TALK TUESDAY: Our Pocket Maternity Shoott

A little side note about this post:  had to update it a bit from when I initially wrote it.  But my opinion stays the same.  Man, talk about catching up huh?

One of the things that I wanted to have is a maternity shoot.  My sisters had it when they first had their babies in the Philippines, so that was something I’ve always had an eye out for.  What I didn’t account for is the price difference between the Philippines and the US.  For one, at Php5,000 (US$95) I can already get a decent shoot in a studio for a good two hours with an in-house makeup artist.  Here, I would need a budget of at least US$500 for the artist’s fee, studio time and some digital copies with print releases.  I will have to do my own hair and makeup if I want to save up a bit.

That was a cost I wasn’t prepared for, but that photoshoot was something I had looked forward to since we found out we’re expecting.  I couldn’t just let go of the idea, as vain as it sounds.  My relief came when I found out about Shoott.

Shoott gives you access to experienced photographers in the Metro NYC area to shoot for 30 minutes free at a preset location.  You only pay for the photos you like, ranging from $15 a photo to a full gallery of 40+ photos at just $220.  They don’t just do maternity shoots; they also shoot families, children, and lifestyle.  You can also pick out the photos that you want for your curate feed and with a minimal fee, you can request for a bit more editing to your photos.

We scheduled our Shoott at Hamilton Park in Jersey City a week before our baby shower.  (For a list of other venues and locations, click here.)  I wanted to have the same outfit that we were going to wear to our shower and with fall right around the corner, reds and khakis were our go to.  Our photographer Kym met up with us at the gazebo and started to work right away.

The good thing about having Kym is that she’s shot so many times at Hamilton Park already.  She knows where to go, the pockets of that little oasis that would frame a good shot, so even if it was a pretty packed weekend, we were able to find those little sections of the park all to ourselves.  We even got to shoot on the street.

Definitely, 30 minutes just flew by.  Kym was very personable and warm; the Husband who’s naturally reserved came out of his shell.  I don’t really know how he does that!  He’s so reserved when I’m trying to take a selfie with him, but bring a professional photographer with you and his inner model comes out.  Hahaha.

Anyway, here’s a little snippet of that day.  We received the photos 3 days after shoot day, with a little editing here and there.  I would also like to give a quick shoutout to one of my favorite makeup YouTubers Robert Welsh (YouTube, Facebook).  His tips helped me get myself ready for this shoot.

I do wish I got the extra editing so that those back bulges would be far smoother, but hey, what kind of a pregnant woman would I be if it’s all smooth sailing?

Worried about COVID-19 exposure during your shoot?  Shoott has you covered.  They have the following policies in place:

    • They will only do outdoor shoots, where you can interact with family members you’ve already been quarantining with.
    • They will only send you healthy photographers, who have been following safer-at-home guidelines.
    • That 6 feet apart thing?  Hardcore implemented.
    • And they will mask up.  As will you of course.  Well, before and after the shoot.
    • If your locality changes laws that will make you cancel, they will waive all cancellation charges.

To learn more about their COVID-19 response, click here.

Oh, and if you use this link, you will get 10% off your entire purchase.  To be completely transparent, each completed session through this link gives me a little incentive (at no additional cost to you), but no pressure!  Just didn’t want to let you pass up an opportunity for a little savings.

So… am I looking forward to another Shoott?  Of course.  Hopefully, the weather becomes more bearable and we can take our Little One out.  It pains me that we can’t travel yet, but I could sure use some photos of him outdoors.

Have you tried Shoott?  How was your experience?  Let me know in the comments!

TALK TUESDAY: The sun and stars

One of the things that I regret is not blogging more often.  The year 2019 started rough for the Husband and I, that is without a doubt.  There has been a quiet struggle and frankly speaking, not having it publicized — even to closest friends and family — made the struggle somewhat small, even though the weight of it never diminished.

Let me start with this:  I have changed.  Before I married my husband, one of the things that I have made clear to him is the fact that I do not intend to be a mother.  My motivation is to live with my life partner, that is him and that is all.  I never imagined motherhood to be in my journey, until 2017.

One of our cousin’s brothers passed away suddenly.  He was 33.  We attended the wake, it was one of the loneliest images I have in my head.  His widow, sitting vigil by his coffin.  And she’s alone.  The only thing that went through my head was she’s alone…. and I remember what Derek Shepherd said.

