My Pregnancy & Birth Story on Video

This time last year, I went to the hospital for an ultrasound. We came home with Lucas a few days later. That baby is now a little dinosaur. He reminds us that there is always hope even in the most turbulent times.

We documented those nine memorable months in home videos. Those were challenging times, but wow did we make it fun! For those who are pregnant now, in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, my thoughts are with you. Things may be different and difficult these days, but to quote a line in Jurassic Park: “Life will always find a way.”

Sharing our video with all of you. If you can, please like and subscribe to the channel! :)

 

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St. Luke’s Global Maternity Packages 2019

Many women have been asking me about my birthing experience at St. Luke’s Global. Mainly, they want to know how much did it cost to give birth there, and was it worth the price? I did not want to write about this at first but then I remembered that when I was pregnant, I too browsed the internet to know more about St. Luke’s maternity packages. I remember going through every single blog I could find and being disappointed that the latest post was probably from 2017. So for info’s sake, I am putting this out here.

Before Giving Birth

St. Luke’s Global is no longer giving tours of the maternity floor. But you can go to the Admissions Department (located on the ground floor, main building) to see photos of the rooms and their corresponding prices. Best to do this before your 28th week, when an early birth is possible.

The third floor is where the OB-GYN Complex is located. Inside is the High-Risk Pregnancy Unit (HRPU) and the labor, delivery, and operating rooms. When you’re already experiencing contractions, go straight to the OB-GYN Complex and there’s a reception area where you will be asked to fill out forms. Then you’ll be led to the labor room where a nurse, and then a resident doctor, will assess you.

The labor room is not a private room. It’s like a ward with beds separated by accordion dividers. You share a common bathroom. Companions are not allowed and eating is strictly prohibited. It’s not a miserable place, but I was so uncomfortable here–I requested to turn up the a/c but the temperature here is shared and controlled so I had to bear the heat.

After about an hour or two of assessment, you have the option to request to be transferred to the HRPU which has private rooms and companions are allowed (finally!). You can labor here more comfortably, as each room has a TV and a Lazy-Boy for your husband/companion. The temperature is cooler, and eating is allowed! I think there are nine rooms here, but only three have their own bathrooms. The rate of this room is P5,777++ per day.

After Giving Birth: Rooms

After delivery, I spent a few hours in the recovery room at the OB-GYN Complex. I wasn’t alone, because the nurses gave Lucas to me after he was cleaned up. Here, we practiced latching and spent a few hours of alone time–just the two of us. That was so precious and I truly appreciated this moment (I opted not to be sedated after my C-section so I was groggy, but very awake).

And then, I was wheeled into the room on the maternity wing (8th floor) which my husband reserved while I was still in labor. We got the Deluxe Private room, which has an extra Lazy-Boy aside from the usual amenities. It also has a desk and a corner with chairs and cocktail table. This room is sooo spacious! It’s perfect if your husband/companion has work to do, or if you have more than one companion staying overnight.

St. Luke's Global Deluxe Private

Below is a list of rooms and latest rates:

St. Luke's Global Room Rates 2019

Because of my crazy complications, I had to be admitted several times while I was pregnant. So I’m happy to report that I’ve stayed in almost all room types (excluding the suites). Personally, the most sulit room to get is the Small Private. It’s not that expensive but has the same amenities and the comfort of privacy as the bigger private rooms. Note: there are only three small private rooms on the whole maternity floor and they’re usually occupied all the time.

But if you’re expecting a lot of excited visitors, best to get the Deluxe Private room. Because it has more seats and tables, guests can eat more comfortably. I really, really loved this room!

