Wednesday, October 29, 2014

a year ago

a year ago, i got the one thing i had been wishing for, and working on, for two years.

this day last year, i gave birth to my son.

susie and i were not like other couples who had it easy getting pregnant. we had to go through fertility treatments to get our precious blueberry. and these treatments aren't just a bunch of tests you have to pay for, or pills you have to take, or injectables that you have to endure. they involved lifestyle changes that tested our marriage. two years of frustration and desperation. it didn't help that the pills affected my hormones and made me emotional.

after gallons of tears, countless pills of clomiphene citrate, two doctors, more than a dozen transvaginal ultrasounds, a hysterogram, and one shot at intrauterine insemination (IUI), our hard work finally paid off. initially, i didn't like the idea of the baby not being created naturally: it was too technical, too scientific, too... cold. but then i realized, this would be a baby that we worked for, prepared for. he is completely expected, and incredibly wanted.

so for the entirety of 2013, i stayed in manila. and did not hold (that much of) a grudge. before our IUI in february, i thoughtlessly booked tickets to hong kong for may, thinking this treatment probably wouldn't work. i mean, nothing has!

but two weeks after the treatment, susie came home with a pregnancy test kit, and told me, "you've been acting different. i think you may be pregnant." i snorted. but later, at four in the morning, i got out of bed, ran to the bathroom, and had my first taste of morning sickness. i caved, peed on the stick, and what do you know: +.

we kept things hush-hush in case it was a false alarm, but an ultrasound confirmed the little blueberry inside my uterus. and for the next months, even in the face of debilitating morning sickness, i was the happiest pregnant woman. i ate healthily, exercised, slathered my stomach with shea butter, coconut oil, and other anti-stretchmark creams (they worked; i don't have any stretchmarks on my stomach), read a lot about pregnancy and childbirth, pestered mommy friends to give me their best advice, downloaded every free pregnancy app there was, and took a childbirth prep class.

of course, i also took advantage of the "perks." anything i craved for, i got, thanks to my mom. towards the end of my pregnancy, i parked in handicapped spots. my dad took me to work on my coding days, and my sister and her boyfriend billy would pick me up after work. i was happy at the new pair of boobs i was getting, and i got to wear dresses for the whole pregnancy.

my pregnancy was just wonderful: feeling the baby kick while i drove to work (he loved old school r&b and queen), random strangers smiling and asking how far along i was, drivers slowing down for me while i crossed the street. my friends were just as excited as we were--they made our gender reveal baby shower such a blast! (plus, they got us everything we wanted.)

wonderful, except for my two-week bedrest because i was having contractions. i am completely glossing over the painful acidity, the unbearably itchy stomach a few weeks before giving birth, the back pains, that helpless feeling when you've gotten too big to get out of bed or pick something up from the floor. but really, i look back on my pregnancy with fondness. and it's a good thing, because it was the only pregnancy i was gonna have.

the day i gave birth was also the day i lost my uterus. the delivery went well, fast, actually, but i wouldn't stop bleeding after that. susie told me it got to a point where the blood coming out was already diluted, like tea. i lost three liters of blood, and my doctor had to make the difficult call of performing an emergency hysterectomy. it was either me or the uterus. i think she made the right choice.

she stopped by my room hours after the surgery. "i'm sorry, i didn't have time to do a bikini cut," she told me.

i laughed, and told her, "doctora, ano ka ba. i don't care about that. i'm just glad i'm still here."

a few days after that, i would go home with my little boy, still struggling to walk. breastfeeding would drive me insane, because he would be crying every thirty minutes. he would hardly sleep. susie and i would worry about the possibility of pyloric stenosis. then the blueberry would fall off the bed on mother's day, and, on the same day, pull himself up to a standing position.

plenty of precious moments, the kind that j&j makes commercials out of, but it's also such a tough job. once you've let your guard down and start thinking, "yeaaaah, i got this," he'll start teething. or find the electrical cords particularly interesting (and delicious). or start throwing food off of his high chair.

but i'm enjoying this rollercoaster, this being a mother thing.

