- I’m sorry I was not your first hug. We were supposed to bond together on your first minutes of life and I was supposed to be the first person you feel outside. However, your lungs were too weak and you had to be wheeled out of the room fast. But thank you for handling that scary situation very well, two hours and you were breathing on your own. You were a champ!
- Sorry for not knowing that the formula I gave you was not enough. I thought when they said 30mL, i had to give you exactly 30mL. I didn’t know how to read your hunger cues yet.
- For putting you on a tiny onesie on your second day after birth. I didn’t know that you had to be in layers on your first few days. All i was thinking is that soon you’ll grow out of all of your onesies and that they should be used. I can’t believe how clueless I was.
- Sorry for not checking your nappies when you were crying endlessly at the hospital on our third night. At the end of it I was crying too! I thought that i was only supposed to check after every feeding. Like it was a routine. I was so wrong.
- For not having enough mittens! They told us in baby class that the hospital doesn’t recommend mittens anymore because they restrict the baby’s hand movements. I listened and removed the mittens from the hospital bag and did not buy more. However, 2 days in and your nails were long and sharp and in your small face were red scratches. Dad had to go and buy new sets of mittens to protect you from (self inflicted) further scratches until I learn how to cut your teeny tiny nails.
Warning: TMI. If you are reading this post and if you feel uncomfortable with the topic, stop right here. It will only get more detailed below. You had been warned.
From the start, I had planned to breastfeed. I firmly believe that breastmilk is the best for babies and it’s the cheaper option too. It could be the old fashioned side of me. And everyone I know who just had a baby is into breastfeeding. In short, I really didn’t have a plan B. I was all set to exclusively breastfeed my little man for at least a year. What I didn’t expect was how difficult and painful it would be to start. I thought it was easy and it was a normal thing that happens immediately after birth, like having your period – it occured without you doing any prep work. Oh, how wrong I was.
Day 0: As my 40th week came and go, I was left wondering if I should have colostrum already. There was zero. None at all. I took that as a sign that maybe I don’t have what it takes to breastfeed my son. I felt nervous and defeated.
Day 1: After Jared was born, I was expecting my b**bs to be engorged. I read that it’s what typically happens and then the milk comes after. After my caesarian surgery however, there was not the slightest sign of engorgement. In fact, my breast looked and felt normal… nothing changed whatsoever. The nurse asked me how I plan to feed my son. I almost told her, “You tell me. I was told there would be milk but look, there’s none.” Instead, I told her that I was planning to breastfeed but I don’t know how because there’s absolutely no milk. “Okay, what you need is a breast pump kit.” Did she hear me? I told her no milk, what’s there to pump? A few minutes after, I was handed a breast pump kit and a breast pump machine was wheeled in our room at the hospital. And there begin my way to breastfeeding. At first try, I got 1ml of waterlike liquid with a tinge of blood due to nipple soreness after 25 mins of pumping. It was painful! But I was determined to do it so I repeated the whole thing 3 hours after. And again after that. The pain gets worse each time. The small amount of milk that I was able to get was stored in a small container and taken to baby’s nicu room and fed to him using a needleless syringe.
Day 2: On my 3rd try at pumping, my waterlike colostrum was up 3ml and the pain was worse than ever. There was no sign that my breasts are getting ready to produce milk, actually, it looks that they are resisting the whole thing. The only positive thing that happened was that I was able to go to Jared’s room at the nicu, in a wheel chair and fed him with the colostrum and then with the formula that they had started to provide for him. I continued to try pumping the impossible every 3 hours and although the amount of watery liquid was increasing, it didn’t look like milk. At all.
Day 3: The colostrum started to become whitish and small bubbles started to appear with it. There was hope after all! Jared was now staying in our room and I also started to get him to latch. He gets frustrated each time though, since he couldn’t get any milk. Plus, my breasts were sore, dry and unappealing. He continued to drink his formula with much gusto and I was starting to get mad at the Similac bottles for having it so easy! We still fed him with the colostrum through a syringe when the nurse suggested that we might try SNS (Supplemental Nursing System). This breastfeeding tool is a syringe with a long, thin tube attached at the end where the milk / colostrum would flow. It gets placed at the nipple area and makes the baby think that they are getting milk when they latch when in fact, it’s all coming from the syringe. The pain was in full force with every latch making me tearful with every time.
