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Happy Two Months, Sweet Iris!

Has it really been two months since I gave birth to our baby girl? It really boggles my mind how quickly time has flown. Though, I suppose that’s what happens when you’re just so tired and your days and nights begin to blend into one another.

Physical exhaustion, however, is just a part of it. There have been lots of other challenges for us these last couple of weeks, mostly led by the fact that my husband and I are the blind leading the blind – we don’t know what we are doing half the time.

Trying to catch up on sleep whenever we can

There was my induced labor, for example, and the recovery from my c-section. Then there was the abrupt change in our schedule (no sleep). Then there were the first few weeks of breastfeeding which…let’s just say deserves a whole other post on my blog (OMG).

What I was doing while waiting for the doctor to induce labor…eating Cunanan Ensaymada. Haha! YUM!

It certainly hasn’t been easy. But I’m sure a lot of you already knew that this is how it would be.

With her Daddy Wonderful who takes care of changing her diapers ALL THE TIME 🙂

Every time it starts to get really tough though, I think about the fact that my husband and I moved heaven and earth to have our little baby angel. That my getting pregnant was so unlikely, I pretty much held my breath for 38 weeks, because everyday it crossed my mind that I could lose her.

The very first time I laid my eyes on her 🙂
At the hospital with her very first teddy, a special gift from her Tita Alex Eduque
Almost ready to go home with our baby and all smiles with our Super OB, Doctor Anthony Ancheta who took such great care of us during our stay at Medical City.

My time may no longer be my own, and our home has been turned upside down, but to me that is a GIFT because it’s all part and parcel of having our little baby miracle, who turned out to be everything we had prayed for, and so much more.

Iris at one month

And as another sleepless night rolls in, I gaze at the face of this beautiful girl I can call my daughter,

Happy two months to our sweet, darling baby angel. We love you SO, SO, SO much!

and all is right in my world.

Love,

Celine

From Vancouver to Manila: The Journey Home

It’s been a little over a week since I left Vancouver’s sunny green spaces for Manila’s overcast concrete jungle, and though my heart ached a little as I entered the plane for the flight back home, honestly, it hasn’t been that bad 🙂 Because at the end of the day, though we all whine and complain (uber/no uber), the Philippines will always be my first love.

A lot of people though have been asking me why I decided to give birth in the Philippines instead of Canada, and believe you me, so many well-meaning people also tried to talk me out of it. Definitely, it was a very difficult decision to make. First of all, in the beginning I didn’t even want to think about it because I only wanted to focus on BEING PREGNANT. Towards the end however, I really had to make a decision as I was getting close to 31 weeks and any later the airline wouldn’t have allowed me to fly.

The journey home. And may I also take this opportunity to say way to go, Philippine Airlines! Your new business class is AWESOME! What a world of difference 🙂

Why the Philippines? Because I wanted to be under the care of a doctor I could really trust. Not to say that my Canadian O.B wasn’t any good. Actually, she was pretty great. But at the back of mind, I could never shake off that little bit of anxiety from thinking I didn’t really know her background, I didn’t know any of her other patients…I barely even knew the person who recommended her to me!

Maybe I could have learned to trust her more if we hadn’t already been through such a roller coaster of a baby journey, but well, you all know my story 🙂

So here I am now under the care of a doctor I trust 150%, Dr. Anthony Ancheta, one of our country’s top IVF specialists. He also happens to be familiar with my IVF doctor in San Francisco, Dr. Christo Zouves, and in fact, has taken over the care of quite a few of Dr. Zouves’ patients from the Philippines who, like me, also decided to go home to Manila to give birth (Dr. Zouves takes care of his patients up to the 12th week of pregnancy, after which an O.B of your choice takes over).

First glimpse of Manila after over a year away 🙂

Will I regret this decision? No. Because trust me, nobody else has weighed the pros and the cons longer than we have. Also, because we based our decision on two things:

1. The health and safety of our baby ABOVE ALL

2. Gut feeling

Or dare I say, mother’s instinct?:)

Bare-faced, hot, sweaty and swollen 😛 But happy to be home

Well, there’s also no turning back now because I’ll be 33 weeks this coming Sunday, haha! So please, I hope I can still ask you all to pray for us and our little baby miracle. We still have a couple weeks to go and I’m just hoping everything goes smoothly.

