Thursday, July 28, 2011

Planning HK Itinerary

One of our must-visits in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Computer Festival and we'd be getting there on the last day of that gadget expo. Hubby is already salivating from the idea of what he'd see there (a lot of hardware, some MegaMeeting video conferencing software probably, and all the Chinese knockoffs one can imagine, I bet) and I think he might be driven to purchase yet another tablet.

Anyway, I just hope we can really accommodate what I have come up with so far. We really need a high-low-high-low actitvity ceremony. The geek in me is also super duper excited at our visit to the Science Museum because I just know it, my Yakee will love it there.

Hope no one gets sick...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First Conversation on Death

Yamee woke up crying and so I rushed to breastfeed him. Yakee, still awake, suddenly asked out of the blue: "Mommy, will you be dead on Wednesday?"

And this is how our conversation went:
Me: What?
Y: Will you be dead?
Me: You mean, will I die?
Y: Yes.
Me: Yes, I will die. In time.
Y: Why?
Me: Because everybody dies. All living things die.
Y: Where will you go?
Me: Hmmm... hopefully heaven.
Y: Wy?
Me: Because I want to go there, but not anytime soon.
Y: Will I see you with the glass, like the lola?
(amazed na he's only now talking about the wake we went to over a month ago)
Me: You mean, will you see me in a coffin, and you'd look at me through the glass, like the dead lola?
Y: Yes!
Me: Well, yes. I will be in a coffin too. Hopefully, not soon.
Y: What will dead you?
Me: You mean, what will kill me?
Y: Yes, what will make you dead?
Me: Maybe a disease. Hopefully, old age? And hopefully, not yet anytime soon.
(long pause)
(incoherent words)
Y: You will not be dead with guns?
Me: I hope not baby.
Y: Why?
Me: I really hope to just die of old age. I don't want to die from guns. That would be a terrible way to die.
Y: Yes (and makes firing actions and noises)
Me: I hope I won't die yet. I want to see you grow up.
(pause again)
Y: What made the lola dead?
Me: Oh, the lola was sick, died from a bad heart. And I think, old age too.
Y: What made the lola sick?
Me: Her heart was old so it got... (struggling to find words he'd understand) broken.
Y: Broken?
Me: Well you see, baby, hearts are like batteries. When they run out of charge, they won't work anymore. So, a person will die.
Y: Why is the lola old?
Me: Because she lived many, many years.
Y: What number of years?
Me: She lived past 80 years. You have only lived almost 4 years. So, the lola... she's lived a loooooooooong time.
Y: Where did she live?
Me: In their house in QC
Y: Why?
Me: Because that's where she and her family lived.
Y: Who is her family, what are their names?
Me: I don't know their names, I only know my friend's name. Rolly. Now, go to bed and sleep Iakob. Yamee cannot sleep because we're talking. We can talk about death some more tomorrow.

It felt morbid talking in the dark about death... and I am superstitious enough to wonder, what if my son felt something (premonition?). But all in all, at least i've managed to gauge that he's still not yet scared of the idea.

And talking about death didn't make me feel uncomfy... now, let them start asking questions about sex... and i'm sure i'd UHM my way through the thing. Haha.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Dream

Last Friday, I happened to see two of my batchmates from my LATCH training. One of them is the Mom of my son's 'classmate' at St. Michael, the other one is now based in Puerto Princesa as a yoga instructor. They're the moms behind Indigo Baby :)

Anyway, Monica shared that they're starting their own version of St. Michael Playhouse in Puerto Princesa. I was happy for them, for Palawan in general... but also a little bit envious. How can other moms just do the things I want to be doing?

I remembered Nanay Ines of Arugaan always telling me to keep dropping by Arugaan to get pointers... and start my own creche. Arugaan and St. Michael have a lot of similarities and it would be really great to be able to embrace the lifestyle change they offer: going more organic, environment-friendly and child-involved.

I am not sure if I have a green thumb but there is that dream of growing our own vegetables and tending to backyard chicken coops with my sons. I hope to have a self-sufficient home utilizing solar energy and recycling water. And just lots of space where my sons can run free and imagine possibilities while learning about Science and Math :)

That is the dream. I hope I realize it someday.


Another set of signs I'm sort of getting composes the following:
1) A N@Wie friend who has started training to be a marriage and family counselor.
2) My college friend egging me to take up counselling with her.
3) A blog friend working as a part-time counselor under Ms. maribel Dionisio of the Love Institute.

