*FAITH, *MOTHERHOOD, Down Memory Lane, Marked on the Calendar, Mi Familia y Mi Amigos

My Birth Story, etc.

December 14, 2020. It was supposed to be just another ordinary “check-up” day. I was expected to give birth any day that month but based on my previous check-ups, my cervix wasn’t cooperating. I was stuck at 1cm for the past two weeks.

When my OB-GYN (shout-out to Dra. Ceres Nazareno of Manila Doctors Hospital — if you’re pregnant or in need of an OB-GYN, I highly recommend her!!!) told me to have two tests on that day (biophysical profile score and non-stress test), it turned out that my amniotic fluid was leaking. My entire pregnancy was healthy and smooth-sailing (except maybe for the first trimester nausea and vomiting! LOL!), so learning that my amniotic fluid wasn’t enough anymore at 39 weeks was a surprise. Since I’m already at full term, my OB-GYN decided to induce my labor. At 39 weeks, there’s no point for my baby boy (we found out at 35 weeks that he’s actually a BOY!!!) to further his stay at hotel utero when it wasn’t safe anymore. I was immediately admitted, and my plans on having brunch at a coffee shop after my supposed check-up was replaced by hospital food.

My Firstborn’s Birthday: December 15, 2020

I was admitted at Monday morning and gave birth at Tuesday evening. My husband wasn’t allowed inside the labor and delivery rooms (it’s the protocol of my hospital even before the pandemic), so I stayed in the labor room all by myself for almost 31 hours surrounded by unfamiliar faces of OB-GYN residents and nurses manning their shifts. In between those hours, I experienced the most painful physical pain in my life so far — from the contractions to the repetitive internal exams (IE) of my cervix. But no tears came from my eyes; just constant begging from the residents to stop what they’re doing to me (haha). To which they replied that I needed “pain” to deliver my baby. True enough, as my cervix dilated one centimeter at a time, the pain just got more intense. I think at 5cm, I was sedated and already given an epidural —- but I couldn’t really remember the exact details because I was already groggy from all the meds being given to me.

I’m thankful that my prayers were answered, though. Not exactly the way I imagined them to be, but as always, God’s plans are better. For the past nine months, my constant prayer (with constant intercession by Mama Mary) was to have a healthy and safe pregnancy and baby, and a pain-free/painless delivery as much as possible. I had more specific prayers in between those and in fairness, most of them were answered — including having some familiar faces when I give birth (three of the pediatricians who were allowed to be with me in the delivery room were friends: two are of my sister’s [shout-out to Doc Maan – also my baby’s pedia!; and Doc Faye – a neonatologist who “caught” my baby boy right after I delivered him and helped me with my breastfeeding journey]; the other is a friend from my Catholic prayer meeting, The Feast [shout-out to Doc David!]). Add to that the fact that in both the labor and delivery rooms, a crucifix was consistently in my line of sight (when I was still in pain due to the contractions, all I did was stare at the crucifix and be reminded of Jesus’ suffering, too). After the epidural, my prayer of an almost pain-free/painless delivery was granted, and it was like I was in a trance and every thing happened in a blur. While 10cm dilated and on the way to the delivery room, my OB-GYN even commented that I’m such a calm patient because I wasn’t complaining, and it looked like I didn’t feel any pain and was at peace. Upon arriving at the delivery room, it took me around five pushes before my baby finally came out. One of the OB-GYN residents said that I had a “good push” so thanks to all the squats and deadlifts I did prior to getting pregnant because pushing involved A LOT of strong leg muscles! So yeah, when I find myself in the gym *SOON*, those are the two non-negotiable exercises I’ll do again — plus planks! 😉

Anyway, I still didn’t cry when my baby was handed to me in the delivery room. Like I said, I was so groggy I was just going with the flow of events. We did have immediate skin-to-skin contact and he was able to breastfeed already (colostrum was already present in my breasts a few weeks even before I gave birth, thank God!). It was only in the regular room, though, when tears of joy started to flow from my eyes — the moment when I held my baby boy in my arms and it finally sunk in that I’m already a mother.

