Motherhood

To Moms!

To all the hardworking moms out there….

Exhausted? Frustrated? Feel unappreciated? Confused? Torn? Misunderstood? Overwhelmed? Stressed out? Feel like nothing is going right?

 

I have two words for you…..

 

 

 

INDOOR PLUMBING.

 

Yeah. Let that sink in for a while.

 

Even though you can’t just magically get rid of all the you know what in your life, you can flush the actual down the toilet!

 

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There is always something to be grateful for.

Happy mother’s day! ❤

 

Family, Motherhood

Mother and Daughter

I think it was last week when Danae stayed with me in the supermarket after dinner, while King brought the two younger girls home. I appreciated the company, especially because she’s not anymore the toddler that she was, who would get her own cart and stash sanitary napkins and other things in it. I also appreciate one on one time with my girls. It’s more peaceful because no one is competing against the other for talk time and attention. Just picture 3 talkative girls coming at you all at the same time. Hahaha.

I like to goof around with my kids, and Danae, even at her age, still likes to goof around with me. She’s not too cool for me yet, though sometimes she begs me to stop hahaha. At the cashier, while waiting for our turn, we were laughing about something. Danae suddenly mused that she wished she was still the only child. Awwww. I told her that was really sweet AND really mean at the same time.

I love that she enjoys spending time with me and just me. She enjoys going on solo dates with her dad as well. What a boost to know that for somebody who loves being with her friends so much, she still needs her time with mommy. Although it was mean of her to say that she prefers to be without her sisters, it also warmed my heart. It wasn’t even a date date. We weren’t doing anything special. We weren’t at a place she really really wanted to go to. It was simply quality alone time between mother and daughter.

When it was our turn at the cashier, Danae suddenly sang and danced Grease Lightning. I mumbled and danced along with her haha. The cashier lady commented, “ang cool nyong mag-ina.” That made me smile. I always want to be the mom my kids can count on when the going gets rough, the mom who teaches the tough lessons of life, but also the mom who laughs hard, plays around and is unafraid to be silly with them. ❤

Thankful for the privilege of being a mother. ❤ 

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court. Psalm 127:3-5

Motherhood, My Kids

It’s a good thing!

I am a stay-at-home mom. Even though my older girls go to school everyday, I am with them at breakfast and after school. It’s not often that I go out, though I do drive them to their after-school and weekend activities, because the littlest one is with me. I have to plan my moves. I’m blessed that my mom stays with us and I can now leave Gianna with her sometimes. We have a Manang and the two older girls can pretty much fend for themselves. Many times, I bring a kid or the kids along when I have a meeting in church on a weekday and King can be bothered. There is strength in numbers, so I feel safer when all 3 or 2 are together at home as opposed to leaving only 1 at home alone with Manang (on the times that my mom is not around). As much as I can help it, I don’t stay out long either. In other words, we’re together a whole lot.

But, on the rare occasion that I leave without them, they’re always chatty when I come back! So chatty, that they fight for my attention. “Mom! Mom! Look at this.” “You know what, mom?” “Mom, look what I made.” “Mom, look what I can do.” “Mom, can I show you something?” “Heeeey, I was talking to mom first.” The littlest one now knows to say “Mom! Talk to me.” Hahaha. Sometimes they overwhelm me. King jokes that they miss me. We’re always together!

But I realize that my children love to talk to me. They want to spend time with me. They enjoy my company. They’re not tired of me (yet). Even when I embarrass them (deliberately or accidentally), I know they secretly like it. They laugh at and with me. They want my attention, my affection, and my opinion. The older ones complain when they notice that I leave home like 3 days in a row. It’s tiring at times, and the pressure is incredible. But you know what, it’s a good thing! My kids not only love me. THEY LIKE ME! They really really like me! Hahahaha.

When Gianna knows I’ve parked, she already goes to the window and screams for me. “Mommy? Weeeeee mommy’s here!” Sometimes she’ll say “You’re back, mommy? Yay!” She makes my heart smile each time. I think (I hope) she is past her recent phase of wanting me by her side at all times, like she would call me IN A PANIC, once she realizes that I’m not near her. She would cry for me not to go to the bathroom! Anyway, the older girls don’t get as excited, but they’re always happy to see me too.

Thank you Lord for this massive blessing. To be loved AND liked by my kids is indeed a good thing. ❤

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

 

Motherhood, Parenting

Oh Motherhood!

Oh motherhood!

“Mooooooommmm?” 

“Heeeeeeelllpppp!”

“Can I have rice please?” When the bowl of rice is an arm’s reach away.

“I can’t find it.” And IT (whatever IT is) is right there in front of her.

“Mommy, look!” “Mom mom, look!” “Mommy, look at me!” All at once.

“Mommy o!” “Mom, she (insert verb) me!”

“Carry!” 

“Only mommy.”

“Stay here, mommy.”

“Don’t go, mommy.”

“Stay with me.” When we’ve been together ALL day, EVERY day.

“I’m scared. Can you come with me?” To the kitchen, in our house.

“Can you feed me?”

“I’m hungry.” After just having a meal.

“I’m thirsty. Can you get me water?” “I want milk.” When you’re already lying in bed.

“Mom? Mom? Mom? (tapping or shaking your arm) Can I (insert verb)? Can I have (insert noun)?” While you’re fast asleep.

“No! Please? 5 more minutes (which always translates to more)?” When you’ve already told them 5 minutes before that we’re leaving in 5 minutes.

