Last year, Kristeen Yasue gave birth to her third child, a baby girl born early at 24 weeks - weighing only 1 pound, 4 ounces. Fragile and tiny, baby Jessica remained at the hospital for an agonizing 122 days.
Although consumed by worries for Jessica - who was in a neonatal intensive care unit - Yasue did her best to keep her family life intact. She spent her days at home taking care of her two sons, then she headed to the hospital to spend hours with her newborn daughter, said her friend Cheryl-lynn Funk, who nominated her.
"She has finally brought little Jessica home," Funk said. "Her days are now filled with diapers, bottles, kissing boo-boos and school activities. But when I speak to her at the end of the day, she never seems frazzled or frustrated. She knows that all three of her children are God's gifts to her, so she accepts his gifts with much appreciation."
Community where you live: Hawaii Kai
Family stats: Married for 12 years with three children - Brandon, 7, Justin, 2, and Jessica, who was born premature at 24 weeks and who's "adjusted age" (age as corrected for the weeks of prematurity) is 2 months.
Where did you grow up? Merced, California.
Occupation: Flight attendant for Aloha Airlines for 19 years. I'm taking time off to care for our baby with the help of my fellow flight attendants, who generously donated their vacation days.
What's the greatest thing about being a mom? After struggling with infertility for many years, I was amazed that we were actually able to have three children. I feel so blessed to have them that my heart swells with love and pride. I love their hugs, kisses, and when they say, "I love you, Mommy." I love when they're sleeping and they look like angels. I love their sense of wonder for simple things such as bugs or elevators. I love the way they light up after learning something new. There are so many great things about being a mom.
What's the most stressful thing about motherhood? The most stressful thing about being a mom is juggling everything there is to do.There are never enough hours in a day.
What's on your iPod or in your CD collection? I do not own an iPod, but we have been listening to "The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas" and "Hawaiian Style Christmas." Another favorite while driving is "Ralph's World."
What was the last book you read? The last book I read was "The Preemie Parents' Companion" by Susan L. Madden. My daughter was born at 24 weeks. She was 1 pound, 4 ounces. I spent a lot of time reading about what to expect.
When you have a chance to relax, what do you do? I love to scrapbook, spend time with friends, do a little shopping and maybe get a pedicure.
What's your vision of an ideal vacation? The ideal vacation would involve my husband not working, all of us together enjoying ourselves with no credit card debit at the end.
Which famous person would you most like to have lunch with and why? I can't think of anyone famous I would like to lunch with, but it would be nice to have lunch with my brother, Bob, and my niece, Jordan, who live on the East Coast. I haven't seen them in a few years.
Do you have any mom role models? My friend, Cheryl-lynn, is a great role model and so is my neighbor, Roberta. Cheryl-lynn manages to work full time, jog every morning, attend school online and raise three children. Roberta is a full-time mom who spends lots of quality time with her children. Both moms have many wonderful qualities. My boys love them both.
What life lessons do you hope to teach your children? I hope my children grow to be happy, healthy, honest, compassionate people. I hope they have a strong sense of self and are happy with whatever they choose to do. I also want them to love each other and care for others as well.
What advice would you give to a new mom? Enjoy every little phase. It all goes by so very fast. Take lots of pictures. Get the pictures in books as you go. Don't sweat the small stuff. Relax and enjoy. Most of all, just love and be loved.