The Lord is My Healer

I believe it is only fitting that I blog about the recent developments of my pregnancy. By the time I make this post public, I’ll be on my 6th month mark. Oh how time flies! As most of you mommies know, right around this time, your Obstetrician would already request for you take your Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – OGTT test. This is a procedure wherein you will be asked to fast for 6-8 hours, have your blood drawn for it and then you will be asked to take an orange glucose drink, and have another extraction 2 hours thereafter. Normally, it usually takes 4 extractions which includes the fasting, 1st hour, 2nd hour and 3rd hour to have more accurate results, but because I already have a history of Gestational Diabetes in my past pregnancy, this procedure with fewer extractions, was done to me instead.

In my pregnancy with Matilda, it came out as a shock that I got a positive result for this test. Sure, I am fond of sweets, but I have my blood tests done annually to make sure all is well with my health. This is actually one of the things my parents do for their own health and has passed it on to me and my brother, just to know how we are all doing. So, you can just imagine my reaction upon seeing the result of my OGTT test. I was so confused and I felt as if my body has betrayed me.

I was asked by my OB to meet with an Endocrinologist, a specialist in this area, to check on me and help me manage my sugar level. She asked me to get a Glucometer, a small, battery-operated device to check my sugar 2 hours after each meal, and record it in a notebook. She also asked me to meet with a Nutritionist-Dietitian to try having my blood sugar controlled naturally, through exercise and by following a strict calorie count diet, before we decide if I’ll be needing insulin injections or not.

As I was going through this process, pricking my finger 3x a day, eating ZERO sugar and having portion controlled meals, my pregnancy on my 5th month then have become very depressing. I couldn’t enjoy eating whatever I wanted and I felt deprived each time. I was also worried for the health of my baby and just prayed that I’d be able to endure this difficult time.

Apart from that, this condition was also financially challenging as the glucometer strips were very costly and we had to go to 2 different doctors each check-up, plus the fact that we had to revamp our grocery shopping list to much healthier alternatives. This is also because this condition is also linked with Pre-Eclampsia, which is high-blood during the pregnancy, that I had to really watch my food intake and minimize using salt and oil in cooking. How sad is that? No sugar, less salt and almost zero oil in cooking. Just imagine how many times I had to say no to my cravings!

But… With all the difficulty, I am still so blessed that I was able to deliver a healthy, normal and full-term baby. Maybe it was just God’s way of reminding me that He is in control and that through that time, He was trying to bring me closer to Him.

Now on this second pregnancy, I became more aware of my food intake. I tried my best to stay healthy and ate whole food. I switched to red rice, and also increased my vegetable and fruit intake. I also removed the maternity milk, which all the while I thought was necessary-ended up being the trigger for having Gestational Diabetes, because of its high sugar content! So please, never ever take those and just stick to natural and fresh food. Those of which are readily absorbed by the body like indigenous vegetables and fruits. I also continued to breastfeed, which I talked about on my previous post. Breastfeeding helps regulate blood sugar levels, that’s why I made it a point to nurse Matilda up to the time she decided to wean on her own.

During my 1st trimester, we had to check how I was doing, and praise God, my blood sugar was normal. My OB advised that I will be having another test at around 5 and a half months and that too came out normal. Just when I had fully accepted the fact that I most likely have Gestational Diabetes again, all my test results came back negative! God is soooo good! He has healed me! I believe He allowed me to go through that ordeal so that I would fully depend on Him, and not on myself, neither what I can do. This chapter of my life was planned perfectly to make it a testimony of His faithfulness. Thank you, Lord!
And because of that great news, I celebrated by eating some churros with chocolate dip! Finally, I can now eat whatever I want, but of course, still in moderation. 🙂

To summarize, the things that I learned from this are:

1. Health is something you cannot, EVER, be in control of. Only God is in control.

2. Despite God being in control, you also have to do your part in being healthy. Your physical body is your responsibility. It is God’s gift to you, and you have to take care of it and not abuse it.

3. Nothing is impossible with God. He will  give you trials to mold you and make you stronger, but He promises that He will be with you through it all.

Psalm 103: 2-5

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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Breastfeed for a Better Future

Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we write about the World Breastfeeding Week 2014 – Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life and share how breastfeeding can help the Philippines achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals developed by the government and the United Nations. Participants will share their thoughts, experiences, hopes and suggestions on the topic.

Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

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First, let me start of by talking about the 8 Millennium Development goals. These are goals that were set by the Government and the United Nations way back 1990, and were adopted at the Millennium Summit year 2000. It has been proven, time and time again that Breastfeeding is a key link to achieve all these. In participation of this Blog Carnival, I will share my personal experience and suggestions on how I found these goals to be truly achievable through Breastfeeding, in order to reduce Child Mortality and improve Maternal Health by 2015 .

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The day I found out that I am pregnant, I immediately set my mind to thinking I should keep myself healthy in order to have a healthy baby. I was very diligent in going to monthly check-ups and in taking all that I thought I needed.

Being very diligent as I have mentioned, I drank 2 glasses a day of maternity milk. 2 glasses each day for 5 months! (Why oh why did I ever fall for that again?!). First trimester passed and it was on the 5th month when I found out I had Gestational Diabetes. Since I wasn’t fond of eating sweets at that time, my IM-Endocrinologist suspected that it could have been due to the maternity milk. And true enough, she was right.

It was only when I attended Arugaan’s Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training which was held in Davao, where I learned that drinking maternity milk, or any formula milk is totally UNNECESSARY. Yes, there is no need to drink it unless you want to stuff your body with extra sugar. This also goes for follow on formula (also known as preschool milk or toddler milk).

Through this training, I also learned that breastfeeding can help protect your child from the risk of cancer, obesity and DIABETES. I was 8 months pregnant then and the moment I heard of that, it was then I committed my heart and mind into breastfeeding my baby girl.

Because I had a high-risk pregnancy, both my labor and delivery wasn’t easy. My blood sugar went up the charts during labor and I had to be administered with insulin throughout the delivery. If you are not aware of Gestational Diabetes, there are risks to the baby, most especially those crucial first few hours after birth. There are cases wherein the baby’s blood sugar become very low and that is really dangerous. One of the best ways to prevent that is to be able to breastfeed, right away. And that is exactly what we did as Matilda’s Pediatrician advised it as well. And because all went well, and Matilda passed all the tests, we were sent home the following day.

Breastfeeding in the early weeks were challenging but rewarding as you see your baby thrive with your breastmilk alone. Witnessing how that used to be wrinkly skin slowly fill up with muscles and fats, the sight of it is just captivating. And as we were on our breastfeeding high, being able to endure the ever famous 6 crucial weeks, we got a call from the hospital saying my baby got a positive result for G6PD in her newborn screening test.

Because I am very much aware about this condition, I knew at that point that breastfeeding is the ONLY way I can nourish and protect my child. One of the main components of formula milk, if you try to look at the can is soy. An ingredient that can actually pose a great harm (in large doses) to G6PD Deficient babies. I just cried and surrended it all to God. After all, I still felt very thankful to the Lord that day and until now that He gave me the chance to be informed and that He led me to breastfeeding. Had I not, Matilda, my very precious child, would have suffered the moment she was born.

Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to babies but to Mothers too. I found this to be 100% true because just weeks after I had given birth, I lost a great amount of weight and I was already back to my pre-pregnancy figure 3 weeks after. Not only that, I also had to undergo a series of tests for my blood sugar and all those tests came back normal. Praise God! Just because I breastfed, Matilda got protected from possible harm and I too, got healed instantly. Again, simply because I chose to breastfeed.

I believe it was all God’s work that He allowed me to experience the hardships of pregnancy, labor and delivery including those difficult early days of breastfeeding. It is through His great provision that I succeeded in this journey.

Looking back, and analyzing the root of the problem, it all boils down to unethical marketing practices of formula milk companies. Imagine, it all started with me drinking maternity milk which would have eventually shifted to formula milk for my newborn baby, IF I wasn’t informed. I was very blessed to get that chance but how about those who are living in the thought that formula milk is superior to breastmilk? My goodness. What a sad reality for them to think this way and it is all because they are misinformed.

One other problem I noticed is our doctors and health practitioners. How can we expect them to be knowledgeable about breastfeeding if this is not being given importance to in medical school? Universities must find a way to incorporate breastfeeding in their curriculum to turn things around. Having a breastfeeding advocate OB and Pedia (or any other doctor) will surely give any mother’s breastfeeding journey a great boost.

