Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Good Wife

I was entitled to a maternity leave of 75 days, and today I'm in the home stretch. I was looking back at those days and I realized that I spent them entirely by taking care of the kids and doing the endless chores at home. Perhaps, the only time I could consider "personal" was whenever I was lucky that both kids happened to nap at the same time and I could watch an episode or two of my downloaded TV series, The Good Wife (TGW), usually while expressing milk.

One of those days spent watching TGW.
I was enjoying my Seattle's Best Javanilla, which was a peace offering from the husband.

TGW is a legal and political drama, which centered on the life of Alicia Florrick; (played by Julianna Margulies) a lawyer, mother of two kids, and wife to Governor Peter Florrick. The latter is former Cook County's State Attorney, who has been jailed after a public sex and corruption scandal. Alicia was an opt-out mom - she left her career and stayed at home with her kids during their formative years. After 13 years, she went back to the grind to practice law. 

There was one episode in TGW that struck me most. Alicia was in the midst of her routine as a lawyer; constantly in the middle of something, and at the beck and call of her clients. She wanted to breath and take a break for a minute, and she told her friend Kalinda, that when she was still a stay-at-home mom, there was a time in her daily routine that she looked forward to. Everyday, at 3PM, she would pour herself a glass of wine and enjoy the silence while waiting for the kids to come home from school. She said she was missing the silence at 3PM.

I know that in a few days, I will find myself saying the same thing - "I miss the silence at 3PM, when my kids are both asleep and I'm sneaking, almost in a juvenile way, to breath and take a break."

Don't worry, for photo purposes only. I separate them when they sleep.

Being with my kids and taking care of them was a very happy time - but one that could get really exhausting. I wouldn't mind much how they wear me out physically; but being emotionally spent, that was a different matter. Since emotions could get a bit high, (and I tend to be a bad mother when I'm emotional), I found that a breather was almost always a necessity. 

Just a small window in 24 hours - a time to recharge, to take a quick bath, turn on the TV, elevate my tired feet, drink a juice from the fridge, open a bag of chips, and pray that the kids stay asleep for the duration of at least one episode of TGW. 

After my break, my emotions would be on a clean slate again. When the kids wake up, I'd have more patience to tolerate tantrums and fake cries. I'd have more energy to carry a baby sucked to my breast.

I will miss that "window", the silence at 3PM. But I will miss the kids more. 

Last night, at bed, I was telling Zohan that I would resume office on Friday. He said, his voice breaking and his face pitiful, "Eh wag ka na pasok office. 'Se wala ako Nanay. Hanap kita, di ba?"

I wish I could tell my son how sorry I was that his Nanay was no Alicia Florrick. Bouncing back to the practice of law from a 13-year hiatus could happen only in TV series. (Well, at least to me.) 

I wish I could tell him how sorry I was that I could not be an opt-out mom. But it was a personal choice. I felt that I would be a better mother if I would continue working than if I stay at home.

So I hugged him instead. A tight hug that I hope could dispel the sadness in his sweet and innocent heart. And I resolved to myself that I would devote all of my time and all of myself to Zohan and Khaleid the second I step out of the office -- even if it meant I will never have a window again to recharge every 3PM. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Storage solutions for breastmilk

When I reviewed my blog's page views, the most visited entries were not the ones where I bled my heart out and shared my soul. Nope, no consolation for all that carnage. It was my posts about tips and reviews and everything practical that garnered the highest visits. So... In the guise of helping out fellow breastfeeding moms in their quest for wise storage solutions for their breastmilk, I am writing this post to increase my blog hits. (Kidding. Or not.) 

Here's a list of my own storage solutions that I thought could help out other breastfeeding mamas:

1. Invest in reusable storage cups and bottles.

When I had Zohan, my mother bought a lot of stuff for the baby, the Avent Via storage cups included. I used them for storage of breastmilk the whole time that Zohan was nursing. They were practical because they were sturdy, transparent, and definitely reusable. To put labels on the expressed milk, I just wrote through a micropore with pentel pen and then stick them to the cups. I could easily peel the label off when washing the cups.

