Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coping without my baby's nanny

Here in the Philippines, when both parents work full-time, we hire a live-in babysitter to take care of the kids, and that's besides the househelp that's also hired. In our case, since we live in an apartment and there's little that needs to be done in terms of household chores (which, most can be done early or during the weekends when both my husband and I are home), we have an all-in-one helper. She takes care of Jack-Jack while we're out working and does the household chores early in the morning, when my son's asleep, or during weekends.

When I gave birth, we didn't immediately have a helper to help around the house. Especially since it was still a bit difficult to move, despite my having a normal vaginal birth. Plus, my baby always seem to be nursing so it was difficult to go about and do some household chores. But we managed, since I was still on maternity leave and my husband took his paternity and block leave to coincide with mine so we can bond with our new baby. We had a helper (#1) the week after I gave birth, but she left us after two weeks, which, she was replaced a few days after but the replacement (#2) left us after four days. (Yes, we had quite a few misfortunes in looking for a helper/nanny.) It was still ok, given that I still have around five weeks of ML left and it was a good enough period to look for someone at least semi-permanent. So it was just me and baby during the day as J was back to work already. We were also at my parents' house for about a week during the day as the road in our street was being improved.

Anyway, helper #2 texted J that she wanted to go back to us, to which, we agreed, but she was bound to return at the start of November. So we had our helper and she's been a big help (no pun intended). She wakes up early in the morning to sweep around the house, do the laundry if it's laundry day, buy bread for breakfast, then when we go down after our morning rituals, she takes Jack-Jack and have him exposed to the sun while J and I eat our breakfast.

Throughout the day, she'd be holding Jack-Jack (as the boy seems to never want to be put down), occasionally placing him in his playpen when she would cook dinner or when she needs to go to the toilet, etc. When we get home, she'd be washing the bottles I used to collect for milk so that they'd be ready for use the next day.

Almost two weeks ago, our helper had to go back to the province for her brother-in-law's wake. She has a scheduled leave actually, for the graduation of her daughter but she had to go home earlier due to her brother-in-law's death. She told us she'd stay there to wait until the graduation of her daughter since it's expensive to go back and forth and she still doesn't exactly know when. We agreed. Last March 18, she left for Isabela. I took a half-day off and helped my mom watch Jack-Jack. Next day, Friday, same thing. But this time, my mom went here to the house earlier since J and I still had to go to work. I just took another half-day so I can relieve my mom of taking care of Jack-Jack.

The next working week, from March 22-26, was a struggle. From Monday to Wednesday, J and I would feed Jack-Jack his solid food for the day (it was papaya), bathe him (when there's still a bit of time), pack his things, then go to my parents' house to leave Jack-Jack with them. Our apartment, at that time was under renovation so it was dusty all-over that my baby developed a bad case of colds (which was cute at the same time since snot would ooze out of his nose everytime he sneezes) so it was better to leave him with my mom. Thursday and Friday, my mom would come to our house so she could watch over Jack-Jack since the construction was done. I only managed to sweep our bedroom. His night-time routine wasn't being religiously followed anymore.

I was late for every day of that week. J would be washing the collection bottles and pump parts I use when I pump in the office and sterilize them, along with the bottles that was used during the day. We ate take-out food for a week (even when we would leave Jack-Jack with my mom since she couldn't cook because Jack-Jack doesn't want to be left down). I'd try to wake up early in the morning so we'd have ample time to bathe, eat our breakfast, feed Jack-Jack and sort his things. I only managed to sweep our room so it'd at least be dust-free when we sleep. His night-time routine wasn't being followed anymore. And I was cranky, irritable, and just plain tired.

Thankfully, a temporary babysitter can come to our house to watch over Jack-Jack, who was offered by an aunt of mine since she now has a lot of free time after graduating from her nursing degree just last Thursday, March 25. At least now, about half of the work was taken off our shoulders, and my mom doesn't have to watch over Jack-Jack as he's becoming too active to her liking. We didn't turnover most duties to her since she's only temporary and the important thing is someone takes care of my baby and someone can clean the house and wash the dishes.

