Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Having Fun Without Spending Part 2

As promised, let me share with you the continuation of my birthday celebration, highlighting on how we had fun without spending.

Ever since, I don't believe in raffles or anything that counts on pure luck. I'm pertaining to those big ticket prizes such as cars, gadgets and the likes being raffled off during sale events or gatherings. I didn't believe because I haven't tried winning in a raffle draw yet. That's why I also don't bet on Lotto or play gambling because I'm afraid of risks and losing. The first time I learned to bet on Lotto was from my hubby who believes in that. 

Not until last year, when I was pregnant that I started betting on my luck without shelling out any cents. It started when I got hooked on the internet browsing for answers to my questions on pregnancy, breastfeeding, and parenting and that includes reading real life experiences of mommy bloggers. Then the whole blog giveaway thing just became my addiction. But I also screen out and choose to join only the more reliable online contests.

I had won a number of giveaways lately, just in time for my birthday. And because my free treats couldn't be used up all at the same time in one day, I've extended my celebration to day two.

Exactly a month before my birthday, I received a message from that I have won on their Daddy, Mommy and Baby Photo Contest. I randomly joined their contest two months ago without expecting to win because first off, I hate to join liking contest and secondly, they have a lot of entries, more than a hundred, and I'm just one of them. Good thing they have another criteria where my photo entry was included in the top 12 judge picks and from the 12, I won the random raffle draw. How lucky am I? And the prize package was quite generous.

One of the prizes was an 18"x24" poster mount from Print and Mount Portraits worth P1,100. It's a high quality print mounted on PVC board. So I thought of having our wedding group picture printed to make it more meaningful which we personally claimed it from their office in Makati. And I was surprised to know that the owner is just one batch higher from me in high school. What a small world!

Aug. 24, 2013. Photo op with the owner of Print and Mount Portraits, Alvin.

Every year during my birthday, I would always remind myself to visit Q Power Station. Why? Because I have to claim my P200 free credits to be loaded in my VIP Q Card. The free birthday load can be claimed within three days before or after your birthdate. When I checked my balance, I have already 844 credits, which means I have been claiming my free load for four years already. Actually five years already because I have been a Q Card holder since 2008. It allowed me and my hubby to unwind for a while, shot a few hoops, and be on our childish mode after so long. The last time we played was when we were still single I think. I immediately exchanged the few tickets we won for some small prizes because I don't know when we'll be able to have the time to play again. 

Aug. 24, 2013 at Q Power Station Rockwell. Claimed my free P200 birthday load.

And since we were already in Makati area, we dropped by Glorietta 2 to claim my P1,000 Gift Certificates at Ginza Bairin which I won from Shoot First, Eat Later blog giveaway just two weeks ago. That served as my birthday dinner date with my hubby. I ordered their best seller Kurobuta Rosu Katsu Set worth P595 and hubby tried Hire Katsu Set (3 Fillets) priced at P345. Of course mine was more mouth-watering. And because we were not familiar with Makati malls, it took us a few rounds before we were able to find the restaurant. The place is along the street (Palm Drive) and beside Wee Nam Kee. Hubby was surprised to see me consume three bowls of rice. Good thing their rice is unlimited. Breastfeeding momma got so hungry after a half day of adventure.

Aug. 24, 2013 at Ginza Bairin in Glorietta 2.

It was a tiring day for both of us but we really had fun because we were able to play and eat without spending, except for the parking. If I didn't win these free treats, I might not be able to take part in the talk of the town, the katsu craze.

Thanks to, to Print and Mount Portraits, to Q Power Station, Shoot First Eat Later, to Ginza Bairin and to my hubby for accompanying me to celebrate my birthday.

Although these treats are not really the things that I urgently need or a must-haves, I'm still thankful for whatever blessings that I got. It's my luck after all. And the only thing I could do to pay it forward is to share my wins to you through this post.

If you happen to be interested in the services of Print and Mount Portraits, I would appreciate it if you tell them that you read it from my blog. And if you still have a child-at-heart, you may want to get a Q Card too so that you have something to look forward to on your birthday. And if you want to join the katsu craze, have your authentic katsu at Ginza Bairin.

That's all for now. Share with me your winning stories too, okay? :)

Mommy Sally

Monday, August 26, 2013

Birthday Edition: On Having Fun Without Spending

Hooray for my first birthday as a new mom. I must have called for a big celebration but because my hubby always reminded me to save up, I turned to my ever creative and resourceful self and looked for other means to make myself happy. I love celebrating special occasions especially if it's my birthday. I always aimed to have a memorable birthday by expecting a customized cake, gifts, dining out, birthday greetings from friends and family and lots of surprises. I admit I still act childish in so many ways but that's how I am. Let me share with you how I spent my birthday this year.

