Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Goodbye, ALDUB

It's no secret that I'm a fan of this phenomenal loveteam that broke records and gave birth to their fan base called ALDUB Nation. I shipped them so hard that together with a group of friends, we came up with the Aldub Nation Fest which we organized two years in a row. However, all it had to take was a tweeted open letter to break our collective hearts.

Shipping an LT means loving them both equally. And I did. And I still do, which makes me really sad knowing that both of them are hurting over this fiasco. Not only them but the fans as well--including me.

It has been a horribly busy weekend so I was somewhat distracted for me to comprehend the full meaning of that post. My friends have gone through the five stages of grief and as for me, I finally admitted to myself that ALDUB is no more.

I don't want to think that the past two years were a waste. ALDUB helped me get through a tough time and I will forever be thankful for that. I choose to remember how it was back then when everyone was so happy. It's just really sad that it had to come to this.

Some say that there could still be a loveteam but it just hurts knowing that what you're seeing is just play acting. The allure of ALDUB was you were always kept guessing about their status and being the hopeless romantic I am, I would want to think that there was a time that they were indeed a pair. Knowing now that they're just only "friends" puts a damper on things.

I honestly don't know how they can move forward from this. Their respective PR teams are frustratingly silent which lead me to believe that maybe, they would want this to end as well.

So thank you, Alden and Maine. You don't know how much you both helped me get through one of the toughest moments in my life. I met so many friends because of you and made me realize that I can do so many things which I thought I could not. You made me happy and I hope, someday, that both of you will be happy too. I still silently hope and pray that in the future, you'll both end up together but it is what it is.

God bless and I hope someday our roads will cross again. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Join the Dance


In one of my previous jobs, I had 14 bosses in a span of 10 years. I quickly learned how to adapt and to be resilient as each boss has a different personality and goal. I experienced doing one project only to be dropped when the new boss came along.

But I left that company 8 years ago and in a span of 8 years, I only had 3 bosses which is quite stable. Sad to say, I've grown complacent because of it. However, at the start of this year, I  had a new boss and he was the type of person who works fast and expects the same from me. And so I did. I felt harassed but so productive. I had a person micromanaging me which I don't mind as it is what I'm used to in my previous jobs.We managed to launch 2 projects and several more in the pipeline. He managed to push one project which I've been harping on for the past 4 years and I'm truly grateful.

Yesterday, he surprised us by announcing his resignation. Actually, I've learned about it in the grapevine (I work in a small industry) but kept quiet about it as I was praying that it's not true. I actually shed several tears during his announcement as I will honest-to-goodness miss him. He was our father figure and he fought some of our battles for us.

In the 7 months (4 months for me as I was on maternity leave for three months) that he was with our division, he implemented so many changes for the betterment of our people and introduced so many process saves. I learned so much from him in those short 4 months and I truly wish it was longer.

I wish that whoever will take over will have the same drive and passion as he had. One who will inspire me to do my job the best way that I can.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I returned to work last Monday which marked the end of my maternity leave. It was how I expected it to be. I was so sleepy and tired as my body was adjusting to the lack of sleep. I also drove that day so I had to leave extra early being the first day of the week.

Other than that, I still have not figured out my schedule as I had to fit in my pumping around my meetings. I know I should pump every 2 hours but I end up expressing milk every 4 hours instead.

Moreover, I need to wrap my head around the changes in our department's process as well as other changes that happened in the past 3 months that I was away.

But what I really missed most was my son. I missed breastfeeding him any time during the day and have to make do having him latch in the morning when we wake up and when I get home at night.

The woes of the working mom.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Destined To Be Yours?



Yes, the question mark was intentional. Though I know this will have a happy ending, the way the story is going makes me question that belief.

I'm not a regular viewer of teleseryes. Come to think of it, I cannot recall when I was so hooked into a local drama series--one that I would watch regularly. I also do not watch Korea novelas which seems to be the in thing nowadays. I did not even go through the Meteor Garden phase which most of my contemporaries seem to love.

However, I made an exception to this teleserye of Alden and Maine, Destined To Be Yours, for the fact that I'm an avid fan of the two. Ever since ALDub was born, we have always longed for a teleserye for them on top of a movie. So when reports came out that they will be doing one, we were all overjoyed.

The series actually started end of February and the premise was promising. Maine played Sinag, a country lass from a fictional artistic town called Pelangi. Alden played Benjie, an architect whose family wants to build a resort in the hometown of Sinag.


The first weeks were entertaining enough and I was looking forward for the two protagonists to meet. And when they did, you could hear the ALDub Nation collectively sigh and swoon. And then things went downhill. The plot became convoluted and the storyline deviated from the premise. Moreover, they introduced a third party to drive the story which was somewhat formulaic of teleseryes. As fans tend to be overprotective of their love team, everyone was up in arms.

I really don't know how to feel about this. Some were really furious as they felt that the teleserye was not well written and was a wasted effort of Alden and Maine. In my case, I take this with a grain of salt. Maybe because I knew teleseryes would tend to be cut-and-dried so I did not really have high expectations on this project.

Putting aside the story, the supporting cast was really good. I'm really hating the antagonists, which is the right emotion to be invoked. Yes, there are so many of them! Maybe they're there to drive the point that even if there are people holding the main characters from each other, destiny will find a way for the two of them to be together. (Why do I want to throw up after typing that?). Ina Feleo's Catalina is the best of them, in my opinion, because I could understand what drives her character. But the others? I can only just scratch my head and wonder if the role was meant to confuse the viewer.

