Monday, December 13, 2010

37th Year



This picture was taken 36 years ago. It was my first birthday.

My weekend was busy due to work. The blizzard made working in homecare one of the most dangerous jobs in America. I did not sleep until the wee hour of the morning because of paperwork, chores and baby crying in the middle of the night. Though lack of sleep, I was pleasantly surprised that I am not tired at all this morning. Thanks to the Monday morning adrenaline rush! With all these unusual morning energy, I decided to check my e-mail, my mailbox was full of Facebook notifications telling me of my long lost friends writing their greetings and wishes. I am touched by these unexpected outpourings.

It is taking me a while to realize that what makes LIFE worth living is good relationship with people you care about. I hear it a lot. I know it intellectually. But I am yet to learn to practice it. When things get rough, I easily fall into despair. I cannot help it at times. I am a weak person. It is in my genes.

My life is full of uncertainties right now. Sometimes I wonder if I made some wrong turns along the way. That's the problem of living in a democratic place, where we have so much choices. Did I choose the wrong path? Will I be happier if I had chosen the other career path, or partner? Or should have I done things differently 10 years ago? That's the peril of living in the free world! We tend to contemplate on what could have been when things did not go as we planned it.

But hey, I am still lucky. I have an intact family which I consider happy and (thank God)functional, and a miracle baby whose birth is the highlight of my 37 years.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Look who's one!






Happy Birthday Benji!

Love,

Mommy

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just feeling down!

The result of the midterm election makes me want to lie down on the floor in a fetal position and stay there for days! I am so disappointed on people forgetting so easily what caused our current ailing...

I am not a political person and I am actually not comfortable opening up my political view. I am just depressed about the result and I want to rant. But, I am still optimistic about the future of this country. However, if Sarah Palin got elected as President, then, it will be time for me to move somewhere else... Hopefully it will not end that way. I know Americans are smarter than that, I hope.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Recent Photo

Yes, I am still here. Just too busy, most of the time. Working more now. Baby boy is also more demanding. Here's our most recent photo!

Monday, August 9, 2010

On Marriage

I am currently listening to an audio book entitled Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert who also authored the best-selling book which was made into movie starring Julia Roberts Eat Pray Love. I admit I find Committed more interesting because I can relate to it more because I'm married and a woman. I had several AHA! moments while listening to this book that I decided to read it in print. I haven't actually read it yet but I already borrowed the only available copy in our local public library and it happens to be in large print. I don't care. I am obsessed. I cannot even wait to finish the book to start mentioning it here.

Anyway, one of the topics that fascinates me that Ms. Gilbert discussed is about how marriage benefits a man more than a woman. She calls it the Marriage Benefit Imbalance. According to study, married men perform better in life than single men. Compared to single men, married men live longer; accumulate more wealth; excel more in their careers; far less likely to die a violent death; happier; and suffer less from alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression. On the other hand, married women do not fare better than their single counterpart. Married women actually take a 7 percent cut, on average, of their paycheck. They are less healthy than single women and more likely to suffer from depression.

Well, in my experience, marriage has been mostly good. Financially, I think I am better off because expenses are shared, therefore, more disposable income for both of us. There's that companionship. Lot's of things are just better experienced when you're with someone special. The biggest thing, perhaps, is the opportunity of being able to stay at home with the baby. I don't think this will be possible if I were a single mother, unless, of course, I were super rich which I'm not. Child-rearing is also easier with a partner as we can tag-team the responsibility. I cannot imagine, and probably will not survive a life of a single mother.

I will read this book and write more about it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Update while He sleeps!


The older he gets, lesser time I have for doing anything else. He's now 8 months and very mobile. He started crawling 2 weeks ago, creeping 4 weeks earlier. He would not sleep in his crib. So, we are now co-sleeping in our newly bought king-size bed. I still nurse which is a miracle and he is an all-night-er. He has 2 fully sprouted bottom teeth and 3 teeth on their way out (ouch!). I haven't had an 8 hour of sleep straight for almost 3 months now since he started teething. He loves sweet potatoes, apples and pears. Everything I feed him is home-made except for the cereal. I obsess about his food. I spend more money on his food than our food. Everything is organic. It can be expensive because it takes him several tries before he will take on new food. My favorite time with him is bath time as he squeals with glee when water splashes every time he slaps it. He hasn't been sick (knock on wood). His biggest problem is his eczema. He loves to be read to. He smiles and looks at me when I change my voice for the characters in the book.

Okay he's awake now. I have to go!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

He's a Handful!



He loves to eat everything except his food. He loves to play with everything except his toys. He has energy that could outlast anyone over the age of 30. Are boys like this? I sound like a sexist...maybe I am.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Honeymoon's Over?

