At 11 months

Catalina is nearly 1 year old. Has it passed that quickly? It’s been 11 months of loving my baby through sleepless nights and soiled diapers.

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At the same time last year I was stressing out about the realities of giving birth to a fifth child. I got through that and then came the challenge of her first month. Confined twice, once for an unknown bacterial infection and then for pneumonia a month later. But now look at her. I am amazed at how God makes all things beautiful in his time. For all the heartaches and pains he allows in our lives, there is a season of rejoicing that follows when we hope in him.

It was this hope that kept me afloat when I was lost in the darkness of uncertainty, when I was a mother gripped by anguish at the sight of her sickly child. Had it not been for hope’s warm light illuminating the tunnel of my consciousness, I would have given in to the blackening despair.

I was the saddest I had ever been, looking listlessly at white walls, past the point of tears. Edric feared that I was disappearing, emotionally speaking. But my Savior, my harbinger of hope, in a hospital room where I thought myself alone in sorrow, broke through my night with the affirmation of his presence.

It happened in an instant, while I watched my baby wearing her tubes and monitors lying quietly in her plastic crib. I said in my heart, “Surely now you are here with me as you have promised that you would always be. I believe it and I claim it.” And then I knew he was. There was no apparition. But I was convinced that he was watching it all unfold, his eyes upon me through the tempest. They were upon my sleeping child. We were the fixed mark of his love.

Then a peace and a calm that only he could bring entered into the arena with me. I had a fighting chance against the oppressive grief. In time, those dark days ebbed away. On the hope of his presence, I survived. As the weeks became months, the joy returned. His joy.

Sometimes on the path to joy, we must pass through the pain, the loneliness, and the darkness. It is during those shadowed moments when humanity’s weighted sorrows feel larger than us that we tend to reach for God. And finding Him we find the answer to our questions, the calm to our fears, the balm to our wounds, the satisfaction to our longings, the hope to our despair, the heaven to our hell.

I do not know the rest of my child’s story. But I am enjoying where it’s at right now. This page of her history declares that God is good and faithful. His doings are often mysterious to my finite mind but they are directed towards the same end — that I should know him, obey him, love him, and serve him, and lead others to do the same.

For all its turns, valleys and precipices, its narrow ways and indiscernible paths, I would not trade this life for any other as long as God is with me. He is the Lover of my soul, my all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present Savior, Redeemer and Friend. To know him is to know joy, and in him is a life of joy!

O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts
… (‭Psalms‬ ‭95‬:‭1-8‬ NASB)

Consider Wearing and Using “Belly Armor”

I wish I had known about Belly Armor by RadiaShield while I was pregnant, especially since I was on electronic devices quite often, using my IPad and IPhone to write entries. Thankfully Catalina can still use the Belly Armor blanket and I can cover myself when “working” on my gadgets too. But it’s most beneficial for pregnant women who don’t need to give their babies unnecessary radiation exposure. The biggest plus is having peace of mind that you did your best to protect your unborn child from radiation. Why do I find out about cool stuff like this after the fact?!

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RadiaShield carries light-weight and luxe blankets for mommies and babies:

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Tees:

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Belly bands:

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For more information check out: Belly Armor Learn about the hazards of exposing your family to radiation from electronic devices and how you can protect those who are most susceptible — babies and children.

Here’s my little Catalina playing around in her Belly Armor blanket. Thanks Jem Perez for this very thoughtful gift! Love it!

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Homemaking is Not Boring

As a homemaker, I never seem to be bored. Well, I do have five kids so that keeps me busy. But I am talking about not running out of fun things to do and learn, too. There is always a new way to cook chicken, a craft project to beautify the home, a skill to add to your repertoire of handy-manny-fixer-upper abilities, a book to read or internet site to visit to get tips on parenting, and for me, there is homeschooling and writing.

