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Archive for January, 2013

For many reasons, I wasn’t able to breastfeed the Babii beyond a week after her birth. Because of that experience, I tried very hard to breast feed our little BooBoo Bear. It wasn’t easy, because I was literally starting from scratch and in the beginning it was. Just. So. Hard.

I know I often belly ache about how hard it is to be so far from home and family, and giving birth in a far away land with no family is certainly one of the factors that make it so difficult. The hospital system is different. The hospital culture is different.

One thing that I really appreciated, though, is the emphasis that our hospital placed on breastfeeding. The babies stay with their mommies during the day and return to the nursery only at night. During this time, the mothers are expected to breast feed their babies, but formula is also available upon request.

I started off breastfeeding BooBoo Bear, but it seemed that she was always hungry and we could go at it for hours and hours because she would cry once I put her down. To top it off, my nipples started chafing until it came to the point when they started bleeding.

Ewww. TMI.

Apparently, even when a mother’s nipples start bleeding she should continue breastfeeding. It’s quite disconcerting, because aside from the physical pain that the mother feels, the baby spits up the blood. And in my hormone-anesthesia-pain killer induced haze, it looked a lot like I had a little vampire baby.

At that point I was just ready to throw in the towel and have a good cry. Googling for answers didn’t help, because all of these websites had mothers cooing about how wonderful breastfeeding was and how they bonded with their babies and how everything was sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. None of them seemed to have encountered any problems so why was I different? (Answer: It’s a breastfeeding conspiracy!!!!)

On our last day at the hospital I had taken to giving the BooBoo bear formula most of the time because I just couldn’t take the sight of the blood and the thought that she was drinking all that (I have issues). The night nurse had looked at my chart and came over to ask me why I wasn’t breastfeeding. When I explained to her why, she took a look at my breasts and let out an “Ayayay!” because they were so swollen.

“Get your baby. I will help you.”

So in the middle of the night I took the BooBoo Bear from the nursery and the night nurse stayed with me to make sure she was latching properly.

She was a big help that night and she kept me going when I was ready to give up. I wish I could say that we lived happily ever after, but there will always be glitches because that’s just the way life is.

The supply of breast milk was never enough, and I know websites say to just keep going because you will eventually get there, but I doubt the website would be of much help in the middle of the night when the baby is hungry and angry, and the boobies have released all the juice it could possible release at that point.

I’ve never been a fundie or a purist and I don’t have any issues about “exclusive breastfeeding.” Some mothers can supply all the breast milk their babies need and still have left overs to freeze and/or donate to charity. I am not one of those mothers. So I supplemented with formula and saved my sanity.

Now that I am back at work I am glad I made that decision, because there are just times when I can’t pump on schedule or don’t get to drink enough fluids.

It was hard enough to actually just get started on the breastfeeding and harder to maintain it given everything else that is going on in our lives without being anal about exclusivity. As long as my daughter is healthy and happy, I won’t waste my time worrying over it. I just wish I didn’t allow those websites to influence my own experience of breastfeeding the BooBoo Bear and make me feel inadequate about being a mother.

When we started out, I set myself a goal of six months. I didn’t think I would even last the week, but I did. We are now in the middle of our fourth month, and I wonder if I will have the heart to stop at six. But I will take it as I promised myself that night in the hospital: one day at a time.

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Levan restaurant

Like a true Negrense, I love food. Food is sacred and not something to be dealt with haphazardly. And because we are the sugar capital of the Philippines, we know desserts like the backs of our hands. Yup, we know the good life, and when life comes collecting, we have to pay.

Our family has lived with diabetes for as long as I can remember. My grandfather had it, and early in our childhood we were accustomed to seeing him use Equal instead of sugar in his coffee. Ironic, since he was in the sugar business.

His son, our uncle, also had diabetes early on. He dealt with it by exercising, cutting down on carbohydrates in his diet, and taking a daily dose of insulin.