Notes:

  • St. Luke’s Global does not have a nursery. If the baby doesn’t have health issues, he/she will room-in with you after birth. Do consider that the baby will have a special crib; it’s small, but it will take up space as well.
  • Each private room has a daybed, small movable table, TV, DVD player, ref, cabinet, and bathroom with shower.
  • The Deluxe Private has an extra Lazy-Boy, work station (desk and chair), more chairs and a cocktail table in one corner, and a JBL speaker.
  • Each private room also comes with a welcome kit (a small pouch with toiletries), water pitcher, stainless utencils, and a pillow. You can bring all of these home–yes, even the pitcher.
  • I’ve stayed in the two-bed private room and there’s none of these amenities except for the pillow.
  • There’s a common pantry in the maternity wing. It has a sink where you can wash your dishes (they provide the dishwashing liquid, but please bring your own sponge!), hot & cold water refilling unit, and a microwave oven.
  • Other maternity giveaways include a really nice “I am a St. Luke’s Baby” baby bag, baby booklet for his/her future doctor’s appointments, and baby’s first set of clothes. They will also take a photo of your baby and give you a printed copy as a nice souvenir.

Estimated Cost and Maternity Packages

St. Luke’s Global offers a “Great Expectation” delivery package for both CS and natural birth. Doctors’ professional fees are included, but the price is only for their shared rooms (2-bed and 4-bed wards). If your pregnancy is considered high-risk, you are not qualified to avail this package.

Giving birth at St. Luke's Gloibal 2019

Because I did not qualify for the Great Expectation package, we asked for a cost estimate of a CS delivery so we could prepare financially. Here is what they quoted us. Note that the doctors’ fees are not included in the quote. Philhealth will be automatically deducted from the bill.

St. Luke's Global Maternity Package

We were happily surprised, upon discharge, that our exact hospital bill was way below the initial quote. Granted, we still had to pay the doctors’ fees–so our total bill was still quite steep.

Overall Experience

I loved my whole St. Luke’s Global experience. I always say this to my pregnant friends: I know I had a C-section, but for me it was a mindful and gentle birth! The nurses and resident doctors were all very kind and attentive, and I was informed of the process every step of the way. My husband was also allowed to be part of the birthing experience–he was with me from labor all the way until the actual operation! Yes, our bill was no joke. But our very pleasant experience was worth every peso.

The hospital itself is very clean, relaxing, and spacious. The rooms are thoroughly sanitized before they admit a patient–I know, because I’ve seen how they clean each room upon discharge. Twice a day, a maintenance staff comes in to ask if you want your room to be cleaned and leaves you with a new roll of toilet paper.

On Lucas’ second night, he was wailing non-stop because he was hungry and I wasn’t producing enough milk. The nurses were so kind that they took him even if the hospital didn’t have a nursery. They cared for him in their station so I could get some sleep. When they returned him to me the next morning, his dedicated nurse even taught me how to properly cup-feed and burp him (we bought breast milk from their milk bank–formula and bottles aren’t allowed in the hospital). A lactation nurse also came to my room to give me breastfeeding tips. That’s the kind of service we paid for.

Baby’s Birth Certificate

St. Luke’s Global submits the documents to the Civil Registrar in Taguig. It will be ready for claiming about a month after, which you will have to do so yourself. You are advised to call the hospital to get the reference number before going to the city hall.

Please note that the details and figures are all based on my own experience. If you’re planning to give birth there, please ask your OB and the hospital’s Admissions Department for a cost breakdown tailored for your case.

APAS FAQs: Tests, Meds, and Expenses

Ever since my blog post about my pregnancy was picked up by Smart Parenting, I’d been getting a lot of queries regarding my whole experience. Every week, I get PM’s from different women telling me about how they’ve been trying to conceive for years or how they’ve suffered recurrent miscarriages. They ask about my condition, how I found out, where I got tested, who my doctors are, and how much did I spend to sustain my pregnancy.

I know I’ve already written a lengthy and detailed post about APAS, but here I will consolidate all questions I’m being asked for the sake of those who want to know–those who are afraid that they may have the same condition; those who are daunted by the thought of spending a huge bulk of their savings just to get a shot at a successful pregnancy; and those who are clinging on to the hope of having a child.

