It was the second week of June 2019 when the hubby and I learned that we were pregnant. My mens was delayed and I suddenly had this strange feeling that I might be pregnant and what do you know, the home pregnancy test I took turned out to be positive! We saw the Ob-Gyne on June 22nd but we didn’t get to do an ultrasound until July 6th and that was when we confirmed that we were really expecting. Of course, both of our extended families were ecstatic about the good news. As for the hubby and me, we were over the moon! 🙂
It took us seven years to get pregnant again. (Pippo, our little angel, must have been smiling down on us from heaven upon learning this happy news.) It came at a perfect time because we really wanted to conceive in 2019. We felt that everything was starting to fall into place. We were finally pregnant! And there were more blessings that came our way. For instance, our condo was turned over to us in September 2019. I also qualified as a GSIS pensioner (a dream of every government employee!) last February 1st. Of course, we all know what happened in the Philippines in the middle of March (read: CoVid-19). Its threats linger up to the present time but let’s not dwell on that. Positive vibes lang muna tayo!
The Congenital Anomaly Scan
To be very honest with you, ours was not an easy pregnancy. In fact, it gave us a lot of nerve-wracking moments that at one point, the hubby and I vowed that it was going to be our last, whatever the outcome would be. It was a good thing that our baby’s congenital anomaly scan turned out okay. I still vividly remember how nervous we were inside the scan room despite the fact that the sonologist doing the scan came highly recommended by our family friend Vanessa (the sonologist is her college classmate and friend). Dr. Madlangbayan was very soft spoken and calm yet her friendly demeanor did not reduce our nervousness even just one bit. Those 30 minutes or so inside the scan room felt like years to us. We only relaxed when she told us that everything looked good to her. I think that was the only time we were able to breathe normally, hahaha.
The Risk of Fetal Anemia
One major risk that we had to face in this pregnancy was fetal anemia. It was because I found out during a routine blood test (that eventually led to several elaborate blood tests!) that I have a blood disorder — alpha thalassemia trait. Basically, I have weak red blood cells (RBCs) that get destroyed easily. My RBCs are odd-shaped and do not have much hemoglobin in them which is why I have been mild anemic since birth. While my symptoms are indeed mild (there are worse forms of alpha thalassemia where patients need regular blood transfusions to live), my condition puts the baby inside my tummy at risk of fetal anemia. There was also a small possibility our baby could inherit the disorder from me. This reality made us decide to switch to a high risk Ob-Gyne. We were seeing an Ob-Gyne in Bacoor then but we had to let her go in favor of a high risk Ob-Gyne slash perinatologist in Manila because we needed strict monitoring from a more capable health care provider. It was again Vanessa who recommended the said high risk Ob-Gyne to us and for that alone, we are eternally grateful to her.
The weeks that followed saw me being subjected to several ultrasounds. Our new Ob-Gyne, Dr. Elizabeth King-Supelana, was good (make that great!) and did not leave things to chance. She was quite paranoid and somehow, it made us more anxious than ever but at the same time, helped us be brave and learn to manage our expectations. We did doppler assessments to check on our baby’s blood flow (and identify anemia if present). Fortunately, our baby’s middle cerebral arterial peak systolic velocity (MCA PSV) was always within range each time it was tested which meant she was not anemic (thank God!).
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)
Another sort of roadblock we encountered was my having GDM at 22nd week of gestation. Grabe, ang confident ko pa nung nag-take ako ng oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), sabi ko hindi ako diabetic kasi nung first pregnancy ko (with Pippo our little angel), negative ako dyan. Tapos paglabas ng results, waaaah…may GDM daw ako! In the first few weeks following my GDM diagnosis, I was allowed to control my blood sugar thru diet alone. I was ordered by my endocrinologist to check my blood glucose four times daily using a glucometer. Kahit takot ako sa mga needles at blood, natuto akong mag-prick ng fingers! All for the baby! While I was able to control my after-meal readings (1-hour post breakfast, lunch, and dinner), I could not get my fasting blood sugar (FBS) reading right. Laging lagpas sa 92 na normal limit…haist! That’s why my endo eventually decided to put me on long-acting insulin. With 10 units of nighttime insulin, I was able to control my FBS already. Whew!
