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.