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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jamie's Second Month

Today is actually the day before Jamie's second month ... but I thought I'd get a head start on writing this post to commemorate the event. It's sort of hard to believe that another month has flown by ... I find myself waking up each day, going about our little routines and it sometimes seems like time goes by so slowly. And then, I look at the calendar and it's already time to celebrate another monthsary. It boggles the mind!

In just 2 months (that's 8+ weeks or 60+ days), our little baby girl has grown so much. When I look at Jamie's pictures, taken when she was still at the hospital or when she just got home, it's amazing how bigger and fuller she is now! I am so amazed at how much our little angel has changed in such a short amount of time.

I still love how our baby looks when she is sleeping peacefully, how her whole face scrunches up when she wakes up from sleep and stretches, how she opens her eyes wide when she looks up at me, how she makes small contented sighs when she's drinking her formula or when she yawns. And now, this 2nd month, there are even more things I am discovering about her that I love.

This second month:

+ Jamie definitely has a personality and she's not afraid to show it. When she's hungry - she makes sure we know she wants her milk and we better make it as fast as we can! When she wants to play (instead of sleep), there's no amount of begging on our end that will get her to close her eyes. And when she wants to be carried, there is no trick we have not tried that has worked to keep her in her crib! Such a strong-willed little force to be reckoned with!

+ Jamie has two sets of families that love, love, love her - it will be a true test of our parenting skills to keep her from getting spoiled. My mom was here the first part of this month and would go on walks with Jamie every morning, would carry her and rock her to sleep at night, would coo and cuddle with her when she got fussy. Jojo's mom was with us the second part of the month and she would tirelessly carry Jamie all afternoon just to get her to sleep, she sings endless lullabys to get Jamie to settle down, and is on hand to feed and change this little baby. My sisters, Jojo's sisters, my in-laws and Jojo's in-laws are on-hand to ooh and aah over this beautiful baby. I can't get over how much of a star she is whenever we have get-togethers!

+ Jamie has been steadily gaining weight and getting bigger. I am so glad every time we go for weigh ins at Healthlinks. I used to fret about her small stature - but these days I am assured she is a healthy baby girl =)

+ I am worrying a lot though about vaccines. This Wed Jamie is getting her first round of shots and I am so scared ... I've been talking to everyone and anyone who cares to listen. I've done a lot of research. I've read everything I can get my hands on regarding vaccines. I know the positives outweigh the negatives by leaps and bounds ... but my heart aches thinking of the pain it may cause Jamie and the possible negative effects there may be after she gets her shots. Oh the pains of being a parent! I have never appreciated my own parents more than I do now!

+ We've had little milestones - such as Jamie's first time to go to mass (and she behaved beautifully all throughout!), Jamie attending her first party (her cousins' first communion celebration - she was a hit because everyone wanted to hold her!), Jamie starting to interact more with Jojo and myself (I love how we can play little games with her and she coos back at us and flashes toothless grins). Also, Jamie has now transitioned (flawlessly) to sleeping on the big bed (with us) to sleeping on her bassinet (beside us). Biggest perk is we now enjoy 4-5 hour stretches of uninterrupted sleep - some rare nights we even have a 6-hour run! Such a blessing =) It is amazing what a precious gift this baby girl truly is to us.

To my dearest darling Jamie (we still call you all those nicknames from when you were born to a few new ones we've added this month : Toothless, Haymee-hames, Scarface, Baby Banshee, Pretty-pretty, and Sweetie),

You are the light of your dad's and my life. Thank you for giving us a reason to wake up each morning and making us smile every day. We are so glad that we have you to make our family complete.

Happy second month, Jamie!

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 21: Doomsday (NOT)

There has been a lot of talk about May 21st being the supposed end of the world. It has become such a hot topic that it was even discussed in yesterday's mass. (Now, I know it's pretty serious when Fr. Treadue talks about it during the homily!). Well, May 21st has come and gone - and since we are all still alive and breathing - it just goes to show that no one knows when exactly the end of the world will happen. You would think that by now, people would wise up and stop believing these "rumors" and supposed prophets should stop trying to make "predictions". We should just go on with our lives and if the end of the world comes during our lifetime - then we deal with it then and there (after all, if it does happen, there really isn't much we can do about it anyway!).

