Thursday, October 29, 2009

Proof of Motherhood

I was chatting with a friend the other day, whose daughter is my godchild and was running a fever. Aside from encouraging her to go to the doctor and discussing malady possibilities, I was also telling her that babies really get sick and though it's sad, it's how they naturally make themselves immune and healthier when they grow up.

Then we got to talking about our babies' bowel movements and I laughingly said that it's one of the surest proof of motherhood: that our happiness depends partly on our child's poop. Regular dirty diapers without the baby/child straining is such a priceless form of happiness, no Honeywell Barcode Scanner will ever register a cost to it. But Moms know that the price for that kind of happiness is our sanity... because since babies' systems are still developing, they will have days of straining and days of pooping lots of times on the same diet, and in this interim, a Mom will be gnashing her teeth, wondering what to do.

For a while, I stopped giving my son apples because he was getting constipated. But lately, the more apples he eats, the more times he poops. Sigh.

Maybe it gets better with the next child. I don't know yet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sta. Rosa Breastfeeding Mission

When calls for volunteers happen, I check my schedule, weigh my priorities, and go blindly when am available. I'm a volunteer, I just show up.

Unfortunately for us, since LATCH moms ARE moms, our kids sometimes get sick. So there I was, Monday morning, shocked because the UNICEF Consultant endorsing us to Sta. Rosa's LGU was asking who's going to step up to be team leader for the day. The hardcore LATCHers were not there and our leaders all had to stay with sick kids. Worse, we didn't check mails during the weekend so we were there with no idea who else was coming and what not.

It turned out, from a group of 7-10 volunteers, we were downsized to 4. In the van, we were all looking at each other wondering how we'll manage since we had no idea really what to expect. But I reminded our group that we are breastfeeding moms and therefore had superpowers.

Due to coordination issues, we were not so efficient that day. We could have gone to two evacuation centers but only managed one. It also didn't help that Sta. Rosa is way over in Laguna. And I am sad to report that only two of the eighteen evacuation centers are not submerged in water still.

But dare I say, we did good on that mission? :)

There were lots of room for improvement. I myself felt I should have emphasized again and again the importance of breastfeeding during calamities, but I felt some sort of disconnect for them because it's been a month already. Their homes, if they can recover them, are expected to remain submerged till December.

But like what I said, we did good on that mission. And I would like to acknowledge the Sta. Rosa Market evacuees because of their cooperation. And the DSWD staff (Jojo) who was really helpful. I am not so fond of the LGU people who assisted us because their 'staff and volunteers' were going over the goodie bags intended for the Mom Evacuees even before we were finished giving to the Moms... some even got from us and then later asked our driver for more.

Oh of course, LATCHers rock!!! It's nice being given an opportunity to step up. I don't even know how effective I am a speaker but at least I realized that I could do it for hours, everyday, and love what am doing. And I know I connected to the crowd somehow...

But yes, prizes like a bar of soap or cooking oil is incentive enough to get anybody participating :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby Ko Ito

Forget what to do make of the insurance quote you're considering for a while and shop, shop, shop! Well, at least consider them as gifts to your baby or nieces/nephews and godchildren for Christmas. And this kind of shopping, you can do from your own home. Won't even take longer than 30 minutes!

Baby Ko Ito currently offers Gap, Carters, Osh Kosh and Hus Puppies baby/children's clothes, nursing covers and thermal totes for milk bottles on the go.

I'm seriously loving the pajama sets!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chari-Tees from Blisfulbabes

What will go well with a mom's Naot sandals? Why, a Graphic Tee from the Mother Tongue line of Blisfulbabes, of course!

These are commemorative tees for Blisfulbabes 10th year anniversary of making fashionable nursing wear. What's even better is that for every piece sold, P100 goes to L.A.T.C.H.

