Why I Love My Li’l Kash Pump Bag

For the tiniest people in the household, babies sure need a truckload of stuff. From layers and layers of clothing, to diapers, to alcohol and wet wipes, leaving the house with a baby is a major operation. One advantage of being a breastfeeding mom is that unlike formula-feeding moms, you don’t need to bring bottles, water, and formula when you go out with your baby. On the flip side though, when a formula-feeding mom goes out without her baby, she doesn’t need anything extra, whereas a breastfeeding mom will need to bring a breast pump, storage bottles, and accessories for expressing milk!

It’s important to invest in a pump bag to protect your breast pump and your milk. You can’t use just any bag. It needs to be insulated and designed to accommodate your pump and pumping accessories. Unfortunately, most pump bags don’t come cheap, costing P2,000 and above. Well, that’s not cheap for me, because as I mentioned before, I’m not into keeping up with the latest fashion trends, and so most of the bags I use are gifts I get for Christmas. Haha. I didn’t want to shell out more than P2,000 for a bag. There had to be a more affordable option!

Luckily, I stumbled upon Li’l Kash, a local brand that sells pump bags for P1,000 (for the mini pump bag) to P1,500 (for the power pump bag). The mini pump bag is designed to house smaller pumps, whereas the power pump bag has more space. Fortunately, my pump is a Spectra 9S portable double electric, and so I required just the mini pump bag. There are many designs available, but each design is produced in small batches, and so the designs get sold out easily. That’s why as soon I spotted a design that I liked, I placed an order. I ordered online through Baby Mama, but you can also order directly from Li’l Kash.

Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
Me with my cute mini pump bag! ☺️

I’m very satisfied with my purchase. The bag was thoughtfully designed, with two compartments to separate your pump from your stored milk. Both compartments are insulated, allowing you the freedom to store your milk in either compartment. The bag is also structured so that the tubing of your pump does not get squished, thus extending the life span of your pump accessories. The structure also allows you to use the bag as a makeshift pumping station for when there is no pumping room available (such as when I pump in the car). I also love how lightweight and compact it is, making it easy to bring around anywhere. It’s so small that it looks like a cute lunchbox! In fact, it can be used as one when you’re no longer breastfeeding. 

Pump bag
The upper compartment where I store the milk bottles
Pump bag
The lower compartment where I store my breast pump

I got the chance to use it in my former office when I needed to report briefly before I made the decision to resign. 

Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
I was allowed to pump in our conference room. 😊
Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
Nowadays, I use it whenever I have string quartet gigs but can’t bring Wolf along because the venue isn’t conducive for babies. Most of the time, I have gigs in places wherein there is no suitable pumping room, and so I pump practically anywhere with the help of my handy dandy pump bag. The bag has definitely made my breastfeeding journey easier! It’s such a good buy, and I highly recommend it to all breastfeeding mommas. Happy pumping!

Breastfeeding mom with pump bag pumping milk
Pumping while waiting for our turn to go onstage
Breastfeeding mom with pump bag
My pumping tools all in one li’l bag! ❀️

Wolf’s Adorable Newborn PhotosΒ 

Recently, I wrote about our fun maternity shoot experience. We were so happy with the shoot that we decided to book Ida again for Wolf’s newborn shoot. A newborn shoot is a relatively new concept, wherein a baby is photographed very early on in their life. In Wolf’s case, we had his shoot when he was just shy of two weeks old. His fingers were still peeling!

Newborn baby sleeping Newborn baby sleeping poutingNewborn baby sleeping yawningNewborn baby sleeping smiling Newborn baby sleeping in basketNewborn baby in swaddle
Newborn shoots are difficult to execute, because the delicate state of the infant always has to be the highest priority. You can’t force infants not to cry, not to sleep, or not to feed. Also, infants need to feed really frequently, and they also poop really frequently. Haha. Once again though, Ida rose up to the challenge and delivered more than we expected. She and her two assistants were experts at positioning Wolf in his sleep and lulling him back to sleep whenever he would stir fretfully. When it was time for Wolf to nurse, Ida would take photos of me breastfeeding. Everything was done efficiently and with the baby’s comfort in mind.

