A Tale of Two Foobs

I was watching TV when I felt a lump in the middle of my right breast. I raised my arm, and I could still feel it. I looked down, and it was noticeable to the eye.

“It’s just scar tissue,” I told myself.  But, I immediately reached for my phone. I sent a message to my breast reconstruction surgeon, Dr. Kathy Huang, thankful that she was only a text away. She replied that she could squeeze me in for an appointment a few days later.

With health matters, I’ve worked very hard to get to a point where I don’t exert a lot of emotional energy over that which is unknown. However, since I’ve become a mom, I find myself edgier about any tests or appointments related to life in remission. The stakes are exponentially higher. Even though I knew that what I felt was most likely nothing, I couldn’t help but going to that place in my head for a few minutes. I didn’t even tell anyone, including The Man, about my appointment for three days.

I was clearly concerned, but I reminded myself of the recent study that indicates that carrying my pregnancy to term didn’t increase my risk of recurrence of my hormone-positive breast cancer. However, that’s not a guarantee that my cancer won’t return. As any “survivor” knows, we might be cancer free, but that doesn’t mean that our lives are free from dealing with cancer and the repercussions of our diagnosis.

The following week, I visited Dr. Huang’s office. After a thorough examination, she commented that she, too, thought the small mass was scar tissue. However, she recommended a breast ultrasound (sonogram) just to be sure. I headed to Sibley the next week for the ultrasound. When the breast radiologist indicated that the lump was in fact scar tissue, I let out a sigh of relief. I exhaled deeply again later that week when my internist informed me that my blood counts were good.

I am thankful that this turned out to be nothing. Yet, I can’t help but think of the loved ones and acquaintances who weren’t and aren’t as lucky. I remain humble and small in the face of this horrible disease.

So, does that mean I’m done thinking about my foobs (my post-mastectomy breasts) until my next MRI?

Well, not exactly.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m still dealing with the repercussions of my cancer diagnosis. The skin around my foobs sags and bunches. (That’s to be expected since I have a connective tissue disorder and got pregnant so soon after my double mastectomy.) I also have very pronounced scars across the entire width of my breasts and no nipples. Dr. Huang proposes another surgery to tighten up the skin. That would also minimize the appearance of the scars and lift my breasts. She would then construct nipples from the excess skin at the end of that surgery.

I miss having nipples and don’t like being so ambivalent about my breasts. I imagine that this surgery will leave me with much-needed feelings of fondness for my foobs. I also know enough about Dr. Huang’s work to know that the foobs will look much better after she works her surgical magic.

I had hoped to have this surgery over the summer, but a change in my childcare arrangement will make that difficult. I need to schedule this when I have ample coverage since I won’t be able to hold Roya for two weeks. The tale of two foobs must be continued…

The DC NEDA Walk

Why am I participating in the DC National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk Sunday?

  • I walk as someone who suffered from anorexia-bulimia in my late teens and early 20s.
  • I walk in recognition of the fact that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • I walk to support my students who have eating disorders or are in recovery.
  • I walk to help raise awareness about NEDA, the leading nonprofit advocating on behalf of those with eating disorders. The organization focuses on prevention, access to quality treatment, and increased research funding. NEDA provides a confidential Information and Referral Helpline. The nonprofit also offers personal support to individuals who are suffering from eating disorders and the loved ones trying to help them.
  • I walk in the hope that Roya will never see her body as anything other than beautiful.
  • I walk in recognition of the fact that the media, advertising and entertainment industries do not promote healthy standards of female beauty.
  • I walk in the hope that times have changed since the early 1990s and my college no longer needs to permanently lock the bathrooms by my dorm dining hall.
  • I walk out of concern for a society in which approximately half of male CEOs are overweight, while only 5-22% of female CEOs are overweight.
  • I walk to show my support for the 7 million females and 1 million males in the US suffering from an eating disorder.
  • I walk alongside others who share NEDA’s mission of a world without eating disorders.

If you are in DC on Sunday, April 27, please join me on The National Mall to raise awareness about the National Eating Disorders Association and funds for its programs and services. If you’re not in DC, please help spread the word about this worthy organization.

Roya’s February, Part 2

Once Roya started to feel better in early February, I decided to enroll her in a Gymboree class. At eight months, she had yet to actually play or interact with other babies her age. I thought that she would like Gymboree, but didn’t expect her to love it so much! The teachers at the NW DC location are wonderful, and the infants are so cute as they laugh and play together! (I guess I was surprised at how much I enjoy it, too!)

