Archives for August 2013

Broke-a-lin

“Broke-a-lin” was the name Edan gave Elijah’s broken violin. Elijah was practicing on his violin when it slipped out of his hands and fell onto the tiled floor of our living room. It snapped in half and is now irreparable.

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The kids huddled over it for a while trying to put the pieces back together. Tiana kept saying, “Oh no.” Elijah was frustrated with himself and didn’t know what to do. Titus was eager to see how he could fix it. And Edan laughed and called it a “broke-a-lin.”

I was on the couch when it happened, trying to catch up on some news while holding Catalina. Of course I was not pleased. Elijah needs a new violin which means we have to go out and pay for another one.

I wasn’t mad at him just frustrated (secretly) that he was careless. At the same time I knew it was an accident so I didn’t get upset. I didn’t want to embarrass him.

Things get broken especially when you have lots of kids. If I were to react to every single one of these incidents, I would be stressed out often. Thankfully, I grew up in a home where my own parents didn’t put a premium on material things. They were good stewards and used money wisely but if my siblings or I accidentally broke or mishandled things around the house, we were readily forgiven. We weren’t yelled at or punished. We might have had to suffer the consequence of our carelessness but my parents didn’t get angry or lose their temper.

With our kids, Edric and I are the same way. When the kids break vases, glasses, toys, gadgets, etc, we don’t go ballistic. However, we will bring in the stewardship angle.

After hearing about Elijah’s violin accident, Edric sat down with Elijah. He asked him, “What if we just had one violin and that’s all we could afford and it was entrusted into your care?” He wanted to make sure that Elijah understood that he needed to take care of his belongings. Just because we can afford to go out and buy another violin doesn’t mean we should make light of the incident like it was inconsequential. How will our kids learn to be more careful and aware of their actions? So I was glad that Edric talked with Elijah just to make sure he took it seriously. Elijah apologized and asked for forgiveness for not being a good steward. He also confessed to me that he was prideful at first and thought it was just an accident so it was not his fault. But he owned up to it after talking with his dad and I was pleased to see him admit that he was responsible for what happened.

I actually mentioned to Edric that perhaps Elijah should help pay for the violin. He should pay a fractional amount from the money he has earned from his stock reports so he feels the “sting” of having to replace the violin.

Edric and I will buy him a new one but he is old enough to learn to find remedies for his mistakes. Even if it was an accident, he was responsible for that violin and now he can be responsible for getting himself a new one too. I believe in the passage “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If children get to work for something they really want, they are likely to ascribe greater value to it. Otherwise, they have no concept of reality. They receive and take without realizing that everything they are given is a cost to someone, be it monetary or otherwise. Furthermore, they need to learn to take ownership for their mistakes instead of growing up with a mentality that they get bailed out by mommy and daddy every time.

Edric and I love our kids and we extend grace to them when they make mistakes but some of these mistakes are also great opportunities to teach them character lessons. I don’t expect a 3 year old to get why he would have to help pay for something he broke. But Elijah is a 10 year old who has the capacity to understand stewardship and he is earning some money now.
So this sort of character training would work for him, especially since he is becoming a young man.

(I asked Elijah if it was okay with him that I share this and he said, “Yes, so people can learn from my mistakes.” Praise God for his heart! I love this boy!)

The Milk Cow Season

With breastfeeding keeping me preoccupied nearly 24/7, it feels like I am getting nothing done. I am a very activity-oriented person, always busy with something, never bored, not one to lounge in front of a TV, or lay around in bed for longer than I have to. So the breastfeeding stage, especially the first month, is a very difficult shift in priorities for me.

I get cabin fever. I want to get out of the house but at the same time, I am so tired from sleepless nights. The other kids need me but I am in my bedroom most of the day, feeding my little one. It can be maddening and a bit depressing.

It’s not too bad when you have one child, but when you have five, you feel like you are being a bad mother to the other four. Thankfully, my kids can keep themselves preoccupied and they entertain each other. They haven’t complained at all. And we finished our homeschool year so this transition is like their break.

Of course I am totally enjoying bonding with Catalina. I love her and I want to demonstrate this by breastfeeding and being available to her. But I want to do a lot of other things too.

It was a little bit easier to sneak in some errands when she was confined at the hospital because the nurses would give me an hour and a half in between feeds. They would let me leave her and then call me when she was hungry.

So the day after I gave birth, I went to the grocery. It probably was not the best idea. But I felt like I had to get food for our hospital room and take care of our household. I could have delegated that responsibility or asked someone to help me out, but I wanted to do it myself. So I took advantage of the window I had in between feeding my baby and convinced Edric that we should walk over to S&R with the kids. And the day after that, I attended the site meeting of our house building project.

Now that Catalina is home, I take care of her all day. I do everything. And it feels like my life revolves around her. I have been through this stage before. For the first few months, life slows down significantly. And it’s always a struggle to stay put, rest, and be at the mercy of my baby’s feeding schedule. After a few weeks I start to feel guilty that I am not as “productive” as I would like to be. I am producing lots of milk but that’s different!

It wasn’t until yesterday that I finally confronted the guilt and decided that there is nothing wrong with embracing this season for what it is. I can’t really go out of the house (unless I bring Catalina.) My homeschooling is non-existent. I should nap during the day…several times if I can. It’s okay to watch a good TV series to pass some of the time. The kids’ brains won’t disintegrate if they watch a little more TV (good shows of course) and play educational games on the iPad. There is nothing wrong with saying no to commitments outside of the home. I don’t have to blog every other day. And it’s okay to eat like a 200 pound man. Exercise can happen next month. I should enjoy the quiet moments I have with Catalina because this stage won’t last long.

So I am writing this entry on my iPhone while feeding her and eating fattening popcorn, and I am reminding myself of the passage in Ecclesiates that says there is a season for everything.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NASB)

This is my milk cow season…

Listening to my youversion audio bible: YouVersion
Resting on my bed:

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Changing diapers:

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Wearing Catalina in a sling:

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Breastfeeding:

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Watching the TV series, Person of Interest:

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Eating popcorn:

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Taking photos of Catalina and her weird expressions:

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The Brie Cheese Incident

A few days ago, I got irked with Edric when he didn’t respond to a question I asked him at the breakfast table.

“Would you like some crackers with your Brie cheese?”

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A simple yes or no would have been fine. I must have asked the question five times. But he was caught up in a conversation with our sons.

Meanwhile, I was sitting right beside him, holding Catalina in my arms waiting for an answer. He finally responded to my question but in an annoyed sort of way. It turned out that he didn’t want any crackers.

“Then just say no. Just answer the question” was my reply and my tone was disrespectful. I was irritated.

I don’t know if it is a guy thing, but there are moments when Edric is zoned in and engaged and he cannot accommodate my questions. Instead of saying, “Can I answer you later?” He won’t respond at all, like he doesn’t hear me. Of course this bothers me. I’m sure he doesn’t mean to dismiss or ignore me, but it makes me feel unimportant.

My mom was so much better at using humor when my dad wouldn’t answer her questions. I remember that she would tease and say, “Earth to Peter…calling…earth to Peter.” Or, “Okay, I’m going to go jump off a building now…” (That one worked pretty well.)

My problem is I take it too personally and I tend to react when Edric doesn’t pay attention to me. Unfortunately, the whole incident with the Brie cheese happened while the kids were watching.

Edric didn’t appreciate my tone so he turned to me and said, “Don’t ever talk to me like that.” The correction came as a surprise because it was the first time he ever said that in front of the kids. I was doubly hurt. It didn’t make my own irritation okay, but I backed down and remained quiet. With the kids looking on, I thought it best not to say anything else.

