IMAGE Marian Rivera/Instagram, Little Heartbeat Photography/Facebook, Ryan Agoncillo/Instagram
Year after year, we at SmartParenting try to write stories that matter to mom, not just to provide information, but also to give you food for the soul. The year 2016 has been particularly eventful, and we've rounded up below the pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding stories that you liked, read and shared the most. Here's why each one tugged at our hearts.
1. Judy Ann's birthing story with Luna
As she shared her birthing story with daughter Luna, Judy Ann also shared tips for moms who are giving birth: to have a birth plan, for the hubby to be prepared, and to trust your doctors. But the nugget of wisdom we loved the most was to stop overanalyzing things and do whatever it is that helps calm you down. "When you're about to give birth, just enjoy the ride. Calm yourself and think happy thoughts. Totoo yun e," she said.
2. This dad's story of resourcefulness for the sake of his baby
To honor his wife who passed away due to cardiac arrest seven years after battling breast cancer and eight hours after giving birth to their second son Fredo Santino, Anton Ramos fulfilled her wish: to be able to give their son breast milk from moms who donated their precious gold. "My son needs me. He has no one else. I need to be [a] dedicated [father]. He already lost his mom and I won't let him lose my being a father to him," he said. We're sure every parent can relate.
Filipino mothers have become more passionate and persevering in breastfeeding. These Instagram posts with the hashtag #brelfie proves that moms will breastfeed as long as they can and are damn proud of it. Not to alienate those who choose formula (we know you have your reasons), but breastfeeding photos, brelfie or not, with or without cover, took the stage to help #normalize breastfeeding. And you don't need to bare it all, like the breathtaking natural breastfeeding photos, to make a stand.
Through a blog post, the radio and TV lifestyle host revealed that she had her eggs frozen -- and her story was met with such warmth and encouraging feedback. "It makes me smile when they tell me that they've been thinking about freezing their eggs, but were afraid because they didn't have enough information and that they're encouraged by my story. That's more than I ever dreamed would come out of sharing my experience," she told Smartparenting.com.ph. It's the year that gave women choices about their own body, whether that's during childbirth or, like Sam, preserving her egg cells.
5. The circle of life told through the family of Courageous Caitie
Back in March, we were devastated when three-year-old Caitie Lucas passed away after waiting for months to be diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia. Courageous Caitie remains in the hearts of many Filipinos as the little girl filled with immeasurable strength, and whose parents had such a strong faith which kept their family positive amidst the cards life has dealt for them. Caitie's mom Feliz is due to give birth on March 5 next year, on the same date her daughter was diagnosed with JMML. In Feliz's own words -- and keep this to heart whenever you’re faced with a challenge seemingly unsurmountable: "Only God can replace pain with much joy."
6. A newborn still fully enclosed in an amniotic sac
Photographer Leilani Rogers captured the birth of a rare twin who was born "en caul" or still fully nestled inside the amniotic sac. There's only one in 80,000 chance of that occurring. This story reminds us of the beauty of childbirth, and so does the photo of a newborn baby still attached to the placenta with the umbilical cord spelling out "love" (by photographer Emma Jean Nolan). While the pregnancy is difficult, childbirth pain is unimaginable (for some women) and the risks are great, childbirth, along with pregnancy, is a miracle and a blessing that's all worth it.
7. Mom had two babies (not twins) born five weeks apart
The twinblings were born five weeks apart, in different states in the U.S., to different mothers (one is a surrogate) but with the same biological parents. Nancy and Justin Rohde tried for a baby one more time, this time with a surrogate mom Ashley Brown, who’s new to the idea. To increase the couple's chances, Nancy also had another IVF cycle even though they were so sure it would fail yet again. But it didn't and so the two pregnant ladies shared a unique pregnancy journey. Their families are now forever connected. Couples who are struggling with infertility issues should keep their success story in mind. The road to parenthood may be hard, but the rewards are even greater.
8. Celebrity moms reveal their secret to staying in shape post-pregnancy
Granted, they have the genes or the time and resources to spend on getting their pre-pregnancy body back, but that should not stop you from aiming for the same. You might be surprised to know that most of these sexy celebrity mommas, such as Marian Rivera, Ina Raymundo, Cristine Reyes, used tried-and-tested ways: breastfeeding, regular exercise (yes, including running after their tots), and a healthy diet. Let them be your fitspiration for when you feel like you're pregnancy is getting a lot bigger than you expected, or when you feel like you will never see your sexy curves ever again after giving birth. Dedication and hard work is the only route to feeling better about your new post-pregnancy bod -- no shortcuts.
This is the first time Chynna talked about her marriage to Callalilly frontman Kean Cipriano, her pregnancy and birth, and caring for their now seven-month-old daughter Stellar. She mentioned they wanted to keep their family life sacred, which meant keeping things private. Among the tips Chynna shared for new moms and moms-to-be, she stressed the importance of being prepared early on and enjoying the whole journey. The words of wisdom that stuck with us is something every mom should keep in mind. "Don't be too idealistic. You have to follow the cues of your child more than the opinion of everyone else," Chynna said, sharing her mom's advice. "You have to take a look at your child and see if she's happy. That’s how you know you're doing the right thing as a mom," she added.