Journey to Three

It’s July 22, our wedding anniversary. Today, we are turning three. Three years married and 16 weeks on the way to becoming a family. I am so overwhelmed with emotion just to be able to write that. After everything we went through, we are finally getting there.

Last new year, when we moved into our new home, I remember telling Ken that all I want for our wedding anniversary this year is the blessing of our own little one. Our journey hasn’t been easy. Our first year anniversary was a trying time. We celebrated it in Hong Kong but deep down, we were both nursing our broken hearts as a few weeks before that, we lost our first one. We were so excited then. It was 9 months after our wedding when we learned we were pregnant. We were so happy but the happiness was cut short 8 weeks after. And the 2 years that followed was a turbulent ride of blood, sweat and tears. Literally.

I learned I had a blood clotting condition and an auto-immune condition called APAS or Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome that caused the loss of our first pregnancy. We learned about it too late. We already lost the heartbeat before I could undergo any treatments. That time, I felt mad at the first doctors I went to who ignored my request to get tested for any immunological conditions. My sister also had APAS and also miscarried her first. Just like mine, it wasn’t a typical miscarriage. The baby lost its heartbeat at 8 weeks. So when I learned I was pregnant, I wanted to get tested for everything because I was paranoid. But the first doctors we met didn’t entertain it because I had no history yet. They said just because my sister had it doesn’t mean I have it. But then it happened. And we had to deal with the loss and the grieving months and years after. We proceeded with various treatments. We went to different doctors who were specialists on my case. We had to understand what it was. Simply put, my immune system was too high and my body didn’t recognize the baby. It deemed it a foreign object so my body rejected it. And my blood has a higher tendency of clotting most especially when pregnant so it wasn’t good for the baby’s growth. We had to stabilize and prepare my body until we can try again. And what followed seemed like a never ending cycle of painful injections, blood transfusions, meds, pricks and needles that would give me bruises. It not only worn us out but it broke our savings too. One of the treatments consists of having Ken give 10 vials of his blood to me to make up the 2 smaller vials of his lymphocytes that had to be injected to me skindeep. We had to do this for how many times. Some of our friends would tease us to lighten up the situation that “Twilight” is our peg wherein we need to have “bloody” treatments just to have our own “Kenesmee”. But in reality, it was very emotionally draining. For each month that I would get my period despite having done all those tests, I would cry and it became a monthly depression for me. Of course, it wasn’t easy for Ken too. But he became my pillar of strength. He would always remind me this line from the movie, Dark Knight, that the night is always darkest before dawn. He would tell me to embrace this dark time as he doesn’t doubt at all that this too would soon pass. We couldn’t really tell anyone the extent of what we went through. It was so hard to talk about and explain and we could only count on each other. That was our deal for the last 2 years. I know that there are others who waited a much longer time — 5 years, 7 years, 10 years to have their own children. But for me, those 2 years already felt like an eternity. I guess when you want something so bad, it was just too painful to wait. And my heart goes out to all those who are going through what we once went through. People would tell me to let go. That when we are fully recovered and ready that’s when it will come to us again. I for one, couldn’t really move on from the loss of our first one. It was a traumatic experience for us. To keep our mind off things, we kept ourselves busy with work, continued traveling to different places and kept ourselves strong with a lot of prayers. All we could do was trust in God’s plan.

Then last April became a turning point. I decided to stop all my medications and vitamins entirely. We also stopped going to any doctors. Some were recommending us to try the scientific route but we didn’t want to. Some told us to just be patient, that we got pregnant naturally before and we will be again. I just got tired of everything. Then during Holy Week, it was our first time to do a complete Visita Iglesia. We went to 7 different churches with my mom. I told Him that I’m close to giving up and I’m lifting it all to Him. Only He knows when the right time for us will be and if and when we have to wait some more, I just asked to be with us on this journey, to give us more strength and patience. My mom also gave me some novenas to pray. It was the first time to pray those and she prayed it with me as well. After our novenas ended, little did I know our prayers have already been answered. My cycle fell on the same time as the last day of our novenas. I remember feeling symptoms very early and strongly and thought that my period was coming way earlier than scheduled. I thought it was just ordinary PMS. Turned out weeks later that it was already early pregnancy symptoms. We had a planned trip to China on the 1st of May and I remember taking a PT before we left and it was negative. So we proceeded with our very tiring trip — 5 days of walking 16,000++ steps a day during the expo, skipping meals (until we see a decent Western restaurant), over fatigue and a lot more.

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Little did we know that this random work trip will turn out to be one of our most memorable.

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Our first night in Guangzhou. We both couldn’t tolerate local food so we wandered around until we found a good Western restaurant.

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When in Guangzhou, this is where you can find good quality and yummy Western food. Thankful for this discovery!

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After a long day of traveling, happy to have ended it with good food. Little did I know that my tummy was already telling me to eat well 🙂

It was a work trip that wasn’t meant for the pregnant and certainly not one for me given my condition. I was a few days delayed but I disregarded it. But on our last day in China, my gut kept telling me to check. I was purposely putting it off out of fear of getting disappointed again.