Another stand-out is Janice de Belen's character, Sally, the mother of Sinag. She literally stands out because of our bright pink hair. I felt that her role was consistently written and I could depend on her to react the right way. Of course, being Janice de Belen (I remember seeing her act during her Flordeluna days), her acting was smooth and just right. I really saw her as the doting mother and supportive wife and she played it to the T.

Lotlot de Leon, who played Benjie's mother, was also a revelation as I never saw her act in dramas before. During the early episodes, I could sympathize with her and her crying also brought tears to my eyes. But lately, her actions have been confusing me. Not consistent on how she was built up.

But my favorite characters (other than Benjie and Sinag) are Jason, the bestfriend of Benjie played by Dominic Roco and Ninay, the bestfriend of Sinag played by Sheena Halili. Amusingly, they are the ones whose actions seem logical and apt for their roles and the story. You want to cheer them on as they help their respective bestfriends.


Regardless of the irregularities and the irritating plot, I enjoyed the show because I get to see my beloved couple on a daily basis. They are my happy pill and seeing them do scenes with each other (whether they are heartbreaking scenes or kilig scenes), are enough for me. I take refuge in the fact that they bonded while shooting and that Maine has greatly improved in her acting. This was a good vehicle for her to develop her talent and skill.

There are news that they will have a movie after this and I can't wait for that. Imagine You and Me, their first movie, was well done (kudos Direk Mike!). With Maine's newly honed acting prowess, I can't wait to see what she can do with Alden.

ps.
I usually live tweet my reactions while I watch. Do follow me at twitter @sunshi_fairy

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My SSS Experience

Being on the last leg of my maternity leave, I've been spending the remaining days going to various government offices to fix or file whatever needs to be done. Things that I would not have done any regular day unless I have no other choice.

I've been married for 10 years and though I have changed my name, I never did request for a change in plastic specifically for my SSS as I do not relish going to their office to have this done. Since I have nothing better to do, might as well request for the change in ID.

I first tried going to the SSS branch at SM Aura as being out of the way, I thought the line and the office won't be too cramped. When I went there a couple of weeks ago after having lunch with an officemate, I did a double take when I saw the room. People were sitting at the corridors and the room was so full! You could literally smell the sweat of the person beside you. I asked which number they were servicing and there were 200 people in front of me. I just shook my head and went home.

Good thing there's an SSS office near my house. So after having my car registered this morning, I parked my car at Alabang Town Center and rode a jeepney going to the Alabang-Zapote SSS branch. It's near Acacia Avenue with a Mini Stop, Yellow Cab and Mercury Drug at the ground floor. I could actually park there but the traffic was bad and I don't like leaving the car out under the sun (I don't like getting into a hot car).

Preparing myself for the worst, I climbed up to the second floor expecting to see long lines and a hot room. I was surprised when I entered the establishment to find the aircon actually works and the lines were not that long. Moreover, you could actually talk to someone from their information counter and they have a place where you can fill up forms. It was not cramped at all!

After detailing my request, I was given several forms and instruction to go to the nearby bank to pay the fee. I shrugged as the nearest BDO branch she mentioned was a few meters away. So I went back downstairs and walked to BDO. Entering the branch, I was surprised at the amount of people in the office. I asked assistance from the guard and he said that they are out of the Special Bank Receipt which they use for the SSS payment transactions.

Refusing to be defeated, I asked for alternatives. He pointed me to somewhere to the left and told me to inquire there. Unfortunately, the person who he directed me to was with a customer and there was a line. I waited for around 10 minutes hoping that someone would notice me but seeing that no one would be helping me soon, I excused myself and asked about my transaction. Thankfully, the teller directed me to the PSBank beside their branch.

So I stepped out again under the hot sun and walked to PSBank. Even before I entered the branch, I asked the guard and he said they're also out of forms. He then told me to go to Metrobank which was further away.

By then, my long patience was already wearing thin but I refused to give up. When I got to Metrobank, they fortunately have that special receipt. And what do you know, the lines were not that long! My only complaint was their aircon was too cold that for a person coming out from the sun, my asthma decided to act up.

That done, I heaved a sigh of relief and returned to the SSS office. Good thing the person at information gave me a number before I went bank hopping so my place in line was somewhat secured. When I arrived, number 42 was called and I was number 56. I then settled down to wait. However, since it was nearing lunch time and considering that it might take time before I'm called, I went back downstairs to have lunch at Mini Stop. I ordered their fried siomai with the rice and it was really good, especially the rice. Soft and pasty, just the way I like it. :)

I remember arriving at the SSS office at 1030 and my number was called exactly two hours later at 1230. Unfortunately, I had to wait for another 30 more minutes as the "no lunch break" policy does not cover the picture taking step. When the person in charge for the ID arrived, I was happily first in line. So I was done in 10 minutes and was home by 1:30PM. Three hours. Not bad.

Thankfully and hopefully, this will be my last government office visit for a long time. You really need to have a lot of patience when dealing with them. To be fair, they really are professional and nice. Just be prepared to wait.

Oh, and I'll be getting my SSS ID in 3 to 6 months! I guess it's better than my driver's license which they say will be available this July and my license plate which I have no idea when will arrive.

Post Partum Depression Is Not a Myth

I belong to an online mommy community where most of the members are breastfeeding advocates. It was through their constant preaching that I decided to breastfeed if ever I get pregnant again.

Lo, and behold, I did! So I conditioned myself on the hardships and complications of breastfeeding. When I gave birth, they brought my newborn to me and immediately latched. I could never be happier.

True enough, breastfeeding is not a walk in the park. The first week was difficult but I never gave up. Every contraction and chapped nipples actually urged me on and I held firm on my resolve.

But what got to me that made me decide to mix feed was post partum depression. 

