Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Great Breastfeeding Debate

When girl friends and relatives had learnt that I was pregnant, their constant reminder was, "Try breastfeeding." Back then, my response was always "why not?" Or "why shouldn't I?" It was only when I have given birth when I realised that the struggle to breastfeed was real.

First, it was frustrating that in-laws, parents, and random strangers are frustrated that you're not breast feeding despite the assurance of nurses and my OB that the milk would eventually flow after three days or so. There was a sudden panic-attack of "what if I don't have milk? Will my baby be deprived of its health benefits? Am I a good mommy?"

While I was still in the hospital, I began googling for "food to improve lactation" and even "why is there no milk in me?" Or "how to get rid of annoying unwanted advices from strangers." (joke!) It was not even helpful that other mommies in the hospital, regardless if you know each other or not, would seem to wonder why you don't have milk yet since theirs started leaking while they were on their first trimester. "It will come in, people! I will text you all when it did."

Of course, when it finally did came in, there was no sudden gush of le precious milk right away. It started with a few drops of yellowish liquid colostrum - said to be the healthiest part of a breast milk - before white milk would come in a few more (sigh) days after. So, white milk or none, we still breastfed baby Charley every day.

A hungry baby figuring out how to latch and suck without drowning or starving herself and hurting me in the process can be tiring, too. When I'm exhausted from lack of sleep (since our yaya has gone awol for holidays), it's not easy to be patient all the time especially since baby Charley seems to be hungry every hour. Not to mention my roommate and my mom were constantly asking, "Are you sure she's getting enough milk from you?"

Sometimes, I would really wish to give up and give in to exclusive formula-feeding.

But I didn't.

Good thing I didn't.

We would offer to breastfeed her first before giving her formula milk. Yes, that meant regardless if she's getting any milk or not. That way I could get use to the process and baby Charley would make my body think that I needed to produce milk soon -- for everyone's sanity. It was only after a couple of days that we were able to "drain" the colostrum and the white milk finally (yay!) flowed.

It has taken some time before baby Charley and I both figured out how to do this breastfeeding thing without disowning each other. It was a journey we both shared and we're thankful for we got that done with.

Baby Charley was not breastfed exclusively during her first few weeks. There were times that we would give her formula milk, Nan HW One, which was prescribed by her pedia while we were still in the hospital (remember, I had no milk yet back then?). We made her finish the can first, and she would drink an average of 3 bottles every day. We bought Nan HW One for almost Php1,200 so I am so not throwing that money away.

Once we had finished the can, we decided to give exclusive breastfeeding a shot. We've finished our first week and so far, baby Charley does not look underfed at all. Yes! 

I hope we could continue exclusively breastfeeding baby Charley when I go back to work. I've heard that I can pump then put the milk in the fridge, and it could last for days. I'm not sure about how to heat it though or if I should. That one we're still trying to figure out.

On the other hand, some mommies prefer not to breastfeed their babies. I know one who has very low pain tolerance and could not really take being sore. Some could not because of time or of their work schedule. My sister-in-law couldn't breastfeed my nieces before since she used to work in Makati while my nieces stayed in Batangas. Sadly, some mommies just didn't have enough milk.

Baby Charley and I are very fortunate that I could still breastfeed her, but we still have very high respect for mommies who gave their babies formula milk instead. No judgment ika nga. After all, what matters is that the baby is well-fed and loved....breastfed or not.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Only Man in Our Princess' Eyes

My daughter and her Daddy have a very special relationship - even I can't break through. I could feel how close they are with each other that makes me "jelly" at times, but thinking about it...I just love watching them together. 

When I was still pregnant with Charley, my roommate (my husband, btw) loved talking to her. Sometimes, he would read her stories or simply make kwento how his day went. It was one of the first daddy-daughter bonding they had together. Baby Charley would sometimes respond (I think) with tiny kicks in my tummy. 