At first, we just put a stop to birth control.  When we reached 8 months of kind-of trying, I went to see the doctor where he recommended a specialist.  Apparently, at my age, which I consider to be a young 31, if it takes more than 6 months to naturally conceive, I need to be looked at.  So I went and had myself looked at.  I had a couple of blood draws, Husband got tested for sperm count and motility, I had an HSG test.  AMH, FSH, pelvic exam here and there, smears, it took about two months of testing just to evaluate where we stand.

And nothing was wrong.  Everything is where it was.  The specialist had us redo everything again to verify, except the HSG, and still nothing was wrong.  That was the most frustrating part.  If only there was a reason why it was taking so long… and then we hit the one year mark.

I started to pee in cups for ovulation tests, BBTs, I did it for so long, I can’t even remember when I last peed normally.  And still nothing.  At this point, we were closing in to a year and a half.

Our specialist recommended that we take another three months to try conceiving naturally before we explore other options — hormone therapy, IUI, IVF.  He gave us a deadline:  if we haven’t conceived by end of February, we are to make another appointment with him, but this time with a financial planner, so we can properly explore financing options for our needs.  He says he wanted to catch the peak of my egg quality so that if needed, harvesting them won’t be as difficult.  And I am about to turn 33.

It was devastating to make that appointment, knowing nothing is wrong with our bodies.  For some reason, we just couldn’t get in sync.  It just wouldn’t click.  That part was the most difficult to accept.  If you look at our love story, there’s every reason to believe that Husband and I are meant to be.  Yet here we are.  The sun and the stars have been looked up to and we still didn’t mix the parts right.

So I made the call.  March 26, with our specialist and the financial planner.  I looked at our bank statements and other credit options, weighed it all and found out we can dish out a good amount, just in case the insurance doesn’t cover even half of it all.  We looked ready.  I think we are ready.

Then March 16 came.  It was a surge of relief and joy and pure elation.  We kept the news to ourselves as long as possible, but we knew we had to slowly tell everyone.  While we weren’t able to record everyone’s reaction, the ones we did made our announcement all the more memorable.

So we did.  In person, through Facebook and Facetime, all the way to the Philippines, Japan and our surrounding neighborhoods.  It definitely made for a moment to remember.

—-HEADPHONES WARNING:  Because we recorded their reactions in different channels, volume levels vary.  Note to self:  use one camera for all videos next time.  —-

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Progress Report on the Tamborine Test

So this is a long overdue progress report.  I actually started writing this in June when life became so busy that I never got to post it.  So forgive me?  Hopefully, this whole writing thing will become more regular in the coming weeks.

—–

Here’s the breakdown of this challenge.  In hopes of driving a healthier flow of conversation between husband and wife, The Husband has agreed to eliminate some clutter in our communication tools and for a week, decided not to text or call during the day.  This includes no tagging on Facebook, commenting on Instagram or what not.  Just a notification that we’ve each arrived at work and left for the day.  That’s it.

And I have to be honest…. we lasted four days.  Hahahaha.  Halfway through, The Husband came up to me and said literally in my face, “I do not like this challenge because I miss you too much.”

Enter “awwwwww” sounds.

And while we didn’t really complete the challenge, I did notice some changes to our communication pattern.

  1. We don’t text as often anymore.  Before the challenge, it was a constant exchange.  While we both have very forgiving employers who have been very generous in how we exercise our liberties, I will be the first to admit:  it takes me away from work.  I’m sure the same goes for him.  With the non-texting, I’ve become more productive, less distracted, and more efficient in my workday.  It’s a refreshing freeing feeling.
  2. We reserve long conversations at home.  We learned to reserve the important conversations for home.  This is a very valuable lesson learned for me because it stops me from oversharing with my office mates.  I know that there will always be one or two people from the office that end up being part of your ride-or-die crew, but the silence helped me in keeping things to ourselves.
  3. We have better conversations.  It’s not just the “what did you have for lunch” questions.  It’s having a much better answer for the question “how was your day.”  Most of the time, because we talked so much and had very brief pauses,  our day looked like it had a sports announcer feature.  Almost to every breath, we reported what we did, so when we got home, it was merely a repetition of what we already know.  Now, it’s talking about the news we read in the morning, the conversation we had with our coworkers at lunch, providing input for operational efficiency in the office.  We are also getting more creative with our questions!  So yes, the conversations are much better in quality now.
  4. We find the time to just talk.  Not even while eating talk.  It’s simply sitting down (or lying in bed) to just talk.  No distractions, just us two.  When you imagine it, it does seem weird, like coming into an appointment with your spouse to speak.  But for us it also highlighted that there are talks that we need to focus on — finances, moving out plans, career mapping.   It’s insane how that sounds like a conversation you would have with a life coach, but it’s also refreshing because it reveals you don’t just have a spouse:  you have a life partner.

