A Working Mom’s Schedule: A Guide to Keep Your Sanity (Hopefully)

I do think women can have it all. Just not at the same time.

- Madeleine Albright (former US Secretary of State)

workingmomgraphic

This has been my mantra for the past couple of weeks when I started working back in the office after the maternity leave. Not many knew about my post-partum depression of being a working mother and leaving the baby at home.

BUT in God’s grace, I am progressively dealing with the circumstance and overcoming the challenges.

FYI, this post is:

  • For those of us who are the breadwinners of their families and cannot sacrifice their income contribution yet
  • For all full-time working moms who are still in that phase of actively waiting for that ideal “work-at-home” opportunity
  • And for those of us who do not balance, but JUGGLE work-family life

I have listed my own share of a “Working Mom’s Schedule” hopefully to help you out in this crazy phase of your motherhood.

Big shout-outs go especially to working mothers with newborns!

6.15am – Wake up. Prepare my office baon (last night’s dinner + the local bakery’s pandesal for breakfast)

6.30am – Bath. Dress up. Handbag was prepared last night pa.

7.10am – Kiss hubby and baby good bye. Commute, go!

7.45 – 8am – log-in to work.

8am – 5pm – CORPORATE SLAVERY HAPPENING

5.15-5.30pm – Out of the building to go home.

5.30-6pm – drop by the grocery if I need fresh ingredients/meat for dinner

6.30-7pm – Home. Rest. Play with the baby

7-7.30pm – Give Summer a bath. Prepare her milk and diaper for the night.

7.30-8pm – Prepare dinner

8pm – Yaya eats dinner. I put the baby to sleep (most of the time, I’m not successful)

8.30pm – Husband and wife dinner and bonding time

9pm – Baby decides she’s not sleepy yet and needs me to soothe her AGAIN. I put her back to sleep AGAIN (most of the time, successful!)

9.30pm – I take a bath and prepare my things for tomorrow

10pm – Collapse

6.30-7am the following day – Summer decides to wake up just in time for mom’s morning alarm!

Me and the hubby take alternate days of doing middle-of-the-night feeding + diaper change for the baby. I do the MWF-Sundays. I get “me time” on Thursdays (I don’t think I ever used this privilege). My husband takes up Wednesdays. Saturdays, my yaya is off from work starting at 5pm and returns the following day, same time. Sundays are strictly family days.

So far so good. This schedule is working for us. Routine keeps stability in the home – and mommy gets to keep her sanity in check.

How about you? What’s your working-mom schedule?

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Little Miss Summer Cupcakery

Baking is my refresh button.

Choco-Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Choco-Cream Cheese Cupcakes

For some it’s reading, or meditation. But for me when life gets too hectic and I need a breather, baking is my antidote.

It took me several months before I realized that being a (time)control-freak is pointless. Heck, I have to make the best out of my time by doing what I truly love. And making cupcakes is one of them. So enough of the dramatic foreword, I’d like to introduce to you my sweet little business – Little Miss Summer Cupcakery! (and yes, my daughter’s name is Summer Maria :))

I am not a pastry expert or some cool culinary graduate. I started baking via DIY efforts with the help of the world-wide-web. Having a sweet-tooth, I figured I could save a lot of bucks while having constant access to my favorite desserts by baking it all myself. As expected, there were a lot of trials and errors before I was able to perfect my *secret* recipes for:

Choco Cream-Cheese Cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

Choco Cream-Cheese Cupcakes (topped with white choco-chips) by Little Miss Summer

Super-moist chocolate cupcakes that you actually no longer need frosting!

Banana-Raisin Muffins by Little Miss Summer

Although not included in the picture, I frost my banana muffins with chocolate cream cheese topped with white chocolate chips, as well.

Packed and creamy Banana-Raisin Muffins!

Red-Velvet Cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

Red-Velvet Cupcakes topped with cream cheese or chocolate-cream cheese frosting – Your choice!

Currently I am in the process of refining my Red-Velvet Cupcake recipe

carrot cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

The Peg (for now): Carrot Cupcakes by Little Miss Summer

and will soon offer my mom’s favorite creation of mine – Carrot Cupcakes!

Little Miss Summer Cupcakery

My USP (Unique Selling Point): The TASTE. I’m not really a fan of fondant icing as I’ve observed it tends to produce the same taste among cupcake varieties. And it is really more for aesthetics. My cupcakes are different in the sense that I capitalize on the goodness of each cupcake flavor. I make sure they come out packed and moist. They are also versatile as they can serve as part of your party dessert buffet, be made as souvenirs/gifts, or just be an out of the ordinary treat for a snack.