I think it helps to have friends and family who enjoy being home-based mothers, too. We feel very fulfilled and happy at home, and we enjoy exchanging stories and parenting adventures. And most of the homemakers I know have some sort of extraordinary ability or talent or even a hobby that they are able to delve into even while they take care of their homes and their children.

My sister-in-law, Jennifer, is one of those women. She recently moved to the Philippines to live. Prior to this she was based in New York. She is an incredible jewelry designer and is into all kinds of crafts. Today, she invited my friend, Marilen, and I over to make hair bows for our daughters. We had such a great time!

Jennifer has collected so much ribbon over the years, I wanted to spend all day making bows. After about an hour and a half, I made three designs. The idea was to bring clothes of our daughters’ to match the bows to.

Jennifer originally does beading classes or parties for adults or kids. Her jewelry line is called Bead Blessed. But she is open to doing bow making classes or parties, too. For p500 to p750 per person/materials included, I think it’s such a great deal. You can come up with unique pieces, and of course it is fellowshipping with other women that makes it so memorable.

Jennifer’s Samples (Bows that she has made for her daughter, Teegan):

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Clothes to match to bows:

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The tools:

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Our healthy snack:

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Our designs:

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Contact Jennifer at (0917) 302 3319
See her bead work as featured in Bride and Breakfast: http://brideandbreakfast.ph/2014/01/16/wed-colorfully-kate-spade-editorial/

Sweet In The Arms Of…

Catalina reached out to me for the first time today. She is five months, going on six. It was a wonderful feeling to be wanted. Her little arms stretched out and she motioned toward me. Moments like these are sweet rewards for being a mom.

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While I was holding her, I thought of the parallels between what it is like to be a mother and the heart of God as our Heavenly Father. When my baby girl extended her arms, lunging forward towards me because she wanted to be held, I didn’t say, “Oh well that’s so cute, keep doing it and maybe I will pick you up.” Of course not! Immediately, I dropped everything to take her in my arms and hug her, whispering tender things in her ear. I was thrilled to pick her up.

If I am like that as a mom, flawed as I am as a human being, then what more the delight of a perfect God when we reach out to him, call out to him and turn to him with all sincerity? If he put in me a desire to be good to my children, then how much greater must his goodness be?

He eagerly waits for us to recognize that he loves us, just like I wait for the point in time when all my kids know that I love them and they can reciprocate. One of my highlights as a mom is hearing my children say, “I love you, mom” for the first time, without being prodded or coerced to.

In the meantime, I do all I can to communicate to them that they are special to me, hoping that one day they will want to have a relationship with me. Similarly, God has done everything to make it possible for us to have a relationship with him.

The Bible tells us “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love –not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

Our actions and circumstances do not change who God is. He remains a loving Father even if we reject this truth about him.

So we have to ask ourselves, what keeps us from reaching out to him in faith, with outstretched arms, so that he can be the father he wants to be to us? Is it the disappointments and pains of a fallen world? Is it our refusal to give up sin and follow his design for our lives? Is it our own misconceptions about who he is and our lack of intimacy with him? Is it our busy-ness and the constant striving after personal ambition? Is it the pride of personal success?

If we really knew how deeply, magnanimously, and unconditionally loved we are by the God of the universe, we would all throw our arms up into the air with abandon and say, “Lord, take me. Take all me! I want to be your child.”

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12 NASB)

Catalina dosed off to sleep in my arms while I held her. (When she is with me, she has everything she needs — company, affection, protection, milk! At least for now…) She looked so peaceful and content. In a small, earth-bound sort of way, this is what it is like to rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father. There is no sweeter experience than to be held by him. But unlike me to Catalina, he is the source of everything we need and will ever need, forever and ever!

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Mommy Matters Makes Magic Mom-wear

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When Mommy Matters asked me to be a brand ambassador for their breastfeeding clothes, I was like, yay, what a privilege! But at the same time, I was like, ack! I just gave birth! I am not feeling too hot about my body right now. Muffin top is not exactly confidence-building. But then I tried on the clothes that Janice and Candice sent me and I was like, hey! These are so comfy and they hide everything you don’t want people to see!