“Aww, please mom? Can I just…..? It’s just so and so pesos. But you said….. But we haven’t…. But my friends…..” Negotiation after you’ve already answered their question.

 “I don’t like the rod.” 

“Mom, I don’t get it. Can you help me?” And then she’ll fight with you because she thinks you’re making it harder.

“Can you hold this?” “Can you put it in your bag?” Like the baby isn’t heavy enough.

“Awwwgh….” When you ask them to do you a tiny favor.

“Why me? I didn’t make that mess.”

“I want to buy this.” “I want to get that.” 

“How come he/she (friend or cousin) is allowed?” 

“Can you read with me?” When you’re already so so sleepy.

“Can you make chicken ala king and phoebe for lunch?” When it’s 30 minutes to lunch time.

“Ow, ow, oooooowwwww….” With so much tears and loud crying.

“I don’t want to sleep!”

“I don’t want to take a bath!”

“Waaaiiiit.” After the nth reminder.

“It’s so hard.” “I never get to have any fun!” “It’s always NO.” Sweeping statements of ungratefulness, even after a fun vacation.

“What if someone asks me on a date?”

“I think he has a crush on me.”

“I think he has a crush on ate.”

“He’s cute…..” If only I could put into words the sound of King, loading a shotgun. 😛

 

So many words, so many needs, so many wants, so many delays, so many excuses, so many arguments, so many questions. Mommy this, mommy that. These are the things that make me tired, exasperated, feel pressured, feel frustrated, and feel panicked. And at the same time, these are what make me GRATEFUL for being their mommy.

Motherhood is a joy. Quality and quantity time. Family. Fun. Games. Tickles. Piggy back rides. Laughter. Silliness. Dancing. Food. Trips. Dates. Memories. Service. Car rides. Times of house arrest. Sickness. Errands. Budget concerns. Conflicts of schedule. Conflicts of interest. Clash of personalities. Arguments. Stress. Bonding. Growing together. It’s not always great, but by the grace, love, and redemptive work of God, good always comes out of anything bad. We rest in the promise of God that as we walk in obedience to Him, we will EAT THE FRUIT OF OUR LABOR. The sacrifices we make are worth it. 

Motherhood is a privilege. Secrets. Open and intimate conversations. Inside jokes. Family meetings or one-on-one talks. Sensitive topics. Senseless topics. Friends. Feelings. Hurts. Heart issues. Dreams. Likes and dislikes. Crushes. Movies. Shows. Music. Social Media. Quirks. Habits. We have the opportunity to knit a close relationship with our children. We have the privilege to be part of their lives, to KNOW them, to WATCH them, to LOVE and ENJOY them. 

Motherhood is a stewardship. Teaching. Training. Listening. Learning. Discipline. Teamwork. Character building. Strengths building. Life skills. Discovering and developing talents. Discipleship. Volunteering. Church. Worship. Prayers. Faith. Bible. Wisdom. The Gospel. Loving and honoring God. God gave us captive audiences since our children were conceived in our womb. We have the opportunity to teach, inspire, impart, lead, empower, equip. We need to BE DELIBERATE in using, and not wasting, this opportunity. 

Motherhood is a gift. Smiles. Hugs. Regular kisses. Eskimo kisses. Nguso kisses. Thank yous. I love yous. I miss yous. Sorries. I forgive yous. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Yes, we have the opportunity to give it to our kids, but we also have the opportunity to receive it from our kids. They not only need us. They love us, despite our failure to love them. They love us, just because we are MOMMY. ❤ ❤ ❤ 

 

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I have very few pictures of me with the girls. It’s because I like taking pictures more than being in them. I hate and am not good at taking selfies (self-wes). My phone lacks the space for new pictures. But yeah, I need to be deliberate in having my picture taken with them. ❤ 

Thank you Lord, for making us mothers.

HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY TO ALL THE MOMMIES OUT THERE! ❤

 

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,

who walk in obedience to him.

You will eat the fruit of your labor;

blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

within your house;

your children will be like olive shoots

around your table.

Yes, this will be the blessing

for the man who fears the Lord. PSALM 128:1-4

 

Motherhood, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Happy birthday Gianna (and me too?)

Facebook reminded me this week of something I said two years ago.

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Actually, King was the first one to remind me. He wished me a happy birthday on Gianna’s birthday, and said he remembers everything. I just smiled. I honestly did not think of it. But as I was watching a show the other day, I suddenly cried seeing the daughter hug her mom so tightly, thankful that her mom is alive. You see, not to sound overdramatic, well okay maybe a little, I almost died.

FEAR OF PAIN

I was scheduled for a c-section on August 12th, so I had to be admitted the day before. I don’t know why, but through the difficult pregnancy, I had so much fear. I feared pain. I don’t know if God was already warning me about things to come, but I struggled with it. I would cry because I was afraid of the pain I MIGHT experience. I’d given birth to Danae normally — that was painful even with epidural. I’d given birth to Noelle via emergency c-section — also had epidural and recovery was painful. You would think after two births, I’d be more confident. But no, I was seriously afraid.

