Metro.Style #HipAndHappeningMoms 2019: Denice Sy-Muñez
On Denice: Dress by Mango
As a career-driven woman with big dreams for herself, Denice Sy-Muñez—the daughter of Ever Bilena president and CEO Dioceldo Sy, who is working in their family's company—knows what it means to think ahead, maintain focus, and stay organized in order to be on top of her game. But when life intervenes and decides that it’s time for a detour, Denice will tell you one thing with certainty: sometimes, the unplanned can be the best thing to ever happen to you.
It’s a lesson she knows by heart now, and one that she lives every day with baby Jake snugly cradled in her arms. Denice is a mom now, and her whole being swells with pride at the thought of being blessed with the gift of motherhood—despite it arriving a couple of years earlier than planned.
In fact, the prospect of having children was in the gray for her at one point; parenting was once a big “maybe” in Denice’s mind, and she envisioned married life to be all about traveling, continued professional growth, and bonding with her husband, Jacob.
Unlike many moms who rejoice at news of a child on the way, Denice was scared when she learned she was expecting—scared of the changes a child would bring about, scared of how to keep her sense of self, scared of being unable to care for her own child. Bottles, breastfeeding, burping, bedtime (or the lack thereof)—the whirlwind that was first-time motherhood overwhelmed Denice for weeks, until one day, Jake showed what would be his signature chubby-cheeked smile for the first time and a sense of calm took over this now-happy mommy.
In that moment, and in all the days that followed, Denice began to understand the unbreakable, lifelong bond between a mother and child more and more. Three months after bringing Jake into this world, she gets it now. All her worries have been replaced by immense adoration for her son, too.
And as she looks forward to her first-ever Mother’s Day, she makes a heartwarming realization: Jake might not have been in her plans on paper, but he was always charted in the stars and part of the grander scheme of her life.
How is life so far as a mother?
"The first week, when Jake was just born, it was really life-changing. The most stressful things so far have been the physical changes and lack of sleep. He was always crying, always hungry, and in those moments, I wondered if it was going to be like that for the rest of my life. I was so stressed out, thinking if I was actually capable of taking care of him! But I was happy he was born happy and healthy.
"A month later, he's much better. He'll be three months on May 12. There's also been a process of getting to know him more and understanding what his cries mean. He has a different one for when he's hungry and when he needs his diaper changed. It's a learning process, but I feel happy about it whenever I see him smiling."
Did you go through postpartum depression?
"During the first couple of weeks, we already had a yaya and she was really helpful... There were times when I would wonder if I was doing the right thing and feel guilty about not being able to give as much time for Jake.
"For example, I struggled with having him latch, too, so when I started breastfeeding, I started pumping more but my breasts would hurt a lot. It was a struggle for me to carry him and just take care of him while doing that, so my husband, Jacob, would take care of Jake instead. Small things like me not being able to feed him, because it so happened he got hungry at the same time my breasts were sore, would make me feel guilty.
"I wonder how others moms do it, how single moms do it. I have all the support and resources and I'm still tired. I see other moms with less resources and they're able to do it and are doing so well. The first month was really bad. I would cry about it.
"I would even compare myself with my husband Jacob. He changed diapers a couple of more times than I did during that first month. He was even a better 'mom' than I was, and I was so sad. I had friends, young moms, who had given birth before me and told me that that was all part of it. They told me that it's basically when you feel that you're not enough that the depression starts."
What is the most challenging thing about being a first-time mom?
"The first time it was really making sure he was fed, because I didn't have enough milk before so he started mixed feeding... But something that I've been thinking about ever since he was born was if I can raise him properly. I've been asking when I can expect him to start speaking, crawling. And because of technology, you get kind of confused about how you should be raising kids. You don't want them to be too reliant on technology, but at the same time, you don't want them growing up not knowing how to use it. Those are the things that have been boggling my mind lately."
What is the best piece of advice you've received about motherhood, and from whom?
"The most touching advice that I appreciated the most was when people said, 'You do your own kind of motherhood.' Because when you really do compare yourself a lot, it gets stressful when you feel like you're not enough. Focus on yourself and your own journey. That's what's most important."
How important is it for you to not forget about yourself and your passions even now that you're a mom?
"When I was just at home then, I didn't feel as productive. That's where my struggle was. There was that balance about wanting to be a good mom and wanting to do things for myself. I felt like I was losing a part of myself when I wasn't working.
"When I was pregnant, people would call me 'the mother of Jake.' I would be so offended! I wondered if I had been reduced to just being the mother of someone. When people would start calling me mommy, I would think, 'I have a name! My name is Denice!' Initially, I was struggling with my identity. It was when Jake was born that I became accepting of it. Now I'm actually a mom, and I now appreciate that I'm recognized as a mom."
"You do your own kind of motherhood... Focus on yourself and your own journey. That's what's most important"
Photos courtesy of Denice Sy-Muñez, additional photos from ?@denicesy
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Makeup by Chuchie Ledesma
Hairstyling by Red Echavia
Styling by Gelie Manansala
Special thanks to YummyTummy.PH
Visit Metro.Style again for more #HipAndHappeningMoms Mother's Day special features.