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 One day, I realized that my idea of self-care suddenly became another weekly goal that was no longer applicable, something that would set me up for failure week after week!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.

And it was THE BEST THIRTY MINUTES I COULD ASK FOR.

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.

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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.

Rainbow

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.

When playtime becomes my mirror

One day, I found our daughter playing with her dolls – Cherry (the panda dressed in cherry blossoms robe), Kiko (the monkey), Bunny (obviously a rabbit lol!), and Sweetpea (the other panda holding a heart, which was my gift to her papa when we were still in a long distance relationship).

She arranged her friends in one line, seated next to one another on the sofa. Then she took one of her cups and let them drink water. I could hear her sternly say “sit!” and “dink!” (translation: drink).

And just like that, Isla’s playtime became an opportunity for some self-reflection. I know I’m just trying to discipline Isla, especially during mealtimes, but I don’t want to sound that strict, the way Isla was to her friends at playtime.

Finding that balance is really difficult. There are SO MANY parenting books available for me (I’ve read a couple of the gentle parenting books of L.R. Knost). In the end, it all comes down to how I want to parent my child, what fits our dynamics and my child’s personality. I know there’s no one-size-fits-all concept for parenting. Along the way, I’m hoping to find the balance to being a parent and my daughter’s friend.

Here’s to hoping!

And here’s to more playtimes that become a mirror to my parenting ways.

Pre-preschool ongoing!

Our little girl started daycare on March 6. She’s been going to ‘school’ 3x a week. We used to bring her from Monday to Wednesday, but switched to Wednesday to Friday to accommodate a day tour of NYC when my brother and his wife were here for vacation during the last week of March. It turned out to be a better schedule for her. She has a more consistent daycare schedule this way, since most of the holidays before the last quarter of the year fell on a Monday.

Adjusting to daycare was difficult during the first 2-3 weeks. She’d start screaming and running away from me when she’d see me taking out clothes or when I try changing her diaper in the morning, even if we were only going to church on Sunday. Drop-off started becoming a nightmare on Day 2. And, at pick-up time, she’d start crying and would run to me when she realized it was me at the door (the teachers told me the ringing bell in the afternoon would make her cry when she realized it wasn’t me or her papa at the door to pick her up).

Slowly, she became attached to one of the assistant teachers. Before the first 4 weeks were over, the director told me that Isla was participating more on her own. I noticed she didn’t fret anymore when I changed her diaper and clothes before breakfast. She still preferred to be carried on our walk to daycare, but she didn’t cry anymore when we entered its doors. And the time came when  she’d walk into their classroom without a glance back to me.

daycare

Our little girl is slowly gaining some form of independence. She’s trying to experience things on her own (i.e., without me or her papa), and she seems to be having a lot fun!

Can’t wait to find out what will happen next!

The worst is over!

I’m not pregnant anymore, and I feel relieved. I’m no longer carrying a blighted ovum (aka an empty pregnancy sac). I thought expelling a blighted ovum would be like getting my period, only more cramping and more bleeding. I didn’t expect to:

1) Cry and writhe in pain from cramps that come and go every 6-10minutes, as if I’m in labor.

2) Feel sore, as if I intentionally pushed something out (I didn’t. My body just expelled the thing by itself with every “contraction”).

3) Feel light-headed from dehydration after (maybe) 2hrs of intense bleeding. (I ate a banana and finished 1L water after the 2-hr ordeal).

4) See the actual semi-solid 3-month contents of my uterus which, by the way, won’t fit in a huge coffee cup/cereal bowl because it will overflow! (Yes, gross – the reality of miscarriages!)

5) To feel weak the next day. And, with the best of luck, still feel cramps! (But thank God it’s no longer as intense as the night before)

I want to say that the worst is over. I believe the entire contents were expelled. As of this writing, I’m no longer bleeding as intensely as Tuesday night. But I do know I have to see my doctor to make sure I don’t need surgery. Hopefully I won’t need it.

I’m pregnant! (Technically)

By all accounts, I’m pregnant. But I’m carrying a blighted ovum.

What does it mean?

It means the sac inside my womb has no embryo. No fetus. No baby.

Strange, huh? But according to my doctor, it’s not an unusual occurrence.

I’ve been carrying an empty sac for 3 months now. So, technically, I’m 3 months pregnant. But Ed and I know that (literally) nothing alive will come out of my pregnancy. My body will get rid of it naturally. And, based on the frequency of abdominal cramps I’m having, it will happen soon. It’s just going to be like getting my period, only heavier and may be more uncomfortable because of the cramps.

It’s easier to talk about it now that last month. And, for some reason, when I found out that what I’m carrying has a name, it was easier to fully accept. I don’t know why.

I’ve been trying to get back to my usual physical activities. There’s no treadmill at home, but there’s a Gazelle. I ride it for about an hour while watching a Korean drama (Descendants of the Sun). Being active helps me feel like myself, and the Kdrama is a welcome distraction from the cramping and the knowledge that I’m carrying a blighted ovum.

I’m really hoping it comes out soon. The sooner it’s gone, the better for my psyche.