Sunday, June 29, 2014

Preparing for the big arrival!

Okay, I am oh so ready to give birth, right? Then yesterday morning, I was jolted awake by painful contractions and I was suddenly, "No, wait, I'm not ready! Stay in there!!!"

The contractions were 20 minutes apart and getting really painful, but as soon as I got up and started getting ready for the hospital—you know, hair and makeup!—the contractions subsided and then disappeared. So I guess those were the Braxton-Hicks contractions. Never had them before with Vito and Iñigo so I was very confused (and relieved) yesterday.

Anyway, you know what this means—labor is imminent. I might disappear from this blog very soon! Old-time readers know that when I disappear, Vince takes over and is the one who writes about the whole birthing experience. He does it so well that I will happily relinquish yet again the storytelling to him. I hope he has the time to do it. He's very busy these days! There's World Cup pa!
Plus, there are two other demanding creatures occupying his time now! 

Okay, I'm rambling. My brain is now just focused on getting ready for the big baby arrival. I expect Baby Chicken to arrive this week. But I'm actually only 38 weeks today. So maybe I'll give birth next week, at 39 weeks. My OB predicted July 6 but my due date is really July 13 pa haha. Labo!

So while we all wait for Baby Chicken to show up, let me just show you a few pictures I've been sharing on my social media. (You really should follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! I do a lot of giveaways there!)

I'm in cleaning mode and look at what I found! It's the record of my contractions when I was about to give birth to Vito way back in 2010! Check out the seriously deteriorating handwriting haha. Boy, was that painful! As soon as my contractions were 5 minutes apart, that's when I woke up Vince. He asked, "How long have you been feeling this?" I shrugged, "Since after dinner, but it only became painful after midnight." He said, "You should've woken me up kanina pa!!!" Hahahaha, panic of a first-time dad! Vince was so adorable. I super love him!

On the right side is the name of Baby Chicken in felt letters. Ria Salonga of ABZD Custom Felt Decor is the only non-family member who knows our child's name. She made the names of the older boys a couple of years ago, so when she found out I was pregnant again, she offered to make Baby Chicken's name as a gift. Of course we said yes! Last week, the names arrived, and Ria added shapes and pennants, too! Thanks so much, Ria! We got sooooo excited when we saw our little boy's name!

Anyway, on the left side of the photo above is a list of stuff I'll need for the hospital when I give birth. It's from Mothercare. My OBG gave me a list, too. Hers adds: a picture ID, medications (like for my asthma), breast pump, hair ties or hair clips, baby book (for the birthing team to stamp your baby's hands and feet on), and a kikay kit.

Speaking of hospital kikay kit, here's mine. Travel-sized Shiseido Ibuki skincare system so that my skin will still be pampered. Happy Skin Second Skin Creme liquid foundation—it's easy to apply and infused with skin-caring ingredients so it's like a BB cream. Celeteque Hydration makeup remover wipes, in case I get too tired to wash my face hehe. La Mer The Balm, because my lips always get chapped after I give birth. Model Co. eyebrow kit because brows always need to be groomed well to look good! Acca Kappa hair brush—my favorite brushes are from Acca Kappa! Betadine antiseptic feminine wash because, well, you know why! And for the baby, sample-size Mustela Bébé bath gel. Mustela is our super duper favorite, can't-do-without baby toiletries brand!

Spent last night wrapping the boys' gifts from Baby Chicken. My sister-in-law Lizelle gave me that tip when I was pregnant with Iñigo. She said, "When Vito meets the baby for the first time, give him a gift and tell him it's from his new brother." The gift is supposed to make Vito feel more welcoming. I mean, everyone loves gifts! So we gave Vito a Lightning McQueen toy and he was so happy and thrilled when he learned it was from Iñigo. He definitely was warmer to his baby brother after that. In fact, that toy became his favorite toy.

Let's hope Iñigo feels the same way about his new baby brother! He's very clingy and possessive and jealous.

Vito already knows what to expect so he's been shouting his requests at my tummy for a while now. He's so funny. He thinks there's a shopping mall inside my tummy! He changes his requests every week! But we heard him ask for a Transformers toy often so that's what we got him. As for Iñigo, he's obsessed with all things Cars now, and he loves Finn McMissile so we got him Finn.

