What Homeschooling is NOT

We are close to ending our second quarter lessons and I just can’t help but think, had I been homeschooling for all the wrong reasons, I might have given up on Day 1. We all have our own expectations, what we picture in our own head of how Homeschooling should look like. We all see that beautiful image of a school room, so dainty and clean, complete with all the materials you need with happy looking children, so excited to learn. Errrrrr. Nope, ain’t like that. It’s not what you see on TV, or Youtube, definitely not (ALL) you see on Facebook nor Instagram. Homeschooling is so much more, but today, let me share with you some of the common misconceptions about the Homeschooling these days.

  1. Homeschooling is NOT about ACADEMICS

It is not a means to make your children excel in academics, yes, that can be a plus for most children, but it doesn’t always work that way. We take advantage of this time that our children are young, so we, as parents, can mold their character with an eternal perspective. Our eyes are not set on earthly success, but a kind of success rooted in a personal relationship with God. We do not homeschool to raise excellent children who are very smart – this is not our goal.

  1. Homeschooling is NOT EASY

Surprise! It involves a lot of hard work. We don’t just “wing it!” You, as a parent, have to be disciplined to prepare for the lessons. You have to study! Of course you can’t teach something you don’t know.. (you know that right?). Again, let me emphasize, lesson preparation is paramount. You need to plan in advance, to make sure you do not lose track of your goals each school year, and to ensure your child gets that quality education.

It won’t be easy. There will be hard (very hard) days. Days when things just don’t work out the way you want them to. Life happens, you have a new baby, lose your househelp, someone gets sick, chores, chores, and never-ending chores. It will be hard. Exhausting to say the least. But by God’s grace, it ALWAYS works out. He gives us the strength we need, to go through each day. He gives us the wisdom to prioritize what we need to do first. He allows things to beautifully fall into place because He is God who cares. He is a God  of order. And He is a God who loves.

  1. Homeschooling is NOT HOME EDUCATION 

You see, a lot of people make the mistake of associating homeschooling with just like doing the lessons the same way you do in a classroom set-up. Think like loads of worksheets, endless copywork, whole day packed with lessons, and so on. You guys, it isn’t like that. It is building on that curiosity and developing a deeper love for learning. With this, we custom-fit the curriculum to our child’s personality and our own teaching style. We adapt to what we think will help them learn best.

Homeschooling does not equate to answering worksheets or exams. Instead, we read books, explore our surroundings, experiment, do crafts, NOT because we have to, but because we LOVE to. We do not feel the need to gauge if our child is learning because we see it right before our eyes — that is the magic of homeschooling.

  1. Homeschooling is not about YOU

Yes I am talking to you (and quite honestly, myself too). So what, if your child is 6 and cannot read yet, does that make you less of a parent? Making you feel inadequate? Or what if your child has learned to read at 3 years old, is that something you feel that should be credited to you? Hey Mom, let me talk some sense into you. Whatever your child knows or know nothing about now, it isn’t about you. Each child is unique and they learn differently. There is no need to compare yourself, or your child’s achievements to others. Homeschooling should be about finding what works for you and NOT fitting in to what the world says the standard should be. Let go of the guilt. Let go of the pride. Teach from the heart and rest in the Lord for He is in control.

  1. Homeschooling is NOT WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA SAYS IT IS

Imagine that room filled with natural light, complete with all the best wooden toys one can find. Shelves overflowing with great and expensive literature. Craft materials neatly organized in a beautiful storage bin. A lush garden within a huge backyard.. isn’t it amazing? Well, yes! I’d love to have that too, but reality is, with my limited budget, I can only spend so much. And THAT IS OKAY. No, I do not need a fancy school room, or a huge yard, or all the best materials. The most important thing I need is the Bible. For what I need is a child with heart that joyfully obeys. A child with a heart that accepts correction and discipline. A child who understands that success in life is not measured by material things. A child who finds rest and peace in the Lord. That is what I need, and the Bible is my guide to help me in my parenting. I need my child to understand her own sinfulness and that she is in need of a savior, who is Jesus Christ. 

  1. Homeschooling is NOT A FAD

The Homeschooling movement did not begin in 2000’s. It has begun since the world was created. There weren’t any schools before and yet, our ancestors have built lives of their own. It has always been there and have just increased in popularity lately, due to what? You guessed it right! Social Media. So, no, do not be swayed into thinking it is just a FAD because it isn’t. I personally know of parents who were also homeschooled, and are now homeschooling their own children. There are also accounts from books I’ve read wherein, the grandparents were the first homeschoolers of their family. It isn’t new or popular because many celebrities have chosen to homeschool. It is here and it is growing because it is EFFECTIVE. Because time and time again, we have seen the positive impact it has made in the lives and education of people.

Matthew 16:26 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Homeschooling may have become too mainstream, but in my heart, it will always have that little space. That pure unadulterated portion of homeschooling which drew me close to it. What made me interested in it, and what is now driving me to advocate for it. It is this – Homeschooling is my own little way of getting to the heart of my child. To ensure I do whatever I can while they are under my sphere of authority, to teach them about the Holiness of God, about our standing before Him, that we can never in any way pay for our sins to be right with Him, and that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf is the only answer. If I teach my children diligently about God and one day they come to saving faith, then, I know I have done right homeschooling them. For protecting them from the temptations of this world — as I help shape their character, beliefs, values and their relationship with God. These are the things truly essential for a Homeschool Success. This is what Homeschooling is really about.