LATCH (Lactation Attachment Training Counselling and Help) is a non-profit organization working with the country's top hospitals and doctors to establish quality lactation education and peer counselling services. They hold monthly workshops for expectant couples at The Medical City where their office/breastfeeding clinic is based. For more information on the group, log on to

Head over to Made For Mama to order your shirt, or order some as gifts for the coming Holidays :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

DD Ladies

DDU is Dirty Dozen Unlimited, the unofficial name of hubby's high school peer group. Now, most of them are married and have kids, and most of the wives are on the family way for 2nd and 3rd offsprings already. And two girlfriends are currently pregnant. Thus, we couldn't call ourselves DD Wives since we're not all technically married to the DD guy who got us pregnant.

Anyway, one of us sort of started a mailing list just for us DD Ladies, and she started by talking pregnancy. As an introduction, I in turn said that I was the breastfeeding counselor among the wives, not that the other wives didn't know as much about about breastfeeding. I was wondering if I should have added that they could run to me for digiscrapping needs, like baptism invites or holiday invitations layouts. It would be a privilege but I was also worried that they might expect marvelous things from me when I only know basic Photoshop.

Still, it is rather nice to be part of the group. I'm hoping our kids will grow up knowing each other, playing with each other ocassionally and becoming friends in time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not That Sad

In hubs' barkada, we were the only ones not pregnant right now who could be (married and without an infant). Another friend is preggy in the Berks too.

And I have my period.

Normally, such news would have gotten me depressed and stress eating. Normally, i'd be walking around a little angry and lots moody. But am not. This surprised me even because I have not been nursing at night (normally, i'd have hoped that increased the chances of me getting preggy). Also, I was delayed for a week and didn't even think of testing.

Of course, there were moments of hoping but at least am not that affected by it. I guess it's because am preoccupied with my volunteer work and having other things to worry about. Hubs says I am perkier these days too. And I really do feel happier.

And I wish our friends a happy pregnancy!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

8 Weight Loss Secrets From Around the World

by Reader's Digest Magazine, on Fri Oct 2, 2009 9:32am PDT

Whatever happened to just enjoying good food, in moderation, without guilt? These global tricks reveal it's possible, and show you how.

1. Stop eating before you're full. The Okinawans, whose average BMI is 21.5 for those who eat a traditional diet, call this hara hachi bu, or eating till you're 80 percent full. Of course, we're not suggesting that you leave the table hungry. But eating until the buttons pop stretches the stomach by about 20 percent each time you do it, so you inevitably need more food to feel satisfied, explains Bradley Willcox, MD, co-author of The Okinawa Diet Plan. He says that putting your fork down "when you feel that first twinge of fullness" gives your brain a chance to realize that you are full before you overdo it.

~ unfortunately, I have problems stopping when am full. sometimes even, I seem to want to eat more even whe3n I already feel full.

2. Drizzle on the healthy oils. Healthy fats like olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and canola oil, a staple of Okinawans, make vegetables tastier, so you're likely to eat more of them. And, as we know, eating a diet rich in produce is key to maintaining a healthy weight.

~ i love butter! but am also starting to love veggies more, which I never thought was possible.

3. When you're eating, just eat. No other culture multitasks meals the way Americans do with our TV dinners, fast-food drive-throughs and grab-'n-go food that's designed to fit into a car cup holder and be eaten with one hand. In Japan, it's considered rude to eat while walking. And you'll never catch the French gulping coffee in the car. "In France, there are no car cup holders because you don't drink coffee while driving," explains Will Clower, PhD, author of The Fat Fallacy : The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss. "Eating and drinking aren't errands. It's not what you do on the way to something else." Good advice. When you're distracted by work, traffic or the TV, you're apt to overeat without even realizing it, notes Dean Ornish, MD, author of Eat More, Weigh Less. "If you really pay attention to what you're eating, you enjoy it more fully and don't need as much food."

4. Get moving. People in Asian countries, France and the Mediterranean tend to be slim because they're more active. Not that they spend hours at the gym; they simply walk a lot.

~ I have running shoes now so I really should start running in them!!! I don't have ellipticals I can use but we also have a treadmill that I should be using everyday.

