punta cana – destination wedding

we returned last week from vacation #2 without penny. our friends, mayra and evan, held their wedding in punta cana and, of course, we had to go!


the beautiful bride and groom!




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the adorable flower girl – the bride’s niece




the lovely bride and her father


the bouquets




dennis and i were much less worried about penny this time around due to the success of the vegas trip.. mil reassured us with lots of photos and updates via kakaotalk (a korean messaging app). however, this trip still wasn’t without a lot of headaches…

we were supposed to depart at 6am on friday, january 15th, and arrived at bradley airport a little after 4. after getting our boarding passes, we should have stood in the security line but we kept our friends company because one had left his passport in his mom’s car and was waiting for her to come back to the airport with it. we were with them, maybe, ten minutes tops but that time could have been spent waiting in the security line… because by the time we got there we realized just how insanely long that line was: it reached all the way to the other side of the airport! needless to say we missed our flight by MINUTES… the plane was still at the gate but they wouldn’t let us board the plane 😡 dennis and i debated driving down to newark, nj because that’s where our connecting flight was but with morning traffic and dennis’s dad having to come back to get us, we knew we wouldn’t make it. our luggage got on the flight so we had to hope that they wouldn’t get misplaced in newark since we now had to fly out a day later.

initially, i was angry about missing our flight but i got over it fairly quickly. dennis wasn’t that upset either. i guess it’s because there wasn’t anything else we could do, and it was just nice having that extra day spending it with penny. if this had happened even a year ago, i would have probably thrown a tantrum but after having a baby, i suppose i grew up a little, no? since dennis and i had been awake since 3:40am dennis’s mom stayed for the day and took care of penny while we napped.

after a lot of phone calls and being put on hold, orbitz agreed to let us stay an extra day in punta cana to make up for the day that we had lost. we also got the ‘okay’ from hard rock hotel to stay another night with no additional fees. success! 

everything was fine now, right? it was until we got to our hotel. upon checking in, the front desk said we would be charged for friday night because the room was “empty” and we were a “no-show”.. and no, we could not stay until wednesday. after explaining that this had been dealt with and getting orbitz on the phone, we finally got to our room and had an hour to get ready before the welcome dinner at 6pm.

we had a very enjoyable time in punta cana but the changes to our trip didn’t get resolved until monday – two days later – so until then we kept worrying that we would have to leave on tuesday. not something you want hanging over your heads.

pumping, this time, was less of a hassle than it was in vegas. i’ve been pumping every 4-5 hours lately so that gave me plenty of time to be on the beach and do other activities before heading back to the hotel room to pump. i’ve been renting the medela symphony pump (hospital-grade) because my ameda purely yours has been losing suction. i get a lot more output with the hospital pump. the only downside is that it’s so heavy and cumbersome, but i did bring it with me to punta cana. i brought back over 150 oz., or 9.3 lb., of milk! the milk was mostly the reason my luggage was over the weight limit by 10 lb so i had to put the milk into a different carry-on.


pumping in the security room at the airport in punta cana


our layover was in dc on the way home and that airport has nursing rooms!

it was so wonderful to get away from the cold and be able to relax. we got a tan from lounging on the beach, celebrated our friends’ beautiful wedding on the beach, and even swam with sharks and sting rays!



i took this shot of people walking on the dock during our excursion


last day in paradise


sun and wine


we’re on a boat!




cabana life


dennis relaxing on a hammock


dennis enjoying some meat at a brazilian joint



still, nothing beats home.. especially if you’re under the weather. most of the wedding party and guests caught a viral infection, and many were sick during the trip too – mostly diarrhea.. maybe from the ice in the drinks and brushing their teeth with tap water. i drank mostly beer so i wasn’t affected until i came home. dennis has had a really bad sore throat for over a week now. he got it checked out and it’s not strep so that’s a relief.

dennis goes back to work on thursday so we’ve been spending time together as a family, and taking turns sleeping in while the other tends to penny first thing in the morning. i wish every day was like this. i love my family!


sunset during our first night


our room was less than a minute’s walk to the beach



the rooms have a spacious 2-person jacuzzi in the middle of the room. it was hard to get out of the tub, let me tell you!


this arden b jumpsuit is perfect for the beach





outfit for the wedding



like many women, i fretted over what to wear to the wedding and ended up going to the mall twice to find an ensemble. i bought an off-the-shoulder forest green top from forever 21 for $12.90 and paired it with a gold maxi that i had already had!