Contrary to what people think, it's not a myth. One friend even shared that her elders does not believe in it as it only happens in the US. The shift in hormones can really make your brain go haywire. I went through crying spurts and wishing that I never got pregnant. There were moments that I didn't want to see my baby. Having no yaya for a month also added to the cocktail of volatile emotions that it's a big miracle I held everything together and lived to tell the tale.

Two months post partum, I could say I'm in a better place. Still not 100% there but definitely better than where I was a month before. Here are my learnings from my experience:

1. Don't be ashamed to accept or ask for help - having a dependable yaya nowadays is a valuable commodity--like looking for that rare pokemon. In case you're not successful in your search, have your mom or a relative/friend stay with you to help you out or even vice versa. Live with your mom while you're on maternity leave. Nothing like your mom's tender loving care to help you take care of yourself as well as your baby. Though we are painted as such, our superwoman powers can only take us so far. Take that long bath. Have that me time so you can breathe. Have someone wash the clothes or cook the meals. For CS moms (like me), you just went through a major operation. Give your bodies time to heal and recuperate.
In my case, my mother-in-law was a big help. Whenever she's at home, she would take the baby and let me have time to myself. I took my time taking a bath and finally had the chance to scrub off the grime from my operation. 

2. Surround yourself with positive things - itapon lahat ng nega. I didn't watch any heavy drama series during this period. I kept tabs on my favorite ALDUB LT which was my happy pill. I also listened to relaxing music and gorged on interesting shows on TV (FYI is my favorite channel and I want a "Tiny House"!). If you have people around you who think they know better, just tune them out. And if you need to, call a friend just to rant and share what you feel. You really need to get it out and you cannot keep it to yourself. Don't be ashamed that you're crying for no reason at all.

3. Get out of the house - once you're able, get out of your room. A change of scenery will do you good. In case you can't leave the house, go to a different room or get some fresh air. Being cooped up in our room the whole day drove me crazy. I was climbing walls and it added to my depression. Less than one month post partum, I wanted to go back to work! What I did was after lunch, I would bring my son to the den and I would watch my tv shows from there. And then would just go up to our room at twilight. Besides, it's better to stay at the ground floor as I had the misfortune of giving birth during summer. It's hotter at the second floor of the house as the heat rises up.

4. Sleep - better said than done considering your infant does not know how to differentiate night from day. But given a chance, get some rest. Believe me, your brain will conjure more depressing stuff when sleep deprived. Everything will look better after a good night's (or in our case, a couple of hours) sleep. 
During the height of my depression, I confided to a friend and she sent me a Spotify playlist which really let me relax and get some sleep.


5. Breastfeed - this actually releases happy endorphins. So even if I'm mixed feeding, I ensure to do this. It not only benefits him but me as well.

So remember, you are not alone in what you are feeling. Warm hugs to you and know that if I was able to get through it, you will too.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Vaccines Galore

When having a newborn, the mind-boggling medical expenses does not stop at birth. It continues on until the first twelve months of life of the infant.

Though some mothers think otherwise, we prefer to have our baby vaccinated.

At birth, he was given BCG and HepaB. Cost was included in the hospital bill so I'm not particularly sure how much it was.




















On his sixth week, we returned to his pedia to have his first immunization shot post birth. He was given a 6 in 1 shot consisting of DPT, Polio, Hib, Pertussis, Tetanus and second shot of Hepa B. Brand was Hexaxim. Cost was around P6,500 (can't find the receipt).
 
At two months and two weeks, we went back today for another vaccine shot which is pneumococcal. Brand was Prevenar 13. Cost was P5,500.

I'm dreading the vaccine next month as it's a 5 in 1 and an oral rotavirus. I already inquired and the cost of both vaccines is a whopping P8,000 (P4,500 + P3,500).

On a happy note, my son has gained 2.64 pounds since his last check-up. He has also grown more than 5cm which I could actually confirm as he's already the size of my breastfeeding pillow when previously, he was just so tiny against the pillow. His head circumference also grew by 3cm. All in all, my baby is growing just fine.

Probably the only complaint that we have, which is pretty minor compared to the other stories that I've been seeing on my mommy group, is his cradle cap and rashes.


For the cradle cap, we used the Mustela shampoo mousse which really helped. Good thing there's a stall at Alabang Town Center and I bought a bottle for P450. The Gentle Cleansing Gel I actually got as a baby shower present and I used that for his rashes.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

When Something Bad Happens

Being 41 years old, I could say that I've seen and experienced my share of trials and hardships. Going through post partum depression is one of them.

Times like these, I revisit and remind myself of old sayings and quotes that helped me get through previous ordeals:

- This too shall pass
- When you're down, there's no way but up
- Every cloud has a silver lining.
- There's a light at the end of the tunnel

My writer's heart flinches at the cliches but they do serve their purpose.

Nights are bad for me as it's when I feel that everything is closing in around me that I can't almost breathe. Somehow, it gets worse when I'm just at home the whole day. I guess that's why I'm raring to return to work to give me a different environment.

During last night's feeding, I browsed through my Facebook feed and saw this. It was so apt that I can't help but share it here.




It made me reflect on God's plan for me. Hardships happen because there's a reason for it. It's difficult to see it now but when it unfolds, there is actually something good that will come out of it. It also reminded me of this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche. 

"That what does not kill us, makes us stronger."

Every trial toughens us up and prepares us for something bigger and better. We just have to cling to His grace that He will not give us anything that we cannot handle. 

As what we say in the vernacular: Kapit lang. Tiwala lang. 
(Hold on. Just believe).

Hugs to all who needs it. We can do this.