And thanks for the warm welcome, Manila!

It really is good to be home.

Love,

Celine

A Good Year

Has it really been a year?

Last night I finally booked my ticket back to the Philippines and I honestly can’t believe it. After all this time, after everything I have been through while ping-ponging between San Francisco and Vancouver these last few months, I’ve finally set a date for a return flight to the (other) motherland.

To be honest, I probably didn’t have to be away this long. After a couple weeks of necessary bed rest (my doctor in San Francisco, Dr. Zouves, recommended two weeks, but to be safe I made it four) resulting from a small bleed that I had on my 12th week of pregnancy, I was given the go-signal by my IVF doctor in San Francisco and my O.B. in Vancouver to go ahead and book a flight home.

My OOTD. Just kidding. This was taken right before my IVF procedure. I was feeling pretty calm here, all things considered. I was thinking about what I wanted to eat after, haha! You know, I always knew I was strong, but I realized I was STRONGER after I was faced with this challenge. Life really has a way of showing us what we are capable of.

Alas, I’m on my 28th week now and I’m still here, so obviously I didn’t do that 😀 But I know it was the right decision because it’s been a golden time for me. I really, REALLY needed the time and distance to take a couple steps back, reflect, RECOUP and give myself that breathing space – because at some point or another, we ALL need that, and it gets to a point where a weekend away, or even a vacation somewhere far and exotic, is no longer enough to eliminate the noise and all the unnecessary distractions that barrage our daily lives.

This time has been so precious, not that I was doing anything so exciting or so grand, but just because it has allowed me to really (and literally) stop and smell the roses. Something I must’ve stopped doing when I started getting caught up in things that, when I think about it now, all seem so…unimportant.

Back when I could still have coffee 🙂 These are the moments with my husband from the year that was that I cherish the most. Definitely not the shopping and not even our dates at fancy restaurants or anything like that. Just these quiet moments of simple joys where time stood still for us

Instead, it’s been a time for lazy mornings and spectacular sunsets; soulful conversations and quiet reflections. For deepening and strengthening relationships with those that matter the most – and that includes MYSELF.

A friend of mine that I was chatting with a few days ago about my IVF experience told me: “God probably said: ‘this girl is so busy, what will make her pause?'”

And man, all I can say is: when God wants you to pause, YOU’LL PAUSE.

One of my lowest points in San Francisco was when I developed a severe allergy to one of the meds which resulted in an IVF failure. It was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. I wasn’t sleeping because all I wanted to do was scratch my skin off – plus the welts were weeping. At this point I seriously considered giving up and booking a flight home…and let me tell you, I’m not a quitter. It was THAT bad.
I had to walk around with bandages under my shirt and jeans for two weeks while my wounds healed. Of course no one saw this in December right? Which just goes to show that you never really know what a person is going through, especially not on Instagram or Facebook where life is always projected to be “perfect”.

But what an exercise in joy it has been. Even with all the heartache. Even when I was filled with self-doubt. Even when my first IVF procedure FAILED in early December because of an unexpected SEVERE allergic reaction to the adhesive of one of my meds – Even at those lowest of points I knew that everything was, and still is, for my soul’s evolution, and I can only be grateful for the valuable life lessons it has given me.

I realize that not everybody has the opportunity to do what I’ve been able to do – be on a year sabbatical to focus on both a baby journey AND a self-journey – so I really thank God for this gift because that’s exactly what it is and what it continues to be.

Beautiful B.C.

Soon I’ll be going home and I’d be lying to you if I said that didn’t make me a little sad. A big chunk of my heart is not ready to leave because I know that this special time in my life will never be repeated. Plus it’s summer – Vancouver’s most glorious time of the year – and her incredible beauty makes it that much more painful to leave.

But as one of my main IVF cheerleaders, Alex Eduque, reminded me:

“Never leave a foot behind, and don’t just jump ahead and put a foot in the future. Instead…

Living in the moment

…learn how to dance in the present”

Love,

Celine

My Gift of Infertility

Where do I even begin?