Now that I have Khaleid, the Avent Via storage cups are making a comeback. I'm using these cups for storing milk that are intended to be consumed at home within 5 days from collection.


For a more organized appearance, you can stack them in twos and place them in small baskets that are available in different storage stores. I got these white baskets from Japan Home Centre for a very cheap price. 


In addition to my Avent cups, I also ordered these Autumnz storage bottles from Mamabella

Image from Mamabella's Facebook Page

I love that the bottles fit my Ameda Purely Yours breast pump, such that I can express milk directly to the storage bottles and put them right away in the refrigerator. 

I am anticipating that these Autumnz storage bottles will be a great help when I express milk in the office. (I only have almost two weeks left of my maternity leave.) Since the milk can be expressed directly to the storage bottle, I can do away with the collection bottle (which I used to tediously wash and pat dry after each session when I expressed milk for Zohan).

2. For the storage of milk expressed outside the house, use disposable plastic storage bags.

The reusable cups and bottles are practical, but they are quite bulky. So, everytime I go out or when we go home to the province, I just bring with me disposable storage bags. These plastic bags are a little pricey though, so if you're matipid like me, make sure to canvass for the cheapest brand. I've tried a lot - Ainon, Precious Moments, Spectra, and Orange and Peaches. They are all relatively cheaper compared  with other brands.

3. Position the plastic bags horizontally in the freezer, instead of vertically. 

I used to store milk in bags standing horizontally, since that was the only way it could accommodate 5-8 ounces of milk. But notice how bulky and disorganized they could get. It also used up a lot of space that the fridge no longer had room for our ulam.


I discovered that storing only 2-3 ounces per bag and filling it out vertically will make a more practical way of storing inside our fridge. 


Just stack them up!

4. Divide the collected milk into volumes of one feeding and store them into separate bags/bottles.

Once a person has gone through the hassle of expressing breastmilk at least once in their life, they are likely to realize that the adage "no crying over spilled milk" really makes no sense. Every single drop of milk is too valuable, you wouldn't want to waste it.

So, to ensure that there will be no spilling or throwing away of expired milk, I store milk in their containers per volume of a single feeding. As a result, it is easier to transfer milk to the feeding bottle (I can just empty the entire bag!). More importantly,  since it's good for one feeding, there are usually no left-overs that get stale.

However, there's a downside to this tip. If one feeding, let's say consisting of 2 ounces, is stored in one bag, it will be impractical and expensive since each bag will not be utilized to its full capacity of storing up to 12 ounces. Even if a reusable cup/bottle is used instead of a disposable plastic bag, it will take up so much space in the refrigerator.

So, mommies, just take this tip based on what you're not willing to discard - breastmilk, money, or space.

5. For expressing milk in the office, invest in a compact and practical storage bag.

I used to carry bags upon bags of pumping paraphernalia when I expressed milk for Zohan. I also carried a small cooler for the ice packs and collected breastmilk. You could imagine how bulky and heavy it was! (You can read about it here.)

Now, I am so glad to have found a small bag that can carry it all. It's so compact it looks like I'm just carrying my baon. Meet my Posh Autumnz Storage Bag (also available at Mamabella):



It's actually a bi-level bag. The top can be used to store breast pump, micropore, and pentel pen. The bottom portion can accommodate all ten Autumnz storage bottles, but if you want to make room for the ice packs, you can store at least six bottles. Both top and bottom are insulated so you don't have to worry that the milk will not be cold enough.





6. Collect milk for short-term and long-term storage.

I am lucky that my milk's supply is more than Khaleid's demand. Since there seems to be an abundance of milk, my first morning collection are intended for long term storage. I place them in plastic storage bags to be frozen and stored up to three months. For the rest of the day, the milk that will be collected are for short-term storage. They are placed in the disposable cups for immediate consumption (meaning within the next five days). 

This system gives me enough assurance that even if my supply dwindles, or when I cannot express milk religiously, Khaleid will still have the frozen milk to consume while I work on increasing my supply.

There you go. I hope I was able to share something practical to the mommies out there. If you have other tips that you swear by, do hit the comments button. After all, they said it takes a village to raise a child, so let's be part of each other's village.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Who's who?

Can you tell?