Scary Ultrasound Findings
During the third trimester, my check-up and scans became more regular. My Ob-Gyne checked on the baby almost every week via biophysical profile (BPP) and doppler ultrasounds. Kamusta naman sa gastos? Pero sabi namin, okay lang basta para kay baby, ibibigay namin lahat. Just when we thought everything about the pregnancy was going smoothly, at 35 weeks, we were surprised by an incidental finding on ultrasound of a possible cystic hygroma on our baby’s nape. Aba, natural nag-panic talaga kami. Hindi rin makapaniwala ang Ob-Gyne namin kasi wala naman yun nung last ultrasound namin a week ago! She told us that she is not 100% sure on this but that she is letting us know so we can manage our expectations.
We would get another scan after a week and the days leading to that week felt like years to us again. Of course, we were anxious and stressed. We informed our family and asked for their continued prayers. Sana walang cystic hygroma, sana buhok lang yun ni baby or something. We googled cystic hygroma and nakakatakot kaya kasi bukod sa nakaka-alter ng pisikal na itsura, may kakambal pang mga chromosomal disorders. Nakakaloka! We did not discount the possibility that our baby had cystic hygroma and just did what we could only do at that time — let God hear our cries for help. As in, literal na umiiyak talaga kami habang nagdadasal. (Ayaaan, parang naiiyak na naman tuloy ako dahil malinaw na malinaw pa sa utak ko yung eksena na yun, huhu.) Ang sakit-sakit kasi sa dibdib eh, pero pinilit naming magpakatatag.
Ang bait lang din talaga ni Lord samin kasi nung follow-up ultrasound, nawala bigla yung membrane-like structure na pinaghihinalaang cystic hygroma ni Doc. Actually, nag-invite pa ng colleague yung Ob-Gyne namin para mag-perform ng sonogram (kasi sya rin mismo yung nag-ultrasound sakin dahil sonologist din sya!). Luckily, upon checking ng colleague ni Doc, walang cystic hygroma si baby. Pero may pumalit, syet! Subcutaneous edema naman! Halos manginig buong kalamnan ko kasi ang skin edema laging may kasamang hydrops yan, eh hydrops yung nakadale kay Pippo nun. OMG talaga! But it was a good thing na walang hydrops si baby, no sighting of fluids in her heart, lungs and abdomen. So wala talagang hydrops, thank heavens! But since there was a bit of swelling under the skin, nag-isip na si Doc if papaagahin ang repeat caesarian section (cs) ko. She also suggested that instead of a pediatrician during delivery, neonatologist na ang kunin namin para mas alam ang gagawin if may edema talaga si baby. Again, hindi 100% sure na may edema but we had to prepare for it just in case. Finally, we decided on an earlier delivery, from our February 11th schedule, we moved it to the 7th.
Faith in the Lord
You could say our faith in the Lord got tested again in this pregnancy. Only this time, it made us closer to Him. We flooded the gates of heaven with our prayers and asked our family and friends to do the same. We did a novena to the Black Nazarene of Quiapo as suggested by my MIL and because the hubby is a Nazarene devotee. We also prayed the rosary every night.
We specifically asked God that we get past the dreaded 33 weeks (Pippo’s gestational age when he was taken from us). Medyo pinakaba rin kami ni God kasi saktong 33 weeks, nalaman sa ultrasound na nasa low normal ang amniotic fluid index (AFI) ko. Natuyuan ako ng amniotic fluid kay Pippo so sobrang nag-worry kami ni hubby. I was advised by my Ob-Gyne to drink more water and I strictly followed. I drank 5-6 liters of water daily. After just a week, my AFI improved, from 8.59cm to 13.11cm. Ang saya! I monitored my water intake up until the time I gave birth just to be sure.
We also believe that God led us to the right medical professionals to guide us in this very delicate pregnancy journey, from our two Ob-Gynes and the hematologist who detected my blood disorder to my endocrinologist and the neonatologist who checked on our baby right after birth. We can never thank these good people enough. Each of them was a blessing to us in their own right.
Special thanks go to our dear Vanessa who linked us to our high-risk Ob-Gyne and never left our side since she found out we were expecting. She answered all my pregnancy-related queries like a pro. In fact, she was partially responsible for why I decided to exclusively breastfeed our baby. She even gave some of her liquid gold (she’s an exclusively breastfeeding momma herself!) to our baby on her first day of life when my supply was still very low.
