Friday, May 31, 2013

The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth - Part 1

    
     If you were able to read my birth story in this blog, you know by now that I opted for a natural and unmedicated childbirth. The Bradley Method was the guide I used to achieve the birth experience I desired. Read on to learn more about it.




Why I Chose This Method

     Although most women nowadays would rather have pain free labor and childbirth, there are some who would prefer to do the opposite. I’m one of those women.
     Even before I had such a bad experience with anesthesia in my first delivery, I had already considered giving birth naturally - and by this I mean without anesthesia. Except at the time, I didn’t have enough knowledge to back up this attempt. It was merely something that I thought I’d try if my tolerance for pain was high enough. And I told myself that I would make my final decision when I get to the hospital, on the day that I would be giving birth. My birth plan merely stated that “I would like to have a standard epidural upon request.” Sounds like I was playing it safe right? Well I was J I was a first time mom then and I had no idea what actually went on while one was in labor, except for what I've read or heard - which really is just head knowledge and not enough to give me the confidence that I need.
     I did attend childbirth classes with my husband to prepare for the big day, and although it’s supposedly a Lamaze class, it didn’t quite focus on really making unmedicated childbirth our goal. It was fun and promoted bonding between husband and wife, and it was educational at the same time. We were able to understand what went on during childbirth and was taught how to recognize the real signs of labor. The new dads also learned how to massage the new moms while pregnant and when in labor, and we even got to practice changing diapers with the help of a baby doll. It was definitely helpful in preparing clueless new parents for what is to come.
     But for those of us who really wanted a natural childbirth experience, there simply wasn’t enough information to make us stick to our plan - which is why I didn’t turn to the Lamaze method to guide me when I got pregnant the second time around. I know it has worked for some women, but I felt that its breathing techniques were so unnatural that I would just forget them. And believe me, when you are in active labor and trying your best to withstand the pain, you will not remember a single one of these breathing techniques.
     So when I looked up the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, I instantly developed a liking for it. Its principles were simple – follow the course of Mother Nature and you will have the birth experience that you desire. It encouraged natural breathing techniques and easy enough exercises to prepare for the birth. Best of all, it strongly encourages the husband to be the primary coach. Although if he really can’t be present for whatever reason, a substitute coach can suffice – but whoever it may be, your coach will need to be a very supportive and encouraging individual because he or she will be taking on a very important role.
      Another difference between these two methods is that the Bradley method really works resolutely in pushing for a natural childbirth without medical intervention (as long as there are no complications or emergencies), whereas the Lamaze method is more accepting of medication even if it is not really needed – which for me defeats the purpose of training for natural childbirth.
     The Bradley method concentrates on training the mother and the coach (more often than not, the father), rather than leaving everything into the hands of the doctor (who may sadly sometimes choose his or her own convenience over the patient’s). So it is always best to keep yourself well informed about your options.
     So in preparation for my second delivery, which I was planning as a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), I got the top 2 most recommended books for The Bradley Method and read them in the few months remaining before birth. I started out with Husband-Coached Childbirth (Fifth Edition): The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth by Dr. Robert Bradley himself. The reviews suggested that I read this book first and it was good advice because it really encourages you, builds up your confidence and makes you understand the importance and advantages of having a natural childbirth coached by your husband.



     
     After finishing the first book, I then proceeded to read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition by Susan McCutcheon, which is a very good supplement to the first book. This one has all the practical tips and illustrations for the exercises that you need to do in preparation for the birth. Oh, and if you’re getting this book, may I warn you that there are a lot of actual childbirth photos in it so it’s not for the faint of heart haha! This book also provides a thorough description and instructions for relaxation exercises that you need to practice and hopefully apply during childbirth. It also explains the emotional signposts in detail – the guide that I used during my actual labor with Natalie (which I will write more about in another post). It worked so well and I was so surprised at how accurate it was for me.
     So you may be wondering why I decided to study the Bradley Method on my own and not enroll in a childbirth class… Well, first it was a bit too late into the pregnancy to join a Bradley class. I decided to get serious about aiming for a natural unmedicated birth only by the time I was five months pregnant. Second, it was too costly. I asked my friend Mia, who successfully used this method during her first delivery and attended Bradley classes in the States and she advised me to hold off on the classes first if I can get a copy of the books. I figured this was a good idea because I just wasn’t willing to spend more money and I loved to read. Since I had a clear goal in mind, I knew I could muster up the discipline to study this method on my own, and possibly apply it better than if I attended a class or had a private session.
     And so I dedicated time to read, practice the exercises and review everything with my husband. We would follow the tips and instructions in the books for the exercises and practice his coaching skills. But because my husband didn’t exactly love reading and would just fall asleep after reading a few paragraphs, I made him an outline and printed them in index cards for easy reference! Haha! Well, I had to make this work! Even if he was on board and willing, but didn’t have the energy to read long chapters – studying this method on our own wasn’t going to be possible, so adjustments (and a summarized outline!) had to be made. Anyway, he just had to remember the important points that were taught by the Bradley Method and make sure that he will be alert, awake and giving mama a whole lot of encouragement during delivery day J    

