Bad Mommy

If a child development or parenting expert would rate my parenting skills, I’m pretty sure I’d score way below what I aspired to get before I became a mom. Here are just a few of my many oh-no moments:

  • There have been days when my son has been in the same diaper in 6 hours. Thank goodness for diaper creams to combat diaper rash.
  • I sometimes forget to wash his hands before bed, even if he’s used them to eat his dinner (I do wipe him after dinner).
  • I use the “5 second rule” for food that’s fallen on our floor at home, but I’ve given up running to stop him from eating food he found on the floor that’s been there for a day (I swear I didn’t see the cheerios).
  • His high chair sometimes spends a couple days or more without being wiped or disinfected.
  • I haven’t cleaned his strollers or his car seat, EVER. Hello, crumbs and year-old germs!
  • I let him watch TV even if he’s not two yet (I do need to clean up after we eat), and there have been a few days when the TV was on for more than a couple hours. A day, to be more specific.
  • When he signs for his rice ice cream (he’s allergic to milk) during lunch time at home, I allow him to have it WITH his lunch.
  • I’ve chosen the past of least resistance and allowed him to get used to nursing to sleep. He hasn’t learned to sleep on his own, or soothe himself back to sleep.
  • He has never been away from me for a day since he was born. EVER. Therefore, he hasn’t learned to cope with separation anxiety, not allowing other people to even hold him for a few minutes. Or he could also just be naturally shy, taking after his dad.
  • I put my needs in the bottom of my to-do list, when I should have “taking care of myself” on the top (hence the cobwebs on my blog).

These don’t even come close to the full list – I can go on and on. But 20 months into motherhood, I realize that I can never be a perfect mom and it’s ridiculous to want to be one. I am only human and can only do so much, so I need to lower my standards a little. In fact, because I’m here where no help is available aside from my already-exhausted husband, I should lower the bar even more.

I do try my hardest to be the best mom I can be – making sure my son is healthy, fed and loved. I hope that’s good enough.


Pigs and ABC

Among all the ABC song versions I’ve ever heard, this by far is the most fun – it even gets me up dancing! My son often watches this in one of his sesame street home videos. Because of that, it has been my LSS (last-song-syndrome: that song that plays over and over in my head) for the past week.

Come sing with me!

A – oink! B-oink! C-oink! D-oink! Oink, oink! EFG – oink, oink, oink!!!!


Sunny Days

About a month ago, I introduced Sesame Street videos to my son so I wouldn’t feel so guilty having him watch TV while I clean up in the kitchen or make our meals (he’s not yet two, so supposedly no TV for him, but sometimes I need help from Ernie and Bert to baby sit). The collection I got shows a mix of new and old songs and animation that I haven’t seen since I was 6 or 7.

The first time I saw them again, some 20+ years later, I was instantly flooded with memories of running up the stairs to my parents’ bedroom to sing and dance along with the colorful characters of the street I’ve fantasized living in.

So when I chanced on Sandra O’s speech about her own Sesame Street time-traveling-moment at this year’s Daytime Emmy Awards, I can totally relate. And when I saw the tribute they prepared for Sesame Street (they were given the Lifetime Achievement Award on their 40th anniversary) that showed clips from way back in 1969, I couldn’t help but tear up.

Nostalgia hit me hard as I remembered how it felt to be in, as Sandra O put it, the warmth and safety of my own childhood. Right at that time, I felt more convinced than ever to have my own baby grow up “in” Sesame Street.

I want my son to learn his letters from Big Bird, count numbers with The Count, and sing and dance with the people in the neighborhood, the people that you meet each day.

Congratulations to Sesame Street and its founders. I pray for 40 more birthdays on the air, for more kids to get to know the delightful place that a lot of us have grown up with.

And I hope that someday, my kids will have the same chance of going back to that comforting place in their childhood as they enjoy their turn to tell their own children how to get to Sesame Street.


Signing Time Part 2: My Little (Silent) Talker

A lot has changed since my last post about my signing baby 7 months ago – or should I say, my then-still-not-consistently-signing baby. It amazes me to think that his signing vocabulary has grown so much so quickly!

We started signing to my with “Baby Signing Time” videos at 6 months old, but he didn’t start signing back until 3 months later. His first sign: MILK. The first time he did it, I was overjoyed, but because he wasn’t consistent with signing that yet, also a little discouraged (yes, I am indeed an impatient person).

A few weeks later, we saw more consistency as he signed milk, then eventually, MORE, and then CRACKER. Before his first birthday, he was signing more often, adding to his vocabulary new things like DOG and BALL.

At 15 months old, (a mere 6 months since he started signing) I updated his electronic baby book (thank you Outlook calendar) with words he can sign. Only then did I realize he was already signing over 40 words! That includes those not included in the videos, signs I had to find out for myself.

That also meant I had to keep my signing vocabulary growing. I have yet to learn the signs for cherries and blueberries, plate, fork and spoon and so many other things he tries to communicate to me through pointing.