Day 4: SNS was such a success and we were all very happy with it. A lactation consultant came to our room and suggested another breastfeeding solution: a nipple shield. With my breast sore, dry and cranky you can’t imagine how happy I am to learn that such thing exist. And with the help of SNS and nipple shield, we made the baby to latch longer and better. It was a breakthrough. We used the nipple shield with the SNS one time and dropped the SNS after. The baby was feeding directly from source! That plus the fact that the colostrum that I was producing started to look like real milk and I was pumping more than 25mL too! We dropped the formula in the next feeding and from then on, Jared was exclusively breastfeeding.
All the pain and agony of the last four days suddenly disappeared. I felt so relieved and so happy. We can totally do this!
While shopping for baby items, I didn’t know exactly what I needed. There were so many information online about what your baby registry (shopping list) should look like but I had no idea what would work for me or for my baby. I had to rely on customer reviews online and friends’s feedbacks to figure out what to buy. I did most of my shopping via amazon. I also bought a bunch of stuff from Target and Kids R Us. Aside from what we personally bought and prepared for, we were also fortunate to have friends who gave us gifts in preparation for the baby’s arrival.
One week after giving birth, I find myself in awe whenever I use the items that I had spent weeks thinking, researching and planning about. These are the things that I use constantly from the very start that I am specially fond of. The following list of items are spot on… Things that I would definitely recommend to friends in the future if I get asked.
My Brest Friend – This boppy pillow was recommended by my baby’s pediatrician when we met her. She said this is one of the things that she recommends for us to bring to the hospital when I give birth. This pillow supports the baby during breast feeding and it makes a lot of difference. It makes feeding easier and more comfortable.
ItzBeen Pocket Nanny – This timer was recommended by one of my friends and we used it from day one. I like how simple it’s functionalities are. Basically, it’s a set of timers used to keep track baby’s diaper change, feeding, sleep and an extra timer that can be used for anything else (I always use it to time how long my baby is latching during feeding hours).
Medela Nipple Shield – The road to breastfeeding for us was not an easy one. I had to deal with no milk at all issue from the start and then I had to switch baby’s feeding habit from supplementing with formula to exclusively breastfeeding. There were two breakthrough products that eventually led us to success, something called Supplemental Nursing System and using a Nipple Shield. I am still using the Nipple Shield one week after because it helps with sore, dry and cranky nipple issues.
Miracle Blanket and Swaddle Me Blankets – Swaddling is a technique used to make the baby feel comfortable and secure and simulate a feeling similar to when they were in the womb. We had a lesson regarding how to swaddle a baby during the baby care class that we attended and the nurses at the hospital taught us how to do it, repeatedly. However, when we had to do it on our own, it was really hard. First, the baby moves a lot then the square blankets were impossible to make into a perfect “burrito”. It was so frustrating after watching the nurses expertly do it and then watching how much the baby loves it. When we went home, these two swaddling blankets (Miracle Blanket and Swaddle Me Blankets) saved our sanity! They make swaddling so easy I can do it with one hand.
Bottle Sterilizer and Food Warmer – Gone are the days when huge pots were used to sterilize baby feeding bottles. These tools were designed to make sterilizing and food warming easy breezy. I love how chic the design of each is and how practical they costs.
Medela Pump in Style and Medela Breastfeeding Starter Kit – Our insurance policy covers a breastfeeding pumping kit so I have it ready and have started working on a pumpling routine. I also bought the Starter Kit for additional storage and I can see it being put to good use once I start pumping regularly especially when I go back to work.
During the course of my pregnancy, I became an avid lurker of Reddit BabyBumps sub. I learned a lot from that site – from early pregnancy symptoms to childbirth video recommendations and everything in between. Towards the end, one of my favorite things to read were birth stories from different subscribers which usually include post partum advise, a detailed description of a mom/dad’s birth experience and a picture of a cute baby. Inspired by all the stories I have read before my baby was born, I’ll try and attempt to describe my own experience.
