No Sick Days

I had a HORRIBLE fever for the longest time. It started about 11 days ago, and it was the worst I’ve felt since I had mono like 4 years ago. High fever that didn’t break for almost 7 days, a migraine that absolutely would not go away, muscle aches that left me bed-ridden, and a cough that made me feel like my ribs were going to crack.

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I kept a medical mask on like literally 24/7.

Shortness of breath. High fever. You name it, I had it. I was so sure it was the flu, but no, just pneumonia.

As a kid, I know I would have loved being that dreadfully ill if it meant not going to school. But of course, adults have it much harder.

I was not only freaking out about all the school work I would be missing out on, but it was stressful just thinking of how I would take care of Ember when I could barely take care of myself. I could barely carry my water bottle without my arm wanting to fall off, so how could I carry a 30 pound squirmy baby?

Thankfully I had the help of my family and of course my baby daddy, but it wasn’t enough. And by that, I mean a mother’s work is never satisfied.

Wearing the surgical mask 24/7 made me realize how much time I spend with her. I couldn’t give her kisses, couldn’t blow on her belly to make her laugh. I couldn’t eat the pretend food she made me, or share my food with her. I couldn’t bite her toes or let her feed me her leftovers, and I’d wear it in my sleep in case she might try to wake me up with good-morning-kisses.

Even though the mere act of standing up made me want to pass out, I kept finding myself automatically getting up and peeking into the other room just to see how Ember was doing. All I wanted to do was sleep, but when she wasn’t near me I felt anxious. I really had to go almost an entire week spending virtually no time with her out of fear of her getting sick too, and I really missed her even though most of the time she was just downstairs.

The thing is that it’s one thing to have help watching your kid. Everyone needs a sitter from time to time. But, just not all the time. I barely got to see Ember all week and it made me so depressed. It just wasn’t noticeable because I was dying of lung infection.

Going on Day 11 and I just finished my round of antibiotics. My cough is virtually gone and I haven’t had a fever in 4 days. I’m hoping I’ll be back at full strength by the end of the week, so I can say goodbye to the mask and play with my sweet baby again.

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How I Named My Ember

YOU ARE 1 NOW!!! (Plus a few weeks).

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You in your birthday suit! Get it? Because it was your birthday. And you’re naked. Hilarious.

Sorry I haven’t written anything in about 2 months, but between you and school and etc I’ve been incredibly busy. I know I say this a lot, but I really will try to write more here. Even if it’s just once a month.

I like to think of this blog as my way of talking to you, Ember, in like 10-15 years down the road. To let you know how things were.

Right now you are 1 year and 2 weeks old. You can:

  • Walk
  • Play peekaboo proficiently
  • Sing (your favorite songs are Johny Johny, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, and Elmo’s World)
  • Dance (mostly just shimmying)
  • Eat regular foods (you like eggs and french fries, but mostly cookies)
  • Give kisses (mostly just biting my face)
  • and sort of talk! (you mostly just say “clap” and then do it, but you can also say “hi” and “buh bye” and a few other select words. You can quack, but that’s not really a word.)

You have curly brown hair like your dad. You’re paler than me but darker than him. You’ve got his square face. You have my small nose but it looks like it’s getting pointy like his. You have his eyebrows but my eyes. Smile is kind of up for grabs, but I say it looks like mine. You look so much like both of us that no one can tell who you take after more (kind of like North West tbh).

You are so smart and lovely and happy and I’m so proud of you everyday!

Anyways, what I wanted to talk about today is your namesake. A lot of people (pretty much everyone) has asked about how I chose your name, Ember Nadine. I keep giving short sort-of explanations because there was A LOT that went into it, so here’s the full story.

It was a long process. Actually for the duration of my pregnancy, I had my heart set on naming you Gwendolyn, but your dad hated that name. Your dad wanted to name you either Claire or Autumn, but I wasn’t really feeling those names. I also sort of wanted to name you Hinata after one of my favorite anime characters, but pretty much everyone shut me down on that one (they’re no fun). But since it was largely my choice (since I was doing all the heavy lifting), you were almost Gwen Hina D-J.

