Sunday, July 15, 2012

Breastfeeding ;-)

As most of you know, I fought really hard to be able to breastfeed Hudson. It did not come easily. I worked around the clock with the nurses and lactation expert at the hospital to be able to breastfeed. Actually Hudson needed some formula for a little while. Off course, for medical reason I was very relieved to have access to some formula but I also knew that for the sake of my baby, I wanted to exclusively breastfed. I was so thankful to be at an hospital that had the funding for a lactation expert, and even more thankful that the lactation expert was in my room at every feeding to help me out. Hudson has been exclusively breastfeed since she was 6 weeks old. Just a few days short of 9 months, she is still breastfed and actually eating really little solids. (We are working on that).

Now, I know some of my friends did not receive the support they needed to be able to establish a good breastfeeding routine. The hospital close to our home even cut the position of lactation expert. So you would imagine how excited I was to see these posters at the hospital we visited in Bohol, Philippines.

I don't know how I exactly feel about it. Part of me think it is a great initiative. But at the same time, I do find it to be a bit extreme. (After all, some people do have really good reason to resort to formula).  I am not from Bohol, so it is hard for me to understand the whole social context. Is there a milk bank available? But, still my husband and I agree that if hospitals were to put more effort in breastfeeding and less in giving out free formula samples, surely more people would breastfeed.    

 Later on in Manila, we visited another hospital and met with a (American) pediatrician. As we found out Hudson was getting her rash from an intolerance to the many mango I was eating, the question of breastfeeding came up. The pediatrician stressed many times, that I should NOT for any reason stop breastfeeding while we were getting her rash under control. And that she was really happy to see "me", a "foreigner" breastfeeding. I explained to her that in Canada, we get a whole year maternity leave and for that reason, it was "easier" to breastfeed. She was also very impress by my cloth diapers. She called herself a cloth diaper advocate in her time but was amazed at how "cute" they got over the year. I was expecting her to ask me to switch to disposable because of the severity of the rash but in the contrary, she kept praising us (me and my husband) for using such a healthy alternative. Can I say how much I love her! ;-)

Cebu or how to run out of diapers in a day

So the antibiotic is giving Hudson the run…. And so I keep on changing, and changing, and changing her diapers. At this point, I just know I won’t have enough to last through the trip…. And so I keep on washing and washing and washing….

The fever is also persisting. Not as high as before but still always there. We just arrived from Bohol. The temperature here feels twice as warm! It is blistering. I don't think I have ever encountered such hot temperature. We took a ferry between Bohol and Cebu. After a short stop a Jollybee for lunch, we headed out to our resort (Bluewater Resort in Mactan). Cebu is not at all like Bohol. Here it is crowded, dirty, loud and very poor. Our resort is man made and stands in the middle of a shanty. Hidden by oversize trees are very high walls topped by barbwire. Inside the walls, everything is pretty. clean, wide and "happy". It somewhat reminds me a lot of Jamaica.

When we arrived at the resort, we were just in time for shark feeding show. Yes, they have a shark tank with about 10 black tip reef sharks. We then made our way to our beautiful room overlooking one of many pools. It didn't take us long, we put on our bathing suit and jumped in the water! Hudson loved it! And for the first time since she got sick, she laughed! We stayed in the water for a good hour and than headed straight to bed!

Hudson still has severe diarrhea... For the first time ever! She slept through the night! From 7pm to 5am. 

Our second day in Cebu started with another spike of fever. We went swimming. The water seemed to help. I also had 4 mango for breakfast! We are in Cebu after all!!! Best mango in the world!

We checked out of our rooms and we headed out on a tour of the oldest city in the Philippines. The island of Cebu is a very important historical place! This is where the Spaniards arrived, this is also the place where Magellan was killed by Lapu-lapu. There are many buildings on the island dating back from the 1500's. We started our visit with a trip to Magellan's and the Lapu-lapu's monuments. We then went to Magellan's cross and St-Nino's church. We ended the tour with a short stop at the Fort. I off course ate a few mango shakes.

