the unnatural mother

embracing mother-ing and all its glory – from wet diapers, spit-ups, tantrums to first smiles, hug-a-bugs and sweet cuddles

Sacrifice of a Nursing Mother June 14, 2013

I have been breastfeeding for a cumulative of 32 months – 1 month for my 1st, 13 months for my 2nd and 18 months for my 3rd (and still going). There were many struggles and obstacles along the way and they weren’t easy to overcome. But more than those troubles is all the sacrifice I had to make for my LO. Sacrifice entails a giving of oneself… much like LOVE and thus, I could name this entry the ‘Love of a Nursing Mother’ because breastfeeding is pure LOVE.

The number ONE sacrifice I had to make was going out. I’m a girl and I love shopping – plain and simple. In the first 2 months of my baby’s life, I refrained from going out not because I was recuperating  (that’s the least of my concern at that point) but because I felt it was unsafe for baby’s health. I live in the Philippines where there is people everywhere – the malls are packed even on a simple weekday – and I just didn’t want exposing my LO to all the germs around (germophobe in me typing).

TWO, close to number one, I had to give up going to the movies… frequently. It was and still is such a struggle for me to find time for movies because a) I’m a working mom and spend 9 hours at work, 3 hours commuting and 8 hours sleeping (not without waking, I must say) which leaves me with only 4 hours to spend a day for my 3 children; and b) weekends are for errands like grocery shopping, gift shopping for all the birthday parties we are invited to, actually attending those birthday parties, hearing mass and seeing relatives ; and c) I’m dead tired when I have the time to be tired so I would just like to be alone. So this is more like a sacrifice of having a family but here is the breastfeeding part…Going to the movies entails expressing milk before and after the movie which means bringing my pump bag and cooler all around the mall. I am not the kind of mother who expresses a lot or much at all so I would rather directly nurse my baby than pump.

THREE is giving up the convenience of medicines or the euphoria of caffeine. I put this two together because they are both drugs. Yes, caffeine is a DRUG and must be taken in moderation. Speaking of moderation, a lot of sites would say that Coffee is SAFE for the breastfeeding mom and baby when taken in moderation which means, 1 standard cup a day is fine. Yet, I am not taking any chances, considering that I am asthmatic and I have a maintenance medicine of salbutamol already – that’s 1 drug regularly in my system, that I need to LIVE. Other drugs for cough or colds, I tend to avoid as well.

I believe anything we put into our mouths or our bodies finds its way to our bloodstream and into baby’s breastmilk. The effects may not manifest in the amount of milk we produce or immediately in baby’s behavior. Even if they are ‘approved’ by our doctors, most often than not it only means that ‘there is inconclusive studies/results or no studies at all were made on the effects on baby for lactating women’. Some of these drugs, though BFDA approved, are new and the effects on babies whose mothers breastfed them may only be documented in the last 5 years or so. What if there are long-term effects that will manifest when child is already 10 years old,  15 or 25? Yes, i am paranoid but weighing my child’s health & safety vs. my convenience, I choose my child.

Having said all these, my life may look dull, lifeless, difficult and you may think ‘breastfeeding is drag‘, but on the contrary, breastfeeding has taught me a lot about the more important things in life – things that this fast-paced world has ignored and set aside just to keep moving with the tide.

It has taught me to prioritize and organize my life around things that matter – God, Health, Family, Self and lastly, work or money. I take care of myself before family because if I am sick, no one will take of my children. They need me to be at my tip-top shape in order for me to be their MOTHER. I take my vitamins, eat healthy and avoid fastfoods and junk food (I said, ‘avoid’ not remove… take note. Its good to enjoy comforts once in awhile 🙂 ). I spend and devote the time I have at home for my children – playing ‘zombie hunter’ with them even while I pump my breastmilk, reading books to them and even to my 18th month old who just likes flipping through the pages and using my finger to point and waiting for me to identify the object (beats any V-tech toy!) and just cuddling in the morning when everyone is just bleary-eyed and fresh from a good night’s rest

It makes my life simpler. Breastfed babies under 1 year old don’t need water, don’t need vitamins and don’t need much food. They just need mother’s milk to sustain them for the first year of life and complement solid foods after that . They just need to cuddle when they are hurt or nursing an ‘ouchie’ . They just need to be nursed to sleep  and given the boobie when waking up a night – no fuss, no mess. Thus, I’ve realized that I, too, don’t need new shoes every month or new nail polish for the season or the latest Apple gadget to complete my day. Less wants, less needs, less fuss, less ado about nothing.

It has taught me to FOCUS – be it at work, while pumping or reviewing my older child. I need to finish my work on time so I can leave on time and be with my kids. I need to leave office concerns at my desk while I pump milk  – I even used to imagine my child during pumping sessions to trigger the milk ejection reflex. And when I study with my older child, I can’t be thinking about something else.

