Ahhhh...finally, a time to write...

I've been on hiatus for a while...blame it all to the toddler in the house! :) 
Sometimes it's so hard to make her go  to sleep at night, I don't have the time to sneak into my blog site.  Other times, I feel so tired...I fall asleep before she does....but most of the time, I'm soooo loving every moment with her...I put all the blogging for later.

We knew that having a moving baby around the house calls for baby-proofing...and I "believe" we started early.  We received a lot of baby-proofing items from my baby shower and we were itching to use them!  So when our daughter started crawling, we have set up most of them.  We covered all the electrical sockets, made sure there were no sharp edges anywhere, and cleaned the floors to make sure there are no small objects she might choke on.  We live in a small apartment...we've done enough of this baby-proofing...right?  uhmmmm...WRONG!

I guess when you're a first time parent, you have this notion that you can fully handle your baby once they start walking.  I think it's like a "fairy tale" idea that once you baby-proofed your house, nothing can possibly go wrong...Your baby won't fall, won't hit their head and won't try to eat anything within reach.  Even if someone tells you to "be prepared" once your baby starts walking...you won't really take it seriously...because you THINK you've got everything covered.

So, fast forward to the future...Here I am now...with my walking toddler, a mess of a house and a feeling of 'the worse is yet to come'...What were they saying about the "Terrible Twos"...???  My daughter just turned one!!  So we're not even there YET??? 

Whatever we do, our toddler still finds her way to the trash, dirty shoes and indoor plants.  She even managed to give one of our fishes a heart attack (or so, i think) after repeatedly banging on the aquarium glass.

Now, we learned how to change things around the house base on our daughter's interests...In a month, we have:
1) placed a gate on the kitchen door (so she won't run directly to the trash, or the oven..or the fridge everytime)
2) remembered to lock all our cabinets (to avoid seeing clothes strewn in every direction..or paper ripped into a million pieces).
3) kept the dirty shoes and slippers as far away from her as possible (though she still finds a way to take whatever we're currently wearing in a flash!)
4) transfered our plants and aquarium to a much higher table (to avoid another loss of fish and to avert the possibility of leaves and soil ending on her mouth) 
5) made sure paper towels and tissue papers are out of her reach...powders out of reach, baby oil out of reach, baby wipes out of reach....and the list goes on...and on...and on....

Sometimes I wonder, with so much toys, why do toddlers spend so much time and energy going after the things they shouldn't?  human nature...?  Always trying to get something out of reach.  The challenge?  Curiosity?  Or maybe they just love the helpless, stressed and shocked look on their parents' faces?

The first few months of going after your walking baby is the hardest...at times you'll get frustrated...wishing he/she reaches the age of 4 (soon!) so he/she can just sit and play in a corner while you do the household chores. 

But then, it shouldn't be the case...the best thing to do to cope is to enjoy it.  YES!  Enjoy it!

It's funny, after a while you'll get used to having a toddler...As parents, we have to accept that we can only do so much with the baby-proofing.  Unless you cover your whole house in foam and remove all of your furniture, it will never be 100% safe.  In the end, we really have to be there with them...teach them what's okay and not okay to touch...to show PATIENCE.  To play with them.  Because really, I think they're just trying to get our attention most of the time.

Heck with the household chores!  I can do that later when my daughter is 4....for now, I'll cherish every moment of this toddler experience!  I'll let her play and be curious. 

Okay....I think I have to sign out now...need to take the dirty shoes from my daughter's hands!
Our baby turns one today...Happy 1st Birthday, Shandi!

I guess she's also excited about today since she woke up around 11 last night and seemed like she's going to wait for 12am (and welcome her day with a bang!).  Well, after 30 minutes, she got really cranky and decided to go back to sleep...funny baby!

Needless to say, today is also my 1st year anniversary as a mom.  Motherhood can change someone in so many ways...as for me, it made me more appreciative and thankful for the littlest things in life.  Thankful for my family's good health, for our baby's achievements, for supportive family and friends, for all the blessings we received.

I never knew our lives would change so much after having Shandi.  I cannot say it was a change for the better because I believe all the phases of our lives should be lived the best we can.  Instead, I call it a "happy" sort of change...

