Saturday, August 4, 2012

Let Us Pray

I'm Catholic. I went to an all girls high school run by Catholic nuns. I got married under Catholic rites. I had my child baptized Catholic. Its very likely that he'll go to a Catholic school. Lately however, I've been wondering if I want to continue being a Catholic in the Philippines. You see, contrary to what the leaders of the Catholic Church in this country want me to do, I've been praying very very hard for the passage of the Reproductive Health bill. 

My pregnancy was planned. Immediately after the pregnancy test, we went to an obstetrician. Because I was 34 and borderline hypertensive, my doctor required me to have several ultrasound exams in the course of my pregnancy. On my 8th week ultrasound, my doctor found internal bleeding in my uterus and I was given medication and put on bed rest. As my baby grew bigger, the ultrasound showed his umbilical cord was wound around his neck. I gave birth via emergency C-section because my water had broken hours earlier, my baby's heartbeat was getting faint and my cervix still wasn't open wide enough for a normal birth. 

As you can see from previous posts, my baby is growing up to be a healthy little boy. That would not have been possible had I not been given the best medical care while I was pregnant and giving birth. We got the best care because we had access to it. 

However, millions of Filipino mothers give birth without ever seeing a doctor, they have no idea that something as easy as taking folic acid every day can help their baby's development, or that they are not supposed to smoke or eat raw food while they are pregnant. I wonder what percentage of pregnant mothers in the Philippines have access to and have had an ultrasound in the course of their pregnancy. 

In 2011, the maternal mortality rate in the Philippines rose to 221 per 100,000 live births from 162 live births in 2010. Under the Millenium Development Goals set for the Philippines, the target is to lower is to 52 per 100,000 live births. You can find this information here. As you can see, we are clearly way off the mark. 

Perhaps, one factor that contributed to this increase in maternal mortality is the alarming surge of teenage pregnancies in the Philippines for the past 10 years. 

According to the UNFPA, the number of teenage pregnancies in the country rose to a whopping 70 percent from 114,205 in 1999 to 195,662 in 2009. 

At the rate of 53 births per 1000 women aged 15 to 19, the teenage pregnancy rate in the Philippines is the highest in South East Asia! 

In 2009 alone, 11 percent of the 1.75 million live births were from teenage mothers. I got these figures from this news article. 

Things got even worse in 2010. In this December 2011 article in the Manila Bulletin website, 

"A World Bank study revealed that the Philippines is among the top 10 countries with an escalating population of teenage mothers.
Seven out of 10 Filipino mothers are adolescents ages 19 years old and below. As of 2010, there are at least four million young mothers in the Philippines and at least 10 mothers die during childbirth everyday based on statistics by the United Nations Family Planning Association (UNFPA)."

How will passing the RH Bill address these problems?

Here are ten good reasons to pass the RH Bill now from the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN). They have been lobbying for the passage of this bill for the longest time and have withstood all sorts of criticism and abusive language from those who claim to be pro-life, some going as far as condemning their souls to hell.

I believe in the power of prayer. And so, like the bishops said, I will pray. I will pray for the souls of all those mothers who die every day during child birth. I will ask for God's mercy for all the mothers in this country. I will pray for the enlightenment of our representatives in Congress, that at the moment when we need them the most, they will not abandon us. That they will choose to do what is right by us. That they will pass the RH Bill. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wish List: Libraries to Build Dreams In

I am one of those people who consider books to be a basic human need and have always dreamed of building a library that would be accessible to all.  

It speaks so much about us as a people that we have thousands of internet cafes but only a handful of libraries. The few public libraries that we do have are not exactly inviting. When I was younger I used to visit the Cebu City Public Library to check out the Encyclopedia Britannica but aside from that and some newspapers, there wasn't much to read. 

Now that I have a child of my own, I am bent on raising him to be a reader and to develop a love for books.   He seems to be well on his way. I wish there was a place we could visit where we'd be surrounded by books and we could hang out and play if we wanted or listen to stories being read. I wish we had a children's library. 

This is the Norfolk & Norwich Children's Library which is featured in the database of 

This is the Cotsen Children's Library at the Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library in Princeton University.
I wouldn't mind spending an entire afternoon or more here. Isn't it beautiful?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wish List: Access to Safe Playgrounds

This is one of the 21 playgrounds of Central Park in Manhattan, called the Tots Playground, specially designed for toddlers. The other 20 playgrounds scattered around the park have different themes and are suitable for children of different ages.