As for his verbal communication skills, he can only say five: mama, papa, ball, baba and dede, which are Tagalog words for “down” and “breast/milk” respectively. Some people I know are worried of speech delay because he’s communicating so well by signing. Me, not so much.

That’s because current research has shown that signing encourages speech development because of baby’s success at communication. And even I see that clearly. He still signs ball as he says it, but with dede, he hardly signs milk anymore. Besides, I find it easier to have him sign over 40 words to me at this age rather than have him speak 8 or 15 while struggling to communicate the other 30.

Having my son sign makes me realize how much he really wants to communicate. One time, I took him out for a ride in his stroller as we went to check our mail. Because it was a scorching hot day, I had no intentions of staying out and baking in the sun, so as soon as we got the mail, I headed back to our house. As we reached our front door, he started to sign:

MILO: More
ME: We have to head back inside, it’s too hot out here. (I push his stroller inside).
MILO: (whimpering) MORE, MORE!!! OUT!
ME: (taking off his shoes) Later honey, it’s too hot. I promise we’ll go out again later.
MILO: (now upset, kicking as I try to take his shoes off) NO! SHOES!!! MORE! OUT!!! OUT!!! SHOES!!! PLEEEEAASE!!!

I was beaming with pride that he is able to communicate what he wanted – only I couldn’t indulge him, so that broke my heart. I did keep my promise and brought him outside again when the sun’s rays started to mellow down that afternoon.

There have been many other instances like this where he clearly communicated with me, whether it’s about something he wants, doesn’t want or simply just letting me know about what he sees or hears. These reinforce my belief that we made the right decision teaching him to sign. I never thought I could truly have conversations with my baby even before he could speak. And because I’m a chatterbox myself, I couldn’t be happier.


Bloody Nora

I have never been afraid of blood – my own or others'. I even thought I’d make a good paramedic because blood never fazed me, no matter how much. But today, I learned that when it comes to your own kids, what you thought you knew about yourself may not really apply.

My 1-year-old was playing happily in our community playground this afternoon with one of the tot lot regulars, Hannah, while I was chatting with her mom, Hiroko. Then I saw Milo trip before the steps going up to the jungle gym, which was no big deal because he usually doesn’t hurt himself during his clumsy moments. Then I heard him cry.

I calmly walked to him to pick him up, and then calm turned to terror. I saw a lot of blood in his mouth, all over his shirt and his hands. I tried not to sound afraid, knowing it will scare him even more.

So I quickly picked him up, tried to calm him down, ran to get his burp cloth and wiped the blood off his mouth. My first thought was to make the bleeding stop, but I couldn’t see where it was coming from – did he bust his inner lip? Did he lose a tooth? Was he bleeding from his throat somehow?

Thankfully, Hiroko lived across from the tot lot, so we went up to her house and gave Milo ice water with crushed ice, which he willingly took. When his mouth was almost clear of blood, I saw the cut: right behind his front teeth. It turns out his chin hit the first step, cutting his upper gums with his lower teeth.

Hiroko said she was impressed at my composure, that I was very calm in handling the situation, soothing Milo with an unshaken voice. She was surprised when I told her my knees were shaking climbing up the stairs to her house, and that I was thinking if I should call 911, and that my heart was still pounding out of my chest even as we were about to go home.

Good thing my calm façade worked with Milo, because he did stop crying shortly after the incident.

Fifteen minutes later, he was feeling better enough to want to play outside again. Five hours later, I am still traumatized, finding it quite difficult to shake off the sight of my son’s bloody mouth at the playground, his blood-stained shirt and pants, my blood stained shirt, and all the blood I tried to wash off his burp cloth.

Now, I write this while having ice cream, trying to make myself feel better. I should already relax now that my baby is sleeping peacefully after a long day. I should feel comforted with the thought that it was nothing serious, and bad falls happen to every kid in the world. But the trauma just won’t leave me.

One thing’s for sure: I’m not afraid of blood, probably never will be, as long as it’s not coming from my kid.


To Work or Not to Work

Even before my baby was born, I knew I was going to have to quit my job and stay home to care for him. That decision was made out of the lack of having somebody we can trust to watch him, not really because I wanted to.

I honestly never imagined myself staying home to care for my kids, not until I had to live in another country, away from extended family. Plus, growing up with a working mom, I always envisioned myself as a career or business woman, leaving my kids to be watched by nannies – just like the way we were raised back home.

But because these were the cards dealt to me, I gave this SAHM (Stay-At-Home Mom)/housewife thing a chance. After several months of my identity forming into “just a mom and a wife,” my depressed self was convinced I really am not the stay-at-home-mom type.

“You’re blessed to have a choice not to work, especially in this economy.” This is what I always heard, and while I acknowledged that, the NJAM (Not Just A Mom) in me constantly screamed in agony for being ignored.

