Category Archives: Baby Food

All About Cloth Diapers

We already received all the cloth diapers ordered from Amazon. I am so excited!

Why use cloth diapers?

Agree?

Here’s a photo of Jade’s cloth diaper stash for the past months.

First cloth diaper stash

Her first cloth diaper is a Bambino Mio which was a gift when she was born. That time, I don’t have much interest in cloth diapers. Though I bought some old fashioned flat sheets and waterproof covers because I believe that baby’s skin deserves to breath out of disposables once in a while. There are no cloth diapers in Jeddah shopping malls. I didn’t know anyone else here who uses one. There was no influence to purchase. For the first months, Jade wears that one piece or the flat sheets on some mornings as a breather after a long night in disposable diaper.

Bambino Mio

Bambino Mio is an All-in-One type of cloth diaper, meaning it is the one piece kind that has the soaker sewn to the cloth diaper. It has a pocket where the soaker is inserted, another pad can also be added for extra absorbency.  It has plastic tabs to adjust size, and  Velcro to fasten  waist. Velcro is much easier to use on wiggly babies compared to button tabs, however at present, my toddler plays with the Velcro and can easily unfasten it even with pants. Bambino Mio is bulkier than others, but I feel that my little one is comfortable wearing it because the stay-dry lining that touches baby skin is super soft. It just takes longer to dry after washing because the soaker is built-in.

When we had our vacation in Philippines, cloth diapers are sold everywhere. My niece uses them full time.  I bought 4pcs of Alva 3.0 to try. It is a pocket type cloth diaper, meaning you have to insert the absorbent pad or soaker in the pocket between the outer waterproof layer and the quick dry lining that touches baby skin.

Alva 3.0 Cloth diaper

There are plenty of pretty designs to choose from in Alva. The inner suede lining that touches baby skin is not as soft as Bambino Mio, but Jade stays rash free. We use bamboo charcoal as soaker, it is very absorbent and so far we never had leaks.

Before we went back to KSA, I bought an additional 5pcs of Ecopwet 4.0. Like Alva, it is also a pocket type and with button snaps for fitting adjustments.

Ecopwet 4.0 Cloth Diapers

I like Ecopwet 4.0 better than Alva 3.0 because the lining that touches baby skin feels comfy, made from Bamboo charcoal which has more benefits. It also has inner double gusset for better leak protection. There is a flap to cover the pocket opening. We also use it with bamboo charcoal soaker, as such it is very absorbent. Ecopwet’s bamboo charcoal insert has a snap button to hold it in place inside the pocket.

We had good experience with Bambino, Alva and Ecopwet. We’ve been leak-free and rashes free. Alva and Ecopwet holds more  than Bambino, probably because the bamboo charcoal inserts are better.

Bamboo Charcoal inserts/soaker

I am happy that cloth diapering worked well with us. If you’re in Philippines and want to try Alva and Ecopwet, try FB online shop ChabsUnlimited, they are reliable and offers good prices.

With 10 pcs on hand, Jade doesn’t cloth diaper full time. We haven’t tried them yet at night. At day time, we change every 2-4hrs. I am lazy to hand wash but feels guilty to run the machine for a few pieces. So I rinse with a bit of liquid detergent to get rid of smell, hang to dry, and wait until she uses all 10 pieces before tossing them all in the washing machine for real cleaning. We use about 5 cloth diapers per day, then we wash on the third day. It has to be air dried, so depending on the humidity, sometimes it needs an extra day for drying. Jade gets to cloth diaper about 4 days a week. But now with our new stash already here, we can now cloth diaper daily! Yippee

Some thoughts and lessons learned about ordering thru Amazon.

I wanted to try the best brands and types of cloth diapers. So I did my cloth diaper brand research, scanned thru Amazon and carted different types of the good ones.

We bought 12 pieces of diapers, yet they were delivered in 6 boxes! I am not sure why the items were boxed separately. But we paid shipping for each of the 6 boxes!


The other 2boxes were delivered 3days later.

As for Jade’s previous stash of Alva and Ecopwet, I only spent about Sar200 for all 9pcs! Alva and Ecopwet are China made and available in Philippines.  I bought them while we were there so with minimal shipping fee.

For Jade’s new stash: Swaddlebees, are made in Canada. Charlie Banana are made in HongKong. FuzziBunz are made in China. BumGenius, Bumkins, Thirsties, Rumparooz are all made in USA. These brands are more expensive as expected but with the best reviews.

Jade’s new diaper stash

The shipping fee of Sar389 for all 6boxes is really the heavy part. Overall we paid Sar1,415 for just 12pcs of cloth diapers!

For my husband’s peace of mind, haha. I usually spend approximately Sar250 per month for Pamper’s Premium disposable diapers. Now that we have a bigger stash of cloth diapers, I am planning to buy just one pack per month of disposables (only for night time and day out). That will save us about 160sar per month. So before 9months, the cost of our new stash of cloth diapers is already covered. Then of course we will use it beyond 9months, by then we’re saving. Even earlier  savings if Jade potty trains sooner as it should be easier with cloth diapers. Really ok for savings, well unless I buy more cloth diapers , yay! Next time, if there’ll be a chance, I also want to try the Hybrid Fitted ones. Reviews say they are highly breathable. They are made my WAHMS(Work At Home Moms), and bought directly from them. I like Twinkie Tush which is based in New York, and Boogie Bear Creations based in Vermont. But with the cost of shipping, these likes are impossible haha. They are the most pricey, approx USD45 per piece. Anyway we also have WAHMS who make hybrid fitteds in Philippines, so maybe that’s possible. But really, the most important factor is Jade’s comfort, it’s definitely much ok to sit on comfortable cloth than a disposable diaper with chemicals!

Check out our new ones!

bumGenius Freetime – Jelly

Freetime is the bumGenius version of an All-In-One(AIO) type of cloth diaper. No separate parts, no stuffing required, use easy like a disposable. Now I have to compare it to Bambino Mio as our only AIO the past months. Mio has one thick microfiber as  soaker that though sewn, still needs to be inserted into the shell’s pocket. bumGenius AIO has two not too thick microfiber soakers sewn, that overlaps to adjust absorbency.  The 2 soakers has a stay-dry lining on top side that is safe to touch baby skin, and the absorbent microfiber on bottom part. Both soakers even has pockets where you can insert another absorbent pad if needed.  Still bumGenius is trim fitted, and does not look as bulky as Mio. One-Size means the plastic snaps can be adjusted to fit babies 8-35lbs. It looks wonderful.

bumGenius 4.0 – Love

I bought bumGenius 4.0 though they already released bumGenius 5.0 because many people were  happy with it’s performance and  I want to experience it too. It is a pocket type, with two inserts(absorbent pad) included when bought. One insert is small and lightweight for newborns who don’t pee as much. This can still be used later when baby grows as a booster or extra pad for maximum absorbency.  It looks very bulky when both inserted. My little one is not a heavy wetter so maybe we can try it for overnight use.  The second insert included is larger for the use of growing baby, and has snap buttons to adjust the length of the soaker according to the diaper size setting. The slot opening for the absorbent pad is with an overlapping fabric that is designed to keep it covered so skin is more protected from moist. BumGenius is known for its comfortable stay-dry soft sueded inner fabric and water-proof soft outer shell, trim fit, and good quality. It looks trimmer and feels a lot softer inside out than Alva and Ecopwet. I am happy to have it!

bumGenius 5.0 – Mirror

This is the latest version of bumGenius Pocket type. I didn’t notice I ordered two of the same color,sigh. The pocket is redesigned to provide better fit at the back, it indeed looks less bulky than bumGenius 4.0. We have to try using both to know more the improvements. It promises better material than 4.0 like the suedecloth that stretches for a better fit, an updated stay-dry inner fabric, and a new elastic that is more durable. How much better it can be? I am thankful for my little one, it looks very comfortable to wear.

