First Mommy Journal Post

It's been more than a week since I gave birth to our precious Baby Shiko, and as all first time moms probably know, I am in the process of adjusting to my new routine and sleeping schedule. I never want to miss out documenting this very treasured moment of my life, so I'll try to compress everything in this single post with such limited time that I have before this little man beside me wakes up for feeding or diaper change time. :) 

I started to feel labor contractions last November 1, and was admitted on November 3 due to low amniotic fluid. However, after 48 hours in the hospital, my fluid increased and my OB advised that there was no reason for us to rush since baby and I's condition looked perfect. I was only 1cm dilated, so she sent us home and asked us to return to her clinic 3 days later. 

When we returned to her clinic, my amniotic fluid was still at normal level, but I was still only 1cm dilated. During the NST monitoring, we found out that there was a slight decrease in Baby Shiko's heart rate, this could mean that since I am an APAS patient, and my placenta is already getting old, our Baby might not be getting enough oxygen at times causing a decrease in his fetal heart rate. My OB advised that we could still go home and come back the next day for another NST and if Baby's heart rate continues to decrease, then she will have to break my bag of water and induce my labor. We could still try to go on normal delivery, but there is still a risk for Emergency C-Section if my cervix won't dilate after breaking my bag of water.

Mike and I agreed at first, but as we were going out the parking lot of St. Luke's, he expressed to me that he was bothered about our baby not getting enough oxygen, and since I have already stopped my blood thinner injections for quite some time, anything can happen now (blood clots that could be fatal to me and baby) and he didn't want to take the risk and wait for another day.

I immediately called my OB (who was already on her way to PGH for another schedule), and told her about our concern. She understood and respected our decision. She then scheduled us for a C-Section that same day. At around 4pm, we were admitted to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit of St. Luke's, and at 7:30pm, I was sent to the Operating Room. 

At exactly 8:18pm on November 8, 2016, after 6 years, 38 weeks and 2 days of waiting, our baby Kaden Shiko Isaac T. Eugenio was born.

It was such an incredible experience to finally hold our baby in our arms. All of those years of crying out to God in the middle of the night, moments of weeping as we passed by the Infant's Section of the Department Store, heart breaking Baby Shower invitations, staring at my friends' baby pictures in Facebook, countless negative pregnancy test results, insensitive jokes and unsolicited advices from well-meaning friends and relatives... all of those things didn't matter anymore the moment Baby Shiko's skin touched mine.  I look back and trace the hand of God throughout our entire journey... His presence in every Doctor's appointment, every needle pokes... His provision for every expensive treatment and medicine, how He sent good doctors to take care of us, and most especially loving friends who stood with us in faith and prayed for us. God has been very good to us, and He has given us this tangible evidence that will forever remind us that He can be trusted to keep His promises (Hebrews 10:23). 

The first 48 hours of Shiko with us at home was a bit crazy. As first time parents, everything was new to us, so there were a lot of adjustments that we had to make. I realized that I could no longer give Mike the bed time massage that I've been giving to him every single night for the last 6 years... At first, I felt a bit sad because I know how much he looks forward to it every time he comes home very tired from work. Mike has been very understanding and gracious to me, especially as we both committed to exclusively breastfeed and as I am still recovering from my CS operation. He's been doing most of the household chores that I used to do and just let me rest and focus on taking care of Baby Shiko. Mama staying with us at home has also been a huge blessing -- we get to eat delicious home cooked meals! She also helps me out with taking care of Baby Shiko and does some of the chores too. 

By God's grace I feel like I am starting to get a hold of this new life. We are starting to get better sleep the last couple of days (by "better" I mean 2-4 hours of sleep, compared to no sleep at all). Baby Shiko seem to also like his new home and we are starting to get to know each other better. He loves to sleep on my chest after every breastfeeding session, it keeps him warm and makes him feel secured... it's the most priceless moment for me, I love knowing, and feeling that he needs me to be there for him.

I was staring at Shiko's face the other night as he was sleeping on my chest. His innocent smile, his frown, raising of eyebrows, pouting of lips, his blank stare when he is awake... his simple facial expressions melt my heart! How could someone so tiny fill my heart with so much joy! This little baby... he doesn't have to do anything for my heart to be filled with love for him. He doesn't have to earn it... I love him, just because he is my son, and I am his mother. No sleepless nights or soiled diapers could ever change that.

