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.

 

Just My Thoughts, Motherhood

The Third

Yes, I am 5 months pregnant with our third child. 🙂 It’s the reason why I have been MIA for the first quarter of the year. It’s the reason why I was not able to renew my blog site on time, and had to pay a larger fee for doing so late. Thank you to the kind angel who tweeted me to tell me that she couldn’t access my site anymore. Obviously I have not been checking my emails either.

I am 36 years old, a year late in my plan to have our LAST baby. I had been very fickle about having another for a few valid reasons. Raising and homsechooling two active, strong-willed little girls is no easy task. I wondered if I could handle three children. Our daughters are growing up, becoming more and more independent. I wondered if I was willing to go back to square 1 — breastfeeding, diaper-changing, sleepless nights. King and I had gotten our dating groove back since the girls can more easily be left with a helper, friend or relative. I wondered if I was willing to give our child-free dates up, not to mention our desire to finally have a child-free vacation.

BUT since we don’t use artificial protection, not for any reason other than we are not comfortable doing so, and I am not ligated yet nor has King had (or is ever willing to have) a vasectomy, I could be surprised with a pregnancy in my late 30s and even 40s. I mean no disrespect to those who choose to have children at that age. I just really prefer to be younger to have the last baby, and I prefer not to be surprised. So even though I am already past my so-called deadline, it’s really now or never. Then I will have myself ligated when they open me up for a c-section. I noticed that there’s a baby boom too, and I truly felt we were going to be part of it.

My biggest apprehension, however, has always been the pregnancy. My first was okay. I had nausea, aversion to the smell of cooking, aversion to Chinese food, and I had no cravings during my first trimester. I was able to eat, and I actually threw up only a few times. I lost only about 6 pounds. My second was pretty bad because I threw up more, and it got to a point where I felt so weak that I asked King to take me to the ER. I chose to be confined so that I could get more fluids in me. I don’t remember losing more than 5 pounds since I was still able to eat certain food. Things normalized after the first trimester.

Although thankfully I had no problems with threatened abortion, bleeding or anything like that, I seriously did not want a repeat performance of my previous pregnancies. I asked God to give me a miracle — that when I get pregnant, I will have none of the problems I had before. We found out that I was pregnant a few days before Christmas day! We were so excited! And though I had been feeling bloated, sometimes nauseated and couldn’t eat my normal amounts, I could still eat. I was already thanking God for my miracle.

Sadly, it barely lasted two weeks.

The last day I was out in a mall, before my long hiatus, was January 2 for my nephew’s birthday. I couldn’t even join them inside the pizza place because I couldn’t handle the smell. I walked around, popping mints, and because I liked the smell of pretzels, I bought one and ate that. I was supposed to see my OB-GYN the next day, but I was not at all up for it. My daily battle with smells, vomiting, hyperacidity or acid reflux or whatever you want to call it, and not being able to eat anything began that week. I wasn’t even able to celebrate Noelle’s birthday with her. 😦

Please bear with me. I shall continue tomorrow.

 

 

Family, THE BRAINY BUNCH

One Year of Healing

It was August 15 of last year when King had a herniated or slipped disc. He was hospitalized for 10 long days, the first 3 of which he could not stand or walk. The proxy orthopedic surgeon was honest with us about our options that physical therapy might help King, but his case already called for surgery. Aside from the disc being slipped and protruding, causing it and making it prone to hit a nerve, we were told that it was deteriorated. This meant therapy would help King’s spine cope, but it will not reverse the effects. Only through surgery, removing and replacing the disc with a titanium cage, was it going to get better.

I remember it clearly. The day he was brought back to the room from an MRI was the first time my kids and I saw King cry out in pain. The nurses were somehow not in sync as they tried to move King from the gurney to his bed. Danae cried for her dad. I couldn’t. My heart was heavy and my eyes were welling up, but I could not let the tears flow. I had to be strong for her and for King. (Noelle was 2, and not as empathic as Danae 🙂 )

I think I was scared then, but it was such a mixture of emotions that maybe I didn’t want to dwell too much on the awful possibilities. I was too busy taking care of everybody anyway. There was too much to do.

photo credit: Thine Mojica

We were so pleased when King started making progress by the 3rd day, wherein he slowly sat up. By the 4th day, he was able to sit up and walk ever so slowly. We were already leaning towards forgetting about surgery, because therapy was working really well for us.