Our very vocal Elijah jumped in and asked, “Why are you talking to each other like that?”

I didn’t answer. But Edric did. “Because your mom doesn’t like it when I don’t answer her.” (See! He knows that it bothers me!)

Edric’s heart softened when he sensed that Elijah was troubled. So he apologized for not answering me. I managed a “will you forgive me for my tone?” but the tension still lingered. I exited the dining table using Catalina as an excuse to head towards the bedroom.

Fifteen minutes later Edric came in and said we needed to talk about what happened. He told the kids to give us some privacy until we finished talking. They gave us our space.

We were able to discuss what went wrong. I repented and made a sincere apology for being disrespectful and Edric apologized once again for not answering my question.

When we saw our children, Edric assured them, “Mommy and daddy said sorry to one another.” He wanted them to know that everything was back to normal.

Elijah responded with a big smile. He said, “I am so glad. I feel sad when you guys fight because you are my parents. It makes me feel like crying when you are not okay.”

I thought it was a little bit dramatic for Elijah to add the “feel like crying” bit but God often uses his perspective to convict Edric and I of our example. He is a wonderful accountability partner to us. When we act and behave in ways that don’t please God, he will freely express his concern.

He even said, “You ask Edan and I to treat each other well. And when we don’t, you say, ‘Do you see mommy and daddy behaving that way toward each other?’ Well, you can’t ask that question if you don’t.” He was right. I had to say sorry to him, too.

Humble pie. It’s not always easy to listen to your 10-year old give you a lecture. But I appreciate Elijah’s heart.

Our children know that Edric and I have conflict from time to time. We may not always let them in on all our issues, but we don’t pretend that our marriage is perfect. When disagreements arise, we demonstrate conflict resolution to them. We show our children what it means to forgive, better ourselves, and come to a greater understanding of each other’s personalities and preferences. And, we assure them that we love one another and that we are committed to changing and improving to please God.

Edric and I may still have Brie Cheese moments in the future with our kids looking on. (Lord willing, less and less.) But, if we remember to resolve our issues properly, then our children can move on without a nagging, troubling feeling that steals their peace. They won’t have to worry that mom and dad are not in good terms. They can relax and enjoy their childhood, their relationships with one another and with us knowing all is well at home.

In-SIGHT

About the same time last year I wrote about my eldest son, Elijah, and his eye sight. For a ten year old, his eye grade is pretty high: 450/425.

I don’t know what God has purposed for his eyes. He hasn’t gone through puberty yet so his eyesight could get significantly worse. (Doctors say that puberty will cause a dramatic increase in the grade of his eyes. As he grows, his eye balls will elongate further.) But, I am trusting that God has a better plan, that he will save Elijah’s eyes and cure him miraculously. It can happen if God wills it. And if God does not cause this to happen and his eyesight keeps getting worse, surgery is an option when he turns 19. In the meantime, Edric and I have tried to encourage him to hope in the Lord — that he has a loving reason for this handicap.

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The day we went to the ophthalmologist for a follow-up check-up, Elijah prayed for his eyes again. To prepare his heart, I told him, “No matter what the results are, I want you to remember that God has given you special eyes. You can see and discern invisible things — spiritual truth — and that is more important that mere physical sight.”

We found out that his eye grade increased (not too badly) but the doctor also advised that he be checked for glaucoma as a precautionary measure. The doctor saw a suspicious nerve in Elijah’s eye. Elijah heard this and he was troubled. His fear of going blind was resurrected. It’s probably nothing to worry about because glaucoma is rare in children. But the doctor said to get the test done just to rule it out.

Watching our children deal with difficult circumstances has taught Edric and I the importance of having the right perspective and passing this on to them. Our kids are bound to encounter loss, failure, trials, and disappointments. These things are inevitable in the fallen world we live in. Realistically, our children will not always get what they want. So we have to equip them to come out of their trying experiences as victors and not victims.

Sometimes, I can panic when my kids’ well-being is at stake. However I have to remember that my responses are a catalyst for their own responses to trials. Faith is contagious just like doubt and disbelief are. Therefore, to encourage our children to trust in God, Edric and I need to model being at rest with God.

It is also important to teach our kids how to process what they go through with spiritual lenses. We need to let them see the bigger picture — God is sovereign and in control, always at work, personally involved and committed to refining us for his greater purposes and glory. If we seek, love, obey, worship and live for him, then we can rest assured that he will cause all things to work together for our good, too. If we consistently highlight God’s character and his attributes, the bigness of God will make problems we face minuscule.

Satan is on a mission to destroy the faith of our children. If they are not prepared, he will implant all kinds of lies about God. My quiet time has brought me back to the book of Job. It’s always a challenge to read this part of the Bible and not be troubled. But it dawned on me anew that this story reveals one of Satan’s strategies for hurting us. He specializes in making God look like the bad guy. And he will use emotional and physical afflictions, as well as ill-advisors to breed doubt about God’s love and goodness. He wants God to be perceived as unloving and unconcerned, distant and impersonal so he can snuff out the desire to have a relationship with him and discourage us from following him or submitting to his will.

Unless our children are equipped with the truth, they are bound to form a concept of God based on circumstances and false portrayals of him. My dad used to tell me the real battlefield is in the mind. Satan harasses us with all kinds of wrong thoughts. The Bible tells us so…For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB)

Our children need to be intimately acquainted with God and encounter him personally through his Word to combat the lies of Satan. One of the best ways to do this is to get them into the habit of reading their Bible so they can discern truth from falsehood.

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Elijah’s eyesight has been a big faith test for him. Every time he gets his eyes checked he is in suspense. And whenever he finds out that his eye grade has increased he is naturally disappointed. However, by the next day, he tends to accept his predicament with a level of maturity that is surprising for his age.

The secret is he has sought to know God at a young age. It is only by God’s grace that he loves God and has a personal relationship with him. He is diligent about his scripture readings and has read through the Bible twice. I see him reading his bible almost every morning, setting aside the first part of his day to be with the Lord. He sits on the living room couch reading the Bible on his Kindle. As a result, God speaks to him and ministers to him through his word.

The day after his eye check up, we talked about how he was feeling. He responded with this…

“God answered my prayer, mom. He allowed me to read about Joseph in my Bible. I woke up and I was feeling sad. But when I read my Bible I really felt God speaking to me. He didn’t give me the answer I wanted but it was the answer I needed.”

Elijah shared with me how he was impacted by Joseph’s attitude towards all that he suffered — seeing God’s hand and purpose.

When I asked him to articulate how this applied to him this is what he said (similar to what I had told him.)…

Even if I do go blind, God will give me spiritual sight which is greater and more important. Greater than having physical sight is being able to see and understand truth. God will teach me to see. The best thing about true sight is seeing things that cannot be seen. Some people have sight but no insight.

Well said, son.

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13:17 NASB)

I do get concerned about Elijah’s eyesight and I wish I could heal him. My heart goes out to him, especially when I see him struggle emotionally over it. He tries to be strong and not cry because he thinks of himself as a young man. And when he fights off his tears it makes me want to hold him and comfort him like I would a little child. However his example of turning to the Lord gives me confidence that God is using this handicap for good in his life. As he gets older and his physical vision deteriorates, his ability to see from a spiritual perspective increases.

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Sometimes the cure we want is physical and material in nature. We want to be delivered from the problems that are visible to us. But God’s priority is our spiritual wholeness. He brings us to that point in our lives where we can be complete in him. He is committed to doing this in the lives of our children, too.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 NASB)

We are Home!

