1 Becomes 2

It’s been a crazy/hectic/chaotic/rewarding first quarter of 2018.

I had a baby in January, making us a family of 4. We are now parents to a 3-year-old little lady and a nearly-4-month-old baby boy. The last months went by in a blur of diaper changes, breastfeeding sessions, daycare dropoffs & pickups, runny noses, potty training (which hasbeen successful since May 2nd! Our girl is free of diapers!), house chores.

This week, I started working again after a 4-month maternity leave. So I’m in that phase where I’m trying to get a feel of what routine works best for us on a weekday. Some seem to work, but we’ll see.

The key to my sanity is flexibility.

Which is something that doesn’t come naturally to me because I love a sense of control.

But I must give myself a little credit. Over the past few weeks, I’m starting to be less rigid. Two very young chidren are teaching me to slow down, go with the flow every once in a while, admire the flowers and marvel at the birds around us.

When I try to see the world through the eyes of our toddler, I feel a little more carefree. I feel more alive. And it feels easier to just BREATHE.

It’s awesome that a tiny human can teach me – an adult – how to LIVE.

Being a mother to two is SO tiring, SO demanding, SO hectic, but OH SO REWARDING. The love I give is returned twice as much.

I never thought I’d live this life. I’m so grateful I am part of this family of four.



When I was young, I saw my parents and my aunts and uncles as these powerful protectors. Strong. As if nothing will break them.

Even when I went off to college, and later on found work, I still saw them that way. Maybe with a few battle scars, worn from toiling, a bit older with a few medical conditions. But still there. Still standing.

Immortal, if you will.

I know, I know. Not one human is immortal.

But that’s how I saw the people who raised me.

Fast forward to May 2017. The 4th of 12 siblings in my father’s family, Auntie Murr, suddenly passed away after a massive heart attack. Less than two months later, the oldest and the matriarch of the family, Auntie Elsa, passed away after battling cancer. Eight months later, on February 9th, the 3rd of the 12, Auntie Aida, passed away in the hospital, after more than a year or two of various medical complications.

These were women who helped raise our families. Along with another aunt, Auntie Baby, they stopped going to school and worked, instead, to send their other siblings to school. They put up a business, which did well in the 80s to early 2000, and sent nieces and nephews to prestigious schools, me and my two siblings, included. Auntie Elsa, Auntie Aida, and Auntie Murr were three of the four pillars of our family. I never considered their mortality because of the strength and fortitude they showed no matter what hardship they faced.

And now I have to realize and accept that the men and women who raised me are human, bound to the reality of humanity – death. My father and mother will pass on. I can’t begin imagining how I would feel when that day comes.

Today, our family mourns another loss. We were expecting she’d go any day, given the many medical complications Auntie Aida had for the last few years, but it’s still heartbreaking nonetheless. I wish I could be with our family back home to mourn. For now, I offer my prayers and a special Mass intention for my Aunt.

You are now at peace, Auntie Aida. Until we meet again.

Finding my bearings

Less than a week post-partum, I told Ed I felt a bit lost.

This isn’t my first time caring for a newborn. I knew what to expect when I decided to breastfeed again. Still, that fuzziness or darkness, if you will, crept up on me. I couldn’t spend ample time for crocheting without breastfeeding interruptions. I felt weak and helpless while I dealt with tearing and massive hemorrhoids (TMI, I KNOW LOL!) And all I did during those first few days were nurse and change diapers. I couldn’t even play with our oldest, or attend to her needs.

I lost my sense of self and purpose outside of being the primary caregiver to a newborn. My hubs suggested I try to do something outside of newborn care – like binge watch something on Netflix, or anything that doesn’t require too much effort.

Ten days post-partum, I decided to make dinner to feel like myself again. It was just cheeseburgers with fries. I marinated the ground beef, and then slid the patties into the pan after forming them in a bowl (didn’t want to touch raw meat). And the fries were frozen. I didn’t have to slice/chop anything. I was on my feet for more than 30 minutes, sitting down a few minutes while waiting to flip the patties. But, man, did my body protest! If my crotch could talk, it would scream “STOP PLEASE!”

With the renewed pain I felt, I started spiraling again into that feeling of dread and sadness. I wanted to do something to feel like myself again, but making dinner was still too much for me during that time.

Fast forward to three weeks post-partum – my husband is back to work. Thankfully, I could function more than I was able to during the first two weeks after birth. I am able to drive again – a short distance, but I managed to do it without feeling like my crotch was protesting from the effort. I am working on my crochet project. Very slow-going, but I’m glad to be able to do it. And I’m easing back into my meditation schedule, which really helps me relax.

