Tuesday, July 10, 2007

When I got pregnant for the first time, I was naturally very excited and immediately bought the requisite What to expect... series. Pored over it, surfed countless websites, subscribed to Baby Center, you name it.

And since we lived near my mom and grandmother and my great aunt who raised me and my three siblings from babies, I had a wealth of advice that was immediately accessible (whether I wanted it or not), twenty four by seven. Not all of the advice is based on scientific fact by the way. Examples of which are:

Superstitious belief #1: Never bring the baby out of the house until it's been baptized. Not sure if it makes the baby susceptible to possession of evil spirits or something. No one ever comes out with a reasonable explanation. Just a vehement "Basta!" (tagalog word for "just take my word for it, you ignorant fool"). Ok, take out the ignorant fool part, I was just kidding about that.

Superstitious belief #2: People visiting the house and seeing the baby must dab the baby with a little bit of their saliva (I know, altogether now, "EWWWWWWWW!!!"). This is to prevent "usog" which makes the baby cry non-stop in the wee hours of the morning. The dabbing must be done on either the foot, the stomach, or the forehead.

Superstitious belief #3: Filipinos have a healthy respect and belief in elemental spirits. Which is why, whenever my sisters and I came in from playing outdoors with unexplained bruises on our legs, my grandmother or aunt would say, "kinurot ka ng ingkong" (you've been pinched by an old elemental spirit cause you're cute). Ha ha, just added that last part. This has been so ingrained in me that when my kids play outside, I have to bite my tongue before I blurt out "tabi po, ingkong" (please stand aside).

Imagine what my very un-superstitious hubby has to put up with in our household. After he had to grapple with superstitious beliefs for newlyweds which makes me chuckle everytime I remember those days (and which can take a whole new post altogether).

They mean well, they really do. And I love them for it. It's something I can laugh about with my sisters and hubby. But I guess the point is, there are a lot of instructions and advice out there and for a new mom, it can be quite overwhelming.

I would say just go with what feels right for you and your baby. Because I find that what works with one baby doesn't necessarily work for the second one. And most of the time, what's practical works best.


Stace said...

Good advice! If I believed and acted on every piece of advice everyone has ever given me about having kids, I would be doing 50 things at once and contradicting myself! (Fortunately I don't have to worry yet, because I don't want kids for ages!)

Menchie said...

A lot of the expert opinion out there is contradicting anyway. You'll know what to do when the time comes. It's mostly instinct and common sense anyway.

Caroline said...

;-) and third time around instincts and confidence soars.

You're making me broody!


Menchie said...

Caroline honey,

is that a bad thing?

you're broody and I'm too restless. can't focus.

Pacha said...

Oh, don't get me started on this... I have been given stashes of advice too - makes my head STILL spin. Hubby grew up in small village lost in Andes and is the one most packed with superstitious advice. Instinct and common sense definitely! My sister-in-law has a baby son with chest problems and was told to get a tortoise. The tortoise promptly died though. I reckon if the four adults that lived with baby stopped chain smoking my nephew's chest problems would misteriously disappear! It's just a thought! What do you think?

Cazzie!!! said...

Exactly Menchie, a mother's instinct as to what is right with her baby is imperative in the scheme of things. We soon work it out in the end, even if sleep times change and feeding times...in the end, a happy mum and a happy baby is all that we want :)

Menchie said...


A tortoise???? Seriously????!!!!! You're right, of course, it's the smoking. I've also read that children of parents who smoke can tend to be more sickly than usual with respiratory problems. Certainly true for the kids of my friends who are smokers.

Practice makes perfect though, as I discovered with my second. Wasn't too scared and was more confident. It helped that I have a pediatrician who is sooo good AND answers text messages!

Keshi said...

LOL! Trust me Menchie, if Filipinos r this superstitious just imagine Indians and Sri Lankans!!! I'd go thru sheer hell if I ever get preggie lolz! Cos Im not a superstitious person but my mum is..well to a certain extent :)

**must dab the baby with a little bit of their saliva

yukkkkkk! I'd kill anybody who licks my baby.


Harlot said...

Menchie LOL. The saliva part is always gross. I'd rather wail than be licked by an old crone, yuck.

Hey, what about that hair thing? I know i heard it somewhere that until the baby is 1 yr old, you can't cut his hair. Just doesn't make sense. :P

Keshi said...

also d u know that it's a Hindu custom to put a big black dot on the baby's face so that it protects the baby from evil eyes?


Menchie said...

I'm sure you have your own share of cultural beliefs about babies and giving birth. It's really funny if you think about it. I never used to mind it when I was single but I was horrified when I had my son and people from the provinces would put their spit on his foot. And of course I had to be polite and just smile tightly. *grrr*

It's super gross -- that's why I always had baby wipes with me.

The hair thing, yes, I know that but again, the logic behind it escapes me. I also know you shouldn't let a baby pull or play with your hair or it'll fall off!

houseband00 said...

My Mother-in-law is a walking encyclopedia of pamahiin. =)

I never dared complain even if some of those old wives' tales sounded a bit inane, But most of them make a lot of sense, too. =)

Menchie said...

It's a good thing my husband is a patient man. I can tell my family and i drive him crazy sometimes. :D

I've heard about that and i think we have a local version but can't remember it at the moment.

Ces said...

Listen to all of them and keep the harmless ones. Rationalize with your kids and tell them why it is not so. The superstitious beliefs are not the ones that will damn the children. It's the religious practices sanctioned or ignored by the church that are detrimental to the development of an analytical, rational, independent and progressive being, then taken advantaged by an opportunistic and corrupt government. Those with thinking parents help their children from becoming docile, subservient and opressed person. When the kids grow old they will have an intelligent and healthy outlook and smile at why they extend their arms when passing a dark alley and say "tabi anay"...while they meet friends for coffee and discuss Aristotle, Luther, Descartes and ghosts.

-Princess Shin- said...

Wow.. I have never heard of any of these superstitious before! Haha.. I like the dab the baby with a bit of saliva part. Haha.. that's interesting! So did you do it?

Menchie said...

I think you're right about the religious practices and how the church applies or enforces it doing more harm. I have more strong opinion about this which I will not get into.

Most of the superstitious beliefs are harmless but my husband is also right in saying that sometimes, it undermines your faith in God, if you take it very seriously.

So I play the buffer role and try to smooth things over when feathers get ruffled.

I don't do it but it is a common practice especially when we are visited by people who come from the provinces. They do it to my kids (when they were babies) but I allow it only on the foot when I can't get away from it without offending relatives.

Keshi said...

Menchie how did u handle the spitting so calmly? I know I Wudnt be able to!


Menchie said...

i grew up with it, i guess. and i try to avoid it, like making sure the baby is upstairs before the visitors leave, saying the baby is sleeping. Or i give the baby to the nanny and instruct her to go to the other house.

Keshi said...

lolz good tricks.