Despite my skepticism about the prediction that May 21st will be the day the world ends, I did stop and think about how I would have lived that day any differently. Of course, if I had a choice I would like to be surrounded by my family and doing the things I love to do. Come to think of it, that's pretty much how we spent last Saturday anyway. We were at home (Jojo, Jamie and I). We watched tv, read books, cooked meals, napped and did chores (all the things I like to do - well, except the did chores part!). I would have loved to have my mom, brothers and sisters close by (but I know they were all doing what made them happy on a Saturday too). I know mom went to watch a play with her friend, Jules had a dinner party at home, Jim was in Boracay with friends, Joy was at the movies with classmates, and Atsi was spending the day with Mark. So even if we were not all together physically, everyone was happy where they were. But more importantly, I got to spend it with Jojo and Jamie - safe and sound at home.

So, if the world did end last May 21st - I guess I would have been pretty content with where I was and with whom I was with - and honestly, I would have been ok with the life I have had so far - because honestly ... it has been pretty awesome =)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Breastfeed or Not To Breastfeed?

I want to start out by saying I believe 100% that breastfeeding is best for baby. It is also beneficial for mommy. This post is by no means detracting from all the good things that come from breastfeeding one's baby.

However, I want to write about the fact that I did not have a very good experience with breastfeeding. I don't really know who to blame for that - so I'm chalking it up to circumstance (basically, it's just how things turned out). When I delivered, I was so gung ho on breastfeed exclusively. I told myself that Jamie would be purely breastfed for at least the first 3-6 months. To prove that, I did not buy a single bottle, nipple or can of formula. Jojo and I were committed to making it work and we attended not only breastfeeding classes, but also breastfeeding clinics and sessions with lactation consultants.

The first few days after I delivered, we diligently tried to breastfeed round the clock. Every 3 hours, we would put Jamie to breast (morning, noon and night). We even woke her up when she slept through feedings. We did the usual 15-20 minutes per breast. It was really hard because I had to feed every 3 hours and each feeding took almost an hour. I had to feed Jamie and take care of her 24/7 all while recovering from a C-section! I was so tired and in a lot of pain - but I had to do it since this was the only food source for Jamie. I repeatedly declined the nursing staff's offer to give Jamie a bottle of formula. This is what I learned from lactation consultants and Jamie's pediatrician.

We noticed though I had no milk at that time. I was reassured that the baby had enough "extra food" in her body to get through my dry spell. I was also told that colostrum (concentrated milk) was coming out even if I could not see it. Jamie lost weight every day for the first 3 days which worried me, but I was told that babies lose weight during the first week anyway. So we kept trying even if it was already starting to get discouraging. By the 5th day (day before we checked out), we were alarmed when the pedia on call announced our baby lost 12% of her weight and he was ordering her to be put on formula immediately. You can imagine how devastating it was for me as a new mom. I found out my baby was hungry all 5 days and that she was losing too much weight. I had no milk even if we were doing everything we were taught and told. I was a wreck, blaming myself and feeling terrible that all my efforts were in vain. It did not help my recovery from the C-section had complications as well. I was still bleeding, bloated from all the excess water, and really physically tired and in pain.

When we left the hospital, I was still determined to breastfeed. We rented a hospital grade breast pump to help me extract milk. I did this round the clock too. I would put Jamie to my breast every 3 hours (or whenever she cried) and pump in between. My breasts were sore but we did not get a whole lot of milk. I was frustrated every time. We tried this for a week. Jamie was feeding about 8 times a day. We had her drink breastmilk from a bottle for 6 feedings, supplemented with formula for 2 feedings, and latch on to the breast in between. It was really physically hard. I was still tired from my operation, was still taking painkillers for the pain, and did not get enough sleep cause Jamie was extra fussy especially at night. I was cranky and depressed most of the time. I actually broke down and cried several times - all in one week!