Finding work always seemed so tempting. Every time I got e-mail alerts of high-paying job opportunities where I was qualified, I quickly imagined the adult conversations I could have again, everyday lunches with new-found friends, gossip and TV show discussions – not to mention my purchase power: I could buy my own pair of shoes without having to tell my husband!

I got really excited, but very guilty. Like I was somehow committing a sin for even thinking of going back to work and leaving my baby to be raised by someone else, missing his milestones… missing him, period. But NJAM just wouldn’t shut up: I felt I was letting the achiever in me just die a painful, slow death.

So, I decided to compromise with myself: I found a part-time freelance gig that lets me work from home so I can fulfill my need to earn money (and not allow my creative juices to dry out) while staying with my baby. Still, that didn’t quite work for my social needs: I still felt isolated, yearning for some grown-up interaction.

For a while, I doubted the choice I made. It was a difficult choice to begin with, and being a depressed SAHM made me question my decision. I felt that strong tug-of-war between my need to be a productive, money-earning member of society and my priority to be a mom and a wife, taking care of my family’s needs. Before my son’s first birthday and around my 30th birthday, right at the height of my depression, I felt the NJAM was winning.

I’m a mom – wasn’t I supposed to be fulfilled? I felt so guilty for even questioning myself, but I had to admit to myself that I did not feel “that” fulfillment from being a SAHM. After talking it out with hubby, I decided to start finding work after coming back to the US from a month-long vacation with my family in our homeland.

And then, all of a sudden, I realized how much my baby was communicating with me, through signing, babbling and his attempts at actual speaking. He interacted with me more, showing me how quickly and eagerly he learned what I tried to teach him, showing me how proud he was of himself each time I was pleased.

And then it hit me – while it is true that being a SAHM is often a thankless, sometimes brain-numbing job, the “fulfillment” that comes from spending time with one’s child is real. I feel it each time he hugs and kisses me, each time he signs “sorry” when I show disapproval and each time he does his funny little tricks. Every time I see my baby happy and content, this rewarding feeling hits me, along with the realization that the biggest investment we can ever make in his life is our time.

“It” just came to me later than I expected, but as they always say, better late than never. And I’m glad these hit me before I made the choice to go back to work, a choice I may later regret.

Now, I have decided to embrace this homemaker role and apply whatever skills into it to make NJAM happy. I will blog more often. I will volunteer my skills in our community (among others) and design personalized chocolate bar wrappers as souvenirs for friends’ events.

And because I finally decided not to spend all my free time trying to find more ways to earn money, I will now be able to knock out all the projects I’ve never really made the time to do, like touching my son’s baby book and making an organized system for my recipes, meal plans and grocery list.

Who knows, maybe I can even make money out of it in the future. How’s that for extra achievement?


My Clingy Toddler: Dealing with Separation Anxiety

If my 14 ½-month old son can Velcro himself to me, I’m pretty sure he would. That’s how attached he is to me ever since he was a tiny baby.

I always thought it was just a phase since he was only 6 months old. He wanted to be held a lot and would panic when he doesn’t see me in the room. Everything I read said it was normal for babies to be attached to one or two people – usually mom and dad – and separation anxiety was a healthy part of their development.

But when he turned one, I saw how other kids around his age would just forget about their parents and impatiently dive into toys and anything they can get their hands on. During his first birthday party, I looked at the little kids running around our house, then at my baby stuck to my hip. I know I shouldn’t compare my kid with others, but I couldn’t help it – I was hit with a huge pang of envy.

“He’s probably overwhelmed by this many people,” says one of my friends whose baby is so independent, she even feels ignored sometimes. She may be right, because my son doesn’t exactly get to be around people often.

“Maybe he’s just tired,” says another one. I could think of about 35 other reasons why this boy just won’t let go, and they could all be true. Still, for a while I questioned my parenting skills and asked myself, “why is my baby so clingy?”

These thoughts screamed in my head especially when he and I went to visit our family in another country – family he had no awareness of. Each time I left his sight to go on a bathroom break, he would wail like he was being tortured, only stopping the waterworks as soon as he was in my arms.

It didn’t matter how many people were more than willing to lend me a hand and watch him for a few minutes so I can at least shower. He would refuse to survive without my physical presence.

I knew this was going to happen – after all, we were in a strange place with oddly hot weather and a completely different time zone that threw off his schedule. Everything familiar to him was pulled off his feet, plus he got sick right after we landed, so I knew we were going to be in for a rough first few days.

Unfortunately, it lasted more than a few days. I was so exhausted and at my wit’s end – this vacation without his dad was turning out to be a bad idea, mostly because the break I was looking for backfired on me.

Somehow, we survived even before my husband finally arrived. Milo eventually warmed up to his grandparents, aunties and uncles, playing with them and walking around other places even without me in the room.

He would sign to them, babble and dance to their songs, and behaved perfectly fine as long as they didn’t attempt to take him away. And when he met his cousins, they played as if they’ve known each other all his life to a point where he wouldn’t even care where we were.

