Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Things I "should have" brought to the hospital for labor and childbirth

Looking back to some twenty months ago, God gave us the best gift ever - our baby daughter. While we did our best to plan and prepare, there are still some misses in terms of our preparedness. As Frank Sinatra sang about in My Way, "..regrets, I've had a few but then again, too few to mention.." Well don't we all have regrets in life? In my case, I think it's good to mention a few of my labor kit regrets - the "shoulda woulda coulda's...should have brought 'ya!" items. So here's from me to you, a supposedly clearer hospital bag inventory from hindsight.

Oh I can just hear Daddy A saying, "What? Ang laki na ng mga bags natin nuon, may kulang pa pala?"

Patiently waiting..

Yes dear mommies and daddies, despite my long list in my previous post entitled What should go in your Maternity Labor Kit, there are a few items I found, that should have been there in the first place. Please take this to heart as they are some of the essential ones that may just provide that much needed comfort after the rigors of childbirth. 

1. Belly Wrap or Binder

After my CS operation, I woke up feeling a little bit weird in my tummy area. Like my body was about to collapse and fold by my incision, if not for the binder. The binder was really (for me) more of a comfort thing. And how come nobody even told me to bring one? Luckily the hospital provided a Long Bone blue binder but it can get itchy and uncomfortable for long-term use.

It's best to research about this ahead of time as there are binders that have better materials. During times of extreme discomfort, a more breathable material can really make a lot of difference.

The generic ones from local drug store companies cost less but can get uncomfortable. What the nurses suggested was for us to use the lampin (thin towelettes) as buffer and to also use baby powder on affected areas (usually the back side) to alleviate the rash or itching.

My suggestion is to have at least two wraps or binders. You know, the first post-partum days can get really dirty with stains of all kinds. This way you can ensure that you always have a clean one every time you need it.

I used the binders extensively for a month and used it sparingly for the next two months. The weather in the Philippines as it is, is really hot! Wearing a binder plus the baby it's doubly warmer. But because I really needed it, I did my best to persevere in using the binders.

Since the Long Bone was provided by the hospital, we bought the Mamaway Postpartum Bamboo Charcoal Belly Band as my spare and I really loved using it! It's available from Mamaway Shangri-la Mall, the price was in the range of PHP 3,000.00 - 4,000.00 when we purchased last 2014. Aside from the bamboo-charcoal material which makes it more breathable and renders anti-bacterial properties, I loved its 3-step compression fastening - makes me feel really comfy as I adjust it to my body.

2. Breastfeeding Pillow

Even if we have already decided (way way before giving birth) that we wanted to breastfeed our child, we shied away from purchasing a breastfeeding pillow because - what if we failed or what if we can't breastfeed? Sayang naman..

Luckily or unluckily, again I woke up to see one in our hospital room. I just found out belatedly that we were also billed for it for around PHP 1,500! Gaaah..if only I knew then I should have purchased the highly rated breastfeeding pillows in advance!

Breastfeeding with the help of our pillow during Z's monthly check-up

What I didn't like about the hospital-provided BF pillow is that it's too stiff and not as stuffed. We ended up having to use additional pillows whenever we tried to breastfeed in the earlier post-partum days. I understand now that these are minor adjustments but to a new mom, any extra complication could add to their pressures of making breastfeeding work.

Of course there are pillows available in SM Baby Company and also in Mothercare outlets. The brand I was rooting for because of many rave reviews, but have not tried, was the Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner together with the Boppy pillow slipcover .

Actually, there are a lot of options now! There are those with extra recliner [Leachco Adjustable Nursing Pillow] and even those with arm & back support plus extra nooks for toys and remote controls [My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow]!

Okay, some would say that our grandmothers have breastfed our parents without these accessories but come on!!! Any additional help or support for breastfeeding mothers, anything at all that can make it easier or at least more bearable is a good investment in my opinion! Besides, you can use it as a positioner for when baby is learning to sit and also as a regular pillow thrown in the mix!

3. Baby Wearing Sling / Wrap

Slings or wraps intimidate me! They look so complicated and it wasn't something I was confident to use back then. That's why I really admire those moms who were able to do it early on. I mean, I felt we were kind of late in the game, only getting comfortable to use the Saya or the Baby K'tan in the 3rd or 4th month post-partum. Thank goodness really for hybrid wraps because I really don't know how to work out those really long ones (e.g. Boba, Moby, etc.)

