I think it’s human nature to share one’s opinion, knowledge or experience with another person, specially if the advice-giver has gone through the same experience. You know, like when someone posts a travel photo, friends would start offering suggestions – “try this place” or “you should eat at this restaurant”. Over the past eight months or so, I’ve received many tips and advice from family, friends, acquaintances and even from strangers. Some opinions and advice I’ve taken to heart, some I’ve taken with a grain of salt, and some have left me really annoyed. Let me share some of them here, along with suggestions on how to say them better.
On Maternity Clothes Shopping
“Don’t buy maternity clothes. You’ll only wear them for a short time.” Ok, so as my belly grows, and my clothes become tight, what will I wear? Unless you know the entire wardrobe of the person, I think this advice is not helpful. Fortunately, I do have clothes with stretchy fabric that I was able to wear during the first couple of months of my pregnancy. However, I don’t want to continue wearing them as they will get deformed as my belly grows. I’d still want to be able to wear them after I give birth. Also, I do want to celebrate my pregnancy. After all, I waited more than a decade for it. So splurging in some maternity clothes is ok.
Here’s a better advice that I got.
“If you’re buying maternity clothes, get those that you can wear even after giving birth. Maternity wear that doubles as nursing clothes are great options.”
I actually heeded this advice and picked clothes that 1) don’t necessarily look like maternity clothes so I can keep wearing them after I give birth, and 2) double as nursing clothes, with opening in the chest area for breastfeeding access.
But the best advice about maternity clothes shopping that I got is this:
“Buy whatever makes you happy!”
If you are pregnant and looking for maternity clothes, check out Elin.ph. They have a good collection of maternity and nursing clothes that are affordable, stylish, and can be worn even post partum. At first, I only bought one item, just to check out the sizing. Almost 80% of my maternity clothes purchases are from Elin.ph. The rest are from Old Navy and Gingersnaps. Zalora also has a lot of affordable options, though I have yet to try buying anything from Zalora.
“Magbreastfeeding ka ha!” or “I hope you will breastfeed your baby.” This is actually good advice since breastfeeding is really best for babies. However, more often than not, the way some people said this to me sounded more like a command rather than a friendly advice. Here’s how I think it can be delivered better.
“Have you decided if you will breastfeed? If not yet, I recommend reading this book by XXX so you can make an informed decision.”
“I hope you will consider breastfeeding your baby. There are many studies that show how beneficial it is to both baby and mom. If you need more information, I recommend this book/website/resource.”
A friend actually referred me to a book called Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. I already purchased a book called The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (by La Leche League) from Fully Booked. It was rated 5 stars in Amazon so I decided to buy one (it’s a great book!). I am so thankful that my friend recommended Jack Newman’s book because I find it better written, more informative and non-judgmental. I learned so much about breast milk and breastfeeding that I’ve never heard of before. I got it from Amazon, but both books are available locally via a website called babymama.ph. It’s an online shopping site specializing in breastfeeding support products.
I was also referred to a Facebook Group called Breastfeeding Pinays. I find it to be very helpful and informative. One just needs to be patient with all the posts as there are more than 90 thousand members. I sometimes just browse through the posts, but when there are topics that I really want to look into, I just type it on the search box so I get the posts specific to my topic of interest.
On the babies’ genders
Technically, this isn’t an advice, but an expression of gender disappointment. I thought I’d include it here because apparently, many moms-to-be share my annoyance with people expressing gender disappointment. In our case, because we are having twins, people tend to say, “Sana babae at lalake”. Or in the case of those who already have girls, “Sana lalake naman”. In the case of those who already have boy(s), “Sana babae naman”. This is usually followed with a gasp of disappointment when they learn otherwise. I don’t know why people assume too much, why they think having boys AND girls in the family will sort of complete it. So when I tell people we are having girls, some give me a look of disappointment and say, “Ay sayang, sana babae at lalake para kumpleto na”. You know what, I can’t be more thrilled to have girls. We’d be happy to have one child, whether boy or girl. We will never feel incomplete. I’ve heard the same things said to some of my friends. Sure, some would wish to have at least a boy and a girl, but unless you know that’s what they want, then you shouldn’t express any gender disappointment. The default reaction should be “I’m very happy for you”.
