FEELS FRIDAY: My Pregnancy Gift to Myself

It has been a while since I last wrote on this page and, no this is not a declaration that I am pregnant again.  While I wish I had updated my blog in a more timely manner so that I have full documentation of my pregnancy journey, let’s just say my emotions were then incapable of balancing so much at the time.  Now that I’m looking back, I can confidently talk about my experience and hopefully, it helps the next reader or so.

This is not a topic that’s commonly talked about — at least not in my household.  But it’s something that I truly believe was the best gift I’ve ever given myself.  In fact, I would even consider it as a gift from The Husband; he did after all urge me to go get it.

My pregnancy gift to myself is… going back to therapy.

As a person with a history of depression, the years leading up to my pregnancy was pretty rough.  After all, I originally did not intend to get pregnant.  I was perfectly content living the rest of my life with The Husband.  But, being a witness to someone else’s mortality shook me up pretty well and my thinking shifted from NO KIDS FO LIFE to OMG I WANT AN EXACT COPY OF THE BEST PERSON I KNOW AKA THE HUSBAND.

(Side bar:  I know my kid will be his own person.  I’m not really trying to recreate my spouse.  This is for those who think that I am trying to duplicate my spouse.  I made a choice to be a parent because I want to be a parent.  If my kid turns out to be like his dad, that’s just a bonus, not a goal.  Mmmmkay?)

Then of course, there’s the struggle of conceiving.  I had thought that the moment I got off the pill, I would be pregnant in a smack.  Big fat nope.  A year after being off the pill, I went to my OB who then referred me to a specialist because it was “better to see the complete picture of what we’re working with.”  Tests upon tests and six months later, we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility.

Let me dwell on that for a second.  WTF RIGHT?!  I mean, what in seven hells is that?  After all that difficulty, they’re telling us that technically there’s nothing wrong and that conceptually we should be conceiving naturally, but eh, sorry?  For a moment, I wished so hard for something to be wrong.  That way, I would know that there’s something to be fixed, to be remedied.  But nope, unexplained infertility it is.

And just when we have come to terms with our options — hormone therapy, IUI, IVF, surrogacy and adoption (and yes, in that order) — the strip gave me two lines.  Flashing before my eyes is the stick screaming PREGNANT.

To go from not wanting to have kids, to wanting to have one, to not being able to have one, to not being able to explain why we can’t make one, to accepting that we are seeking extraordinary means to conceive, to actually conceiving in a span of 18 months????  Let’s just say it was mentally and emotionally exhausting.  While my depression was at an all-time high (yes, even higher than the time when my father died) upon hearing the unexplained infertility news, the pregnancy news kicked another condition in high gear:  anxiety.

My sisters will definitely tell you that I probably read everything that you can read about getting pregnant and being pregnant, and in therapy, I have learned that too much knowledge is not power.  LOL.  In my head, I was so prepared.  But each morning I woke up pregnant, all I had in my mind were the negative probabilities:  miscarriage, genetic illnesses, still birth.  It was getting out of control.  In fact, it was so out of hand that while driving to work, I would need to pull over because I kept visualizing that I would crash into the car in front of me and my child would be squashed under the steering wheel.

I never saw myself as someone pessimistic, until I realized that my mind had only retained all the worst case scenarios of my pregnancy and very little of the best case.

Therapy was a relief, a gift that just keeps on giving.  I learned various types of coping mechanisms and I found myself rekindling my love for journaling.  Because of therapy, I was able to manage my anxieties, get my controlling nature under control (LOL OMG), and find the silver lining in every Final Destination-like scenario in my head. I went at least twice a month, and in some months, thrice.  It was enough for me to feel more prepared and more relaxed as my pregnancy progressed.

Whenever I would speak to The Husband about my pregnancy journey, he would always say that it took me a while to be truly and wholly happy.  On the outside, I looked glowing and excited, but he knew my worries, my concerns.  He knew the nights when I would just stay up and check if the baby is moving.  He knew how bad it got that he bought a doppler that we can use at home, so each time I feel any tinge of worry, I can just go ahead and listen to our baby’s heartbeat.

He encouraged me to go through with therapy, and in fact, was the one who brought it up.  And I am so grateful that he did.  Therapy not only helped strengthen my resolve; it also helped The Husband feel that we have a solid support team in this absolutely insane journey.  I wasn’t passing on my anxieties to him, I wasn’t making family uncomfortable by being so negative and worrisome, and well, honestly, I slept better at night.  And I needed that doppler less and less.

I do want to put out a disclaimer though.  Going to therapy early on in the pregnancy does not guarantee that you’ll escape the horror that is post-partum depression.  That, my dear friends, is a topic for another time.

What about you?  What was the best non-material gift you gave yourself when you found out you were pregnant?

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.

TALK TUESDAY: Machiko Skye

It’s not the first time for Machiko to be featured on this blog.  I think she’s been here for the most part, and that girl has been my source of joy in my darkest of times.  Honestly, the day her momma Marga and I found out she was coming was the day we knew we were adults.

Max and Marga, way back then

Max, as we call her, is one of those kids that are just smart.  It was a conscious effort to raise her without too much dependence on technology, so it won’t be a surprise if her first memory is reading a book.  Her life is filled with building blocks, Dr. Seuss, postcards and stamps, arts and crafts, and thankfully, she hasn’t gotten tired of it yet.

My most vivid memory of Max was when Marga left the laptop in their room.  The tablet was also there, and my phone just sitting idly by.  I think she was just four years old then.  Her screen time is never that much (until recently), so you would think being deprived of something would make her a little too enthusiastic once she sees a bounty of options at her disposal.