mom and dad kissing newborn babynewborn baby in swaddle sleeping in mom's chestdad biting feet of newborn baby mom breastfeeding newborn baby

dad with newborn baby's poop on shirt
Wolf marked his territory! πŸ˜‚
dad with newborn babynewborn baby in basket with parentsnewborn baby sleeping on mom's chestdad kissing newborn babymom kissing newborn baby

The pictures were, once again, just gorgeous. Ida also includes in her packages illustrated photos, a really adorable idea especially for baby shoots.

newborn baby is sorted into slytherin at harry potter shoot
Oh look, he takes after Mom. 😎
newborn baby in basket with wolf illustration newborn baby sleeping with wolf illustrations newborn baby sleeping with wolf illustration
Looking back, I’m so happy we have beautiful pictures of the newborn Wolf, because babies grow and change features so rapidly! They really grow up too fast. I remember how displaced and sad I felt when I realized that I needed to resign from work to care for Wolf, but I know now that I’m really lucky that I get to spend so much time with my baby. It’s so rewarding to cuddle him, play with him, and be the one present as he reaches his milestones. When he was a newborn, all he could do was cry, eat, pee, poo, and sleep. Now he can also babble, shout, drool, roll over, grab things, wriggle-crawl, smile, and laugh! I remember when he discovered each of those new skills. I was the one there to smile and cheer him on. Those moments were priceless, bringing me joy that more than made up for all the times I felt tired and overwhelmed taking care of such a helpless being. Honestly, pictures can only scratch the surface in preserving the wondrous experience of raising a child. I’m just so fortunate that, being with Wolf 99% of the time, my heart is overflowing with memories with my baby boy. He won’t be a baby forever!

newborn baby in swaddle
Wolf at two weeks! 😍
five month old baby in red cardigan
Wolf at five months! ❀️ How time flies!

Wolf’s Baptism and Burger Bash

Last February 19, 2017, Wolf was baptized into the Catholic faith. It was his first ever party, and so I wanted it to be special, but I also didn’t want to break the bank. I wanted to stay within our budget of P40,000 yet still have a memorable event. I’m happy to report that I was able to do both. Below are my tips for those who want an affordable yet unique baptism.

1. Compare church fees.
Church baptism fees range from free (for public baptisms) to as high as P4000. Call the parish offices to get their updated rates.

our lady of pentecost parish baptism
Wolf was baptized at Our Lady of Pentecost Parish’s simple, open air baptistry.
our lady of pentecost parish facadebaptism baby manila philippines
baptism baby crying
Wolf was grumpy after a rough night. πŸ˜…
baptism candles DIY blue ribbon and twine
baby baptism carried by godmother
Wolf with Ninang Meimei and my mom
sleep-deprived new parents
Sleep-deprived parents πŸ˜…
baby baptized with holy waterbaby baptism carried by mombaby baptism with priest

2. Choose a restaurant for the reception, and consider foregoing the usual choices.
We decided that a restaurant would be more cost effective than an events place, because a restaurant does not have to be styled so much and does not charge a rental fee (you just have to meet their minimum consumable amount for food and drink). If you want the baptism reception to be unique, skip the usual restaurants–Max’s, Aristocrat, Mom and Tina’s, etc. Have it at a restaurant that’s significant to your family in some way. In our case, we picked our favorite burger joint, 8Cuts Burger Blends. We’re huge fans of burgers, and we suspect Wolf is a burger boy too! Why? Watch Wolf’s baptism video to find out.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception menu
Our menu cards provided by 8Cuts
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception
Nom nom nom! πŸ˜‹

3. Trim down your guest list. I know this is incredibly difficult to do in our country wherein it is customary to invite family and extended family, but this is a must if you want to stay within budget. Besides, I think keeping baptismal celebrations small is acceptable especially because people are aware that new parents would have had already shelled out a lot for the baby’s birth. For Wolf’s baptism, we invited just immediate family, Wolf’s godparents, and our wedding godparents. Our total headcount was 35 guests.

our lady of pentecost parish baptism with godparents
Wolf with his godparents
our lady of pentecost parish baptism with grandparents
Wolf with his grandparents
our lady of pentecost parish baptism with family and friends
Wolf with family and friends