Charlie Banana-Peony Blossom

This one is new to me as it can be used as a hybrid type of cloth diaper and pocket type as well. It means I can use both a disposable insert especially when traveling or day outs, or a washable insert. I don’t have a Charlie Banana disposable liner. Though I still prefer to use a disposable diaper when going out, the opportunity to use a disposable insert for this washable diaper can be helpful when baby poops, then I can just flush away the disposable insert liner while the diaper itself won’t be stinky soiled. This diaper comes with two washable soaker/inserts,with sizes small and med/large. The soaker’s surface is soft fleece on top side and absorbent microfiber on the other. With that, I have the option to use the large soaker as an insert like a pocket type, and use the small one on top of the diaper shell with the soft fleece layer against baby skin, for extra absorbency. It’s bulky when used both, but my little one is not a heavy wetter so probably we will be good with only one. Charlie Banana have an elastic strap(bra) in the leg casing that can be  adjusted accordingly to the comfort and size of my little one. This diaper has too many options, Cool.

Charlie Banana-Lovely Blue

This Charlie Banana came in a different packaging, and smells of chemicals/plastic-new like it came unwashed from factory. I wonder how many washes it will take to get rid of the smell. The two soakers that came with it don’t have the extra soft fleece on top side, it’s all microfiber thus I don’t have the option to use it direct on baby skin. There’s no clue if this is an older version. Though it is also soft to touch and looks comfy, the inner fleece lining of the other Charlie Banana(PeonyBlossom)  is smoother. This Lovely Blue costs USD21.99, Peony Blossom costs USD22.88. There’s not much difference in price but Peony Blossom is much better material wise.

Rumparooz-Clyde

This Rumparooz is a pocket type cloth diaper. It comes with a microfiber 6R soaker. 6R soaker is a combination of 2soakers, one contoured for newborn use and another bigger size for growing baby. The bigger size soaker has snap settings for small/medium setting. What is special is these two soakers can snap together or used individually in six settings for maximum absorbency, trimness considered. We will try  the medium doubler setting and girl double setting. Rumparooz has dual inner gussets for leak protection and looks a lot better than Ecopwet, it is sewn with details that should snuggle well on baby bum. This diaper looks so trim that settings can be adjusted to fit babies from 6pounds to 35 pounds. It makes me wish that I should’ve started cloth diapering earlier.

Rumparooz – Jeweled

Rumparooz Jeweled is the same as Clyde, only the shell design differs. I read that Rumparooz was developed and first sewn by a mother who’s baby had extreme allergy to disposable diapers. The company patented double gussets in cloth diapering. It was a success. I can say that it was designed and made with love, considering all needs of a baby. Some cute details added are the snap buttons with design, and rubber patch design at the back. I am happy to own two!

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Thirsties – Fallen Leaves

Thirsties is an All-In-One type. It is the simplest cloth diaper we have. No pockets to fill, no pads to match, no straps to adjust, it is simply put on and wear like your ordinary disposable diaper. The front snap buttons are the only ones to be adjusted accordingly to fit babies 8-40lbs. The inner lining is very soft. The outer water proof lining is smooth. As an AIO, it has a built-in 3layer microfiber terry soaker which is topped with a stay-dry microfleece that will touch baby skin. The soaker itself actually has a pocket underneath for an extra insert to  boost absorbency, but otherwise use it as it is.  It promises a lesser drying time than other AIO. It looks simple, I am looking forward to know how absorbent and functional it is.

Bumkins-Lorax

This diaper caught my attention because I like it’s Dr.Seuss print. The diaper label reads Dr.Seuss by Bumkins. It is a Snap-In-One diaper, which is like an All-In-One except that the soaker is not sewn but button snapped instead. This makes drying time faster than an AIO. The inner lining is 100% cotton terry, natural, soft and breathable, great for baby skin.  The soaker that goes with it is made up of layers of microfiber for absorbency and covered with minky fabric on the exterior. The minky soaker can be laid on top direct on baby skin for stay-dry effect, then an additional soaker can be inserted in the pocket for more absorbency. Or soaker can be inserted in the pocket so the natural soft cotton interior lining is direct on baby skin. I hope the company improves their quality control because the soaker that we received was not evenly sewn on the side, it has some loose threads, I am worried it won’t last many washings as the others. Bumkins have too many button snaps. The other diapers usually have 2-3 snaps on each side to fasten on waist, this one has five on each side. Plus the snap-downs in front to configure size to small or medium.  It could be tricky on a wiggly toddler, maybe easier after some practice or use. Bumkins promise of a soft, natural breathable fabric is a big ok for my little one’s sensitive skin.

FuzziBunz – In The Wild

FuzziBunz is a pocket type cloth diaper that can be customized to different sizes according to little one’s body built. It has leg and waist elastics that other One-Size diapers don’t have. As such a medium setting doesn’t have to be the same for everybody, considering that some babies might be small on the waist but chunky on the legs like my little one. Suggestion for a medium setting is to button up the elastic on waist hole 3, and leg hole 5. But that can be adjusted further to 30different settings for waist, leg hole, and diaper length to perfect fit babies 10-40lbs. The inner lining is soft polar fleece. The organic soaker included  is 50% cotton and 50% hemp. However the soaker is too long and narrow for the size of the pocket. I thought at first I got the wrong one. I should fold it before inserting, and I am not sure if it will hold place inside because there’s no snap button to hold it in place. Cotton hemp insert is thin, I wonder how absorbent it will be, maybe I need to wash it plenty of times before it reaches maximum absorbency. FuzziBunz has pretty good reviews, so maybe there’ll be good surprises later.

Swaddlebees(Blueberry)- Owl

We bought this cloth diaper as  Swaddlebees Simplex in Amazon, I think the manufacturer changed name to Blueberry.  It is unique because the interior lining is natural 100% cotton birdseye fabric. It is an All-In-One type with pocket openings on both ends, thus additional soakers can be stuffed as needed for more absorbency. Half of the soaker is sewn flat under the inner lining, while the other half is out.  This part of the soaker that’s out has a microfleece stay-dry layer on one side. So there’s the option to just lay over the soaker with the microfleece touching baby skin for stay-dry effect. Though if preferred, insert soaker in the pocket so the all natural, quick dry, Birdseye cotton is touching baby skin. Now this is our first time to use a cloth diaper with Birdseye inner fabric. It seems cool and breathable to skin. Plus it is trim and light. It should be very comfortable to wear. I wonder though how absorbent it can be. This is so far our most expensive cloth diaper at USD28.95, hoping it’s worth the price.
And that’s it, an additional 12 cloth diapers to our stash of 10. I love them all.  The new ones arrived just a week after we ordered, thank you Amazon. They are all so pretty, with excellent fabric. Different kinds, different benefits. Can’t wait to try them all. Maybe after a few months, I will write to compare each diaper’s performance. I regret that I didn’t start using cloth diapers early.