danielle, roberta & me



the reception was held on the terrace – straight up gorgeous




mother-and-son dance


father-and-daughter dance


cake cutting


the flower girl and her daddy




postpartum depression


the first month of penny’s life was basically hell on earth. it’s quite harsh to word it like this but i don’t want to sugarcoat what i had endured during that time.

even though i was told by multiple lactation consultants that penny had a great latch, breastfeeding was incredibly painful. despite this, i kept on doing it hoping that the pain would subside. thing is, newborns nurse constantly and – tmi alert – my nipples never got the chance to heal so they were red, raw, cracked and bleeding. every time i breastfed penny tears would be streaming down my face and i’d be gritting my teeth. looking back, i still can’t believe i didn’t give up. my pride and obstinate nature were big factors in continuing this torturous deed but it took a great toll on me emotionally.

the pain of breastfeeding caused me so much anger and misery that it was hard to really enjoy motherhood initially. i knew that it wouldn’t be comfortable but i had no idea how much it would actually hurt. i dreaded breastfeeding so much i would cry in anticipation of the impending pain; and during breastfeeding, i would picture myself jumping out a window or hanging myself in a doorway! i was suffering so much i had thoughts of wanting to die. and still, i pressed on. many times i couldn’t take it anymore and would unlatch penny so she could bottle feed.

one particular lactation consultant advised me to take a break so i could heal mentally and physically. that meant i had to pump, and i pumped every. two. hours. even at night. this went on for a few weeks and i wanted to collapse from fatigue. i had white bumps underneath my eyes from lack of sleep and i was unbelievably hostile and irritable. to top it off, i got mastitis (twice), an infection of the breast tissue. the constant pumping and, quite possibly, bacteria entering my body through cracked and sore nipples took its toll.

although i had, and still have, a great support system i still felt helpless and alone. it was difficult to talk about my ordeal with anyone because i didn’t know anyone that shared my painful experience. or so i thought. when i posted about my breastfeeding struggles, i was amazed at the large amount of feedback i received from other mom friends about their own personal struggles. having these women respond to my story and offer words of encouragement and advice certainly helped in my being able to persevere and trying to maintain optimism and hope.

i found using a nipple shield greatly helped penny’s latch while also diminishing pain and discomfort. even though i seemed to have overcome the biggest source of  misery, i was still often unhappy. a lot had to do with being overwhelmed by a baby’s demands and being constantly tired. for the most part, penny has always been a great sleeper. i’m not counting the first few weeks of her life because newborns have to wake constantly to eat. they also have what is referred to as “the witching hour” – from roughly 6-11pm, babies can get inconsolable and refuse to sleep. growth spurts and developmental leaps are usually not fun and affect sleep as well.

whenever there was a hiccup to the schedule that i had for penny, i would freak out. i’m constantly researching articles on sleep and i had learned that “sleep begets sleep.” if penny ever woke up from a “disaster nap” (a nap that is less than 45 minutes), i would get upset because not only would it throw off the whole schedule but i’d worry about her being overtired and waking up at night. i drove myself crazy envisioning possible scenarios and found it tough to cope with unexpected situations. it got the point to where my anger and frustration would boil over and i would lose my cool at penny. how can you get mad at a baby? even worse, how can anyone yell at a baby?

the times i spent an hour rocking penny to sleep only to have her wake up the minute i put her down were usually because she was transitioning to fewer naps. i didn’t know it then and kept trying to figure out what was wrong. i would cry from being angry, tired, and hungry. sometimes i would yell at penny to go to sleep. after penny’s newborn stage, i was mostly alone all day with her and my dog. i was lonely and overwhelmed. i kept praying for patience and endurance, and i would have a good stretch where i felt happy. then something would throw me off and i’d start having a panic attack. often times i felt guilty for feeling angry or sad because penny actually is a good sleeper and such a happy baby. i was also often told that i “should be like this” and “not like this” so that made me feel even more terrible. i knew i had to act before it really started to affect my relationship with penny.

i scheduled an appointment with my ob to discuss the possibility of my having postpartum depression. we found that my type a personality makes it hard for me to be flexible and be able to go with the flow. i’m all about structure and schedules and the unpredictability of a baby basically threw my whole life off course. thankfully, it seems as if i have adjustment issues instead of postpartum depression but i still constantly have to keep working on remaining calm and being more relaxed. i’ve also been taking 25mg of zoloft before i go to bed to help take the edge off and sleep better at night. although penny sleeps 11-12 hours, any little noise that she makes rouses me from my light slumber and i’d lie awake thoughts running through my head, unable to sleep. zoloft doesn’t conk me out but i have a more restful sleep now.

