A Mother is Born

Pregnancy. Having a baby. Just happened. Now that it’s almost been three months since our bundle of joy, Maria Caeli (pronounced Ma-ree-yuhh Che-lly) was born, I’m looking back at how I was thrusted into motherhood through those crazy and exciting months.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy was a beautiful understanding of my body. It was a short nine-month anticipation with our family members of the new life that will give lots of sparkle and (chaos) to our lives. Pregnancy is the celebration and birth of the mother. Her body is literally keeping another person alive! It’s amazing. If you take care of the mother, you immediately safeguard the life you will meet soon enough.

I considered that nine months as my time with my husband to cherish the few months for us to be newlyweds alone together. I was very particular about this to the point that I stressed it to him almost everyday. (Geez, right?) I would even count down the months before the beginning of our family and the final days of being just the both of us as a newlywed couple. It was a period of getting to know each other better than before and ‘enjoy’ just the two of us. We even went on some trips together. Although I admit, we took extra precautions because of all the cravings and the heaviness of my body.

Because we were newlyweds and doting soon-to-be parents, we had to balance those stages of our lives well.

Our new role as parents to our baby were slowly taking its place as my unpredictable hormones, cravings and growing baby bump were taking centerstage.

The balancing act was in enjoying my pregnancy with my husband and embracing motherhood while keeping my husband very much involved!

Embracing Motherhood

Part of parenthood was getting to know our baby. Every month, we would scroll to our Pregnancy App (MyBabyCenter) and read about how much she’s grown and how her body matured. My husband would talk and whisper to her every night and tell her what he did during the day – those conversations would always make me giggle! We both got so excited every time she would kick and make waves on my belly.

I also embraced motherhood by decidedly giving the both of us (me and baby) what I knew would be good for us. Even if all I wanted to do was binge on all the junk food I could scarf down and I allowed it for a while but I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at the tail end of my pregnancy (it’s a kind of diabetes that most pregnant women get due to the hormonal imbalances and would typically disappear after birth). That was an inconvenience but I knew that I had to be strict about watching my diet and made a point to exercise. I thought of it as the best way to prepare her for birth.

After every meal, I would have to prick my finger and have my blood tested to see if the food I ate caused my blood sugar to go up. Needles terrify me! During every blood test I would close my eyes and hint at the nurse to make it a painless extraction so I was really scared to have to do this 3 times a day but I thought of it as a way for me to get used to needles and seeing blood. Aside from that, I watched a lot of Grey’s Anatomy to prep me for my stay at the hospital. I also walked and swam a lot!

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Me and Lance at our baby shower, I was 6 months pregnant

Birth

I woke up at 4AM on May 30 because I was getting contractions way more frequently than they were ever before. I noticed that the intervals were getting closer to each other. I knew that, that was it! I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I knew though that if I really let that moment sink in, I would be in total shock!

I considered it as a normal day. In my mind, it was a normal day, of a normal birth, that normal pregnant women go through when their due date was up. To stress how normal it was, I went to my mom’s room, woke her up and smiled to tell her “we’re going to the hospital… it’s time.” Insert that wide grin.

Other more important preparations before the big day were spiritual. My doctor forewarned me that we wouldn’t know the team of nurses and doctors on the day of birth. She also said we wouldn’t know if I would be getting a cesarian or giving birth normally (and boy did we want to have a normal delivery). Also, we didn’t know how my labor was going to go at all! So we just prayed for the best! I prayed for a good team – specifically for a good anaesthesiologist and for a normal birth. I prayed for a good labor. I prayed for our daughter’s birthday to be on May 30. I especially prayed for a healthy baby.

God was definitely there because the entire experience was filled with positivity and excitement. When we arrived at the hospital, I walked with a limp to the chapel to pay God a visit. I don’t even remember what I prayed about but I’m sure He was happy to see me besides He knew what I needed more than me.

I got to the labor room with a disposition to make the birth as relaxed and as easy I could possibly make it. So it ensued. Through all the pain, I desperately tried to inject humour when I talked to my doctors and nurses. Even if the labor room was making me claustrophobic, I was soothed by the messages my husband and mom were reading to me from friends and loved ones who were getting minute-by-minute updates of the progress.

And when I was in the delivery room, I asked to be blindfolded so that I wouldn’t have to see (and consequently freak out by) any blood or anything else that was happening down there. I even asked my doctor not to tell me if she was giving me an episiotomy. The TV was on and we watched Princess Diary 2 through the whole thing.

