Money, Musings, Parenting, pregnancy

On Motherhood and Success

Mom and baby swimming

Last weekend, we went swimming. I enjoyed looking at our pictures, because it was evident that I am already close to losing all the baby weight, which is one of my personal goals. One of my big fears when I was pregnant was that I wouldn’t be able to lose the extra pounds after giving birth. When I was younger, I used to be so naive, thinking that the best way to solve problems was to play it safe and try to avoid encountering those problems in the first place. Thus, I thought that to avoid getting fat, I would just never get pregnant.

I thought I would never get married or have kids. I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, earn a lot, and never get frumpy. Studying in an all-girls high school, I was taught that girls could be trailblazers in their careers. It was also implied that getting married and having kids were not goals worthy of an educated woman. Of course, they remained desirable aims, but it was not enough to be a housewife or mother. You had to work as well, because… women should be able to do it all!

At school, you learn that most in middle-class society expect mothers to work and take care of the household. No one ever tells you that managing a household is a full-time job in itself. There are no promotions, hefty bonuses, or awards for years of service. There are no fancy titles or corner offices. And without any extra help, it will take up all of your time and make having a corporate position impossible. Two years ago, I was forced to resign from a job I liked, trading foreign exchange at a bank. I had no one who could help me take care of my newborn son. And so from full-time banker, I became a full-time mother.

With my new position, I was on call round-the-clock. Bonuses were frequent but in kind—hugs and kisses throughout the day—honestly, the best kind of bonus ever. Automatic tenure made this position very secure. However, the only chance of promotion involved constant power struggles between the real boss (me) and the boss baby. Two years in, I don’t know if my superiority will ever be fully acknowledged.

Ever since I became a mom, I have begun to base my life choices on what I believe is best for my family. I refuse to equate staying home with a child with less income. On the contrary, I believe having a child should inspire us to find multiple income sources and opportunities for passive income. I was a banker, but it was actually when I assumed the job title of mother that I became more motivated to grow our wealth. I am happy to say that in that aspect, we have taken concrete steps that I perhaps wouldn’t have taken this early on without the pressure of having a dependent.

If back in high school, I used to define success as climbing the corporate ladder, now, becoming a mother has changed that. Success for me now is having the free time to do the things you truly want to do. Success is being able to work smart instead of work hard. Success is spending a quarter of your day on work, and the rest on quality time with loved ones. Success is having your money work for you and not the other way around.

Swimming

Raising a human being is truly a difficult job, and I am incredibly lucky to be able to do it full-time. Every day, my baby boy looks up to me. Every day, I hope I am doing right by him, helping him become a good person.

Children are incredibly perceptive. They learn from what we say, but even more from what we do. If there is one trait I want my son to admire in me, it’s ambition. It was difficult for me to shed all the baby weight, but I set a goal, and I am almost there. I want my son to look at me and see a person comfortable and confident in her own skin. It was heartbreaking for me to give up corporate life, but I found other sources of income, and I will find more down the road. I want my son to understand that his parents will always seek ways and means for the family to live life to the fullest.

Postpartum mom weight loss

At one of my lowest points last year, I broke down alone, feeling cheated by fate and utterly worthless. Then I thought of my son, fought against the hopelessness, and took action. I was extremely vulnerable, but I would willingly expose myself to that productive pain over and over again, for our future. I want my son to look at how our family stares down defeat, ala Arya Stark, and says, “Not today.”

Life’s setbacks make the ambitious even more resourceful. I hope that I can set a good example, so that my son finds fulfillment in constantly growing and learning. Becoming a mother taught me that while life will throw so many obstacles our way, facing them head on is what will make us stronger and wiser. I hope that my son becomes successful, and by this, I mean fulfilled with anything he sets his heart on—whether it be advanced degrees, fatherhood, business, and/or advocacy work. I hope he grows up realizing that success comes in many forms—some are bright and flashy, whereas others are unassuming and steadfast. I hope he sees and celebrates those many forms achieved by himself and others. And I hope he can look at his mom one day and say, “I learned so much from her. She inspires me to grow constantly.” That, for me, would be the ultimate success.

