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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

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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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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So the Babii decided to become a pastry chef. A few years ago, she wanted to be a manicurista (manicure/pedicure girl). Then she wanted to be a parakeet trainer. After all our Masterchef Australia marathon sessions, she now wants to be a pastry chef.

No-cook lemon and strawberry cheesecake

The Babii with her no-cook lemon and strawberry cheesecake

It looks like a bloody expensive career that her father and I should probably start saving for, but on the bright side, she seems more serious about it than all her other previous “career options.” She actually takes the time to read cookbooks and research on the Internet. For the past year she has made her own cup cakes, cakes, tarts and pies and surprisingly, she seems to have a knack for baking.

I say “surprisingly” because I have a love-hate relationship going on with dough. Pie dough, bread dough, anything involving dough, tends to be a miss and miss thing with me. The Babii, on the other hand, took to dough like a fish to water, making her first pie ever with flying colors. Errr, sort of.

apple pie

When we first got the Good Housekeeping cookbook, the Babii was so fascinated with all the explanations and the wide array of pastries she could make. One night, she decided to make apple pie.

I told her she was on her own, seeing as my history of fudging pie crusts would not work in her favor. So she made her own dough and rolled it out. With a few questions here and there, she also made her own filling and assembled the pie.

apple pie

And voila!

apple pie

The house was filled with the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon baking in the oven. R, who is a big fan of apple pie, could hardly contain his excitement. He was given the honor of having first dibs on the pie.

As he put the first scoop of apple pie in his mouth, we held our breaths, waiting for the inevitable approving look. Instead, he made a grimace and looked like he had a hard time swallowing.

It appeared that the Babii, instead of putting 1/8 teaspoon of salt, had put in 1/8 cup. (Oh, agony! Oh, agony!)

Needless to say, she was appalled and horrified.

We tried to convince her that it was alright to make mistakes, that other than the salt issue, the pie was perfect. We told her she could make the pie again, but since that night she has not. She has made lemon meringue pie, chocolate tart, cheesecake, cookies, and lemon custard cake, but no apple pie.

Sometimes I ask her if she would make apple pie for me and she would wrinkle her nose and say, “Maybe next time. I’m still not over my last apple pie.”

My future pastry chef has apple pie trauma.

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Maybe it’s because of Mother’s Day, maybe it is just the natural progression of things, but these days there is more and more talk (debate?) about parents and what constitutes good parenting.

I am not in a position to judge people. We all have our own circumstances and we deal with them the best way we can. But I would like to relate my own experience with breastfeeding.

This was ten years ago, and the campaign for breastfeeding had yet to gain steam in the Philippines. I would like to note that we, as in most countries, have a strong pharmaceutical lobby which includes baby formula.

When I had the Babii, I specifically noted in the hospital form that I filled out that I intended to breast feed. Some things being beyond our control, however, it was decided at the last minute that I needed a C-section. That meant (at least at that time, to me) that I would not be able to care for the Babii during the first twenty fours (or more) after delivery, so we decided against having her in the same room as me and opted for her to stay at the nursery. I was assured by the hospital staff that I could still breastfeed.

Fast forward to delivery and recovery. After twenty-four hours, I could already stand and walk, albeit with some difficulty. I called the nursery to ask about the Babii. She was still sleeping, they told me. They promised to call me when she woke up so I could start breast feeding.

Hours passed. I called again. Oh, they fed her already. This went on for the next few days and, if I had not put my foot down and staked out the nursery, I would never have been able to breast feed my child.

It’s difficult to speculate on people’s motives ten years after the fact, but at that time I felt truly frustrated that my preferences/requests/instructions were not being followed by the hospital staff. We stayed at the hospital for five days, and all that time I staked out the nursery. Sometimes I was able to catch the Babii’s feeding time. Most times, I could not due to nursery visiting hours.

I was thankful when we finally went home, thinking that my breastfeeding issues would soon be over. I was wrong.