4. DIY and go digital with invitations. I was able to create the invitation by editing templates online, and we sent it out through Facebook. Zero printing expense!

our lady of pentecost parish baptism invitation
Wolf’s baptism invitation

5. DIY decorations and giveaways. I was about to hire a stylist for the baptism because I’m no good at arts and crafts (think stick figure drawings), but one of Wolf’s godmothers, Michelle, said it would be such a waste of money, and volunteered to be in charge of it. What a lifesaver! She bought potted herbs, which were placed on the tables and doubled as the giveaways for guests. My sister, Jica, who is also Wolf’s godmother, set up a photo booth area and placed pictures of us with Wolf around the restaurant.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception 8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception DIY photo booth
My Mama Maeyet, my niece Shibby, and my sister Melay at the photo booth area
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception DIY photo booth decor
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception potted herbs DIY decor and giveaways

6. Keep entertainment short, sweet, and simple.
No one expects huge production numbers at baptism receptions. People just want to enjoy good food, revel in fine company, and admire the cute baby, of course! To give Wolf’s reception an extra twist, we asked our friends from the Manila String Machine to play a few classic rock hits and movie themes. Our family and friends were treated to string quartet renditions of The Beatles’ Come Together, AC/DC’s Back in Black, the theme from Game of Thrones, and a medley from Star Wars, among others.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception Manila String Machine string quartet special events
With our Manila String Machine family
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception Manila String Machine

7. Don’t forget to assign or hire a photographer.
Make sure you have pictures of the event to show your child when he or she’s old enough to appreciate them. We got our talented friend Ida to cover the event.

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception with godparents photographer ida roccio ferrer-david
Wolf with Ninong Chino, Tita Ninang Ida, and Ninong Kitt
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception with grandparents
Wolf with his Lala and Mamala
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception baby
Wolfgang just shy of two months 😍
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception grandfather
Wolf’s Lolo Joey
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception godmother
Wolf’s Ninang Jica
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception godfather
Wolf’s Ninong Chino
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception godmother
Wolf’s Ninang Michelle
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception beer
Start ’em young! πŸ˜‚
8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception with family
Wolf with Casey’s family

8. Join contests for a chance to win freebies for your event. Follow local mom support groups like Mommy Mundo. I joined one of their contests on Instagram and won free video coverage from Little Big Day by Jason Magbanua. Watch Wolf’s awesome baptism video here. 😊

We were able to stay within our budget and at the same time give Wolf a one-of-a-kind baptismal celebration. Our guests enjoyed meeting our baby, bobbed their heads to the live string quartet music, and savored the scrumptious burgers. I’m so happy that I can say with confidence that Wolf’s first party was a howling success!

8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception parents and baby 8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception parents and baby 8Cuts Burger Blends baptism reception parents kissing baby

My Confidence-Boosting Maternity Shoot

In the early months of my pregnancy with Wolf, I hemmed and hawed over scheduling a maternity shoot. I am normally not camera shy, but I am pretty sensitive about my weight. I wasn’t sure that documenting a particularly weighty (in more ways than one) time in my life would be a good idea. Eventually, I decided to go for it, because I reasoned that if I end up not liking the pictures, then no one else has to see them. I figured that it’s best to have a keepsake, as it might be the first and last time I’d be pregnant. Who knows, right?

Maternity shoots are best scheduled in the latter part of the third trimester, so that the bump is more obvious. The word “obvious” in my case was an understatement, because we had our shoot on November 30, 2016, less than a month before my due date. By that time, my tummy was really big already! 

Aside from the issue of my hugeness, I was also concerned about ensuring that we will get classy photos. I have seen so many maternity shoots that come out really tacky, which I believe is usually the fault of the photographer. If the photographer has a good eye and sense of style, the pictures will be tasteful. Thus, I made sure that the photographer I chose fit the bill. 

I decided to go with Ida Roccio Ferrer-David, one of our friends. Her rates are on the higher end, but based on my experience, they are justified. She knows how to strike a good balance between establishing rapport and being professional, she works quickly and efficiently while remaining sensitive to her client’s comfort, and her studio is beautifully and thoughtfully designed. It is an air conditioned glass house, which allows her to take advantage of natural lighting while her clients stay sweat-free. 

