Mindset Overhaul

Hello blog!

Its been 4 months since my last post and I sincerely missed you! I’m currently on my energy boost mode (that’s between 11:00pm to 2:00am daily recently). And as I found my to-do list brightly highlighted with “DONE”, I figured I now have a guiltless time to revisit my alternate world.

Last time I checked, I mentioned that we had Olive baptized. She was 3 months old then. Fast forward to now. She’s a budding 7-months old baby with advanced locomotor skills which have kept us (me, Mr. H and Yaya) all the more watchful of her. She’s been laughing at funny faces we make, peek-a-boos and quirky sounds. A few weeks ago, she was down with mild fever, cough and flu, but she’s all better now. She’s grown her first teeth and has been fond of biting anything and anyone. She has really become our source of fatigue and joy. And each day, I wanted to spend more time indulging in this phase of her childhood.

7 months old Olive

7 months old Olive

Time is essential for me right now. And time is something I do not want to spend often as a stressed out work-at-home mom who doesn’t have a social life and is unhappy. So I decided to shift back to gear one and take things in stride.

The Happiness Factor

In June, I was able to earn $300 a week from my freelance job. It felt great and I wanted to maintain earning that figure for as long as I could. But that accomplishment came with a price.

I was less attentive in taking care of Olive. I did not gave enough attention to my husband and our business. And despite those, I still found myself constantly stressed and feeling guilty. Stressed because I know, I left a lot of things undone for our business, and guilty because I felt I was irresponsible as a mother and a wife. Think of having a bag full of a month’s laundry which I only washed because we didn’t have anything to wear anymore.

I tried justifying my act. I pushed myself to work hard because I wanted us out of our current apartment. The houses we are looking at cost the same, if not more expensive. But I was looking for a place where we could be more comfortable as a family with a growing kid. I was unhappy with our current environment and the fact that we’re experiencing flooding.

I wanted us to be financially capable of drawing ourselves out of here. But I learned that I can’t change everything in a month’s time, no matter how mad and desperate I am with working.

I was only leaning to become more stressed, more unhappy. I felt like no one was taking me seriously and I was hating by myself, alone.

Pause and Realizations

That’s when I tried to stop for a while.

I felt like I deserved to rest after working so hard. I took time to literally just lie down and do nothing but reflect. Then realization and remorse hit me.

I realized it wasn’t just me who’s having a hard time. Mr. H has also been restless (driving for days, sometimes sleepless working on preventive maintenance schedules and lifting heavy objects). It wasn’t my sole responsibility to earn for us. We’re partners and he’s also burning his ass off earning for our family. I need to stop saying “I”. It should be “us”, “we”.

I shouldn’t work hard. I should be working smart. But right now, the place just doesn’t allow for an engaging workplace to hire an assistant. The first and last one who came for a walk-in interview didn’t came back. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean I couldn’t work smart in the future. Answer: Set up a spare workstation once we’ve transferred office.

I am unhappy and whining all the time. I am too stubborn to accept that some realities that can’t be changed overnight. I read somewhere that 90% of the problems a man has is caused by himself. For instance, I was sleepless for 2 nights in a row because there’s a wild and loud party on a nearby covered court. I can’t do anything about it. And yet I kept myself bothered about it for several days.

I don’t have a social life. But becoming a mother didn’t cause that. I chose to live here, that’s why. And naturally, I wouldn’t have my family and friends here.

I am not the best person to take care of a child. I admit that. That’s why we hired an in-house nanny. But that doesn’t excuse me from bonding with my baby, and for not lending a hand when Yaya needs to do the cooking, dish washing and the laundry.

Finally, I felt like I was too hard on myself for no good reason…

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Night owling again…

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Cultivating Good Vibes

The rest period after my workaholic June was an extended one.

WE treated OURSELVES to a full body massage. It wasn’t at the expensive spas we used to frequent when we were still dating (those that offer sauna and 1.5 hour couple massage). But with a baby behind us, Nuat Thai at the nearby Shopwise sufficed. The last time we had a more luxurious one was the day before our wedding in 2011. I know… its 2013 already.