Before I got pregnant, when friends would show me a video or a picture of their children, I sometimes feel obliged to say something nice...something with the word "cute", "wonderful" and "adorable" in it.  Who knew that as soon as I gave birth, I'll have a phone full of baby pictures waiting to be shown to the world????  I could talk on and on about my baby to complete strangers...would even show a video of her trying to walk and babbling.  For me, everyone should care...she's my daughter and the source of our everyday joy!!!  I also have thousands of pictures on our computer, add to that the albums and picture frames around the house...would you like to see them?  Oh, and by the way, I also have this website...

On this special day, I have nothing but gratitude...It has truly been a year of "firsts" and I know it doesn't end with the first year.  This is only the beginning of all the wonderful moments to come.

So come and share our joy as we watch Shandi try to blow out her first candle.  It's cake time!!!
    I was cleaning my daughter’s dresser this weekend and I can’t believe how big she’s grown.  I mean, she’s almost a year old, I know…but I still see her as the infant the nurse handed over to me in the delivery room… 

    A sense of nostalgia swept over me as I folded clothes that no longer fit her.  Clothes she’ll never wear again.  I was looking at her old onesies and jumpsuits and I can’t believe she used to be that tiny!!! 

    Now she’s starting to learn how to walk and do all these things that make us laugh.  She knows how to shake hands, give high fives, clap and wave bye bye.  She would also do this cute little squint when we ask her to show us her “beautiful eyes” and would look like she’ll give us a smooch when we ask her to do “baho” (which means “unpleasant odor” in Filipino).  Well, it might be "baho" to her but it will always be a smooch for me!  

    I still stand in awe thinking how a 7.9 lbs little baby could do so much in just 11 months.  I think sometimes, as parents, we get too excited on the milestones our baby achieves we forget to take time and ‘breathe’ the moment.  

    Every day is precious.  Every day is a milestone. 

    I guess it’s something I have to accept (and swallow like a big pill) as a mother.  My baby would grow up…and even if I don’t want to think about it now, she’ll be a know-it-all teenager sooner than I can imagine. 

    So starting today, I vow to not wait for BIG milestones.  She’ll get there on her own time…she’ll learn how to walk when she’s ready…for now, I’ll cherish those moments where she still allows (and even enjoys) me carrying her…even if my arms would hurt after a while…   

    And if you are curious as to what “beautiful eyes” and “baho” look like:
showing off my beautiful eyes!
hmmmm...i think something doesn't smell right....
My aunt normally stays at our place when she babysits our daughter.  It's convenient for everyone and we have nothing to worry about since everything is available when she needs it.  The crib, highchair, toys...they're all within reach.

This day, however, we need to drop our baby off at her place because she can't come over...there's a first time for everything...and here's the start of my story...

My husband woke me up like two hours before what my body clock is used to.  

(Note:  If you know me well, you would know that I cannot function properly under two circumstances.  First, when I'm hungry...and second, when I have less than seven hours of sleep.  Brain functionality decreases even further for every hour taken out.)

After a quick breakfast, I decided to take a nap beside my daughter...Bad idea.  I slept for a full hour!! 

Okay, it's not really late and I have lots of time left.  I already prepared her diaper bag the night before so there's nothing much to do.  As soon as my daughter woke up, I fed her breakfast, cleaned and dressed her up...now we're ready to go to my aunt's place.

 Uh, except for one thing...I can't find the keys to the garage...

I searched everywhere...my purse, the kitchen, bedroom, living room...I even checked the fridge!  Nope...nowhere to be found!  I was getting really stressed out and was blaming my husband for losing the keys (called him like ten times just to make sure he knows.)  I was asking help from my guardian angel when I decided to look at the diaper bag for the fifth time.  Lo and behold!  It's in one of the pockets!!  No idea how it got there but thank God!!  After almost an hour, we can go now!

So here's what I can share from this harrowing experience:

1.  Prepare everything the night before. 
2.  Take more than enough of everything.  Bottles, milk, baby food, clothes, bibs, diapers, baby wipes, towels.
3.  Bring your baby's favorite toy (or security object).  It's important for your child to have a "piece of home" with her/him.
4.  Visualize a typical day at home with your baby to double check if you have packed everything she/he needs.
5.  Try to stay for at least half an hour before leaving her/him alone with the babysitter.  This is better for the baby because it gives them time to relax and get used to the new surroundings.
6.  Be calm when you leave and be quick with the goodbyes.  Your baby will probably cry when you go but don't worry, she'll stop when she gets distracted.
7.  Know where your keys are!!!