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Khaleid's Birth Story (and my failed VBAC Attempt) - Part II

 "There could also be an initial attempt to do labor but after several nerve-wracking pushes, the baby's head turns out to be too large or the mommy's pelvis too small to allow the baby to pass through. In all of these, there would be a gut-wrenching pain, from labor or otherwise, followed by a relief that when everything else seemed to fail, the mother would be summoned to the operating room for incision for her own good. These mothers would end up with a scar from the CS operation, but they fought a battle, and they fought hard."
                                                             - An excerpt from my very first VBAC Post 


After a long, arduous, and exhausting trial labor, my efforts were all for naught because I wasn't able to deliver through a varginal birth. In medical jargon, the failed VBAC was because of "arrest in descent, secondary to cephalopelvic disproportion".  In ordinary parlance, the baby's head was too big and my pelvis was too narrow.

But for me, the real reason was the Universe working its way to save me from a looming danger. I was wide awake during the CS operation, that's why I was able to witness why God refused to listen to my plea for a normal delivery. 

Upon opening up the previous wound, Dra. Guinto immediately discovered that my first CS operation had not just one, but two incisions inside! That would have been okay, except that while the first stitch was low transverse (which is the primary requirement before a VBAC is allowed), the other stitch was VERTICAL - a contraindication of VBAC (the kind of incision with a higher risk of uterine rupture). 

The reason why Dra. Guinto allowed me to try VBAC was because I was a qualified candidate - or so we thought. The operative record of my previous CS operation indicated a low transverse incision, which led us to believe that I could pull off a VBAC without any unusual risk. (I wrote about the requirements for a VBAC candidate here.

But that was where the problem lied -the record indicated only the transverse incision; thus, neither Dra. Guinto nor I would know about the second incision. As to why the operative record did not accurately reflect what was done inside my body was something I refused to ruminate. It was water under the bridge.

At 10:16 AM, "baby out" was finally announced by Dra. Guinto. I heard my baby's cry and I let out a sigh of relief. 

When Khaleid was handed to me, there were no tears of joy or music playing in my head or thoughts of magical moment. Of course, I was glad that we were both safe, but I was so ready to close my eyes to sleep. I was that exhausted. But I couldn't sleep just yet. Khaleid was immediately placed in my breast for the "Unang Yakap". With just a few attempt, he latched properly and our breastfeeding journey began.

At this point, Dra. Guinto and her team was still at me, re-doing the stitches from my previous operation. She figured it would take her hours to "improve" the old stitches. When I heard her making calls to cancel all her appointments that morning, it dawned to me how fortunate I was to have found a very competent doctor. It was a good call she made to discontinue my VBAC attempt. With the vertical stitch inside my body, who knows, I might be just one push away from uterine rupture.

At around 2:00 PM, Khaleid and I were wheeled into our private room, where Kristan had been anxiously waiting. Kristan was alone in the room since my labor began and I could just imagine the worry and anxiety that he had to go through for hours. He kissed me on the forehead and whispered how much he loved me and how grateful he was to me for enduring everything. 

After two and a half days, I was cleared to go home. I stepped out of the hospital leaving my hopes of a vaginal birth behind. It was not only the end of my VBAC journey; it also meant that we could not try for more babies. But that's okay - I had always believed in the greater scheme of things. I knew the Universe knows better than me. 

The most important thing was how blessed we were to have been entrusted once again with another being - to raise, to nurture, and to love. It was a wonderful, wonderful journey which ended so beautifully with me endlessly taking a whiff of my baby's scent and planting kisses on his cheeks to my heart's content.



You can read PART I here.
You can read all my VBAC-related posts here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

We Turned Three!

March 07, 2014

I was awakened at 5:30 AM because Khaleid needed a diaper change. After the task, I remembered what date it was today. I moved Zohan beside Khaleid to go near my husband and greeted him a Happy Anniversary. 

"Mahal, anong ginawa natin sa loob ng three years?", I asked. "Gumawa ng dalawang bata.", he chuckled. I laughed and thought to myself, well, these days, our marriage is actually defined by our kids.

