Bringing Ethan Home

I have some very exciting news to share! Last November, we started our application process to adopt a boy from Korea. We found out on Friday that our home study was approved – this means that we are officially approved to adopt! If you want to follow us on our adoption adventure, you can go to bringingethanhome.wordpress.com.

Why did we decide to adopt a boy from Korea?

1) I had two nightmare pregnancies due to a rare, debilitating pregnancy disorder called Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  HG occurs in about 1-2% of pregnant women and causes excessive nausea and vomiting which leads to dehydration, fatigue, malnutrition, and a general inability to function. I lost 15-20 pounds with each pregnancy and endured home IV treatment for one to two months.  After much thought and prayer, we decided not to get pregnant again due to the high probability that I would get HG again. If you’d like to read more about my journey with HG, you can go to prisonerinmyownbody.wordpress.com

2) God has convicted us to live out the gospel in a very concrete way by addressing the plight of orphans and foster children in this world.

We hope to inspire you to seek the Lord and to do your part in making the world a better and safer place for our needy children!

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Blessings,

Mimi

adoption announcement

Glory in Suffering

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Mother’s Day has passed and today is HG Awareness Day. Almost a year and a half has passed since I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum for the second time. HG is a rare, debilitating pregnancy disorder which occurs in about 1-2% of pregnant women. It is a disorder which is commonly misunderstood and routinely minimized by the public as well as by the medical community. Often times family members and friends are clueless as to the severity of the disorder which complicates matters and the HG sufferer suffers alone and in isolation.

HG is characterized by severe and excessive nausea and vomiting which can lead to dehydration (and subsequent visits to the ER for IV treatment), weight loss due to the excessive vomiting and inability to hold down food or water, hyper olfaction (extremely strong sense of smell), fatigue, lightheadedness, and overall inability to function due to the severity of nausea. HG causes disruption in day to day activities – inability to care for oneself, inability to work, inability to care for children, inability to shower, etc, etc! Many HG sufferers are forced to stay on bed rest simply to avoid movement which makes the nausea worse.

HG symptoms are the absolute worst the first trimester. Some women find relief after the first trimester but many HG sufferers still battle severe nausea/vomiting to the very end of their pregnancy. Severe cases require in-home IV treatment or a PICC line for continuous IV fluids to make sure the HG sufferer is hydrated.

Heavy doses of anti-emetics (anti-nausea med’s) are given – Zofran, Phenergan and Compazine. The most severe case would require a feeding tube so that the woman is not completely malnourished. Fortunately most HG pregnancies end with successful full term births! However, I have heard of cases in which the pregnancy was terminated by the doctor due to the severity of the disorder in order to preserve the mom’s life.

Nausea seems like such a harmless thing at first glance but imagine being so nauseous that you cannot stand the smell of your own, dear husband. Walking around or trying to take a shower becomes an insurmountable task because you end up puking due to the motion. I have described HG as a 9 month bout of severe food poisoning or stomach flu.

The most challenging part about HG is not the physical suffering (as difficult as that is!) but the emotional toll it takes on the sufferer. Many women with HG suffer from depression due to the chronic medical issues day in and day out. Many women contemplate abortion as well as suicide due to the immense burden that excessive nausea/vomiting and dehydration take on the body and subsequently on the mind and soul.

My journey with HG started with my first pregnancy in November 2011. We didn’t even have a chance to rejoice in our first pregnancy because of how fast HG ravaged my body. I had no clue that this nightmare would hit me. But I found out very quickly that my pregnancy was not going to be normal when I threw up everything I tried to eat very early on in my first trimester. My mom kept insisting that I try to eat for the baby’s sake but I would get extremely frustrated knowing that it didn’t matter what I ate, my body was simply rejecting it! I remember telling my OB about my excessive nausea/vomiting and she brushed it off, saying that it was just normal morning sickness and that I should feel much better soon.

She, unfortunately, was very, very wrong. It got to the point that I was starving, not eating anything, but still vomiting! I was vomiting water and bile. I was on bed rest and the nausea was very relentless and there 24/7. My only relief from the nausea was to sleep. I remember very distinctly on Christmas day of 2011 just vomiting all day (maybe 10 times). I felt very out of it. I stepped onto our scale and was shocked to see that I had lost 15 pounds! My gut told me that something was very, very wrong. This could not be normal morning sickness.