But what if your pregnant friend did express gender disappointment, e.g. she’s hoping for a girl (because she already has a son) and she’s having a boy instead? I must admit I had no idea what to say at first, but I saw some wonderful reactions at some forums I’m at. Here are some.
“I understand your disappointment. It’s ok to feel that way now, but when the baby comes, I’m sure you will feel nothing but joy and love for your little one.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way now. It’s a beautiful healthy gift and that’s all that matters! But I totally understand wanting to have something you weren’t given.”
And when you are at a loss for words, just give her a hug. Never preach (you should be thankful, other women can’t even have children) or talk about gender equality. There is a time and a place for everything.
Another thing you should not say: “It’s ok, you can have another baby, and hopefully, it’s a boy/girl.” Again, don’t assume that they want another child. I’ve actually had people say that to me. And worse, when I say, oh no, two are enough, they would insist that we should consider another one. First of all, no one can guarantee the gender of the next child. Secondly, sinabi na ngang happy na kami sa dalawa. And lastly, bakit, ikaw ba mag-aalaga, at susustentuhan mo ba sya hanggang makatapos ng college? If not, then shut up. Can you tell I feel strongly about it?
On taking time off from work
This is probably the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard anyone say to me. It is even more annoying coming from someone I’m not even close with. “Magresign ka na. You waited a long time for this. Sayang naman kung iiwan mo lang sila sa yaya later on.” And worse, when I tell them I have no plans of resigning, they look at me with judgment, like I’m the most selfish person in the world.
I admire women who are able to make that decision. I can understand the sacrifice. I understand the merits of spending time at home with the kids. However, I’d also like to think that we all want what’s best for our family, and what’s best for one family may not be the best for another. Also, there is a time for everything. Maybe I will eventually decide to stop working. Maybe I won’t. The decision to keep or stop working is a very personal one. This decision takes into account many things – our ability to support our kids until they are old enough to support themselves, our lifestyle, our plans and dreams for our family, our personal goals. There are many other considerations. Unless you know all of these, you will never be in a position to give this advice. The only person who can even suggest this is Ariel. Why? Because he knows us, and he knows me. And it is because of this knowledge that he never even brought this up with me.
Here’s a better advice that I received. A friend shared this during our first baby shower.
“Consider taking time off longer than what is legally allowed.”
What she meant was that I should consider taking a leave longer than the two months (or 75 days for Caesarian delivery) of paid maternity leave that is currently available in the Philippines. I know from reading books on breastfeeding that two months is not enough time to establish a breastfeeding routine, and also building a breastmilk stash. I imagine this is an even bigger challenge for twins since I need to prepare a stash for two. That is why I am praying that the Expanded Maternity Bill will be passed before I give birth. However, that seems highly unlikely as we are now in the middle of transitioning to a new set of leaders. In any case, I plan to extend using my vacation leaves. I’ve already discussed this with my boss and my direct report. I am fortunate that this option is available to me and that my team is supportive of my decision, but other moms may not have the same privilege. Hence, be sensitive regarding this topic.
One thing I’d like to hear is encouragement and support for when I need to go back to work. Here are some words of encouragement for moms who are about to or have gone back to work after giving birth.
“Kaya mo yan. Many moms are successfully juggling career and parenting. If they can do it, you can do it.”
“You can do it. Let me know how I can help.”
“You may want to check out this support group XXX/FB Group of working moms.”
“You can always make the decision to stop working. You will know when being employed is working for you or not.”
Apparently, I am not the only one getting this unsolicited advice. In Breastfeeding Pinays, one of the FB groups I am following, some moms would post asking for advice on how to manage breastfeeding once they go back to work, and some inconsiderate moms would tell them to just stop working. Imagine, you don’t even know the person, and you’d make that decision for her?! How rude!
I also often get asked when I will go on leave before giving birth. I addressed that in one of my FB posts.
I often get asked when I will go on leave. My answer is that I will work for as long as I can manage to get out of bed and go to the office, and as long as my OB tells me it’s ok to go to work. End of discussion.
Actually, it’s a question of curiosity. So I’m perfectly ok with it. Unless it is followed up with “Magresign ka na lang”.