Today, we celebrate our third year of marriage. To be candid, all thoughts of romance had been pushed over by other grown-up concerns. It's so hard to think of love for your husband when you are sleep-deprived, reeking of poop and breastmilk, clad in milk-stained lousy shirt, and with hair last combed since God-knows-when.

So I thought, today's post would only be a you-tube video of Coca-Cola's advertisement - which best described our household situation as of late.



So anyway, I went on with my daily routine - took care of Khaleid's morning rituals, struggled with Zohan to eat his breakfast, cleaned up last night's mess, and sent Zohan to the playground so that I could cook lunch. Kristan left early for work.

Then I heard a knock from the door and I thought to myself, Zohan went up early, I have not yet finished cooking lunch.

I was stunned when I opened the door and was greeted by a bouquet of flowers handed by a delivery guy. It took me a few minutes to process the fact that my husband, (yes the same husband I talked about here) sent me flowers. I was in utter disbelief. But also, grinning from ear to ear.

I was thinking what made him a different man. Until I realized that the night before, (hold your breath!) I served him the meanest sweet and sour meatballs for dinner. So yes people, men - they're all the same. If you want to get to their hearts, you must go through their stomach.

Happy Third Anniversary, Mahal. Ang landi landi mo. Mwah!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Khaleid's Birth Story (and my failed VBAC attempt) - Part I

I gave birth to our second son, Khaleid Immanuel, in the morning of February 3, 2014 via an emergency caesarian section. I was hoping for a Vaginal Birth After Caesarian (VBAC) so I was a little frustrated that I had to be cut open once more. But in hindsight, I'll dare say I'm still lucky things did not go my way, as there was an unforeseen risk that could have cost me my life had I insisted on vaginal birth.

I had my last check up with Dra. Guinto on January 29 (Wednesday) and after an internal exam, she said I'd give birth within the next seven days. Thereafter, I had been having bloody show and contractions had been coming at irregular intervals. Despite the signs, I knew it wasn't time yet, so I went on with my routine as days went by.  

On Saturday, I was restless and anxious that I couldn't get myself a decent sleep. I was up until 4:00 AM, timing contractions that were still intermittent. On Sunday morning, contractions became a bit painful. That's when I knew I was nearing the D-day.

However, I was resolved to postpone going to the hospital until the pain becomes unbearable. I'd rather hurl invective in the comfort of my home than embarrass myself in the labor room. Besides, if I go to the hospital at the first sign of pain, and my dilation and effacement would progress slowly, I was afraid the doctors would become impatient and cut me up instead.

So with the thought of increasing my chances of VBAC, I went on to do the usual "palengke Sunday" with my husband instead of going to the hospital. I was wincing in pain in between haggling for the price of meat and weighing vegetables. After our errand, I stayed put and monitored the pain, which increased in intensity. And at the end of the long day, I managed to sleep through the pain.

I was awakened at around 1:00 AM because Zohan was coughing very badly. I got up to carry the poor kid and lull him back to sleep; when I realized my contractions were disturbingly painful. Although bearable, I knew it was time to hit the road. 

When we arrived at Manila Doctors, I was examined by the doctor and was told that I was already 6cm dilated. I was sent to the labor room where I would spend hours in labor pain. Dra. Guinto arrived soon enough and she patiently monitored my progress. Hours passed but I did not become fully dilated. At 8:00 AM, Dra. Guinto was already lecturing me on shifting to a caesarian operation. 

She gave me a final attempt and ordered me to try pushing. I gave out all my strength to do an epic push as if my life depended on it. To our surprise, I became 10cm dilated. At 9:00 am, Dra. Guinto said normal labor is a go. I was wheeled into the delivery room. Despite my exhaustion from seven hours of labor pain, I was grinning from ear to ear. This is it, I said to myself.

At the delivery room, the nurses and staff were in full force to help me push every time a contraction would come in. Since I had been waiting for that moment, I mustered all the remaining strength in my weary body to make strong pushes. Dra. Guinto said I was one of her powerful "pushers"; but it seemed that wasn't enough.

For an hour, I experienced strong contractions, to which I responded with even stronger pushes. But for reasons only my body could answer, my dilation would spring back and forth. Dra. Guinto could already feel the baby's head but since there was an arrest in descent, the baby just wouldn't come out. It also didn't help that baby's head was so big and my pelvic bone was too narrow.