We went to the ER that day and I was immediately admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. The doctor ordered a PICC line (a long term IV line) for me and set up in-home IV treatment. I received in-home IV treatment for one whole month before I was able to start eating normally. During this time, Danny faithfully took care of me and even administered the anti-nausea medications through the PICC line for me daily. After my first trimester, I felt much better and was able to go back to work. I still had mild-grade nausea and had nausea till the day I delivered. Annelise was 8 pounds, 5 ounces – a healthy and big girl!

My second battle with HG was much, much harder than the first. I remember finding out I was pregnant and feeling angry that it happened so soon (Annelise was not even a year old)! I was not ready to face hyperemesis again. I hoped and prayed that my second time would be easier. But those prayers were not answered and my second HG pregnancy was an even darker nightmare than the first.

My symptoms were worse and lasted the whole pregnancy. I lost a total of 20 pounds with my second pregnancy. Again, the doctor ordered home health care and I received in-home IV treatment for two, long months. I hoped that by the end of the first trimester, I would feel much better. But no relief came and I continued to vomit through my second and even my third trimester. There were occasional good days where I felt good enough to go out and eat. But those were really rare. Most days were spent at home, in bed, watching television around the clock just to keep my mind distracted from the nausea. I had insomnia at night due to the nausea and would stay up till 3 am.

I was unable to take care of Annelise so I stayed with my parents for several months so that they could take care of me and Annelise. I was unable to shower regularly during my first trimester so my mom would wash my hair for me once a week. My hair would get so tangled; I felt utterly inhuman, like an animal, like a zombie.

I battled depression with my first pregnancy but the depression with my 2nd pregnancy was worse due to the longer lasting symptoms and my frustrations that I wasn’t feeling better. Every day, I wanted to die just to escape the merciless nausea. Every day, I asked my husband to shoot me, to end my misery. Every day, I felt the temptation to abort the pregnancy just to feel normal again. The spiritual battle was enormous and I am so thankful for God’s grace, the conditional love of my husband and parents, and many friends’ prayers – for protecting me not only physically but spiritually.

Even after giving birth to a very healthy and even bigger baby (Katelynn was a whopping 9 pound, 5 ounces!), I had mild-grade nausea that lasted a month! I was petrified that this nausea would never leave me, but it did. And I’m grateful to have survived this ordeal. I’m thankful for my two, lovely girls – my reward and my gift after the suffering. If there is anything I’ve learned from all of this – it is this – that God is good all the time.

This is the lesson that Job and Joseph learned. This is the lesson God forced me to learn. There is glory and a purpose to our suffering because it molds us into Christlikeness. Suffering from HG has taught me to appreciate life and health. It has brought me a greater compassion and empathy for those suffering from chronic medical illnesses.

I am reminded of these verses from the book of Job which ministered to me during the long, dark nights I battled insomnia and nausea.

Job 1:8-12

“Did you notice my servant Job?” the Lord asked. “There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.”

Satan replied, “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? 10 You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns. You bless everything he does, and you have given him enough cattle to fill the whole country. 11 But now suppose you take away everything he has—he will curse you to your face!”

12 “All right,” the Lord said to Satan, “everything he has is in your power, but you must not hurt Job himself.” So Satan left.

At the end of all of this, I still have my faith in Christ and that was the great test that Satan requested and that God allowed in Job’s life.

I hope that you have a better understanding of how debilitating hyperemesis is. If you have the means, please consider making a donation to the HER Foundation at helpher.org. We need to raise awareness as well as funds to research this disorder in order to find the cause and cure!

I hope my story inspires you to fight whatever battle you’re going through and to come out stronger at the end of it! If you’re interested in reading further about my HG journey, you can go to prisonerinmyownbody. 

Blessings,
Mimi

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The Joys of Mothering Toddlers

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s a great time to reflect on the blessings of being a mommy to two active toddlers. Our days are hectic and filled with lots of drama (aka fighting between my daughters) and it can be so easy to grumble about how tired I am or how difficult it is to raise my little ones who are only 18 months apart (or how many diapers I have to change).

