Friday, March 24, 2017

Mother of Sons

There are so many ego traps that come with motherhood. Acting on theories on how people should be raised, fed, bathed and having these theories proven right can give you the false sense that you have life figured out when the bar was probably low to begin with.

In the first month of Rajah's entry into our lives, things have had to give here and there. For example, we have a yaya now (Reader: Gasp!). Malaya's going to school in June (Reader: The Horror!). And on this blog, there probably won't be a monthly photoshoot like we did for the kuya anymore (Reader: YOU MONSTERS!!!). Partly because the novelty of being new parents has worn off, partly also because it's too hard to do more than caring for the baby PLUS kuya to even organize these things. Have I become too lazy? Maybe. Has time given me perspective on what truly matters? Who knows.

For instance, after gathering tons of footage of Malaya's first year, this salted mother has figured out that 7 minutes of cleaning baby's butt is not valuable video material for year end videos.

So put that phone down and snort that baby while baby-smell abounds!!

But this isn't to say mementos aren't important. We still take hundreds of photos. They just aren't as stressful huge productions like before. Baby don't need no photoshoot anyway, and posting these photos probably annoys the random fb connection, a lot of whom arrived on my doorstep because of work and not my offspring.

But what has been new is the reaction of the firstborn to the whole experience of being an older brother. And our reaction to him.

The past month I spent zombie-mode. The yaya has been helping around with housekeeping and minding the kids while Im in the shower/eating. While it's great that there's someone to make sure we have home cooked meals and a clean house, she's easily become Malaya's personal butler. No matter how many times I tell her to allow Malaya to do things by himself, it's like she's hardwired to do things for him without him asking. Is it the urge to help small people because we don't trust their abilities/capacity to adapt? Or is it because she thinks it's her job? I will keep trying to get her to RIE with me.

But now he comes to me asking me to do things for him, which irritated me because I thought he was just being lazy. Or he'd repeat a trick he'd been praised for previously over and over again. Nobody likes a show off. And part of why I love RIE is because it demands you be real to your child.

The first two weeks I've been mean to him. I've snapped at him, I have been impatient with him, I've been dismissive and distant. I haven't given him much time, or attention, because I was either with the baby or too tired (Rajah is turning out to be a much more demanding baby than Malaya was).

And as a response Kuya's been clingy.

But he's not doing it because of just laziness. He's been trying to reel me back into the safe space between us that I created when it was just him and me, and I did things with him the RIE way. (can you believe overthinking relationships in the past led to this insight?)

Chris and I were talking about it, trying to figure out what was going on with Malaya. He used a word that just gave everything clarity. Cruelty. When I realised what I was doing, I broke down. I know what cruelty feels like. People I've loved and respected have been cruel to me, in retrospect because I was being annoyingly naive. It sucks. It stings. It's given me two years worth of depression. And here I am doing exactly that with someone who has every right to be annoyingly naive. Bad bad mom.

Since catching myself, I've been biting my tongue, trying to be more compassionate, and actively carving out time where I just focus on him or where I can include him in caring for his brother rather than chasing him away for being overeager.

And it has helped. He leaves me alone more after he's had his fill of affection. He doesn't force himself on me as much and has stopped whining. I can't do much about his roughness with his brother except stop him when he's smothering the baby too much with wet kisses.

I'm not perfect. Far from it. But I am trying to be a better person, if that's the best I can do for my sons.

P.S. Nya ang bana, samot ka wa nas passing. Hahahuhu

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

1 week old Rajah

I'm told he has my eyes. To me, he looks like a Salamander.

Aquarian sun, pisces moon, sag ascendant. Rajah whines, and shrieks, and shouts. LOUD.

His hair on top stands in a natural mohawk, although this one is no metalhead. I know it's normal for most babies to get bothered by noises easily, but I guess it's strange for me because my point of reference is a water baby.

We burned his cord on the 2nd day, because the placenta stank and he'd cry in pain when I'd rub salt onto it. My bad for not salting it right after birth. The stump (and tail) he yanked off on the 5th day. Lola D buried the placenta in her garden.

He prefers pooping and peeing when the diaper is off but I suspect all babies are like that. I mean who wants to have cold gooey stuff stuck to your ass?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bonus Level : The Mad Wheelchair Dash

Alternative title: Happy Birthday Rajah Linaban

I guess it's a given, that everything 2nd borns do are compared to their eldest siblings experiences in their parents eyes, so siblings do crazy things often to differentiate from the elder.