So now, we still have two nights before we're back to being nanny-less, then we have to prepare for an overnight thing at my in-laws' house, and then we have to go to my grandma's house for her birthday. And then our helper would come home.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Something quick

Bah. I've been drafting a post since last week and I still am not able to post it.

It's really hard having no babysitter/helper at home since I always seem to be very tired to get write a decent post and I can't continue it in the office since I'm suddenly swamped with work. Which, is what my longer post is actually about but meh.

Thank goodness Thursday is just around the corner. And our helper's return is getting nearer, too.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Breastfeeding is how I connect with my little one after work

Welcome to the March carnival of breastfeeding! This month's theme is "the joys of breastfeeding".

When I started breastfeeding, I was amazed, and amused, at how my baby would automatically turn his head towards the breast of whoever was holding him, and reach out with his mouth for a drink. Especially when he was fussing already, obviously hungry, he'd try to latch on and suck. But now that he's older (almost six months!) and can clearly see who's carrying him, he only turns his head for a drink with me.

As a full-time working mom, I always miss Jack-Jack when I'm at work. There's a constant fear I have, that he'd be more closer to his caregiver, with whom he's with and sees all-day... Than me who he only sees early in the morning before I go to work, at night when I go home, and on weekends. He's growing up so fast and sometimes, he wouldn't immediately come to me when I get home. But then he'd give me a sweet smile and then I'd feel just a little bit of relief.

So I always look forward to bedtimes. I'd give him his bath, a light massage (to which he'd fuss by the time I'm dressing him), and then off to nighttime feeding. He'd be turning left and right, looking at me, as tho, voicing out his want, his last feed for the night before drifting off to sleep.

I cherish these moments with him, especially in the wee hours of the morning when he'd wake up a bit hungry, mouth pouting, and when he feels me turning him for the proper position, his mouth starts searching for my breast. He immediately quiets down after latching on. These moments with him at night lets me wind down from a busy day at work and focus on my little one. It lets me reconnect with him, as we both soothe each other as he nurses, letting me relax and bask in the moment, as he in turn gets his nourishment, comfort, and sleep. It eases the fear in my heart when I'm not with him, and it's like he's letting me know that he knows I'm his mommy, and that nothing can ever change that.

Check out these posts from other participating bloggers (updated throughout the day):
  • Hobo Mama: No need to count calories when breastfeeding
  • Melodie @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Poems about the joys of breastfeeding
  • Whozat @ Lucy & Ethel Have a Baby: Nursing My Little Person
  • Maman A Droit: A Joyful List
  • Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Top Five Things I love About Breastfeeding
  • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama: Milk Songs
  • Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes: The Joys of Nursing to Sleep
  • Sarah @ Good Enough Mummy: You Don't Have to Be Crunchy to Like Breastfeeding
  • Tanya @ Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Things I loved about breastfeeding my son
  • Mandy @ Living Peacefully With Children: Nursing Haikus
  • Elita @ Blacktating: What Makes Breastfeeding So Great
  • Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    The squash is a smash

    Today's the fifth day that my baby has started on solids so today is the first day for a new food. And today's menu is... squash. I had our helper steam it and then mashed a few pieces. The rest of the squash we'll have for dinner later. Anyway, as the mashed squash (wow! that rhymes!) is a bit thick, I thinned it a bit with water. J and I had our breakfast first, then onto baby-feeding.

    Well. What can I say? I think he likes it! Or at least, he knows what's going to happen next. He's opening his mouth now everytime he sees the spoon going towards him. I also didn't see him grimacing (much) as he tasted the veggie. I did taste the steamed squash, though and I must say I like it plain that way.

    Anyway, we'll see again after a few days on his reaction. I'm thinking applesauce as the next one.

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Going hippie, alternative to commercial hair care, becoming eco-conscious

    And back to nature. I think my husband is slowly turning crazy to all the... changes I'm slowly incorporating into my, and consequently his, life. Our lives. But he's keeping mum about it. Haha.

    Anyway, when I started breastfeeding, all I thought about was the money we'll be able to save. When I started babywearing and my cousin told me that I look like a Badjao (a native here in the Philippines), I just told her that it's like going back to basics. When I planned on cloth diapering my baby at least while he's at home, I just computed on how much we'll be able save up and how friendlier it'd be on our baby's bum. I didn't realize it then that I'm slowly going hippie, going back to basics, and going back to nature.

