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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year That Was

Now that 2010 is coming to a close, let me reflect on the year that was ... In some ways 2010 just breezed right by, but on some level it also seemed to go by so slowly at times. There were lots of big moments and also several little moments that will make this a memorable year. 2010 was an exciting year for me - being the Year of the Tiger (and my being born a Tiger), this year held such promise and it did deliver!

I started the year celebrating in Manila which is always good. I loved being able to spend time with my family and in our home. Something about the familiarity of it all will always make Manila the home in my heart - no matter how long I am away or how much I love my second home in Torrance, Manila will always be the place I consider my safe haven. Earlier in the year, I didn't have a job and just focused on rejuvenating myself. I used to hate being alone and not having anything to do - but as I have gotten older I find I am so much more comfortable in my own skin and find pleasure in having time just for myself. I did enjoy discovering my inner homemaker too (who knew I had it in me?).

I found a new job at a local company. I've written tons about my job and again it is not the most prestigious nor the most challenging. But honestly, it is one where I find the perfect balance of feeling good and doing good while "going to work". It is probably not the best position in terms of climbing the corporate ladder but it definitely feels right for me for right now.

We had the biggest blessing that I consider as the most life-changing moment of the entire year. It was finding out that I had a little baby Bean growing inside me. After 5 and a half years of marriage and almost 4 years of trying to conceive, we were blown away by the fact that we were blessed with such a miracle. It's been a sort of rollercoaster ride since then - ups and downs along the way - but in all honestly it is a ride that I am so glad to be on and can't wait to see through. Being pregnant is also a blessing to our marriage, on many levels, I truly feel more connected to Jojo and I know he feels closer to me too.

There were lots of little but significant moments too. This year we celebrated the one year since my dad's passing. While it is still very hard for me to come to grips with the fact that he is now in heaven, I find that I am strangely calm and more accepting of what has happened. It is still by no means easy but I think I am over being angry and depressed about it all. I know dad probably has a hand in making all this just a wee bit easier. This year my brother-in-law, Jay, got married which was a big highlight too. He is the last of Jojo's 6 siblings to tie the knot and we were all really happy and excited for his and Cha's big day. This year Jojo found a new job which has been both a blessing and a challenge. It was a growing point in his career and he has truly found out much about himself in the process. I am glad to be able to be beside him to offer him my support and encouragement. This year my father-in-law had a minor stroke which was scary and sad. But it also allowed us all to reconnect better as a family and in many ways brought me closer to my in-laws. 2010 has brought us a slew of visitors and guests - which we welcomed into our home. It is always nice reconnecting with good friends who I have not been in touch with in a while.

There have been a host of other special events ... birthdays, engagements, anniversaries, babies and kids, trips and travel, new experiences and adventures, facing challenges, learning new things, dealing with frustrations, and just moments and days that don't seem to mean anything at that time but later turn out to be defining moments. It has been a truly good year for me and I am very grateful. I can only hope that 2011 will be just as great for me and everyone else.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Xmas (2010)

I would have posted Xmas pictures sooner but I have two good reasons why I am so delayed this year. First, Jojo and I were both down with the flu on Xmas eve, Xmas day and actually till today (and it's already the 28th). Today is actually the first day I feel some semblance of returning to "normalcy". It's hard since I have not been able to take any meds to alleviate the stuffy nose, sore throat and coughing. All I can take is regular Tylenol or the generic brands which don't really help all that much. But enough about that. The second reason is I don't have that many pics to share. When we looked at the few pics we have on our camera, most of them were shots of the food and presents rather than people! Jojo and I were the hosts this year and so we didn't have much time to gather people for photos. I'll have to wait for my in-laws to post their pics and borrow their copies then =) So, anyway, here are a few pics we have for now:

Christmas Eve was spent with my in-laws. After Xmas mass at St. Margaret Mary's we met at our place. This is one of my few photos with "people". Jojo's family has a strict tradition that presents are only opened at midnight and we only get to eat noche buena after that. We had to while away the time watching DVDs, snacking on finger foods, and playing games. Not easy to keep a group of 23 people (9 of them kids) entertained! But it was fun trying =)

The guys hanging around waiting for us to start with another game (I think this time we were going to play charades). Notice how no one is looking at the camera ... getting a decent group shot is like herding cats!

At around 11:30, we started setting the table. The star of our noche buena was this 8-pound Honeybaked ham. I had to order this 2 weeks ago otherwise it was sold out. But it was worth it cause it was so good! And I mean SOOO GOOOD! I served the ham with horseradish mayo, plain mayo, and and dijon mustard.

I also had a basket of warm, fluffy pan de sal which was perfect with the ham. These are my favorites. I get them from a local Filipino bakery called Valerios. They are super cheap $2.00 for 16 pieces - but really good and taste like the ones back home!

My sisters-in-law also brought their share of food. Marik, brought fresh lumpia (which was super yummy!) and suman with latik. Not pictured is the roasted chickens (Tracy brought), the big pot of sopas (Len brought) and the two whole baked salmons (Cha brought).

Here are the famous Porto's cheese rolls and pastries that Edel brought. Plus for dessert, we also had a huge bowl of fruit salad (not pictured).

Look at all those Xmas presents ... we had to stash them in the garage since there wouldn't be any space to walk around if we kept them in the living room. There were even more presents under the tree! Who says Xmas is just for kids? We, adults, had our fair share too!

On Xmas day, we were suppose to meet Atsi and Mark for lunch but because we were feeling so out of it that day, we had to postpone lunch to the 26th. We met mid-way for lunch at Todai. We exchanged presents and food (I made them a tray of baked macaroni and they got us our favorite pumpernickel bread which Atsi's gets from a local bakery near their place).

Here is a shot of Atsi and I in front of the mall. We are waiting for the guys before heading inside to do some shopping. Notice how much bigger I am than Atsi (who's always been so tiny!).

So that was our holiday celebration here. Merry Christmas from Jojo, me and Jellybean! (I am 27 weeks along in this picture).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Life Lessons

There are two very significant moments in my life that have helped me learn and adhere to two very significant lessons.

The two significant moments are:
1.) Working for the "Bank" from 2006-2008 where I was literally a slave to money and under so much stress my health and my personal life were deteriorating; and
2.) My dad's illness and untimely passing.

The two significant lessons are:
1.) Having a job is important as it shapes who you are professionally and personally but no job is worth being stressed all the time, getting sick over, and losing sleep for; and
2.) A huge salary, prestige, great benefits can only hold a person's interest for so long - there will come a time when you realize it is not worth it.

My hubby is learning these lessons on his own and during this time, I just want him to know that I support him and am behind him one hundred and one percent!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

6th Wedding Anniv

Tonight we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary ... Jojo took me to dinner ... we went to Ruth's Chris restaurant in Anaheim. We've been wanting to eat at Ruth's Chris for the longest time since we've been hearing all sorts of rave reviews about their steaks. Tonight, we thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary. Here we are at the entrance (wish I could have taken a shot of the building's exterior since it was quite nice but I didn't want to seem too "touristy"!). Anyway, here's me, Jojo and Jellybean in my big, preggy belly!

Sorry I don't have shots of the interior as well. Again, too bad since the place was really nice and we had a beautiful corner table overlooking the city. But since it was such a NICE place, I didn't want to look way too eager by snapping pictures! =)

After looking over the menu, we ordered and I started with the seafood gumbo. It was very rich and had lovely pieces of shrimp, lump crab, andouille sausage and veggies. It was also quite hearty and a perfect way to warm up on a cold, rainy evening!

Jojo had the House Salad with a lemon basil dressing. It was creamy but at the same time very light too.

Finally, the wait is over! USDA Prime - Ribeye steaks - medium well. We were told that in the US only 3% of beef is categorized as USDA Prime. That made us really excited to try these steaks. They were served on plates that were warmed to 500-degrees (to ensure that from the first bite to the last, our steaks would stay warm). The meat was aged to perfection and only marinated with salt, pepper and some butter - but it was AMAZING! Succulent, savory, tender and just incredibly delicious. Need I say more?

We had creamy mashed potatoes and creamed spinach as our sides. They were good but nothing great. But then again, I guess people don't really go to Ruth's Chris for the sides =)

Here we are getting ready to dig in! Let me just tell you, that first bite was heavenly!

And to cap off the evening, we had a mixed berry cheesecake and chocolate barks ... plus they served us a special raspberry sorbet in a chocolate cup just cause it's our anniversary. =) It was a perfect way to cap off a perfect dinner!

Thanks so much for dinner, Ni. Happy 6th Anniversary and looking forward to many, many more to come! I love you very much =)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Maternity Tour

Yesterday Jojo and I joined 5 other couples as we attended a tour and orientation held at the Torrance Memorial Hospital maternity ward. We started the afternoon with some snacks and then the rest of the hour was spent meeting the nursing staff, listening to important details, getting familiar with the various procedures, and visiting the labor/delivery room, the NICU, the operating room, and the mommy & baby recovery room.

It was a nice experience and I really appreciated getting a peek at what's going to happen on our big day. The maternity floor at Torrance Memorial was also very nicely decorated (tasteful both for mommies and babies). Everyone seemed very efficient but at the same time the staff were all really super supportive and very accommodating. They literally have thought of everything to make our hospital stay as convenient and stress-free as possible. Everything seemed very clean and almost sterile without losing out on warmth and homeyness.