During that time, we still had to fight the high temperature, and Hudson's fever. By then, Hudson had also develop a wide spread rash while still getting none stop diarrhea.

We safely flew back to Manila and decided to head back to the doctor early in the morning.   

Catherine goes into survival mode

I promised Tristan I would blog about this mishap! So here it is…  As we were waiting for our ferry boat to Cebu, I decided to go to the washroom. I left all my things with Tristan in the waiting room and without any second thoughts went to the toilet. I relieved myself in more than one way only to find out (as it is very common in the Philippines) that there was no toilet paper in the stall. So I sat there for a while… contemplating what to do. My predicament was such that no one else was in the washroom. So I sat there and waited a bit. After a short while, I decided to reassess the situation. What could I do? Or more precisely… what could I use? (what would I sacrifice…) So I took an inventory of what I had. Shoes! No use. Shorts! I need to keep that. Underwear! That could be a possibility but these are brand new…. Shirt! I need it. Bras! Too expensive to sacrifice. Glasses! Useless. Hair tie. Hum. Scrunchy hair tie. Ok. A fabric hair tie from Dolarama. That could work… I think.
And so the hair tie got sacrificed. I went back to the waiting room, with my hair down. As I casually told Tristan “a girl has to do what a girl has to do”. Now earlier that morning I had cut a layer of ruffles of Hudson’s new dress (yep my daughter is so short that clothing for her age is always way too long). I took it out of my purse and made a makeshift hair ribbon with it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Alcona Kew White Beach Resort or Hudson at the beach

First time at the beach!

Not the greatest resort….
Very old and somewhat falling apart…
Spam for breakfast (yes… served in the buffet)
And I am heartbroken… Hudson was not impressed by the beach… nor did she seem to care about the ocean. My water baby. My future Olympic swimmer. My little Tuna actually cried and wanted out…
I am simple heartbroken. 

Bohol or Hudson at the hospital

So here we were… in Bohol! What an island!!! I mean : It is neither Palawan nor Manila. Actually I can’t help to wonder if it is really the Philippines. Bohol satisfied so many of my needs! Eco-tourism, history, natural science, food, beach, price range but also my need for organization and ethical behavior.
Our visit started with the Chocolate Hills! The chocolate hills were in itself, the main reason I wanted to make my way to Bohol. It is truly a sight unique in itself! Just over 1700 “chocolate color” hills within 50km2. But we also made our way to a butterfly conservatory, the tarsier conservatory and the black compass monument. But here are some cool facts about the island of Bohol!

·         Manufacture are not allowed on the island.
·         “franchise store or restaurant” have to be locally owned
·         There is a 8pm curfew for underage children
·         There is no nightlife except for 2 dance hall open until midnight on the weekend. (If one hall is a disco, the other one must be ballroom dancing)
·         There are very strict rules about cutting threes
·         Agriculture land is equally divided between the people.
·         The crime rate is the lowest in the Philippines.
·         The Catholic and Muslim communities are at peace.
·         There has been great effort of reforestation
·         There are laws protecting the dolphins, whales, tarsier and other wildlife
·         There is a recycling program
·         In hospitals, babies must be breastfeed until the age of 6 months. There is a strong campaign against formula feeding.