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Mommy Matters clothing is so cleverly designed with strategically placed holes and cuts so you can breastfeed anywhere, anytime. It’s like magic mom-wear. Now you see me, now you don’t.

For those of us moms who know what it is like to have a screaming baby that needs to be fed RIGHT NOW, you absolutely need to be able to give them easy and quick access to your breasts.

My daughter, Catalina, will throw a fit if she isn’t able to get her milk-fix when she wants it. In fact, if I take too long she will continue to cry even after she is able to breastfeed just because she wants to express how upset she is that her “food” didn’t arrive on time!

So it makes sense to wear clothing that understands the needs of a breastfeeding mother. And this is where I give credit to Mommy Matters for being so thoughtful about their designs. Babies will also feel cozy next to the soft fabric (they mostly use knits) when they are being cuddled.

The shoot ended up being a lot of fun, thanks to awesomely petite and talented photographer, Sheila Juan Catilo.

I am so happy Mommy Matters let me pick out several items to keep, too. Here is one I wore the other day…super comfy!

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Maneuverings of God

A friend recently asked if I had any extra breastmilk to spare. It’s very interesting how God works. If Catalina had not gotten sick, I never would have pumped like I have. Although I only pumped once or twice a day (at most), I did have some bags of milk to give her. Our babies aren’t too far apart in age, too.

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With my previous babies, I hardly pumped. I would pump the day I needed to be out — to go shopping, attend a meeting, or go on a date. I didn’t have anything stored in the freezer. Never used storage bags and never even used an electric pump. Pumping seemed like such a hassle to me. Simple was always the way I wanted to go through motherhood. So I just breastfed direct. There was no need to purchase a sterilizer or a bottle warmer either. And I did fine with Philips’ manual pump.

However, my househelp lost the one part of the pump that is most difficult to replace. I had another one coming in from the US but not for several weeks. So when Catalina got pneumonia I had no choice but to buy a new pump. She was not feeding. If I did not pump my supply would decrease.

I was upset at first. I felt like crying because it was another thing to worry about on top of caring for Catalina. Of all the househelp that could have been responsible for the lost part it was the one lady who was forced to resign because she had anger issues. So there was no way of recovering it. Yet once again, this was part of God’s plan.

I went to Mothercare to buy a pump and picked up a single Medela pump that was practically the same price as Philips’ manual one. If this was my first child, I might have considered buying a dual pump. Since Catalina is probably my last, I didn’t want to pay for a dual.

The Medela pump worked very well. It was noisy but that didn’t bother me since I pumped at home. Edric would sometimes say, “shhh” in the mornings but most of the time he was joking.

Because the electric pump was easier to use than my old manual one, I was more motivated to pump. Even though I did not have hundreds of bags of milk (like some of my friends do when they are breastfeeding), I was pretty happy to see the freezer filling up with my milk.

And then my friend asked me if I had any spare and that’s when I realized that God’s hand had orchestrated a series of events for her sake. He got me to start pumping milk when I normally do not and he allowed the part of my manual pump to be lost so I would replace it with a more efficient one.

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I just think its amazing how God works to meet the needs of his children. My friend is going to require more milk for her baby and I don’t know if I can pump enough, but I’m sure God will provide someway somehow, if not through me then another mom.