Friday, May 12, 2017

ALDUBNation Festival

Photo by @antonyostark

I wrote about my ADNFest 2016 experience here. I was lucky to be one of the organizers and I still couldn't believe we were able to pull that event off with just two months of preparation.

I realized I haven't actually blogged about our ADNFest experience as organizers other than what I wrote for our site. So here's a more detailed telling.

T-24 Hours

our rooms
On Sat, Oct 15, OrgComm members checked into Microtel with out stuff. We occupied two rooms together with the paraphernalia that we needed for the event.

We spent the afternoon walking around MOA trying to finish some last minute tasks when we learned that the Coke bottles that were supposed to be picked up from the warehouse was not available. The truck that one of our ADN friends hired to pick up the product went home empty handed. It was panic mode for us as we needed that for the participants. All we could do was sit down and panic for a few minutes.

I then called my contact and she was apologetic about the whole thing. She said that she'll get back to me. After a couple of hours, she called me and said that we will be able to pick up the drinks at a nearby warehouse and I only have two hours to do so. I swear, the fans of Alden and Maine are one of the resourceful and generous people that I have ever met. We sent out a tweet about our dilemma and we received numerous offers to use their vans/cars and whatsoever. It was bayanihan to the finest. In the end, it was one of our OrgComm members that was able to pick up the bottles by hiring a jeepney. We all literally breathed a sigh of relief.

By the way, did I mention that I was almost 5 months pregnant when this happened?

Being pregnant, my orgcomm-mates told me to stay in the hotel and get some rest for the big day. They had to fix the hall and handle the ingress so they were there most of the night. I think they got back at the hotel room at around 3 or 4 in the morning.

D-Day

We were very nervous when we woke up as a storm battered Manila the night before. I heard the rain and wind hitting the window and it was nerve wracking. We stormed the heaven with prayers hoping that regardless of the weather, we will still have a nice turnout.

So after a filling breakfast, we hurried off to SMX. I was pleasantly surprised to see the set-up.  The screens were a nice touch too as the venue was so big it will enable the people at the back to see what's happening on stage.

The production team was currently on stage rehearsing as well as the singers. I just walked around and checked the booths as well as the registration area.

I also went outside to check the line and it was snaking around the SMX building. It require people to come in at 10AM so they can register and claim their wristbands and loot bags. They would then need to return at 1PM so they can enter the venue and the program can start.

View from the entrance

Entrance of the hall (really love our logo)

Speaker of the House

I was elected by my Orgcomm mates to be the spokesperson of the group. Though I'm used to speaking in front of people (I was a teacher), ADNFest was the biggest group that I ever addressed (more than 2000 people!). Thinking about my speech kept me up a few nights but I eventually ended up ditching it and speaking from the heart.

ang ganda niya! pramis!
Prior the program, I was asked to be interviewed by GMA News. I was too surprised to say no and if you ask me now, I can't recall what I said. They did get a soundbyte though which was shown during 24 Oras.

The start of the program was hosted by Nicole Hyala and Chris Tsuper--radio DJs. It was during my speech that Maine apparently arrived at the holding room. After my speech, we hurried off to the second floor.

 Meeting her was so surreal. A few months before the event, I already had my chance encounter with Alden when I saw him at St. Luke's BGC. Even had a picture taken. But I never had an encounter with Maine so seeing her there in front of us just made me burst into tears (I blame my pregnancy hormones). Actually, we all started crying when we told her how we came up with the event and how some of the attendees flew in from abroad and even from the Visayas and Mindanao.




ang iyakin na OrgComm

 I also met the director of their first movie, Imagine You and Me. Direk Mike Tuviera.


After a few minutes, we asked her if she's ready to go down. She mentioned that she wanted to go around and meet the fans. I was worried as the hall is humongous and there were 2000 people there but she was insistent. So after coordinating with security, I lead the party to the elevator where I even managed to be included in one of Ram David's elevator selfie.





The Main Event

When Maine entered the hall, the energy of the hall suddenly jumped.  Everyone started screaming and it was a good thing that our security guys were on top of everything. She tried to go around the hall but the crush of people was too much that she was whisked off to the VIP area.

So she stayed there with us while the Clingy Bunch performed and fan-made AVPs were also shown. And when Alden arrived, all hell broke loose. He performed one song from his album, said a few words and he and Maine walked around the hall trying to meet as much people as they can.

my selfie with Maine

my selfie with Alden

Meng and Alden onstage

Maine and Alden with ADNFest OrgComm

Love this picture taken of my moment with Maine
With Leysam, Alden's handler

The Aftermath

We monitored social media regarding ADNFest and we were touched and surprised with some posts that we found. It was so heartwarming to see all the kind words.

yes, I'm the tita sa gilid

Alden's IG post


Maine's IG post

Direk Mike's tweet

Ram David's (of Triple A) IG post

Leysam's IG post

Nicole Hyla's IG post

Tristan's IG post

More from Nicole Hyala

Nelson Canlas' (GMA reporter) IG post

More from Nelson Canlas

Tweet from April, Alden's cousin

Again?

October 16, 2016 still feels a dream to me. One of the highlights of my 2016 and the pinnacle of my fangirling life. We initially wanted it to be a once in a lifetime event but there might be a repeat if based on the survey that we released a few weeks back.


Do follow @adnfest in Twitter for updates.

Asthma During Pregnancy

My recent pregnancy was harder compared to my previous. The first one was easy peasy. Granted I went on leave for two weeks just for the morning sickness, but I can't recall going on bed rest or sick leave for the rest of the pregnancy (probably once or twice).

However, for this recent one, I had allergies galore specifically asthma. I've always been asthmatic but it was worse this pregnancy. My inhalers received quite a workout and I was even prescribed three inhalers early in my pregnancy. Not to mention I almost exhausted my sick leaves as my attacks became more frequent especially during my last trimester.

