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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Bottle Wars

Meia at 2 months old

My first few weeks back at work after giving birth were not easy. While my previous law firm allowed me to express milk in the office whenever I wanted, giving Meia the milk I pumped was another matter. Back then, she absolutely hated the bottle and would sometimes go on what my husband and I would call bottle strikes — like a real hunger strike, she would refuse to eat as long as I wasn’t direct feeding her. Needless to say, I racked up plenty of absences and half-days in the office. Sometimes, I would drive an hour to work only to have to come back home to make sure Meia doesn’t go hungry.

Things have gotten a lot better since then. I can now go to work without having to check every 2-3 hours to see if she actually ate something.

Here are the strategies my husband and I employed to make sure Meia eats even when I’m not around:

1) We tried different bottles until we hit the jackpot.

Meia prefers these bottles by Nuby. However, before we discovered Nuby, we tried Avent bottles with mixed results and Medela bottles (the ones that come with the breast pump) – the latter was a complete failure.  From my conversations with other moms, it seems that each baby has a particular preference, so just keep trying different brands of bottles until you find out what suits yours.

2) I disappeared for a while.

From reading various articles, I thought all I needed to do was to be in a separate room while Meia was being fed. I would hide in the study while my husband and the nanny would try to feed her in our bedroom to no avail. After half an hour of struggling, I would give in and feed her direct.

One day a few months in the bottle strike (yes, the bottle strike period lasted a couple of months!) and after 3 days of being absent from work (it’s a wonder I didn’t get fired), I decided to leave the house on a hunch. I did our grocery in the supermarket 10 minutes away from the house so I could easily rush back in case she goes on strike again. When it hit her 2 hour mark, she cried and cried and only ate an ounce from the bottle. Then she slept. I decided to wait a little bit more, to see what would happen next. An hour later, Meia woke up again, hungry, and started drinking from the bottle! She finished a good 3 oz.

I tried it again the following day just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. It worked like a charm. All this time, niloloko lang pala ako ng batang ito!

3) After a night’s rest, her first meal should be from the bottle.

We noticed that Meia would “reset” each day. One day she’s be on a strike and the next day she’d be happily drinking from the bottle. From our observations, it seemed that her first meal each morning would dictate how she wanted to be fed the rest of the day.

4) We’ve learned to be creative when it comes to feeding her.

I’ve lost count of the many different positions we’ve tried while feeding her. Sometimes we hold her in a cradle position, other times she wants to be in her crib and we’re just cradling her head to drink, other times we have to be standing up while feeding her. I’ve also seen babies Meia’s age being fed from the bouncer. To each her own.

If I’ve learned anything this past 7 or so months, it’s that feeding a baby takes a lot of patience and practice. When all else fails, perhaps it’s time to try another method of giving milk, such as dropper, syringe, or cup feeding.

Good luck!

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Posted by on 10/26/2011 in Breastfeeding, Parenthood

 

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Beautiful Article – Notes from a Dragon Mom

I came across this article in the NY Times the other day and I had to read it in 2 installments. I was at work when someone forwarded me the link, and I was sniffing halfway through. I had to finish reading the article at home since I didn’t want to be reduced to a snivelling mess in the office.

I cannot even begin to imagine what the author is going through. Heck, I’m tearing just writing this intro. I admire her strength and wish that I can be as giving and loving to my child as she is with Ronan. ===========================================================

Notes From a Dragon Mom 

Emily Rapp is the author of “Poster Child: A Memoir,” and a professor of creative writing at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. 

Santa Fe, N.M.

MY son, Ronan, looks at me and raises one eyebrow. His eyes are bright and focused. Ronan means “little seal” in Irish and it suits him.

I want to stop here, before the dreadful hitch: my son is 18 months old and will likely die before his third birthday. Ronan was born with Tay-Sachs, a rare genetic disorder. He is slowly regressing into a vegetative state.  He’ll become paralyzed, experience seizures, lose all of his senses before he dies. There is no treatment and no cure.