I also loved how strict the were with making sure everything was clean and secure. They had all these measures in place to make sure no one could walk away with our baby or switch babies by mistake. With all the labor-related things I have been thinking about, that has not even crossed my mind, so I was really glad that they had that part covered.

Also, the procedures were all super duper efficient - each room had a nurse assigned (as well as roving nurses that were on hand to assist further). There are specialists available 24/7 (for both the mommy's and the baby's care). Everything was very state of the art. I really felt at ease with how everything was described despite all my apprehensions. I felt very reassured and calmed by the whole experience. And as an added bonus we got lots of freebies to take home after wards - that's always nice! =)

We are pretty much decided to have Beanie over at Torrance Memorial but just for comparison's sake, we are also doing the "Tea and Tour" over the Little Company of Mary Providence Hospital next month. That is also a really nice facility so it can't hurt to go have a look. After all, we only want the very best for our baby girl =)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Fourth Letter

Dear Jellybean,

Happy 24th week my darling baby girl! Your 24th week is actually tomorrow but since I have this Sunday afternoon off ... I thought I would get a headstart in writing this letter. As I type this letter to you, your dad is in your nursery applying a second coat of white paint to the crownmolding. He is being quite anal about getting every nook and cranny! Everything is starting to come together rather nicely. Two weeks ago, your Auntie Jenny and Uncle Mark came over and together we painted your room a happy shade of yellow. It's called Pale Daffodil and it looks like a beautiful burst of sunshine has spilled into the nursery.

Uncle Mark also re-did your closet floors (removing the carpet and installing wood laminate) while Auntie Jenny made sure all your cabinets and shelves are spic and span. It's now ready to be filled with all your clothes and toys! Your furniture has arrived also but we are holding off on putting it together just yet. Maybe over the Xmas holidays when your Tito Lee and Tito Jay come over to help your dad assemble everything.

Things have been going rather well this 2nd trimester. My only concern these last few days is I have not felt you move at all. I've been reading countless baby books and websites - most of them say it is normal to feel flutters starting around the 18th to 22nd week. Since tomorrow is the start of my 24h week, I am obsessing about why I have not felt you move at all. Your dad is convinced that I am being overly paranoid. I can't help it! I desperately want to know you are ok. I shared my concerns with your Aunties ... all of them reassured me that every pregnancy is different and some babies are just felt moving at a later time. Auntie Tracy said she didn't feel Sydney move till her 28th week while Auntie Len said she only felt Jeremy move in her 7th month.

I am somewhat relieved ... Then this morning, I think I did feel you move ... I felt a very subtle movement in my lower belly. Kind of like air bubbles in my tummy. I lay very still and placed my hands over the same area but I felt nothing. I gently wiggled my belly and there was another subtle flutter. I was so excited I yelled for your dad to come - he did - but apparently you were done moving for the day. Even after I wiggled my belly a few more times, I didn't feel anything anymore. I think that was your way of telling us to stop waking you up from your sleep! =) I guess I will just have to try and be patient, Bean, and wait for you to move when you are good and ready.

I've been reading the Pregnancy.com website where they track the weekly average size and weight of babies throughout the pregnancy. This 24th week you are over a pound in weight and around 12 inches in length (from your head to your toes). This is so amazing. An honest to goodness miracle! And you truly are! Let me tell you why, Bean. Last March 2010, I was diagnosed with an "illness" (well, not really an "illness" but for lack of a better word, I'll just use "illness" for now). Anyway, this "illness" that I had made having a baby almost impossible. I was so sad and depressed then. But when we conceived you three months later, I thought I had overcome the "illness". About 2 weeks ago, I saw another doctor who was convinced that I still have the "illness" (and will be treated for it after I deliver you). So while I know that every baby conceived is a miracle, your conception is an even greater miracle because you were conceived despite me being "ill". You are truly our miracle baby! I can not thank the Heavens enough for sending you to us.

I pray that you continue to grow strong and healthy. And I continue to wait excitedly for the day we will finally get to meet.

Love you, Beanie!


SIDE NOTE: Beanie actually made her presence felt that very night! As Jojo and I were lying down, watching tv, I felt a light jab on my lower belly. One, two, three jabs and it stopped. I thought I imagined it. After a few seconds, there it was again. One, two, three! By the 2nd jab, I actually grabbed Jojo's hand and placed in on my belly and he felt the third jab! I wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining it or just willing it to happen. Jojo confirmed it though - Beanie was definitely letting us know she was up and about!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Other Weird Things

Here are a few other weird things I am experiencing during this stage of pregnancy. (Well maybe "weird" isn't the right word, but rather some "unusual" things that are going on with me):

1.) These days I get sleepy really early (I can actually go to bed at 9 PM!) but for no discernible reason I wake up between 4 and 4:30 AM and am unable to sleep for the next two hours. I don't wake up cause I'm in any sort of pain, nor do I need to go to the bathroom. Actually there is nothing that happens at that time but like clockwork I wake up and can not sleep again till around 6 AM. Jojo and I are convinced that it's Jellybean's way of letting me know she's awake and wants some time with me. So while Jojo sleeps, I talk to Bean, pray with her, listen to Baby Einstein, or read baby books. This has been going on for the last 2 weeks.

2.) I am still not wearing maternity clothes (they are still too loose) but can not fit into most of my regular clothes either. So I'm kind of in-between and wearing my "fat clothes". Thank God I am pregnant during the Fall/Winter season when layering is in!

3.) I am hot all the time. "Hot" as in "feeling warm" and not "hot" as in "sexy!". These days the weather is SUPER COLD - let me illustrate by describing what Jojo wears to bed the last few nights. He's in thick jogging pants, a shirt, a long-sleeved sweatshirt, and sports socks. He's in bed with a fleece blanket and a down comforter. Plus we have a mini-heater on his side of the room. I on the other hand am in regular cotton pajamas (short-sleeved) and am content with just the blanket (half the time I have to kick it off at night cause I get too warm). Another reason I am grateful to be pregnant during the Fall/Winter season.

4.) I get some mild headaches at the end of the day (they last anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours). They are not bad headaches but noticeable. We think it's just me getting tired from work. The headaches are usually gone by the time we have dinner and get ready for bed. Also, Jojo has been learning acupressure and has been massaging my palm and it really helps! We're going to see my eye doctor this weekend just to be sure though.

5.) My tummy and breast area get INCREDIBLY ITCHY! I am constantly lathering with moisturizing lotion and talcum powder just to relieve the itch. I've been told it is because my body is stretching to accommodate the baby. That thought makes me happy but I can't say it helps with relieving itchiness.

6.) My falling hair seems to have abated somewhat or rather it is no longer concentrated in just one area anymore ... I'll post more on this in a separate entry. Much to talk about but still need a few more "tests"/ doctor visits to be sure.

7.) And as I mentioned in my last blog entry, I find myself very emotional lately. Not in a hysterical, overly-dramatic way ... but rather in a mushy, sentimental kind of way =)

As the days, weeks, months go by, things keep changing and my body goes through these strange phases ... pregnancy sure is interesting!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting All Emotional

My pregnancy hormones are going wacko these days. Yesterday I found myself crying while watching a late night country music concert on tv. It was hardly heart-wrenching after all it was was country music artists singing carols but it brought on the waterworks! This morning, I again started to tear up as I listened to Nat King Cole sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on the radio while driving to work. I don't know why ... and with no warning whatsoever I just got goosebumpy and tingly and then the tears just start flowing. I had to reassure my co-workers that I was okay when I walked in the office with puffy eyes. And just this evening, Jojo was being extra nice to me (he offered to make dinner AND wash the dishes afterwards) since I had a slight headache, well, you would think he offered me one of his kidneys the way I started feeling all weepy and emotional. I think Jojo did start to think I was acting a bit strange. It's sort of funny since I don't really consider myself the mushy / sentimental type. I do get emotional at times but it takes a lot to make me burst into tears. These days, well, it just seems to happen so randomly and so often. I can be sitting at mass listening to the homily and find myself moved to tears. That has happened on more than one occasion. Or it could be me just sitting quietly, reading baby books and when I think about my very own Jellybean, I can actually will myself to cry. It is kind of weird, funny and strange, all at the same time =)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My List of Things I am Thankful For ...

I have much to write about ... but will reserve that post for another day. Instead, today I choose to be positive and focus on the things I am THANKFUL for. Where do I begin? There are so many things I am grateful for - here are my top 20:

1.) First and most of all, I am so thankful for this beautiful baby we have been blessed with. Sometimes, just thinking about Jellybean makes me feel all weepy with joy. Call it pregnancy hormones, I like to think of it as my very own miracle.

2.) My husband, Jojo. I truly can not think of anyone that is so perfect for me in every way. He has made the last 11 years we have been together absolutely amazing!

3.) My mom. They say that when you get older (or become a mom yourself), you get to realize just how awesome your own mom is! That is 100% true. I have the bestest mom in the world who has been a true inspiration to me.

4.) My brothers and sisters - most especially my sisters (Atsi and Joy) have been incredibly supportive of me ever since but most especially now during my pregnancy. I am so lucky because I'm blessed not only with siblings but also best friends.