Roommate has a 7pm - 4am work schedule. Sometimes, he would come home around 4:30 or 5am. There are rare occasions that he would be home by 1 or 3am. However, regardless of what time he would be home, baby Charley (still in my tummy) "knew" that he's home or was about to come home na. I could feel her jump - nope, somersault and do the wave in my tummy. Quite painful at times, these "waves" seemed like a "Welcome home, Daddy" greeting to me. Whenever this happened, I knew that the main door downstairs would open soon. This has happened without fail. 

When I gave birth, we weren't able to see baby Charley right away. She needed to be kept in the NICU until our discharge from the hospital. Yes, that meant three long agonising nights for my mag-ama. My roommate, however, would drop by the viewing room whenever he's allowed to see his daughter. Yes, he would leave me alone in the room - with the IV, catheter, and all - just to take a peek of his precious princess. 

My man and his girl
The first thing my husband did when we finally got home, despite in-law's warnings, was to snuggle, carry, and sway baby Charley. Spoiled her he did! He would do this tirelessly until we, I mean I, fall asleep every night. In fact, I'm not sure whether he sleeps at night. When Charley moves in her crib, he would be the first to check on her. When she cries or even whimpers, he would carry her right away. When Charley loses her one of her mittens, he would get a new pair and make sure they're still bagay to her outfit that time. When my Mom bought Charley her binky (pacifier), he was the only one who felt sorry for Charley wasn't able to cry in full blast. Thankfully, Charley loves her binky now. 

Because of all these, it's not rocket-science why my daughter - whom I carried for 9 months, who gave me all those "battle scars" from PUPPPs and C-section delivery, who was the reason I suddenly became allergic to eggs, who made me gain weight beyond my wildest expectations, who was the reason behind my ugh eye-bags and belly fat - prefers her Dad over me. Simply put, I am but a vessel - a baby carrier for 9 months and a milk provider for the mean time. 

She would cry on me until her Daddy gets her from me as if I'm the kontrabida in her teleserye. She would coo, smile, and laugh more at him than she would at me. She would smile at him and giggle with joy when he picks her up from her crib, but frowns and gives me her legendary death glare when I pick her up. During her 6pm witching hour, she would turn her towards her Daddy whenever I try to soothe her. It is a bit insulting - considering I'm her mother, but really I love watching them like that. 

I love seeing how they just melt at each other. Or how they seem to be each other's stress ball. Or how lovely they just are together. 

Perhaps every daughter has this special relationship with her father. I've witnessed this, too, among my students and their fathers. I adore how Doc Buboy looks at Ella and how this hormonal teenager would become a baby again at the sound of his voice. Or how Ghost Girl is very protective of her Dad in his new relationships. Or how many of my students would write an essay on how their dad is their hero. As a young mommy, it was just a lovely sight to behold! 

Years from now, her Daddy would start teaching baby Charley how to walk, ride a bike, drive a car, and break a boy's neck should he break her heart. She would start talking, calling his name, telling him secrets, then hiding some from him. He would start bringing her to play dates, driving her to endless birthday parties and some sleep-overs, and then soon worry about her going on dates, soirees, and school fairs. She would soon join him in watching UFC and everything Disney, then some chick flicks with her girl friends, then pretty soon some rom-com with her (gasp!) boyfriend! 

My roommate and I know that baby Charley is not ours forever, but he is going to make every moment precious while he is still the only man in his princess' eyes. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

How we got baby Charley's NSO

Getting NSO certified documents can be such a drag for many parents with young babies. The queues are long and the waiting time is terrible! It is such a hassle especially if you need these documents to apply for another set of documents - let's say for passport. 

Fortunately, there are reliable websites where you can apply for your NSO certified documents. Recently, we use NSO Helpline to apply for our marriage certificate (yes, after two years, we just got ours this year) and our baby Charley's birth certificate.