At 10:00 AM, Dra. Guinto gave me last two chances to make a push before she would order an arrest CS. I began each push with a prayer. I took a deep breath and gave out the most powerful force I could give, but to no avail. The baby's head was already stuck inside with all the back and forth movements it underwent. The doctors were already concern with uterine rupture of my previous CS wound since I had been in labor for eight hours. The inevitable came and an emergency caesarian operation was ordered. I closed my eyes and accepted what I considered defeat...

(Part II here.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Birth and Death

The past two weeks went by in a blur. Everything around me seemed to be spinning, and I was a mute follower who would automatically function to survive another day. 

On Monday, February 3, 2014, at exactly 10:16 in the morning, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. 


We named him Khaleid Immanuel. I delivered him via an emergency caesarian section. (Not through VBAC, as everyone had hoped. More on that when I regain my sanity and when I find the time.) Aside from the failed VBAC despite eight excruciating hours of labor, my delivery had been uneventful. Khaleid was born a healthy baby. I was up and about sooner. And my recovery was surprisingly fast and easy. Perhaps, it was to prepare me for the things to come.

The following day, my hunch had been confirmed. I always felt that something was terribly wrong with the health condition of my Nanang. I knew it was coming, her death.  In fact, while I was on the operating table, I was praying that her death wouldn't be too near my delivery date so that I would have time to recuperate and go home to her. I was hoping that she could wait for me, for us, a little longer. But she was probably too tired. On the morning of February 4, 2014, a day after I had given birth, I received the news that Nanang passed away.

I was trying to sleep after I had breastfed Khaleid when I heard my husband received a call from Nanay. It was the usual updating of what our day had been about, when I heard Kristan said that I was sleeping, then he stepped out of the room and continued with the conversation outside. I knew that was it. When he returned after what seemed like forever, I was sitting already. I just asked him to tell me when. He knew I was aware of what's happening. I could feel it from the deafening silence of my family. Ngayon lang, pagtawag ni Nanay, he said. 

I broke down in tears. I imagined the last time I was with Nanang. I looked at my son. I took a deep breath. She wasn't able to wait for us. She needed to rest. 

I was given clearance to go home the afternoon of my second day in the hospital. I could walk, I could carry my son, I was not feeling any pain - a far cry from my recovery when I gave birth to Zohan. I couldn't help but think that Nanang was also behind my speedy recovery - so that I could already be by her side soon.

On Wednesday, we sought clearance from Khaleid's pediatrician if he could travel to Batangas despite his very tender age. The doctor said as long as I am exclusively breastfeeding, Khaleid would have all the protection he would need. Fortunately, he was already nursing while the doctors were closing the stitch of my CS wound. We never had any problem with breastfeeding since then. 

Nanay came home from Rome on Thursday night.

We went home to Batangas for the wake of my Nanang on Friday. 

I would never forget the day that we arrived home. As I stepped closer to her coffin, I took a deep breath. I tried to imagine her face - the beautiful, the serene, the image of a gentle soul. I convinced myself that with all the years she spent with me, that day should be a day of acceptance and gratitude. I prayed to God to always remind me of that thought, because that was the only way I know to alleviate the pain.



Goodbye Nanang. As I mentioned when I kissed your forehead for the last time before your coffin was finally closed, Maraming Salamat po sa lahat.

I will always look at Khaleid with you in my thoughts.  

(http://legallymama.blogspot.com/2012/04/tribute-to-woman-who-raised-me.html?m=1)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Baby Shower for Khaleid

"Surrounded by friends who are more like family, I can see that you are already well-loved.." 

That's lifted from one of the messages of our friends to our second son Khaleid on the occasion of the baby shower they threw for us last Saturday. The message struck a chord - I was deeply touched by their gesture, and also very overwhelmed with the thought that my friends love my family like theirs.