We're lucky to have my aunt as our daughter's babysitter.  We know our baby is in good hands...but dropping her off at my aunt's place the second time...? Uhhhm...what was the question again...?
A friend from an online group shared this funny (and true) Mommy Resume...I also saw it in a website for funny ecards (http://www.superlaugh.com/1/momresume.htm).  It made me smile, I just have to share!__________________________________________________________

Position: Mom

Long term team players needed for a challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic environment.
Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work various hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.  
Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in faraway cities.  
Travel expenses not reimbursed.  Extensive courier duties also required.

This is for the rest of your life.
Must be willing to be hated at least temporarily, until someone needs $5 to go skating.
Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.
Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, and embarrassed the next.
Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices.
Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none.
Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

None required, unfortunately.  On-the-job training offered on a continually, exhausting basis.

You pay them, offering frequent raises and bonuses.
A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.  When you die, you give them whatever is left.
The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered, job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.
I can still remember when I saw the September 11 bombing of the World Trade Center on tv...it was 10 years ago...but the terror and grief it brought to many will last a lifetime.

It has been a decade but I don't think America (or the whole world) ever recovered from it.  Millions of dollars and lives were lost in trying to seek justice for what happened.

What's justice?  And what's the peace everyone is supposed to have? Last May, Osama bin Laden was killed by the US army...was that the justice the victims and their families were waiting for? 

A week ago, I read an article in Yahoo news about a friendship between a very unlikely pair...the mother of a 9/11 victim and the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, an al-Qaeda member and believed to be a part of the 9/11 attack.

As a human being, it was easy to pass judgement on the mother of Moussaoui...to some extent, blame her for what became of her son...but after watching the video and hearing what she has to say, I cried.  She too, was a victim.

True peace comes from forgiveness.  As what Phyllis Rodriguez, the mom who lost her son to the bombing, said  "I don't forgive the act, but trying to understand why someone has acted in the way they have is part of the process of forgiving. Forgiveness is being able to accept another person for being human and fallible."

The two mothers, in their agony, saw each other's courage...in their loss, found a friend...

Please click this link to read the article and watch the video.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I have been bombarded with thousands of advices from well-meaning relatives, friends, and yes, even strangers.  Of course, knowing nothing about being pregnant and raising a kid...I tried to follow it all...until I got tired...

Best advice I ever got?  DO NOT heed them all!!

Seriously, if I do everything everyone told me to do, I would go far beyond crazy!!  I don't mean to dismiss all the suggestions (and sometimes, criticisms)...just follow what you feel will work best for you and your baby.  Eight months of being a mom is not a lot if you compare it to 30 years of experience my mom had...or to Octomom's expertise with raising her octuplets...or to the knowledge single moms have...you get my point?  Each of us is different as our babies are unique.  What might work for one parent would not necessarily be a hit with another.

Being new at this, I don't pretend like I know everything...truth is, I know nothing.  That's why we need supportive family and friends to help us make the transition from being childless to being a parent.  It's just that with all the suggestions on how to do things, it will be overwhelming.  Suffocation from information overload.

So, what do I do when someone approaches me and tells me a "better" way to take care of my baby?  I listen first.  If it's something I feel would help me, I welcome it.  There's nothing wrong with giving it a try...if it doesn't work, I let it go.  There's no sense brooding over why it works for others and won't work for me.

Listening is the key.  When someone's giving out parenting advice, listen.  Everyone is just trying to help (or so, they think!)..so be nice.  If it's something you've heard before or something you know won't apply to you...try to say something like "Thanks, I've tried that before..but I found out _ _ _ works best for me and my baby".  If the advice is totally useless, just smile and say thank you.  At the end of the day, just pick out the useful information and throw the rest out. 

Bottom line is, you are the parent and you know what's best.  We have all heard about "mother's instinct" or "parent's instinct"...you have it.  Listen to the inner voice inside you, couple that with good information and I think you're good to go. 
They say a woman becomes a mother as soon as she becomes pregnant and the man becomes a father when the child is born.

The first time we went to the ob-gyn to confirm I was pregnant and I saw that little dot on the ultrasound screen, I knew I would do anything I can to protect my baby.  Still reeling with excitement (and fear of the unknown), I searched the internet about anything related to pregnancy.  I joined forums to check out what other pregnant moms are going through. 
I stopped all the caffeine in my diet...No coffee, soda or tea.  Not drinking the first two was easy...the tea, that was hard!  I had to give up my iced tea, thai tea & black tea cravings for 9 months!! 