Cheers to less garbage! Cheers to a happier baby bum! Happy Cloth diapering!

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España

Travel entry! Our family likes traveling.  We can backpack anywhere everyday. I love visiting new places.  If given the choice between retiring in one place or traveling, I will choose to travel until I’m too old to pull a luggage. Maybe when kids are done in school, I dream to move in different countries and live for one to six months each time. That must be awesome! I have about twenty more years to convince my husband, because his idea is to retire in a quiet and peaceful farm, planting for leisure. Tell me I’m not dreaming alone, lalala.

Back to reality, we seldom travel as a couple, our kids always tag along, as such they are used to the excitement, fun, and even the discomforts of being on the road. We had taken a break though for the past year with the arrival of our new baby. Maybe from this summer break, we can start a wonderful journey to different places again.We have missed blogging about our past travels.  Let me start with the last one we had, Spain! (I started writing this entry before the summer break, been too busy to finish, and travelled to other places since then. But posting today as is anyway!)

Barcelona
We boarded a Saudia Airlines flight to Barcelona on a Monday of February 2015. We left Jeddah’s spring weather at 25C, and Barcelona greeted us with a 14C, we were thrilled on wearing our jackets.
We hailed a metered taxi that transferred us from the airport to the hotel. There were plenty waiting in the taxi rank just outside the airport exit. We just showed the address of our hotel to the driver and he took us there in about 20 minutes.
Check in to Hotel Turin was a breeze. It is not big, but comfortable and with modern design. We dropped our bags and refreshed a bit in the room. On our way out to explore, the receptionist gave us a map and some guidelines on what to see. The location is perfect. It is just two minutes leisure walk to Las Ramblas. Turning right, towards south leads to the port and sea. A few minutes walk along is the famous market Boqueria. Turning left, the metro and Plaza Catalonia is just 8mins away. The hotel is in the middle of everything but quiet because it is on a side street, so not crowded right up the door unlike the ones along Las Ramblas. Breakfast is great, plenty of choices and delicious. Good value for money, definitely recommended.

We spent our first afternoon enjoying the walk along Las Ramblas. There was no big crowd that time of year which was good for us getting acquainted to our location.

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It was lovely, a park in the middle of the road. There are shops selling food, souvenir items, flowers, and all sorts.2015-02-09 18.13.15.jpg

There are outdoor restaurant booths with pretty tiny fireplace near the tables. We reached the southern end of Las Ramblas and saw the sea across the highway. We didn’t cross as it was getting dark and colder. We ordered dinner in one resto booth along the Las Ramblas. It was nice to sit there eating while watching Barcelona action around us. We had our first taste of Spain’s tapas,  and of course the sangria, ooops I was two months pregnant, but it tastes and felt good sipping on a glass, watching people pass by.

2015-02-09 20.54.29Warming up

2015-02-09 19.16.16First Spanish meal

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The next day, after a filling yummy breakfast in the hotel, we set out for day two. We walked to the northern tip of Las Ramblas this time, towards Plaza Catalunya. This is where we found the Turistic Bus, an open-top double decker bus that tourists can hop on and off around the city. There were tour assistants selling tickets in the bus stop. We bought ours and started our city tour.

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Our first stop, Sagrada Familia. The iconic building is of course under construction as it was since 1882! Cranes and noises, plus the smell of dust. The bus dropped us at the back side. That is where we bought our tickets. Took us about 15 minutes in queue. Entrance is at the front side, an easy walk along the side of the building. Before we went in, we crossed the road towards a mini park for a photo, to capture the church better as our background.

2015-02-10 12.36.56.jpgSagrada Familia

Back at the church, there was another queue in the entrance, bags inspected, another 15minutes maybe. Up close, the church has so much details. Such a magnificent work of art by the renowned Antoni Gaudi. Every corner is an artwork. I wonder why they are working so hard, it is indeed a unique and beautiful monument. Hoping to see it again when it finishes construction after 10 years, yes, still on 2026!

2015-02-10 13.05.13.jpgInside Sagrada Familia

Next stop, Park Guel, a public park which is another major work of Gaudi. The park is on a hill. Though the bus dropped us nearby, it was a very steep walk uphill past residential area to the gate of the park. A major workout for preggy me! We bought our tickets to see the monumental area where Gaudi’s works are displayed, there was a queue but just ok for a rest from walking. If one has plenty of time and energy, a whole day can easily be spent in this park because it is huge. There is an outer part for nature’s hike, where anyone can go in for free. We just don’t have the time to do that, plus I just can’t hike more after the steep climb from the bus stop. We spent our time walking around the artistic monumental area, mosaics and gardens around, a good place to take a break from the busy city. The kids had fun hunting for the pieces of art written on the park map. A nice outdoor experience, bit crowded though.

2015-02-10 14.14.56.jpgWe call it Gingerbread house in Park Guel

2015-02-10 14.26.38.jpgPark Guel

We rode the Blue Route bus again going to FC Barcelona Stadium. We are not big football fans but it’s nice to visit. No time to watch a game or tour the facility. We just took some photos and hopped on the next bus.

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We were planning to hop off in the cable car station going to Montjuic Castle. However, when we came to that stop, we were told that the cable car is closed and under maintenance. The tour bus driver told us we can easily ride a public bus to go there. But we are not up to the possibility of getting lost with tired kids tagging along. We hopped back in and just enjoyed the scenery, taking photos from the bus deck as we pass by local attractions. Every tourist in the bus has a guide and earphones giving brief introductions to the sites. Our legs are tired as such we stayed in the bus and enjoyed the audio tour as we are taken around the city.

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We finished the route and hopped off to the Gothic Quarter. I love this beautiful part of Barcelona. Walking along the narrow cobbled streets seems like I’m in another time, feeling gothic indeed. There were shops and restaurants, and old buildings of impressive architecture. We ordered lunch in one of the restaurants. We don’t understand much of the Spanish menu and the local waiter speaks very little English, but we had a real affordable and yummy authentic Spanish meal. After lunch, we went walking to explore the charming Gothic neighborhood.

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Churches, it’s everywhere in Barcelona. And of course we saw Santa Maria del Mar in the Gothic Quarter. You won’t miss it as tourists were going in. It was of simple but still impressive structure, solemn and dim inside. A perfect escape from chaos. I can just sit there and rest with my thoughts for hours, like how I would on tiring days when I was younger. The good thing about Catholic Churches is that it will always be open for all. You can be there anytime you want, with or without service, and no one will bother you, no frills, just connecting with your spirit in silence, my kind of prayer. I love Barcelona’s big churches.