The moment I finally got the hang of it, I immediately wished I have done it sooner! It was really a life-saver for those times when your child impossibly needed to be carried all the time and you also HAVE to do other things to keep your sanity!

SAYA Baby Carrier - This is a locally made cloth baby carrier. I chose the SSK or semi-stretch knit (cotton or close to cotton?) model because it's cheaper and I was scared of the extra give from the fabric of the Versa-Tekk blend. They have really nice designs and best of all, it's a quality product that's proudly Philippine-made. #SupportLocal

Since they were not offering the stabilizers last year, we used this primarily at home. I purchased our Saya locally from their stockist Mama Baby Love. Note: make sure to inquire about the right size for you.

she was really peaceful when carried in the Saya

Backside with the Saya

Baby K'tan Baby Carrier - This is another carrier similar to the Saya. I chose the Black Breeze model. It's half mesh (yung butas-butas) and half cotton. For me this is nice because it helps baby stay cool while inside the carrier. This has added built-in features (compared to the Saya) such as the adjuster and the stabilizer which also doubles as a bag.

I also chose the black breeze k'tan because it can weather dust and dirt more (hindi dumihin) and  the color could relatively be matched with my very limited post-partum/breastfeeding outfits.

Aside from the Original, Baby K'tans now have different variants such as Breeze, Organic and Active. Our Baby K'tan Breeze was purchased at PHP 2,850 in 2014 from Cebu stockist Ms. Gretchen Choa-Uy of Modern Mama Baby Shop (MOMA). 

This was the carrier we used all the time until Z got heavy enough and we had to transition to an SSC or a soft-structured carrier like the Tula.

Note: make sure to inquire about the right size for you.

Sleeping in a noisy restaurant
Having my cake and eating it too...while wearing my baby!

These are really great commodities especially for first-time parents who are not used to taking care of babies. Daily chores and tasks from simple to relatively complex ones can be done easily even with baby in tow! :)

Other families will benefit greatly from carriers especially when they need Kangaroo Care all the more! Plus I really believe this would've significantly lessened the crying fits and help baby become calmer as she's closer to mommy or her care giver.

4. Breast Pump

We owe a lot to Medela House now called The Parenting Emporium for making us aware of a lot of things related to breastfeeding especially the benefits. So when the time came to finally purchase a breast pump, we bought from them vs. buying from the mall. We loved the personalized service and the fact that the horns / flanges are fitted to a mom's actual size.

NOTE: A pump is not necessary to ensure successful breastfeeding. Even if you only do hand expression (Marmet technique), you will still  be able to get milk.

So if mommies can just rely on hand expression, why did we still buy that pump? Basically, it's for when we're on the road or travelling and while at work. If you know how horrible traffic can get here in Manila, you'd definitely want to invest in a good pump.

Pumping in the wee hours - a story of engorgement and a sleeping babe

That's the reason we chose Medela's Freestyle Breast Pump. Precisely for the kind of lifestyle we have right now as well as the nature of my work.

We were told during breastfeeding seminars that pumping should be done on the 3rd week post-partum and not earlier. But due to some complications, I had hubby bring in the pump on the second day instead!

P.S. Always check the wattage compatibility before purchasing anything online.

5. Breastmilk Collection / Softshells for Nipple Protection

And lastly, before I turn this post into a novella, I really wish I knew about these softshells for nipple protection because I was oh so sore! The good thing about this is that while you're breastfeeding on one side, it helps air out your other nipple after a feeding. Y'know, because contact even with your shirt will definitely make you say yeoooouuuucchh!!!

This also doubles as a breastmilk collector (the collected milk is not for consumption) for those times when we continuously leak with liquid gold. We bought ours from Medela House, now The Parenting Emporium, for about PHP 1,000.00 a pair.

So there's my list...I know most of these are utterly expensive or for some unnecessary but really if I had to do it all over again, these 5 items would definitely be in our maternity bag! :)

Did I miss anything? Let me know what your "shoulda woulda coulda's...should have brought 'ya!" items are! 

And if you missed it, here's the list of our ORIGINAL Maternity Bag / Labor Kit contents.

