Life · Motherhood lately

Motherhood lately

Chapter 1.

I’ll be honest. The past 4 months have been hard. Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis is hard enough. Mothering a newborn AND dealing with rheumatoid arthritis? It’s just punishing.

I haven’t been on my meds since before I got pregnant. At first what was remaining of the medication in my system kept me afloat until I got pregnant, and then as predicted by my rheumatologist, the pregnancy itself helped my symptoms ease up. My doctor reminded me though that after I give birth and once I start breastfeeding, the flare ups would return and will be worse than ever. And man have they returned, with a vengeance too, it seems. 

It’s as if my joints are disintegrating by the day (well they literally ARE deteriorating). The stiffness is bad. The pain has been overwhelming. A month ago I dislocated my right shoulder and tore the labrum from just throwing a piece of fruit across the room. Now I need surgery to have it repaired. If you remember, my left shoulder also went through surgery in 2014 because of recurrent dislocation that started with a basketball injury. Talk about damaged joints. There hasn’t been a single day without pain ever since I stopped my meds.

And why, one might ask, am I not back on my medications? As simple as it may seem, the decision I made was not. I chose to breastfeed our baby. And for me, it was and still is worth the sacrifice. 

Breastfeeding didn’t even come easy. In fact we all worked hard for it. And when i say “we,” I mean all three of us- Sam, the baby and I. First off, I only have one functional breast to nurse her with. The other one’s milk ducts have been scarred and subsequently blocked by a previous surgery. It took us a lot of trips to the lactation consultant, a lot of crying in pain, a lot of breast pumping, a lot of sleepless nights, and a lot of frustration, which was just one of the many other emotions overwhelming me at that point. It didn’t even help when other moms made it look so easy! (Don’t get me wrong, I know it must have not been easy for them too when they started, but you get what I mean 😉 )

At around 2.5 months things actually finally eased up a bit and I felt that baby and I were finally getting the hang of it. I was beginning to see the brighter side of breastfeeding. Or so I thought. Along with the ease of breastfeeding came the increasing RA flares. All I could take was Ibuprofen and that didn’t help either. At a little past 3 months, I dislocated my right shoulder and tore the labrum with an arm movement that wouldn’t normally cause dislocations in people with normal joint integrity. Miserable couldn’t even describe how I felt in the few weeks after that incident. Nowadays, I just try and make sure I don’t drop the baby whenever I lift her out of her crib or the bouncer. Sam is scared I might drop her at some point because certain positions just give me severe sharp pain. But you know what, even if it’s deathly painful for me to lift her, I don’t think I would ever drop her. It’s a mom thing, I guess.

Anyway, I have been contemplating about shifting to formula because of the needed surgery and the need for me to retake my medication. Sam has been convincing me to, for my own good, and subsequently the baby’s too. And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with formula, it’s just that I’m scared and a bit anxious to let go of the breastfeeding (which is selfish of me, I know, or is it? This whole obsession on breastfeeding deserves another blogpost). I may have become attached to the act of breastfeeding itself. And besides, shifting to formula would be a whole new stressful stage for both of us. My baby is highly allergic too (thanks to both of her parents) and she’s started to manifest her atopy in dermatitis. Just when we’ve started to get comfortable with breastfeeding, these circumstances get thrown our way. But Sam has repeated time and time again, that the best way to take care of the baby right now is to take care of myself first- stop breastfeeding, shift to formula, restart my medications, have the surgery. Because for  him, how will I even be able to take care of her when I myself am debilitated? Logically, he’s right. But my heart tells me otherwise.