I placed the index cards with our notes in the same 
photo album full of Audrey's pics that we were going to 
bring during delivery day to the hospital :)


Reference:
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Revised Edition

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Audrey's Art


     A few years before Audrey was born, I had a blank canvas made in the hopes that I would have time to create my own artwork. I was planning on making a painting using acrylic on canvas and tried to get my husband on board - thinking of concepts and ideas for this piece. But then we got so caught up with traveling, fixing our home, and then preparing for the coming of our first baby. And the canvas remained blank for a while as it was kept in the storage room. 
     Last year before Audrey's birthday, I had the canvas taken out and we finally hung it on our living room wall. It was empty only for a short time because after Audrey's party at home, it suddenly became Audrey's canvas. 
    We  started sticking the clownfish, bubbles, seaweed and decorations that I drew up, printed out and cut on this canvas. They were originally stuck to the wall as our party decor and Audrey enjoyed taking them off and sticking them to the canvas. And so almost every day, we would see different layouts of fish and bubbles on it. 
   Now it serves as Audrey's art canvas. We decided to make a collage of all of her artworks for us and our guests to see. It has become a colorful, personal and wonderful piece of art for our home :)



      
      

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Benefits of Breastfeeding


     I just realized that I haven’t dedicated an entry to one of the most important activities in my life – Breastfeeding.
   I breastfed Audrey until she was almost one and a half, and only stopped because she self-weaned when I got pregnant with Natalie around that time. But if I had the opportunity, I would continue on until she was two years old or even a bit older. Right now, I am consistently breastfeeding my 8 month old baby and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
   I am a firm believer of the benefits and advantages that breastfeeding provides for both mom and baby. It is definitely something that I would strongly recommend new moms to consider and commit to.
    You’ve probably heard this many times before but what’s great about breastfeeding, besides all of its health benefits to your baby is that it promotes bonding. And there is a science to it. Breastfeeding releases the bonding chemical oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’. Yes, the same one that is released when baby is ready to come out of mama’s tummy and starts up labor.
     I personally love the opportunity that breastfeeding gives me to bond with my baby. While feeding I get to stroke her hair, rub her cheek and her back, or hold her tiny hands. While she is in my arms, it also allows her to see me and study my face up close. My baby gets full and satisfied, comforted, relaxed and sleepy (most of the time), happy, healthy, and Natalie even smiles at me while feeding – it is such an amusing sight!
     Most especially, I get to provide her with the healthiest milk and the best nutrients while giving her comfort. Audrey hasn’t had any major health problems in almost three years of her life. I can count the times she has gotten sick in one hand – and these instances are limited to fever brought about by cough, colds and roseola (and she hardly had a rash outbreak from this too). Other than that, she’s been great. She always seems to be strong enough to fight off viruses and I am so thankful for that. It is so hard to see your child sick and feeling very uncomfortable or in some kind of pain. So I am more than willing to invest time breastfeeding Natalie so she can also grow up to be healthy and strong just like her big sis.    
    And the advantages of breastfeeding don’t end with my baby, I get to benefit from it too. I get relaxed while breastfeeding (due to the release of relaxing hormones), I burn calories and lose weight quickly in the weeks after birth, and most of all, my husband and I get to save money while providing the best milk for our baby J. It is also more convenient for me - since I breastfeed directly, I don’t need to prepare formula and wash bottles regularly. At night I just put my baby beside me in her co-sleeper or our bed and wake up on her cue to feed. 
    Breastfeeding also protects mothers from certain cancers and  postpartum depression. You may want to read up on these articles for more information on the many benefits of breastfeeding:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Paris in Spring