Truth be told, I knew my friends were planning a baby shower for our second baby. It had been a sort of tradition amongst us, despite what I read somewhere that there should only be one baby shower in a mom's life. (Check out my post about the baby shower they threw when I was pregnant with Zohan - here and here - and when Boinks was pregnant with Kloud - here.) But despite the knowledge that they were brewing something for the Cristobals for the second time, I was still in awe because they never seem to run out of amazing party ideas.

The baby shower was held last Saturday at Sophie's Mom. (Our first time at Sophie's Mom here.) We were joined by our friends from lawschool and my good friends from my last lawfirm. 


Our first activity was to eat - haha! We were served with pasta and quiche (I had to google that!). 


My friends said the food was good but I wasn't really hungry at that time. Plus, I was excited for the rest of the activities, so I wasn't really paying attention to my food.

Then the girls played a game of drawing the most pretty buntis. The one drawing was blindfolded while the other team member did the coaching. Vanec and Kat emerged as winners. (Both got engaged recently, so congratulations!)


And my favorite - the gift giving part! You know what touched me the most? They knew it could be difficult to introduce a new baby to Kuya Zohan, so they also bought a little something for our panganay. Zohan was happy, of course! I guess he wasn't expecting it because the night before, I thoroughly explained to him that the gifts we would be receiving at the party would be for his baby brother. (Oo, assuming talaga ako na may gifts!) So the entire time, he happily played with his own gifts!
See? He couldn't be bothered!

Anyway, here are the photos of the gifts for baby Khaleid. 



Photo taken from my iphone. Not part of the official photos.
Thank you guys!!!! I loved them all and I'm sure Khaleid will love them, too. I will make sure all these items will be put to good use.

After the gift-giving, we were served with coffee and cupcakes. I particularly loved the red velvet cupcake; it goes very well with dark coffee. You should try it! 

Photo taken from my iphone. Not part of the official photos.

Then we had the final game - which was to write the most number of items in a given category. (For instance, name the items that could be found in mommy's hospital bag, or name the vaccines for babies.) Since most of my friends are still single, each group had a "mommy" to act as the leader. 

They also wrote a little note for Khaleid about what's in and what's happening around us at the moment he's about to be born. (i.e, Vhong Navarro was beaten up, Kat Rances got engaged, the weather was unusually cold, etc.) It would be an interesting read when he grows old.

They also prepared a little give-away which was themed "old candies". Remember Haw-haw? Ahh, the memories. (Zohan and I had been munching on them for several days after the party.)

Photo taken from my iphone. Not part of the official photos.
We then wrapped things up with a little speech from me and my husband. And of course, a good photo, as souvenir. 

My son - in full character!!

I am really grateful for having these crazy bunch as my friends. We've been friends for almost ten years now and I know my family can count on them for anything. They were there when Kristan and I became an item (much to their surprise!). They were there when we broke up; reconciled; gotten married; and had our first born. They're here now as we welcome a new addition to the family. Thank you for everything, dear friends. Sabi nga ni Kristan, "Sana wag kayong magsawa, kasi wala pa kaming anak na babae." #pataytayojan

*Sophie's Mom is located at Corner Santol and Aranga Streets in San Antonio Village, Makati City. It's a good place to host small and intimate affairs. You may contact the owner through their Facebook Page here.

*Our official photographer is Charades and Parades. They are very competent and affordable! Visit their Facebook Page here for details.




Monday, January 27, 2014

What's Inside my Hospital Bag

I am officially 38 weeks pregnant, which also marks the start of my maternity leave. I'm less than two weeks away from my expected date of delivery but if it were up to me, I prefer to pop my little boy out already! But my last check up showed that my baby is still in a high position; so I have no choice but to keep myself busy in the meantime. 

As a result, my husband and I have been nesting like crazy, buying this and that for the house. We finally had the time to attend to the making of my requested birthday gift - a simple custom-made cabinet in our bedroom! We commissioned a carpenter from Bulacan, who copied the designs I got from different websites. We're so happy with the results, and we've been nesting ever since!

Of course, the preparation of my hospital bag is on top of the things that keeps me occupied. This is my second pregnancy so packing my hospital bag is an easier task now. I have eliminated so many items from my old list (the one I used with Zohan) since now I know which items are essential and which are not.

Here's what's inside my hospital bag (maleta, to be exact!)

