Yesterday, a miracle happened. Theo extended his sleep by an extra hour which in newborn talk is really like hitting the jackpot! We’ve been nursing at every hour, on the dot, LITERALLY so to have a 2 hour stretch was pure GOLD. So I quickly opened my laptop (which has been neglected for so many days) and started on a blog entry! The words just came gushing like the let down of milk while nursing and I was so thrilled to be able to write again—to put all my thoughts into actual words, to form sentences and string them into paragraphs! I didn’t care if the grammar was correct, I didn’t even bother to do a spell check. Just clicking on the keyboard was reward enough! Oh what joy to have some free time to blog after nearly 4 weeks!!! And halfway between my 7th paragraph, I heard my little one calling out to me again and I knew I was back to mommy-duty. I was still so grateful to have 7 paragraphs though and said “Thank you Theo for giving Mama a few minutes to write!”. So he latched, we nursed and like my usual juggling act—I pushed my laptop closer to me with my foot (yes, I was desperate!) and so I tried to wiggle my left pinky to click SAVE—and I thought I did, but, but, but instead it deleted THE WHOLE PAGE!!!!!!! Hay, a whole blog entry gone within seconds. All those emotions and reflections, baboosh!!! Before I could even attempt to sulk over it, I just looked at my son sucking away and just laughed. Nanay na talaga ako! It hit me, I no longer own my life. I no longer have control over things—this little mister is now the master of everything! Hahaha 🙂 🙂 So with my foot, I closed my laptop and just enjoyed the next 30 minutes of our feed. Sure, it felt like a loss but then again, I was just happy to be where I was glued to my little munchkin.
*Click SAVE DRAFT* Okay, so now that the first paragraph is saved, I think it would be safe for me to continue with this post. Again, I’m squeezing in this blog entry in between diaper changes, nursing, cleaning the house, etc. so if it seems discombobulated, it really is!!! Sorry nalang! HAHAHA! I will have to write this in installments with whatever 5-10-12 minute break I’ll be able to afford myself.
In a few days, our son will turn a month old. I don’t know if I can say I’ve graduated from the newborn grind just yet because I still feel like I’m right in the middle of the hurricane and taking it not only day by day, but more like hour by hour. Each day has a new trial for me to bear yet it also presents a new triumph to declare. There are good days then there are days that I just wish would end—but on all days, one thing remains constant: MY LOVE FOR THEO just keeps growing and growing. And no matter how my day looks, I’m always thankful that God made me the mother to this precious boy :)Napaka-swerte ko naman!
I haven’t slept since July 5 (the day he was born!) and I’m not even exaggerating here. My eyebags are now made of genuine leather–parang seiko wallet lang, it’s that tough! Hahaha! The longest stretch I’ve had was 2.5 hours and that to me already felt like the best sleep ever! I’ve been living off 20 minute naps and just working on auto-pilot throughout the day. Same goes for the husband who helps me throughout the night, he barely sleeps and has to report to work in the morning so I can imagine it must be even harder for him to function properly. But we’re managing and we’re doing our best.. I don’t know if our best is good enough, but it’s what has gotten us this far 🙂 Hahaha!
The one thing I completely underestimated was how difficult breastfeeding would be. Ay caramba! I was naive to think that it would only mean sleepless nights and round the clock nursing, which at most would cause fatigue or stress. I thought it would just mean a sacrifice on my part because it would entail a change of lifestyle, that I would be feeding on demand and that things would be put on hold because of it. Akala ko it was just a matter of “going through it” and being ready for the change. All those things are still attached to my decision to breastfeed but what I didn’t prepare my heart and body for was THE ACTUAL PAIN I would have to go through. I was so focused on being on top of the adjustment and the possible inconveniences this whole process would bring—I didn’t realize that it would actually be the most PAINFUL thing I would ever have to go through in my life.
A lot of women are so blessed to have stress-free breastfeeding journeys— with perfect latches, perfectly shaped nipples that perfectly fit their perfectly sized baby’s mouths! It’s almost like a well-choreographed dance between mother and child where everything seems so in-sync and all natural. Oh how I wish I could be a part of this lucky group!!! Then there are some who need to get their bearings first for a few days. It feels awkward and uncomfortable at the start but with practice and perseverance, it becomes better and in no time the training wheels are off and they’re biking merrily around the village. Then there’s ME. The not-so-lucky ME. The past 4 weeks have been the hardest and most difficult weeks of my entire 32 years of existence— but at the same time the happiest!! I find it so weird saying this..how could you be in so much pain but finding joy in it too? So odd right?!? I guess only a mommy could understand where I’m coming from. Hahaha!