2015-02-10 17.53.42.jpgSanta Maria Del Mar Church, Barcelona

2015-02-10 17.55.31.jpgSanta Maria Del Mar Church, Barcelona

Next we found the Picasso Museum. The queue was intimidatingly long. Took us an hour to get in, it was already twilight. We are not painters or artsy, but we enjoyed the museum. The kids had their audio guide and went through the pieces. They liked the idea of Picasso drawing photos of matured adults on his early years, and of simpler photos on his late years. We didn’t miss the shop downstairs for some books and souvenirs. It was already dark when we went out the museum.

10363536_10204233876149537_4961056923569313358_nPicasso Museum

We walked towards Las Ramblas and found the Barcelona Cathedral along the way. It was lovely, not as grand outside as Sagrada Familia, but I like the  Gothic architecture. We saw it at night and the effect of the light on it was stunning. There was a street performer, in the plaza fronting the church, playing Canon D in Pachebel while we were walking down the steps out from the cathedral, and that gave me so much feels for this beautiful church.

2015-02-10 21.05.22.jpgBarcelona Cathedral

2015-02-10 21.13.04.jpgBarcelona Cathedral inside

We found a lot more shopping stalls on our way to Las Ramblas. My feet itching to go see but just tired to visit each one. We need to keep going and head back to hotel before the kids complain they can’t take the walking anymore. We dropped by the famous Boqueria Market, which is about 5mins from our hotel. Fresh goodies, lots of fresh fruits and fruit juices, jamon, nuts, tapa stalls, everything is there. You can easily buy and grab some as you hop on each stall. We took some bites, bought fruits and nuts for snacking later, and headed out.

2015-02-10 21.37.17.jpgJamon in Boqueria, yum yum

2015-02-10 21.40.04.jpgFruit stand, lots of them in Boqueria

2015-02-10 21.42.11.jpgNuts! Boqueria, Barcelona

2015-02-10 21.43.44.jpgAnd pretty candies too! Boqueria, Barcelona

On our way back to the hotel, we saw an art exhibit with free entrance. It was of paper mache giants. Reminded me of my hometown’s fund raising on Christmas season when community groups dress up such giants that we call Higante, parades them around town accompanied with a live band. Men take turns holding the giants, they carry it underneath it’s dress and you can only see their feet while dancing in front of chosen houses for entertainment, to the delight of all especially us kids, and then collect cash as donation/aguinaldo after. Now I  know our Giants were also of Spanish influence. There were no dancing Higantes in the exhibit, but we enjoyed how they decorated and dressed them up, there were even midgets.

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After the exhibit, I smelled and saw Asian food, yay! There is this Wok to Walk fast food stall in a corner. You get to pick your choice of meal ingredients, rice or noodles, tofu or chicken or beef or shrimp or egg, veggies you like, choice of sauce. Someone will assemble these fresh ingredients then the chef will cook your dish right in front of you in a big wok, and serve it in a box with chopsticks. There was a pretty long line of customers waiting so I thought it must be good. And I love and miss Rice in a Box back in Philippines, we have to try. They have small seating area, bar style, as such it’s best to take away. It was still steaming hot when we arrived the hotel. My husband and son loved it, even my picky eater daughter ate her tofu and noodles. But you see, I was pregnant and had this morning-sickness thing at night. Probably from exhaustion touring the whole day, and food aroma while watching the wok cooking(which I of course enjoyed). Just after a few bites, I felt sick and vomited. I went to bed instead. I woke up early at dawn hungry, and was glad that they didn’t throw my rice box. I ate it plus my daughter’s left overs ewwww, lol. It was cold but still tasted good, haha.

Day three starts with heavy breakfast in the hotel. It’s my husband’s birthday! The plan is to DIY Montserrat Mountain which is out of town. I have done my research on how to do it and we were all excited.

Montserrat

We walk along Las Ramblas towards Plaza Catalunya where the metro is. After buying tickets from the machine, we rode the train going to Espanya station. I can’t remember if we rode Green or Red line, but both stops at Espanya station. The tricky part in Espanya station is finding underground track line R5 to ride the local train going to Manresa. You can follow the signs but you will find yourself ending up not in R5. There are stores inside the train station, we were lucky to find a Filipino vendor who showed us where to pass by to go there. In front of Line R5 going to Manresa are ticket booths for Montserrat. We bought tickets for Cremallera Funicular ride to bring us to the top of the mountain. There is also an option to ride a cable car instead of a funicular.

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Travel time from Espanya Station to the foot of Montserrat mountain is one hour. The scenery was good leaving the city, towards residential, then the farms, and mountains after. Passengers who bought the cable car ticket to reach the top of the mountain got off first. Most of us chose the funicular, our train station is called Monistrol.

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From Monistrol station, we transferred to the funicular (cliff climbing train). It was about 15minute travel to the top of the mountain. It was so exciting. I was telling them that I assume the white thing I was seeing on some parts of the mountain is snow. But they were laughing and said I might be expecting too much. But to our surprise, there was indeed snow up there! We were thrilled because (not to count the artificial snow parks in Dubai and Philippines), it was just our second time to see snow.

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“Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain located near the city of Barcelona, in Catalonia, Spain. It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth. “Montserrat” literally means “saw (serrated, like the common handsaw) mountain” in Catalan. It describes its peculiar aspect with multitude of rock formations which are visible from a great distance.” – Wikipedia2015-02-11 13.57.13.jpg

I love Barcelona, but when we saw Montserrat I thought that must be the real highlight of the trip. It was a different experience for us and wonderful. Upon arrival, we checked out the grounds, and enjoyed the great view of the valley below.

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We then headed to the church. Pilgrims line up at the back side to touch the miraculous Black Madonna and child, patron saint of Catalonia. We went straight inside the church and came minutes before the famous monastery boys choir sang their Gregorian chant. It was a spiritual commune. To mention, I first started spotting blood the night before(and that continued the next months of my pregnancy), as such my fervent prayer that time is for my baby’s health and safe delivery. The Holy Mother didn’t fail me.

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After the church, we ate lunch in their restaurant. The place was crowded as most of the tourists headed there also after the Gregorian chant, good thing there were enough tables.

We went in the shop adjacent to the restaurant. There were sweets and food made by the monks themselves. We bought some, and also some other items for souvenir.

From the monastery, it is another 300 metres up to the peak of the Montserrat. We rode a smaller funicular that took us way up to the summit. Seats are limited to the elderly or handicapped, we were standing and it was exciting. We thought we were already way up high in the monastery, but as the funicular climbed the steep hill, we saw the monastery getting farther small. We were thrilled on how steep we were climbing and excited on what we will see up there.

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The view was rewarding indeed. It’s like being on top of the world.

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From the funicular station, hiking trails lead through the nature park. We just kept walking and followed some tourists. There was not much people doing the hike. For most of the time, it was just the four of us in the trail, that made the trip so unique and exciting. We saw some heading back, then we know we were on the right path. While some overtakes us as I don’t want to walk too fast considering my spotting from the day before. The trail took us to higher grounds, the view was awesome, it’s worth the long walk.

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After the hike, we checked out the small museum and relaxed a bit in the viewing deck near the station. We rode the last funicular going down back to the monastery. We said goodbye to the beautiful mountain all tired, but happy for the new experience.

We rode the bigger funicular back to Monistrol, and the local train back to Espana station, then the metro to Plaza Catalunya. We went straight to the hotel and ate dinner in the room. My husband bought some stuff from Boqueria and I requested another Wok to Walk which I finally got to eat hot. We slept right away after dinner. I woke up early to pack our bags because the next day we are travelling to Madrid!