Our 10-year wedding anniversary is less than a week away. I wish I could say it is as sweet as the day we'd met. It is not. It is not bitter either. It's just different. No, we haven't grown apart. We are just overwhelmed by LIFE lately. Our arguments are more frequent. Frustration is deeper and more difficult to subside. We talked about counseling but we do not have the time. And who will take care of the baby while we're at it. For now, we just made the pact not to be critical of each other.

I am saddened to learn about the separation of Former VP Al Gore and his wife Tipper after 40 years of marriage. The reason they gave is they've grown apart.

Marriage is such a delicate institution. I was told that the first 5 or 7 years the most difficult. After that, relationship will be stable. I don't believe it anymore. I think every moment is delicate. Unkind words and neglect can ruin it just like that, no matter how long you've been together.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mix

I should not be here blogging because we are so busy preparing for our road trip to Connecticut to visit my sister and her family this coming Thursday, but this is a release for me.

Oh yeah, we also plan to go to NYC. It's been 10 years this month the last time we were in NYC. It was April 2000 -- we were not married yet and the Twin Towers were still standing. How things change! In any case, I am very excited. The drive, according to Google map, should be about 19 hours. It will be longer than that for us because of the baby. We have to stop frequently for feeding and diaper change. Outside of Cleveland, Ohio is our planned overnight stay. We hope to make it in Cleveland before midnight.

-o-o-o-o-

We have new neighbors. I think there are 2 families who moved in that house next door. One couple is older; the other ones younger with a baby. We met them briefly one day last week. Benji was fussy that time. The older man talked to me but I cannot hear him that well. I thought he asked me when we had Benji, so, I told him November. I excused myself after that because Benji decided to cry louder. Jason took over in conversing with them. Before I left to go inside our house, the younger woman invited us to her baby's first birthday which was last Saturday.

I worked last Saturday. When I came home, I told Jason that I cannot go because of computer work. Jason was torn if he wants to go or not. Anyway, because we wanted to be friendly with our new neighbors, he decided to stopped by briefly with Benji. Upon return, my husband told me what happened there.

Our older lady neighbor introduced him and Benji as "This is our neighbor with his adopted son." Jason was stunned by this. Was it an assumption? Perhaps. Nevertheless, it was, according to Jason, very awkward. He doesn't know what to say after that. The thing is he was introduced to a crowd. He said "If it was just one person, I could easily correct her!" He eventually told her the "fact" in private. So, if we don't get any invitation next time, we know the reason. Ha ha ha!

-o-o-o-o-

My mother and I with Benji went to the Filipino Store in the South side of Des Moines. We were the only customers that time. The owner who is very friendly approached us to look at the baby. She said the baby is cute and asked me if the father is Chinese. I said no, he's an American. She quickly said after I told her that she can see it now after looking at the baby's nose because it is not pug.

-o-o-o-o-

Poor Benji. There will be more situations similar to these for him because he's a mixed race. It's not that bad. Really.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The 1st 13 years

Time flies. I'm a bit embarrassed sometimes when people asked how long I'd been in this country. My English grammar did not improve much. However, I am a different person from that younger, slimmer and ignorant person that I was.

Unrealistic expectations were gone. Gratefulness took its place. I came to accept that I am not in heaven but in a wonderful place where opportunities are still plentiful. Opportunity to improve myself and my life is what I cherish most.

Before leaving the Philippines, my colleagues and I were examined by a psychiatrist to determine our fitness in performing our job. I was told that my intelligence is above average which was good to know but I was also told that I will not survive in the United States because of my passive personality. That was a blow to the gut. What she said hounds me up to this very moment. However, I have more understanding of her "diagnosis." What she failed to tell me is that people are malleable; that we are products of our environment and experiences. Maybe she didn't know that because she is not familiar with the American Experience of self re-invention. I no longer dispute or work to disprove her. I know now that I can survive -- actually more than survive. I thrive in this wonderful country.



April 1997. Photo taken in dowtown Dallas with the people I came with.




Tuesday, April 6, 2010

On Faith

One day it just came to me. Maybe organized religion is for me, or maybe not. My view on this is wishy-washy at best. The last time I was in church was almost 9 months ago. My excuse on stopping the last time was the H1N1 outbreak. I was pregnant then and I didn't want to be in a place where I could catch it easily. Now that I am not pregnant anymore and the dreaded virus is no longer a health threat, my almost 5-month old baby becomes my alibi. Due to the Easter holiday and and having glanced at the movie Ten Commandments, I recently started pondering again on my spiritual direction or (more appropriately) mis-direction.

