6 months of love, tears & learning to be kind to myself

I can’t believe it’s already been six months! The past six months have been both long and short. Our little Sadie Talulah is growing too fast! I’ve already packed away a box of her clothes (tear). All this has only reminded me to slow down and treasure each moment.

IMG_1877I still remember vividly the thrill, shock and adrenaline rush I felt when Sadie was born. I remember watching her sleep that night, checking on her, hearing her little noises as I slept next to her. I had a hard time sleeping that night even though I had labored for 12+ hours. I remember waking up and feeding her early that morning. It was just me and her in the quiet of the night. Little did I know that it was the first of many days of growing in love and breaking into my new role as “mommy”.

I also remember the fear and anxiety I felt that first few weeks as I faced the onslaught of challenges.  From the shock and pain of engorgement when my milk came in to the reality of the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d21871017962_bdf2cc42b9_b.jpg put so much time into reading up on pregnancy and labor but wasn’t as well prepared for caring for Sadie (later I found out that this is common for first time moms. Read beyond the delivery mamas). I felt so in love as she slept on my chest, but also cried helpless tears when she wouldn’t stop crying or go to sleep. Reading books on learning to decipher her cries but puzzled with panic because I couldn’t differentiate between her cries. Struggling to fall asleep for quite a long time after she fell asleep because I was worried she was going to wake up any moment. But my biggest worry was am I enough? Can I give her what she needs…and if I can’t what’s going to happen? And do others think I’m a good mom? Or am I failing in everyone’s eyes including my own?

My tears once pregnant with overwhelmed anxiety turned into tears of overwhelming joy, thankfulness and love.

But I also remember when those anxious nights started to fade. I remember looking at her beautiful little face that blossomed right before my eyes. Her newborn red-toned skin fading into a lighter creamy shade she inherited from her daddy. Her puffiness from growing inside my belly for nine months going down to reveal her beautiful eyes and features. I remember holding her little clenched hands between my fingers, stroking her little curled up feet. My tears once pregnant with overwhelmed anxiety turned into tears of overwhelming joy, thankfulness and love.
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My Birth Story: the arrival of Sadie

11149588_10101433409293720_736971935627805358_nEarly Labor
It all started at midnight on September 15th, three days after my due date. I was awakened by light contractions. Taking the advice of Ina May Gaskin, I drank a small glass of wine and went back to bed trying to relax. I stayed awake until around 3 A.M. wondering whether or not this indicated the beginning of Sadie’s arrival. Since the contractions weren’t consistent, I went back to bed.

The next day I kept having contractions that indicated early labor. The contractions weren’t consistent and I was still able to get around and do most things. But that day Dustin stayed home and canceled his classes he was scheduled to teach in order to be ready in case I went into labor. I stayed home most of the day, checking if I had everything ready for the hospital and sat on the couch most of the day. Later on that night we dropped off our dog at the pet hotel and then went out to get Subway and a lemonade for me. We even went to get some groceries for the next day in case we had another day of early labor ahead of us. I still remember Dustin chuckling at the fact that we were out walking around, doing normal everyday things while I was having contractions. But realistically speaking, the contractions during early labor, though uncomfortable weren’t unbearable to the point where I couldn’t function. They just felt like bad cramps.

Active Labor
12036824_904723439565220_4732673675534013560_nThat night, around 3 in the morning, the contractions intensified. Knowing that there’s most likely a marathon ahead, I tried to stay in bed and rest in-between contractions which I was able to until later that morning when the contractions intensified. In the beginning I was able to do some visualization to help me relax. What helped the most was visualizing I was in a boat with Jesus and He was with me. I started timing the contractions and slowly as the hours passed, the minutes in between each contraction decreased and the length of the contractions increased.
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7 thoughts @ 1 Week Postpartum

1. Being a new parent is so humbling! I found out that there’s a lot I don’t know and I DON’T have it all figured out (much to my dismay) but then again NO ONE does! Yet everything IS going to be ok because the Lord is helping me (and so is my mom and my husband…and also plenty of resources/other moms I can reach out to THANK GOD!)