I’ve ticked off every possible ailment associated with breastfeeding, I could actually be one of those girls who gives a testimonial for EVERY possible problem–from severe engorgement and waking up with cement blocks for boobs, edema and swelling of areola, redness, sore and sensitive nipples, fever, chills, milk blebs, blisters, bleeding and wounded nipples, MASTITIS, plugged ducts, lahat naaaaa!!!! Pinakyaw ko na silang lahat. On top of all this, I was also recovering from my CS operation, sleep deprived with low resistance. I read all the books, all the articles, I tried several techniques, enlisted the help of doctors and lactation consultants. My sweetheart is a good sucker and I really believe that if my boobies were physically “fit” and didn’t have all these “defects” his latch would be good too. We both tried so hard to make it work and everyday, I feel my son is rallying me to keep trying! If anything, this whole process has humbled me and has taught me to understand that God’s story for me is so far from my own expectations.
I would cry out to God during my meltdowns and ask numerous “WHY LORD’s”. I think I haven’t prayed this much in years–quota levels na talaga! The pain of feeding was so unbearable, my toes would curl and big, fat tear drops would roll down my cheeks each and every time I would have to nurse Theo. The physical PAIN was definitely robbing me of the joy of having a newborn. I was weak, miserable and distraught. I felt insecure for being anatomically-challenged, for having body parts that stood as limitations I just couldn’t work around no matter how hard I tried. It was no longer a matter of will power or dedication, it was no longer as simplistic as just “trying harder”..believe me TRYING HARD is all I’ve been doing this past month. I was really hitting roadblock after roadblock and realizing that these physical limitations were all too real. My husband would hug me and cry along with me as I nursed in pain and I questioned whether or not this was the kind of mother I would want to be for my son.
In my darkest hours, I took the time to reflect on MY HEART and the intention behind my pressing on–was it to prove myself to the world, was it because I succumbed to the pressures/expectations of everyone else, was it a pride issue? When I completely surrendered myself to God’s will and allowed myself to be completely vulnerable—that’s when I was bathed in clarity. I was no longer deciding based on the standards of society, I was walking based on what I felt God wanted for me and Theo. Today I’ve decided to continue on my breastfeeding journey because that’s where I feel I need to go— but I’ll be first to tell you that’s just for today, who knows what will happen tomorrow or the day after. All I know is that I will face each day head on, trust that the Lord will enable me to make a decision for Theo with wisdom and discernment and that I’ll have to stand firm on what I choose to do for me and my son. So for those who have gone through the same struggles, whether you decide to press on or if you feel like shifting gears is for you–I completely support you. It’s important for moms to be HAPPY and HEALTHY so they can properly care for their little ones. It would be a shame to be pushing yourself against a brick wall and living a life of frustration and resentment just to prove a point. It’s also healthy to know when it’s time to accept your limitations and find a more positive route–maybe it won’t be the ideal set up, but with God’s help, it’ll be the best one for you and the baby!
What I’ve learned through this whole experience is that EACH mom is unique and EACH baby is special—and that we can’t just have one box for each mom/child to squeeze into. We come in different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, lifestyles, belief systems, etc and so there’s NO ONE PEG for all. Whether you choose to direct feed, exclusively pump, use a bottle, cup, syringe, or mix-feed—what matters is THE HEART of the mother, that her intentions to feed and nourish her child are pure and genuine. And it’s up to us to make sure that these mothers feel respected and valued regardless of their decisions. I believe that these decisions are never done in haste and that each mom (and dad too!) have exhausted all their options and invested hours of careful thought before choosing their path, so it’s something we should also respect. Instead of being PRO-this and ANTI-that, we should just be PRO-MOM, period. Being a mom in itself is hard enough, so instead of wasting hours taking sides and pointing fingers—we can use those valuable hours to encourage, equip and empower 🙂 🙂
To all my girlfriends who sent messages of LOVE, CARE AND EMPATHY as I struggled through all this– THANK YOU. Thank you for being good listeners, for giving me the space to learn and to figure out MY OWN path, for never judging/criticizing me, and most importantly for encouraging me to focus on JESUS and to claim his promises for me and THEO! This is what I wish for all mothers out there, that they would be showered with kind and soothing words that will give them the validation that they need at their lowest of lows.