What we may sometimes perceive as inconveniences to us and detours in our own plans (like Catalina’s hospitalization or losing the vacuum seal on my manual pump), these are part of his bigger plan. If we could step outside our microscopic viewpoint — the one that tends to fixate on problems — we would realize that these are divine maneuverings by an all-knowing God. His intention is to make us more useful for good work, so we can become channels of blessing and love.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 NASB)

Baby Shower for Baby Sisters

I am not an event planner but I really enjoy opening up my home to people. My mom was the same way so I must have learned this from her. Since our house isn’t done yet, I asked my mom if we could have a baby shower for my sister, Carolyn, and sister-in-law, Jenny, in her place. They are both due in December. She suggested we have one for Astrid, too. Astrid is a long time family friend who is a pastor’s kid like me and she is due even sooner than my sisters. My mom’s idea was to invite the pastor’s wives to share with all the preggy moms words of wisdom.

So it was a team effort to put together this baby shower. My mom and I worked very well with one another. We usually do. We have similar tastes and she never gets stressed when it comes to hosting parties and events which is great because I can get frazzled when things go awry. She, on the other hand, just floats around in her happiness and finds creative solutions when something goes wrong.

I took care of the decor and food preparation and she invited the guests and asked them to share their insights on motherhood.

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I thank God that I live in the Philippines because I could hand off Catalina to her yaya when I had to decorate and cook. Here is the pink and blue theme for a baby girl and two baby boys…

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Menu:
- Mixed Green Salad with Mangoes,
Apples and caramelized walnuts.
- Deviled eggs
- Pumpkin Soup
- Pasta Carbonara
- Grilled Rosemary Ranch Chicken on skewers
- Homemade Fruit Tea
- Cupcakes

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The Thoughtful Things Children Do

A few days ago I mentioned to Edan that I would appreciate it if he did not knock on the door when it was closed. He had knocked incessantly and it woke Catalina up. Lately, all my kids have been doing the same thing when they want to ask me a question and the door is locked. I explained to Edan that the door is locked so I can feed Catalina, put her to sleep or rest.

Edan understood and asked “Do you want me to make you some signs?” He wanted to be helpful.

“Sure! That’s a good idea!” I said.

I didn’t think he would remember but earlier today he very thoughtfully made me three signs. He slipped them under the door while I was preoccupied with Catalina.

Allow me to interpret them…

The first one: Mom is putting Catalina to sleep

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The second one: Mom is sleeping with Catalina

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The third one (my favorite): Mommy is feeding Catalina

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Children are such a joy!

RKs

Each time Edric and I have a child, it’s like starting a family all over again. The joy is unparalleled but so is the stress that comes with caring for a baby. It certainly affects the dynamic of our marriage but we put in the effort necessary to preserve our identity as a couple.

The baby-at-the-center-stage lasted only a few weeks with our previous births. After we got a routine going, Edric and I were able to go out on dates and revisit couple-hood.

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With Catalina, it was different from the very beginning. Edric became second priority in my hierarchy of human relationships and I wasn’t as eager to make him first. He was a good sport about it for the first two weeks but after that, he began to say, “I miss you, hon.” I would hear this almost everyday. He said it with a measure of sadness and heartfelt longing.

I would look up from my catatonic breastfeeding position and reciprocate with, “I miss you, too.” I meant it but I expected Edric to understand that Catalina’s needs were more important than his, especially since she had been a hospitalized baby.

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Before giving birth, Edric and I were enjoying a 12-year honeymoon. I felt like I was more in love with him than ever before and he felt the same way. Romance was in full bloom. We were eager to be with one another, always finding excuses to spend time together.

Catalina’s hospitalization changed me. The euphoria I felt when she first arrived was replaced by a gloom that was uncharacteristic of me to have. I had experienced fatigue from lack of sleep in the past. This part wasn’t new…the whole zombified feeling. But I withdrew from everyone – Edric, the kids, family, and friends.

My world became very small – just Catalina and I. I didn’t want to be visited at the hospital or at home, I ignored calls and messages on my phone and emails. I felt overwhelmed by the presence of my four other kids whenever they were around. I also found myself crying at random moments, and I had little inspiration to write.