2. The baby’s helping me fall more in love with my husband. Seeing how he cheered me on and encouraged me during the entire labor process and now seeing how willing and happy he is to attend to Sadie’s needs and my needs melts my heart and makes me swoon.

3. Lactation consultants and baby carriers are worth their weight in gold!

4. This first week made me SO aware of how much I don’t ask for help when I do need it. I feel like this is something God’s pinpointing for me to work on. A nurse at the hospital got a bit short with me because I was insisting on getting up myself when I was still in danger of passing out after giving birth…hahaha.

5. Postpartum hormones makes me cry a lot. I have to change the channel if I know there’s a sappy commercial coming on or scroll down if I see something sappy on FaceBook. The tears are waning though now that I’m a bit more rested, thank God!

6. I do need my mom. Though previously I was really nervous about her coming to help me with my postpartum rest, I’m so grateful she insisted on coming to help us. I don’t know what we’d do without her. Thank you mama!

7. I love Sadie soooo much that it makes me tear up just thinking those words. She’s so adorable! I love staring at her, waking up next to her in the morning and listening to her make her cute little baby noises.

Third & FINAL Trimester: Peace, Joy and Surprises of this Pregnancy!

Today is exactly a week before my due date and surprisingly (and contrary to how I’ve been feeling the two previous trimesters) I feel sooooooo at peace and excited for our little girl’s arrival! Whoohooo! Finally!!!

Throughout this pregnancy I’ve been surprised by the emotional rollercoaster it’s been, how well I’ve been feeling physically and God’s continual goodness! Below’s all of that in more detail….

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Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster
You know when you really want yourself to feel a certain way when something major happens but then you don’t so you feel completely frustrated? So yeah, that was me for the majority of this pregnancy.

Few weeks ago I was listening to Tim Keller’s sermon on the peace of God and he mentioned that sometimes as Christians we lack peace because we get frustrated that we’re frustrated or due to our expectations of ourselves and life. My own expectations, I believe, was the caused of a lot of my frustrations.
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What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag: Taiwan Expat Mommy Edition

Last week I got my hospital bag ready since I’m less than a month away from my due date (can’t believe D-day is so soon!)! Since I’m giving birth in Taiwan instead of the States, on top of looking up what to pack on Pinterest, I also read up on what moms in Taiwan pack for the hospital (in Taiwan hospital bags are called dai chan bao (待產包)). In hopes of helping the expat mamas in Taiwan, I’ve put together this Taiwan hospital bag packing list with the Chinese names of items you’ll need to bring and also links to sites where you can purchase some of the items. Due to the fact that it’s so much cheaper to give birth here versus the States, you’ll need to bring some items that are usually provided by the hospitals in America. (I’ve also updated the list now that I’m one month postpartum.) But if you plan on delivering in a larger hospital, usually they’ll have a pharmacy there to purchase anything you need or forgot. Hope this helps you!

Documents- Hospital Baag
1. folder/envelope: to put all the paperwork you’ll receive from the hospital for the baby and also to keep your cash in. I heard it’s recommended to bring around 20,000NT so you don’t have to run out to an ATM. Of course it’s also pretty convenient to find an ATM in Taiwan too if you don’t want to have that much money in your bag.
2. Mommy Handbook 媽媽手冊
3. You’ll also need your National Healthcare card and ARC or Taiwan ID