At 40weeks + 3 days, I had a scheduled induction on Sun, Nov 9th and was admitted at Labor and Delivery by 4pm. The admission process went like a breeze since I had already pre registered and the hospital has all the information that they need by the time that we walked in. I just had to sign a couple of paperworks and then all we had to do was wait in the waiting lounge while our room was getting prepared. It took 20 mins until we had our room, I had my husband and my mother in tow.
A nurse checked us in and walked us through the admission and induction process. She explained the different methods available for induction and told us that we would start with Prostaglandin, a hormone in tablet form that helps soften and shorten the cervix. I was given the initial dosage and would continue to take it every 4 hrs while both me and my baby are being monitored. I walked into the hospital with absolutely no pain at all and by 8pm, I was in so much pain. The nurse asked me to rate the pain that I was experiencing from 1-10 and I gave it a 3. It was painful! Initially, the pain was manageable and it was not that frequent. I willed myself to not scream… by the third hour I was delirous with pain and groaning and moaning loudly. I kept on trying to think of happy thoughts but the pain overpowered them. The thought that each contraction would be over after a few minutes kept me going although I knew for a fact that another one is coming after. My friends were right, there were no words to describe labor pain.
I didn’t have a birthplan. When the doctors asked me in the past how what my plans are when I deliver, I tell them that I am willing to do everything that it takes to have my baby safe and healthy. I was not afraid of going through labor or if I have to go through csection, I was afraid of how the baby will be able to handle labor and I worry a lot if he’s healthy.
By midnight, I was crying due to the intensity of the pain. I had a sudden realization that I would continue to labor until the morning and I thought I couldn’t handle it further without help. I talked to hubby about asking for an epidural soon. Of the two of us, he was the one hesitant about using an epidural. He said that the side effects, although rare, are very risky (he mentioned paralysis and brain damage). I told him that it was so painful I don’t think I could go on any longer without pain relief. The nurse said that there is another option besides epidural, a pain relief medicine that could be administered via IV. She asked if we wanted to try that first. So I said yes and thought we’ll take it from there.
The painkiller helped, although it didn’t make the pain go away completely. From level 5 it bought it down to level 3. By 1AM, I was 4CM dilated and contracting every 6 mins. The pain was back in full force and I was cursing the everything: the nurse, the IV and the meds for failing to take the pain away. At 3AM I was still 4CM dilated and haven’t progressed in 4 hours. The OB decided it was time to rupture my water bag. Let me tell you, it was the most painful thing that I had ever experienced, ever. It hurt sooooooh much, thinking about it now stings a bit! The doctor said that they will monitor and check if breaking my waterbag would help the labor progress. Once my waterbag was ruptured, the nurse started to notice that my baby’s heart rate was decreasing with every contractions. She started to ask me to move to different position: facing my left side, my right side, with the bed elevated, and back again. Every change in position caused me unbearable pain and still my baby’s heart rate was constantly dropping with every contraction.
At 5AM I had my initial dose of epidural and I decided right there and then that it was the greatest thing invented for pregnancy ever! While the anaesthesiologists was inserting the tube in my back, I had to will myself to calm down and relax and not to move a bit. It was scary, having a needle then a tube inserted down your spinal cord was no easy feat. I was praying the whole time hoping that everything would work. Once the drug took effect, I was in pure bliss. The lower half of my body was numb and painless. Every contractions came and go and I didn’t feel a thing. I was lying in bed in the most comfortable position, with lots of pillows, my head feeling a little bit “high” and my labor in full force. I can’t believe that the pain level suddenly dropped to 0. The doctors checked my cervix regularly and even that felt painless. The nurse inserted a catheter and I didn’t even realize that it was there. I laid there for 4 hours anticipating that the end of the line was in sight.
At 9AM I was still 4CM dilated with no labor progress in the last 6 hours. My baby was still showing signs of distress, his heartbeat still consistently dropping with every (painless) contraction. The doctor discussed performing an emergency CSection and asked if I am willing to proceed with that option. I said yes without hesitation. I was getting nervous hearing baby’s heart rate in distress (the heartbeat monitor has a sound that could be heard in the room and the slowing down was obvious every time it occurs) and after 16 hours of labor, I was ready to meet my little Jared.
