Monday, October 29, 2012

A (Birth)Day of Thanksgiving

Last October 20, we celebrated our baby boy Gabbie’s first birthday party and dedication (which may be likened to a baptism, except that we leave that “decision” to be baptized to him when he gets older; dedication is simply a ceremony of sorts dedicating him to God and praying over him). 

Gabbie's family and godparents pray over him
The party was of a picnic-inspired theme which means, relaxed and very informal. We were blessed with spectacular weather—sunny but cool—which went very well with our venue, UP Bonsai Garden (Tel. no. 925-6996). Practically everything was DIY or “labors of love” by the entire family:

Invitation was designed by my uber-talented sister-in-law, pasta, salad and empanadas were by my mom-in-law, brother-in-law and aunt, barbeque were homemade too by my family, giveaways were handled by my mom, and hubby and I took care of printing of invites and Gabbie’s photos. 

Red checked table mantels with homemade food, with Gabbie's photos (from birth to present) hanging on the background

We had a catering service handle one dish, the bread, and all tables and chairs. One supplier I’m very, very happy with, however was our cake-maker, Sugarplum (contact Lovely Jiao 0917-5161411). They followed my sister-in-law’s design very well, did not scrimp on the ingredients, and charged us a very affordable price. From all the suppliers I’ve asked, this was the cheapest by far! Theirs is almost half the price of all others (I have quotations of about five other suppliers).

But amidst the busyness and logistical hullabaloo, this day was about something infinitely more significant. This was a day of thanksgiving to our God Almighty. October 20 is a special day not just for Gabbie, but for our family. This day commemorated the journey that God took us through one year later, and what a journey it has been! You all know that Gabbie was born prematurely, and all of our family and friends have bore witness just how gracefully Gabbie has grown to be a happy, healthy baby. And this we can only attribute to God, who has indeed given us a blessing without sorrow.

So, as we say thanks to the Lord, we pray that we may live gratefully as well, delighting in Him always, and finding joy in our hearts which He has graciously given. As we celebrated Gabbie’s birthday, we found our hearts welling up of love and thankfulness. We are grateful for having a God who is our Abba, our Father as well who loves us without question. For me, as Gabbie’s mom, I am grateful today, as I was years ago, that He has saved me, restored me, and has given me life to the full. I am grateful that He has given me my husband and my Gabbie boy. I am grateful that I find joy in them, and in my life with them. I am grateful that I am grateful. Thank you, Father. I pray for my son’s purpose to come to pass as he celebrates birthday after birthday in the years to come.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Growing Pains

My baby Gabbie is not so little anymore. He has grown one tooth, is sprouting another, and has gotten so much heavier that my back and my knees almost buckle at the weight. He can now go from a sleeping position to sitting up, and attempts straight away to pull himself up against the wall all in a matter of seconds. My little guy will be one year old in seven days. With all these changes, we have seen swollen gums, two booboos on the forehead from falling accidents, and a perennial aching back for Mommy.

My big boy proudly showing off his two front bottom teeth 

Apparently, 11 months has passed since I have given birth to my little baby. Seriously, it’s not funny when I realized how fast babies grow. Now, our issues are no longer frequent nursings or fear of crushing a tiny baby when we co-sleep. I now contend with constantly finding entertainment and stimulation for a learning baby, running after him in his walker, formulating healthy recipes for feeding, and…discipline. That last one is especially challenging for me and my husband, first-time parents that we are. While we now discern Gabbie’s different cries—we have tried to come to terms with the different emotions those illicit from us. I find that in certain instances where he would show anger (i.e. crying fitfully, kicking legs) for not getting his way, I would also feel indignation at the apparent insolence. I really had to pray for grace to be able to deal with the swell of emotions and the instinct to control things, being his mom and all. We would carry him, and talk to him firmly but gently and tell him “no”. Daddy has given him several “man-to-man” talks already and to some degree, Gabbie has shown some understanding. Sometimes though, his reaction to me telling him “no” was more anger and crying. It seemed easier, and was really tempting to just carry him and let it go. After all, he is just a baby. But something also tells me that discipline is love. And that it is my duty to set him in the right path…as early as possible. If he knows how to throw a tantrum, then he is ready for discipline.

