Family, Just My Thoughts

What are you grateful for?

It’s been more than a hundred days of quarantine! How have you been? King asked us the other night what we were thankful for, being home now for more than 3 months. Common answers from the kids were bonding and food. I guess they know their priorities. 😂 Thought I’d share my answers too.

First, I’m grateful that we have not gone crazy and killed each other, being home together 24/7 all this time. We had a good laugh about this, but all agreed. I believe it helps that everyone has his or her own space to retreat to. Well, except maybe me, because Gianna seems to have a homing device set to always find mommy. I guess it’s a good thing she’s not sick of me yet. Unless of course I go outside and do my weeding. When I ask her to help, she does the opposite and stays away 😂. I should go do that again this week 😉. A space in the back to see some green, gaze up at the sky, and to get some fresh air, is very much a blessing as well.

We were recording outside for VBC 🙂

I also believe that our connection to the outside world helps keep us all sane. Thank God for technology and a techie husband! The kids are able to talk to their friends online. King and I are able to talk to (and laugh with) our friends. We may be stuck in one place physically, but we are able to enjoy staying home, and somewhat enjoy our friends. The older girls even watch shows or movies online with their friends. So gen z, don’t you think?

But it also goes to show we genuinely enjoy one another. There are disagreements and certain issues, needless to say, but we are a close knit family. King and I are deliberate in bringing our family together, but I think we gravitate to one another anyway. It’s either I bug them in their room to give/get hugs or just goof around, or they come into my room to snuggle or tell me random stuff. About anime or a favorite band or a favorite character or whatever. I joke that my new name is Momluk, because everyday, one or two or all three call me to look at whatever they want to show me. “Mom, look!!!” Yes, at the same time sometimes. And sometimes, “Mom, look! Mom, look! Mom, look!” I keep telling them that it’s torture what they do to me. 😂😂😂

Second, I’m grateful to be living a less hurried life. No rush to get out the door and bring the kids wherever, or get to a meeting, or juggle my schedule to accomodate their needs and mine. I’m able to rest. I’m able to spend more time reading my Bible, praying and journaling, without as much distraction as before. I’m able to cook dishes, read, draw and make art with Gianna, hang with the girls, watch some shows (though I’ve only finished one and a half seasons of one show on netflix), have devotions with the family, continue decluttering, play, dance, write.

Less hurried but still having busy days. In May, I had Mom Talk, where I shared, along with 2 other moms, about Faith and Journaling online. It was my first time to do something like that ever. Another faith-stretching, character-building experience for me. Noelle continued ballet classes online. King also had Me and My Dad Camp (at home) that month with Gianna. It was her first time to participate. We all also spent some days recording and editing stuff for Vacation Bible Camp. The girls had an online math enhancement program provided by their school for two weeks last month, and we got a taste of what it will be like in the coming school year. It will be another adjustment for all of us, but hey, we were built to adapt. God’s grace is abundant. 🙏

They were in a tent at the backyard for Me and My Dad camp, while we were having a movie date. 🙂
Each of our girls finished the program for their level 🙂

Third, I’m grateful that church and discipleship did not stop. It’s amazing how the church quickly adapted to the change. Livestreaming for Sunday services and daily devotions were set up. Leadership convergences and trainings, marriage talks, youth services and others were put up online. Our church community is alive! Our meetings with our leaders continue via zoom. Our meetings with our own couples discipleship group continue via zoom. In fact, the young professionals group I was supposed to start with two ladies in April pushed through in June, but now with five ladies. 

Monthly meeting with the Pastors’ wives 🙂
Bi-monthly meeting with the wives of our couples group 🙂

Even Kids Church could not be stopped. There is kids church online every Sunday. Me and My Dad Camp, which is usually held in camping grounds in Tagaytay or Rizal, was held in the participants’ homes. And there were at least 70 families who signed up and joined! And VBC! We started meeting for this in January, and the praise dance team started meeting for practices in February. We thought that because we were unable to gather due to the lockdown, VBC would be pushed to next year. But the Kids Ministry team and volunteers made a way for this to happen online! What a privilege for the praise dance team to still be part of it. And would you believe we had nearly 200 participants??? Gianna was a first time participant too! Amazing what God has been doing. ❤️

Danae and Gianna with some of the praise dancers for VBC at Home!