August 11th, my spirits were high. King, the kids, and I were excited to be at the hospital. I wanted the girls to be with us overnight so they could meet Gianna right after she came out. To keep with tradition since Danae was also there in the hospital when Noelle was born. 🙂  I tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep) and so I needed to be given antibiotics intravenously 24hrs before my c-section. I was told to shower with an antiseptic and wear the hospital gown, so they could test my skin for a reaction (or non) to the antibiotic and also insert the IV. I was ready. Bracing myself, but ready. The nurse inserted the needle….

and I WAILED IN PAIN. I cried so loudly that my girls cried with me. I had never experienced that before in my 3 previous hospitalizations. That was just the beginning. To make the story shorter, almost everything I went through was painful. Plus I guess I was super emotional. King was not allowed to stay with me in the labor room and I had no phone, so through my tears I occupied myself with singing my first favorite worship song, Great is the Lord and Most Worthy of Praise.

I sang it even while they were getting Gianna out, and King was by my head. There was no pain at that point but I had difficulty breathing. That was normal, I was told, because of the spinal anaesthesia they gave me. It was quite different from the epidural I’ve had in the past. I kept thinking, I wanna hear the baby. I’ll be okay when I hear and see her. When she was out — her skin so fair like Noelle, chubby and chinky like Noelle, and she cried softly (like neither sister hahaha) — I was relieved and happy. I even made sure my doctor fixed my fallopian tubes. She assured me that she was ligating me, haha. They put Gianna on me so she could latch, and we could have some skin-to-skin contact. ❤

AFTER CHILD BIRTH

They brought me to the recovery room, and they would not bring me and Gianna to my room because my blood pressure was high. I kept looking at the monitor and I would see it at 160 over something. I thought that was odd because with my first two, my blood pressure normalized as soon as I gave birth. I was in there by 2:30. When Gianna cried, we would try to breastfeed. I tried to sleep and relax. By 8 or 9pm, I asked the nurse if she could bring Gianna out to meet her sisters. She obliged and I thank God that happened because the girls did not see her again till she got out of the NICU. More on her birth here.

I was brought to my room around 11pm. They gave me meds for my BP and monitored my urine for 24 hrs. When they removed the catheter, I was able to stand up and move. I would get dizzy and have a hard time breathing, but surprisingly my wound and stomach muscles did not hurt much. On the 15th, I was given the go to be discharged. My heplock was removed. I had no dextrose anymore by the 14th actually, but the thing was still in my vein till they removed it the next day. So you know, I thought I was fine and healthy. I did keep asking about my swollen ankles and legs. My edema would usually disappear as soon as the baby came out. I thought something was not right, but they kept telling me it was normal. We opted to keep the room and wait till Gianna was finished with her antibiotics in the NICU.

Not long after that, a doctor came into my room and told me that I had pre-eclampsia. I was so annoyed that I asked her why she’s saying pre-eclampsia when I’ve already given birth. Isn’t it supposed to be post eclampsia? Haha. It’s called pre-eclampsia because it is a condition before eclampsia. Eclampsia is high blood pressure and seizures in pregnant women. The usual cure for that is to give birth. Mine was post partum pre-eclampsia, meaning after I’ve given birth. She told me I would need magnesium sulfate for 24 hours, I got more upset. I told the attending doctor that I did not want to be IVed again. I said I was done. In my head, I was thinking that they were mistaken. Not after Gianna, needing to be in the NICU. No way. It was just too much. They said they would just relay it to my OB-GYN.

My lovely doctor, Dra Guinto, came into my room early that evening, and pleaded with me, not just as my doctor but as my friend (her words), to get the treatment. I actually had pre-eclampsia severe — severe because I had more than 3 symptoms of pre-eclampsia. It was good that we found out while I was still in hospital, because it would have been more dangerous undetected at home. There are too many complications if we don’t treat it — seizures and nerve damage. I cried because I did not want to do it. I did not want another IV insertion. I did not want additional pain — I was told it was going to feel hot in my body. I did not want a catheter. Hearing it straight from my doctor (and because she allowed me to not wear a catheter) and with King encouraging me to just obey, I eventually agreed. Thank God my children weren’t there. They were still with my in-laws.

My God takes the broken and makes it whole again. My God takes the broken and makes me whole again. ‪#‎thankYouLord‬ — this was my post from a song I heard that day, Aug 15, 2014. (I wasn’t able to capture the memory, sorry.)

NOT AGAIN 

That night, they brought me to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit. I was already in the groove of going down to the NICU to feed Gianna each time she needed feeding, but I couldn’t go to her again for 24 hours. I was emotional, eyes swollen from all the crying. Praise God the IV didn’t hurt and I did not feel the heat in my body. But in my heart, I kept asking the Lord to keep me alive. I did not want to let my girls feel abandoned. I did not want them to be at a loss, devastated by news of me dead. We had not seen each other at that point for 4 days. Imagine thinking everything’s fine and then your mom is suddenly gone. I did not want them to have to go through that. I was afraid that they’d get angry with God. I did not want Gianna to grow up without a mom. She’s too little. Writing about it still gets me emotional. Kawawa naman ang mga anak ko, I told God. I did not want to die yet. King did not show me, but he was also concerned. I guess he prayed like he never prayed before.

I was at the same time, concerned for Gianna because she was in the NICU. I kept hearing in my head, or was it in a song or I saw it in one of the movies, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” I told God that I don’t think I was ready to say that if He took Gianna away. Oh the tears!

After 24 hours, even my doctor was stumped. My blood pressure was still high. I asked her what might happen and she said my heart could fail from all the pumping it’s doing. I think that’s when she talked to King outside and they both decided to get me out of that unit. The place was causing me stress. I could not wait to get out and hold Gianna. We moved to a small room and by the grace of God, they released Gianna around the same time too. I got to see her and be with her again. My blood pressure went down, though still elevated. And by next morning, I was deemed healthy enough to be discharged — for real. Whew!

