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Little Nathan’s birth story

25 Nov

Sharing…

I had a pretty rough pregnancy from the start. (Read related post here). Because of complications during the course of my pregnancy, I was at risk for a preterm birth. Still, it did not prepare me for it. I prayed, trusted, had faith in God, believed and was confident I would complete my pregnancy to term but, cliche as it is, God had other plans.

July 27

On July 27, on my 24th week, I rushed to the hospital because I was bleeding heavily and was, eventually, admitted for threatened preterm labor. Why I bled was a mystery but I was just so thankful that everything was well then, that my bleeding stopped, and that I didn’t give birth yet.

Since then, however, I’ve had intermittent, painless contractions every day for the remainder of my pregancy. I stayed in bed and took medications to make them stop but they never worked for me.

August 26

A month later, Eugene was admitted for surgery. I went to the hospital to take care of him. I didn’t think anything untoward would happen to me there as I wasn’t going to do anything but lie in bed (which was what I really did). Also, I had clearance from my doctor to go to the hospital to keep my husband company.

Eugene was admitted Sunday, August 26 and had an operation the following day, Monday, August 27.

August 28, 9 PM

Around 9 PM the following evening, Tuesday, I noticed my contractions were getting on a regular pattern and were starting to get painful. I got a little nervous because I was only 28 weeks into my pregnancy (roughly 6.5 to 7 months). I tried to relax my body and remain calm. But they really bothered me because my contractions were different. And painful.

I prayed. I specifically prayed for my contractions to stop, for the pain to go away, for my cervix to not dilate, and for my pregnancy to complete and reach its full term. I prayed really, really hard.

12 MN

I got in touch with my doctor (obstetrician/OB). She prescribed me to take Adalat to control my contractions as she said I might be developing resistance to the one I was already taking (Isoxilan) kaya hindi mawala-wala contractions ko.

I initially didn’t want to take the drug for two reasons. One, I was trying to avoid any movement (walking down and out of the hospital to buy the medicine. There was nobody to ask to do it for me). Two, the drug is for treating heart conditions and hypertension and I was afraid it might have side effects on my baby. But my OB said that with the way I described my condition, I could go on preterm labor/birth and I needed the drug to control my contractions ASAP. Also, because the drug takes some time to take effect. Hmm… the benefit seems to outweighs the risk so I took it. I didn’t time my contractions then but I estimate they came every 15 minutes and lasted for about one full minute.

With my condition, I know my OB, Dr. Catherine Howard, would advise for admission again. But before she could tell me that, I told her that I didn’t want to because we couldn’t afford to and my husband is already admitted in a hospital himself. She understood my situation but she was very concerned that I might need injections so she still advised that I go to the hospital (in Cardinal Santos Medical Center/CSMC which was where I planned to give birth) or, at least, get myself checked in The Medical City (TMC) since we were already there (for Eugene’s surgery).

August 29, 4.30 AM

I wasn’t able to sleep at all that night. At about 4.30 AM the following day, Wednesday, August 29, I updated Dr. Cathy and told her that my condition is not improving. My contractions were not slowing down but were actually getting stronger, closer, and more painful. She advised me to take another dose of Adalat. And to go to the hospital again. Or get myself myself checked in TMC.

5.30 AM

I took another tablet of Adalat but I hesitated going to CSMC because… just read why in my previous post.

I planned, instead, on going home. I texted Pastor Sam (Eugene’s co-pastor) and asked if he could fetch me from TMC and drive me home as I planned to just sleep and rest in bed hoping and praying it would make my contractions stop. Ptr. Sam texted back and said he would fetch me at 9 AM.

7.30 AM

Around 7.30 AM, my doctor called. Eugene took the call as I was in the bathroom. When they hung up, Eugene said that Dr. Cathy was upset because I didn’t want to go to the hospital and she told him daw to out-talk me into doing so. Well, I got convinced. (Buti na lang). So I texted Ptr. Sam and asked if he could drive me to CSMC instead.

8 AM

Eugene started to text friends and asked for prayers for my condition. And because I was getting impatient for Ptr. Sam to arrive, he also asked if there’s anybody available around who could bring me to CSMC sooner than Ptr. Sam could. Actually, Eugene suggested I just book a Grab. But I didn’t want to go alone.

Dra. Bebet, a friend from Church who is like a second parent to us, volunteered to fetch me from TMC and drive me to CSMC. I was so relieved when Eugene said Tita Bebet said she was going to get dressed na because Tita Bebet lived very near so I anticipated she’d be arriving very shortly after and I’d be getting help earlier than expected. I waited, getting more impatient with each contraction that came. Still, Ptr. Sam managed to arrive first so off I went with Ptr. Sam and Ate Betty, his wife.

9 AM

We left TMC a little past 9 AM. Surprisingly, traffic along Ortigas Avenue going to CSMC that Wednesday rush hour morning was moderately light. Thank God. If it was not so, I might have… have not made it to the hospital on time :).

10 AM

We arrived at CSMC a little before 10 AM. I went straight to the Delivery Room (DR) Complex and upon entering, I cried. Madaming dahilan. I cried because I was in pain. Also because I was overwhelmed with the situation I was in. And I was alone. Eugene was left in TMC still confined. Though Ptr. Sam and Ate Betty brought me to the hospital and were waiting for me, I still felt alone without my husband. And I cried because I would need again to undergo all the medical procedures I have endlessly been through in the past which have actually left me still in trauma.

I was given a shot of Terbutaline, an asthma drug which is also used as a tocolytic (contraction suppresant). Dr. Cathy wasn’t in yet but was already on her way. I told her earlier that I am still in trauma with the pelvic (speculum) and cervical exams done to me in the past so I was very glad when the resident doctor told me that we would need to wait for Dr. Cathy because she has given instructions that she will be the one to check me.

She arrived a few minutes after. Though she tried to speak calmly and nicely, she was really upset that I didn’t go to the hospital sooner. She was concerned it might be too late to control my contractions.

I was really in pain and was lying in bed (which made the contractions more painful). I would hug the resident attending me whenever I’d feel one coming and I would groan and say, “Ang sakit, ang sakit!” Dr. Cathy, on the other hand, would say, “Don’t push, don’t push. Relax lang.” I was not pushing.