I’m slowly feeling like myself again. I could use more sleep at night, but I’m glad I could nap in the afternoon.

I know this is a fleeting moment – long nights but short years. Cherishing this newborn phase still proves to be difficult. But if there’s one thing I learned from mothering our oldest when she was born, it’s this – No matter how meticulous I plan my maternity leave days, I need to be flexible and adapt according to the circumstances of day-to-day newborn care.

With a headstrong 3-year old, we will find our new normal soon. There’s really nothing else we can do but trust that we will.

Emmanuel’s birth story

I officially became a mother of two on January 13, 2018 at 5:30 PM!

Emmanuel decided to join us nearly three weeks earlier than expected. My water broke at 3:30 AM. No contractions AT ALL. The doctor said I was 3 CM dilated then, and transitioned to 4 CM after three to four hours.

He was taking his sweet time!

I felt some contractions, but they weren’t as strong as I anticipated at 4 CM dilation. The whole experience was a deviation from when I gave birth to our oldest (contractions beginning day before the birth; water broke the next day, when the contractions were closer together; fully dilated two to three hours after water broke). I was eventually given Pitocin, and, thankfully this time around, I received epidural.

When we reached the final phase of labor and delivery, the doctor ordered to stop administering the epidural. According to her, I wasn’t pushing effectively; I needed to appreciate the contractions more, so I can push properly. I started panicking. I knew how those contractions felt at 10 CM dilation and fully effaced from when I gave birth to our oldest. Thankfully, my husband and I knew this time around what we can do to make it through that phase. We didn’t attend birthing classes (nor did we for our oldest), but I found this Youtube channel called Prenatal Yoga Center which discussed tips on how to make it through labor & delivery. Two things I learned: (1) Open throat, open vagina, and (2) 4 breaths in, and 4 breaths out.

My husband knew about the breathing technique (I told him about it). He was very instrumental in helping me focus on the breathing technique when they stopped administering the epidural. He was very supportive, and proactive as well in letting my nurse know how I was feeling, and asking the necessary questions I couldn’t ask during that time. I also have to acknowledge my nurse at that time (whose name I can’t remember now!) for suggesting ways to help the baby along. She repositioned me to allow Emmanuel to descend on his own, with the help of the contractions (which meant no pushing to allow myself to rest!). She was also the one who suggested I lie on my left side while pushing, which proved to be very effective.

My medical team was about to recommend a C-section (because of failure to descend), when I suddenly felt something like a massive constipated poop after pushing while lying on my left side, with my knees together. I knew it was Emmanuel. My body’s instinct was to lift my right leg to allow the baby through, and I told Ed I could feel his head coming out. Ed immediately told my nurse what he saw, which surprised her, coz she was already preparing the forms to do the C-section! She immediately called the rest of the medical team. Two minutes after the doctors came in, and following the “stop pushing!” order, I heard a flopping sound, and then the distinct crying of a baby at exactly 5:30 PM.

I instantly felt this rush of (surprisingly) relaxation! I never expected to feel that way after VBAC. It was a very humbling and empowering experience all at once. Minutes after Emmanuel was out, I couldn’t describe and remember exactly how painful the contractions were, and how I struggled through them. To this day, I’m still in awe of what my body can endure.

So there it is! That’s Emmanuel’s birth story. It’s completely different from Isla’s, and I think their personalities are as different as it can be as well! I’m really looking forward to getting to know this little boy while watching him grow.

Little pockets of heaven

One of the things I learned last year was to put importance on self-care. It’s what helps me produce a strong enough patronus to keep those pesky dementors at bay.

When you’re on a living wage, with a growing family AND aiming to be a home owner soon, the reality of living in America makes it difficult to find the time for self-care. IF your idea of self-care is going out of the house by yourself for a few hours to do whatever it is that you want to do JUST.FOR.YOU.

There were weekends when I’d plan a self-care trip – go for a short drive to Starbucks, buy coffee (or green tea latte), and just sit on one of the bar stools and read a book or crochet. Some weekends go according to plan. But on those particular weekends when things spin out of control at home, I instantly feel myself spiralling out of control, going further and deeper, until I find myself plagued by anxiety and depression. 

The fact that I’m now 32 weeks pregnant and no longer able to fit in the driver seat comfortably makes this 👆 idea of self-care impossible to do. One day, I realized that my idea of self-care suddenly became another weekly goal that was no longer applicable, something that would set me up for failure week after week!

