To my son

On September 25, 2021, I gave birth to a 6 lb baby boy. My first child.

On March 25, 2022 he turned 6 months old. He barely fit into any of his clothes, and then one day, he outgrew half of them.

I realized I didn’t want to do anything that kept me away from you, so I decided to be a full time stay at home mom. I didn’t know what love between a mom and a child was until I made that decision. I’m fortunate to even have that decision to make. My bond with you only continues to grow.

Jared, you’re half a year old already. I’m excited to be present for your milestones and help you be the best you can be. Keep growing, learning, laughing, and smiling.

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

When the Pregnancy High Wore Off

Dear readers,

In 2021, I learned I was pregnant. I was excited, anxious, and embracing the changes my body was going through. Being known as “mommy” was something I simultaneously craved and felt weirded out by. My emotions were–and still are–all over the place. But the high I felt while pregnant was all over by the time my little one was home with my husband and I for 24 hours.

I have a condition known as misophonia, which in simple terms is the hatred of specific sounds. The person suffering from this becomes irrationally angry when hearing a sound most people can filter out and think nothing about. I’ve suffered with this my whole life, but when I gave birth, it was the least of my problems.

There were days when I was more sensitive to my condition than others, but I was more focused on dealing with morning sickness, sciatica, and the constant kicking of the child in my womb. I pretty much vomited throughout my pregnancy and grew very sensitive to car movement. Car sickness was a regular occurrence.

I gave birth late September 2021. There were hardly any times when my misophonia was an issue. I guess I was in too much pain to really care. I did not get an epidural and gave birth naturally. I only took Motrin from time to time and was injected with morphine during the last stretch.

I was in labor for 24 hours. I pushed five times when the time came, and my baby was out. It hurt like hell. But baby had arrived and I experienced temporary relief.

I was determined to breastfeed. I wanted to give my baby optimal nutrition. But my sensory issues had other plans.

I was two weeks in to breastfeeding and I quit. My sensory issues didn’t let me do what I wanted to do for my baby. During this time, I didn’t feel human. Every time my baby breast fed, I wanted to rip my skin off. Every time my baby touched my breasts, I wanted to die. I hated myself, my life, and almost seriously considered giving my baby up to someone else.

I switched to formula after a huge meltdown in front of my husband, who didn’t realize how bad breastfeeding was treating me. He wanted me to transition slowly but I just couldn’t. I needed to stop NOW, or I’d drive myself off a cliff. I don’t think I was kidding. I was that desperate. Like I mentioned earlier. I don’t think misophonia was my biggest problem anymore.

Along with those feelings, I also couldn’t hold my baby for long periods of time. If I did, I’d get severely overwhelmed and my husband would have to step in. That’s how bad my sensory issues are. Touch is difficult for me, and all of that touching and stimulation from breastfeeding was making me go insane. Eventually, my husband did practically all the holding. Even now, though I’m a lot better, he holds the baby often. My doctor diagnosed me with PPD/PPA and upped my medication dose.

As the weeks turned into months, coping with misophonia while also caring for a child was proving to be rather difficult. Now that I wasn’t breastfeeding and hating myself all the time, misophonia became my primary issue again. The headphones that I used before baby were no longer practical. They were huge, needed some maintenance which was giving me trouble, and most importantly, would be a baby hazard eventually. They frequently slipped, sometimes off my head, and I didn’t want it to slip and fall on the baby. I didn’t have time to try fixing the headphones and trying to make the bulkiness work.

This means I mostly did without headphones. Sometimes this was fine, as I spent most of my days in my room or another room away from my triggering family member that lives with my husband and I. But there were days when I couldn’t avoid it and I was raging internally while making a bottle of formula.

Late February of this year, I invested in good quality, noise cancelling earbuds. I was going crazy not being able to drown out the noise around me as much as I wanted to. I got a refurbished pair of Bose earbuds. They’re only slightly uncomfortable, but ultimately very much worth the price. I put them in, play some white noise, and that’s all I hear. I can also listen to my favorite podcasts again without worrying about bulkiness, slipping, or baby trying to grab.