Dr. Cathy’s face got really worried when she checked my cervix and said I was 5 cm dilated and that my water bag was bulging. She was pretty upset with me. Hehe. Well, actually she was very concerned with me and she said that she would’ve really wanted to avoid the situation I was in (preterm labor). She knew I was very concerned with the expense that we would be needing to incur (again) so we had a small, serious talk about it.

She decided to sedate me. I was also given another shot of Terbutaline and I also took another tablet of Adalat (3rd dose). With all the drugs I had in my system, I was getting upset why my contractions wouldn’t stop.

Dr. Cathy told me to call my husband. I dialled and gave my phone to her. She explained my condition to Eugene and said that she will sedate me to control my contractions and relieve me from pain. She also gave her number so they could communicate since she said I would fall asleep for about a couple of hours once sedated.

I would have wanted an unmedicated birth again, but I was in pain so I welcomed the procedure of being sedated. It was a lot more painful than when I labored with my daughter. Dr. Cathy later on said that preterm labor is really more painful than ‘regular’ labor.

Anyway, when Dr. Cathy said I was already 5 cm dilated and that my water bag was already bulging, I honestly doubted if it was still possible to stop my contractions and prolong my pregnancy. Though I didn’t want to give birth yet and I didn’t want to give birth to a preemie, I was, on the other hand, afraid that if indeed my contractions could (still) be stopped, I would be spending the rest of my pregnancy in bed, either in the hospital or at home. I know my doctor will never allow me to get out of bed until my 37th week.

There was pressure in my pelvis with the next couple of contractions that came. I said, “May pressure, may pressure,” while holding on to the resident beside me. Dr. Cathy said, “Don’t push, don’t push. Relax lang.” I wasn’t pushing. Pero sa totoo lang, when I felt the pressure, I knew I was going to give birth soon. I know wala ng magagawa at hindi na kayang pigilan pa ang contractions ko. It was just a matter of time. But I didn’t say that.

With the next contraction my water bag broke. Like when my water bag broke when I first gave birth, it literally popped and splashed. “Nabasag,” I uttered. Dr. Cathy checked and said my fluid was not clear. I asked if it was meconium but she said, “No, no. It’s (old) blood,” her voice more worried than ever.

Dr. Cathy called Eugene again. She updated him of my condition and said that with my water bag ruptured, I have no other option but to deliver.

Prepared for delivery

I can’t remember the chronology of the events that happened next. Basta I was prepped for delivery. I was inserted with an IV line. Then I was given a sedative and I instantly felt calm and relaxed. Ahhhhh!!! Ang sarap pala ng feeling ng sedated. Haha. Napaka-kalmado. May sedative ba na OTC? Haha.

I did not fall asleep (which I thought I would; half dose lang yata kasi binigay sa ‘kin). Though sedated, I was fully awake and was fully aware of everything that was happening around me.

A resident checked my cervix again. Addressing a nurse, she said, “10 cm, Station +2.” I was really surprised I dilated to 10 in just a matter of minutes. I know I would be crowning by the next station (Station +3) so I know I would be delivering very, very soon and my earlier hunch was true.

Dr. Cathy ordered steroid and magnesium sulfate shots since it will be a preterm birth. (The steroid helps to mature the baby’s lungs and the magnesium sulfate is for the baby’s brain). I then heard her asking who was the neonatologist and anesthesiologist (and if I’m not mistaken, a perinatologist) available around. A nurse was asking me questions like my current weight (for the dose of anesthesia, I suppose). Though everyone in the room was calm, the atmosphere was rushed. There were several times I heard Dr. Cathy say bilisan na to the nurses and residents around.

My doctor talked with my companions, Ptr. Sam, Ate Betty, and Tita Bebet who followed in CSMC. She updated them of my situation and told them I’m up for delivery.

I saw them in the entrance of the DR Complex peeking when I was wheeled into the actual DR. Tita Bebet must’ve introduced herself because as Dr. Cathy came back, she told me, “Nephro pala yung isa mong kasama.” With that, I asked if Tita Bebet could be allowed inside the DR as my companion but Dr. Cathy said she could not because she was not a family member. I pleaded. I told her, “Doc, I don’t have family with me right now.” Dr. Cathy held my hand and said, “I will be your family.” And she held my hand until it was time to push.

There were further preparations when I was brought to the actual DR. I was hooked to several monitors, i.e., blood pressure, oxygen, fetal heart rate. Nakakaloka ang dami. Hehe. (It’s my first time inside a DR and I’ve never undergone any surgery or major medical procedure before kaya it came as a shock to me). I was also given a skin test for an antibiotic.

I heard my doctor ordering the anesthesia. I asked if I could forego it but I was still given a shot. I think she decided that I needed it because I was hysterically in pain earlier. Or maybe because it was an emergency and there would be no time to administer it if I would decide I want it later on (or if I would be needing a C-section). By the time I was brought to the DR, I was, however, not in pain anymore so I wanted to try to deliver without one (or maybe it was also because of the sedative). Also, because when I first gave birth (unmedicated), once I finished transition, was fully dilated, and was in the pushing stage it was no longer painful. It was only painful during the dilation stage (and it was so much bearable). So I was pretty confident I could do it again and I would’ve wanted to avoid the side effects it could have on my baby. Still, I was given a spinal block. And I instantly felt numb from my waist down.

May isa pa akong hirit sa doktor ko. I told her I didn’t want an episiotomy. Hehe. (Makulit at maarte akong pasyente eh).

Delivery

I think there were more than 10 people in the DR. (Which again came as a shock because when I gave birth with my daughter there were only 5 persons in the room: me, my husband, two midwives, and my doula). A nurse was whispering to my ear each procedure being done to me.

Because I was numb, I couldn’t feel the pressure or the urge to push so I had to rely on the people surrounding me to tell me when to push. I’m sorry I can’t help but compare my son’s birth with my daughter’s birth. With my daughter’s birth, I led and directed (myself) when I needed to push. My midwives simply watched and waited on me. I was not coached when to push and nobody counted from 1 to 10. With my son’s birth, everyone surrounding me coached me to push. They were literally a cheering squad. They shouted, “Mommy… Inhale… Exhale… Inhale… Push! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!!! Good job, Mommy!” Pause. Until the next contraction.