Now, here is where the story gets longer. I have another blog, that I started back in middle school when I got very depressed, and my username was Ember. I just liked that word. It was calming to me, it was a soft light in a dark place to make me feel better. Writing on that blog helped me release feelings that needed to get out. But I really didn’t think to name you after that for a long time.

I didn’t even consider naming you Ember until by fate I saw Danny Phantom (an old cartoon) on TV. Now, don’t hate me, but there was a villain named Ember. I honestly for the life of me can’t remember if I got the username Ember for my old blog from this show, but that’s a possibility. If it helps, she has a really awesome catchy theme song.

Ember_First_appearance

Here she is, your name inspiration. Ember McLain. At least she’s really cool-looking though.

The most memorable lyrics of her theme song are, “Ember, so warm and tender. You will remember my name.”

And I loved that. You are amazing. You are affectionate and loving and already so empathetic. You will be remembered for amazing things.

That song was definitely a push in the right direction for naming you. Here was the final thing that made me choose your name.

There was a slam-poem called “To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter” which always makes me cry a little. It’s a man talking about how much he cherishes his daughter. Good stuff. At one point, he goes on a rant about how his daughter must always be respected and how he has raised her to be strong, and he ends the stanza with this line:

“You can’t make fire feel afraid.”

That line spoke volumes to me and sent shivers down my spine. It’s totally getting tattooed on me in the future. That was when I put the pieces together. (Remember? Ember. Fire –> Ember. #Yaaaas)

One day I was at my friend’s house, and this was when I was near the end of my second trimester with you. We were painting this little shelf for you (hopefully when you’re reading this you’ll still have it) and I said I wanted to paint your name on the side. My friend said, “Are you sure? You don’t seem very solid about her name.” And at the time it’s true I was a little shaky, but I could feel something. I painted the name “Ember Nadine” and I just knew it was right.

Oh right, about your middle name. My birth name was Maria Bianca Nadine C-D. But when I was I think just entering high school, your grandma had it legally cut down to just Bianca C-D. So I gave you my middle name that I lost, because I think that it’s a beautiful name. It means “princess”, and that’s what you are to me.

If Ember = fire and Nadine = princess, does that make you Flame Princess?

flame

Flame Princess, another character from a cartoon (Flame Princess) I used to watch. I swear I didn’t name you after cartoons on purpose that was purely happenstance.

So Ember, that’s the full story of how I named you. If one day you choose to change your name, that’s fine by me. But I hope you love your name, because I do.

Fight or Flight

One thing I’ve learned in several different classes is that humans have this instinct known as “fight or flight”, which means that when we face a struggle we must choose to either fight it or run away.

Ember, you are just over 10 months old now and you are starting to walk! I am so proud of you! You were crawling around 7 and 8 months, and now you are up on two feet!

Okay this is a really bad quality picture of you standing up by yourself but you did it and I'm proud!

Okay this is a really bad quality picture of you standing up by yourself but you did it and I’m proud!

I guess I’m not writing in a very coherent order right now, but I’ll try to explain what fight or flight has to do with this post.

So I recently started school again after a year of a few online courses. The thing is, it’s not the classes that are bringing me down, it’s my inability to socialize.

Coming in, I had this image in my head that I could be more outgoing and I could socialize and talk to people and join clubs and make lots of new friends. I thought I could be different than who I’ve always been, but it’s hard. My social anxiety takes a huge toll on me, and I’ve almost been reduced to tears several times already, and we haven’t even started the third week of school.

On the first week, I went to the first meeting of the Filipino club. Because hey, I’m Filipino, sounded like a good place to start. I walk in, see the room is jam-packed and nearly overflowing, and I freeze. Right in the middle of the room. I look around, desperately trying to get my legs to move. Desperately trying to think of something to say, for someone to say something to. I stand there for at least 5 minutes (though it felt like 5 hours), frozen, wanting to leave and go home and cry at my own weakness.