I realized that this kind of love could not even be compared to the greatness of God's love for me. He delights in me, and I never need to earn His love. He loves me just because I am His daughter and He is my good Father. There's nothing that He wouldn't do to protect me, to provide for me, and to bring me to the best life that He has always prepared for me. He finds pleasure in doing good and taking care of me in the same way that I find pleasure in embracing Baby Shiko to keep him warm. God wants me to need Him, to always let Him be the center of my life. As I walk with Him through this new journey called Motherhood, I am excited to learn more, and to experience more of His love and His presence every step of the way.

"Can a mother forget her nursing child? 
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? 
But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!"
- Isaiah 49:15

Reflections While Getting Ready to Pop

It's been a while since I last posted an update about my pregnancy. As I write this, we are currently at 34 weeks and 4 days, few more weeks and we'll get to hug and kiss our precious Baby Shiko. We are all excited as my delivery date draws near. I feel that Baby Shiko is super excited too! He's been very active lately with all the kicking, and acrobatic movements going on inside my tummy, my increasing craving for ice cream and sweets adds up to that of course! ;)

We've had a Doppler Ultrasound yesterday and we were so blessed to know that Baby Shiko is continuing to grow with strong heartbeat, and smooth blood flow (no notching or resistance in uterine and umbilical arteries). His size is just appropriate for his age, which according to my OB is very good since one of the common problems of APAS Moms like us is "small for gestational age" babies caused by resistance in the blood flow from the mom to the baby. My OB advised that we can already discontinue my daily blood thinner shots since everything looks well with me and baby. Hurray! I've been waiting for this moment! After almost nine months of daily injections, my multi-colored belly could finally rest from needle pokes! Husband was also so happy to hear this, and on our way home, he told me that he greatly appreciate me for enduring this, he hugged me and whispered that he is very proud of me.

From almost 10 medications that I used to take, I am now down to only three: Caltrate (2x a day), Ferrous Sulfate (3x a day), and Natalwiz (once a day). My OB also advised, that contrary to what others believe, APAS Moms doesn't automatically become candidates for Cesarian Section Delivery. She said that it still depends on the condition of both the mom and the baby. Right now, she sees a very high possibility that I can give birth through  Normal Delivery (we've been praying for that!), unless something comes up. She would have to induce my contractions on my 38th week though, since she highly recommends APAS Moms to not reach the 39th-40th week for the safety of both the mom and the baby. My due date is on November 20, but she informed us that on the last week of October, she will start giving me medicines to soften the cervix and initiate contractions so I can give birth within the week of October 31-November 6, exactly at 38 weeks.

Throughout this journey, and with every good Doppler and Ultrasound result, Mike and I continue to realize that it has always been God's grace and will after all. We've known people and read stories of other APAS pregnancies like us who have gone through even more extensive and expensive procedures than what we've experienced. Aside from the LIT injections that we've gone through during our first trimester, others had to go through monthly Intralipid drips, IVIG, blood thinners and steroid shots. Some even had to go on complete bed rest for months... However, despite their compliance to go through all of these, still, some of them loose their babies along the way. My heart mourns and grieves whenever I read stories like that. On the other hand, I also read successful APAS pregnancies and even see beautiful pictures of their "rainbow babies" (this is how we call babies who are born after a storm -- may it be a miscarriage, fetal death, or long season of waiting).  

Through both sides of  these stories, I am humbled and reminded all the time, that more than the treatments and the medicines, ultimately, God's Sovereign will still prevails after all. God is not only good when things go well or when the pregnancy becomes successful... He is still good, even when what we do not expect or do not prefer happens. God is not only good now, because everything seem to be going well with our Baby Shiko... He is the same good and loving God, four years ago, when the heartbeat of our first baby stopped at 9 weeks. He is the same good and loving God during the season of waiting when nothing seem to be happening. I had to believe and stand upon that truth even when it didn't feel like it while I was in the middle of the storm and wilderness, but as I clung to Him and His promises all those years, He proved to me that He is indeed who He claims to be:

"He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!" - Deuteronomy 32:4

I believe that He will remain to be the unchanging, good, loving, gracious, faithful and sovereign God in every season that we will have to face in this lifetime... and how about the babies who were not given the chance to be in the arms of their expectant parents? I believe that they have fulfilled the special purpose that God intended for them to fulfill, no matter how short their time were in their mother's womb... I look forward to that day, when we will see our first baby in heaven, and he/she will get to play with Baby Shiko and their other siblings (if God wills for us to have more)... in the mean time, we will cherish every single moment of this current season of our lives as Mike and I prepare to become the parents that God wants us to be... by His grace, and for His glory.