To all my blog readers/Instagram friends who cheered me on with “You’re doing great!” and “I’m praying for you” instead of listing down tips, instructions, suggestions that would only add to the clutter in my head. Hehehe! Believe me, the last thing you need as a tired and struggling new mom is some stranger telling you what to do and how to do it. I’ve become allergic to know-it-alls and people who say “You should try this because I did this…” or “Don’t do that because…” Tsktsk!!! If you leave a comment like that, please, please don’t expect a reply from me. I’ve got 99 problems each day and no more energy for this. Hehe! I’m just lucky though that majority of my readers are all kind hearted, I appreciate people who leave comments that are very considerate of my feelings 🙂 I know being a public figure/blogger makes me vulnerable to all this and I should just “suck it up” but I’m also just an average girl going through a really, really difficult season–so I do appreciate it when people are more sensitive and polite when it comes to social media 🙂 So thank YOU. 🙂
To my husband and teammate Patrick, thank you for being PRESENT, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. For going through the big and small waves along with me, for not just being a bystander but for taking on the role as an active partner and participant. And thank you for still going through the daily work grind and never making me feel a tinge of resentment, for working hard to provide for our family while running on 2 hours of sleep and still being there to care and play with Theo when you come home. Thank you for always saying I’m beautiful even if I smell like milk and panis na laway and if I haven’t combed my hair and I still have your ratty T-shirt on. To all the loving husbands out there, MABUHAY kayo!!!
To my own mother, Leah, I just want to thank you for teaching me how to find my own identity as a mother. As a new mom, it’s easy to drown in all the NOISE—-with all the unsolicited advice, societal pressures, tips from this forum, instructions from this manual, conflicting belief systems, etc. Clueless and desperate, I tried to absorb everything and anything all at once and before I knew it, I felt completely overwhelmed and even more LOST because of the information overload. My mom firmly challenged me to find MY OWN path as a mother instead of developing a chop-seuy’d version of all the mumbo jumbo I’ve been exposed to. She told me it’s good to be well-informed and properly equipped, but at the end of the day I would have to learn to simplify my approach and be brave enough to stand by my OWN brand of motherhood. She told me to listen to my own heart and be guided by my own intuition—TOUGHEN UP and FOCUS on the well-being of my son. Instead of relying on external factors to guide my steps, I had to start looking inward and trust that the Lord has equipped me internally to be the best mom to Theo. That my heart, my mind, my body—all these were created especially for Theo! That of all the millions of women out there, God chose me to be the steward for this wonderful boy and that I should trust that God never makes mistakes 🙂 🙂
Progress has been very slooooooow, like snail racing slow. And the busy-go-go-go person in me gets quite impatient with the pace I am now forced to endure (I need to pray about this! Again so humbling!). But what I’ve learned is that PROGRESS is still Progress, slow or fast, it still is movement towards a positive direction and for that I should be grateful. This is going to sound a bit weird, but each time I nurse and start feeling the pain and discomfort..I close my eyes to clear my thoughts and ask God to show me something GOOD to focus on, then I open my eyes again and I look at Theo’s chubby cheeks happily sucking. His chubbiness becomes the most obvious indicator that yes, my son is filling up and getting the nourishment he needs!!! And just like that, kahit masakit at nakakapagod, I give myself a high five for a job well done 🙂 It’s validation that I’m not entirely palpak, hehe, that I may not know what I’m doing but somehow God is working FOR US and that he’s on our side.
Wow, I didn’t realize this post would be this long. MAJOR HUGOT levels because it’s all too fresh,all too real for me now. I am sorry for scaring all the moms to be out there, that wasn’t my intention!!! EEP! I do pray for an easier and more comfortable experience for you all 🙂 🙂 I just wanted to put all these thoughts and feelings into words because I know that these hardships are also part of my living out God’s faithfulness and I will look back at this blog entry in a month (hehehe, asa pa!) or maybe in a year and celebrate his goodness over my struggles! Hayyyy, BUTI NALANG TALAGA ANG CUTE CUTE CUTE ng ANAK KO!!!!! Kahit yung poops nya CUTE! Hahaha! Theo, my love, my gift from above, you are SO WORTH IT!!! It is an honor to serve and care for you and I will always thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity! 🙂 🙂 It may not be that easy, it may not be ideal—but in all honesty, THIS right here is A DREAM COME TRUE!