At the time this was written, baby was 4 months, almost 5, and is growing so well. Baby reached all kinds of milestones. Baby is learning to make me and my husband laugh by doing certain things. Baby is well loved and my husband and I have lots of support. It’s hard to focus on that when I have depressive/anxious episodes. Not long ago, I was crying in the middle of the night just from being generally overwhelmed. I have zero time to myself a lot of the time, or if I have a break from the baby, I need to spend that break doing chores around the house. This was stressful for me when I was still working. So I made a huge decision.

I decided to quit my job right after my husband also quit his job to go to school and get a better, enjoyable job. I decided I needed to spend my time at home with my baby and focus on housework. AKA, I decided to embrace the homemaker life.

I loved my job. It was run by a great boss, I had great coworkers and got so much help and leeway. But I decided having a job right now was not my calling. Now all I have to worry about is the home, my baby, and my husband. While I was working, I had to think about that along with who I was going to ask to watch my baby for several hours, wake up with enough time to get to said family member’s house and get to work on time, and keep an ear out for my phone in case the person watching baby needs me to pick him up early.

Being a working mom was never something I wanted, but I read about all these working moms, or have friends with kids who are working and seem to have it together, so I thought I could do it too. But I hated it. I hated being away from my baby for so long. I hated barely having time for myself, let alone looking presentable for the workplace. I’m fortunate I even have the choice of being a homemaker, because I’m sure there are moms out there who prefer that, but have to work. Sometimes I feel bad for even having a choice.

Despite how bad my sensory issues are and my misophonia, I can’t seem to be away from baby for long periods of time. My husband will always offer me opportunities to get out of the house and I almost always turn them down. I actually want to stay home. It’s…strange. But somehow feels right. It’s not that I don’t want to see friends, cause I do. But I just have different priorities.

All of this to say, I love my baby. I’m excited to watch him grow.


Late March 2022 – Baby is now 6 months and can turn onto his back and tummy. His favorite animal is monkeys. He smiles and laughs almost every time I look at him. He loves being tickled by me and my husband. He’s learned that he can play independently and is fully sleep trained. He’s learning to hold himself up. He loves bath time. He doesn’t like new faces and only feels safe with me and my husband, perhaps with my dad as well.

I was in a very bad mental place for a long time. I couldn’t even go to mass or confession because I was exhausted 24/7. I had frequent nightmares about my baby dying or people threatening the well-being of my baby. I once woke up clutching my husband and to the sound of him saying “You’re ok, you’re ok”.

When I did finally go to confession, I wept. When I went to mass for the first time in a long time and was able to receive communion, it was like a darkness was lifted from my mind. I still can’t go to mass a lot of times, especially now with baby’s fear of strangers because he’ll cry and be miserable for an hour. But I do want to make more of an effort to go. I want him to get used to the church, to mass, to me receiving communion. I want him to ask questions when he’s older, to be curious about Catholicism. I want–rather, I need–the grace and guidance from the Holy Spirit to be able to guide him in the right direction.

I am so glad the darkness was lifted. I am so glad I didn’t give my baby away. I’m glad I quit my job and can be with my baby. I’m so, so blessed, and so thankful.

I look forward to teaching baby everything I know about life. I finally feel like a mom. I know I can do this.

Moving Forward

Dear readers,

Today, my husband and I looked at several joint bank account options since he had a day off from work. After doing some research and considering our options together, we have chosen one!

We haven’t done anything yet because my husband’s updated driver’s license hasn’t come in yet. At least we have a bank to apply to when it does arrive.

We also looked in to a spousal IRA as well as a savings account. If I remember correctly, these things are different. Haven’t applied to either of them yet because I believe we’d need my husband’s driver’s license for that too. But I’m excited to start!

It’s all so surreal to me even though we’ve been married for five months. Having a child, joint account, thinking about investment and budgeting…my brain can’t wrap itself around numbers very well, but my husband is fantastic with them. He can also read super fast and summarize things really well. It’s so nice to have him help in that aspect. I think I would be very lost and confused without him around.

I have a checkup with my OBGYN tomorrow afternoon. I hope I’ll find out my baby’s sex and prepare clothes, baby shower, etc. accordingly. After that, I’ll switch to my Medi-Cal insurance because that’s just the most cost effective option right now. If my current OBGYN accepted Medi-Cal, that would be awesome but they don’t. They suggested I find someone else before my insurance runs out–as I’m on my mom’s and can’t afford it myself when I’m kicked off after turning 26–so I can get the rest of my prenatal care taken care of.