I was excited for my lined up activities for that day. As I was about to brush my teeth, I saw no water coming out of the faucet. The whole building was temporarily out of water due to some problems. Wow what a nice surprise to start my day. We decided to transfer to my mom's house for the mean time until the water would be back.

My hubby decided to have our breakfast at the newly opened McDonald's along Jose Abad Santos Ave. corner Bambang Street. 

Mom & Baby just-woke-up look.

Hubby ordered us his all-time favorite Sausage Platter w/ Rice and
a Hot Chocolate drink meal. Yummy!

Thanks to mother-in-law for these goodies from Red Ribbon. Yey cake!

I just remembered that I have a St. Nails Gift Certificate won from The Soshal Network blog giveaway expiring on my birthday so I decided to commute to Makati for a nail pamper treat. Besides, my last manicure/pedicure was more than a year ago, during my wedding. Haha!

I had a hard time choosing from a number of nail polish colors presented in front of me. For a change, I've decided to try my very first red daring nail polish (Orly Star Spangled) for my feet nails and had a conservative nude colored nail polish (Orly Sand Castle) for my hand nails. The service I availed was worth P400 and I just got it for free! :)

I enjoyed my free Top to Toe manicure pedicure service at St. Nails Nail Spa.
A coupon that I won from TSN blog 2 months ago.

As you can see, I'm not used to pampering myself so I don't have any idea how other nail spas perform. With my experience at St. Nails, it was nice of them to serve hot cup of tea, to put hot aroma heat pack to my shoulders, bubble water to soak my feet and hands and free wifi! I was actually amazed by the purple plastic basin to soak my hands on as it was my first time to see that kind of thing. The ambiance and their stylish purple seat were also commendable. The name of the nail technician who did my mani/pedi was Ms. Sahira. Later did I know that the owner is an alumni of DLSU and his name is Saint. I didn't know him personally but his name rings a bell because he's famous in school.

St. Nails list of services.

Like their FB Page at St. Nails and follow their Twitter @St_Nails_Spa and Instagram @St_Nails_Spa to get to know them better. Watch out for their first anniversary this coming Sept. 16, 2013 as they might be having promos. They currently only have one branch for now and it's located at Petron Gas Station, EDSA corner Arnaiz Ave. (Pasay Road), Dasmarinas Village, Makati.

For our dinner, we availed of our free Pizza Hut treat, a BPI credit card promo, using my hubby's receipts. We got one Family Size Supreme Line Pan Pizza (for at least P12k receipt) and one Single Spaghetti Bolognese w/o Meatballs (for at least P2k receipt). We just added the Carbonara and 4pc Chicken Wings Honey BBQ flavor to make our dinner full. Btw, the next promo for BPI credit card is Chowking treat just in case you want to know.

We had Pizza Hut for dinner.

Of course my birthday won't be complete without my usual ritual of blowing of cakes. The number candles were only reused from baby's monthly birthday candles. Hehe! :)

My first birthday as a mom, a certified mommy on my 28th!
I'm thankful for the blessings that come my way despite having a tight budget. These free treats (St. Nails and Pizza Hut) were enough to make my birthday a memorable one. We didn't have to splurge a huge amount to be happy. In any celebration, resourcefulness and creativity goes a long way. And that's my way of having fun without spending. :)

Surprisingly, my birthday celebration didn't end here. There's still a Day 2, on my next post. Happy Birthday Binondo Mommy!

Share to me too how you spent your birthday or how you have fun without spending. I would like to hear from you. Or you may just greet me your birthday wishes thru the comments below.

Mommy Sally

DIY Bridal Shower

I can't believe I became a mommy without having attended any bridal shower aside from my own. Recalling back, I had my bridal shower a month before my wedding and it was a surprise. They got my now-hubby to be their accomplice where my hubby made up a story that his friend was inviting us for a dinner. As we enter the private room, with lights off and only candles were lit, I was so surprised to see my friends and sisters all present and cheering upon my arrival. I was so touched for their effort and got a little teary eyed as I blow off my cake. The program that night went something like this: We shared our love story and did some ice breaker discussions while we had our dinner, then we had a couple of games, proceeded to opening of gifts in front of everyone and lastly group picture taking. As far as I can remember, the games we had were as follows: banana eating contest, designing me a wedding gown made of tissue papers, and question & answer exam for me and hubby. It was quite a simple gathering but for me it was a night to remember because it was my bridal shower and they made it just for me. I would like to thank my friends who took their time to be there at my bridal shower, to my sisters who paid for the bill and joined the fun, to my hubby for making it a surprise, and last but not the least to my best friend for organizing it.