The second and third week got a little worse. Jamie progressively needed more milk and I was producing the same amount or even less. Sometimes I would pump and get 30 ml of milk, while Jamie needed to eat 60-90 ml per feeding. I would have to pump twice (every 3 hours) to feed her once. This resulted in using formula more and more. Every time I used formula, I had feelings of guilt and self-doubt. It was such a frustrating cycle. My mom was making me all kinds of soupy dishes and healthy food - all in the effort to increase my milk production. I was on the web researching all sorts of ways to increase breastmilk - from fenugreek, to milk thistle, to blessed milk thistle. Nothing helped!

By the fourth week, we were down to 50% breastmilk and 50% formula (and then less and less each day). I was really physically, mentally and emotionally tired from breastfeeding. Jamie was also getting increasingly frustrated every time she latched. (By the way, her latch was ok - as per the lactation specialists we met with - I think it was more because she wasn't getting enough as compared to the bottle). Increasingly, I was under so much pressure that it was affecting the way I treated my baby, my hubby, and everyone else around me. It was then I decided to let it go. I would breastfeed as much as I could but I refused to let it continue to consume me. My rationalization was that I wanted to be a good mother and breastfeeding was not the only way I could do that.

By the 5th week, my milk supply was at an all time low. Sometimes I was down to 20 ml per pumping session and Jamie was already at 90-100 ml per feeding. I then decided that pumping was not helping so I decided to forego the pump and just have the baby latch on when she wanted to. By then, we were about 80-90% dependent on formula already. During this time, with the support I got from my mom, husband, sister, family and friends, I started to let go of all the insecurities I had about not being able to breastfeed. I started hearing of so many others who had the same frustrations, concerns and issues that I did - and it gave me some sense of relief.

By the 6th week, we were on 100% formula and breastfeeding just on occasion (sometimes just to pacify Jamie or to get her through the next feeding). Did I feel any guilt over this? I guess somewhat ... but I also felt that I was being a better mom to my baby because I could focus on doing other things for her rather than being consumed by just breastfeeding. I also felt it was better for me too (I had overcome the onset of a post-partum depression primarily brought about by my breastfeeding anxieties). And lastly, I was a better person to live with as I am sure my hubby, mom and sister can attest to!

Today (Jamie is at 7 weeks), I have stopped breastfeeding altogether. My baby no longer looks for it and I no longer offer it. I'm not proud of this but neither am I racked with guilt. It is what it is. I have finally come to grips with the whole breastfeeding issue. I still believe in its benefits and still admire women who are able to do it. I do realize though that even with the best of intentions sometimes it just does not work out the way we want it to. There are times when it is beyond our control. I refuse, though, to let my inability to do it define who I am or the kind of mom I can be. I still want to be the best mom I can be and I know there will be other opportunities and instances wherein I can prove that to my daughter.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

My First Mother's Day

My very first mother's day celebration is a bittersweet event. On the one hand, it is a happy occasion now that I have Jamie with me and I can stare into her beautiful baby eyes. On the other hand, it is also somewhat sad because, last night, my own mom left for Manila.

Rather than focus on my own experience of being a mom (which is all of 37 days and counting), I'd rather spend this post and talk about my own mom. After all, I owe her so much and I want her to know how special she is to me.

My mom has always been the ideal mother. When we were growing up, she was the quintessential homemaker who believed the family should eat a home-cooked dinner together every night. She baked cookies and was active in parent teacher activities in all of our schools. She welcomed all of our family and friends into our home (we had dinner guests almost every night!). She held the family together by making sure she was a loving wife and a doting mother. Many times, we were teased by our friends for having the perfect "Brady Bunch" family - and largely it was because of my mom. I will forever be grateful to my mom for giving us such a happy and well-balanced childhood.

Fast forward to today, I am now 36 years old and despite of my age I still rely on my mom for so many things. I've lived away from home for 10 years but still value my mom's advice, her tips and techniques for keeping a home running in order, her insight on my personal and professional life, and her encouragement whenever I feel down. She has never failed me even though she is so busy taking care of so many things.

Recently, my mom came over to the States to help my sister, Joy, get settled for school. She also came to help me during my last stage of pregnancy and as I started life as a new mom. I can not stress enough how invaluable her presence was for all of us. I am grateful not only because of all the meals she prepared, the housekeeping she did, and the shopping trips she went on for us. (Of course, those are much appreciated too!).