Thank you for your prayers! We are comfortably settled at home, enjoying our time together as a bigger family.

I haven’t gotten hardly any sleep which is to be expected. This is still better than walking around the cold hospital like a zombie to get to the intermediate care unit on the 3rd floor.

It’s been wonderful to watch all five of our kids interacting with one another. This may be it for us. Having three boys and two daughters feels just perfect. Okay…right now, it feels like a lot!

At the hospital, it was quiet most days when I was alone or with Edric. When we got home it was like, BOOM! Kids everywhere. Lots of noise. Big personalities.

I honestly felt a tad bit harassed at first. Edric had to remind me to be cool and patient. I caught myself getting irritated several times. It was such a challenge trying to get Catalina to sleep when each of our other four kids would barge into the room with something to say or a request to ask. If the door was locked they would knock loudly. Or they would run down the hall laughing and calling out to one another.

What a contrast it must have been for Catalina who came from a very peaceful and sterile environment in the hospital. She had her eyes closed most of the time at the IMCU. Since she has been home, her eyes have been open ALOT, probably because her senses have been assaulted by her four siblings. Well, now I know what she looks like with her eyes open!

The reality of five children to raise and parent (whew, and homeschool), is coming to the forefront of my consciousness. Before it was like this fantasy. Oh, let’s have five kids. How fun. How magical.

During the last 48 hours I have been trying to figure out how to survive! This is a challenging stage because of breastfeeding so I know it’s going to pass. But, wow. Five is a big responsibility.

When I started to go a little nuts, I took a pause and went to the Lord. I prayed about being spirit-filled. I asked for supernatural capacity and enabling to be the mom my kids need me to be. And I requested that Catalina be easy to take care of so she doesn’t monopolize my time. This is a good place to be in…feeling overwhelmed. God wants me to recognize that I am inadequate apart from him. I really can’t handle five kids without him.

After I prayed the day went a whole lot better. Catalina slept for longer stretches so I was able to do some homeschooling. In the afternoon, I put her in a sling and we all went to the grocery. Five kids (and a yaya, I am no martyr!). I was able to sneak in some breastfeeding while at the meat section. Catalina was hidden in my sling.
It worked out just fine.

Everything was going great until the driver opened the back of our van and 4 dozen eggs fell out. I was totally upset and annoyed but I didn’t want to fault him. It was the guy from the grocery who packed the eggs on top of everything else. He was the genius behind the disaster.

Well, eggs get broken. It’s not the end of the world. I decided to think of the accident as our version of confetti, in celebration of the new adventure we are entering into as a family.

There was much to be thankful for. I was holding Catalina in my arms — healthy and well. My four other children had big smiles on their faces because we had just spent the entire day with one another. No more hospital to take me away. The Lord has allowed us to come home and he will enable our lives to go on, one day of grace at a time…

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Living in the Hospital

For the past seven days, Edric and I have been living in the hospital while our daughter, Catalina, is confined in the Intermediate Care Unit of St. Luke’s Medical Center. She was picked up from our hospital room in an incubator Sunday evening, August 11, due to unusually elevated white blood cells. After a second CBC the results showed an even higher WBC count. If the norm is 0 to 20,000 for babies, hers went up to 48,000.

Dr. Lourdes Gozali, the pediatrician who was attending to her, required that she be given a round of antibiotics shortly after. One of her concerns was I had GBS when I gave birth. This could have put Catalina at risk for sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia. It just so happened that infectious diseases is Dr. Gozali’s specialization so our daughter was in goodDSC09301

Even if I understood the necessity to go this route, I was so upset and depressed about the turn of events. When Catalina was wheeled out of our room and her empty crib remained, my heart broke. I put her outfits back into the bag I brought for her because she wasn’t allowed to wear them in the IMCU. (Naturally, they need to be a bit overkill about preserving a sterile environment.)

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I started packing her things and I kept looking at the crib, imagining what it would be like if she was in it…wishing she was in it. This was not helpful. It just made me cry.

Edric felt sad, too, and so did the kids. We had never had a baby confined before. Leaving the hospital was a highlight in the past — family members eagerly waiting to celebrate our arrival…the first days at home.

We checked out Tuesday and I came home to a childless house. The kids were with mommy and papa (Edric’s parents), so the quiet only magnified my feelings of gloom and doom. This wasn’t the happily-ever-after-with-my-baby that I had fantasized about.

Even if we had checked out, we had to go back to the hospital. Well, camp out was more like it. I had to hang around the IMCU in case Catalina got hungry. And she certainly did! I was in there so often and the fatigue started to kick in. After all, I had just given birth. I was supposed to be recuperating, too. But instead of being able to rest at home, Edric and I made a make-shift room in a corner of the IMCU lobby. Picture two homeless looking people sleeping on the benches of a train station, but then up it a couple of notches because we had a laptop playing movies, comfy pillows, and a whole lot of food around us. We were sophisticated vagabonds.

“Someday, we will look back on this experience as a good memory,” we said to one another as we laughed at the comedy of it all. Nobody else was sleeping in the IMCU lobby for good reason.

First, it was sort of the hang out place of the maintenance people in the evening. That’s where they watched TV. Second, the airconditioning was set to freezing so no one could tolerate the temperature for too long. Third, we were the clueless parents who did not realize that the hospital had hotel rooms for family members of patients.

The next day, after a terrible night of NO sleep, we got a room. The lobby was not going to be a sustainable option. Since my doctor didn’t want me to give her anything but my own breast milk, (no donations allowed to avoid other channels of infection), checking in to the hospital again made sense.

The “hotel” rooms are kind of spartan but they are comfortable and a fraction of the cost one would pay for a hospital room. I am just four floors away from my baby which is convenient. They call me on the phone and I go down, awake or half asleep, dressed up or in very unattractive house clothes and slippers. I have decided to treat this place like a temporary second home.

Edric said I kind of looked like that scary Sadaku character from the horror film, The Eye, when I started to get really complacent, so I went back home and upgraded my house clothes so they are at least cute. Nobody really cares though. The people I run into are all preoccupied with their own reasons for being at the hospital.

I can finally write about this week because I finished my spiritual wrestling with the Lord a few days ago and I surrendered Catalina to him. Initially, I was entertaining all this self-pity and worry. A cloud of negativity went with me everywhere I went. It was stuffed full of burdensome questions like…What is ailing Catalina? What kind of bacteria will the blood culture reveal? Did she have symptoms of a gbs infection? How long will she have to stay in the hospital? What is it going to cost? How will I cope with her feedings? How are the other kids going to deal with the disappointing reality that their baby sister is sick and confined? What about taking care of our four other kids and our home? Is Edric going to be able to hold out and last ten days with me taking a leave of absence from my wifely duties? How am I going to finish turning in my kids’ portfolios and get them to meet with their academic consultants for their year-end evaluation? What about all the house-building related decisions that have to be made on the interior areas?

God really dealt with my heart this week. He reminded me that I could make the choice to be grateful and hopeful instead of negative and worrisome. Catalina’s condition was beyond my control, but I could choose to trust in God as her healer. I could also choose to make the most of my time and be a blessing.

I started reading the Bible to Catalina while I breastfed her. I began to reach out to the nurses in the IMCU.

I have been trying to get to know them by initiating conversations that revolve around their work, relationships, the Lord.