But I know that despite how exhausted I am, at the end of the day I am a very blessed mother. It’s such an honor and privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted, especially as I think about my friends who have been waiting to get pregnant for quite some time. Furthermore, I know that God truly had mercy on our family by granting us healthy daughters as I battled hyperemesis with both my pregnancies.

Here is my list of the top ten joys of being a mama to toddlers:

  1. Hearing them say, “I love you.”
  2. Receiving hugs and slobbery kisses from them.
  3. The way they eagerly imitate everything you do (from the way you eat & drink to the way you scold the dog).
  4. Knowing that you are their security in times of distress.
  5. The privilege of training them to obey the Lord
  6. Losing yourself joyfully in sacrificing your body, time and energy to these little ones because they are so needy
  7. The complete and genuine joy in their faces when you come home…from a short trip to the grocery store.
  8. Hearing them say the darnedest things like – “Mommy, don’t worry.”
  9. Having a little shadow with you all day – they follow you even into the bathroom.
  10. Witnessing their amazing milestones – walking, talking, climbing, spinning, engaging in pretend play, making friends, saying their own prayers.

That Irksome Question…

That irksome question that people like to casually ask stay-at-home moms is, “So, what do you do all day?”

It almost feels like you have to defend yourself to be a stay-at-home mom. I think the question that they are really asking is – “Why are you a stay at home mom? / Why aren’t you out in the world doing something productive?” / “Aren’t you bored out of your mind staying at home all the time?” / “What do you really do with all that extra time you have?”

I usually go out with the girls to the library, park, a friend’s house for a playdate or the mall in the morning and come home in the afternoon for their nap. Here is a sample schedule for a day in which we stay at home.

7:00 am-8:00 am – Annelise wakes up and comes running to my bed. “Mommy, come on! Mommy? Mommy?”

8:00 am – I get drag myself out of bed. I change Annelise’s diaper, then Katelynn’s.

8:15 am – I take our dog Cole out to the yard for his morning pee and poo.

8:30 am – I make the kids breakfast and feed Katelynn and sometimes have to help Annelise eat.

8:45 am – Annelise spills her milk. I encourage her to be more careful while cleaning up the mess.

9:00 am – I make myself breakfast and eat try to eat in peace.

9:15 am – I wash the dishes.

9:30 am – If laundry needs to be done, I sort and do laundry (I have to do about four loads of laundry a week)

9:45 am – I change Katelynn’s poopy diaper.

10:00 am – If the house needs vacuuming (I have to vacuum twice a week because of the dog hair!), I vacuum upstairs while the kids are playing downstairs.

10:15 am – Annelise interrupts me, “Mommy, are you all done vacuum?” I will tell her no and encourage her to play with Katelynn. She refuses to and will simply wait for me at the stairs.

10:30 am – I am almost done vacuuming but I hear hysterical screaming/crying from both the girls. I run down the stairs to see what’s going on. They are fighting over a toy. I try to calm the girls down. I try to convince Annelise to play with something else. Sometimes she’ll push Katelynn to get her way.

10:45 am – I am disciplining Annelise for pushing Katelynn. She is not liking the discipline…It takes 15 minutes for her to calm down and apologize to me and Katelynn.

11:00 am – We go outside to our yard for some play time. I blow bubbles for the girls or we color with chalk on the concrete.

11:30 pm – The girls are fighting over a piece of chalk. I have a talk with both the girls.

11:45 am – I make lunch.

12:00 pm – I feed the girls lunch.

12:30 pm – I make myself lunch and eat try to eat in peace.

12:35 pm – Annelise wants me to hold her. I tell her she has to wait since mommy’s eating lunch. She sulks and goes to a corner to suck her thumb.

12:45 pm – I wash the dishes.

1:00 pm – I read books to the girls.

1:20 pm – I change Annelise’s poopy diaper. (Sometimes I feel like a professional poop cleaner…)

1:30 pm – I put the girls down for their afternoon nap.

1:45 pm – Annelise sneaks out of her room and says she doesn’t want to sleep.

2:00 pm – I put Annelise back down for her nap. She finally takes her nap.

2:15 pm – I have to decide whether I want to shower, take a nap, or fold laundry or vacuum downstairs. I need to take Cole out for his afternoon pee/poo.

3:00-4:00 pm – The girls wake up from their nap. I change their diapers.

4:00 pm – Time for their afternoon snack.

