Posts Tagged ‘Pregnancy’

Levan restaurant

Like a true Negrense, I love food. Food is sacred and not something to be dealt with haphazardly. And because we are the sugar capital of the Philippines, we know desserts like the backs of our hands. Yup, we know the good life, and when life comes collecting, we have to pay.

Our family has lived with diabetes for as long as I can remember. My grandfather had it, and early in our childhood we were accustomed to seeing him use Equal instead of sugar in his coffee. Ironic, since he was in the sugar business.

His son, our uncle, also had diabetes early on. He dealt with it by exercising, cutting down on carbohydrates in his diet, and taking a daily dose of insulin.

My brother does not have diabetes, but has a rather strange blood sugar disorder (I am not quite sure how to call it, so doctors, feel free to correct me). He is not allowed to miss meals, because his blood sugar level will drop and he could faint or fall asleep and not wake up.

Bar Gurion Chocolate SouffleMy Independence Day souffle

When I found out I was pregnant with the BooBoo Bear, I became more cautious with the food I ate. Then I had my sugar test at around 20 weeks and it was (tadaaaa!!!!) normal.

At this point one would think that an intelligent creature would maintain what it was that they were doing to keep their blood sugar levels down.

Apparently I am not an intelligent creature because, despite my family history, I went to town on the Nutella and all things chocolate.

Brewhouse dessertMy blood sugar is high but my EQ is low

So at around 30+ weeks I looked like I was lugging around a giant watermelon and my body was threatening to go into labor. Needless to say, my doctor was NOT very happy.

Gestational diabetes only occurs when a person is pregnant, but once there, it raises their risk of having the actual thing later on in life. It also increases the baby’s risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes.

The solution was going cold turkey. I was placed on a horrible, horrible diet that threatened to drive me mad. I was in a foul mood for days until my body finally adjusted to the diet.

The dietician called it the “Mediterranean Diet.” I don’t recommend it to anyone, because it has to take certain things into consideration such as your body mass index, general health, nutritional requirements and such things. But for more than a month I subsisted on a few slices of (diabetic-friendly) bread a day, one egg, some 5% cheese, quinoa or brown rice, a small slab of meat, yogurt, fruits and veggies. Lots and lots of veggies.


Good thing I like veggies.

What surprised me the most was that I actually survived living on very basic food. Who knew the human body, a pregnant one at that, needed so little in order to survive and function?

I didn’t think I would make it to the finish line. I did. Eventually. But now I understand why my grandfather was so recalcitrant and would dip his fingers into some cake and ice cream when no one was looking.

I can’t even begin to imagine what life is like for people who have the full blown disease. At least in my case, I knew that once I gave birth it would all be over. I know I still need to take care with what I eat though, so no more midnight excursions for dessert. No more full course meals (except maybe after a day of fasting?). No more ice cream marathons (yes, I’ve been naughty!).

Everyday is still a challenge. I’ve set my limits and, thankfully, I’ve kept to them. For now. Crossing my fingers.


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Maybe it’s because of Mother’s Day, maybe it is just the natural progression of things, but these days there is more and more talk (debate?) about parents and what constitutes good parenting.

I am not in a position to judge people. We all have our own circumstances and we deal with them the best way we can. But I would like to relate my own experience with breastfeeding.

This was ten years ago, and the campaign for breastfeeding had yet to gain steam in the Philippines. I would like to note that we, as in most countries, have a strong pharmaceutical lobby which includes baby formula.

When I had the Babii, I specifically noted in the hospital form that I filled out that I intended to breast feed. Some things being beyond our control, however, it was decided at the last minute that I needed a C-section. That meant (at least at that time, to me) that I would not be able to care for the Babii during the first twenty fours (or more) after delivery, so we decided against having her in the same room as me and opted for her to stay at the nursery. I was assured by the hospital staff that I could still breastfeed.

Fast forward to delivery and recovery. After twenty-four hours, I could already stand and walk, albeit with some difficulty. I called the nursery to ask about the Babii. She was still sleeping, they told me. They promised to call me when she woke up so I could start breast feeding.