They have been such a blessing to me this past week. Catalina has been receiving 24/7 care in one of the best hospitals in the country, watched over and dotted on by wonderful nurses who treat her like a little princess. She is in a germ-free environment set to the perfect temperature. I don’t have to change her diapers, swaddle, bathe or dress her. They do all of that.

As for me, I get to sit in a lazy boy holding her when she is hungry. I get to enjoy her and feed her. We get to bond and be together without being distracted by her four other siblings.

It’s been costly to have her confined but I praise God we can pay for her stay. I think of the many people who can’t afford to have their children treated when they have serious diseases and by God’s grace, we can. Last year, Edric set aside an emergency fund after he learned about the importance of doing so during one of his TV interviews. This will help alot.

Staying at St. Luke’s has been very pleasant, too. The kids hang out in our room and they can easily go to and from the house because we live a few blocks away. We got a room very near the elevators so I don’t have to walk down a long hallway every time the nurses call me to go down to the 3rd floor. Plus there are a bunch of yummy restos to eat at on the ground floor. I have enjoyed puto bumbong four times at Via Mare. S&R is next door so I have gone over there to buy snacks like my big bag of G.H. Cretor’s Chicago Mix popcorn and go to the grocery.

Amazingly, Edric had no tapings for his TV show this past week so he was able to stay with me. Today, work was also cancelled due to the rain. Wednesday will be another holiday. God timed this crisis perfectly.

I didn’t expect Edric to clear his schedule to be with me. But he was set on it. So he is working from the hospital. He told me, “I can’t give birth for you and endure the pain for you, but I can be here for you.” Everyday he stays the night and he is present when he doesn’t have urgent errands.

Of course the good news is Catalina’s health. Thankfully, she didn’t have to stay in an incubator because she was able to regulate her temperature. And, except for the mysterious source of her infection, she wasn’t diagnosed to have any other complications. Praise God!

Her WBC has now gone down to normal. She is eating alot and gaining weight. No bacteria grew on either blood cultures or the urine culture. The yellowing color of her skin (which I was afraid would progress to jaundice) has been arrested and she is now able to excrete bilirubin through her pee and poop. According to Dr. Gozali she can be discharged on Thursday morning and we can finally take her home. Thursday still feels far away but at least it is something definite.

Perspective is always a choice. We can keep focusing on the empty cribs in our lives — symbolic of stolen joy, broken dreams or unmet longings and allow ourselves to become bitter. Or, we can give the emptiness to God in faith. He doesn’t always remove our problems right away and this can make us doubt if he is at work or present. Yet, he gives us something far better…the opportunity to grow in Christlikeness and experience his supernatural strength and joy. Instead of becoming bitter, he helps us become better, for our eternal good.

I can honestly say that despite the emotional and physical fatigue, I am enjoying living in the hospital. It’s not something I would like to do forever but it’s certainly an experience that Edric and I will be able to look back on and smile about because God brought us through it.

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Birth and Beyond

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My labor began at 3 PM, August 10. Edric checked me into the High Risk Pregnancy Unit (HRPU) of St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City. We opted to do this with previous pregnancies as well because Edric gets to stay with me in a private room and it’s alot cheaper than the Birthing Room. Plus, the HRPU is right beside the delivery room which makes it convenient for someone like me who births pretty quickly. (I’m talking about the pushing part.)

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Like my previous experience with St. Luke’s, it was easy to get a room and I was very well attended to. I’ve heard negative reviews by other women about this hospital, but personally I have always been impressed with the level of service given by St. Luke’s QC and Global. I can officially say that I have had 5 births with them that have been consistently positive in terms of service. However, it really depends on who your doctor is, how involved your husband is, your emotional climate at the time of your birth, expectations, and the kind of birth you have.

Since I have Lamaze births, all I need is a private room where I can be with my wonderful husband; the security of knowing my doctor is around; the liberty to labor the way I would like to; and the mental, emotional, and spiritual readiness to face the challenge of getting through labor and childbirth.

This time around, certain factors were different. My labor started earlier than usual. (I tend to give birth on my due date.) With this baby, I was 39 weeks/3 days when I went into labor. But the timing was great. We were hoping to give birth this past weekend because Edric had a free week…no tapings for his ANC show, no major meetings. So going into labor early was a welcome surprise. My doctor was still at her clinic in St. Luke’s Global, too. It gave me piece of mind knowing she was near. With my other babies, she had to come from the home or from other engagements. Unfortunately, with this pregnancy I had GBS, so I needed to have an IV antibiotic administered through my left hand. Thank God for big veins which were easy to locate on my hands. I owe these to my caucasian mother. The nice juicy veins on my body are a needle’s dream.

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My initial Internal Exam showed that I was 4 to 5 cm. I was kind of disappointed. I wanted to be in the hospital closer to 7 cm. But, looking back, I have no regrets. Edric wanted to be safe about this pregnancy and my doctor told me it was better to be in the hospital. After all, my four previous births progressed quickly after the onset of labor, so we all thought the same thing would happen with this one.

Well, this was not the case. What we all expected to take just a few hours turned into over 12 long, exhausting hours. The problem was I was stuck at 7 to 8 cm. My baby’s head didn’t descend and engage into the pelvis like the doctor anticipated her to. This means that my contractions weren’t as regular or as strong as they should have been either.

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I tried distracting myself by reading my Bible, watching TV, and walking around everywhere. In fact, the nurses were surprised that I was pacing back and forth at 7 cm but I could still hop up and down! I did that a couple of times in the room while watching CSI: New York…anything to try and make my labor progress to the next stage.

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It must have been close to 2 AM when my doctor told me that the best recourse would be to break my bag of waters. But she encouraged me to rest first. So I tried to sleep. I slept in between contractions and it allowed me to regain some energy. Edric slept, too!

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By 6 AM when I had not dilated further, I knew that breaking my bag of waters was the next logical step. Walking, swaying from side to side, hopping, going on my fours and rocking were not working. Intervention was needed.

Here were my fears…Breaking my bag of waters would escalate the pain. And if I didn’t progress further, I would need oxytocin to make my contractions stronger which would make the labor even more difficult. If this happened, I would probably need an epidural. My doctor was honest with me and told me that these were all possibilities.

So I struggled inside. I struggled with self-doubt. I struggled with worry. “Lord, I prayed for a quick and easy delivery. How come this is turning out to be my hardest?”

My doctor wonderfully suggested that I take a warm shower before she did the procedure. This was a first for me. I never got the chance to do this with previous babies. But it was a brilliant suggestion! It made me relax. And in the shower while pausing for each contraction, I surrendered my feelings and fears to the Lord. I really asked for his grace and strength to get through the home stretch. Edric was 100% there, too. He asked people to pray and he assured me that he would be with me all the way.

Well, when my doctor did an IE again, she was more hopeful. Previously my cervix was posterior and then it shifted into the right position. The procedure of breaking my bag of water was quick and simple. Then the strong contractions started to kick in. Okay, brace yourself, this is it! I was preparing to stick it out for as long as I could but I was hoping and praying it would not drag on.

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Breathing through each contraction wave, I employed the same trick I always do…just think, you are one contraction closer. And amazingly, each contraction brought to mind a bible verse that I could cling to. What a comfort the word of God was.

Ever faithful, God allowed the most painful part to be swift. After just 45 minutes, I was checked again by one of the assisting doctors who said that I was ready to be brought to the delivery room. Wahoo! I was excited but of course the discomfort was heightening.