They wheeled me to the operating room at around 10:30 AM. This was my first surgery ever and I observed the operating room with as much curiosity as I was able to in my dazed state. There were at least 5 nurses, an anesthesiologist who increased the dose of my epidural in preparation for the surgery, and at least 3 doctors. The whole thing looks very similar to something you’ve seen in House MD. My husband was on my side, holding my hand and talking to me through the entire thing. It took 20mins before I heard my OB say the magic words, “Baby’s out”. Then the most wonderful sound I had ever heard – Jared cried. He cried and then, I cried… Finally, he’s here! Jared was taken to the bassinet and cleaned up while I watch from the operating table the nurses performed some standard procedures and tests for new babies. Then all of a sudden, I saw him being fitted with an oxygen mask and I saw tubes getting setup in his little body and the number of doctors and nurses suddenly increased. I got anxious while hubby explained to me that Jared was having trouble breathing so he needed to be supported with oxygen and he needed to be placed at the NICU. I kept on asking if he was okay, if everything was okay. The doctors explained that this is quite common with a CSection and Gestational Diabetis. They had trouble flushing all the liquids out of his lungs, hence, he couldn’t breath. After what seemed like eternity, they wheeled his bassinet near the operating table I was lying in and asked me if I wanted to touch him. Touch. I was looking forward to holding him for the first time on my chest but that didn’t happen. There was no skin to skin contact, the umbilical cord was cut by one of the nurse instead of my husband and I couldn’t even hold my baby because he now had an oxygen mask on and a number of tubes attached to him. I touched his tiny face with a finger, I couldn’t help but cry and then I somehow managed to talk to him in between sobs. He looked so tiny and helpless lying there with all the tubes connected to his small, fragile body. Before I knew it, he was taken out of the room accompanied by my husband. I was still being stitched up – I had no idea how long I laid there or what was happening anymore. All I could think of was baby Jared now out of my sight headed to NICU. Will his lungs be strong enough? Will he be able to recover? Will I be able to hold him and take him home with us? What else is wrong with him that they are not telling me about? Is he really all right? All I could do was pray and ask God to help us through this.
By 12pm my CS surgery was completed. My OB told me that everything went well and that Jared would need to stay at the NICU for 48 hours. I was taken to the Recovery room and stayed there for 3 hours. At 2PM my husband, who was still with baby at the NICU sent me Jared’s photo, all cleaned up. The oxygen was already removed because he was able to breath on his own. Thanks, God. He looked so cute and so healthy and so adorable. I was told that he weighed 9lbs and 3.8 oz. He was a big little boy! And I thought, Wow! W actually made this little human.
Jared stayed for 48 hours in the NICU. They wanted to monitor him and make sure that everything is okay. I was finally able to visit him at 5AM the next day, Nov 11 and every feeding hour after that. His nurse in the nicu asked if it’s okay to give him formula and since I didn’t have milk yet, I said yes. I went to his room and fed him with the little colostrum (I got 1ML of colostrum the first time that I pumped) and fed him with Similac every 3 hours. At 3PM he was taken into our room and stayed there during the rest of our stay at the hospital.
Jared’s NICU Nurse call him Popsie
My entire pregnancy experience was wonderful, albeit the Nicu surprise. From my pre natal appointments to the twice a week Non Stress Testing that I had to go through because of GD and the actual delivery, it was awesome. My obgyne’s health care team, the dietician that I consulted with and the nurses at the ante natal clinic were all very nice and friendly I felt at ease and cared for each time that I met with them. The hospital doctors and nurses were all superb. I especially loved the nurses. They were so good and nice to us and taught us a lot of things during our 4 day hospital stay. I learned so much from changing diapers, swaddling, feeding and a lot more. I also had a lot of help for the most challenging task yet that I had to conquer as a new mommy: breastfeeding. At the end of our stay, I was able to exclusively breastfeed my baby which was both pure joy and a relief. It was not an easy task, the details of which deserves another post. We spent the first 4 days with Jared with all these amazing nurses and I only have fond words and memories with each and every one of them.
We went home with baby Jared on Friday, Nov 14. Every bit of labor pain and pregnancy woes was worth it… look at this cute little thing that came out of it!
So here I am, 37 weeks pregnant and feeling huge. This pregnancy had been blissful so far, except for being diagnosed on my 20th week blood test with gestational diabetis everything is well and good.