Edric tried everything to cheer me up and help me recover the spunkiness he missed. There was nothing that he lacked as a husband. He was always there for me. In fact, he was 10 for 10 in terms of being sweet and loving. He abandoned work for many days so he could be by my side. Yet even if I appreciated his company, I felt alone in my struggle to be the mom Catalina needed me to be.

As the weeks went by, I found myself less and less able to share what was going on inside to Edric (partly due to my inability to articulate the state I was in or even recognize what was happening). Inevitably, both of us retreated to our preoccupations. Edric delved back into work and his TV hosting. I dedicated each and everyday to Catalina’s well-being. I entertained myself with online surfing and useless amazon shopping…putting items in my cart and taking them out, sometimes buying them, sometimes making endless wishlists.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that Edric finally sat me down so we could talk more seriously about our relationship and what was happening to it. He invited me to share my feelings and he helped me to process them. He was also honest about his own perspective as a husband. In his usual manner of problem-solving (which I really appreciate), he proposed solutions that would help us reconnect as a couple.

He said we needed to get rid of “Relationship Killers” or “RKs” for short. First, our gadgets. Being on a mobile device was very often my default activity while feeding Catalina…even when Edric was around. I hardly gave him attention. So he would do the equivalent and preoccupy himself with his own phone since I seemed busy and disinterested in talking to him.

The second RK was lack of communication. We stopped telling each other what was going on in our lives.

Edric and I normally communicate on many different levels. There is nothing that we can’t talk about. Whether it be our silliest, most idiotic thoughts, vulnerable feelings, frustrations, embarrassing confessions, mundane happenings, news and views, or deep spiritual insights, we discuss it all.

But lately, I felt like I didn’t have much to share that was exciting or interesting. Everything I did resembled the Groundhog Day movie experience – exactly the same predictable, round the clock breastfeeding and baby care. My mistake was I failed to disclose my emotions. I became introverted and silent, choosing to shut Edric out because I felt like he couldn’t relate to what it was like to be a mom to Catalina.

As for Edric, he realized he needed to keep me updated. I hardly knew what he did everyday and when I would ask him, it was a boring and tiring question for him to answer. So he committed to be more open to let me in on his daily realities. In the past, we were together so often, I knew about all the details, people, and events that filled up his calendar. Since I had become so home-bound, he now had to make the effort to tell me stories. Not a typical man thing to do but he decided he would try harder.

The third RK was the lack of physical intimacy. This went beyond sex, which wasn’t the issue. It was the spontaneous gestures of affection like holding hands, rubbing each other’s backs, hugging, and kissing. Edric missed this. I, on the other hand, had a little baby to cuddle with all the time. My need for physical touch was completely satisfied. Edric’s was depleted.

Of all the solutions we talked about, there was one thing which really got to me. It was the point when Edric looked at me very intently and made an appeal that I had never heard before. He said, “Don’t disappear on me, hon.”

Don’t disappear on me…That’s exactly what was happening and Edric knew it. He could sense that I was pulling away emotionally, retreating to a world of my own, also known as babyland – the world where women go to with all good intention when they become mothers. I was lingering too long and using the excuse that Catalina needed me, only me, to be her everything.

Well, it turned out that a yaya could be there for the other parts like holding Catalina and watching her in between breastfeeding and my own bonding moments with her. It was my pediatrician who first suggested that I get someone who could fill in the gaps for me so I my life didn’t have to revolve around Catalina. For the first month, it made sense for me to be so hands on. But afterwards, when Cataina was introduced to breastmilk in a bottle, I didn’t have to be with her all the time. I had four other kids who needed me and a husband who wanted his bestfriend, conversation-companion, exercise buddy, and lover back.

At first, Edric had not factored a yaya into our budget. But after he saw that he was losing me to motherhood duties he said, “Let’s get one. I will make a way! I will do whatever it takes!” Yay! I love that about my husband. He is committed to keeping us together physically, emotionally, spiritually.

But I need to be committed, too. I have to watch out for the RK’s that I am responsible for.