Doppler Ultrasound Result at 34weeks and 3days
Preparing Shiko's stuffs

Officially Thirty!

Few weeks before my birthday, Mike has been asking me how I wanted to celebrate it. He suggested going out of town or treating our family out. To be honest, I almost forgot that my birthday was coming. I guess I've been so excited and looking forward to November when I will be giving birth to Baby Shiko that I've lost track of the other occasions that would come before it. If you've known me for years, you should know that this is so not like me. My birthday has always been a big thing for me. When I was still single, I used to prepare and save money to make every year's celebration a blast. I love seeing my family and friends come together year after year. Even Mike was surprised that I almost forgot about my birthday. I told him that I don't want to celebrate my birthday this year, I just want to save up money for Baby Shiko's needs and to prepare for his delivery in the next few months. I guess priorities really change as we grow older.

In one of my alone moments, I felt the Lord speaking to my heart. He reminded me that while it's a good thing that I am starting to mature and change my priorities, I also should not forget that my birthday is not just about the details of the celebration or the amount of money that I would be spending on it... more importantly, it is the day when I was born in this world... on that day, He already knew the plans and purposes that He has for my life... on August 19, 1986, He smiled from heaven as He heard my very first cry... and every single day of my life was recoded on His book. I wept as I felt convicted in my spirit. Because of too much excitement for Baby Shiko, I felt sorry that I made God feel that I am neglecting my birthday and just wanted to treat it like any other ordinary day, when it should be a day of thanksgiving, a day of remembering His faithfulness in my life for the last thirty years. I repented, and told Him that I would celebrate it, even in a simple way. 

So last week, I officially turned thirty years old! I feel so grateful because I never imagined that I would be living such a blessed life! Not without problems or challenges, but with the presence of God through it all! I never thought that I will be entering this new decade and season of my life with the most precious gift moving and kicking inside me. I feel so blessed to have a husband who does his best to make me feel so loved... to have family and friends who are always there for us. I feel so undeserving of all of these, and I thank God because this is all His grace!

I know that I would want to look back at this post one day, so I don't want to miss the chance to document how I celebrated my 30th birthday. The day before my birthday, Mike and I went to the mall to start buying Baby Shiko's clothes, and some stuffs that we need as we set up his play room. It was such a beautiful moment with Mike. I remember daydreaming about that moment many years back, and I couldn't contain my happiness as it was finally happening! (Maybe I'll post another entry about those baby stuffs soon). Afterwards, he treated me at Racks as our simple birthday dinner celebration.

My husband is not really into music so I was surprised when he asked me to go with him to RJ Guitar store after we've had our dinner.  I was so surprised when I found out that he brought me there to buy his birthday gift for me --- a pink acoustic guitar! Totally unexpected! The Lord knows how much my heart grieved when Mike decided to get rid of my electric guitar and amplifier last year because of our house mold problem. I felt like he didn't really care about my love and passion for music... it really broke my heart. So when Mike surprised me with this gift, I couldn't help but weep especially when he told me that, "I care about the things you love.. the things that make you happy.. Happy Birthday.." This means so much to me as a wife.  I felt the presence of the LORD as I wept remembering the times when I was pouring out my heart, crying as I tell Him that I choose to submit to my husband even if I was hurting inside, because to honor and please Him is more important to me than my love for music. This pink guitar will always remind me that God listens to the quiet longings of my heart... and of course, it was a big pogi points for Mike! He really made me feel special through it!

The next day, we spent the entire day starting to set up Baby Shiko's room. Mike was really tired as he was the one who did the general cleaning. We celebrated my birthday with the family the Sunday after my birthday. We went to church together, my mother and siblings in law cooked some of my handa, and we just had a simple get together at home. Over all, it was fun and I felt the love of the people closest to me. :)

I missed doing this with them! :)
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Little Moments, Six Blissful Years

A few months from now, Mike and I's lives are going to drastically change. As we enter our sixth year of marriage, we celebrate and thank God for every little moment of being together that brought us to the kind of intimacy that we have with Him and with each other. Our wedding anniversary this year also meant closure for this season of our marriage, and jittery but excitedly welcoming a new one, so we wanted to celebrate it by spending quality and intimate time together away from the noise of our busy lives in the city.

Baby Shiko is getting heavier everyday causing some discomfort in my lower back and numbness in my left leg, because of that, long hours of travel is not an option for us as Mike and I decide where to celebrate. Tagaytay was the best option that we came up with and upon searching and reading some blogs, we decided to stay at The Boutique Bed & Breakfast.