Payment Terms: Cash on Delivery. I normally do not take pre-order payments for your convenience – unless we have an exceptional bulk of orders from you.

Shipment Procedure: I personally deliver my cupcakes, or do meet-ups around Makati or Pasay.

How you can reach me: Please like and message me on Facebook, or send email to: lmscupcakery@gmail.com, or just call/text at 0917.523.0118

As a last note:

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First Mommy Birthday

It feels more like my official entry to adulthood when I turned 29 and became a mom. Turning a year older is now a big deal for me. I remember when I was still single, I had no special plans but to sleep it out the whole day. It was both boring and exhausting working 5 days a week and coming home to an empty apartment with takeout food for dinner. No one to take care of but myself, most of the time.

But now look what a difference a year can make!

I have to constantly ask myself if this is real. Every night, I come home to a smiling baby, cook dinner for my husband, and make a quick fix of the house. I’m glad we all sleep through the night because finally, the little one knows the drill by now. It’s pretty routine but it is no longer boring. Exhausting yes, but I don’t mind because this is what brings meaning to my everyday. Now it’s easier to answer that coffee commercial we see on TV, “Para kanino ka bumabangon?”

Sorry I can’t resist not to include her picture here. Toothless tawa :)

I may not have the same amount of money at my disposal, or even that top level career I once dreamed of. But I know I now have what I have always wished for. Grace has flown into my life in measures and ways beyond my asking. It has filled my heart with that kind of joy that I’d rather choose cooking over shopping any day (well, except when there’s a baby sale I cannot resist!) :)

In my 29th year I am in the middle of life’s sweet embrace. In all its fullness, I am humbled by God’s perfect plan and timing in our lives. When you have a loving family, a supportive bunch of long-time friends, and a constant love from above – Getting into that final year in your 20′s is like a grand entrance to more good things ahead. And that’s definitely a very happy birthday!

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Gonna be a Working Mom

The past 2 months have been one of the most exciting phases of my life. I have delivered a baby girl, started and established my mommy routines, and is now currently a work-from-home mother. Not to mention having organized a baptism party for our little one just a week ago.

The start of this journey has been real amazing! And here’s our little family pic to prove the point, hehe!

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I can say I am settling well into the WAHM (work-at-home-mom) setup. Thank God for yayabells, I have my sanity intact! There is work-life balance. Our meals are healthy. House is not too chaotic as I expected it to be. My husband still loves me (I hope! Haha!).

Life is not always easy, but I still think it is treating me fair and square. I am enjoying Summer so much as she is now able to coo and smile when we talk to her.

 

Sorry for being a stage momma, but check out how cute she is! :)

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I can’t believe she’s hooked into Disney Babies on YouTube this early! Watching her get all perky and delighted while staring at the Android screen watching cartoons is by now, my life’s greatest wonder.

So this leaves me to having a surge of separation anxiety… Monday will come in a few days and I’ll be working in the office again. I’m still not so sure if my client will allow me to work a few days at home. That would be a favorable set-up. I wish! wish! wish!

But really, I think it isn’t just going back to work that hunts me now. I feel more like a 20-ish girl at a certain point of her quarter-life-crisis (by the way, I’m turning 29 in a few days, yeah I’m old like that!). Some questions that keep bugging me at night especially when I’m rocking the babe to sleep, are:

  • Is this the kind of work that I want to do for the rest of my life?
  • What is that one thing that I definitely love doing that it has never felt like working?
  • Can I achieve security if I quit and move into a work-from-home career?
  • Should I really feel guilty as an office-working mother?
  • Am I simply underestimating myself or am I just too fearful of life?

Whatever the answers are (and I can tell you, I don’t know them yet), I’m keeping my hopes alive. I know there are a lot more other things in store for me and our little family. Isn’t life’s supposed to be a continuous fulfilling of your purpose? I’d like that to happen one day. So here’s my little memo to the universe:

“When we let go of our fears, do what we love, and just take it one step at a time – we can have it all!”

– Masha Malka, You Can Have it All, Chicken Soup for the Stay at Home Moms.

What to watch out for:

The first week of July is my birthday week. During that time, I’ll be launching a test business I have long been wanting to do. I’d like to connect more with YOU here and here so we can make good (and yummy!) treats together – there goes my clue! :)

To make your brand a success, contact: http://www.designsandprintsph.com/

 

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Here Comes Mommyhood!

My first Mother’s Day wasn’t so grand as I expected it to be. But definitely, the day had all the meaning to it.