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Disobedience: A Heart Issue

Mileina, who turned 2 last October is such a jolly little girl. She brings so much joy and laughter in our home with all her antics and crazy dance moves. Her sister, Matilda, thinks she is the funniest little girl in town. I mean, you have to see what she does at home. How she does pretend-play is most of the time so hilarious!

You know, I wish I could say it’s like that all the time. Come on! That’s impossible. Although Mileina’s behaviour is most of the time joyful, it can also be very unpredictable. Let me first describe her best side. She is sweet, like REALLY sweet. She smiles when she sees me, kisses me when I am asleep, helps me with cleaning the house, and gets stuff for me without having to ask her twice. She loves to serve mommy!

Here’s the catch though, like any other kid her age, Mileina loves to test limits with all of us in our household. She LIKES to disobey. Aha! I knew you’d see that coming. As in really likes it, and even laughs about the silly things she does!! No child is perfect, and they are mostly like that. Yes, got that right!!

Just to share, I really believe what the Bible says that we are all born sinners and it is in our nature that our hearts would often choose to sin. Think about it, no one actually taught your child to grab and yet why are kids SOOOO selfish?? I’m sure your child has at least once looked you in the eye, did not even bat those lashes, and yet, with ALL confidence disobeyed you on the spot! They lie about the smallest things and sometimes even get angry when they don’t get things their way. How in the world did they learn to do those things?? Grrrrr. (End of rant).

Well, let me help you figure that out…

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23, ESV)

I’m sure you understand what ALL means.. and then you’ll argue that this may be talking about people who are old enough to make decisions, so let me share another verse that says otherwise.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalms 51:5, ESV)

Therefore, this means, even before we were born, we have already inherited the sin of Adam and Eve. I would not go into the details about the Doctrine of Sin, but if you feel you want to know more about it, please do send me a private message!

Having said all these, we so far have established one main point: We are all born sinners, even those CUTE little babies. It’s really hard to deny how accurate those Bible verses are, together with the examples I presented. And now that we know this fact, we can finally learn how to address the root of their disobedience and defiance, which is the heart.

The way children behave is a product of their sin nature. Sometimes, we analyze things so much, we forget that these things are actually not personal. Your kids DON’T hate you, and they dislike hurting your feelings too. It’s just really how people are, because this is an issue of what’s in our hearts. Getting to the heart of our children is supposed to be our mission.

Understanding the sins bound up in our hearts, even with us parents, will help us get to fix the root of the issue of disobedience and disrespect. — This is the answer!

Since we know now that their actions actually stem from what’s in their hearts, we can now look into having a much more concrete (and hopefully a permanent) solution to the problems we normally encounter in the home. This then leads me to another very important point:

CHILDREN MUST BE DISCIPLINED.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15, ESV)

For one, let me share the usual. Selfishness. Which manifests in grabbing toys from siblings, or by being manipulative in trying to get what they want. Like when they cry if they want or don’t like something? Oh yes, that’s selfishness. Because they want to get things their way, on their own terms. Sounds familiar? Told you. We’re all sinners! So with this kind of behaviour in our kids, spanking is warranted. We remind them of the sinful behaviour they committed, and then we swiftly spank them on their butt. We AGAIN talk to them as to why we had to discipline them, and process how they can behave correctly next time. By doing this, we impart wisdom to them as they begin to understand right from wrong.

Let me just emphasize this part, it is important that we discuss these issues with our children. They MUST understand that you are the authority God has placed over them and you are in that position to disciple or teach Godly ways to them as well. We are doing this because we love them and we want them to learn to obey us, until they make it a habit, and then eventually find the purposes and reasons behind it as they grow older.

Parenting is NO JOKE and it takes a whole lot of yourself, especially when it comes to Biblical discipline. We spank our children out of love to teach them right from wrong and to bring them up in the fear and instruction of the Lord. It’s not for our benefit, but it is ultimately for them, so that they will not go astray. I’ll say it again, disciplining children while they are young is for their benefit. Hey, I can let them keep on sinning for what it’s worth. But my conscience and my heart won’t allow it. God hates sin and as parents, we cannot in any way tolerate it. Sin is sin, and even in young children WE SHOULD NEVER SUGARCOAT IT.

But is it all bad news? What hope do we have knowing we are sinners? How do we all move forward from this? The answer is in CHRIST!

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, ESV)

Now that we know Christ has paid for all our Sins in FULL. Past, present and future sins all paid for, we can now look past our sinfulness and have hope that we have forgiveness in Him! All we need to do is repent, (be sorry and turn away from sin) and search the scriptures on how we can do His will. This is great news as it is said,

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, ESV)

Our children must see their NEED for a savior which is Jesus. He is the only way to heaven and by believing in Him, and following His commands by being the Lord of our lives, will we avoid unnecessary pain and mistakes through making bad choices and decisions in life. Following him will give us the joy and peace, he alone can provide.

God has also given the Bible as a life manual. He has given us HIS Word, so we get to know who He is, his attributes, and how we can live a life that is pleasing to Him. Part of this is by being good parents who teaches our kids diligently about His word and His truth! It is true, my life is a testimony of how the Bible can transform our lives. And as parents, we should study it and put it in our hearts.

