Monday, December 28, 2009

Motherhood 101: Baby Items & Equipment

I tried to steer away from this particular subject in my blog because I don't want my blog to become just another "baby blog". But recent conversations with my non-married friends and friends with no children yet prompted me to share what I am learning as a first time mom (in the hopes that it might help them in the future). I still don't plan to turn this into a "baby blog"... I have other things to write about. American Idol Season 9 is coming this January after all ;)

As first time parents, my husband and I didn't know the first thing about buying items and equipment for our baby save for what our friends and family told us and what we read on the internet. We tried to be practical in our choices but since Andrea was born, the reality of her wants and needs keeps challenging what we consider practical. Our way is probably not the most practical way but from the perspective of 2 working parents who are trying very hard to balance family, work and personal life (with no nanny to help us still, waaaah!)... this way works.

1. The crib

Our playpen/crib has vibrate function, lights, music and nature sounds... features that I was not really looking for and didn't think we needed, but are turning out to be really helpful. I am discovering that Andrea is not one for music, it does very little for her. So we never really got to use the music feature which plays Mozart's pieces. The nature sounds however, was very useful to us. When Andrea was about 2 weeks old, I found out that Andrea likes falling asleep to the sound of running water and splashing waves. It gave me about 30 minutes extra sleep time because I didn't have to lull her to sleep (when you're sleep deprived, trust me, any extra sleep time is a blessing!). I just put her in her crib and turn the nature sounds on. The vibrate function we were able to use when she was a little older, about a month and a half until now. It can calm her and put her to sleep when she's fussy or is having difficulty sleeping.

Andrea's upstairs playpen/crib

2. The infant car seat.

In other countries, this piece of equipment is mandatory whenever baby needs to ride in a car... but in this country, not so much. Baby car seats, after all, are not cheap. Our car seat converts to a baby carrier and is part of a travel system (stroller with carrier/car seat). I never really thought we needed the car seat. Then again we never really expected that Andrea will need to travel every weekday with just her daddy and her in the car... she was supposed to have a nanny with her as well. Having a car seat proved to be a life saver for us since I can't go with them on these trips. And even when I am in the car with them, my arms doesn't have to hurt from carrying Andrea the entire trip. It's really convenient.

As an added bonus, Andrea really likes it in her car seat/carrier. When used as a carrier, the bottom is rounded so it rocks back and forth. Andrea sleeps longer whenever we let her sleep there during the day.

Andrea's stroller and carrier/car seat

3. Swaddle Blanket

Swaddling - is the practice of wrapping infants snugly in blankets to limit the movement of their arms and legs. According to several baby books I've read, it makes them feel more secure.
Andrea's SwaddleMe blanket design

This item saved my sanity.

We saw this at the mall when we were shopping for baby items before Andrea was born but didn't get one because it was pricey compared to receiving blankets that you can use to swaddle a baby anyway. However, as babies grow fast, Andrea can manage to break out of her swaddle when she was about 3 weeks old and would wake up often in the middle of the night when the movement of her arms and legs startle her. More sleepless nights for me. She was about a month old when we finally decided to try this and lo! Andrea was able to sleep for 4 straight hours the first time she used it which allowed me to get a decent night's sleep for the first time since she was born. As of this writing, Andrea is 10 weeks old and has better control of her arms and legs but she still likes sleeping tightly swaddled.

This is available from Kiddopotamus (and available in the infant section of some local malls). I'm not sure if other brands have this.

4. BPA-free, Colic-free bottles

We will never know the effect of using BPA-free bottles until the babies this generation reach maturity and show a decrease in the occurence of the diseases that BPA is supposed to cause. So I won't go into that discussion. It's a good option though and I chose BPA-free bottles for Andrea.

Colic-free bottles are those that are angled to make sure that the nipple is always full of milk when baby is feeding to reduce air intake. Personally, I preferred the Playtex Ventaire system. Again, they are pricier than the regular feeding bottle (good thing ours was given to us as a gift :) but I have read some great reviews about these particular bottles and now, based on personal experience, Andrea does take in less air and sometimes does not even require burping after feeding when she uses these bottles as opposed to her other bottles. Less air means less possibility of crying due to tummy ache and less stress for me :)

5. Bouncer

Bouncers are infant chairs that move or "bounce" when a baby moves or when you flip a switch. this is one piece of equipment we regret not buying sooner. We can buy it now but since Andrea is already 2 and half months old and will only be able to use it for probably 2 more months, I don't think it's worth the price anymore. If we're having another baby in the future, I will definitely get one. Again, this can soothe or entertain a fussy baby and can reduce the time you have to carry your baby (as your baby gets heavier, carrying her for long periods gets to be very very tiring).