Summer, my then less-than-a-month-old baby girl was rushed to the emergency room because her mom and dad couldn’t stop her crying. I thought something was wrong with my baby: a difficult cold, onset of asthma, or illness I couldn’t detect. To cut the story short, it was a terrible case of stomach gas! After 30 minutes, the resident doctor sent us home with the prescribed medicine.

Yes, we looked like silly first-time parents unprepared for anything.

I remember weeks before that incident, I had my share of being reduced to tears by a mega-fussy 3-week old baby. She wouldn’t sleep while crying her heart out. Lucky for me, my own parents came to my room to get Summer. Surely, it was my mother who was able to quiet her down.

On the eve of Mother’s Day while getting ready for the ER, I was crying because of a pus in my lips. It wasn’t the pain that got me but the worry that I wouldn’t be able to take care of my baby because I’m both weak and exhausted. I knew I am about to face yet another sleepless night that evening with an irritable newborn.

Motherhood is difficult. The most challenging job I ever took.

My darling Summer Maria – looking more like a flower pot!

But true as what other moms say, the pain of sacrifice fades away when you see your child looking at you – needing your care, asking for your touch and warmth. I know kids grow up fast and there might come a point in time when our children won’t need us as much. So better to savor the experiences both good and not so good :) After all, nothing in this world ever lasts.

To all FTMs like me, I know one day we can all look back and say, we’ve passed the test! And it’s alright if sometimes we feel we’re not meeting the standards of motherhood. I am certain mothers know what’s best for their own child. Modern family life can put so much pressure on us mommies. But do remember that we already have all that we need in order to fulfill this role.

With all these first time experiences, I can only be ever so grateful to my own mom who has helped me through and through even if I have become a mother myself.

Happy Mother’s Month daw ang May! :)

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Summer’s Birth Story

“Know that you will find joy after the trial. And that you will be happy and thankful that you have suffered.”

These are the words I got from a bowl of messages from St. Therese of The Child Jesus. I attended the mass when her relics were brought to the Shrine of St. Therese 2 days before I gave birth to Summer Maria. At that time I was on the verge of impatience as my hands and feet and belly were so swollen waiting for the big day to come. Gladly it only took a few days before I got wheeled to the delivery room.

True enough, I can only be thankful that the worst is over. But that’s getting ahead of the birth story. Here’s the blow-by-blow account:

April 15, 2013. Breaking water bags don’t always make a sound – or a river

4:10am. Remember those TV commercials when women would see flowing water through their legs? Or those mothers who tell you that you’ll hear a sound once your water bag breaks? They’re not always true. I just had my panties soaking wet, I thought it was the regular discharge brought on by pregnancy. Nevertheless, I called my OB and she instructed me to change. If the wetness continues within 10 minutes, I should call her again. So it did happen again, but stopped quickly. I didn’t make the call until around 6am.

6:00am. Contractions started 5:00am and lasted for an hour. It came every 5 minutes. They were tolerable – much like dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps). I don’t usually get them when I have my period so the pain that morning was very distinct compared to belly contractions I felt days before labor day. Some women’s nesting instinct would mean making some quick house clean-up or storing food in the fridge. I’ve had that for weeks already. But on this particular morning, I could not resist the temptation to lather tuna spread on my pandesal for my breakfast! Haha! I figured if I go into labor today, I need food for energy.

Then, I finally called my doctor. She asked if I wanted to head to the hospital. I’m actually booked for an appointment with her that day by 1pm. So I just said I’ll wait until I cannot hold it any more and I’ll probably check in before 1pm. And of course she agreed. OBs do not want women na 1cm dilated pa lang. Hehe.

7:00am. In between contraction intervals: I took a bath, packed additional items to my hospital bags, texted family and friends that we’re anticipating the birth today. My aunt came after a few minutes to check on me. Husband and I were still watching TV that time. I could not believe I actually made it until sweldo day (the 15th) before giving birth hehe.. Mother’s instinct, I guess. I had an inkling I will give birth on the 15th.

Stronger, Closer, Longer: Contractions that spell labor!

So my aunt asked how far in between am I getting the contractions. I said, it’s every 5 minutes. She was surprised I’m still not heading out the door! I was actually planning to get out by 8am, but she insisted that Romer should get a cab now na! I think sineryoso ko talaga ang “Don’t rush to the hospital until you can’t bear it anymore.” Hehehe! Obviously, I didn’t know what kind of pain I was waiting for.

7:30am. Out the door and into the cab ride. Warning: Do not try to wait any longer if you’re giving birth on a Monday and you’re Makati-bound. The traffic spares no mercy even for cars with pregnant passengers!!

