Achieving Happiness

July 28, 2008

Baby News

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 9:13 am

Babies can add new dimensions to your life, especially if one of them is yours. If you’re an activist, then you have one more very important reason to get up in the morning: when I was single (and even when I got married), getting the day’s work done and done well and efficiently was always the main goal; to be able to achieve some measure of success with a ideological, political or organizational task you set for yourself or assigned you as part of general collective effort. It was always get up and go — write the press release; paint plackards; attend the rally; participate in the meeting; go to the forum/symposium, etc, etc , and in general help arouse, organize, mobilize the greatest number of Filipinos possible and push forward the pro-poor and pro-national-liberation agenda and objectives of the Movement.

Now I get up early in the morning to change Kimiko’s nappy; breastfeed her and burp her; and give her her vitamin drops. These are my tasks now, and I try very hard to do them with the same if not greater efficiency and discipline I had when doing my IPO tasks (you try getting up IMMEDIATELY at 3am to feed and burp a baby, nevermind if you were in the middle of a most enjoyable dream or if it’s the first time in days that you’ve had a complete REM cycle. It’s not as easy as you think).

If pre-Kimiko I used to go straight to the computer to check the news (sometimes even before I’ve washed my face or brushed my teeth), the first rays of sunlight that flow through our windows see me going straight to the changing table where Kimiko’s clothes, nappies and various ointment and emollient jars and bottles are. Instead of wrecking my eyes scanning news reports or reading updates on developments in the political arena, I read web sites on baby care and pore over books on infant behavior and nutrition.

We’re so lucky that Kimiko is so far proving to be a considerate baby. Oh she has a bit of an impatient temper when she doesn’t manage to latch on to a nipple as soon as she’s settled on my breast (her face scrunches up and turns red and she can produce the most atrocious facial expressions clearly showing how annoyed and frustrated she is) ; but for the most part she’s showing self-discipline. She wakes up every two and a half hours to breastfeed, then in the interim she sleeps the sleep of the guileless and pure. Ever so often she wakes up but she doesn’t send out a wail or a cry; instead she lies peacefully in her co-sleeper or bassinet and plays with her hands, looks around her or gurgles softly to herself.

Of course she also farts, pees and poops a lot; but the mess is not a big deal at all and in fact quite a blessing because her being a regular fart, pee and poop machine only proves that her digestive and excretory systems are working fine. No colic so far! And thank goodness her umbilical cord stump is healing quite nicely.

The other night Kimiko also began “reading,” that is, her eyes were really looking at and examining the images of the Olivia counting book we got her months before she was born. Newborns are fascinated by black, white and red images, and Kimiko lay in her co-sleeper bed while we turned the pages in front of her and it was nothing short of amazing to see her look from one image to another — we actually saw her eyes focus on one image (a ball, a table, a pair of socks rendered in charcoal and red) and move on to the next and so on. Maybe it’s a trick of the light or parental wishful thinking, but we also think we saw her reach out deliberately to touch page 9 and the images it contained (we’re convinced it’s her favorite page because it had a lot of drawings in it).

I brought her three new books about three dog siblings (Si Pilantod, ang asong tatlo ang tuhod; Si Botbot, asong kulubot; and Si Jack, ang asong kaaway ng mga bulaklak) and I’ve already read her one. Reading is what sometimes what I do instead of plain talking to Kimiko. While I love talking to her, it’snot exactly easy to keep a conversation with a baby especially since it’s mostly a one-way communication lane. She smiles and grimaces and gurgles while I talk to her, and I am encouraged to babble on and on; but after a while the topics dry up — what the heck does one talk about with a baby? I don’t want to introduce the real world to her just yet and talk to her about how wretched the country because of the disgusting and shameless corruption of its so-called leaders in government; so I don’t talk about politics or the economy with her (she might cry in anger or frustration, or get insomnia).

Kimiko has also had quite a few visitors in the past week. Friends and comrades have been visiting and I’ve had to narrate over and over my adventures in the labor room and how it felt to suffer through five hours of intensifying pain only to be sedated and put under general anesthesia at the last minute. My officemates at the Joint Monitoring Committee were the first people outside close family to see Kimiko, and their gifts for Miko left me dumbfounded in the midst of my gratitude (see top picture to see why). Friends like Tonyo, Julie, Jang, Walkie, Tin, Lyn, and Mau also came by bearing food and good wishes for Kimiko (whom they all said looks like me, yay!).

Jo, in the meantime, has been so kind in sending various materials about breastfeeding and teaching babies how to get a headstart on learning and reading. I bet when it’s her turn, she’ll be one heck of a mom herself.

Right now am completely focused on breastfeeding. I cringe at the very idea of giving Miko formula milk; after reading so many things about the benefits of breast milk (not just the nutritive value and its effect on babies’ growth and development, but the emotional income generated by breastfeeding), it’s almost scary to me to NOT breastfeed. I don’t mind at all if i have to get up every hour after 12 am to feed Miko; am only too relieved that she wants to feed often because it means she’s doing okay.