For Baby:

3 sleeveless tops
2 overalls
6 pajamas
3 short-sleeve tops
3 long-sleeve tops
2 receiving blankets
3 pairs of Mittens
3 pairs of Booties
3 Bonnets
Curity/burp cloths
Alcohol, wipes and cotton
Lactacyd (Blue)for taking a bath

I also prepared a bag which will be given to the nurse in the delivery room/operating room. It contains stuff which they will use to dress up my baby once he comes out:

1 small-sized overalls (if he turns out to be tiny)
1 large-sized overalls (if he turns out like his Kuya Zohan, who's a 9-pounder)
Bonnet
Mittens
Booties
Receiving blanket
Swaddle blanket

(Make sure to label the bag with your name and your baby's name so that the nurses/hospital staff will know where to return the bag with the rest of the unused items.)

For the Mommy:

6 maternity pads (I anticipate that we will only stay in the hospital for a short time.)
One pack of disposable underwears (since I do not expect myself nor my husband to wash my underwear for the duration of our hospital stay. I got mine from Watson's. It's pretty cheap but I have yet to try it if it's comfortable enough.)
6 cotton underwears, in case the disposable ones won't work
Nursing cover (I hope to nurse the baby as soon as possible; so to keep my visitors from being distracted, I packed my old nursing cover.)
3 comfortable dresses with buttons down for easier access when nursing. 
3 pajamas when I get cold
3 pairs of socks
Slippers
Toiletries
Headband - my bangs is the last thing I want to mind when I'm in the pain and agony of labor (fingers crossed!)
One transparent envelope which contains the following:
Government documents and other forms (forms for SSS, Maxicare and Philhealth, original copies and photocopies of the ff: marriage certificate, Kristan's birth certificate and my birth certificate)
Hospital documents (admitting order, mommy check-up book, lab results from day 1 of my pregnancy onwards, and the entire record of my pregnancy with Zohan - in case they need to check my history for VBAC purposes)
ID and cards (Philhealth ID, Maxicare ID, Mercury suki card, SSS-UMid)

For the Daddy:
Clothes and underwear for a 3-day stay
Pillow and blanket
Slippers
Toiletries
Gadgets - tablet, kindle, headset, chargers

That's it. These are all packed in one maleta, so that we'll only be lugging around one bag. The maleta has been sitting in the trunk of our car for almost two weeks now. We put it there the day I reached my full term.

I also have my usual hand bag which contains my phone, wallet, cards, make-up kit, wet wipes, keys, etc.. It's just waiting to be picked up from the corner of our bedroom when the time comes.

Aside from these, we also have gifts for Zohan. I got the idea from Anna's blog - to buy a gift for the older brother, supposedly coming from the baby. We will give the gifts to Kuya Zohan when we come home from the hospital. We got him play doh and coloring books and a small car - his interests of late.

We are more than ready for the D-day, at least insofar as the bags are concerned. As to when and how - we are eagerly and also anxiously anticipating! But at almost 39 weeks, there are no signs yet - no loss of mucuous plug, no bloody show, no regular contractions. So please help me plead with my baby - come out, come out wherever you are!!!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The terrible but wonderful "Two"

A few months ago, I started a draft post about the inevitable - Zohan reaching the "terrible two" stage. I introduced the post by saying it was as if he magically sprouted thorns overnight to replace his otherwise sparkling halo. For some reason, I wasn't able to finish the draft. A few months later, I revisited the draft and I realized so many changes occured that the entire post needed an overhaul.

At the beginning of Zohan's "terrible two" stage, it was indeed what the literature said it would be. He wouldn't share his toys and food; he'd always get his playmates' toy; he'd hit on his playmates; he'd always resort to crying when he couldn't get his way - it was always an episode of a long and annoying meltdown. Zohan did it by the book, it was definitely TERRIBLE! And I was left clueless, doubtful of my ability to be a mother, and in a constant sour mood, to the point of having a meltdown myself.

So I read whatever I could get my hands on regarding any write up on dealing with the "terrible two" and I researched a lot on the internet. There were a lot of tips, sure. But I reckoned it was difficult to apply most of them. At the end of the day, I found myself handling the situation based solely on instinct and necessity.