Just set this up today, right before dinner! It's always the final touch for me, the crib. It's the last thing we prepare (so that the sheets don't get dusty) and when it's all set up, I get really excited. So I'm really excited right now! It's funny lang how the crib makes me feel like that when we hardly use the crib! We co-sleep (bed-share) so the babies only get to use the crib when we need to change diapers or I need to contain them if I need to do something. Still, I think this crib from Mothercare is one of the best purchases we made. If only for the happiness it gives me!

Okay! That's all for now! I'll try to update this blog before I give birth but if I suddenly disappear, you know where I am and what I'm doing! Have a great week, mommies!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Style in my third trimester

I'm almost 38 weeks along. Will exactly be 38 weeks on Sunday. I gave birth to Vito when I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and to Iñigo when I was 38 weeks and 6 days. So I think next week will be my last week of pregnancy (I hope haha) and by next weekend, I should have a bouncing baby boy in my arms again! Can't wait!!!

But since I'm (still!) waiting and waiting for Baby Chicken to come out, how about we do a little post on pregnant style?

I've never found it difficult to dress my pregnant body (what's hard is dressing up the lumpy post-partum body!). There is never a time in a woman's life when a huge belly is so much fun to flaunt! Now, I had thought that my second pregnancy was also going to be my last so I had given away nearly all my preggy dresses soon after Iñigo was born. Thank goodness my friends helped me be stylish this time around by lending me their maternity clothes!
Just at home in a purple V-neck maxi from Tango. This is so super comfy! It's simple enough for lounging at home but the deep grape hue makes it perfectly cute for going to the mall, too!

At a Lancôme event (I'm posing with Lancôme's product manager) last month in what Vince calls the "sexy zebra" dress from A.N.A. Maternity. I super duper love this dress! I love how the stripes bring out my curves more. Normally, stripes are a no-no when you're curvy (stripes make you look wider) but this striped dress really emphasizes the big baby bump!

At a Sangobion event last month, I wore a Pea in a Pod tube dress with an incredibly high slit at the back (it kinda goes almost all the way to my butt!). To add some interest to the basic black, I wore a Sopia bib necklace, Pedro gray heels, and Ni-QUA paper bag clutch.

Here's what it looks like from the side. Same lang haha. I wore this naman at home, this month lang, so you can see that the tight dress actually stretches to accommodate growing tummies, even 8-months-preggy tummies!

At the OBG with the whole family just recently, I'm wearing my old Gingersnaps dress with Charles & Keith gray snakeskin sandals. The bag is our diaper bag. It's actually not a real diaper bag; it's a woven tote from Cole Haan, but I find diaper bags really ugly so I've been using tote bags instead. This Cole Haan one I've been using for a year now.

Anyway, here's a closer look at the same gray Gingersnaps dress. I really like this dress. The sleeves make my chubby arms look slim haha. It's just super short now, because my tummy's so big at 9 months, so I really should stop wearing this!

Me at the OBG again, telling my IG followers that I'm fat haha. I'm in a Gingersnaps dress made of this super soft t-shirt material.

Here's what I wore to the OBG this week (weekly visits now!). It's a Karimadon dress and it's not meant to be maternity. I just bought a large size. My shoes are studded sandals from Dune UK.

That's it! I do wear other dresses. I just forget to take pictures (that's why I'm never going to become a fashion blogger!). And super sorry for all the blurry pics. I just took screen caps of my Instagram (follow me for more OOTDs!) so they're not high resolution. So there. We're passing the time, counting the days with my preggy style haha! Thanks for indulging me!

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baby shower from my OK! girls

I'm such a lucky girl! Some of my favorite people in the world threw me a baby shower last weekend at Apartment 1B Rockwell, and it was lots of fun!
Here are Nicole and Nikki. We didn't plan on the black-and-white outfits but I love it!

My beautiful boys were also there because it was also Father's Day weekend. We promised the kids we'd watch How To Train Your Dragon after the party but we missed our movie. Put a group of girls together and of course you forget the time!