I didn’t experience the nausea, head ache and morning sickness that a lot of pregnant women go through. I threw up a few times, but they didn’t cause me dizziness or discomfort beyond normal. I came to work regularly feeling okay and doing all my usual stuff. At around 24 weeks, I started feeling more tired and exhausted than usual and I think that’s normal. My manager is such a good soul, he allowed me to work from home on Fridays starting the second trimester (bless him!) I love it because I have once a month pre natal appointments with my OB and a twice a month GD appointment with a dietician and a specialist doctor. Their clinics are all located at the other side of the bridge near our place and commuting from downtown would have been a challenge.
My journey through pregnancy in general had been smooth and I wanted to share with you bits and pieces of experience and info that I learned along the way. For a first time mom, I had to learn a lot of things and experienced a lot of firsts.
— After finding out through a home pregnancy test kit that I was pregnant, I did not go to the doctor at once. That was okay because later I found out that doctors usually start to see pregnant mothers starting at 8 weeks. What I could have done better was to take prenatal vitamins as soon as I found out. I didn’t know that these vitamins could be bought over the counter and since it doesn’t require prescription, you can actually choose which brand to take. Some women also start taking these vitamins as soon as they know that they are trying to conceive. It’s good for the mommy and for the baby.
— My first appointment was not with my OB, in fact, I had to choose a different OB between 6weeks and 8 weeks of my pregnancy. When we moved here, I went to a family physician for my routine annual check up and I went to the same practice on my 6th week. The doctor told me that although she is a licensed Obgyn, she stopped delivering babies 5 years ago. I asked her for referrals andd she gave me a few. My first appointment with her was very memorable for me… She was a nice, old doctor with a lot of words of wisdom to offer for a clueless girl like me. She walked me through what I needed to do, talked about how to take care of the baby and guided me through those early stages and what to expect. I only had one meeting with her but it was something that I will always remember. This appointment served as our confirmation appointment – a doctor was able to confirm that I am indeed pregnant and that the test kit actually worked.
— I started looking for an obgyn online but I have a couple of referrals for midwife service as well. This was new to me. In Manila, doctors usually attend to pregnant mothers and deliver their babies. Midwifes were an option for women who cannot afford hospital services and they usually just deliver the baby (no prenatal care). At first I was uncomfortable with the idea of a midwife since I also thought that they only do homebirths. I know for sure that I want to give birth at a hospital – I prefer to be at the presence of professional doctors and nurses when I give birth. Aparrently here in the California, midwifes can also deliver at the hospitals. And in fact, mothers who use midwife service has better experience in terms of care. So I called one of the midwifes that was referred to me and asked if I could schedule an appointment. After giving her my basic info and background, she told me about how insurance policies work with a midwife service and asked me if I am ready to pay for $3500 additional costs outside of the insurance after giving birth. That threw me off. I had a friend who gave birth in Nevada and I know for sure that she only had to pay $200 for the overall hospital expenses. So in the end, I turned to Yelp (yes I used Yelp to find a doctor, sue me!) and looked for a doctor.
— The OB that I found is be a very nice, young doctor who spoke very calmly and softly in each of our appointments. She is a member of a practice with around twenty other doctors specializing in childbirt and OBGYN practice. She told me that during my pre natal check ups, I could rotate through the different doctors in the practice as well to get to know them. During delivery, there is no guarantee that she will deliver my baby… the on call doctor would be in charge of my delivery. Depending on the day when the baby decides to come out in the world, it could be her or it could anyone of her colleagues. I knew from research that this is common practice here in the US and I’m okay with that. I read the profiles and reviews of the other doctors in her practice as well and I am pretty confident that they all are competent and good doctors.
— My doctor’s appointments are once a month and they last around 15-20 minutes each. Before the doctor see me, her medical assistant will prep me. She’ll take my weighht, my blood pressure, check my records and tell me if I need to do anything for that particular week. For instance, on week 12, I had to go to a lab for blood work. For week 20, I had my NT ultrasound and anatomy scan. At 32 weeks, I had my TDAP vacccine. I am provided reading materials and pamphlets and doctor’s orders paperwork. When the doctor comes in, she will ask me about how I’m doing and if I have any questions. She’ll ask if there are any unusual symptoms that I am experiencing – any spotting? nausea? morning sickness? She’ll also give me more info about my baby’s growth and general info about the pregnancy for that month. Then we”ll listen to the baby’s heartbeat, she’ll measure it and determine if it’s normal. That’s it. These appointments are routinary and it happens so fast. According to research, this is normal with doctors. In fact one of the advantages of getting a midwife is that they spend more time with their patient during this visits and you feel more connected to them. On the other hand, doctors are always in a hurry with patients lined up in the lobby and you usually get just 15 minutes of their time.