More importantly, I had to make some changes in perspective. Instead of “taking a break” from baby care, I decided to think of this whole trip as a long bonding experience and an adventure for me and my son. Though I desperately needed a break, I told myself this wasn’t going to last.

Before I know it, this boy will not want to hold my hand anymore as he learns to walk on his own - I will be the one running after him. Someday, he’ll refuse to kiss me as he runs to meet his friends. And someday, he will be keeping me out of his room… and then all I will have are memories of him as a little boy who couldn’t be without me.

So instead of pushing him to be independent, all I really needed to do was to cherish this short time that he is a baby, because it will be over soon.

See, my mommy instinct now tells me I am right. Since he has mastered his walking skill, he has become more and more independent, venturing into big open places, eager to explore. And when there are other kids around, I turn into wallpaper or a little shrub on the side. Independence is slowly growing into my boy.

Now, the bitter-sweet countdown begins.


First Birthday Surprise

*March 21, 2009

I had a vision for the day my son turns one – some balloons, good food shared with guests bringing gifts and eating cake. Unfortunately, his celebration didn’t go exactly the way I planned.

On the Thursday before his birthday (which fell on a Saturday), he started with a runny nose and a mild cough. Friday morning, he was wheezing, and by noon, he was breathing rapidly. Good thing Nino was home, because we took him straight to his pediatrician.

After a couple breathing treatments, doc said his oxygen saturation levels were still dangerously low, and she feared he could have pneumonia. PNEUMONIA – the day before his birthday.

I never thought my baby could develop pneumonia in one day, but he did, because his lungs are tiny and there is not much room for virus or bacteria to move around. He didn’t even run a fever, so his diagnosis really came as a shock to us. He was admitted that same afternoon, which also meant we had to cancel his planned celebration.

But we decided not to let the situation stop us from celebrating.

Nino picked up the balloons we ordered and tied them to his bedside. Our good friends, Mayick – who happened to be in LA for work – and Toni brought pancit malabon and Jollibee Chicken Joy for merienda. The nurses were also very sweet and accommodating, and even gave him a cake (which I ate, coz he was allergic to dairy), birthday bear and toys for presents, knowing it was his first birthday.

Thankfully, he felt better on his exact birthday, well enough for him to smile on the camera even with oxygen strapped to him, and well enough to enjoy this day despite everything he had to be put through.

Though I never envisioned a hospital bed in Milo’s first birthday celebration, we still got to have balloons, yummy food, guests, gifts and cake, too, even if it had to be in the same hospital where he was born exactly one year ago.

Of course, we still pushed through with his parties at home, – we just had to postpone everything two weeks later. What a way to mark Milo's first birthday...

“Life has a funny way of helping you up when you think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up in your face…” – Alanis Morisette


Missing You, Blog

It’s been almost 6 months since I started my blog hiatus, and it’s not because nothing has gone on, but in fact because of the exact opposite.

I have experienced having my son admitted in the hospital for pneumonia on his first birthday, working from home part-time on an ongoing freelance gig, flying with a 1-year-old boy by myself – trans-Pacific, no less (that's a 14-hour flight with a 4-hour lay-over, followed by a shorter 2-hour flight) – and all the while fighting not post-partum depression, but being-isolated-and-away-from-family-and-friends depression (is there a label to that?).

It’s been a very busy first-half-of-the-year indeed. There were days and weeks when I would lay awake wishing I was blogging about thoughts in my head instead of lying to myself that I was asleep. And while most of these happenings deserve their own entry, I know I will never have time to write all of those (I never did), so to catch up with myself, allow me to combine some of them here:

Mommy instinct and attachment parenting
I didn’t know our style of parenting had a name, until I started seeing the term “attachment parenting” on everything I read that I related to:
Our baby slept on our bed from day one (co-sleeping).
I breastfed exclusively to build my milk supply (exclusive breastfeeding or EBF).
I (or my mom or my husband) carried my baby around with me all day using a sling (baby wearing).
And we placed him on the potty as soon as he learned to sit up on his own (elimination communication).
All these were instinctive to us, to me especially. And regardless of what other “experts” say or what other well-meaning relatives and friends tell me, I wouldn’t parent my kid any other way.

Satisfaction Not Guaranteed
I turned 30 in February, and it was perhaps one of the most depressing seasons of my life. Not because of my age, but because I felt so unfulfilled. And so guilty for feeling unfulfilled despite having a loving family – my darling husband and my adorable baby boy – and being blessed to have the choice of staying home to raise my kid.

But it was hard to admit that I wasn’t content with my life, because seeing your baby grow up right under your nose was supposed to be rewarding. Why was I depressed?

Maybe because I wasn’t earning a single penny the way I did all my life, while my friends were being promoted and succeeding in their endeavors left and right. I felt so left out – not to mention rusty. I couldn’t admit that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this new job because I couldn’t deal with the guilt of working and having a stranger raise my baby.