My last post on this blog (read it here) was dated January 22 – my wedding anniversary – and reading it all over again I remember the mix of emotions I was feeling at that time. I was in the midst of preparing for my IVF transfer at the Zouves Clinic in San Francisco, and I was anxious, nervous and scared.

I also felt helpless and completely NOT in control, which was difficult for me. You see, all my life when I wanted something, all I had to do was work for it. It may not always have been easy, but it’s always been that simple. So having to face the challenges of IVF, where nothing is certain, no matter what you do, how hard you try, or how much money you have, has been nothing short of a personal baptism of fire, and one I had to tread alone.

Being poked and prodded comes with the territory of IVF

Alone, despite the fact that I was with my loving husband and my family, and despite the fact that I had strong support from good friends who were constantly cheering me on and praying for me. Really, I’m so grateful. Especially to those I didn’t even personally know, who felt compelled to reach out to me and help a stranger, by way of kind words of encouragement, just because they read my story.

Yet even if I had all these people around me, I knew that nobody else could really fathom the depths of my fear and frustration, and nobody else could understand exactly what I was feeling — not even other women going through IVF – because each person’s experience is different.

But as the days got closer to my procedure, I started to feel a great sense of peace, and I think that change in me happened when I decided to write about it and (finally) fully acknowledge what I was going through.

When I decided to open up my heart and put it out there in the public sphere so that my story could inspire others.

When I realized that my painful experience could be transformed into one of beauty and purpose.

The one and only photo I was able to take the day of my procedure. All smiles because: NO FEAR, JUST FAITH.

At that turning point, my daily prayers changed. I stopped praying for the baby that I thought would make me happy, because I realized I was already happy, and I had so much to be happy about. Instead, I started giving thanks to God for the GIFT OF INFERTILITY – because it changed me and gave me an enlightened perspective on what it really means to live and to love.

So I published my story on January 22. I did my IVF procedure on February 4…and guess what? I found out I was pregnant on February 14, which henceforth, has become the best Valentine’s day of my life — and this despite the fact that I couldn’t order red wine 😉

Our best Valentine’s ever 🙂
Double date with my parents, celebrating the results of my pregnancy test 🙂

Now it’s the last day of June, at the cusp of the one year anniversary of our ‘baby journey’, and by God’s grace I’m about to enter my 24th week of pregnancy.

It’s summer once again, just like when I first arrived in July last year, except now so many things are different,

Brighter days ahead

and the days seem much, much brighter ahead.

Love,

Celine

My Greatest Adventure

I’m sure some of you have noticed that I haven’t been posting much on my blog these last few months, and it’s not because I haven’t wanted to – I mean, how can I not? I’ve been away from Manila for almost 6 months now, and as you’ve probably seen on my Instagram feed, I’ve been having a lot of fun re-exploring San Francisco and my beloved Vancouver. Really, there’s so much to write about.

And yet, I haven’t been able to because in my heart I have a much bigger story to tell, and I think it needs to be told first.

So how about we take a look at the other side of #cgltravels, shall we?

It's not always a bed of roses :)
It’s not always a bed of roses 🙂

The truth is, my ‘vacation’ hasn’t all been a bed of roses. In fact, quite literally, there have been some pricks from sharp thorns in the shape of injection needles that my doctors, nurses and my own husband have had to administer.

Amidst all the “roadtrippin’ and piggin’” we’ve been enjoying, there have also been visits to an infertility clinic in San Francisco where we have been seeing one of the best specialists in the world.

With our doctor, Christo Zouves, who came highly recommended :) I even read his book: "Expecting Miracles" (Thank you, Cara!) which I highly recommend you do, too, if you or someone you love is going through the challenges of infertility
With our doctor, Christo Zouves, who came highly recommended 🙂 I even read his book: “Expecting Miracles” (Thank you, Cara!) which I highly recommend you do, too, if you or someone you love is going through the challenges of infertility

Did you know that the stress levels of people who suffer from infertility are equivalent to those of people with cancer? I read that little piece of trivia somewhere as my circumstances have forced me to do the research. And unfortunately, when it is ‘unexplained’ (like ours), it makes it that much more difficult.