I’m happy to say that the relationship meter is now on the high side. Going through the adjustment of having another baby has made us closer once again. Thanks to my husband, who made sure this happened, and to the Lord, who brought us back to the right priorities, our connectedness is back.

By God’s grace, Catalina is doing just fine, too. She is developing a routine and likes her yaya. In fact, I enjoy Catalina even more because we have quality time together. I don’t feel like a hostage anymore! When I need a break, I call her yaya, and she takes over so I can homeschool, exercise, hang out with Edric, leave for errands and meetings, or write. Motherhood is more fun in the Philippines!

Edric and I also have a new term that we are starting to use. “Relationship builder” or “RB.” When we do something sweet for one another, we say, “Oh that was an RB!” We’ve sorted out the RK’s so we can focus on the RB’s. Making time to listen to one another, that’s an RB. Going for a walk together in the late afternoons or evenings when we can, that’s another RB. Serving food on to Edric’s plate and arranging it so it looks appetizing, his version of RB. Speaking to me in a positive tone, my version of RB. Affection and physical intimacy, RB! Escaping for a quick movie night, a fun RB. Complimenting and appreciating one another, RB highlighted in bold letters.

There are so many other ways to build our relationship while we work through the new baby stage. We need to remember that it is important to do so. After all the first family – the nucleus – is our marriage. For the rest of our family to be healthy, the marriage has to be a priority for Edric and I. We both have to be committed to guarding, nurturing, and rescuing it when necessary.

From sad hubby to happy hubby…

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An Appetite for Truth

The Kids Recite Psalm 1
The link above shows our kids reciting Psalm 1 during a parenting seminar Edric gave recently. He asked them to do it impromptu so it’s a rough performance but I thought they were so cute, especially Tiana who was copying her brothers.

Edric is really great at getting our kids to memorize bible verses. It’s part of our weekly family tradition. After I gave birth he decided they would memorize an entire chapter. He thought Psalm 1 would be a good one.

I love this Psalm. I memorized it as a child. It speaks of the blessings of following God, using a tree as a beautiful image to depict the fruitfulness of the righteous.

Edric and I have noticed that our kids tend to be better at memorizing scripture when we keep their minds “clutter-free.” We protect them from too much TV or media influence so they can fill their minds with content that favors spiritual health.

It’s interesting how memorizing scripture keeps a person mentally sharp as well. This worked wonders for my sister, Candy, when she was at dental school in San Francisco. She called my mom one day telling her that she was having such a hard time retaining all the information she had to remember for her classes. My mom encouraged her to memorize bible verses and this helped her with studying. It improved her memory. She did really well in dental school. In fact, she was Valedictorian (but this is another story).

There may be some sort of science to explain this but I also believe that God blesses those who treasure his word. I think about the story of Joshua as he was charged by God to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. God gave him the secret of success –

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8 NASB)

What kind of content is going into the minds and hearts of our children? Is it preparing them for future success?

I pray our children will have an appetite for spiritual truth and fall in love with God’s word, committing it to memory and letting it direct their consciences and decisions. But we have to do our part as parents and start cultivating this desire while they are young.

I praise God for a husband who knows that our own children will become casualties of anti-God philosophies and worldly values if they don’t commit scripture to memory. They may not have memorized a ton of bible verses yet but little by little, we are building upon their knowledge. Our hope is that this will give them a storehouse of truth to refer to as they grow and mature.

Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. (Psalms 119:11 NASB)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. (Psalms 119:9 NASB)

New Fashion at Home

From laid-back mom, I have now become more-cautious mom. Check out the face mask!

Our pediatrician, Dr. Joy, calls it reverse isolation. A baby can’t wear a mask so everyone else has to (especially little children who carry really powerful and contagious germs!) Well, we are doing this until she is in the clear and no one else has a cough or cold in the house.