Maybe because I didn’t enjoy doing chores and keeping house. I felt like my time should’ve been spent trying to find ways to earn money or connecting with people from the outside world.

And maybe because I felt isolated, having no or little support here when I knew I couldn’t even count my family and friends overseas. Then more than ever, I felt the necessity of having emotional support.

But really, why was I still depressed? I guess my friend said it best: because there is more to being a woman than being a wife and a mom.

Dealing with Food Allergies
After a scary trip to the ER when my son was 8 months old, we soon established that he had a lot of food allergies. On his 12-month checkup, his blood panel revealed allergies to cow’s milk protein, wheat, soy, eggs and peanuts. We also had lots of hits and misses with other food, with the misses being fish, shellfish, squash, peas and lentils.

Thank God for the Internet, or I would have pulled out my hair trying to think of what to feed him. I learned to make our own baby food sans allergenic ingredients from recipes online. Plus, I learned to bake a dairy-less, egg-less chocolate cake for his first birthday celebration -- with frosting!

We are still hopeful that he will eventually outgrow his allergies. After all, he is still just a baby. And then maybe one day, I can gladly share with my crème brulee, ice cream, peanut butter, shrimp pasta...

Shopping for Baby Shoes
Shocking. That’s what I think of the prices of a pair of new shoes, whether they are for babies learning to walk, or those already walking. I can also say insane. Why would I purchase a $40 pair of shoes for my baby who will be using them for a couple months AT MOST? I don’t even buy shoes over $30 for myself, and I use mine for well over 5 years. And yes, I’m a cheapskate, but still, $40?!!!

I guess the only reasonable place to buy shoes for a baby is on craigslist, Salvation Army or Goodwill for second-hand shoes, or on Gymboree or Old Navy sales. Better yet, find a friend with an older baby. Nothing beats hand-me-downs.

Jon and Kate Plus 8
I discovered their show while I was on maternity leave. At that time, the twins were only 6 and the sextuplets were 2, and were they a sight to see. Loving their show even prompted me to record all the reruns including the first 2 specials about their family.

What drew me to watch them was the fact that Kate was (at that time) managing a household with 8 kids like a well-oiled machine, while I was going crazy with 1. And the fact that I secretly envied them, because as much as I wanted a big family of my own, I knew that it was going to be impossible if we stay here in the US. Impossible for me physically, mentally and emotionally, because raising a family without the proper support group can be deadly.

Sadly, their show has spiraled downhill because of the alleged scandals the couple now faces. It’s unbelievable what mainstream media can do. But I do wish they can come out of this with their family intact, even if that means I will have to stop seeing those adorable little faces I see every week.

Whew! I hope your eyes didn't bleed. This is barely even half of what I wanted to write. I can’t believe my head didn’t explode. But there is more to come...


Challenges of Building New-Mommy Outfits

Being relatively young (closing-in on the big 3-0 in a few weeks), I try my best to avoid going down the road to sloppy dressing, which as a busy stay-at-home mom, I admittedly tend to fall into.

But as I peek into my closet, I realize that a lot of my clothes don’t work anymore with the lifestyle of a stay-at-home mom who has her baby with her all day. I didn’t anticipate how much I had to think about before putting on an outfit.

Let me give you a run down of what I have to consider when dressing up, especially during baby’s first year or so. You might find it helpful.


  • Neckline. You’ll stoop down to pick baby up from the stroller or pick up toys from the floor and you’ll be too busy to watch your neckline. And imagine when baby starts pulling on things including your shirt…
  • Material. No more wool, lace or anything itchy -- baby’s face will be resting on it, and you won’t want to irritate that sensitive skin.
  • Details. Avoid tops with sequins, beads, small buttons or tiny pieces. If they come off with baby’s rigorous pulling, these could be a choking hazard, not to mention a pain to pick up from the floor. Be careful of zippers, too. They could scratch baby’s delicate face.
  • Nursing. You don’t have to be confined to v-necks, button downs, or nursing tanks. Do consider how you want to nurse – from the top or bottom of your clothes. If you choose bottom, then long tunics won’t work.


  • Hemline. It can be difficult to watch your hemline too, so mini skirts that flow with the wind pose a flashing danger.
  • Restriction. As always, pants do a great job of giving you freedom to bend down and run around. Pencil skirts, not so much.


  • Height. Good luck holding a wiggly 20-pounder wearing 3-inch heels. I suggest going with nothing more than 2 ½ inches or you’ll risk hurting your ankles, or -- much worse -- your baby, if you do trip. Besides, trendy flats are now a great excuse to not wear heels, even if you’re vertically challenged like me. So find a good place to keep your 4-inch heels for now.
  • Stability. Clearly, stilettos need to stay in the closet, too - at least for now. Thank goodness for Cuban heels and wedges to give us more stylish options.