The reason for my decision to keep working for as long as I can manage is quite simple. I’d rather spend my leave days after the baby is born, not before. Of course, if it becomes too difficult for me to go to work, then I’ll take a leave. But until then, I’ll keep going to work. As of this writing, I do have check ups scheduled weekly, so I do have to take days off regularly.
On how I look
“You look radiant!”
“You look beautiful”
“You are glowing”
Seriously, I think I have gotten more compliments about my physical appearance this past eight months than my entire life before that. No kidding! And I’m happy to receive the compliments. To be honest, I was afraid I’d look terrible when I get pregnant. I was afraid I’d be too fat (since I am already overweight to begin with). I was afraid my feet and nose will be swollen, my neck and underarm will darken, my hair will fall out, my skin will be blotchy. I know it’s all part of the process, and I’m ok to experience them – hey, I’ll take anything just to have these babies! So I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t gain as much weight as I thought I would, and that my nose and feet are still the same shape and size. My hair is actually thicker, and my skin clearer. I’m grateful.
On the other hand, I had a few people tell me these – during my first trimester.
“Siguro lalake magiging anak mo.” Re: Ang pangit mo.
“Lalake siguro baby mo, kase pag babae, nag-aayos at laging maganda. Tingnan mo si Marian Rivera, babae ang anak, kaya ang ganda-ganda nya palagi.” I-compare talaga ako kay Marian Rivera!
“Ang haggard mo. Mag-ayos ka naman.”
Of course I didn’t take any of these personally (well, except maybe the comparison with Marian Rivera – haha!). Admittedly, because of the fatigue I felt during the first trimester, I didn’t bother much with my appearance. But come 2nd trimester, and after receiving these comments, I actually took the time and effort to look more presentable everyday. You know what, pregnancy is hard enough. Pregnant women are more emotional and irritable. They have to deal with all these changes in their body. The last thing they need to hear is that they look terrible. Here are some ways you can make them feel better.
Treat them to a salon day. It can be as simple as a mani-pedi. Or shampoo and blowdry. If you’re feeling generous, a hair treatment at Piandre is really nice. Or a foot spa.
Offer to accompany them shopping for maternity clothes. I once bought clothes with my cousin in tow, and I really enjoyed it, even if we were only together for just a few minutes.
If you’re good with make-up, offer to do a makeover.
One topic I also get asked often is where the babies will sleep. A lot of people assume that they will be sleeping in our room, on our bed. And then when I tell them that the babies will be in the nursery, they look at me like I’m the worst mother in the world. First of all, every family is different. Just because co-sleeping worked for one doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else. Our room in Cavite isn’t big. It will not fit a crib. Our bed is queen-sized, not king. There are two babies. In order for them to sleep safely on our bed, Ariel will have to sleep in another room. I would rather sleep beside my hubby, and get up when it’s time to feed the babies. And besides, our house isn’t a mansion. The nursery is just a few steps away. I will likely hear the baby crying even without a baby monitor.
“Mapapagod ka!” I think I will get tired and lose sleep either way. All new moms experience it whether they are co-sleeping or not. So I’d like to give this a try first. Also, based on my research and the advise of lactation counselors, the best way to nurse twins is through tandem feeding, meaning, both at the same time. I can’t do it lying down. Either way, I’ll have to get up to get into tandem feeding position. Our nursery will have a comfy La-Z Boy Glider-Rocker-Recliner (instead of a bed). We decided to invest in one precisely to make breastfeeding as comfortable as possible for me. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t make adjustments as we go along. We’ll see what best works for us and make changes along the way. For now, our decision is to keep the babies in the nursery while we sleep in our own bedroom. Some supportive friends who learned about our plan gave helpful advice.
“Make sure you have everything you need near you – a blanket, a book, pillows, etc. That way, at times when you’re too tired to go back to your room and just decide to sleep in the nursery, you have everything within arms reach to make you comfortable.”
“Buy a comfy chair or recliner so you can be comfortable nursing in the nursery.” Yup, totally heeded that advice.
That’s all for now. I will add to this list when I remember other things people said to me.
What other advice have you received from people? What did you find most helpful? Annoying?
I’m sure I will encounter more (unsolicited) advice once the babies are here, so I will create a new list then.