Example of a bouncer

All my suggestions are prompted by a single formula: Less crying time for Andrea = happier mommy and daddy ;) Each baby is unique and what works for us might not work for you (especially if you have plenty of help around, you may not need most of these items). Sometimes you need to get to know your baby first to figure out what the best options for you are.

Ano ba naman Philhealth???

I don't get it... I requested for my MDR (Member's Data Record) from Philhealth to check if my name had been updated after I got married. My old Philhealth ID still bears my maiden name and I had a minor issue with using it when I gave birth.

My status had been updated from single to married (which required a marriage certificate as supporting document)

My dependent had been updated from my mom to my husband (which also required a marriage certificate as a supporting document)

But my name... it's still my maiden name!!!

Why? Why? Why???? X(

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tips for your general well-being this holiday season

1. Keep the weight off.

If you're worried about gaining weight with all the holiday eating you are sure you won't be able to resist, do what I do: schedule your wisdom tooth extraction, root canal and other painful dental work during the holidays. You won't be able to eat much because you can't. It will be too painful ;)

2. No surprises.

Have you ever received a gift from someone and find yourself with nothing to give back in return because you weren't planning to give anything to that person? Keep a stash of generic gifts handy. Every time I see small items at the mall or bazaars that I like but I know I won't be able to use, I buy them anyway. My "little" stash has saved me from failing in my social responsibilities several times already.

Sadly, I have no tips on saving money, cooking and other things because 1) I don't know how to save money during the holidays... it seems impossible to me. Temptations are just everywhere... EVERYWHERE!!! And 2) I can't cook. 3) I don't know what else people do during the holidays except buy gifts and eat anyway :)

Merry Christmas to all!
Janelle, MG and Andrea

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Philhealth Experience

I made it a point never to look at the deductions column on my payslip because I know that the figures will only upset me. I know approximately how much I'm supposed to receive every payday and as long as I get around that much in my bank account, I don't ask questions anymore.

That was until I was about to take my maternity leave and was submitting forms and preparing requirements for my maternity claims from SSS and Philhealth and I finally did the unthinkable... I looked at my deductions. After 6.5 years of working, I finally felt SSS working for me. I received my regular salary during the time I was on maternity leave (I opted for continuous salary instead of the one-time payment of P30k for normal delivery I think). Philhealth on the other hand...

*deep breaths*

While I was preparing my claim forms, a co-worker suggested that I ask our Human Resources department for a certificate of my Philhealth payments in case the hospital asks for it. So I did. When I finally received that piece of paper, I was surprised. So that's how much I was paying for for Philhealth. And yet, what am I supposed to receive in return? Based on information I received from our human resources, the maximum I can receive from Philhealth for a maternity claim was P4500. That's the maximum. Actual amount approved for me was only P2000 (amount deducted from my hospital bill due to my Philhealth claim). That was after 6.5 years of continuous payments. I'm feeling a bit resentful.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Ambigrams is a style of writing that may be read as one or more words when read from more than one viewpoint.

My husband told me about this site that generates ambigrams:

I tried to generate an ambigram for my name:

Turn the image upside down and it still reads "Janelle":

Cool huh? :)

I also tried it for Andrea:

Upside down, it reads "Calista":

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Movies Movies Movies

List of movies I missed and want to watch but probably couldn't:

1. Up
2. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (yes, boring na kung boring pero gusto ko pa din panoorin)
3. Amelia
4. A Christmas Carol
5. 2012


Monday, December 7, 2009

Motherhood 101: It's easier to keep a clean house clean

That's one of the lessons I learned from our first experience with a housekeeper.

Our housekeeper/yaya left last Friday after 7 months of being with us. She was our first housekeeper She told me last Thursday that her father was ill and was rushed to the hospital and that if it's ok with me, she's leaving on Friday. Her timing couldn't have been more perfect. I was scheduled to go back to work today, Monday! Good thing my husband's parents are visiting and will still be with us for another week, they volunteered to watch Andrea while we are at work. As it is with every employer, I don't think we have the right to refuse any employee who wishes to leave. My house, after all, is not a prison. So I thanked her, gave her her last pay with the Christmas bonus she deserved anyway for giving us good service during her stay, and let her go.

So since last Friday, I've been taking care of Andrea AND cleaning the house AND doing the laundry and ironing (thanks to my mother-in-law, I don't have to do the cooking as well... life's little blessings). One thing I realized was that keeping my house clean is a lot easier now than it was before, because my housekeeper kept it clean before she left. Before she arrived, there were nooks and crannies in the house that I wasn't willing to clean myself so I left them be to get dirtier and dirtier. My housekeeper cleaned them for me. And for that, I thank her and wish her well.

Now I hope we find a new yaya for Andrea soon.

I'm back!

At work. Oh well...