I actually didn’t push the first time I was told to push. Two reasons. One, I was numb so I “didn’t know” how to push. It was so wierd to not feel anything at all and not to be in tune with your body considering my previous experience. And two, because I was afraid to strain my pelvic muscles and be sore and in pain days after giving birth, which was also my previous experience.

I asked, “And’yan na ba?” meaning if the baby was already crowning. And they said, “Yes, ma’am, andito na po. Malapit na, ma’am.”

That gave me the will. So the next couple of times my cheering squad cheered me on, I pushed. Pero konting effort lang. Hahaha. (In fairness, I had a smooth post partum recovery and didn’t have any pelvic pain after giving birth). 🙂

Baby was out at the 3rd or 4th (or 5th) push. Basta konti lang at mabilis. I gave birth on August 29, 2018 at 11.24 AM. (I was not due until November 18). I asked if they could delay cutting the cord and if I could hold my baby (skin-to-skin) but my doctor said he needed to be handed over to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) doctors and nurses to check if he could breathe on his own or would be needing help. They did allow me to touch his legs (or feet) for (just) a second, though. I also didn’t even get a glimpse of who he looked like. I heard him faintly cry, though, which was a good sign.

I asked, “Anong gender, anong gender?” In a rush Dr. Cathy checked, turned to me, and said, “Boy, boy, boy!” while handing my baby over to the NICU team. (When we talked about it afterwards, Dr. Cathy said she was surprised and a little bit annoyed that I still managed to ask what my baby’s gender was when my birth and everything about it was an emergency. She said she only realized that Eugene and I didn’t know the gender of our baby prior to giving birth some time after… after everything was done na).

When Dr. Cathy said my baby was a boy, I instantly felt at peace and a sense of completeness. I was so grateful. And happy. I silently prayed, “Thank You, Lord.” For a moment, as if time stood still, I was in a bubble not absorbing the reality that he was a preemie. I was at peace that everything was and will turn out fine. And I felt that we were finally “complete” as a family. I felt so serene…

Until my bubble burst-ed and I realized I was not done yet (and I was alone in my moment of bliss. I meant Eugene my husband was not with me). I asked Dr. Cathy if she would be giving me a shot of pitocin to deliver my placenta and she said she was. It took some time (30 minutes or more) before I completed the 3rd and final stage of my labor.

My doctor checked my placenta afterwards and from there she said that I had what was called a placental abruption (which was responsible for my preterm birth). Hmm… I’m tamad to explain what it is so hit your BFF Google na lang if you’re curious to know what it is. Haha. But let me just say that it is a major medical emergency and there is no treatment for it but to deliver ASAP.

Recovery

I was wheeled to the recovery room after being cleaned up and stayed there for almost 7 hours because it took that long for my anesthesia to completely wear off. Staying in the recovery room was so b.o.r.i.n.g. I was all alone in a corner. I wanted and tried to sleep but I was so alive and awake, blame the after-birth hormones.

Buti na lang I was able to sneak my phone so I was able to message and update my family and friends of the drama that I’ve just been through. Haha. There were messages congratulating me for my new baby boy and asking me how I was. I was thankful for the messages but I somehow felt a little sad kasi the birth and the gender has already been announced. I would’ve wanted to be the one to do it but… Oh well, it’s done na. I’m over it.

Meanwhile, while all these drama was unfolding, Eugene has been cleared for discharge in TMC. I think there has been a few negotiations pa with his doctors to discharge him kasi medyo nagka-complications pa s’ya with his surgery but he was cleared na naman from it. After being discharged, he rushed from TMC to CSMC.

It was almost 8 PM when Eugene and I saw each other when I was wheeled to my room. I was so relieved and so happy when I saw him. Fresh from surgery, he went to me. I am so thankful. I broke down soon after. I haven’t seen my baby yet and the reality of the situation we were in were just starting to sink in. (The neonatologist has talked with me earlier while I was in the recovery room and discussed my baby’s diagnosis). I was so unprepared for it, for everything, physically, emotionally, mentally, financially.

(Trivia: I was so unprepared for the birth itself that I only have my wallet, mobile phone, and medications with me when I went to the hospital).

I was discharged two days after. Our baby was discharged after 44 days in the NICU and a total stay of 48 days in the hospital.

He weighed only a kilo and measured 35 cm long. He was so tiny and dark and, when I saw him, he was hooked to so many devices and his face and head was bruised and swollen that he looked so kawawa that I didn’t take a picture for the first 3 days of his life (regretted it).

We named our rainbow baby Nathaniel Dave. Nathaniel means “gift of God.” Dave is after his Tatay‘s second name. It was the name we prepared during my first pregnancy if our firstborn turned out to be a boy (because we neither know our firstborn’s gender before birth).

I did not get the birth I wanted for my son, but I am still thankful that everything turned out fine. Preemie as our little Nathan is, 11.24 AM of August 29, 2018 was God’s perfect time for him to be born. Later still and he could not have gotten out of my tummy alive. All was in God’s hand. He was in control.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

It was his 4th day when I was finally allowed to hold this very tiny and fragile baby for the first time. This is also our first picture together.

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Unplanned

30 Oct

2018 started with hope and anticipation of having a new addition to our family. Having learned I was pregnant again before Christmas last year, I was expectant that I was expecting when the new year ushered in.

I imagined what the year ahead would be like. I actually looked forward to being pregnant the second and last time around. I looked forward to my belly growing, baby planning, giving birth, nursing round-the-clock, sleepless nights, changing diapers… (Okay, the last three it’s more like I dread them). It’ll be life with a newborn (again)… in the midst of having a toddler. I knew it would be a crazy, chaotic, and stressful year for me. But I was, nevertheless, excited that we were growing as a family.

The year turned out to be crazy, chaotic, and stressful indeed. Very. But not in the way I expected it to be.

January

At the end of January, I had a miscarriage. Although it was a very early pregnancy loss (I was 8 weeks on the way then according to the ultrasound, about a week or even two more if I would trust my own calculation), it felt such a huge loss. I never imagined I would go through such an experience of losing a child. Yes, he or she was unborn. But he or she was still and nevertheless my child. The anticipation of cradling a newborn and growing as a family was suddenly lost. It was a sad experience.