       Paris is a lovely place to be in springtime. When my husband and I went there a few years ago in the month of April, the beautiful blossoms of the cherry trees in Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower made our photos look so romantic. 
       And whether the skies were overcast or exceptionally blue, amateur photographers like ourselves came up with pretty interesting photos :) 


At Champ de Mars with a view of the Eiffel Tower


Buildings across the Centre Pompidou



Daytime at the Moulin Rouge


 Photos above by me and my husband :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Commercial Break


     When Audrey was just 8 and a half months old, I brought her to her first vtr. They needed a mom and a baby her age for a vitamin ad so I decided to give it a try. Because Audrey was so game with smiling, eating mashed potatoes in front of the cam, and raising her arms when the director asked her to - she landed the part! :) And I was lucky enough to be chosen as well because I definitely wanted to be her mom in the commercial too!
       There were other moms and babies in the ad and we were the last ones shown. Take a look :)




        Here are some behind the scenes photos as well...


Before hair and makeup! (not that Audrey needed it hehe :P)


Getting ready on set


Stage Daddy taking photos behind the scenes!
He even helped make Audrey smile during our shots-
he was just a few feet behind us :)


Audrey playing with her own spoon before our take

We're done! It didn't take long for us to finish! Audrey was a pro :) haha!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Torn Paper Design

     This post is long overdue! It's the activity that we did as a follow up on the Torn Paper Mosaic. This time we thought of different things as our design inspiration and came up with a butterfly, a tree and a bunny! I was in charge of drawing the outline for us to follow and instead of using colored construction paper, we used pages from old magazines. I asked Audrey to help me tear the pages up into small pieces so we can use them for our Arts and Crafts project. She happily obliged :)

Can you see the inspiration for this butterfly design? :)


The finished product.
I loved the combination of colors that we ended up putting together :)



Guess what Audrey found in the magazine pages
while tearing them up into little pieces? hehe


Making a tree design right after the butterfly. She just couldn't get enough :P


Happy with her work as always!

While we were busy, Natalie was busy too!
She was "reading" her soft book and tasting it too?! :D


And this is the bunny Audrey made with Dada :)


She sure had lots of fun!!! :)




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Whole Wheat Yummy-ness

    Recently, after deciding to start eating healthy, I made an effort to prepare some home made whole wheat tortillas. Since I had my own stand mixer (and needed a good excuse to use it again!), I then waited for the right time. Right time translates as - kids are asleep or busy, husband is home to keep an eye on them, I have no current work deadline and housekeeper is available to clean up any mess that will result in this attempt. 
    So when the right time came one early evening, I immediately went to work. I wanted to serve some of these tortillas for dinner, and then freeze the rest so we can just reheat them anytime. It didn't take long for me to make them as the recipe was quite simple and required only a few ingredients.
     I also happily documented the making of these tortillas which I hope will help you if you do decide to make them :) 
 

Recipe below was taken from www.100daysofrealfood.com

Whole Wheat Tortillas

SERVES: 12 TORTILLAS

ADAPTED FROM ANSON MILLS
INGREDIENTS

     2½ cups whole-wheat flour 
     ½ cup oil
     1 teaspoon salt
     1 cup warm water (heat in the microwave for 1 min)

INSTRUCTIONS
1.  In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer set with a dough hook, pour in the flour, oil and salt. Beat with the paddle until crumbly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the sides as needed. If your hand-held mixer comes with dough hooks those can be used as well.




2.  With the mixer running, gradually add the warm water and continue mixing until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.




3.  Take out the dough and divide it into 12 equal sized pieces. I do this by making the dough into a big log shape that is about 8 – 10 inches long. Then I cut it in the middle. Then I cut each of those pieces in the middle and so on until you have 12 pieces.




4.  Using the palms of your hand roll each piece into a round ball and flatten it out on a baking tray or board. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour.






5.  Heat a cast iron skillet, griddle or 12-inch skillet over med-high heat. The pan should be fairly hot before you begin cooking the tortillas.

6.  On a lightly floured board or counter top, use a rolling pin to turn each ball into a 8 to 10 inch flat circle (measure against your recipe if printed on a 8.5X11 sheet of paper). Be careful not to use more than a teaspoon or two of flour when rolling out each ball into a tortilla because too much excess flour will burn in the pan.