Until something happened last December which took a turn in our otherwise chaotic household. I scheduled a long leave from work and my husband and I became stay-at-home parents. Our companions left for Christmas break, so it was just the three of us at home.

It was an opportunity for us to really know Zohan - his attitude at play, his preferences, his mood swings. I had to admit, on weekdays, Zohan spends more time with the yaya than with us. And a two-day weekend wasn't enough to really understand his daily quirks. I accepted the raw and painful truth - that no matter how hands-on of a mother I tried to be, it was quite impossible to really know my kid when I have an 8:00 to 5:00 job.

So our two-week vacation had been all about bonding and understanding our son better. I noticed that he was at the "exploratory" stage. He'd always prefer to join me in whatever I was doing, so I let him be. He'd help me handwash our clothes, prepare our meals, wash the dishes; then he'd turn to his Tatay and help him shine the furnitures, mop the floor, and fix whatever broken stuff they could find at home.

Of course, Zohan wasn't really helping. It took more time and effort to get things done when there were tiny little hands messing around. But it kept the little boy entertained. And this was what I learned - keeping him entertained keeps the tantrums at bay! 

When I say entertained, I wasn't referring to toys or tablet or the TV. He easily grew tired of them. What I did was to let him play outdoors and allow him to do everything he wanted to do at the playground. And once we were inside the house, I made sure to keep him "involved" in what we do. That meant more work for me and my husband- but I'd take late-night picking up of legos and mopping the floor (after I tucked the boy to bed) than a house that's spic and span but with a cranky baby in it.

Now, at almost 2 and a half years old, I noticed lot of changes in Zohan. He stopped hitting his playmates (he still retaliates, but that's another tricky issue). He'd ask permission from us before proceeding to do some actions and accept it when we say no. (There were times that he'd cry and take it badly, though.) He started sharing his toys and food again, but only after a very long and tedious explanation.

The bottomline is - there had been a huge improvement in his attitude compared to when he just turned two! And what was more interesting was how he suddenly turned into this very sweet little man who'd always make us smile with his quips. He would give us random hugs and kisses, he became very thoughtful in his words, and he would surprise us with his affection that wasn't taught or forced.

Not only that - we could already talk to him because he could respond intelligently to questions. At bedtime, he'd always ask us to tell him stories of random stuff. Not a very easy task because really, what interesting story could you make out of curtains or lights or walls? But it was amazing how he could remember our stories from several nights ago. So most nights, we'd rack our brains out to come up with truthful but interesting stories about the most mundane things that caught Zohan's attention.

And this is why my old post needed an overhaul - to include that while being at age two is indeed terrible, it is also a wonderful, incredible and heart-melting stage. 

I used to find myself contemplating on whether I should throw my son out the window whenever he would give me a meltdown. But now, that doesn't happen anymore (okay, maybe sometimes!) because I learned how to deviate away from an escalated level of tantrums. Now, I find myself often wanting to squeeze my son tight out of fondness and love and gratitude.

And if I may just share, here are what I learned so far with Zohan's terrible two stage:

1. Keeping him entertained helps keep the tantrums at a bare minimum.

2. In relation to item 1, I practice tolerant parenting. (Okay, I made that up!) "You want to mess with the clothes that I painstakingly folded for hours? Go ahead. You want to peel the garlic, sure!" As long as my son's life or other people's lives will not be put to risk, I tolerate pretty much everything at home.

3. The stages in the life of kids change very rapidly. The tantrums, the fake cries, the bad mood - they won't last for very long.  The next thing I know, the terrible part is over. They all come to pass. So I just bear with it, try to be more patient, and wait until the next interesting stage comes up. 

4. And as with most things about parenting, the ones that really matter is not up to my hands. I may decide whether it's okay to give him chocolates first thing in the morning. But if my kid will grow up to be a good person despite the daily, sometimes inconsequential rules of parenting - that's really up to him. So when everything else fails, I just lift it up to a Higher being.

I'm only halfway the age two, so what do I really know? These things seem to work for me; just take it with a grain of salt. These, and a piece of chocolate on a very bad day doesn't hurt.

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