But, sure enough, I find my way to a table of girls and introduce myself. My heart is racing and I feel like passing out, but I do it, and I made friends with them.

The next week, I heard there would be a dance workshop over the weekend. I drag your dad and one of my other friends with me, thinking, “Oh, I love dancing this should be a fun way to make friends.”

As soon as we get there, I freeze in front of the door, and I start to panic. I sat at a table outside and hummed to myself and played on my phone, wasting time while my friends waited for me to make up my mind on whether I really wanted to go in or not. Of course I wanted to go in, but there was this nervousness and anxiety that prevented me from doing so. I probably paced around the door looking in for 20 minutes, on the verge of tears, before finally getting pushed in. As soon as I was in I thought, “Okay, not so bad…” But after we started I was gone after the first 10 minutes.

Yet another example of how anxiety was holding me back.

My last story is of this past weekend. I hear that there is another dance workshop over the weekend, but it’s with the Filipino club. I think, “Okay, I can do this, I can do this I’ll stay and I won’t leave I’ll make friends and be happy I can do this.”

The morning before leaving I think about just staying home and being a weenie, but I force myself to go, and I had a really good time! This time when I went, there was very little hesitation. The group I was with was very small which helped a lot, and I did dance and I did make a new friend and I felt really happy afterwards.

I guess what I’m trying to say about these stories is that I exposure-therapied myself? Which means I kept forcing myself to go to social gatherings, and I gradually became more okay with them.

During my gap year, I spent most of my time at home by myself. In that time I gradually forgot how to talk to people, and all the progress I made overcoming my social anxiety during my freshman year in college was pushed aside as a new wave of fear overwhelmed me.

Okay, now it’s time for a change of scenery and mood in this post.

EMBER, YOU ARE WALKING! Okay now to try and tie these stories together:

You love to be chased and tickled, you think it’s hilarious. Your Lolo keeps making scary sounds, and you laugh and you run away and it actually gets you to walk!

You somehow use your sense of flight to make you stronger. But I guess it’s not truly flight because you’re not truly scared, you’re just playing around.

I’ve spent most of my life in flight. Only since I’ve hit college have I started choosing to fight. By the way you constantly tackle me and bite me and slap me in the face, I can tell you are already a fighter (and I mean that in a nice way).

I don’t want to keep running away from people. I want to make friends and enjoy my life. I don’t want to keep holding myself back, and I would never dream of holding you back.

I hope that as time goes by we can fight together.

What We Learn

High school was a wild ride for me to say the least.

Here is visual proof:

Me in 2011. I look so dorky omg, I was in hardcore weeb mode and I wouldn't be saved for another 2 years at that point.

Me in 2011. I look so dorky omg, I was in hardcore weeb mode and I wouldn’t be saved for another 2 years at that point.

Here is how my average senior year daily schedule would look like:

  • 6:15 AM – Wake up and get ready for school
  • 6:45 AM – Drive to school and do nothing until class starts
  • 7:30 AM – 2:10 PM – Stumble through the day, pretend to be fully conscious, mingle, take notes, learn
  • 2:10 PM – 3:30 PM – After-school clubs
  • 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM – Get home, have a snack, take a nap and relax for a brief moment so I don’t go insane
  • 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM – Homework and study, with approximately 2 hours some time in there to eat and shower
  • 1:00 AM – 6:15 AM – Sleep

Let me tell you now why the education system is messed up.

Of the approximate 16 out of 24 hours I would spend every day doing school work, I retained nearly nothing. Pump-and-dump isn’t just an expression used to describe what nursing mothers do to their milk after a night of drinks, it’s what I had to do with all the information I learned just to keep up. It’s no wonder why America is ranked 14th in education, 2nd in ignorance, and 24th in literacy.

The funny thing is, the stuff I do remember from high school had nothing to do with the lessons, but everything to do with the teachers.

I can’t remember how to find the slope of a line, and I can’t tell you what a derivative is. I don’t remember the plot of Heart of Darkness or how to do a citation in MLA format. I don’t think I can name more than 10 elements on a periodic table, and I remember the formula d = m/v only because the “m/v” part looks like a heart when I write it out. The main thing I retained from history is that FDR was the man and the New Deal was a big deal.

