Mommy to Tala and the bugoys.

It’s true what they say that once you have a baby, your whole world changes. And again, I don’t mean this negatively, but rather, I mean it in a positive, sometimes funny, and definitely life-changing way. ????

Let me share here my 7 realizations about motherhood.

1. Motherhood makes me more grateful—even for the little things.

Last week, I was talking to my pedia-cardio friend, Dr. Dela Cerna. She brings her 3-year old daughter to her clinic too. I felt so thankful (and relieved!) that we share the same sentiments of being mommy-pediatricians, like our children’s exposure to the hospital, needing help as working moms, etc. I wonder how challenging it’s going to be when like her right now, I will be the schoolbus-doctor-mom who will bring and fetch Tala to and from school before and after work.

So, I find myself saying, “Thank You, Lord!” many times a day for EVERY little thing.

Tala napped for an hour in the morning, thank You Lord! I accidentally banged the bedroom door and she did not wake up, thank You! After not pooping for 5 days, she suddenly pooped, thank You! She sat in her carseat from our house to the church without fussing, thank You! Her smile wrinkles her nose just like mine, thank YOU! (Kahit ngiti lang, at least may namana sa akin, hahaha! ???? )

2. Motherhood is teaching me new skills!

Some skills that I learned (or was forced to learn, haha) may seem funny and trivial but nonetheless essential! I would even dare call some of these “survival” skills!

I previously shared about my breastfeeding journey, and I can’t believe how truly “natural” it has become for me now. My breastfeeding necessities have changed as I went along! If previously I needed half a dozen pillows plus rolled towels to get me into proper position to breastfeed, now I can do it with none! I look forward to the day when I can breastfeed while standing up or while cooking (but first, I have to learn how to cook, haha).

Other skills that I am learning : cutting my baby’s nails even if she is awake, eating with one hand, baby-wearing a squirming infant, putting on her pants/leggings/pajamas one leg after the other in one swift move (rather than left leg in then right leg in, but oops, she has her left leg out of her PJs, so left leg in again, then right leg, oh but she removed her right leg this time, so right leg in then left leg, and on and on it goes—you get the picture! ????).

My most favorite skill right now though is making/inventing funny noises or songs! It is such a useful “skill” (or should we say “talent”? haha)! Smack your lips, click your tongue, snort, blow through your lips and make it sort of vibrate, say “Pffft” or “Brrrr”, and laugh in many ways! Sing padum-padum in any beat! With these, you might just be able to do anything with your baby! ????

But here is the deal-breaker!

I wrote about my baptism of fire regarding changing diapers  and I am so much faster and better at it now (thank you, bow). Oh, but I am still dreaming about learning how to do it like my mommy-friend Windy did. That time, my husband and I attended the Tamang KAIN seminar in XU Little Theater. I insisted that Jerome stay inside for the lecture and I will take care of changing Tala’s nappy. Uh-oh, but there was no place to change her! I was seriously considering going near the soccer field where there was a shed that had a table (a tambayan?). Windy said that’s far and if I like, I can just change there by the registration area. In true modern nanay fashion, she offered to help me. I was so hesitant because I honestly didn’t have any idea how to do it with just a chair.

But Mommy Windy was an expert!

She easily cradled Tala in her left arm, held her feet up with her left hand, and with her right hand, wiped Tala and changed her diaper right there and then. I “assisted” in awe by handing her the water, cotton and new diaper. She was so efficient; it was amazing! ????

One day, when I will be able to do that, I can say “Level Up! Parenting skill unlocked!” Haha.

3. Motherhood makes me want to be a better person.

This may sound like a cliché, but really, I just want to be the best version of myself for Tala. And I can see that Jerome wants to be his best version too.

We are learning that modeling is the most important and effective parenting technique. If we want our child to be God-fearing, kind, patient and joyful, then as parents, we must strive to be all of those as well. Spiritually and emotionally, we have to train ourselves to seek God first and foremost; to be gentle, slow to anger, and to practice self-control in difficult situations.

But it’s easier said than done! Specially during those moments when Tala would have a panic-inducing scream (PIS for short, haha), even if all I was doing was changing her onesie! At times like this, I urge myself to take a deep breath and explain to my baby–in the calmest voice I could muster, though it’s NOT easy–why changing clothes is necessary. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Point is, I’ve been told, all babies cry. LOUDLY enough for many. Hah!

So we lift up our efforts of becoming better and more patient to God, as we keep in mind this verses:

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

4. Motherhood makes me appreciate other mothers, specially my own Mom.

As if by magic, I now have an affinity towards other mothers. Even if they are people that I have known before, it is as if I am seeing them in a new light. My mother, my grandmothers, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my bestfriends and barkadas who are moms already—it’s like a spotlight shines over their head when they say to me, “Oh I know what you mean (I am a mom too)!”

For example, when I had a meeting with the Dean prior to my appointment as faculty of the School of Medicine, she said that I can, of course, bring my baby with me to work. She reassured me that other doctor-teachers have done it before. And I felt that she understood my concerns as a working mom, because she is one too!

This one I can not explain enough–my love and appreciation for my own mom has been multiplied a hundred-fold when our baby came into our life.