Baby Maria was born at 7 pounds and 11 ounces on May 30, 2015 (Saturday) at 3:21PM after an 8 hour labor and 1 hour delivery time. She came out crying her lungs out and pooped all over my dressing. What a happy sight.

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Hello, mum!

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Practical Tips: How to Achieve Maternity Chic

Dolce & Gabbana’s Winter 2016 Women’s Fashion Show was a refreshing sight to see on my Instagram Feed. The hashtags were a show of love for moms and the family #dgmamma #dgfamily and those invitations were scribbled with affectionate yet simple words and drawings of family and lots of red hearts! It was clear that the inspiration was to bring forth the soul of the chicest, classiest, most unfazed woman there is – mom – into a runway show.

It didn’t end there. My heart fluttered when I saw a pregnant Bianca Balti strut her stuff and the other models carrying cherubim chubby infants or holding hands with kids.

Thank you Dolce & Gabanna for such a wonderful tribute to the most important people in our lives that we often forget are also the most beautiful.

Even if all of that haute couture prettiness just poured itself all over social media. Sad to say, we all cannot exactly afford maternity wear from Dolce & Gabanna. I’ve already mentioned in my previous post, my few tips on how to achieve maternity chic, I believe it also comes with being a very practical shopper and dresser.

Now here are my Practical Tips to Achieving Maternity Chic.

YOUR CLOSET

I’ve always considered myself to have an easy-going style so I kept putting off wearing a stretchy pair of boho pants until the “right moment” came – only it was too late! When I was putting them on, they only reached until the widest part of my thighs and there was no way it could journey to my hips.

I felt bad and awkward but I did learn the valuable lesson: Wear all the clothes that you love on your first trimester. 

Yes: Keep and wear clothes that you know will accommodate your growing baby bump. For the soon-to-be new mom, this added role also means it’s time to consider a piece of clothing’s possibility of helping you breastfeed. Keep loved pre-maternity/pre-baby clothes that will help you breastfeed!  

Since the goal is to get back to the pre-baby weight and figure: Keep all your favourite pre-baby clothes, especially the ones that will aid in breastfeeding, in a vacuum sealed container for safekeeping against dust. 

SHOPPING CONSIDERATIONS 

The Philippines has only two seasons: Summer and a more forgiving, rainier and/or windier Summer. The heat is more often than not piercing and blinding. It doesn’t help the pregnant lady at all because she’s more likely to feel warmer than usual due to the hormonal changes and increase in blood supply to the skin.

I can testify to this. While on the road at the peak of the noon sun, even when the air conditioning is on full blast, I feel drained and sweaty from the heat bathing against my skin.

1. Purchase lightweight clothes in cotton and cool fabrics. Warning: stay away from too thin fabric that can show your undies or that will need you to wear extra layers. It’s hot enough, why add more fabric?

2. If you are on your second trimester, buy clothing that you know will still be comfortable at the third trimester. Even if you are a Large now, buy that Extra Large. You can never be too sure.

3. Buy clothes that will help you breastfeed! Hello to button down tops and dresses and stretch tanks over oversized shirts. This will be your new look after the baby comes. What does this mean? For those who want to explore their style, be adventurous with your shoes and leggings.

super cute shoes

Remember: you don’t have to buy clothes from the maternity section. 

MUST HAVE’S

When you do, here are my must have’s:

1. Maternity Leggings 

I made the mistake of purchasing two pairs of leggings from one of the stores I usually go to in their largest size without trying them on. When I tried wearing them one day, I kept having to secretly and awkwardly stretch them because they were just so tight at the hips. (I had no idea that that area became so sensitive when pregnant)

I didn’t think that maternity leggings existed until I visited a maternity store and saw all the selections… Because I was traumatised by my earlier purchase, I made sure that the maternity leggings really looked like maternity leggings and had that cute pouch that outlines the tummy.

I loved it so much that I bought 3 – 2 in black and 1 in grey. I also purchased a white pair of maternity leggings that didn’t have a pouch but did stretch high enough to envelope my entire belly. The white pair became one of my absolute favourites because it’s such a fresh feeling to wear white bottoms without having to worry about stains. 


Dress your leggings up with plain or printed oversized loose tops. They’ll immediately make you feel dressy and ready to face a long day ahead.

2. A Good Pair of Maternity Jeans 

Jeans go with everything so invest in a good and comfortable one that will last you through the whole pregnancy.

