Sunday, August 26, 2012

Smellin' Oh-So-Good!

A few weeks ago, I’ve started to notice that Gabbie is, well, bigger already. His skin is not of a newborn’s anymore and with the amount of sweat that he generates (amazing how much babies can sweat!), his usual sweet baby smell now usually combines a more sour note (Haha! I can imagine his reaction to this post when he’s 18 years old already) by the time afternoon rolls around. I have been trying to find him a new baby soap that has a bit more fragrance but still mild, gentle, and toxin-free. Still no to parabens or coloring or any other unnecessary additives for this momma (and her bebe)! And let me tell you, it’s not easy looking for a good brand that’s affordable. I stumbled across Mustela in one kiosk at the mall and tried out their cologne on Gabbie while malling. The scent was mild, sweet, and very baby-like, I loved it instantly! But when I found out how much their liquid soap cost, I decided not to ask about the cologne. First things first. But I decided to hold off on Mustela then and tried to look for other less costly alternatives.

A couple of days ago, I got invited to a press lunch for Mustela, organized by the uber-chic momma website Glam-O-Mamas, And I thought, well this is the perfect opportunity for me to finally try the brand without “committing” first. Mustela is a French brand of mother and baby skin care line, boasting of natural, plant-based ingredients. They call their baby skin care line Mustela Bebe.

Mustela Bébé products are hypoallergenic*, well tolerated, tested under dermatological control and are paraben-free, phthalate-free, phenoxyethanol-free and alcohol-free.”—according to their website.

And here’s one particularly great news for all mommas: they’re pulling down their prices from 15% to as much as 35% off! After the lunch, I went home with a Mustela lootbag, excited to try the soap and cologne on Gabbie. Here are three of my favorites:

Mustela Dermo-Cleansing Gel 

– It’s lush, soap-free, and sweet-smelling. Gabbie was all the more soft and squeezable after bath! I used it as shampoo too and worked just as well. If you’re prepared to shell out a bit more, I think this is a good buy as you can use just a little bit for baby’s whole body. The gel consistency made soaping easier and I suppose because it’s free from harsh chemicals, it rinsed out pretty easily.

Mustela Cleansing Milk 

– Very, very luxurious cleansing agent perfect for baby’s skin! It felt like whipped cream that I slathered on Gabbie, and when I finally rinsed it out, oh my! He felt like a newborn again! So soft and supple! This did not smell like the cleansing gel; instead, it smelled mildly of milk so it still fit baby’s natural scent. It’s not very lathery though so I tended to use a lot but I would think this is best for sensitive areas.

Mustela Body Spray 

– As I mentioned above, I really loved this product. The scent is very mild yet distinctive; as if it attached to Gabbie’s natural scent and enhanced his baby smell all the more. He smelled so good, I wanted to bite him! And the scent lasted practically the whole day, too.

They also have their Stelatopia line for dry and eczema-prone skin and sun protection. I’m excited to try their sunscreen for my little one. I think every mom would appreciate Mustela, as it really took to heart what baby skin care means—safe, gentle, toxin-free, and non-irritating. Plus, their products that do contain fragrances smell absolutely heavenly. Super bagay sa baby! I’m thankful to have been able to try their products, and I do love how Gabbie's skin feels and SMELLS like. Now, his baby scent lasts all day long, no matter the sweat. Great products, Mustela. Good one to try, Mommas. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Value of Time Off

I wrote about the experience of having no maid while trying to take care of our baby and run the household awhile back. And though I’ve been generally upbeat about our situation, given the grace that God has faithfully provided fresh everyday, there are days that I just feel the weight of things. Fellow moms, you know what I’m talking about. An exhausted, cranky feeling accompanied, and partly caused, by ceaseless backaches is a telltale sign of being overwrought.

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a week-long prayer and fasting session. Since I’m still breastfeeding, I couldn’t fast on food so I chose to fast on something that’s been taking a huge chunk of my attention lately—the internet. No Facebook, Pinterest, or any of the sites I frequent. I only got to check my email for work. I used my “internet time” to talk to God instead, and read up on His word. I had some particular petitions that I wanted to talk to Him about and I wanted to hear Him clearly, void of distractions. I must say, the one week of being disconnected online, and re-connected with God was absolutely refreshing! The constant deluge of information that I used to feed on from the internet really took its toll on me. My mind was cluttered, busy, wandering and dull because of the nonstop influx of new things to “think about”, to “like”, to “comment on”, to “share”. During that precious one week, I stopped and unloaded. I got down to the essentials, the basics, the fundamentals of what’s inside my heart. I wept and cried out to God, I talked to Him, and finally, I sat in silence. I could finally hear myself again, and more importantly, I could hear Him again.

Yesterday, we had a new maid who arrived suddenly. She was referred to us the day before by a neighbor’s yaya. And now, we have someone helping us around the house. Pretty good timing too as Gabbie has learned how to climb and crawl already and this week has been really tiring for me. So even though our new help has been with us just for a day, I took her with Gabbie and I and we took the afternoon off to the nearby mall to while the time away. I needed to see beyond the four walls of our condo. And now, I’m back home, tired but feeling a bit better.