The ultrasound report that confirmed my miscarriage.

March

As I was grieving and in the process of accepting what had happened, we unexpectedly found out I was expecting again just a month after miscarrying. (Yep, that soon). I had mixed emotions when the home pregnancy test (which I didn’t want to take but did so because my doctor told me to) turned out positive. I was hesitant to believe it because it seemed too good to be true. And, you know, when things are too good to be true they usually turn out to be… Too good to be true. Hehe :).

I wanted to be happy but I was afraid it could be not real (just a false positive). I did wish to get pregnant again right after miscarrying but I didn’t expect it to actually come true/happen to me. At least not that soon. I even considered it as wishful thinking because we didn’t really pray for it seriously.

I was getting excited but I was cautious not to get my hopes high because it would really be sad (again) if it turned out to be not true.

Still, visions and imaginations of growing as a family started to run in my mind again. Though I couldn’t understand what God was doing in our family, I trusted He has good plans for us.

April

One Friday morning in April, I bled. I was 7 weeks pregnant then. An ultrasound scan showed I happen to have a subchorionic hemorrhage which caused the bleeding. As advised by my doctor, I went to the hospital to get checked. I was able to go home afterwards that day (with prescriptions to take and an instruction to stay in bed) but a few days later, after bleeding a third time, my doctor advised me to be admitted. I was confined for three days in a hospital bed without bathroom privileges. Upon discharge, I was instructed to stay on bed rest.

I bled again a few days after coming home from the hospital. My doctor wanted to re-admit me but I requested to stay at home and just continue to take my meds and bed rest because staying in the hospital was, honestly, more exhausting than staying at home.

Bleeding while I was pregnant and getting confined was traumatic. Actually, I was scared, to begin with, to be pregnant again because it was a pregnancy after a (very recent) miscarriage. The experience was still fresh. And as much as I prayed, trusted, and had faith in God, I still felt a little anxious that I would lose my child again. Bleeding made the feeling worse. I would always panic and cry because I always thought I was miscarrying again.

Thankfully, slowly, in a month’s time, I was able to recover and go back to my daily routine. It was depressing to be on bed rest (for medical reasons) so I was very happy when my doctor finally allowed me to get out of the bed. I was able to get out of the house again :). And chase my toddler around :(. I was also weaned off from the medicines I was taking to prevent me from miscarrying.

My life was normal again.

My belly grew.

As I reached the middle of my pregnancy, I underwent an anomaly ultrasound scan to check my baby for defects. All was well. I thanked and praised God that all was well with my baby and me. That everything was proceeding healthily and normally. I was in high spirits again.

Until about a month later.

July

I was on my 24th week. I had guests staying at home so I was up on my feet cleaning and cooking most of the day for some few days. One day, I noticed my tummy intermittently contracting for a whole day and that my baby seemed to move less. I informed my doctor about it but she said the contractions were simply Braxton Hicks which were probably because my baby was malikot. She added that as long as they are not painful and I’m not bleeding, I was safe.

The contractions lessened a bit the following day. So I didn’t worry about it and went on to do my usual chores. Besides, they were not painful and I wasn’t bleeding. So I thought I was safe. In the evening, I was fixing our book shelf when suddenly I felt sick. It was very sudden. Literally one minute I was okay, the next minute I was not. It’s as if I was cast with sickness and I immediately felt weak right then and there. I went to bed right away and prayed. I told my husband about it and asked him to pray for me, too. I didn’t sleep well that night because I was bothered with the contractions I was having. They didn’t come regularly but they did not go away either. My lower back was also starting to be painful.

I woke up around 6 AM the following morning and used the bathroom. I then went back to bed to try to catch some more sleep while my toddler was still asleep. It was a Friday, my husband’s day off from work. I was about to ask him if he could take over the chores and allow me to rest in bed the whole day when I suddenly felt a gush of fluid leak from me. I was bleeding again. And I was bleeding a lot.

I panicked and broke down.

“Na naman?!”

I was very sure I was miscarrying again. And all I could think of was sayang! I felt so sorry for myself. I was already on my way into my third trimester only to lose my baby again? Konti na lang. It wouldn’t have been easy to accept that.

I bled a lot. Eugene actually thought I would be needing a transfusion with the amount of blood I was losing. The possibility never occurred to me but, in hindsight, it was not surprising that my husband thought about it as I was fully soaking a maxi/overnight pad every 15 minutes.

Without taking a bath, without washing my face, combing my hair, or even brushing my teeth, I went straight to the hospital. I was admitted for threatened preterm labor and was confined again for four days.

I have no idea why I bled. It was puzzling because an ultrasound scan didn’t show anything wrong with me or my baby. Everything was well. My placenta was high. There was no bleeding inside. My baby’s heart rate was strong. And my cervix was long and closed in spite of the contractions I had the past few days (which actually became regular at one point). My doctor said it could be blood vessels that ruptured because of the contractions. But that much blood? I don’t know.

Thank God I didn’t give birth (yet) then. It was still way, way, way too early.

I was again put back on medications and bed rest upon discharge. My contractions, however, never went away since then. I went on to have (irregular) contractions for the rest of my pregnancy.

Another month passed.

August

One Saturday evening, after attending the Traditional Worship Service in our Church and dining out with my sister and her kids (who were scheduled to fly back home abroad the following day after staying with us for almost a month on vacation), Eugene drove himself to the hospital for a very severe tummy ache. He called early the following morning to say he’s getting himself admitted to remove his gallbladder. We knew for a long time he had stones in his gallbladder but, sadly, we did not find the time to have it removed.

Eugene after his operation.

Eugene was alone in the hospital. So I called for help. I asked my mom and (another) sister to come over to take care of Carissa so I could take care of Eugene in the hospital.

Eugene underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder) noon of the following day, Monday.

The surgery went well. Though he did have to undergo an extra test to check if a stone was left inside him because he jaundiced after the operation. Thank God nothing was left naman and he recovered well.

The following evening, Tuesday, (while still in the hospital), my contractions (which I ‘regularly’ had since a month ago when I had a threatened preterm labor) started to get into a regular pattern. I didn’t time them but they probably came every 15 to 20 minutes and lasted for a little less than a minute. They also started to get painful. I prayed and tried to relax as much as possible. I knew my doctor would advice admission again. But I couldn’t afford another hospital confinement. Not while Eugene was in a hospital himself. I just prayed and trusted God that it was just a false alarm.