STILL ALIVE!

Later that month, I realized how much worse it could have all turned out. I was still having high blood pressure, dizzy spells, and an overall sick feeling. My friend whose son was in the NICU for 2 months, told me about a baby also in the NICU whose mom was in a coma. When I asked why, I learned that she was in A COMA BECAUSE OF PRE-ECLAMPSIA. Days or maybe weeks later, she was gone. It just became so real. My fears were not baseless at all! I cried then, feeling bad for that baby and her dad and THANKING GOD THAT I WAS ALIVE. I seriously could have died too soon. Thank God my doctor insisted on treatment and King urged me to do it. Otherwise, I would be in heaven and that would be great for me, but not so great for my family.

I thank God for my life! Despite that health scare and though I am still taking medication for high blood pressure, I am still here. God chose to not leave my children motherless. He chose to give King and I, the girls and I, our whole family more years together.

Exactly two years ago, we brought Gianna home from the hospital.

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Now she’s 2, and we are both alive and well. God is sovereign and God is good. And King is right. It is also my birthday. We are deeply grateful. ❤ 

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Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:10

The Lord does whatever pleases him
    throughout all heaven and earth,
    and on the seas and in their depths. Psalm 135:6

The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

 

 

 

Motherhood

Motherhood

Motherhood. It’s probably one (out of 3, I think) of the craziest things I got myself mixed up in. Fulfilling and life-altering, but crazy nonetheless. 🙂

From painful labor and difficult, scary, and potentially life-threatening deliveries, from bringing the breastfeeding baby wherever I had/have to go, breastfeeding while driving, playing, eating or homeschooling, drinking hot soup while carrying a sleeping baby, carrying a baby with one hand and pushing the stroller with the other, taking a bath with an audience (baby in stroller or crib right by the door), to traveling with an infant, traveling with a toddler, traveling with a pre-schooler and a baby without King, traveling sick with two kids, and then soon (hopefully never ever again sick) traveling with three!

From juggling schedules especially during summer, driving them to and staying with them at parties, play dates and classes, to homeschooling one child and then two, homeschooling two while pregnant, and then homeschooling two with an infant.

From fun, laughter, joy, interesting conversations, quality and quantity time together, playing and reading, making memories everywhere we go, to heartaches, disappointments, tears, fights, heartfelt confessions and heartfelt cries, deep conversations, and hard lessons on love and forgiveness.

I tell you, it’s a crazy ride, but one that I am willing to be in. Through the incredible ups, frightening downs, exciting loops, surprise turns, and even the steady (or messy) transitions, I’m all in. No matter how painful it has gotten or it might get, no matter how close I have been to giving up (a bit overdramatic maybe? hehe), no matter how many times I have actually said I give up (because trust me, the nappy changing and sleepless nights are the “easy” part), no matter if I could turn back time and other less crazy rides were offered to me. I would still get on this one. I love my children. They are each a blessing to me and King. And by the grace of God, I will get better and better at loving them the way He wants me to.

I am a perfectly imperfect mother and I pray that through my imperfection, my children will see and learn how much they need God. That God is the only One who is constant, the only One who is always there, the only One who is truly reliable, the only One who knows and gives what is best, the only One who loves perfectly and makes us whole. As a mother, even with the help of my most awesome husband, I experience this truth every single day. I need Jesus. I can’t do it without Him. And though consistently inconsistent me has had days or moments of doing motherhood without Him, I pray that He will enable me to always go back at His feet, humble myself before Him and give up the reins, receive His mercy, and entrust to Him the hearts and lives of my children. 😊

Thank you Lord for this gift of motherhood! Thank you for blessing me with three beautiful warrior princesses. Thank you for the honor and privilege to co-parent with King, to raise and take care of our girls. Thank you that even though it becomes overwhelming, your grace is sufficient. I am comforted by the truth that I don’t have to be everything to my children because YOU are everything. 😊

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HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY, BEAUTIFUL MOMMIES! 🙂

Family, Motherhood, My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting

Grateful for 2014: Gianna

It’s 2015! And before I can think about what I’m looking forward to this year, I need to share what I am grateful for the past year. God, family, friends, church, ministry are constants, but there are 3 specific things that stand out about my 2014. I want to begin with the obvious – Gianna.

Oh, my Kaitlin Gianna. God has blessed me with such a beautiful baby girl! She was born on August 12, via c-section, and right away we noticed that she didn’t cry continuously. Danae and Noelle were both big cryers, but Gianna had a gentle cry and was just quiet some of the time. She was fair and chubby at 3.1kilograms. It was the first time I experienced “skin to skin” and immediate latching with my baby almost as soon as she came out of my womb (they cleaned her a bit first). They didn’t do that with my first two, maybe because it was in a different hospital.

Another great thing about St. Luke’s is they consider the mom and the baby as one unit. Where mommy goes, baby goes too. At first I wasn’t too happy about it because I’ve experienced rooming in and not rooming in the baby, and rooming in exhausted me. But then I figured it wouldn’t be so bad. It was best for baby.

Gianna was with me in the recovery room, where I stayed a few hours because my blood pressure was not yet stable. I was there so long that I thought to ask the nurse if she could bring Gianna out to meet her sisters. She accommodated me, even though she couldn’t contact King right away. The sisters met for the first time that night, before the two big sisters went off to stay with my in-laws.

first picture of the tres marias :)
first picture of the tres marias 🙂 Gianna was around 8 hours old 🙂

I didn’t get to see my older girls that night anymore because we were moved into my room really late. Our first night with Gianna was good. She cried, but she would latch onto my breast fairly easily, and then she would fall asleep. The nurses were helpful in changing her nappy. By morning, however, a doctor came in to tell us some news.