Doing all these things I shared with you is not a 100% assurance that this will change the attitude and heart of our children. Disciplining and teaching them is a process and it involves a LOT of prayer (and patience) for their hearts to bear fruit and be transformed. Sometimes, it takes much longer and it is only through prayer where we can hope that one day, God will touch their hearts and reveal Himself to them, so they too can have an intimate relationship with Him.

We are still in the process of teaching and correcting. This applies not only to Mileina and Matilda, but to me as a parent as well. As they grow older and they comprehend better, discipline gets lesser and lesser. It may take longer for Mileina to actually get it, but I cling on to God for mercy as we journey on through the years of childhood.

I hope this will encourage you to search God’s truth in scriptures. May you also find a Bible-believing church that teaches sound doctrine to help you in your walk as a follower of Christ. May this post also help you find new meaning and new ways in parenting your children.

PS: Please do send me a message if there are some things you want to clarify, or if you want to know which church we regularly attend. Let’s all help each other become better versions of ourselves for our children, by the grace of God!

When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“Aprub!” (approve) was my father’s most favorite answer to almost anything I would ask from him. From toys, clothes, food, school supplies, name it, if he can get it, he will give it to me. It was his way of making me feel loved, apart from the time he spends with me, despite his very busy schedule.

I thought I was never spoiled, since I never really became a brat, who whined and cried when my parents couldn’t get me what I wanted. Although, thinking about it now, I actually cannot recall any specific instance when my father gave me a NO for an answer. Aprub! I remember his line so clearly, until today. 

Since I married Joey, things started to change. I had to learn to surrender to his authority over our family. Out of habit, oftentimes, I get disappointed when he would decide to go against my plans and wishes. It had always been a continuous struggle. 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

You see, this isn’t about being unfair in a worldly sense. These verses are commanded to us wives, basically for our own good and for the good of the family. But, how? How is it good to submit? Well, God has appointed husbands to be the head of the family for they are given the responsibility to LEAD. Men are created and designed this way as we see in this verse:

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Just so you know, God originally didn’t design marriage this way, when he created the world. It only changed the moment Adam and Eve failed to obey God, and committed the very first sin. 

“To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And because we are fallen beings, born in sinfulness, these things are what we encounter today. This is our struggle in our own marriage. This is our common struggle as women: all of us have that inner desire to get what we want. How many of you can relate? Oh yes, you! Yes, Momma, I see you. You’re just like me, as I am like you. The struggle is real. Very real. 

Submission is an act of obedience through faith. But why do we even have to submit anyway? Simply because God commanded it. That alone should be enough to shake us and make us obey immediately. But God is a good God and and has been gracious in giving us the chance to know why we should submit to those who are in authority over us. 

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We all know that God blesses us when we obey him. When we are faithful to His commands, he spares us from conflict and difficulties in life. This is why we should strive to sumbit to our husbands, and to our governing authorities. Is there a limitation to this? What if they are unreasonable? Biased? Unfair? We STILL submit. Whoever abuses his authority, God will deal with them in His own perfect time, for He is sovereign above all things. If a person becomes physically abusive though, that is another story. Those people should immediately seek counsel. We also should be wary when we are asked to do unbiblical things, we don’t submit to that either. This is why knowing God’s commands and instructions through reading His Word, is truly vital.

Take note and please do not be mistaken. Our motivation to obey should stem from our thankfulness, for the undeserved grace that He has given us believers, through our Salvation, in Christ Jesus. It can’t be because we want something from God, that means nothing at all. God does not owe us anything! Everything we have is purely by GRACE.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Remember, we have already been blessed, and out of the overflow of our hearts should be that desire which is to give God glory, by pleasing Him, by doing the all the little things that would make Him feel loved and honored. Just take for example how much you value your child’s obedience, it feels good that they trust you, knowing that you know what is best for them doesn’t it?

I am a work in progress in the area of submission. The focal point of our marriage is to bring back to God all the glory. So, when I find myself doubting or questioning Joey’s decisions and choices, I try my best to look at it from a different perspective. That even if it is not what I wanted at that moment, because God is sovereign, it will ultimately be for the best, for my own good. In order for me to do that willingly AND joyfully, I must develop my trust in God’s supreme authority. After all, it is easier to submit when you know to whom you do it for, and that is for God.

Joey and I will still go through a lot of challenges in our marriage. Like I have said, I am still a work in progress. It is my prayer that when I don’t get things my way, I will always be reminded of who I am, what my role is as a wife and a woman, and how God is sovereign above all things. It is also my prayer that Joey will remain as forgiving and patient as he is, for all my mistakes presently, and those that I may still commit in the future. 

All glory unto God alone!

The Truth About Having Kids

I have never been more tired physically, than I am, right now that I have a 1 year old toddler and a 4 year old preschooler.

My day is basically all about running around the house making sure my youngest, Mileina, doesn’t get bruised by practicing how to run. Yes, before she even mastered walking, she already started running, which is terrifying! (If you know what I mean).

I am tired.

Sometimes all I want to do is play with Matilda, my eldest. I just want to have quiet conversations with her, without a toddler who keeps on pulling up my shirt wanting to breastfeed, in between her walk-a-thon.

I am tired.

I just want to drink a cup of coffee while it’s hot and not forget about it, because I need to assist my children with their trips to the bathroom.

I am tired.

I would like to enjoy my meals uninterrupted by food that is falling, and water that keeps on spilling everywhere.

I am tired.

There are so many things I want to organize for homeschooling, that I just cannot finish, moreso, even begin. Did I say homeschooling? Yes, add in our daily lessons too!