Roya at Gymboree

Roya at Gymboree

We also picked up a play zone and foam tiles for Roya from Target. The play zone contains enough to stimulate Roya, but it’s not overwhelmingly loud or bright. (That’s a win for her and a win for me!)

With respect to the puzzle foam mats that are the norm for families with infants, I learned after purchasing the tiles that they have been banned in Europe for containing a toxic chemical. (Is there anything else other than thick carpeting that can be used in lieu of these mats? Please comment if you’ve found something that works for infants!)

Check out Roya’s moves in the play zone:

The cold and snowy weather impeded us from heading to the playground, but we managed to make it to weekly story time and music time at the library. I had to laugh out loud that Roya was the only one in the infant/toddler class to know what to do with a drum before the teacher showed the group.

Girl in the Hood

Girl in the Hood

We continued to try to introduce Roya to solid foods. She still wasn’t a fan, although her expressions in the high chair are priceless.

Can you blame me for being so in love with my little, funny Valentine?

Let (This) Mommy Sleep, Part 3

When I reached out to Let Mommy Sleep, I was hopeful that Denise Stern and her team of nurses and sleep consultants could help me. I never imagined, though, just how much LMS would help and how quickly.

After I emailed Denise with my answers to the Sleep Questionnaire, I received a customized plan for Roya. The five-page, single-spaced plan included information about eating solids, bottle feeding, quiet time, napping, bath time and nighttime sleeping and feeding. I thrive on organization and details, and this plan was perfect in both regards!

I spoke with Denise over the phone to review the plan and ask a few questions. We also talked through how to implement some of the recommendations for nighttime feedings. I felt supported, and the plan, though long, was manageable.

Within 36 hours, Roya was only up once a night. Within six days, she slept a nine-hour stretch. The next night was a ten-hour stretch. And, then another…and another. After a week of Roya sleeping through the night, I had more physical and mental energy. The bags under my eyes began to finally disappear. Not surprisingly, I laughed a lot more, lost my patience less and had friends notice the change in my demeanor!

Over the course of seven months, I’ve shed a lot of tears of exhaustion and frustration because of sleep deprivation. A short email to Let Mommy Sleep changed all of that!  I began implementing the suggestions from the sleep plan four weeks ago, and despite the norovirus, teething and vaccines, Roya is still sleeping well. If Roya’s patterns dramatically change, I’m thankful that Denise is only a phone call away.

If you or a loved one are a sleep-deprived parent of an infant four months or older, I highly recommend that you contact Let Mommy Sleep! A sleep consultation includes:

  • A customized care plan for your baby;
  • A one-hour phone consultation (in one or two calls); and
  • Unlimited phone/email follow up.

The regular price for a sleep consultation from Let Mommy Sleep is $200, but LMS is kindly offering my readers a discount. If you mention Stef Woods or City Girl Blogs, you’ll get all of the above for $175!

For those of you who live in DC, Northern Virginia or Maryland, there are plans that include a three-hour in-home sleep consultation. There’s also a Baby Sleep 101 workshop in Fairfax, Virginia, on April 23rd.  Full details are available here.

Thank you, Denise, so very much! Now, is there anything you can do to help with temper tantrums ;)?

Disclaimer: Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, I, Stef Woods of, received sleep coaching from Let Mommy Sleep in exchange for my honest assessment of LMS’ services. No monetary compensation was received for this or any other post. Let Mommy Sleep reserves the right to discontinue the discounted pricing for a sleep consult at any time.

Roya’s February Parties and Lunches

The first week in February found Roya still fighting a bad virus. With our doctor’s permission, we still made it to B Too to surprise Auntie KRob for her birthday.

Rocking Nicole Miller skinny jeans and Esprit sparkly kicks even though she's under the weather

Rocking Nicole Miller skinny jeans and Esprit sparkly kicks even though she’s under the weather

Where's Roya?

Happy Birthday Auntie KRob!
Bonus points for finding Roya.

Since Roya couldn’t snuggle with her aunt at the party, we made up for it when she was feeling better.

Popping bottles

Popping bottles

Uncle Moshe got in some quality time at the lunch at The Hamilton, too.

Roya also got invited to her first birthday party for children! We had fun watching LR celebrate her 7th birthday and decorate cupcakes at Sprinkles Georgetown!

It's OK to put this baby in the corner.

It’s OK to put this baby in the corner.

Party Time at Sprinkles!

Party Time at Sprinkles!

February was a busy month for Roya so tune in to Part II with more of my favorite pics!

PS This post was written by Stef Woods of City Girl Blogs™ of If you are reading this post in its entirety on another site, please know that said site is scraping my feed in violation of my copyright policy.