I also hope to be a marriage and family counselor. It sort of feels like a natural progression from my stint as a peer counselor for reproductive health and teen issues from all those years ago. I am, sort of, a breastfeeding peer counselor now. Oh, and I also sort of want to be a child nutrition expert. But anyway, the deal is... since I am a wife and parent, I want to be an expert on family life and help others that way too because it is now what's relevant to me.

I am still struggling now with being a good enough wife and mom and I don't have energy for serious academic commitments.

But someday... when I've had more family life experience, I might study to become a professional counselor. When I know better, maybe i'd also learn to be better faster.

That is another dream.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taking Breastfeeding Further

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (July). For this month, we join the National Nutrition Council - Department of Health in celebrating Nutrition Month with the theme "Isulong ang Breastfeeding - Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo!" Participants will share their experiences in promoting breastfeeding or their tips on how breastfeeding should be promoted. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

The most nutritious thing for Nutrition Month is such a perfect theme and there are no words to how amazed and delighted I am that DOH seems to really have embraced breastfeeding advocacy.

Personally, I know I have done a lot for breastfeeding. I certainly talk about it a lot, and can talk about it for hours (nay, days). I have blogged about it many times, not just my journey but things that frustrate me, and things I have learned. I have even blogged about the best nursing tops to breastfeeding-related events. When Ondoy struck, I joined three breastfeeding missions (Rizal, Pasig and Laguna). I have also joined L.A.T.C.H. to know more about breastfeeding and be trained as a breastfeeding peer counselor.

I also literally troll my yahoogroups and forums for those with breastfeeding queries and in need of support.

And I breastfeed in public, very seldom with cover, because I actually hope to inspire other people to think about how 'natural' it is.


I have only volunteered for two TMC sessions, so far. And I do get weary answering the same questions... and sometimes also lack tact and gentleness when I do respond to them. For a while, I was even very judgmental of how other mothers can choose formula over breast. My current pet peeves are Judy Ann Santos and "I just gave birth and I don't have milk yet" sentiments. And I have not yet visited the clinic in our street and offered my services there.

In short, there is lots of room for improvement in me. There is so much more I can do. I can be so much more. And... I can potentially save more lives.

And so I strive to be gentle, even when I am frustrated. I answer the same questions again and again and again. I run the risk of alienating Facebook friends by speaking the truth. And I make sure everyone knows I have taken a side: this side.

Now... I hope I won't be so shy and lacking initiative to approach people of power I can connect with... to bring breastfeeding talks (and thus, awareness) to the masses.


I think this is the perfect time to also blog about things I feel the government can do to further breastfeeding awareness, support and advocacy.

DOH should really work with all other government agencies.

Get DECS to incorporate breastfeeding into children's books (Math sample problem: Nanay pumped milk at 8:00 AM and was able to express 3 ounces of milk. If she does the same two more times with the same volume of output, how much milk will she have pumped by the end of the day?... Health sample question: Give three examples of galactagogues.) and improve the medical curriculum to actually include a subject on breastfeeding for would-be doctors/medical practitioners. Children have to be enculturated back to a time when breastfeeding was natural and typical and common. The campaign with kids and in schools need not be aggressive, but pictures and storylines of making formula for a child just really has to be stopped and in their stead, more pictures of breastfeeding/babywearing indigenous cultures.

Get a law enacted to prohibit any entity from giving free samples of formula.

Tweak maternity leave due to mothers. While other countries enjoy up to a year of maternity leave with security of tenure, I really don't think our economy can afford that luxury. But I think we can improve on our current maternity leave by making it two months plus all Wednesdays till the 6th month. This ensures that working mothers will have that Wednesday breather from the stress of pumping at work. It just might also fuel productivity since working moms will know it's only 2 days before they can take care of their babies and directly breastfeed again. That's basically just 16-18 extra days that are potentially the same number of days a new mom has to be absent/goes to work unproductive due to a new baby/sick child.

Quit with the generic "breastfeeding is best for babies up to two years and beyond" bit in TV ads/formual cartons/posters. Have catchier slogans ("human milk for human babies"), funny cartoons or outright correct information instead ("breastfeeding reduces cancer risks for both mother and child" or "exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months can save you at least P20k, which you can use to spend on vaccines").

Maybe, DOH can also get volunteers (nutrition students' practicum? hehe) or work with hospitals to hold impromptu talks for waiting preggos in OB clinics.