You know those stories you hear about love at first sight? I always wondered what that feels like. And on that day, I finally felt it. ❤

But wait, there’s more…

Postpartum: #TeamNoSleep, Breastfeeding,
and My Baby’s First Christmas… in the Hospital

Since I delivered via normal spontaneous delivery (NSD), I was able to go home with my baby two days after giving birth. To be honest, now that I’m in the fourth trimester (postpartum stage), I can say that giving birth is the easiest in this whole parenting thing! Wahahahaha!

First, I had postpartum complications such as gestational hypertension (first time in my life to have high blood pressure (BP)! I even had to be under the care of a cardiologist), anemia (I almost had blood transfusion), and bipedal edema (my legs and feet looked like they were about to pop!!!). My OB-GYN reassured me that I was still in the so-called “puerperium” — the first six weeks after delivery — so I shouldn’t worry much. Now that I’m past that, I’m happy to say that I finally recovered from those (although my cardiologist advised me to continue monitoring my BP at least once a week).

Next, I often heard that once the baby arrives, I have to bid goodbye to my sweet dreams and at least eight hours of sleep… well, I’m telling you that that’s an understatement. Haha! From the time I was in the labor room until I got home, I literally got about only three hours of shut-eye (not counting the hours when I was sedated). Add to that my breastfeeding struggles during the first few weeks as a first-time mom…

Three days after we were discharged, we went back to the hospital because my baby suddenly had poor activity and suddenly couldn’t latch properly, which made him dehydrated. We had to go to the pediatric emergency room and I felt like Mama Mary witnessing the Sorrowful Mysteries as I watched my little baby boy being poked and pricked with needles on both his tiny hands and feet (the doctors had a hard time inserting an I.V. because of his delicate veins) and as it’s hospital protocol, have a swab test — yes, a SWAB TEST on a newborn! Ouch!!! I kept crying the whole time those things were being done to him, though I’m proud to say that my brave and strong baby boy was able to recover quickly from his cries.

Since my husband and I didn’t have valid negative swab tests at that time, we had to leave our baby in the hospital for two days. He stayed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU while we waited for our negative swab test results (dang this pandemic, really!). Once we had the negative results, we were allowed to be with him and transferred to a regular room. As it turned out, our baby was diagnosed with sepsis and he had to undergo antibiotics — which meant staying for a whole week in the hospital.

To make the long story short, the doctors traced the time my water bag ruptured before I gave birth. It happened 12 hours before, making my baby susceptible to infection and no one’s to blame; it just really happens sometimes. We spent our baby’s first Christmas in the hospital, and the few people who knew about this were our families and selected close friends (thank you for your prayers!). 🙂

Having shared that, I can attest how brave and strong our baby boy is. So whenever he cries during vaccinations or whatnot, I always remind him that he’s been through worse (even a swab test at a very tender age!), so that somehow also made our little family of three stronger and tougher too.

Anyway, my takeaway from this is it’s really hard to be a parent especially during these trying times. It takes a village to raise a child, so I’m grateful for all the help and support me and my husband are receiving from our loved ones. Also, I’m praying for all the pregnant women and women like me in the postpartum stage during this pandemic — our children are “batch mates” and always believe that we. can. do. this!!! 😀

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.”
-John 16:21

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*FAITH, *MARRIAGE

Expecting

I’ve been M.I.A. on the blog for the past few months because as you read on the title, me and my husband are pregnant! And yes, we’re expecting a baby girl!!! ❤

It’s not exactly a “honeymoon baby.”  But when I took a home pregnancy test two months after our wedding, there they were: the most sought after “two lines” of married couples like us who already want to have a child. I was around 5 weeks then. The following week, I started to experience “morning sickness” (which actually lasted all day long!) until my 19th week!! To be honest, being on lockdown and working from home became a huge blessing in disguise for me because I couldn’t imagine going to the office during my first trimester until the early days of my second trimester. The nausea and vomiting, including some gastrointestinal issues, not to mention my allergic rhinitis that worsened during some of those weeks (I even had a swab test just to be sure! And thank God I was negative for COVID-19, and I claim in Jesus’ name that we’ll forever be negative from that virus!!), were really just excruciating and frustrating. The factors that kept me going were, of course, my faith (knowing that to suffer means to share in Jesus’ suffering, too), my husband’s unconditional love (he had to do everything in our humble abode since I had no energy whatsoever to do any chores! LOL), and the fact that they say “morning sickness” is a sign of a healthy pregnancy with surging hormones and all that.