Madrid

After breakfast, we checked out in the hotel and rode the metro from Catalunya station to Barcelona Sants train station. From there, we rode Renfe AVE train to Madrid.

Travel time from Barcelona was approximately 3hours. The ride was comfortable. The train has a mini cafe. My husband and I walked to there while kids were busy on gadgets and won’t go with us. We bought some chips and drinks. It was nice to sip some beer on the bar counter while watching the scenery from the train’s windows. But it’s not for me, I got cold chocolate milk, but baby loves it, ok! In short, I was still ‘thirsty’ and jealous of the ice cold beer that baby can’t have. I left the hubby and just went back to my seat.

It was colder in Madrid! We arrived Atocha station after a smooth high speed train ride. We just followed the crowd out of the nice train station and was greeted outside with two sculptures of baby heads! Such a delight especially to our family expecting a new baby.

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We rode a taxi to the hotel for less than 15 minutes travel time. Actually, as we got acquainted later on our location, we realized the taxi driver could have taken us to the hotel in a shorter time. He drove us on some other streets. But anyway, it was still a short and comfortable ride.

Hotel Victoria 4 is in a perfect location. It was just 2minutes walk to the Tourist deck bus station. Just 5minutes walk to Plaza Del Sol. And from there you can easily go anywhere. The staff cleans the hotel very well daily. The breakfast is great. Restaurants are everywhere nearby. We made the right hotel choice.

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After checking in and resting a bit in our room, we set out for Madrid day one. For the afternoon we just want to walk and see what’s near us. We found nearby Puerta del Sol, it was  a crowded square. We never saw it empty during our stay. There were musicians, performing artists, lots of action everywhere you look. It felt so much a city there compared to Barcelona. Visit not complete without a photo with the bear.

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Next we saw Mercado de San Miguel. It is a food haven. Stalls of Spanish food are everywhere. It is not a market compared to Boqueria in Barcelona, it is more like a food court. At the center of the hall are tables and chairs, some bar type, but overall very limited. It is not your typical restaurant where you get privacy. We don’t mind sharing tables with strangers so we enjoyed. We went around buying what we want from the stalls and sat on two vacant chairs we luckily found, it was crowded. The boys ate standing like others and that’s alright. It was fun tasting a bit of everything from tapas to empanadas to paella, etc. Serving portions can be small and very affordable.

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After eating, we walked more and found Plaza Mayor. Even without the map you won’t miss it as tourists are taking photos. Good thing it was not crowded when we came. There are restaurants around, but what we enjoyed and spent more time on are the souvenir shops. After some shopping, we felt tired and since it’s getting colder already, we walked back to the hotel to call it a day.

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After a filling breakfast in the hotel, we went out early the next morning. The temperature was 1C and we were freezing, brrr. We walked to the nearby bus stop for the Hop-on Hop-off tourist double decker bus, bought our tickets and watched the city sites pass by with our earphones on.

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We hop-off in the stop for Templo de Debod. The park outside have great views of Madrid, but we can’t stay long out because of the cold. It was a comfort that it’s warm inside the temple. It was mini Egypt in Madrid. A small place, not much to see, but unique.

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We crossed the road from the temple and walked up to another street to find the nearest metro with a stop to Avenida De las Islas Filipinas(Philippine Islands Avenue). We need to see the monument of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, in Madrid. It’s a must, we can’t miss it! My map told me it won’t be far, but with heavy jackets and kids tagging, I thought it’s still far.

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Avenida Filipinas stretches long, uphill on some parts, and the monument far from where we started walking. We were tired but oh so happy when we saw our very own Jose Rizal.

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We walked back to the metro station and headed to Plaza Del Sol to catch the tourist bus. We mostly rode and took photos from the deck, while listening to the audio guide. At times we hop off to get a feel of the sites.

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Towards the end of the route is Palacio Real. We want to go in and check it out. Unfortunately, we arrived late and didn’t make it to the last admission time.

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Instead we visited nearby Santa María la Real de La Almudena , the catholic cathedral of Madrid.

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From there we walked to the hotel, passing by more souvenir shops.

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The next morning, we went straight to Palacio Real. It was an easy walk, mostly downhill, from our hotel. The ticket booth was still closed when we arrived, but there were already people on queue. After less than 30mins waiting, we finally made it inside. We each had our audio guides and enjoyed the opportunity to see such a remarkable place in Spanish history.

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After the palace, we strolled around and thought of going to the Filipino restaurant we found on the net. We like Spanish cuisine but living in Saudi Arabia, we are excited to try Philippine pork dishes again. Turned out difficult as we got confused with streets and roads are uphill at times. When we reached the area, we luckily found a group of Filipinos chatting on the road. We were told the restaurant we’re looking for had changed name and management, and is actually located just across us. We ordered and had our eat all you can pinoy pork dishes.

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After lunch, the owners guided us to an easier way to reach Puerta Del Sol. We have seen pretty much of Madrid already and can’t think of anywhere else to go. If we only made it to Palacio Real the day before, we could have spent that last day on a short day tour to Toledo. We spent the rest of the afternoon in El Corte Ingles.

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By night time, I was just exhausted to the max. My husband went out to see Madrid at night. Kids and I stayed in the hotel.
Our flight back to KSA was early the next morning. The hotel arranged a taxi to take us to airport. It was a wonderful trip. Spain is uniquely beautiful. I am wishing to go back again.

Birth Stories

Today is Mother’s Day 2016! Cheers to all the mothers in the world, especially to my Mommy, thank you and I love you. For this special day, I am sharing my own birth stories. I do not have much details for my first two deliveries as it was twelve and ten years ago, but they are remembered well.  My last birth was described more as it was just seven months ago. Motherhood is the best and most special part of me. I can never forget.

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” – Linda Wooten

The Sweet Angel & The Rainbow Baby

The title should be Rinojo’s birth, but I also want to tell the story of the little angel that made his birth a lot more special. Rinojo is our first born child, our only son, my rainbow baby.

They say a “rainbow baby” is one that follows a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. While this blog entry should be all about birth stories and the special moments they bring, I also want to acknowledge the short term mothers who had carried precious ones in their wombs but lost them too soon. You are not alone, I was one of you. There is always hope after a storm. Without the rain, there would never be rainbows.

2002 – Antipolo, Philippines

The first time I found out I was pregnant, I told my mother that it is my greatest dream to be a mom myself. I was young, finished my university degree, passed my board exam, just got a job in a good hospital. I could have done more. But all those meant nothing more when the pregnancy kits confirmed I am really pregnant. My whole world shifted its focus to the tiny one growing in my womb, I was very happy.

On my first prenatal check, the doctor requested an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. There was the yolk sac, approximately 7-8 weeks in gestation, but there was no heartbeat. I was told to repeat the ultrasound after a week.

I came back to the ultrasound clinic with so much anticipation the following week. There was a doctor’s assistant who helped me get ready. She was friendly and we were chatting. I told her it’s my first baby and the first ultrasound I had showed no heartbeat yet that’s why I am very anxious that moment. She applied the gel on my abdomen and checked with the ultrasound scanner. She said she can see a heartbeat. I was so happy. But she’s not the doctor.