5. Enjoy regular meals. One reason French women don't get fat is because French women eat three meals a day. You may think skipping meals cuts calories, but all it does is evoke a primal "fear of hunger response" that causes overeating later, explains Dr. David Katz, MD, author of The Way to Eat. "Throughout most of our history, we had too little to eat. So when you go for long periods without eating, you stir up all that native programming, which says eat like crazy when you can, because all too often you can't." Start with breakfast. Studies show that breakfast-eaters are slimmer than skippers.

~ this is why am getting annoyed with my cousin... she refuses to eat sometimes, telling me she doesn't feel hungry... and then later complaining she fels faint. I keep telling her that she needs to eat still even while trying to losew weight but she wouldn't listen. Now, it's affecting her blood pressure too.

6. Dine with others. Eating with family or friends vs. alone in your car, at your desk or on the couch is part and parcel of traditional cultures. Not only does camaraderie make the meal more enjoyable, it's slimming. "Eating with others restrains your own behavior," notes Dr. Katz. "You eat more slowly, which increases the likelihood that you'll register when you're full before you've eaten more than you should."

~ then again, dining with others can be distraction enough for one to overeat. Sometimes, the wonderful conversations just keep my appetite up!

7. Chow down only when you're hungry. Americans eat for all sorts of reasons besides hunger, especially from boredom, loneliness, stress or fear, a foreign concept in other cultures. "You can't make food the solution to every issue in your life and expect to be thin," says Dr. Katz. "If you eat from boredom, find a hobby. If you eat to relieve stress, learn meditation or yoga."

~ I eat when am hungry and during meal times, even when i've just eaten. It's a compulsion!!!

8. Have a glass of wine. A staple of French and Mediterranean tables, wine adds joy to the meal, and because it contains potent antioxidants, is at least partly responsible for why these cultures traditionally have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality despite their higher-fat diets. And while some studies show that we tend to eat more when we drink, a Finnish study actually found that male drinkers were leaner than abstainers.

~ this one I really can'd do. I just don't dig alcoholic drinks and artificial buzz.

I know there is hope for Mommy Mec yet, but I really have to start doing the work if I want to be eliciting whistles again. Hehe.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Generosity Rewarded

Tomorrow, I am going on another breastfeeding mission with LATCH. I decided to scour our cabinets for anything to give and had time to go through my son's drawers which I didn't have last time. So there I was, unfolding and folding clothes and sorting them in three piles... one for a preggy woman I promised infant layette to (though i've really given most of my son's already), one for my cousin's son who is about a year younger, and one for Ondoy victims. Suddenly, I got really, really sad. See, I was going through my "posterity stash" already as well and parting with really favorite items. So I started texting friends who I know would understand.

It's not that I was having second thoughts about giving those things away. After that boy who died, I could never have second thoughts about giving away stuff anymore. But it really felt like a thousand pin pricks in the heart to be parting with them, because it's also like saying goodbye to those times. To my son's babyhood. The memories just kept crashing down and I ended up crying fat, hot tears over sleeper suits from his crybaby nights, and the pink jumpsuit that he looked great in, and the polos that made him look more like a boy and less of a baby, the slippers I bought instead of getting my own, etc.

I guess in a way, I had it coming. My son just turned two years. I have been a mom for that long (and nine months). I survived. And I can't help but find the fact that my baby is no longer a baby really bittersweet. Of course, I shall mourn.

And it's PMS time.


Like what a friend would often say, cheerful givers are cheerfully rewarded as well. Within an hour of finishing the packing of those things to be given to Ondoy victims, my parents' packages arrived. It's two boxes of goodies for my son and nephew.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Milk Donation Drop Off Points


~ PGH-Lactation Unit 5458400 local 3409 (Thess, Tina or Grace)

Quezon City

~ 21 Queensville cor Goldstar Sts., White Plains Subd, QC (0917 529 5121 Amelia)
~ Unit 7 Mariposa Square , 24 C Benitez St., Cubao, QC (0917 846 4987 Rosanna)
~ 17F Green Grove Villa, Lantana Rd., New Manila, QC (413 7340 Dr. Mianne)

