To The Mama of an Angel

I know how hard yesterday was for you, Mama!

And I want to send you the tightest, warmest hugs of all time.

To say that I know what you feel will be an understatement. I may have been in that boat some time back but our pains are never really the same, are they?

I know you wished for Mother’s Day to pass by quietly.

It is a terrible feeling. To wish that someone would also send you their greetings on this day.

The World’s Best Mom.

You know you can be. You were just not given the chance to. Or at least, not yet.

I know people around you treaded the waters ever so carefully yesterday. Especially yesterday.

And you understand.

You understand that they cannot greet you a Happy Mother’s Day, even if you believe that being a mother is not just about physically holding your child but the love that occupies your heart for your angels in heaven.

And when someone else does (greet you), it would probably create a bittersweet feeling that would tie your stomach into knots knowing that you could do more than just love them – you could have sung them a lullaby or given them a warm bath or snuggled them in your loving arms until they cringe out of breath.

You lock yourself in the bathroom, turn on the shower and pray that hopefully the soft pitter-patter can take all the aches away – wash away the tears until there is none left. And after a good day’s cry, you dry yourself up, give a final snort and tell yourself that the war is not yet over. As a mother (yes, you are, my love), we should never give up even if we wanted to.

Yes, Mama. Never ever give up. Because being a mom entails a never-surrender attitude. For what example do we set to our children (or future rainbow babies) if we would?

So Mama, please…

Dust yourself off and hold that head up high.

More than anyone, you are strongest.

One, two, three failures will not define you. I have a friend who have had five miscarriages but held on – she now holds a beautiful baby in her arms. I have another friend who gave birth to a still baby, carried her child for nine months but had to see her lifeless when she came out. She also did not give up and today, she enjoys every moment with her rainbow child.

These are just few of the many miracles that can happen in your life today.

They say it doesn’t get easier, Mama. But every day… each day of not giving up will make you stronger.

And this story of yours in the making, is something which you will treasure for the rest of your life – to tell your future child (and children!) about unconditional love…

…and the rest of the world, of steadfast hope that only a mother, like you, can hold in that tremendously big heart of yours.

So today, Mama, let me greet you – Happy Mother’s Day!

Cheers to you,  a mother to an angel. 

Let me pray with and for you…

Psalm 139

1 You have searched me, Lord,

    and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3You discern my going out and my lying down;

    you are familiar with all my ways.

4Before a word is on my tongue

    you, Lord, know it completely.

5You hem me in behind and before,

    and you lay your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too lofty for me to attain.

7Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

12even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

13For you created my inmost being;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

    your works are wonderful,

    I know that full well.

15My frame was not hidden from you

    when I was made in the secret place,

    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book

    before one of them came to be.

17How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18Were I to count them,

    they would outnumber the grains of sand—

    when I awake, I am still with you.

Apas Diaries: Baby Bella – Try and Try Again

My heart dies a little every time I hear about a woman miscarrying.

I think there is no greater pain than losing a child – your child – regardless if he (or she) lived a great full life or if he was only a little floating embryo inside your uterus who was gone too soon to fly straight to the heavens.

It is devastating to undergo one miscarriage. I had two and it tore my life apart and my heart in million pieces.

But what if you’ve had three?

Or four?

Or even more?

I cannot and do not want to imagine the pain. 

I have been receiving several inquiries about RI disorder as of late and it saddens me to talk to women who, like me when I started this journey, are lost amidst this unpopular and infamous condition.

Like me, they are looking for answers.

But more than that, I think that they are looking for hope.

Hope that despite this seemingly bleak diagnosis, they will still be able to hold their rainbow baby somehow.

Let me tell you now —

Yes, APAS mommy, there is hope. 

How can I be so sure?

Because I know someone who has surpassed her repro-immuno issues after five devastating pregnancy losses and now wraps her arms around a beautiful baby girl.

Little Baby Bella

APAS Baby Bella’s story is the first of (hopefully) many APAS stories that I would like to share about conquering RI disorders.

During really dark times, it is good to find comfort that somehow things can still turn around – even if that comfort comes from a stranger like me.

– o – 

Today, let me share with you the wonderful story of Baby Bella’s mom – a strong and kind-hearted woman named Gracey.

I met Gracey in our online support group for APAS and other RI categories. To say that I exactly know her pain is presumptuous because I probably have not experienced half of what she and her husband braved through.

Nevertheless, a strong, invisible bond seems to unite us, APAS mommies.