July 16, 2008

At last, Kimiko

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 12:33 pm

Our daughter and source of all light and happiness Kimiko Gabrielle Silverio Gargar was born at 2:18 am last July 9 at the Trinity Women and Children’s Hospital in Sta. Ana via C-section. She was supposed to be born the ‘normal’ way, but at the last moment (around 11:30 after I went through 4 hours of increasingly excruciating contractions (no, I didn’t cry — I BREATHED in and out and focused on the science behind labor pains as Nova advised me to) when my doctor Dr. Melani Espino did an amniotomy, the fluid that came out was greenish: it contained meconium. No ifs and buts – I had to go under the knife and within the hour I was flat on my back on the operating table. I confess to being surprised at myself because not for a second was I afraid or nervous : being a firm believer in science, trusting my doctor, and having a husband constantly telling me I and the baby would be fine fine fine helped me keep calm.

Now for the last two weeks Kim had been pressuring me to take the c-section option so I would be spared the agonies of labor (I think it was the impact of Walkie and Jang’s stories the time they had dinner at our house — all the descriptions of wailing and huffing and puffing in between made a distinct and decidedly scary impression on him, I guess), but I was determined to go the ‘natural’ way (albeit with an epidural). Besides, c-section operations cost a mint!

My original due date was July 12, but the start of the rainy season as well as the new academic semester put quite a bit of pressure on us to push Kimiko’s birth a little earlier than scheduled. Dr. Espino prescribed Buscopan which she said would help dilate my cervix (by July 3, my cervix was dilated only by 1 cm).

It took me three days to finally decide to take the Buscopan. I mean, of course I trust (and even worship) my doctor; but all these months I’ve been acutely conscious of what I take in, especially if its meds. Artificially accelerating uterine contractions did not exactly seem like a good idea to me, particularly given the scare last May when I landed in the hospital because of burgeoning preterm labor.

Anyway, on the afternoon of July 7, I crossed my fingers, patted my big, big tummy and asked Kimiko to be ready, and took a Buscopan. Five hours later, the contractions started: my uterus started tightening, and I felt Kimiko moving more than usual (which was quite a lot — she was quite a mover of a fetus; now that she’s a real wriggler of a newborn). It was hard to get to sleep that night because my back ached like giants used it for a trampoline, and added to that was my rising anxiety over the Buscopan and the increasing contractions it caused: I was worried I might go into labor and we lived an hour and a half away from the hospital.

The following morning, Kim hoisted my red backpack containing my stuff and Kimiko’s for our hospital, and we went to my doctor’s clinic so i could get an internal exam( warning – what comes next might be too graphic for sensitive readers…). I got up on the clinic bed, and Dr. Espino proceeded to check whether the Buscopan had an effect already. Underwear off, assumed the position, took a deep breath and waited to hear whether the tablet worked.

It did: the cervix had dilated 5cm. Dr. Espino wearing latex gloves then proceed to strip away layers of the cervix, and after a painful and uncomfortable two minutes, the bed was spotted with gobs of bloody mucus and cervix fibers (whatever you call them).

As I lay there slightly nauseated at seeing blood, my doctor smiled widely at me and told me that I should go to the hospital with Kim that afternoon and have myself admitted: Kimiko was on her way!


In the next few days I’ll write about the details of my three-day hospital stay, how I ended up getting a C-section after five hours of staying in the labor room and breathing like a beached dolphin struggling to get back to the ocean; how it felt to hear that my baby could be in danger because she expelled meconium while inside me; how strange it was to be completely anesthesized, sleepy but keenly aware all at the same time; and what the anesthesiologist said when Dr. Espino finally scooped Kimiko out at 2:18 am. It really felt like I’d been to war (I’d never known that my body could feel so much pain in so many different places and still remain intact), but I’d go though each and every single agonizing moment gladly because of what I have in return for withstanding the punishment.

(Here I am compelled to express the deepest, almost weepy gratitude to and love for my husband who did not even blink when he found out how big the hospital bill was. He told me to not worry about the money and insisted that every peso was worth it because all the while I and the baby were safe and secure. All in all, his comforting words, his quiet strength and very presence all throughout my experience took much of the pain away.)

In the meantime, thank you to all the friends and comrades who texted and emailed their congratulations and best wishes. (Thank you for wanting to visit and see Kimiko, but it really would be best if we were quiet for the meantime…)

Jo has been so supportive of my intent to breastfeed and sent various links and articles on the subject; Nova and Jang I thank for the clothes Kimiko wore at the hospital (and the clothes Kimiko wears now!) and again Jang for the Dr. Harvey Karp DVD (information saving Kimiko and me a lot of grief, even if Kimiko is so far proving to be a wonderfully behaved baby); Walkie for her moral support (and the delicious red tomato pesto sauce, yum yum!); and Tonyo for the Anne Geddes babies. The email from friends abroad also help distract me from the recovery pains (stitches! lochia bleeding! swollen boobs!) .

Kimiko is now one week old, and my life and Kim’s are focused on keeping her happy, well-fed, warm and comfortable. When she smiles it’s like sunshine floods the room and her every gesture and movement with her small hands and feet cause us to fall prostrate in front of her bassinet, in awe of her very being. Every single moment is a gift because of Kimiko, and even changing her pee and poo-filled nappies causes me enjoyment because we bond over the experience (she coos and gurgles whenever the diaper’s full of poo — it’s almost like she’s trying to distract me from the sight and smell of the nappy’s less-than-fragrant contents).

I have to stop here — mother duties (which I view more as great and delightful privileges) beckon.