We arrived at the hotel a few minutes before our check-in time and was welcomed by very friendly and accommodating staff. As we were waiting for our room to be ready, we were brought to a small room so we can personally choose the scent of our room, and the flavor of soaps, body scrub, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion from their own line of body and bath essentials. I was told that these were all organically made so I didn't have to worry about chemicals that could harm my still developing baby.

My personal choice of soap -- Melon Peppermint! Smells so good!

We were favored to have one of their best available rooms, which is "I Dream", considering that we only emailed to reserve two days before our check-in date. We were told that this room is their best seller room which is always the first option of their guests (they only have seven rooms available). Mike and I both loved the all white interior of the room as well as the beautiful view of Taal Lake from our balcony. 

We were given welcome drinks, a small fruit platter and some pika snacks. Room service was fast and efficient and I love how every one of their staff made us feel very at home. I personally commend the lady (I forgot her name) who always greeted us with her smile every time I open the door for her room service.

Welcome drinks and Shing-a-Ling!

Breakfast Options for the following day!
(Forgot to take a pic of the back page)

So what did we do the rest of the afternoon? We spent time talking, laughing, and teasing each other. We watched the SONA of President Duterte. We borrowed DVD's from the hotel (yes it's also free!) and watched X-MEN: The Last Stand. At late afternoon I was already hungry, so we called the reception to order merienda. As expected, the hotel staff was kind enough to bring us the menu and order from  Pamana, a nearby restaurant but not exactly within their vicinity. I loved how they tried to accommodate and say yes to every request, this made our stay extra special since we never had to leave our room.

We ordered Puto Bumbong and Pandesal with Kesong Puti Pesto
A few minutes later, the masseuse knocked for our complimentary foot and facial cold stone massage. I haven't asked my OB if I was allowed for a massage, so I gave mine to Mike. I loved to see him rest, relax and be pampered, he's been very tired with work and with taking care and providing for me and Baby Shiko lately.

We decided to eat dinner at the hotel's Hawaiian Bbq restaurant. The food was sooooo..... delicious! Especially their Original Hawaiian Baby Back Ribs! It matched well with the Pineapple Chicken Rice and the Carrot and Corn side dish. They also gave us a free desert as their wedding anniversary gift to us! But more than the food, this candlelight dinner was one of my favorite moments with him during this trip. While waiting for our food to be served, we reminisced about how everything started between the two of us, and how far the Lord has brought us. We talked about our dreams for our family, for Baby Shiko, our future together, and God's promises to us. This means so much to me as a wife... to hear my husband open up his heart to me.

The Original Hawaiian Baby Back Ribs

Pineapple Chicken Rice

Mango Chicken

Mango Crumble -- Free Desert ! Their Wedding Anniversary Gift to us!
Around 9pm, the hotel sent us another goodnight treat -- a pot of Tablea Hot Chocolate and Churros! Before we went to sleep, we prayed together, thanked God for such a wonderful day, a wonderful life together, and we once again surrendered our unknown future to Him. Such a beautiful way to end our day!

To fall asleep and wake up in the arms of the person I love... this is one of the many things that I treasure most about being married. As usual, we started the day with our own quiet moments with God. Later on, our breakfast arrived (fifteen minutes ahead of schedule).

Mike's quiet time with God while gazing at His majestic creation! 
Big Breakfast in Bed!

We spent the rest of the morning listening to worship songs while lying on the couch of our balcony. Then a few hours later, we had to prepare for check out.

Upon check out, they gave us a small box of chocolate hearts, plus a voucher of 20% discount on our next check-in  (a reason to come back! Mike said we are definitely coming back here!). 

We had our lunch at Josephine's before heading our way back home to Manila. As we were walking to the parking lot, Mike said this to me: "Salamat ha, dahil pumayag ka na ikaw ang maging asawa ko..." While driving, he stopped at a garden shop along the highway and said that he was just going to inquire about something. He came back with three red roses for me. :)

Mike and I's marriage is far from perfect. We've had our own shares of ugly moments together and a lot of room to grow in our own roles as husband and wife... But moments like these, little moments like these -- simple talks, holding hands, surprise flowers, goodnight kisses, and morning embraces, have helped shape our marriage and made it such a beautiful experience. Little moments like these remind me of God's grace to me... how undeserving I am to live this kind of life, and yet, He gave me a husband like Mike to be an everyday reminder of His great love for me. I couldn't be more thankful for this life... for these little moments... for these six blissful years with Mike, and with God.