What I do remember are my math teachers staying after school with me for countless hours and helping me until I understood something. I remember my English teachers praising my work and giving me confidence, and editing the crap out of my papers so that I would get even better (it was the only subject I was good at). My computer design teacher Mr. B becoming a good friend to me, staying after with me for hours letting me do work I was really passionate about, and helping me grow in my skills and as a person.

One moment I can never forget took place in my AP US History class when I was a junior in high school. Lord knows I’ll never remember what the actual lesson was about, but my teacher Mr. O started talking about babies. He asked the class if we need doctors and professionals to help us every step of the way when it comes to raising our kids. The 16 year old me sitting in that classroom thought about it, and was the only one to raise my hand and dissent with the group. “Yes, I think we need professionals.” He politely rejected my statement, and said something to the effect of:

“When you’re a parent, you know how to do things. Evolution prepared us for this. When you’re a parent, you know what your kids need. Believe it or not, their cries all sound different, so after a while you know what they need. Oh, there’s a hungry cry. Then that’s a poop cry. That’s an attention cry. You just know.”

At the time, 16 year old baby-less me couldn’t fathom how that would be possible. A cry is just a cry, right?

Nope. Of course, Mr. O was right.

When my baby cries, I just know. Oh, she’s hungry. Whoops, someone needs a new diaper. Oh no she’s scared. That’s a sleepy sob.

In my opinion, the best teachers don’t give you the facts and just the facts. They give you a real talk, with things you take outside the classroom and carry with you forever. I never thought I’d learn something about parenting in my high school history class, but here I am.

Every day should be “Teacher Appreciation Day”, because these people are not only over-worked and under-paid, they give us the #real and mentor us not only about school but about life. I’ll never be able to thank all of my teachers enough (or apologize enough for the times I dozed off during lessons).

To all the educators doing their best, thank you.

Stay-At-Home-Mom Syndrome

Last weekend I finally got to see some of my friends whom I had not seen in months.

Y'all are babes and I am not worthy.

Y’all are babes and I am not worthy.

It felt so good to talk to them again and reconnect, and I was so happy seeing them all play with Ember and watching her laugh because she loves them almost as much as I do. They say that babies are the best judges of character, so Ember is lowkey telling me that I have the greatest friends possible.

Recently, since summer is here and my friends are home for break and I’m starting to socialize more, I’ve noticed something.

I have nothing to talk about besides Ember.

Granted that’s a magnificent topic to discuss and everyone is always (seemingly) eager to hear about her, but unlike everyone else I have no crazy stories to tell or anything of particular interest to discuss. Plus, I have mom-stamina and am half-conscious at least 40% of the time.

Stay-At-Home-Mom Syndrome: (noun) When a mother stays home and spends at least 75% of her time with her child, and therefore has nothing interesting to discuss besides her child when she interacts with other people.

I can no longer criticize the stereotype of mothers that stay home all day and talk on and on when they finally see other people, because honestly, interaction with someone that talks back is rare and precious.

Sure I text people and I’ve got my family and my boyfriend, but besides that, my average week primarily consists of crying and babbling.

I find that when I go out with her, socializing is much different than it used to be. Sometimes she’ll start babbling in the middle of conversation and I’ll lose track of what I was saying. Sometimes she’ll spit up or start crying. Sometimes she’ll get restless and want to play. Sometimes she gets super grabby and I need to give her extra attention before she breaks or chokes on something. Plus I gotta tote around either a stroller or a baby backpack plus a huge diaper bag everywhere I go.

Going out alone: Phone? Check. Wallet? Check. Eyeliner? Check. Vaseline? Check. Alright good to go.