Ironic, isn’t it?? 

I had to reshape my way of thinking in terms of self-care. What was my goal on weekend self-care trips? 

To be ALONE.

So, one Saturday, I found myself asking my husband for a few minutes of time alone in the bath with my new body scrub. No knocking on the bathroom door to ask me questions, no toddler screaming for me.


It was a far cry from a quick drive by myself, but it was a much-needed 30 minutes of alone time to gather myself in one full sweep and come out rejuvenated and, well, literally fresh to conquer another day.

With a second baby coming soon, little pockets of heaven, like this time alone in the bath, is the self-care I know I’ll need.

Mental health

April 7, 2017 – After more than a year of sessions with a psychologist, I “graduated” from psychotherapy. 

Yes, before my little girl turned one, I finally admitted to needing help and sought it. I never thought I would need it. I was too proud. And it didn’t help that there’s this stigma on mental health concerns.

I don’t talk about it, but I am very glad I took that first step of admitting I needed professional help. It was the best decision I made for myself.

During my sessions, my therapist helped me navigate my inner thoughts/voice using the method called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Basically, it’s a mental tool that helps me sort through all the thoughts that go through my mind in the speed of light. It helps me slow down and pinpoint what triggers the thoughts/ideas that I am not good enough to be my daughter’s mother and/or husband’s wife, which, in turn, helps me rationalize in my own mind that I AM good enough.

The therapy sessions, and also the constant practice I did on my own, helped me figure out where this idea of not being good enough and where this need to be the perfect mother and wife came from. It was primarily cultural – that as wife and mother I NEED to make dinner no matter what; I NEED to be the one taking care of my kids; I NEED to serve the family; I NEED to keep the house clean and organized, because the appearance of the house (and everything else) reflects on the mother/wife.

Yeah, in an ideal world – or at least in a house where parents are able to afford to pay for househelp – that’s doable.

But those standards I set for myself based on what my culture dictates are not attainable in our current set up. It’s just not. And if these standards are so high, I’m setting myself up for failure. 

Every. Single. Day.

And so my therapy revolved around changing my mindset on being a mother and wife. Even though I graduated from the therapy sessions in April 2017, I’m still dealing with the constant nagging in the back of my mind. As what my therapist reminded me – self-care and mindfulness exercise is something I need to do on a daily basis. No matter what. It’s something I learned in Oct 2016, when I thought I was fully cured and found myself spiralling out of control again.

This is the first time I ever put my mental health struggles out in the open. Why am I doing it now? I want women, especially new mothers, to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Help is available when you need it. You can get help. And it is OKAY to need help. 

I wish you all the best as you navigate your way through those murky thoughts. I pray that you will find the best help for you. 

Two Write Love On Her Arms has great resources – https://twloha.com/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available on the web https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or on the phone 1-800-273-8255.

If you live in NYC, the city has a mental health hotline 1-888-NYC-WELL (692-9355), and a text line – Send WELL to 65173. They are also available on the web https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/en/

And, like physical emergencies/danger, you may call 911 for immediate assistance on mental health concerns/issues.


If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you know that I had a blighted ovum earlier this year.

Fast forward to November 23, 2017 – I am 10 weeks away from giving birth to our baby boy!

Yes, you read that correctly. I conceived again (2 months after miscarrying, as per doctor’s advice hehe) and expecting our second child.

This has been used so many times in the age of social media, but we truly feel #blessed. We didn’t plan on conceiving again two months after miscarrying, but it happened. And we’re more than ecstatic!

Our little girl, who will turn 3 yrs old in February, doesn’t quite understand yet the impact of another baby in our life. But she knows there’s a baby in my belly. She’d kiss and hug it often. And sometimes when I find myself unable to stand up, she’d offer her hand to help me up, the way her Papa does.

Such a sweet sweet child. And I hope it stays that way when the new baby is here.

It’s just been a whirlwind of activities at home – from the usual chores to easing our girl into going to daycare more than 3x a week. We’re potty training, too! Add work to the mix, and all those things suddenly become too much of a challenge when I’m growing another human inside me. Thankfully, the husband is more than willing to take over for me when my body couldn’t handle the daily demands of the household.

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US. We’ve had tons of trials to overcome this year, but much more to be grateful for. This rainbow baby is, indeed, blessing to our growing family. I couldn’t be happier.

Well. Until I give birth, that is.