~ 38 San Miguel Court, Celery Drive, Valle Verde 5, Pasig (636 2869 Dr. Zeka)

~ Lantau Dimsum, 3rd Floor Food Court, South Gate Mall, Pasong Tamo cor EDSA (664-4645 Ana)

~ 43 Sycip St., Pacific Malayan Village, Alabang (0917 5060440 Dr. Maisa)

~ 25 Chemistry St.,Scienceville, Paranaque (House is at end of Russia St., beside Mary Help of Christians (0917 842 8530 Dr. Ina)

Helping 2-Year Olds Speak More Clearly

I found a trick that rang TRUE and GOOD for me... reposting from Babycenter

As a toddler develops speech and language skills, it is important to model, rather than demand. For example, avoid asking questions like, "is this a truck?" or telling him to "say truck" but instead model or demonstrate what you would like him to say. This is a tried-and-true SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist) technique. An example of modeling would be to hold up the object and say, "truck" pause, "this is a truck", pause, "my truck" pause, "fast truck", pause, "truck". You may feel silly and you may have to say the word 50 times, but eventually he will attempt the word on his own. As for articulation (how the word sounds) certain errors are typical for certain ages; it is when they do not improve over months/years that intervention is needed. Also, if a child has had several ear infections per year (especially ones that last longer than the typical 10-day antibiotic run) ask your doctor to refer you to an ENT or audiologist for a full evaluation. (From an SLP and mom!)

We prompt Yakee lots of times ("this is a door, can you say door?") but I will try this tactic. I am actually not concerned about my son's speech development. It's not as fast as other kids but I know he's developing nicely. And like what I told his pedia yesterday, he does know over a hundred words and can say these words with me being able to understand what he meant, apart from the words that he knows and understands but cannot say clearly yet.

So why would I try another tactic if am not worried? Well because, there is always room for improvement. :)


I am looking at the next developmental milestones I can expect from my child in the next six months. Already, he's doing the physical/psychomotor ones (like jumping with both feet, balancing on one foot, washing and drying his hands) so I guess that's really his strength.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Looking for Breastfeeding Mission Volunteers

LATCH is looking for breastfeeding mission volunteers to go to Sta. Rosa, laguna either on Friday or Saturday (depending on when most of the LATCHers are free) as UNICEF has informed us that the need for such a mission in that area is great. UNICEF will be providing transportation for all. Volunteers are expected to assist in rallying the moms to the assembly area, taking down information, distributing goods and prizes (we play a Breastfeeding Myths game) and maybe helping out in cup feeding breastmilk to babies who need it.

The exercise probably won't result in weight loss slimming pills can give you, but it at least stretches perspective. Plus, volunteers may learn a thing or two from the game.

They say that the number one problem in evac centers right now are lung-related diseases. The next is diarrhea. We're trying to save infants from dying from diarrhea, so please help us.

Moms for Moms

Moms for Moms started out from Handy Dandy Diapers. Miss Rea Gomez Harrow's diaper business got her aware and touched by the plight of the babies born at Fabella Hospital. She decided to help and part of her earnings from her diaper business go to diaper donations for the babies born at Fabella's NICU.

Last October 06, I read Carlos Celdran's FB alert that volunteers are needed to help repack goods and the venue was only in Malate. I was itching to volunteer in repacking goods but didn't have the heart to go to far-flung places like QC so it was a perfect opportunity. We repacked goods good for 500 recipients, each bag containing baby food, formula, water, cereals, baby clothes, diapers, vitamins and common medicines and laundry detergent. The goods were for Montalban, Rizal evacuees.

I was glad to know that donations were pouring in at Moms for Moms for Ondoy victims. I was also glad to be of help and look forward to joining them at their trips to Fabella, where I can double as breastfeeding counselor as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Breastfeeding Mission at Ultra

Last October 8, 2009, six of us LATCHERS went to ULTRA for a breastfeeding mission. We had some donated goods with us (soap and old clothes and sanitary napkins) and a whole chest of frozen breastmilk.