Think of a bowling ball in between your legs. It’s a bad picture, I know. But, think about being told to hold that bowling ball in. Well, that feels a whole lot worse. My baby was on her way out and would stop for nothing. But, the nurses had to keep my legs closed while everyone prepped for the baby’s coming. Fortunately, everyone moved fast. Edric rushed in dressed in scrubs to take my hand. My doctor was ready in about thirty seconds (she has mastered this), just in time for the next big contraction that pushed my baby out. After a second push to get her body out, it was over.

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DSC09135I held our daughter, Catalina, in my arms and my one thought was, “Lord, you ever amaze me!” She had a head full of dark hair, like my second son Edan, almond shaped eyes, a cute little nose and mouth. I couldn’t wait for her siblings to meet her! Edric got to cut the umbilical chord which is always a highlight for him.

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Afterwards, I was cleaned up, stitched (for my episiotomy), and brought into the recovery room to rest. Catalina was wheeled in by my side and we both stayed there for at least 2 hours. I got to feed her and hold her, and when the kids came, they got their photo-op with my doctor and Edric. (I also gave them gifts to make them feel special.)

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I have had six days beyond my birth to reflect on the ordeal of labor and childbirth. Here are some insights that I have been pondering…

First, there is something out-of-this-world incredible about the moment when a child is born, especially when you experience labor without anesthesia. Personally I feel that it gives me a foretaste of what it will be like when the earthly, perishable world is traded for the heaven God has promised us. Whatever agony I endured is eclipsed by that moment of perfect happiness. I look back on the long, arduous hours and the desperate desire for them to end and I think… I am glad I pushed myself to the limit. It was worth it!

Like Paul said about the sufferings of this world,For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

It was inexplicable bliss, peace, relief, and joy when I finally held my baby in my arms. How much more magnified the joy of those who are faithful to the Lord till the very end? I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7, 8 NASB)

I reveled in the victory of pushing my baby out but the reality is I could not have made it to that point alone — Edric’s reassuring support, my doctor’s expertise and years of experience, the accommodating nurses, the prayers of family and friends, and most of all, the deliverance of the Lord — these factors had to be present.

We don’t cross life’s finish line as champions alone or experience our greatest victories without the help of others. We all need one another’s assistance, encouragement, empowerment. We especially need God’s grace!

When I reached the limits of my capacity to labor on, I cried out to the Lord. I was completely dependent upon him. And he did not fail.

Although I was so disappointed when my labor did not happen the way I wanted it to, I surrendered to the Lord’s will and chose to trust in him. Then he made his grace available. He let my baby come out at the perfect time.

God does not fail us. He may not always allow circumstances to turn out the way we imagine them to but it doesn’t change who he is and how much he loves us. Let us never lose hope in the Lord or forget that he is for us. The question is, do we really seek him? Is our life oriented towards him? If it is then be encouraged by these verses…

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:22-25 NASB)



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AT PRESENT, CATALINA IS CONFINED IN THE HOSPITAL…story to follow…

My Modern-Day Knight

Edric and Joy

“Don’t worry I will take care of you. I’m here for you.”

Edric said this a multiple number of times this past week when he knew that I was getting nervous about childbirth and labor. In fact, he cut down on his activities outside of the home just to be present and available.

This has meant so much to me. I know what a sacrifice it is for him to turn down ministry engagements, basketball on Tuesdays, game nights with the guys, and refuse commitments for hosting or speaking that could be income generating. But he has not been resentful about it at all.

Edric has this innate desire to rescue people, especially me, when I am a damsel in distress. And I was quite distressed the last few days when I got my latest lab results showing that I had UTI, GBS, and anemia. Plus, we had a home full of sick kids…one after the other, and then I started battling a flu.

I was tempted to fret and give in to stress but God reminded me through Edric that I need to be thankful and count my blessings. God is still in control and he has given me the special gift of a very loving husband who will, as he has often said, drop anything for me if I really need him.

I don’t want to put Edric on some sort of pedestal but I really appreciate what a knight in shining armor he has been to me through the years of our marriage. And it is not because he is such a perfect guy (although I think he is pretty perfect), it is because he loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. His priorities, ambitions, dreams and goals are God-centered. He would not be the consistently loving husband he is if God was not present in his life. After twelve years of marriage and the ups and downs that have come with it, I know that it is the Lord that has made all the difference.

With just a few days left till my birth, the thought of Edric being with me through it all provides me with a great sense of security. I am not an emotionally needy person but there are occasions when I really want him present, like the last stretch of pregnancy, childbirth, and the few weeks after birth when I feel exhausted because of breastfeeding. His presence is so reassuring and it is probably one of the reasons why I don’t experience post-partum. I feel like we go through life changes like having babies, together, as a team. I don’t feel left alone or abandoned.

Edric has been there to watch over me and make sure that I am comfortable and cared for. It’s really quite romantic. I don’t know how to explain the connection between excruciating labor pain and the sweetness of having Edric by my side. But I am pretty sure it has something to do with God’s design for a marriage, for a family. These events are meant to be shared with the one you love, with your spouse. They cause you to “cleave” to one another more.

As a matter of fact I get sort of leechy and clingy when I am pregnant. It’s like there is this GPS in my body that navigates me towards Edric. I want to be close to him, around him, and with him as often as possible. It’s great that he feels the same way, too. His priorities get re-ordered. His sense of responsibility as the leader of our family is renewed. And he looks forward to being at home. He makes tender statements like, “I really love being with you and the kids.”

On Saturday, as we were walking over to my doctor’s clinic, I talked about how I have changed over the years. When I was first married, I felt like I didn’t need anybody. I wasn’t so open about my emotions with Edric. Yet as the years went by, I found myself trusting him with my vulnerability. I felt like I could be more honest and fragile and he would not take advantage of this or trample upon my weaknesses. In fact, expressing my dependence upon him made him want to take care of me. It made him want to be the one to rescue me. And the more I told him things like, “You are my favorite person to be with. I still miss you when you leave everyday and get excited when I know you are coming home…” the more inclined he was to reciprocate and appreciate me.

In the past I had this idea that I should not reveal too much of my emotions or let him feel like I needed him. I didn’t even want to admit it when a movie made me cry! Where this poisonous disposition came from is a mystery. But I suppose it had a lot to do with pride and hearing about so many women who get their hearts broken in the process of giving themselves. So, I wanted to project this aura of independence and strength.

However I was mistaken. God designed marriage to be the context where husband and wife move toward one another and give themselves fully to each other, not hiding behind pretenses or living in fear of rejection. This is a bond of unity that is supposed to be forever so there ought to be no fear of losing oneself by giving oneself. In fact, the bible says, perfect love casts out fear. I had to grow in this area as a wife, to be able to make statements like, “hon, I really need you.”

So here we are again at the last stretch of it all, with my huge belly popping out in front of me…taking evening walks together, enjoying quiet nights at home, and saying all kinds of cheesy things to one another like we are dating again.

Tonight, he turned down a fun game night invitation from his buddies and I spied out of the corner of my eye his text message to them…”I’ve got to be near the wifey just in case…” Ooo…I love it!

Edric and I are busier now, with increased parenting responsibilities and commitments to ministry and work-related preoccupations (for Edric), but I feel like this has been the best pregnancy experience so far because we have kept as sacred priorities the most important things — our relationship with the Lord and our marriage.

Not every girl can be born a princess but she can marry a guy who will treat her like one. I feel like I got myself a modern day knight. But all the credit goes to the Lord who has put it in my husband’s heart to be one. Edric would not be this way apart from Him.

You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.” (Psalms 16:2 NASB)

It’s the Final Countdown!