I was initially apprehensive and shared this with my OB as on top of my inhalers, I also had to take anti-asthma medicine. She said that she prefers the alternative of me being able to breathe as whatever happens to me, affects the baby in my tummy.

A couple of weeks before I gave birth, I visited my pulmo again to prepare for my caesarean operation. She prescribed more anti-asthma meds and even steroids which I'm supposed to take the day before.

I don't know if it's the results of all those meds but when my son came out, he was screaming madly. I guess there's no question how healthy his lungs are.

Ten weeks after giving birth, I haven't had a bad asthma attack like the ones I experienced during my pregnancy. I really hope not to go through that again.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Diaper Review: And the winner is...

When my eldest was born, unbranded diapers were a big thing then. They were cheaper than the ones that you would get from the supermarket and works just as well. I was thankful that my son's skin was not that sensitive so we subsisted on those until he was three. That was the time that I bought Mamy Poko as none of the unbranded diapers would no longer fit him.

That was 8 years ago. I tried checking my previous suppliers but they were no longer in business. I the resigned myself on buying the branded ones. So far, I have tested three brands on my new baby: Mamy Poko, Pampers and Drypers.

I initially tried Mamy Poko as that was what my eldest used before (pull-ups) but I was disappointed when it leaked. Drypers was also so so and I didn't like the somewhat rough texture. Pampers though definitely worked as advertised. The gel thing soaks up the liquid and my baby seldom cries because of a wet diaper. I also liked the indicator wherein you can check if the diaper is indeed full or at least there's pee.

My next concern was where to buy them the cheapest. After searching, I stumbled onto Lazada which actually delivers within 24 hours. I computed and each diaper only costs P7.24 for a 58 pcs small pack compared to other groceries which can run up to P7.98 per piece. For a site that I swore not to use after they refused to accept my previous returns, I've grown to appreciate their service.

I also buy Cycles laundry detergent and Cradle nipple and bottle wash from them. They sometimes have bundled sales which is cost efficient. Their inventory of baby wipes are not too bad as well.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Farmville 2.0

My farm!

The best time wasting game ever!

I've been playing this before in Facebook and when they came out with an app, I started playing it when I got myself my own iPad. I think I've been farming for more than 3 years already. It's just so relaxing and my stress reliever. There are days that I'm just so frustrated with it that I don't touch the game for days and then I would open it every hour.

Like all time management games, I make sure that all the Workshops and people are not idle. Adds to the XP too.

I appreciate that it has so many goals and tasks going on at the same time that you're forced to craft or plant something just to fulfill it. Keeps me from being board. It also enables me to join communities where I can trade goods and items.

Makes me want to have my own farm but I'm sure it won't be as easy as this.

A New Mom the Second Time Around

I'm not a new mom. In fact, my eldest is already 8 years old. But there's a disparity on how I dealt with him when he was an infant compared to my youngest who was just born two months ago.

When Basti was born, I had it easy. I had a nanny who willingly took over in caring for him and I did not breastfeed which certainly made life easier. I slept well at night as it was the yaya who took care of the night feedings. Basically, I was not hands on in raising him.

When I got pregnant again, I swore that I will breastfeed after reading up on the benefits of mother's milk. So I mentally prepared myself for the hardships and when they handed me my baby, I said "I got this."; or so I thought.


my baby boy with his judging eyes :) @ 2weeks
I conditioned my mind that breastfeeding will not be easy but I was not really prepared for it. Though my son latched easily, my milk production was not enough. He would sleep fitfully and would wake up if not every hour, every 2 hours to demand for more milk.And I gave in to his demands sacrificing sleep and my sanity. I clung to my online group of mommy friends and they supported me with advice and answered my questions patiently. I made this my mantra: "one day at a time."

When we left the hospital, my baby's weight dropped to 2.9 kilos. When we returned to his pedia for a check-up after two weeks, he was still at 2.9 kilos and I wanted to cry then and there. Though at the back of my mind, I knew that weight gain was slow for breastfed babies, my sanity was at stake. I don't know if it's just me and if I'm weak but I gave in and agreed to giving my baby formula milk. I immediately felt better afterwards--like a big weight was lifted from my shoulders. I think I'm wired to always have a back-up plan and knowing that I'm the sole source of food for my baby put so much pressure on me. Though I could always ask for donations for breastmilk, it's not something I can depend on all the time.

Liquid gold
However, I still did not stop breastfeeding nor pumping. I still want my baby to have my milk. Everytime he's hungry, I offer my breast first and then if he's still hungry, that's when we give formula. I currently have three pumps here at home. Will write about them in another post.

Everytime I express (either through letdown or through pumping), I'm lucky to get 2 oz. I try to pump or collect milk 4x a day and my son usually just consumes the total amount I collect in just one feeding.

Right now, my son feeds every 3-4 hours. He usually sleeps at 7PM and then wakes up at 11-12. After feeding, that's the time I usually sleep. He then wakes up around 3AM and my husband is the one that takes care of him. He either gives him formula or is given to me for latching.

It may not be the ideal set-up nor what was in my mind when I was preparing myself on our post-pregnancy care but I had to make do with the circumstances.

my baby @ 2 months
I belong to a community that greatly advocates breastfeeding and I was a bit ashamed when I admitted to them that I was giving my baby milk formula. They were still supportive and mentioned that breastfeeding does not define motherhood and I will be the one to know what is best for me and my baby.

It has been two months since I gave birth. My baby has gained 2 kilos since his first check-up and he's quite healthy.  He's also a very social as he would "talk" with anyone who would chat with him. He never fails to make us smile and laugh.