3. Maternity Shorts

At the second trimester, when you’re at the height of feeling great, you’ll want a wardrobe that will allow you to be a little bit more active. I have a white and beige pair. Maternity shorts will make you look uber cute and casual along with a semi-fitted top and your favourite sneakers.

Don’t allow these must have’s to break the bank. Visit your favorite department stores and explore their maternity wear. For me that’s SM and The Landmark.

Bonus: Leather Flip Flops 

I am in looovveee with my leather flip flops that I can wear with anything! For some reason, I want my feet to breathe all the time so I use them every day that I noticed my feet started to sink into the leather.

A Candid take on Pregnancy

Announcement: We’re expecting a bundle of joy next year!

The Story

During the last leg of our honeymoon, there was something terribly strange about me – physically, emotionally and psychologically. I was nauseous all the time but I never vomited. The nausea would only stop after we ate something – whether it was gelato or cold cuts with cheese. Even if we were eating, I was always tired. We were going through the gorgeous Duomo of Siena and I just wanted to sit down on every bench while my husband was practically jumping around the place in excitement. My emotions were high and low and it was noticeable.

My tiredness was at its peak when we were on our way home. It was a 3 hour bus ride from Siena to Rome, a 45 minute cab ride from the bus station to the airport followed by an accumulated 16 hour flight from Rome to DOHA and DOHA to Manila and finally another 45 minutes from the Clark International Airport to the house. I dropped dead tired and until now I recall the feeling of being stuck in bed and not wanting to come out for days!

With all the craziness that was going on with me, I just knew it. I knew there was a person inside of me trying to get my attention and telling me “Hey, Mommy, I’m right here. I’m trying to get comfortable and grow. Sorry for making you feel sick all the time but I promise you it’s for my own good!

I went back to work a day after we arrived. After work, my best friend was my bed. Finally, Lance wanted to have peace of mind so we decided to buy a pregnancy test from the drug store. The result was POSITIVE.

The moment when the two pink sticks came out was when Lance was screaming, sweating and jumping in excitement and sheer bliss. I, on the other hand, had a silent experience with myself in an almost panic. There is a human being and he’s really in me. Well, I don’t know anything. How am I going to take care of myself since we haven’t exactly started our new life yet? How am I going to manage everything at home, taking care of a baby in my womb and working at an eight to five job? 

I’ve never in my life been so enveloped with worry and distress. The reality hit me big time. Albeit it’s natural. At the same time, there was a lot of relief that what I initially just knew was actually true and I could lead my life aware and ready to take care of the growing baby.

If my life were centered around myself and what I could do, I would forever be worried… thank goodness we started this relationship with God at the center of our relationship and until our married life. Putting back all the worry, this baby is the ultimate gift to our small family. A friend of my husband even said: “Isn’t that amazing that the love of your marriage has this as its fruit?”

Motherhood and Marriage

There is a pervading thought in this day and age that mirrors itself in media and common societal dispositions and its the “Me Mentality.” I have to reach this to be able to do this I need to build a business to be this Me. Me. Me.

Because it’s so common, I can hear the thought about newlyweds speak clearly in my mind: Didn’t you guys want to just enjoy each other first before having kids?

The tough part is that it isn’t impossible to start considering it as your own thought. Judging from the sound of what that question implies is that a couple should be selfish with one another first before considering having kids. I understand that many newlyweds may want to wait it out because of financial issues. But let’s be honest, who knows when a married couple is financially ready to have kids?

There are way too many statistics out there calculating how much a child would cost to be raised in this day and age but no statistics can be made of the miracles that may happen when they love the life they allow to live. Neither is there any statistic for the creativity and willpower parents will have to find ways to make ends meet.

The beautiful part about this pregnancy is that I am reminded that I’m not alone and my primary caregiver is my husband. He knows so well how I can get caught up in my own thoughts that one night he had to look at my eye and say: “I am not allowing you to go through this alone. Trust me. I’m here.

That’s when I knew I was really married.

Baby: The Real Deal

A few days later, we visited the OB-gyne and I got an ultrasound.

On the black and white screen, I saw the matchstick head sized baby in me. Besides just seeing, the most spectacular part about it was that the doctor recorded his heartbeat. My baby is just a month into life and he/she has a heartbeat that technology recorded. Please tell me that that is the clearest sign that this baby is a human being. PLEASE.