5.) My in-laws. I can't get over how supportive and thoughtful they all have been. From my parents-in-law to all 12 of my brothers and sisters-in-law. Yes, that makes 14 in-laws all together! Not to mention my 12 nieces and nephews! And also, my other brother-in-law, Mark, and his amazing ability to fix things around the house. He did a super job on the nursery closet!

6.) My aunts and uncles (at least the ones that still matter). I am grateful to know they are supportive of me and my family. Special thanks to Uncle Junior and Auntie Lillian for their support during my pregnancy.

7.) My friends both here and in Manila (and actually around the world). I don't get to see them often nor do we get to talk all that much. But despite the hustle and bustle of life, I know that they are there when I need them.

8.) Having a beautiful home that I am proud of - and a newly painted nursery that just lifts my spirits every time I walk into the room.

9.) Having a job that I actually enjoy going to every single day. It's not the best job, nor is it the most prestigious and high-paying one. But I enjoy working there and get a lot of satisfaction from the kind of work that I do.

10.) My colleagues and my boss. I work with some of the quirkiest people around and it makes every day pretty exciting. You can be sure there is never a dull moment when we're all together!

11.) Our health - although Jojo and I have a few issues here and there - overall we are blessed with good health that allows us to enjoy our lives together.

12.) My guama. She was very important to me when I was growing up and she continues to be an important person in my life. I don't get to see her these days but I am comforted knowing she is healthy and well.

13.) Having enough money to buy what we need but not too much money that we lose ourselves in it. I love knowing we have enough to indulge ourselves once in a while but I also love the fact that I can live on a budget (and don't need crazy expensive things to make me happy!).

14.) Having an awesome OB-GYN. Dr. Chen is truly one of the best doctors ever! I wish all doctors were as reassuring, caring and knowledgeable as he is! I am so glad that I found him.

15.) Pre-thanksgiving online sales that have allowed us to get a beautiful crib and dresser set for almost half the price (compared to retail stores). I absolutely love bargains!

16.) Facebook and the internet that have made the world a smaller place and have helped keep everyone in contact!

17.) I am thankful to have the holiday spirit in the air! It truly is starting to feel like Christmas. The temps have dipped down low, there are Xmas carols everywhere, and everyone just seems to be in high spirits!

18.) A 4-day weekend to spend with my husband and our family. Nothing planned but lots of things in-store!

19.) An awesome second trimester - with no more morning sickness and weird cravings. I am also equally thankful that so far things have been going so well with my pregnancy. Looking forward to the last 3 and 1/2 months! Here we go ...

20.) Having my dad as my very own guardian angel. These days I find so much comfort in having him near and knowing he is watching over Jellybean.

For these twenty things and so much more ... I am truly thankful.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Name Game

After polling our immediate family and several close friends (that are considered part of the family), we have come up with a final tally of votes for our baby girl's name. There were three choices ... (See my earlier post entitled "Third Letter" (last Nov. 7th) for a brief explanation of how we came up with the three favorites). Honestly, we love all three names almost equally - Jojo has his favorite and I have mine. But overall, we would be very happy and very proud to have Jellybean carry any of the names. Which is kind of why we decided to poll people ... we could not bring ourselves to decide on one on our own.

Anyway, it was a pretty tight race. The first round went to "Julianna Elise" as it was a clear favorite among my nieces (and I have 7 of them!). Then the votes swung in favor of "Jodie Helene" as my in-laws rallied around that name. "Jamie Gabrielle" also emerged as a winner when we heard from my family as most of them I knew wanted to honor my dad. In the end, after much see-sawing back and forth, well, there is still no clear winner as we have emerged with a TIE!

Final count:

Julianna Elise - 10 votes
Jodie Helene - 13 votes
Jamie Gabrielle - 13 votes

So we know for sure that Jellybean will be named after her grandmothers ... or in honor of my dad and archangel Gabriel. For those that have not voted ... feel free to throw in your two cents worth. We will definitely consider those votes too. However, we thought we would ask my guama to make the final decision and be the ultimate tie-breaker ... we'll see if she agrees =)

So, for now, stay tuned ... we don't have a name picked out YET but we are getting closer! =)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Personal Dilemma

I am going through a personal dilemma at this time. It has nothing to do with work (to be honest, that's been going pretty well lately). It has nothing to do with decorating the nursery (although shopping for furniture has been taking a LOT of my time lately - there's is just so much choice that it's kinda overwhelming). It has nothing to do with my pregnancy (well, maybe it kinda does, somewhat). Anyway, let me start at the beginning.

Last 2008 while I was in Manila, I noticed I had a lot of falling hair. (Yes, my dilemma has to do with my hair!). Anyway, I attributed the falling hair to stress (I just recently quit a very stressful job and was going through a tough time with my dad's illness). In 2009, the falling hair continued even if it was a less stressful year. During my Xmas visit to Manila, my Auntie Rose brought me to the clinic of Dr. Alan Ong a well-known hair expert from Australia. Dr. Ong prescribed some extra vitamins, a shampoo and a topical hair solution that I had to massage into my scalp twice a day. I was assured these were natural medicines and so I religiously applied them for the next 5 months. They actually worked - I did feel the thinning had decreased.

In May of this year, I ran out of the meds and asked my mom to send me some from Manila. She sent them through my Auntie June who arrived early July. By that time, I had a "feeling" I was pregnant and so even if I had the meds, I chose not to apply them since my doctor told me it would be better not to because of my condition. So I stopped - cold turkey. The next few months - the falling hair started up again but nothing alarming. However, by the end of Sept. I noticed a significant loss again. I consulted with Dr. Chen, my OB-GYN, who assured me that falling hair, although not typical during pregnancy was normal because hormones are out of whack.

By the end of October, I noticed I was starting to develop a slight bald spot on the crown of my head (nothing too hideous and not noticeable when I styled my hair - but there is no denying it was there - and it seemed to be growing too!). This started to scare me so I made another appointment with Dr. Chen and discussed the problem with him. This time, he thought it may be better to go see a hair/skin specialist (Dr. Wilson). I met with Dr. Wilson last week.

To be honest, Dr. Wilson could not tell why I was losing hair - especially in the crown area of my head. He ruled out alopecia areata and other possible diseases. His only idea was a type of female pattern baldness. This was a bit scary! But he was optimistic that we could still do something about it. HERE LIES MY DILEMMA: Dr. Wilson prescribed a mild-potency topical medicine (a gel-like substance called Luxiq) that needs to be applied to the affected area twice a day. The medicine is very mild (according to Dr. Wilson). He assured me it would be ok to use since I was already well into my 2nd trimester (although he did say if I was in my first trimester, he probably would not prescribe this). I was relly doubtful and asked if he could check with my OB GYN just to make sure. So while I was waiting in his office, Dr. Wilson called Dr. Chen. I was told that Dr. Chen gave his ok too for me to use the medicine. But later when I went home and did my own research on Lixiq, my fears were not allayed. There was not enough medical data or studies done on pregnant women to assure it would be safe for the baby.

I am so torn up about this. On the one hand, this losing my hair issue is really driving me crazy. I honestly feel like it is all I can think about these days (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration ... but you know what I mean). I am really so upset not knowing if this is temporary or if it will progress even further. It is so frustrating. On the other hand, I can not risk using the medicine and harming Jellybean. I am scared that it may hurt her or may cause her to get sick. I honestly don't know what the effects would be. Jojo has been so supportive but I can tell he's at a loss too. He knows I am bothered by this and wants me to be happy but I know he worries about the baby too. So far, I have not used the medicine. I keep thinking about Jellybean and can not bring myself to use it. Am I being paranoid? Weird? Overly dramatic? or just plain stupid? Sigh.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Peek at the Nursery

We're getting ready to fix up the nursery. My brother-in-law, Mark, offered to help us paint the nursery. My other brothers-in-law (Jay, Lee, Roy and Jojo) have been contracted to help put the furniture together. My mom has generously offered to buy the crib and chest set as a gift to her first ever apo. And Jojo is ready to crack open his wallet to pay for everything else for our unica hija. I've done nothing but window shop at stores and online the last few days getting everything in order. We are ready!

Here is the theme of our nursery:

I chose yellow (actually it's called Pale Sunlight) for the primary color. I wanted a bright, sunny room for our baby girl. I shy away from princess themes in shades of bubblegum pink (honestly, I got a headache looking at all that pink!). I also wanted bright accent colors that make the room attractive but charming all at the same time. And who does not love butterflies? They just make the room seem so happy =)

I am so excited to start working on the room. We are setting aside the Thanksgiving Weekend to get some serious work started! =)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Third Letter

Dear Jellybean,

Happy 5th month! Boy, time sure is flying by these days. In just 4 more months (more or less ... and I am definitely hoping it's the latter), we get to finally meet you. We are sooo excited! We have your latest sonogram picture posted on the fridge and every day I walk by and see your beautiful face. I know most people say that all babies look alike, especially in their sonogram pictures, but I can already make out some of your features (maybe this is just me and my active imagination). But irregardless, I just know in my heart that you are beautiful!