Let (This) Mommy Sleep, Part 2

“There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture mechanism,” said a friend who was experiencing sleep deprivation after the birth of her child.

My friend’s words have resonated with me of late. Prior to giving birth, my internist expressed his concern that caring for a newborn during the night would cause my autoimmune condition to worsen. Dr. Real Deal also indicated that she didn’t believe I would carry to term and that I should prepare for a difficult delivery.

In May, I began to research options for overnight care and heard of Let Mommy Sleep at a DC event for expectant mothers. Let Mommy Sleep (LMS) is the only dedicated team of baby nurses serving DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland. Denise Stern founded the company, after realizing the difference that a night nanny made in her life with newborn twins and a toddler.  LMS provides:

Overnight care to newborns from 9pm-7am and education to the families one to two weeks after birth. Registered Nurses, LPNs and Postpartum Specialists assist with single babies, twins and triplets.

Denise and I discussed that I might require a Registered Nurse to assist with my daughter and me after I gave birth. I thought it was a great idea for LMS to offer a sleep registry. Newborns require very few tangible things after birth, but the moms who care for them need a lot – most especially, sleep!

When it appeared as though Roya would thankfully be born full term and that my daytime nanny would assist with occasional night care, I let Denise know that I didn’t think I would be needing her services. We continued to stay in touch via Twitter, and I would smile when she would ReTweet something I wrote about Roya. I felt her support from one mom to another.

Roya was a fairly good sleeper as a newborn so I never imagined that I would need to reach out to LMS. That all changed when The Man, Roya, our dog and I were displaced from our home and sleeping in one room for four months. Roya started waking up an average of three times a night! And, we couldn’t have any night care join us in the one room without being awkward at a minimum or inappropriate at a maximum.

We hoped that Roya would return to her good sleep patterns once we were able to move back home, but that wasn’t the case between colds, vaccines and teething. After six months of being up three times a night almost every night, I was horribly sleep deprived. I would find myself crying or raising my voice at the littlest thing. I had to make an effort to focus on a conversation or email. And, I almost fell asleep behind the wheel on more than one occasion.


Something needed to change, and I thankfully remembered that Let Mommy Sleep also offers sleep consultations. I emailed Denise to find out more information.

Let Mommy Sleep provides Sleep Coaching services for babies four months or older whose pediatricians agree that it’s appropriate for the babies to sleep longer stretches at night.

Parents are asked to fill out a Sleep Profile with questions about their baby’s health, daily routine, and sleep and feeding schedule. After that, LMS’ team of nurses and consultants sends out a custom in-depth, step-by-step written plan to get the baby on a developmentally appropriate schedule and sleeping through the night. The plan is supplemented with a one-hour phone consultation and two weeks of phone and email follow up.

“Sign me up!” I wrote Denise.

She sent me the Sleep Profile and also let me know that it’s normal for 8-10 month olds to have trouble sleep through the night. And, right off the bat, she gave me a few suggestions for helping to wean Roya off of night feedings.

The questions in the Sleep Profile were comprehensive, but it only took me 30 minutes to complete them. After emailing the profile back to Let Mommy Sleep, I sent a text to several of my closest girlfriends that I was cautiously optimistic that a good night’s sleep was in my future!

Did this mommy get some sleep? 

To be continued…

Disclaimer: Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, I, Stef Woods of, received sleep coaching from Let Mommy Sleep in exchange for my honest assessment of LMS’ services. No monetary compensation was received for this or any other post.

Roya’s January

Once we returned from NYC, the remainder of January found Roya with back-to-back viruses. I’m grateful for our wonderful pediatricians for accommodating us into their schedules and always making us feel like a priority. Thankfully, the doctors ruled out ear infections and pneumonia, but that didn’t make the fevers any easier. Roya’s viruses also caused me to get a sinus infection and then bronchitis. As any caregiver knows, trying to take care of a sick child when you’re sick is especially exhausting!

When Roya is sick, snuggling near her puppy makes her feel a little better.

When Roya is sick, snuggling near her puppy makes her feel a little better.

When Roya didn’t have a fever, our doctors encouraged us to take her out of the house. Even though she was fussier than normal, she was still a very good baby. Some of the highlights of the month included the following:

We made it to Bob Madigan‘s farewell party at Carmine’s to celebrate his 50 years in media and wish him well on his way to Maine.

With Dr. Katy Nelson (aka Dr. Pawz) at Bob Madigan's Bon Voyage Party

With Dr. Katy Nelson (aka Dr. Pawz) at Bob Madigan’s Bon Voyage Party

Roya loves smooching her aunties!