Oct. 22, 2011 at Korean Village. My surprise bridal shower.

Now it's my best friend's turn to have a bridal shower. I haven't really organized an event aside from my own wedding. Much challenging as I haven't gone to any bridal shower thus I don't have any idea on how it's supposed to be done. I just did it my own way and here is how it went.

First off, I got from the soon-to-be bride the list of her invited guest-friends. I chose a date that is more convenient for me and that was Aug. 18 Sunday. So I privately messaged each one of them if they are free on that day for a dinner. I know I started it too late, maybe 2 weeks before, because of my very busy schedule juggling work and baby. I barely have enough time to do something for myself, to blog. I almost gave up coordinating with the people individually and to come up with a common ground. Thanks to one of her friends J who volunteered to help me out by messaging everyone thru Facebook conference to finalize the date and venue. Due to majority's choice, Aug. 18 dinner was chosen out even if her friend J herself won't be able to make it. From an almost 22 invited friends down to 11 who expressed their intention to attend, I started working on the venue, backdrop, games and giveaways. 

Come Aug. 18 Sunday, it started to rain so hard in the afternoon that one by one her friends started texting that they won't be able to make it. It was the start of Typhoon Maring. From a number of 11 down to 3 including me plus her sister, the bride-to-be, and her fiancé. We couldn't cancel the event anymore because the cake had already been made to order. The bridal shower went on despite the few turnout and we were still able to lit a smile on the bride's face. The venue was held at one of the VIP rooms of The Royale Sharksfin Seafood Restaurant, 2/F Pacific Centre Bldg. located along Quintin Paredes, Binondo. We reserved one table with a private CR inside. And here are the highlights of the DIY bridal shower.

We ordered all her favorite dishes with the help of her sister. Birthday noodles, Sweet and Sour Pork, Corn & Egg Soup, Steamed Suahe, Pat Po Chicken, Polunchay, Salt & Pepper Crab, Plain Rice and a complimentary Almond Jelly dessert. 

We had a sumptuous royal banquet at The Royale Sharksfin Seafood Restaurant.
We're complete at a head count of 4 so we told the waiters to reduce the seats from 15 to 10 to make it spacious.

At 6:45pm, group picture while waiting for the love birds to arrive.

Here's the kinky cake with its yummy marshmallow icing. I enjoyed looking and eating the cake because I didn't have it during my bridal shower.

Banana Ride 3D Marshmallow Cake by Kink Cakes.
Click! Got your wacky pose in a split second!

The happy bride-to-be with the back drop designed by yours truly.
The bride-to-be distributed the souvenirs before her sister left the venue.
Group picture with our souvenirs.

Here's a simple Do-It-Yourself giveaway which consists of sweets, a pony wire and a paper tape.

A closer look at the souvenir prepared by yours truly. :)
We told her fiancé to leave the room first as the first two games are for girls only. I had no choice but to join the games in order to form two teams. The sister went ahead as early as 9pm because of heavy rain and flooded streets. We had fun even if it was just the four of us. Thanks to the friendly waitress for being our photographer/referee/timer at that time. :)

We had three games: Underwear Relay, Massage the Eggplant, and Ice Drop Eating Contest.
Cake cutting, eating and distributing. Thanks for sharing them to us. I really enjoyed this! I love eating cakes. :)
Bride A slowly sliced her cake and transferred to Styrofoam containers for take out. Goodbye Banana Riding Girl.

Opening her gifts and got fascinated with the Premiere Earthquake thingy. Haha! :)

Gift opening. Hope you like it!

An intimate bridal shower loaded with fun and excitement.

Whew, it was quite a long night. I would like to thank her sister who volunteered to shoulder the cake and surprisingly also the bill, to her friend C for the balloons, friend A for the ice drops and most especially to her fiancé M for making a way to bring his wife-to-be to the venue. Overall, it was a successful event despite the heavy rains. That night was literally a shower, a rainy one that is!

