Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Six Months and Not Counting

Nate would be six months tomorrow. How time flies. I can’t imagine how the days, weeks and months went by. It just passed by very quickly. Now that he’s six months, I want to days to go slower and slower. I want to relive the past 6 months again but there's no rewind, there's only forward. I don’t want him to grow up so fast but he is. He was just a tiny baby when he came out. But now, he’s as huggable as a fluffy, compact yet malleable pillow.

His sleep time is shorter while his wake time is longer. His routine is more established but there will be changes for this month and so on. He will be eating his solid food. He’s been watching J and I eat during meal times and he’s salivating already. I could sense that he has a huge appetite based on his milk consumption and even after drinking his milk. The face shows that this growing baby likes to eat. And hopefully as he starts eating his first foods, he would enjoy the different tastes and textures and as he grows up into toddlerhood, I want him to learn that hotdogs, pizza, chicken nuggets, French fries and burgers are not the only things kids will eat. There’s a whole variety out there that he needs to be exposed to. But of course, his mommy’s approval is needed.

John knows and is 100% sure that I wouldn’t give jarred baby food to Nate because he is aware that I cook fresh food at home all the time and most definitely for Nate no less. And to be told not to give jarred baby food to Nate was unpleasant to hear. I know most professional cooks who are parents know how to make food for their baby because they know how to cook in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a supermom who will make homemade pizza dough all the time or cook every night for John. I’m glad that he doesn’t complain when he don’t get to eat in the morning. (But there’s the granola). He wakes up really early while I’m still in bed and he sleeps early (or earlier) while I’m still working. But to prepare breakfast for him is one of the goals.

With six months gone and Nate is now halfway through being one year old, life gets busier. I am now a full-time homemaker working at home. I believe that God has confirmed that I am better off at home with Nate. The other day, Nate just suddenly rolled over. I thought he was just side lying until he rolled and then he screamed with joy. I was pondering. What if I’m working from 7am till 3pm or even beyond plus travel time to and from work? I would never see Nate’s milestones and I don’t want to miss that. I might not have a job which is also a concern but I could never turn back the clock and witness the progress of Nate. I once told John that I don’t need a yaya (a nanny), but just someone to help me with the household chores. In fact, I don’t want a maid inside the house because our house is already small. I want some privacy. But it did help when we finally have the maid to help us. Once in a while, when I’m busy and I really need to do something important, I let her take care of Nate first. Although there many times that I wasn’t able to monitor Nate’s routine and schedule. All of a sudden, he’s asleep when he’s supposed to be awake or Nate’s supposed to fall asleep in bed not in her arms. I try to do everything as much as possible not because I have to but because I want to. Someone one’s told me that it’s tiring to take care of your child. But if you ask any mother, the answer would be yes, but then again, no matter how tired you are, you chose to take care of your baby.

I never thought that days would fly by this fast. It would be Christmas in less than 2 weeks. With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I am still unprepared for the gifts and even our trip to Manila. John was also busy for the past 2 weeks and he wasn’t able to help me that much. My lunch is mostly leftovers from the night before. Sometimes I cook but I make the simplest dish I could ever make. I synchronize my time with Nate so that by the time that he’s awake from his morning nap, I’m already done with my lunch for delivery. Yet, he would wake up crying in the middle of his nap. Now, at six months, a few adjustment needs to be made. He will now join John and I during mealtime – breakfast, lunch, dinner. Nate will need to have a play area and I would be spending more time with him awake. As he learns how to stand on four limbs, he would crawl and explore the world around him. Hopefully, I can still go back into the blogging world again just like before.

Happy 6 months Nate.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Three Months of Motherhood

I thought Nate would never come out - June 18, 2014

When I gave birth to Nathan, I received a lot of advice and words of experience from people who had gone through parenthood. As a new mom, although they mean well, I felt that it was a bit too much to receive advice on what to do and what not to do to my new born baby. Different thoughts and opinions were given here and there. And it was exhausting and overwhelming. It became irritating and annoying that I didn’t want to be disturbed for the next few weeks. One of the lessons I’ve learned is not to accept visitors on the first day. I think they will understand. 

The first month was a tough one as expected. Long before I got married, I want to breastfeed my baby. I even attended a breastfeeding talk twice. (I'm very thankful John's cousin invited me to go). But when the baby came out, I didn't know what to do. I was clueless about breastfeeding. I was worried and frantic about it. It came to a point that I shrugged off Nate's pediatrician's prescription to feed him every two hours. I did but I didn't feed him enough with my breast milk. Nate was admitted to the hospital 4 days after I gave birth when his blood tests showed that his bilirubin was high. My sisters who surprised me for a visit that day told me that Nate's color is yellow. I didn't notice because I was in our bedroom all the time. We're using yellow lighting and the sun is not enough to brighten up the atmosphere.