I got in touch with my doctor who prescribed a stronger drug to control my contractions. As expected, she also advised me to go to the hospital (in Cardinal Santos Medical Center, where my doctor practices and where we plan to give birth) or, at the least, get myself checked where Eugene and I were currently in (The Medical City, where Eugene had his surgery). I took the medicine but I refused to go to the hospital because…

Because my whole pregnancy has been traumatic and I haven’t recovered yet from my past two admissions and I just didn’t want to go through the experience again. The pelvic and cervical exams, injections, bed confinement without bathroom privileges, inability to sleep in a hospital environment, nurses, interns, residents checking you round-the-clock, (and the food)… Yes, I was on bed rest but my whole being was very restless and unrested. Not to mention the cost we would be needing to bear again since pregnancy complications are not covered by our HMOs. And Eugene was already in a hospital. Kaya nga I didn’t give birth in a hospital with my eldest. These are the things I avoided and wanted to avoid again, sana.

I refused to go to the hospital. It was already Wednesday morning. What I planned on, instead, was to go home to sleep and rest hoping (since I was praying hard) that my contractions will stop.

Long story short, I did eventually ended up in the hospital. I was contracting long and hard at close and regular intervals when I came in. My doctor planned to control my contractions and stop my labor to prolong my pregnancy even a little further but before I could be administered with the drugs my water bag broke. There was no other choice but to deliver. I didn’t want to because I was only 28 weeks into my pregnancy. It was still too early. But I had to. And I did. I gave birth prematurely. I gave birth to a preemie.

Unplanned as it was, I instantly became a preemie Nanay. It was not the kind of birth I’ve wanted or have imagined for my third baby but, sabi nga nila, God had other plans.

Imagine your child connected to so many wires and devices.

2017 has been a tough year because Carissa, our eldest, got hospitalized three times for pneumonia. I was hopeful 2018 would be a healthier year for our family. I didn’t want any more hospital confinements for anyone in our family. Not me, not Eugene, and definitely not the newest addition to our family. Sobrang nakaka-stress. Turned out everyone except Carissa got confined this year. Turned out 2018 was a tougher year than 2017. (But I am thankful Carissa didn’t get seriously sick this year. And I am praying she will not for the remainder of the year).

Our preemie stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 7 weeks. It entailed daily visits to the hospital for Eugene and I and an extra work of expressing milk round-the-clock for me. I never imagined being a preemie mother. It felt surreal at first. Like it was not true. Sabi nga sa Tagalog, parang masamang panaginip lamang. Or I was just in denial? It is difficult enough to simply be a mother. What more of a preemie? The physical and emotional stress are on a different, higher level. For the first few weeks I would cry out of the blue, usually after leaving the hospital, until the daily visits became a routine, and “real” enough for it to sink in.

As I look back how our year went by, I realize that everything that has happened in our family was unplanned. I didn’t plan on miscarrying. We didn’t plan for me to get pregnant again right after miscarrying. I didn’t plan on having a high-risk pregnancy. I didn’t plan on bleeding and getting confined several times for that. We didn’t plan on Eugene getting sick and needing surgery. And I definitely didn’t plan on giving birth prematurely and being a preemie mother.

Still, I am thankful for a lot of things (which I need to write about, too, soon).

2018 will surely be highlighted in our memories as a family for all the unplanned events that happened. I may never know the reason or understand why God allowed them to happen. I could only trust Him that His plans and purpose for me and our family are good and perfect. And that it would work out for good according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” –Proverbs 19:21

Snippets: Two years into SAHMotherhood

20 Apr

A month ago, our little one (LO) turned two. That means it’s also been two years since I became a mother. Two years of motherhood bliss. Wow! It’s been quite a journey. Because motherhood is bliss. Yep, bliss. Pure bliss.

Hahahahaha!!!

Allow me to share how my journey into this motherhood thing has been, so far…

Motherhood is hard and exhausting. Do I even have to say that?

Wait, I need to make a disclaimer. This post is NOT a rant. There.

Anyway…

Even when I wasn’t married yet, I knew parenting would be hard. But… it’s different when you’re actually there. The difficulty and exhaustion are way too different than what you could prepare for. Or expect. The physical demands are, yes, taxing and something I more or less expected but the psychological and emotional demands are things nobody told me to prepare for (I heard they are kept secret from new moms).

You get the hang of child care and doing the house chores. But I think I will never get the hang of the ‘mental load’ or the ’emotional labor’ of motherhood. Google the terms. You don’t get any respite from it. Ever. You can have a break from the chores if you choose to (e.g., sit down or go on a vacation) but you will never ever escape the mental load. Lying down, while taking a bath, while in a cab, while waiting in line, the ‘mental load’ haunts and will haunt you.

When I had a corporate job, I looked forward to 5 PMs, to weekends, to holidays, to vacations. I get respites from the stress of work. Now, there are no breaks to look forward to. You can’t sleep in even on a Saturday. Holidays are still work days. And vacations aren’t really vacations. They’re just taking care of your kid(s) somewhere else.

And probably the most difficult thing is that quitting is not an option. You can’t tender a resignation because… You just can’t.

It gets harder each day. I didn’t have a difficult time transitioning into parenthood. The newborn days (up until our firstborn’s third month) were a bliss. Honest. (Okay, my mother-in-law was with us then and she did the kitchen so we had help then). I readily eased into the breastfeed-sleep-change diaper routine. Breastfeeding made my nights bearable since I can feed my baby while sleeping. And our little one (LO) wasn’t a fussy baby. I had it easy. Or so I thought.

When our LO turned four months, her sleeping and feeding patterns changed. She woke up more frequently and nursed less frequently. She became aware of her surroundings and fought sleep. Then she learned to roll-over, then crawl. Can’t leave the baby alone anymore. Then she started solids. Then learned to walk, then talk. And talk some more. And more. And she napped less, and less. And… you get the picture?

The challenges just add up. With each challenge a little more difficult than the previous one. So much for thinking I had it easy. Well, at least at the start I did.