BAD NEWS

The doctors extracted blood from Gianna while I was in recovery to run some tests. I can’t remember if it was protocol or a precaution or both, but I never expected the results we got. Gianna’s white blood cell count was markedly high, about 25,000 more than normal. They said clinically, she was alright, but her white blood cell count could not be ignored. She had to be given AT LEAST one week’s worth of antibiotics intravenously, and the hospital policy was for her to be monitored in the NICU. They took her away that morning.

All day I could not go down to breastfeed her because the catheter was still in me. Good thing they sell pasteurized breast milk in the hospital so they could feed Gianna. They are very strict about giving babies breast milk –- no formula and no sugar water. As soon as they removed the catheter late that night, I went to see my little love. It felt good to hold her again, but it hurt to see her on IV. On her third day in the NICU, I saw that she had nothing connected to her, and the nurse said they were going to reinsert AND draw blood. I couldn’t help but cry for her at that point. It was my first time to have a child stay in the NICU.

It was also sad that the two other girls could not visit their sister in the NICU. Children not allowed.

In the NICU :(
In the NICU 😦 2 days old
I didn't stay for the re-insertion and blood extraction. I was already crying just knowing about it.  I would not have been able to bear seeing it. I'm thankful for the kind, loving nurses there, who took good care of Gianna.
4 days old. I didn’t stay for the re-insertion and blood extraction. I was already crying just learning about it.
I would not have been able to bear seeing it. I’m thankful for the kind, loving nurses there, who took good care of Gianna.

GOOD NEWS

In the NICU, the pedia extracted Gianna’s blood so they could do a blood culture. After the first day upto the last (I forget how many days were necessary), no growth had formed in the blood culture. Her bilirubin levels (jaundice) were also high but not high enough to require phototherapy. They also extracted blood to check her white blood cell count again after so and so days. What was supposed to be 7 days of antibiotics became only 5 days! It was not any particular infection, but we were just grateful that nothing worse came up. She entered the NICU on a Wednesday and was discharged on a Sunday. We were able to go home the next day!

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6 days old. The girls only got to see their baby sister again that Sunday, and thanks to our friend Varsha, we got our very first family picture with Gianna. 🙂

SOME ISSUES

We had some issues during the first two months. Gianna lost weight on her first two weeks of life. We got concerned because although it is normal for an infant to lose a little weight after being born, Gianna still did not gain weight after two weeks. I was still emotional and all, and it made me sad to even consider giving her formula at such a young age. I was determined, however, to help increase my milk supply by eating more malunggay and being faithful in taking my malunggay supplements. By our next appointment, she had already gained weight!

I was so happy to hear about the weight gain, but then at 5 or 6 weeks, her jaundice had not disappeared. Daily morning sunning for about two weeks should have done the trick, but it didn’t. The pedia required a blood extraction to check her bilirubin levels again. The result was extremely high. If I remember correctly, the normal range is .2 to 1 (I don’t know the unit of measurement, sorry). Gianna’s was in the mid twenties! I was ordered to stop breastfeeding for a while.

It was inconvenient, because I had to pump my milk to keep the supply going (I would much rather feed directly) and wash bottles and all that, but I obeyed. I was concerned that Gianna wouldn’t take to the bottle and the formula, but to my surprise, we had no problems. It was a first for me to give my baby formula so early and she was/is the first among the three girls to be okay with drinking from a bottle.

My poor baby girl had to go through more blood extractions that week. King was the brave one who held her through it. My heart could not take the sight of her getting hurt. I just comforted her afterwards. Thank God her bilirubin levels went down enough that we did not need to confine her for phototherapy, and it was a confirmation that her jaundice was caused by breast milk and not problems in her liver. I also finally got the go signal to go back to full breastfeeding!

waiting for blood extraction.
in hospital, waiting for blood extraction. brave 1 month old baby. brave  daddy.

SUCH A HAPPY BABY

Gianna is now nearly 5 months old. She is healthy and strong, and she is such a happy baby. We immediately noticed her smiling while she was asleep as a newborn, and when she was about a month old, she smiled in response to our voices and faces. I was even honestly concerned about her eyesight because she wouldn’t focus on my eyes. I remember the two older girls looking at me while breastfeeding, and Gianna did not seem to be doing that. What a joy it was to finally lock eyes with her when she was more than a month old! And now the looks that she gives me – oh so heart melting. She looks, sometimes stares at me, and then when I acknowledge her, she gives me the sweetest smile. And she ALWAYS does this, even when I’m across the table from her. Sometimes she stops from feeding to give me a smile haha. That always makes me giggle in glee.

August 12 Kaitlin Gianna - 265
2 weeks old, smiling as she slept while sunning
August 12 Kaitlin Gianna - 570
nearly a month old, smiling as she slept
almost 5 months old :)
almost 5 months old, smiling at daddy 🙂

The way she responds to King and her sisters is just priceless too. She likes to “talk” to and “sing” with King. I guess she knows how loved she is. Her sisters can’t get enough of her, and she most of the time doesn’t mind being “man-handled” haha. She reaches for and touches our faces now when we are near her. She just really makes our hearts smile.

about 6 weeks old. i put tape so her ear would properly fold. worked like magic!
about 6 weeks old. i put tape so her ear would properly fold. worked like magic! thanks to our pedia for the encouragement to “fix” it.
4 and a half months old :)
4 and a half months old. first Christmas. 🙂
talking to daddy and touching his face :)
talking to daddy and touching his face 🙂

Her cries are louder now, but she’s still a very good baby. She enjoys her mini baths, although she didn’t at first haha. I’m excited to get her a bathtub and see her enjoy being IN the water. Sometimes she’s just quiet in bed or her carrier, checking out her surroundings, and so I get to eat and not get frazzled when we’re out (well most of the time, haha). She’s usually calm when I change her diapers too. I literally thank her for being such a good baby.

