my nipples continued.

after seeing a lactation consultant at the hospital and receiving a special ointment, i got the go-ahead to introduce the bottle while i recovered. dennis and i nearly cried with relief because we had been feeding penny using a syringe and a tube the past few days since i could no longer bear the pain. we were exhausted at me having to pump milk and then using a syringe to slowly feed penny every single feeding. it was just too much work.

now, penny is 17 days old and breastfeeding regularly though I do take break by giving her the bottle especially when we are out. i stopped using the “miracle” ointment and am fully recovered. during the exclusive bottle feeding days, penny was able to strengthen and get used to her “new” tongue.

here are the reasons why i was so persistent on breastfeeding despite the trauma that i endured:

1) breast milk contains many antibodies that is passed from mom to her milk. babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory tract infections, and other childhood illnesses.

2) breast milk is FREE and convenient. you don’t have to get out the pump (unless you’re out or want to save milk) or shell out hundreds of dollars on formula.

3) breastfed babies’ weight gain is steady and appropriate – you can worry less about unnecessary extra poundage.

4) “studies show a slight but statistically significant increase in the IQ of breastfed babies compared with those fed formula. One possible reason is that breast milk contains the fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is important for brain development. Another brainy benefit of breastfeeding — all those hours of skin-on-skin contact with Mom are also great for your baby’s cognitive and emotional development (in addition to just making your baby feel nurtured and safe).” 

5) “breastfed babies build stronger jaws and have well-developed teeth and palates (in addition to fewer cavities later in life!)”

6) breastfed babies may become less picky eaters because breast milk takes on whatever flavor is in the mother’s diet.

7) bonding time – breastfeeding is very intimate especially more so if you do it skin-to-skin. sometimes i’ll breastfeed penny while she’s only wearing a diaper and i’m only wearing a nursing bra (or not even that). the skin-to-skin calms her and creates a special bond between mama and baby.

8) this one’s for the mama: BURN CALORIES AND LOSE WEIGHT!

[ source:

i had heard breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and i couldn’t believe how quickly my uterus and stomach shrank along with the extra pounds. during my entire pregnancy, i gained about 18 pounds. most of it was in my stomach area as i was still able to wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes.

even when i was pumping milk and not breastfeeding during the recovery days, i was shedding pounds because of the nipple stimulation. when i feed penny, my stomach gurgles like the calories are dissipating on the spot. two things about breastfeeding is that you get extremely thirsty and hungry – make sure you drink plenty of water especially during pumping and breastfeeding. when my hands are tied, dennis holds the water glass to my lips so i can drink. teamwork!

regular breastfeeding and pumping ensures you have an abundance of milk:


refrigerated milk can last up to 8 days


frozen milk can last up to 6 months


may 20 – 5 days postpartum


these photos were taken 5 days after i had given birth. my uterus had already shrank significantly and my linea negra is still visible as is my belly button piercing. fyi, my friend told me the linea negra can take up to a few months to fade. perhaps i’ll invest in a one-piece swimsuit this summer 😦


may 21 – 6 days postpartum


my navel is slowly starting to go back in. my belly already looks little leaner from the day before.


may 23 – 8 days postpartum

my ab muscles are becoming visible 8 days after giving birth – yay breastfeeding!


may 26 – 11 days postpartum

stomach is getting noticeably flatter.


may 28 – 13 days postpartum


stomach is becoming more defined.


june 1 – 17 days postpartum


basically, i just need to work on toning my stomach!

Pregnancy weight:

Week 6: 126.9

Week 41: 144

Post-pregnancy weight:

Week 1 postpartum: 139.9

Week 2 postpartum: 133.1

I’m ready to take on summer!!!!