Hours passed. I called again. Oh, they fed her already. This went on for the next few days and, if I had not put my foot down and staked out the nursery, I would never have been able to breast feed my child.

It’s difficult to speculate on people’s motives ten years after the fact, but at that time I felt truly frustrated that my preferences/requests/instructions were not being followed by the hospital staff. We stayed at the hospital for five days, and all that time I staked out the nursery. Sometimes I was able to catch the Babii’s feeding time. Most times, I could not due to nursery visiting hours.

I was thankful when we finally went home, thinking that my breastfeeding issues would soon be over. I was wrong.

I was taking antibiotics for the operation, but I was assured by my OB-Gyne that it would not affect the baby if I breastfed. At home, however, I noticed that after each feeding, the Babii would have a wet bowel movement.

People (including doctors) have told me that it was not possible for a baby to have LBM from breast milk, but how can I argue with reality? Off to the pediatrician we went.

In the end, I decided to take the Babii off breast milk and put her on baby formula. The doctor prescribed a non-lactose formula for two weeks, and the Babii’s bowels became normal.

Was it the antibiotics? Had my daughter become used to formula from the nursery? Where was the problem?

I admit, I was dealing with a lot of things at that time and probably did not handle the entire thing as well as I could have. Next time around, I intend to go to the hospital better informed about my options and, yes, more assertive about how hospital staff handle me and my daughter.

Will things be better? Will I truly breastfeed this time around? I don’t know. But I would definitely try.

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Five Months

Five Months

It has been five months, officially. We’ve been over the moon, but it is still difficult for me to talk about it in public.

Of course, it is quite clear to everyone that there is a BABY ON BOARD. But after that traumatic fiasco last year, I have been quite selfish about sharing this happiness, our hopes, our dreams, our fears of going back to that horrible situation of having to deal not only with loss, but with THAT system.

We have a great doctor, the same one who helped us through that difficult time. Right now the focus is on being healthy, not getting stressed out (good luck with that!), and preparing ourselves for a major lifestyle change, especially now that we don’t have a nanny.

Obviously, my hormones are going crazy and everyday is a roller coaster ride.

Sometimes I think I’m crazy for thinking that we can do this in a foreign country with no family. But if the locals can manage it, why can’t we?

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Two weeks, four doctors and three hospitals later…..

We have not had time to mourn properly because the entire hospital experience overshadowed everything else. Unfortunate and unfair, but that’s life.

Thanks to good friends, we found another doctor who shared our concerns (i.e. the length of time I was going without treatment) and was willing to do the medical procedure as soon as possible.

We are taking away so many lessons from this experience. There is certainly the bad, but there was also good. We are endlessly thankful to all our family and friends who came together to help us through this difficult time.

I wish I could say something more poetic or sentimental, but the truth is that I’ve always considered certain parts of my life unfit for public consumption. Grief is one of them.

Now that the physical part is over, it’s time for us to concentrate on getting our life back together and moving on.

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I know that there are worse things in life, but it does not make my pain less significant or less real.

Last week I was looking forward to finally making the long-awaited announcement that we were going to have another baby. That the Babii would finally have a sibling. That after nine long years, our prayers were answered.

Then exactly nine days ago, I started spotting. Nothing to worry about, according to my doctors. Spotting is normal during the first trimester. I rested for one day and went back to work.

Then I started bleeding and cramping. An ultrasound revealed what I believed to be unthinkable: our baby had no heartbeat.

There are no words to describe the pain and the shock, to my body, my mind and my heart. There are no answers to the questions how and why.

I know that my case is not unique and that the world has bigger problems to think about. But what followed after this was a medical nightmare.

Back in the Philippines, medical protocols for such cases are taken for granted. Women undergo the necessary medical procedures within 48 hours (i.e. Dilation and curettage). Apparently, that does not apply here.

For personal reasons I have decided to withhold the details for now, but I would just like to say that I shouldn’t have to pull rank or announce my position just to get standard emergency medical attention. I shouldn’t have to go into hysterics or make a scene, I shouldn’t have to beg because all doctors have sworn the Hippocratic oath.

Or is that an outdated concept?

I never asked for special treatment, I just wanted medical treatment.

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