Just two more days of antibiotics! Coughing has gone down significantly. We get an update from Dr. Joy tomorrow.

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Back in the Hospital

My daughter, Tiana, curiously asked me one morning, “Where is God? How come I can’t see him?” This was a follow up question to a discussion we were having about Jesus’ death and resurrection. She had watched a clip of The Passion that showed Christ on the cross. Concerned and troubled, she wondered if Jesus was still there and dead. I explained to her that he came back to life and didn’t stay dead because he is God. But she wanted evidence…physical evidence.

It is not easy to convince a 3 year old that God is present even if we cannot see him. Her grasp of what is real is the tangible world she sees, feels and hears. So a description of the spiritual world left her perplexed and baffled.

“But WHERE is he?”

She couldn’t grasp the concept. I had to look up another clip of the movie that showed the resurrection part so she could be appeased. I found something on YouTube and that seemed to pacify her for a bit, but whew, what a discussion.

Interestingly, I had the same discussion with the Lord last night as I looked over at my baby, Catalina. She was lying in a plastic crib with a tube in her nose for oxygen, a second tube in her hand for IV and antibiotics, and a third chord attached to an oxygen, pulse and breathing monitor. Her breathing was slightly labored but she was sleeping. It must have been close to 3 am.
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Admitted yesterday morning for pneumonia, Catalina is back in the hospital again. We brought her in to the ER of Cardinal Santos as advised by our pediatrician after I communicated to her that Catalina was lethargic, not eating, and her cough had worsened. It sounded tight and deeply obstructed.
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I’ve gone through some major crises in my life but none has ever compared to the pain of seeing my children suffer. If I knew what it was like to get my heart torn out of my chest, well, that would be it. Apart from the loss of a loved one, I cannot imagine a greater hurt in this world than seeing the afflictions of my children and feeling helpless to save them.
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The hope I had for Catalina’s recovery grew dim as she struggled through Monday night to find comfort. I could provide no remedy. I had suggested to Edric that he sleep in the kids’ room because the AC was turned off in ours. (He had already dealt with so much interrupted sleep in the past month. Getting to sleep on the floor of the kids’ room was a luxury!)

Of course this meant that I was alone in our room. I cried and cried out to God that he would heal Catalina, pleading with a desperation I had not felt before. Edric came in to check on me and he saw me bawling. His words of assurance were sweet and tender but I was lost in my grief.

Is this what it was like to be Hannah in the Bible? She was consumed with the desire for a child and no one could comfort her for being denied one, not even her husband. And I felt the same kind of obsessive desire, wailing for help, asking to have my child back. I wanted her back to being demanding and needy if that’s what it would take to have her healthy again.

God gives an instinct to mothers that makes her keen at interpreting tell-tale signs of distress and peculiar behavior in her children.

I recognized that something was gravely wrong when Catalina became uncharacteristically quiet and disinterested in feeding. Having grown accustomed to her demands to be carried and nursed frequently, I knew her cough and cold took a turn for the worse.

When our pediatrician confirmed that we should bring her to the hospital the next day, I felt both anxious and relieved. I suppose I knew what was ailing her but I suspended my thoughts until Dr. Joy checked her. The prospect of getting a confirmation was almost comforting. I wanted to know what we could do to cure her.

Edric cleared his schedule so we could do this together. I always say that Edric is my knight in shining armor because he is consistently present when I need him most. He will take charge and do whatever he can, sacrificing his own time, comfort, and needs to be there for me or the kids.

On the way to the hospital, I asked him if Catalina’s lips appeared bluish but he said it was probably the lighting inside our van. I didn’t think so. I had looked at those lips for the last 36 days of her life and knew what color they ought to have been.

We got to Cardinal Santos pretty quickly, avoiding the traffic because we left after school started. Since our pediatrician, Dr. Joy, is a friend, she made sure we were well attended to as soon as we got to the ER. Her residents were on standby and she came almost immediately after we arrived. At her instruction, Catalina was given a tube for oxygen. She was not getting enough air into her lungs. If the normal reading is 95 above, she was only at 81%. The oxygen helped to bring back the pink in her lips and cheeks.