When she wakes from sleep, as long as she has had enough sleep, she doesn’t cry. I catch her awake, entertaining herself with either looking at the light, checking out her hands, or “talking” and kicking her legs. And then that smile…..sigh. She has started laughing too, but we find that a tad difficult to elicit haha. It’s such a joy to wake up seeing this pretty baby beside me every morning. Weird, but I really feel so loved when I see her.

Kaitlin Gianna :)
Kaitlin Gianna 🙂

Just like her sisters’ first names, her first name Katilin means pure. Gianna means God is gracious. And God has certainly been gracious to us, blessing us with such a beautiful princess. I am just so grateful for her. I can’t wait to witness God display His grace in and through Gianna’s life. 🙂

Family, Motherhood

Mothers’ Day 2014

Dearest Danae and Noelle,

You are two of the greatest gifts God has given me. I became a mom because you came into my life. It is my honor and privilege to be with you nearly 24 hours of every single day, loving you, teaching you, disciplining you, playing with you, goofing around with you, going out with you. It is exhausting and frustrating at times, but I will always choose to be hands-on with you two. No amount of money or potential of a career will keep me from being a stay-at-home mom while you are young. Those just don’t matter to me as much. I believe that’s how God wired me, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity and choice to live it.

Looking back, I might have known how different you were going to be from each other since the day Noelle was born. Danae was born tiny and brown, while Noelle was born big and white! You both of course have my trade mark lips hehehe. Your ways and personalities differ, but I believe you have the same qualities of being loving, kind, compassionate, generous, affectionate, thoughtful, grateful, obedient, and wise. You just display them differently and at varying times haha. It’s amusing to see my traits and your dad’s traits in you. Sometimes, you are walking contradictions really. And I’ve had that said about me too – that I’m an oxymoron (see dictionary for meaning hahaha). But no matter, I love you both so much anyway. I don’t think there is anything you can do (but please please please don’t deliberately try to find ways 🙂 ), to make me unlove you.

I know I have not been the “normal mom” for the past months, neither have I been the perfect mom over the years, but thank you for being so patient and understanding. Thank you that despite my shortcomings, you are excited for our baby and that you already love him/her so much. The greatest gift you two have given me through my difficult first trimester, though, is loving each other. Yes, you still argue and bicker, but I have seen you grow so much closer. The bond that I prayed that the two of you would have as sisters, I am already seeing with my own eyes. I am so blessed to see you help each other, depend on each other, serve each other, and just love each other.

photo
Mothers’ day! We were fortunate to catch the Art Attack event in Eastwood. Even though the activity was for the girls, this Mom was happy and content, watching and helping them do some art. 🙂

I am 36 now, but even as I grow older, as long as you need me to play catch, stay in the ball pit with you, skate or swim or zipline with you, I will do it. (Promise to do math and all the hard stuff with me too, okay? Hahaha). Your smiles, laughter, and squeals of excitement are a joy to me. I don’t mind getting tired or putting my needs and wants aside for you. Seeing you happy makes me happy. As long as you let me have my alone time with daddy, we’re good. 🙂

Thank you for appreciating me and loving me. I do what I do for you because I love you deeply. God entrusted me and your dad with you girls, and we are fully committed to obey Him, to do our part as parents in raising you. You may not completely understand our ways and our reasons sometimes, but I believe you will when the time comes. It’s a tough job being a mom, but I thank God that He gave me the best husband as my partner and He gave me two tough, but awesome chicks to raise and love. I know you will be tough enough to be awesome moms one day too.

I don’t know how you are going to choose to live your lives as wives and mothers in the future, but I pray that you will always choose to love and obey Jesus. That you and your husband will teach your children to love and obey Jesus as well. That family will be your priority over your careers (not necessarily giving up your careers, but being hands-on moms nonetheless – yes I see it with super moms nowadays – it can be done). That you will spend quality and quantity time with your children, getting to know them and their hearts by talking to them, dating them, playing with them, and taking them on wonderful road trips and vacations. That your children will give you as much or even more joy, as you two give me. That you will see your children as blessings, as gifts, as students, as the church, as the future, as individuals who need the Lord as much as you do, as individuals with God-given destinies. That you will see and experience that being a hands-on mom is wonderful and is absolutely worth it.

It’s mothers’ day and I thank you for your sweet greetings and notes, but you girls give me sweet drawings, notes, hugs and kisses every single day. Despite my occasional sighs and grunts and our occasional arguments, I really don’t need a special day for mothers to feel special. I am already special because I have the two of you. I love you, my princesses. Thank you for making my everyday a happy mother’s day. 🙂

Love,

Mommy 🙂

 

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
    He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates. 