    Recently, in my effort to cut-down the hair loss I'm experiencing, I resorted to using gugo on my hair after reading it in Monica's blog. I boiled the bark with water just enough to cover it, then massaged the liquid onto my scalp and hair. I didn't use any conditioner afterwards. The result? My hair felt a bit dry but the scalp a bit oily. It kinda frizzed up more, too. However, I was not daunted. I did it again, and yielded the same result. I thought it was because I wasn't using any conditioner afterwards.

    So I researched on natural, homemade conditioners. And I stumbled upon, (for the second time ever since I started researching hair care alternatives) about the vinegar rinse. So I combined the gugo shampoo and then used a vinegar rinse and viola. My hair felt smoother but still the problem with the oil. My hair felt a bit heavy. I decided to still go with it. After all, I've nothing to lose and besides which, I argued that my hair and scalp is just starting to get used to the treatment.

    However, my gugo concoction ran out and I didn't have time to boil some last weekend so I used my remaining shampoo and followed it with vinegar rinse still. My hair felt lighter and it was smooth. The vinegar rinse really do well in detangling the hair and it actually doesn't leave any vinegar smell once the hair dries (despite what my husband says to tease me).

    So, I'm going to continue with my gugo and vinegar rinse treatment. We'll see if the oils in my hair continue after several weeks. I read that it's all about demand and supply so we'll see.

    In another effort to going back to basics and being kinder to Mother Nature, we started ECing Jack-Jack. We even tried it when we went to the hospital for his vaccine and when we went to the mall yesterday. And he did fantastically. We used less disposable diapers and the only times we had to change him was because of a poopy explosion, and not because of a urine-loaded diaper. In a few days, we'll even start cloth-diapering him at night. And in a few weeks, cloth-diapering him even when we go out. We'll just need to fine-tune our communication when he needs to poop and pee. Until then, we'll slowly transition to cloth-diapering full time.

    And so suddenly, I'm becoming more conscious of my movements, of my choices. Like, if this would affect this and that, how much would I save if I use this instead of that, if I pay this much now how much overall savings will I make, etc. Because going all natural, organic, has a corresponding price tag and it's not exactly cheap. However, most choices, like cloth diapering, breastfeeding, would save a lot in the long run. It's a one-time bulk/big/huge expense, that when you divide it with the number of times you're going to use it or compare it with the usual alternative, i.e. formula milk, disposable diapers... well, you'd have saved a lot. And then after computing the savings you got, you'd realize that you also helped in saving nature, too.

    And that was what happened to me. And that was what led me to try and become more earth-friendly with my subsequent choices.

    And the point of this entry? Hmmm. I'll get back to you on that after I learn more on how to save more by helping save Mother Earth.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    An update on solids

    It was yesterday when we tried feeding Jack-Jack with a mashed banana. And the result is... He spitted them out. :D

    When I first placed a small amount of the banana in his mouth, his face went into a grimace as he assessed the new taste and texture. It was comical. He didn't even swallow a bit of the banana so we had to stop for the day.I nursed him to rid him of the taste of the banana in his mouth and then he fell asleep.

    This morning was the second day. I mixed in a bit of my milk to smoothen the mashed banana. He still spitted out most, and then he'd fuss a bit. We tried a bit harder and I remembered that we can use my finger to feed him. Which I did... and he ate! Yippee! He did swallow a bit of the banana. But his face would still turn into a grimace as he rolled the food around in his mouth. But it's a start.

    And tomorrow is another day. The third day in a series of four. We shall see if he'd take more banana.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Warning: baby slings may be dangerous

    I've gotten a link today from my e-group regarding the safety hazards a sling may pose to an infant. I looked at the link and my mind went Aha! It's the "bag" sling. I've previously read about those bag slings in CMA when I was looking for an online store that sells two carriers I wanted to buy. Anyway, I read about it and couldn't agree more with her assessment. Carriers should be adjustable to make it shallower so that there's no fabric covering the baby's face. It should be snug and when worn properly should support the developing spine and neck of the baby.