Pasig was experiencing brownouts then so there was no power that time. Thank goodness the skies were overcast so it wasn't that hot. I am not sure anymore if the building we went to (the one with the bleachers) was Bldg. 1 but anyway, people were sleeping in the main court while some are hanging out at the bleachers and drying their clothes there. I did not have the guts to take pictures of their plight anymore, I feel, they've been documented enough already.

Anyway, we gathered as best we could all the moms in one area of the bleachers and grouped them according to baby's age. I took down the names for the preggy moms while others handled those who are exclusively breastfeeding or mixed feeding 0-6 month babies, those with 7-12 month babies, and all the rest of the other moms who wanted to join. We couldm't use the mic because there was no power and had to shout ourselves hoarse in order to be heard. At one time, we were lent a megaphone but we couldn't use it a long time because the people managing the evacuees needed it.

Basically, since they reported to be a generally breastfeeding population (about 120 moms in all, 90% of which said they were breastfeeding), we just turned the talk into a myths contest thing. We asked questions on popular breastfeeding myths and got someone to answer. We then elaborated on the answers and corrected wrong notions. And we also gave a prize to the mommy who answered. The moms turned out very participative (the lure of toys for their kids or that they were a little bored din) so although we'd have appreciated a census and a better venue than the bleachers, it still proved a rewarding experience.

We also did not need our chest of breastmilk much as most of them were breastfeeding. It was so frozen too that the little we thawed, we had to thaw using a pot of hot water.

Another group was preparing to distribute goods there and when one of the LATCHers found out they planned to dole out formula milk, we got the doctor from Pasig and DOH representative present to talk them out of it.

We answered their questions as best we could but couldn't do any more one-on-one counseling. We also might come back again to hold the same for those in Bldg. 2.

we were on the news!

be a LATCH fan!


Let me just also share a snippet of the minutes sent to us by Dr. Zeka Tatad To of her meeting with UNICEF, WHO, DOH, IYCF, Arugaan and other NGOs that started this all.

The goal of collecting breastmilk is to be able to provide temporary relief to mothers/infants where the mother is too ill to breastfeed, or the baby is fully dependent on formula. The goal of the program is to get as many mothers as possible to return to exclusive breastfeeding, and to protect those who are already breastfeeding so that they continue to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months and then continue to breastfeed with the addition of complementary food.

It was shared during the meeting that other countries in Europe and America have come to the realization that the widespread use of formula in a disaster is harmful, and have agreed that formula donations will not be accepted. Someone also shared a study done during the 1940s of babies who were born in concentration camps and breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months and then onwards. 100% of these babies survived beyond 3 years of age despite the dreadful conditions. This survival rate was higher than that of their parents.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happier Mom

Volunteering has greatly improved my mood recently. Maybe because it gives me a different kind of purpose, one that's separate from the home. And although I feel twinges of guilt for being away from my son some afternoons, I noticed that he's not the worse for it anyway. In fact, ever since he turned two, he's happy as a lark again. And I love coming home to him and having him greet me with kisses and arms open wide for a hug (except when I come from evac centers, of course, I rush to take a bath first before even touching him).

Plus, I tell my son that Mommy is doing this for selfish reasons. One, it makes her feel good. Two, it's a like a deposit made to the great big bank of karma. Since Ondoy spared us, it's the least we can do to the less fortunate. And maybe, just maybe, if someday we don't get spared, that life and others will be equally kind and helpful.


Meanwhile, my heart is breaking over news of so many pregnant women delivering prematurely from the stress (as what happened to Manila residents with Ondoy) up North, and their LGUs not being equipped to really handle such a catastrophe. And what about the kids? Can you imagine the cold in Baguio and Benguet? What if it's still raining in some parts, how are the kids to keep themselves warm when aid will not get there as fast??? What of the older folks?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday To Us

I can't remember wanting to scream all the time... not since my teenage years, at least.