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With 1 week to go till my due date, the inevitability of the hardest phase of this pregnancy now looms upon me. I am getting closer and closer to the day when my daughter will finally arrive. I am so excited to meet her and hold her, but I am not looking forward to labor pain!

I had contractions about two weeks ago for three hours and thought that it might be real labor and I was Iike, “Oh dear, not yet. Too early. Not ready!” The sensation of cramping, tightening and aching around the abdomen opened up a portal into my pregnancy memory file — the memory of childbirth and labor. My, my here we go again! I was reacquainted with the trepidation I always feel when I am nearing my 40th week. At the same time, I felt that nervous excitement…soon and very soon!

Some years ago, I emailed my sister a list of what to expect during her delivery. I am including that list here for newbie moms who may be clueless like I once was. Personally, I really like to know what to expect whenever I get into something. I like to know the details. And it’s important to me to have done my best to research and prepare myself. So I hope this will mentally, emotionally, and physically condition the newbie moms out there on what to expect (for those who want to do natural birth).

How Your Body Prepares for Labor:

Your nesting instinct kicks in. Cleaning the house, preparing baby’s things, getting baby’s area for his or her arrival becomes sort of a compulsion and obsession. You want everything to be ready.

Your belly drops. Towards the end of the third trimester, the baby settles into a mother’s pelvis. This is called dropping or lightening. Personally, my belly stays high until I go into labor so it isn’t necessarily a predictor for me that labor is near. However, for some moms the difference is significant — changes in the shape of their bellies, easier breathing and less frequent bouts with heartburn. Of course this means having to pee alot more because of the pressure on the bladder.

According to my obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Regina Capistrano, lightening happens 1 to 2 weeks before labor for first-time moms. For those who have given birth before, this may not even happen until the day a mom gives birth.

The best position for delivery is when the baby’s head is presenting first. With my third baby, Titus, his head wasn’t completely engaged. He was side-lying. So this affected how my cervix effaced. I was only effaced on one side which made my contractions inefficient. So, I had to do exercises to get him into the right position. Rocking side to side while standing helped alot!

A baby’s head will begin at -3 “station” when his or head is above the pelvis then at 0 station when his or her head is fully engaged and ready to be delivered. By +3 station the baby’s head is crowning or emerging from the birth canal. (I’ll talk about that later…)

You experience more Braxton Hicks contractions. These are like practice contractions which can happen very early in pregnancy and become much more frequent towards the latter part. They can resemble true contractions but they don’t become consistently longer, stronger or closer together. Your tummy will harden and feel rock-like. These false contractions help to soften the cervix and open it up a little bit. They aren’t the real thing yet. But they do give you a foretaste of what real labor will begin to feel like.

If Braxton Hicks contractions get painful, you can change position, walk around, do some deep breathing, take a warm shower, or drink lots of fluids (according to Baby Center, these contractions can be triggered by dehydration). For first time moms who have not reached 37 weeks and contractions feel regular and persist past an hour, especially when accompanied by bleeding, unusual discharge, and achy lower back pain, it is best to inform your doctor so she can advise you what to do. This could be a sign of pre-term labor.

You loose the “jelly.” There is no other non-gross way to talk about this mucus plug. But it acts like a seal for the cervix. Once the cervix begins to open up, the plug comes out. It can happen in bits over a period of time (discharge), or in one piece, accompanied by blood or tinged with it. Although labor may not happen right away, you are definitely headed in that direction. Labor can happen in a matter of hours, days or weeks.

 

Labor and what to expect:

True labor can be broken down into three stages — early, active and transitional.

First stage: The cervix dilates to 3 cm.

  • You will feel a menstrual-like cramping and tightening that wraps around your abdomen from the back to the front.
  • Contractions will last about 30 to 45 seconds with breaks of 5 to 30 minutes in between.
  • Even though these contractions are relatively mild or can be confused as Braxton Hicks, they will become stronger and more frequent.
  • Once contractions become 1 to 2 minutes long with 4 or 5 minutes in between each one for a period of at least an hour, it’s time to inform the doctor. Or, if the amniotic sac ruptures (whichever occurs first).

Personal experience…I don’t always know that early labor is happening. It can feel so subtle. So I just go about my normal routines. Alot of times, I probably experience this early stage during the day while I am busy doing chores, taking care of the kids or homeschooling them, shopping or eating out. These contractions don’t really bother me until they become noticeably uncomfortable. For me this has consistently happened towards the evening. At night, when all is quiet and I am lying in bed and can’t quite relax because my contractions interrupt my attempts to do so, I start timing them. When a pattern surfaces, I tell Edric and he will usually call our doctor to let her know what’s happening.

From here on out, we just follow her recommendations and Edric takes charge. I love this man! He will make sure all bags and documents are ready and we proceed to the hospital. Actually, I take a shower first to relax my body and put on something comfortable. This is my way of prepping for the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual battle that is up ahead.

Active Labor Phase: The cervix dilates from 4 to 7 cm.

  • Contractions will be more intense, more frequent, and closer to one another. It’s hard not to notice the escalating pain so if you didn’t feel them in the earlier stage of labor, the growing pain will definitely be an indicator that this is it! The pain with each contraction won’t subside or go away (except for the breaks in between.)
  • Nurses or your doctor will come in every hour to do an internal exam. This is very uncomfortable but it is the best way for them to check if labor is progressing as it should.
  • Baby’s heartbeat will be monitored to make sure he or she is not in distress.
  • At some point, they will also strap on a belt that feels like a belly band to record contractions.
  • This stage can last up to 5 hours but it is significantly shorter for moms with previous natural births. Contractions during this phase will be about 45-60 seconds long with 3-5 minutes of rest between each one. Take advantage of those breaks because you will need to conserve your energy for the next phase — the hardest stretch.

Personal experience…I walk around as much as possible while I am in the labor room. Even if it means pacing the room back and forth or doing some slight jogging to get my baby’s head engaged and my cervix dilated faster, I do it.

With Tiana, I had to move around because I wanted to get my contractions to increase in intensity. Since she wasn’t fully engaged, I literally jogged back and forth in the labor room. Edric has the video archived somewhere. Since my bag of water or amniotic sac was in tack, I was allowed to do this.

I can still be chatty at this point and converse with Edric. Even though I am uncomfortable, this isn’t the hardest part yet so I try my best to stay relaxed and move my body into positions that allow me to manage the pain better. Sometimes I am lying down, other times sitting or standing up. Gravity is always a factor in my favor so as much as possible I keep myself upright.

 

Transitional Labor Phase: The cervix dilates from 7 to 10 cm.

  • Transition is the stage before pushing the baby out. This takes between 30 minutes to 2 hours. (With my first it was between 1 to 2 hours, but with my fourth baby, it only took 30 minutes.)
  • It will feel like the most difficult t stage because the pain intensifies to a point where you must use all your strength and energy to focus on getting through each contraction. Every contraction will be at least 1 minute long or even 2 minutes (if you are like me), with a rest in between of about 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • The stronger the contractions the more efficient the opening up of the cervix is, so be encouraged! It’s a positive kind of pain even though it hurts like heck.

Personal experience…It helps to breath through each contraction to relax. I use deep breathing while closing my eyes to stay calm and focused. I just tell myself, take it one contraction at time. Just get through the next contraction. You are one contraction closer to delivering your baby! You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

I don’t think things like, how long is this going to take?! This pain is killing me! because it is counter-productive to do so.

As much as possible, I fill my mind with positive thoughts and I pray like crazy, asking the Lord for strength, fortitude, and help. Of course it makes a big difference to know that Edric is there. He is a very reassuring presence and he makes me feel relaxed by staying on top of everything — monitoring the monitors, checking on my progress and communicating with the nurses, massaging or rubbing my back, holding my hand, praying for me, breathing with me, etc.