My husband and I have long decided to use the rod as a tool to instill discipline to our children, along with loving communication. We know the wisdom behind “breaking the will” of a child, whose “heart is bound up in folly” (Proverbs 22:15). Sin is inborn, yet that is not what will lead Gabbie. Our God’s will for him is great; it is our duty as his parents to set him towards his real purpose, by God’s grace, and one way to do that is by instilling good habits and getting him comfortable with discipline. Discipline becomes more painful as we grow older, I know that now (I still get a big "ouwee!" when I experience discipline at my age). This is why setting rules and boundaries at an early age is critical. Past a certain age, disciplining a child successfully becomes virtually impossible.

And so, as early as now, we have begun using the rod. He threw his first tantrum at around nine months of age, and we talked to him then about how that's not allowed in our family. But we used the rod only only now on his 11th month as we believe that he can now understand better. We used the rod, and we offered restoration after, explaining why it happened and securing him in our love. His warm, quiet hug to me after ensured me that he understood.

There were times when we miss Gabbie as a little infant, but we are enjoying every bit of his growing process because while there are pains and challenges, there is also that gift of growth and progress. Our little baby is growing up fast, which only means that he is on the fast-track leading to his full potential! So while growing up has its pains, both for baby and mommy (and daddy, too!), the joy of it all is immense and all I can really do is enjoy every moment of it. 

Next up: Keeping up with an energetic toddler and toilet-training! :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Changing the Changing Room

Have you changed your baby in one of those foldable changing tables located inside malls’ restrooms? It really is a pitiful excuse for a “changing station” as they call it. I really, really dislike changing my baby in those things because they look, and probably is, dirty, and pretty small for my 11-month old baby. I mean, one sudden sideways roll and he can fall off. Sure, those tables have a belt attached but with the number of usage that has gone through, I’m afraid to let it touch my baby’s skin. Plus, these tables are usually attached to the far wall, away from the sinks and of course with no additional tables for baby’s changing items. I mean, really, hassle siya more than anything.

So, can you imagine my delight at coming across Shangri-La Plaza’s Breastfeeding and Changing Room? Not only is it spacious and clean, it offers a luxuriously padded changing “mattress” wide enough for my baby to lay down comfortably and rest his back from all the carrying while malling. The two changing mattresses are atop a table where I can put baby’s bag and changing items. There’s a trash bin in the middle for easy diaper disposal, and sinks are located right across it for easy washing. The changing area is within a big room that also houses several couches for breastfeeding pairs, along with a separate sink, and a refrigerator for breastmilk storage. Wow, right? They thought of everything! And it’s also near the ladies’ room so a tired mom can really do all that she needs to do in one place. Best of all, this facility is free of charge.

Instead of a hard plastic foldable changing table, Shang's changing room offers wide,  padded "mattresses"  for baby.

I also got to experience Alabang Town Center’s changing room which offered the same padded changing mattress but was inside the ladies’ room, albeit that was clean and comfortable. What I didn’t like about it was that they charged P10 for each entry.

Another changing facility I appreciated was Mothercare’s at Bonifacio High Street—clean, comfortable and free. Their changing room also doubles as a breastfeeding room.

One mall I wasn’t particularly happy about was SM Megamall. Sure, they had a breastfeeding station, but this was located inside their mall clinic. I was iffy to bring in my baby at first because I didn’t want him to get in contact with anybody sick at the clinic but at that time, there was no patient so in we went. The room contained two sofa chairs. That’s pretty much it. The signage posted inside the room told me that changing baby wasn’t allowed inside for hygienic reasons, and that I could change my baby in their public restrooms. And again, they had those foldable changing tables that really looked disgusting. So much for hygiene!

I wish malls could really pay attention to changing rooms and breastfeeding facilities. I mean, this is where babies will be changed and fed, so imagine how critical the comfort and hygiene of the facilities would be. In doing so, you are also doing a service to mothers who, I would think, comprises a significant percentage of your customers—being that we enter your malls beyond the weekends and after-office hours. If a mall could spend on their restrooms and customer lounges, there’s no reason why a separate room for babies’ changing and feeding couldn't be put into place. Especially if one mall already did it. And oh, by the way, a changing station is a room, not a foldable table inside a crowded restroom.

So hats off to Shangri-La Plaza Mall for prioritizing this much-needed facility. This has become one of the main reasons why I choose to go to this mall more than any other. But I do hope to see a change in malls’ (and other public establishments’) changing rooms too.

Do you know of other malls with a nice baby-changing facility?

Shang's Breastfeeding Room has a big couch (3 more single chairs sit across), a separate sink, a ref and a microwave.