Can You Sleep on Your Stomach During Pregnancy?

Sleeping During Pregnancy
Sleeping can be a nightmare for women during pregnancy. Many of the sleep positions you once enjoyed may no longer bring comfort. In fact, many women are afraid to sleep in certain positions, such as on their stomachs, out of fear that it may hurt the baby.

Why the Discomfort?
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy. As you may already know, many of these are not so pleasant, such as shortness of breath, increased abdomen size, back pain, heartburn, and insomnia. Unsurprisingly, these can all get in the way of a peaceful and uninterrupted night of rest.

Is it Safe to Sleep on Your Stomach?
If sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy is comfortable, do it! Your body was made to support that growing little bundle of joy. In fact, the position that doctors and caregivers warn against is sleeping flat on your back because it can compress vital veins in your spine that deliver blood from your legs to your heart. This can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, and a fast heart rate – things you don’t need or want during pregnancy.

Getting a Full Eight Hours
As mentioned, your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, the most obvious of those being a growing stomach. Therefore, while you may enjoy sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy, it may not always be comfortable. In fact, most women are advised to S.O.S. (sleep on side) by mid-pregnancy to increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reaches the placenta and the baby.

The solution… TummyTopper
However, the TummyTopper is made to keep your preferred sleeping position comfortable, whether it be on your side or on your stomach. The TummyTopper comes with a single-width, high-density foam mattress topper and varying inserts that can fit your stomach at any size as it grows. This allows for comfortable sleep from the first trimester to the last, supporting your stomach and relieving any pressure in your back. It is great for women recovering from C-sections, as well.

Countdown to Thanksgiving!

I love everything about Thanksgiving: food, friends, and my little family all together under one roof for 4 whole days.  Those of you that know me, know that I love to cook.  Thanksgiving gives me an excuse to take it to the extreme.  I’ve been baking since Saturday and Thanksgiving is still 3 days away! Food is definitely one of my favorite ways to show the people around me how much I love them.  I love to find new recipes, the best ingredients, and then share the final product with anyone who wants to come into our home.  (Don’t let the love for cooking fool you…there have been some major cooking flops, hopefully not this Thursday though)

Gratitude takes some people a lifetime to appreciate.  Believe me, now that I am raising a 9-year-old girl, it is a daily topic of conversation around here.  I do believe that most people love Thanksgiving for all the reasons that I’ve already mentioned.  But also because two commonly shared values among most religions are forgiveness and gratitude.  Really being grateful and celebrating it this holiday season makes people feel good. And if you are a spiritual person the ability to turn those values into actions, to forgive and to be grateful, are the keys to life renewed or inner peace.

Strive to be a good example for your children. Thank the people around you that make your life, your most wonderful life. Do small acts of kindness that might make someone’s day a little bit brighter.  Hug your children when they are being their worst selves.

Marilyn and I are so appreciative of all of our customers, our amazing friends that enthusiastically like and share all of our news on Facebook, our loving families, good fortune and health. In appreciation of all of you, we are proudly donating a portion of our TaTaTopper sales to the Massey Cancer Center through the Women & Wellness Forum Series.  100% of the donation will be used for women’s cancer research at Massey.

 

5 Years

It’s been five years since the passing of my dear friend Carolyn Moeller.  I will never forget driving home from our family vacation for her funeral.  As we were driving, I received a call from my doctor’s office telling me I had a suspicious mammogram.  I couldn’t even consider me being diagnosed with breast cancer at the time. All I could do was put one foot in front of the other and keep going for my family and hers.  Her life and death has had such an impact on my life.  My memories of her are so precious and bring me such happiness.  At the same time not having her here to talk to, walk with, play tennis or golf with, or go on adventures with our kids is something that leaves me feeling empty.  She had so much to offer and understood the importance of living life to the fullest.  She knew how to make me see the importance of just having fun and not to sweat the small stuff.  She knew the importance of spending time with her children and making every moment count.  She didn’t get caught up in gossip or drama.  She was just happy and always found a way to make things special for our kids.

In the following weeks, I was diagnosed with breast cancer too.  While I was going through treatment, I couldn’t help but think Carolyn must be mad at me.  Maybe I didn’t do enough to help her, or maybe I wasn’t doing enough for her kids.  Why else would this be happening? But then after sharing my fears with my sweet friend Teri, she said something I will never forget, something that I always hold on to.  She said, “Marilyn, she’s not mad at you, she’s saving you”.  As tears flowed down my cheeks, I finally found a sense of relief.  I also found courage and strength.