As long as I can help, I will never stop sharing my story. So, here are 10 frequently asked questions* about my APAS journey:

1. What is APAS?

According to medicine.net: The Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APAS) is a disorder of the immune system that is characterized by excessive clotting of blood and/or certain complications of pregnancy(premature miscarriages, unexplained fetal death, or premature birth) and the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (such as anti-cardiolipin or lupus anticoagulant antibodies) in the blood.

To put simply, my blood was too thick. And because a baby gets nutrients from his mother through the blood, if it’s too thick then the baby might not get enough nutrition to sustain it inside the womb.

It is interesting to note that APAS is just one of the five Reproductive-Immunological Disorder (RID) categories. Other women test positive in two or more categories.

2. Does it have symptoms? How did you know you had it?

The main symptom is difficulty conceiving and sustaining a pregnancy. After my second miscarriage in 2016, my OB brought up the term APAS but I shrugged it off because I truly did not want to try to conceive anymore. In July 2018, I was shocked to see two pink lines on a pregnancy test–and went straight to the lab to get tested for APAS.

According to some medical websites, there may be symptoms of APAS unrelated to pregnancy such as migraines and blood clots in the legs. But personally, I’ve never had any inkling I had it except for my recurrent miscarriages. 

3. Where did you get tested for it?

I had the test done in Hi-Precision. But for the other RID categories, I did it at St. Luke’s Global.

4. How much were the lab tests?

I paid around P5,000 for the APAS panel at Hi-Precision. The other test I had done was to check my Natural Killer Cells–and if I remember it correctly, it was around P9,000 at St. Luke’s.

5. Do I go straight to an immunologist, or shall I consult with my OB first?

I went to an OB first. She was the one who referred me to an immunologist.

6. Who are your doctors?

My OB-GYNE is Dr. Jocelyn Bambalan. She’s also a perinatologist (one who specializes in high-risk pregnancies) and sonologist so she conducts my ultrasounds as well. My immunologist is Dr. CJ Gloria. Both of them have clinics St. Luke’s Global.

7. What medicines did you have to take during your pregnancy?

Aside from the prenatal vitamins, these meds were prescribed to me to manage my APAS and sustain my pregnancy:

-aspirin, daily until 32nd week

-Heparin injection, daily until 35th week

-Prednisone (steroids) for a month during my first trimester

-two brands of probiotics everyday

-progesterone, both oral and vaginal suppository

-monthly intralipid infusion (done through IV)

8. If I have APAS, does that mean my pregnancy will be as complicated as yours?

I don’t think so. Personally, I know some women who have APAS and other RIDs and have had very smooth pregnancies. They even were able to travel while pregnant! 

Although my immunologist did comment at one point that the complications I had were a way of my body trying to reject the pregnancy due to my APAS. Still, I think that what happened to me was just purely coincidental.

9. If I am pregnant and have APAS, must I undergo a C-section?

Pregnant women with RIDs are automatically branded as having high-risk pregnancies. This goes into your medical chart so resident doctors and nurses know how best to deal with your case. But personally, my OB encouraged me to try for a vaginal birth even up to the last minute.

10. How much did your medicines and treatments cost?

Sorry, I forgot the exact amount of the medicines I took; but these were the ones that stood out, mainly because they were the most expensive ones!

-Heparin: a pre-filled heparin syringe cost around P470. The vials were much cheaper and they were less painful to inject, too! Tip: if you have a senior citizen in the family, ask your doctor to make the prescription under his name so you can avail of the discount.

-Probiotics: My doctor prescribed two brands. The one I got from Healthy Options, and the other is Culturelle. It is not being sold in the country but there are many resellers online. Beware though, and make sure what you’re buying is the real thing. I got mine from my immunologist’s clinic. It was around P1,000++ per box (good for one month).

-Intralipid Infusion: this is to help my baby grow in the womb. APAS babies tend to be smaller and have a very high chance of premature birth. This costs P15,000 per session at St. Luke’s Global.

*Please note that my answers are all based on MY own experience. As each pregnancy is different, your doctor may instruct you to do things differently.

If you have trouble getting pregnant or have had multiple miscarriages, I strongly encourage you to consult with a specialist. I always say this: having APAS may be difficult and expensive to manage, but it is better than being in the dark.

As they say, baby dust to all you moms-in-waiting! I am believing with you for your own rainbows. <3

Birth Story: Welcoming Lucas Tristan

My son is turning two months this Sunday. I know it took me a while to update this space. It’s been two whole months of sleepless nights and exhausting days! Apologies and thanks to everyone–from friends and strangers–who messaged me, telling me they’re praying for me, sharing their own experiences, or asking me about doctor referrals. What I’ve learned these past months is that the internet can be a wonderful community of women who inspire each other with their strength and stories. Mine continues below:

“All odds are against this pregnancy,” my OB once uttered in one of our routine ultrasounds. True, I’ve battled every imaginable complication–and when it was time to come up with a concrete birth plan, my doctors were conflicted. My endocrinologist kept warning me that I would be giving birth early, before my 36th week. My immunologist agreed and told me to prepare around the 32nd to 35th week.

I was ready as soon as I hit week 28.

My birth plan

While many blogs I’ve read encouraged women to prepare ahead and write a detailed birth plan, I chose not to. With all the complications I’ve been dealing with, I felt like it was an added stress on my part to think and draft one. I told my OB that I only had one plan: To trust her judgment and know that she wants what’s best for both me and my son.

I did, however, told her a few requests:

  • That my husband be allowed to be with me all throughout–from labor to delivery–and that he be allowed to take photos/videos.
  • In case of C-section delivery, I wanted a bikini cut (more for vanity than anything else ;) ).
  • To perform delayed cord clamping.

Three tiny requests and that constitutes my birth plan. :) I knew my hospital, St. Luke’s Global, strictly implements the Unang Yakap protocol (skin-to-skin contact with baby right after delivery) and also encourages mom to exclusively breastfeed–so there was no need to discuss these with my doctor.

Natural birth or C-Section?

Because I was confined in the hospital for the most part of my third trimester, I was physically getting weaker and emotionally agitated. Not to mention, our hospital bills were piling up. I so badly wanted to “get this baby out,” I would tell my OB. But she firmly fought for this pregnancy. At first, she told me to reach 32 weeks so we could be sure that the baby’s lungs would be developed. And then it was 36 weeks, so we could avoid going into the Neonatal ICU.

I was confined for low amniotic fluids when I hit week 36. My OB was out of the country at the time. Before she left, she instructed the nurses and resident doctors to schedule a C-Section once she gets back (I was a strong candidate for a CS because aside from my age, APAS, and low amniotic fluids, I also had pre-eclampsia and there was a double cord-coil around the baby’s neck). I would be 37+ weeks by then.

But just before I hit week 37, my fluids improved and I was discharged from the hospital (on the condition that I would come back every other day for ultrasound and non-stress test to track contractions). All of a sudden, all signs showed that I could try to give birth naturally.

But whichever way I would give birth did not matter to me. For me, a birth is a birth and it will be glorious and blessed in any way it comes.

That last week was the most blissful part of my third trimester. My husband and I spent it on hotels–one night we used our free room in Sofitel, and then a friend gifted us another night in Marriott at Resorts World Manila. It was a short and sweet babymoon. Because I was due to give birth already, my pessary was removed and I was advised to walk around. This was something I immensely enjoyed and appreciated because I was always stuck on a wheelchair since the latter part of my second trimester.

I managed to squeeze in one last maternity shoot while at the Marriott Hotel. This would be the last photo of my baby bump!

Week 38, Day 1

On March 25, I went to the hospital for my regular check-up. I knew I could give birth any day now, but my OB still did not want to commit to a C-section delivery because all the signs suddenly showed that I could try to give birth naturally. But during the ultrasound, she saw that my amniotic fluid is already at level 4.

By 3 p.m., I was admitted to be induced. In the labor room, the resident doctor did an internal exam and confirmed that I was already 3cm dilated. I was given primrose oil to soften my cervix and hopefully speed up my dilation. Oxytocin was also administered through an IV. So my contractions, while they didn’t bother me at this point, was coming in quite regularly, even as close as two-minute intervals.

I’d been reading up on mindful birthing and truly believed that labor, or contractions, shouldn’t be any more painful than how your mind perceives them to be. I spent the next hours practicing breathing exercises, relying on my balancing essential oils, and listening to worship songs.

Week 38, Day 2

After more than 24 hours of labor, I was still at 4 c.m.. Discomfort started to creep in and I was offered the epidural. I agreed, going back to my birth plan to trust that my doctors know best. Many things have been said about the big E, but for me, it was a good decision. It gave me so much relief that I even jokingly told my anesthesiologist that I loved him more than my husband!

A few hours after I had the epidural–I lost count–my dilation still wasn’t progressing significantly. It had been at 5cm for hours now. An IE confirmed that my water broke already without me knowing. Then and there, the doctors decided to go through with an emergency C-section.

Blissful birth

I was quickly wheeled into the operating room and I remember feeling so excited. This is it! 

I have to thank all the nurses and doctors at St. Luke’s Global for making my delivery such a wonderful experience, despite the need for an emergency cesarean section. They explained to me in detail what they were doing as they went along so I was informed all throughout. My husband was allowed to come inside the OR, and so all my requests were so graciously granted. I had the blissful birth I’ve always wanted.

First pic with Mommy

At exactly 11:58 p.m. on March 26, after a total of 33 hours in labor, I finally heard my OB exclaim, “Baby out!” I heard oohs and aaahs from the nurses, and I waited a few seconds before I heard my son’s soft cries. He was given to me right away, and he latched on to my breast almost immediately!

My son, Lucas Tristan, was born weighing 7.4 lbs with a near-perfect APGAR score of 9.9. This little fighter, my very own miracle, has given me a second chance at life and faith.

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. -Job 5:9

Lucas Tristan. His name for us means “light bearer of three.” We wanted our firstborn’s name to also honor the two angels we’ve gained in heaven.

APAS, Pregnancy Complications, and Treatments

If I had a hard time conceiving naturally, sustaining a pregnancy is a whole new level of difficulty. Soon after I found I was pregnant, I went to Hi-Precision Diagnostics lab to test for APAS. I first heard about it after my second miscarriage in 2016, when my OB suggested I take a blood test. I didn’t know much but from what I understood, some women have difficulty getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy due to problems with their immune system. I shrugged it off back then because I didn’t plan on trying for another baby anytime soon.

But when I tested positive that fateful night of July 30, 2018, all the fears of my past miscarriages overwhelmed me. I just had to know if I was one of those women, and if I did have APAS, I knew I had to manage it right away to keep my baby alive. True enough, the results came and one of the levels was elevated. The mystery as to why I couldn’t conceive as easily as “normal” women was finally solved.

I researched about APAS online and stumbled upon a Facebook group of Filipino women struggling with reproductive immunological disorders. Joining the group proved to be helpful, as I read other women’s experiences and recommendations. While there are sad and scary stories, there are also inspiring posts of miracle babies and those are what I held on to.

One of my blood test results for APAS. Here it clearly shows that I’m positive for Cat 2.

What is APAS?

Let me cite this explanation by Smart Parenting: APAS, or antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, is “an autoimmune disorder [that] occurs when the body’s immune system makes abnormal antibodies that attack and damage tissues or cells.”

As an autoimmune disorder, APS occurs when the body makes antibodies that mistakenly attack phospholipids, a type of fat that’s found in the blood. This then causes blood clots to form in veins and arteries, which can lead to numerous problems and complications.

As far as I understand, there are five categories for this reproductive immunological disorder:

Category 1 is the Leukocyte Antibody Test, or when the woman lacks blocking antibodies needed to prevent her immune system from rejecting the baby.

Category 2 is when a woman’s blood is too sticky or thicker than normal. The blood flow is hindered, putting the developing fetus at risk.

Category 3 is the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs), which attack the cells of a mother’s womb and the fertilized egg.

Category 4 is the autoimmune response to sperm antigen, which blocks fertilization itself.