Fine, I do sound preachy and freaking annoying, but the forced offline modes definitely enhanced our conversations, especially in terms of quality.  Do I recommend this to couples and more?  Absolutely.  Does that mean I now shun texting and calling during the day?  Absolutely not.  I’m just saying we could all use a break from it from time to time.

What about you?  Are you interested in trying this out?

 

The Tamborine Test

So, have you seen Chris Rock’s special on Netflix, Tamborine?  It’s a pretty good one.  We had a glimpse of his return when we saw him with Dave Chappelle at Radio City last year.  I have to admit, seeing them perform live sent goosebumps up and down my spine.  It was pretty amazing.

Anyway, that’s not the topic of my story.

In the special, he mentioned something about being constantly connected to his then-spouse because of all this technology.  Compared to the time when his parents married, he claims that his marriage that lasted some 16 years is as long as his parents 40 something.  With all the access afforded to us by modern technology, couples went from having an 8-9 hour gap of no communication to almost an hourly reminder to connect.

He proves a good point.  The Husband and I text each other during the day that there have been instances when we meet at home, and there’s nothing new to talk about.  And of course there are some weird conversations that seemed normal at the time (then I watched this special), like me reminding him that I tagged him on something and he should “like” it.

That being said, I have convinced the Husband to take on a challenge with me:  to not text or call each other until we get home.  This includes no tagging in any social media platform, not even those “look I’m so cute right” snaps I send him from time to time (I can be pretty narcissistic).  However, given that I am a new driver, there are some exceptions.  I am supposed to text him twice:  (1) when I get to the office, and (2) when I am about to go home.  The same applies to him.  Unless it’s an emergency, he will only text me those two times in the day.  And we’ll see if there’s more to talk about at home.

What do we expect to get out of it?  Well, we’re thinking that we’d have more to talk about at home.  Maybe a little bit more freedom while we are in our own separate worlds?  I don’t know yet.  I’m more nervous than curious at the moment, even though technically this was my idea.  We relied so much on technology when we were apart that choosing to not use it now that we’re together sure feels a bit off.  In fact, I’ve had to convince The Husband to take on this challenge.  It took just 10 minutes of convincing, but still, it wasn’t a challenge that he’d willingly do.

That being said, I shall keep you updated of how this challenge goes.  Frankly speaking, I’m a bit nervous to do it.  Between him and I, I am definitely the clingier and needier one.  Oh well.  Let’s see how this goes.  Five days should breeze by fast enough.

 

PS:  Just in case you’re wondering why the word “tamborine” isn’t spelled with a “U.”

The Cleaners

Walking around downtown Summit, the Husband and I stopped by Edible Arrangements to pick up my mother-in-law’s birthday gift.  He saw that it was right next to a dry cleaner and inquired if they can stitch on patches.  The guy said yes.

Me:  *looks at store hours*  You can drop it off before you go to work.
Husband:  Oh yeah.

At home…

Husband:  *lays out gi and patch*  It should go nicely here, right below the stitching at the back.
Me:  I agree.  And they open at 7 too, so you can drop it off in the morning.
Husband:  Yeah, and pick it up on my way home.

This morning…

Me:  *sees gi on couch* Oh you’re attending jiu jitsu tonight?
Husband:  No, I’m having the patch stitched on today.
Me:  Okay.  Drop it off before you go to work, so you can pick it up at lunch or on your way home.
Husband:  Opo (Filipino for yes.)

When I get to the office…

Husband:  Aw man.  The dry cleaner is open at 7!
Me:  I TOLD YOU.
Husband:  I got here early too.  Got breakfast and got to the parking lot 15 minutes early.  I could have dropped it off.
Me:  I KNOW.  I TOLD YOU SO.

Oh my heart.

Face Palm