 

Delivery and what to expect:

Delivery of the baby

  • At 10 cm, you are ready to push the baby out. Until then, avoid doing so because it will only frustrate you and put your baby in distress.
  • The urge to push will feel like the urge to go number 2. You will feel a whole lot of pressure down there and want to relieve it.
  • If you are in a birthing room, you can give birth in the same room you labor. Otherwise, you will be brought to the delivery room where they will prep you for delivery. Your doctor will have a pediatrician on stand-by too to take care of your baby after he or she is born.
  • Delivery time depends on the mom. It can take minutes or a few hours.

Personal experience…I often feel a renewed sense of energy at this point. With my previous births, the pushing stage didn’t last longer than 30 minutes. Okay, with the last two, this stage was less than 10 minutes. In fact, I didn’t have to push Tiana out. She did all the work and my doctor had just finished putting on gloves and out she came, just in time to be caught!

Pushing involves a technique. When the contraction comes, I push as hard I as I can for 10 counts (holding my breath), and then relax my abdominal muscles slowly for another 10 counts (still holding my breath). I don’t release my pushing muscles right away because my baby can go back up the birth canal. It’s like taking one step forward and two steps backward if I don’t control my muscles. What I want is two steps forward, one step backward, so the pushing has to be done properly.

When my baby’s head is finally visible or crowning, I get so excited because the end is near! I am not one of those women who needs to see what is happening down there. I never use a mirror to look and neither does Edric. We want to preserve a certain mystery and protect our sex life. So we rely on the instructions of my doctor for when to push.

The most difficult part to push out is the head. I opt for a pressure episiotomy without anesthesia because I hardly feel it on top of all the pain. And it is easier to get stitched up afterward. A tear from pushing is harder to repair. As soon as my baby’s head is out, I listen carefully to my doctor’s instructions. She will tell me to wait until the baby’s head is turned to the side while his or her shoulders rotate into the right position. When she is positioned properly, my doctor will tell me to push on the next contraction and out comes my baby!

Oh, this is the part I love! I feel an incredible, euphoric sense of relief and joy. It’s like heaven on earth. Nothing can compare to the sensation of having lived through that ordeal and survived it. My baby will let out a first cry, the umbilical cord is cut (Edric gets to do this) and I get to hold my baby so he or she can latch on to the breast. They will naturally suck. It is so amazing.

Delivery of the placenta

  • It’s not quite over yet because the placenta has to be delivered. The whole thing has to come out to avoid a future infection. But the doctor will make sure this happens.
  • Contractions at this point are bearable and seemingly mild compared to what you’ve just gone through.

Personal experience…I start conversing with everyone in the room as I am being stitched up by my doctor because of the episiotomy. Edric usually pays attention to our baby and looks on as standard procedures are done. After Apgar scores are taken, baby is weighed, measured and cleaned up. The pediatrician will swaddle my baby. Edric usually holds our baby and first family photos are taken. I am so happy and relieved that it’s all over. All I want to do is rest and be near my baby.

 

Recovery and what to expect:

The Recovery Room

  • You will be wheeled into a recovery room.
  • Your baby will be in a small cot beside you.
  • Nurses will periodically check your vitals to make sure you are okay to go to your hospital room.
  • After about 2 hours (for those who go through natural birth and assuming everything is normal), you and your baby will be taken to your hospital room.

The Hospital Room

  • In the hospital room, your baby will room in with you (this is required in most reputable hospitals).
  • Every hour, a nurse will come in to check your vitals. This can get annoying so if you would really like them to leave you alone, you can request that they don’t disturb you for a particular stretch of time. But you can’t hold them off forever. They will have to make these checks to make sure you and your baby are okay.
  • Every 1.5 to 2 hours, you need to nurse your baby. Even if you feel like nothing is coming out, don’t lose heart. Sucking encourages the production of milk and your baby’s tummy is so tiny (like the size of a quail egg), so they won’t need much to feel full. Your baby will need the first batch of colostrum that comes from you so make sure you breastfeed right away. By the third or fourth day, your milk will come in.
  • If you give birth vaginally and without anaesthesia, the only thing that will feel sore is the episiotomy. You can ask for a laxative if you are afraid to use the toilet to poop. You can also ask for painkillers if you are uncomfortable.
  • Since your uterus will continue to contract, you will still feel some pain with each contraction. But,the hardest part of your job is done!
  • After two or three days (depending on your condition), you can check-out.
  • Be sure to have a baby name prepared and your documents on hand (marriage contract) for your child’s birth certificate. it’s easiest to get this all done in the hospital.

Personal experience…Edric takes care of all the room arrangements while I am resting in the recovery room. He takes our bags up and sets everything up, then picks me up when I am given the go-signal to proceed to our room. Baby and I get wheeled up together. Once we are alone, we enjoy the first few moments with our newborn. It’s a time to thank and praise God for our child and the experience of getting him or her into the world. On the second day, Edric will bring our other kids over so we can celebrate with them. We usually ask a relative to stay with them so they don’t feel too lonely. Thankfully, our hospital is just five minutes away from our home so we don’t feel like we are too far away from one another.

I hang around in a robe so it is easy for me to breastfeed. Okay, and my big secret which I am now announcing is that I wear a pull up adult diaper instead of a maternity pad. I experimented with this during my last pregnancy and it was awesome. Edric didn’t find it attractive at all of course but for the first few days I felt like it was the best way to deal with the normal bleeding that occurs after.

Also, I take a shower as soon as I can. I know some cultures are particular about not doing so and to each his own, but it is one of the things I really look forward to after giving birth. There really may be some benefit to doing the month long no shower thing but I have not ever done it and by God’s grace, I’ve recovered just fine. It would be interesting to see research on how beneficial it really is when you don’t take a shower for a month.

Going home and what to expect:

  • Your husband can settle all the bills so you can check out. But the doctor needs to give the go signal for you to do so first. She will make sure that you and your baby are fit to go home.
  • Once you have checked-out, the hospital will usually bring you and your baby out to your car in a wheel chair. I don’t know why. It’s not really necessary but it’s kind of fun to ride in a wheel chair.
  • You will still look like you are four months pregnant so don’t be discouraged. Just bring something to wear that is lose around the tummy. The uterus does shrink back down to its original size. But it will take some time, a couple of weeks.
  • Of course, you will feel significantly lighter. You will probably have lost between 12 to 15 pounds. The rest of your weight will come off as you keep breastfeeding and easing into an exercise routine.
  • Give yourself at least 2 months to recuperate. I did P90x at 2 months and my body wasn’t ready for strenuous exercise like that. I got injured. So this time I intend to do moderate exercise before anything too extreme. I’m also older so who am I kidding?!
  • You won’t be able to have sex for atleast a month and a half (if your birth has been normal). So you may have to be creative if you don’t want your husband to die.

Once you are home, enjoy every stage that your baby goes through. The first few months are difficult in terms of sleep but they will pass. You will look back on all of this and be amazed at how the Lord provided you with the grace to give birth, breastfeed, and instinctively develop the natural, God-given abilities and gifts that a mother has to love and care for her child.

If motherhood were so difficult, I wouldn’t be having a fifth child. Personal experience…motherhood is my gift to my children, but it is God’s gift to me — a privilege I treasure with all my heart!