Psalm 127:3-5 NLT          

Just My Thoughts, Motherhood

The Surrender

It took me a month of trying to fight my puking urges before I finally accepted that I should just LET IT GO. Yes, Frozen’s song meant something different to me then, haha. I hated throwing up, but it somehow relieved my painful tummy. So I conceded. I tried some food from time to time, just to check what I could take, because I was sooooo sick of crackers. I finally found some that I could eat and be satisfied with — mung beans and dried fish with rice! To us Filipinos, munggo and tuyo/danggit! How ironic that the smelliest of all fish was what I could eat. That was my meal twice a day for more than a month. My tummy settlers were soda, nuts, and chips. I still experienced the same nausea, bloatedness, aversion to smells (and did I mention aversion to food on tv?) and vomiting, but at least I had some real food to eat.

It was around that time, the second week of February, that I psyched myself to finally visit my OB-GYN. It was not without a lot of crying days before, as I was dreading the smells I could possibly encounter. I was seriously afraid, and I felt trapped. I did not want to be paralyzed by my fear, but I was. I was sure I would vomit, and I definitely didn’t want to do that in public. There’s nothing pretty about vomiting, even if I had the best excuse to do it. It’s gross, loud, uncomfortable, and painful.

I made sure I threw up before I left home (twice), and I equipped myself with some crackers and a small jar of vapor rub to help mask other smells. It was the first time I left the house successfully (we tried going to a nearby commercial area a few days before and I was too nauseated to get out of the car). We found out that I was 3 months and 4 days pregnant. Quite late for a first check up, but I had been drinking folic acid and calcium by end of  December, though irregularly. Yes, you guessed it, they were hard for me to swallow at times. I was prescribed the usual prenatal meds, but the ultrasound showed that I was having contractions. My doctor gave me additional ones to secure the baby in my womb. I realized that it was a blessing that I had just been staying home that whole time. I had not endangered myself or the baby.

WE SAW THE BABY AND MY HEART SMILED for the first time in a long while. I was happy to know that even with my troubles, he (or she) was a-okay.

I felt quite accomplished after that. That didn’t encourage me to get out of the house more though. I was still trapped by my fear, and the farthest I would go was in our front yard to watch the girls bike. Of course smells of cooking from neighbors’ houses bothered me too. My next trips out were only for a doctor’s visit and a short side trip to the mall, a dental appointment, and a trip to the bookstore.

Things were getting a tad better, plus thankfully our former stay-in helper came back, but I was still feeling down a lot. There were days that I cried practically all day, and there were days that I was fine. Then came the 3 or 4 consecutive days that I was just in anguish and I cried to God. I was like a crazy person, pleading for grace and mercy one minute and then blaming God for what I was going through the next. And then the inevitable came sometime in mid March — MY HEART SURRENDERING TO THE LORD. I cried, prayed, repented for my anger, ungratefulness, and joylessness, declared His love and goodness, literally lifted my arms in surrender to His will. I was done. I gave up being angry and finally allowed Him to take over.

It was not a quick change in my disposition, but peace and joy slowly came back into my heart. I was able to see the good, even though I was still vomiting every morning. Though I chose to stay home still, I was able to BE WITH my kids, play with them, and even resume homeschooling. My appetite was returning and my taste buds were normalizing. I said goodbye to mung beans and dried fish! I still had problems with smell and I still couldn’t eat all kinds of food, but I was better. I was even able to watch Captain America to support a friend’s fundraiser. I did get quite dizzy before and after the movie, but that was a breakthrough. You don’t know how happy it made my husband that I was out with him. I also started feeling the baby move that week!

The trip that followed was my doctor’s appointment this month, with some grocery shopping and a visit to our church. It was good to be in a supermarket after 3 months, though King did most of the picking and handling especially of the meats, while I ate chips to get rid of the nausea. And it was great to see friends I had not seen since the last Sunday of 2013. I believe the next day was the last day I threw up, the day I watched Rio 2 with my family. My daughters were so happy, seeing that I was “healed.”

10320422_833105283370835_7264876035980516200_nBy holy week, I was able to go on vacation with the church staff and actually enjoy it! I was able to eat. I got the most exercise I’ve gotten since I got pregnant, walking up and down steps and swimming laps. I enjoyed the beach and swam with my kids. I got tired, but not exhausted. Since then, I’d been able to go out, sit at restaurants and endure the smells without gagging! It may not be a big deal to anyone else, but it’s a huge deal for me. Finally, MY MIRACLE IS HERE! Last Easter Sunday was the first time I attended church service since 2013 ended!

Yes, I still get dizzy, I still gag at smells sometimes, I get easily tired, and there are still certain food I can’t stand, but I THANK THE LORD that He has given me this breakthrough. I seriously thought I was going to suffer the tummy aches and vomiting the entire 9 months! And not only am I feeling better, we were able to finish all of Danae’s requirements for her major subjects! Thanks to Teacher Sybil for helping me and the girls, in homeschooling and other matters. All I need to do now is make sure she finishes her computer subject which her dad is in charge of, to fix her portfolio, and to submit her grades. We are quite delayed, but thank God for our understanding school principal.

Indeed I can say that THE LORD IS GOOD. Even though I was so ungrateful and unfaithful to Him, He remained faithful. He was understanding and patient with me. Though many times I felt that He was silent, He gave me people who loved me, stood by me, and helped me sort through my craziness — my patient husband King, my accommodating girls Danae and Noelle, my friend, constant chat mate and shock absorber May, and faithful friends who keep praying for me, are my heroes.