The prognosis isn’t very encouraging, too. According to more experienced parents, it doesn’t really get easier as kids grow older. They say the challenges just change, but it doesn’t get any easier.

Breastfeeding is hard, but harder to stop. Even if I’ve been doing it for two years. (I even know someone who said it’s harder than childbirth). Learning to breastfeed at the start is so painful. I suffered from sore nipples, engorgement, fever, and leaking breasts. But when your milk supply is already established and you find the rhythm in breastfeeding, it’s a breeze. And while the baby is still small (you can still carry her with one arm), you master the art of doing everything with one hand. I’ve breastfed while eating, walking, while grocery shopping. Basically anywhere and everywhere whenever I need to. It is convenient, in one hand.

A breastfeeding mom’s gotta do what a breastfeeding mom’s gotta do. I find it a hassle to unstrap her from her car seat to feed her for just a short time before going so I just helped myself to feed her. And no, the car isn’t moving. Photo by Rajsh Velasques.

But while our LO nursed less and less as she grows, she nursed naman in different positions, doing acrobatics, which makes breastfeeding still hard even if you’ve been doing it for years. Your breasts gets pulled in different directions. And even if I’ve been breastfeeding for two years already, I still, sometimes, couldn’t find a comfortable position to feed at night. I’ve come to accept my perpetual backache as part of motherhood.

But it is difficult to stop. There are times when I want to wean my LO already. Sometimes, I find it inconvenient to stop doing what I am doing when she asks to be fed. But knowing that I am giving the best for her health and knowing that breastfeeing is more than just feeding, that it’s also a relationship, that makes it harder to wean her.

Quitting my corporate job to be a SAHM was the most difficult decision I have made. I prayed and cried over it a lot. I was afraid to lose my income, not for personal reasons, but for the practical reason that we needed it to run the household.

It was a step of faith. One that I was very afraid and hesitant to take. I had a lot of doubts. And I consciously had to make a lot of sacrifices. We moved to a house which was cheaper to rent but farther than my husband’s workplace. I gave up travelling, movies, material things. It was difficult. And it is still difficult. Because money is still tight. But by God’s grace, we are fine. He has been good and faithful to provide for our needs. I couldn’t be more thankful.

I had a lot of down moments whenever our LO was sick. Our LO hardly got sick before she turned a year old. But when she was 10.5 months old, she had pneumonia and needed to be confined in a hospital. After a month, she got confined again for pneumonia. And after three months she got confined, for the third time, again for pneumonia. After a month, she got pneumonia again but thankfully, she didn’t need to be confined for it. After three months, she had another incident of rapid breathing (hingal), the most telling symptom she had in all her pneumonia incidents, that I thought she had pneumonia again. Thankfully, it was not pneumonia but just the common cough-cold. She had a few more sniffles after but thankfully they were just that, sniffles.

All these happened in just a span of one year. Suffice to say, those moments when our LO was sick were trying moments for us. She was actually diagnosed with primary complex (tuberculosis) after her third bout of pneumonia and we had to go through six months of medical treatment for it. I also consulted four different pediatric pulmonologist to know what was wrong with my LO and to know why does she always gets sick with pneumonia.

The nebulizer has been our best friend. At the first day of the slightest cough or a cold, I nebulize right away with a saline solution.

I am just so thankful that I have a God I could lean on and who saw me through all those difficult times. And a husband who is ever-present for us.

Our LO still gets sick. But not as sick or bad as before where she needed to be rushed to the ER. (I lost track how many times we’ve been to the ER. Suking-suki na kami ng Medical City). I really hope she wouldn’t get seriously sick anymore. It’s so heartbreaking to see her in pain.

I hardly take pictures/selfies. I’m a mom who hardly takes pictures and videos of my LO nor take selfies. Bilang na bilang mga picture ni baby na kuha ko. I think this is something I will regret later on. Actually, I’m starting to regret this when I recently looked at her pictures and I was trying to find pictures when she was newborn. Shocks! I only had a few and then the next pictures I had she was already big na. Well, tamad talaga ako mag-picture eh. Kaya pasalamat ako sa mga taong nag-pi-picture sa anak ko. Hehe. (The downside of this is that her pictures are getting exposed to social media, something that I wanted to avoid sana. But then).

One of the recent very few selfies I’m able to take. People say she looks like her Tatay but my sister said she looks exactly like me when I was her age.

Sometimes I wonder, masama ba akong ina dahil hindi ako mahilig kuhanan ng litrato ang anak ko? Hehe.

I dread mealtimes. Between feeding my LO and washing her poop-laden bottom, I’d rather do the latter. It’s less stressful than feeding her. She is such a picky and messy eater.

The messy part I totally understand and wholeheartedly accept. It’s a normal part of toddlerhood.

The picky part? Sigh.

Well, they say it’s normal, too. But…

Let me say it this way…

I’m a fairly healthy eater. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I hardly buy junk foods at all (if you see some in our house they were given as presents). I do occassionally eat junk foods, usually when out and served by someone else. I ate healthily when I was pregnant. And I breastfeed. The first foods I offered my LO were fruits and veggies. And until now I always, every meal, offer her veggies. I avoid giving her sweets and crackers.

So I cannot understand why she’s such a picky eater. I must admit that I get envious when I see kids her age who eats without any fuss, especially when she was younger. And would eat anything served to them. It took a while for our LO to learn to eat. She was already more than a year old when she learned to eat solids decently. I was at the brink of consulting specialists to see if something was wrong with my daughter because she doesn’t want to eat. Her poor eating skills before honestly made me depressed. I felt like a failure then.

And the thing that baffles me most? She turns down food just by the mere sight of it. I would understand if she would reject a food after touching, smelling, or tasting it but, no, even if it’s her first time to encounter it, even if she hasn’t touched, smelled, or tasted it, she would turn it down. Hindi ko ma-gets.

As if being a picky and messy eater isn’t stressful enough, my stress is multiplied by the need to feed my LO four times a day. That’s every three hours. Right now I limit the length of our mealtimes. But when she was younger she would eat for so long. She would eat for one hour. The cleaning-up would take me another hour. Then just after an hour I would need to feed her again! And I would have to repeat that four times throughout the day. It shouldn’t be a wonder why I find mealtimes stressful and dreadful.