Imagine how mad and upset I was when the doctor said that  there’s still no heartbeat and discussed  about D&C (Dilation & Curettage). I insisted her assistant saw a heartbeat. With the confusion, the doctor told me to repeat the ultrasound after another week to confirm.

That was followed by more ultrasounds the following weeks, all with no trace of a heartbeat. I was spotting dark blood. But I won’t consent to a D&C. I told the doctor that if I am meant to lose the baby, then I will wait for it to go out naturally. I was devastated. I wanted the baby so bad already. I was ready to forget all other dreams and be a great mommy.

The baby stayed inside for another month. I stopped seeing the doctor. I continued drinking my prenatal vitamins, took a leave from work, and bed rested as I can. I was in denial.

The night came when I just got tired. I prayed hard. I cried hard. I talked to the baby saying that if he/she is not really meant for me, it’s fine. And maybe, someday we will meet again. I slept very well that night. The next morning, I woke up with bright red discharge. I prayed, got myself ready, and told my in-laws it’s time to see the doctor again.

The hospital where my OB/GYN was on duty that day was 2hrs away. We walked in for checkup and to schedule a D&C. Though deep inside, stubborn me was still thinking that since there’s not much discharge, maybe there’s still hope. We were waiting for my turn when I felt the urge to pee. After I came out  of the toilet, the horror started.

As I was walking back to the clinic, I felt a sudden rush of warm liquid. I knew right away that it’s blood. I told my in-laws we have to rush to the emergency room as I am already bleeding. It was an elevator ride downstairs, which was just enough time because a few minutes after, I was lying on the ER bed and my denim skirt was already soaking in blood, front and back. There was too much pain and too much blood. A doctor came for an internal exam, then she was dishing out pieces of blood from me to a basin. That was a terrible memory, I was crying in pain and fear.

I was transferred to the operating room. I was probably in pain relievers already because the pain was milder. There were nurses preparing me for D&C. They were also asking me questions for patient data. Throughout they were not calling me by my name, instead they were calling me mommy. It was so sweet and fulfilling to be called by other people as ‘mommy’. But after some thought, I realized that I am so much a short term mommy. That there I am in the hospital actually preparing to lose all evidence of me being a mommy. I felt pity for myself. Tears started. I just wanted to have a baby. I never wanted anything so bad, then almost had it, but lost it. I felt the world falling on me. Then I felt so lonely. My husband was back working abroad, I am in the battle alone. I asked someone to hold my hand because I was falling apart, I was crying so hard.  That someone, probably a nurse, was not able to do any more work because I didn’t let go. I pleaded to just hold my hand and never leave because I was so afraid to be alone. I was in hysterics crying myself out. That was the darkest, saddest hour of my life.

When my OB came, I was sober already. She introduced me to another doctor, saying he is the anesthesiologist and he will put me to sleep. Somebody gently stroked my forehead, it felt good. Then everything went black. The procedure went smoothly and I went home the next day.

I lost my first baby. He/she is the sweetest angel up there in heaven that I will never forget. (photo of the scan kept in Philippines, posting soon)

When my husband came back to Philippines a few months after, I wanted another baby already. I was desperate, checking on my fertility calendar and drinking prenatal vitamins and pregnancy milk for nutrition support. But having a baby was not yet meant to be. Later on, I got tired waiting and submit everything to God. I reminded myself that things happen for a reason and blessings come in His right time. I kept myself busy working and forget trying to be pregnant.

2003 – Jeddah, KSA

Hospital bag and baby things are ready. Everything is polished clean and ready for the arrival of our first born child. I am the most excited human being in the planet. I prayed and waited for this baby, and we will have him very soon.

I was having dark red spotting for the second day. That is usually after being active like walking or doing house chores. There was no pain. I was three days overdue but thought that I was not yet in labor.

By night time, my body felt sore. I don’t feel strong contractions. The feeling was new to me. It was like menstrual cramps. There was pelvic pain but it’s all scattered in my abdominal area. I was not sure if it was my abdomen, or my hips which is feeling more sore.  I stayed up all night trying different positions to relieve the scattered pain. I was squatting because I thought my hips was in pain. I was curling on my side because I thought my belly was in pain. I was stretching because I thought my back was hurting. My husband tried to massage me. Still I didn’t found comfort, I can’t bring myself to sleep.

By 3am, I decided to take a bath so that by sunrise, I will be ready to see the doctor for check up. I was brushing my teeth when I gagged big time. I felt like vomiting and fainting, I am not sure if it’s from the gag or from being tired staying up the whole night. But I lost consciousness. Everything went black, I fainted and fell on the tiled floor. Luckily I was able to shout before I passed out and my husband, who was asleep, heard it. He found me on the floor unconscious.

I heard him calling my name. (Later he told me, he was in panic thinking how to rush the naked and swollen-heavy me to hospital,haha. We were living alone in the apartment). I woke up, and there was a very big lump on my head. We quickly got dressed and went to the hospital.

I was devastated and scared. I don’t know if the baby is fine. And the lump on my head was throbbing in pain. We don’t know whether to go to the Emergency Room for my head, or to the Delivery Room for the baby.

I chose the Delivery Room. There was a midwife or nurse who checked on me. I was already dilated. She told me that I should have gone to the hospital from the night before. I changed to hospital gown, was given cold pack for my head lump, had IV fluids, and strapped to NST to monitor baby’s hearbeat. Baby is doing fine, thank God.

My head was still throbbing. I was so disappointed my labor have to start that way. I am already stressed out and tired.

After a few hours, I had more abdominal pain. (As of this writing, I have delivered two other babies, and I should say that my labor pains that first time was the worst and most painful.) It is the kind of pain that just lingers all over my body. I have forgotten that my head was throbbing from the fall. That pain was very least compared to what I was feeling. There were no strong contractions, it was just pain all over, it was indescribable. I was writhing. I was complaining and maybe noisy. More women in the observation room came, our beds were just separated by curtains. I don’t understand why they are so quiet. I am getting insane from the pain.

A family friend, who is also a nurse in another hospital, came to check on me. I told her I am in so much pain, I was crying. She asked me if my waters broke already. I told her I don’t know. I didn’t feel any waters. But I am passing blood.

I chose to deliver in Khalid Idriss Hospital with a Filipino OB/GYN. It is nice to share the same language with the doctor as I am all new to getting pregnant and delivering a baby. I felt at ease and comfortable with her knowing she’s a kabayan. Other Filipino ladies in Jeddah also delivered with her. There was no thinking twice when I found out I’m pregnant. I chose and came to see her from my first prenatal check.

My OB arrived to check on me. She coached me about pushing. But there was no urge, contractions are less, only more pain.

I thought I overheard her scolding the midwife. She said something (in Filipino) like, “The patient is in pain, look after her, stay with her. You didn’t even transferred her to the delivery bed.” (Later on, I found out my OB got mad to the midwife because she was recruiting my friend for a marketing business. She was chatting her into it instead of focusing on me.)

It was almost noon, there was no progress. I am all worn out from the pain and tired from no sleep. They gave me more pain reliever I guess, I was so drowsy already but still in pain. Then the doctor told me the baby’s heartbeat is slowing down. We have to do a Caesarian operation.