Instead of breastfeeding stations wherein you have to invest in separate rooms, maybe public areas like malls can allocate seating areas with signs saying, "if you're breastfeeding, sit here" :D (well, it can double as rest area for preggos and the elderly too).

And can it be made a practice for OB Gyns to instruct a prenatal consult with the pedia, who can then discuss feeding and caring options/information with the parents?

The thing is, since breastfeeding benefits a lot of aspects (health, environment), there should also be a more wholistic and concerted approach to its promotion. And we have to support the mothers most because it generally is their battle, their investment, their lifestyle change. And the government should feel free to tax tobbaco and milk companies more to finance these endeavors... hehe... after all, breastfeeding reduces cancer risks and allergy risks, which smoking and formula milk perpetrate.


Please find the time to also read the entries of the other Milk Mamas joining this carnival :)

Dainty Mom reminds not to bash formula feeders

Lazy Mama also encourage breastfeeding in public and Legally Mom doesn't do it in nursing stations
and Frannie pumps even with male colleagues around

The Painter's Wife is informed and fearless

Dinna, the low milk supply mommy did it

We also get breastfeeding promotion tips from a fearless formula feeder which offers a lot of insights

I would also love a billboard on EDSA featuring celebs with mass appeal

Benz is the chillax advocate but oh, has she the influence

Breastfeeding Mama prepared herself for it and Rachel just hearts breastfeeding

Reach out to other moms, be encouraging to them and maybe we can really push for longer maternity leaves

Having the right information and support will help moms who weren't succesful do better next time, since the right psychology can help you succeed

And here's Deng, who actually stars in some breastfeeding ads while June breastfeeds with her sisters.

And as the perfect cap, a juxtapostion of Jenny's take on breastfeeding promotion in the Philippines and what a doctor Mum wants to see in UK

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mean Mom Days

Lately I have been sending my eldest to bed without reading, lullabies and caresses... because he's also lately been really pushing his limits and trying to negotiate, delay or rebel against instructions. I trained him by telling him he has so many minutes left for play or eating and now, he asks me for extra five minutes here and there and insists on the number of minutes even after sooo much time has passed. Makes me want to purchase a timer asap, just so we'd both be more mindful of time.

I've also been really frustrated with his kind of play... I've caught him 'playing' with Yamee by tying a jumping rope around his neck, hitting jis face with a net or crushing a pillow on his face. He is really just playing and it doesn't help our discipline that Yamee giggles when his older brother does these inappropriate things.


Someday, when television stands and ice cream cones and homecooked meals are really things of the past, I hope what I am trying to instill in my sons, like obedience and loving presence, will have been ingrained... and working for them.

Everyday is a struggle. But everyday, I do see the promise of greatness.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ballooning Momma

Wearing my pink shirt the other day and trying out shorts at the mall, I realized that I have lost my waist yet again. I am now officially a rectangle again... probably pushing 150 lbs. again.

I felt the weight gain starting when Yamee started eating solids. And well, I have been having a chocolate feast, with all the cookies and ice cream I have been eating. No one to blame but me, I know.

And yes, it's high time to get the workout zumba working for me. I should be ashamed to be missing the Mommy Milkshake Marathon come August (but well, since I get cramps just standing for a longer period of time, I am really unfit to do any running).

Breastfeeding Month is also Mom's Month

August is breastfeeding month and it's such a perfect opportunity for more Mom gifts, I think, ones that show support to breastfeeding and appreciation of all that it requires from a woman.

Clueless husbands can just click here for ideas, or just give their wives free rein in shops like Indigo Baby, Mama.Baby.Love or Eden :) Spa certificates will also be welcome for moms with aching backs, plus, it will relax them enough to give of themselves more freely.

I can't wait for my boys to be old enough to come up with their own gifts. I'd appreciate handprinted shirts, little ones, since you've already marked my heart for life... as yours.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Best Beginnings in Breastfeeding at TMC

It was my first time last Saturday to handle a topic for the Best Beginnings in Breastfeeding Workshop that LATCH conducts for The Medical City every other month. Suffice it to say, hubs was my worst critic, haha, but I appreciate the support, really.

I opened the talk with my favorite quote these days:
"We make time for what we choose to have in our life." (Lucy Torres Gomez)

me doing the Benefits game with the chocolates wrong

demonstrating how to switch from cradle to cross-cradle position which would be useful when, say, one is eating

my all-time breastfeeding supporters (hubs even offered to answer questions from the dads in my breakout group, hehe

Swannie (N@wie), Ethel, Buding and me (trying out the SaYa gift from Buding)

always with a girlfriend!