Roya loves smooches from her Auntie KRob of Makin’ Whoopie DC!

The following week, we celebrated a dear friend’s birthday at Peacock Cafe. The Birthday Girl went above and beyond, even making sure that everyone had Dior party favors!

Roya likes the tissue paper best!

Roya likes the tissue paper best!

When Roya saw a woman at our table who was expecting, she immediately turned and gently put her hand on the woman’s belly. Lucky for us, the woman didn’t mind the touch and found it endearing!

Keep growing, Baby Girl-to-Be! Can't wait to meet you!

Keep growing, Baby Girl-to-Be! Can’t wait to meet you!

A few more of my favorite pictures from January:

Scholarly storytime at Bourbon Steak

Scholarly storytime at Bourbon Steak

Lunch break with Auntie Ambo

Lunch break with Auntie Ambo

These cheeks melt my heart!

These cheeks melt my heart!


Let (This) Mommy Sleep!

When I share with others how sleep deprived I am, I typically hear one of several comments:

“Nap when the baby naps!”

I like the sound of that in theory, but in practice, it’s tough for me. I’m a late night girl. Since we were displaced in September and Roya started waking three times a night again, I’ve tried to move my bedtime from 12:30am to 11pm. That’s helped a little. But, if I take more than a catnap in the afternoon, I can’t go to sleep before midnight.

 “You and The Man should take turns feeding Roya.”

We do, but since I’m such a light sleeper (aren’t most moms?), I wake up from the slightest noise. If Roya needs to be fed, I have to wake The Man up so that he can feed her. That’s better than if I was doing it myself, but it still disrupts my sleep.

“You should give Roya more solids!”

We started Roya on solids at six months, as our pediatrician instructed. With the exception of sweet potatoes, she wasn’t a fan of the other starter baby foods. Then, only two weeks after we began feeding her solids, Roya ended up with more than a week of low-grade fevers following the flu shot. Her first cold and two viruses followed that with fevers ranging from 100-104.1 degrees. Our pediatrician was understandably concerned about Roya getting dehydrated so we were told to just feed her from the bottle. The lack of solids for almost two months made her even less inclined to eat a lot of baby food, once we resumed doing so.

“Roya is nine months old! She should be sleeping through the night by now.”

Some babies sleep through the night early, and some don’t. There’s typically another sleep regression due to brain development between eight and ten months. And, 20-30% of babies at this age aren’t sleeping through the night.

Even in my sleep-deprived state, I continued to remind myself that Roya will eventually sleep through the night. I wondered, though, if the situation could improve at all. I remembered a company that I had contacted about baby nurses while I was recouping from my C-section. The three words in the name of the company were music to my ears…

Let Mommy Sleep!

It was time for a call, and hopefully, a change!

To be continued…

For those of you with children or childcare experience, how have you handle sleep deprivation and your baby’s sleep issues?

Roya’s New York

Roya rang in 2014 in her crib, but upon waking, we headed off to New York City. Grandpa and Nana were hosting a New Year’s Day party, and all of the guests understandably wanted to meet Roya!

The following day, we met up with Auntie Ashley at our favorite restaurant in the City, Artisanal. (I’m a fan of any place that has its own fromagerie and serves fondue and truffle fries!) I love that Roya lasted for 3.5 hours there without crying, although I know that the days of leisurely lunches are numbered.

Artisanal with Auntie Ashley

January 3rd brought 8-10″ of snow into Manhattan. The city was a mess, but the weather couldn’t stop me from seeing my girlfriends! I trudged through the snow with Roya to meet up at Maison with one of my law school besties, her husband and her son, Ryan. Check out Roya flirting with him!

Lunch date with Ryan

Lunch date with Ryan

(Note for those of you who might be stroller shopping: we brought our Chicco Key Fit and Caddy up to NYC. That stroller is light and easy to maneuver, as long as there isn’t inclement weather. Roya was thankfully unharmed when the Chicco Key Fit Caddy tipped over in a pile of wet snow, but that experience was very scary! I so regretted not having our more durable Uppa Baby Vista with us.)

For the remainder of the trip, Roya and I enjoyed coffee dates and brunches with several other friends who live in the area. On our last night in NYC, we met up with Roya’s godmother for dinner at Rare.

Fun with my godmother

Fun with my godmother

We cut our trip short by a few days to make it back to DC before the next snowstorm. I look forward to bringing Roya back to NYC once spring is here! xoxo