That's Nikki's little boy, Rocco. He is the gentlest, calmest little boy I've ever met! He's exactly like his parents! He was so eager to play with my sons. Must arrange a playdate then!

There's Vito, my firstborn, talking to the Baby Chicken cake by BabyCakes. He was plucking off the marshmallow eggs—one for him and one for his younger brother, Iñigo.

Baby Chicken! We have a name already for our third sweetheart—as usual, Vince came up with it. It's a beautiful name and I can't wait to tell our baby boy his name and bless him with it!

Rainbow cake! Super bright colors that made us all happy, especially the kiddies. It was dense and quite good!

My boys were convinced that the purple and green layers tasted best. So silly!

Nikki is now a businesswoman and devoted mommy.
Elaine is still in honeymoon mode and is with Good Housekeeping.
After a stint in, Kabbie is now in real estate and preparing for mommyhood.
Nicole is now a beauty writer, consultant and blogger (Beauty & Sparkle).

Thanks so much, former OK! girls for the lovely baby shower and the fabulous gifts! My baby boy is going to be so well-dressed because of your super chic picks (what else can I expect of you who are all more stylish than me?).

Sigh. I had a lovely time. But I need more! Mommyhood can be lonely sometimes. My sons are amazing and my husband is the best and I am really truly happy, but I do need womenfolk to talk to sometimes. Sometimes I go to events and it's fun to talk to other women, but we end up still talking about our kids! I want to talk about fashion and beauty and shopping and celebrities and gossip!

I really must make more time for my girlfriends! And I will. This baby shower was just the sweetest thing and it made me realize that just because I became a mom, that doesn't mean I stopped being a friend. Must make more time for my girls!

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dearest Vince

I love love love how my husband loves our sons. He's our everything.

Thanks, Vince. You're our hero!

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Celebrating Iñigo's 2nd birthday!

Last month, on May 11, my cutie patootie Iñigo turned 2. But since May 11 was Mother's Day, we celebrated his day on May 12 instead. That's the great thing with having birthdays in summer—you can throw a party on a Monday!

Here's the birthday boy thrilled at the fact that the entire weekend (and coming week) was all about him. He loved the decorations at home, he loved all the colors, the Lightning McQueen and Mater pennants, the balls, the everything! And now a party just for him!

We wanted a family picture but by this time, we already had guests over and Vito did not want to be pulled out from playing games with his friends. He was very upset!
Until now, when he sees this photo, he reminds us that he did not like it that we disrupted his playtime! So, nope, we don't have a completely happy family photo (although this one still makes me happy!).

Our party food! Oh, this was the cleverest, cutest, happiest meal boxes ever! Eats Happy is prepackaged healthy and yummy kiddie bento boxes. For Iñigo's party, we had the Mickey Mouse themed box: baked macaroni, cordon bleu, ham and potato croquettes, cheese sandwich and iced gems.

I love Eats Happy because they make eating fun for little ones, the boxes are convenient for me as the party host and also for my guests because if the kids don't finish their food (and they never do really!), the boxes can just be sealed and brought home with the guest! I'll talk more about Eats Happy soon!

The grown-ups had food served by my old favorite, Almost Gourmet. Still the yummiest, most healthy, most affordable event catering service in my book! Whenever I serve food prepared by Almost Gourmet (and it always arrives hot!), my family and guests devour it! It's that amazing! For Iñigo's party, we parents feasted on chicken fingers and lasagna.

And on these glorious cupcakes, too!

That's a chocolate cupcake, a red velvet cupcake and a caramel cupcake, all with a letter I on top!

Here are my neighbors—the moms of my sons' playmates and my fellow Praying Wives group—(from left) Claire, Tricia, Dada and Cathee.  

Cathee and her four kids enjoying their food!

I posted a few gifs and videos from the party when I blogged about Iñigo's birthday a few weeks ago. So I won't tell you anymore what a ruckus his party was. The kids all had fun, they were beyond noisy, they were super happy. Just the way I like kiddie parties to be!

So let's check out the few photos of when all the guests were actually in one place and being relatively calm: the candle-blowing part of the party!
Here are all the kids! From left: Justin, Enzo, Nikolai (standing), Alfonso, Vito, Iñigo, Masha, Clara, Sophia and Denise (carried). Hmm, we're missing one boy, Ivan! He's there somewhere!

Blowing the candle! We practiced for weeks!!!

He made some decent puffs but not enough to blow it out, prompting all the kids to start chanting, "Harder! Harder! Harder!" Crazy kids!

Everyone finally helped the birthday boy blow out his candle! So that cake? It's covered in saliva splatter. Yum!

Oh, by the way, my friends surprised me with a baby shower, too! So this was a birthday party and a baby shower. I was so happy! Thanks so much, praying mommies!

Haaaaaaay, so happy and tired! And full! Full of laughter and good food and blessings and happiness.

That's our wish for our little 2-year-old sweetheart—a life full of happiness and good food and blessings and friendship!
What a gift Iñigo is! Happy birthday, darling boy! We love you!

Blessed little girls

On Facebook, Toni of Wifely Steps shared this photo of a book cover and asked if moms of sons are willing to read a book preparing their boys to love another woman. I will confess that this is a most special concern for me. As a mother, a feminist, and as a woman, I know that I have a big role in raising men who will treat women well. From the very beginning, I knew my sons are not for me, that God chose me to raise them for other people and, yes, maybe even for a lovely woman and children for each of them one day. 

So as soon as my sons were born, I started praying for their wives. Really! I pray for their good health and safety, for their parents to raise them well, that they be smart and interesting and fun, that they'll be the type of women who will adore my sons but won't take any BS from them either. I even pray for their beauty! 

I take very good care of my boys, you see, so it's not so far-fetched to hope and pray that their future wives are being well taken care of, too. Of course, I will love whoever my sons love—no matter what they look like and what life they've led. But as early as now, I am covering these blessed little girls in prayer. I don't pray for them every single day because, hey, I'm not that excited to marry off my kids, that much I'll admit, but to whoever my sons will marry one day, you're blessed because you haven't even met my sons yet, but I am already storming the gates of heaven for you! 

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

How did I do on the Sangobion Challenge?

This post is brought to you by Sangobion.

A few weeks ago, I took the Sangobion Challenge to Go Love Life. I promised to slow down, take care of myself and appreciate what I have. Here are the changes since then:
  1. Even though I'm offered a lot of opportunities, I've decided to give most of them up and focus on my pregnancy and my family.
  2. I also finally hired household help so that I won't be so tired all the time. When I'm tired, I'm easily upset!
  3. Now that I have more time, I can sleep, eat, enjoy showers and pamper myself. I tried face masks and new lotions. I visited the salon. Because I am rested and pretty, I feel better!
  4. I make time to visit friends, open my home to friends, go to prayer meetings. Still not very often, but regularly enough so that I can feel refreshed.
  5. I also make it a point to be truly appreciative of my marriage and my children. Every day, I remind myself through prayer that I am grateful for what I have. I still make mistakes (and I usually make those mistakes when I'm not praying!) but because I make a conscious effort to focus on gratitude instead of my exhaustion, I really do believe and act like my life is amazing. Because it is!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Why I don't use breastfeeding rooms

I've only used a breastfeeding room once. It was in Eastwood Mall. My husband's family and I were eating dinner when Vito—I think he was less than a year old that time—decided he wanted to eat dinner, too. If we were back home, I'd just need to pop out my boob and let him nurse while I continued with my own meal. Happy mommy, happy baby. But since we were at a public place, I excused my ravenous self and went around the mall looking for a breastfeeding room.

About ten minutes later, with a fussy hungry baby, just as fussy and hungry me found the said room in some hidden away corridor. There was no one in there. It was furnished with generic seats and a few side tables, plus curtains in case mommy wants to hide even more, which I found silly. We were already inside a room; there's no further need to hide! After a while, as the silence began to bother me, I started thinking, "If some bad person entered this place, I could get robbed, or raped and killed and no one would know."