We did not get the repeat waterbirth/homebirth. Instead we get a funny story.

I've already blogged about the frustrating hospital visit we took 3 weeks ago when labor stalled.

What followed was just waiting, and walking, and trying everything to naturally induce the baby, and watching underwear for leaks or mucus plugs or water breaking.

Everytime it seemed like I was going into labor (consistent but painless contractions, spaced evenly apart), they'd stop after an hour or two.

I lost morale by the day. There was conflicting information about my actual due date, so I didn't even know if I was past due yet. The doctor was worried about baby's increasing size, and I was worried about all the backlog I'd left in Cebu (hi Binisaya).

She said that if he wasnt out by week 41 day 4 (last saturday), she was going to get me started on oxy (pitocin).

Chris and I discussed. We weighed out options, pro's and cons. We decided to get a second opinion.

On week 41,day 3, we visited another OB who was chunkier but stopped birthing, reasons unknown. Ultrasound revealed baby was great, not that big yet, and was doing fine. Baby's AOG was 38 weeks. When I told her tho that I'd been 5cm for 3 weeks, she said she'd induce me. She performed reflexology on my foot and found a particularly nasty knot on my right foot.

I started having intense but painless contractions in the car on the way back home, but when we got there, contractions stopped.

A week later (last night), I was at the hospital and my doctor was writing the request for the drugs for induction.

We were supposed to come in the previous day, but the hospital was fully booked. We spent the day on pedicures, thrifting for breastfeeding friendly tops, and barbecue. Creature comforts before the slaughter.

Throughout these activities tho, contractions were coming in at 6-8 minutes apart. I didnt take them seriously tho since they didn't hurt.

So at 9:10, I was given an IV with pitocin and something to soften my cervix. Doctor didnt bother with an I.E.

Again, I was given a room upstairs, and told to inform the nurse if anything hurt.

I think I took a nap, and woke up at 11 to HELL.

I thought it was the drugs. I had no idea this was already transition.

My thinking brain was like "Oh no, 4 - 6 hours of this is impossible!", and it promptly shut down.

I read somewhere before that you had to keep your jaw slack, so I was trying to contradict the impulse to grit my teeth through the pain and just wait for it to subside, willing my body to open.

I made Chris time the contractions and push against my hips whenever a wave hit. I felt like a crocodile, ready to bite him whenever he'd ask me if I was going through a contraction. I could not speak, so I'd squeeze his arm at the onset of one. Contractions were minutes long and spaced at 3-4 minutes apart. And they would not stop for anything.

Even for nurses in cat masks coming in to check on my bp and baby's heart rate.

Even bathroom breaks. Because I felt like pooping but immediately collapsed on all fours on the bathroom floor asking for hot water to be poured down my back. In retrospect I realize Chris had no idea what was going on either. I cursed under my breath at how slow the blessed water was to come.

I did not want to leave that bathroom.

I was beyond all thought.

I had completely surrendered to my body.

For example, when a wave hit, my body felt like jiggling. And then my brain was like "heeey, this is helping! Good idea, we'll do that"

My mouth opened and I started vocalizing and brain still didn't get the memo.

My hand went under my crotch involuntarily and I still didn't realize that I was crowning.

Then another nurse arrived and told me I needed to move to the delivery room.

On a wheelchair.

I wanted to yell "BUT I CANT EVEN SIT WOMAN!"

My mom and the nurse (the same midwife who assisted during Malaya's delivery) coached me to breathe, as we made a mad dash to the labor room.

I feel sorry for her, I must've been a difficult patient, struggling against the wheelchair while she was just trying to get me from point A to B as soon as possible. It was not a short ride. On the wheelchair, I'd blocked them out. I jiggled and the nurse was concerned I was having a seizure. I stretched my legs and she had to provide counter weight.

By the time we got to the labor room, I could hear nurses panicking around me. "Sa Delivery na na!" "Wa pa si doc" "mam ayaw sa'g utong!" I popped, water gushed out (in a moving wheelchair so we're all clear here) and while that relieved the pain by a bucket (hehehe) my body had decided to push without asking my brain.

And then I pushed, right when they wheeled me into the DR. One nurse was like "Mam, ayaw sa!" Body was like "HELL NO", and my mouth went "But he's coming!"

And his head was out, followed shortly by the rest of him.