I know I need to listen to Sam’s advice and put my heart in the backseat. And so we have reached a compromise and are aiming for her 6th month. I am dreading the day we start weaning her off the breast. In the meantime, I am hanging on to God’s promise of healing and His strength as I press on and take care of our baby every single day, in the best way I could.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.                                                                                                                    ~ Psalm 73:26




A new chapter

It’s been almost 2 years! Wow, I’ve missed blogging! So much has happened already- reviewing for and taking the US medical boards, moving in to our new home, trying to get pregnant, finally getting pregnant, fearing miscarriage, putting my RA medications on hold, flaring up while pregnant, flaring up some more, giving birth, going through delivery complications, more postpartum complications, taking care of a newborn, struggling with breastfeeding, finally getting the hang of breastfeeding, more flaring up, taking care of an infant, dislocating my shoulder, thinking of weaning so I could get the shoulder surgery that I need, and did I mention my RA flaring up? – that I really haven’t had enough time to sit down and well, blog. Whew. All of that. But now that we are in a totally new chapter of our lives, I want to do this again and hopefully be able to document the fun (and not so fun) perks of parenting. So here’s to a whole new chapter and more!_DSC3392

Faith · Life

When God answers prayers

OVERWHELMED. Today I finally found it in myself to tell a part of our story. I remember when I was single and struggling with the idea of never having this chance. It was when endometriosis started to appear on the list of illnesses I have, the surgeries became more regular, and the wounds healed on top of each other, the scars being a painful reminder. I was repeatedly told I could never get pregnant. Fearing that you may be infertile is different from knowing and being diagnosed with it. So I never thought this time would come. After 6 years. Our story is long, the details numerous, but the journey has been longer. And yet this will be one of those rare times I will write without a lot of words (and not in a blogpost). Because for now, no words can express how overwhelmed we are everyday.

HOPEFUL. I know and have met a lot of women (and couples) who have gone through, and are still going through this struggle called infertility. We’ve formed some sort of a community, and in it, we have found much love, encouragement, support, and prayer. I am not leaving our community though, because honestly, I am finding it hard to. I will continue to pray with you. Because for anyone, infertility is never, never easy. It is especially harder to go through it feeling alone. And for every treatment failure, for every negative test, for every loss, I will continue to mourn with you because I, too, have been there and I will never forget how it feels like. However, it is my prayer that our story be a story of hope so that those who are fighting and praying continue to do so. It is my prayer that you continue to hope, and hope in the Lord, for those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

GRATEFUL AND REJOICING. God, you have been immensely amazing. Truly, Your goodness, Your mercy, and Your faithfulness have no bounds. We are grateful, more than words can ever express. And we rejoice. We rejoice together with our families, with the people who have prayed with us, the people who have encouraged us, and the people who have supported us. And we will glorify the Lord, for He has finally heard our cries. Because just when we were at peace with a lifetime of just the two of us, God gives us this little miracle.

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27


*This was a facebook post 😉14066394_10207415656415088_6937086220880629619_o



Now ever since my rheumatologist told me I couldn’t really get back into running or anything that would significantly affect my joints’ capacity to handle mechanical stress, the world of hiking seemed to be more appealing as I felt my leg muscles grow softer and softer each day.  I have gotten concerned that my soft tissues would eventually lose their tone and not be strong enough to support my joints. This was especially encouraged by my physical therapist after she helped me manage my cervical spine problems. So Sam and I started to go on short day hikes with elevation (as advised by my PT), and then we eventually progressed to longer hikes. I have had difficulty in making this a habit because of the cold (yes, I still haven’t gotten used to it), but Sam has helped me bundle up more effectively and of course the scenery is a reward that makes me look forward to it every time. Ever since we moved here, we have hiked a total of around 14 trails, some more often than the others, some didn’t actually have a trail like that time we hiked across the frozen Mendenhall Lake toward the Ice Caves last winter. I’d like to list them all down– makes me feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. 🙂

East Glacier Trail

West Glacier Trail to Mt. Mcginnis

Spaulding Meadows/ Auke Nu Trail

Lena Loop Trail

Herbert Glacier Trail

Airport Dike Trail

Mendenhall River Trail

False Outer Point/ Bluff Trail

Sandy Beach

Peterson Lake Trail

Salmon Creek Trail

Perseverance Trail

Granite Creek Trail

EagleCrest Trail

Ice Caves Hike

Not bad for first-timers, right?

Here’s Sam, calculating how many more miles before we reach the ridge.


What if you told God you would do anything… and He took you up on it?

I just came across this question in one of the devotionals that was forwarded to me by a friend and it hit me hard, so hard that I suddenly remembered everything I uttered to God in prayer at a specific time of need—What if you told God you would do anything….and He took you up on it?