To bride-to-be Andrea, wish you all the best not just on your wedding day but to marriage of a lifetime. Congratulations and can't wait to see you walk down the aisle with your chosen Mr. Right. Two weeks left! I bet you're excited as much as I was during my time. Just a tip for you on your big day: relax, have fun and enjoy your day! You don't need to please everyone. Tips for a happy marriage: always respect your husband, don't fuss on small things, think before you speak, never assume, communicate openly, and lastly help save up for the family's future. These are based on my personal experiences. Good luck and welcome to another chapter of your life: the married life!

To my mommy readers, how was your bridal shower? Care to share your personal advice for soon-to-be married couples? Feel free to share it with me in the comments. Cheers! :)

Mommy Sally

Friday, August 9, 2013

Superbook Returns

The first time I encountered the word Superbook was from Mommy G who have attended the launching last May 25, 2013. It didn't ring a bell on me as I didn't know what it was in the first place. I even thought that it was something about books. But because of the frequent announcements that kept appearing on my Facebook wall, I began to get curious thus started reading about it. I learned that it was a TV series for kids that talks about Bible stories. And the first episode was aired last June 1 Saturday.

To those who are not familiar with Superbook, just like me, I've done the research for you. First of all, Superbook is a registered trademark of The Christian Broadcasting Network Inc. or CBN. As lifted from their website, here's an excerpt:
Comparison from before 2D and now 3D graphics of Superbook.
"Superbook is an animated series born out of CBN's desire to promote the Bible to the Japanese public. Early research determined that the best way to promote interest in the Bible to Japanese children would be through popular genres of animation and comic books.
The success of Superbook in Japan, in terms of high audience ratings and increased sales of Bibles, convinced CBN to have the series dubbed into English and marketed outside of Japan.
Since 1983, the Superbook animated series has been dubbed into over 40 languages and broadcasted in well over 80 countries and has impacted the lives of thousands of people throughout the world. Superbook's success has gone way beyond the scope of what CBN had originally hoped for it and it continues to touch lives on broadcasts throughout the world today.
Because of today's new storytelling technology, the original series' timeless message is being reimagined for this media savvy generation. The goal is to produce a new series that will honor the life-changing legacy of the original series and re-introduce it to a new generation.
Visually cutting-edge and written with modern-day kids going through modern-day dilemmas, the new Superbook animated series still aims to get kids excited about the Bible. This is keeping with CBN's vision of strengthening Bible literacy, bringing the gift of the Bible to the children of the world."
And that's the reason why I haven't heard about Superbook -- because I was not yet born when the original series was aired on TV. After having seen some portions of the previous episodes, I would highly recommend kids to watch Superbook because not only does it retell some famous Bible stories in an appealing 3D cartoon animation but it is also presented in such a way that children can easily relate to. It's a story within a story that teaches Christian values to kids which they can apply in their day to day activities. There's always a moral lesson by the end of an episode. Plus, The Salvation Poem played at the end of each episode really gave me an LSS (last song syndrome). It's so fun to sing-along and the message is also nice. 

The lyrics of The Salvation Poem.

I am grateful to be invited to grace their recently concluded event: Superbook Bida ng Pagbabago Roadshow held last Aug. 4, 2013 Sunday at Robinson's Place Midtown in Malate with Superbook Agent Bettinna Carlos as their host.

Audience and set-up at the Robinson's Midtown from escalator's view.

The event's highlights were as follows:
1. Trivia questions with multiple choice about Superbook's past episodes.

The answer for this trivia question was Isaac.
2. Superbook dance showdown

I love the Superbook's dance steps. I wonder what the title of this Superbook song is.

3. Film showing of Episode 9 "Miracles of Jesus"

All eyes were on the screen as they watch the short film on Miracles of Jesus.

4. Puppet and magic show by Zam - all kids were entertained and really had a good laugh on Zam's magic shows and comedy.

My baby's yaya was called up stage to act as puppet.

5. Go Fish! game - where it teaches kids to help one another, rain or shine.

Each group should transport their team mates one at a time while holding an umbrella and binded by a string.

6. Project E6:1 game - where it teaches kids to listen to their parents as mentioned in Ephesians 6:1

Parent and kid team. Kids were blind-folded while they grab for the colored balls in the tub as guided by their parents.

7. Bida ng Pagbabago pledge - led by Superbook Agents Bettinna Carlos and Benjamin Alves to challenge the kids to be Heroes of Change in their communities

Kids and their parents were told to stand up, place right hand on the chest and recite the pledge after them.
8. And lastly, photo op with Gizmo the robot

Superbook Agent Bettinna Carlos and her cute daughter Gummy with Gizmo.

The kids there really enjoyed and loved Superbook. They are certified Batang Superbook!

To keep you updated on Superbook's excitement:

Like their Facebook:
Follow them on Twitter: @batangsuperbook
and Visit their website:

Don't forget to watch tomorrow's (Aug. 10) Episode 11: He Is Risen.
Superbook is showing every Saturdays and Sundays 7:30-8:00 am only in GMA 7.
Enjoy and have fun with your weekends!

Superbook Season 1 has 13 episodes.

Mommy Sally

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Breastfeeding Pinays and Mob 2013 Experience

Hakab Na! A Breastfeeding Mob 2013 poster.

Because Aug. 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, I would like to dedicate this blog post to the support group that had helped me, in one way or another, to succeed in my breastfeeding challenges. This Facebook support group is none other than the Breastfeeding Pinays which I have been a part of for about 6 months already when baby was still 2 months old.

It's a fairly new group which started just this January 2013 by Ms. Abie Co-Floreza together with the other 6 admins namely: Bing Guevara, Clarice Avinante, Velvet Roxas, Ting Patriarca, Pittipat Chupungco and Rachel Terrobias. I have met four of them in person while the last three, I have yet to know them. The group was created to provide online support and information to families who are interested and who believe in breastfeeding. They are a bunch of supportive, helpful and passionate breastfeeding advocates who try to answer member's concerns to the best of their knowledge and personal experiences.

As of now they have close to 4,000 members already which means that more and more people believed in the group and found it helpful in their breastfeeding journey. Even if you don't actively participate in the forum discussions, but by merely joining the group, you can also learn from the questions and answers posted by other members. Some of your concerns might have been asked by others as well.

And to further reach out for more people and bring awareness to the whole nation, the admins together with other breastfeeding communities and advocates have decided to organize a breastfeeding mob. And I'm proud to have graced the said event together with my Baby A.

The breastfeeding mob was held last Saturday Aug. 3, 2013 inside Aristocrat, Roxas Blvd. due to heavy rains instead of the initial plan which is supposed to be at Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate. I have been looking forward to this event as it would be my first time to join a rally. Unfortunately, rain started pouring so hard in the afternoon almost nearing the assembly time. Baby and I were all set for the mob while waiting for my mommy friend Edel to arrive so we can hitch a ride. However, the weather worsened, flooding the streets in Edel's place and making it risky for her to traverse. We were mulling over if we will still continue because we are afraid to get stranded along the way. But because we are one proud Breastfeeding Pinay mommies, we couldn't take not to partake and support this movement that we both believe in.

I had baby wear a jumpsuit, bonnet and covered her with a blanket upon entering Edel's car as the rain was really hard. My mom even warned me not to go out that day but I disobeyed. It was almost quarter to three when the rain slowed down while on our way to Aristocrat. We were so excited!

Upon arriving at the venue, we were surprised to see a big turnout. Mommies with their babies were already in their formation and have started parading. We hurriedly signed in at the registration area, signed a waiver and wore our sticker ID. We were quite confused as we don't know where to line up as the mob was about to start. With the moms already seated on the floor preparing to latch their babies, we also rushed to find our space to settle down and do the latch or "hakab".

"Hakab na! Hakab na! Hakab na!" was the battle cry of the flash mobbers while latching their babies in front of the several media people. I couldn't believe that I was able to do it in public without a nursing cover. It was liberating for me as I grew up from a very conservative family thus the times that I tried feeding in public was very rare. This experience allowed me to boost my confidence to feed in public and to love breastfeeding even more. I came to realize that I made a good decision to resolve nipple confusion as soon as possible. Now I can easily feed my baby anytime anywhere without worrying if the stored milk I brought would be enough, worrying of the spoilage and lugging around breast pump paraphernalia.

I hope that after this breastfeeding mob, where approximately 225 moms (more than 100 in Manila, 90 in Cagayan de Oro, 30 in Davao, 5 in Bacolod) did the "hakab" all on the same day, breastfeeding would become widely accepted and become the norm around the world. I also hope that expecting moms and soon-to-be married ladies would be convinced and put breastfeeding as their top of mind. That's our responsibility as moms, to give what is best for our babies.

I'm glad to be part of Hakab Na! A Breastfeeding Mob 2013, the first in Philippine history. Hoping for more breastfeeding awareness activities in the years to come.

Congratulations to the Breastfeeding Pinays for a peaceful and successful event!

Happy National Breastfeeding Awareness Month to everyone!