I am tired.

I just want to lie down, have my quiet time, read my Bible, also a good book too, take a very nice long bath, get a straight 6-8 hour of solid sleep, not minding what time I should wake up in the morning.

My body is tired. My back feels like breaking. My arms are sore from all the carrying. Physically, my body might be at one of its weakest, in terms of its condition, but you know what? My heart is happy. My heart is full of JOY.

I am happy.

For when I look at the miracle of having my children, I am reminded of how God has been so gracious to me and Joey for entrusting to us the lives of our children.

I am happy.

For all the milestones I am able to see with each of them, it validates that I am doing something right.

I am happy.

For as young as 4 years old, Matilda understands who Jesus is and what He has done for us sinners, that He chose to bear our sins and die on our behalf, so that we can be saved.

I am happy.

For all the hugs and kisses I get to have every moment of every day.

I am really happy.

These are just some of the things that go through my mind, as I think about what my life is like, now that I have two kids. It’s not an easy job taking care of one, let alone two of them. Motherhood, after all, is about teaching them, disciplining them and most of all, discipling them. Sometimes, it just really takes it toll on my body. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not tired of having kids, there are just times I get physically exhausted with all the things I do for them every day. There are days wherein they do cooperate more than the usual, you know? And those days are VERY precious to me.

In the most challenging times of parenting, I am reminded and comforted by this verse,

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭127:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

No matter how tired I feel I am at times, never will I wish it any other way, for the amount of joy my children bring into my life is truly incomparable. So, to say that I am happy is an understatement. In fact, I have never been happier!! Thank you Lord, for the blessing of having children!

Motherhood Redefined

The holidays last December was an eye opener for me about what it means to actually take care of my family, all by myself. Our househelp, who has been with us for just 6 months, left us for good. What was supposed to be a short vacation turned out to be permanent goodbye. I thought a post must be dedicated for this story alone, but I feel like it’s just a waste of my precious time, so, I did not bother anymore.

I have always been a hands on Mom to Matilda, even before Mileina was born. Losing the househelp did not paralyze us in that area very much. Although, the difference now is that, we have another baby to take care of. For one, I am exclusively breastfeeding, and it takes so much time in a day for feeding sessions. However, this is still good, because it takes away washing and sterilizing bottles as additional chores everyday if we were formula feeding. Another is that, I make sure we have freshly prepared, homecooked meals daily. This is quite meticulous to prepare, considering I do have meat and vegetables each meal. Preparing the ingredients alone is already time-consuming. 

As a wife to Joey on the other hand, it is a whole other set of responsibilities. Joey likes to have food prepared for him to bring to the office for breakfast, snack and lunch. He also wants his clothes ironed really well, shoes regularly shined and scrubbed, and his gym clothes washed right after use. Well, this is apart from the usual night massage requests he asks for as his love language (Hey, I’m not complaining ha? Haha!).

Honestly, during the first few days, I was grumbling and irritated that Joey expects that much from me knowing that I still have to look after the two kids. After praying about it though, I realized that it is my repsonsibility, and I have to own up to it. It is my role, first, as a wife, to take care of him, before our children. Yes, babies are demanding of time and attention, but it is a good training for them to learn how to wait and understand the right order of priorities. It is a really good thing so that they do not grow up feeling entitled. It is also a wake-up call for me, because I have depended so much on our househelp in doing these things for us. I would just usually instruct and observe. Now, I am able to do so much more for Joey compared to how it was when I just delegated the chores to our househelp.

On my part though, adjustments had to me made before it came to that. I am now waking up earlier that usual, around 6 to 6:30am to prepare Joey’s packed food and our own breakfast at home, which is usually whatever leftover food we have the day before. And then I go on preparing ingredients for our lunch and dinner. After which, I load the laundry in the washer and come back for it when I have spare time. We eat breakfast, keep Matilda preoccupied with activities while I cook, and then breastfeed and wash soiled cloth diapers in between. I wash the dishes when I can, too! And then we take a bath, have lunch and put the kids to sleep for an afternoon nap. This is the time I get to rest and read my Bible. When they are deep asleep already, this is when I clean the house, wash the remaining dishes, refill water bottles, fold clean clothes and get the clothes from the washer. Whew! Talking about it makes me catch my breath! It is tiring physically, really, most of the time, but relfecting on how I am sustained by God day by day is the most rewarding feeling of all. Seeing that I get to personally take care of my family too, all by myself, is a true gift from God, and for this, I am blessed! 

And because Joey saw how well I am coping with the situation, we have decided to stop looking for a househelp. We just have a stay-out help, who comes in once or twice a week, to handwash delicate clothes, including the kids’ clothes, and to iron them as well. If for whatever reason she would decide to stop coming, we will still manage. 

This is a lot better for all of us. Matilda has become even more independent, and she has learned to be more considerate. She is now more careful with her toys and does not make a mess anymore. She even helps me take care of her little sister. 

Joey on the other hand takes care of the dishes when he is around. He cooks too, when he has the time. And for myself, I have mastered the art of multitasking and time-management at its finest! It is indeed humbling and we are grateful for this change in our household. For what I used to call motherhood was redefined, ultimately for God’s glory alone. 

Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossioans 3:23-24

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

These verses are great reminders to me on how I should view my daily tasks. I do not only do it for my family, but I must remember that I do it for God. They will see, especially my kids if what I am doing is from my heart, and if I am serving them with joy and delight. I represent my faith to them that is why it is important that I set a good example of what it means to be a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother. My goal is to accomplish the purpose God has set before me, as I wait on the Lord. My rewards will not be from the earth, but is found in heaven when I meet my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So mothers, do not rely on help from anyone. Do what you can, so that if ever they decide to suddenly leave, (well, they usually do!) you won’t have a hard time adjusting. Like many mothers all over the world, with the right amount of prayer, patience commitment, and most of all, grace from God, you can do it too! Let’s be supermoms for our families one day at a time. 

  

Choosing Your Birth Team

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great birth team to make your dream birthing experience a reality. In my own water birth story, I shared the names of the people behind that unforgettable birth, but I wasn’t able to expound the roles they played in each stage of my pregnancy, and birth. I intentionally did that as I believe they deserve to have their own write-up as well.

Your OB-Gyne

There are so many factors you have to consider in choosing your primary health care provider for your pregnancy. In my first pregnancy with Matilda, we were still based in Davao and I didn’t get the chance to actually choose an OB. We just went with who had an open clinic at the time we went to the hospital.

With my second pregnancy, knowing in my heart I wanted a gentle birthing experience this time around, I made an effort to ask people in my circle, on whom they would recommend. At the top of their list was Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and I am just so blessed I decided to go for her.

Here are some of the major considerations before I chose my OB (and Pediatrician too).

1. She/He had to be a follower of God.

2. With clinic schedule on a Saturday – only time Joey can accompany me.

3. Had to be practicing in a reputable hospital that is Mother and Baby-friendly.

4. With good experiences from previous patients.

5. Low rate of recorded CS

6. With a reasonable Professional Fee.

7. Patiently answers questions during check-ups and does not rush the consultation time.

9. Provides mobile number in case of emergency.

10. Conservative in terms of treatments and medical interventions.

11. Respects the birth plan/preferences of the couple.

12. With a positive outlook, in general.

13. Goes to the clinic on-time.

14. Lastly, one who would be open on having Matilda with us during Labor.

These are just what came to mind as of this writing. Dra. Reyes being able to perform water birth was just a big bonus. I actually didn’t know of it and decided to go through it, until I was already under her care. I was originally set on having a Lamaze Birth.

I have fond memories of my prenatal check-ups with Dra. Reyes. Her very warm personality was what drew my family close to her. We felt secure knowing she waa truly concerned about me and the baby, and not just doing her job for profit. She is really very compassionate.

During my labor and delivery, Dra. Reyes patiently attended to my needs. She was very calm and encouraging and I never felt pressured in any way. It was a great deal that every single detail in my birth plan was perfectly honored as well. She also prayed with me, and for me through the difficult parts. And together, we all rejoiced in the blessing of Tulip Mileina’s life through a successful water birth.

I really have nothing but nice words to say about Dra. Reyes, and if you’d still ask if I would recommend her? Of course, it’s a BIG YES!

Your Baby’s Pediatrician

Matilda being born in Davao also had to switch Peditricians when we moved back here in Manila. Her current Pedia is practicing at Cardinal Santos Medical Center and could not cross over to St. Luke’s for the birth of our second child.

I have a really high standard in choosing my child’s doctor. It had to be someone I could completely entrust my child’s well-being. This also means that we have the same views when it comes to child care which includes the most important aspect of all, that is breastfeeding.

Nearing my expected date of delivery, I still haven’t chosen a Pediatrician. Ideally, you’d want to meet him/her at least once before you give birth. This is to discuss your preferences on how your baby will be taken care of after the birth. Some of which include Unang Yakap, Delayed Cord Clamping, Breastfeeding, Immunizations, Newborn Screening, and all other tests.

Upon meeting Dra. Reyes on my 38th week, I asked her recommendation for a Pediatrician. She only gave me one name, it was Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz. I haven’t heard of her before, but Dra. Reyes said she is good. Because I trust Dra. Reyes, I scheduled a meeting with her. Her clinic schedule for that week was already full so I settled to have it on my 39th week instead.

On the day I was supposed to meet her for the first time, my labor has finally started. I was thinking of just informing her secretary about it but Dra. Reyes gave me her personal number so I can contact her directly. Without thinking twice, I sent her a message informing her of my current situation and that I would really appreicate if she can be present for the birth of my child. I wasn’t expecting a reply at all but I was so surprised, she immediately answered back with a, “Yes, of course, I will be there”. I was so happy and I felt relieved knowing that we’ll have her present during the birth of Mileina.

While on the tub, I think I was around 8cm at that time, I met Dra. Manlapaz for the first time. Like Dra. Reyes, she too had a very warm personality and a follower of God as well. She stayed with us through that very difficult part of labor and personally took care of my baby after she came out of the water. She was the one making sure that baby is dry and warm enough to be with me while we wait for the cord to stop pulsating.

After cutting the cord, she borrowed our baby and checked on her in the room, while I deliver the placenta and clean myself up. It was just 5-10 minutes when she came back to remind us we had to move quickly as baby is already rooting, a cue that she already wanted to breastfeed. This made me really happy that she was very concerned about a good start in breastfeeding. Kudos to Dra. Manlapaz!

She gave me a go signal to go home the next day as long as baby is okay. She also allowed all vaccines to be given 12hrs after the birth, as it was my personal request to delay everything concerning tests and vaccines, if possible. She, too, was very happy about us using cloth diapers and told me this is a great way to monitor the baby’s urine output. Isn’t she the BEST?? I just love her! We are really aligned with everything! I am very thankful that Dra. Reyes recommended her to us.