7.  Grease the pan with a touch of oil (or ghee) and then carefully transfer each tortilla, one at a time, to the pan and cook until puffy and slightly brown, about 30 to 45 seconds per side. Set aside on a plate to cool slightly. Eat within an hour, refrigerate or freeze.



Ok, so the first few tortillas I cooked weren't perfect ;D they were 
irregularly shaped! hahaha! But after a few of those,
I was finally able to make more circular ones that
actually looked like tortillas and not roti hehehe

Had grilled chicken strips with fresh home made salsa (onions, tomato, coriander),
grated mozarella cheese and sour cream with these tortillas! And fresh iceberg lettuce of course!
You can also try it with  ground beef sauteed in onions with tomato sauce! :9


Yummy! These whole wheat tortillas are actually pretty good! :)


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Honey Baby

     Oooh! What do we have here?! It's all of these cute baby hats and accessories sent to Natalie and I by Honey Baby Online! :)  As always, Mom couldn't resist taking lots of pictures, and now we can't help but post it on our blog because they turned out to be oh so cute! :) 
    
Well, it's no secret that I adore my little sis! Doesn't it show? :)

Somebody's hiding under the Elmo crochet hat!
Oh wait! It's a tad bit big... because this is supposed to be for me!
But it looks so cute on Natalie! So we'll just share :)


Told ya she's cute in it! Even her onesie says so :P

You can't seem to get that smile off of your face! Me toooo!!! :D


And this headband? It's supposed to be Natalie's, but we're sharing again :)
Ahh the joys of sisterhood!


And this is a cute sunhat! It doesn't fit Natalie yet (her whole head disappears hehe)
so it's just for me for now :)
        

      You can get these crochet hats, sun hats, headbands and other hair accessories in different designs at Honey Baby Online! Here are the other items available from their online store :)


Hats galore!

Headbands and pretty bows!


     And in celebration of Mother's Day, they are having a SALE and a GIVEAWAY! :) 
   So check their store online and get a chance to win cute handmade crochet collars :)
   


      
You may email honeybabyonline1@gmail.com and contact 09436790081 (SUN) for inquiries and orders.

Like Honey Baby Online on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/honeybabyonline






Welcome To My World


      If you are reading this and you are a mom – welcome to my world. If you are not (or not yet one), do think about the moms in your life – your own mother, your wife, your sister, your friend.
     Today is Mother’s Day, and it is my honor to celebrate this blessed day and to write a little something about moms like me.
    

Photo by The Picture Company


     Once you become a mother, you will never be the same again. I have seen this transformation happen in myself and I am pretty sure other moms have witnessed the same kind of change happen in them.
     For one, you will discover that you are capable of loving with a never ending, all encompassing, always giving love. Even with no guarantee of your child giving back, you still choose to give.
     I've read somewhere before that having a child is like living with your heart outside your body. I no longer wonder what that must feel like. I already know now. When you become a mom, there is a part of you that’s not yours alone anymore. And when you have more than one child, there’s just less and less of you. But you become more and more whole.
     I think motherhood is truly a gift. And having a child reveals some things about you that you probably didn’t know existed before.
    Suddenly, your priorities change. You think of your child’s needs before yours. You discover that you are more patient than you thought. You let yourself get inconvenienced when you know it’s possible to be more comfortable. It’s ok to miss out on things that once seemed so important.
     ‘Love at First Sight’ and ‘Love is Blind’ aren’t just clich├ęs anymore – the moment you see your newborn infant, love overflows. And no matter how your child may look like, he or she is just beautiful in your eyes.
     There may be days when you feel like your patience is about to run out and you cannot afford another interruption. Or you are simply out of energy and don’t know how much longer you can do the things you do for your children.  And you long for the moment when you can get enough sleep, enough rest, enough time for other things. But you press on. You continue anyway. You don’t give up.
     Moms weren’t made to be perfect, but they were made by God so that children can always find comfort in knowing that there is someone who will always care for them, teach them, love on them, and accept them for who they are. We may not be all that our children wish for us to be, but one thing is for sure – we will love them no matter what.
     For even while our child was still in our womb, we already loved them. That love is like a seed that grows and turns into a flower that doesn’t wither. And even as our baby grows and until he or she is old, we will always care for them and be by their side. I know this is what I’ll choose to do. As my own mom takes care of me even as I’ve grown into an adult and a mom too, I would like to extend the same kind of love and care for my own children. And I won’t stop until I’ve left this earth.
     So to my own Mama - Thank you for your compassion, for the encouragement that you give, for the prayers that you utter, for believing in me, for the effort that you make, for the time that you spend with me and my children, for the energy that you expend, for the life lessons that you teach, and for always being there. I love you very much! J


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Hyatt Manila

    
      Two weekends ago, we were able to go on a wonderful weekend stay at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila. It was a family staycation that we enjoyed together with Audrey's Ninong Pat and Tita Patty. It was a fun, relaxing and food-filled stay for us :) Check out our gazillion photos below!