I also drank a tall glass of milk everyday..twice! (I'm never really a milk fan, just so you know).  I ate lots of fruits and vegetables...and everything that's good for my baby.

But really...when does motherhood begin?  

In my opinion, it doen't start with pregnancy...if it does, no one would commit abortion.  

Motherhood starts with love.  It's when you start caring for your child more than you care about yourself.  That is why even a woman who never got pregnant can also be a good mother...because she cares about the child, her child...sometimes even more than the biological mother herself.

I remember there was this question in a website..."when did you realize you're a mom?"...my ah ha! moment...my answer..?  It was when I willingly wake up every 2 or 3 hours to nurse and to change my newborn baby's diaper...It was when I got pooped, peed and puked on (the dreaded P's) but still laugh while cleaning myself...It was when I feel like crying when they took blood samples from her little feet...it was when I feel proud of every little achievement...and the list goes on...

To sum up, there's a quote I've seen a hundred times before but never really struck a cord until now:

You have never known what love really means until you became a mother - Anonymous

Thanks to my mommy, aunts and everyone who's been a mother to me. =)  I love you all!
continuation from Part 1...

We arrived at the hospital at exactly 7pm and went straight to the labor and delivery section.  The nurse asked me if I'm having any pains...which I answered yes...a little bit.  I feel really heavy!  Still no back pains...(why do I keep on waiting for the back pains?!?!)

They took me to one of the labor rooms and asked me to undress and put on a lab gown.  A nurse came in and asked me hundreds of questions...only thing I remembered was if I'll have epidural...which I answered “YES!” automatically.

After a couple more minutes, my ob-gyn showed up to check my progress.  He told me I’m already 8cm!!!  The dilation of the cervix before delivery should be 10cm...I'm only 2cm away!  Jude and I were shocked!  And I was even having second thoughts about going to the hospital!?! 

After that, the nurse asked more questions…asked me what my level of pain is (from 1-10)...seriously, for me it's just 7... She was like “just 7?"...So, through the contractions, I said “okay..now, it’s 8.”  I guess from reading too many birth stories, I imagined that the level of pain would be too high...

Another nurse came in, placed an IV on my vein and took some blood samples.  She told me we need to wait for the blood results before I can have epidural.  Honestly, at this point I knew God granted my prayer...no pain meds.

More contractions..like every couple of seconds.   The nurse came back and said we don’t have the blood results yet, and I might have to start pushing.  She checked me and I’m already 9cm...No time for epidural!  I feel tired and want to drink water...which, unfortunately, is not allowed.  She gave me a cup full of ice chips instead.

My water bag is still intact at 9cm dilation...my doctor said he has to rupture it.  He also placed some sort of device on my baby's head...to hear the heartbeat better. 

He left the room and the nurse said I have to start pushing...she'll bring me to the delivery room when they can see my baby's head.  Okay, so...I really don't know how to push!  That's the hard part...she said I was pushing with my face...I wanted to laugh but was too frustrated to do so!  What the heck is pushing with my face?!  She was teaching me how to push the correct way...Ugh! That was tough!  She told me I have to push like I'm doing "number 2”...why is it so hard when you're not sitting on a toilet bowl?!

I was so thankful that Jude was there the whole time...counting 1 to 10...helping me push...sometimes distracting me..  There's a tv inside the room and it was tuned in to a Peanuts Christmas Special.  Jude was like, can you tell me the name of this and that character?  Between contractions, I would say..."Oh, it's Pigpen...*contrations* and that's Peppermint Patty..."  Can we stop this please..I'm having a hard time breathing!  LOL.  It's funny now...it was frustrating then...up to now I still can't remember the name of that one character....there was also this one time he told me to "not look like I'm weak"...ummm...can you tell me how to do that...? 

Anyway, back to my story...After much pushing and little luck with doing it right...I looked at the clock and it's almost 10pm..I told myself, I want to give birth before 11!  I pushed, pushed and pushed!  Finally, they can see my baby's head...they wheeled me in to the delivery room and that was it!!!  It's time!!
Shandi's first picture!
The delivery team was composed of my doctor, a female intern, a couple of nurses...and my husband.  They were all urging me to push harder...to push through the contactions!  I was no longer looking at any of them.  I just closed my eyes and pushed as hard as I can. 

