Sunday, July 5, 2015

Three Things


Long before marriage entered my mind, there are three things that I desire to do with my child. This is my journey so far.



BREASTFEEDING

It happened for a few months with a lot of struggle, sleepless nights and a lot of crying. We also spent thousands of money just for breastfeeding. I even attended a breastfeeding talk twice. One was when I was only 3 months pregnant. Second was when I already on my last quarter of pregnancy. I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe I didn’t have the same determination or perseverance that other mothers have. And because I wanted to purely breastfeed Nate and not giving him any formula, he became dehydrated and totally lacked feeding. At first, I blamed my husband but in the end I blamed myself. Even after he was hospitalized and almost had a blood transfusion, I was still stubborn. Nate has to be breastfeed. But I knew before we went to the doctor that something is not right. Nate doesn’t look healthy at all. I wondered if he will even get fat because I kept on looking at his legs and wondered why there are so frail. We were confronted by the doctor so we mixed fed after that. But after a few months, my milk is not enough to keep him full so he drinks more on the formula until he’s no longer taking any breast milk. When J would mention that his friend’s baby is fat because of breast milk, sometimes I become envious or when his relative would tell me that the more the baby will suck the more milk you will have. Those were the days when I wish people would just remain quiet. I got used to it after awhile and just surrendered the outcome to the Lord. Although Nate eats home-cooked meals most of the time, it’s not as easy as people might think. But I want to make sure that he’s well-fed.



FULL-TIME HANDS ON MOTHER

I’ve been taking care of Nate for the past 12 months. It was tiring but that’s already a given. It’s expected and  I was prepared for it.



I was told that you will become dull if I take care of Nate 24/7. It was a good statement. In fact, it was a valid statement. It made me think and reflect on what I’m doing for the past year which taking is care of Nate the whole day. I was not angry with the statement but it made me think. That statement or whatever comments people would like to blurt out (there were lots of them) is just the tip of the iceberg. And many people don’t know what’s underneath the surface. I may be the “babysitter” of Nate because there is no one else. But remember I am also the mother. Aside from giving him a bath, feeding him, putting him to sleep or watching over him, I also read to him, I play with him, I laugh with him, I cuddle with him, I watch him grow, I see his development and milestones. Looking back, I might have regretted resigning from my job, but now I don’t regret it in exchange for spending time with Nate. No, I don’t feel that I’m getting idle from taking care of him 24/7. In fact, I’m actually learning something new every day. I may have missed the opportunity to work and connect with other people or hone my skill and upgrade as a chef, or even expand my small unstable, God-given business. I’m okay staying at home and still be sane. I took care of dad for 7 years remember? And I’m still sane. I thought the business can wait. Nate will need someone to look after him. For me, it’s not the babysitter, but it's me, his mother. The first few years are very crucial for me. I heard a lot of parents telling me that they miss their sons and daughters who were once a baby. I know I will miss it. I might as well be with him as much as I can. You can’t turn back the clock. When this day is over, it’s over.


I was able to travel and lived abroad. I was able to work. I was able to get married. And now, I was given the chance to be with my baby. But there were many days when I cry out to J telling him my regrets in life.

I should have been the first person doing that. 
That was my idea few years ago. 
All the ideas that I have before has been materialized already.
She has gone far with her career.

And J would remind me not to compare myself with other people and that I only have one audience which is God. I have no idea what other women are going through. They might even want to have a family and take care of their own baby .

Maybe that business is not supposed to be yours. 
When people say that you should be doing this, do you really want to do it? No.
Then, maybe God has something better for you. 
So, while waiting on the Lord, just continue what you’re doing right now. 
 
Reflecting on it, I’m blessed to be able to spend time and see Nate grow and can still work at home. Some would say that you might lose your identity if you stop working. If I'm no longer the chef instructor, then who am I? Oh, you’re a full-time mom, but what do you do at home? I believe that my identity is not based on what I do but for who I am in Christ alone. As I’ve mentioned before, motherhood is seasonal. It changes as the baby becomes a toddler. Sooner or later, he would be a teenager. I know what some women are thinking, whether you are single or married. You’re thinking that we not doing enough with our lives. We think that we are a failure. You might be finishing your master’s degrees and pursuing a career in an international bank or you could be studying for your board exam or you just opened your own coffee shop. But despite all these accomplishments, we worry that we’re not doing enough or we felt that we’re failing in life. I am guilty of this do. I’ve decided to be a full-time hands mother but on the sidetrack, I kept thinking, I should be the one doing this or that instead of them. I’ve beaten myself up with those negative thoughts by constantly measuring myself against other people's progress but that’s not supposed to be the case. We are unique because God created us Himself.