We've been making so many preparations for your arrival. Shopping for furniture, decorating your nursery, and endless planning with any one and every one for when you finally come join us. One of the biggest preps is coming up with your name. Both your dad and I want to make sure we give you a special name that will let the whole world know just how special you really are. After thinking and praying long and hard, we have come up with three favorites:

1.) JULIANNA ELISE (because these have been two of my most favorite names since forever). I love how both names sound so charming and romantic.
2.) JODIE HELENE (because we would love for you to be named after both your grandmothers - my mom's name is Judy and your dad's mom's name is Helen. We think it would be wonderful to have you named after the two most important mothers in our lives.)
3.) JAMIE GABRIELLE - (because we wanted you to be named after two special "angels". My dad's name is James and I am positive he is now your very own, special angel and of course guardian angel Gabriel, who I have been praying to to keep you safe).

My personal favorites are Julianna and Jamie while your dad favors Jodie. We sort of got stuck for a while and decided that since we would like to share raising you with our immediate families, then they should get to vote on your name too.

So far, the results have been:
1.) Julianna Elise - 8 votes
2.) Jodie Helene - 10 votes
3.) Jamie Gabrielle - 5 votes

Your grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins on your dad's side came over for dinner last night to vote. We are still waiting for my side to cast their vote (that's 6 more additional uncounted votes) and of course your Uncle Ogie, Auntie Vange and cousins in Manila have yet to be polled. So it's pretty much still anything goes in terms if your name. But we thought the whole process of naming you has made you feel more real and closer to us. And has brought you closer to your immediate family too. Everyone is just so darned excited to meet you! And remember, no matter what name we give you, just know you will always be special and always be loved.

See you soon my little Bean!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Wonderful News

Today, Jojo and I were at the Magella Medical Center for my final ultrasound at the lab. We were both extra excited because today was also the day we were going to find out the gender of our baby. Jojo and I waited with bated breath as the technician started the ultrasound procedure and went over each of Jellybean's features and parts - identifying each one. She started with the head, the brain, the face, the heart, the spine, the internal organs, the arms, hands, fingers, and skipped over to the legs, feet and toes. She told us every part of Jellybean was perfectly forming and the absolute right size. Everything was going so smoothly. Finally, after Jojo asked for the fifth time about gender, she pronounced "It's a baby girl!".

A BABY GIRL! I know that "happiness" is an emotion but I honestly felt actual physical manifestations. My tummy tingled, my breathing quickened, tears of joy came to my eyes, and I felt chilly all over upon hearing the news. Jojo got to his feet and came to stand by me and had the hugest grin on his face. He was thrilled to hear the news and later said "baby girl, you rock my world". Hahaha! We are, of course, thrilled to have a healthy baby but also thrilled to know we are having a little princess come join our family. Jojo kept saying "I'm going to have a daddy's girl!".

A few minutes after my ultrasound, the technician had a doctor come in to confirm the tests and he concurred saying "it is a girl". So unless there is some huge mistake or a miracle that changes things, it looks like we're having a daughter. Isn't that wonderful??? I can't think of any way that this day could get any better!

Friday, October 29, 2010

3 Day Separation

Last Wednesday, Jojo left for a three day work trip to Scottsdale. This is certainly not the first time Jojo and I have spent time apart. When I used to work for a consulting firm and then the bank, I travelled for work all the time. Likewise, Jojo had to take a few work related trips in the past. Then of course, when I would go home to Manila, Jojo and I would be apart too. And then the times I travelled around the US with my family and Jojo would either stay behind or just catch up a few days later. Those are days when we would be temporarily separated too. But the biggest difference about this 3-day “separation” is the fact that I am pregnant and for some reason my hormones are out of whack. This means, I have been dreading having my husband gone for three days and have been missing him a lot while he has been away.

There’s a Filipino belief called “paglilihi” which basically means a pregnant woman is craving something. Usually food. The most common is wanting to eat green mangoes and “bagoong” (shrimp paste). I guess this is quite similar to Western women craving pickles and ice cream when they are expecting a baby. But in the Filipino culture, “paglilihi” could go beyond just plain old food cravings. You could actually “lihi” towards something or someone. It could be really wanting to be around certain scents, certain things, certain people. In my case, one of my Filipino co-workers actually said she thought I was “naglilihi” with my husband. Which is kinda sorta true. While Jojo and I have a great relationship where we like to be together and do things with each other … these days I do notice that it is more true than usual. We spend our entire weekend together (hanging out at home, going out with family and friends, and even doing chores around the house together). On weekdays, we breakfast together, go to work, have lunch together, go back to work, then come home and make dinner together, before going for our evening strolls. We then watch tv together and say our prayers as a couple. It may be a little strange to be together so much but these days this “togetherness” is such a comfort to me.

So, anyway, with that said, I guess it’s understandable why I am a bit sadder than usual with Jojo leaving for 3 days. It definitely helps that my sister, Atsi Jenny, is staying with me. She and her husband Mark came over on Wed to spend the evening with me. Mark had to leave since he had work the next day. But Atsi stayed with me and kept me “distracted” from missing my hubby. It’s been nice having my sister over. It’s been like a slumber party where we’ve been shopping, eating, fixing stuff around the house, telling stories, staying up to watch tv and just having some sisterly bonding time. It’s a nice break for her to come out and stay with me for 3 days and a nice break for me too. This afternoon, Mark is coming back to pick Atsi up and by that time Jojo will be back from Scottsdale too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Advanced Merry Xmas

I know that Christmas is still a few weeks away but last night I got bitten by the Christmas bug. All of a sudden, I got excited about the upcoming holiday season. I have always been open about my LOVE for CHRISTMAS and this year is no different - I cannot wait till the holidays are officially here. I started working on my Xmas list and even started shopping online. Jojo and I usually do our holiday shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend. For starters we have those days off from work plus we avail of the big, Black Friday sales. But this year, because of my pregnancy, I may have to resort to online shopping. Which to me is just as fun, if not a tad more convenient! =)

What makes this year even more special is we get to celebrate Xmas at our home. Every year (if we don’t fly home to Manila to be with my family), we celebrate the holiday season here with my in-laws. We each take a turn hosting one of the major “Ber” holidays at each of our homes. This year, by luck of the draw, we picked Xmas. So for the upcoming holiday season, our schedule is as follows: Halloween at Lee and Edel’s; Thanksgiving at Jojo and Tracy’s, Christmas at our place; and New Year’s at Roy and Marik’s.

I love the fact that Christmas Eve is at our place. I am so excited to start bringing out my boxes of Christmas decors. Last night, I actually wanted to hang our parol (Xmas lantern) on our porch already. Jojo convinced me though to at least wait till after Halloween so the neighborhood kids don’t get confused when they come over for Trick or Treating. The thing is not only do I love Xmas eve and day but I actually love the anticipation that comes with it. I love hearing Xmas carols on the radio and seeing Xmas decors up at the malls. I love picking presents and actually enjoy gift wrapping them. I absolutely enjoy seeing all those brightly colored packages under our tree. I love the cool weather that comes with the holidays and getting to bundle in thick sweaters and bulky coats. And then, there’s planning the Xmas Eve menu. At our family parties, the host usually provides the main dish and the rest bring side dishes – this year I am thinking of a Balsamic Roast Pork with roasted harvest veggies. I saw a recipe the other night from Good Housekeeping that doesn’t look too daunting. If all else fails, my mom also taught me a super easy roast pork recipe that I’ve made a number of times with roasted potatoes, that has been a real crowd pleaser. Or maybe I should do roast beef this year? Hmmm …

Anyway, I just wanted to get a jumpstart and wish everyone an Advanced MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Tribute To My Husband

Throughout my pregnancy (the last 17 weeks), I have discovered a new side to my husband. Of course, long before I became pregnant, I have already realized how lucky I am to have married such a wonderful guy. Jojo is truly the epitome of a wonderful husband – he is loving, supportive, kind, funny, generous and most of all he makes me a better person. But lately, well, he has exceeded being “just wonderful”. I don’t know if it’s my pregnancy hormones or the fact that today is such an overcast, rainy day leading to sentimental thoughts … but thinking about how wonderful Jojo is, is actually making me weepy. Weepy in a good way, of course.

These days Jojo is extra caring – he makes sure I get enough sleep, I eat well, I don’t over-exert myself and I get my regular exercise. There are nights when I know he is so tired from work but he will gladly put on his sweats to go walking with me (since he knows I hate walking by myself). He is over solicitous in taking over housework – often doing the laundry, cleaning, and even the cooking (which used to be solely my domain) so I can just relax on the couch. And whenever I do take over kitchen duties, he never complains about what I make even if it’s just turkey sandwiches for dinner. He does little things too just to surprise me – like filling my car with gas during the weekend saving me a trip to the gas station on Monday morning, or working on the bills since he knows I hate going over all the junk mail. Jojo has been trying his best to accommodate all my silly pregnancy cravings and whims. These days I get to pick where we eat and what we do on the weekends. I also get to indulge on these sometimes random cravings / ideas that pop into my head – like a visit to Souplantation in the middle of the week or wanting to go shopping for baby furniture all Saturday. And while I know Jojo would probably rather do other things, he gamely goes along with his crazy wife. My absolute favorite though is in the evenings when we lie in bed and watch tv, Jojo, without complaint, gives me back rubs and scratches my back until I fall asleep.