8:00am. Emergency Room check-in. I remember getting out of the cab and asking the guard for a stretcher. Haha! Until now I can’t believe they made me stand there at the hospital door waiting for the wheel chair. There wasn’t one outside, so an aid had to get one inside pa. I felt terrified! Husband was in full charge of our belongings and documents to show to the ER staff.

8:30am. First IE – 3cm dilated. Signed some papers for epidural procedure. Got hooked to an IV. The ER Nurses at St. Clare Medical in Makati were nice and efficient. Husband was busy giving out the admission slip from our doctor and made the initial cash deposit.

9:00am. I got wheeled to the labor room. Everyone was kind to me. Luckily, I was the only patient there. I got the fetal monitor device strapped onto me. They were checking my contractions, too. From my doctor’s orders, they made me take Buscopan via IV to help me dilate.

Doctors come in groupies :)

9:30am. My OB Dra. Lynn Ramirez-Amurao has arrived in the labor room. She was calm and did an IE immediately: 6-7 cm na! She asked for the nurses to get me sedated so I can rest during contractions. She also phoned the anesthesiologist  These doctors, they are a tag team: from the OB – to the Anes – to the Pedia. Parang SEO team lang :)

12 noon. I was under sedation, thank God. Labor was tolerable. When the anesthesiologist has arrived, I was given the epidural. Yes, it was painful and makes you feel cold. I was bent into a fetal position as the needle was inserted at my back. It was okay. A nurse was there to comfort me during the procedure. They didn’t numb me 100% from the waist down. I had sensations on my right leg every time the baby’s head descends. I got back into a lying position afterwards.

Epidurals also have side effects

I was told the baby is moving back upwards again because the pain reliever relaxed my muscles. And so I was asked to go back from a lying position to the previous fetal position.

It was lunch break when I felt that the pain was already too much in my right leg. That means baby is ready to be out. I was lucky to spot my doctor when she passed by my bed. I called on to her and told her, “Ang sakit na doc!”

Delivery Room Drama

1:00pm. My OB checked the baby’s head – it was ready to go. But she noticed its heartbeat was fluctuating! The horror! That was when she called every one to move fast, fast, fast! She instructed the nurse to increase my oxygen supply so the baby can breathe more. They wheeled me immediately to the delivery room. I fought the panic by praying. I didn’t want to give in to the danger. I know God promised me this baby.

No to C-Section No Matter What!

1:00-1:30pm. They got me shaved, legs spread out and lifted up. Since there was no other patient giving birth, the whole nursing team was onto me. Yes, everybody saw me down there – except me! I was getting exhausted from the pain of my right leg. Confused at the same time because I’m not quite sure how to push (So for all FTMs, I suggest you get yourself into a birthing class!).

My muscles were tensed. I was instructed to inhale deeply, then hold my breath for 10 seconds while pushing. No sound to produce (ano ‘to, Scientology??). Everything they said about giving birth was true – Mahirap, at buwis-buhay! I couldn’t hold my breath for 10 counts. I had to gasp for air in the middle of the counting because I just couldn’t take it any more. One of the male nurses had to push my stomach (like what you do sa toothpaste) to assist my pushing. It was terrible, I was about to puke every time he did that. The doctor asked him to stop for a while and allow me to ‘make bwelo‘ and push by myself. I felt relieved but after 3 pushes, I still can’t get my baby out into the world.

Then the OB blurted out, “I’m telling you pag in 15 mins hindi pa ito makalabas i-ccs kita. Konting-konti na lang. Ilabas mo pa ng konti yung head and I can get it out. Tiisin mo lang. Kanina ang galing mo mag push.

Oh my God, I really did not want to have an emergency C-section. 15 minutes na lang, I should DO IT! THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. I was praying desperately – asking for Mama Mary’s intercession. I knew I needed help. Thoughts came running into my mind: I have to get my baby alive. I have to give my husband his child.

“Suddenly I realized how grateful we all should be to our own mothers. Words are simply not enough to tell you how a mother can willfully risk her life for her child and family.”

Even though there were points in time during the whole saga when I wanted to call it quits and just give in to a CS procedure, I knew in my heart I just have to give it ONE MORE PUSH!