And I mean it when I say that I really sometimes wish the world will just swallow me whole, because it's either that or i'll commit suicide just because I want an end to all the frustrations.

And it's a miracle how I survived all those sleepless nights from before, and how I can get up with you even when I still haven't had any sleep.

And am sick of all the guilt I feel, when I leave you behind for some ME time, when I try to enforce rules, when I have to suffer your tears, when I am not as glamorous looking, or we're not as rich as other parents. And am exhausted with all the worries and fears, always having to second-guess myself, always having to think things through and weigh everything. I am tired of planning around you, your feeding and sleeping times, and what would be of interest to you. Always, I wonder how I am damaging you, what lasting impression and insecurity my parenting brings you.

And I hate having to win you over again and again and again.

Yes, I hate not being able to control you.

And yes, despite all the interesting times of my past, I feel that i've only started really living when I married your father. And despite all the other things I am and could be, being a mother to you trumps every other conceivable purpose I may ever have.

I live to see your smile, to hear you laugh, to watch you unfold. And I relish every proof that you are your own person, with your own quirks and desires and personality. And I cannot enjoy anything new anymore if I can't share it with you, however indirectly. Nothing is beautiful, fantastic, awesome anymore if I can't see it from your eyes.

And you and Pappie make me feel beautiful and perfect, with just a smile.

Nothing will ever beat the privilege of being the one person who makes you feel the world is alright. And introducing you to the world around you, guiding your learning, encouraging your passions... that brings back innocence in my life and allows me to hope and dream and keep the faith that what I do and who I am is enough. That you are loved and growing up loving is such a worthy cause, and I am privileged to enjoy heaven everyday in your hugs and kisses.

Nothing will ever make me feel more blessed... more rewarded... and trusted. And the everyday struggles all grow blurry in my mind while the memories in my heart take root and take a life all their own.

Happy birthday, my son. And happy birthday to me as a mother too. It's been two years of breastfeeding and nappy changes and staying home and nurturing you full-time. It's also been two years of adventure others can only hope for.

I love you. Thank you for making me Mom.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Emergency Bag

Many people have started coming up with a list of things they think should be in one's emergency bag. Especially since many were caught unaware of the floods from Ondoy last week, people are now aware and more vigilant. Some even consider the recent tragedy a sure fat burner because of all the stress it brought and the fears it awakened.

My emergency bag consisted of my Philam Insurance plans, our passports, all my jewelry & accessories (mostly given by hubs), our rings, a pair of socks for Yakee (I don't know why but it felt right to put those there), all our money and cards, all our memory cards (in case I haven't sved any from one of them yet), the Starbucks planner that hubby and I wrote love letters to each other in, Yakee's Baby Book (for his chek-ups) and the DVD copy of our wedding video. Weirdly enough, I did not pack any camera there but I packed all cellphone chargers. I also did not pack our external hard disk :D So yeah, it was still very incomplete.

But having saved most of our pics online, I wasn't that worried about pictures anymore.

I should really update it and keep everything in one place. And we don't really have riches yet to lose, all that makes me feel rich are my pictures and journals about my family life. I just wanted to make sure that we need not end in evac centers and we had ready IDs.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

UP-PGH Disaster Relief Operation and Breastfeeding Mission in Cainta

First, there was a call for breastmilk donations. Reports of infants experiencing diarrhea due to formula feeding (either badly-prepared formula or non-sterile water and feeding bottles) have started to alarm authorities. UP-PGH (spearheaded by Dr. Mianne Silvestre and Dr. Jessa Zareno), in coordination/cooperation with Arugaan (Nanay Innes Fernandez, Lita Nery and Velvet Roxas) and the Medela Clinic (which donated the feeding cups) rallied breastfeeding supporters to get the word out.

Facebook, Twitter and Plurk as well as text messaging all proved very useful tools in getting mommies from all over Manila to donate milk. People offered to be drop-off points, others offered to pick-up the frozen milk and bring them to PGH for pasteurization. The response was just overwhelming. We had three chestfuls of frozen breastmilk that day, leaving behind two freezerfuls at PGH.