My brother does not have diabetes, but has a rather strange blood sugar disorder (I am not quite sure how to call it, so doctors, feel free to correct me). He is not allowed to miss meals, because his blood sugar level will drop and he could faint or fall asleep and not wake up.

Bar Gurion Chocolate SouffleMy Independence Day souffle

When I found out I was pregnant with the BooBoo Bear, I became more cautious with the food I ate. Then I had my sugar test at around 20 weeks and it was (tadaaaa!!!!) normal.

At this point one would think that an intelligent creature would maintain what it was that they were doing to keep their blood sugar levels down.

Apparently I am not an intelligent creature because, despite my family history, I went to town on the Nutella and all things chocolate.

Brewhouse dessertMy blood sugar is high but my EQ is low

So at around 30+ weeks I looked like I was lugging around a giant watermelon and my body was threatening to go into labor. Needless to say, my doctor was NOT very happy.

Gestational diabetes only occurs when a person is pregnant, but once there, it raises their risk of having the actual thing later on in life. It also increases the baby’s risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes.

The solution was going cold turkey. I was placed on a horrible, horrible diet that threatened to drive me mad. I was in a foul mood for days until my body finally adjusted to the diet.

The dietician called it the “Mediterranean Diet.” I don’t recommend it to anyone, because it has to take certain things into consideration such as your body mass index, general health, nutritional requirements and such things. But for more than a month I subsisted on a few slices of (diabetic-friendly) bread a day, one egg, some 5% cheese, quinoa or brown rice, a small slab of meat, yogurt, fruits and veggies. Lots and lots of veggies.

Diet

Good thing I like veggies.

What surprised me the most was that I actually survived living on very basic food. Who knew the human body, a pregnant one at that, needed so little in order to survive and function?

I didn’t think I would make it to the finish line. I did. Eventually. But now I understand why my grandfather was so recalcitrant and would dip his fingers into some cake and ice cream when no one was looking.

I can’t even begin to imagine what life is like for people who have the full blown disease. At least in my case, I knew that once I gave birth it would all be over. I know I still need to take care with what I eat though, so no more midnight excursions for dessert. No more full course meals (except maybe after a day of fasting?). No more ice cream marathons (yes, I’ve been naughty!).

Everyday is still a challenge. I’ve set my limits and, thankfully, I’ve kept to them. For now. Crossing my fingers.

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Twins

Gabii and Sophie

Our babies, exact physical replicas of each other born ten years apart. And that’s as far as the resemblance goes.

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I am so ready for the new year.

As one can easily glean from my lack of blog posts, the second half of 2012 occupied me in ways other than blogging.

It started out in January, when our yaya MJ decided to move on and pursue her own plans. I am all for pursuing dreams, so I gave her my blessing and I buckled down to take on the household tasks that she used to handle. Having grown up in a household without maids, I knew what had to be done.

It wasn’t that difficult since the Babii is now ten years old and there were only the three of us (and three piggies), but when our little Boo Boo Bear started growing larger and developing her own personality in utero, physical exertions became harder and harder. Add to that gestational diabetes, work-related stress and rampaging hormones, and you basically have a recipe for disaster.

But there is a silver lining in any cloud. The Babii coincidentally started moving across that great divide between childhood and adolescence. It meant a lot of angst, mood swings and pimples, but it also came with an eagerness to be more involved in our day to day life (read: chores) and a certain level of maturity which has always been beyond her years.

The eventual arrival of our Boo Boo Bear and the transformation of our little team of three into a little gang of four is an epic story in itself which deserves its own series of posts.

For now, I look back at 2012 with relief that it is over, amazement that I actually pulled through it in one piece, and gratefulness that we continue to be blessed despite my whining and blubbering (I blame the hormones).

We have a lot of plans for this year. We look forward to seeing family again. We are excited to experience firsts again: first words, first steps, first trip to the beach. And I am eagerly awaiting good news (no, not another pregnancy!) which I will reveal in due time.

Yes, it’s definitely time to move on.

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