Video above: An example of what I have to endure during mealtimes.

Side note: I’ve drafted this post a long time ago (months ago) and so I’d like to say that right now, our mealtimes are better (but I still dread them). Our LO’s appetite and eating habits have improved. She’s not as messy as before. She still eats little vegetables. But she loves fruits. (I continue to offer her vegetables every meal).

I went through a season of depression. I don’t think it was post-partum depression, per se. But there was a season in my motherhood life where I felt depressed for days (there are still those days, sometimes). I think it was due to the transition to being alone and the only person who does everything at home. You see, up until our LO turned one, my mother-in-law lived with us. And she helped us a lot. She did the cooking and the dishes and looked after our LO when I did the other household chores. But she went home to the province soon after our LO turned one. I then found myself alone at home (of course with a baby) during the day. Not to mention I had to do every chore (cooking, dishes, laundry, the baby, etc.) single-handedly. The change caught me off guard. Especially the part on being alone. It was mentally and emotionally challenging. I cried for days.

During those times, I would savor every moment I was out of the house and with the company of friends. There were even times when I didn’t want to go home. Home then was a different place. It became a place of unrest. It wasn’t the place of refuge it was supposed to be. It was a place of unending chores done without breaks and a lonely place. It felt like a prison. And I hated to be in that place. What is something that I always looked forward to, going home at the end of the day, became a thing I dreaded to happen when we were out. Home was not home for me then.

This was after attending a wedding where hubby and I served as secondary sponsors. I’m posting this picture because it was during this time when I was going through a really depressing season. Here I am dressed in a gown, made-up, and smiling but inside I felt so down. After the wedding, I didn’t want to go home, so badly that we even hungout at the newlyweds’ hotel after. Imagine that. Instead of giving them the privacy to start their honeymoon. I also still wanted to hangout after in a coffee shop even if it was already midnight, with a baby in tow, because I dreaded going home.

I found very little support for what I went through. The people I’ve tried to reach out to would just find a reason for what I’m going through by saying, “Sa bahay ka lang kasi,” “Wala ka kasing ibang ginagawa,” or they would try to fix me by saying, “Kelangan mo ng day-off,” “Kelangan kasi may iba kang ginagawa.”

But I am thankful because there were also a few people who understood, who listened, and who empathized for what I was feeling. Those people were God-sent.

That was for a time. I’d like to believe I have now adjusted pretty well with the kind of life I have. As they say, I got the hang of it/got used to it. By God’s grace. One day at a time. Though I have to admit there are still days when I feel down and a little blue.

I look forward to going out of the house. Probably because I went through a season of depression (which might have been traumatic for me), going out seems like a treat. To the church, to the mall, out of town for a retreat, a pedia visit. Wherever it will be, even if it is just to have a quick meal in Jollibee, every time I leave the house is heaven for me.

Judgements/Criticisms are part of motherhood. I am trying to learn how to deal with this. Hopefully, soon. Maybe because I’m still a young/new mom so those who’ve been way farther along the way feel they have every right to judge me.

But let me get something straight first. I receive a lot of words from fellow moms. How do I differentiate between an unoffensive advice or comment and a judgement? The tone of their voice/the manner how a person says it. As I said, a lot of moms give me unsolicited advice/comments. Most of them I find unoffensive. Because they say it in a tone that communicates genuine concern.

But there are a few moms who constantly criticize me and give advise in a very condescending tone kulang na lang sabihin nila na hindi ako mabuting ina.

Pakainin mo, gutom.” (But I just fed her).

Inaantok, patuligin mo.” (Kagigising lang po).

Disiplinahin mo anak mo.”

Mga anak ko hindi nagkakasakit tulad ng anak mo.”

Ang payat/liit ng anak mo.”

Etc, etc.

Again, it’s the tone of their voice that I find irritating and offensive. If it was said in a different manner, I wouldn’t be defensive. But I guess judgements and criticisms are part of motherhood. I just have to bear with it and learn to brush it off so as not to affect me.

Peer pressure is still real. At my age and at this point in my life, I thought I would have graduated or at least have learned how to handle peer pressure. Sadly, I still struggle from it.

I am particularly referring to the difficulty I experience when I try to turn down offers of biscuits, crackers, sweets, etc. to my LO. I appreciate those who ask before giving my LO snacks. And I appreciate the offer. And I honestly understand the joy people have when they give foods to kids. And I don’t mean to offend them. But I find it annoying when some people insist that I feed her the food they offered (and say, “Konti/Isa lang,” “Sige na,” Bakit?”) after I’ve declined or refused (which doesn’t happen all the time, depends if mealtime is just a few minutes away). I sometimes give in. Peer pressure.

Call me maarte, KJ, strict, a crunchy mom, or whatever. I am trying to develop good and healthy eating habits for my LO. The age she is in is the foundational age where she will either learn (or not learn) how to eat healthily and her eating habits now will influence her eating habits and health later in life. It’s a make or break age for her. And I honestly feel that people who give my LO junk foods are pulling me away from my goal. Not only that, some people don’t realize that some foods are outrightly dangerous to kids. I wanted to get mad to the person who gave my LO a hard, round candy. It’s good that I saw it when she put it in her mouth (so I was able to take it out right away). A marble-sized and -shaped candy is a choking hazard! For heaven’s sake!

We find fat kids cute but wonder at ourselves why we don’t have the discipline when it comes to food. Go figure. Nutritionists actually advise against toddlers snacking all throughout the day. Also, there will come a time when I won’t be able to supervise what she eats anymore and I’m sure she’ll choose to eat things I taught her not to. Until that time comes, I will have the say what she eats or not. 🙂

And, can I just say… As a mother, I make sure my child is well-fed throughout the day. I feed her regularly and try as much as I can to keep her mealtimes on-time when out of the house. So any sugary snack in between meals really ruins her next meal. I really find it difficult to feed her when she’s had a snack just before a scheduled mealtime. And studies have shown that sugars affect children’s behavior. They make them more cranky. So I’m also trying to avoid unnecessary tantrums. And sugar weakens their immune system.