I wish there was a safe playground for Luis nearby. The closest thing we have to a playground is the Bacolod Government Center grounds but its really just a patch of grass with a fountain. Panaad Stadium is walking distance but there's nothing much for Luis to do except ride his stroller while we're there. There's a playground at the Capitol Lagoon with see-saws and swings but nothing safe for a toddler who's still learning to walk and stand.

Just now I came across Daphne Osena Paez's blog about the free playgrounds at Bonifacio Global City, and I am so envious.

I wish local governments would consider building safe playgrounds instead of waiting sheds and "Welcome" arches.

Photo from the Central Park official website

From Infant to Toddler and a Wish List

Time flies so fast. In a little over a month Luis will turn one.
It's amazing how much a baby grows and learns in the first year.

Luis now cruises in his crib (a second one after he broke the first by jumping so hard) and learning to stand up on his own. 
He loves being read to and already shows his preference for some books over others.
He is fascinated by Colgate commercials and those MTRCB warnings before TV shows start.
He has a crush on KC Concepcion and that baby girl at the start of the Brainy Baby DVDs.
He smiles when I sing "Favorite Things" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to him.
He does the "close-open" trick his dad taught him when he's bored and holds my wrist when I do it like his dad holds his.
He gets angry when I turn off his Brainy Baby DVD or when I stop reading a book he likes to hear again and again and again.

As he grows, I take note of toys, books and other stuff that could be great for him. I'm posting it here so I won't forget and for my mommy friends to comment if its a good idea or not:

Lego Duplo

I love Lego. Its great that they made a set for toddlers as young as 18 months. I might end up playing with this as much as Luis.

More Karen Katz books

Luis loves "What Does Baby Say". These books are not easy to find here. I got one from Booksale. I hope Booksale stocks up. These books are great because they have big letters, wonderful illustration and Luis loves the lift-the-flap pages.

Baby Musical Instruments

His favorite in the Brainy Baby series is Music. It would be awesome if he grows up and decides he wants to learn to play a musical instrument, but even if he won't, banging on these would be great fun for babies, I think.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wonder Boy

Oh baby I pray you always see the world with wonder in your eyes. It's a beautiful world babe, despite its heartaches and tragedies, it's still a beautiful world.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Luis Everyday

In his 3rd month Luis has learned

to make friends with his toys

to use his fingers for putting things in his mouth

to let us know when he likes something

and when he doesn't

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Own Personal Painkiller

Anyone who tells you motherhood is easy is either lying or in denial. No matter how many books you've read on the subject matter, you are never really prepared for all the drastic changes that will take place.

My body clock, for instance, no longer exists. I used to be a night owl and could never function as well early in the morning. By early, i mean anytime before 10:00 o'clock. Bedtime was always a little before or a little after midnight. A good night's rest meant 8-10 hours of sleep, maybe even more on weekends. When i skip sleep for just a night, i get an achy body and possibly a bad headache the following day.

I have slept an average of 3-4 hours since I gave birth, or on a really good night, when my husband takes over feeding the baby, i can go as long as 5-6, in 2-3 hour increments. What continues to amaze me, is that despite the lack of sleep, I have never been sick and can function quite well, with occasional groggy moments. Although my body aches all over, some parts achier than others, it has never been so bad that I couldn't pick up the baby when he needs me.

Speaking of aches, my tolerance for pain used to be non-existent. During labor I was calling out for epidural until the doctors took pity on me. My dearest dentist friend laughs about how much oral anesthesia I need for an ordinary teeth cleaning session. Heck, I can't even tolerate pain from an ingrown nail. But in the hospital, after giving birth, I was sitting up 24 hours after my C-section because I wanted to be well enough to see my baby. When Luis was brought in to room with us, 48 hours later, I would stand up when he needed to be changed. My wound hurt like hell but I ignored the pain. I still don't know how I managed to do that.

There have been moments when I have been reduced to tears because Luis would not stop bawling no matter what I did to comfort him, and since he is a colicky baby this happens quite often. Anyone who knows me well can attest to my impatience and colic has been such a struggle. When this just started (when Luis was around 3 weeks old), I would get frantic and anxious. I can't say its better now but I am no longer freaking out as much.

The only explanation I can think of for these changes is that having another human being completely dependent on us for survival motivates us to forget the pain and exhaustion, perhaps even changing something in our brain's wiring that allows us to go beyond our own needs and wants to satisfy that of our child's? My entire body is aching but when Luis does that funny sleeping giggle of his while I'm holding him, I feel the pain but I don't care. Now I understand why my friend says her baby is her daily dose of prozac and xanax.