On the 8th day, our orthopedic surgeon (not the proxy) came by to check on King. Without establishing a relationship with his patient first since he was out of town during our first week, he casually told King that he had no other option but surgery. When I excitedly said that King was already walking, he told me that “walking is easy. It’s going back to the normal things that’s going to be a problem.”

I was stunned. We had already gone from sadness at the thought of King no longer being able to do sports or carry his daughters, to being in faith, excited for God’s miracle. He was like the Grim Reaper, spreading hopelessness and despair. Or the likes of a Dr. Gloom, bringing clouds of darkness in our bright, happy room. I was just stunned. I barely said another word after that, but we told him that we were sticking with therapy. No to surgery.

photo credit: Jo Tomas

Today the 25th of August, marks the anniversary of King’s exit from the hospital. And I am so happy to tell you that he has been doing great! We continued a few weeks of therapy after we went home, but that was it. By October last year, we traveled out of town, which obviously required some lifting and a lot of walking. By December last year, he danced with the pastors on stage. By February this year, we traveled out of town again. By summer, he started running, playing basketball, and dancing with the Xbox. By June, he was also able to play badminton. By July, we traveled out of town and he hiked up a steep hill.

It’s been a year of King going back to the normal things he does, albeit more careful than before.

It’s been a year of no surgery, no additional therapy, and no recurrences.

It has been a year of healing, a year of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

 
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

 

 

Please do read past posts about King’s slipped disc:

HOMEBOUND

SMALL FAVORS & TINY MIRACLES

In His Shoes

God of Miracles

Family, Just My Thoughts

God of Miracles

Last August, after King’s ordeal with his slipped disc, I got to talk to Danae about MIRACLES. I don’t remember exactly how I explained what a miracle is, except that it is something only God can do of course, but I told her that daddy getting well without surgery was a miracle. I called it DADDY’S MIRACLE. I then told her about HER miracle, that she was born with her umbilical cord wrapped twice, tightly around her neck. I told her that it could have caused her to be disabled to say the least, but praise God that she was spared from that and that her body and mind are functioning properly. That’s actually an understatement. She’s extremely active AND smart!

I didn’t know where the conversation would go, but I was pleasantly surprised by her question. “What’s NOELLE’s miracle?” I didn’t have to think hard because Noelle’s case of bloody poo when she was around 3 months old came to mind. Noelle pooped constantly. No farting, all pooping. And we found blood in her stool. We saw a number of doctors, feared the unknown, feared that she would have to go through an endoscopy to check her stomach at such a young age. But again praise God that it didn’t have to go that far. It was just a case of a really bad allergy to chocolate, which she was getting from me as I breastfed her. When I stopped eating chocolates, she stopped having bloody poo.

Inevitably, Danae’s next question was “What’s YOUR miracle, mom?” This one I had to think about. I was never hospitalized until I gave birth to Danae. I had no sicknesses or any medical issues whatsoever, my entire life. The most truthful answer I could give her was my salvation. My miracle IS my salvation. If Jesus did not save me, I would not be who I am now. I would not be where I am now. If Jesus didn’t save me, who knows what kind of life I’d be leading?

Just the other night, many people witnessed God’s miracle on King. At our church’s Volunteers Appreciation Night, he (a.k.a. Bruno Mars) along with the other pastors danced on stage. If you didn’t hear about his ordeal, you really wouldn’t know that he has a deteriorated, herniated disc, with nerve impinged, on his lower back. He did not break dance of course, but he danced nonetheless!

It just reminds me to NEVER FORGET WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE! REJOICE AND BE GRATEFUL! I am grateful for King, Danae and Noelle — alive, healthy, and happy. I am ETERNALLY GRATEFUL for my miracle. I am SAVED, FORGIVEN, FREE! 🙂

Family

SMALL FAVORS & TINY MIRACLES

That Monday, August 15, began as usual, although King had been complaining of lower back pain for a few days. Danae and I were even discussing where we wanted to go since it was (and is for every week) King’s only day off. After breakfast, he bent down to plug in the electric fan in the kitchen and could no longer straighten up completely. I was in the room then and just noticed him inching his way, holding his back and stomach in pain. I didn’t realize it was THAT painful until he laid down on the couch and said he couldn’t move anymore. It was too painful. I asked him straight away if he wanted to be brought to the ER (although my mind was racing, not knowing how on earth I was going to do that). He declined. We didn’t know what it was either, so decided to observe first. I didn’t text anybody, but because I saw my mother-in-law and my friend Michelle online, I decided to ask for their prayers. Immediately both suggested to go to the doctor and both offered to help out. I wasn’t panicked yet at that point because King didn’t want to go to the doctor yet, insisting it was just a really bad muscle pain, but at least I had people available to take the kids in case we needed to go. 1 Advil and 1 Ponstan later, he was able to walk with crutches to the car. Yeng and Michelle Remulla came to get the kids, and the in-laws were on their way to meet us at the hospital. With our situation — no helper, no yaya — that was some favor!

We drove up to the ER around 6pm. I asked if there was a valet because I didn’t want to leave King and drive all the way to the underground parking lot (the nearby one is under construction). The guard told me the valet service was closed for the day already, but after a few minutes, he told me that a valet staff was on his way to help me out. He parked the car for me, got my ticket, and came back to give the key and ticket back to me. I was so thankful!

The ER doctor found no abnormalities in King’s x-ray and so deemed that we were okay to be discharged even though the pain was still there. He assumed that it was just a severe muscle strain. But somehow we ended up with the decision to be admitted, and when we were turned over to our assigned Orthopedic doctor, that doctor immediately ordered for an MRI. If not for that MRI, we wouldn’t know what we’re dealing with. So even though that doctor was that guy (check previous blog), he did one good thing.

The insurance liaison came and told us that the room we wanted, the cheapest private room, was not available because they were fully booked. We had to occupy the more expensive one, BUT at the price of the cheapest one. Like a hotel upgrade! Our room was huge. Beds were uncomfortable (for me, that is) but the space was good for the kids.

And like I said in my previous blog, there was no shortage of kindness or generosity from our families and friends. My mom took Danae to and from school. She and my brother would bring clothes & food for us. I got a few hours off from the girls one night, care of Michelle. My in-laws (King’s parents, sister, nieces, brother, etc) took care of the girls for 3 nights — a first for us, but we were confident that they were in good hands. Our visitors not only asked us what we needed, they brought what we needed and more — food, groceries, supplies, prayers and encouraging words.

King with Paolo the PT

We certainly did not run out of things to be grateful for. I am most grateful for the God that we love and serve, the God who is all-knowing and all-powerful, yet is loving, kind, and good. We were told that if there was no progress in therapy, surgery would be the only option. But He is, for now, HEALING KING THROUGH THERAPY and there seems to be NO IMMEDIATE NEED for him to undergo surgery — for his deteriorated and protruding (slipped) disc to be removed, and then replaced with a titanium cage. Serious as it is, because the disc is impinging a nerve and anything can cause another episode, we have been seeing God move in how King is progressing. On the first day of his therapy, which was twice a day, he could barely even raise up his leg while lying down. There was no way he could push himself to move more without any pain. But on the third day, he sat up! (3rd days are really powerful!) By the fourth day, he stood up….and walked!!! By the sixth day, they already had him on a bike! The hospital’s physical therapists are awesome, by the way. They are friendly, kind, and always encouraging.

First Rehab as Out-Patient

It’s been 12 days since King’s diagnosis and the start of his therapy –17 therapy sessions in total so far, 5 more to go before the Rehab doctor checks him again. Though he isn’t back to normal and cannot go back to work yet, he’s doing great! And though the doctors have said that sadly, he cannot go back to sports anymore or even carry his kids, we are believing for complete healing, whether through therapy only or surgery.

King doing the big march.

We are grateful for the small favors and tiny miracles that we’re being given. I say small and tiny not to diminish God’s strength and power, but to acknowledge that He works in many different ways. We believe He is absolutely able and He knows what is best. So we do our part as we pray, believe, and wait. 🙂

He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those greatand awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Deut 10:21

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jer 32:27