The day before the shoot, Ida checked in with me to ensure I was ready with our outfits and props. I’ve never been what you’d call fashionable or trendy (I’m the rare girl who hates shopping for clothes), and so I just prepared a blouse and pair of shorts and figured that if they’re not shoot-worthy, I’d go nude instead. Haha. Luckily, my outfit choice was nice enough for the shoot, though I had nude shots taken anyway, because those are what would bare the bump in all its glory! I included a few at the end of this post, so if you’re uncomfortable with such photos, don’t scroll down! For Casey’s outfits, I just made sure they were color-coordinated with mine. I went with a black, red, and cream color scheme. We didn’t bring any props except for red baby Toms (to match Casey’s shoes).

Couple holding baby shoes during maternity shoot Couple holding hands during maternity shoot
On the day of the shoot, we had no trouble finding the studio, as it’s searchable on Waze. Ida began by briefing us on the flow of the shoot and on the poses we’d be doing. We were to start with my solo shots, and then proceed to couple shots, at which point Casey mumbled to me, “What about my solo shots?” Uhhh hellooo, there’s a reason it’s called a MATERNITY shoot?! Ida was nice enough though to humor my vain husband by squeezing in a few solo dad shots. Haha!

Maternity photo of woman seated and smiling
Cradling my baby bump ☺️
Maternity photo of woman looking out window
One of my favorite shots 😍
Asian man wearing Toms sits on couch
The dadzilla strikes again!
Asian man relaxes on couch
He has a bump too. It’s just well hidden! πŸ˜›

It was the most tiring photo shoot I’ve ever had, but only because I was so heavily pregnant and I would tire really easily! Ida was always making sure that I was well hydrated and comfortable with each pose. We also took breaks whenever I needed them. She had two female assistants who were cheery and quick on their feet. The studio had curtains, and so I did not feel so exposed when the nude shots were being taken.

I did not regret having a maternity shoot, especially when the prints arrived. They were gorgeous! True to form, my husband saw me gushing over the pictures and said with a shrug, “Well, Ida had good models.” Hahaha. 

But seriously, I believe the success of the shoot had less to do with us and more to do with Ida. A bad photographer can make anyone look bad. Likewise, a good photographer can make anyone look good. I think that through the lens of a skilled photographer, everyone is photogenic. That’s why it’s important to choose a competent photographer, especially for a maternity shoot, because this is a time when you are vulnerable and self-conscious about your rapidly changing body. I made sure that I was in the hands of someone talented, who delivered photographs that boosted my confidence and made me proud of my heavily pregnant body. Rather than pay less and risk getting tacky, badly edited photos, I chose to spend a bit more so that I could be captured at my best, biggest, and most beautiful.

Maternity shoot in nature
This was taken outside the studio in Ida’s lush garden! 😍 Boudoir photos are posted below. Proceed with caution! πŸ˜‰
Boudoir maternity photoBoudoir maternity photo of woman kissed by husbandBoudoir maternity photo of woman hugged by husband Boudoir maternity photo of woman hugged and kissed by husband Boudoir maternity photo of woman lying downBoudoir maternity photo of woman lying down Maternity photo of woman leaning on husband Maternity photo of woman kissing husband

Giving Birth at St. Luke’s Global: The Good and the Bad

St. Luke’s is widely known in the Philippines for being one of the best, not to mention one of the most expensive, hospitals. I claim to be peso savvy, and so you may ask why I chose to give birth there. Let me clarify that when I say I am peso savvy, I do not mean to say that I am a cheapskate. I do my best to make wise monetary decisions in order to get the most bang for my buck. I don’t always pick the cheapest option, but I strive to get my money’s worth. And so now you may ask, was St. Luke’s worth our hard-earned cash? I hope to answer that in this post, wherein I enumerate the best and worst parts of my St. Luke’s experience.

The Good:

1. The hospital is clean, bright, and airy. Many public and some private hospitals have worn-down facades and dark halls that carry the stench of sickness. St. Luke’s is the opposite. The hospital makes me feel at ease.

2. You are not confined to hospital food. There are nice restaurants inside the hospital, such as Bizu, Via Mare, and Mary Grace. There are also many restaurants within walking distance, as the hospital is inside BGC.