Category 5 is the elevated presence of natural killer cells. While these are crucial to fight off infections and diseases, too much of NK cells can fight off pregnancy as well.

**Until now, I do not fully understand the science and explanation behind APAS, so I’m sharing this PDF file if you want to read up on it. This blog (click here) has also been a great resource for me.**

My blood tests indicated that I’m positive for Category 2. Just 1 out of the 5 categories. Still, this disorder will prove to affect my pregnancy greatly. My immunologist confirmed that most of my succeeding complications were a result, or related to APAS.

How my doctors managed my APAS

The first step for me in battling APAS was finding a perinatologist, or an OB-Gyne trained to handle high-risk pregnancies. There aren’t many from where I live, so while St. Luke’s Global is a three-hour drive from our place during the rush hours, it seemed to be the right and only choice for me. After a week of searching and panicking that I was wasting precious days without proper medical care, God directed me to a doctor who was readily available to see me.

She also referred me to an immunologist, who would manage my APAS. I was prescribed to take aspirin and inject heparin daily. These are blood thinners that would prevent my blood from clotting and harming the fetus. The immunologist wanted to address what was making my blood thicker than normal. He suspected that my immune system was more hyper than usual. To address this, he advised me to take two kinds of probiotics to “distract” my immune system. Aside from these meds, I was also put on steroids for three weeks to help calm my immune system. (At one point, I was taking up to 15 pills per day!)

SCH (Subchorionic Hemorrhage)

My Week 6 scan was encouraging–we saw the baby’s heart fluttering. On the downside, there was a small subchorionic hemorrhage forming in my uterus. SCH is a scary thing for me. Aside from the shock of seeing blood on my underwear, I believe I lost my last pregnancy because of this. I was put on strict bed rest as I was spotting on and off for about four weeks.

My immunologist suggested that I undergo intra-lipid infusion–a simple procedure where you’re given a blend of fatty acids and lipids through an IV. This was supposed to help the baby grow faster than the SCH. Thankfully, the blood clot was gone after one round and my bed rest was lifted just as I was entering my second trimester. I did continue the intra-lipid infusion for a total of five rounds, once a month.

Gestational Diabetes

In one of my routine blood tests, my perinatologist was alarmed that one of my sugar levels was higher than normal. It wasn’t that serious, she said, but she still referred me to an endocrinologist who then referred me to see a nutritionist. So during my second trimester, I was seeing four specialists: a perinatologist, immunologist, endocrinologist, and nutritionist.

Incompetent Cervix

My gestational diabetes was still manageable with proper diet until my 27th week–when I was admitted to the High-Risk Pregnancy Unit because my cervix was short and funneling already. My perinatologist was afraid I would go into pre-term labor, so I had to stay at the hospital for two days to get two rounds of steroid shots. These would help the baby’s lungs mature in case of premature birth. Because of the steroids, my sugar levels shot up and from this point on, I was prescribed to inject insulin four times a day.

By this time, my body could already feel the effects of all the drugs I’ve been taking. I was also getting physically weaker because I had to be put on bed rest again due to my incompetent cervix. Shortly after I was discharged, I saw a urogynecologist who inserted a pessary to temporarily close my cervix. This would hopefully buy me more time and prevent it from further dilating. My husband also got me a wheelchair so I could go around and have a small semblance of normalcy. I did not like the feeling of being lethargic and drug-induced, but I had to be diligent for the baby’s safety. I vowed to de-toxify after the pregnancy to regain my strength and chi.

Oligohydramnios (Low Amniotic Fluid) & Pre-eclampsia

Of all the complications I’ve been dealt with, nothing was more depressing than finding out that my amniotic fluid levels are abnormally low. This happened in my 29th week, and I had to stay at the hospital for a total of 11 days so I could be put on IV round the clock. I got discharged for three days but had to be re-admitted because my fluids are still getting low and my perinatologist did not want to risk a pre-term delivery. I was only 31-32 weeks by this point.