When I gave birth, it was hard for me to see that all the hardships and pain were worth it. Seeing his smile now makes me start to believe that it is indeed worth it.






Tuesday, May 09, 2017

My Muntinlupa Civil Registry and COMELEC Experience

As much as possible, I try not to go to our government offices as not only does it strain my patience, but can be physically exhausting as well.

I had to go to our local civil registry so I can get a certified true copy of my son's birth certificate. Apparently, the one that I got from Asian Hospital did not have the stamp and registry number so our HR did not accept it.

Resigning myself that I will be wasting a day, I proceeded to the Civil Registry Office (CRO) this morning. Good thing that I did some research as the place is located at the Star Mall along South Luzon Expressway at the Alabang Viaduct.

So I parked at Festival Mall and took a jeep going to Star Mall. The CRO (together with other government offices), are located at the 3F. Apparently, not only is the Civil Registry located there but the Comelec and NBI as well.

When I got there around 1130AM, I was dismayed when I saw the long line as well as the cramped offices. Dejectedly, I asked if I should line up for my request but was pleasantly surprised when I was told that I should just go to the other room which, fortunately, has a shorter line.

I was given a number and I was 29 and the number being serviced was 26. In less than 20 minutes, I was called and had my turn with the person in charge for birth certificates. Apparently, I came to the right queue and he processed my request immediately. A certified true copy costs P40 (I requested 3 copies just in case) which I gladly paid. However, the person in charge who was supposed to sign was on lunch break so I had to wait for an additional 30 minutes (so much for the "no lunch break" policy). All in all, disregarding the breaks, it must've took me an hour in the office.

So while waiting for the signing authority to return from his lunch break, I decided to check out the Comelec office beside the CRO to check if my Voter's ID is already available. Though it's been years since I registered and I already voted numerous times without it, I need it as an additional government ID as my driver's license plastic (which services as the primary government ID when I'm requested to present one) is already expired. When I renewed it last year, I was told that I can only get it this July.

When I arrived at the Comelec, lo and behold! There was no line! I gleefully gave my name and they handed me my ID (which was printed way back 2011 when I registered in 2009). I was surprised when they handed me two copies as apparently, they made a duplicate which they still gave to me.

All in all, I cannot say that it was a pleasant experience as it was SO HOT inside the waiting area. Moreover, the lines were depressingly long (at least for those requesting for copies of their birth, marriage and death certificates). I can't understand why they had to do so when they can request for copies through phone or online.

However, my struggles are not yet over as I would still need to go to the Registry of Deeds and the Land Transportation Office with regards to my car registration. Now, that's another story and I am not looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Birthing Story - The 2017 Edition

Baby Boy
 
My target date to give birth was March 13 thru CS section. But fate had a different plan for me when the bundle that I've been carrying in my tummy decided to make an appearance on March 4, 2017 at 3:12 in the afternoon. Weighing in at 7 lbs and 6 oz and measuring 59 cm in length, he made quite an entrance.

The Waiting Game

I've been on maternity leave since February 21 when I was having irregular contractions. I was supposed to start my maternity after March 3 but it was becoming difficult to go to the office due to the heaviness of my tummy.

My due date as per my first ultrasound was March 19 but as per my last menstrual period, it's March 11. My OB, Dr. Regina Manahan (who was also my OB during my first pregnancy), opted to be conservative and used the first ultrasound instead. So my 39th week should fall on March 12. She refused to do a CS earlier than the 39th week or if I suddenly contract. 

I didn't know if it was a good idea to go on maternity so early as I was able to finish so many things in my to-do list that I became so bored waiting for my baby to arrive. I took to walking at the mall daily and finish some puzzles to help me cope.

Unlike my previous birthing, we opted for Asian Hospital this time around as we had to take into consideration the horrendous traffic at the Skyway unlike before where taking the Skyway meant faster travel. Moreover, we don't have a nanny yet so we have to stick close to home.


This Is the Day!


Early afternoon of  March 4, my OB called me and asked if I was having any contractions and if I could come over so she could check. So my husband and I brought our things to Asian Hospital and had me checked in at the Genesis center.


We arrived sometime after 1PM where I was immediately hooked to a machine which monitored my contractions as well as the heart rate of the baby. Amazingly, I was already contracting (which I've forgotten hurt like hell. And I've also forgotten the breathing exercises that helped me cope during my first pregnancy) and as per the resident's IE, I was already 1cm dilated. My OB then decided to perform my CS on that day which definitely sounded good for me.

They called in the resident anesthesiologist,  Dr. Cristina Tiongson, who delivered spinal anesthesia in preparation for my CS. This was different from the epidural that was given to me during my first delivery. Instead of sitting down, I was made to lie down on my side. It worked fast because it was less than a minute that I couldn't feel anything below my waist.

They wheeled me in the CS room and prepared me for the operation. However, I began to panic in a sense that I was telling the anes that I couldn't breathe. She mentioned that I have oxygen and I remember trying to move my hands which was secured on the side. Next thing I knew, I was asleep.

I recall waking up just in time to hear everyone call out, "Baby Out!" and I heard my baby cry out LOUD! Boy, was he loud. He was a direct contradiction from his older brother who barely whimpered when he was taken out of my womb 8 years ago.

They immediately brought him to me where he instinctively latched on my breast. Good thing my husband was in the room and took the necessary pictures.

From there, it was another wait for them to sew me back up and brought me over to my own recovery room.

One thing I like Asian over Makati Med, was that the former is more peaceful and quiet. Makati Med was just so noisy and quite a lot of people who will ask you the same questions over and over again. Not surprising considering they are a teaching hospital. At Asian, I had my own recovery room and I liked the care that my son and I got.

