The First Year

Facebook: “Hey, here’s a moment from one year ago we thought you might like to look back on.”

It was Squishy’s baby shower, exactly one year ago.

baby shower 1

baby shower 2

I love Facebook’s On This Day feature. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of it, On This Day reminds you of things you posted, Facebook friends you made, or photos you were tagged in on a given day. It’s a bit like time traveling: you can “talk” to your old self by commenting on your posts.

I can’t believe it’s almost a year since Squishy was born. Time flies. I know, cliché, but it’s true. It feels like only yesterday when I was picking out the cupcakes for the baby shower, getting ready to go to the hospital to be induced, and crying with sheer exhaustion from lack of sleep in those early weeks.

Now the little baby’s walking around in his squeaky sandals, licking everything he can get his hands on, keeping up monosyllabic conversations (“Ta-ta-ta? Ta!”), and losing his baby fat.

Squishy’s not as squishy any more.

Looking back over his first year, here’s my…

  • NAY (thought it was important, but turns out it’s not, really),
  • SHOULDA WOULDA COULDA (I wish I did more of this), and
  • YAY (glad I did it, and will do it again for my next kid!)


The breastfeeding thing. I had great plans of skin-to-skin contact and immediate latching when Squishy was born. As I wrote almost a year ago, all that came crashing down in the post-birth stress. I’ve since discovered the “middle path” of exclusive pumping and am now firmly in the #FedIsBest camp.

My pump and trusty pumping log
My pump and trusty pumping log

Writing about the experience. I know, I know… with an extra hour free while baby’s asleep you’d much rather sleep too. I would. 🙂

But I read something like this, which I wrote in June…

[Squishy] – He’s almost 7 months now. He’s not a fussy baby thank god. He cries when he needs something – his diaper changed, a nap, a bottle of milk, a hug. His appetite has increased to about 1L of milk everyday so we really have to supplement with solids. He laughs at the drop of a hat: at seemingly random things like holding the ice pack from my cooler bag, [Hubby] thumping on the leather sofa, chicken sounds (puk-pukaaak!), playing peek-a-boo from behind a fan, me blowing on his tummy, tickles at the bottom of his feet.

… and wish I wrote more. I read it and I remember how it felt, and while there are photos to show me what we were doing then I like reading these few journal entries because (and to misquote from 50 First Dates): “when l read it, it’s like l’m telling myself.”

first year

And speaking of photos…

YAY and yay some more…

Taking so many photos. It was an accidental tradition, the weekly photo-taking and celebration of a “week-sary” every Tuesday, the day Squishy was born. We sent the photos to our families back home and it kept them connected with Squishy. Taking “mandatory” photos forced us to pay attention to how quickly time was passing (“What! Is it really – weeks already!”) and appreciate the day-to-day.

These photos are my visual keepsakes from Squishy’s first year – all that’s left of a year that went by too fast.



Pamahiin (Philippine Superstitions)

I haven’t posted in a while. We’re currently on our first family beach holiday with Squishy (yay!).

The other day, we were shopping at one of the arcades.

The salesladies cooed and said hello to Squishy, who had his hair (what little there is of it, hah) in a fountain. It’s getting long especially the fringe, and we’ve been told we can only cut it when he turns one. We have a month to go.

One of the salesladies is especially persistent. The thing is, Squishy now has a look which I’ll call The Gaze. It’s the kind of look that’s hard to ignore – like he’s trying to tell you something. I’ve seen strangers reacting to The Gaze by engaging him and playing/talking to him, or acknowledging him with a small smile, or just looking uncomfortably away. It’s pretty funny to watch.

pamahiin 1

Squishy had given this particular saleslady The Gaze. She immediately swooped in, pressed his hands, murmured “hello” etc, touched his cheeks, even motioned to ask if she could hold Squishy for a bit. We tried walking away but not too far – I was looking for a batik dress and didn’t want to be chased out of the shop before I was ready – but the saleslady doggedly followed.

Our helper urgently whispered to us that we should move on ASAP because the saleslady looked pregnant.

“So what?” I asked, when we were safely out of earshot, a few shops away.

Our helper said the saleslady might be naglilihi, which could potentially be dangerous for Squishy if she decided to make him the object of her lihi.

Now, lihi is a Philippine concept that doesn’t directly translate to English, so I’ll try and do it by way of example. Say you suddenly started craving coconut in the wee morning hours during your pregnancy. You could be naglilihi, which means it’s possible your baby might turn out fair/pale– like white coconut meat.

The belief is that your baby absorbs the properties of whatever you’re craving for.

The way our helper explained it though, is that lihi isn’t limited to strange food cravings – if Squishy, for example, was pinaglihian (or made an object of lihi), he could become thin and weak as his energies are absorbed.

I’m not a believer of Philippine pamahiin (superstitions) but I do find them very interesting. The incident reminded me of other local beliefs which remain popular today, especially in the provinces.

Take, for example, the concept of strangers/visitors greeting little babies with an exclamation of “Pwera usog!” and wetting a thumb with one’s saliva and swiping it on the baby’s forehead.

That your baby has to deal with a stranger’s saliva (!) on his head is already terrifying to new mums mindful of basic hygiene (thankfully these days some people skip the saliva part altogether and just say “pwera usog”). However the concept of “usog” itself – which loosely translates to a curse, or a hex – is even more so.

If a baby is nausog, he/she falls inexplicably sick, and can only be cured by the person who caused the usog, either by said person wiping saliva on the baby or greeting baby again – properly, this time. “Pwera usog” is a bid to keep evil away, and is often accompanied by a bracelet of black and red beads (some people call it a “Corales” bracelet) or a little pouch with herbs, pinned to the baby’s chest.

It’s fascinating to me that the belief in pamahiin lingers on even in a mostly Catholic country like the Philippines.

This combination of superstition and religion was married in an interesting way for us some months back when Squishy received a rosary bracelet, a present made by a friendly Catholic nun.

It was the same color as a Corales bracelet, but with a Catholic cross in the middle.

Now that’s an anting-anting (charm) that packs a solid one-two punch.

pamahiin 2