    Anyway... the people at a mall here should take the bag slings they're selling.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    I'm a proud mama

    So. I've been keeping a little secret. Jack-Jack can now pee and poop in the toilet bowl! Yep! We've been ECing him for a few weeks now, almost a month. His caregiver mostly does it since we're away at the office and she tells me she now has lesser diapers to wash (since we cloth diaper him at home).

    It is a gradual process, as we started out when he's already used to peeing and pooping in his diaper. Before, we only use to cath pees. But now, he poops in the toilet, too! He was used to standing up before, facing away from us when he pees. That's why when he first pooped instead of peed, he pooped on his caregiver. Oh, well. So now, we're training him to sit down. We even bought an "adaptor" to the toilet bowl so he that he'd be able to sit and not go all the way in the big hole of the toilet bowl. It's a cushioned seat, and it placed on top of the toilet seat to make the hole smaller. It also has a pee "catcher" for the boys. I'll take a picture one of these days.

    Anyway, when we bought the toilet cushion, we tried making him pee facing us as he sits down. But he wouldn't have any of it. He would keep on lifting his butt off, thereby hitting his itty bitty turtle* against the pee catcher. So what we did, was to turn the cover so that the pee catcher would be near the tank of the toilet bowl and when he would use it, he'd be facing the wall and not us. It worked! He wouldn't try to get off from the seat. Instead, he'd just sit there and touch the catcher or the cover of the tank, and pee and/or poop.

    I'm so proud! Besides which, he's cleaner that way. Plus, our water consumption for washing his diapers alone decreased significantly, which also applies to our use of detergents. Yay for greener living! It's a small step but eventually, I hope to completely eliminate the use of disposables. I'll be buying cloth diapers for use for nighttime and then if and when I have a few more money to spare, for use for going out, too, so we can also practice ECing when we go out. And then eventually, be diaper free! (Hopefully by the time he can already walk on his own.)

    * Turtle - term used by the sonographer who did my routine ultrasound when we were finding out the gender of my baby to refer to his sexual organ because it looks like a turtle in the ultrasound. :)

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Excited mama

    I just wanted to share... that my little boy is 6 months today! Hee. Which means, he can now start on solid foods! Yay! J and I would have liked to celebrate the 6-month mark by letting Jack-Jack get his first taste of solid food today but due to work constraints, we would have to postpone to tomorrow. Hmmm... I wonder if avocados are already available at the supermarket...

    In other news, my baby now resorts to crying when I leave home for work. It's already hard for me leaving him to his caretaker but now that he actually knows that I'm leaving him... I really need to find work-at-home opportunities. One thing I can think of at the top of my head is retailing. Hopefully, by the time he turns one, it's already up and running. I just need to finalize what products I'd sell as there are a lot already doing business online. I need to find something... new.

    Update: (2010-03-12)
    We haven't been able to feed him any solids yet as work has been demanding me to go to the office. My colleague is sick and he's my back-up so I can't take a leave. But anyway, we're to set it tomorrow morning. Jack-Jack will have breakfast with us. Hee.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Motherhood and parenting

    I've always liked babies and children. Ok. Maybe not all, especially those bratty ones but generally, I love kids. Especially babies who would coo and smile and laugh at all the simplest things, and kids who would make you their personal toys (yes, I've been subjected to such, and it was my neice, at that, while she'd tell me "Tita, go and sit there. The ship will sail soon!" and what did I do? Follow her, of course. I mean, I wouldn't want the ship to leave without me, right?). And before I was married, I keep on telling my mother to go and get pregnant so that I'd have a cute little brother or sister to play with, since my own sister, even if she is five years younger than me, is already too old to play with. My mom would always tell me I should be the one since she's already too old to be caring for babies. And I'd always answer back that it won't be soon enough for me.

    Until I got pregnant. It was unexpected actually, since we were still planning our wedding at that time, and with it came all the initial problems that came with unexpected pregnancy, i.e. how will I tell my parents, what would my family (meaning my whole extended family) think, how about J's family, etc, etc. Of course, I haven't really fully grasped the whole concept of having a child at that time. Just that, instead of having J by myself for at least six months after our wedding, I'd only have him for about five and already with something extra: my bulging belly. I haven't really thought about how I'd want to take care of my baby, and of course, how I'd want to parent my baby.