Going out with Ember: Okay gotta pack the diaper bag. How many bottles do I need? Eh, I have boobs so it’s okay if she runs out. Gotta pack extra formula. Spare clothes. What’s the temperature? Would she need pants? I’ll pack them anyways. An extra jacket never hurts either. Bibs? Got it awesome. Oh my gosh she’s crying, but I gotta leave the house soon or I’ll be late. Did I pack diapers? I’ll just throw some in anyways. Alright diapers, wipes, food, change of clothes. When was the last time she was changed? I’ll change her again now anyways. Has she pooped today? I would hate for a poop explosion to happen while we’re out Ember please don’t. Okay time to get her in her car seat and throw the diaper bag in oh shoot wait let me grab some toys to distract her while I drive. Gotta set her playlist up on the car, awesome. Ready to roll woo that was easy.

I’m beyond excited that I was accepted into a university for the Fall 2015 semester, because it means going out often again and interacting and socializing. But on the other hand, I’m going to be missing and thinking about my precious baby all day.

How can you not melt and gush over this baby? She is literally the cutest baby in the entire world and anyone that says otherwise is a filthy liar.

How can you not melt and gush over this baby? She is literally the cutest baby in the entire world and anyone that says otherwise is a filthy liar.

Bless Snapchat for coming through on those Mother’s Day filters.

I know that I’m not just being paranoid. I can feel in my words and mannerisms that I am not 100% the person that I used to be, but maybe that’s 100% okay. I think a person shouldn’t be the same when they’re a parent, and that’s okay. More thoughts on that topic in another post to come.

At the end of the day, I’ve got wonderful friends that love hanging out with me and my baby, and that’s all I could ever ask for.

10 Things To Know

Being the mother of a younger-than-1-year-old is difficult, so here are 10 things I’ve learned in my 4 and a half months of motherhood that I think everyone should know!

Getting ready for nap time. If I don't nap when she naps, I don't nap at all.

Getting ready for nap time. If I don’t nap when she naps, I don’t nap at all.

1) It’s okay to let them cry. Of course no one likes listening to a baby crying, but if you got stuff to do, it’s really not the end of the world. At first, if I was pooping and I heard her crying, I’d run to her with my butt hanging out. Now, if I’m dropping one and she cries, I think, “She’s just laying in her crib. What’s the worst that could happen in the next 5 minutes?”

2) Breastfeeding is hard. It’s uncomfortable. It feels like there’s no comfortable way to hold her while she’s eating. My back and arms get stiff and ache, and a lot of times she kicks while eating so my legs get sore. Then my nipples get sore and chaffed when she eats for a long time. Breastfeeding in public is even worse, because Ember HATES eating under the cover, so I’ve recently been exercising my legal right to feed her without a cover and let everyone kindly get the fcuk over it. If my baby is hungry, she’s gonna eat. Anyone that thinks that’s wrong or indecent can kindly write their complaints out, fold up the paper, lube it up good and shove it up theirs.

3) Clothes don’t last long at all. Ember outgrows clothes like crazy. She’s 4 months old, and wearing sizes 6-12 months. She’s gigantic. You could say, “Hey, just buy a few outfits in each size since she outgrows them so fast, you don’t need that many.” NOPE. She needs to get her clothes changed sometimes up to 5 times in a day at most and 2 times at least. She throws up all over herself, spills her food, has poop and pee explosions, etc. Unless you wanna do laundry every single day, stock up on onesies.

4) Mittens are a must. Baby nails are long and sharp and hard to cut. Like everyone else, babies get itchy and scratch themselves with those long and sharp nails. Getting mittens on your baby helps prevent them from hurting themselves, plus they’re just really cute. When Ember learned how to take her mittens off (she’s such a smart cookie), I resorted to putting baby socks in their place, because they’re tighter and harder for her to pull at.

5) Put in that extra effort to get your baby to sleep. It’s tempting to put Ember down with a pacifier and hope she falls asleep on her own, but I know that’s not how it happens (unless she’s super tired to begin with). If you got stuff to do and you need your baby to sleep, it’s worth spending those extra minutes rocking them or patting them or singing that song or humming those lullabies. Rushing through the process will only lead them to wake up sooner than you’d like, so taking the time to bond with your baby and make sure they sleep well and enter a deep sleep will not only make them feel better, but they’ll sleep longer and let you do what you need to do.

