October 21, 2017

Reflections of a Doctor Mom

My youngest, Amreen, had high-grade fever four days ago accompanied by few maculopapular rashes on her upper extremities and anorexia. She wasn't vomiting nor having a diarrhea but I noticed her stools were soft and mucoid. I only gave her paracetamol and a tepid sponge bath while closely monitoring her fever. On the 2nd day, I brought her to the nearest ER to get her labs done. Her CBC showed plain viral infection which can resolve on its own and be managed at home. She started to throw up her milk and her medications. I hate seeing her weak and irritable and refusing to eat. It tears my heart apart and I feel so anxious thinking it might be something else overlooked by her CBC. So at 2:00 AM yesterday, Jabar and I rushed her to the hospital (the hospital where I gave birth to her, where everyone was nice and calm. Love it here.) after an episode of vomiting and spiking fever. 

Being a doctor who knows every step in the ER, the labs and the rationale of the management, I was supposed to be calm. Yes I was, but part of me gets anxious and uneasy every time my daughter cries and I can't tame her. She was dehydrated with poor skin turgor and crying without tears. I can't stand seeing her this way. Her initial CBC in the ER is still a viral picture, so the resident asked me if I will still admit the patient. I opted to admit her for rehydration and to lessen my anxiety and worry. 


Here are my reflections while we were at the ER yesterday morning:

1.) There's a valid reason for a mom who brought her child to the ER at 2 in the morning. She's not nag-iinarte lang. Every inquiry of an anxious mom must be addressed properly. Do not judge.

2.) Every single staff in a hospital contributes to the entire hospital experience of a patient, from the security guard who opens the ER door to the nurse manning the triage area and the housekeeping staff. Being courteous and nice is valuable beyond estimation. Kindness must be the universal trait.


3.) Stellar clerks who have lots of repeating questions are annoying. Hahaha! Especially when you were asked the same question by the nurses and residents already. I appreciate the detailed history taking though. Good job, kid! 

4.) Pedia residents and clerks should not be doing rounds to non-toxic patients especially during midnight when the baby is fast asleep. Hirap na hirap ako magpatulog nyan tapos gigisingin nyo lang! Hahaha! Really. I'm sure they'd opt to sleep either. Been there done that, 1:00 am rounds to pedia patients during clerkship. Inis na inis pala ang mga nanay sa amin! Why do we do that again?? Lol!


Alhamdulillah Amreen's fever abated now and her appetite is returning. But her body is covered with rashes, she looks so pitiful. Breaks my heart. The attending just had her rounds and her final diagnosis is Roseola infantum and we're bound for discharge today. Yay!

I passed the residency qualifying exam of the hospital where I applied and my 2-week pre-res will start tomorrow and here I am in the hospital trying to "study". I'll be starting with a 24-hour duty in the ER so wish me all the best of lucks in the world!!!! Hahahha! Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem. 

October 3, 2017

I got your back.
I share the burden. 
I share the tears.
I cry with you. 

But, I'll carry on. 
Let's carry on.
We'll get through this. 
I'll remain to keep that little spark of positivity alive. 
I can see the light.

Have faith.

Just please, don't let me drown with you. 

September 28, 2017


Ina, in Meranao, means mother. Our generation translated it into grandmother. That’s what I call my maternal grandma. Ina. Everybody calls her Ina, even those who are not her direct descendants. I want my children to call me Ina because of the sweetness of its sound. I named my eldest after her, Mariam, as a tribute to the woman who raised my own Mom.


Ina was known for her kindness and generosity. Whatever she has, especially food, had to be shared to everyone who comes to her. She wasn’t rich nor literate, but she has a heart overflowing with love and a mind full of wisdom.

She took care of almost all her grandchildren, especially our brood. I’d like to think my Mom was her favorite child, but Ina didn’t actually favor one over the other. She treated each and everyone of her children and grandchildren equally.