**In the spirit of full disclosure, there are affiliate links on this post, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything from Amazon. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hello Three-Oh! :)

SUPER DUPER LATE POST: This was a post I never got to finish last year. Exactly a year ago. You know, when I turned 30. And because I'll be adding another year in the next 4 hours or so. I guess I'll have to post it na. Now or never. And so you see what being 30 meant to me! Unfinished sentences, unfinished businesses, plans diverted and dreams put on hold. Such is my life now. :)

Hahahaha...Wish me luck in posting a 30+1 blog in the next few days! :p :p


Last week I celebrated my birthday and I just hit the big 3-0! :) I spent a considerable amount of time just taking stock of what being thirty means to me. You see, when I was younger I had totally different visions of what being thirty would be! That would probably include me spending a grand time somewhere totally exotic with a generous serving of tequila rose in my hand. Or finally getting to cross out a million and one things on my to-do or dreams list! That's probably the closest I could get to Jenna Rink's "thirty, flirty and thriving!" be young and quite naive!

Thank you to all my well-wishers, family and friends who greeted me and even made heart-warming collages to celebrate my special day. I love you all too! :)

From Mrs. Lo, one of my best friends. Super happy to have you guys in my life!

From Mrs. Ang, my sweet sister-in-law, who I got to share the dance floor with

From my Mommy. I love you so much!

Starting them young with BDO Junior Savers Club

Have you ever wondered what to do with the money given to your child? In the Philippines, it is usual (not customary) for some relatives or guests to give ang pao (cash gift) on special occasions. I myself was surprised with those little red envelopes starting from Z's birth, then on her baptism and also on her birthday. Sometimes she also gets those when she visits a house for the first time (may ganon?! hehe) and of course on Christmas too! :)

Photo credit to:
So being the excited first-time mom that I am, I immediately proposed to Daddy A that we should open a savings account for Z, instead of us pooling it with the family account. This is something he did not immediately agree with.

Daddy says No, Mommy says Go!

Our child's own bank account has been a subject of discussion between Daddy A and I. While he says that multiple bank accounts may be harder to manage, I still wanted Z to have her own. I hope that as she grows older, she'll be able to appreciate the generosity of her godparents/other sponsors and that we were able to save those gifts for her. We'll have to deal with the nitty-gritty's of maintaining balances, keeping the account current and what not. Besides, it's not as if there's really a lot of paperwork or pencil-pushing to be done at this point. At the minimum, we should just ensure that:

  • the account is secure : passbook (and ATM, if provided) and any password is safe and protected
  • the account is secured: the amount deposited is backed by the PDIC
  • minimum maintaining balance: that we have deposited an amount above the minimum required balance
  • the account is updated: that we have transactions within the year so that it is not tagged as a dormant account (banks make deductions / charge fees for dormant accounts)

Another very valid point that Daddy A raised is that because of the current inflation and very meager bank interest rates, money in bank will actually be losing value and the opportunity to earn more had it been invested in another manner. To which I definitely agree. Hence we should also look at other options like stocks or mutual funds or even insurance. I hope I can share with you my experience in a future blog post!

Deal or No Deal?

Having my personal bank account goes way back. I still remember me and my mom personally going to the bank and depositing whatever sum I was able to muster. It was fun to do "grown-up things" then. You know, saving my allowance and cash gifts, counting them (even if they only amounted to Php 500.00 then), filling out the bank deposit slip (with my kiddie handwriting of course!), and actually seeing my account steadily accumulate. Of course it helps that the passbook design was too cute (with a dolphin, I think?) and the bank would usually give tokens for Christmas :)

Aside from wanting to have similar bonding moments too with my kiddo, we want to teach her about capital preservation (at this point) and in the future, evaluating different investment options and (hopefully) making the right choice. Hence, Daddy A and I arrived at a healthy compromise to open an account for Z, with certain reservations.

At this point it was important for us to have discussed as a couple: the minimum and maximum amount we need to deposit, what we should do when it reaches a certain amount, under what circumstances will we allow for a withdrawal, etc.