Your Doula

If it’s your first time to hear the word Doula, let me give you a brief explanation about her.

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. – DONA International

There are so many reasons why every mother should get a doula. I would like to share with you my own personal reasons, for you to have an idea.

1. I wanted to have a Lamaze Birth the first time, but I failed due to so many external factors. I needed more evidence-based information, and a one on one prenatal session with a doula can provide me with that.

2. My birth plan wasn’t followed because I had no strength physically and emotionally to fight for it. A doula will act as your voice, your protector, who will try her best to ensure that your birth wishes, as long as it is safe, will be honored.

3. A strong physical and emotional support is vital to achieve a natural birth. Though Joey was with me, I needed someone else who understood and knew how to cope with the pain. A doula is the perfect person to encourage you and guide you through it.

4. Admittedly, I have a very low tolerance for pain. With the help of a doula, she can coach you how to use that pain to your advantage, to bring about a better (and quicker!) birthing experience.

5. To have a natural childbirth wasn’t an option for me, but a necessity. Having a doula around would remind me of this, during times I feel like giving up.

6. I find comfort in knowledge but, good birthing books are expensive and hard to find. If you are bookworm like me, your doula would normally give you free access to her library, as part of her services.

Ms. Velvet Roxas, is someone I admire and respect in a whole other level. She was the person who opened my eyes to the reality of infant and child-care, specifically, breastfeeding. I learned so much as I had my training, and it changed our perspective and whole lives, as a family ever since. Like her, I have taken breastfeeding as an advocacy, which I also share frequently here in my blog.

Because I know her personally, her beliefs and stand on many areas involving mother and child, it was so easy for me to decide on getting her as my doula. In fact, I informed her of my desire to get her services even before I had my first prenatal check-up! That is proof enough on how badly I wanted a natural birth right from the start.

There are very few doulas here in the Philippines, and Ms. Velvet, who I jokingly call “Madam V”, (others call her “Diva Velvet”) who has a very bubbly, BUT strict personality, is the only one who is DONA Certified. She is also the very first mother who have given birth in the water at Asian Hospital, 8 years ago. (Asian Hospital has no waterbirth facility anymore). It’s not because of her great credentials that I got her as my doula. It was mainly because I know she has a big heart and that her life revolves around mothering other mothers. I understand her and I believe we get along really well that’s why it wasn’t a difficult decision to have her on my side. I actually needed her (very) “strict” side to guide me through those difficult moments, because she can actually scare me at times! Side note and trivia: On my 5th month, we attended a seminar and there were so much food at the venue. She was checking on me if I was eating sweets!! She was my food police! (Madam V, please don’t get mad at me for this! I love you! Haha!) Which I truly appreciate as I know she only wants what is best for me.

I owe Ms. Velvet a big part on the success of my water birth because she armed me with so much information, and she was with me the entire time. She also patiently answered all my questions and checked up on me once in a while. During my actual labor, she stood beside me, fed me, took care of me, bathe me, and literally carried me throughout the toughest times. God used her mightily as an extension of His blessing.

Your Birth Photographer

I love taking photos in general, and the birth, for me, is a celebration of life that needs to be captured in the lenses of a camera. Originally, I had planned to get professional services from trained birth photographers/videographers, however, I found their rates quite too high and we just could not afford it. It was a blessing that Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa, a new Pediatrician friend through Ms. Velvet, who just actually wanted to be there to observe the birth, offered to capture the photos. And the result? Well, just like a PRO! Thanks again Dra. Raissa!

I believe that all these people were divinely appointed by God, so that I could experience the birth He has planned and designed perfectly for me. Truly, by His grace, He gave me the chance to meet them all so that together, we can glorify Him alone. Indeed, this birth was orchestrated beautifully, not for my personal benefit, but for Him! All Glory and Praises to our King!

My Birth Team

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Left to right: Myself an hour after the birth, Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz, Ms. Velvet Roxas, Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa.

Tulip Mileina’s Water Birth

There was a part of me that was in denial upon finally confirming we are having another baby. Well, we agreed to try for another one when Matilda turns 2, so, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find out we are expecting again. However, because it happened so fast, (in just over a month of trying we already conceived) the trauma from my first birth held me back from rejoicing in the blessing of another child.

You see, with Matilda’s birth, I thought was already well prepared. We even attended a birthing class. With a good birth plan, I honestly thought we would manage. On the contrary, almost nothing was followed in that plan. Initially, we wanted to have a Lamaze Birth with no medications. My former OB agreed to it, even signed it, but things just weren’t under our control at that time. I was immediately given an IV, got hooked to a fetal monitor the entire time, and food and water were restricted. Because of too much exhaustion, I gave up at 7cm and asked for an epidural. It led to more complications as I developed a fever, my blood sugar went up the charts, and the numbness hindered me from feeling any contractions at all. This eventually resulted to longer labor and almost caused me a C-section. Matilda came out healthy and normal, but the trauma from all the interventions created a deep wound in my heart. Nevertheless, we still praise God despite all that. He is good for He allowed me to have a normal and safe delivery.