On my 19th week (the last week of my nausea/vomiting), though, I started to feel my baby move in my tummy and that’s the silver lining of all that I’ve been through in the weeks before that! 😀 The rest of my second trimester is all about tests here and there, including the ultrasound that made us find out the gender. But overall, it’s my favorite so far even though I also started gaining weight already — no biggie since I know it’s what’s best for the baby and I’m trying to gain at a normal rate. I also try to still get some prenatal exercise, mostly low impact cardio which I can comfortably do at home. My favorite so far is “Body Fit by Amy” on YouTube — check out her channel, fellow preggy women! Haha! Just make sure you have your OB-GYN’s go signal, okay? 😉

Now that I’m about to enter my third trimester, of course, the best is yet to come! I’m due in December (yes, a “Christmas” baby!) and I’m really contemplating on requesting to play Jose Mari Chan‘s famous Christmas album while I’m in labor to somehow ease the impending pain! Wahahahaha! Seriously. I’m not joking. 😛 We’ll see, though, because as any woman who has given birth would tell you, no “birth plan” really goes according to, well, the exact plan! That’s why I’m already trying to set my mind to be open as long as me and my baby will be safe and healthy. That’s what matters most, anyway. 🙂

By the way, we decided to name her after the Archangel Raphael even before we found out the gender. These days, his intercession is often asked to help heal the world from this pandemic we’re going through. But to be honest, even before I met my husband, I already decided to name my first baby after St. Raphael because of the big role he played in my life when I was still single (my close ministry friends know this!). Thank God my husband agreed! Hehe!

our baby’s name is Raphaela Faith a.k.a. “Rafa”

And that’s my pregnancy journey so far. My husband and I still have a few months to go before we enter a new season in life: parenthood. We ask that you pray for us, our baby Rafa, and all my fellow pregnant women in the world during these trying times.

I, thank you!!!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

“Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a real blessing.”
-Psalm 127:3

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*FAITH, *MARRIAGE, Down Memory Lane, Gathered Thoughts, Marked on the Calendar

#MikaIshTheOne: Some Wedding Traditions Done with a Twist!

First off, my heart goes to all those in the middle of wedding preparations during these very trying times. Experiencing a pandemic in this lifetime is really hard. Planning a wedding is stressful enough — then add a pandemic to that equation? I don’t even want to think about it. For some, this may sound trivial, but married couples who went through the same ordeal AND engaged couples going through THIS ordeal would understand. My prayers are with you! May this strengthen your relationship with each other and with God. 🙂

Anyway, it has been almost a quarter since me and my husband got married. Nobody said marriage is easy, but I’m blessed to have a partner in life who makes it easier somehow. (Shout-out to my husband, Ish! I LOVE YOU!). I decided to create this post to also give engaged couples some ideas not just about their upcoming weddings, but also about the more important aspect of their entire preps: marriage.

Those Godless and Silly Myths

I’d like to mention that I don’t believe in superstitions (including feng shui, zodiac signs, etc.). Let me just put this out there. Sure, there was a time when I believed in those and I realized that instead of being progressive, superstitions just instilled fear — I believe it’s aim was to control a person using exactly that: FEAR! And where does “fear” come from? Definitely NOT from God (1 John 4:18). Besides, if you think of it, superstitions make no sense. Most people say that there’s nothing to lose (“wala namang mawawala” in Filipino) when they follow superstitions. But based from personal experience, it shows lack of TRUST — especially, TRUST IN GOD! Yes, I realized that when I believed and followed superstitions, I was subconsciously losing trust in God: trust in His provisions (Matthew 6:25-34), trust in His plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11), trust in His perfect love (John 3:16). And truth be told, losing trust in God is a BIG DEAL! That’s why I don’t subscribe to superstitions. As a practicing Catholic, I follow traditions approved only by the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

“Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness.” –1 Timothy 4:7

Our wedding day was one perfect example of how I wanted to glorify and honor God, and I did my best not to restrict myself from that — there are many superstitions connected to weddings, and they are actually limiting and restrictive! To be honest, aside from God, the most important ones for a wedding to take place are only the bride, the groom, the priest presider (for a Catholic wedding), and the two witnesses. Others are just extra. But since God has been really faithful in our lives, Ish and I made sure that the “celebration” of our union would be some sort of thanksgiving to Him and to the people who’ve been part of our individual lives and journey as a couple. From my bridal march song (“Thank You Jesus” by Hillsong Worship – instrumental version) to our wedding reception, we made sure that our guests knew how Jesus played a very big role in our relationship.

What else? Well, we added a twist to some of the known wedding traditions! 😀

Some Wedding Traditions Done with a Twist

  • Additional bearer for our Papal Blessing (instead of just the usual: Bible, Coin, and Ring bearers)

Usually, a wedding entourage has only three bearers for the Bible, arrhae/coins, and wedding rings. Since we had an intimate wedding with an equally intimate entourage (mostly family members), we decided to also include the Papal Blessing parchment we received from the Vatican. By donating to the Papal Charities Office, you can receive an official blessing from the Pope across the miles. More information can be found here.

  • Bible verse engraving in our wedding rings (instead of wedding date)

Aside from engraving our names inside our rings, we decided to also include a Bible verse — Romans 1:12.

“…or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” –Romans 1:12

Ish and I decided to make this our “marriage verse” — so that anytime, especially in difficult times, we can be reminded that we couldn’t do this whole marriage thing without Christ at the center of it.

  • Coins from travels in our arrhae (instead of the usual modern arrhae coins)

When I was searching for wedding suppliers, I came upon a store that was selling 13 arrhae coins with engraved symbols for almost Php2,000. I was like, NO! That was too expensive! So I researched the history of the arrhae and found out that originally, real coins were used for it — and since I love traveling and collected coins while at it, I decided to use my leftover coins. What’s important is the priest’s blessing, anyway.

According to Wikipedia (haha), “the thirteen coins today have the alternative meaning of Jesus and the twelve apostles. The exchange of the coins represents the groom’s promise to provide for his family and the bride’s trust in his ability to do so.”

At present, the arrhae with coins is located at our home altar (as well as our Papal Blessing).

  • Washing of the feet by the groom (instead of the garter toss)

Holy Week just passed; the tradition of washing one’s feet is traditionally done on Good Friday to commemorate Christ’s humble act of “servant leadership” to His apostles. Ish and I decided to do this at our reception to signify what true love really means — it’s not a feeling, it’s not just a decision, but it’s about dying to one’s self for the good of the other. Did you get that? Authentic loving means dying — selfless, not selfish.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” –Ephesians 5:25

As for me, well I also have my own commandment to follow as a wife: submit to my husband as I submit to Christ, trusting that he only wants what’s best for me (Ephesians 2:22-24). Will definitely write more about this topic in another post! 😉

  • Flowers for single ladies from the bride (instead of the bouquet toss)

When I was single, one of the awkward things I did when attending weddings was join the bride’s bouquet toss (no choice, they usually call pre-selected names!). I would go in front with other single female participants and would “fight” over the elusive bouquet! Haha!

When it was my turn to be a bride, I decided to give an artificial single-stem rose (bonus souvenir!) with an attached vocation prayer to each of my single ladies so they wouldn’t feel the same way I did when I was still single and in a wedding. I pray that they also heed God’s call in whatever vocation they’re called to. ❤

Don’t get me wrong. I know that each wedding is unique, and there may be times that some couples wouldn’t be able to let go of following certain traditions out of respect for their elders, culture, etc. I’m just sharing what worked for me and my husband. Also, always check your heart for your intent. If you’re doing a tradition with some uncertainty in your heart (meaning, you don’t really know or understand it), you might want to reconsider. But if your heart’s at peace, then that’s a good sign.

What matters most is getting married to the love of your life in front of Love Himself:
Jesus Christ.
(Revelation 19:6-9)

❤ ❤ ❤

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!


What are your favorite wedding traditions?
What are your not-so-favorite wedding traditions?
Do you know why you feel that way toward these traditions?

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