I realized that I really know so much about breatfeeding already... at least, the basics. But I could use more practice in my delivery. I believe i'd convince more people to breastfeed if I can be as charming as Buding when I talk about breastfeeding. Haha. Just like what the doctor said that time, hearing Buding talk makes her want to breastfeed there and then (and she's not even a Mom yet).

PMS, Here I Come Again

I had hoped that i'd have a longer lactation amenorrhea this time around. I really don't miss getting my period and would be perfectly content not getting it again, unless it suggests some medical problems for me. But I have started feeling that the day when i'd get it back is coming. One sign is the overall rage and bad mood, another is the aching back and hips for no real reason.


I guess it really means Yamee is requiring less milk now, which means, if I don't watch it, I may have to resort to diet pills for women because i'd just really gain all the weight back. And we're talking some 40 lbs here. Yikes.


Meanwhile, it stresses me to no end that Yakee is a sickly child these days. We're skipping school again today because he's running a fever again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In Love with an Allergologist

Once upon a time, Yakee's eyes were always watery and he always seemed to have a shiner around his eyes. Someone referred me to an allergologist at Chinese Gen. She took one look at Yakee and declared my son had asthma, and started giving us all these Cetaphil and Physiogel products to use (charged to us) and told us Yakee would need a skin test. And she uses the latest something that doesn't hurt which costs P25k.

Suffice it to say, we never went back to her. She did not even touch my son!

But for the past three weeks, we have been plagued by allergies. Well, two months, if you count Dr. Mantaring's discovery of exercise-induced asthma in Yakee and my angioedema episode over fried chicken (thank heavens it was a very sluggish allergy attack and it responded to two Benadryl caps because I didn't have any milk for Yamee then!).

At least, Yamee's rhinitis-like episodes are no more... he just gets blistery wounds when bitten by a bug.

But Yakee... haay. The hives annoy me like crazy! So I called our HMO (Intellicare) to ask if the PF of the allergologist at Healthway Robinsons Manila is covered, as well as the tests. We can reimburse up to P1k only for skin tests. Anyway, I decided to try this allergologist and thought that if she still wasn't ok, then we'd go to Dr. Alava at Manila Doctors (who was our main pedia's referral).

But oh, I fell in love with Dr. Arlene Sandejas! She made the trip to an allergologist just the way I want it to be. She asked questions and answered my questions. She was the first to offer a conservative approach to MY allergies and then gave me a list of house dust control measures after ascertaining that we live a generally allergy-free lifestyle (no pets, carpet, no smoking).

Being an allergic person and having written that article above, I like to think I am pretty knowledgeable about allergies. I mean, I know the basics. But Dr. Sandejas made me realize that I must also dust our books and not let them anywhere near the bed. She told me why allergic people sneeze in the morning (because the dust mites eat our dead skin cells at night, so we wake up irritated by them) and how baths usually resolve the issue. She told me about how long after a room is cleaned should kids stay away (3 hours, so dust has really settled! 1 hour for adults), that fabric conditioners are irritants and better avoided, and many other things. I learned more talaga!

Yes, she did tell me I must have my skin test repeated (as my last was 6 years ago, and I lost the list already, and it was done by Dr. Agbayani who has expired already!) but she assured me that she can give me time to save up for it, and that it can be done in batches so I can allot money for it. It's P6k for the 85-full panel test. And no, it's not administered generally to kids below 6 years old. And since I average a trip or two to the ER due to allergy episodes, I know the skin test can be an important tool to manage my allergies.

MABUSISI is the word I have been using to describe her. Thorough. Exhaustive. Without being unnecessary.

Now, for Yakee, she has prescribed Cetaphil lotion for the dryness, instructed me how to properly bath my son (less than 20 minutes, lukewarm water, no scrubbing to dry, just gentle pats, then lotion) and asked me to keep a food diary for him. We're not eliminating anything yet from our diets, just observing. And she also ordered a repeat CBC and urinalysis for Yakee (to which Yakee was so totally against, I cried a little asking him to give more blood) and also a stool exam (haven't yet done this!). She also asked to see Yakee's old X-ray, just to rule out whatever could be triggering my son's hives (infection? food? insect bites?).