Here's a video clip from GMA Network's Balitanghali:

A photo op with my friend Mommy Edel and the two Breastfeeding Pinays admins/organizers
Ms. Abie Co-Floreza and Ms. Clarice Anne Talavera-Avinante inside Aristocrat, Roxas.
They are also the mommies behind Tickled Moms.

A photo op with breastfeeding advocate/blogger Ms. Jenny Ong of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom.

A photo op with Mommy Edel and Ms. Bing Sugue Guevara, one of the active admins of Breastfeeding Pinays.

P.S. Thanks Edel for the ride, for without you, I won't be able to make it as well. Cheers!

 Mommy Sally

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month

Because August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I would like to share with you my breastfeeding journey.

I grew up from a traditional Filipino-Chinese family where breastfeeding is not the norm. Before I entered into the married life and maternity stage, my only impression all the while is that canned milk would be the main source of food for babies. I thought that a little intake of breast milk would suffice and would give baby the needed antibodies and health benefits. I got that belief when I saw my aunts and sister fed their babies with formula or at least mixed fed formula with breast milk. With that in mind, my husband who is keen with finance, immediately projected our would-be monthly expenses when baby arrives. And the big chunk of the expense goes to the formula milk.

I wanted to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the coming of baby that's why I've attended workshops here and there, from child birth classes to breastfeeding seminars. And the first formal breastfeeding class that I've attended was from Medela House. The seminar is divided into three sessions: Breastfeeding Class 101 (Beginning Breastfeeding), 102 (Sustaining Breastfeeding) and 103 (Breastfeeding & Beyond), presented by Ms. Abigail "Abbie" Yabot.

For me, the first session gave me the most take-home knowledge about breastfeeding. What struck me most was the long list of benefits that breastfeeding could give to my baby and one of which is protection from all diseases up to 12 years old. Wow how good is that! The more you extend, the more protection you will get. That day opened my awareness to the world of breastfeeding. Then and there, I told myself that I want and I will breastfeed my baby.

I went home with these five important lessons which I've always kept in mind:
1. Breastfeeding follows the law of demand and supply. In simple terms, you need to let baby continuously suck to stimulate and signal your breast to produce milk. If you signal your brain that there's a need which is the suckling of baby (demand), milk will surely come out (supply). More suckling, more milk supply.
2. Let baby latch/suck right after birth and strictly have her roomed-in. Room-in meaning bring baby with you when you transfer to the normal hospital room for easy access to breastfeeding. Baby A stayed beside me the whole time we were in the hospital.
3. Milk in first 3 days is called colostrum. Baby's stomach is still full from placenta during these first three days so don't worry if you can't see any visible milk coming out. Just continue latching baby to get the colostrum as it is rich in antibodies. My mature (visible) milk came in on the 3rd day and my breasts got engorged.
4. Breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months. Exclusive meaning no water, no formula, no anything except purely breast milk for the first six months of life to maximize the benefits. Breastmilk is 90% water.
5. No pumping during the first 6 weeks. This means you need to feed baby directly from the breast for the first six weeks as it helps to stabilize your milk supply. No hassle yet of washing and sterilizing of bottles and breast pump parts at this time.

And because I want to succeed, I have strictly followed all these reminders and were able to apply them. As of now, I have been breastfeeding my almost 8 months old baby and I plan to breastfeed Baby A until two years and beyond. I would like to thank my husband for attending the seminar with me. During my 1.5 days stay in the hospital, I was pressured by my mom, mother-in-law, and sister to buy formula milk as they don't believe that breastfeeding is enough to sustain and nurture baby. I was surprised that hubby backed me up by saying baby is still not hungry so we don't need to worry. I intentionally didn't buy any canned milk during my preparation, or even have the thought of preparing a back-up in case I don't have milk because I want to force myself to breastfeed and succeed. I have instilled in my mind that breastfeeding is the only option. My husband strongly supports me on my decision as it would mean cutting hugely on our monthly expenses.

I underwent a bumpy road especially during the first month. My morning is no different with evening because every time I would close my eyes to sleep, rest or nap, baby would be crying again in no time. Imagine the awkward feeling of being woke up when you are about to fall into deep sleep. It was really easy for me to get impatient and give up but I never showed any signs of anger because I don't want to transfer my negative vibes to baby and the people around me. My hubby was almost blown away with anger for interrupting his sleep because I need him to assist me during nappy changing, burping, singing her to sleep. I just kept calm because I know baby is my responsibility and my milk is her only source of food that's why I need to be ready to feed her anytime. We have an all-around slash yaya that time who assisted us only in the morning and let her sleep at night. And because me and hubby were full time caregivers at night, I dreaded night time so much. I would always hope that it's morning already maybe around 6am but sadly it didn't happen. Even if we went to bed early around 10pm, I would still be waking up every hour or at least have 4-5 times of interrupted sleep before the sun would be up. I could see every hour pass by. I was not used to side-lying position before so I would need to get up, sit on my chair, and hold baby in a cradle or cross-cradle position to feed baby. It really ached my back despite the pillows propped behind me. I did this position for more than 2 months.

