Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Special K with Strawberries

As we were awaiting our recent ultrasound to learn the Special K's gender some of my online friends from an NFP forum were curious to find out if we had Special K with strawberries or blueberries. I have always wanted a little boy first, but Kris from the very beginning had a feeling it was a little girl. Whether Special K had strawberries or blueberries was not so important to us as the health. We wanted to be sure that we had a healthy, growing baby. Anything else was going to be a bonus. 

Our calendar the weeks before our ultrasound appointment was pretty busy. Between the OB, the dentist, the eye doctor, Church meetings and a few family obligations, we were quite busy. It helped the weeks to pass quickly. The Friday of our appointment was going to be a very busy day with errands to run before and after the appointment. Despite our busy schedule nothing could have spoiled the excitement of seeing our precious Special K again since our first ultrasound at 8 weeks. We had already heard the heartbeat twice but we were looking forward to seeing the baby again. At our first quick peek Special K only looked like a peanut. You could see the heartbeat and the makings of a tiny baby but the baby was too small to notice tiny hands or feet. We were excited to see how much our little one had grown.

Prior to arrival at the appointment I was required to drink two glasses of water and asked not to use the bathroom. Not an easy task for a 19-week pregnant woman. Fortunately the receptionist told me it was okay as long as I drank more water. So I had to continuously drink water until the time of our appointment. The ultrasound itself lasted about 45 minutes. They took all kinds of different measurements to make sure that our little one was healthy. They measured the ulna, the humerous, the femur, the chest, the brain, the head, and many other things. It was so neat to see our little one moving all around during the ultrasound. Special K was quite the acrobat. I was hoping to get a good peek before the tech told us if Special K had strawberries or blueberries but Special K just would not stay still long enough for me to get a good peek. I am not sure I would have known what to look for anyway. We were enjoying watching our little one move and dance around. We saw the baby "wave", suck their thumb, kick their leg, tumble, somersault and so much more. We saw the two halves of the brain, the four chambers of the heart, the bones in the fingers and toes and much, much more. It was like Special K was putting on a show for Mommy and Daddy. Although it was hard to lie there with a full bladder I did not want to stop watching the baby. It was so amazing to see. The baby was still rather tiny but you could see everything so clearly. Kris was so excited to see the baby again and this time Special K was more than a peanut. 

We were both excited when time came to reveal Special K's gender. We both had our hunches about the gender and could not wait to find out who was right. No matter what we both had already loved Special K so much already. Gender made no difference. Fortunately, Special K was quite cooperative when it came time to reveal the gender. The tech focused in to show us. She asked what we thought. I was not too sure but I had to ask. Then came the big news. IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!! Kris was so excited. His first comment was, "Now we have to start saving for a wedding." I was just simply moved to tears. Although I wanted a boy, I knew that having a girl was something extra special. I had always planned to name my first daughter Felicity after my paternal grandmother, Felicidad. My Mama Edad is 92-years old and we have been very close since I was young. We used to do many arts and crafts together. She has inspired me and taught me so much. I was sad to learn that she would be returning home to the Philippines a couple of months before we were married. I have had the chance to speak with her via Skype shortly after we learned we were pregnant. She was the first family member we told. I told her that if we were to have a girl, we will name her after her. Mama was so happy to hear that. There was a smile so big on her face. Mama has 6 children (5 daughters and 1 son), 19 grandchildren and now our baby girl Felicity makes 22 great-grandchildren. I am honored to be carrying Mama Edad's namesake and excited for Mama to see her even if it is only by Skype.

After our ultrasound, we met with the specialist Dr. Barron. She informed us that little Felicity is perfectly healthy at this time. She measured exactly where she needed to be (According to the OB we were 18 weeks and 6 days and she was measuing 18 weeks and 5 days) She told us we were on track for an average 7-7.5lb baby. I was taken a little by surprise since my nieces and nephews were not much bigger than 6lbs. A 7-lb baby in is a BIG baby for our family but I was glad to hear that she is very healthy. It was such a relief to hear. We both let out a deep sigh of relief. We could not be more excited to meet our little one in a few months.

This reminded me of a "classic" ultrasound picture that you might see in a book, magazine or poster but this time it was of OUR little girl.

She is such the cutie already!

The tech told us that she has Daddy's nose not a Filipino, flat nose.

She was sucking her thumb.

She has LONG legs like Daddy. She likes to kick me on my left side.

She waved hi for Mommy and Daddy. Hi baby girl!!!!!!!!

Dear Special K Felicity,

We are so happy to have seen you dance, somersault, kick and even wave for us. It was certainly an exciting show to see. We cannot get enough. I wish we could have watched all day. Keep on growing in there. Stay strong and active. I do not mind if you give me a little kick here and there to let me know you are okay but please be gentle. We will see you very soon little one. Remember you are already so loved.

Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 29, 2011

Special K

Before even learning that we were pregnant, I decided that I would call our baby in utero Special K. Other friends had different creative nicknames for their babies-to-be and I wanted something just as cute. I did not like referring to the baby as "it" and did not want to always have to say "the baby." I wanted something that would give the baby an identity. Some kind of name before we even knew the gender. Our last name lent a hand to that. Special K seemed perfect. Our own little K. The newest member of Team K. Someone so special to us no matter what gender they turned out to be. 

Dear Special K,

We love you very much. We cannot wait for you to join our team. Do not worry. You do not have to be the star right away. Mommy and Daddy will coach you and pretty soon you will be the All Star. Stay strong. Stay healthy. Grow big. 

Mommy and Daddy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pregnancy update

It has been a while since I have updated anyone on the status of our pregnancy so I thought I would give a few highlights for those who have been trying to follow our progress.

The first trimester was a little rough. I had a bout with some morning sickness which never happened in the morning. It was always at night when I was getting ready for bed. It made it rough to get try and get to sleep at night. Most mornings I would feel fine but sometimes a car ride would set off nausea and set the pace for the whole day. I was on progesterone for the first 13 weeks to help support the pregnancy and that seemed to cause a few extra problems including very vivid and strange dreams. Certain smells and foods were an issue. The sight or smell of eggs for the first couple of months was just intolerable. Poor hubby missed out on many a big breakfast. Processed meats and cold cuts (I have been avoiding as much as possible this since we learned we were pregnant) also seemed to set off the stomach. I barely made it through preparing for a family brunch before we knew we were pregnant. The smell of hot dogs and bratwursts just made my stomach turn. The only craving that I seem to have was for watermelon which is something I usually crave all summer. Occasionally seeing a restaurant or a picture of food makes me crave it.

The second trimester has been much better than the first. A lot of the unbearable symptoms from the first trimester have pretty much disappeared. For the first few weeks I was getting a knock-me-out-and-drag-me-down kind of headache. I would have to spend most of the day in bed. Thankfully those went away after a couple of weeks. The only symptom that seems to be bothering me is my acid reflux. I find that I have to sleep sitting up most nights to keep myself from choking. It is not always comfortable but it sure beats choking in my sleep and being abruptly awakened. Around 16 weeks I started to feel fluttering, bubbling, thumping, and tapping. They were rather subtle but were not in the same areas where discomfort had typically been felt. After some research online I found out that these were the baby's first movements. The movements have been very subtle and somewhat infrequent but always a pleasure when I can feel them. Around 18 weeks the movement began to feel a little more like hard poking but it was still rather infrequent.

Our first ultrasound was at 8 weeks when Special K appeared to be almost peanut shaped. You could see very clearly the heart beating. You could already see the baby's form even though it was barely an inch long. It was so awesome to see for the first time. We have heard the heartbeat twice already. It was 160+ beats per minute when we heard it for the first time at 13 weeks. We heard it again at our next appointment at 17 weeks. It is such a relief for both of us to hear the fast paced thumping of the little heart.

We are about 19 weeks. We are almost halfway. So far everything is "perfect" as our OB likes to tell us at each appointment. It sure is a comforting word to hear. It gives us much peace to know Special K is growing bigger each day.

We have an appointment scheduled with a maternal-fetal specialist tomorrow for another sonogram. We cannot wait to see the baby's face again. It has been more than 2 months since we first saw the image of the baby. We are looking forward to seeing the tiny hands and feet and the expressions on the little face. We hope to even find out the gender if Special K cooperates.

We are looking forward to the second half of our pregnancy and seeing the progress that Special K makes over the next 20 weeks. It truly has been a miracle to experience life growing inside of me (all the ups and the downs included)

Dear Special K,

Continue to stay safe in your little "womb." I have tried to make it as comfortable as possible. I know pretty soon there will not be much room in there for you. We are getting your room here in the house ready for you. There is still much work to be done so feel free to stay in your "womb" until you are ready to come out and greet us. Grow big and stay strong little one. Mommy and Daddy love you so much already and look forward to the day when we can see your smiling face.

Lots of love,
Mommy and Daddy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our treasure

"We who are parents see our children as treasures entrusted to our care by God." - St. Jane de Chantal

A couple of weekends ago we joined my mother in St. Petersburg for the national Salesian conference via simulcast from Washington, DC. The theme of the conference was God Desires You. We learned a lot about the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. We learned about the capacity and limitations of the human heart as well as the unbounding love of God's heart. We learned how to make our prayer lives stronger. We could apply a lot of what we learned to our present day lives. It was a spiritually rewarding day. We enjoyed a nice weekend visit with my Mom and Dad.