Rajah Chawdhury-Linaban was born at 1:30am feb 1,2017 in a moving wheelchair at the Biliran Provincial Hospital. He weighed 3.45 kilograms and latched like a pro.

I managed to scream AYAWG PUTLA when I heard one nurse asking for a clamp through the haze of wuv and affection that followed after my former tenant was put in my arms.

Fortunately one of the nurses (the one with a cat mask) knew about lotus birth and explained to the others. The doctor arrived shortly and cleaned me up (no tears!) and waited for the placenta. They put it in a kidney dish and carried it with baby while they weighed him/cleaned him up.

Things may not have gone according to plan, and there was a little augmentation involved, but that was the most eventful wheelchair ride I will probably ever have in my life. The hospital staff was respectful of my kooky requests regarding the baby's aftercare and for that I am extremely grateful.

We celebrated with ice cream and cake, in what is turning into our own little family tradition. After all, what's a birthday without cake and candles?

I can't read it either. I tried. I can make out Happy and Birthday, but the rest is mysterious.
Malaya is waiting for the photo to be over with so he can get icing. (spot the cord!)
King of grand entrances, this boy.

P.S. Malaya's face when he first saw his brother lit up like it was Christmas. :3

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Wait

So the past 2 weeks have been interesting.

We're back in the island to birth, going back to my previous OB to see if she was still up for it. She said she was fine, but would need a permit from the mayor and the MHO (Municipal Health Officer).

I managed to interview the MHO and found out what the fuss was about my first birthing: Apparently, the nationwide homebirth ban was patterned after an ordinance that originated from the very town I had birthed in. Before the ordinance, the maternal and neonatal mortality rates were horrifyingly high because of unprofessional practices, lack of prenatal care leading to complications, lack of ambulances to bring birthing mothers when complications spring up, etc etc. She did stress though that they thought my birthing was fine the first time because an OB Gyne was at hand.

My mom was the one to tell me about the repercussions: what if someone with less obsessive researching skills as I decided they wanted a waterbirth too because it seemed cool and rumor has it that someone (yours truly) had already done it in a makeshift pool no less? Soon everyone will think of birthing as a trip to the spa instead of the life and death situation it should be considered as! Soon swimming pools will take business away from hospitals! Soon whale-sized mamas will run loose in the waters of Oslob and take away the spotlight from whalesharks! Oh noes!

I'm kidding.

So we left the offices led to believe those permits were not a problem.

And then a couple of days later, last Monday actually, I went to my OB who checked me. I was 1 cm open. I understand that 1cm is a looooong way to go before birthing, but I pestered my mother to check up on those permits. Which she did. In the morning, the MHO was like "Oh it's no problem, I just need to check up with the mayor..."

So we got the room cleaned, got the pool sterilized, prepped some padsicles, and then we were about to get water when my mom dropped a bomb. I wasn't getting that permit.

The MHO texted her by noon, something along the lines of "After consulting with the council, I cannot recommend that you push through with a waterbirth... bla bla bla"

Frustrating noh? I wish she'd just told me to my face rather than have me running around prepping for a homebirth that wasn't going to happen. I also figured that even if they didn't want me to birth in the water, there was nothing keeping me from using a tub for labor, which I felt was when the pool was most helpful the first time.

I will be absolutely honest. Malaya's birth was one of the most spiritual experiences in my entire life. For it not to happen in a warm welcoming environment was devastating. I mourned my birthing scenario, told myself that THAT experience was a luxury I was lucky to be afforded, and to consider this an opportunity to see what everybody else has to deal with for myself. Maybe it wouldn't be so horrible. After all, I still get a baby after the whole thing.

We visited the birthing center in town and asked about the afterbirth process. I asked how much leeway we'd have regarding the aftercare. Turns out, not much. On the plus side, they were pushing for breastfeeding and Unang Yakap (or kangaroo care). However, I would NOT be allowed to keep the cord unclamped. They also didn't have space for my pool, which I asked to at least bring with me for labor. I was also told that since I'd already gotten checked up by a doctor stationed at a particular hospital, I wouldn't be allowed to birth in their center.

So we went to the hospital to check the facilities and ask about aftercare. A miscommunication led to me getting checked. The nurse told me I was already 5-6cm dilated.





With Malaya, it took so much frickin pain before I even GOT to 5cm. And 6cm was transition. It was active labor. It was time to get into the pool!

But the pool was 20 minutes away, and my doctor recommended I get a room reserved. I thought, I might not actually need the pool if I was progressing this painlessly.

It took a while to get me a room. The suite rooms were upstairs, and I was told that after a mother lost her baby when it came out of her while taking the stairs heading to the delivery room, they started keeping mothers downstairs near the DR, but nobody was around to clean the only vacant room around.

One of the nurses at the OB station was a high school classmate, who let me in their station to sit down while we waited for a room. They chatted about Probinsyano while I endured a throbbing contraction with lower back pain that made me feel like passing out. I asked about their aftercare and waivers several times. One nurse came in and interviewed me for their forms. After asking for my religion and her raising an eyebrow at me asking not to put anything, I asked to sign the forms myself. I asked about whether I could opt out of certain things (eye ointment, Hepa B injection) considering I'd been tested just a couple of months ago and was told to just talk to my doctor about it.

They finally let me into a private room UPSTAIRS (lol), and it was actually large enough to accommodate my pool. My mom suggested I get a shower. So I did. Water was cold though, but I was feeling icky.

I spent the night at the cold fluorescent-lit labor room, my only companions another birthing mother who was wheeled in at 9cm, and a couple of nurses I knew as a kid (yet called me Ma'am) watching a pirated filipino film on a cellphone - "Bakit Lahat ng Gwapo May Boyfriend". My partner wasn't allowed in.

Like I said, my first birthing experience was a luxury compared to this.

Contractions slowed and became irregular.

In the morning, a flurry of nurses entered the labor room and were given instructions by a superior who called me Mary Ann and referred to me to the nurses within earshot as Chawdhury.

I might as well be patient 002 as far as they were concerned.

I didn't feel like this was going anywhere. My OB came in. I asked if I could go back to the private room and if I could lotus birth again. She said it was ok with her. She told me to just tell the nurses if anything hurt and sent me off to my room.

We waited for another day, nurses coming and going to check baby's fetal heart rate and my temperature. I saw the midwife who helped with Malaya. She felt like the warmest person in that hospital. She said maybe my body was looking for the water, and suggested I go home and get into a tub. Maybe it would help speed things up. My doctor checked me the morning after and told me I was still at 5cm, but at least I was 80% effaced. She let me go home.

So home we went. It's been 4 days since, still no baby. No mucus plug or broken waters either though, or pain, except for pelvic pressure. We've tried pineapples, squatting, walking, massages, the pool, all to no avail. He's in anterior cephalic presentation, so it isn't position either. I guess all we really have to do at this point is wait it out. After all, the ultrasound did say his due date is January 30. I just hope he isn't too hard to push out by then.

I've been telling myself that he will come out when he's ready. So we wait.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Birth Plans and Pains Part 2

So we're roughly 27 weeks in with pregnancy number 2. It's a boy. We have a name already, but since we don't know if the baby will look like the name we like, we're going to wait 'til the kid's actual birth day before we spill.

Meanwhile, I've been scouting for birthing possibilities again. Despite the first birthing being a success, the bad vibes that followed with the inter-local health zone has left me looking for a new OB or midwife and a bad taste in my mouth for the govt. I thought maybe after a couple of years and a new administration, we would find more progressive alternatives within Cebu.

But no, the home birth ban is still in effect, water birthing is still considered experimental, and I have yet to meet a health official in these parts who's actually done the research or at least has data. My apprehensions all boil down to hospitals not likely to forgo their procedures for the sake of one crazy mother's request: umbilical non-severance.

Why umbilical non-severance?  

90 seconds to change the world | Alan Greene | TEDxBrussels ...

During the aftermath of Malaya's birthing, I didn't want to move out of the bed. We slept there together, Malaya, Chris and I. he didn't sleep as much as newborns were expected to, he was alert and would stare at everything. He didn't drool, he didn't act hungry (making the nene crying sound, or opening and closing his mouth, or cry at all) for the first 2 days (exactly the amount of time it took for my milk to come in) and didn't start seriously latching until then. He didn't lose any of his birth weight as most newborns are expected to. In short, he didn't act like someone who'd lost a third of his blood. He kicked his own cord off on the 5th day, and it came off clean. This experience has had such a profound effect on me and my partner that we cannot imagine WHY fathers would want the "honor" of cutting off the baby's cord.

These were taken at 6 days old and show you how clean his bellybutton looks. My mom told me it took two weeks before my stump healed when I was a baby.