During Labor_Hospital Bag
1. music (phone/lap top, portable speakers) (I listened to Childbirth in the Glory and another birth affirmation while laboring. It helped me so much!)
2. essential oil and diffuser (lavender is recommended for birthing) (I didn’t bring this..maybe should’ve)
3. (optional) homeopathic meds (I packed arnicare gel, clary age essential oil, Pulsatilla 30c, Arnica Montana 30c, Caulophyllum 30c, Gelsemium 30c) (I took some in the beginning of labor but later on forgot to)
4. massage ball (forgot to get one but my husband rubbed my back and that felt sooo good!)
5. small towel for when you get sweaty or to be used as a cold/hot compress (useful especially when I took a shower the day after in the hospital room)
6. hot/cold compress (wished I had a hot compress for my back, didn’t get a chance to get one before I left for the hospital)
7. snacks & drinks (coconut water is a great source of electrolytes, I loved the ones I found at Carrefour which came with straws like a juice box. Made drinking them while lying down so much easier)
8. yoga ball (I labored for a bit on it)
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Facing Fears of Motherhood: God’s Promise of Deliverance

One of the greatest fears I’ve had to confront during my pregnancy is the fear of motherhood. The fear that I wouldn’t be enough for my child. The worries of failing my baby. The fear that we would have a bad relationship or that she would have a painful and bad childhood.

Most whom I’ve spoken of this to immediately respond with affirmations of the good mother I will be, which is comforting. But despite all those affirming words from friends, I still can’t seem to shake off these fears.

As I was sharing these worries with my friend Becky via FaceTime this morning, the Lord shed some light through our conversation. She shared that as a first time mom, the framework of what we think motherhood will be like comes mostly from what we experienced from our own mothers. If we did not have a good experience with her, most likely it would bring about some negative emotions as we anticipate the birth of our child. How right she was.
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Preggoland @ 2nd Trimester: facing my fears (4 things that helped me overcome them) & all the love

This trimester has been a difficult one emotionally. I don’t know if it was all the hormones (double the estrogen since I’m having a girl) or just simply the fact that I’m facing a major transition in my life (probably a mix of both), but it’s been a doozy. But at the same time, I was pleasantly surprised by all the love people showed towards our baby and us.

Facing My Fears: 4 things that really helped me overcome them

During these past three months, my fears towards labor and motherhood were heightened. It doesn’t help that I live in a country where there is a lot of fear surrounding birth and motherhood. I tried many things to help me get over these fears that kept hanging on for a good month or so. I tried googling for other moms who went through the same things during their pregnancy. I tried to give it to the Lord in prayer. I tried talking it out with my husband. I tried messaging other moms on FaceBook asking for their advice on how they overcame their fears. But ultimately I found what really helped me overcome these fears was talking about them with an older woman who has been there and done it all before.

I skyped my good friend and mentor Becky. After talking to her about my fears regarding the pain I would inevitably face during labor and delivery, peace began to enter into my heart. I think what every preggo mama needs and wants to hear from their moms and other women in their lives is, “everything is going to be alright.” Sounds simple enough right?

But here are the four things that really helped me including the one I just mentioned above:
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Preggoland, The First Trimester: fatigue, nausea & freak out

Fatigue, nausea and freakout are three words I would use to sum up my first trimester. Sound exciting?

I started off strong, implementing the diet recommended in Nourishing Traditions of Baby & Child Care (by Sally Fallon Morell & Thomas Cowan M.D.). For breakfast I had an organic egg, sautéed veggies and sometimes a sweet potato. I even made liver and ate it…..once (hahahahahah). But then at week five that’s when things started to go downhill.

Fatigue & Nausea
In the beginning when the nausea wasn’t so strong, I was in denial. I didn’t want to be one of those women who had morning sickness!!! It seemed like every women around me didn’t feel a thing during their pregnancy. I didn’t want to be the odd duck! But as the nausea grew stronger and stronger…..I had to face the facts, I had morning sickness. Thank goodness I wasn’t throwing up but I had morning sickness.

Later on as I asked around more and read more about pregnancy, I realized that every woman is different and will have different experiences and it doesn’t mean that I’m more unhealthy or bad for some reason.