Despite my negative experiences with Medi-Cal in the past, I don’t have a choice. It’s either spend a fortune my husband and I can’t afford, or this. The Christian Healthcare I was looking at is also just too much for us right now. I just hope and pray I’ll get good people to help me along this journey. Once I’m eligible to be covered under my husband’s work insurance, that’ll be great. I just wish it wasn’t some time after giving birth. However, the best thing I can do is offer my worries about this to God and trust that He’s got me; that I’ll be ok.

Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to thee: have mercy on me and hear me. My heart hath said to thee: My face hath sought thee: thy face, O Lord, will I still seek. Turn not away thy face from me; decline not in thy wrath from thy servant. Be thou my helper, forsake me not; do not thou despise me, O God my Saviour.

Ps 27:7-9 (Douay Rheims)

Anxiety

I didn’t know insurance could be so difficult to navigate through. In the past few days I’ve been scrambling to find an insurance plan that won’t break the bank and cover my prenatal/postnatal care. A lot of websites require a phone number to get a call from someone to talk about the plan and get a free quote. As someone who suffers from anxiety, this is less than ideal. I’ve been avoiding calls for the past three days from “spammers”, according to my caller ID app.

I’m off my mom’s insurance this July when I turn 26, and if I can find an insurance plan that will let me keep my current OBGYN, that’d be wonderful. The plan my mom has is too expensive for me to get myself. But my fallback insurance is Medi-Cal, so I’m keeping that in mind as I research. I personally had bad experiences with doctors who accept Medi-Cal, so I hesitate to use it.

Aside from insurance, I’m also looking into the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Unfortunately, my experience thus far has been…disappointing. I went to the local office during opening hours after work and no one was there. Two other women were standing outside just as perplexed as I was. I called the number to see if anyone would answer, but it went to voicemail after a couple rings. I left a message to schedule my first appointment with them and hope to hear back soon.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Not long ago, I also broke down because of stress due to work and my pregnancy. I confided to my husband that I didn’t want to work anymore, at least not as much as I was currently. I told him I wanted to focus on my pregnancy and be able to rest as much as I needed, but was worried about not contributing as much as I could to our family unit. I said I want to primarily be a housewife and be as available for my child as possible. My husband and I talked about homeschooling so I want to be available for that, too.

Because my husband is the amazing person that he is, he hugged me and let me cry on his shoulder, and said we’ll be alright. After getting myself together, he suggested to work something out with my employer. I talked to them the other day and they are willing to keep me on the team and work with me. I’m a reporter for the paper and they’ve been flexible with me in the past when I first realized I was pregnant and dealing with constant vomiting. Essentially, my primary duties now are reporting once every two weeks for a regular council meeting and being free to choose stories at my own leisure as opposed to being assigned to them. I’ll be making much less money, but it’s never about money for me.

Money is definitely important to survive in society, but I don’t want to focus on that everyday. Not that I’ll spend recklessly; I will remain within a certain budget, save, and spend as less as possible. Certain luxuries will have to be put aside, but as long as we have the basics, we’ll be ok. I can only say that because of my faith in God and my husband. There are lots of uncertainties, and I just give them to God and trust He’ll get us through. I don’t always remember and end up dwelling on all the things causing me anxiety and worry. I try to handle it myself and end up breaking down. But every time I talk to my husband about what’s bothering me and take it to prayer, I feel a bit more at peace. Focusing on the positive and tackling my worries becomes a little easier.

Regarding focusing on the positive, there are certain insurances I found during my search that are Christian related. I never knew such a thing existed! Some don’t call themselves “insurance” and instead call themselves “health share” or something similar. It’s an interesting concept and looks promising, so I’m saving information to talk about with my husband and make a decision together. There’s one insurance I have my eye on and am saving information mostly from them. I’m the only one getting insurance until I’m covered by his in a couple years–his workplace doesn’t allow me to be covered yet. And of course, if nothing else, I can fall back on Medi-Cal.

On my to-do list:

  • Finish outstanding tasks for work
  • Stay hydrated
  • Take a shower

Unbreakable

A reflection on being unbreakable

Not too long ago, I attended a Zoom webinar put on by the San Diego Roman Catholic Diocese where a New Orleans priest gave a talk on the theme “Unbreakable”. His name is Fr. Tony Picard. I’ve heard him speak before and loved every minute of it, so I was very excited about this webinar featuring him. For free, even! Events like these usually cost money so I feel very blessed to have been able to attend. I gained a lot of insight and had lots
of laughs.