And she offered me her cell number should I have questions. I didn't even have to ask (and I actually seldom do, although I know that's a standard for some people, because I also respect how some doctors do not like free consults over the phone, at two in the morning).

And she tells you what you should do, writes it down, and discusses it again with you so you really know what to do. Love it talaga!

So far, Yakee and I are fine and on meds. We're going back to her on the 19th and see where it leads us.


She is a doctor and a human being, I cannot guarantee she will be as thorough with each patient... she could get tired, after all. Plus, it may help that I came armed with a printed timeline of what happened to my son and when, as well as knowledge of our allergy histories and my son's health history. But I really feel good about her. It's seldom that I find a consultation... rewarding... enlightening. I think the euphoria is stemming from that inner sense of having found a perfect fit.


She does not accept health cards at Manila Doctors. And I don't have her clinic sked there so better call the hospital.

Healthway Medical Clinic-Robinson's Manila
Ground Floor, Padre Faura
Robinson's Place
Ermita, Manila
Tel. no. 528-4547
Schedule: Tuesday 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm, Saturday 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Ramos Medical Clinic
5696 Pagulayan Street cor. Ilaya Street
Poblacion Makati City 890-1696
Schedule: Wednesday/Friday/Saturday 10:00 am - 1:00 pm


I Googled her name and believe she is also a pediatrician, she was also referred to as a pedia-allergo at Healthway. Blessing talaga for moms like me :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Milk Mama Diaries - Blog Carnival for July

July is Nutrition Month! For this year, the National Nutrition Council - Department of Health has decided that the theme will be "Isulong ang Breastfeeding - Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo!" (TSEk). The most nutritious thing for Nutrition Month, yes?

So, it is only appropriate to do our part and also take this up as our topic for July since we all know that breastfeeding benefits both moms and babies. Since breastfeeding has been receiving a lot of bad press lately (from torture to bad advice to wrong help from professionals), we really need to promote and spread the word about breastfeeding and its benefits.

For this month, please share your experiences on how you were able to promote breastfeeding or how you think breastfeeding should be promoted in this country to increase breastfeeding rates and encourage more moms to breastfeed.

Read my May Carnival post to get an idea on how a blog carnival post looks like. To join the carnival, please fill up this FORM. Please include this short blurb on the top of your post:

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (July). For this month, we join the National Nutrition Council - Department of Health in celebrating Nutrition Month with the theme "Isulong ang Breastfeeding - Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo!" Participants will share their experiences in promoting breastfeeding or their tips on how breastfeeding should be promoted. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

If you don't have a blog but would like to join, please email me or Jenny so we can arrange to have you hosted as a guest blogger. Submissions are due by 19 July 2011 and the carnival will go live on 22 July 2011.


Aside: Isn't it absolutely wonderful that the government is really advocating breastfeeding now?


I will be handling the BENEFITS part of the Best Beginnings in Breastfeeding workshop at the Medical City this Saturday, 9:00 - 12:00. Please come if you're pregnant and want to breastfeed. This is for free and everyone's welcome. bring your main support person.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Money and Credit Savvy from RD

I have been a loyal subscriber to Readers Digest Asia for years now. One of the features that I like there is the one where money, savings and credit advice is dispensed by a certain Gabriel Yap.

It's from him that I learned how to take advantage of debt optimization offered by credit companies. I also learned that investing in the Chinese Yuan, Singapore and Australian dollar could be worthier investments over a regular dollar account. I still don't quite get all the advice on equities and mutual funds but it's still great to be learning something new monthly about money and investments.

This is particularly crucial now since hubby and I have two kids to provide for. I dare not even contemplate just how costly it would be to send them to college someday (but maybe with K-12, they don't need to go? haha) especially in these times when there are so many options for self-realization for them.

All the advice was especially relevant when we ran into debt last month, because our disposable cash is currently tied up with an investment and we suddenly decided to enrol our child somewhere. Talk about not having any disposable income. It was jarring to feel that limited in your purchasing power, even if only for a time. It was a wake-up call that got hubby and me to revisit our income sources and spending habits. And now, it's time to make some of the changes.

Good thing though that I have developed the habit of not bringing my credit card with me all the time. Sure, it has been a source of stress realizing I didn't have enough cash on me too and returning all the lovely things I already have in my basket (this has happened twice already!) but it's still better than developing a habit of reaching for the plastic whenever I find something nice.

Hopefully, we get to raise money-savvy kiddos as well.