But lo and behold, it came out a very clear positive. And we will always remember that moment in our little hotel in Guangzhou, China. How I was so afraid and said a little prayer before taking the test. How my hands shook when the Clear Blue lines quickly formed a dark positive sign. How I called out to Ken and showed him the test. How we cried and hugged and cried again. How I immediately made an overseas call to my mom and sister and sobbed like crazy. I was so happy but I was also so scared. I panicked that I stopped taking my meds a month before. I was on aspirin for the last 2 years and I suddenly stopped for a month and I knew it was crucial for me to be on it, the moment I get pregnant. And I didn’t have one with me in China! The moment I saw the positive PT, I was already worrying about my baby. In our minds and in our hearts, Ken and I were already both silently praying and calling out to the heavens above to please please let it be real this time. We cannot lose this one again please.

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Proof of our little answered prayer ❤

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The day we found out we are gonna be parents 🙂

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This was taken on our last night in Guangzhou. When this photo was shot, Bianx didn’t know yet. Blurted out to her the news when we were lining up for dinner. She cried when I told her. We hugged and cried together in line as we paid for our order. It was so random but so memorable. Bianx is one of those who’ve seen me at my worst and was there for me during our trying time.

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Glad to have Bianx and Mikel with us on that memorable night we discovered our happy news!

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The Canton Tower in rainbow colors after a rainy night in Guangzhou. A sign that our own rainbow has finally come.

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Excited to come home to Manila the following day! 🙂

My sister told me to not take any meds from there and to not eat anything local or dubious. She told me to wait until we are safely home so I can take my own meds. It’s been raining badly in China that time and I was worried about having a turbulent flight. I was deliberating whether to go ahead and fly home despite the bad weather or stay for a couple more until the weather cleared up. But that means prolonging my checkup home. In the end, we thankfully survived the plane ride home the next day. Our driver was ready with my meds so I took it the moment we got picked up and we also went straight to St. Luke’s BGC. I had myself tested for HCG and progesterone levels. The first to confirm and to see how far along I was and the latter for me to know if I needed to boost my progesterone immediately to help make a more viable pregnancy. I acted urgently and trusted my gut feel on everything I feel I need to do immediately. In my condition, every minute is precious for our little one. I contacted my doctors the moment we arrived and scheduled to see them the very next day. I returned to the care of my sister’s OB-gyne, Dr. Angela Aguilar and our immunologist, Dr. Lara Aleta. Both are experts on APAS and sensitive pregnancies.

In our first 3 days since we got back home, we had my first ultrasound and did all the crucial treatments needed to give our little one the best possible chance. I was back on daily aspirin, I was put on Duphaston until week 12, Ken injected me with heparin (blood thinner to help my blood circulation for the baby) on the very first night we were back and this we have to do every night until delivery. I was 5 weeks along on my first ultrasound and there was a sub chorionic hemorrhage seen (again!) I remember being so terrified going inside St. Luke BGC’s Women’s Health for my first ultrasound. I was so nervous I felt like passing out. Our last traumatic experience there kept flashing in my mind and I was clutching on to my rosary for dear life. My first question to the doctor was if there were any sub chorionic hemorrhage and our hearts sank when she said there was. It’s something we didn’t want to hear again but my OB comforted us and told us we just treat it aggressively and to see my immuno immediately. Before we left, she checked my delivery date and told me “It’s a Christmas baby, we’re claiming it already.” And I knew in my heart that this time it will be for real. We did LIT the following day with Doc Aleta (Ken’s lymphocytes injected to me every 2 weeks for the first trimester) and she put me under Prednisone for the first trimester, a steroid that will bring down your immune system. I also underwent IVIG transfusion (3 bottles of antibodies were transferred to me through dextrose to stabilize my immune system so that my body will not reject my baby). We did all these and stormed the heavens with more prayers for each day.

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Nightly shots of heparin from the first day until delivery day. Ken became my own personal nurse. Throughout time, he learned how to do it as painless as possible without anymore bruising.

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My loving husband became my own personal blood donor. Here are some of the many vials of blood he would give for me for our LIT treatment every 2 weeks for my 1st trimester.

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The first patch was for my other blood tests while the clear patch was where Ken’s lymphocytes have been injected to me.

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LIT treatment arm candy :p

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IVIG treatment at St. Luke’s BGC

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This treatment lasted for 4 hours. Good thing, St. Luke’s BGC’s RAI Center was very cozy. I cuddled up in a lazy boy covered with blankets in front of a TV. The nurses were all great!

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All for the love of our little peanut. Here’s our little one’s first pic at 4 weeks. Merely a dot but this little sac meant the world to us.

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We had to do weekly ultrasound as my OB wanted to monitor every little thing to ensure all goes well. At 5 weeks, after my LIT & IVIG, the subchorionic hemorrhage cleared up. Thank God.

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At 6 weeks, there was already a heartbeat! 125 bpm strong! I cried when I first saw it.