My baby and I were brought together to my room at 8 in the evening, 7 hours after I was admitted. I was exhausted and feeling was beginning to return to my legs.And with it, the PAIN.

Pain with a capital P! P%$&*^ I^!


Painless IV insertion FTW!


Since my last operation was 8 years ago, somehow the pain was forgotten. I don't know if it was age or I deliberately forgot the feeling but this time around, everything hurt like hell. My OB gave me three kinds of medication to manage the pain. But when I started breastfeeding, the contractions brought about by the release of oxytoxin hurt a lot. All I could do was whimper every time I would feed my son.


My catheter was removed Sunday evening and I tried sitting and standing up after then. The binder that I was wearing somehow gave me the assurance that everything that should be kept inside is still inside. I walked to the rest room and tried to move around as I wanted to get used to walking immediately.

Sleep was already forgotten as my son would feed almost every hour. As he was purely breastfed, I had to be available all the time whenever he wanted milk. And he can be quite vocal over his demands.

Breastfeeding Friendly

I liked it that the hospital is breastfeeding friendly. They had specialists teaching me to breastfeed and the nurses even know how to make the baby latch. Quite a different experience from MMC 8 years ago (sorry, I just had to make that comparison. I hope that they have improved the last few years).

Breastfeeding is not easy and I envy mothers who are pros at this. I'm glad that Asian has a good support system to ensure that the new mother is equipped with the knowledge as simple as having the baby latch.

Prepubescent Milestone - Done!

Like his older brother, we opted to have our son circumcised immediately after birth. We were pleasantly surprised to know that the pediatric surgeon, Dr. Rodolfo Tuazon, who worked on my older son, also has a clinic at Asian. We contacted him and scheduled the operation when Bennet was 48 hours old.

Actually, some pediatricians and obstetricians can also do the circumcision but his pedia, Dr. Victor Morada nor my OB can do the procedure. Nevertheless, we prefer the surgeon as the process can be quite delicate considering how tiny he is.

We were taught how to clean the small organ (which only involves Betadine) and I cringed when I saw how swollen it became a couple of days after. But afterwards, it cleaned up pretty good.

Price Tag

Ribs

Steak
 
At Makati Med, I remember our bill reaching P180K including all the PFs and the 4 day stay (excluding the horrendous parking fee. Boo MMC for not offering free parking for your in-patients. Another plus for Asian as we had free parking the whole time I was confined). Eight years after considering inflation and additional tax of the doctors, my total bill (including that of my son's and his circumcision procedure) reached P230K. I had a small private room and all the professional fees of the doctors were paid directly to the hospital. Another wonderful thing because the last time, I had to go to the doctor's offices and pay there.

I think the price increase is relatively small and I'm happy about it. My OB's fee doubled from the last time and we somehow expected it. However, it's still relatively modest compared to that of other doctors. She's worth it though as she took really good care of me and according to my husband, my CS scar is unnoticeable until I pointed it out to him.

There are also additional perks for giving birth at Asian:
- Steak and ribs dinner for two
- Baby bag with free diapers

I don't know if there are others but the dinner was wonderful and delicious.

Oh, and they send text messages for reminders (about my son's birth certificate) and even messaged me asking me if my wound has healed.

SUMMARY:

Hospital: Asian Hospital
Date of Confinement: March 4, Saturday; Discharged on March 7, Tuesday morning. Was only charged for three days.
Procedures Involved: Cesarean for me; Circumcision for baby including the following tests and vaccines -- Hepa B (given immediately after birth), BCG; Newborn hearing screening, cardiovascular test, Newborn Screening, blood typing
Obstetrician and Gynecologist: Dr. Regina Manahan
Anesthesiologist: Dr. Cristina Tiongson
Pediatrician: Dr. Victor Morada
Pediatric Surgeon: Dr. Rodolfo Tuazon
Total Hospital Bill + PF: P230K








Sunday, February 26, 2017

US Vacation 2014 - Fr. Gino's Ordination

One of the reasons why we visited the US last 2014 was to attend the ordination of my husband's cousin to his chosen vocation. It was the first time that I attended an ordination and in another country, to boot.


The ceremony was held at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart at New Jersey. It literally felt like a wedding as we were all decked in formal attire (barong for the males). There was even a reception at a hotel afterwards.

One noteworthy moment was that the photographer that my husband's aunt hired was also our wedding photographer, John Mateos Ong. He shared with me that it was the first time that he will cover an ordination. I'm sure he captured the moment well.



The picture below is me receiving the first blessing from Fr. Gino. I remember shedding tears as his prayer was personal and heartfelt. 


US Vacation 2014 - Disneyworld


This post is so long delayed. I've grown to rely on FB as my memory album but I know nothing beats a blog. With my really undependable memory, I should resolve to write down stuff again before I forget.

My husband and I first visited the US together in 2011. At that time, it was only the 2 of us as it was a delayed honeymoon of some sort. When we got married in 2007, we jointly applied for US Visas and was approved. But before we could book a flight, we found out that I was pregnant. Thus, we postponed until 2011 but we decided to leave our 2 year old son behind. When he turned 5, we decided to bring him with us thinking that he wouldn't be too much of  handful as compared to bringing a toddler.

Of course, the first thing to do was to get a visa for our son. I blogged about it here. When he was approved, we looked around for flights and we settled with Cathay. When we first went to the US in 2011, we rode Eva Air where the stopover was in Taipei. It was the first time that we considered Cathay as previously, their port of entry in the east coast was in JFK in New York. But they recently opened flights going to Newark, New Jersey which is nearer to my sister. Since we heard good reviews about the airline, we booked 3 tickets with my friendly neighborhood travel agent.