4:15 pm – Katelynn has managed to grab a hold of shoes and she is gleefully gnawing on one for the hundredth time. I tell her no and take the shoe away. She throws herself on the ground and starts wailing…as if it’s the end of the world. I ignore her and she eventually gets distracted by another object.

4:30 pm – Coloring time or an art activity for Annelise. Free play for Katelynn.

5:00 pm – Time to cook dinner.

5:30 pm – Annelise interrupts me, “Mommy, watcha doing?”

5:45 pm – Katelynn is crying because she’s hungry. I appease her with some cereal. Annelise wants some too. They gorge on Cheerios or goldfish.

6:00 pm – Dinner is served. Danny will feed Katelynn. I can semi-enjoy dinner. Annelise refuses to eat dinner. I have to scramble to find something she will actually eat (lately the only things she wants to eat are Cheerios, goldfish, fruit, kimchi, pickles, cheese, milk, bagels, yogurt, soups).

6:30 pm – Danny will do the dishes while I play with the girls.

7:00 pm – Bath time for the girls.

7:30 pm – Drama ensues because both the girls want to be held by me (not daddy) at the same time. I try to hold both of them on my lap but they are pushing each other while on my lap. (Sigh)

7:40 pm – Annelise is frantically searching for her bunny. She cannot sleep without her bunny. (Sigh) We search high and low for her bunny. I finally find the bunny downstairs. I make a mental note to purchase a back-up bunny in the case of an emergency in which we really cannot find her bunny. Of course, this is the 20th time I make this mental note.

7:50 pm – We brush the girls’ teeth and change their diapers one last time.

8:00 pm – We pray together and put the girls down for bed.

8:30 pm – Annelise sneaks out of her room and attempts to negotiate her bedtime…

8:45 pm – Put Annelise down again. She wants me (not daddy) to lie next to her in bed.

9:00 pm – I sneak out of Annelise’s room.

9:00 pm – Midnight – Cole eats his dinner. I am exhausted and want to sleep but I get my second wave of energy (I’m a night person!). These are the things I can get done while the kids are asleep – I can take a shower, read, fold more laundry, clean up clutter around the house, go grocery shopping, clean the toilets, watch TV, spend some time with Danny.

12:30 am – Katelynn wakes up crying because she lost her pacifier. I grope around her crib for her paci. I find it and place it back in her mouth. She falls back asleep.

1:00 am – I finally go to sleep. I should be sleeping right now but of course, I found something else to do – blogging….I will so regret this tomorrow morning!

This is what I do all day, every day. Sometimes it feels like the chores are endless. The dishes pile up, there is always laundry that needs to be done or folded, the toys are always cluttered around the house, and something always needs cleaning.

Sometimes it feels like the battles with discipline are endless. I am constantly having to remind Annelise to share and not push and to be gentle with her sister. I am perpetually taking random objects out of Katelynn’s mouth and telling her to not touch dangerous items.

I am a diaper-changer, a housekeeper, a chef, a wife, a referee between the girls’ squabbles over toys, a discipliner, a story-time reader, an art teacher, a bible teacher, an educator, a temper tantrum tamer, an entertainer, puppet show master, professional tickler, but most of all a mommy who has been blessed with the opportunity to love and care for her children.

I have been given precious time to nurture these relationships and to teach them the ways of the Lord. I have to remember this in moments where it really does feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again.

You Are Beautiful

Lately I’ve been reflecting on the insidious message the media is giving to our youth regarding physical attractiveness. There are very dark, evil forces behind advertising, music videos, and films which bombard us daily and insinuate that women must look and act a certain way (i.e. a sexual way) in order to feel valued by others.

Having to raise two girls in this dangerous and fallen world is a heavy burden to bear. It’s all too easy to get caught up in this web of deception around us which seems harmless at first glance but upon further digging, you uncover the horror of the lies that the advertisers love to sell us. These lies have ruined the self-image of too many women and have given men a sense of entitlement to use and objectify women. Subsequently this has led to rampant sexual violence against women.