This time around, I wanted a redeeming birth for my second child. I prayed to have an OB who will not just agree to my wishes, but someone who has a great record at following through as well. Because I was friends with Ms. Velvet Roxas, who happens to be a Doula, (I met her through a Breastfeeding Counselor Training) I asked for her help in choosing the right OB for me. She immediately suggested I get Dra. Menefrida Reyes from St. Lukes Q.C. knowing she is a very good OB, and follower of Christ like me. And because I really wanted to have the Lamaze Birth I have been dreaming of, I also got Ms. Velvet as my doula.

Two months passed and preparations had to be made. First, I had to decide what kind of birth I wanted. Either a lamaze or a water birth. I chose to have a water birth, only if God would allow it. Ms.Velvet then asked me to start reading Birthing books, do prenatal exercises and eat a healthy diet. I also watched videos of different types of births and I also joined the group Gentle Birth in the Philippines, to learn from other mothers. I followed the advices that I believed would help and made sure I was not just preparing physically, but psychologically and most of all, spiritually as well.

I think, with every pregnant woman, it’s normal to be anxious, it’s normal to be scared. After all, childbirth is really painful as described in this verse:

John 16:21, “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.” ‭‭

What helped me get through is the faith I have knowing God would not give me anything I wouldn’t be able to handle. He is my source of strength and in everything we do, we must exalt and glorify Him.

As my estimated delivery date came near, I became excited to experience childbirth in a very different perspective. We waited patiently until October 28, 1am, 39 weeks and 4 days gestation, I started feeling mild contractions. The pain was close to having a dysmenorrhea, only it would begin and end in a short while, and it radiates through your lower back. It was then I started timing the contractions and they were 10-15 minutes apart, with a duration of 40-50 seconds. I tried to relax and sleep as much as I can, but the anxiousness of the upcoming delivery started kicking in.

At around 3am, I got up and packed some food to bring to the hospital. I started thawing my fresh buko juice that I froze a few days ago. It would be my replacement for an IV line. The electrolytes in buko juice helps to restore energy which I will need during active labor. I also gathered last-minute items that we will be needing like some snacks for Joey and my daughter, Matilda.

After making sure everything is ready, I started heating up some aromatherapy oil. I used the Rose essential oil as it is good for circulation and is also a natural analgesic. I also sent a message to my doula and OB to let them know that true labor has finally began. This was only the point where I woke Joey up to let him know that I am already in labor. I didn’t wake him up earlier knowing it’s going to be a long day ahead and he needs to rest as well. Before I settled down to sleep, I dedicated a prayer to the Lord as I surrendered to Him everything He has planned in advance for this birth.

I woke up around 6am, updated my doula to let her know the intervals. Contractions are now around 8-10mins apart with a duration of 50-55secs. She advised that Joey and I have contact to speed up labor as semen helps to open up the cervix. I woke Joey up around 8:30 and we followed her advise. Around 9am, I shed a bit of mucus plug. After which, I prepared breakfast and ate with Joey and Matilda. I had the urge to relieve myself after which was good as I didn’t want to poop while delivering the baby! I also then decided it was time to have a nice warm bath and settled that it was time to leave in a little while.

Awaiting the reply of my OB, I considered sleeping some more. I was trying, but I couldn’t. I was feeling anxious thinking if she could make it on time. I just prayed again hoping everything will fall into place. At around 11am, I sent her another message informing her of the progress of my contractions. Joey also felt that something was still holding me back into going to the hospital. He suggested we just have lunch at home first before we leave. I agreed, and at around 12 noon, we started eating but I have no more appetite for food. I still managed to eat a bit and I excused myself as I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was able to take a short nap and when I woke up, Joey and Matilda were both sleeping beside me. It was already 2pm and I just couldn’t take it any longer and decided to ask Dr. Reyes’ secretary whether there is any problem as to why Dra. Reyes is not answering my messages. She replied immediately and said Dra. Reyes is already there waiting since 11am! For some reason, upon reading her message, a strong contraction came. I started timing again and there it was, 4-5 mins apart with 1 full minute of duration. My body has finally surrendered when I found out my OB was already there.

I woke Joey up and said it’s time to go. Around 2:45, we were already en route to St. Lukes Global. Contractions are a lot stronger now and I am starting to moan my way through each of it. We arrived at the ER past 3PM and after taking my vitals and information, they brought me to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit, a separate part of the Labor Room to attach me to the fetal monitor and to perform an IE. A resident OB came in, did the IE and was so surprised to find out I was already 7cm dilated. She then asked the nurse to process my papers and ID tag right away so that they can bring me up to the Birthing Suite. 

Around 4:30, we were finally brought up to the suite and Dra. Reyes was the one who welcomed me. They were already filling the tub with water and I started to change into my sports bra and hospital gown. It was also that time when Ms. Velvet had arrived and immediately commanded me to stand up and walk. She caught me sitting on the edge of the bed and said labor will progress faster if I get up.

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With every contraction I felt my body become heavier. My knees were shaking a bit and I had to lean on something for support, or else I’d fall down and lose my balance. I guess I’m around 8cm dilated at this point already. Ms. Velvet offered to hug me as I let go of all my weight with each wave of contraction. I was already moaning louder as the pain intensified. Dra. Reyes then decided it’s time I go into the tub as she noticed I’m very uncomfortable already.

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Time check was around 5pm already. Joey held my hand as he assisted me in going inside the tub. The temperature of the water was at 37 degrees celsius. It felt warmer than that maybe because I was feeling cold. The warm water immediately gave some sort of relief from the pain. Ms Velvet was there beside me continuously offering me buko juice to drink and some honey sticks for energy.