I am also thankful we have venues like this where we can share facts and information about breastfeeding. Since these milk companies are out of our control, one of the ways we can help our country in achieving these goals is through constant spread of awareness. A little goes a loooong way when in comes to matters such as breastfeeding. Just one mom breastfeeding in public, a mom posting a breastfeeding photo, or a mother sharing breastfeeding articles over at Facebook, will really make a difference. It will make breastfeeding the norm.

Another thing we can do is to continue holding seminars, trainings, equipping mothers to be able to do mother-to-mother support. This is basically the way to a successful breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding Pinays, for example, has been such a great venue for support and it has imparted valuable knowledge to moms (even dads) which I know we have all taken to heart.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is so much more realistic now more than ever. Take my story for example, because I was informed about the wonders of breastfeeding, we were able to provide Matilda the best nourishment there is. The only thing that will help save her life. We also cannot ignore my improved overall health as it is a testimony on how it is beneficial to mothers as well. With the help of social media and the growing community of mothers who advocate breastfeeding, I can see a future where formula milk will just be used for what is was actually created for – a supplement, always inferior and a last resort. Now I can finally say, Breastfeeding is indeed the way to a better future!

Here are many thoughts and reasons why we should all advocate for mothers to breastfeed for the first 1,000 days of life #BF1st1000days

Jenny shares experiencing the One Asia Breastfeeding Forum

Mec insists to do the Math and breastfeed!

Ams, The Passionate Mom says Breastfeed for a Better Future

Pat says breastfeeding saves money and the planet

Cheryl, the Multi-Tasking Mama, tackles maternal health as addressed by breastfeeding

2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin highlights gentle births and breasfeeding, even in disaster zones

Felyn stresses that Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies

Monique reminds us that there are second chances in breastfeeding

Normi relates how breastfeeding gave her strength and purpose

Nats thanks Dr. Jack Newman for showing how breastfeeding can be a win-win situation

Em believes breastfeeding is a solution to societal problems

Marge shares what breastfeeding has taught them

Kaity was empowered financially and as a woman through breastfeeding

Madel relates her breastfeeding saga

Jen of Next9 reminds us to do our research and share what we know

Celerhina Aubrey vows to work on one mother at a time

Grace wants to put an end to stories of toasted coffee and similar stuff over breast milk

Diane shares how she prevailed when things did not go according to plan

Hazel appreciates mommy support groups

Roan combines two passions, breastfeeding and architecture

Queenie tackled breastfeeding as the best choice for the environment as well and breastfeeding myths and poverty

Rosa shares how the picture she thought of was realized

Sally believes breastfeeding benefits mankind and our planet Earth

Floraine reminds us that breastfeeding helps combat diseases

Crislyn was happy to realize that she improved her own health by breastfeeding

Armi reminds us how breastfeeding during emergencies is crucial

Arvi tells us how breastfeeding made her look at her body a different way

Clarice elaborates on how breastfeeding saves lives and the planet

Giane reminds us that women empowerment can begin by seeing breastfeeding as more than a feeding issue

Liza thought she was only breastfeeding for her child

Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

Whoever thinks this job is fairly easy, is borderline crazy. Have you ever tried staying home with a baby to take care of? Not for an hour, but 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Without monetary compensation, no breaks and no leaves. Is there even a work like it? Well, I don’t think so.

When I was still single, I never thought of myself to be a career woman. I felt it wasn’t my calling and because I am close to my Mom, I wanted to raise my own child, just as she did. We did have helpers around, but my mom was the one personally taking care of me. Joey grew up the same way and I think that greatly influenced our decision to get to this point.

Even before marrying Joey, we have already agreed that I won’t be working afterwards. I’ll be that domesticated housewife who would prepare his meals, do the laundry, iron his clothes, clean the house, do the grocery, take care of our children, and so on and so forth. In my head, I was excited for most of it except for the ironing part – Joey is very particular about this that even though I knew how to iron, I had to unlearn it and relearn the way he wants it done. He was just used to it that way, and I was okay with it. All these things we chose to do were also in preparation for the time when I hopefully get pregnant. After all, our goal was that I’ll be the one to take care of our child. Anything else that concerned the household, he made me the one responsible for it.

During the early months, we didn’t hire a helper. I knew I could do it, so I did it all on my own. Even did the laundry by hand because I was used to it while I was growing up. I’m not a big fan of the washing machine, by the way, except for jeans and other hard to wash stuff. It was also a way to save myself from the headache of having a helper. You all know how hard it is nowadays to get a reliable and trustworthy person to work for you. At least, I’ll be able to do things exactly the way we want it. We saved a bit this way too, and we used that money to slowly buy our furnitures. When I got pregnant with Matilda though, we had to hire one already since I won’t be able to do all those things by myself anymore. And most importantly, to keep me company when Joey is out-of-town for work. Note that we were still in Davao then, as I mentioned in my other post.