Alaska wasn’t exactly what we planned. We initially didn’t want to leave the Philippines as Sam and I had other plans but it seemed as though God was leading us away and towards the US, and so we started praying for a job for him. While waiting for papers to be filed and higher decisions to be made, during those times of uncertainty, I now recall specifically praying this way— “Lord, if the US is really our destination, please bless my husband with a job, even if I don’t know what I’m going to do there, even if I’m going to have to quit being a doctor for now, even if I would have to wait for my next step. Please don’t have Sam wait too long, please bless him and make him succeed, make him fulfilled, I CAN WAIT for my turn.” And there you have it. That was when I told God I could do it, that I could wait— for a time when I would be a doctor to patients again; for that bundle of joy; for complete healing from my rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis; for fulfillment of goals; for my turn.    

And guess what, He took me up on it. I told Him I could wait, but the truth is, I can’t. Who likes to wait, anyway? In this day and age, nobody does. But then, I really don’t have a choice, do I? So I wait, begrudgingly. And then Sam steps in— it is not a question of “if” you wait, rather it is “how” you wait. Boy did that hit me right in the heart, and the head. And then I realized, I’ve been waiting for at least 3 years now, I can wait after all, just not with the right attitude. Waiting without grumbling and throwing tantrums is easier said than done, at least for me. And this just had to change. 

Believe me, I didn’t expect the waiting to be this long (and hard), I don’t even know what I’m waiting for anymore. But then again, there’s this whole list of people from the Bible who have waited for years before they successfully fulfilled what God called them to do, and their waiting period wasn’t easy either. Bad decisions were made in between, and there was a lot of kicking and screaming and pouting and tantrums too, (well not exactly that way because that’s more me, but yes, the waiting struggle WAS real for them too) and some of them didn’t even have it all figured out until the last minute! One could never really appreciate how comforting it is to know these stories, until you actually experience what these men and women of the Bible went through. I am saying this to remind and encourage myself and maybe some of you out there that waiting on God has never been easy for anyone. It’s especially harder when you remember that you were the one who told Him you could wait in the first place. It reminds me of being in front of the counter at KFC in the Philippines, ordering a chicken meal, and then being asked, “Ma’am, we ran out of fried chicken, are you willing to wait 20 minutes for the next batch?” And even if I’m not sure my stomach could, I go ahead and answer, “Sure.” Although God didn’t ask me if I could wait, I actually told Him I could even before He could ask. Sure, waiting is hard. But I know that it’s during the wait that God molds us to be ready for what He has in store. It may not be what we had in mind, but it will be the best for us, for sure. And so, I will choose to look at this waiting period as a blessing. I will wait, not begrudgingly, but hopefully, expectantly. The process may not come easy, I may slip back into the kicking and screaming stage, but I will try and remind myself everyday that this is an answer to my prayer after all. And it is for this and a lot of other answered prayers that I will be grateful.

Psalm 27:13-14   

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Isaiah 40:31   

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”



We just moved!

We just moved! Well, technically we officially moved on the first day of May so it’s been more than a month since. I was in California reviewing for the Step 1 of the USMLE when we closed on our new condo so I was on Skype while Sam did all the signing of papers. I was with him (through Skype) when he first opened the door to the new place and though I was far away we could both feel each other’s excitement! This is officially our first place here in the US!

Although exciting as it may be, Sam couldn’t help but worry about the bills at this point. I guess that’s a guy thing? Because what I started to get worried about was how I was going to manage decorating the place while reviewing for the US medical boards at the same time! Haha!

This first month was just awesome. And everyday, we still marvel at how we came to this point- how God had been so faithful and how He continues to be faithful in every aspect of our lives, even in this whole home buying process! I couldn’t contain it any longer, that after about 7 months since my last blogpost I decided to document and write about this whole experience. And I think this deserves a whole new category too. I hope I will be able to keep up with all this documenting since I am still in the middle of reviewing for the 3rd exam and home decorating. But, I will try to do my best!

Here's Sam opening our front door with me on Skype!
Here’s Sam opening our front door with me on Skype!