I was aware that God was teaching me something, that it was another stepping out of my comfort zone (boy, was it ever), another push to grow, but my pain and hardship blinded me. I focused more on the bad, whining and crying, rather than focusing on the good. Hormones did play a big role, sure, but I know God wanted me to go through it to bring me to a place of TRUE SURRENDER. My prayers were sincere but my emotions tainted them with pride and unbelief.

It wasn’t until I surrendered that the veil was slowly lifted. God is a personal God. And this is the way He has always been with me — BEFORE HE CHANGES MY SITUATION, HE FIRST CHANGES MY HEART. Everything that He allowed to happen led to a heart change, and my situation began getting better and better. I know it’s an ordinary experience for some and they take it in stride. This was a first for me. My first two pregnancies were not this hard, and I was never this miserable. It was not right to have such little joy and I could not figure it out, hence all my frustration and anguish. I may not understand all of it, but I do understand that God is good and all His plans are purposeful. He loves me enough to want me to grow, and not just coast along. His grace IS sufficient and He is present, whether I feel it or not. He wants me to be free from anger, fear, and pride. He wants me to live fully with peace and joy, not repeating vicious cycle after vicious cycle. And the only way is by coming to Him and surrendering to Him, leaving it all at His feet. FREEDOM, PEACE AND JOY COMES WITH SURRENDER.

1797357_832231116791585_1229765869048486447_nI will be 6 months pregnant in about a week! I am healthy, at peace, and excited. My girls are busy with their summer activities and I can be their mommy/driver/assistant again. King is also busy with work/ministry and we were able to tag along to the youth camp last week. The baby is healthy, and by next month, we hope to know and then share the much anticipated reveal of his/her gender! We are all doing well and I can’t thank the Lord enough. 🙂

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:6-10

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. Psalm 118:5

 

 Click here and here for the first two posts of this story.

Just My Thoughts, Motherhood

The Roller Coaster

When I started experiencing constant acidity and gas in my tummy daily, I badly wanted to eat to relieve it. But believe it or not, I could not take anything but crackers and bananas. Relief would come but it was always short-lived. My water intake was also terrible. With the little I ate and drank, I would still vomit DAILY. I hated it. I cried buckets of tears because I was hungry and I felt bloated at the same time. And the vomiting literally hurt me and tired me out. Many times I would vomit gas and saliva alone, but the sensation and the effort were the same. I would get contractions too while throwing up. I lost twenty pounds by February.

I was on the most horrible emotional roller coaster ride of my life. I wanted to be grateful everyday for this wonderful gift, but I could not see past my pain and hardship. I felt bad that I wasn’t like other pregnant ladies who were strong, could still exercise, continue to work and take care of their families. I felt bad that my husband, tired from work all day, had to take on my responsibilities at home. We had a stay-out helper who washed our clothes and did some cleaning and cooking during the day, but at night, King had to still clean up after the girls’ messes. He cooked at times too. He had to make sure our children had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was stuck in the room, because I could not stand the smell of any food, or other strong smells for that matter. I could not cook, or even accompany my children at the dining table. My kids learned to eat on their own or with the stay-out helper. They learned to always close my door to prevent the smell of cooking from wafting in, though many times it was impossible to block the smell out. I would hide in the bathroom to try to avoid throwing up, sometimes to no avail.

King felt an enormous amount of pressure, thinking about my physical and emotional condition, thinking about the kids’ welfare, and thinking about his work. And I felt the pressure of him feeling the pressure. We badly needed a stay-in helper to lighten our loads physically (chores) and mentally (planning). And I badly needed my miracle.

Though it’s common in all my pregnancies that I cannot stand King’s smell during the first trimester, I felt terrible that I could not even smell my own children! I couldn’t cuddle with them, or kiss them. I stayed in a separate bedroom. They were understanding but there were moments that Danae would cry to me, sad and upset that I couldn’t do normal things with them. I totally felt for her, because I wanted what she wanted. BUT I JUST COULDN’T. I was so frustrated with myself for being so weak. I felt helpless and useless. Don’t even get me started on homeschooling. Nausea kept me from being able to do any.

To top it all off, I was upset because I felt that God WOULD NOT give me my miracle. I prayed so hard for it even before I got pregnant, and most especially while I was having such a hard time. I felt like He wasn’t answering, wasn’t moving. But then again I knew that I was blessed — the fact that I could even conceive and carry a child is already a huge blessing. All the more that I felt frustrated with myself because what I was feeling was the opposite of the truth that I knew and believed. I honestly was starting to doubt God’s love and His goodness. I was completely miserable, bursting into uncontrollable tears every now and then. My poor kids witnessed some of it and they would be kind enough to comfort me, pray for me, or leave me alone.

Then I would see other people with bigger, deeper problems than me, but are still able to smile and live their lives with joy. I was experiencing a seemingly endless difficult season but obviously temporary, and I was ready to throw my faith out the window! I was suffering for only 9 months, if ever it wasn’t going to get better for me, and then a beautiful addition to our family would arrive! I knew I should choose joy and be more grateful. I knew I had the power to choose a better attitude, but I was unable to. I wish I could blame it all on crazy hormones, but I am just not sure that’s true. My frustrations were immense. I not only beat myself up for something I could not control — my physical weakness — I also beat myself up for something I could control — my attitude. I knew my feelings were valid, but I could not figure out what God wanted me to do. I was angry with Him, but I also knew that there’s nobody else I could rely on to help me through it. I knew it was only by His grace that I could overcome. My despair was real.

 

I know this is a depressing end to this post, but I promise, the third and last installment tomorrow will be better. 🙂

Click here for the first installment.