— We found out that we were having a boy at 20 weeks. The ultrasound technician was positive about it. Some people choose not to find out about the gender but in our case, we were excited. I wanted to be able to refer to my baby with a she or a he and not an IT. I wanted to be able to picture what he/she will look like and buy stuff specific to a boy or a girl. That surprise factor of not knowing until delivery just doesn’t work for us.
— I experienced some spotting at around 20weeks and I became very worried about it. I had it on a weekend so the OB’s office was closed for normal hours. That’s when I learned that I had no idea how to call the clinic outside of working hours. It turned out that they have an answering service who will take the calls 24/7. They will ask you questions and details about your issues and try to advice you on what to do (if they know). In case the issue is more complicated, they will connect you to the on call doctor. If it’s serious and considered to be a medical emergency, they will ask you to either go to the hospital or call 911.
— Another neat thing: my doctor has an online patient’s portal. I schedule appointments, send messages to my OB and view test results and medical profile from their website. When I had the spotting, I sent a message to my OB describing the situation. I read about spotting online, and it was important to take note of the color and how much blood was discharged. I also read that most of the time this was pretty common so I did not panic. Had it been a lot of blood, I would have asked hubby to go to the hospital with me.
— We decided to try breast feeding. One big buy in factor for me: I read that it helps women to lose weight post partum faster. And God knows I need to lose weight. Breastfeeding also gives the baby the best possible nutrients and supplements. And not to mention that it’s the cheaper option compared to using formula. At this point, so close to D-Date, I am nervous about it. I’ve read that it’s not easy especially during the first weeks of the baby’s life. I’m also nervous about my body not being able to produce milk at all. I am a flat chested person all my life and I’m afraid that my b**bies are not good enough to produce milk. Sigh.
— Another thing that we will try to do is to use cloth diapers. I bought a few stash in preparation for for my son’s arrival and I think we’re ready supply wise. I heard that the challenge with cloth diapering is the was routine. And how to get stains and odor out. But I promise to do my best to make it work. Good thing is, there are a lot of info and support groups online to figure out what exactly needs to be done. I’m pretty excited about cloth diapering. It’s cheaper and environment friendly and the diapers are so cute too! I can’t wait to try it on my son.
— And finally, we have a name! It was hard to choose a name in the beginning, my hubby kept on vetoing every one of my suggestions. Either it’s too wierd for him or he siimply doesn’t like it at all. But eventually, we landed with a winner. Our boy will be named Jared Reason. Reason is a name that I had picked out 10 years ago. On our very first date as a couple, we went to Robinson’s Galleria Ortigas and dined out at Shakeys. Inside the restaurant, there was a birthday party… for Reason! I’ve fallen in love with the name Reason since then and I have taken every opportunity to convince hubby all these years that our first born will be named reason. Jared was inspired by Jared Leto and the fact that it was very close to my hubby’s name. And most of all, Jared is something that he liked too… he didn’t complain/protest/use a veto at all.
So there, this is a quiet lengthy narrative of the preggy experience so far. I haven’t blogged for a while and this was something that I was looking forward to do while on maternity leave and waiting for baby Jared.
We had been thinking, talking and discussing about the baby project for some time. After being married for four years now, it was the next step for us. Our parents had been relentless on reminding us that we’re not getting any younger. And finally we thought that the timing is right.
It was early March when we started having strong suspicion that I might be prego. I missed my period, which was probably the first tell tale sign. And then I started feeling that there was something different in my body. I can not pin point what exactly but somehow, I couldn’t take it off my head that I might be carrying a child. We discussed about this but somehow hubby convinced me to not have any home pregnancy test yet. We were in the middle of our driving lessons at that time and he was about to take his driver’s exam. He said he needed to concentrate and he could only take one pressure at a time, can I please wait one more week until the driving test is over before buying a kit?