We have to fight against the status quo and uplift our children by telling them the truth. Only the truth will set us free. This is a reminder to me and a prayer for my girls:

You are beautiful not because of the size or shape of your eyes,

You are stunning not because of the size of your bust,

You are lovely not because of the length of your legs,

You are pretty not because of the width of your hips,

You are attractive not because of how luscious your lips are,

You are gorgeous not because of how thick your eyelashes are,

You are breath-taking not because of the brand you wear,

You are beautiful because God made you and created you in His image.

He gave you your own, unique, and very special facial features and body.

Embrace this God-given beauty.

Be proud of who you are – a child of God.

Nothing is more beautiful than knowing you are His eternally.

An Interrupted Life

Tonight is one of the rare nights I have time to sit, reflect, and write. One of the realities of being a mom is having an interrupted life.

Meal times are interrupted by a fussy baby who wants to be held to go to sleep. There’s no time to savor the flavors of a gourmet meal when your toddler starts to throw a tantrum because she’s bored in her high chair and wants to roam around the restaurant.

Most nights Katelynn hasn’t been sleeping till midnight due to excessive gas. And my sleep is interrupted by her constant stirrings and when her pacifier falls out, I have to retrieve it for her in order for her to fall back asleep.

Showers are interrupted by hysterical crying in the other room (Katelynn’s pacifier must have fallen out during her nap!).

Bathroom breaks are interrupted by my toddler who wants to just be with mommy.

Conversations are really difficult to have when you have two kids vying for your attention.

My life feels like a constant string of interrupted moments – interrupted by crying, diaper blow-outs, spit-up, temper tantrums, requests for water/milk/cereal/a book.

It’s so easy to get frustrated with the countless interruptions but I’m learning the art of letting go. Having a perpetual string of interruptions means being flexible, going with the flow, being okay with a messy house, being okay with not being able to cook gourmet meals every night, being okay with one of my kids crying because I only have one pair of hands.

My interrupted life forces me to let go of this idea of a what a perfect wife/mom should be. It forces me to acknowledge that I am desperately in need of God’s grace and His strength to just to make it to the end of a very long, draining day.

Easter, HG, and the Cross

It’s been ten years since I made the decision to become Christian as a junior in college. The Lord has been so faithful these past ten years – through many up’s and down’s, He has been gracious and has blessed me with so many things. I feel blessed to have endured and suffered hyperemesis twice because it has given me a greater appreciation for the cross which Jesus had to endure. The very physical and visceral suffering of Christ has been made all the more real because of my own experience with physical suffering. When Christ said, “I thirst”, I can imagine how utterly tired and dehydrated he must have been because I’ve experienced severe dehydration to the point of needing daily IV treatment. What I can’t imagine is having nails pierce the skin of my hands and feet. I also have caught a glimpse of how lonely the cross must have been and how betrayed Jesus must have felt that all of disciples fled when He needed them the most. HG is a most isolating and depressing disease and I have felt that deep sense of betrayal and abandonment from loved ones as well. The amazing thing about the cross is that Jesus knew how bad his physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering would be and yet He chose to endure the pain because it was the Lord’s will and because He knew his suffering had a higher purpose to bring salvation to all of humanity. To bring spiritual life to those who choose to believe in Christ. And in that sense, HG sufferers are called to suffer for a higher purpose as well. That without the pain of HG, the birth of a child would never happen. And this is the glory of suffering for others. This is the beauty of the cross.

What inspires me?

I am a two-time HG survivor. Social worker by profession but for now a full-time baby buncher.

What inspires me? Many things, but first and foremost, it’s Jesus.

Last year, I underwent my second HG pregnancy – it was, without a doubt, the hardest thing life has thrown at me thus far. After surviving hyperemesis twice, I am grateful to be alive and to be gaining my health back. I want to start off this year by praising God for his faithfulness as He was the one who kept me and the baby safe through a very difficult pregnancy.

My key verse for this year is John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

There is so much darkness in this world that it can be overwhelming to even breathe at times. But Jesus tells us that we can have peace in Him! My prayer for this year is that I may find peace in Jesus despite the troubled circumstances life often hands each one of us.

Last year, I was in much physical turmoil and emotional darkness due to HG. This year, I hope to cherish life’s blessings and embrace the beauty and bliss in the little, day-to-day things. In addition to being a mommy blog, this blog will be an eclectic collection of things that inspire me daily – faith, family, food, fashion, art, and whatever else sparks my soul.

Hope to inspire you along the way,

Mimi

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