Fr. Tony’s talk focused on how we go through so many hardships in life, but we’re still here. He emphasized this phrase: “Because I know there is a God, I’ll be alright.” He talked about the devastating Hurricane Katrina and how it impacted his life and ministry. He talked about COVID-19 and how people like himself and others had to adapt to using more technology to connect with people. Despite everything he’s gone through in life, he’s still here.

Fr. Tony said that the struggles we go through in life will bend us, but never break us. If we trust in God, we are unbreakable. Because we know there is a God, we’ll be alright. As this is also the month of St. Joseph–he called him Blessed St. Joseph–Fr. Tony talked about how Joseph was a just man, and right with God. Every time he received God’s message through a dream, he followed through with it. He played a huge part in keeping the family safe.

Photo by Anne McCarthy on Pexels.com

I began with this because I often feel so broken. I sin, I confess, I do well in not sinning, and fail again. I feel like I’ve fallen so many times that I must have fractured something. Something has to be broken. But after tuning in to Fr. Tony’s talk, I realized that I’m not broken. I’ve just been bent. Because I know there is a God, I’ll be alright. I can’t break if God is on my side. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. And I haven’t truly given it thought
until now.

I think it’s safe to say that we all fall into sin. The problem, I think, is that we forget God’s mercy. We forget He loves us and is on our side. I struggle with a recurring sin, and for as long as I can remember, that particular sin kept me away from confession, and hatred and disgust for myself grew. I didn’t want to seem as though I wasn’t growing as a person of holiness and confess the same sin all the time. My reluctance to confess didn’t help any.

Married and pregnant, I want to show my child that no matter how many times we fall, God will be there. No matter how many times we bend, we’ll never break. If we keep the Lord in our sight, we’ll be alright. I don’t want my child to believe they’re disgusting or hate themselves the way I did for many years. It’s my hope that I can prevent that from happening as much as possible. They’ll struggle, but if I can help them find inner peace sooner, I’ll be happy.

Genesis

The word genesis means the origin or coming into being of something (Merriam-Webster). That’s what this post is about: the origin, or genesis, of my life as a married woman and mom!

Let’s back peddle a little bit. When I was younger, I didn’t want kids. Ever. Wasn’t even sure I wanted to get married. I had a crush on this boy but he seemed way out of my league, and no one else quite intrigued me like he did. He and I were friends and talked off and on.

This boy and I grew up and somehow our relationship developed into something new during our early adulthood. A night under the stars prompted “I love you” from him and I was shocked, ecstatic…scared. Was this God’s way of saying no one else will do? Was he giving me my childhood crush, or was I imagining things?

Fast forward to April 2017 and we’re dating. We’re figuring each other out. What makes us tick, what we love, how to improve bad habits. As time went on I was certain he was the one. We talked about our faiths, what we wanted for ourselves and for potential children. And suddenly, having children and getting married was something I wanted more and more.

February 1, 2020 and we’re engaged. December 5, 2020 and we’re married. Some time in January 2021 we’re pregnant; I’m 16 weeks along as of this post!

A lot of people we know commented on how fast we got to this point. They were surprised that we were pregnant after only one month of marriage. But we have known each other for so long and we’ve gotten so comfortable around each other that we were just like, why wait?

We’re so excited for our baby to be born. Husband is hoping for a boy, and I’m leaning toward a girl, but we’ll be happy no matter what God blesses us with. I’m thinking about baby clothes and other items, how to prepare for my hospital trip when I go into labor, and thinking about finances. I’m grinning at my growing belly and happy I’m gaining weight. I’m excited to wear a mom shirt I bought a couple months ago that’ll highlight my belly.

My body is working so hard to grow this baby and I’m trying to enjoy it while coping with nausea and fatigue. Thankfully I’m no longer as nauseous or vomiting in the second trimester! Now I’m hungry and tired all the time and my emotions are heightened. Husband is extra worried about my food intake and tries hard to help me make healthy choices. I’m not the healthiest eater, but I’m not eating junk all the time like I used to.

On my to-do list

  • Call OBGYN to schedule a checkup
  • Take it easy
  • Pray