I am blessed to have gained many friends to talk to about this journey (my soul APAS sisters) and one of them is Gracey.

She gave birth to her rainbow baby months before I had Santi so she was my favorite person to bug whenever I had newborn baby questions.

I haven’t met her personally. At least not yet. But I am looking forward to meet her and her family one of these days.

For now, I am more than honored to share the journey of this uber brave woman. Enjoy the story of Baby Bella’s mother –

Name: Gracey

RID (repro-immuno disorders) Categories: 1, 2 and 5 (To check the details of each category, click here>>)

OB/Perinatologist: Dr. Valerie Tiempo-Guinto

Immuno: Dr. Jovilia Abong

Age: 33 years old

How many pregnancies? Six pregnancies

How many miscarriages? Five miscarriages

Live births? One live birth

1.     How did you know that you have RID?

When I miscarried for the second time in June, 2008 (my first miscarriage (mc) was in November 2007), my OB at Metropolitan Hospital suspected me of having APAS so she referred me to Dr. Aleta. Due to budget constraints for the pricey lab tests, age (feeling too young pa that time at the age of 24) and lack of knowledge of the Doctor’s diagnosis, hubby and I decided to just change OB instead.

A friend of mine referred her OB to me at UST. This new OB requested us to have karyotyping test (result is normal) and sperm analysis for hubby (which is normal, too). Because the tests were all normal, new OB gave us a go signal to get pregnant.

Devastated, third pregnancy was still a fail even if she put me on aspirin prior and during pregnancy. Had to be at the operating room again for D&C in September 2009.

October 2010, I had another unexpected pregnancy.

Too scared to miscarry again, we searched the net to find another doctor, one that has full knowledge and can give us an explanation. Our search for an OB led us to Dr. Guinto, but too late, baby has no heartbeat (7weeks).

My fourth pregnancy was the first one to have a heartbeat (we named her Bianca). The joy of hearing that there’s a life inside you is incomparable and to not hear it again was like waking up from a beautiful dream. Felt like I woke up with nothing but darkness again. Saw myself for the fourth time inside operating room.

Dr. Guinto explained everything.

I had lab tests after, confirming I am positive under three RID categories (1, 2 and 5).

2.     What did you feel when you first found out you have RID?

I cannot absorb everything that time. It was too overwhelming, information overload.

Questions like, why me?

What have I done wrong to deserve this kind of pain?

Full of questions in my mind. But I know I should and must accept everything so we can start the treatment the soonest possible time.

3.     What preconception treatments did you have?

After my 4th mc (November 2010), lab tests to confirm my categories were done February of 2011. When we found out I’m under 3 categories out of 5 and realized how much money is needed for my treatment, we stopped for a year to at least save some budget.

August 2012, I started my LIT session. I had the usual four sessions. After the LIT treatments, my LAT increased to 89% from 0. We were given a go signal from immuno to try to conceive (TTC) again.

But for some reason, we did not. Until the 6-months validity of the LIT lapsed. Had two boosters just so my LAT score won’t drastically go down.

When we felt we were ready to get pregnant again, I resigned from work.

May 2014, I got pregnant. Kind of expected but unexpected.

Dr. Guinto wanted me to have IVIG but my immuno said my pregnancy can survive even without it because of my good body response to LIT.

And so on my 5th pregnancy, I had another 3 weekly sessions of LIT.

Since IVIG was not an option, Dr. Guinto insisted to at least be under intralipid. I got three intralipid infusions. She also put me on. 35ml prefilled syringe innohep, aspirin, and many other prenatal vitamins.

Sadly, my 5th pregnancy was still a fail.

D&C was never an option to Dr.  Guinto so we waited for the baby (we named him Lorenzo)  to just naturally come out. Imagine the emotional pain that I had to face again for the 5th time.

Fast forward, after exactly a year, I got pregnant.

June 27, 2015. She was exactly 5w4d. Dr. Guinto ordered for IVIG infusion asap. But because we didn’t have enough savings that time, the infusion went almost a week and a half delayed. IVIG infusion was done when we were exactly 7weeks.

4.     What is the greatest challenge of having RID?

Aside from budget (money), it is faith, questioning my faith.

Na-challenge nito ng sobra ang pananampalataya ko. Hindi ko alam kung magdadasal pa ba ako or what. I almost went to the point na feeling ko life is so unfair, nakalimutan na ba ako ng Diyos?