Opportunity. This is what was presented to us in the last 3 months. Did we find it? Have we used it? I hope that instead of complaining about how the quarantine is limiting us, we find the opportunities in our situation. The opportunity to spend time with our loved ones. The opportunity to bless our frontliners. The opportunity to contribute to the livelihood of others by buying local and buying from our friends. The opportunity to connect with people, whether at home or online with people we haven’t spoken to for some time. The opportunity to mend relationships. The opportunity to read. To learn something new. To be creative. To teach somebody. To hone our skill by sharing it to others. To start a business. To write music or poetry. To slow down, refocus, realign, recalibrate. To serve. To pray. To use our platform to encourage and to impart faith.  

There is always opportunity to be grateful. I pray most of all that this is what we have learned in quarantine — to find the silver lining and make the choice to be grateful. ❤️🙏❤️

 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

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, Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Grateful for 2014: My Mom is Alive

It was December 5. The two older girls were in their MAPEH class. King, Gianna and I were just beginning our lunch at a Christmas party in Alabang.

THE CALL

Apparently my mom, who lived on her own in Makati some days of the week, had contacted my brother because she was not feeling well. When my brother arrived without a key, my mom could barely get up, walk, and open the door for him. She was very dizzy, and according to my brother who told me later on, she looked terrible, like a corpse almost. My brother called King and asked him to get to Makati right away to help him.

King did not even think twice. He didn’t finish his lunch. He immediately figured out a way to get to Makati since our car was prohibited that day due to number coding. I was the one who had a lot of questions because I had the baby with me, and my friend Bianca was set to give the older girls a ride to where we were after MAPEH. I needed to know how we were going to get home. Big thanks to Edrei and Thine for switching cars with King, and then giving us a ride home.

IN HOSPITAL

Ambulance, ER, ICU, regular room. It was my brother and King who took turns staying with my mom, as I could not because where I go, Gianna goes. It was too risky for the baby. The girls and I were not able to even just visit her.

Her sugar levels were high and she was given insulin. Her blood pressure was also very high. Her brain was swelling, hence the need for her to be in ICU. According to King, he could talk to my mom, but she would doze off pretty quickly. She was always sleepy, and her speech would slur every now and then. She could move her entire body while in bed, but was unable to stand or walk.

My mom suffered a stroke, and what was affected was her cerebellum, which is responsible for balance.

GRATEFUL

I learned later on that she was a candidate for brain surgery, but thank God her doctor said that she would only need physical therapy to learn to stand and walk again without falling. She was discharged from the hospital after 9 days.

I thought she would have a hard time doing regular things, but though she needed some help, she quickly adjusted and took care of herself in the bathroom. She uses a wheel chair and a quad cane to help her move about, and she can’t drive anymore or live alone anymore, but she is doing great! We have even gone around the mall during the holidays!

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She moves so much faster than she used to when she first got out of hospital. Her therapist, who comes to the house 3 times a week, says she is doing better and getting stronger. My mom says she still gets dizzy at times, but she can also feel her improvement. And also a big plus is, NO MORE SMOKING! She has not smoked (I destroyed her stash) since the day she was brought to the hospital.

We thank the Lord that my mom is alive and well! I told her the other day that after three strokes (yes she has survived two before this one), she is a walking miracle. SHE IS A WALKING MIRACLE. Amazing that her previous strokes never left any evidence on her body and mind. And I know that it won’t be long before there wouldn’t be much evidence of this stroke either. God is good.

Our eldest daughter lost her Wowo too soon, and our two younger daughters lost the opportunity to be loved by him. And so we are very grateful that our tres marias have many years more to enjoy their Wowa. 🙂

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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. 🙂