I felt nauseated and tired from week five until a few weeks into my second trimester. I was taking naps every afternoon, I HAD to take a nap. I started to go to sleep at 11pm which is totally out of character for me since I’m such a night owl. I didn’t want to do any house work nor did I want to cook. We began getting take out more and more (thank God it’s so affordable to do so in Taiwan!). My healthy wife mentality went out the window because I was just SO tired and sick. One time I even started crying because I felt so bad that even on our date day when I knew my husband wanted to go out, all I wanted to do was to stay at home. I remember I was crying in the bathroom and Dustin, the super awesome hubby that he is comforted me, reminding me that there’s a miracle happening in my body and that’s why I feel so strange. I love him so :).

Sleeping in Mommy's Bed

The pregnancy has also brought us deeper in love with one another. Dustin keeps thanking me for carrying our child when he would pray for us at night, bringing tears to my eyes and melting my heart. He began helping out more around the house, picking up some of the duties I was responsible for prior to the pregnancy. I think it helped both of us appreciate one another more and perhaps the growing baby also is solidifying our love even further. 🙂 God knew what He was doing when He was commanding us to be fruitful and multiply. I’m definitely seeing it bless our marriage.
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Preggoland: how it all started

Baby BluesWhen we first got married I was terrified that I would get pregnant right away. I didn’t feel ready and more importantly I didn’t know how I would handle my mom taking care of me for a month (in Taiwanese culture women have a month of postpartum confinement where they rest and eat a bunch of food and Chinese medicine to reboot their body after giving birth). I was petrified of taking on the responsibility of raising a child. I felt that I would either fail miserably or damage the child for life, or both.

That was three years ago. During the past three years I felt the Lord calm my nerves and prepare my heart (as He so faithfully does every time) to receive this gift He wants to give us. I believe the most important thing was knowing that He will be there with me to help me. I wouldn’t be alone trying to handle all of it by myself.

I remember asking my friend Becky Falkner the secret to having a God-centered loving family like herself (she has five kids and sixteen grandkids). She told me, that she’d asked the Lord for help a lot and would try to apologize to her children when she made a mistake. That really simplified things for me. Similar to a lot of things in life, we simply need to ask the Lord for help (look to Him) and to say sorry.

So this past fall, we felt ready to start trying. But when we did I faced another worry in my heart. Would I get pregnant? What if I don’t? I felt as if I was surrounded by many women who had trouble getting pregnant. After reading up on the realities of conception, I realized that sometimes it takes up to six months to conceive. Wow! Six-months! What if it takes me six months or more or it doesn’t happen at all? AHHHHH! Continue reading “Preggoland: how it all started”

When You Feel Like You’re Failing Life

It happens to all of us. These questions that plague us from time to time. The questions we’d rather drown out with too much television, online shopping, Pinterest and food. Yes, we’re getting up too late, we’re not disciplined enough and the laundry’s piling up but does that makes us failures?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kellan/2777191844/in/photolist-5epQo1-2hyWN-hwreGf-hgHqTU-azm7Rh-9rEBfD-7k8gWF-9FwQqT-5AQryX-e3njEy-5Gv2oW-5f2CiP-7RdYqH-5G3HfG-5ZQbjf-duzsNr-6NqLef-9UCx47-6gQY32-623c6b-5FGN97-51Bfvb-5n1GRu-aBGTai-5oM2Hw-hdN9Qi-61XTDF-6V41Lv-hm7HTo-6nZfCq-9qAPm9-hwsW3n-6dMFAE-5HhxKF-hwrDMu-hwrg18-hsKe6W-azVWNd-hjKvFM-hij8DA-hjKXG5-i3HUcv-86KxXo-kAPPTa-jWBmFA-6ER8JR-hm8Afp-7d1j1K-6xGEDU-7dxz9a/player/

Moving to Taiwan, having to relearn almost everything from ground up: where to find the best priced groceries, getting nervous before I have to call a service person on the phone or make reservations for fear of not understanding and embarrassing myself because yet again I have to ask them to repeat themselves, not knowing so much…………..I have to admit it’s been making me feel like a failure. Transitioning to a different culture is exhausting! But am I giving myself grace, seeing myself through my Abba’s eyes? Or am I beating myself over the head with my measuring stick again?
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