One can also order for a death certificate and a certificate of singleness or CENOMAR - all for Php350.00. I think this covers the payment for the certificate requested and their delivery charge. Our documents were delivered with in four days by Air21. We got our marriage certificate after 2 days. 

We just filled out the forms online, double-check for spelling, and paid online using our VISA Amore credit card. We're done after those steps. All we needed to do was wait for our documents to be delivered. We were also given reference numbers (one for each document) so that we could "track" the progress of our deliveries online! 

We could track the progress of our delivery online 
Since we applied for baby Charley's birth certificate just a few weeks after she was born, we received a certificate from NSO stating that the one from the civil registrar (which we got from the hospital) should be honoured as her birth certificate. This is necessary as a supporting document for her Passport application.

I would definitely recommend using NSO helpline instead of applying for the documents yourself. This is waaaaayyyyy more convenient and hassle-free - well, at least for me.ü 

no more cry time waiting in line 

Baby Charley's 6pm Habit

6pm is my daughter's "witching hour". This is a dreaded time for my nieces since they have to bear long hours of non-stop crying and fidgeting! Watching TV is a challenge and concentrating with their tutor is a matter of survival. 

I don't understand what it is with baby Charley that she would 6pm. 

Nappies changed? Check! 

Breastfed? Check! 

Burped? Check! 

Carried? Check! 

Normal Temperature? Check! 

She just would cry for no reason at all. This would go on till 8pm, and one time until almost 11pm! She would simply exhaust everyone in the house - herself and dogs included. 

It would seem that no amount of milk and play time and "carry me" time could make her calm. 

We have consulted her pedia who informed us that sometimes healthy normal babies would cry at night. It's just that they just do. It's a phase they go through. 

Of course, old wives tale has a different explanation on baby Charley's 6pm habit. She's being "played" upon by different elements. Dwende, kapre, nuno - name it! The only way, they say, to end her crying spree is to have her seen by an "albularyo" and have her "tawas". 

We're not exactly a "tawas" believer, but for the heck of it and for some peace and quiet, we will be giving it a shot. :)

Right now, Charley still sticks to her witching hour except when her Daddy is here to carry her all through the night. Witching hour or not, I'm enjoying howy room mate and daughter bond with each other especially during Charley's 6pm habit. :)


Monday, 2 February 2015

Battling Infertility

When we lost our first baby early in my pregnancy last 2013, my roommate's  (my husband, btw) and my immediate urge to cope with the loss is to replace the baby right away.

My OB from Makati Med, Dra. Marinette Sto. Domingo, however, recommended that we wait for 6 months before we tried to conceive. This was to give my body and my uterus a sufficient time to heal and recover. During those time, my roommate and I had a healthy lifestyle. He even took Selenium with Vit. E to improve the health of his spermies

However, three months after our 6-month rest period had passed, and we were still not able to conceive, my roommate and I underwent some infertility treatments. Not because we weren't able to get pregnant (because technically I did), but because we're concerned we could be having problems staying pregnant. Dra. Sto Domingo told me perhaps the reason why I had a miscarriage last 2013 was either because I had an unhealthy egg or my husband had unhealthy sperms; thus, resulting to a blighted ovum.

However, we sat down together and had a serious heart-to-heart talk. There were many things that were going on in our minds then.

What if we couldn't conceive? 

What if I had the problem? 

What if he had the problem? 

What would our next steps be? 

Are we open to adoption? IUI? IVF? 

Do we have enough money to prepare for all these? 

Just thinking about all these was already very stressful, and it wasn't helping us at all! Dra. Sto Domingo and my close friends kept assuring us that all would be okay, and we just had to keep a positive attitude towards it.

We did. And we prayed. Hard.

Really hard.

After a trans-V ultrasound (Php 2,300 @ Makati Med), I started taking Clomiphene for 5 consecutive days five days after my period. This was done for 3 - 6 menstrual cycles, and then my OB evaluated whether my body was responding well to the meds by ovulating; hence, we avoided contact until she told us it's okay. It was a strict prescription, so to speak. 