But I am more grateful for her quiet presence in the house. She has helped me retain my sanity especially the first few days after I delivered Jamie. I truly believe she is the main reason I got over the onset of my post-partum depression. Her encouragement helped make me stronger. Her calm manner helped put things in perspective. Her support helped me see that I could manage being a new mom even when I thought I could not. Her reassurance helped make me lessen my doubts and fears. I owe a lot to my mom for helping me adjust to motherhood. I do not think I could have done it without her. So please allow me to THANK her from the bottom of my heart.

I guess the message I posted on mom's Facebook page today sums it up best:
We all believe we have the best mom in the world. I believe God intended it that way when he chose which moms & which kids go together. Today, I wish Judy L. Lim, the best mom for me, a HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY. Mom, you truly are God's blessing to me. I can't tell you enough how grateful I am for all that you do & how much you mean to me. If I could be half as good a mom as you are, Jamie would be so lucky! I LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Jamie's First Month

Jamie turned a month old last April 30. I wanted to post this sooner but there just wasn't enough time. Here are some highlights of the last month:

+ The first week we spent at the hospital (we were there 5 and a half days). Those kind of went by in a blur since I was recovering from a C-section and Jojo was just becoming used to daddy-hood. We did experience some parental anxiety early on though cause Jamie lost a lot of weight (12% of her birth weight) since my breast milk was not flowing as much as we'd like. We started a formula supplement by the time we left the hospital.

+ Life at home took some getting used to. Jamie was pretty fussy the first night (as was expected) - this continued for maybe the first 2 weeks (also expected). It was a real crash course in parenthood for Jojo and myself. We had to learn - FAST! Sleepless nights became the norm and life revolved around our little angel.

+ By the 2nd week, Jamie gained the weight she needed to gain. It was such a relief for me! I was actually able to breathe a little bit better then. Life sort of settled into a routine (eating, burping, sleeping, peeing, pooping, tummy time and crying time).

+ A miracle happened when Jojo suggested we start sleeping in our room again (prior to that we were rooming in the nursery so we could be close to Jamie). By the 3rd week, we moved to our room and tried co-sleeping (Jamie in between us on our bed). It was a success. She slept soundly only waking for her feedings and then falling asleep again after burping and diaper changes. I thought it may only be a good night ... but so far we've had a week of good nights already so I am going to tempt the fates by saying "our baby has gotten the hang of sleeping at nights!" (hope this does not jinx things!)

+ Lots of little firsts too. Too many to mention but all of which I hold dearly in my heart. Jamie has grown in the last month and I marvel at how this little precious baby can already assert herself so clearly. She has a temper and is not afraid to show it (especially when mommy and daddy are slow at getting her formula ready!). When she is quiet, Jamie looks at us with her almond-shaped eyes and you can almost imagine that she understands what we are saying. Her lips break into a gassy smile when she is content and happy and they pucker up when she's hungry or angry.

+ This first month was a true test for Jojo and myself - we discovered a lot about ourselves and what it truly means to be a parent. It's only been 30 days and yet I already feel humbled and in awe of all the parents out there who selflessly devote their time and effort for their kids. This is especially true of my own mom who is here with us helping us through this transition. She has been AMAZING both as a mom to us (making our meals, cleaning up after us, making sure we have what we need, and just providing a shoulder for me to cry on and an ear for me to vent my frustrations to). She's been an excellent guammy to Jamie too (taking her for morning walks to get sun, rocking her to sleep, and calming her down when she's fussy - for some reason Jamie takes to her really, really well!). If I could only be half the mom my mom is - Jamie would be a really lucky baby!

To our darling daughter, Jamie (also known as "Honeybee, Hummingbird, Baby Angel, Jamie G, Jamie Mayer, Beanie, Beanster, Pangga, Baby Girl, and Puchoy):

Thank you for being patient with your dad and mom - as we learn how to be good parents. Thank you for being the beautiful, sweet and charming baby that you are. Thank you for making us so happy this last month. And thank you in advance for the many adventures we will still be sharing together.

We love you so much!

From, mommy and daddy.