30 Plus things I am grateful for this year


Because my birthday always falls on the same week or day as Thanksgiving, I wanted to write a gratitude list this year. And I am hoping to write one every year during my birthday. When we cultivate an attitude of gratefulness, no matter the circumstance, God rewards us with joy, peace and contentment. So, here goes:

1. I am grateful for being alive. Life itself is not an opportunity everyone gets to enjoy for a long time.
2. I am grateful for my family. We have our quirks, differences, similarities. We call each other weird names. We argue, we fight and we wrestle. But after all that, we’re still family. And we will fight and defend each other to the very end.
3. I am grateful for my body. It may not be perfect. It may have its share of defects. It may be fond of attacking itself, giving me pain everyday, for the rest of my life (yeah, autoimmune disease sucks bigtime), but that doesn’t define me. What I would like to get noticed though is the strength that is keeping this body together. God is indeed the strength of my heart, my body, and my soul.
4. I am grateful for friends. Bestfriends. Close friends. New friends. Facebook friends. Twitter friends. Instagram friends. The idea of being a friend has been really confusing nowadays. And so at this age, I am realizing that great friendships take a lot of effort, and love.
5. I am grateful for the roof above our heads, the car (we call her Soobie) that takes Sam to work everyday and both of us to the grocery, and the clothes that keep us warm everyday.
6. I am grateful for cellular phones and computers. Communication is key. Enough said.
7. I am grateful for the internet. Boy, how this one really makes our lives easier.
8. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here. Although if you’ve read my previous blog posts about not understanding why, I want you to know that I changed my mind. I found some enlightenment. I now understand why, well kinda. God is revealing it in ways I could never have imagined.
9. I am grateful for being part of a church who’s made us feel like family.
10. I am grateful for Sam’s job. I could not overemphasize how much he loves his job. And I love seeing him loving what he does.
11. I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in Perseverance Theater’s ASTI this year. I have missed acting so much.
12. I am grateful for the opportunity to take review classes with Kaplan this year. Oh my, they’re expensive. I hope it would be worth it.
13. I am grateful for this chance and the time to review for the US medical boards.
14. I am grateful for my Aunt and Uncle in California who have opened their house to me and Sam.
15. I am grateful for the ability to still be able to play the guitar and the piano in spite of the pain and stiffness of my finger joints.
16. I am grateful for people who have opened their homes to us, those who have fed us (haha), those who have treated us like family in Alaska. (The Arsuas, the Shiers, the Dotys, the Magleos, the Ihnats, the Frickeys, Michelle, and others)
17. I am grateful for the availability of rice and dried fish here in the US. Yep, they’re important to me.
18. I am grateful for health insurance, my doctors, and the availability of my medications.
19. I am grateful for the sunshine everyday when I’m in California. And I am grateful for the rain and the snow when I’m in Juneau, although I’m not necessarily happy about the cold.
20. I am grateful for the responsibilities I have- as wife, daughter, niece, daughter-in-law, sister, friend. It gives me purpose.
21. I am grateful for having my shoulder surgery this year. After a gazillion dislocations, I finally had it repaired. I can now play basketball again!
22. I am grateful for having just one surgery this year and not multiple. I should be a surgical patient hall of famer.
23. I am grateful for my driver’s license. I just got my Alaskan driver’s license this year.
24. I am grateful for my parents’ and aunt and uncle’s visit to Juneau last summer. I won’t say how many buckets of Alaskan King crab they devoured.
25. I am grateful for the opportunity to visit the east coast with Sam this year.
26. I am grateful for the opportunity to become a blessing to others.
27. I am grateful for religious freedom.
28. I am grateful for water. Goodness, I cannot imagine this life without water. My affinity to water is evident in my love for washing the dishes and doing the laundry. Oh, and I guess I would have to include excessive handwashing- the feeling of running warm water over swollen and painful hands……
29. I am grateful for Sam’s ability to take beautiful photos of the Aurora Borealis.
30. I am grateful for words. Words are my greatest means of expression…and sometimes my source of stress. My grammar is not perfect, but obviously bad grammar just bothers me a lot. Especially those on social media. Haha
31. I am grateful for Sam, of course. Without him, I would be just Keziah. With him, we are Sam and Keziah. Haha. Seriously, he is the best gift God has ever given me in this lifetime. It would take a whole new blogpost to elaborate on this one.
32. And…I am grateful for love. Without love, I am nothing. God has afforded me the opportunity to love and be loved. I will always be forever grateful to the God who loves me unconditionally.