I had a talk with my oldest son recently.  It was the first time we really talked about her in detail since her passing and the impact her death and my diagnosis had on his life.  To see his face as he talked about what a sad time that was and how much pain it caused him broke my heart.  He was 15 at the time and kept quiet about everything.  I tried to talk to him, but he said he was fine.  I tried to keep things “normal”, but there was no normal.  Things would never be the same and my children had to learn what it meant to lose someone they loved and cared about.  They also had to deal with the fact that their own mother had the same diagnosis that killed their best friends mother.  There was nothing I could really say except that I was sorry.

How do we find the right words to help our children through horribly difficult issues of life and death?  How do we comfort them, and assure them it will all be okay when it’s really not?  I can remember my younger son crying one night shortly after I told him about my cancer.  I asked him if he was afraid I would die.  He cried out, “yes”, and I told him the only thing I knew to be true.  “I know you’re scared.  I know there’s no guarantee, but I also know this Adam.  I’m not going to die today and I’m not going to die tomorrow.  I’m going to do everything I can to make sure the cancer is gone.  And with the knowledge I have from what Mrs. Moeller went through I’m going to make good decisions and fight with all the strength I have to be here.”

It’s been five years since her passing and my diagnosis.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her.  I’m grateful for the time we had and for the opportunity I had to know her and call her my friend.  I’m grateful my children had that opportunity too.  She was one of a kind and one of the few people I could call an angel here on earth and mean it.
Marilyn Collins
www.tatatopper.com

 

Great Breast Cancer Post Op Quesion!

Today we received a question from a woman diagnosed with Breast Cancer about to have a Mastectomy wanting to know how soon after surgery she could lie down on the TaTaTopper.  I felt like this was an important question so I decided to write a blog about it.

The first thing Michelle and I would say is to check with your doctor and your comfort level before using the TaTaTopper.  Everyone’s surgery progress and recovery are different.

We created the TaTaTopper after Michelle had her second surgery and she was able to lie down on it right away.  Sometimes there is tenderness right under your breasts at your ribs so you kind of have to try different ways of lying on it to see what is comfortable for you. My surgeon put in what I like to call a “hammock” under the bottom of the newly reconstructed breast to help support the implant.  This “hammock” is sewn into the ribs.  I wasn’t aware of this before my surgery, but afterwards my ribs were so tender that I could barely touch them and an underwire bra was painful to wear for years.  I asked the doctor why I had so much pain there and he explained what they did.

The other concern is that using your arms to push up can be tricky right after surgery. Michelle would climb up on her husband’s side of the bed and lie down on her back.  She tucked the drain closest to the topper in the cut out area and then rolled onto it.

The other great thing about the cut out area is that you can lie on your side and tuck a drain right in the hole.  Nothing touches the sensitive areas where the drains are inserted into your skin. The drain just sits in the hole, and doesn’t pull on your skin.

My surgery was before i thought about this product so I had to try to sleep sitting up with my arms propped up on pillows.  Two weeks of that was just plain depressing.  At least I get to use it now to get a massage, which is heavenly.

http://tatatopper.comI hope this information is helpful.  Michelle and I are always willing to answer questions, but we are not doctors so we can only speak to our own personal experiences.

 

TaTaTopper Update

What a year for the TaTaTopper! We have been incredibly busy this past year and let the time slip away. It appears that we haven’t written a blog in quite a while! So we decided we would update all of you who helped launch our company. We found out quickly that most people buy the TaTaTopper as a gift for friends either who are breastfeeding or recovering from a mastectomy. Because of this, we have rebranded and created a new package that is perfect for retail stores. It looks like a cute little gift box! We have also worked hard to create a sales kit that is both informative and attractive to give to retailers along with new brochures for a quick look at the TaTaTopper. In addition to our retail sales, Elements Massage in Short Pump has dedicated a massage room to women who want to use a TaTaTopper while getting a massage. We have also attended two trade shows, one in Atlanta and one in Dallas and continue to build awareness for our product. With more people shopping online, we have spoken to several people about SEO’s (Search Engine Optimization), which will help people find us online. Holy cow, that is a whole new world for us. But, it also has allowed us to expand globally. THE VEDP assisted us in translating our website into 3 different languages, German, French and Spanish! Our story is also in a college textbook that comes out this year. As you can see it has been a busy year for us. We wanted to send a quick update to everyone that so graciously supported us when we did the Indiegogo campaign as well as to our friends and family that provide us continued support and patience as we work to produce this product.