Meanwhile, of course, relief goods also poured in PGH and medical paraphernalia as well as drugs were set aside for the medical mission. Four buses of volunteers were brought to Cainta last October 02 (at Kabisig Elementary School and Ynares Covered Court), some to distribute relief goods, some for the medical mission (nurses to perform vital signs and preliminary interview, doctors to conduct diagnosis, pharmacists to distribute prescriptions, and pharmacy counselors to discuss correct administration of drugs), and the lactation support group to distribute breastmilk and provide breastfeeding counseling and support.

One complaint about the whole thing is the fact that the call time for volunteers was 6-6:30 AM but we ended up still waiting for more volunteers at 8 AM. Of course, the breastmilk went ahead of the buses and I should have gone with it and not joined the volunteers assembly. So I generally missed the entire thing at Kabisig.

Kabisig Elementary School was the evacuation center for the people in Cainta who were really affected by Ondoy. They were the ones living near the floodway, whose homes were washed away. I am not entirely sure why the medical mission did not set up there and it seems, settlers there were not advised that they were to go to Ynares Covered Court for medical check-ups. Of course, when we told them about that, they all complained that they didn't have any means to go there... and it is some 1.5 kilometers away, an easy walking distance (if you don't mind the heat) if you're not sick, old or half-starving like they were.

From what I gathered though, breastmilk WAS dispensed to infants who needed it, and those with infants were gathered to be encouraged to breastfeed more and give formula less. They were given information (such as proper positioning and latching), strategies (switch nursing among themselves to help boost milk supply, relactate or encourage an infant to suckle), and some goodies (mommy and infant clothes from PGH, Prolacta breastfeeding kits, literature, etc). Velvet Roxas came with two wet nurses (with their babies) which helped a lot in getting the information across. Jenny Medina of LATCH conducted interviews and counseling with the moms there. Dr. Jessa Zareno was interviewed by some TV station. Nanay Innes also gave a short talk with the mothers to encourage them to breastfeed, then later on went to ANC to be interviewed on breastfeeding and its role in volunteerism and heroism after Ondoy.

Anyway, as all volunteers coming from PGH were dropped off at Ynares, we got a van to bring us to Kabisig. But since we arrived there late, we didn't have anything to do except maybe wait for the next feeding (after three hours or so). I suggested that we bring part of the milk to Ynares and we all ended up going there. They did leave milk behind for the infants staying at Kabisig but couldn't leave more because there's no refrigerator to store the milk in.

Being a covered court, the second venue was really conducive for the medical mission. They made space for us in the chapel which we shared with nuns dispensing relief goods. The pharmacists and doctors all included instructions that those with infants have to pass by us before submitting their records and leaving (the documentation, written on yellow pad, will be submitted to the local government for reference by other medical missions and for follow-up). But since filling prescriptions took time, we later ended up cajoling those in line to drop by first in the chapel.

Some obliged us. Some immediately left after realizing we're not dispensing relief goods. Some didn't want to leave their positions in line.

Wonderfully enough, a lot of those with infants/babies were breastfeeding or mixed feeding so it was just really a matter of encouraging the mixed-feeders to drop the formula. Some of those with babies 8 months and older who reported that they were breastfeeding exclusively were given rewards in the form of shirts. "Spoil the breastfeeding mom!" after all :)

Since we had some thawed milk that we had to distribute or throw away, we resorted to going up and down the line and giving away milk, even to toddlers. PGH-NICU could have probably given away all the breastmilk but doing so would have defeated the purpose of the mission: to get mothers to breastfeed. See, that would just make it a milk doleout, healthier than formula maybe, but a doleout just the same. But the thawed milk, we gave away, of course, out of consideration to the mommies who painstakingly pumped and donated them. We didn't even consume everything in one chest, but they agreed that since that chest has been opened several times already, the milk there will be used in PGH-NICU and given away to the children in PGH's pediatrics ward. The milk in the two other chests remained frozen so they were returned to the freezers.