I started pumping on the 6th week to work on building my milk stash. I started worrying how I will go back to work because of a number of obstacles that I could foresee.

1. Concern with Time. With the three-hour long total travel time, I was hesitant to leave baby with the caregiver alone at home from 7am to 7pm. Aside from not fully entrusting baby to the caregiver, I was also afraid that baby might not recognize me anymore when I'm out for a long period. I can't accept that if it happens!
2. No Refrigerator. My workplace doesn't have a refrigerator to cool my pumped milk therefore I would need to bring a spacious cooler to contain maybe 4-6 bottles for the whole day. I don't have a cooler or ice pack that would guarantee to stay cool until I get home. I was worried on how will I lug around so much things via commute.
3. No Privacy. My workplace doesn't have a pantry, cubicles and access to clean washroom so how will I dare to pump when there are guys inside our common office room.
4. Guilt and Insecurity. I would feel guilty if I spend a few minutes of my work hours pumping instead of working on my deadlines. Colleagues might think that I'm not working.

Even if I was not yet confident with my stash of milk, I went back to work as soon as my maternity leave ended to give it a try for just even a day. All the while in the office, I was thinking about baby and keep on checking with the caregiver if her milk supply would be enough or how many stored milk bottles were left in the refrigerator. And as I expected, I was so tired when I arrived home due to pollution and traffic which lowered my energy level left for baby and knowing that I still have a long night ahead of me. I took a leave the next three days to catch up with my stored milk supply as it would not last for the next day. I resumed to work on the 5th day and went on with my pumping despite those obstacles I mentioned above. I bought a bigger cooler bag (Mountain Lock&Lock), more ice packs, rechargeable batteries (Eneloop) for emergency use, PumpEase handsfree bra so I can multi-task, nursing cover and reusable nursing pads for leaks. If there's a will, there's a way.

We were only able to get a purely yaya role when baby was about 3 months old. We tried to let her sleep on the floor inside our room to help tend to baby at night hoping to catch up for more sleep. Yaya would just bottle-feed her my expressed milk stored in the refrigerator. But that scenario wasn't that effective because we were still disrupted by baby's frequent crying. On top of that, I still need to wake up to pump or else my breasts would be full, leaky, get engorged and might affect my milk supply. It went on for almost a month and I could feel that there's something wrong with this set-up. It came to a point that baby preferred to feed from the bottle over my breasts. That was the start of my struggle with nipple confusion.

I missed those times when baby only feeds directly from me during those first six weeks without complaint. It really broke my heart to battle with baby, forcing her to latch while she cried and pushed me away. The situation worsened when my hubby would tell me to feed her from the bottle already because baby looked pitiful with her crying. I have joined breastfeeding forums since I gave birth thus I have read about nipple confusion many times and sadly it happened to my baby. It would be difficult to sustain breastfeeding upto two years if baby could not latch directly from me so I posted my concern in the Facebook support group named Breastfeeding Pinays to ask for help. I was advised to do a skin-to-skin with baby, to latch her when she's not that hungry, and to try it when she's sleepy. From then on, I decided to let yaya sleep in their own room already and that I would be back to direct feeding baby throughout the night just like the first two months and all the months and years to come. I heeded their advise coupled with strong determination, patience and urge to succeed, slowly I could see some improvement. It took almost 2 months to get baby back to direct feeding and to resolve her nipple confusion.