With that thought, I figured I should not be hiding away when I was just feeding my child. So I packed up baby and off we went back to dinner. I've never used breastfeeding rooms to nurse since then. I only go in there to change my kids' diapers. But if I needed to feed my kids, I fed them whenever and wherever I can find a place to sit.
While with friends.
At a café.

I do think that a special room is needed by nursing moms to express milk. So I will join the push for pumping stations at the workplace. Working moms who are stuck at the office for 8-14 hours need a clean and quiet place to express and store their milk. I, for one, just expressed milk at my desk (no pumping room at the place I used to work, so moms either put a curtain around their cubicle or went to the clinic). I put a nursing cover on, attached the pump to my boob, and continued working! People would pass by my desk, talk to me even, and they never realized what was going on under my "shawl."

As for breastfeeding rooms at malls and other public places, I dunno. I don't think they're necessary. I think they're part of the reason why breastfeeding is considered taboo and shameful. For me, breastfeeding rooms are kinda like the veil or hijab or burqa. These are pieces of clothing designed to keep a woman modest and to protect her from the eyes of evil men. So when a woman breastfeeds in public, she's considered immodest, displaying her wares to the poor men who can't control their sexual impulses. Women who breastfeed in public are considered shameless, even sluts (here's an example). Hence, breastfeeding rooms.

Look, I'm not saying we should ban breastfeeding rooms. A lot of women need a quiet place to feed their babies, where a fussy baby won't kick the table and knock down plates. Or some mommies are very shy. So sure, breastfeeding rooms are cool. In fact, I wrote to Power Plant Mall many times a couple of years ago requesting for a nursing room. I did this because I was changing my kid's diaper in the bathroom when an old woman started banging on the door because she needed to use the loo. In Power Plant, the changing station is the same stall as for disabled people. So I asked Power Plant to create a space where moms can change their kids' diapers in peace and breastfeed in comfort.
Part of the email I sent to Power Plant Mall.

But I also think that more of us breastfeeding moms should nurse out in the open. When we hide away, we tacitly agree that breastfeeding is immodest and something to be ashamed of. Breastfeeding is a natural human act! I know some people say, "Well, having sex and pooping and peeing is a natural act but I don't do it in public!" That's a stupid analogy because breastfeeding is all about EATING. If we think it's okay to eat in public, then it should be okay to breastfeed in public!

Seriously, it shouldn't be a big deal. I breastfeed in public and no one has ever made me feel bad about it. Well, I sometimes get stares, but I nurse very discreetly and then people lose interest and go back to whatever they were doing. It's not like I expose myself. I use a shawl, a scarf, a cover when I'm latching and unlatching baby so as to prevent nip slips (because we all know how offended people are by nipples!). It would be lovely, however, if women just pop out their boob! Photos like these by photographer Jade Beall are part of the effort in making breastfeeding (and a mother's body) beautiful and normal:

Then there's the recently sensationalized Instagram photo of supermodel Natalia Vodianova. Many people hated it. It's a private bonding moment, it's too sexy, etc etc. When did eating become a private thing? Why do people sexualize breastfeeding? And so what if it's sexy—she didn't become a mommy without having sex!

Okay, I get it. Natalia didn't have to post a photo of herself naked and nursing. I understand. I don't do that myself. It's the same way I don't do naked preggy shoots and then post my naked baby bump all over social media. But that's because I think nudity and pregnancy and breastfeeding is so normal. I don't feel the need to celebrate it or call attention to it. At the same time, when I see photos like the ones above, I think it's wonderful that women celebrate their new mommy bodies and the power of their bodies to feed and nurture. Apparently, not everyone thinks the way I do. And if that's the case, then perhaps it's time to stop hiding and keeping quiet.

Take the shame out of breastfeeding. Feed your baby whenever and wherever and however! We really, really do need to breastfeed in public. We have to make it so natural, so commonplace, so normal, so completely a non-issue!

Note: Mama Bean Parenting's "Do We Really Need to See It?" inspired this blog post.

More on public breastfeeding around the world in this interesting article (click here). Thanks, Ate Thania!

*Jade Beall photos from Huffington Post's "What 9 Months of Pregnancy Actually Does to a Woman's Body."

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