And I realized how time off for us moms really is a necessary luxury (luxury only because it’s so rare and truly valuable). We're more than caretakers; we need to be a channel of love, wisdom and blessings for our family. How can we be, if we're too tired to see beyond today? Our purpose is beyond cooking and cleaning; it is truly being the "helper" of each member of the family to reach his/her purpose. And that is no easy feat. But by the grace of God, and a revitalized spirit, I realize I can do these things and more. But I have to take my time off to recharge. Even the Energizer bunny has batteries.  But more than that, I come to the conclusion that time off need not always be a physical hiatus; that the best, most recharging kind of time off is actually quiet time. After all, the best kind of wife and mom is one who is spiritually connected, purposed and energized in mind and spirit. Oh and as for my backache…our nearby home service spa was all too happy to give me some relief. Aahhh…!

What do you do on your “time off”, moms?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sleep Train My Baby?

It’s 12:30 am and my son has woken up three times already since falling asleep at 8 pm. That’s a normal night cycle for us—waking up still every hour or two at night. He wakes, cries, I pick him up, he nurses, falls back asleep, then I put him back down, then wait for two hours again. This happens night after night since the time he came home from the hospital. The longest he has ever slept through was about four hours. That’s happened only once so far. At nine months old (10 days shy of being 10 months), I’ve resorted to “full-on” co-sleeping to give my back some rest and to get more sleep. When he was younger, and lighter, I would nurse him sitting down (so I won’t fall asleep), then put him back down to his crib again and again, thinking that at least my husband and I can enjoy our double-sized bed. But now, I can’t stand carrying him while he nurses at night as I get too exhausted. So when he cries to be picked up by the time my bedtime rolls around, I make space for him in our bed and all three of us sleep soundly—at least for two hours. Co-sleeping has definitely made it so much more bearable. There are nights when I don’t remember how many times we have woken up because he simply rolls to my side and nurses while I am still half asleep. And I do love having my baby sleep beside me, so close for me to kiss and cuddle.

But knowing about sleep training, I wonder if I’m missing out on something? Sure, co-sleeping is practiced here in the Philippines by practically everyone but what I’m more concerned about is the frequency of my son’s waking, and why crying is his very first reaction upon doing so. Nursing is his go-to plan of action to “soothe himself” and put himself back to sleep, so that’s why we do it each time he wakes. But I wonder, is this part of Gabbie’s personality or is this a “problem” that I should be addressing?

I welcome your thoughts J

Friday, August 3, 2012

Goodbye, Old Friend


Yesterday, I said goodbye to an old friend. As a mom of a preemie who needed to express milk every two hours WHEREVER I MAY BE, my trusty pump was my constant companion. It brought me relief when my baby could not latch on to me yet and it enabled me to bring my precious milk to my little one at the NICU. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was fortunate to have been lent a Philips Avent Duo IQ Isis unit by certified lactation consultant, Abbie Venida Yabot (0917-8292268), as she instructed me on the rudimentary know-how of breastfeeding and milk expressing. And yesterday, I returned it already as it is on its way to be used by another mom of a preemie (of course the tubes and flanges that I used will be replaced). 

This pump was really great and I'm glad I had this unit with me during those critical months of establishing my milk supply. The Avent Isis IQ Duo came in a big sophisticated black bag (that looked like a cute bowler’s bag) and complete with two pumps, an electric motor, separate parts for manual expression, two milk bottles and cute silver bags to house those small parts. It was really intimidatingly “professional-looking”. Little did I know that I would be so adept at it that I would be carrying that pump wherever I went, even to client meetings (I put the manual parts in a sterilized Lock & Lock). It was like my bestfriend.

Got this image from Amazon: Philips AVENT ISIS iQ DUO Electronic Breast Pump

I started expressing milk October 22, two days after my baby was born (I used the hospital’s milk expressing facilities prior) with the schedule of two hours during the daytime and every three hours at night every day, as if baby was already with me. Sure, I felt like a cow but a momma's gotta do what she's gotta do! I followed this schedule until about third week of November, that is, until I could finally go to NICU to have my baby try to latch on to me. Even during and after this, I used the pump to express extra milk when I had plugged ducts, mastitis and bouts with engorgement. Yes, the challenges of breastfeeding are there, but all worth it ;) Good thing I had a pump to help me express milk when I needed to.

My rigorous pumping schedule was by no means easy to follow, but it was really made so much more pleasant because I had a dependable, sturdy pump that was intuitive, easy to use and really, just so incredibly efficient. All I needed was 15 minutes per session. And I must say, there were two specific things I really loved about this pump is a) the built-in memory of the electric mode wherein I pump manually a few times then it stores and continues my natural pumping rhythm b) the super soft breast suction petals that feels really comfortable. I thought the pump was going to be painful to my breasts but not at all! The electric motor was also a silent machine that I could pump in the wee hours of the night without waking my husband. The Avent pump was in my hands (or should I say, on my breasts) almost three-fourths of an entire day so needless to say, we knew each other inside and out J

I’d always recommend investing in a good, trusty breast pump for every mom, not just for working moms. Any breastfeeding mom can attest that there always will be possibilities of plugged ducts or engorgement and having a pump handy can help greatly, besides direct breastfeeding. Not to mention needing one when you have to go out and have to leave milk for baby. And if any mom would ask me, I’d definitely reco the Avent Isis IQ Duo. I do miss my old friend already, and I think it’s time to get one of my own J

*Note: This is not a paid endorsement. This is just a personal review of the author.