To further work on my breastfeeding situation, I have decided to quit on my job which was a very hard decision for me because I don't want to rely all the expenses to hubby alone. But because God answered my prayers, I smoothly transitioned to a work-at-home mom. I got to watch over my baby all the time or at least watch over the caregivers who assist me when I'm busy working on my computer. From this, I discovered that I have a passion in blogging. :)

As a summary, here are some things that worked for me and helped me in my breastfeeding journey:
1. Privacy at home. It's good we don't live with our in-laws or else I wouldn't have much privacy to breastfeed freely. And for sure they wouldn't allow or let baby cry out during those times when I'm working on the nipple confusion. No clashing of ideas. I can freely do my own way and because I'm the mom, I know what's best for my baby.
2. No hesitations. Be ready to expose your boobs all the time especially at night time. I'm used to sleeping with my stomach and back always exposed and sleeping sideways ready to feed baby in the middle of the night. I missed sleeping with my favorite position which is hugging my bolster pillow. I missed stretching my arms and legs because baby is sleeping beside me always (co-sleeping).
3. Let it be messy. Get used to leaking breasts where your nursing bra, shirt, bedsheet will all be wet when you get up. And also baby's shirt. It's not wet due to baby's pee but mommy's milk overflowed. This is especially evident during my first month. I just put a gauze lampin/diaper on my front as soaker and for easy access to breastfeeding. Get used to the sticky feeling and smell of spoiled milk. I am still like that until now.
4. Feed on demand. I feed on demand whether directly from breast or bottle feeding. Our pedia would always instruct me to schedule the feeding but I never listened. During bottle feeding, yaya just put out a stored milk bottle from the refrigerator, first in first out, and feed whatever the ounce of that bottle would be. As long as that bottle is consumed within four hours. If it is finished before four hours, yaya would get a new stored milk again. I always ask yaya to note down the ounce and time each time they get a stored milk from the refrigerator. I also always note down my pumping output in ounce for each side to know my progress and to easily detect problems. Don't forget to continuously pump every four hours during those early months.
5. Proper latching. Research on how a good latch and position looks like. Baby's ears, shoulder and body should be in one line. Baby's lips should look like a fish lips, widely open, cheeks are puffy. You should hear baby's swallowing noise and see ears moving. A portion of the areola should be inside baby's mouth and not only the nipple. If sucking hurts or you see a wrong latch, remove baby's mouth at once and latch again. Tickle baby's cheeks to open and latch. I experienced strained neck during those early months because I keep on looking down to check baby's latch. When baby has mastered latching and you know the feeling of a good latch, you don't need to look down anymore. It will be automatic.
6. Proper handling of breastmilk. Memorize the breastmilk storage guidelines by heart. Milk should be consumed within four hours to be sure. Keep the bottle away from sunlight or heat. Upon taking out the stored milk from the refrigerator, swirl the bottle gently, never shake to avoid disrupting the components. I always remind yaya about this.
7. Remember the hierarchy of breastmilk freshness: direct feed, freshly expressed milk in room temperature, cooled in refrigerator, and lastly frozen milk. That's why it's better to feed directly or feed refrigerated milk. I don't feed my baby frozen milk. Maybe I only tried it twice during the early months.
8. Donate excess breastmilk. I'm glad to say that my milk supply is enough for my baby. There were instances before when my storage bottles are filled up, I would transfer them into ziplock milkbags and store them in the freezer to prolong the shelf life then donate it to those who are in need. It feels good to share your blessings. You also gain friends along the way.
9. Sterilize tip. I asked yaya to sterilize the bottles and breast pump parts once a day. I just kept my pump parts inside a Lock n Lock container every usage and place it inside the refrigerator to prevent from spoiling for multiple usage within the day. We only use lampin to wipe dry the bottles and pump parts.
10. Do the side-lying. This position really helped a lot especially when baby was bigger and heavier. Imagine picking baby up and doing a cradle hold every feeding time, it consumes so much effort and contributes to muscle aches. I'm thankful for learning the side-lying position. The moment I feel baby's movement while in the middle of sleep, I would quickly offer my breast and she will latch on. This way, we both had a longer sleep at night. She's lucky to have a milk vendo machine on her bed, unlimited supply. Hehe. :)

Whew, that was a long list! I am willing to undergo these sacrifices and challenges of breastfeeding because I'm after the long-term benefit. I'm investing on my baby's health because health is wealth. Not only did I prove to my family that breastfeeding is enough to sustain and nurture my baby, I also made my hubby proud for saving on our monthly expenses. I'm glad to overcome the nipple confusion. Look, my baby wouldn't sleep and would wait for me to direct feed her before she sleeps at night. How sweet of you my Baby A!

I'm breastfeeding my baby all the way! How about you?

P.S. Did you know that exclusive breastfeeding also delays your monthly menstrual cycle? I still didn't have mine for more than a year already, since I got pregnant until now. Saved on menstrual napkin expenses too!

July 26, 2013 Breastfeeding at Arugaan during the BFP Friday Meet-up. Photo by Abie Co-Floreza.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Mommy S