 

Thanks for a great year!

Marilyn & Michelle

Doing Good

I just read a quote on Facebook that a friend posted about “doing good”.  It struck a nerve with me because that tends to be my motto in life, and I know for certain Michelle feels the same way.  As a matter of fact, most women I know feel this way.

When we started our business our main goal was to “do good”!  We both had a strong desire to help other women recover more comfortably after having a mastectomy.  After all, the surgery is scary enough and being diagnosed with cancer, well, I think anyone can imagine how frightening that is.  The ability to rest while recovering is so important to the healing process, yet most women will just try to suffer through it and pray they get to live long enough to see their children grow up, get married and have grandbabies.

While on our journey to help other women, we have come to realize that women will suffer through pain and discomfort before helping themselves.  But if someone they love is in pain, they will move heaven and earth to help them.  As Michelle stated in an earlier blog, we have seen friends buy the TaTa Topper for friends, because they just want to help the ones they love.  But, we have yet to see a woman purchase one for herself.  We are told how important it is to take care of ourselves and put ourselves first so we can be here for the ones we love.  But putting others first is what we do.  I don’t think this is a quality that will ever change.  It is an innate behavior and it’s what makes us special.  We love deeply, and we take care of others.  That is what Michelle and I try to do each day.  We are blessed and grateful to have the opportunity, and to be here to see our children grow.

Workiversary

A lot can happen in a year

The other day, my LinkedIn account informed me that I had a work anniversary. I’m not sure what is worse, that I didn’t know for which company or that I had no idea how to check LinkedIn to see for which company. June is a big month for me in terms of anniversaries. I got married in June, had my first baby in June, started my first two businesses in June and now it turns out Marilyn and I have been in business for a year.

In some ways, it feels like we just started this whirlwind adventure and in other ways it feels like we’ve been working on this forever. Last June, we had a friendship, a prototype, and I was down to only one boob. Over the course of the summer we researched a lot of production options and talked to other breast cancer survivors and members of the breast cancer community.

By the Fall, we had entered into the StartupNextRVA competition. We were fortunate enough to receive exceptional help from local mentors and business owners. Winning that competition threw us into a spotlight we never expected to find. Many people have helped us since the fall. It’s almost silly to try to thank everyone. Winning that competition really gave us the confidence to launch a successful crowd funding campaign in turn giving us the ability to produce and package our first round of TaTa Toppers. This spring brought on tradeshows, two more high profile pitch competitions, a whole lot of press, and meetings after meetings.   At the end of our first year: we have learned more than we ever knew we needed to learn; I’m back to having two boobs; and we now kind of understand what web analytics means. We have had some ups and downs but as we set off on our summer of selling we continue to be motivated by the fact that we are helping women sleep better after a mastectomy.

Girlfriends

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Giving gifts is one of my secret loves. It’s exciting. I feel like I’m on a hunt. Finding the right gift for the right person brings me so much joy. I don’t always buy gifts, many times I make them or if you are lucky I’ll even cook for you. I prefer random gifts to birthdays or Christmas but giving a gift really is more than a custom to me. It’s all the things that I want to eloquently say but can’t ever find the perfect words: I love you, I admire you, I am proud of you, I respect you, or I want to help you.   So instead, I settle for a gift that I hope conveys how I feel.

Over the last couple of years, the word gift has popped up many times between Marilyn and me. Sometimes it’s unexpected but more often it flashes into a conversation when we are talking about the intangible kinds of gifts that we both seem so fortunate to receive from so many and each other.

That all being said, I don’t know why I am surprised that when Marilyn and I look over our sales of the TaTa Topper this year, almost 100% of our sales have been to women buying them for a friend. The power of girlfriends should never be underestimated. Every time we sell a TaTa Topper we have a moment of rewarding excitement that is always followed by a sinking feeling that makes us sad that another woman has to go through this. Mastectomies are tough but it totally rocks that girlfriends are the ones that step up to the plate and take care of their friends. And I love that we have created the perfect gift that women are choosing to give their friends to help them sleep after a breast cancer surgery. It’s truly the gift of comfort.