A dominant follicle in my left ovary 
On the 10th day, I underwent a follicular monitoring (Php3,800 @ Makati Med; Php2,400 @ New World). This involved a series of trans-v ultrasound (3 days with a day or 2 interval) just to look out for "dominant" or the biggest follicles and see if any of these follicles released an egg.

We needed to go back to Makati Med after each u/s and show the result to our OB. When she saw that I had ovulated, she would then told us when to you it. It's possible there would be a lot of mature follicles and that could result to having multiples, aaaaannnnnddddd we're trying to avoid that. 

On my first cycle, I failed to ovulate so I had a trigger shot of hCG (around Php1,000 @ Makati Med). This tricked the brain that I needed to ovulate so it would force my dominant follicles to actually release the egg. hCG shots should only be administered by your trusted OB because random administration could cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome

My clomiphene cycle continued for 3 consecutive months. It was tiring and frustrating (and expensive, too!) just thinking about why we couldn't conceive yet. Before my third month ended, my OB had my roommate checked for sperm count and total sperm health at Victory Lab. According to her, the difficulty to conceive was not always the woman's fault. Husbands should be checked as well; after all, it takes two to tango. I'm very fortunate that my roommate was very open to the procedure. I'm sure that not all men would be willing to have a check-up because of their fear that they could be the problem. 

So, with an open mind and an open heart, after a 5 day abstinence, we went to Victory Lab also in Makati for a Sperm Analysis (roughly Php1,000). We're not sure whether Makati Med offers this service. We then consulted Dr. Nikko J. Magsanoc who informed us that the results were good, and it was really just a matter of timing.

*Sigh of relief* 

Since Dra. Sto Domingo requested that I take a rest from the treatments and Dr. Magsanoc said that it was just a matter of timing, my roommate and I decided to break free from all these things that stressed us and went to Hongkong and Macau for a second honeymoon.

True enough, we conceived the following month! And we felt truly blessed!

Thank God and Makati Med doctors.ü

From one tiny follicle to this lovely baby girl! 

Dra. Marinette T. Sto. Domingo 
3rd Floor Makati Medical Center 
For appointment 

Dr. Nikko J. Magsanoc 
888.8999 loc 2123
For appointment 

Makati Medical Center 
5/F Tower 2 OR-DR Complex 
# 888.8999 loc 3500, 3501, 3503 
7am to 5pm 
Needs appointment for follicular monitoring 

New World Diagnostics, Inc. 
Campos Rueda Bldg. 101 Urban Ave. San Lorenzo
# 887.5498 
Accepts Walk-in only

Victory Art Laboratory Phil. Inc.
Unit D-1 Medical Plaza, Legaspi Village
Accepts walk-in 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Baby Feeding Cues

To feed or not to feed? This is the question my roommate and I argue on most of the time. He, with my mom, likes to feed Charley every time she cries. 

Every single time.

It doesn't matter if she has just been fed 12 minutes ago, basta she cries, she gets fed. On the other hand, I would follow by heart her pedia's reminder to feed her every after two hours as there are a number of reasons why babies cry: 

According to BabyCenter, babies cry for a number of reasons, some of which include: 
1) Hunger 
2) Dirty diaper 
3) Sleepy or tired 
4) Wants to be held 
5) Sick 

My room mate (sometimes) and I look for certain cues to determine how hungry Charley is. We got this from this website, and it has been very helpful ever since. For everyone's reference.ü

Why we Love Mustela- Baby Edition

My family loves Mustela - that's a given fact. Since it has taken good care of me when I was still pregnant, it was no surprise for my roommate and I to seek for Mustela products for our little Charley. 

Since I gave birth in Batangas and Mustela can only be bought in Manila, we weren't able to buy anything for Charley - and that was one of our biggest mistakes. 