Then, I felt my doctor pull her out...our baby...whew!!  They cut the cord and brought her to the cleaning area.  Jude asked me if he can go and see her...

While he was taking pictures of our daughter, I gave birth to the placenta...double whew!!  It was such a huge weight off me...then they started to stitch me up (I had an episiotomy).  I felt everything!  Even the stitches.  Now I truly believe that our bodies are capable of so many wondrous things…that some pain are just in our minds..that women can make it though natural delivery without any pain meds...(just like the old times!)

The nurse from the labor room cleaned me up.  She pressed on my abdomen and I felt a gush of blood...old blood.  She said I wouldn't want that inside me.  She helped me move to a different bed and then handed me my daughter, Shandi.  I still can't believe it!  We arrived at the hospital 7pm...I gave birth 10:32pm.  God is great!

It all felt surreal.  Like, you know it's your baby...but you still can’t grasp the reality of it…Like, how did this happen? The miracle of life and my share in it…

Before, I imagined myself crying after giving birth…but being there...at that moment...I didn’t cry…I was immersed in the wonder and beauty of it all…of giving birth without pain meds, of being with my husband the whole time, of sharing this wonderful experience with him…and then, finally seeing and holding our baby in my arms…I didn’t cry…I was in awe…and full of thanks for all our blessings…I just want to say Thank you Lord!

Okay...I decided I'll write about my birth story...The purpose of which is either of the following:
    1.  Share my story with you guys.
    2.  Recount the event and kinda relive the moment.  Much like writing a diary where you can read the entry when you've forgotten some of the details.
    3.  Believe that our bodies are capable of such wondrous things.  Praise God, He made us that way! 
    4.  Make my daughter feel guilty when she's already a teenager and giving me a hard time!!! 

Okay, okay...the last one, I don't really mean...do you honestly believe I would do that???! (which got me thinking.....)

Honestly, I was scared as $#!+ about giving birth.  Here's my everyday mantra to boost my courage:
    1.  Of all the women who gave birth before me, I too, can go through this!
    2.  The Lord will help me have an easy, pain-free, normal (no c-section!) & fast labor and delivery.
    3.  When the pain is too much...there's a reason why the epidural was invented!

Two weeks before my due date, my doctor said I'm already 2cm dilated.  He wanted to see me after four days to see if I've progressed...he thinks I'll give birth before my due date.  I'm hoping he's right as my tummy feels really heavy already.  

Two days after that, I think I saw parts of my mucus plug when I went to pee...  I'm not even sure what a mucus plug is, really!  Up to now, I still don't know what the heck it is!  So instead of sounding all-knowing, I'll just say that I saw this thick, snot-like disharge.  I'm not scared and since I've read about this hundreds of times...I know it's normal.  I've had the discharge three times this day.  My mom said it means that I'm probably dilating (cervix opening up) already.

December 7, more discharge...I called my doc's office and the nurse said it's nothing to worry about.  But, just like what my doctor said, I should go straight to the hospital if I have the following:
    - contractions every 5 minutes for an hour
    - bleeding
    - water bag broke

At around 5 pm, I started to time my contractions since they’re closer apart and a little bit stronger.  It’s happening every 5 mins.!  I thought to myself, if I'm still having contractions by 6 pm, I'll tell my husband to take me to the hospital.  At around 5:30, I talked to my aunt on the phone and she told me to look for signs of blood.  She said on one of her pregnancies, she saw a teeny amount of blood...so little it's just the size of a pinhead.   

My mom left to go to my cousin's house so I'm all alone.  I went to the restroom and when I looked at the bowl, I saw more discharge with a tinge of pink.  Still not sure if it's blood...Guess I'm still in denial...LOL.  But just in case, I started to prepare the clothes I'll wear to the hospital.

When Jude got home (6 pm), I told him to have dinner first (I'm still wondering if labor has started as I don't feel any pain)...after a couple more contractions, I asked him to take me to the hospital.  I took a quick shower and off we went.  While in the car, I was praying "Lord, please...make this night the night!!  I don't want to go home and wait a couple more days!". 

I also knew I would forever wonder what it feels like to give birth without pain meds so I prayed, "Lord, if I'm meant to give birth naturally, when they check me, give me no other choice. I've heard that when the patient is more than 8cm, they no longer give epidural...and if I'm meant to give birth without meds, please, help me have a fast, easy, pain-free delivery..."

To be continued....Part 2