Mom and baby swimming

Happy Mom’s Day, super moms! 🤱🏻 How has motherhood changed your idea of success? ❤️

#motherhood #success #work #grind #money #passion #business #momlife #mommy #parenting #family #postpartum #weightloss #stretchmarks #mombod

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pregnancy

How I Returned to My Pre-Pregnancy Weight

Not once in my 27 years of existence have I ever set foot inside a gym. I’ve never been decent at any sport, and I barely passed my physical education classes. Needless to say, every time I needed to lose some pounds, I did it purely through adjustments in my diet.

This placed me in quite a pickle after giving birth. I wanted to lose weight fast, but I also wanted to breastfeed exclusively, which meant that I couldn’t go on a diet while my baby was entirely dependent on my milk. Going on a diet could result in lower milk supply, a risk I did not want to take. And so I decided to take it slow and not go on any drastic diet for weight loss. To my pleasant surprise, despite eating normally, I lost weight steadily, and by the time Wolf turned six months, I was back to my weight before getting pregnant. How did it happen? What sorcery took place? Looking back, I can say that the weight did seem to magically melt away, but it wasn’t actually an unexplainable phenomenon. It wasn’t magic; even better, it was science!

A combination of factors, which I shall discuss below, led to my successful weight loss. If you desire to lose baby weight without exercising, here are some tips for you.

  1. Breastfeed exclusively. This is the most important tip I can give. Breastfeeding exclusively burns up to 500 calories per day (equivalent to around two hours of brisk walking), and is therefore a very effective workout for your body. Honestly, caring for a newborn uses up so much time and energy that I don’t think trips to the gym would have been feasible, even if I were so inclined. Enter breastfeeding! Ta-da! Moms CAN have it all — “all” being bonding time with their babies alongside a fabulous weight loss program. Breastfeeding is actually nature’s wonderful solution to helping moms get back in shape. Not only does it burn tons of calories, but it also speeds up the shrinking of your uterus. Hello again, flat tummy!
  2. Eat normally. Think of how you ate before you got pregnant and try to eat similarly. Of course, this is much easier said than done, because breastfeeding makes moms hungry round the clock! What I did was I made sure that my meals were healthy and full of veggies. I limited my rice intake to one cup per meal, but I ate huge servings of vegetables and protein. I also did not deprive myself of sweets, but I ate these in moderation (average of one serving per day). So the key is balance. I would think of my meals by the day (for example, I’d eat a light lunch if I knew we’d be eating out for dinner, or if I’d eaten a heavy lunch, I’d hold off dessert after dinner).
  3. Drink a lot of water. Breastfeeding makes moms extremely thirsty all the time. It’s very important to stay hydrated throughout the day. I would make it a point to drink a lot of water before meals, to ensure that I don’t mistake my thirst for hunger.
  4. Avoid junk food. Being constantly hungry, it’s very tempting to munch on chips or crackers in between meals. However, food low in nutrition and good fat will seriously derail you from losing weight. Go for natural, whole food like fruits and nuts. When I felt like snacking, my default food would be pistachios.
  5. Weigh yourself regularly. I weighed myself every morning, because I enjoyed seeing the number steadily decrease. I also was better able to keep myself in check, bouncing back quickly from cheat days when I saw no improvement in my weight the next day.
  6. Be slow but sure. Remember that it took nine months to gain all that weight, and so losing it in a healthy manner should take around the same time. Don’t rush, because the goal is not to lose weight fast (this isn’t healthy, and more often than not, the pounds will come back with a vengeance). The goal is to lose the pounds for good, which is best done through lifestyle changes that are sustainable.

Before getting pregnant, I was 110 lbs. My heaviest weigh in during my third trimester was 132. After giving birth, I weighed 119. By Wolf’s sixth month, I was back to 110, which is an average weight loss of 1.5 lbs per month.