Others who want to organize their own breastfeeding missions can probably coordinate with PGH and get access to their milk resource. But the goal must always be to give the breastmilk to infants on formula, while encouraging breastfeeding mothers to continue doing so.

The misson ended around 2 PM and we immediately headed home for fear of Pepeng, which thankfully did not cause further devastation.

And now, in pictures:

breastmilk being loaded into the van at PGH

breastmilk awaiting recipients at Kabisig

newly-arrived LCS volunteers at Kabisig with nothing to do

volunteer doctors at Ynares Covered Court

view of the line/crowd waiting for prescriptions

stage served as the pharmacy

doctor at work

Velvet teaching a mother of twins the football hold (not this pic),
the cross cradle hold (this pic) and that nursing twins is possible

one of the babies getting breastmilk

some of the volunteers and PGH staff

One of the doctors with us was so moved by the experience that she even attempted to play wet nurse. Unfortunately, the baby was already so full from her own mother's milk. It was really amazing that so many from that area were breastfeeding :)

Oh, they also gave breastfeeding moms Vitamin A :)

My only real interview was of a Mom with a one year old who only breastfed for two weeks. She was not interested in relactating (and given the time frame and situation, it would require a lot of support and work on her part for that to happen) but I hope I was able to correct her notions of empacho (because she was not feeding her baby at night, and feeding her only twice a day) and encourage her to offer more solids so that the baby's formula requirement will be reduced. It was especially important since they don't have clean water yet and she had to ask me for a liter of mineral water to make her baby's formula. And I couldn't give her breastmilk that time because they were still in Kabisig then.

One other wonderful thing, I think, is that the LCS volunteers loved feeding the babies so much that they're asking the PGH-NICU doctors if they can volunteer regularly at the NICU. This is very important because these are single, medical students who are now in a position to be the breastfeeding advocate doctors of the future.


UNICEF is organizing breastfeeding support missions in the many evacuation centers. Those may not prove as easy as this one (because we need not go through muck and mire to get to the displaced) and chances are, we will not be appreciated by half of the people if we're not bringing goodies as well... but still, the breastfeeding campaign has to be done and the babies have to be saved yet again.


Love thy own... and I not only love LATCH but I am ever proud of my breastfeeding circle. Not only did many of our people donated milk and rallied their friends to also donate, but we also offered to be drop-off points or to pick-up milk. We even got our friends to do the same, relying on friendships and contacts to really facilitate the milk donation. We appealed to Facebook friends and used up our load in text brigades. Amelia Alba even prepared 500 packs of noodles to be given away to breastfeeding moms (told you, spoil the breastfeeding mom!). And now, we're responding to UNICEF's call for volunteers again.


Just to explain further (because even I am still learning this paradigm shift), breastfeeding missions do not hope to dispense breastmilk as if they're formula to be fed to babies. Breastfeeding missions are about getting mothers to breastfeed, breastfeed more and breastfeed again. What we want is for them to have the information and suppport to sustain their own infants after we've gone.

Breastmilk donations are given to really premature babies, babies whose mothers cannot nurse them just yet, babies in emergency situations, sick babies and orphaned babies. But they are only given for a short period of time, when they're critical, but means for sustaining the babies is the goal. That's where breastfeeding, a mother's commitment, a community's support and the help of shelters, LGUs, concerned citizens, etc. come in.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Luggage or Stage?

Last August, I convinced my darling husband to buy a new set of luggage. We still cannot afford a Samsonite luggage but we were very happy with the red one we bought. It's very easy to push and turn.

Unfortunately, we threw away the big plastic wrap for the luggage so it had to sit, inviting dust, in our living area for a while. I was looking for an extra large garbage bag to put it in. Meanwhile, my son has found it a good stage and he'd often make it lie on the floor, step on it with his guitar, and 'perform' on it.

So now, eventhough I have the bag to put it in, I cannot bear remove what has become my son's stage. Hehe.