How do you parent without a net, without a future, knowing that you will lose your child, bit by torturous bit?

Depressing? Sure. But not without wisdom, not without a profound understanding of the human experience or without hard-won lessons, forged through grief and helplessness and deeply committed love about how to be not just a mother or a father but how to be human.

Parenting advice is, by its nature, future-directed. I know. I read all the parenting magazines. During my pregnancy, I devoured every parenting guide I could find. My husband and I thought about a lot of questions they raised: will breast-feeding enhance his brain function? Will music class improve his cognitive skills? Will the right preschool help him get into the right college? I made lists. I planned and plotted and hoped. Future, future, future.

We never thought about how we might parent a child for whom there is no future.  The prenatal test I took for Tay-Sachs was negative; our genetic counselor didn’t think I needed the test, since I’m not Jewish and Tay-Sachs is thought to be a greater risk among Ashkenazi Jews. Being somewhat obsessive about such matters, I had it done anyway, twice.  Both times the results were negative.

Our parenting plans, our lists, the advice I read before Ronan’s birth make little sense now.  No matter what we do for Ronan — choose organic or non-organic food; cloth diapers or disposable; attachment parenting or sleep training — he will die. All the decisions that once mattered so much, don’t.

All parents want their children to prosper, to matter. We enroll our children in music class or take them to Mommy and Me swim class because we hope they will manifest some fabulous talent that will set them — and therefore us, the proud parents — apart. Traditional parenting naturally presumes a future where the child outlives the parent and ideally becomes successful, perhaps even achieves something spectacular. Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” is only the latest handbook for parents hoping to guide their children along this path. It’s animated by the idea that good, careful investments in your children will pay off in the form of happy endings, rich futures.

But I have abandoned the future, and with it any visions of Ronan’s scoring a perfect SAT or sprinting across a stage with a Harvard diploma in his hand. We’re not waiting for Ronan to make us proud. We don’t expect future returns on our investment. We’ve chucked the graphs of developmental milestones and we avoid parenting magazines at the pediatrician’s office. Ronan has given us a terrible freedom from expectations, a magical world where there are no goals, no prizes to win, no outcomes to monitor, discuss, compare.

But the day-to-day is often peaceful, even blissful. This was my day with my son: cuddling, feedings, naps. He can watch television if he wants to; he can have pudding and cheesecake for every meal. We are a very permissive household. We do our best for our kid, feed him fresh food, brush his teeth, make sure he’s clean and warm and well rested and … healthy? Well, no. The only task here is to love, and we tell him we love him, not caring that he doesn’t understand the words. We encourage him to do what he can, though unlike us he is without ego or ambition.

Ronan won’t prosper or succeed in the way we have come to understand this term in our culture; he will never walk or say “Mama,” and I will never be a tiger mom. The mothers and fathers of terminally ill children are something else entirely. Our goals are simple and terrible: to help our children live with minimal discomfort and maximum dignity. We will not launch our children into a bright and promising future, but see them into early graves. We will prepare to lose them and then, impossibly, to live on after that gutting loss. This requires a new ferocity, a new way of thinking, a new animal. We are dragon parents: fierce and loyal and loving as hell. Our experiences have taught us how to parent for the here and now, for the sake of parenting, for the humanity implicit in the act itself, though this runs counter to traditional wisdom and advice.

NOBODY asks dragon parents for advice; we’re too scary. Our grief is primal and unwieldy and embarrassing. The certainties that most parents face are irrelevant to us, and frankly, kind of silly. Our narratives are grisly, the stakes impossibly high. Conversations about which seizure medication is most effective or how to feed children who have trouble swallowing are tantamount to breathing fire at a dinner party or on the playground. Like Dr. Spock suddenly possessed by Al Gore, we offer inconvenient truths and foretell disaster.