It was not the kind of delivery I was dreaming to have. But the baby was in danger, I consented right away. Something I realized from that moment, which I read many times before but took for granted, is the fact that when you’re in labor, you should relax and watch your breathing. When I found out I will have a C-section, there was disappointment but there was also relief. They will put me to sleep and all the terrible pain will be over soon. Baby will be safe and he will be in my arms in a while. My muscles relaxed, I was able to breath freely.

A few minutes after I felt relaxed, strong contractions started. The whole body scattered kind of pain from before shifted only on my abdomen.  I was contracting hard, and I was pushing because I can’t help it. I felt like I’m really giving birth. But it was too late, they were already wheeling me out to the Operating Room. The pain was too much. My doctor told me to stop straining to push, we were in the hallway and I was crying in pain and pushing.

When we reached the OR, I was pleading to my OB to do things faster and put me to sleep quick as I am so much in pain already. I was very disappointed thinking I could’ve scheduled a C-section right away and saved myself from all the terrible pain of labor. She instructed the staff to move quicker. From there, everything went black. The operation went smoothly. We were discharged two days after and went home happily as a complete family.

13147936_10207001715263785_1172212862_o Greatest blessing, unico hijo, Kuya Love

Severino Jose was born at 12:50pm, 55 cm long, 3.7kg/8.1lbs, on a bright and clear Sunday. He was very healthy and chubby and very cute. When he was handed to me, all troubles and pains were forgotten. I have never felt happier. My dreams of being a mother came true. He is the perfect baby that I wished for. He is worth all the pain. He is worth all the wait. I look at him and realize that God has a reason for everything, that though at times it is difficult to believe, we just have to trust that there are better things waiting for us.  He is a reminder that something wonderful can happen  after a storm. He is my rainbow baby. He strengthened my faith. He gave me purpose and so much love.

13150019_10207001715343787_626589885_n Mommy and new born Rinojo out for morning sunshine at Jeddah Corniche

Sophia’s Birth

It was Thursday, Eid Al-Fitr 2005. My second baby is due to come out any time. Rinojo, my first born, knows mommy will have a new baby soon. But he is not much into it yet, he is still a baby himself. Seve and I are excited. Though we didn’t plan to have a second baby that soon, we are having a baby girl, how cute can that be.

My father who was working in Buraidah, travelled to Jeddah to help us during the holiday. We arranged a visa for my grandmother in the Philippines to help me out for this delivery and childcare, but there was a delay, she’s due to arrive still after some weeks.

That morning, we were chatting thru yahoo messenger with my mother in the Philippines. She was advising me to just have another Caesarian section. She’s not confident about the trial labor I was planning. But I was not confident in having another C-section. My son Rinojo had just turned 2years old less than a month before. There’s no way for me to get cut and stitched up knowing there will be a toddler jumping around during recovery. I need to be brave and just give normal delivery a try.

I kept myself busy doing house chores, just to forget the anxiety. I was folding laundry around 2pm when I felt the first contraction. It was strong but short. It came again many times after but in different intervals, and just very short. I finished folding clothes and observed. I told my husband and father that maybe I just have to go to hospital for a check up, after all I am one day past due. I took a bath and prepared my things, hospital bag and all else just in case. Baby Rinojo stayed home with grandpa.

We were living in Heraa district. Back then it was just an 8-15minutes drive to Al Hamra where the hospital is. We were in the car driving when contractions suddenly came very strong. And there while we were crossing the bridge called Kubri Murabba, was when I broke my waters. I was so surprised because though it was my second pregnancy, it was the first time I experienced breaking waters. The contractions never stopped from there. There was water gushing out for every contraction.

When we arrived in the hospital’s emergency room, I felt embarrassed thinking it’s gross to sit on the wheel chair with my waters dripping. There was pain but not yet that much to overcome my shame. I was still more conscious to the people around me. I kept on apologizing that I am all wet because my water broke already. I was interviewed and checked and transferred to the Delivery area.

In the labor room, I changed to hospital gown which was a relief from being all wet. The nurse asked if I want to use the toilet. I went but the contractions kept coming and I feared that I might give birth inside there alone. I went back at once to the labor room. I was 6cm dilated.

I was hooked in IV and NST. The nurse was interviewing me, but I have to stop talking at times because the pain was getting stronger. They told me they already called for my doctor. I was praying real hard she will come. I was afraid that since it’s a holiday, she might not make it. I will be a lot more confident if I can get through the battle with her. I kept praying and tried my best to relax.

I chose to deliver in Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital with an OB/GYN well recommended by friends. She was bit old already as such I was wondering at first how conservative she will be towards my plan to have a VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Caesarian). But when I asked her, she agreed and said of course we can do a trial of labor. I was very thankful. My prenatal appointments were good with her. She was a combination of a mother with tender care, a grandmother with much affection, and a doctor with knowledge and expertise.

While waiting, I was given pain killers and I was drowsing to sleep. After some time, a nurse or midwife checked on me, and announced that I am already fully dilated. I am not sure how she was checking me down inside but she said to another nurse, “Lalabas eto (This will go out).” That gave me so much hope. A doctor came and I heard her discussing with the nurses that  if my OB won’t make it on time, she’s just around to do the delivery.

I was transferred to the delivery unit. I reminded the nurse to wait for my doctor as I want her to deliver me. She told me not to worry as doctor is on her way. And also an operating room is on stand by just in case we have to do another Caesarian section. I prayed, I don’t want to be transferred there.

I was lying on the delivery bed drowsy and trying to relax through the contractions. We were waiting and I am thankful for the calming effect of whatever pain reliever they gave me.

The weird part: this paragraph must be the effect of pain killers. “I felt falling in a dark space, but not really falling, it’s more like drifting. I have to keep on breathing to remind myself that I’m alive. But whenever I slow down breathing, the more I float farther into the dark space and surprisingly it feels so good. If I don’t breath, I feel more relaxed and drifted farther from all the pain. When I breath, I am drawn back to the light of the room and the pain. Then I realized I might be dying. So I need to breath, keep breathing, keep breathing. I remembered my son, what will happen to him if I die. I breath harder to be back, away from floating in bliss. It doesn’t matter if the pain comes back every time I breath. I just have to breath and bear the pain.” Then I overheard a nurse saying that she only gave me a certain amount of medicine. I wonder if I was not expected to sleep through it as what I am doing. Or I wonder if I was saying things, oh no, haha.

Then I heard the commotion, and saw my doctor came in. What a relief I felt. She was asking me why I didn’t call her. I was too drowsy to explain that I don’t even know that I am already in active labor and that progress will be that fast. I thought I heard her shouting and instructing something to the nurse. I was not so aware with what’s happening around me. (Later the next morning when she visited me in the ward, she asked why I was trying to jump out of the delivery bed when I saw her. I don’t remember any of it. Though I know that I was just so happy she came for me, maybe I was trying to greet and touch her).