Our rainbow baby is indeed blessed that aside from her parents and their extended families, she had all these people rooting for her since our first prenatal check-up! God really works in mysterious ways. Bagamat pinakaba Nya kami ng sobra-sobra, nag-uumapaw at walang pagsidlan naman ang kaligayahan namin sa pagdating ng aming anak na matagal na panahon din naming inasam-asam.
The Arrival of Our Rainbow Baby
Up until this very day, we still can’t believe we are now holding our rainbow baby in our arms. It’s a miracle we are eternally grateful to God for. Every night, our prayer remains, that the good Lord keeps our little bundle of joy safe, strong, healthy, and happy so she could thrive and fulfill His wonderful plans for her life. As parents, we can only provide for her earthly needs and hopefully, be able to guide her to the right path as much as possible.
Anyway, back to the birth of our rainbow baby via repeat cs. (She was quite big at 7.9 lbs. and given my poor Ob history with Pippo, our Ob-Gyne recommended the repeat cs and we fully agreed to it.) So, we checked in to our hospital room on February 6th to have ample time to prepare and relax. Kaso hindi ko alam ano nangyari, di ako nakatulog sa magkahalong kaba at excitement. Siyempre, may finding si baby na subcutaneous edema kaya feeling namin hindi pa rin sya totally out of the woods, ‘ika nga.
I was wheeled into the delivery room of Metropolitan Medical Center before 8:00am on February 7th and gave birth to our rainbow baby at exactly 8:24am. Everything went by swiftly. As soon as I entered the room, the birthing team assigned to me was ready and proceeded with the operation with precision and efficiency. Upon seeing our Ob-Gyne, I told myself this is it. Soon after, I heard our baby daughter’s loud cry. And before I knew it, she was beside me already for a skin-to-skin contact and a quick photo-op.
Because she was expected to have a “medical condition,” they monitored her first in the NICU for six hours while I spent some time in the recovery room. When the monitoring turned out to be uneventful (thank goodness wala naman palang edema si baby!), she was finally allowed to be sent to our room where we, the proud and ecstatic parents, and our two families who were filled with joy and enthusiasm, were eagerly awaiting her arrival. My youngest sister Jodie even cried tears of joy upon seeing our little ray of sunshine for the very first time! Feeling ko nga inagawan nya ako ng moment eh, kasi mas na-focus ang atensyon ko sa kanya, hahaha. Kidding aside, na-touch ako sa kapatid ko. Di nya daw napigilan maluha, kasi alam nya kung gaano kami nagdasal at naghintay kay baby, alam nya lahat ng pinagdaanan namin. Kaya siguro ganun sya maka-react, awww. Thank you for the love, Tita Ninang Jodie!
Aba, siyempre, after dumating ni baby at makita sya ng lahat sa room, kanya-kanya na kaming post sa socmed. So much love for our rainbow baby and talaga namang na-overwhelmed kami. Walang hanggang pasasalamat, Panginoon! 🙂
The Origin of the Name Nazarene Joy
If it’s not yet obvious to you, our rainbow baby was named after the Black Nazarene of Quiapo whom the hubby is a devotee of. He said he asked for our baby from Poong Nazareno so he wanted to honor His name through our newborn child. I just added Joy to give a nice ring to it — Nazarene Joy. NJ is the short version which we think sounds cool, hehe.
Hay grabe, ang bilis ng panahon. From being a newborn who loved sleeping all day, she is now a happy and active baby. She actually turned five months old last July 7th. And since day one, she has been the source of joy (she lives up to her name, I guess!) of our two families. Technically, she’s the second grandchild (on both sides) but the first one they are able to take care of and see thriving.
So, this is how it feels to be a full-pledged mother. Hindi pa rin talaga ako makapaniwala, OA na kung OA. Eh kasi naman, dahil sa nangyari kay Pippo medyo ang hirap na umasa pero salamat talaga dahil dininig ni God ang prayers namin. We told Him that we will do our best to be good parents to NJ. We know it won’t be easy and there will be challenges along the way, but we will persevere. Sabi nga nila, simula pa lang ito at marami pa kaming pagdadaanan. Hindi birong magpalaki ng anak! Good luck sa amin!
But you know, the hubby and I have promised each other that we will work hard to give NJ the bright future that she deserves. We have never been more inspired. We have never been more determined. We will also appreciate and treasure every moment with our rainbow baby because we know we have been blessed tremendously. Life is good. God is great. Haay…thank God for everything talaga! 🙂