Mama Panda delves deep into her definition of Motherhood

Hi all! Mama Panda here welcoming you to another new entry, but with a slight twist! I decided I’d try something new and share my own personal experiences of motherhood, so here it goes…

My Mother’s Three Little Pandas: Mama Panda Rufina with siblings Rozelia and Edmar

My Three Little Pandas: Sienna, Shayne and Benjamin

At the age of 19 I became a first time mum. It was a daunting yet exciting experience and I didn’t know what to expect. Being one of the first in my circle of friends to give birth, I really didn’t know who I could talk to about certain things. How do you change a nappy? What do you do when he cries? What if he doesn’t let you put him down - especially when you’re home alone, need to pee and have no hands spare to cradle him? More importantly, how the heck do you breastfeed and get them to latch on properly? - ah the joys of motherhood!

On top of that, it wasn’t a straight-forward birth

I was in labour for over 2 days and ended up having an emergency C-section. Not the type where you can stay awake for either… I was rushed to theatre but the epidural hadn’t kicked in. I remember the doctors asking if I could feel them touching me on my stomach - I could feel EVERYTHING - the panic was unreal. The doctors decided to put me under full anaesthetic and off to the land of nod I went. I remember my husband at the time panicking and being told he couldn’t stay with us during the procedure. The memory of saying “just make sure the baby is ok, I can’t breathe” before passing out is still so vivid in my mind to this day.

As I awoke, the first thing I saw was my mother at the foot of the hospital bed looking at me smiling. I whispered “is he ok?” referring to Baby Panda number 1. “Yes, he’s fine!” she replied and back to sleep I went. I was exhausted.

The next couple of days in the ward were difficult. I had many weepy moments thinking “What is wrong with me? Why am I so sad?" All I wanted to do was go home and rest. Of course, I didn’t realise how bad a C-section recovery could be - I never expected or prepared myself to have one. NOTE: I didn’t attend any prenatal classes - for some reason I just never knew they existed, or perhaps it was my naïve attitude thinking giving birth would be a breeze…? (HA! AS IF!)

Anyway, back to my mum and dad’s house we eventually returned

That’s where my husband and I were living at the time - just in time to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. I remember joking with him saying “happy birthday Dad, your first grandson as your present - best, most expensive gift eh?” — I said that totally joking but now looking back on my financial outgoings since having Little Pandas 1, 2 and 3, I guess you could say the joke is now totally on me *sigh*.

Shayne ”Panda” was born in 2007, the boy that opened my eyes to this whole new world and introduced me to a love so deep that I never knew existed.

Shayne’s dad and I decided to move out for a year and try being “proper grown ups”. Although we loved the support my mum and dad gave us, we felt bad not having a home for our own little family. For a year we lived out and during that time fell pregnant and miscarried. Nothing prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster that would follow. Raising a toddler and dealing with “that” was pretty tough. To be honest I never really spoke about how much it affected me, not to my parents, not to my husband at the time. But I’m sure those who have been through it too may understand that.

I felt that there was a stigma about talking about miscarriage.

Where my mother comes from I knew that miscarriage is pretty common. The Philippines has a high population and the elder generations more often than not have huge families - My mother is one of 11, although I know she mentioned there would have been 13 or so. SO let’s say that it would have been common for them to have had at least one unfortunate loss (heart-breaking yet eye-opening at the same time).

Being wise to that bit of information I think contributed to me thinking “things happen, try not to dwell” and “continue being appreciative for what you DO have”.

Since creating Three Little Pandas and connecting with new people, other mums and charities, I have however found it mind blowing realising how much I have in common with others.

I had become a social hermit..

.. after having my first child and socialising wasn’t a common thing anymore. I continued to work part-time whilst raising our little boy and/or should I say “trying to keep busy” so as to not focus on those deep issues that would make me perhaps need to turn to tissues because of all the bawling I would do if I faced all the heartache I was feeling at the time.

I didn’t go to any stay and play groups because I already felt embarrassed by the stares I would get when attending a simple “weigh in” at the health visitor because I was a young mum (blessed with the young looking gene I guess - but not so good when it comes with negative stereotypical attitudes).

Thankfully we fell pregnant again. Sienna Panda was born in 2010. A very scary pregnancy where at the start I had lost some blood (sorry, too much information) and remember taking Shayne with me late at night to my mum’s house and going to the hospital to get checked out. Thank God, she was fine.

What followed however wasn’t easy. Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and my marriage was failing. It’s so strange looking back on it. I think to myself “poo, that was a really difficult time… how did I get through it?” and people who know this story ask me the same question to which of course the answer has always remained the same - because of my kids and my family.

It’s sad, but at the same time I remind myself of that saying “everything has it’s place”. Mum being diagnosed made me appreciate her more - perhaps more than I ever had done before. I'd gained a new level of respect for her which upset me daily. She loves us (her kids and grandkids) so much so that she didn’t want to worry us by telling us as soon as she found out. She waited until we came back from a family holiday to tell us so that we would all enjoy our holiday. Now, THAT is something else.

Moving on, Shayne and Sienna’s dad and I separated and finally divorced. (They are in regular contact with him, his partner and family and I’m thankful we have got to a stage where *touch wood* we can be civil.)

Fast forward to the back end of 2013 and I met @theuncooldad who we will refer to as Papa Panda from now on :). He’s a coolish guy with a huge heart. But to prevent this already long post from getting any longer we ended up with #TheBenji in October 2014 - whirlwind romance much!

Panda Family complete


I’ve been a mum for more than 10 years now.

Being a mother feels like the only thing I’ve ever really known or been good at. Ask Papa Panda, I’m pants at keeping flowers and plants alive - we had to become owners of cacti and succulents for that reason! God knows how I managed to keep these 3 going - I joke! But on a serious note, If it weren’t for the love I have for my Little Pandas, I honestly don’t know how I would have got through everything I have done in my 29 short years. If it weren’t for my mother, I don’t know how I would have the courage to make it through the “darker days”.

Being a Mother IS Love.

As you may know through our previous posts, my mother is one of the co-founders of Mabuhay Foundaton UK - a non-profit organisation that helps those most in need in the Philippines. I decided that Three Little Pandas would hold a special charity event (#TLP4MFUK) whilst hosting our first ever birthday earlier this year and with this particular collection (Mother is Love) continue giving back to this worthy cause by donating a percentage of every sale to them.

27/05/2017 at our First Birthday/#TLP4MFUK event

My Mum Adelia Gwiazda with Madelyn Richardson and Myrna Obligacion at one of their fundraising events for Mabuhay Foundation UK

I feel pride in watching my mother with her friends give their time and efforts to raising money for those less fortunate and pure elation to be able to contribute in some way too.

I am so humbled by your support in our brand, particularly our Mother is Love collection and I hope this post clearly explains why.

I wish you to wear your pieces with pride and hope that at some point can share your story with us by tagging #MiL #motherislove

Thank you so much for reading,

All MY love,

Me (Mama Panda) holding onto Benji (Littlest Panda) with my Nana (Great-Grandma Panda), my Dad (Lolo Panda) and my superwoman Mum (Lola Panda)

#TeamPanda #ThreeLittlePandas #PandaFamily

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