Nate went through a lot of blood tests, which means, he experienced a lot of needle pain. If I could count it correctly, they took around 8 blood tests of Nate just to be certain. Whenever the doctors requested me to sit down for awhile because I may not stand looking at Nate crying because of the needles, I said no, I'll stay. Aside from the needles, Nate has to go through photo-therapy. John and I thought that we're only staying for a day or two. We stayed at the hospital for 6 days. And the most stressful news that we've heard is that Nate might go through blood transfusion and John signed the papers already. But God answered our prayers. Nate didn't have to go through blood transfusion anymore.

We decided to give Nate formula as per doctor’s advice after we ran out of expressed breast milk. I was still breastfeeding Nate all the way through in addition to the formula. But with all the stress and also the "advice" I've mentioned earlier, I felt really exhausted that I wanted to go home.

Nate got better and we took care of him at home. But for some reason, we stopped giving him formula and breastfed Nate for 1 week before our doctor's visit. I know there was something wrong with Nate but I didn't tell John until the day of our visit. Doctor scolded us for not feeding him well. Nate didn't gain weight on his third week and asked why we are so resistant in giving him formula. I didn't answer but right at that moment, I wanted to blame my husband and most especially myself.

As the weeks went by, I was still struggling with my breast milk supply. I would nurse Nate and give formula afterwards 24/7. I was exhausted. Nate would nurse for an hour and still crying hungry. Until I told John that I will just nurse Nate during the day and give formula at night. I started pumping and reduced my time breastfeeding Nate. Today, I gave Nate my pumped milk and formula.

The usual question that people ask me is if I’m breastfeeding Nate. I said, Nate is mixed fed. One day, my husband and I decided to eat out for dinner at the Japanese restaurant with Nate. The woman beside us asked us that question. When she learned that Nate is not purely breastfed, she explained the benefits of the colostrum and started lecturing me that I should be drinking a lot of soup, etc, etc, etc. Right there and then, I wanted to tell her “Hey lady, my family and I went through a lot just to breastfeed our baby. Don’t you think we didn’t even try?” I would always remember what John told me whenever I get lectures from other people: “They don’t know what you know.” But then, I would still sulk because he doesn't understand how I feel. It happens all the time that people would start giving you unsolicited advice and lectures as if I know nothing at all. And it humbles me that I don’t know everything and it teaches me how to respond and react. And I’m still learning. 

With too much information, a mother could get confused. But today, I am happy with my decision. Whether Nate is breastfed or formula fed, I surrendered that God is the one who is in control of his health and life. Nate gained weight and he is happy and content. Aside from that, I have more time to take care of my husband and the house. Of course, breastfeeding is superior but it's not for everyone. Breastfeeding worked for others but it didn’t work for me. I may not have persevered as much as other people or I didn’t even sacrifice everything just for the health of Nate. But it doesn’t connote that I didn’t develop any relationship with him just because I didn’t continue breastfeeding. And it also doesn’t indicate that I love Nate any less because I didn't give him the best nourishment. I commend you if you’re a mom and you’re still breastfeeding. And thank you if you respect my decision. Whatever feeding you choose, whether breast feeding or formula feeding is up to you. I just did what is right for Nate and just sharing what I've experienced. My case is closed. 

The challenge doesn’t end there. This is just the beginning. There were moments that I was really tired of putting Nate to sleep at night and I questioned God, why did I ever have a baby. Let’s be honest here. Not all moments are “it’s all worth it moments”. I have down moments too. But I'll always remember that it is not by my own strength, but only through God’s power and grace. 

Feeding Nate on time and training him how to sleep on his own is also a decision John and I talked about. At first, I want to make all the sacrifices for Nate. Feed on demand and rock him every time he goes to sleep. I was tired all the time. I have to wake up John so he could help me put Nate to sleep when I couldn't control his crying anymore. But then, I thought, I have to make wise sacrifices also. And I’m not a martyr. I can’t sacrifice everything like my time and effort without taking care of myself. I have to sleep well too so I can take care of my family. And that’s why we’re sleep training Nate as early as possible. So far, for the past week, he slept through the night. Because he’s sleeping through the night, Nate wakes up happy while John and I are more rested. 

I decided not to work for while because I want to be there for Nate. I want to be intentional. One of our godfather from our wedding made a bold statement that I carried that baby for nine months; will you just leave him to a nanny the whole day while you work? Of course, it’s a personal decision. Not everyone can afford to stay at home. But not working at all is also a huge risk for us. But that’s also the reason why we’re praying for a home-based business for extra income. Whatever it is, I know that God will always be faithful. 

I’m learning a lot of things every day. I didn't enjoy motherhood at first. But as the days go by, it’s a bittersweet journey that brings you joy and contentment. We've only just begun and I know there are more challenges to come. But God gave us Nate to be his stewards and with God as our anchor, I know that everything’s going to be okay. 