I stayed three more weeks at the hospital, and even spent my birthday and Valentine’s Day in confinement.  It was during this time that my blood pressure spiked up and I tested positive for pre-eclampsia. I also started having mild but regular contractions, so I had to take another medication to stop the contractions and also regulate my blood pressure.

I was getting weak, bored, and anxious. I questioned all the choices we made that led to this depressing point but I argued that we stuck to our doctors’ plan like obedient wards. Apart from my emotional distress, we were also getting drained financially. My husband and I are middle-class, working individuals and in no way do we have unlimited funds. If we totaled all the medications, doctors’ fees, procedures, and hospital confinements, the sum would be enough to build our home. I want to honor my husband for keeping his head in spite of our situation. Throughout our challenges, he’s prevented me from having panic attacks and always reassured me that everything will be okay.

37 weeks and counting

As I type this, I am now on my 37th week. My pessary has been removed, and I’ve stopped taking all my meds. I could give birth any time now! No one expected me to reach this far, not even my doctors. As my OB said, I’ve been dealt with every complication she could imagine, but my baby and I made it through.

This baby is truly a miracle. From his conception to his development and even the in-betweens. Even our financial status is a miracle–we’ve never spent this much money on anything, and yet we’ve also never made this much money in the span of eight months. It’s been a series of complications, but it’s also been a series of answered prayers. Truly, we’ve felt God’s faithfulness every step of the way.

The battle isn’t over yet. To be honest, I’m scared about labor and delivery. Because of my many complications, bed rests and hospital stays, I wasn’t able to prepare for childbirth. But in that moment of fear, I will try to remember the journey I’ve been through, and how God held my hand through it all.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

PS: I purposefully did not cite the names of my doctors and the cost of each treatment/procedure. If you want to learn more about how they managed my complications, or if you’re looking for recommendations, please PM me and I’d be glad to answer your questions! :)

My Infertility History & How I Got Pregnant

July 30, 2018, is now one of the most memorable dates in my life. I was three days delayed, so I decided to spend the day by moving and doing a general house cleaning. I dusted every shelf, swept the floor, vacuumed all carpets, did the laundry, and rearranged furniture. I thought physical activity would help my menstruation come along. The night before, I even drank soju with my husband, thinking some alcohol would also help.

I had two extra pregnancy tests from I don’t remember when, so in the evening, I said, what the heck, I might as well use them. Was I expecting to see two pink lines? No. I’ve had so many disappointments in the past that I actually didn’t think getting pregnant naturally was in my stars.

Struggle With Infertility: Polyps, PCOS, & Past Miscarriages

I got married in December 2012 although my husband and I didn’t plan to get pregnant right away. Mid-2013, though, we started to consciously try. I was 30 years old then. We didn’t consult with a doctor, but I did download apps to track my ovulation. Nothing was happening after three years of trying. I must admit that getting negative pregnancy tests month after month was a bit discouraging–not to mention, I absolutely hated it when relatives or even strangers would ask me why I still wasn’t pregnant.

Finally, in February 2015, I got a positive pregnancy test. Imagine my joy upon seeing those two lines! However, during my fifth week, I started spotting which soon after turned into bleeding. On my sixth week ultrasound, the sonologist couldn’t detect an embryo or even a gestational sac. My OB-Gyne termed it as a chemical pregnancy.

Source: http://www.healthline.com

Devasted but determined, I decided to try again. This time, with the help of a doctor. Since the chemical pregnancy, my menstrual cycle has been a mess. In December 2015, a uterine polyp was discovered after a series of transvaginal ultrasounds. I found myself at the operating table for an emergency D&C. Thankfully, the polyp was found to be benign.

After the procedure, I saw a fertility specialist regularly to monitor my ovulation. It was a grueling six-month period, from April to September of 2016. I was at the hospital almost every week for follicle monitoring. I had to take pills for fertility and ovulation. I also took a battery of tests–all of which turned out to be fine. My hormone levels were fine, my thyroid was fine, my endometrium lining was fine. Why I was having a hard time getting pregnant was still a mystery.