6) Getting gross and sticky is unavoidable. Babies lick their hands and touch stuff with those gross sticky hands and get their food everywhere and occasionally poop so much and so fiercely that it explodes out of their diapers. The one thing I hate most is being sticky, but I’ve been starting to get over it, especially now that Ember started eating baby food. Babies are messy and get dirty, and you just gotta let them be.

7) Always remember to burp and change them! Always burp after feedings, and change diapers every 2 to 3 hours. Burping will make their tummies feel better and help prevent them from throwing and spitting up, and changing them frequently helps prevent diaper rash. Rash cream is always good to have on you at any given time.

8) Always pack more than you think you’ll need. You think packing one spare change of clothes is enough? Nope, they’ll throw up as soon as you finish buttoning it up. Think 3 diapers is enough for a quick run to the mall? Nope, they’ll take a massive poop as soon as you close that diaper. Then they’ll squirt those last nuggets out once you replace the previous one. Think 2 bottles will be enough? Nope, they’ll throw up the first one and get hungry again. I never leave the house without at least 2 spare outfits and 6 diapers. Thankfully my boobs go everywhere with me, so bottles aren’t my biggest concern.

9) Car rides are your friend. It is a truth universally accepted that a parent in want of their baby to nap is in need of a long car ride. Everyone I know that has a baby has spoken about the miracle of car rides. Just makes babies pass right out.

10) Trust yourself. When it comes to parenting, everyone’s got their own ideas and suggestions, and everyone’s gonna try to throw their beliefs onto you. Whether it’s breast or formula, backpacks or strollers, disposable diapers or cloth, store bought vs home made baby food, or any number of other things, it’s up to you. At the end of the day, you’re the parent, and you make the calls. No matter what you pick, as long as all of your decisions are made with love, your baby will turn out fine.

Faith

Wow I haven’t made a post in a very long time. Between taking care of a baby and getting class work done, I always think about writing but either have no time to or am too exhausted to by the time I’m done with everything.

Today is a very important day. One year ago today, on March 16, 2014, I found out I was pregnant.

Surprise!

Surprise!

I’ve already written a post on that day that you can read about here.

On that day, I thought my life was over. I thought that no matter what I chose to do about my pregnancy, there was no happily ever after for me.

Now here’s me, exactly one year later, at almost the exact same time I peed on that stick.

Me and my precious baby girl.

Me and my precious baby girl. People keep saying she looks just like her daddy, but I’m staying hopeful some of me will shine through later on.

It’s crazy how life works. I never would have thought that exactly one year later I would be taking my baby girl out for a walk. I never would have thought that life could be so good to me.

Though I am pro-choice, I took a leap of faith and made mine. And she’s the most beautiful creature to grace this earth.

I am happy every day because of my precious Ember, and I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without her.

I am thankful everyday that one year ago today, though many people were telling me otherwise, something inside me had faith that my pregnancy was a good thing. No one can know what the future will bring, but inside I knew that it was meant to be. Though I am not a fiercely religious person, I believe I was destined to have Ember, which is something I guess a lot of mothers think about their babies. I read something today that said there is a 1 in 4 trillion chance that you are who you are today, taking into account the chances of your parents meeting, chances of conceiving, etc. Let me repeat that: 1 in 4 trillion.

If my parents had not been the first in their families to move to America from the Philippines,
If my boyfriend had not been the first person to move here away from his family in Indiana,
If we were not placed in the same classes to meet in school,
If we had never dated or if we had broken up too soon,
Ember would never be here.

Calling her a miracle would be an understatement.

I’m definitely not writing this as eloquently as I wanted to, but I do feel a lot of emotions about this. I’m so happy I could cry. To think, one year ago I thought my life was ruined, I was crying and having panic attacks and I thought I was going to drink a bottle of bleach and kill myself. And today, I napped with Ember in my arms and in the afternoon took her on a walk in the warm weather.

The point I’m trying to make is, nothing is certain when it comes to the future. But sometimes you need to take a chance and have faith that it will all work out in the end.