At first I was okay with that. What’s 8 days more of waiting before confirming “the situation” at hand. However, it proved to be a hard thing to do. Sitting still, waiting for the right time, not knowing if I was assuming something that was pure imaginary. I couldn’t contain myself and I kept on thinking about the possibilities. I bought books and started reading about what to eat and what to avoid. And then at the end of the day, I would ask myself if I am just overthinking and getting myself excited for nothing. Two days before the driving exam, I went home and told hubby all the right reasons why we can’t wait any longer. I bought an early pregnancy test kit (the digital kind since I thought, what the heck, I know those lines could be faint and that would just leave me in doubt). I drank 2 glasses of water and peed on the stick and we looked at the result together. There it was, spelled in bold letters: “PREGNANT”. We hugged each other for a long time, I didn’t know how to react and hubby was just pure giggly. I had a big smile on my face. This is it! We are really doing this.
My first instinct was to tell someone… At this point no one knew except for me and hubby. I sent a message to my sister and to my closest friends. I just need to get it off my chest and share the wonderful news to my bff’s. Here’s how we told them:
A few more days later, I told the news to a few more of my closest friends. I learned that here in the US, pregnancy announcements are made after the first trimester (@13 weeks) due to the high risk of miscarriage on the first few weeks of pregnancy. And the family doctor that we first visited told us the same thing: “If anything goes wrong, you don’t have to deal with explaining to everyone because that’s none of their business.” I asked my friends to keep the secret until we are ready to announce it to the whole world.
It was hard to keep a secret this big. And at first I didn’t even tell my parents or my grandparents. I wanted to tell them when everything settled in and when it feels REAL already. During the first weeks, it was all like a dream. I started downloading prego apps and I also started documenting my belly progress (with dear hubby as the photographer). It was during the first ultrasound that I felt that it was the right time to tell our parents. We saw the baby for the first time and it was unbelievable. At that time, it felt so real … there was indeed a teeny, tiny human growing inside me.
I also got engrossed with the idea of a “proper” facebook announcement. I started creating pictures of how we would announce the news once we are ready. I made quite a few and now that the secret is out, I want to share these with you:
Eleven Months and one week. That’s how long it had been since our big move. It’s hard to believe how time flies. It seems only yesterday when the thought of moving to SF was only an idea. An ambitious dream that may or may not happen. And now here we are, almost one year after switching continents.
So how is living in Singapore different from living in San Francisco? The adjustment was huge maybe because we didn’t have any friends or family here to begin with. Here are a few things that makes SG and SF so different.
One of the biggest adjustment that we had to go through is getting used to the climate. While Singapore is warm, rainy and humid and very similar to our home country, San Francisco is cold all year round. It’s not as cold as some other parts of America but it is cold for us tropical borns. Spring, Summer and Fall are pleasant, the cold is not much and usually the sun is out and bright. But winter requires thick jackets and layers. And it never rains for like ten months! I found this odd because where I come from… rain is part of our lives.
In Singapore, our flats are high rise complex which we landlords rent out. We share it with friends and we pay for our share of a room. Our apartment in the Bay Area is three story high, managed by a property manager and leased out as an apartment complex. We have a one bedroom unit to ourselves. Singapore HDB housing usually comes with furnitures including sofa, bed, dining table and chairs. Here, we only have the “white goods” : a ref, dish washer, a microwave and an oven. We had to rent our washing machine and dryer from an appliance rental separately. And for the sofa and bed, well we had to buy our own. Rental rates are almost the same, it’s a bit steep in both places. But the difference is, we had someone to share with in SG whereas here, we’re on our own.
One thing I loved about Singapore supermarkets is the abundance of fresh seafood and vegetables. And not just any seafood but fish that are familiar because we have them back home too. In the US, the groceries like whole foods and target have fillet fish and salad vegies. Very different from what we are accustomed to. In order to have our Asian food supplies, we have to go to an asian food store 40 minutes away. Compared to the Fairprice branch which is literally in front of our last apartment in Singapore, this is quite far.