But even with all this focus, I also learned to multi-task and plan ahead. I love crocheting and it keeps me stable and sane –  I do this on the commute from and to work.  I pump in the car when I am too busy at work. I think about the kids’ snack and lunch while I am walking, eating lunch or using the bathroom!

Having a baby is a life-changing event and this goes for all those new parents, second-time parents, third- time parents – its different with each one – breastfeeding or not. Please don’t expect that it all goes back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is – when the child learns to feed, talk, walk,  poop, wash itself. It doesn’t. It’s a lifelong trek of adjustment and of course, LOVE.

Sure, going out on movie dates is fun but grocery-shopping dates are ‘fun-er’ – it combines shopping and exercise in one activity – nothing beats that for a woman!

 

What pump do I use? May 24, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding — reeseyenko @ 9:26 am
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In the facebook breastfeeding groups that I am a part of, this is a usual question. Though I think lactation councilors, consultants and experts are trained to say that a good pump is not essential to breastfeeding success, I would say it is only essential if you plan to be regularly away from baby.

My first pump was a manual single pump from a brand that I would not mention because it did not work for me. It led me to believe that breastfeeding would not work when I went back to my day job as an IT professional. Little did I know, at that time when there was no facebook yet, that that amount was normal.

In any case, with my 2nd baby, a friend introduced me to Medela. It was pricey indeed and that must have been the most expensive gadget I had bought in my entire life until now – 3 years after. Yet, it was an investment worth every centavo. I bought the Medela Freestyle which was and still is the top of the line of pumps at Medela.

My 2nd baby was breastfed for 13 months. He was born April and I started regularly using it on July. I used it for 4xday, 7days a week for 10 months. When I got pregnant, I tapered off my pumping sessions and stopped. I took out the battery and kept it away.

A few months before I gave birth, I had Freestyle checked and cleaned at MedelaMoms. They reported everything in good order.

My 3rd baby is almost 18 months. With her, I started pumping once a day at Day 5 – for several reasons. I gave birth at the end of November and went back to work mid February. I’ve been using it 3xday, 5 days a week, for 15 months plus once a day on weekends for the first 14 months and now, 2-3 x a day on weekends.

I believe my Freestyle is used a lot and still works well. I’ve recommended it to my SIL and I have no qualms recommending it again

 

A Blanket of Dreams April 25, 2013

Filed under: Crafts — reeseyenko @ 3:39 pm
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Dreaming under the warmth of a big cozy blanket while it rains outside is bliss. And that is what I hope to achieve in the coming rainy season… so help me, God.

In the works is my biggest project yet… a Queen sized blanket made of 8-ply hand dyed cotton. I started it during Holy Week – last week of March – when I only had 3 measly balls of 100 grams or so of hand dyed cotton. I tried a row of double crochet and I immediately fell in love with this yarn – with its soft thread and subdued color that can never do you wrong. I knew I had to make the blanket of my dreams in this yarn.

the first few rows

the first few rows

laid out on a king size bed

laid out on a king size bed

even perfect bobbles

even perfect bobbles

different colors combine well

different colors combine well

The hardest part of this project is procuring the yarn – its not so much finding the colors because I would combine any color to get that random effect – but actually reserving the yarn when it comes available. The suppliers only make 1-2 spools of each color per batch and most often than not, I’m a tad bit too late. It sells out in hours! Though suppliers have been accommodating enough to help me – giving me a private pick of unallocated yarn – I still have to keep watch day and night for announcements.

Buying hand-dyed yarn is a challenge

Buying hand-dyed yarn is a challenge

It’s Week 4 of my project.  Here are some numbers:

5 inches = 7 rows. If I plan to make a length of 60 inches, I need 12 * 7 rows. That is 84 rows (If I can make it 90 rows, I would feel better). At the time of this blog, I already have  19 rows, 65 rows to go! 1 row a day = 65 days, roughly 2 months. Plus I intend to put a simple border on it 🙂

Pattern here.

 

Little Girl’s Summer Top April 5, 2013

Filed under: Crafts — reeseyenko @ 4:19 pm
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This is super easy to make! It was something I invented after making 2 crochet dresses using the fan stitch.

crochet summer top

I used a japanese hook 5/0 which should translate to 3.0 mm.
I used two Monaco or Cannon threads at a time in the following colors:
White
Pink (Cannon) – MB089
Violet (Monaco) – B24

To do a fan stitch:
2DC, ch1, 2 DC in same stitch

Steps:
-Measure your child’s bust line and add 2 -3 inches so that it is loose. Also, this pattern does not have an opening at the back or front so making it a loose top will make is easier for you or child to wriggle into it.
-Chain as long as your measurement above + ch 3
R1: DC onto 4th ch in hook, DC all around

R2: ch 3 (counts as 1st DC) DC, ch1, 2DC in same stitch. sk 1 DC. 1 sc in next, sk 1 DC *Fan stitch in next chain, sk 1 DC, 1 sc in next, sk 1 DC, Fan stitch in next. Repeat * until end. Join in 3rd ch of beginning ch3
R3: sl st to the ch1 space. Ch 3, DC, ch1, 2 DC in same space. *Fan stitch in next ch 1 space. Repeat * until end

Repeat R2 to desired length.