I am truly so lucky to have a husband who does not mind going on doctor’s visits, who is willing to sit through hours of baby classes, and who reads baby books with me. A husband who does not mind that we listen to Baby Einstein when we’re in the car, who gets roped into endless hours talking about plans on how the nursery will be decorated, and who can listen to all my gripes about gaining weight and the changes my body is going through. He makes me laugh when I am down and feeling sorry for myself. He reassures me when I start freaking about how painful labor will be. And he gently reminds me to tone it down when I get carried away and start going off, making plans that are way too elaborate. I also love how he talks to Jellybean every night before we go to bed and how he sometimes rubs my belly when we say our evening prayers. I truly believe I am so blessed to be having a baby and even more so that I can share this experience with Jojo. And if Jojo is such a great hubby to me, I can’t wait to see the kind of dad he will be.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last Week's Highlights

The last couple of days have been somewhat busy. Of course there’s the usual – work, running the house, doctor visits, Jellybean updates, etc. – but aside from that we also had some guests over. My high school friend, Joann and her family (including her adorable 3-year old daughter, Andie) stayed with us for a week. It’s always nice catching up with long-time friends and making new ones. This time around we got to hang out with Joann’s sister and brother-in-law as well. My other high school friend, Pam, stayed with us for one night too. And it was nice finally meeting her husband, Michael.

Living in Torrance (which is 15 miles from LA) and about 8 miles from the airport, we get a steady stream of visitors year round. This could be a hassle for many people, but I actually kinda enjoy it. It helps that we live in a home with 3 extra bedrooms and 2 extra bathrooms – and so having people over isn’t too much trouble. Of course that’s going to change next year since we are converting one of the rooms into Jellybean’s nursery and my sister, Joy, might come live with us taking another room. That leaves 1 extra bedroom (which may become Jojo’s and my office). I guess guests will just have to bunk on the sofa then =)

Anyway, back to having guests … it isn’t really that much of a hassle since most of my guests are pretty self-sufficient. They usually rent their own cars and can get to the typical LA tourist spots on their own (Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc., etc.). Jojo and I usually just see them over breakfast, dinner and the weekend. Which is pretty cool since it works out for everyone involved.

While Joann and Pam were here, we had home-cooked spaghetti the first night, take-out Chinese food on the second, and margherita pizzas for the third. On Friday night we had dinner at Maggianos at the Grove, went to Santa Barbara and Camarillo on Saturday, relaxed on Sunday and had dinner at Ocean Star restaurant in Monterey Park. It was busy but in a non-hectic, non-tiring way. It helps that both Joann and I are expecting (she is on her 5th month while I am on my 4th month) so the pace was very relaxed. Being preggy with a friend is also another cool thing to be experiencing together.

Oh we did have a minor mishap on Saturday morning, though. We were convoying on our way to Santa Barbara when our car (Jojo was driving and I was on the passenger seat), rear-ended a Buick minivan. The minivan did a full stop right in the middle of the 110 freeway – Jojo hit the brakes, but even with all his driving skill, our car could not stop in time since we were going about 60 miles an hour and had about 40-50 feet between our car and the van. It was a bit surreal watching the minivan come closer and finally hitting it (like it was happening in slow motion – I actually had time to brace myself and put my hands over my belly to protect Jellybean - although of course in real time, it all happened in a matter of seconds). Luckily we were all ok. No one was hurt – except the minivan which had a very dented rear bumper. Our Venza, has proven to be a really safe family car since we escaped with very minor scratches. Jojo and I were extra concerned about Jellybean – but thank god, there was nothing to worry about. It seems Jellybean is one tough little baby! The accident was unfortunate but in the grand scheme of things – we were very lucky and are thankful that all is well.

Yesterday (Monday) my friends left for San Francisco and the house has become quiet again. I’m always a little sad when people leave … but I think that’s a good sign. That just means guests have not overstayed their welcome =) So that in a nutshell was the week that was. Here’s looking forward to other weeks just like it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Third Check-Up

Today was my third doctor’s check up and it went very smoothly. I was in and out of there in less than 25 minutes (and that includes my 5-minute wait at the reception area when I arrived). One of the things I like best about my doctor is that he is a very no fuss person (but he never makes you feel rushed either) and it carries over to even his administrative staff. They set an appointment for you and if you come on time, everything is done rather effortlessly. Thank god for that since I took an hour off from work and was worried because the rain was pouring that I would be late. Luckily, I came in with 5 minutes to spare.

Today was just a routine check-up. As usual, we did a urine test (which is pretty standard). I also got my vitals checked (weight, blood pressure, heart rate, etc). Surprisingly, since my last visit (4 weeks ago), I had not gained a single ounce. What are the odds of that??? I thought for sure I would have gained some weight since my regular clothes kind of feel snug these days – I guess this extra girth is all Jellybean and not belly fat!

Dr. Chen came a few minutes later and we checked the baby’s heartbeat. This time, we had no trouble locating it. The sound was strong and very clear. Dr. Chen said this was an excellent sign. He then checked to make sure my uterus was in place and did some other routine examinations. He pronounced me as proceeding “perfectly” with my pregnancy and told me to keep up the good work. Then we had a brief Q&A session. As usual, I had a multitude of questions, such as:

1.) Is it normal to have so much falling hair (which I am experiencing)? He gave me a long, scientific explanation, but basically can be summed as as “Yes, it is normal”.
2.) What kind of medication can I take if I get a cold (I thought I was getting one last week)? He gave me a list of meds that are ok (such as Tylenol and Claritin).
3.) Can I start pre-natal aerobic classes (which I am planning to sign up for)? Basic answer is “yes, but don’t overdo it”.

After a few more questions, Dr. Chen told me the results of our genetic counseling blood tests were in and everything has come out negative. He told me I could now breathe a big sigh of relief and to go ahead and enjoy my second trimester. I do have another round of blood tests scheduled next week but so far, so good. YAY! I’m just so glad that everything is going well so far.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby Dreams

I don’t know if this is a sign but I had a dream last night. In my dream, I had already given birth and was leaning over a crib, changing Jellybean’s diaper. I was expertly changing the dirty nappy (even if I’ve never really changed one on my own – ever). But the interesting part was seeing Jellybean’s face and finding out that I have a gorgeous and totally sweet baby boy. Yup, it was clear as day, I had a baby boy. And right after that realization, I get sprayed with baby pee (from my gorgeous and totally sweet baby boy). That definitely woke me up from my dream! Anyway, I don’t know how much weight a mom-to-be’s dreams play on predicting a baby’s actual gender, but I’d like to think that maybe it’s a sign =)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Condolences

Last night, we received some sad news. My sister’s mother-in-law, Marcia, had passed away. Marcia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had been battling the disease for over two years. It was a very tough battle for her – going through the Whipple procedure (which removes the cancerous part of the pancreas) and undergoing bouts of chemotherapy. In the end, she finally found peace from the relentless cancer and died peacefully surrounded by her family. What makes this event even sadder for me, is the fact that this was the same disease that took my dad away from us. Ironically, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few weeks after Marcia. In fact, around that time, another very close family friend of ours (my Uncle Bobby) was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Uncle Bobby is still fighting the big fight. He also underwent the Whipple procedure (like Marcia and my dad) and also had numerous bouts of chemotherapy and other types of invasive treatments as well.

Two years ago, cancer (pancreatic or otherwise) was the farthest thing from my mind. Today, it has become such a part of our lives. There are days when I still cannot believe my dad is gone because of it. Sometimes I feel cheated thinking that at least Marcia and Uncle Bobby had two years to keep fighting the disease. My dad had just over 7 months till he was abruptly taken away from us. 7 months is an incredibly short amount of time and even if it felt like forever when we were waiting for results and waiting for dad to get better, in reality, it seems like my dad was gone just like that. Many times, I wish that since dad was diagnosed with cancer, at least he could have had the same amount of time others had (and much, much more) so we, as a family, could still take care of him, could still fight the cancer together, could still hope for a miracle. I would, in a heartbeat, take any additional time I could spend with my dad, even if he was very ill and we had to take care of him round-the-clock. But I know that is being selfish of me. I know that is not the kind of life my dad would want to have. He was always a practical man insisting he didn’t want to be attached to tubes and machines. He didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. That he would rather have a quality life than one purely based on quantity.

Everything happens for a reason. Once my mom and Marcia had a conversation about Marcia’s bouts with chemotherapy. And I remember Marcia distinctly telling my mom that maybe my dad was the lucky one whose battle with cancer ended sooner – and he no longer had to suffer as much. I had never thought of it that way. Of course, I don’t want my dad to suffer and even if it was so hard for me to let him go, in the end, the one thing that made it easier for me was knowing he was in a better place and that he was no longer going through any hardship. I still miss my dad every single day and I still think about him all the time, but in my heart, I know he is still with us in spirit and I do find consolation knowing that he is happy and at peace wherever he is. I wish the same for Marcia (that she is now at peace and no longer in pain) and I also pray that her family finds consolation in that fact.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

13th Week

Okay, I may have jumped the gun a bit last week. I was celebrating the end of my first trimester since I had officially reached 12 weeks. In my mind, 12 weeks equals 3 months, and if women are pregnant for 9 months then the first three months would equal the first trimester, right? Here’s where it gets weird. Even if women are pregnant for 9 months (which would be 36 weeks), it takes 40 weeks to carry a baby to full term. And so 40 weeks divided by 3 (trimesters) equals 13.3 weeks. So technically, I should only be celebrating the end of my first trimester this week (which is my 13th week). Does that make sense? Anyhoo, it’s all a moot point by this point anyway.