There. Now you know how old I am. So this is how it feels. It really is true. Once you turn 30 and beyond, you actually stop counting. Haha. And as usual, Sam’s witty reply to my emotional upheaval the day before my birthday was, “You should learn to accept that you’re getting old this early, and you will be able to age gracefully.”

“In everything, give thanks..” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Faith · Life

Officially a Mother-in-waiting


When you’ve gone through a lot of physical pain in your life, you eventually become numb to it, even without painkillers and such. Yet the pain of infertility is not just physical, it’s largely emotional as well. Did you know that roughly 40 % of women with endometriosis are infertile? That makes endometriosis one of the top three causes of infertility, according to the Cleveland Clinic. However, there are ongoing researches about the relationship of endometriosis and infertility, and this is a good thing.

I have been aware of this to some extent ever since med school, and I think I prepared myself to accept the probable consequences of my multiple surgeries due to endometriosis. Sam, also, had already been carefully briefed even before we got married. The very first time I was told that I was highly probable to have difficulty getting pregnant, I was 25 years old and just fresh out of medical school. You can imagine how I panicked. I will not go into the details of panicky emotional moments, wrong and hasty decisions, and how many people I’ve hurt in the process, but it did cause a lot of commotion in my life, that was for sure.

When Sam and I got married, contraception was never an option. Fast forward to last year, when Sam and I officially started getting help fertility-wise after my third pelvic surgery. After the 4th cycle, I was drained, both physically and emotionally, and it was only the most basic step in the reproductive treatment plan! So after trips to the specialist, injections, pills- I never did get those two pink lines on the test kit. And kneeling on the bathroom floor in front of the test kit, each time, didn’t help either. The word, “horrible” couldn’t even describe the feeling of waiting for a whole month, for 4 successive months, to get some urine on that stick, only to get a negative test result. “Devastating” would be close, but not quite.

We gave up on the injections and the meds temporarily, well I did. And as a consequence, I had to go through severe pains and bleeding again. As the doctor said, it’s either I get pregnant or stay on medications. Right now, I’m on medication in the meantime, as they’ve found new growths again on my remaining ovary. There are a lot of other options and solutions, I know, we know. We have studied every medical solution to our problem, and by “we” I mean Sam and I have been reading together about it. Sam probably knows more about endometriosis than I do now. And yes, we have considered adoption too. We have taken a lot of fertility advice, even some weird ones. And yes, we followed each instruction to the tee (weird as it may be). We have prayed about it for as long as we have been married and even before we were.

We love kids. I love kids, I really do. I taught preschool in the year after I graduated from college and before I went to med school. I wanted to become a pediatrician. I worked with kids in the slums during my social work days. I dote on my bestfriends’ kids. So, why is this happening to me? I’ve asked that question a million times.

 I never got an answer to that question. I’ve formulated possible answers in my head, but that’s just me. And you know what, in this life, maybe I will never get an answer for all the ‘whys” I’ve asked. But by God’s grace, I’ve learned to accept that and be at peace, at least for now. Here’s what I learned in this endless cycle of physical and emotional pain and negative pregnancy tests- I may never know why God intended for it to be this way for me, and for Sam as well; I will never know at this point if we will ever get pregnant sometime in the future, or at least how- like if we would need further medical help in conceiving or something; one thing we know for sure is that GOD’S HAD OUR BEST IN MIND EVERY TIME HE’S SAID “NO” FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS. He is too wise to be mistaken. Maybe He’s reserved us for something different other than raising kids at this time; maybe the kids will come sometime in the near future; or maybe we were never really meant to become parents; or He may still be preparing us, because we simply may not be ready yet.  We have come up with a lot of possible explanations, believe me. But we’ve concluded that the best thing to do now, still, is to wait, even if we have to wait forever. I trust that God’s timing and purpose is always perfect. And so I’m waiting for this day to be my day too someday, and I’ve officially called myself a mother-in-waiting. So to us, who are still waiting for that bundle of joy to arrive- Happy Mother-in-waiting Day!