Eight months pregnant:

pregnant woman eight months

Two weeks after giving birth:

mom with newborn baby

9 months after giving birth:

mom with baby 9 months old

Wolf is almost 11 months old now, and I’m still breastfeeding him. Despite eating whatever I want, I’m continuing to shed weight! And when I say whatever, I really mean whatever! Last week, I had my favorite Malted Milk ice cream. The other night, I had a giant cookie. Yesterday, I had a cinnamon roll. Despite all this indulgence, I’m now 105 lbs, which is just around the corner from my weight during my wedding. Ahhh, breastfeeding is just awesome. ❤️

Parenting, pregnancy

The Quiet Joy of Having a Baby

There are many women who choose not to become mothers. For them, motherhood is just not among their life goals. I used to be one of those women. Back in high school, while my friends would fantasize about their ideal weddings and come up with names for their future children, I shuddered at the thought of getting pregnant, giving birth, and becoming dumpy for the rest of my life. Haha.

Then I got married to an amazing man who was a great cook and handy with tools — in other words, a very domesticated guy. Needless to say, he wanted kids. I entered into our marriage fully aware of this and willing to set aside my anxiety to grant his desires. As we grew more in love, I also grew more at ease with the idea of raising his babies. I realized that the reasons I had before for not wanting children — the fear of getting fat, the dreaded sleepless nights, the endless crying — were surmountable with a loving partner by my side.

More than two years into our marriage, we decided to do away with birth control. A month later, I got a positive pregnancy test. We didn’t expect it would happen so soon, but I was happy that we didn’t have to deal with the stress of trying several times to conceive.

While I was pregnant, many people asked me if I were scared of giving birth. I always replied that I was more scared of what would happen after the baby came out. Caring for a baby seemed like such a huge responsibility to me, with the disadvantages outweighing the benefits. I was imagining non-stop crying of the baby (and mommy), poop everywhere, utter chaos on bad days and mundane routines on good days. Suffice to say, I had a very bleak picture of what it meant to be a new parent.

Boy, was I wrong.

Perhaps I was too jaded. I often err on the side of pessimism, and it keeps my expectations in check. I dreaded too much and hoped for too little. Now, as I reflect on the past eight months caring for my baby, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. I didn’t expect being a mom to be this.. enjoyable! Yes, there are sleepless nights and round-the-clock diaper changes, but all those chores are rewarded with the most adorable coos and smiles that make the fatigue worth it. And the number one reason I had before for not wanting to conceive, which is that I didn’t want to gain weight that I wouldn’t be able to shed post-partum, is now no longer an issue, because in these eight months, I’ve successfully returned to my pre-pregnancy weight.

I am just in my twenties, and I have so much of life still ahead of me, but I can say that having a baby is the most incredible, humbling, rewarding experience thus far. My advice for women on the fence with having kids is to take that terrifying plunge. The experience is much more wonderful than it seems. The “bad” side often gets the limelight, and we tend to think of infants as how they are portrayed in movies — synonymous to wailing poop machines. But the good, no, the great side, is too often overlooked, perhaps because it is quiet and tender — the warmth of your baby falling asleep on your chest, the delight on his face as he learns to sit up, the wonder with which he becomes aware of his fingers and toes.

Babies find joy in the smallest things. They teach you, not only to love another human unconditionally, but also to rediscover and love the world. I do not regret and don’t think I will ever regret having a baby. Some days are exhausting. Some days are chaotic. But all days are amazing.

Parenting, pregnancy

Five Benefits of Enrolling in a Birthing Class

Last October to November 2016, Casey and I attended the birthing class of Rome Kanapi held at Ateneo de Manila University. The class consisted of six morning sessions every Sunday. Rome is a birthing class pioneer in the Philippines, specializing in the Lamaze method. She is a certified childbirth educator under the Philippine Association for Childbirth Education (PACE) and a member of the International Childbirth Education Association. Not only was she knowledgeable in her field, she was also very kind and approachable. What I loved about her teaching style is that she never pressured us into following a specific route for labor (such as going for fully unmedicated birth) even if that was her preference for her own births. She presented us with our options, but she always respected our birthing choices. It was a great experience and was definitely worth the investment. Below are the five major benefits we got from our birthing class.

1. It prepared both me and my husband for my pregnancy, labor, and post-labor. The topics covered were extensive, from diet during pregnancy, to massage and breathing techniques during labor, to changing diapers and carrying newborns, and so much more. Although some of the information can be accessed by reading books or articles online, other topics, such as labor massage, breathing techniques, and carrying newborns, are easier to digest when actually demonstrated. Also, there were tips and pieces of advice shared that could not have been found in books because they were gleaned from our facilitator’s experience with her own pregnancies and those of her former students.