HOMESCHOOLING

Don’t even get me started. I know the first question that you’re going to ask. What about socialization? Well, I thought, I went to a traditional school and it didn’t help me with my socialization skills either. I would hide inside the room whenever we have guests at home. It didn’t help me to interact with other people wherever I go or wherever I might be. I thought this is ambitious. Can I really home school Nate when the truth is I’m already having patience deficiency with him sometimes? That’s why God placed us in a situation where we can learn more about being patient. And it gets tougher most especially when people ask you WHY? It’s a question with a lengthy answer but if you’re thinking it’s a 9am-4pm sit down scenario where the child sits on his table and you’re in front with a blackboard, then you are completely mistaken. I believe it’s more exciting than being in the classroom the whole day thinking that you’re exposed to the real world. Instead, the world is their classroom and that’s where the real experience and learning is.

When we talk to other people, we always compare. The three things I’ve mentioned above are very common. If you breastfeed your son, that’s great. If you formula feed, that’s great also. With yaya or not, homeschool or not, only son or 2 kids, that’s the parents’ decision. Many times we try to impose on parents what to do instead of giving suggestions or advice. We are tongue-tied because it’s either we want to defend our decision or we just want to be kind by remaining silent. There are also many instances where we feel ashamed because of the things we didn’t do. And in some cases, we feel that we didn’t do enough because they did more than enough. But as we learn to grow from this experience, we have stories to tell and share to other people. There’s kindness and understanding and even compassion and sympathy. Yes, we share because we care but share with gentleness and warmth without being so proud that we are right. Every child is different, every experience is unique and every situation needs a different approach and decision.

The journey continues..









Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nate's 1st Birthday and Child Dedication


Last June 13, Saturday, we celebrated Nate's birthday. But his real birthday was on June 18 and we will celebrated it in Manila with my family.



In planning for Nate's birthday, I only want a simple celebration of family and close friends and when I learned that we had many guests, I told John why do we need to have a lot of guests for Nate's birthday. I don't think I received an answer from him. Two weeks before the celebration, I know God is talking to me telling me to share God's goodness during those difficult times. A few days before, John was asking me if he would do his testimony. If you're wondering what kind of testimony we're talking about, it is sharing to the public about how God's glory was revealed in every situation and every circumstances.


But last June 13, I didn't feel like sharing and so does John. And when our Pastor started already with the child dedication, it was obvious that not everyone was listening. In fact, I felt that most people are not actually listening at all (the fact that I don't want to invite so many people although someone told me that the sound system is functioning well). John and I felt that it's not the right time to share our testimony. But I told John, I have a blog. What in the world is my blog for. I will share it here where people who randomly visit my blog can actually read it from all over the world at anytime and any place.
 For the past twelve months, I have been asked by people if I breastfeed Nate. It was a common and obvious question. I'm certain mothers who have 6 or 8 month old babies would have been asked the same question. But every time I remember that Nate was in the hospital and every time I'm being asked if he's breastfed, I feel guilty. And there's no other person to blame except myself. Two words: guilt and blame. When John asked me about it, I said I'm alright with it already. But the truth is, when I started to think about what to say, I realized that I wasn't over with it yet. Every time John will bring it up, I want to tell him I don't want to talk about it anymore because I would only feel guilty about it.

Well, if you've read my post about how I struggled with breastfeeding Nate, it was because I was stubborn. I insist the he should only drink breast milk and nothing else. I didn't have enough breast milk that's why he was confined in the hospital for high bilirubin levels. He almost had a blood transfusion. If you're a doctor, you probably know the risks and complications of blood transfusion for a newborn baby. The only thing we could do was to pray. John did because I couldn't even think anymore. We could have lost Nate just because of my stubbornness. Even when Nate was discharged from the hospital, I still insist that Nate should be breastfed until we went back to the doctor. Although I knew that Nate's aura is not nice and I felt he's not doing well, I still want to continue to solely breastfeed him. I cried the whole day after the doctor's visit yet we started giving him formula milk.