And then, during one of my regular ultrasounds, a sonologist saw multiple cysts in my ovaries. I refused to be tagged as having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) so I decided to go for Traditional Chinese Medicine. There’s a TCM clinic in Panay, Quezon City which is run by Chinese nuns and I went there religiously every week for acupuncture sessions. After a few cycles, my period regularized and the cysts were gone.

Finally, I conceived by the end of September 2016. During my sixth week ultrasound, we saw an embryo with “good cardiac activity,” the report stated. But shortly after, I started spotting again. Subchorionic Hemorrhagemy OB said. Nothing to be done, but wait it out. Hopefully, the baby will grow bigger than the bleeding, or it will eventually bleed out. But by my 8th week, there was no longer a heartbeat. While I wanted to miscarry naturally, I had to undergo a D&C after a month of waiting to avoid infection.

Source: http://www.whattoexpect.com

In 2017, after the D&C (my second in two years), my hormones were so haywire that my menstruation became so erratic. There were months when I would bleed 30 days straight, and then there were months when I wouldn’t have my period at all. Although I didn’t want to go back to the hospital, I had to find out what was happening with my body. Apparently, I had a cyst in my ovary and I was prescribed to take pills. Again.

By this time, I was too tired, devastated, and frustrated. After a few months, I decided to stop all my medications and refused to see my doctor altogether. While I was worried, I just didn’t care why my body was acting the way it was. It was just too tiring physically, mentally, and emotionally.

At one point, I remember crying out to my husband and saying that I wanted to have my reproductive organs removed so I wouldn’t have to deal with these problems anymore.

How I Got Pregnant

I was convinced that I wouldn’t be a mother anymore. Not in this lifetime, anyway. After years of defeat and frustration, I finally decided to let go of all my negative emotions when 2018 came. I read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin because I wanted to start my own happy story. I chose a word for the year: Deliberate. I would be deliberate in all my thoughts and actions–and always choose joy over jealousy, anger, and bitterness.

Writing my goals for the year, I did not pray to get pregnant at all. I wanted to be content with my life and be genuinely happy for the others who have had their wishes granted. Also, Enzo and I were able to buy a small lot the year before, and I wanted to focus all our energies into home building. I told my husband that IF we still wanted to have a biological child after moving into our own home, we would go the IVF route.

By February, I started the Keto diet and saw results almost immediately. Two weeks into the diet, I had lost around 8 pounds and my period came like clockwork the following months. By July, I had lost a total of 18 pounds.

That fateful night on July 30, 2018, as I stared at the pregnancy test, a mixture of emotions overwhelmed me. Disbelief, surprise, joy, anxiety, fear–all directed towards those two pink lines that slowly appeared on the strip. I was pregnant the third time around. Could my third time be the charm? Enzo and I said a little prayer for our little bean, gave thanks for this unexpected surprise, and committed our fate to His will.

I couldn’t say I got pregnant because of the Keto diet–I’m no doctor and no doctor would confirm this to me. All I know is that when I lost weight, my period miraculously came like clockwork. I also know that aligning my attitude and letting go of all negativity changed my life and I’d never felt lighter.

Currently, I am at my 36th week and counting. Every day I am amazed at our little miracle growing in my belly, who has defied all expectations and taught me about faith and hope and love.

Since announcing my pregnancy on social media, many women have reached out to me, sharing their own struggles with infertility.

I FEEL YOU.

I know how frustrating it can be, to wait for 2 pink lines month after month. I know how tiring it can be, the hospital visits and synthetic medications. I know how disheartening it feels, to see everyone else get pregnant except you. And I know how irritating it is, to be asked countless of times why you still dont have children.

I just want to say, IT’S OKAY. It’s okay to speak out and share your pain. It’s also okay to hide your pain. And while we will never know what the future holds, our miracles will happen in time—whether it’s in the form of a biological child or another blessing.

For me, it took 6 years of rainbows and storms. My miracle, more than this baby, is learning the lesson of letting go and choosing joy, always.

To be continued…