I considered myself religious from age 14 to 23. As a teen, I struggled with chronic depression and identity crisis. Attending church gave me temporary relief from my so-called suffering. Then, I came to the United States. I was initially excited to look for a "home" church but I immediately was overwhelmed by so much choices. I believe that there is a church in every other corner of this country. I attended several Protestant, Evangelical and Catholic churches. I find church people to be mostly friendly and welcoming but I just did not feel I belong to any that I visited so far. Lately, I tend to choose mega churches for anonymity. Then, there's my husband who was born and raised atheist. He never stops nor criticizes me from attending; he even accompanies me so I don't feel lonely.

Marrying an atheist is an eye-opener. I believe that I am more open minded and see the world differently since knowing him. My husband is the epitome of contentment and decency. I learned from him that you don't need religion to be morally upright.

As a Christian, it was a taboo to doubt the existence of God or even ask the age-old question "If God is good, how can He let innocent people suffer?" Christians offer different explanations but nothing is intellectually gratifying.

Each Sunday morning, upon hearing the hymn time on the radio, I can get overcome by guilt for not going to a service but once I get to the church, I wish to be somewhere else. My mind constantly wanders.

When I think about my son, I start thinking about spirituality. Should I raise him with religion? Should I teach him about Christian faith? Or, is it a form of brain washing?

I was showering one day. It was one rare time that I was able to linger because my husband was with the baby. I started to sing and without thinking about it I was singing a Christian song about knowing Jesus. Tears started to flow and it felt really good.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Short for time

My life has been so hectic lately. I started work again. I have the old job back but I only work 2 weekends a month. Okay, my boss wants me to help out more because they are so busy lately as one therapist transferred to a teaching job and one in maternity leave. My husband and I have had no off day together in a while. So, the housework piles up. My baby recently decided that he would not nap unless he is on a lap or leaning on some one's shoulder. When he's awake he wants a human within his visual field at all times.

Right now, I have exactly 17 minutes before I need to pump milk and I tell you it is such a luxury to be able to write in this blog again. Earlier this week I had so much ideas on what to blog but I cannot think of any right now except the present.

I am thinking that I am such a lucky girl; that I never been so happy in my life. Yeah, I have less money and time but having a baby who depends on me for his existence and in return, paying with me with his giggles and trust is priceless.



The red dot on his right eyebrow was his first bump.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Motherhood after Infertility

The strange thing about motherhood after infertility is that when strangers asked how many kids I have, I automatically say "none". It is still strange to tell people I have a son; that I gave birth four months ago. It is just like living in a dream. It feels too good to be true.

Returning to work after almost a year of absence is not what I expected. People are really happy to have me back. Also, co-workers who co-existed with me are suddenly social and interested on what's going on in my life. Mainly, they are interested about the baby and how I'm coping. We finally have something in common. Business phone calls are extended with conversations of lactation and childcare. I must admit I like it and find it fascinating.

I don't have (yet) the heart to leave my son in a daycare, even if it is part of the hospital where we work. We admit that we tend to be over protective because of our infertility. We know that we have to let go someday. For now though, we feel that the best place for our baby is right here at home with at least one parent at all times. Retirement savings will be cut this year. Home remodeling and international travels will wait for few or several more years. There will be no new furnitures and gadgets. For now, our focus is giving our son the best childhood that we could afford.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Not content

I woke up this morning from dreaming that we were having our bathroom remodeled. I was amazed to wake up before the baby and I cannot go back to sleep. My thought went from my very realistic dream to realizing how dingy our kitchen is. I made a mental note on how we can improve the look and efficiency of it. But reality hits, we do not have the money and I don't want to take a loan for house remodeling -- at least not until I return to full-time job. Then, this afternoon, I watched the New Yankee Workshop. In that episode, Norm was finishing the cabinetry of a remodeled kitchen. It made me unhappy again with my kitchen.


I've been telling people that Benji will be my only child. I gave several reasons from financial to health reason. But deep inside, I desire for another child. I waver a lot on this issue. I know that if I want to have a second one, we have to act soon because of my fertility issue. I noticed that I bring this topic everyday to my husband in the last few weeks. We discussed the pros and cons. Financially, there are more cons. We would like to travel abroad someday and help Benji in his college education. These will be difficult if we have 2 children. But why do I have this nagging desire to have another child?



Anyway, to keep my mind from discontent I decided to learn how to make movie using my Flip Video Camera This is my 1st Benji Movie:
video

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Breastfeeding Story (outlined)

Why I have difficulty with breastfeeding?

1. I did not read enough about this topic during my pregnancy.
2. I should have had contacted the local La Leche League.
3. I should have listened to other people to attend more classes about it. I attended just 1 short class and it was very basic.
4. I had Gestational Diabetes and my baby had borderline low blood sugar at birth. He was given 4 oz of formula to bring up his sugar.
5. I assumed that my baby will have nipple confusion because of number 4. Most literature said "no" to formula supplementation due to nipple confusion. I was discouraged early on that I will be able to breastfeed.
6. I sent my baby to nursery at night during our hospital stay so I could recover from my surgery. Most literature recommends to room-in so I could nurse the baby more often to stimulate milk production. But I was in pain, highly medicated and exhausted that I gave in to my husband's plea to send him to the nursery.
7. After colostrum which my baby was able to take, I did not have a drop of milk for about 7 days. So, I formula feed. I cannot stand a hungry baby.
8. After that, I had a very low milk supply. I was pumping and pumping since hospital stay. Initially, there was none. It slowly crept up but I continue to supplement because of the baby's voracious appetite and my supply was way low for it.
9. Because of that I lost all confidence that my body could supply my baby's need. I continue to pump, though.
10. Now, my baby lost his patience in suckling into my breast and prefers the easier silicon nipple.
11. It was a busy week for maternal ward when I gave birth and lactation specialists did not really give too much attention to me. (That's how I felt)
13. I gave up so easily on SNS feeding because of too much work.


I was about to give up but I persevere to increase my milk production. This could possibly be my only baby and I would like to do my best, at least for couple of mos, to give him breast milk. What did I do?

1. Follow the lactation specialist's recommendation of pumping at ;east every 2 hours or after feeding for 15 to 20 minutes using hospital-grade pump.
2. Also from my lactation specialist - eat more oatmeal, dates, brown rice, and green leafy vegetables.
3. Take supplementation of fenugreek capsules.
4. I took prescription medication, Reglan, to stimulate my brain production of prolactin. This made me so sleepy. So, I just took it for 1 cycle.
5. Slowly familiarizing my baby to my breast again.

Where am I now?

My baby is about 99 to 100 percent breast milk fed. He continues to get most of it through the bottle. I continue to pump every 2 to 3 hours. I don't pump at night anymore. I just have him latched to my breast in the middle of the night. I continue to be paranoid that my baby is not getting enough milk when directly latched and I tend to offer formula when he's fussy after breastfeeding. Pumping is getting more difficult because he demands more attention now and I am tired of washing the small parts along with baby bottle parts (I am using Dr. Brown's) every couple of hours. My hands are dry, cracked and sore from frequent hand and baby stuff washing.

I take it one day at a time. As long as there is milk in my breasts, I will offer it to my baby. My initial goal before I gave birth was to breastfeed for 1 year. Now, I'll be happy if I could do it for 3 mos.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Truce

Immediately after hanging up the phone on my mother for the second time that day, I felt the heavy weight of guilt and overwhelming sorrow. "Should I call back and apologize?" I asked my husband. Actually, I was looking for re-assurance that I did the right thing and he read me. "No" he said with biased conviction. "You did not do anything wrong!" He added. Hmmmm... Just what I want to hear from my spouse but I still felt uncertain. After all, it was an ugly and intense shouting match. Decades of hurt and hostility crammed in that two phone calls.

The relationship between my mother and I can be described at its best as volatile. A small spark can start an ugly fire. Most of the time it is hostile. The feeling started early on within me. It became worst since I moved to this country. Probably, the openness of the society and my so-called "Americanization" fueled this hidden anger. Or, maybe I see myself too much in her and I want to change it. It is a very complicated love-hate relationship. Dysfunctional is what I described it. But I know that if I don't resolve our recent fight, it will just bring me down for a long time as it did before.

After several minutes of serious contemplation, I realized that it is the past that has the gripped of us. Everytime there is a new irritation between us, the past always comes out. I blamed her for all my troubles and she did the same. The intention is to hurt the other person. It did just that and made each defensive. Very unproductive use of time. So, I decided to call back. She answered with a sad hello. I told her that I want to call a truce. I told her that I just want to start anew. We cannot change the past that tied us in the dark, unforgiving emotional state but we can forgive each other and promise not to bring the past in our next argument. Both wanting to move forward, we made the pact.

My skeptical husband who witnessed so many verbal fights between myself and my parents, said just take it one day at a time. This time I think is different, I hope.
Genuinely realizing that I cannot change the past nor my parents for that matter, it seems like a heavy weight lifted from my weary shoulders. According to Anne Lamott, "Forgiveness is letting go of all hopes of a better past." That's the forgiveness I want and need.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Almost 10 weeks

<

The new baby, Benji, certainly changed our family dynamics. The first night home was the most difficult. Benji did not sleep that first night and I was in pain from my C-section. Jason was left tending for both of us and I sensed some irritation due to fatigue and frustration. Fast forward to now, we got our routine down. I recovered from surgery. Benji is getting used to us and us to him. We are still learning. Two things are for sure -- we cannot imagine life without Benji and our priorities shifted. He has changed us, for the better or worst, I am not sure, yet.



However, whenever I see that smile, all the difficulties of parenthood just melts away. Now, only if he smiles more often than he cries, life would be perfect (just my wishful thinking).