So in the last few posts, I’ve talked about how I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and the tools I have used to cope with it. Today, I want to share my birth story, mainly because it was so different from how I imagined it, thanks to my diagnosis.

If I hadn’t mentioned it before, one of the things that we had to do after I was put on insulin was to have weekly ultrasounds. The extra insulin in my body, even though it won’t be absorbed by the placenta, can speed up the growth of my baby. These ultrasounds measure how big my baby is, and if s/he does get too big, I would have to be induced.

Each ultrasound is breathtaking, even though after the second week it was more like routine. The question just hangs over my head: is our baby okay? And then on the fifth ultrasound, something came up. I’m almost out of fluid.

After confirming with my wonderful OB, we went straight to the hospital from the lab, where I was welcomed by the sweetest staff. Because I am to be induced, every single nurse was basically saying LOAD UP ON FOOD, EAT, but I was hesitant because I knew that pushing a kid out activates the same muscles as you would when you poop. Then one of them said it: inductions can last up to 48 hours. That’s 48 hours of no solid food.

I ate so much. I had a couple of sandwiches, a salad bowl, fruits plate, etc. By the time they started me on pitocin, I was ready. At least my mind was.

The resident popped my bag of waters, in hopes of triggering contractions, but the baby was comfy and was staying put. The nurses got to work and started my lines. One arm has two: pitocin and hydration. The other arm, two lines too: insulin and antibiotic. Soon, I had my epidural put in; they had to redo it coz I was still left with some feeling on my right leg. Then my catheter went in, and because baby was comfy, another catheter to my uterus was put in to supplement the lost fluid. I sincerely felt like I was in one of those pods from The Matrix.

The Matrix: Welcome to the Machine - The American Society of  Cinematographers
Scene from The Matrix/Source

Contractions didn’t start till 10pm, and it was pain. Pain was just everywhere, even with the epidural. After a couple of hours, we called in the anesthesiologist for an extra boost, so it wasn’t until midnight did I feel true relief. Hours passed, and soon enough, I started shaking all over. Think full body twerk kind of shake. Apparently it’s a side effect of the epidural. By 2:30 AM, I felt it: I was ready to push.

And push I did. My entire team was encouraging and supportive. I could not have asked for a better team to be with me at this time: my husband, my sister, my doctors, my nurses, all of them were stellar.

Then all of a sudden, after the crowning, the contractions completely stopped. We waited five minutes… then it became ten. I noticed that more people came in, and my doctor explained that because it’s been a while, she called in the NICU team along with the neonatologist. Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared. Seeing the entire team of say 12 people comforted me (even though each one of them is in full view of my vagina).

My sister and my nurses started massaging my ankles, because my OB suggested that accupressure has shown effects of inducing contractions. When she said nipple stimulation works best, I must have whipped out my tits so fast and my husband went to work. I remember my OB just being impressed with the lengths I am willing to expose myself just to get my baby out.

Soon enough, I felt another contraction, and I felt the baby come out. “It’s a boy!” my sister screamed. My husband’s resounding “YES!” followed soon after, and then two seconds of nothing from my doctors and nurses. They didn’t hold him up, they took him straight to be weighed and cleaned. Five seconds later, I heard him cry. Then the relief came. And then the joy.

Our First Family Photo, Aiden Lucas, 10 seconds old

I am still in disbelief that an entire year has passed since that day. There is more to my motherhood journey that I would like to share, all in due time. With a pandemic at the backdrop of civil unrest, a tumultuous election year, environmental challenges, and a sudden surge for internal dialogue, this year flew way too fast for my liking. I wish I can go back to last year and relive this day, no matter how difficult, so I can relive his entire year all over again.

Momma and Aiden

Hold your babies tight and often because they’re never small for that long. Don’t believe what they say, that doing so will spoil them early on. There’s no such thing. Carry them as much as they want, as long as you can, as long as they’ll let you. They’re only this small just this once. I’m glad my body is as tired as it is; I take it as a sign that I have carried him — and will continue to — as much as I can while he still lets me.

Happy first birthday, Aiden. I wrote this blog for your birthday. When you’re old enough, I’ll wake you at the time you were born so we can read this together. And we’ll do this every year, as long as you let me.


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.