I was taking antibiotics for the operation, but I was assured by my OB-Gyne that it would not affect the baby if I breastfed. At home, however, I noticed that after each feeding, the Babii would have a wet bowel movement.

People (including doctors) have told me that it was not possible for a baby to have LBM from breast milk, but how can I argue with reality? Off to the pediatrician we went.

In the end, I decided to take the Babii off breast milk and put her on baby formula. The doctor prescribed a non-lactose formula for two weeks, and the Babii’s bowels became normal.

Was it the antibiotics? Had my daughter become used to formula from the nursery? Where was the problem?

I admit, I was dealing with a lot of things at that time and probably did not handle the entire thing as well as I could have. Next time around, I intend to go to the hospital better informed about my options and, yes, more assertive about how hospital staff handle me and my daughter.

Will things be better? Will I truly breastfeed this time around? I don’t know. But I would definitely try.

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Five Months

Five Months

It has been five months, officially. We’ve been over the moon, but it is still difficult for me to talk about it in public.

Of course, it is quite clear to everyone that there is a BABY ON BOARD. But after that traumatic fiasco last year, I have been quite selfish about sharing this happiness, our hopes, our dreams, our fears of going back to that horrible situation of having to deal not only with loss, but with THAT system.

We have a great doctor, the same one who helped us through that difficult time. Right now the focus is on being healthy, not getting stressed out (good luck with that!), and preparing ourselves for a major lifestyle change, especially now that we don’t have a nanny.

Obviously, my hormones are going crazy and everyday is a roller coaster ride.

Sometimes I think I’m crazy for thinking that we can do this in a foreign country with no family. But if the locals can manage it, why can’t we?

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So it’s week two with no yaya…. And because I am a worry wart, I obsess about it. But we are actually doing just fine.

We’ve just had to rearrange our schedules to fit in cooking times during the day, while cleaning and laundry have their own schedules during the week.

To tell the truth, my parents raised five children with no household help. We did have a very sturdy Sharp washing machine that lasted about twelve years, long enough for all of us to reach some semblance of adulthood, and a laundry lady that came twice a week to iron our mountains of clothes. My dad, who cooks to relax, did all the cooking while my mom, who was (still is) a neat freak, took charge of the cleaning. They had five little assistants, of course.

That experience served me well when I went off to university, and later on when I started working. I knew how to take care of myself. But I must admit that ever since we had the Babii, we’ve always had someone to help us out: parents, in-laws, siblings, aunts, etc.– Filipino social support system at its best. This is our first time, in a foreign country, to have none of that kind of support.

Well, so far, so good. We actually quite enjoy our little team of three– everyone stepped up to the plate, even the Babii who often had to be reminded of everything (“Comb your hair!” “Brush your teeth!” “Feed your piggies!”). I guess we are also soooo lucky that we have a good natured child who doesn’t complain about chores. Or anything much.

But perhaps I speak too soon. Let’s see what the teenage years bring.

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Flying saucer cake

All my fault, I swear.

I tried making this sinful chocolate cake from homecookingrocks.com about a year ago, with disastrous results. I left it too long in the oven and it came out hard and crumbly, more like a giant biscotti than anything else. No exaggeration there.

A few weeks ago, the Babii decided she wanted to give it another go. So after showing her the principle behind the double boiler, she set to work.

I was given the simple task of putting the batter in the cake pan. I remember I was in the middle of cooking something as well, and hurriedly poured the batter in, gave it a few taps, and told the Babii to chuck it in the oven.

A few minutes into the baking, we noticed that a ring had formed at the top of the cake, making the sides poof out like a pizza. At the end, the cake looked like this:

 Sinful Chocolate Flying Saucer CakeAaaah! It’s a flying saucer! No, it’s a giant chocolate ravioli!!!!

It was only when I sliced the cake that I realized there was a GIANT BUBBLE underneath that did not pop. Yes. Shoot me now.

At the end, the cake turned out to be all it promised. Crisp and flaky on the outside and moist and gooey on the inside. The Babii has promised to bake it for the MIL’s birthday. I just hope I don’t fudge it up again.

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