There are just some people who give my LO food as if I don’t feed my child anything at all. Just because my LO is small. I’m not depriving my child of sugary treats. I do feed her biscuits and crackers, just not regularly. Usually when I don’t have a ready snack at home. Or when we go out and I wasn’t able to prepare a snack. Or when we travel and I know that the next mealtime would be delayed. (And, of course, you know, for bribes). I compromise, too, more than I would want to, actually.

The thing most people don’t realize? By insisting to give my LO foods after I’ve declined them, they are undermining the discipline I am trying to instill to my LO and my authority as a parent. (That’s why parenting is hard. Other people make it harder).

There are days when I feel lazy to do anything. It’s usually when I don’t feel like cooking (or when we haven’t gone to the market or grocery yet so there’s nothing to cook). Cooking is the house chore I least like to do (and doing the market and grocery). So when I wake up and feel lazy to cook or do anything else, I go with my husband to his office and hangout there. Sometimes I feel guilty for being lazy. But those times are the only break I get.

I love Sundays. I always look forward to going to Church on Sundays. I get to be out of the house for a whole day. Around with people to talk with. No chores to do. And friends who are more than willing to babysit our LO.

I still dread Mondays. And the day after arriving back home from an out-of-town trip or a vacation. Or the following day after having visitors at home (which are usually Mondays).

Because I spend my Sundays with the company of friends, I’m usually in high spirits on Sundays. But the moment we go home I start wishing for the day not to end. Because I dread the following day, Monday. And the loneliness I will feel when I wake up the following day. It’s back to my daily grind. Alone. I thought I would ‘graduate’ from hating Mondays when I resigned from my corporate work. Apparently, hindi pala. Haha. Sometimes, I feel like the emotional shifts are too much to bear. (Or sometimes I feel I’m not just emotionally strong or mature enough to handle such). I sometimes even ask myself if it is worth feeling happy for a whole day when I know I would just feel the opposite the following day.

The same is true when coming home from a trip. Or when we have friends come over to our house. It’s a joy to have friends come over. But the moment they leave the house the atmosphere suddenly becomes eerily lonely.

I love long drives. (I don’t drive, hubby does). Because of hubby’s work, we get to travel for retreats and other ministries to nearby towns like Tagaytay and Laguna. We also frequent Batangas since it’s my hometown and I visit my family there. Sometimes we travel farther like when we traveled to Baguio or Bataan or Baler (hey, they all start with the letter B).

She used to fuss when I strap her in the car seat. Not anymore. Well, she would still do, sometimes, but only for a few minutes. She’ll try to get away from it. Once she’s strapped she’ll realize there’s no sense crying anymore. The secret to stress-free travelling. I always say I use car seats not only for safety purposes but for my sanity’s sake.

When we need to travel to a far place, I look forward to it. Because it’s a time where I get to get my hands off the baby without worrying where she might wander or what her hands might get in to and I get to sit beside my hubby undistracted with a phone in his hand. I think it’s a win-win for all of us. Our LO is used to being strapped in her car seat so she doesn’t make a fuss of it anymore. Freedom!

I’m so grateful to friends in Church who willingly looks after my LO when I’m there. And this is another reason why I sometimes want to hangout in Church. Because people there love our LO so much they willingly play with her and look after her and I get to have a break. Such moments are the only break I have. So I savor them. And I am so grateful to all of them.

Titas of GCF. These are some of the staff/MAs in GCF who I always ask to look after my LO when I’m there. I am very much indebted to them. Sorry wala akong makitang picture na kasama yung ibang MA. ‘Wag magtampo. Photo by Jirah Endoso.

It is a joy to be a mother. In spite of the difficulties and exhaustion that is part and parcel of motherhood, it is a very fulfilling and rewarding vocation to be in. It is the greatest responsibility I have ever taken upon myself which I know I could never live up to. No matter how hard I try, I know I will always fall short of being the mother I wish I could and supposed to be. I always fail. And I know I will do so. Every day. There is something I wish I did or did not do. But I also know that I am blessed by God to experience motherhood. And I am thankful. Because there is a certain kind of joy that comes only with motherhood.

Taken in a rice field in Nueva Ecija en route to Baler last March. Photo by Eugene.

Our little one turns two

27 Mar

A few days before our little one’s (LO) 2nd birthday, I found myself cramming and thinking how to celebrate it. Unlike her 1st birthday, I didn’t make any plans for it. Dining out is already a given (and, admittedly, it is more for us, the parents, than for her. But hey, it’s our birthday as well, we are celebrating our 2nd year as parents). I also felt that simply dining out wouldn’t suffice because we don’t even have either of our immediate families to join us. Continue reading

For my two-year old

18 Mar

Dear Carissa,

Happy birthday!

Do you know that the first words I told you when I held you the first time when you were born were ‘Happy birthday?’ It has been two years already and I can’t believe it passed by so fast. From a 5.5-lb newborn baby, you’ve grown to be a very charming toddler that everyone loves. Continue reading

Longing for our unborn child

8 Feb

The thing that saddened me most when the reality that I had a miscarriage finally sank in was the thought that our family is now incomplete. In every occassion that we will celebrate, we will miss our second child who will never be born and whom we will never have the chance to meet, not in this lifetime. Continue reading

Our 2017 year in review

1 Jan

The highlights of our family’s past year. We praise and honor God for the grace that saw us through.

Read our 2016 year in review here. Continue reading

A beach trip

14 Jul

We commemorated our wedding anniversary with a very simple celebration… a sort of impromptu trip to the beach. Impromptu because everything was done at the last minute. If budget wasn’t an issue, I would have planned an activity or a vacation way ahead of time. But since it was, we didn’t have definite plans how to celebrate our 7th anniversary. Also, we weren’t sure if Eugene’s schedule would allow him to be away from work. He asked permission just a couple of days earlier and thankfully, he was allowed to take a leave.

Continue reading

Family trip: Dumaguete 2017

4 Jun

While we were unloading our luggages upon arriving in the airport, Eugene said that he left his backpack in GCF (where we came from). It contained his laptop which contained his sermon notes so without second thoughts, he went back. Continue reading

Our little one turns 1

21 Mar

We praise God we were able to pull off a party as our Little One (LO) turned one. I don’t have skills to host a party so organizing one was by the grace of God. We also praise God because we were able to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday and dedication in a special way.

Eugene giving his testimony on how we have been ministered to by Shiphrah.

Continue reading