I have beautiful memories with Ina growing up. Her generation is the last of the Meranaos who were not influenced by the Western culture. She chew betel nuts even though she only had few teeth left. She sung bayok (Meranao songs) and tells us pananaroon (Meranao riddles) and thutol (tales). I am familiar with Meranao folklore because of her. I loved sleeping beside her to listen to her bedtime stories, tales of Sulutan Sa Agama Niyog, Bantugen and the Royal Land of Bumbaran, Amomowai (the monkey), Arata Wata, Omacaan and Ola Thangila. She had a particular way of massaging my hair and scalp (kapaninisik) that puts me into deep sleep. I am familiar with weaving Meranao cloth (ka-awl, but I've never done it myself) because I saw her do it with passion. The intricacy of her langkit was one of a kind. We still have her awl-awla (wooden weaving machine) because she said she wants to go back to it once she regains strength. 

My parents owe their ascendance to the peak of their career to Ina. She promised to help my Mom with the triplets when my father received the approval of his study grant overseas. The triplets were three months old then. She was illiterate (with Western education, she can read the Arabic script though) hence she pushed all her nine children to earn an education. All nine children are all professionals, my mom being the second child. All our success, we owe it to her.

Four generations. Glad I have this photo to show my daughter, Amina Mariam. c. December 2015
She had a beautiful death. So beautiful that every living Muslim would ask Allah to die in such a manner. She wasn’t sick, she was just old and weak in her late 80s. She just finished her ablution in preparation for salaatul ‘asr when she fell unconscious on her bed, without any complain of chest pain or dizziness. My aunt, who was tasked to take care of her, called for help and Ina was immediately rushed to the nearby hospital.

We lost her. We lost Marawi and so as our Ina. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful death. She looked so much at peace and so beautiful on her deathbed. I kissed her cold body and I smiled knowing that Ina is with Our Creator and I’m sure she is happy wherever she is.

Hajja Mariam Ayo-Maruhom and Amina Mariam. Ina was chewing betel nut. December 2015

Ya Allah, thank You for the beautiful life of Ina. Thank You that You made her our grandmother. Thank You for the beautiful memories with her. I have many stories about her to tell my children when they grow up, in shaa Allah. We pray that Allah grant her a beautiful abode in Paradise and may we all be united in the hereafter. Ameen. 

After four months, we finally got a glimpse of Pagimanan*, my grandmother's house at Lilod Madaya. It looks burnt but at least it wasn't directly hit by an airstrike and it is still intact. It breaks my heart thinking that Marawi's gone and so as my grandma. 😢 #MarawiMyHome *Pagimanan means a place where there is peace of mind. So ironic now.

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September 5, 2017

Leap Of Faith

I'm currently staring at my residency application form that I will be submitting in a few days together with my other academic credentials. I prepared myself for this --- emotionally (and intellectually? Nah. I don't think I've reviewed enough. I'm actually panicking!). I'm hyperventilating by the mere thought of residency. Now the most important question to ponder on: am I ready to sacrifice precious moments with my daughters for the advancement of my career, for honing the craft I've worked hard for all my life? 


The blank application form is staring right back at me as if nodding in affirmation. Not too long ago, I made a decision that changed my life. I --- a provincial girl who never left her comfort zone --- took a big leap of faith and chose to spend a year of internship at an institution where all brilliant minds in the Philippine medical field meet. Considering I wasn't on the topmost of my class, I wasn't sure if I will get accepted. A year later, I finished my medical internship with grace and pride and eventually passed the medical board exam. 


I'm at it again. It's different now though because as I will be holed up the next three years of my life in the hospital, I will not only be sacrificing my personal social life but I have two daughters and a husband who will bear the consequences of my frequent absence in their lives. 

I ask myself this, WILL IT BE WORTH IT? 

It is difficult now, but perhaps, my family will thank me in the future for treading this path, for making this crucial decision. 

Yes, in shaa Allah, it will be worth it. 

Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem. 

September 3, 2017

August 30, 2017

August 26, 2017

Yam's Thanksgiving Merienda

My firstborn, Yamyam, turned two years old last week. Good thing it was a holiday on her actual birthday (August 21) because there was a typhoon and my little girl was having a high-grade fever. My husband was also slumped in bed with fever and chills. It was a horrible day for me. Thank God for our little Amreen who's being a ray of sunshine for her stressed mom. Lol! 