All this time I had to be on bed rest. I can walk a little bit around our house but I had to stay off my feet for most of the time for the crucial first 12 weeks. My doctors, my family and most especially Ken were all strict with me. We didn’t want to compromise anything. I looked forward to every Monday when I would have my ultrasound and checkup. I looked forward to seeing our baby grow. Unlike other couples who can happily announce and enjoy their pregnancy the moment they find out, we chose to keep it private. We are so happy but there is still the fear and trauma from the last time. It’s like we’re scared to be too happy for fear of it being taken away from us. I spent every morning and every night of each week just praying that each Monday would give us good news. Aside from Mama Mary, Angel Gabriel became my go-to Guardian Angel to pray to whenever I’d get scared or worried. I found out of my pregnancy on a Monday and our ultrasounds are always on Mondays and it’s Angel Gabriel’s day. I would always choose to pray the Joyful mystery of the rosary and it falls on a Monday as well. Maybe that’s why my 38th week falls on Dec. 24.

Thankfully, each week would show us our baby’s milestones. Milestones that would ease our fears and calm our hearts. Milestones that would assure us that our little one is fighting to be with us all the way ❤

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This is the miraculous novena to Mama Mary my mom gave me and told me to pray.

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This helped me get through all those worrisome days. Thank you Mama Mary.

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At 8 weeks, its heart was beating 158 bpm strong. There was also another sac seen and our doctors first thought it might be twins. But the other vanished a week later and might have just been another subchorionic.

At 9 weeks, we saw our baby more active and heard its heartbeat for the first time! I cried at the comforting sound of our little one’s strong heartbeat! So thankful for the doctors at Cardinal Santos where I continued my weekly ultrasound. They are very thorough and I can take pictures and videos of our baby’s milestones weekly. Here’s a video of our little love at 9 weeks.

We battled with subchorionic hemorrhage throughout the first semester. On some weeks it would clear up, then another week there’d be a new one. Thankfully, our little one is a fighter. The doctors would tell us not to worry as our baby is continuing to grow healthier and bigger each week, completely disregarding it. As the baby grew, the spots of hemorrhage decreased until it was no longer significant. I told Ken one time that I think our own little one is assuring me on her own. I think it knows that I’ve been worrying about her safety since day 1. As for each week that I’d see our baby, it would always make strong movements as if to say “Mommy, it’s okay. Breathe, relax, I’m doing okay. Everything is okay, Mom!”

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At 11 weeks, I saw it doing cartwheels inside my tummy. Here’s a shot of it turning upside down!

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At 12 weeks, the cutie little nose was already seen! Our little love was checked for the nuchal translucency and others and all came out normal and healthy! 🙂

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When Ken entered the room, our little one raised his arm and waved as if to say “Hi Daddddddddy!!!” 🙂

Here’s a video of our baby at 12 weeks.

When we reached my 12th week, we were finally able to breathe and relax. It felt like the longest 12 weeks. We are so thankful to make it through the crucial first trimester. I’m still taking it easy though. My personal doctor and nurse aka my loving husband is quite strict with me lol.

Now I’m on my 4th month and we still have a long way to go. Our journey is still ongoing. We’re thankful to our families and friends who cried with us and prayed for us through everything. We’ll still need more prayers in the coming months ahead. Hope that all who’ll get to read this will send a silent prayer for our little one. I write this today to remember everything before we get too busy and excited preparing for the coming months ahead. I want to remember the wait, the pain and the hardships as all those make everything even more beautiful and priceless. I’d like to look back to this someday and tell our story to our little girl or little boy. This is also my way of sharing our story to those who are somewhat going through what we went through before. Sometimes, it helps to remember that just when we feel like giving up, that’s when God surprises us. It does happen at a time we least expect it.

We had so much going on in the last couple of years since we got married. We were busy opening one branch of Early Bird Breakfast Club after the other, managing other projects, we moved to our new home and we’ll soon be moving offices. A lot has happened and it’s true that only God knows when it’s the best time for you. I hated waiting and I was used to making things happen for myself. But I learned that in life, you can’t insist your own timeline. It just happens in His own perfect time. Just when we were able to settle everything, when we were able to let go, that’s when God made this happen for us. And we will forever be grateful ❤

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Barely showing but this was taken on my 12th week ❤

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Our pic at 12 weeks. Excited for the next coming months!

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At 15 weeks, our baby has grown bigger and longer 🙂

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Waving at me during our last ultrasound 🙂

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Today, July 22 we are 3 years married and 16 weeks on the way to parenthood ❤

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16 weeks ❤

9 replies »

      • i just started my heparin yesterday. i realized the more fat, the less painful it was. anywhere around the tummy is okay if im 5 weeks?

      • My immuno said to follow the line of the belly button so around that area left or right if you’re injecting the tummy. Yes, the more fat the less painful. You also have to be relaxed and not clench to make sure you don’t hit any muscle as doing so will make it bruise. It’s best to use the ultra-fine 0.5 syringes they use for insulin injections since the needle is shorter. Good luck! 🙂

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