  • Goodbye necklaces. Before babies are old enough to put them in their mouths or pull the chain off, these may scratch or put a funny mark on their tiny faces when they rest on your neck. Try colorful scarves instead, or go bare-neck and find other accessories.
  • Studs. These are safer than danglings, both for baby and for you (no risk of torn earlobes).
  • Sharp edges. Watch for them on watches, bracelets and rings. So give that chunky engagement ring you used to wear a rest for now, else you risk scratching baby with it.

Hair and Makeup

  • Goodbye lipgloss. Even if you plan not to kiss baby’s face with your sticky gloss on, your little one can rub his or her face on your lips. But don’t give up your lip balm.
  • Hair Length. If you’re like me who can’t make the short mommy haircut work, you can try wearing your hair up in a ponytail and covering it up with a few strands, or using fun clips to do a nice up-do. The point is to keep your hair off your shoulders and off your baby’s face.
  • Bangs. You don’t want to keep brushing them off your face to see where you’re going, so it’s a good idea to keep them pinned with cute clips and fashionable headbands or securely tucked-behind your ears.


  • Carry alls. If you can cram all of baby’s stuff into a chic carry-all purse with lots of pockets and still have room for your own essentials, good for you (seriously, this is possible). Otherwise, grab one of those stylish diaper bags that serve the same purpose.
  • Alternate diaper bag. Have another one that’s neutral enough for either sex for when daddy comes with you. This way, you can alternate holding the bag without emasculating him.
  • Quick transfers. It could be a pain to transfer stuff from one bag to the other (trust me, especially when in a rush), so I found that putting all my necessities in a wristlet/pouch is particularly helpful for quick diaper bag changes.

I never thought it could be this challenging to dress up now that I'm a mom. But, despite all these limitations, it’s not entirely impossible to feel comfortable yet still put together – even hot! All we really need is a little planning and creativity, and we can keep our sweats in the closet. Go hot mommas!


What I Wish I Knew About Breastfeeding

Looking back at the last 9 ½ months, I realize there are things I wish I knew then about breastfeeding. Not that it would’ve affected my decision to nurse exclusively, but in a sense it would’ve made me more prepared for what I was to experience.

Human experiment
During the first month, while my baby and I were learning to nurse, it felt like my breasts were simply a couple of milk-producing gadgets, thanks to my mom and my husband who would curiously watch milk squirt out of my nipples onto the pump. I was their Discovery Channel Live.

Privacy deprivation
I had no intentions of staying cooped up in our room, also because I really had no reason to. It’s not like I needed to hide nursing from my mom and my husband. BUT I also didn’t plan to expose my boobs all day, yet I felt like I didn’t have much of a choice. I would sit on the sofa airing out my aching, sore nipples after every nursing session. I’m a self-confessed prude, but somehow, modesty fell to the bottom of my priority list. So if you plan to breastfeed, try to find a place to comfortably let your boobs rest and hang out exposed for hours on end.

1 hour breaks
For the first couple months, I nursed every two hours or on-demand, whichever came first. What I didn’t know was that Milo would nurse for 45-60 minutes, giving my breasts only an hour max to rest before he latches on again for the next feeding. Talk about working round-the-clock.

No pain, no gain
Whoever said “it’s not supposed to hurt” must have nipples of steel. While it is true that pain while baby is sucking means an incorrect latch, I believe that even with the right latch, pain is inevitable, because your nipples are exposed to moisture and pressure 24/7 (with 1-hour or so breaks in between). I felt more pain after a nursing session, lasting for about 2 months.

Instinct – NOT
Contrary to popular belief, nursing doesn’t happen as easily as we’d like it to. Infants do suck by instinct, but the way they latch on to efficiently draw milk doesn’t necessarily happen “naturally.” There IS a learning curve to breastfeeding, though some can pick up more quickly than others. I was supposedly one of those lucky ones, but my paranoia made me counterproductive.

Stress-free feeding
I stressed about baby’s jaundice and worried that he wasn’t getting enough milk because of a wrong latch. The truth was, he didn’t nurse efficiently only because I was stressed and frustrated, so he decided to go on a nursing strike (this I found out from my pedia’s lactation consultant). As soon as I started to relax and just let him nurse, he picked up on my no-stress nursing and fed more. Indeed, there is a good reason why we are told to relax while breastfeeding.

Staying committed
Breastfeeding is a decision. Working to build your supply by nursing and pumping frequently (not to mention cleaning your pumping equipment after every use), enduring the pain from engorgement and sore nipples and committing to nurse despite all of that is no joke. There were days when formula feeding just seemed so much easier, especially while we were learning to nurse.

The irony of it is that these first weeks of breastfeeding may be most difficult on both mom and baby, but also have been shown to be most beneficial to both. I can’t even begin to enumerate its benefits to baby, not to mention mommy’s recovery (and even weight loss!), which clearly show why breastfeeding is worth every ounce of our commitment and hard work.