To make ruffles, Fan stitch in every ch1 space and in between fan stitches. In the next row, fan stitch in every ch1 space. Fasten off or make a 3rd row.

Make straps by doing single crochet 3-5 times for each row until desired length.

Get a big button and sew on the straps. Make sure that the button is small enough to fit in between the ch1 space of the fan stitch but big enough so that it doesn’t get unfastened.

 

A Little Girl’s Dress February 8, 2013

Filed under: Crafts — reeseyenko @ 7:42 am
Tags: , ,

This is my first attempt at a toddler’s dress and I must say, it turned out pretty well! After weeks of looking for the right pattern – something that was easy enough to follow – and the right design – something cute but versatile, I found one and started it. After 1 failed attempt – something too small – i restarted almost immediately and found myself doing it on my own without the pattern. I just needed to know the start and the shell and the rest was history.

My little girl's dress

My little girl’s dress

There is just one problem to it – the shoulders straps were too long, this time. The first failed attempt was having the shoulder straps to short and narrow, it would not fit comfortably in my baby’s arm. But longer can be remedied manually with a button and removed when she’s bigger and the length added to later on as well.

For this one, I used this pattern as guide and adjusted it to my yarn. I started the pattern with these… adjustments in parenthesis. 

I used Yarn Source Manila’s light worsted yarn in Orchid and Fuschia.

ch 150 + 3 (143 +3)

1st row: DC on 4th ch from hook, 14 DC (15), 3 DC in ch (first corner made), 46 DC (38) , 3DC in ch (second corner made), 28 DC (30), 3DC in ch(third corner made), 46 DC (38), 3 DC in ch (fourth corner made), 14 DC (15)

Continue until you reach the desired width of the shoulder strap.

Make the shoulders/sleaves by skipping stitches between the 1st corner and 2nd corner. From the last DC before the 1st corner, DC onto the 1st DC after the 2nd corner.

Continue the rounds until you reach the desired length of the body.

For the skirt, Shell (2 DC -ch1 – 2DC) and join to close the rounds

Crochet a trim onto the shoulders with shell. Add embelishment.

Add a little embelishment.

Add a little embelishment.

 

Crochet finds at Baguio City February 5, 2013

Filed under: Crafts — reeseyenko @ 8:57 am
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When I picked up crochet as a serious hobby less than a year ago, I developed a heightened interest in handmade and local things. I realized the effort of the creative process and the labor of love that went into each item. And although handmade stuff cost relatively more than commercially-made items, I am willing to spend a little more just to patronize creativity.

In our recent trip to Baguio, my eye instantly caught these cute crochet items.

Strawberry keychains

Strawberry keychains

Crocheted coin purse

Crocheted coin purse

Toddler's Crocheted Dress. They use a wide headband for the torso and crochet a skirt on it.

Toddler’s Crocheted Dress. They use a wide headband for the torso and crochet a skirt on it.

Corcheted Strawberry potholder.

Corcheted Strawberry potholder.

These pictures were taken at Strawberry Fields, La Trinidad Valley but most items are available anywhere else in Baguio. The interesting thing about this is that the pople who make them follow no pattern at all. While free patterns are abundant in Raverly and Pinterest, these natives of Baguio just rely on hand-me-down knowledge or pure creativity to come up with such designs – AWESOME!

   

 

 

 

Why do I breastfeed? Because I never had to rock or dance my baby to sleep. February 4, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Parenting — reeseyenko @ 10:01 am
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Baby nurses herself to sleepYes, my 2 breastfed children never had to be rocked or danced to sleep by me. Of course, the nanny had to do it when I was away but I only had to give ’em the boobies and it instantly lulled them to sleep. They would even fight off sleep once latched on and its cute how their eyelids would droop and they’d make an effort to open them but eventually succumb to slumber after a few. Yes, its that easy 🙂 – no tantrums, no kicking and fighting, no excuses.

The only downside to this is that I have to be with them at sleeping time at night. This means, no partying or staying out late for mommy – but I don’t really mind. My priorities have changed and there is nowhere I’d rather be than… stuck to my child’s latch or rather, my child stuck to me until she wanders off to dreamland.