But that’s not Max.  She walked past the screens, grabbed a book from the shelf under the table, and sat beside the laptop as she turned the pages of her read.  Her brow furrowed, her lips pursed, she looked like an adult carefully digesting every word to All The Places You Can Go.

Some people have said that Max might be missing out on a lot of things because of the limited interaction with technology.  Maybe, but she never appeared to be.  I think it’s because she’s never had it, that’s why in her head, there’s no use missing it.  Marga has started increasing her technological consumption when she started in big school.  When kids start big school, they immediately grow faster.  In my opinion of course.

We still exchange letters and postcards.  She even challenges me to find newer stamps to use.  Her handwriting has improved a lot, and now, her letters sound more like journal entries.  Max, I think, was born with an old soul, a soul so seasoned that her song for our wedding was the Beatles’ Here, There, Everywhere.  A soul that refuses to accept my name change just because I’m married.  A soul that still gets excited over phone calls.  A soul that matches mine.

And Marga knows it too.

Four years today

It’s been four years today, and it still feels like first.  Migrating to a completely new place is not enough to keep me from remembering that on this day, four years ago, at 5 in the morning, my father passed without me by his side.

Four years ago, my brothers experienced the worst kind of sorrow and the highest level of despair, and I was not present to comfort them.

Four years ago, my mother had to witness the love of her life be torn away from her, quite instantaneously, without my arms around her.

Four years ago, I failed my family because I was too self-indulgent to be home for the weekend.

Four years ago.  Feels like first.

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Owesome Bali! (Part 1: Getting Here, There, and Everywhere)

This is quite a delayed post but really, it is worth writing about because I don’t think we’ve ever had an event where each moment in itself is memorable.

We booked our flights to Bali, Indonesia at last year’s Cebu Pacific seat sale. At roughly PHP 24,000 (USD 530 at PHP45:USD1), Marga, Ate Ja, Aidel and I jetted off to Bali for five days and four nights last August 4-8.

Oh wait. We didn’t all get to go. Hahaha.

First hurdle: Aidel’s passport was less than six (6) months valid.

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As my new sister-in-law, the fact that Aidel didn’t get to fly with us is quite stressful. Not only did we plan this trip for the four of us, but among us, she was the most excited. It was such a pain when, after paying our travel taxes, I saw her still talking to the check in counter lady. Apparently, they won’t let her fly because of her passport validity.

Important note to traveler: read the fine print. The Cebu Pacific staff was very kind in explaining how the airline will be fined (and herself, in turn) should Aidel be given an airport-to-airport transfer. Your passport must at least be valid for six months at the time of travel. It should have been elementary for us to check the terms, but eh. We were too psyched for the entire trip to even notice.

Long story short, after a day-long hurdle shuttling back and forth to various DFA offices, she was able to have her passport stamped for a year-long extension just in time to catch the next flight out to Bali that same evening. We are lucky like that.

So, Marga, Ate Ja and I landed in beautiful Bali and already we’re quite blown away by the state of its international airport. Located in the city of Denpasar, Ngurah Rai International Airport is just brimming with Indonesian culture. It was soooo clean too! I swear, we could almost see our faces on the floor and the walls. At the exit gate, we were greeted by a huge stone deity.


It made us, once again, almost infuriated that our own airport is in a state of disarray. Why can’t the powers that be just move everything and anything to have a welcome platform as representative of our culture much like this? Seriously. As an ASEAN neighbor, we truly pale in comparison to Indonesia. And I’m just speaking of Indonesia alone.

Anyway, we headed for the pickup zone where our driver, Made Dodi, is waiting for us. After changing our dollars to rupiah, Dodi immediately assisted us and handled our luggage with ease.


While buses and taxis are available on the island, we have all decided for this trip to be a budget-relaxation-leisure trip. Transportation was the last thing we wanted to worry about so we’ve decided to hire a private driver instead. It was worth every penny spent.

Dodi is the highlight of this trip. After perusing Trip Advisor for months, I emailed him a couple of days before our arrival and bam! He replies within minutes, asking for our flight details and basically arranging our airport pickup time. He was prompt, punctual and absolutely the best of Bali. Nothing else would come close.

The thing with Dodi is, he makes sure your time is well spent. On our first day, we were still getting over the shock of not having Aidel with us, so Dodi just took us to a quick tour of the Nusa Dua beaches. He then took us to lunch and then to the hotel for check in. He must have sensed our stunned silence because he just proceeded to book us a table at Jinbaran Bay, overlooking the sunset, for our seafood dinner marking our first day on the island.

Dodi is filled with stories and tips. Each tourist spot is quite far from each other, so he makes sure each area trip is maximized. His English is very good; I think he learned from his tourists too, because he uses a lot of jargons already. He is kind and very sweet. When we craved for dessert (because Balinese cuisine doesn’t really involve sugary treats), he surprised us with jackfruit fritters. The sweetest thing really! We were just completely blown away.

One thing that we will never forget was when, during our Thursday tour, Marga asked if Dodi loves driving. Apparently, he has been touring guests for the last 15 years. To that question, he swiftly replied: “I love my job. Everything about my job. I love my job.” So it is not a sales tactic. His driving is not a means to an end. He truly enjoys what he does. You will never get the short end of the stick with Dodi. He loves Bali and he loves his job. It’s the perfect combination really.

To know more about Dodi’s tours, visit his website at www.madedodi.com. Bali will not be complete without Dodi.

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I know this post is amazingly late, given that our trip was at the beginning of August.  But please do stay tuned.  I have more to tell you about this beautiful Bali trip.