When Tala was just a few weeks old (and everything still seemed so new and difficult), I thanked my mom for all her sacrifices for us. I said, “Ma, hindi pala madali maging nanay”. I wondered how I can repay her. But she kindly said to me, “Anak bayad ka na sa akin, kasi may sariling baby ka na.” THANK YOU, MOMMY! ❤️

5. Motherhood makes me value time (specifically my time) more.

We only have 24 hours in a day. And if I can, I want to spend all of those 24 hours with my family. Who wouldn’t, right?

I say this understanding fully well that in our life, there will be seasons. A season to be the child, a season to be the parent. A season to be the student, a season to be the teacher. A season to pursue your career, a season to take care of your children.

And for this season in my life, I choose to be a mommy first and foremost. In making this choice, I keep in mind what a handful of wise old women in my life have told me. “They will only be babies once, and they will only need you THIS MUCH once”.

Given that, I find myself choosing to sort-of extend my maternity leave by doing more of teaching work for now and doing out-patient consults with occasional admissions. I find myself attending parenting talks, Christian-life seminars and the like instead of attending RTDs and lectures.

But honestly, a big part of me is torn because I just started my pediatric practice here in CDO last year. As most doctors would know, it takes a while before medical private practice really takes off. And because I went on maternity leave for almost 4 months, I am back to where I started.

I am not complaining though! In fact, I am very grateful that God has given me this liberty to choose my schedule, plan my day around my baby’s needs, and take it easy on my work. For now, at least. I know that not all new moms have this same opportunity as I do and for some it can really be tough juggling work and motherhood. Much love and light to all working moms! ????

And so I thank and praise God for giving me (and Jerome) this flexible schedule. Because I find such great joy in waking up each morning in between my husband and my baby, in seeing how big Tala has become just by drinking my breastmilk, in being able to calm her wild cries with my embrace, in the delight in her eyes when I read to her or play with her, in sharing the excitement of her milestones with Jerome, and in retiring at night knowing that the following day, we can do more of those things again!

So my career seems to be taking the backseat right now, but I find comfort in God’s Words:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

6. Motherhood presents VERY challenging scenarios!

I have a favorite couple who comes to my clinic with their 3 adorable kids. One girl and one boy are pre-schoolers, and the youngest daughter is a toddler. So you can imagine what a riot it can be in their house. They have shared with me some funny parenting experiences and they do make parenting sound so cool.

Once, while they were telling me about their kids’ mishaps, I asked them, “But really, how do you do it? How do you manage?”

Their answer both surprised and amused me, “Well, sometimes, our jobs as parents is to keep them alive.” They meant it to be funny, but I found it profound! ????

It made me think of what other parents have said to me. If they are playing roughly but they are far from harm, let the kids be. If they fall, but there’s no broken bones or outright bleeding, let them fall again. If they are fighting, as long as they are not getting violently physical, let them sort it out themselves. Such wise words!

But right now, I am still far from parenting a toddler. So apart from “How do you do that?” popping into my head ever so often, I also ask these things:

While breastfeeding, how do you sneeze and not wake up your baby?
How do you give them oral medicine and make sure it stays down? (How I wish I learned this in pediatrics training!)

If she just fell asleep, but her diaper just got wet, do I change her now or let her sleep first?
How do I teach her to say “Mommy/Mama” first, before “Daddy/Dada”? Hahaha.

(If you have answers, leave me a comment please! ???? )

7. Motherhood makes me pray more.

I am learning that I am an anxious (bordering on fearful) mom. (My pediatrician and friend, Dr. Jessa Sareno, can attest to this, haha! Thank you for your patience, Jess! ???? ) But I am training myself to be emotionally stronger and mentally more present when it comes to Tala, specially when she gets sick.

Case in point, just recently, Tala had a bad case of Roseola. Almost 5 days of relentless high-grade fever! My brain was already making algorithms for fever and it was so stressful. Turning to God’s Word, Jerome’s steadfast love and level-headedness, Jessa’s clinical eye and reassurance, and my baby’s consistent breastfeeding helped calm my heart and mind.

Tala on IV Drip in the hospital.

In my quiet time, I came across this verse:

Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I realized then that God wants to reassure me that He is in control of everything. Once again, for the nth time that week, I prayed for my concerns and offered my burdened heart to God. The following day, Tala’s fever was gone, and several hours later, her rashes came out.

“The kind of rashes that makes us happy!” Jessa said with a big smile. Oh yes, indeed! What a relief!

This brings to mind the baby shower of my good friend Ghea (who also happens to be my OB) last year. Her mom gave a speech about how they raised Ghea and her siblings. And what stuck with me the most during Tita Bing’s sharing was that prayer makes all things possible when raising kids.

And so now I constantly pray for my family, for our parents and siblings, even for our dogs! Also for our friends and colleagues, for our small groups and sometimes, even for strangers. I talk with God almost every moment now.

There is so much to thank God for! And when it comes to parenting Tala, I am so grateful to know that it’s not just Jerome and me who are taking care of her, because our great God is co-parenting with us. And THAT makes this daunting task of raising a human being seems manageable after all. ????

What are your #mommying realizations? Let’s share lessons! ????

By Raissa Paje-Bayawa

Raissa is a first-time mom and her new experiences as a mother inspires her to share stories with other parents. She is also a pediatrician and breastfeeding counselor practicing in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. She dons another hat as a yoga instructor for kids, pregnant women, and postnatal moms.

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