I hear my doctor repeatedly say, “Romela, tiisin mo yung pain. Isipin mo yung baby mo. Kung nahihirapan ka, mas nahihirapan sya .” And so I called on to the whole team, “Okay everyone, let’s do this one more time!” I had to say that every time I feel the contractions coming again. You only push when there is a contraction. My OB had to cut me deep (skin and muscles from the vajayjay then a bit angled to my right butt muscle so it won’t reach the anus. Sorry TMI. 4th degree episiotomy ito – the most painful one!). I shouted, “Ang saket!!!” That was the anesthesiologist’s cue: Additional pain reliever, please!

My OB had to resort to cutting me so the forceps can enter and lock into my baby’s head. Note that not all normal deliveries require getting a cut. In my case, I was really having a hard time pushing. Finally after like my nth push in time, my baby’s head engaged and the forceps got locked in.

Then I felt a very warm sort of air getting released out of me as I saw my baby up into the world! She didn’t immediately cry for a few seconds. Then after a while, that was when I heard her wail out loud. Thank you, Jesus!

1:37pm. Summer Maria Ortega has gotten out of her placenta shell :)

Nurses are great in anticipating events. In just a few seconds, I saw my red digital camera being flashed onto me and my baby. That was the first time I saw her up close. I think I smirked a bit, haha! I didn’t know if I should smile or throw a tantrum after all that was done to me. Hehehe!

But I was just.so.relieved.

My OB and a nurse spent some more time stitching me up. I didn’t feel anything. I was so sleepy and I felt my tummy deflated. I was still a bit awake when I heard my OB say that she’ll note down sa Philhealth na “Assisted Birth” instead of “NSD” so I can get a bigger discount. She had to use the forceps, kasi.

Ay salamat naman. At least hindi ako na-cs… may discount pa! What I didn’t know was the pain that was to endure. All my mommy friends tell me how painful it is to labor and give birth. But no one has told me about the pain of episiotomy. I’ll save this one in another post.

2 hours I spent inside the recovery room. My nurses are now having their lunch. My husband has seen our new bundle of joy. And me? Oh well, I was always half-asleep and eager to see my husband and baby. Take note, I gave birth without our parents with us in the hospital. It was just me and Romer. I felt so grown-up!

To cap it off, I just want to say that God is good. He delivers on time – and makes all things new.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 

- 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Waiting (Im)patiently: 37 weeks!

I have a group of favorite girl friends and we dub ourselves the #LowEQ Marses!! Why? It’s simply because we can’t stand waiting for life to happen. Whenever there’s a new opportunity or life-changing event that is soon to unfold, we try to find ways to hasten the situation – usually to no avail! Thus, we find our low-EQ selves impatiently waiting for the right time.

And now that I’m soon to pop my first baby in just a few weeks short of a full month, you can imagine the stress of having to wait, wait, and wait!! Even if my OB says she can induce me to give birth on my preferred date, it’s still the best idea to wait until the little one (and my body) are ready for the big day.

preggy at 37 weeks

Me @37 weeks going on 38 now. Notice that my belly is still up too high – and yes, I’m so swollen!!

All my mommy-friends have advised me to get more sleep as much as I can because once the baby arrives, I’ll be joining the zombie party. To make waiting easier, I’ve also been told to move around and walk daily. This they say can help me get the baby into position towards my cervix. Seriously, I’m thinking of getting into a treadmill just to get on with the birth as soon as possible. The only thing stopping me from doing so is the fact that I still have a bunch of SEO reports to submit. Quite anxious about leaving work assignments actually, despite turning over my files in sharp detail = Hashtag, #OC.

Anyway, just to be a bit of help for FTMs (first-time-moms) like me, I’ve sorted out a 15-item checklist to accomplish in case waiting has gotten the best of you in this crucial pre-mom time of your life:

  1. Wash and iron baby clothes
  2. Prepare all your baby’s stuff in his/her cabinet or room
  3. Prepare hospital bag. You can refer to this list (promise essentials lang yan)
  4. Sort out all healthcare and legal documents to bring in separate envelopes/folders
  5. Make sure you have extra copies of your birth plan, admission slip from the OB, ultrasound results
  6. Make sure your digital camera is ready for the big event.
  7. Stock up on groceries & frozen meals in preparation for your return from the hospital
  8. Enlist household or nanny help while you still have time
  9. Contact neighbours/friends/relatives who are willing to drive you to the hospital in case hubby’s not around
  10. Walk around the neighbourhood/park/even inside your own home to boost your energy levels
  11. Spend time with your husband. Go on dates while you still can
  12. Sleep more
  13. Finish a project you’ve been meaning to accomplish (i.e. reading a book, learning a new recipe, baking, arts & crafts, etc.)
  14. Some women continue working while in their 9th month. I still work – but from home now.
  15. Pray that everything will be swift and safe!

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