So, are there any noticeable changes now that I am in / entering my 2nd trimester? None that are extra significant really. My morning sickness is almost gone (except for a few very minor mishaps). My cravings are down to almost a minimum which is good and bad. Good, because I am no longer very particular or picky about food. But also bad, because I now like eating almost everything and anything (and have to consciously try to eat healthy and balanced meals). Which I can’t say always happens. My sleeping patterns are more normal too – gone are the days where I am a complete sleepyhead (sleeping more than 12 hours a day). These days, it seems 8 hours of sleep is my magic number. I still have to pee a lot which I am told will get worse as the pregnancy progresses. It’s a drag to have to get up sometimes 3-4 times a night to go pee. But it’s not so bad. On a more “personal level” (and those who don’t want too much information can stop reading till the end of this paragraph and can just pick up again in the next paragraph), my breasts are still super tender (it almost hurts when I put on a shirt because of the chafing – but I notice that moisturizing lotion helps. And my pooping is also now on a more regular basis (it was bordering on constipation a few weeks ago). (I did warn you that I would be sharing TMI – too much info!).

Another slight “change” is I’ve noticed that some of my pants and skirts have started to feel slightly more snug. At first, I thought, maybe I was just gaining weight (read the part again where I wrote about now wanting to eat anything and everything!). Plus we’ve just had so many occasions to eat out and entertain this month … it’s been crazy! But Jojo said he didn’t really notice the other parts of my body gaining weight – just the lower part of my belly (and my waist area) seem to be thickening. So I’ve consulted my hoard of baby books and the multitude of pregnancy websites I frequent and they do say that most pregnant women start to experience tummy “growth” towards the third, fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. So, this extra little bulge (not enough to show yet, but certainly enough for me to notice), is just Jellybean making his/her presence felt. How surreal that for the first time in my entire life, I am excited about this extra little bit of flab and the extra 2 pounds that have showed up on my scale this morning! =)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Genetic Counseling

Yesterday was Jojo’s and my initiation into the world of parenthood. We were at the Magella Medical Center for our genetic counseling session. Basically, all parents-to-be are encouraged to attend genetic counseling sessions. But if the mother-to-be is 35 years and older, it is required attendance by the State of California. So, at exactly 9:00 am, Jojo and I were sitting in the waiting room filling out loads of paperwork. About 20 minutes later, we were ushered into the office of Ira, our genetic counselor.

Basically, genetic counseling is where a certified geneticist goes over your family history (in every microscopic detail) and then discusses with you facts, statistics, and loads of information about possible genetic diseases and deformities your baby may be born with. No matter how nice the office is and no matter how genuinely warm our counselor is, there is no sugar-coating some pretty gruesome facts. There are so many possible problems a baby can be born with – Down Syndrome, Muscle Atrophy, Autism, etc, etc. Each one (and there was a lot) was explained in painstaking detail as well as the stats (like how likely, percent-wise, it could happen to us based on our race, family history and age). Throughout most of the session, I was sitting there shell-shocked and imagining the worst.

Ira then discussed the possible tests in order to determine if our baby could have these defects. The basic tests include an ultrasound to measure the baby’s neck size and a couple of blood tests to see if Jojo and I are carriers of certain chromosomes. After that, there are other more invasive tests (that are pretty scary to consider). Also, all of which run the risk of possibly miscarrying the baby. Of course that makes me even more paranoid! I was glad Jojo was there because he is always the rational one and he was the one who decided we would do the two basic tests first and if the tests appeared to be positive for any anomaly then we may consider the more invasive procedures.

Our next step was to go into the ultrasound room to measure Jellybean’s neck size. I was so nervous and praying so hard that the size would be normal. Jojo was seeing Jellybean for the first time and was just excited to see his baby on a giant t.v. screen. As the technician tried to get measurements, she was laughing because Jellybean was so extra active. He/She was dancing around and moving so much we could not get an accurate picture. It was like Jellybean knew we were watching and wanted to put on a good show for us! Normally an ultrasound takes 5-10 minutes, but I was lying there for close to half an hour while the technician tried to get a good shot of Jellybean’s head/neck. I had to lie on my back, shift to the left, then the right, then back again, trying to get Jellybean in position. All this time, I was so anxious to find out if Jellybean’s neck size was within the normal range. Finally, after several attempts (the technician even had to resort to lightly shaking my belly over and over again to move Jellybean around), we got the needed screenshot. Jellybean’s necksize was 1.9 mm. Anything below 3.0 mm is considered normal and above that indicates possible genetic defects. I cried tears of relief. Also, we found out the Jellybean is now exactly 3 inches long from the top of his/her head to the tips of his/her toes. No longer a “jellybean” more like a Gummi Worm =)

I had to get some blood tests done afterwards just to make sure I was not a carrier of certain chromosomes. The results come out in 7 – 10 days. Then Jojo needs to get his tests done. After that, we both need to be re-tested after 6 weeks. And another ultrasound when I am in my 6th month. All these not to mention my regular visits to my OB-GYN plus my regular lab work too. So many tests and procedures!

While the neck size is normal, the blood test results will give us an even clearer picture. So even if I am a little relieved after yesterday, I am still praying the test results come out negative. SIGH. Jojo and I are not even “parents” yet and already we are subjected to worrying and hoping for the best for little Jellybean. This just makes me appreciate everything my own parents have gone through for me!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Second Letter

My dear Jellybean,

Today is the end of my first trimester of pregnancy which makes it the official start of your fourth month. Happy 4th month to you! It’s strange how it seems like time just flew by and at the same time it seems to be dragging on so slowly. Sometimes I can’t believe that a third of my pregnancy is over and that in 6 months I’ll be meeting you in-person! And sometimes I feel it’s taking so long for you to get here and I am so anxious to have you with us already!

The first trimester was an adventure. What a ride! Let me tell you that your dad was incredible through it all. I honestly do not know how I could have gone through it without him. He was exceptionally supportive, understanding and caring. He really went above and beyond the call of duty. I am still amazed at his patience and thoughtfulness in dealing with a first-time, worry-wart, hormonally-crazed mother-to-be who was going through weird cravings, morning sickness and a perpetually cranky mood. God bless him! When you arrive, we must find a way to properly thank him =)

A few days ago I wrote a blog entry regarding how perfect the timing of your arrival is. It’s true. You are such a long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated baby but at the same time your “late” arrival allowed us to prepare for when you do arrive. Sometimes I do wish you had come just a little bit sooner. It would have been perfect if you had the chance to meet your guakong. He would have spoiled you rotten, I’m sure. I can just imagine how great a grandpa he would be (considering what an awesome father he was!). Thinking about how you two won’t meet made me sad, but Jojo reassured me that for sure you and my dad have already met and bonded in heaven. And that it is certain that you are coming with my dad’s blessing and a part of him is already with you. That made me immensely happy.

So your arrival really is perfect timing! Of course there are some things we have to put off now that you are coming. For starters, we were planning to go home to Manila in January for my best friend’s wedding. Then in February, we were suppose to join our friends on their honeymoon. Mid next year, we were planning a visit to some other friends in Vancouver. And late next year, we had a trip to New England planned with the family. Looks like those things are on hold for now. =) No regrets though, Bean, I know that there will be plenty of time for trips and travels when you are old enough. And thankfully our family and friends have been extra understanding.

Last week, I had a visit with Dr. Chen. It was a routine check-up and everything was going well. Dr. Chen asked me if I wanted to listen to your heartbeat and I said “Yes”. He hooked us up to a small, portable machine and tried to find your heartbeat. After a few minutes of just silence, he told me it would be better if I had another ultrasound as we could not hear anything. While I waited for the ultrasound machine to be set up in the next room, I cannot begin to describe to you how nervous I was. In my usual state of “panic-mode worrying”, I started imagining the worst as to why we could not hear your heartbeat. But as soon as Dr. Chen applied the gel and placed the ultrasound machine sensor on my belly, you appeared on the screen. It actually appeared that you were waving at us from the screen. I asked Dr. Chen why we could not hear your heartbeat and he calmly replied that sometimes babies like to play hide-and-seek and that sometimes mom’s belly-fat can also block the sound of a baby’s heartbeat from the machine. Haha! So it’s either you are a playful baby or I have some extra belly-fat (uhm, I think it’s probably a bit of both).

The last few days I’ve been window shopping for your nursery. I have so many ideas and so many things I want to get for you. We are waiting to know if you will be a baby boy or a baby girl though. I was thinking that if you are a boy I would decorate your nursery in light green and tan with a baby jungle animal theme (your dad prefers a blue room with stars, planets and spaceships). And if you are a baby girl, I thought pale yellow and baby pink with lots of bunnies and butterflies (your dad is non-committal as long as it is not “too pink”). We’ve also been coming up with a list of possible names for you. Your dad and I pretty much agree on a few favorites and have not really had to veto each other’s choices. Except one time, I had to put my foot down when your dad wanted your nickname to be “Goku” after a Dragonball-Z character (I think you will thank me for this later!).

