Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pilipinas Kong Mahal

Ang bayan ko'y tanging ikaw
Pilipinas kong mahal
Ang puso ko at buhay man
Sa iyo'y ibibigay

Tungkulin kong gagampanan
Na lagi kang paglingkuran
Ang laya mo'y babantayan
Pilipinas kong hirang

My classmates and I used to sing this back in elementary during our flag ceremony. We sang this 5 times a week every morning for 6 years. At first, I was in Grade 1 then, I just sang this out of routine because it was a must that we memorized it. It was only in 1987, I was in Grade 6, that the entirety of its meaning had dawned on me.

The EDSA Revolution occurred in 1986 and I was just 11 years old at that time. I was merely a child and couldn't understand what was really happening to our country back then. After a year however, I was a bit curious of what was going on. Little by little as the years come by and celebrations after celebrations happened, I began to understand what it meant to be a Filipino and the significance of the song we sang every flag raising/retreat ceremony. I would say I have become nationalistic in my own way. I became interested in the news, not simply watching the current events being reported but "looking after" the welfare or state of my country. In addition, I would always set a time to pray for the Philippines, knowing and believing that it is only the Lord who can guard, protect and bless my beloved nation.

Now that I am a mom, I still have that love for my country and I would like to impart that to my daughter in ways that she will understand. It could be as simple as standing straight and putting the right hand to the chest when we hear the national anthem being played. It may not be that radical but I believe that will do for now.

How about you, fellow mom? In what other ways would you like to demonstrate/teach your little ones the love for our country? I would love to hear from you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Greatest Love

One of the verses in the Bible that touches me is in the 15th chapter of the Book of John, specifically, verse 3. It says there, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." Just imagine that, a friend laying down his/her life for you, isn't that awesome? As a mom, I know this is not incomprehensible. Every mother (my mom included) will lay down her life, at all costs, for her precious child/children. But to think of a friend doing it for you? Well that must really be love.

I know of that One friend who had laid down his life for me and you. He died the most excruciating kind of death though he didn't deserve it. He gave his life because he loves us. He took what was supposed to be given to us. It is not because we are worthy of it, no, not at all. It is simply because of his unfathomable love. Actually, I cannot grasp the depth of his love for us. When I think about it, I wonder and ask, "How could you do that for me? I'm not even as good as a friend can be, yet you have loved me." One song I know that captures my thought:

You loved me 
When I was so unlovely
You sought me 
When I was lost

You showed me
How much you really loved me
When you bought me
At the highest cost. 

There's no greater love than this
There's no greater love than this
That a man would give his life for a friend
There's no higher sacrifice
Than a man would give his life
You have paid a precious price for me.

No Greater Love by Don Moen

Today, I hope you find this greatest love from Jesus. He has made it available for you. It's free for the asking. All you need to do is to come as you are. He has been waiting.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

B-R-E-A-S-T-F-E-E-D-I-N-G is the Longest Spelling of Love

B-R-E-A-S-T-F-E-E-D-I- N-G is the longest spelling of love. Say what? Yes, you read it right. Do I need to say it again? :) Well, that is, as far as I am concerned. For me, it is because breastfeeding is love. I am a first time mom to a 2-year old (2 years and 5 months to be exact) baby girl/toddler and I am glad and proud to say that I am still breastfeeding her since she was born until now. My breastfeeding journey didn’t start as a walk in the park. It was long and arduous but because I love my daughter I was willing to take the road less travelled. Here is my story:

I got married at the age of 32 and didn’t have a child right away, firstly because it was our choice by me and my husband. However, all at once I got pregnant right after the wedding. Both my husband and I were clueless, we didn’t know because I was not showing any signs of pregnancy. Sadly, it didn’t push through. It was a blighted ovum and I had my first miscarriage. We decided to take things slowly and just enjoy life as a couple. We got busy with our work. Two years after the wedding, I had that deep longing to have a baby in my arms. I told my husband about it and we agreed that it was time to have one. A year passed and nothing happened. I was desperate. I was crying my heart out and pouring my soul to the Lord, asking Him to give me a child. Then at the end of the year, I got pregnant. Yay! We were so excited and though it was still too early to tell families, friends and colleagues, we had to because it looked like it was a sensitive pregnancy and I needed a complete bed rest (CBR) for at least a week depending on my condition. For the second time, it was not a successful gestation and the second miscarriage happened. It was so painful (emotionally) but I learned to let go and trusted God that He was in control of everything; that because He said “no” to this, He was saying “yes” to something better. Then He gave me His Word, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah (you) will have a son (child).” It was actually a verse in the Bible (Genesis 18:14) that spoke so clearly in my heart. I thought that the pregnancy would push through since it was given on the morning of the day I had the miscarriage (it took place in the evening). Several months after that incident, I found myself yearning again to have a child. I was so desperate that I talked to my husband if we could just adopt a baby and treat him/her as our very own. My husband was not against the idea however; his faith was that God would give us a baby coming from my very womb.