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At this point, I am beginning to feel really uncomfortable. I was moaning, grunting, crying with each wave of contraction. I would hold on to Joey and my face would just wince every single time. I was given my first IE in the water and I was already 9cm dilated. There was still a “lip” of cervix left and after around 25 minutes in the water, Ms Velvet asked me to stand and sway my hips to position the baby better. I stood up with my legs shaking and held onto her the whole time. My own body weight was just too heavy at this point and I just wanted to sit down.

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After around 10 minutes of standing, my bag of water broke. It felt really weird to have something sort of pop from nowhere as water gushed over my legs. After this, I started feeling the urge to push. That 15 minutes of standing felt like an hour at that time. I was just too tired and I begged to be seated. I was given the go and I sat down on the water for another IE. This time, I was already fully dilated and all we had to do was wait for baby to descend.

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There, it started to sting. I feel like there is something slowly burning from within. It was indeed as if you want to poop something out but it’s just WAY TOO BIG to come through. It was painful on another level this time around. The pain from the contractions was beginning to be masked by the thing they call the “ring of fire”.

I began to push. It was close to 6pm then and all I wanted was for all of it to be over. I was tired and very much in pain, but never did it cross my mind to ask for some pain relief. I didn’t want to be numb. I just wanted to get through it and have my baby in my arms.

I was so distracted already. The pain is over my head as I anticipate every contraction that was about to come. No position seemed to alleviate the discomfort I was feeling. I could hear my birth team coaching me on how I should push, not by shouting and grunting, but by blowing. Blowing as if you are blowing a candle. It wasn’t easy and this was where Joey took over. While Ms. Velvet and Dra. Reyes encouraged me as they kept on reminding me I am doing a good job, Joey on the other hand knew me better. He had to get my full attention so I can focus. He was calling my name and kept asking me to listen to him and follow him. He was blowing and breathing in 10 counts and it was where I started to make better progress as baby’s head started to crown. The blowing helped to get baby to descend and we can already see her hair waving in the water.

I was on the verge of giving up. In my head I was thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?! Why is this taking soooo long??” But then, there’s no turning back. The head is already there! I just have to push! Ms. Velvet then asked Joey to pray. Joey prayed for guidance and safety in delivering the baby and that in all this, may it bring God all the Glory. That this birth is not about us, but about Him. Dra. Reyes was also praying on the side which really made me respect her even more. 

Two big contractions came while we were praying and finally, at 6:21pm, October 28th, Tulip Mileina was born. A water birth baby with one nuchal cord coil.

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At the sight of my baby, the pain immediately went away. We had our Unang Yakap as initiated personally by our Pedia, and waited for the cord to stop pulsating before cutting the cord. That was a good 10 minutes of extra blood, rich in Iron, that was transferred to my little girl. We had our first family picture together with her Ate Matilda who was very excited to see the newest addition to our family. After Joey cut the cord, Mileina was taken by our Neonat-Pedia, Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz, into the room to check on her and to keep her warm. She had her skin-to-skin contact with her Papa while we were waiting for the placenta to be delivered.

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I was given a shot of oxytocin to stimulate contractions and deliver the placenta quickly. That was around 15 minutes after Mileina was born. Right after the shot, I delivered the placenta in one push. That was the easiest part. And then the pool was suddenly stained with blood. Dra. Reyes had to make sure all clots would come with the placenta so she gave me an IE. Water in the tub was already being drained at that moment and my loving doula and OB helped in giving me a bath to clean me up from all the blood.

There was stinging from the tear I got and it had to be stitched, but I felt fine. I actually never felt more alive than I was before that redeeming birth. While I was being prepped for stitching, my baby girl had her first breastfeeding session. She was wide awake and was very hungry. She had to be assisted as she was clipping her lips, but other than that, she suckled like a pro. This was something new to me as Matilda was a groggy baby who didn’t want to be fed when she was born. I’m so thankful we had a good start this time around!

When all was settled, we were finally able to have dinner. I was so hungry and finished one bowl of arroz caldo, as my doula fed me. I was already able to stand and walk by 9pm when I had the urge to pee. It was a bit painful, but nothing like delivering baby.

That night, I was able to reflect about the difference of my 2 birthing experiences. If ever we conceive again, I’d choose this birth over my first one. Even though I didn’t experience the pain in the first delivery, this was so much better because right after the baby was born, the pain went away already. Unlike with my first where the pain came afterwards and I had difficulty in breastfeeding as well due to the epidural anesthesia that was given to me.

Having had the chance to feel all the pain of childbirth as how God designed it, I now have a different kind of respect for mothers who choose to have a gentle and unmedicated birth. It is indeed empowering and a true testimony that, not only God’s design is perfect, but also, that we, women, are capable and strong enough to give birth naturally. With the right information, a respectful and great birth team, plus proper preparation, you can have the birth that you truly want and deserve.

This childbirth experience is not for me to boast about myself, but it is about putting God at the center of it all. We prayed that this will give Him all the glory and with writing this, I give Him all that is due. My faith in Him made it possible to have gone through an unmedicated childbirth. I dedicate this post to my one true God, and His Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Meet my Awesome Birth Team!

Doula: Velvet Escario-Roxas

OB-Gyne: Dra. Menefrida Reyes

Neonatologist-Pediatrician: Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz

Pediatrician/Official Photographer: Dra. Raissa Paje 🙂

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