But God talked to me about it, he said that issue here is not about breastfeeding, the issue here is about whether you trust Me or not. I wanted to breastfeed because of the money we can save, not because of health and nutrition that Nate will obtain from the breast milk. God continued that I could have answered your prayer by providing you more milk but I chose not to because I want you to trust Me first more that your ability to breastfeed your son.
         God continued to tell me:
First, you need to trust Me that I, the Lord your God will provide for all of your needs, For the past 12 months, God has been our provider. Whenever we need money for Nate, God has never been too early or even late. He's always been on time. When I decided to stop working in culinary school, God provided an avenue for me to work at home.

Second,  that I the Lord your God will be your protector. Nate had a fever and cough but it only happened once and it was mild and tolerable. Nate was still very active and talkative during that time. Although he hits and bumps himself from time to time or even stumbles, I pray that he will always be protected from harm and accidents.

Third, Nate's life belongs to Me, not to you. God chose John and I to be his parents to raise him in a godly way and to instruct Nate in the ways of God. Consequently, the importance of child dedication. If Nate's life belongs to the Lord, so does my life and your life. We are here today only by God's grace. Before we sleep tonight, I think one of the most important question we need to ask ourselves is, what has God done in your life that you don't deserve and what are you going to do about it? 

To God Be All the Glory. Thank you. 
That is probably what I would say to the guests if I had the chance.


Twelve months went by so fast. I thought, can we just pause for awhile and savor the moments first before moving on again. Nate was indeed a blessing from the Lord. Having him in my life made me realize that I need to become a better person if I want Nate to follow the Lord. My prayer for him is that he would choose to know and have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; that he will not harbor any bitterness nor anger towards anyone but to learn how to forgive immediately who would cause him pain; that he will always be joyful and thankful in every circumstance and in every situation. Isn't that what God wants us to do and experience as well?



Another blessing is I didn't have a hard time conceiving and we didn't pay anything in order for me to get pregnant considering that I became pregnant at 37. Hearing other people's struggle to conceive for years or even spend money for it made me realized that I am truly blessed.

Sooner or later, Nate will leave me and John and get married. I know that would be years away but it's good to keep in mind that Nate belongs to the Lord and not to us. Dedicating him and ourselves to the Lord brings comfort and joy knowing that our lives is in the great hands of our Almighty God.



Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Visit to God's Grace Farm

A visit to God's Grace Farm was indeed a blessing and a privilege. Gigi Uy sent me a personal message last week if J could take pictures of the farm. J was hesitant since he only takes photos of students from schools and people from events. J was honest enough to say even before that he is not creative when it comes to taking other photos. But I told him to give it a try. Two days later we're off to the farm with Gigi. But I told John the night before that I think he should go alone since I might have difficulty with Nate but he encouraged me to go with him.

I've never met Gigi nor have I been to the farm but I've met her vegetables. When I finally met her, I finally realized why her vegetables are of the highest quality. Sitting in front, she started to talk about why she is doing all of these things in relation to being Certified Organic - the packaging, the location of the farm, the nutrients needed for the soil, the compost and many others. Yes, the produce are expensive compared to the regular ones but after explaining to me the manual things that needs to be done in order for the vegetables to be at the utmost quality, I have no more doubts about it. There are no shortcuts. But honest to goodness hard work and dedication, sweat and tears are given to the farm. As a matter of fact, everything is attention to detail.

When we arrive at the farm, I thought, she should charge more for what she's been doing. But her true desire is to really provide excellent quality produce to her clients. First stop was the Aiko and medley tomatoes. It was the only place that I could have a good look up close and personal. If the pathway is a bit bigger, it would have been a great wedding aisle to walk down to. Nate, although turning red from the hot weather, enjoyed his bite of the tomatoes. And yes, he wants to grab more of it while J is busy taking pictures all over the farm.

As we walked uphill, I could see a lot of papaya trees scattered all over the land. And don't miss a row of rosemary and lavender pots displayed below the Aiko tomato greenhouse. From afar, I could see the mizuna and some Thai basil herbs but I have to stay put in the middle of the path or else Nate and I would have a hard time going around the farm. The trip was exhausting for me most especially with Nate around. I went home tired with a headache while Nate was still very active and actually slept late. I want to visit the farm again for its progress. I'm certain Gigi has a lot of crops to plant as the days and months go by. There are still a lot of work that needs to be done but the farm is organized and clean. In addition to supplying to supermarkets, she's also supplying her vegetables in Manila and this is just the beginning.

Below are some photos that J took at the farm. There are more pictures though at God's Grace Farm Facebook Page where Gigi explained what's going on with the farming process. But for now, just enjoy the photos.