So what is it actually like to be a Stay-at-Home Mom? I prepared a short list for you and here it goes:

1. It’s fun! You get to be with your child day and night.
2. You’ll be there to witness their every single milestone.
3. You won’t have to miss them.
4. Your child will get to know you and you will get to know them. You’ll build a different level of bond for each other.
5. You will personally build their character. During the formative years, this is very important.

The list seems alright, then why did I say in the first part that whoever thinks this job is fairly easy, is borderline crazy? Here goes the Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom:

1. When your child starts crying, it can be a bit tricky, and sometimes frustrating to make them stop. (If you’re a parent, you’ll understand.)
2. Putting them to sleep is sometimes easy, and sometimes really difficult.
3. You’ll have to wash their bum a lot of times – daily! Until they are big enough to do this themselves. (Unless your child has a nanny to do this for you).
4. When they start exploring like crawling or walking, it can be very exhausting.
5. When they get sick, you’ll definitely shed some tears – okay, a lot, really.
6. Wait! Your work doesn’t stop there! You still have a husband!

After God, your spouse should be your next priority. – Wait, what? Why does he even have to be a priority? Isn’t he old enough to take care of himself? Let’s see the right order of priorities according to the scripture:

1. God
• Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV)

God commanded that we seek Him first, above all things.

2. Spouse
• Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:22-25 NIV)

Husbands will rule over the wife and the wife must submit to the husband. – This has been God’s design after the fall of man. (Note the verses from Genesis below).

3. Children
• Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)

As Parents, we were commanded to raise Godly children and since the husbands were instructed to work and provide for the family, (as seen on the following verses below) this duty will mainly fall under the hands of the wife.

These verses serve as a reminder to what my purpose in life is. I’m not only a mom but a wife too – and being a wife should be a priority. I must admit, I fail Joey sometimes in those areas that concern him. Matilda’s presence in our lives can be overwhelming that I tend to forget that her father has needs as well.

Marriage takes a lot of work for both husband and wife, and until you accept the fact that God created you for a specific purpose, you will often find yourselves tested with big challenges. Having a child will change your marriage drastically – it needs to be prayed for. It will change a mother’s body physically, her mind psychologically and her heart emotionally. It will surely change the daily routine you have established alone and together, it will somehow leave your social life cold and there will be times you will forget about your own self in taking care of the new addition to your family. Most of us (wives) sometimes do not notice all of these changes, but our husbands do. The only way for you to understand each other is through open and honest communication. If and when your husband feels neglected, make it up to him. Remind him of why you love him and back it up with acts of service. As I have said, in this area, I am a little guilty, but I really try my best to be the same person I was even before we had Matilda. I am thankful and really blessed that even though I forget about my responsibilities as a wife sometimes, Joey would patiently remind me and would be very understanding about it. What we also learned to do, to keep our own sanity amidst those trying times, is to turn to God’s word and constantly remind ourselves that God crafted marriage beautifully and that if you follow His design, you will be blessed abundantly.

Since this set up is quite uncommon nowadays, wherein most mothers usually work alongside their husbands, you might ask how we make it work. Is one income ever enough for a household? Of course, YES! Scripture tells us that husbands are to provide for the family.

• And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19 NLT)

• But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8 NASB)

To make it work, first of all, we choose to live a simple life – we have to, because we could never afford to live extravagantly with only one person in the house, working. So, we rarely eat out anymore unlike we used to when we were still dating. We don’t shop unless we NEED something and most of all, I am a breastfeeding and cloth diapering mom! How much we save on that alone must be dedicated to a separate blog post.

Going back, being a Stay at Home Mom works out for us because by God’s grace, we exert extra effort and strive to make it work. It isn’t easy, and we too struggle sometimes – mostly in our finances, but trusting God first and setting your priorities are key. Remember, the formative years will either make or break your child’s character. So setting an example at a young age will be substantial to the future of your child. This is why we chose this path. It might be difficult, but the end result will definitely be worth it.

Let me share my life verse:

• I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

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How about you? Are you a stay at home mom too? Or are you thinking of leaving work to personally take care of your child? Let’s talk about it!