Djong On Morphine A Year Ago summed it up pretty well: i'm really glad i'm still here.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

a new york sunday

for our first sunday in new york, our awesome, gracious hosts--my ate ianne and her husband manong rey--had a pretty busy day planned.

we started the day early, driving to manhattan from long island. we did a quick drive around queens, so we could see this:

Jollibee in Queens
we were supposed to go to the ferry terminals and hit liberty island, but when manong told us that he used to work on roosevelt island, we begged for a detour.

Manhattan from Roosevelt Island

there wasn't much to the island, though, but we managed to get a few photos of ourselves ovar there.

I don't know what we were talking about.

Me with Ate Ianne

The little boy squeezing in some play time.

then it was off to battery park, on to the ferry to liberty island and ellis island. susie and i usually traveled without other people, so we hardly have any photos of the two of us together on our trips. i gotta say, it's great to finally have some vacation photos, like this one, taken as the ferry was leaving the station:

It was a windy day.

on liberty island, we finally saw this lady up close:

we got rained on, though, so we got back on the ferry to visit ellis island, which used to be the gateway to the united states, where millions of immigrants tried their luck to live the american dream.

The Immigration Station
going through the halls of the immigration station gave me a heavy feeling, and no wonder, as the building was where millions of hopefuls were examined, interviewed, at times detained, or even deported. you can really feel all the history that went on in this building.

we made our way back to manhattan, where we saw the charging bull, the symbol of wall street, or more accurately, of "aggressive financial optimism and prosperity." of course, i couldn't resist having my photo taken with the famous beast:

I was trying to tame it.
after a whole lot of walking, we eventually ended up at the mouth of brooklyn bridge. before walking the length of it, we got some waffles and tried to muster up enough energy to cross the darned bridge together. our reward? yet another "honeymoon" photo: 

over on the other side of the bridge, we decided to soothe our tired muscles by sitting back and having some gelato at the brooklyn bridge park.

Gelato, on a very windy night.
So what if we freeze our lips off? It's yummy!
we then looked for the train that would take us back to where we parked the car. but before heading back to long island, we had to stop by tito rad's for dinner. why? because they serve this:

Tuna panga.

which is to say, i was never far from home when we were in new york. :)

a free tour of the grand central terminal

one of the best new york experiences we had when we were there in 2012 was the free tour of the grand central terminal, by the grand central partnership. you'd think that a free tour wouldn't give you a lot of bang for no bucks, but this tour was comprehensive and highly informative.

we were a bit early to the meeting point, so when we got to grand central, susie and i explored outside and took a few photos. here's one of my favorite shots:

Three iconic buildings: The Metlife (formely PanAm) Building, Grand Central Station, and the Chrysler Building.
then it was off to 120 park avenue for us, where we found a huge group of people waiting for the tour to begin. we were divided between the two guides--justin ferate and peter laskowich.

The man with the red tie is Peter Laskowich, our guide.
i was expecting him to lead us directly to grand central, but we made a detour to see this building:

i was pretty psyched to be inside the chrysler building--it was my favorite building in the NY skyline. it was hard to pay attention to everything peter was saying because i was mesmerized by the ceiling of the lobby: 

Lookit all the colors!
after this, peter led us through some labyrinthine tunnels which eventually led us to the belly of grand central terminal. he told us of the whispering gallery, letting us in on the secrets of the psychology of the train station's architecture. it was all pretty mind-blowing to hear, susie and i are still in awe of it to this day.

peter then took us to a secluded corner, went up a flight of stairs, and told us that we were privy to seeing the campbell apartment, which used to be the office of american financier john w. campbell. here, campbell didn't only keep office, but he would have parties where famous musicians would play. today, the campbell apartment, while still called that, is a bar and cocktail lounge. take a look:

I want to go back here, all dolled up.
after this, peter took us outside, telling us more about the history of midtown manhattan, and the significance of grand central terminal (and why it still exists). sus and i walked away from that tour with so much more knowledge about the train station and new york. i highly recommend this tour to everyone who'll be in new york on a friday. please, please, don't miss it.

tour information
the grand tour
schedule: every friday, 12:30pm
meeting point: street-level atrium of 120 park avenue, at the southwest corner of east 42nd street and park avenue, across grand central terminal
tour duration: 1.5-2 hours
fee: FREE, but you may give a tip if you wish
no reservations necessary