I knooooow you can just deposit and deposit (or make withdrawals) as you wish but we're two complicated folks who like it that way hahaha :)

BDO Junior Savers Club

Since we already have an account with BDO, it was a no-brainer to open one for Z in this bank. It was relatively a breeze to open the account and we were finished in less than an hour. We were just asked for the following requirements:

  • Copy of Z's Birth Certificate
  • Our Identification Cards (ID)
  • Photos (1x1 or 2x2)
  • Opening Balance: PHP 100.00 [the minimum balance to earn interest is PHP 2,000.00]
Please do check out the BDO Junior Savers Page to see other features as well as the fees and charges. 

Oh, they also provide a Junior Savers Club ID which actually bears the same design as their regular ATM card (so much fun in that?!?). This is free but you have to ask them specifically for this and in our particular branch, it took at least 3 weeks before we got the Junior Savers Club Card. 

This can entitle your child to special treats or promotions from partner companies such as those listed below. You can check with your branch as they change the participating merchants and the promotions from time to time.

Well for me this is a good thing. Since we won't earn much from the bank interest anyway, why not maximize the account through the perks (discounts and promos) from partner stores like Brownies, Great Image, Museo Pambata, Manila Ocean Park, etc. I'm particularly excited to use this for Zoobic Safari, Museo Pambata and Manila Ocean Park. What a great way to have more teachable moments with the little one! :) [P.S. And some brownies for mommy won't hurt either! hahaha]

BDO Junior Savers Club Perks!

So what are you waiting for dearest mommies and daddies? Let's start building good financial literacy and life habits by teaching our children to save and to eventually venture in investments and businesses in the future. Happy Saving! :D

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. I only blog about products and services that I have tried and truly believe in so I know that you, my readers, are in good hands.

P.S. We haven't even received a pencil case (as stated in their website). I just really advocate for financial literacy for our children, starting when they are young. I support Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' (BSP) Banking On Your Future Program (BOYFP). It is really my wish that the younger generation see money as a tool, not only to purchase goods, but to do good in this world.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday Reflection :: Thankless

I feel like I've been down more than I've been up in the past few days or even weeks. There are things that have not gone on as planned. There are also people and events that made me a word - unappreciated. Not unloved, just..unappreciated

Feels like a lonely road...
And it can get disheartening. When you feel you've done enough or at least have tried your best but your actions and efforts just get sucked into an invisible vacuum. When it takes more than words; quite literally it took your blood, sweat and tears to achieve something and it isn't even meaningful (not in the least) for some. Again, what a thankless world! 

This was meant to be a (hormonal?) rant until I realized, how ungrateful have I been myself?

  • For all those times I have expected better and better from my family (parents, husband, etc) without realizing they have already sacrificed so much to provide whatever was deemed not enough
  • For all those times my friends have given a part of themselves even if they too are busy, even if they too are struggling
  • For all those times I have received something and have not expressed gratitude as they deserve
  • And so many more
For shame. But what really jolted me back is the prayer we have continuously uttered during Mass, Panalanging Sa Pagiging Bukas Palad. What struck me is that despite praying for this through song, here I am expecting a reward in form of a "thank you" or a pat on the back for doing good. Even more, this made me realize how ungrateful I have been to God, to Jesus. For not being a faithful servant, for always wanting to have the best, for wanting to be the best. 

I know I can never thank You enough, Jesus. Anything I say or do will never be enough for the immense sacrifice You have done for us. And yet despite the thanklessness of this world, You continue to redeem, You continue to save us. Thank You Jesus for loving us! Please continue to guide us that our eyes may be only on God and not on worldly things and agendas. Please help us understand that our focus should be on You, that in any good deed we may accomplish, it is for Your glory. That it is more than enough that we are guided to know and follow Your will. That it will always be more than enough, more than we can ever understand, that You love us. Dearest Mama Mary, please pray for us.

Panginoon, turuan mo akong maging bukas-palad
Turuan mo akong maglingkod sa Iyo
At magbigay nang ayon sa nararapat
Na walang hinihintay mula sa Iyo
Na makibakang di inaalintana, mga hirap na dinaranas
Sa tuwina'y magsumikap na hindi humahanap ng kapalit na kaginhawaan
at di naghihintay kundi ang aking mabatid na ang loob Mo'y siyang sinusundan.

Panginoon, turuan mo akong maging bukas palad
Turuan mo akong maglingkod sa Iyo
At magbigay nang ayon sa nararapat
Na walang hinihintay mula sa Iyo


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