I started declining job invitations I’m unsure if I could accomplish in time. Instead, I focused with my regular clients who send me tasks every now and then. That meant I didn’t have a full load. But I wasn’t really happy with having a full load and restless just the same.

Pending job invitations... >_>

Pending job invitations… >_>

I scoured the newspapers, internet advertisements and braved talking to the Cebuano landlords/ladies of apartments and houses for rent. I wasn’t successful and we were nearly frustrated discussing with prospects only to back out because of practical reasons. Just in time, my father-in-law told us that someone from their hometown is building a house and they’d want to rent it out to someone they know.

We visited the site (it was still under construction) and it turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. A 3 bedroom duplex house with a garage. The owners are kind enough to allow our business. One room was allotted for our office. They had a really nice ventilation (strategically placed windows in almost every room) which were lacking in most of the houses we’ve seen. The bathrooms are new. And Olive can roam around in a walker. It was the answer to our prayers!

There was a kapilya nearby where fiestas and parties are held oftentimes. But instead of whining about it, I just found a valid excuse for us to occasionally sleep in a pension house.

Alba Uno

Alba Uno Pension House. I dream of sleeping here one noisy night.

I volunteered to do collections from business clients and bank deposits from time to time. Going out of the house makes me forget that resentment of not having family and friends close by. Aside from the cardio, I’ve been able to visit the public library and learned that they offer free wifi access. I was able to enroll our accounts for online funds transfer which has been in my to-do list for so long. I also made efforts to meet with fellow freelancers within the city (who also lack the social life that usual employed people enjoy).

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Looks familiar? #librarygirl

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More than anything else, I made it a point to express and show my love for Olive and my husband. I let her crawl, sit, roll and stand on our queen size bed, play with stuff toys, sing songs to her, teach her how to high five, clap and close/open her hands. I embraced her, kiss and cuddle as much as I could, because I know tomorrow she’d be bigger. I carefully watch over her milk, vitamin and hygienic supplies so we wouldn’t run out of stock, and personally walk to the drugstore to make the purchase even when her dad isn’t around.

Whenever my husband comes home after a full schedule (of deliveries, checkups and pull outs), I remember to prepare a dry bath with lukewarm water and a soft towel. I kiss him whenever he goes to sleep first, and take the 2-3:00 am shift of feeding Olive. I became more thoughtful of buying material things (while we’re together) that he needs but wouldn’t prioritize because he’s thinking of our expenses, like a new collared shirt or a better brand of hair gel.

Let Go

Within that rest period, I let myself indulge with things unrelated to work and with which I felt gratification afterwards. Things I stopped doing because I thought I didn’t have time or I couldn’t afford them like:

  • Cooking a meal
  • Doing the laundry
  • Reading AND finishing books (I’ve finished 2 books within that rest period, including Steve Jobs)
  • Watching movies and random Youtube videos
  • Having drinks and pastries in a cafe
  • Appreciating new artists and downloading MP3s
  • Running (although I haven’t repeated this after that one time)
  • Sorting things (clothes, files, bags etc.)
  • Making random lists
  • Thinking about the good times and how I could repeat that with my family in tow

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With those, I let go of my workaholic self and saw how different everything could be. The end result wasn’t like an Extreme Makeover Self edition radical kind of change, but I knew I felt better.

I saw that I have a budding family, a promising business and career, a hope for a better household and the resources to enjoy life. Nobody was demanding me to work 40 hours a week while looking after a baby and running another business but MYSELF. I should stop because I wasn’t actually happy.

And when I did, I felt more lighthearted. I was more playful and was easier to get along with. Everything seemed simpler.

I finally came to terms that in order for me to be happy with what I have now, I should not focus on my anger, frustration and sadness. I am licensed to feel angry, frustrated and sad. But I shouldn’t keep myself feeling that way all the time. Looking back, I felt stupid and stubborn acting like a kid.

I couldn’t say that I won’t feel negative again in the future, its part of my personality after all. But I wouldn’t force myself to go robot mode again, and feel sorry about myself afterwards.

