Of dread, delight and discovery: Lessons from first-time mothers

Of dread, delight and discovery: Lessons from first-time mothers

No matter how many parenting books you’ve flipped through or how many tips you’ve picked up along the way, nobody is ever truly ready for motherhood. But in a good way, that’s the beauty of it all. There’s no roadmap in motherhood, just a compass pointing towards love and a heart full of courage.

This Mother’s Day, let’s honor the joy of first-time motherhood as beautiful mothers from Cebu share their personal stories:

Sayaka Suzuki

“Motherhood is hard, but the best thing that happened to me.” With her one-year-old bundle of joy, Aaila, in tow, Sayaka’s journey takes a fascinating turn as she discovers a fresh layer to her identity.

“I am watching myself turn from being a carefree girl into a superwoman. I am currently a working and single mom. It is difficult and tiring to cope with work and responsibilities to my daughter. Despite all those difficulties, being a mother is a blessing. The relief and happiness I receive while watching her from a tiny human being with a personality, her special smiles and movements are worth everything,” she said.

Sayaka cherishes the unparalleled privilege of being Aaila’s mom above all else. One of the greatest joys in her journey of motherhood is witnessing her daughter’s growth. From those first wobbly steps to the infectious giggles, from the nonsensical babbling to the heart-melting smiles, each moment fills Sayaka’s heart with boundless joy and gratitude.

“I have many hopes for her in the future. I hope that she always feels supported and safe, whoever she chooses to be with. I hope she loves herself and is comfortable and confident in her own skin. I hope she is stubborn enough to pursue her dreams and, most of all, I hope she knows that I will always be her greatest fan and will always be there for her every step of the way,” she shared.

Aizel Caldino

For most moms-to-be, those two pink lines on a pregnancy test trigger a mix of jumping-for-joy smiles and tears, but for some, it’s fear that kicks in. “My first taste of motherhood has not been blissful,” Aizel recalled. It was a moment of breathlessness, a heavy weight on her shoulders, as panic and fear gripped her while still a third-year college student on the cusp of graduation.

“Telling my parents was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do at that time. The disappointment and sadness in their eyes cut me to the core, and I felt like I had let them down in the worst possible way. I looked for a job before telling them so that they would not have to worry on the financial side. I was a full-time student and full-time employee at the same time, so I wasn’t able to fully prepare myself emotionally,” she said.

In moments when the scars of the past feel tender and raw, Aizel recalled that she found her strength in bouncing back and the amazing support of her friends who had her back. Being Aziel’s mom proved to be her saving grace in the end. Aizel has come to realize that looking after her two-year-old is a journey worth embracing.

“My favorite thing about my son is that he gives me comfort. He always makes me laugh. He’s clingy. He always tries to communicate as if he’s already a grown-up. Someone said that she ‘prayed for a man who would always love her and so she was given a son.’ I felt that. My son saved me so many times without even knowing it. It may not have been blissful in the beginning, but life knew what I needed before I even did,” she shared.

Hannah Jed Tabiolo

Life begins once more when you become a mother and this is especially true for Hannah. She’s not usually one to wear her heart on her sleeve, but with little Bjorn snuggled up beside her every night, those “I love you’s” just slip out effortlessly.

“The most surprising thing for me about motherhood would be realizing how effortlessly I can express my love to my child through simple gestures like saying ‘I love you’ or giving hugs and kisses every night and morning,” she said.

Even with the double duty of being a civil engineer and a dedicated mom, Hannah counts herself lucky to have been there for every one of Bjorn’s milestones from day one. Nothing compares to the joy of watching her little one grow into an expressive child who knows his own mind, likes and dislikes.

“Recently, my son learned how to hold a pen and draw. Later, he proudly presented his artwork to me, pointing to one stick figure as ‘mommy’ and another as himself. While it may seem like a small moment, knowing that it was one of his first artworks and I am already included in it fills my heart with warmth. It just shows how I’m already a cherished part of his childhood memories,” she said.

Ronna Tan

“Being a young mom in today’s generation can be both rewarding and challenging,” reflected Ronna, who found herself pregnant at 22. Despite initial fears, she discovered that carrying baby Thaliah in her womb gave love a whole new dimension.

Determined to make a smooth transition into parenthood, she took proactive steps, trading her checklists for diapers, baby soaps and feeding supplies. Through this journey, Ronna matured and transformed, embracing the responsibilities of motherhood with grace and courage.

“Prior to the baby’s arrival, I researched a lot to ensure what I was doing was right or wrong, I followed influencers and researched even more for trusted health care. I remember it was my Lola who is always willing to help me and be with me all throughout especially emotionally. It was my Lola and my partner who would make sacrifices to take care of my baby late at night when Thaliah would cry, I remember how tough my struggles were during the first month,” shared Ronna.

Family support fueled her confidence as a new mom, shifting her priorities and values. With their encouragement, she found the confidence to embrace her new role and undergo profound self-reflection. The sheer joy of hearing her one-year-old’s laughter and sharing snuggly cuddles became priceless treasures, filling her days with warmth and happiness. These moments, so pure and unforgettable, were the secret ingredients that made the challenges of motherhood feel like a breeze.

“As a first time mom, I realized I found a newfound strength, resilience and patience that I never knew I had in me before. We all know mothers can do anything and one of my favorite things about motherhood is the unconditional love and joy that a baby could bring. Watching my baby grow and discover the world around them can be incredibly rewarding,” she said.

Chelsey Astudillo

“It felt like there was a mystery box waiting for me before I woke up,” Chelsey shared, adding a playful spin to the unpredictable ride of motherhood. Chelsey took a moment to ponder how her little one has turned into her ultimate guru, revealing nuggets of wisdom about love, patience, resilience and just pure wonder with every passing day. It’s true when they say that the moment a child is born, the mother is also born.

“Veronica just turned one, and there are instances that I get overwhelmed with everything — and she knows when I’m sad, when I’m down and crying. She always tries to lift my mood up by making silly faces, giving me kisses or by simply hugging me. Now, I get it. I get how powerful a simple hug could do,” she said.

The best jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your child. As a hands-on mom balancing work, a small business and motherhood without a nanny, Chelsey finds immense reward in witnessing her daughter’s milestones. Each small win is a reminder of the opportunity to be the best version of herself for her family.

“Motherhood is a wild and crazy journey. It will never be the same as before. The moment I gave birth to Veronica, it’s a happy and sad moment for me. I was grieving to my old self but rejoicing with my transformation, too. I gave birth to a new self. This time — the best one.”

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