My husband and I at the Pregnant Pause on my due date! :)
A year after the incident, at “appointed time” of the Lord, I got pregnant. And though it was an early pregnancy, the heartbeat of our baby according to the very words of the obstetrician/sonologist, the baby had “wow, a very strong heartbeat.” Since then, I told myself and my husband, “We have waited for this baby for a long time. She’s a promise and gift from the Lord. We will give her our very best to take care of her.” Then I told my husband, “Babe, I would like to breastfeed her. “ And without any hesitation, my husband said, “That’s great!”
With some goodies/freebies from the event

Quite a long introduction, isn’t it, huh? Well, I would just like to give you the milieu of why I/we chose to give her my very best, that is, my breast milk. The story nonetheless didn’t end there. The ‘long and arduous’ journey isn’t it yet.  To continue:

I had a very blissful pregnancy, if I may say that. There was no complication and my vital signs were all very good at that. Our plan was for me to give birth naturally or to have normal delivery. Turn of events, I gave birth via C-section. Our precious little one was given to me after she came out so she could get the precious colostrum. She was taken to the nursery afterwards for some tests (My water bag broke first before I had contractions. My obstetrician-gynecologist said that that made me and my baby susceptible to infections so tests must be done to ensure my baby’s safety. Praise God, everything was fine and she had excellent test results). 

The first time I held her

Our bundle of joy

First family picture

A midwife and some nurses were preparing me for my second meet up with my baby so I could breastfeed her. At that time, I was a little worried because I didn’t see any milk coming out of my breasts. The nurses used an electrical pump but nothing came out. Then the midwife and the nurses broke the sad news to me. I have inverted nipples and I didn’t know that. I asked them what should be done so that my baby would still be able to suck milk. (Note: My husband and I didn’t buy any feeding bottles nor any formula milk because we had firmly decided that nothing should be given to our baby except breast milk. I salute my OB and St. Luke’s Medical Center because they support breastfeeding campaign). They did what they knew best – they tried to gently “pull out” my inverted nipples using a syringe and still nothing came out. My nipples were already sore then. But that didn’t stop my hope and desire to breastfeed my baby. Several hours passed and my baby was given to me. It was the most peaceful and happiest day of my life. Holding her was like a glimpse of heaven. I believe every mother can relate to that. Nevertheless, I had that fear. My thoughts were, “What if I won’t be able to breastfeed her? What if my milk is not enough? What if she’ll have a hard time getting my milk because of my inverted nipples? What if…”  But the nurses, as if they read my thoughts, told me, “Ma’am, don’t worry po. You have enough milk to feed your baby.” I was like, “Really? You really think so?”  Then the time to feed my daughter came. Whoah! What was that? I didn’t know that it hurts like that. But then again, I just had to look at my baby and the pain became bearable. 

Many mothers told me, “Yeah, your breasts will get sore. Breastfeeding is painful but you’ll get used to it after a week or two at the most, after a month.” Most of them, if not all, maybe don’t have inverted nipples that was why it was kind of easy for them.  But mine was a different story. Every time I breastfed my daughter, I would shed buckets of tears because of the pain. My husband was my greatest support at that time. He would let me hold his hand so tight he felt like it would burst. I would cry so hard yet inaudibly so as not to wake up my sleeping baby. With tears in my eyes I would look at her and say, “Baby, mommy loves you so dearly. “ The scenario was always like that. It came to a point that I dread the feeding time for I know it would mean muffled cries again. After every feeding I would see my breasts bleeding and the pain was unimaginable. As I cleaned my nipples, tears would run down again my cheeks and I had to remind myself time and again that I was doing it for the love of my baby. My husband took pity on me that he urged me to stop breastfeeding and just give formula to our daughter. I disagreed with him and assured him that we would do it even for just a month. A month passed and I knew I had to continue breastfeeding. My right breast developed mastitis so my baby subsisted on just one breast, however, her weight started to go down. I was frustrated and felt so miserable at that time. Everyone we knew and even strangers would ask why our baby was small or thin (she was 8 lbs. and 4 oz. when she was born). I was already contemplating the idea of giving her formula so she could recover from the weight loss. Nonetheless, our baby’s pedia encouraged me/us to continue with breastfeeding. After a month, as my right breast was recovering from mastitis, my left breast started to have mastitis too.  
From 8 lbs 4 oz to 7 lbs 2 oz
So again, my baby had to gratify herself with just one breast. Nevertheless, this didn’t stop me from giving what I know was the best gift I could ever give my daughter. My husband and I agreed that I would breastfeed her even for just 3 months. Three months passed by with the same condition of my breasts, (at this time, our daughter started to gain weight again) we decided to breastfeed her for another 3 months. The on and off status of my breasts did not hinder me from breastfeeding our daughter. Six months passed and a lot of people praised and commended me for “doing the right thing”. After 6 months, my husband and I talked again and resolved to breastfeed our baby for another 6 months or until she turned 1 year old and we would stop. That didn’t materialize though, because until now that our daughter is 2 years and 5 months old, I am happy to say without any regret, that I am still breastfeeding her. And I will continue to do so until she says, “Mommy, I am fine without breast milk.”

My daughter at 5 months
My journey to breastfeeding my baby didn’t start as a piece of cake. Breastfeeding is indeed love. Had it not been for love, I would have just stopped since I had all the excuses to do so. But those hundreds of reasons cannot simply outweigh my sole motivation for choosing to breastfeed my baby in spite of all the hurdles I had encountered, and that is, my utmost love for her. If I were given an opportunity to go back to that day, I would still choose to take that road less traveled. I would not do it differently. I would still opt to give my daughter the best of me.

29 months and counting

This post is part of the "Breastfeeding is Love" blog link up party. 
Please feel free to visit other posts from fellow mommy bloggers on the joys of breastfeeding! 

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