On the other hand, other house supplies are better here. There are so many options and so many brands to choose from whether for shampoo, detergent soap, lotion or make up. We learned to adapt to their lifestyle: from peanut butter and jelly sandwich to learning to like Hot Pockets and trying different kinds of ready to eat microwavable meals. We make our own pizza from ready made dough and eat hot dog buns with pickle relish on certain nights. In Singapore, we managed to stay within our comfort zone because supplies are widely available. Here we are adapting more.
4. Food Scene
Whenever any one ask me what I miss about Singapore the most, my answer will always be food. In the five years that I had stayed there, I had learned to appreciate their local cuisines. I love laksa, hainanese chicken rice, golden chilli crab, Ho Kien Mee, satay, sting ray and nasi lemak. I love their staple breakfast of kaya toast and kopi c with soft boiled eggs. Unlike Filipino food which I could easily cook on my own at home, I don’t know how to cook any of these. We also enjoyed the restaurant scene in SG a lot. We tried different cuisines from Japanese (our favorite) to Malay to Indian. We used to look for different restaurant to try every few weeks and had a good time discovering and indulging our appetites.
In the SF, the food scene is a lot different but also as diverse. While I like Singapore’s dishes for it’s radiant flavors and spices, I like the food here because they are all really good. And the variety is much more pronounced. In our neighborhood, we found our favorite sushi place and our go to diner cafe. A few more blocks of walking and we would get to our favorite korean restaurant which serves the best Kimchi rice bowl. There’s a nearby wing stop, KFC and ihop and our favorite Chinese restaurant is 10 minutes away. There are so many options and different restaurants around in the downtown area as well that the possibilities are limitless. There’s Ethopian food, Pakistani food, Tibetan restaurant and Brazilian cafe. There’s a Japan Town, a China Town and a little Italy. So I guess even if we will be missing the food that we got accustomed to in SG, we will surely find more that we would learn to love here.
Since I am still working for the same company, same project and same group of people as I did back in SG, there’s not much transition. I am now a business analyst which is different from my previous role in testing but I like it more. There more interaction with the business, more analysis and documentation (which I am enjoying a lot). The office is much bigger and the workforce here are ten times than what we had in SG. I just miss the camaraderie that we had in SG. Here, that’s a bit different. I feel like my co workers here are much more reserved and more serious. I miss the warmth and the friendship in Singapore which was more like back home in Manila.
6. Community and Friends
It’s so different here! Whereas in Singapore, the Filipino community is so huge that you would definitely find people that you went to school with or colleagues who you worked with before in Manila, it’s different here. There’s also a big Filipino community and I find people speaking in Tagalog all the time. However, it’s hard to find communities for us who came here without family or friends.
Lately, I’ve told myself to stop complaining about this. I’m not doing anything to change it anyway. We never go to church, we don’t have any activities that would allow us to meet new friends. We stay to ourselves and just have each other all the time. Maybe it will happen soon but this is really one thing I miss about SG. I miss our friends.
7. People in General
People here are so nice. We’ve never met anyone who gets our blood boiling. But what I really love is that people are so diverse and different. In Singapore, we always felt a bit discriminated. We knew from reading news that the locals hate foreign workers for “stealing their jobs”. We’ve felt inferior in a lot of small ways : from property rental, to applying for jobs and processing work permits. Here, somehow, people are more open to foreigners at work and there are endless possibilities of our dreams coming true.
8. Going Home
When we arrived here, I didn’t think that it would take us years before we could go back home. Now, one year later, we currently have no plans to have a vacation to Manila yet. Jun is still looking for a job and we have some other plans that prevent us from booking a flight and going home.
In Singapore, we used to be able to fly home on weekends. Airfare was cheap and it was so easy to take short vacations. Gone are those days… now, going home means 19 hrs of flying and paying a lot more for tickets.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that one of our passion is traveling. It was so easy to do in SG, money was never a problem and it was so convenient.
Here, traveling is a little more restrained for us. I think at this point, the reason is more because hubby is not working yet so our budget is much less. Once everything had settled down, I hope that would change. I’m looking forward to exploring more US destinations. And I miss it.
In the end, I think we are getting used to our new world. And I guess, though this might be cliche: no matter where we are, as long as we’re together, we’ll be happy with each other. We will always find things to be happy about. So thanks to my wonderful husband for embarking this journey with me. Hand in hand.