When Charley was 3 weeks old, she developed an intense rash on her face and hands. Of course, we rushed her to her pedia, Dr. Benny Cruz, right away. We were informed that these rashes, although really a sore to look at, usually occur during the baby's first few months. 

He then prescribed us with Elica Ointment (Mometasone Furoate). It is an anti-inflammatory and anti-pruritic ointment which we would apply once daily. We bought this right away, but were kinda hesitant to apply anything with steroids to Charley's baby skin, so I think we only used this once. 

It was then that I consulted Mustela (also after intensive research online) and they offered me Stelatopia Cleansing Cream. Since it's a Stelatopia, it is especially formulated for dry skin with atopic tendency. We used the Cleansing Cream every bath time, followed by Stelatopia Lipid Replenish Balm (yup, it's safe to use on baby's face, too!). After a day, baby's rashes all dried up and they're completely gone by the 2nd day! It was amazing! 

Yes, Mustela products are a bit pricey compared to other skin products (prices range from 1,000++ for a 400ml bottle), but there is nothing else I would recommend besides these. In fact, it is worth every centavo you pay. 

Mustela can be bought from their kiosk in Greenbelt and from their Facebook account. You may also send a message to 0917-8959988. 

Thank you, Mustela, for taking care of my baby's skin! Your products are truly a blessing to all the mommies.ü

You may also want to read, "Why we love Mustela - Mommy Edition".

Why we love Mustela - Mommy Edition

I must have been the least vain of all my girlfriends. I could simply live on lipgloss and powder alone, and there have been days I'm okay as I am. However, when I got pregnant with Baby Charley, I became really concern with my skin post-pregnancy - stretch marks and rashes and all. Yes, I can live with all the morning sickness, but please no to permanent dreadful stretch marks! Rawr. 

My OB from Makati Med, Dra. Marinette Sto. Domingo, God bless her pretty soul, has been giving me a lot of helpful advices on how to have a "glowing" pregnancy. One of the products that she recommends is that from Mustela 9 Months

Mustela is a mommy and baby company that uses all natural ingredients including avocado, sunflower, lupin, shea, and aloe vera. All of their products are hypoallergenic, so it is guaranteed to be safe to baby's delicate skin. 

You can check more of their products here

One of the first Mustela's I tried was the Stretch Mark Oil that promised to improve skin elasticity and softness therefore preventing the appearance of stretch marks. I have been using this product since I was on my first trimester, and even after I have given birth, I still do. I apply just a small amount to my belly (yay! stretch marks free!), breasts, and thighs. The results were amazing! Even though this is oil based, I didn't get any sticky, greasy feeling despite using this twice daily! Also available is the lotion-based Stretch Marks double action, but this is more expensive than the oil-based. :) 

Come third trimester, less than a month before my due date, I was diagnosed with PUPPP (Puritic Urticated Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) which is a non-contagious skin rash that occurs in barely 1% of pregnant women (lucky me! :( ). Basically, I had this rash all over my body except my face. The itch was  terrible! My OB offered to prescribe me with vitamins and some cream but I was informed that the only thing that could cure it is...well, giving birth. Frustrated, I consulted Mustela and they offered me Stelatopia Lipid-Replenishing Balm for dry and eczema-prone skin. This is usually for babies, but I wanted to give it a shot.  Fortunately, it worked wonders for me! The itchiness became bearable and the irritations have lessened. I did still get some itch once in a while, but I simply apply this, and it would be okay. That meant, I could finally get some sleep despite having PUPPP's! The lotion is thick and sticky and it could be a problem if you're living in the Metro, but once your skin has absorbed it, the sticky feeling would be gone. 

Yes, Mustela products are a bit pricey compared to other skin products (prices range from 1,000++ for a 400ml bottle), but there is nothing else I would recommend besides these. In fact, it is worth every centavo you pay. 

Mustela can be bought from their kiosk in Greenbelt and from their Facebook account. You may also send a message to 0917-8959988. 

You may also want to read, "Why we love Mustela - Baby Edition".