Jabar and I are resolved to not celebrating birthdays with a huge party. We were not raised that way but the society we live in, especially among us Meranaos, adapted to the Western influence of putting up birthday parties. Last year, when Yamyam turned a year old, we brought her to Ocean Park Manila and had a sumptuous dinner with my siblings. A simple gesture of gratitude to The Maker who gave us the gift of a beautiful child. 

Amina Mariam.

As our family is embattled by the ongoing Marawi siege, and after both kids and husband had bouts of viral infection, I feel I am more compelled to give a thanksgiving merienda to be grateful for everything we are blessed with in spite of the crisis we are going through. It was nothing grand. The husband and I grabbed layers of pizza and a bucket of chicken and a dedication cake to share with our DFA-DCC family whose presence in our lives is a major blessing itself.

As the "party" was about to start, the husband was called for a meeting. Hence his absence in this photo. 

Jabar and I grew up in big families where playing outdoors with our cousins and neighbors was a major part of growing up. We were never brought to playhouses (we don't have that in the 90's, I guess) or in curated parks (there was none in Marawi, haha). We used to head out of our house and climb trees and play kanggagalawanga, patintero, batir-lata and everything that involves running and shouting. Haha! Jabar and I had beautiful childhood memories in Taraka and Marawi, respectively. This time, we live in the part of the metro that is quite inaccessible to an open space where our children can play and just be kids. Hello, Manila don't have parks save for Luneta and the La Mesa Ecopark in Farview! We don't live close to our families either whose children they can play with. We're quite isolated and I don't allow my children to play gadgets or watch TV all day long. Considering how play being a major part of a child's growth and development, I feel sad for them having no one to play with. That's where the DFA-Day Care Center saved us. I am so grateful that my husband's office have this facility for their kids! 

Twinning dress c/o their Babu Nasheba. 
Jabar used to bring Yamyam in the DCC once a week. Now that Amreen is quite big enough to play with the other kids, we're bringing her too! Yes, I go with them three times a week which means going to the office is now a family affair! Haha! Alhamdulillah. We are eternally grateful to the teachers and to the teacher aides for being very accommodating and welcoming. Even my children's yaya looks forward to going to DFA every other day since she has also formed a friendship with the other yayas.  

Teacher Coleen and the kids.

The birthday girl was bugnutin on that day. Her unusual self.

Teacher Faye and the kids about to sing a birthday song to Yamyam.

It was a very simple merienda to give thanks and as a reminder that we should always count our blessings and to choose to look at the brighter side of every situation. In spite of everything, I am so blessed to have my daughters and my husband beside me. We are grateful for our good health and for the beautiful people surrounding us. Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah. 

Happy 2nd birthday, my love! 

August 25, 2017

Language and liberty. #Meranao #speakyourlingo #maongangun

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August 17, 2017

#AmreenNurlailah is 8 months old today. Alhamdulillah ❤️

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August 13, 2017

On Parenting

My eldest, Yamyam (Amina Mariam), is turning two years old in few days which means it’s been two years since Jabar and I became parents! The fun part is becoming parents to TWO KIDS in a span of TWO YEARS! Hahahaha! No guys, I’m way too far from being an expert in this parenting business but I’m going to share with you bits of what I’ve learned as a Mom.

Yamyam playing with stones
1.)  Each child has a unique pace of development

You know how when you’re pregnant for the first time and you download all the apps that tracks your baby’s development? We’re so excited, right? When the baby is still in the tummy, I think it’s alright to keep track every single minute that your baby is growing his ears or opening his eyes, etc. But when he’s already out in this world, there’s a certain age range for him to achieve his developmental milestones. So don’t fret when he’s not yet rolling over at 4 months, or not yet sitting on his own at 8 months. Your baby’s just finding his perfect time and eventually he’ll get there.  

      2.) There’s no manual for parenting

I wish there’s one so we can just follow the steps especially on the troubleshooting part aka tantrums, unfortunately, there’s none. All the parenting articles out there or even books and apps are merely GUIDES. I believe the key is to not compare your child to other kids and even yourself to other parents. You may have breastfed your child while others may not have for some valid reasons. Baby-led weaning may have worked for them but not in your household. Others may have raised their children in a Montessori environment but unfortunately for you, you don’t have that kind of environment. THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE. Do what works for you and for your family.