 Oh, and you might want to watch this tearjerker of a video too:


The perils and whatnots of a snowy winter from a first-timer’s point of view

Spent my first snowy winter (December-February) in Juneau, Alaska. I’ve spent a number of winters in LA and it wasn’t as bad. I must admit, this time it wasn’t all fun, well except for the ski trips we had every weekend, and the Northern Lights, of course. But when one has spent most of his/her life in a tropical climate, avoiding the sun as much as possible for fear of getting burned, winter then gets to be pretty depressing. I was in LA in December and when I got here by the end of the month, it was snoraining (a term I probably invented to describe both the snow and the rain that fall simultaneously, otherwise known as wet snow). And it went on for a whole month, December 25-January 30 to be exact. By the end of January I was on my knees praying and crying for the Lord to give us sunshine. And He did. We had weeks of endless sunshine with occasional snowfall after that. They say that it was the warmest winter in Alaska by far. I’m glad it was, for me at least. While most of the continental US froze with record-high snowfall, we were blessed with sunshine. And the sunshine was a good thing for me. Sam did notice drastic changes in my mood that inadvertently coincided with the weather. As if RA flares, a shoulder injury and then surgery, plus no job, don’t at all affect my mood. So, aside from my weather-coinciding depression (which is not a peril at all), here’s what I found out about the perils and such whatnots of winter (in Juneau):

  1. It gets dark. Having large windows and more lamps at home would help. Oh, and don’t forget the Vitamin D supplements. Although I’ve heard about Vitamin D deficiency being linked to clinical depression, I’ve learned that it’s still inconclusive. I’d like to research on that too someday.
  2. Layer. The first time we learned how to layer clothes in winter was when we went to Beijing, and it wasn’t really effective because we didn’t consider the kind of material our clothes were made of. Technology has allowed manufacturers to create warmer and lighter layers so we don’t have to carry all that bulkiness with us, especially when skiing.
  3. The skin gets really, really, really dry. So apply moisturizing lotion as often as possible. I learned this the hard way. I neglected my skin, especially my face, and my face broke out really bad. I’m still trying to resuscitate it at this moment.
  4. Waterproof boots. This is a staple in every Alaskan’s wardrobe, especially if you live in Juneau. Believe me, walking in cold wet shoes is no fun at all.
  5. Shoveling. Sam lived in a farm most of his life so he’s been used to shoveling dirt, stone, gravel and sand. Shoveling snow is no different, wet snow and ice that is. Well if you shovel freshly fallen snow then it could be easier.
  6. Studded snow tires. We didn’t have to change our car’s tires since they were already all-season and we were told that Subaru’s build and tires usually do great in the winter. They really are great, well, except for that one time when we were driving through an inclined parking lot that was frozen and very slippery and Sam mistakenly hit the brakes, and the car slid sideways, all the way to the left.

I don’t recall everything for now so I’ll just add up to that list in the next few days.

So it’s officially spring, and it’s been warmer and more sunny, which is good. I would definitely try to avoid spending next winter here in Alaska again. Keyword is “try.” Of course I still don’t know if my husband would be ok with that, and even if he would be, I don’t know if I could stay away from him that long.

We went snowshoeing, and my boots got wet. This was at Mendenhall Lake, which was frozen, so we could actually cross over to the glacier, but we didn’t. I’m the one in pink (of course). And the one in blue is Michelle.
See, even the Northern Lights get depressed in winter, especially when the clouds cover them. Photo by Sam.

Spaghetti and (giant) Meatballs

So, this is Sam’s take on spaghetti and (giant) meatballs. I really don’t know what spices he put in them, but they did taste really good. Next time I should be right beside him when he makes these, or whatever he concocts for that matter. Since he doesn’t really measure any ingredient when he cooks, I have no idea how to duplicate it. So it follows that whenever somebody asks for a recipe, we could only give out the ingredients and not the exact measurements. In this case, there is one thing I know for sure, the cheese filling is actually a mini Babybel! He asked if we had any kind of cheese, and when I told him we just had the Babybel minis, he sliced up some and placed one small portion in each meatball. Talk about being resourceful in the kitchen.