Anyway, Bean, we are starting the next phase in our adventure. Second trimester, here we come! I just want to reassure you that we love you and can’t wait to finally meet you. See you in 6 months!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Life Lessons

Lessons I’ve learned (often the hard way) and hope to impart to Jellybean:

1.) Sometimes the things you count on and the people you thought would be there for you are the very things and people that let you down. It may be intentional or not, but it happens. But life goes on and you will always recover.
2.) There are times when life seems unfair and you feel the whole world is out to get you. There are days when nothing seems to be going your way. And even when it seems like you are at your lowest, the fact is , it does get better and there will come a time when you will realize that with every low point comes an equally good high point as well.
3.) There will be instances when things don’t make sense and we have so many unanswered questions. We feel lost and uncertain. We need to hang in there because in the end, things have a way of becoming clearer (and if not, then maybe we were never really meant to know in the first place).
4.) Sometimes we are faced with having to make difficult choices. When all the possibilities seem too good to be true (or too bad to have to consider). It leaves us sometimes so undecided that we lose out on opportunities. Sometimes we just need to think hard, go with our gut, and take a leap of faith.
5.) We will find ourselves having regrets over choices we’ve made or playing the “what if” game. The thing is life is all about moving on and regrets won’t do us any good. Everything happens for a reason (even the mistakes we’ve made in our life have happened to make us better, stronger and wiser).
6.) Heartache, disappointment, frustration and stress are horrible things to experience. But they can help make us stronger. If we choose to let them consume us, it could be our downfall. But we can always choose to make them work for us and help us become better persons.
7.) It is easy to focus on the negative and easy to get consumed by jealousy (always looking at what others have and what you yourself do not). But the key is to train yourself to be focus more on the positive and to realize your blessings and all the good in your own life.
8.) Sometimes the people who love us have to hurt us – and it’s really for our own good. Sometimes we have to hurt those we love – and it’s really for their own good. Loving and caring for someone is not always easy. But it is worth it in the end.
9.) There are instances where we have to make sacrifices in order to get what we want. Life is not always easy and we need to work hard to get the things we really, truly desire. It’s good to remember though that the best things in life are often worth the sacrifice and that good things come to those who wait.
10.) We always find ourselves worrying (it especially runs in our family!). Worrying about every little thing and making mountains out of molehills. One of the best things my mom ever told me is that “worrying is an insult to God” and that we should have faith and trust. We need to consciously let go of our worries because in the end worrying is a futile effort that does us no good.
11.) Treat others the way you want to be treated. It sounds so basic but often many of us need to be reminded.
12.) Don't be too quick to judge, don't say things in anger, and don't hold grudges. These are not easy to do and may be things that you need to work on all your life (I know, I am!). But the effort to become a better person is and should be a life-long endeavor anyway.

And most of all, LOVE YOURSELF (be comfortable being alone with yourself and being in your own skin). The only way to be truly happy and to let go of any insecurities is to realize that you are who you are and that you are the best you can be (anyone who disagrees or puts you down is one less person you need to have in your life anyway).

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Perfect Timing

Last night, I was having some difficulty falling asleep (probably because I took an almost 3-hour nap that afternoon and so I wasn’t that sleepy yet when bedtime came around). As I lay in bed, I thought about the timing of Jellybean’s arrival. Even though, Jojo and I have wanted to start a family for the last three and a half years, it seems that Jellybean’s arrival, although long anticipated, came at the exact right time.

Jojo and I got married on Dec 2004. The first two years of our marriage, we purposely did not try to conceive. Mainly it was because I wanted to make sure everything was settled before we started a family. I wanted to make sure our immigration papers were in order, that financially we would be prepared, and that we would have some time to spend together as a couple before welcoming a new addition to the family. Jojo was very supportive. I think in many ways he wanted to make sure we were both mentally, emotionally and financially stable too.

In 2006, we talked about starting a family but that same year, I also started a new job at a financial institution. It was a very good career move on my end as I was entering the corporate world, getting paid very well, and facing a lot of challenges that made me a stronger person both on a professional and personal level. The next two years we tried to get pregnant but I knew in my heart it probably would not happen given that we were both professionally stressed with work and busy climbing the corporate ladder.

In 2008, I decided to leave that high-paying but equally high-stress job and concentrate on family. Jojo again was extremely supportive. But that same year, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and it was without question that I would drop everything to be there for my dad. I spent a month here in the States, along with my mom and sister, taking care of my dad (driving him to doctor’s appointments, taking him to the hospital, going to the lab for tests, etc). After it was decided that he would receive treatment back in Manila, it was without hesitation and with my husband’s full support, that I flew home to be with my dad and family. I spent the next 7 months in Manila (most of it in the hospital watching over my dad and at home spending time with my mom and siblings). It was a very difficult time for all of us but I would not have traded being there for anything in the world. I was so glad to have the chance to be with my dad and to be there for him during the time he needed us.

In mid-2009, I flew back to the States and spent the next 5 months just taking it easy. Partly it was a time for me to mourn my dad and also for me to move on with my life. I tried looking for work but the timing was never right. It was great though to be able to recharge and relax. I did some part time work and volunteered with local non-profit groups. I also got the chance to work out and take care of myself. The end of 2009, we again flew home to Manila for a month to spend the holidays with family.

In early 2010, I finally found a job where I am happy, challenged (but not stressed) and where I find meaning and purpose in what I do. I’ve slowly settled into my new position and am content. Jojo, likewise, has found a challenging but rewarding career with a new company. It seemed everything is in order for us – financially, emotionally, mentally, physically and personally. Then without much ado, in mid 2010, we conceived Jellybean. This was done naturally, I am proud to say, without the aid of any artificial means.

Doesn’t that timeline make complete sense? Doesn’t the timing seem like things just fell into place? By coming at this time, Jellybean allowed Jojo and I the time to grow together as a couple; to prepare ourselves before starting a family, to have the opportunity to experience a corporate career, to go home and be there for my dad, and later for my mom too. Jellybean’s timing allowed me time to re-energize and find myself. It also allowed Jojo to mellow and be ready to be a dad. It may sometimes seem like Jellybean took his/her time in making his/her appearance (given that Jojo and I are now older and have been married almost 6 years) but at the end of the day, I think Jellybean is coming at the perfect time!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

From the mouth of kids ...

Yesterday we went to Liberty Park for a family picnic. We spent the afternoon eating, playing games, relaxing and just swapping stories. It was a really nice way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. During the picnic, I was trying to explain to my nieces and nephews that I was pregnant. They all knew they had a new cousin on the way and were all so excited to see Jellybean when she/he arrives. Of course the girls all wanted another baby girl and the boys all wanted another baby boy. Here are some of their comments that were just too darn cute ...

While I was drinking a cold glass of water, my 5-year old niece, Sydney, puts her hand on my glass and says "Slow down, Ninang Joanne, when you drink so fast like that, Jellybean is getting all wet in your tummy! My 4-year old niece, MJ, chimes in "Jellybean is getting a shower". Which made all the kids burst out laughing!

After lunch we took a walk with the kids, including my 9-year old nephew, Elroy, who was on his bike was pedaling extra slowly beside me. I told him to go on and pedal faster since I saw he was having difficulty balancing at such a slow pace. He turned to me and said "I don't want you to have to run after me cause Jellybean might get too dizzy bouncing around your tummy!". Isn't that sweet?

Sometime that afternoon, my sister-in-law had to change her daughter's diaper and there was a lot of good-natured teasing that soon Jojo and I would have to be on diaper duty too. My 8-year old niece, Meredith turned to me and said seriously "Don't worry, Ninang, I'll change Jellybean's diapers cause you used to do that for me". AWWW!

Later that day, the ice cream truck came our way and of course with 9 nieces and nephews, we had to stop for an ice cream break. I was slow in walking up to the truck but I heard my in-laws yelling to let the little kids go first (meaning my 2-year old niece, Dani). But my 7-year old niece, Maddie, took it literally and immediately ran to me to ask "what kind of ice cream would Jellybean like?" (since Jellybean is technically the youngest one of all).

Here's one more ... while I was cuddling with my 5-year old niece, Faye, she asks me, "Ninang Joanne, when Jellybean comes will you love Jellybean most of all?", And I said "Yes". Then she gets quiet and asks softly "When Jellybean comes will you still love us too?", and I just had to reassure her and say "Absolutely!".

Aren't kids the cutest and sweetest things ever???

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Food and other stuff

There are a couple of things I've been advised to give up during my pregnancy. Like smoking and doing drugs. But since I neither smoke nor do drugs .... it hasn't really been hard to give that up!

Here are a list of foods that I have to give up for the next few weeks/months .... FYI this list is MUCH HARDER to give up!
1.) Sushi / Sashimi
2.) Coffee and Tea (unless it's decaf tea)
3.) Canned tuna
4.) Coke and Diet Coke (actually all kinds of soda for that matter)
5.) Hot sauce / Chili sauce (it causes heartburn)
6.) Oysters on the half-shell (which I was so tempted to eat last Sunday but was luckily able to control myself!).