Amreen at 4 months old

3.)  Kids do not need fancy stuff

We, parents, want the best for our children. However, what is deemed best may be quite expensive. There was an instance when I bought a quite pricey toy because apparently, it is good for an infant’s sensory and visual development, a perfect teething aide and it garnered excellent reviews and even endorsed by celebrities! But when I got home and so excited for my little daughter to play with it, she threw it and didn’t even like getting a grip of it! Ugh. See? Most often than not, we buy stuff for our own satisfaction, stuff that our kids barely need in actuality. Whenever I am in the kids’ section, I always ask myself: am I buying this for my baby, or for my own satisfaction because it is Instagram-worthy? *rolls eyes at myself*

4.) Every child is different

As well as every pregnancy. Yes. When I was pregnant with my second child, I was expecting the exact same experience as with my firstborn. I was even expecting them to look exactly the same! Hahaha! Oh boy was I wrong. I have now two daughters who are completely different from each other, and in some ways, raised differently. Yamyam was delivered normally but was only breastfed for two months while Amreen was delivered via CS (she was a breech baby!) but exclusively breastfed until as of writing time. Yamyam is mini-Jabar while Amreen is mini-me (although a lot of people still says that she looks more like her father. Ugh. No way, I insist she looks like me guys!). Yamyam is the rowdy one while Amreen is more quite and lady-like (yes, I can say that even though she’s only 8 months old. Lol!). I hate comparing them two, or even hearing other people comparing them, because they are two unique individuals. Children can be raised in a single household by the same parents but they’ll eventually grow up with different inclinations, wants and needs.

Yamyam enjoying a book at the day care

5.) Be in the moment, they’re not going to be the way they are now forever

Several months ago, I deleted my Twitter app on my phone followed by my Facebook app. Being detached from social media and all the negativities it brings gave me more time to be mentally present with my kids. I got to observe their little nuances and even the arrangement of the pores on their skin. As I was scanning through Yamyam’s infant photos, I felt a little nostalgic. It wasn’t too long ago (that was just last year!) when I was holding her in my arms swaying her around until she falls asleep. I don’t do that to her anymore and most of the time she doesn’t want to be carried any longer. She even pushes me because she wants to run, run, and run around. Aaaawww… so I cherish every single second that Amreen wants to be carried by me especially when she yearns for my breasts to be able to sleep. The time will come that, just like her sister, she won’t be breastfeeding anymore and won’t be needing me as much as she does now.  

6.) They’ll eventually learn to be independent

There were moments before that I thought I should have practiced baby-led weaning for Yamyam so it would be effortless on my part to feed her. I find it so difficult to spoon feed a child who refuses to eat! There’s too much drama and stress. Until two months ago, I realized that she refuses to eat because she wants to hold the spoon by herself! She wants to eat alone and drink from her glass of water without needing much assistance from me! Oh my child, how you’ve grown. So moms, don’t stress out when your baby seems over clingy. You’ll be surprised one day they do their own things alone.

7.) Subsequent babies are easier to handle than the first ones

Of course because we already know the drill. Besides, I want to believe that we’re correcting our mistakes this time around so we’re doing things better than what we did with our firstborn. With our second babies (and the succeeding ones), we become less of a worrywart. We know that it’s ok if they lose their balance and hit the floor while trying to master the art of walking, we don’t get cyanotic first when our babies gag on their first few solid food intake, and yes, your baby is completely fine if he gets bitten by mosquitoes once in a while or accidentally sustained an abrasion on his knees. It’s not always your fault, Moms, it’s just your kids being kids!

If you’re the kind of Mom who fret at every little thing concerning your children’s upbringing, well, you’re not alone but first, chillax. Breathe. Tantrums will eventually cease and your children will grow and you will miss them. Always remember to be in the moment. Play with them, laugh with them, shower them daily with lots of hugs and kisses. Give yourself some me-time, pamper yourself, eat good food and be healthy. What really matters is our family’s happiness and saving our own sanity. I hope some points here did help and may we raise our children gracefully and lovingly. Have a great day, Mommies!