I was just reading a comment trail on a blog entry about how a lady shouldn’t push through with her abortion and so many of those comments were telling the blogger that it’s her choice whether to have a baby or not. One comment even implied that it shouldn’t be anyone’s business because abortion is way too overrated to be cared about. They were bantering back and forth about scientific data of fetus development yada yada yada. As a soon-to-be mother, my eyes just widened.

I know that that baby is a baby with a heartbeat. Isn’t that enough? When a person is near-death, the medics check the pulse of the patient and revives them with a defibrillator! I can’t imagine the kind of conscience a person who could end any person’s heartbeat – whether pea-sized or what society implies the right age to die. What makes this argument worse is that women are defending their “right to abort” while there are men willing to risk their name for abortion to end. This women’s right to abortion is defended with “I” “Me” and “Mine” statements. That says a lot about women’s purpose in life.

Since this is becoming a rather long update, I want to end it on a happy note. 🙂 Nowadays, it’s hard enough to inspire couples to get married but where life is concerned, I sure hope it won’t be as tough as a decision to keep life.

There is so much happiness in new life. I noticed that as days pass by the people around me are more and more concerned about my (rather, our) health and even get out of their way to make the simple things easier for me to do. Maybe other moms don’t have the same good fortune as I am gratefully receiving but I’m sure that one bad experience doesn’t and couldn’t possibly outweigh the good and happy experiences they received from those around them.

New life begets a new love.

News about the Feminine Genius: A Seminar and A Film

NEWS: EXPERTS MEET TO CONSIDER WOMEN IN THE CHURCH, THE WORLD

St. Edith Stein is probably rocking out to the tune of this headline.

I was first enchanted by St. Edith Stein’s phenomenal essay on the Woman’s soul where she compares three important and yet very different female characters in pieces of literature written in different periods of time.

It was St. Edith Stein and Bl. Pope John Paul II who influenced my interest in the “Feminine Genius.”

I’m thrilled to know that these 100 experts met from October 10 and ended the seminar on my birthday, October 12 (which is also the date of St. Edith Stein’s canonization!)

With the theme “God entrusts the human being to the woman,” they discussed woman’s perceived role and desired role in their respective workplace, society and the world.

They found that (not that it was ever any doubt) that women are more often than not called to the nurturing profession – teachers, nurses, caretakers etc. a lot of women are called to be wives and mothers.

On that note, I just want to insert a really wonderful read from Matt Walsh about the Stay at Home Mom and their hidden but beautiful and dignified work.

This quote just hits home:

It’s true — being a mom isn’t a “job.” A job is something you do for part of the day and then stop doing. You get a paycheck. You have unions and benefits and break rooms. I’ve had many jobs; it’s nothing spectacular or mystical. I don’t quite understand why we’ve elevated “the workforce” to this hallowed status. Where do we get our idea of it? The Communist Manifesto? Having a job is necessary for some — it is for me — but it isn’t liberating or empowering. Whatever your job is — you are expendable. You are a number. You are a calculation. You are a servant. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced eventually. Am I being harsh? No, I’m being someone who has a job. I’m being real.

If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly. The ripples of that tragedy would be felt for generations. If she quit her job as a computer analyst, she’d be replaced in four days and nobody would care. Same goes for you and me. We have freedom and power in the home, not the office. But we are zombies, so we can not see that.

Going back…

The discussion left the participants resounding this quote: “Women seem naturally suited to communicate Pope Francis’ stunning calls to re-energize the Church’s mission to serve the dispossessed of this world” with their shared experiences and experiences of other women.

Looks like it’s time to brush up on that apostolic letter: Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity and Vocation of Woman)  of Bl. Pope John Paul II as a little commemoration to these initiatives as well as his upcoming canonization on April 27, 2014! Wuhoo!

To read the original news article, click here

For regular updates from the “God entrusts the human being to the woman” seminar, click here.

ALISSA JUNG OVERWHELMS IN MARY OF NAZARETH

To further celebrate woman, who better to acknowledge than Our Blessed Virgin Mary?

I’m insanely excited for this film, Mary of Nazareth. I have no idea how I’m going to get my hands on it. The reason why I’m flipping out to watch this film is because a friend recommended for me to see and imagine the very real depiction of Our Lady by Alissa Jung.

She was given a rave review for her wonderful portrayal as written in this article. 

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exactly

Exactly.

Excuse me as I jump for joy.