Happy 3rd month Nate. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On Juicing

J and I are experiencing colds at the same time. We woke up yesterday morning not feeling well and we’re worried that Baby Nate might get sick also. I haven’t been eating so healthy ever since I gave birth. I don’t eat that much junk food but I felt that I need to eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s not easy cooking for one but it’s not also easy cooking for other people who are carnivores. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian but I always believe that there’s room for plant-based foods. I see and hear people go on a diet for the wrong reason and wrong motives. Whenever they eat a lot for the past few days, they would go on a diet the following week. It doesn't work that way. People do need health and nutrition education the practical way. In addition to that, I need to lose the excess pregnancy weight I gained for the past few months. I wonder if that's possible with the holidays coming. My clothes are a bit tight. It's either I shrink a bit or I need a whole new wardrobe. :)

When Heather, the community coordinator on behalf of Williams-Sonoma sent me questions about my juicing journey, I would love to share my struggles and victories.

J bought the juicer before we got married. We used it a few times a week but we’re not consistent with it. The thing about juicing is that it takes time to make it. It’s easier to drink it than to make it. But sometimes our bodies need a reboot just like our cars need a tune up. The juicer has been sitting in our countertop for quite awhile. It has been used once for the past two weeks and that it. Last Saturday, we visited a market near our place. Some produce are organic, some are not but it’s a good way to start juicing again.

When J finished the one week fast, he felt lighter. Obviously, that’s the end result. But he felt his skin smoother and cleaner after the juice fast. He told me once that he doesn’t want to eat heavy dinner again. He felt great after the juice fast. Aside from investing your time in making juice, you have to invest money on it. Juicing is not cheap. But I’m starting to incorporate juice into his diet slowly. It’s workable and negotiable.

Carrot, orange, ginger 

I noticed that the green juice that you make for J. Many hesitate over the color of a green juice. We'd love to know what made you try the ingredient combinations that you used? Do you look to other bloggers or magazines for inspiration, or do you create as you go? 

The combination of the juice that I’ve made was based on my experience. I used to drink juice while I was still living with my family and when my father was diagnosed with cancer, my cousin suggest 5 greens which is composed of green apple, celery, green bell pepper, bittergourd and cucumber . There are no measurements to follow but from a culinary perspective, when we combine ingredients, I make sure that the bitterness doesn’t overpower the sweetness and the sweetness doesn’t overpower the sourness. Although recipes are good to follow for different combinations of flavor, we have to follow our senses when it comes to the taste of the juice. John likes his juice a little bit sour because if the juice is just purely sweet, it becomes monotonous and boring. 

Recently, green juice has been the mainstream in health and nutrition because of the power of leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Again, I combine them with other ingredients with different flavor profile to make it interesting. I browse through other bloggers and websites for inspiration but in the end, I just create juices based on whatever is available in the market. It makes my life easier and simpler. I start with simple flavor combinations and build from there. 

Seems that green juices have become more popular. Do you think green juices are the best for someone who is doing a juice cleanse? What are a few benefits green juices have to offer over any other juices? 

Green apple, cucumber, celery, cilantro, ginger 

There are two questions that we need to ask ourselves before we do a juice cleanse? First, do I have the budget for it? Second, do I have the time to do the juice cleanse. Both require commitment. If the answer is yes to both then doing a juice cleanse would benefit one’s health and wellness. Juicing can be expensive for some people and it requires time to make it. Another factor to consider is why should I do the juice cleanse in the first place? There should be a good and valid reason for it. A reason like “because everyone is doing it” is not good enough.

Green juices are beneficial because of its high chlorophyll content which is cleansing and detoxifying for the body. A juice made of 70-80% vegetable and 20-30% fruit is a good ratio. It has a lot of healing properties coming from the vegetables and enough sweetness to the fruit. Although green juice is good for you, but if it doesn't taste good, then you won’t enjoy it. Adding some leafy greens are beneficial because they are alkaline which helps in the healing process.The nutrients are extracted and they're absorb quickly into your cells without the need for digestion. We need the fiber but sometimes our digestive system needs a rest. A green juice can help jump start your digestive system with a clean slate. Start slowly and enjoy the process.

There are many different types/brands of juicers, and each juicer will make your juice taste differently with the same ingredients. How did you decide which juicer best fits your tastes? 

Choosing a juicer is as difficult just like choosing a mobile phone. Sometimes you get frustrated that once you bought one already, they will release a new model after a year. Just like an iPhone. Back home in Manila, we used to have a juicer. My late father was into juicing but not purposely for health purposes. When J and I started going out, he mentioned that he wanted to do a juice fasting during our prayer and fasting week. But we didn’t have a juicer at that time. I considered different brands such as the Omega, the Matstone and the Hurom. My sister in law mentioned that when they juice fruits and vegetables using the Omega, the juice is still cold. But that juicer came from the States and it was a gift to them. Whatever juicer I would choose, I make sure that it is a slow juicer. I’ve used the Matstone before and it produces good result. But I chose the Hurom because I find it’s easier to use. But it’s a personal preference. Whatever is convenient for me might not be convenient for other people. I need to cut fruits and vegetables into smaller pieces but it wasn't a big issue for me.

I'm satisfied with the juicer but if there were more selections to choose from, I know I would have been more confused. I'm happy with it and I'm satisfied with the results. Juicing is a decision to make. It's either you do or you don't. It's either for health or for pleasure or both.

Happy Juicing!!