If there's anything to prove that it will be difficult for me to deliver safely without intervention, that's the only time I'll be comfortable with going to the hospital. I can give birth dry, as long as I'm allowed to labor in water (water birth has proven to actually speed the first stage of labor folks!). If I suddenly develop diarrhea I won't even consider the water. I don't mind giving birth in a lying in clinic, as long as they let us keep the placenta attached.

But one thing that's been repeated to me over and over, even by sympathetic health care providers, was that Philippine hospitals and health officials will NOT compromise their assumptions for experiments they would be liable for, or if successful, would not be able to repeat for lack of budget to change the system.

And this is the problem with my country in general. If there is a way that is better, more progressive, more efficient , but would require a system overhaul, you can bet your placenta that it will meet resistance. Not just from those who benefit from the system, but also from those who are too exhausted to fight it.

The beast feeds itself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Plus one

So.... baby numero dos is on its way.

The boy is 3 years old now, and while there is a lot to say about his development, we've started keeping a physical portfolio for that, eliminating the need to journal here. Also, he's quickly growing into his own person and I think he prefers Superman to Aquaman (despite my desperate attempts to shield him from cartoons and pop culture. T_T)

Back to baby number 2. I'm 13 weeks into the pregnancy, still no idea what kind of sea monster this one's going to be so I'll talk about what it's like to go back to square one, albeit with toddler (or official child?) in tow.

This wasn't a completely accidental baby, as the partner and I had been open to the possibility of ending up with another "accident". To be honest, I'd been making the father creature read up on ideal age gaps between siblings and he'd chide me with "look for another sperm donor".

Mao ra'y gidangat.

I swear I didn't count on getting knocked up again though, my period's been irregular since Mr Kracken came along, so I had no way to measure ovulation and stuff.

Okay, too much info already. That's not what you're here for. You wanna know what it's going to be.





We don't know yet. SORRY GUYS.

If it's another boy, I expect hurricanes. If it's another girl, I expect a pouty boy. We asked future kuya if he wants a boy or a girl (as if expressing your wishes ever changes the X or Y component of the fertilizing sperm. Lol) and he insists he wants a minion. Hay nako.

I read up on the ramzi method, but we'd been out of the country for a month and weren't able to get that ultrasound until much too late to see whether the fetus was lying on the right or left side.

But it's healthy. Last ultrasound indicated it still had a tail, that was 3 weeks ago. The next check up isn't until after next week. 

I was warned that all pregnancies are different. One notable difference is that I'm not constantly panicking over whether I'm doing the right thing or not. I'm not being as anal about what I'm eating (altho I think I really should be). Another is the near constant morning sickness. I don't remember nausea being this bad the first go. The whole time we were in said other country (murica, the land of milk and munies), I couldn't stomach anything but berries and soup. When we got back, there were no more berries and puking nearly every night. I can't wait to be done with the first trimester.

Last pregnancy, I was in constant awe of ever single milestone. Now I just want to get this over with. The first trimester at least. I am not enjoying the fact that I'd just started getting in gym shape, and now I have no energy to reach my toes (while I still can). The puking is keeping me from turning into a blimp this early, but I haven't been able to get any exercise. I hope things change in the next few weeks though.

I am a little bit worried about how life could change with another kid. We were only starting to have lives again! I was beginning to have a career! Stuff like that. On the other hand, I really did want another, and one not too far away from the first so that we wouldn't have to go back to absolute zero. Certainly not when I'm too old to have worry free pregnancies. I don't know if I want to give birth after 30.

As far as similarities go, I still get crazy pregnancy dreams (but I don't need to be pregnant to have those), still intend to waterbirth, still intend to lotus birth, still intend to attachment parent. Trouble is, I doubt my previous OB will still attend to me. I still haven't found an OB in Cebu who would be open to my preferred birthing method. I checked out options in Murica but am confused about what it means to give birth there without insurance or citizenship.

So I'm gritting my teeth, trying to recall how painful the first time was. I think 3 years really is enough time to forget the ring of fire and start missing baby coo's and sly baby winks.

Which isn't to say I am not enjoying the first one's boyhood. Maybe I feel ready because he's starting to become more independent. He has more favorite people now, and he doesn't need to breastfeed anymore (partially because I've been turning him away because sore breasts during pregnancy are the worst), altho he still does sometimes for comfort. 

So we'll see. In the meantime, any suggestions for baby names?