I've also been advised to limit my carb intake. Cut down on rice, bread, pasta, potatoes and starches. This is SUPER HARD for me too - I'm a Pinoy at heart and most meals are not complete without rice =( I've tried to limit these carbs to lunch time so that I can at least try to burn up the calories the rest of the day .... (operative word is "TRY").

I've also been trying to limit my sugar consumption cause I am worried about gestational diabetes. Also, since high blood sugar runs in my family and Jojo's, I'm trying to be careful to spare Jellybean that while he/she is still developing.

While I can not find myself enjoying anything greasy or fried these days (the smell of cooking oil still drives me insane!). Here is a list of food I've been craving:
1.) Nectarines
2.) Clementine Oranges
3.) And ... Steak (I've been dreaming of a a prime rib dinner from House of Prime Rib in San Francisco for days now!).
*It's a weird list, I know!

Oh and in other exciting news ... I bought my first maternity dress yesterday. While, I don't need maternity clothes just yet, my mom did advise me to start looking around. Coincidentally my friend, Mar, sent me a coupon for a 30% discount off Gap and Banana Republic. So I decided to browse and found a really nice jersey dress at Gap Maternity. I think I can even wear it now and probably all the way till I deliver. It's really nice and perfect for work (and maybe even going out too). So I was excited and ordered it online. It should be here in the next 7 days =)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Morning Sickness???

I’ve made a semi-important discovery lately about my so called “morning sickness”. It turns out that what I am suffering from isn’t exactly morning sickness per se. The last couple of days, I’ve been noticing that I get nauseous at around 5 or 6 pm. The whole day I am fine but at around that time, just like clockwork, I get slightly dizzy and find myself holding back the gagging. Initially I had attributed it to afternoon sickness (or that maybe Jellybean is on Manila time and so it would be mid-morning back home). But upon further observation, it’s really more so because I am hungry.

I usually eat breakfast at around 8:00 am, lunch at 1:00 and dinner at 7:00. Three meals a day with occasional (but pretty random snacking throughout the day) is usually enough to tide me over. But I’ve found that whenever I get hungry, Jellybean lets me know he/she is hungry too by making me nauseous. We “tested” this theory last weekend. I skipped breakfast last Sunday because we were going to mass and having brunch right after. And while, I have not had any morning sickness the last couple of mornings, all through the mass I felt the need to throw up. Jojo and I literally had to step outside to get some fresh air. AHA. It was indeed Jellybean’s way of telling me “Please feed me!”. I had brunch and a nectarine in the mid-afternoon and when 5:00 came, I was feeling fine. No nausea in the late afternoon!

So now, I have to modify my eating plan somewhat. No more three large meals a day but rather 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day. I now have to eat breakfast, have a midmorning snack, eat lunch, have merienda (afternoon snack), take a sensible dinner, and even have some fruit while watching tv. I’m trying that out today and we’ll see if it does solve the mystery of my morning sickness (both for Manila and LA time!).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We're Back (Not That We Really Left)

We're back home. Actually we didn't really go anywhere ... but since we had our place fumigated for termites, we decided to check in to a hotel and have a mini vacation of sorts. It did kinda, sorta feel like a vacation even if we were less than 4 miles from our house! It was nice though to come home every day to a clean room, have fresh towels and crisp linens waiting, and to have the airconditioner turned on 24/7 (such perfect timing too since this week and next we are in the upper 90's). Also, Jojo and I purposely did not bring our notebooks and so it was a blissful, no=technology break for us too (of course, Jojo could not resist and had his Blackberry with him at all times). But other than that, it was very relaxing!

So anyway, we are back home today and there are so many little things that need to be done. Wash the sheets, wash the dishes, empty out the fridge, re-stock our pantry/fridge, wipe down counters, remove plastic covers, etc. All of these are precautionary but since Jellybean is with us, we have to be safe rather than sorry. I am soooo glad that our housekeeper, Louisa is here today and is able to help me with all these. What a godsend!

Other than that, our weekend is pretty uneventful. We took some of my colleagues from work for dimsum at PV Palace yesterday. It was their first time. It was actually very funny how they had a million and one questions about every single dish! They kind of had their "quirks " (for lack of a better word). Faten is vegetarian, Rubi is the most un-adventurous eater on the planet, and Osei does not like vegetables. So between the three of them, plus Jojo and I, we had a lot of fun sampling different dimsum dishes.

Today, I think we'll be staying in and just tidying up the house. Probably mass later in the afternoon and Mitsuwa for dinner (I love their authentic Japanese food court where you can get little Japanese bento boxes!).

In Jellybean news, we'll not much to report. My morning sickness is more controlled now and my sense of smell is no longer as sensitive. I've been able to have more normal meals these days. We've started receiving gifts for the little Bean (books on parenting, Baby Einstein CDs, and Jellybean's first official onesie). So cute! And sweet of everyone too =) Thanks to Tita Marik, Tita Tracy and Tita Cha =)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Indulgent

Jojo and were taking a walk last night and got to talking about how much our lives will change once Jellybean arrives. Of course, at this point, it's hard to say how much exactly our lives will be different. But it would be an easy assumption to make that things will be quite drastically different. For starters, we will soon be responsible for the well-being and happiness of an entirely different human being. That is definitely going to mean making some changes.

Overall, our life together as a couple has been ideal. We live pretty "selfish" lives. By "selfish", I don't mean that we don't share or that we withhold certain aspects of it. But rather, we live our lives according to our whims and what makes us happy. I guess rather than the word "selfish", what better describes us would be "indulgent". Take last weekend for example. We wake up when we want to wake up and sleep in when we want to sleep in. Once we get up from bed, Jojo goes straight to his computer (playing games and checking Facebook!). I take my sweet time just lounging around in bed and watching tv under the covers. I told Jojo once Jellybean gets here, we probably have to get up when he/she gets up and then we have to feed him/her when we do.

For lunch we either eat in when we are in the mood to cook or eat out when we are too lazy to make anything. Our food choices are mostly what we feel like eating that day - it could be dimsum or Mexican food or salads at Souplantation, or even good old leftovers and ever reliable canned goods. Of course, when Jellybean arrives, we would now have to consider what he/she would eat when we go out to dine. My sister-in-law was telling me they haven't been to any good, sit down restaurants in a while (and absolutely no "ethnic foods" at all) since all her kids like to eat are chicken fingers and mac n cheese. Then there is of course not being able to sit down to eat together as we would probably have to take turns feeding and playing with Jellybean (and hoping he/she does not break out in a tantrum while we are eating with other people!).

In the afternoons, Jojo and I sometimes go to the gym or go shopping. We usually browse bookstores or catch a movie. Sometimes we hang out with friends. All that would have to change for a while since having a baby means doing things the baby can do and wants to do (it's no longer about what the parents want to do!). Even going to mass in the evenings will have to change. We will no longer be able to sit in the front pews where we now sit and will have to sit at the back pews (separated by the clear glass) with the rest of the parents with fussy babies! =)

Jojo and I were laughing about all the little changes we would have to make to our routines. Like waking up extra early in the mornings (or in the middle of the night) to take care of Jellybean's needs first. Like giving up going on vacations to the places we planned to go and designating Disneyland and Sea World as our vacation destinations for the next few years. Like skipping our favorite tv shows in the evenings because maybe they aren't rated PG and accepting the fact that the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon will be the channels of choice in our home rather than HBO and HGTV. Like how most of our savings will now go to buying toys and books and children's clothes. Lots more, of which I have no doubt! Sigh. I still think it will all be worth it though!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To My Dear Baby Bean,

This is my first official "letter" to you. So, hmmm, where do I start? Let me tell you a little about my pregnancy so far. The last couple of days have been a little better. My stomach has settled somewhat and even if I still have occasional bouts of "morning" sickness, they are not as strong nor as often. There have been a few embarrassing instances where I might have gagged out loud in public. But nothing I can't live down. I am still a giant sleepyhead and am now sleeping almost 9 hours a night. Inspite of that I still have a hard time waking up every morning. I guess I am storing up sleep in preparation for when you arrive and will need me to get up with you in the middle of the night. I find that I also get tired more easily these days and feel lethargic in the early afternoons. My appetite is a little better. I still mostly eat steamed, boiled, broiled or freshly prepared dishes and am staying away from anything fried or oily (as that does not help my gag reflexes!). But the biggest change is my need to pee almost constantly. It's sometimes bordering on hilarious how often I have to go to the bathroom!

But all is well. I can't complain. The good news is it's been a real joy to wake up every morning and realize that you are in me. I often fall asleep and wake up with my hands over my belly. You are too small to feel right now ... but just knowing you are there is reassuring to me. It may just be my imagination but I can swear I feel you moving and settling in my tummy. Jojo and I talk to you constantly. Sometimes serious things but more often than not silly things too. I am not sure if you can hear everything we say to you - but I know that you can feel how much we love you.

Pretty much everyone knows about you now. We've shared your arrival with with our closest family and friends. Every day my co-workers ask about you. We've also had a couple of people volunteer to throw you a baby shower already. I can understand how excited Jojo and I are but it's amusing to me to see other people so excited to meet you too. Thanks to the power of the internet (blogging, Facebook, and emails) - everyone is so eagerly anticipating your arrival. I just know that day will be one of the best days of my life. I can't wait to meet you!

Love you, my little Baby Bean.