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No, You Cannot Feed the Lions

Some weeks ago we hand-fed giraffes in the Singapore Zoo, which was especially fun for Tiana who loves animals. When we got to the lions, she asked, “Can I feed the lions?” She was innocently insistent on it so I had to respond, “If you feed the lions they might eat you!” It probably wasn’t the most prudent thing to say to a little child who could potentially develop an inordinate fear of big cats. However, at the time, I just needed her to understand that it wasn’t a good idea. Lions were not the cute kitty-kitties she perceived them to be.

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Today, as I remembered that dialogue, I thought about how we can be as clueless when we ask things of God. Without realizing it, we make petitions and requests and want a yes, but God, in his infinite wisdom and perfect love, says wait or no. And unless we trust him and believe in his character we can mistakenly think that he does not want what is best for us.

For example, after Edric and I had Elijah we wanted to have another child. Thinking it would be easy to do so, we kept trying but to no avail. It was disappointing to get my period month after month. Having to wait on God’s timing was a struggle. But when we finally did conceive it ended up being just the right time. We had a three year gap between both boys which turned out to be a blessing. Elijah was old enough to be a helpful and accommodating older brother. We were also able to afford the move into a bigger apartment.

Another example was my bout with bad skin. One of the consequences I experienced after struggling with impurity in my relationship with Edric (in college), was acne. For the first time in my life, I had breakouts that were horrible. And it was very humbling for me because I could not fix my skin. I went to a dermatologist but God did not allow my skin to be healed right away. This happened when Edric and I were broken up. I felt really ugly and I prayed so hard for my skin problem to go away. But God said, no. In fact, I was left with some scars afterwards.

Was it wrong to ask to be healed? No. Yet, God was teaching me to be humble. He wanted me to remember that his forgiveness is always available but there are consequences to my choices. I still have these scars and I don’t have perfect skin. I wish I did. Edric does and so do my kids! As for me, I get occasional breakouts in my 30’s! I don’t have acne anymore but whenever I see my scars I recall what God said to me, “This will be a reminder to you that you are never to use your physical body as an instrument for unrighteousness.”

God is always more concerned about our character than our comfort. He is molding us into Christ-likeness and needs to empty us of ourselves so we can be spiritually fit for his purposes.

The Bible tells us…Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:20-22 NASB)

During worship this morning, the pastor, Ricky Sarthou, invited his wife, Aggie, to share her testimony. At the beginning, she talked about how God did not answer her request to take away her cancer. But she made the choice to surrender her life, dreams, and desires to him. When she decided to rejoice and find hope in Christ through her battle with cancer, God healed her for his glory. Even the doctors could not explain how she could have survived. It was a miracle for her to be delivered from stage 4 cancer of the breast that had metastasized to the bones. She has been cancer-free for the last 10 years! And the best part of all, she has used her cancer as a platform to effectively minister to others.

God always answers our prayers. Whether it is a yes, wait or no, he always has a better plan — for his glory amounting to our greater good.

Pastor Ricky said, “We pray to surrender.” I cannot agree more. The key to effective prayer is to say, “Lord, not my will, but yours be done. You know the desires of my heart, but you know best, so I trust you with my life.”

Post notes on the skin thing…

When I got back together with Edric after our breakup period, I was so self-conscious about my skin. This was a season when he was doing a lot of commercial modeling, too, and he was around all kinds of attractive people. But, he did not date anyone during our break-up and he also saw past my skin. He admits that he was surprised when he saw me, but when I asked him what he thought about it later on, he explained, “I loved you for who you were. The longing to be with you was greater than the physical.” Shortly after this he proposed to me and we got married, too. Yeah!

Even though God did not answer my prayer about my skin clearing up right away, I believe God used it for good in my life. First, he taught me not to depend on outward appearances but to work on my character. Second, he wanted me to really internalize the reality that there are consequences to sin. And third, he allowed me to see that Edric truly loved me for the person he saw inside which was incredibly reassuring.

God continues to teach me to look at his heart and his greater purposes when I don’t understand why he allows circumstances or why he says no when I want a yes. And being a mom and having to say no or not now to my own children when their wants are not for their ultimate good (like Tiana and her feeding-the-lion-request) has helped me to recognize that God’s perspective is always higher and more complete than mine could ever be…and I need to rest in the truth of that.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 NASB)

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Mystery of History Volume 1 (Quarter 2)

Here is the next set of resources to help you as you teach through Mystery of History Volume 1 (Quarter 2). Hope these links make your homeschooling a little easier!

QUARTER 2

Lesson 28: Samson (1117 b.c.)

The Strongest Man

Lesson 29: Zhou Dynasty (Chou) (c. 1046–c. 256 b.c.)

The Zhou Dynasty for Kids

Stories of Ancient China

Lesson 30: Samuel (1095 b.c.)

Using Oil to Paint a Crown Craft

Lesson 31: King Saul (1095b.c.)

Lesson 32: DAVID (1055b.c.)*

Homemade Slingshot
Saul Chasing David

 

Skit – David the Giant Killer

Lesson 33: Solomon (1015 b.c.)

Lesson 34: The Phoenicians (c.1000b.c.)

The Phoenician World

Download a Phoenician Font

About the Phoenician Alphabet (for older kids)

Getting to Know the Phoenician Alphabet

Lesson 35: THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL DIVIDES (975b.c.)*

The Divided Kingdom

Review the 12 Tribes

Lesson 36: Elijah,the Fiery Prophet (896b.c.)

Printable Booklet

Bible Trivia Quiz – Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

Activity Sheets

Chariot Craft

Elijah’s Altar

Lesson 37: Elisha (Israel’sProphet) (895b.c.)

Naaman the Leper Craft

Slideshow on Naaman and Elisha

Lesson 38: Joel and Obadiah (Exact Date Unknown, 587b.c.)

Lesson 39: Homer (c.800b.c.)

The Voyage of Odysseus Story

Lesson 40:India and Hinduism (Date Unknown)

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Information on Hinduism

Lesson 41: The Olympic Games (776 b.c.)

Lesson 42: Jonah and Amos (c.760b.c.,808b.c.)

Jonah Craft

Origami Whale

Lesson 43: The City of Rome (748b.c.)

City of Rome

More Information on Ancient Rome

Lesson 44: Isaiah and Micah(Judah’s Prophets) (740b.c.,735b.c.)

Prophets to Israel and Judah

Guide to the Prophets

Make a Clay Pot

Lesson 45: Israel Falls to Assyria (721b.c.)

Destruction of Israel Timeline

More on the Assyrians (for older kids)

Lesson 46: Hosea (Israel’sProphet) (c.721b.c.)

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Lesson 47: Hezekiah and Sennacherib (710b.c.)

Angel card craft (Include passage of 2 Kings 19:32-35 in card)

Lesson 48: Ancient Native Americans (c.700b.c.)

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Lesson 49: The Rise of Athens and Sparta (c.700–500b.c.)

What’s in A Pot?

Education in Ancient Greece

Differences Between Athenians and Spartans

Lesson 50: Manasseh (677b.c.)

List of Kings (Israel and Judah)

Lesson 51: The Powers of Mesopotamia (668–626b.c.)

Video on Ancient Mesopotamia

Timeline of Ancient Mesopotamia

Assyrians and Chaldeans

Lesson 52: King Josiah (630b.c.) 

Print out scroll below and write out the first part of the 10 commandments on it: Exodus 20:1-4

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Lesson 53: Nahum and Zephaniah (c.630b.c.,629b.c.)

The Minor Prophets of the OT

Lesson 54: Jeremiah(Judah’sProphet) (629b.c.)

The Major Prophets Printable