Can I say: I love love love this island! Such a nice change for the chaotic Manila! There are also many beautiful mansions on the island. None of them are surrounded by gigantic walls topped with broken glass. None of them are “barricaded golden cages”.  You could argue that the rules might be a bit steep but the result is a nearly crime free, clean and friendly society.
So that was out first day in Bohol… our second day, we were supposed to spend it on the beach… But that night, as I laid down in bed with my daughter, I realized she was burning hot. I knew she hadn’t been feeling well lately, but as I took her temperature, I was shocked to find out that she was pushing well over 40 degree… after treating her all night with Tylenol, early in the morning, we made our way to the community hospital of the main island of Bohol. What we found there looked more like a market place where you would expect chickens to be roaming around. We sat in a hot room waiting for our turn. They wanted my daughter to have a dengue fever test done, but the hospital ran out of test so they sent us over to the next nearest hospital…. A private hospital…. Since according to them “we could afford it anyway”. So we jumped back in the car and headed over to the Holy Name University Medical Center… I don’t want to sound too snobbish but this hospital was a lot more “hospital-like”. We made our way to the emergency room and were seen right away (we were the only one there). The doctor decided on a full blood test (including dengue fever) and on an uti test. Hoping to avoid a catheter, they installed a urine collector first. Unfortunately it did not work… At that point, Tristan and I discuss it and decided our daughter could just go “potty” for a sample. After all, we have been doing with her “elimination communication” since she was 4 months old… at home, our daughter always goes to the potty and rarely misses… so why would it be different here. The doctor agreed, and within 30 minutes, we had our sample and no catheter! At that moment, Tristan and I both agreed, all the effort we put into elimination communication was worth it just so Hudson did not need a catheter! (that and also the fact that I use 75% less diapers)
So the tests were sent, and off we went to Jolly Bee for lunch while waiting for the results. We came back an hour later and the verdict was out! No dengue fever to worry about. Hudson has an uti. It was such a relief for us to find this out! We were really worried that it was going to be some dangerous exotic illness or even worse… that they could not tell us what was wrong. I was ready to jump on the next plane back to Manila is that was going to be the case. But in the end, somehow… and uti was the best news we could wish for.  And so we went back to the hotel, with a sleepy baby, some antibiotic and a few shopping bags.
And if you wonder… our travel insurance will be picking up the tab. They were great on the phone all day with us, walking us through the process. As for the actual cost of the private hospital…. Consultation, tests and medication for just under 25$. The most expensive part ended up being the transportation from the resort to the hospital.
And if you are wondering, as I write this, Hudson is already doing much better. Her fever is almost completely gone and her energy level is coming back. She’s been on the antibiotic for less than 24 hours but we are already noticing a big difference. 

La turista

I knew it was going to happen! I just knew it! But when? That was the question! Well on the fourth day, out of nowhere… not just me! But Tristan too! Spent an evening (and a night) running for the washroom! Ah… yes…. The dreaded turista! The funny thing is that before coming to the Philippines, I had never been afflicted of this ailment. I have traveled many times to the Caribbeans, even Mexico… but never had to face the washroom paralyzing, humbling and tantalizing stomach bug! I remember the first time I had it… On my first trip to the Philippines! I seriously thought I was dying! I got so sick… so dehydrated… and off course I was “Oh-so-ashamed” (I was after all visiting my now-husband’s family). This time, I came prepared. I had a suitcase dedicated to medicine! In expectation of the trip, I raided Shoppers Drug Mart! I intended to declare war on the Turista! And so I did! As I sat on the toilet for hours, I drowned myself in Gatorade while popping Pepto bismol tablets. Once more I felt like I was dying, but this time I intended to beat it! 24-36 hours is it’s normal course… unless aggressively treated! And that is what I did. I spent the entire night up… 2 am came, it was time to go to the airport for our flight to Bohol….  The drive to the airport… just over one hour. (oh-oh…. How can I stay away from the washroom that long????) I seriously considered putting on one of Hudson’s cloth diaper… you know… just as an extra precaution… But in the end, I made it to the airport (so did Tristan by the way). In all this, I kept thinking: “as long as baby is fine… we will be fine….” Little did I know……
We hopped on the plane and by then… less than 12 hours after my stomach turned upside down, I was “fine”. I was even able to enjoy the flight without having to keep my eyes on the “occupied” washroom sign! I was able to enjoy a guided tour on Bohol… in a car… without access to the washroom… \
I did it! I beat la turista!    

A serie of unfortunate events!

Well.... who knew taking a holiday with a baby could end up being so... hum... what's the word... so... "interesting". Poor Hudson! Kawaiso Hudson! The next few posts can all be grouped together as "A serie of unfortunate event".
If there is one thing I learned from my family trip to Bohol and Cebu is:
 " You don't realize how far from home you are until you need a doctor for your sick child"

Back in Manila, at the hospital again