3. They allow companions to be with you during labor. This was non-negotiable for me, because I wanted my husband to be my partner in birthing our son. We attended Lamaze classes, and he was the one who coached me through all the breathing techniques.

St. Luke's Global labor room
With Casey in the private labor room of St. Luke’s
pregnant woman prepares for labor
Getting ready for labor
husband gets ready for labor
Getting ready for labor πŸ˜‚

4. The rooms are more spacious. I’ve been to rooms in other private hospitals of a similar price point (Makati Med and The Medical City). The rooms in St. Luke’s BGC are relatively bigger. This was also important for me because I didn’t want my visitors to feel cramped. We got a Deluxe Private (because the dadzilla wanted a La-Z-Boy). Haha. But even their smallest room, the Small Private, may suffice.

St. Luke's Deluxe Private room
Recovering in the Deluxe Private room with the dadzilla’s La-Z-Boy in the background πŸ˜‚

5. They comply with the Milk Code and Unang Yakap. They also room in healthy babies with their mothers. This was another non-negotiable item for me, as I wanted to pursue exclusive breastfeeding with Wolf. I have heard stories of nurses in other hospitals giving formula to newborns while the mothers recovered from c sections, a practice that severely undermines breastfeeding success.

6. Most of the doctors and nurses were very attentive and caring. In particular, my ob gyne, Dr. Angela Aguilar, was so patient and supportive of my desire to deliver normally. Even when she told me that I would have to deliver via c section, I really felt that she did her best to try for normal. She waited until the very last moment and exhausted other options to encourage descent before declaring the need for a c section. I’d also like to commend the anesthesiologist present during my delivery, Dr. Allan Garcia. He was such a source of comfort to me, even stroking my hair while I was being prepped. I remember how the room was stark bright and the operating table was cold against my skin, and as I shivered in disappointment with myself, I clung to this doctor’s soothing words of encouragement.

Ob gyne helps dad cut cord
Dr. Aguilar helping Casey cut the umbilical cord
Nurse gives infant first bath
One of the nurses giving Wolf his first bath

The Bad:

1. The restroom in the labor unit was not thoroughly maintained. This was the only restroom with which I had an issue, as the others throughout the hospital were always clean. Unfortunately, the one in the labor unit had a wet floor and a trash can overflowing with tissue. Considering full-term pregnant women are the ones using this restroom, shouldn’t the floor be dry at all times? If a pregnant woman in labor slips while using the restroom, the hospital could surely be sued for that!

2. One of their anesthesiologists was condescending, bordering on rude. Prior to going into labor, I discussed the option of not getting an epidural with my ob gyne. She told me that based on her experience, there are mothers who opt for no epidural and end up too tired to enjoy their newborn. She told me that if my labor progresses quickly, an epidural may not be needed, but if it is long and drawn out, she recommends that I get an epidural. I tried my best to have no epidural administered, but my labor was induced and long (33 hours). At the 24-hour mark, Wolf’s station was not progressing and I was utterly exhausted, so I requested for an epidural. Instead of comforting me, the anesthesiologist who entered our room said mockingly, “Ah, ikaw yung Lamaze dapat” (So you’re the one who supposedly wanted a Lamaze birth). It was like she rubbed salt on an open wound. She made me feel like such a failure. Good thing the residents who attended to me were much kinder. They offered me the comfort I needed.

3. None of their staff discouraged me from using a nipple shield. Although the hospital is pro-breastfeeding in general, their staff did not warn me about nipple shields possibly restricting milk flow, which led to me having problems breastfeeding Wolf in the early weeks.

Comparing the ups and downs of my birth experience, I can say that there is more good than bad. Also, the negative things I noted are for the most part isolated cases and will not be experienced by all. However, the bad parts of my experience are not trivial issues, and I hope that St. Luke’s improves on these aspects in the future. Do I think giving birth at St. Luke’s was worth it? Yes, I do. On the whole, the hospital gave value for money. I can’t say it was a pleasant stay (when is hospital confinement ever pleasant?), but I believe being in St. Luke’s did make my labor, birth, and recovery a bit more comfortable.