Saw myself one time in front of Mama Mary carrying Jesus, wala akong ibang nasabi kundi nais ko lang naman makarga din gaya ng imahe nila yung sarili kong anak.

Ganon lang kasimple pero bakit parang ang hirap mangyari.

5.     How long after the treatments did you get pregnant?

I can conceive easily even without treatment. Maintaining my pregnancy was our challenge.

6.    What were your medications during pregnancy?

On my 6th and only successful pregnancy, I was under .45ml prefilled syringe innohep from 5w4d until 7mons, 2ml heparin Britton from 7months to a day before CS delivery, aspirin, Duphaston, Isoxilan,  Utrogestan, folic acid, Caltrate, amino acids, 1 IVIG infusion (7weeks) and monthly intralipid infusions.

Dr. Guinto, on top of my confirmed RID categories, also considered me under category 3. In addition to my medicines, she also prescribed me to have prednisone (on my 6th pregnancy).

7.    Any advice to those who are diagnosed with RID and are still trying?

Huwag mawalan ng pag-asa.

Many times I doubted my very own happy ending, given the numbers of my losses but here I am now, gaya ng panalangin ko sa harap ng Mahal na Birheng Maria hawak ko na din ang anak ko, kagaya ng imahe nya buhat si Hesus.

Mararamdaman mo sa puso mo na ipagkakaloob sayo ng Diyos na magkaroon ng anak dahil kahit gusto na bumitaw ng isip mo dun sa thought of having a baby, hindi naman nawawalan ng pag-asa ang puso mo kasi dama mo ito.

8.     Please share your RID timeline.

November 2007 (1st mc)

June 2008 (2nd mc)

September 2009 (3rd mc)

November 2010 (4th mc)- all failed,  no treatment.

Had monthly LIT treatment from August 2012 to November 2012. May and June 2013 had LIT boosters. The 6-mons validity/efficacy of LIT lapsed December 2013. No treatment from there up to May 2014 (failed 5th pregnancy).

May 2015, my 6th and only successful pregnancy.

9.   What is your greatest realization?

To find the right doctor no matter how pricey her pf and lab tests are.

Wala kasi katumbas na halaga yung buhay ng pinakamamahal mong anak.

At yung hindi ang itinakda mong oras ang masusunod kundi ang sa Panginoon dahil walang mas higit na nakaaalam ng tama at magandang oras kundi Sya lamang.

10.  What/Who helped you through this difficult time?

Aside of course from the Lord, it is my husband who helped me get through this.

Pinasasalamatan ko sya ng buong puso at habang buhay sa pagsusumikap nyang maipagkaloob sa akin/ sa amin ang aming anak.

Kadalasan tayo ang pinasasalamatan ng ating mga asawa sa pagbibigay sa kanila ng anak, sa akin baligtad, sya yung pinasasalamatan ko kasi sya yung nagbigay daan para maisakatuparan yung pangarap ko na maging ina.

Mula sa nakalululang budget sa lahat ng treatment , sa pag-inject ng gamot sa tyan ko hanggang sa panganganak ko literal na nasa tabi ko sya.

Sa pag-unawa nya at pagtanggap sa kondisyon ko na ito, sa pagsuporta sa akin all the way, maraming maraming salamat sayo, Randy.

Napaka-blessed ko at ikaw ang ibinigay sa akin ni God na maging katuwang sa buhay.

11.  Anything else you would want to share.

Do not let other people’s non-sense opinion affect you.

Sa walong taon naming paghihintay kay Isabella, narinig ko na yata lahat ng pwede kong marinig. Iba’t ibang masasakit na opinyon at mapanghusgang mga mata– believe me, wala silang kayang gawin sayo as long as hindi mo sila ieentertain.

Live your life while waiting for your precious little one.

Don’t hide, don’t be too sad, don’t pity yourself because you are strong.

You were able to face life even with sadness in your heart.

You were able to pick up the pieces of you that were shattered when you lose your little one.

You were able to breathe again, to stand and continue living even if you knew that a part of you was gone too the moment you no longer hear your little one’s beating heart.

Do not ever forget that you are strong because the child that is fated to be with you needs you to be strong.

Do not give up.

I was crying when I was reading this.

There are heartaches. But there are big wins as well.

As what sis Gracey said… NEVER, EVER GIVE UP. 

APAS Baby Bella and Parents

I want to share this prayer with you, loves.

Psalm 37: 3-7

3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.