To sum it up:

My to-do list is always full. But I’m pleased that everyday, there’s something being crossed off.

Book 2 of the Married Life: Childbirth and Motherhood

I finally got a chance to write a blog entry. This, while uploading files for my client on oDesk, babysitting, and browsing over an Emily Giffin novel. And these, I am only able to do more than 2 months after I gave birth.

I really don’t know where to start telling what happened. Parang kahapon lang malaki pa ang tyan ko and its December, where I almost spent Noche Buena frustrated that my package of longganisa didn’t arrive on time. I was homesick and nilambing ko si Mommy na magpadala ng longganisang Imus. Yun na lang yung pa-Pasko niya sa ‘kin. It was 6 in the evening when the package arrived. The LBC guy should’ve been doomed had I been the one to receive the package. I was preparing my speech in a fit of rage. Buti na lang I was busy cooking the spaghetti, Mr. H got the box. I called back home in Cavite, just to confirm to them that I’ve received the package, along with a few groceries from Tita Mely, loose t-shirts, sleeveless shirts and a daster I’ve requested. Hearing my aunts’ voices and greeting Daddy and Mommy a Merry Christmas — it just made me miss them more…

New Year was no different. It was only Mr. H and me at the apartment. Mark, our stay-in staff and all-around utility went to visit his brother. Aidz was on duty. Ate celebrated somewhere else. We watched the night sky lit up through our bedroom window. But I didn’t watch for too long. Nalalanghap ko na yung pulbura galing sa labas. I was alert for any fire alarms as well. We’re in a neighborhood surrounded by apartments and houses made of highly combustible materials. I don’t want to end up in the hospital earlier than expected. Especially that Mommy’s arriving the next day.

Happy New Year

Mr. H & I goofing around SM, waiting for Mommy’s plane to touch down…

January 1st, Mommy arrived at the airport ahead of time. Mr. H and I picked her up, both of us wearing red shirts, a silly tradition I’ve practiced since I believed in Fengshui. At pinuna talaga ng nanay ko ang suot ko. Naaawa daw siya sa tyan ko cause my blouse (which was loose before I got pregnant) seemed too tight AND I’m also wearing leggings – expected as usual from my fashionista mom. And I was there looking like a suman.

Mr. H and I were actually nervous about her arrival knowing how meticulous she is! While waiting for me to go into labor, she spent the first few days doing our laundry, cleaning our kitchen and bathroom. >_> Despite my efforts, I can’t convince her to stop. She’s really out of her comfort zone. And believe me, I would have done half the cleaning and the laundry if I wasn’t THAT PREGNANT.

I had a scheduled visit to my OB on the first week of January. I was already complaining of back pains which go on and off. Expected naman kasi 39 weeks na ko nun. I remember the afternoon of January 4. Already carrying an emergency bag, Dr. Roa did the first IE on me. IT WAS FRIGGIN PAINFUL!!! Like she’s about to pull something out of my guts. I don’t get why some women talk about IE like its just a pinch in the skin! True enough, she told me I am 4 cm dilated and in the early stages of labor. She was suggesting that we get admitted because it could progress fast. Or we could go home and just return the next day so she could induce my labor since I’ve been complaining about the contractions for several days now.

But, expense-wary as we are, I decided for us to go home and come back later when I feel like I can’t tolerate the pain anymore. I brought Mommy to Ayala Cebu for a stroll. But I know that with her in tow, it wouldn’t be JUST A STROLL. Hehe! I’m keeping a secret of what she bought, but sometimes, women just need to splurge for themselves. Despite being tired, I took advantage of the situation since they say walking helps induce labor.

Mr. H & Me at Ayala

Mr. H & Me at Ayala the night before ako manganak

It actually gave me a higher dose of back pain. Dr. Roa was betting I’d deliver later that evening, but I slept through the night. The next day, the back pain was tolerable again, like I could tour Mommy around the city the entire day. But we went to the hospital that Saturday morning to have my labor induced. I was examined again and found I only dilated 1 centimeter from yesterday.