And there’s this: parents who, particularly in this country, are expected to be superhuman, to raise children who outpace all their peers, don’t want to see what we see. The long truth about their children, about themselves: that none of it is forever.

I would walk through a tunnel of fire if it would save my son. I would take my chances on a stripped battlefield with a sling and a rock à la David and Goliath if it would make a difference. But it won’t. I can roar all I want about the unfairness of this ridiculous disease, but the facts remain. What I can do is protect my son from as much pain as possible, and then finally do the hardest thing of all, a thing most parents will thankfully never have to do: I will love him to the end of his life, and then I will let him go.

But today Ronan is alive and his breath smells like sweet rice. I can see my reflection in his greenish-gold eyes. I am a reflection of him and not the other way around, and this is, I believe, as it should be. This is a love story, and like all great love stories, it is a story of loss. Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now. In fact, for any parent, anywhere, that’s all there is.

 
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Posted by on 10/19/2011 in Parenthood

 

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High Society now on Amazon

It is with great pride that I announce the release of High Society, a comic by the husband, Paolo Chikiamco, and the very talented Hannah Buena. Since I was not part of the creative process, I am not bound by the same rules of modesty so I can say that it’s freaking awesome and can be appreciated by all kinds of readers. It also makes for a (cheap and) wonderful Christmas gift to your family and friends whether here or overseas.

I’ll let Paolo’s Rocket Kapre post tell you all about High Society:

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The mysterious steampunk comic book collaboration between myself and the wonderful Hannah Buena has now been released! Flipside Komix has published “High Society” (formerly “Kataastaasan“)  on Amazon as a Kindle comic. It’s an alternative history story that mixes automata, Philippine folklore, and the British invasion of Manila in the 1760s. It’s also the first comic book story set in the world of the “Wooden War”, which was also the setting of my story in Philippine Speculative Fiction 6.

There’s not a lot of Philippine steampunk stories out there (I’m eagerly awaiting “The Marvelous Adventures of the Amazing Doctor Rizal”), and none that mix it up with Philippine mythology quite the way that Hannah and I do here, so if that interests you, please do buy a copy and help spread the word. If not for me, then for Hannah’s amazing art. Maybe some preview pages/panels will seal the deal?

Again, here’s the Amazon page, and thank you for your support!

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So, what are you waiting for? For only $2.99 or $4.99 (depending on where your shipping address is located), High Society will definitely give you a bang for your buck.

 
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Posted by on 10/16/2011 in Good Reads

 

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Meia’s Baptism

Three weeks after Meia’s baptism, I’ve finally finished sorting through all her gifts. The house is less of a mess and I can now proceed to other baptism related things, such as writing this entry.

Meia had her baptism last 11 September 2011 in Christ the King parish. Despite the rains the past few days, the weather thankfully cooperated that Sunday.

Meia was also on her best behavior. She ate on time, napped on time, and we were able to leave the house on time. Meia usually hates it when we wet her head during her baths, so Pao and I were expecting her to throw a fit when the priest poured water over her head. Well, being the contrary bear that she is, she was perfectly calm and was staring at the priest right in the eye when water came flowing down.

I'm looking at you, Father.

Afterwards, we went on to host the first out of 2 receptions. Lunch in Valle Verde 4 clubhouse was for our relatives and our parents’ friends.

Brown and orange theme, a carry over from our wedding's colors

We then proceeded to Q Bistro for merienda for our own friends.

We were so tired from the first reception, we forgot to take pictures of the second! (facepalm) But food was really good during both parties, if I may say so myself. Of course, the runaway winner is Q’s roast beef, a gift from the executive chef who happens to be Pao’s good friend from law school. I just wish I had a picture of the roast beef to show you. 😦

Here's our picture with the executive chef instead. And yes, we forgot to include Meia when we were taking this picture @_@

Again, thank you so much to our family and friends for spending their Sunday afternoon with us and for their generous gifts.

And teaching Meia the value of material things :p

 

 
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Posted by on 10/02/2011 in Uncategorized