2. It empowered both me as a mother and my husband as a father. It’s difficult being a first-time parent, and although we could have prepared by just reading on our own, attending a birthing class together better cemented our relationship as husband and wife and made us anticipate our new roles of father and mother. The class not only provided us with vital information but also was a safe avenue for us to share any of our concerns with other couples who could truly empathize with us.

3. It provided us with a certificate of attendance honored by major hospitals. Some hospitals are strict when it comes to permitting the father to be in the labor room. They require proof that the father attended a birthing class. In our case, we did not need to present our certificate, but it gave me peace of mind to know we had it just in case.

4. It gave us access to many discounts and freebies from baby companies. Rome invited various company representatives to pitch baby products at the end of every session. The representatives usually gave freebies and discounts exclusive to attendees of the birthing class. We were able to save a lot of money on big ticket items for Wolf, such as his stroller and baby carrier!

5. We gained a solid parenting support group. It’s really valuable for us to have gained many mommy and daddy friends through our birthing class. We still keep in touch through our Viber group, and so we’re able to support each other as our babies reach their milestones. It really helps that our babies are all practically the same age (Wolf is around a month younger than most of the babies), and so we encounter the same issues simultaneously.

To learn more about Rome’s birthing class, you may contact Rome Kanapi at 63-917-541-5114.

Last week, we had our first birthing class reunion, wherein our babies were able to meet one another for the first time. It was expertly organized by our classmate Angel, who used to work in the events industry. We had lunch and a few activities (Name the Baby, Baby Fashion Show, and Music and Movement). It was really fun meeting our classmates again and seeing all our babies together. I’m already looking forward to the next reunion!

birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Spot us in red! Wolf was busy eating his hands most of the time!
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Among the three boy babies, Wolf is the youngest and the smallest. ☺️
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Wolf stopped eating his hands to comfort his crying classmate. 😘
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Mommies, daddies, and babies wearing one color per family. We’re team red! ❤️
Dad with six month old baby
My boys! 😍
six month old baby in birthing class reunion game
Wolf in his purple royal garb! Our team won! 👏
Six month old baby with mom and dad
Wolf is defending his territory. 😅
happy family at birthing class reunion with six month old babies
Our happy family ❤️❤️❤️
birthing class reunion with six month old babies
All mommies with our adorable babies and birthing class teacher, Rome! 😍

Parenting

A Letter to My Son on His Fourth Month in the World

baby sleeping soundly on my chest

Dear Baby Wolf, 

As I type this, you are sleeping peacefully on my tummy, in a deep slumber that is such a rare occurrence for you. This deep slumber is the aftermath of several hours of fitful naps that left you really tired. Your sleep is often light, causing you to twitch and wake easily even when I shift my body ever so slightly. Your sleep is also never too long, usually just one to two hours at a time. These four months have been exhausting for me. I used to need to sleep at least eight hours to feel fully rested. But these past months, I was lucky to get even three. 

Before you were born, I used to demand those eight hours of sleep every night. I would require the lights out by 10 pm, much to the frustration of your Dad, who would sneak in some PS4 time in the wee hours, playing at the lowest volume and hoping I wouldn’t wake up. When I did wake up, I complained to the high heavens, especially when I was pregnant with you.

I used to be demanding. I used to complain and get my way often. There are a lot of things I used to be that I no longer am and may never be again. Because of you.

You came into this world, and I met my match. You were way more demanding, and way more in need. I was no longer the one who would get my way. I could not sleep when I wanted. I could not eat or bathe when I pleased. I could not go out whenever I felt like it. Your needs and wants would come before mine, because they were more urgent, and you were more helpless. All of this I realized, and all of this, I embraced.

You are amazing, baby. You changed me. I am more patient, more understanding, less selfish. I would say I’m just as passionate and ambitious, but these traits are now mainly focused towards being the best mother I can be for you.

I am exhausted right now. But I am not complaining nor demanding rest. I am gazing at your angelic face and thanking God that you are sleeping soundly.

I love you Baby Wolf. Happy four months! Thank you for making me a better person. Thank you for making me a mother.

 

Yours always,

Mom