with penny sleeping such long stretches and going to bed on her own, i’ve been feeling more rested and happy these days. i know anything can change… and i still have my bouts of freak-outs but my attitude has improved. dennis says he feels encouraged because he sees me smiling more than i had been before i had gone to see my ob.

parenthood is such a monumental and pivotal moment in our lives – it’s vital to have a support system. i also learned not to be afraid to ask for help and to also r e l a x without the baby. now i feel more comfortable about going out sans penny after having nervously done it the first few times. it wasn’t that i didn’t want to go out; i was afraid that penny’s schedule would get messed up because whoever watched her wouldn’t do it the way i did. even now i still struggle with micromanagement but i’m trying to be more easygoing. the vegas trip helped immensely because i got a much-needed getaway and i learned to “let go” since i wouldn’t be taking care of penny for 4 days.

this friday, dennis and i will be going to punta canta for 5 days for a wedding. i’m nervous again about leaving penny but much less so this time around. she’s on a great schedule and she loves my in-laws so i know she’ll do well. i just have to remember to relax and have fun.


my friend, ben, came down from massachusetts to visit!


i love having visitors. for a while, i struggled with staying in touch with people because i was so miserable and tired but human contact is so important. having visitors also breaks the monotony and helps the day go by quicker.

dennis could always tell if i had a visitor while he was at work because i’d be happier and smiling more than usual.


our friend, john, came over yesterday to hang out 🙂


goodbye to the merlin sleep suit. penny finally mastered rolling over in the suit so she can’t wear it anymore to bed. we were worried about transitioning her out of it but she’s still sleeping wonderfully! she’ll wake up at night because she’ll roll over onto her stomach but she falls back asleep, usually on her tummy.


penny sleeps in a sleep sack now – still too young for blankets. dennis gets really worried about her sleeping on her stomach especially since her face was right up against the mattress last night. i reassured him that she would wake up if she can’t breathe. she has great arm strength as is evidenced two photos above but admittedly i get anxious too and stare at the monitor to make sure she’s breathing.

this post took a lot longer than i had thought it would. it’s nearly 9pm and i haven’t eaten dinner yet. still, i’m glad i finally was able to post about my struggles because it’s not something i feel like i should have to hide or be ashamed about. if my personal experience can spread awareness and encourage new and current moms, then this has been all worth it.


happy new year!

2 0 1 6.

a whole new year with penny. she’s growing up so, so quickly. her first birthday is in 4 months!

what?!? :O

the overzealous mom that i am, i started a pinterest board for her birthday when she was 3 months old adding ideas here and there… but now i really have to get the ball rolling. dennis and i settled on a theme – secret for now – and i need to start making decorations and deciding how i want to set everything up. my parents recently moved and generously offered us their home as the location. since the party will be held in boston it will be more convenient for my family and friends that live in mass to attend especially my 94-year-old grandmother who hasn’t been able to see penny in several months.

i’m hoping to work on the birthday projects little by little to ease the stress factor. *fingers crossed*



korean tradition to eat ddeok-guk (떡국), or rice cake soup, for the new year


she loves piggyback rides



playing with her lion rattle

penny is continuing to sleep wonderfully on her own. she started leap #6 a few days ago so her naps have been back and forth from being short to long but she’s still doing great. (i.e no rocking and no going in to pop the pacifier back in her mouth.) sometimes she’ll play with the pacifier and fall asleep with it at her side.

the only thing that slightly worries us is her moving around in her crib. she isn’t crawling yet but she scoots on her back and often times spins 180 degrees so all we see is the back of her head on the baby monitor. she’s still in her merlin sleep suit which adds a little bit of weight so penny rolls onto her side and scoots around. she’ll kick the crib rails and play with the mesh bumpers then, eventually, fall asleep. i don’t know why but she also likes to sleep facing the crib’s sides. i’m not sure if it’s because she feels snug but i get worried that she’ll wake herself up because her head and feet are touching the rails. sometimes she does but she usually falls back asleep, thankfully.


this is usually how she falls asleep nowadays


how i found her after her nap


look at her legs! she’s not sleeping here.. she fell asleep shortly afterwards

one of my next posts will be about homemade baby food and penny’s feeding schedule. she loves to eat solids now after having a rocky start. penny also can’t get enough of water. we limit her daily intake to 3 oz. and only during mealtimes to wash the food down, but she gets so excited when she sees her sippy cup! she picks up the cup and puts the spout in her mouth but can only drink it if it’s nearly full as she doesn’t yet know to tilt her head back to get the water to flow.


practicing feeding herself yogurt





this sippy cup was $10 but totally worth it


good eats, good sleep. these two things have contributed in my feeling much more energized and happy these days. what a great way to start off the new year!