I observed Dr. Joy’s expressions as she placed the stethoscope on Catalina’s chest. She didn’t seem pleased with what she heard. She had this way of coupling objectivity with deep concern that softened the blow of her initial diagnosis. When she said there was phlegm in Catalina’s lungs and that it was most likely pneumonia, I broke down. She hugged me and said, “Don’t worry. I will be here. This is treatable.”

I knew what this would entail for Catalina. We had been through this when she was born…tubes, needle pricking, blood tests, antibiotics, living in the hospital. Edric and I did not like that part, but knowing that her pneumonia would be arrested and treated was good news. It was caught in the early stages, occupying just the inner lungs.

Where is God when these things happen? When crisis seems to negate the promise of his blessing upon those who follow and obey him, what is the impact? I seemed to have found myself asking the very question that my 3 year old Tiana was, “But where is he, how come we cannot see him?”

In faith I believed that God would heal Catalina while we were at home. I didn’t expect to be in the hospital again. Yet here we are. And I have been honest with God. I expressed that I was hurt and grieved that he allowed this. There was a dark moment when I felt unloved and unconsidered. But last night while I watched Catalina sleeping, I believed with all certainty that God was present. He had not abandoned us or forgotten his promises.

He made his presence felt in a number of ways:

- He caused my maternal instinct to kick in, to respond with a sense of urgency when I realized something was wrong. Had I waited too long, Catalina would have been deprived of oxygen.

- Dr. Joy’s commitment to care for our daughter was and has been of great assurance.

- We happen to be staying with my parents as we transition to finish our new house, so our four other children are not alone. They are with their grandparents and with their cousins.

- God has also embraced us and covered us with the prayers of family and friends, their well wishes, and kind words.

- When the doctors needed to find a vein for Catalina’s IV and it seemed impossible because many of her veins were unusable due to her previous confinement, Dr. Joy asked her friend, Dr. Apples (an anesthesiologist) to find one and she did…on her first try!

- Had she been sick soon after her stay in St. Lukes, giving her antibiotics would have been complicated because the bacteria might have developed a resistance.

- The stage of her pneumonia is early and treatable. Some people have big spots of the bacteria in their lungs, Catalina’s occupies just 1/3 of hers.

- So far, her first blood culture has showed nothing, and her CBC has no elevated white blood cells.

- Last night, she slept peacefully in intervals of about two hours which allowed me to rest, too.

- We are in a room right beside the nurses’ station so they respond quickly to our needs.

- Personally, I have been very blessed by Edric. He has repeatedly communicated to me that he will take care of me and be here for Catalina and I.

What an eventful first month of motherhood I have had! So much pain, joy, fatigue, faith, worry, frustration, hope, darkness, and deliverance personally packaged to help me grow in character. I do not know what else is in store for me, for Catalina, for our family. I sent a text message to Edric this morning because he has been out today for work:

“I miss you but it’s good to be alone to process all of this. I feel very broken — emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I know God is present through all this and this comforts me but it still hurts that he allowed this to happen. It’s like the weariness of being in a war where the victory is certain but the fighting is necessary.”

His response…”I love you babes. I will take care of you.” (Awww)

I read this passage in Psalms today and I know it was for me — to declare and praise God. Whatever is happening now doesn’t change what I know to be true about God’s character. He is good. And I will praise him whether smiling or in tears, whether joyful or afflicted.

But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; For I do not know the sum of them. I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? You who have shown me many troubles and distresses Will revive me again, And will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. (Psalms 71:14-17, 19, 20 NASB)20130918-154629.jpg20130918-154647.jpg20130918-154703.jpg20130918-154654.jpg20130918-154709.jpg20130918-154715.jpg

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