Gratitude

It has been said that a lot can happen in a year. It was about this time last year that I was weaning my baby girl and talking to my oncologist about what the best age would be to have a preventative mastectomy. For someone that grew up in a family of breastless women, it was a decision that I made many years ago. Perhaps, looking back I should have prepared myself better, but how could someone really prepare for a mastectomy. In two weeks, I will have my 7th and hopefully my final surgery in less than a year. After a long year, what I am most confident about is that this was the best decision for me. Not only, because I feel that I saved my life but also through the struggle my family has evolved and our priorities have changed.

Thanksgiving Day seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on the wonderful people in my life and to express the sincere gratitude I feel for the gifts that have been given to me.

I have these wonderful glimpses of memories from this year that make my heart just explode with love: standing in the shower as my sister washed my hair, my dad sleeping outside the bathroom door because I was too sick to come out, my sweet little boy running to me, laughing so hard at my brother that I had to kick him out of the recovery room, shaking with fear while a friend’s calm voice soothed me, friends convincing me that having no boobs made me look like a model, my mom loving my children, the stranger that snapped a picture of me with my drains to show his wife so that she too could get out of bed, the day that I could pick up my baby girl again, the countless women that noticed my drains or my breastless self that smiled warmly at me, the friends that were patient with me when I was not being such a great friend, the acquaintance that shouted across my gym “Michelle you look f*ing amazing” even though I only had one boob, being able to talk to my daughter about how lucky I am to be with her, and the countless people that have touched them and seen them now that there are two.

And there are two, two very important people. I can’t even express my gratitude except to say that the two of them held me up when I didn’t have the strength to do it myself.   As far as I’m concerned they are angels living among us. I have this amazing husband that not only survived this year but totally rocked it. He loves me; and lord I don’t know how sometimes. But whatever made him choose me makes me the luckiest girl in the world. Not only has he supported this decision, but cared for our children, and now knows how to be a both a mother and a father all at the same time. And then there is Marilyn, I am fortunate to have her as a partner in our new venture. For all of you that know her, know that she is kind and selfless beyond words. But to me, she guided me through this experience allowing me to only see the positives in this world. She is my person, my go to, just an amazing friend. And as far as our business, she is super creative, a brilliant public speaker and genuinely cares about every women we are helping. To say thank you will never be enough.

It has been exactly 324 days since my mastectomy. During that time, I’ve learned how important it is to be a better mom, better wife, and better friend. I feel so fortunate to have so much love around me and I am going to spend the rest of my life paying it forward. Our company, Marilyn and Michelle, and first product, the TaTa Topper, is the first step in our effort to make other women’s lives better. You all give me motivation everyday because of your love and support. I’m living a very full life. Thank you for being so much a part of it.

6 more days to reach our goal, Please consider donating to Our Crowd Funding Campaign

Big Things Happening

Things are getting exciting for the TaTaTopper and Marilyn & Michelle.  We entered a StartUp Next competition and won!  What an honor to compete against so many amazing start ups.  We know this is only the beginning of more hard work, but we learned a lot and met some wonderful people along the way.  We also started a Crowdfunding campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/tatatopper.   It runs through December 3rd and we are trying to raise $20,000.00 to help with the production costs of our TaTa Toppers.  So far we have raised over $11,000.00 and we are thrilled that so many people are supporting us and motivating us to keep working hard and get our product out to women who would benefit.

Shortly before we won the  StartUp Next competition a local online newspaper called Richmond BizSense contacted us and included us in an article at http://www.richmondbizsense.com/2014/11/16/woodworkers-kick-start-speaker-brand-online/  It was thrilling and we are hopeful it is one more way for people to find out about our product.

Not only is Stepping Stones carrying our product here in Richmond, but we were also contacted by an online breast cancer store called CureDiva.   They will be selling the TaTaTopper very soon at http://www.curediva.com.  A couple other companies are interested as well and we will be meeting with them soon.  In March we will be attending a trade show with retailers across the country.  That is something to look forward to.

As we continue to move forward, we are ever mindful that we must do well in order to do good.  Hopefully we will be bringing some comfort to women who need it very soon.

Marilyn & Michelle