We left Manila on May 16, 2014 and it was such an exciting day. Though we have previously traveled as a family, it will be our first long flight together! I prepared myself as much as I could by bringing my son his art materials, crayons, and of course, the ever reliable iPad. However, it can only entertain my 5 year old as much.

The MNL-HKG leg was uneventful and he had a kick exploring the terminal. However, the HKG-EWR leg was the killer. He fell asleep sometime at the start of the flight but he woke up 8 hours into the 15 hour flight and started screaming inside the plane out of sheer boredom. It was the nightmare of parents! Fortunately, we were able to calm him down enough and make him sleep again until we finally landed at Newark at 940 in the evening.

Our schedule though was a killer. My sister was prompt in picking us up and bringing us to her house where we stayed most of our trip. However, we had to be awake at 3AM as we had to catch our 6AM JetBlue flight going to Florida for our Disneyworld adventure! I think I only ended up sleeping for an hour or so before we had to get ready.

JetBlue was a budget airline so not much frills about it. The flight was around 2 1/2 hours long and my son was able to sleep on the plane (again) but I couldn't. Probably from excitement as we'll be going to the most magical place on earth!

Day 1


We arrived in Orlando at around 8:30 in the morning where the Disney bus picked us up. Just sitting there and seeing the monitor with the trademark Disney castle really made my 38 year old self all hyper. Though how old you are, Disney brings out the child in you.

We were booked at Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside. One of the numerous hotel resorts in the humongous place. After an hour of riding, we arrived at the hotel. Unfortunately, our rooms were not yet available so we had to wait. There were 4 families so 4 rooms--and our room was the last one to be ready. By that time, I was falling asleep at the really nice lobby as jetlag was catching up. When we were firmly ensconced in our rooms, we decided to take a nap as we're scheduled to visit Animal Kingdom in the afternoon. However, the nap turned out into a long deep sleep. My sister kept on calling us and we eventually just decided to meet up with them at the Animal Kingdom lodge to have dinner.


One cool thing about the whole experience was that we all had to wear the bracelets like the one above. Each family had a customized bracelet which we use in lieu of bringing cash and IDs. We just swipe whenever we need to buy something or even for fastpass purposes. Really you can walk around the park without worrying about cash. If I'm not mistaken, it's waterproof too.

Anyway, here's a pic of our bed at the hotel. I really like how they did the mickey logo with the towel and look at that awesome headboard!






The lobby of our hotel has an arcade place and out of all the hundreds of things that one can do at Disney, my son decided that this arcade game is the best. At his age, he was a bowling fanatic and we could just leave him there for hours without him getting tired. Like father like son as his dad is not a fan of amusement parks. I remember during out first date at Enchanted Kingdom, he never rode any of the rides. I had to ride the rollercoaster all by myself. He did however, accompany me at the Ferris Wheel.

Anyway, we managed to bargain with him to go around the resort with the promise that we will begin and end our day at the arcade.

After a sumptuous dinner at the lodge, we went back to our hotel where we got our much needed rest.

Day 2

The next day was the real start of our adventure at the happiest place on earth. We decided to visit the Magic Kingdom theme park first. Kids were encouraged to be in costume so my son decided to go as Spiderman.

Before meeting up with the rest of my family, we took the chance to explore our hotel/resort. 



Facade of our building where are room is located

Gazebo by the lake



at the hotel lobby

with the kids dressed up for Magic Kingdom

We wanted to have breakfast near Magic Kingdom so we settled for 1900 Park Fare Grand Floridian. It's such an awesome place. While having breakfast, mascots go around and you can take pictures with them.

Selfie with Tigger

With Winnie the Pooh

Everyone crowding around Mary Poppins! And she speaks with an English accent too

with Alice

amd the Mad Hatter

Trying to take a pic of the humongous lobby of the restaurant's hotel

After that very filling breakfast, we excitedly lined up at the theme park. The kids were excited but Basti and hubby are not fond of rides so he was content with having his face painted and I just hung around with my mom.

I think we left the park early but my little family left for Downtown Disney where we explored the place. My son was happy that we found a place which has bowling a bowling alley and he bowled a few games while we had dinner. Instead of taking the bus, we took the ferry from our resort all the way to Downtown. Definitely faster than the bus and it lets us off near our hotel too.

Day 3

Our third day at Disneyworld was spent at Hollywood Studios. Back then, there was the American Idol experience. Now that there's no more AI, I'm not sure if they still have that in the park.

The American Idol Experience

We also visited the Pixar Place and the ride where we went through scenes from different movies. 


The shot below is interesting as the backdrop is actually just painted and not an actual sky. 


For dinner, we went to Yachtman Steakhouse. I think we rode a boat going there.

Day 4

The last theme park in the place, EPCOT or as what my husband told me, is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. What makes it notable is the big golf ball in the middle of the park.

Posing with the golf ball

The golf ball actually has a ride inside. They also have different places around the park that features a different country. By then, I learned that one of the "things-to-bring" in Disney is sunscreen. Though it's not as humid as here in the Philippines, the heat can easily bake you. 

That sky is real

Basti finally completed his autographed book

That night, we went back to Downtown Disney where we met up with a former boss.

Day 5

Though we haven't been to Animal Kingdom, we didn't want to go there so we went back to Magic Kingdom to find the Frozen dolls that people back home seem to want as pasalubong. Fortunately, we were able to buy some.

Disneyworld was definitely an experience and one I would hope to experience again. As my husband and son are not fans of amusement parks, hopefully, I can visit again with other members of the family. I love rides and would certainly want to experience more of this magical place.