Upon arrival at the Hyatt, we were greeted by friendly and helpful staff who immediately assisted us with our bags. After checking in, we headed over to our suite and the girls immediately got comfy!
Check out their photo on our king sized bed! :D
There were yummy complimentary treats for us as well - fresh fruits, dried mangoes dipped in chocolate, sweet and spicy cashew nuts, white chocolate truffles and dark chocolate chips, plus an iphone inspired milk chocolate bar! ;9

We stayed at the Hyatt's Regency Suite King. It's a 74 sqm room with its own bedroom,
living and dining area, mini walk-in closet, and bathroom with tub and rain shower.
It also has a beautiful view of Manila Bay! :)
The room comes with breakfast at the Market Cafe or Regency club,
pre-dinner cocktails also at the Regency Club and wifi.


After getting settled, we wasted no time and made our way to the swimming pool!

The hotel had quite a big pool where you can do laps, as well as a kiddie pool. I especially like the high perimeter wall with vines as this helps block the wind and keeps the pool area comfortable. I've noticed that in other hotels with lower walls, the wind factor was quite strong and the kids (and I) get cold easily while swimming.

Natalie the water baby had no complaints about swimming as usual :)

After our swim, we requested for a playard for Natalie but
Audrey didn't want to miss out on the fun haha!


We had pre-dinner cocktails that night at the Regency Club on the 10th floor and ate some yummy veggie rolls, mini chicken kebabs, sushi, cheese, salad and more! I was too full to eat dinner (and didn't want to have a heavy tummy before my massage! hehe) so my husband ended up just ordering room service for Audrey later that night. The kiddie chicken and chips meal ended up feeding not just Audrey but my husband, Pat and Patty as well haha!
It was enough to feed big kids as well?! :P

Finally! A relaxing massage after a stressful work week for me. Patty and I were treated to a  2-hr Moor Mud body wrap with full body massage at the Spa at Club Oasis of Hyatt. The treatment really targets relieving the body of aches and pains due to strenuous activities or long work hours. So glad I was able to have a break and spend some girly chit chat time with Patty! It's been a while since I had time to unwind and share some stories with my partner in food crime haha! :) And the sambong tea which was infused with calamansi was the best!!! 

While I was having my massage, Audrey read her
Toy Story book to Dada and Ninong Pat :)

Good Morning!!!!! :)

We just love waking up to these smiley faces! :) Wouldn't you? :)

Up and about and ready to have breakfast!
Can't help but dress up my girls in matching outfits hahaha!

We headed to the Market Cafe at the 3rd floor of the Hyatt for breakfast and was happy with the food selections! Audrey loved pancakes and waffles so she was excited to eat! There was a wide array of dishes to choose from -
like Filipino, Continental, Japanese, Chinese... to fresh fruits, juices, breads and cereals. 

Breakfast was fun and filling! :9

Audrey loved having breakfast with her own glass of milk!

Of course after breakfast, we still made the most of the morning and went back to the pool! There were less people this time so we had the kiddie pool to ourselves :) Audrey loved using the kickboard and playing with the
floating balls that were provided by the hotel.

Our staycation was capped off with a yummy Chinese buffet at Lili. We invited the rest of the family over to join us! There was just so much food so it's a good thing they came :)

Dimsum, sweet and sour fish and the sushi with roasted suckling pig were
among the scrumptious dishes that we got to taste!

There was also a dessert buffet complete with a chocolate fountain.
I think Natalie had another type of dessert in mind... :)


       Our stay at the Hyatt Manila was definitely fun and enjoyable for the family. I'm glad we were able to have a great weekend not so far from home complete with all the wonderful perks of excellent service, good food, and comfort. We would definitely love to stay at the Hyatt again :)




       Special thanks to Vannah Santiago of Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila for inviting us! :)