It gets better
Now don’t get discouraged if I painted too clear a picture of the challenges of breastfeeding, because it does get better. After a few weeks, my baby learned to finish up his meal in less than 10 minutes. My nipples stopped hurting. Soon, nursing became almost second nature to both of us. That’s why we’re still going.

There are lots of other things I wish I know now even if they have yet to happen – like how bad (or good – I wish!) my boobs will look after I’m done nursing, how long I will have milk and if it’s going to hurt more now that he has 4 teeth (and counting).

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see.


After Nine Months

As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, you start following your baby’s development in the womb and do this for the following 9 months. You eagerly await that 9th month, excited to have baby in your arms.

That was my experience exactly, along with maybe 99% of the rest of the pregnant world. But I don’t think anybody ever thought of life’s developments every month after baby, so I decided to look at my own life’s turns 9 months after baby was born.

Month 1
I guess this can be summarized as the no-sleep month. I got no sleep from baby nursing all night and day, from being paranoid about every single hiccup and from researching and looking up everything I can to answer my 10,001 questions.

Month 2
Semi-sleep month. At this point he can nurse in bed next to me, allowing me to doze off while nursing. I was slowly recovering from child birth – not much aches and pains anymore, but definitely still looked like I gave birth the day before.

Month 3
I got a 3-hour break from baby care for the first time – I attended a friend’s wedding with another friend while hubby took care of our baby (he called 5 times). I also quit my job and officially became a SAHM (stay-at-home mom).

Month 4
I didn’t think I could shed hair more than a dog or a cat could. The stress of preparing for our baby’s baptism didn’t help either – I thought I’d go bald before my husband did. I also started my home-based business: personalized chocolates and candy bars. Why or how I thought I’d have time to work on it is beyond me.

Month 5
Why was I still depressed? My doctor best friend didn’t think it’s the post-partum blues. It was probably the lack-of-interaction-with-friends-family-and-other-adults-in-general blues. And from my family and friends being so far away. And from the fact that I was unemployed and not earning money to go shopping. And that I can’t go shopping because I’d rather buy something my baby needs. And that I haven’t had a massage.

Month 6
My life revolved around feeding baby solids twice a day, observing every poopy diaper and helping him be mobile. His baby book stayed unmarked, sitting in our closet. And I think my blog started growing cobwebs. Time is just so hard to get a hold of! But there is one milestone for me: I fit in my old, pre-pregnancy jeans!

Month 7
I officially got my period back. It’s still very irregular, though, because I didn’t get my period for 2 months after that, which led me to take a pregnancy test. Thankfully, it was negative -- and I say thankfully because I know I’m not emotionally ready for another baby. My baby is still a baby, and I’d like to cherish our moments with him as the baby before a new one comes to be the baby.

Month 8
In-laws arrived and our house was jam-packed. I was excited for company and stressed because of it at the same time. So was our baby, who experienced Disneyland, a plane ride to San Francisco, biting cold weather, Black Friday shopping (in a factory outlet, no less), colds and a trip to the ER all in over a week.

Month 9
Our first holiday season with our newest family member. It was bittersweet, because we celebrated our Christmas and New Year together, but we missed out on sharing this milestone with our family and friends back home, not to mention missing out on sharing with their own milestones. At least some of our brothers and sisters got to visit with us and our baby met a few of his cousins.

I wonder what the next months will bring. I’m excited and scared at the same time, just like how I was 9 months before our baby was born. But this time, it’s because he’s growing so fast right before our eyes. Pretty soon, I’ll be planning his 1st birthday party.

But also, just like the last 9 months, we’ve learned to savor every moment that Milo is a baby while at the same time taking every challenge one day at a time. I guess there’s really no need to worry.


4 Months Later

It’s been a good 4 months since my last post on the blog that I vowed to update every week – or at least try to update every week. I did try, but I was obviously unsuccessful. There were a couple entries that were on draft for a while, though, but they never made it to this blog – until today. Besides these entries from the past, here are a few updates on my mommy life and to now 9-month-old boy, Milo:

Baby Signing
We started signing with him at 6 months, and have awaited the day he signs back to us. So far, no such luck yet, except for a couple times when we thought he signed milk – which he actually did. Nothing consistent yet, but we’re getting there slowly. And we’re super excited!

Potty Training
As soon as he started to sit up on his own, my mom told me to sit him on a potty first thing in the morning and make the “sssshhh” sound to help him associate peeing on the potty. I had no idea this was called “elimination communication” but we did it anyway, and so far it’s working. He pees – and POOPS – on the potty! So when he learns to sign, he can start communicating to us his need to answer nature’s calls. At this point, we haven’t changed a single poopy diaper in months.

Crawling, cruising
He learned to crawl, pull up to stand and eventually cruise along our bed and his crib at 7 ½ months. He’s now climbing the stairs, too. His mobility has caused me to already run after him esp. when he gets a head-start to our flat-screen TV, the fireplace and my slippers. I can imagine having to really run after him even without a head-start pretty soon.