    Fastforward to around 2-3 months before I'd give birth. Or rather, when I was searching the internet for maternity tops since my belly was starting really show and I don't have much tops that are roomy at the stomach. I chanced upon Next9... where I saw the ring sling. I fell in love. I mean, I already saw the ring sling being used by someone before, when we were eating at Pizza Hut when we were still in the dating/getting-to-know-each-other stage. And I said that I liked that concept. Besides which, I don't want to use a stroller. Especially when I already see a toddler, still sitting in a stroller, when s/he could walk beside the parents. Because I have this belief that it's just instilling laziness to the kid. Don't get me wrong. I know how useful the strollers are but it's just that, I really dont' see why the kids can't walk around (under parental supervision of course, especially when there are a lot of people milling around) and when they're tired already, sit down somewhere, or ask mommy or daddy for a ride. And if they're super tired they want to doze off, let them on mommy or daddy's shoulder. I mean, I personally like having my baby sleep on me, even when he's already getting heavier and heavier, when we're out and about. I can check on him periodically without having to stop at a corner or slow down...

    But anyway. Yes. I fell in love. I fell in love with the concept of Attachment Parenting (AP). And what is AP exactly?
    The term, "attachment parenting", was conceived by pediatrician William Sears and his wife Martha, to describe a highly responsive, attentive style of caring for a child. Attachment parenting promotes physical and emotional closeness between parent and child through what the Sears refer to as the "Baby Bs." The Baby Bs are bonding, breastfeeding, babywearing, bedsharing and boundary building. [IVillage]

    When I started reading about AP from Next9's website, more specifically on babywearing, I was hooked. I wanted that kind of relationship with my baby. And then I continued to read on to the websites' other topics and well... the rest, as they say, was history. Attachment Parenting was exactly what I was looking for.

    Why do I like AP so much? Well, let me count the (7) ways...
    1. I don't believe in letting my baby "cry it out" and AP believes that there is a language value in a baby's cry.
    2. A lot of well-meaning parents, either officemates or relatives alike, had told me to not let my baby get used to being carried since they'd be looking for it. Well, I actually love carrying my baby, even if it means getting a back ache later on but that's where babywearing comes in. And I love wearing my baby. I mean, if the title of my blog isn't some indication then I don't know what is. :D Besides which, they wouldn't stay as babies forever so I'd cherish the time my baby wants me to carry him and not moan and mope when the time comes that I want to carry him and he'd run away from me.
    3. AP promotes breastfeeding as not only an infant's source of nutrients, especially right after birth (colostrum, anyone?), but also as a way of bonding and exercising how to read your baby's cues. And who wouldn't love breastfeeding, even if it isn't as easy as it sounds, when you see your little one pause and look up at you and give you a grin?
    4. Co-sleeping. At first, it was because I read about it and it sounded (and felt) right. But later on, I realize, I really wouldn't want to leave my baby alone on a crib. I want to be near him, so it'd be easy for me to feed him and change him, even if it meant compromising sleep and some alone time with J. But then again, we already knew beforehand that having a baby (kids, actually) meant that we would have to get creative and some sacrifices would have to be made for us to get some alone time but then (again!), that wouldn't last forever.
    5. Rooming-in after birth. AP believes in birth bonding and seriously, it was easier for me to have my baby roomed in since I was breastfeeding him rather than having our room knocked on every 2-3 hours for feedings (which happened the first night).
    6. I haven't really thought of strictly following a parenting style nor even buying a book about how to train my baby to eat, sleep, etc. at certain times since I really just want to get in tuned with my baby on when he wants to eat, sleep, etc. Plus, like I said, I'm not really into the "cry it out" method. His cries always tug at my heart and I simply cannot ignore it.
    7. Balance. And this means knowing when to say "no" and when to say "yes" to baby. And knowing when to ask for help when overwhelmed.

    With those in mind, but actually, with those in my heart since while I do love AP, I mostly do things with what my instincts tell me, I think motherhood, came to me almost naturally. Naturally, but certainly not easy. As the journey of motherhood and parenting has just started for me.

    And, oh yes. It was just at the previous paragraph I mentioned motherhood, hmm? Well. I think I can sum it up in a short sentence: I love it.