My stay at the labor room was funny and painful. I was hooked with oxytocin upon my arrival. I brought magazines with me since I got bored the day before, as the resident OBs observed my contractions for 2 hours and I was just staring at the blank walls and empty beds. But that Saturday morning, parang may quota sa mga manganganak. Around noon, the labor room was fully occupied. The resident doctors almost gone, and we’re left with only 1 male med student. I remember him going back and forth through beds, taking vital signs and getting even more panicky when an OB arrives. I was having pity on him. But my attention is split with amusement at the woman on the opposite side of the room. She was really loud, crying and wailing even in just a few minutes that she got in there. I was thinking how over-reacting she is. Perhaps very low pain tolerance, unlike me who’ve almost spent a day hooked with labor-inducing solution, and I could still read Zoren and Carmina’s interview on a showbiz magazine. I’ve already painted a picture of how easy I’d be able to deliver later on, or so I thought.

The loud woman was eventually taken out and headed to the delivery room. After a while, Dr. Roa comes in finding me still in a relaxed state and with my dilation still at 6cm. My water bag isn’t breaking and I’m a bit sleepy. After an hour, she ordered for the resident OB to burst my bag. THAT’S WHEN THE TORTURE BEGAN. I felt the contractions getting stronger and more rhythmic. Like I’m attacked with intense dysmenorrhea every 5 minutes. I was counting the contractions — 5, 20, 30 until the pain was so terrible I just stopped. I felt like something’s gonna come out of me but it just wouldn’t. The most hellish part of it all was when they had to do another IE just to confirm how much I’ve dilated while I’m having strong contractions.

That’s when I heard the most unexpected of all. I had to deliver via CS. My birth canal just wouldn’t stretch for my 5lbs baby to come out. CRAP! I knew we had limited budget, but I couldn’t think of that anymore. Dr. Roa spoke to Mr. H and my mom. I saw the worry painted on his face. Scared perhaps of the pain I’m going through – I was hysterical at the things being injected to me. And anxious about how we’d deal with the bill and my recovery. We were very confident I’d deliver normally. BUT we were there, and there could’ve been more harm to the baby…

That was the last I saw of them before they sped me to the OR. The pain was beginning to be unbearable. I was growing tired and scared of the things they’re administering me. The last thing I remembered was the dull feeling of insertion in my spine and I was out. I remembered briefly gaining consciousness as I felt something touching my cheeks. I heard someone say “Eto na ang baby mo”. I only remembered the feeling of a wet hair on a small head. Finally!

Next thing I know, I was on the recovery room, someone asking me to raise my right foot and then the other. They were checking my blood pressure ‘coz they said it shoot up to 150/90 earlier. I slept again, gaining consciousness later on to realize that something was in my neck. I was horrified to see an IV hose! “Nurse ano to?!”, I asked. To which I was told it was for the epidural. I was assured it was not injected on my neck as they’ve probably observed my horror. The anesthesiologist on duty explained to me that I would be given another dose of pain reliever in the next 12 hours after the dose given to me during the operation has worn off.

I was rolled off to my room later on and reunited with my family. Yes. I was with family, albeit it was only my mother and my husband. It felt a little lonely to not have my dad, my brother and Tita Nelia around when I’m sick as I’m used to. It was also saddening that I wouldn’t be brought home at Cavite where 2 dogs and my small room awaits. Instead, I’d be back at the 30-year old apartment we’re renting with an additional little tenant in tow.

First time I held Olive

First time I held Olive

I can’t remember when I first held her. If it was the next day or 2 days after. All I knew was that I’m happy that the tormenting pain was over and she’s safely in my arms. We named her Olive, after 3 beautiful and kind hearted acquaintances we knew. But the wave of emotions didn’t stop there. We had to stay for 6 days in the hospital because her high bilirubin levels. She was yellow! It dawned on me that motherhood will never be easy. I remember crying from time to time back then, having pity at the tiny person extracted with blood from time to time. I was still in pain from the sutures, tired from being so heavy and uncomfortable with myself for the past 9 months, we’re financially in crisis, and I feel so vulnerable as a new mom. I don’t know anything about being one and yet I have to learn. And the first lesson was that there’s no manual on how to be a mom.