Teething and Feeding
He now has 2 lower teeth, 1 upper semi-tooth and another upper tooth emerging. And I’m still nursing him – I plan to nurse until I have milk, despite the occasional biting. Hopefully it stays that way, because his teeth are sharp and I don’t know if I can handle any more than biting every now and then. If he decides to keep biting, we’ll have to wean him and start buying the expensive soy-based formula, because we learned the hard way that he’s allergic to milk protein (see next bullet). That means no cheese, yogurt, butter or any other form of dairy, including eggs, until he’s a year old.

Trip to the ER
Yep, he’s been to the emergency room. We had a post-Thanksgiving dinner with some relatives, and one of his well-meaning aunties fed him a sliver of cheesecake. A few minutes later, his eyes and face were red and swollen. We rushed him to a nearby ER for fear of his throat closing up. He’s never had that kind of reaction before, because he’s never been fed anything other than fruits, vegetables and rice cereal, per his pedia’s instructions. And he’s never gonna be fed anything without them running it by me or his dad. And Benadryl is now his best friend.

2 nights out
Since Milo was born, I’ve only been out two nights – for friends’ weddings, while my husband stayed home to watch our baby. Though I loved the chance to take a break and feel like a woman – not just a mom – again, I realized that 90% of the time, I was either talking about or thinking about my baby.

Grandma and Grandpa Babysit
My in-laws have been visiting and staying with us from another country for almost 3 months as of this writing. Though they’re leaving in less than 2 weeks, it’s not like there will be a lot of changes when it comes to babysitting. They’re not exactly hands-on grandparents, esp. with a baby this young. They’re not comfortable playing with the baby on the floor, so Milo gets held and rocked when he’s with them, which means he gets bored from no mobility and no exercise. And they panic when he cries. I do give them A for thought and effort - that's what counts anyway.

Unfortunately, my initial plan to have at least ONE date night or movie in the theater with my husband has never come to fruition. I wonder how much longer we have to wait for that to happen.

Signing Time

*Another old entry that sat in draft mode for over a month.

Since my baby was 6 months old, we’ve been teaching him baby sign language. It’s not exactly a special set of signs, just some words from the American Sign Language (ASL) that we use in our routine such as milk, eat, food, water, cracker, shoes, and a lot of other words that will be helpful for our baby to communicate with us.

We bought Baby Signing Time volumes 1 and 2 and he watches them after lunch every single day that we’re home. It’s been part of his routine since then. We love how its cute animation and adorable babies signing with Rachel, the teacher, make him really pay attention (and how it allows me to eat my lunch while he’s watching signing time!).

He hasn’t started signing back to us, but a few weeks after we’ve used it as we talk to him, he’s been responding to some of them already. When I sign milk and he DOES want milk, he flaps his arms up and down and gets so excited – so I offer milk and he is content.

We are so excited for the day he makes his first sign – I read that most babies start signing at around 9-12 months. That’s a few weeks away!

If you’re interested in learning more about baby sign language, here’s a couple links I found that has other words not in both volumes of Baby Signing Time DVD.


Happy Signing!

Sharing My Milky Blessing

*This is one of those entries that have been sitting in draft mode until today.

Even before I became pregnant, I always knew I wanted to nurse. I had a milking mom who was endowed with a lot of milk that she donated some to hospitals for babies whose moms couldn’t produce enough. My sister-in-law nursed my godson exclusively, too. These stories inspired me to do everything I can to produce milk for my baby.

I was glad when my mature milk started to come, right on the 4th day mark, which was what I read on the books. Since then, I’ve been blessed to be able to nourish my baby with my milk exclusively. I tried to build my supply to produce more than enough, pumping once or twice a day for a few months to build my freezer stash.

I didn’t realize that we’ll have no need for this stash until recently, when I saw a lot of milk bags from 4 months ago still there. I never had to leave my baby for long periods, so we didn’t find a need to use frozen milk. Besides, he didn’t take to the bottle very well.

I was afraid all the milk was going to be put to waste. I felt horrible thinking we’ll have to throw them all away, so I decided to wait exactly 6 months from the date on the label before I start to panic. I’m glad I did, because I found a very good use for all of them 20+ bags.

There is this adopted 2-month-old baby girl whose little tummy can’t tolerate formula, and I’m meeting her tomorrow. Her mom and I found each other in one of the mommy networks I belong to. The baby has been living on donated breast milk from other nursing moms, and according to her mom, this timing was perfect -- she was just about to run out of breast milk, and then I came along.

Tomorrow, I’m donating my milk, what they call “liquid gold” that I have been blessed with. Yes, I’m sharing my blessings.
I’m a new mom and this is my story. I’m sharing with you my moments of joy, tears, excitement, and every other emotion that comes with being a mom, whether you’re a new mom yourself, a veteran mom, a mom-to-be, even a dad-to-be. Learn from my experience, or reminisce about your own. Welcome to this mom’s world!