All our tests from two different countries suggest that nothing is wrong, which probably sounds like good news right? But in our case, it makes it even more frustrating because when there are no reasons, it’s even harder to find the solutions.

It's not as painful as it looks
It’s not as painful as it looks
I think I can now say that I'm a pro at injecting myself :D
I think I can now say that I’m a pro at injecting myself 😀

So, at this point, I really, really, REALLY just have to thank God for giving me a great (and slightly twisted) sense of humour, and the ability to see the good in every situation. It is this gift of an unwavering positive spirit that has truly given me the strength to soldier on.

Bruised (and bloated), but not broken
Bruised (and bloated), but not broken

I’ve often heard from women around me, how giving birth has been their most life changing event; how having a baby expanded their worlds and their hearts to a size immeasurable, and how they are no longer the same person having looked into the eyes of their own child.

I believe them.

And how I also wish that that could be my own story.

My family and friends will be the first to tell you that I always manage to find something to laugh and smile about. In this case though, I had a little help from my doctors who pumped me up with stuff that made me feel 'happy', haha!:)
My family and friends will be the first to tell you that I always manage to find something to laugh and smile about. In this case though, I had a little help from my doctors who pumped me up with stuff that made me feel ‘happy’, haha!:)

Instead, my path has been different. But I have to say that I, too, am no longer the same person. And I, too, have had my world and my heart expand, because a journey through infertility will really do that to you. Whether you like it or not, it will push your boundaries of comfort and painfully test you emotionally, physically and spiritually in ways you can never imagine, unless you yourself are going through it, which I fervently hope you’re not.

My family, my ROCK. La familia Gabriel and la familia Lim
My family, my ROCK. La familia Gabriel and la familia Lim

But if you are, then I want you to know that this post is dedicated to you, because I wrote this piece in case somebody out there is going through what I’m going through, except maybe not feeling as strong, or as hopeful, or as loved. And I hope my story will comfort you and perhaps trigger in you a deeper sense of faith.

Last but not the least, this post is also dedicated to my love, Matthew, because it’s our wedding anniversary, and because we’ve come so far, and it makes me so proud that we’ve been able to get through this, not only hand in hand, but also with a smile and a chuckle. Indeed, this is probably what our elders meant when they told us marriage is a LOT of work, and now the vows we made to each other, on this day 6 years ago, have never felt more real and more sacred.

6 months ago, we closed our eyes and jumped head first into the greatest of all our adventures,

Just us :)
Just us 🙂

and though the road has been very long, the journey has certainly been beautiful.

Love,

Celine

Eating Alone is Good for the Soul

Want to know a little secret about me?

I’m one of those people that have zero qualms about eating alone.

How about a delicious Ceasar to start?
How about a delicious Ceasar to start?

Like, I can actually say I love it.

Table for one please
Table for one please

I don’t feel self-conscious.
I don’t feel embarrassed.
I never feel bored.

Honestly, I could've had another dozen ;)
Honestly, I could’ve had another dozen 😉

Being in the public relations industry, I’m usually surrounded by people, so when the opportunity arises and I can leisurely enjoy a delicious meal in complete silence without having to make sure somebody else is okay, or entertained, or happy…well, you can just imagine how that makes my spirit sparkle.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always prefer eating alone. And I certainly don’t go out of my way to do it. But on the rare occasion that the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely make the most out of it.

And if you haven’t tried it yet, I really recommend you do. And no, that quick meal when you only have 10 minutes to spare before a meeting doesn’t count. It’s got to be a nice place, with a fantastic menu, where you can relish every bite…along with the moment.

This spicy Thai seafood stew was highly recommended by the Maitre d' and I'm glad I took her advice.
This spicy Thai seafood stew was highly recommended by the Maitre d’ and I’m glad I took her advice.

Because you deserve it.

Love,

Celine

P. S Attention residents of BC: Steveston Seafood House is having the most amazing oyster fest. Only 99 cents per oyster (Royal Miyagi, Kumamoto, Effingham, Kushi and more!). Available in the evenings only. Check out www.stevestonseafoodhouse.com

For inquiries or reservations: 604.271.5252