While we were there I saw 8x10 matted pictures. They had different quotes by either St. Francis de Sales or St. Jane de Chantal. I wanted to find something that we could use in the baby's room. There were two in particular that I liked. One was a quote by St. Francis. The picture was of a mother holding a young child while another one ran through the fields. I loved the picture. It was a great image of where I might see myself in a few years. The other picture we saw was just of a quote by St. Jane de Chantal. It had lots of vibrant colors and the saying fit perfectly how we felt. After showing both of them to Kris, we finally chose the picture with St. Jane's quote.

Dear Special K,

You are most prized treasure. We love you so much already. We are so blessed that God has entrusted you to our care. We cannot wait to finally meet you in person. Stay safe. Grow big. We will see you when you are ready.

Mommy & Daddy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saint of the month: St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Icon of St. Maximilian Kolbe

"No one in the world can change the Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?" ~ St. Maximilian Kolbe

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." ~ John 15:13

Feast Day: August 14
Patronage: drug addicts, families, journalists, prisoners, amateur radio operators, pro-life movement

Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I first learned about St. Maximilian when I was in the 7th grade attending Catholic school. His story was written in our religion book. He had been recently canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II. I was immediately taken by his story and became a devotee. prayed often for his intercession. I know since that time he has kept a very watchful eye over me.


St. Maximilian Kolbe was born Raymond Kolbe on January 8, 1894 in what is now present day Poland. In 1907, along with his elder brother, he entered a Franciscan seminary. In September 1910 he was received as a novice and took the new name of Maximilian. From 1912 to 1915 he studied in Rome and from 1915 to 1919 he studied at Collegio Serafico. He was ordained on April 28, 1918 in Rome.

As a devotee to Our Lady, he founded the Militia of the Immaculate Virgin Mary with 6 other companions. In 1922, he began publishing a monthly review, Knight of the Immaculate. It was first published in Polish and then in other languages. He promoted the devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary through different forms of media including writing and radio. In 1927, he founded a Franciscan monastery in Niepokalanow. It later became a major publishing center. He continued his movement in Japan in 1930. 

In 1936, he returned to Poland due to ill health. In Septempber 1939 Niepokalanow was occupied by the Germans and most of the inhabitants were sent to Germany. Among them was Fr. Maximilian. He did not stay there long. On December 8, he was released and returned again to Niepokalanow. Soon after, he began a shelter for Polish refugees. The community came under suspicion and was under close watch. In 1941, after publishing the only edition of The Knight of the Immaculate, Fr. Maximilian was arrested. He was first at the infamous Pawiak prison in Warsaw but was later transferred to Auschwitz where he was branded prisoner number 16670.

In July 1941, three prisoners had escaped Auschwitz. Due to the escape, ten prisoners would be picked from the blocks which the fugitives had lived and assigned to the Bunker, the underground starvation cell. Among the ten picked was Francisczek Gajowniczek, a non-commissioned officer. When the sentence had been announced, Gajowniczek cried out that he shall never see his family again. It was then that Fr. Maximilian stepped out and offered himself in his place. They were led to the Bunker where men died slowly without food and water. Fr. Maximilian led the men in daily prayers, Rosary, and singing. Prisoners from neighboring cells would often join them. After nearly two weeks, all the men had died except for Fr. Maximilian. He was often seen kneeling or standing as he looked at the SS men cheerfully in the face. Willingly giving his arm, an injection of carbolic acid was given in order to facilitate Fr. Maximilian's death. When he was found dead, his face appeared calm and radiant.

The process for his beatification began in August 1947. His cause was introduced in March 1960. On October 17, 1971 he was beatified by Pope Paul VI. Like Jesus Christ, his master, he loved man enough to give up his own life for them. "Greater love hath no man than this..." were the opening words at his beatification. His canonization was not long delayed. On October 10, 1982 Pope John Paul II declared Maximilian Kolbe a saint.


My devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe began at the very tender age of 12. His story of sacrifice for another man had truly touched my heart. I wanted to live by his example. I am not always successful at putting the needs of other's before my own but I have learned to follow in St. Maximilian's example in my family and friend relationships. I continue to ask St. Maximilian for his intercession in my daily prayers.

I believe that it is this devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe that I have found Kris. Throughout the years of my devotion, St. Maximilian has been there to intercede for us and help prepare us both for this journey on which we are now embarking. It was not until much later that I learned that St. Maximilian is the patron saint of journalists the career that Kris has been working since his early days in college. The Lord has prepared us both for the next journey in our marriage and St. Maximilian is there every step of the way as our intercessor.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

Check out these links for more information on St. Maximilian Kolbe: