I used to hear some [pretty insensitive] comments when Nicollo and I got engaged about how it was A-OK that we chose to get married early because mayaman naman daw kami. But Nicollo and I will be the first to say OMG. NOT AT ALL. While I won't deny that we do come from privileged backgrounds and that we did have some help with our current living arrangement, we started married life with close to nothing (except, thankfully, from gifts we'd received from the wedding and with the little we'd saved from our jobs).
The struggle of independence
From not worrying about food to eat and bills to pay when we were single, we deliberately chose to dive head first into independence and shouldered everything on our own during marriage. Groceries, water and electricity bills, telephone and Internet bills, association dues, medical checkups, gas, repairs... we now pay for everything that has to do with our, well, life.
Cooking for two. May pa-posing pa si Tito!
And it's not easy. Especially since only Nicollo receives a regular monthly salary (we decided early on that I venture into entrepreneurship so I have a more flexible schedule for our family. My income, therefore, is so far, seasonal), there were times I thought, "My God, kakayanin ba namin this month?"
I even remember crying to my sister once, because I had close to nothing in my bank account. Business was dry, but bills had to be paid. Food had to be bought. Cash ran out, but nothing flowed in.
One more life to care for
Right in the thick of things, we found out we were pregnant! We rejoiced and thanked God for the beautiful blessing. We felt so lucky and so immensely loved to be chosen by God to be parents.
And while we rejoiced and shared our happiness with our families, the anxiety of that enormous financial burden knocked on our doors and quickly pulled us into the reality of it all. How would we sustain this life? How would we pay for the hospital bill when I give birth? Where would we send our child to school? How would we be able to afford it? What about diapers? Clothes? Those cute geometric playmats all the babies seem to have? A stroller? A carseat? Ahh, you can just imagine the stress of it all. Two independent yuppies, barely starting out in their careers, with a CHILD to now care for... pulling this off will require a miracle, right?
Miracle after miracle
Right in the middle of my anxieties, miracle after miracle unfolded before my eyes: for some strange reason, more and more clients came knocking at our door; Nicollo managed to sell a car on behalf of a relative, and earned a commission from it; the demand for vintage watches seemed to only grow, so Nicollo sold more watches than we'd anticipated (read about it here); and get this — my siblings and I were granted (after years of expressing intent!) a contract for a food stall in UA&P; and finally, Nicollo was offered a job which paid significantly more than his previous job. On top of that, Nicollo's new job provides commission for his sales, and when we computed, the commission he would earn (conservatively) would be enough to shoulder EXACTLY the amount we'd need for the hospital bill when our baby is born!
Trying out recipes for Sunny Rice (our food stall in UA&P) with Robbie
Our cutesy logo
Nicollo's vintage watches for sale
I refer to them as miracles because these occurrences in our life are impossibly mere coincidences. The timing of everything was too perfect to charge it to simply to chance. I truly believe there was (and still is) a Hand at work in our life.
Un bebé nace con un pan debajo del brazo
There is a famous Spanish expression that goes, "Un bebé nace con un pan debajo del brazo" which roughly translates to, "a baby is born with a loaf of bread under his arm." And this seemed to be exactly what was happening to our little family. And it wasn't just us: it seemed many more families have experienced this providence whenever a child was welcomed into the world.
I didn't have to look too far, too — my grandparents on BOTH sides are living testimonies of this. My paternal grandparents started their life with far less than Nicollo and me, but were abundantly blessed with each child, and grandchild that they welcomed. My maternal grandparents were able to send all TEN of their children to university on a single-income household. My parents were also able to raise seven kids (with my grandparents' help, of course), and saw material providence with every child that was born. I even heard of a man who got promoted every single time his wife got pregnant, no fail.
My big family. 4/7 done with University!
I hope I don't sound too preachy here, but I can't help but glorify God in all of this and say that He really doesn't abandon His promises. Of course, we always do what we humanly can and live our lives responsibly, but He really does provide; we just have to be much more sensitive to His work in our lives. And much more than material providence, it's the grace that He so sufficiently gives when He entrusts you with a mission: marriage, parenthood, vocation...
I once asked a newly pregnant friend some years ago if she was at all afraid of the task at hand, and she said she wasn't at all, because she believed God always provides the right amount of grace when He is asked.
Have more faith
In all of my doubts and anxieties through this pregnancy, I'm being called to have a little more faith in this journey. So many things can go wrong — complications in childbirth, family disagreements, financial issues, and even future anxieties... but despite everything that could go wrong, God has shown us that with the child comes not just 'a loaf of bread', but even more so an outpouring of love and blessings from every corner of the room! For instance, so many relatives and friends have offered to take care of our baby when we need help; so many have already started window shopping (and actually buying) onesies for baby. How blessed is this child to be so loved even before seeing the light of day!
As we carry on with this pregnancy, I'm sure my fear and anxiety won't wane, but now I'm filled with much more hope and excitement for what's to come. More than holding my child in my arms when the time draws near, I'm even more excited to encounter God in the little miracles of everyday. His material providence, yes, but even in the slightest of things: feeling my baby flutter in my womb, watching my belly grow every single day, sharing this immense joy with my family, and watching Nicollo transform as early as now into a father.
Life is such a miracle, is it not?