The next thing I remembered was I in delivery position, legs apart and doctor down there. She told me to push, I felt a big contraction coming and it felt so good to push. I heard voices of Filipina nurses coaching me to push strong. They were just voices, I don’t see them, I just know my doctor and seems she was the only one there. Another weird part, I thought I can see three men hooded in brown cloak behind her. I thought they are monks waiting for my death, I shun the thought away, I was just drowsy of course.

I heard the doctor said push the second time. The feeling is something you can’t stop, you just have to push. The nurse was encouraging that she can now see the head. Doctor asked me to push again. I felt the need to sit up so I can push better. But that was the last thing I remembered. Everything went black after.

The next thing I knew, I was lying on bed. There were no more voices around me. I must be alone. I am breathing, so I am not dead, (I was always afraid I will die giving birth haha). I prayed hard, I felt afraid for whatever had happened. I can’t move my body, everything is numb. I prayed to God to not let me die. Then for some reason I felt some tugging in my body. I thought of moving my cheek, and it was tugged to the left then to the right. Then my left eyebrow twitching up, then my right eyebrow followed. I never thought I can even move each of my ears. I would have thought it as God’s hands waking each part of my body. It must be the anesthesia wearing off. It was an amazing thing to be aware of the sensation going back to every inch of my body.

Then finally I was able to open my eyes and move my hands. I am indeed alone in the room. The doctor and nurses are gone. I felt afraid, I can’t remember what happened.

A nurse came in, I asked her if I made it and if the baby is ok. She said yes, that I already gave birth to a healthy baby girl and she is in the nursery. I asked if I had a C-section. She said no, that I had a normal birth. I won’t believe her. I asked if she’s sure because I don’t remember giving birth. She was irritated I guess as she came to me saying, “Totoo na nanganak ka na, wala nang laman o (It’s true, you already gave birth, there’s no more in there)”, while pressing on my tummy to let me know that I didn’t have a C-section. I felt stupid insisting I haven’t given birth. But oh so thankful to God I had a VBAC for real.

I was transferred to my room shortly where my husband was waiting. He congratulated me with a full grin, saying I did great. We were both so happy it’s all over.

Sophia Bernadette was born healthy at 7:45pm weighing 3.36kg/7.4lbs, 53cm long. When the nurse handed her to me, I can somersault, my heart in so much joy. I held her in my arms and thanked her for not giving me a hard time, praying that childbirth will also be easy for her someday. She gave us so much happiness and positivity. She gave me confidence and pride over giving birth. She is very blessed bringing us just smiles and cheers from day one. She is a great and beautiful gift from God.

s1                                    Precious Baby Girl, my sweet kitten Muning

We were discharged from the hospital the next day. Doctor told me I was very strong. We were all very happy.

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Short labor, minimal pain, not much action, that was a smooth delivery. And it’s a VBAC! Thank you Lord.

Jade’s Birth

I was scheduled for induction of labor at 10am. I could have been induced days earlier, on or around my original due date. But I insisted to wait for natural labor. I do not want to be induced. I was worried that success of VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Caesarian) goes down when labor is induced. I was also imagining that using chemicals to induce contractions might result to my Caesarian scar splitting. These were just my silly thoughts. My OB/GYN assures me that inducing slowly is harmless. But I would do everything just to have another VBAC, and that includes not having negative thoughts towards the procedure.

I chose to deliver in Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, the same hospital where I had my first VBAC. Like before, I had an awesome OB/GYN. He explains and gives information very well during prenatal appointments. When I told him I am planning another VBAC, he supported the idea without any hint of hesitation. After my first checkup with him, I gladly told my husband that I like the new doctor, as such we decided to continue seeing him for my pregnancy and delivery. I felt safe and assured that I will be in good hands with him. (Later on post partum, he would still be supportive, guiding me through recovery, patiently answering my concerns online.) I felt well taken care of. I met other doctors, but it’s either they were in a hurry to finish, or not paying much attention, which is not nice for someone like me commuting 3hrs for a short appointment. And when I mentioned VBAC to them, they acted like I have said a dangerous taboo word, then will reply, “You can try”, in a not so convincing tone. To note, I also had some prenatal checks in another known hospital in Jeddah because my friends were telling me that it has nicer facilities, suite rooms and everything. Throughout my pregnancy, I was undecided whether to deliver in Fakeeh with the doctor I prefer, or in that other hospital with known better facilities. Until towards my due date, the doctor I was seeing in that other hospital scheduled me for a C-section claiming their hospital changed policy that once you had a Caesarian, you can never have a normal delivery. I don’t know the reason behind the change. Probably sure money and less risk, fair enough for them. But I felt betrayed. When he said at first a trial labor is surely possible, changing the plan towards my due date is just a cheat. That would have left me with no choice but to deliver via CS in that other hospital. Good thing I continued seeing my doctor in Fakeeh.

So there I was with a good doctor supporting VBAC. Waiting for delivery in a nice hospital. Everything is ready.It took me six long days after my due date. I started having strong contractions from a week before. Strong enough to stop me from walking, or stop moving to hold my belly in pain. But they were never close together. 5mins-30mins apart, then will disappear. I also had a second episode of extreme stomach acidity/gas(the first was 2mos ago, when I had to visit the doctor for the terrible pain). This time I almost went to hospital, but I am no fan of rushing to ER, I waited, drank my antacids and got relief a few hours after.

The waiting game was not totally fun. We were staying in an apartelle in Jeddah to be near the hospital. Our house in KAEC is more than 100km away, approximately 1.5hr drive to Jeddah. Nobody knows how my labor will go. The last time I delivered, I only had 2hrs between breaking waters and baby out. I don’t want to stress myself traveling far in an ambulance when labor starts. It was nice to be in the city, plenty of things to keep us busy and me walking in malls. But not in the comfort of familiar bed and surroundings is quite tiring. Plus the summer heat was terrible, it’s impossible to walk outdoors even at night.

We transferred to Jeddah two days before my due date. It was the first nonworking day of Eid 2015. The timing was perfect, husband and kids were on holiday for the whole week, no school and work. Friends in Jeddah invited us to stay in with them, we were so grateful. The first days, we stayed in an apartment of a friend who was out of town, because our dog Patty can be with us. The kids getting busy with their gadgets finally agreed to part with the dog a few days. We moved to Rotana Residence Apartments which is located near the hospital. It was my due date and we are all positive the waiting game won’t take long. Another day passed, and we got bored. We moved to Al Salem Regency Hotel for a different place, but we didn’t like it there. We transferred to Hmsat Palace, where we love our stay. Their apartment was not as big as Rotana’s but we didn’t pay as much. The building looks new, apartment clean, staff are nice, kitchen practically equipped with pans and utensils plus mini stove, water heater, sandwich maker, also got a washing machine (not automatic but clothes drying rack provided). It’s a short walk to a supermarket and restaurants which was very helpful. Located in a quiet street where we can walk safely for exercise, but near the highway in case we need to rush to hospital. We were also scheduled to stay in another friends house as they have an extra room for us, and they live in a nice villa. But kids insisted we just stay in Hmsat Palace until baby comes.

Water breaking or close contractions never came. My doctor decided the longest we can wait is at gestational age 40 weeks and 6days.

j1The big day

So that hot and humid Wednesday morning, I woke up with butterflies on my tummy, excited and anxious for the big day. The Delivery department was busy when I arrived, the observation rooms were all occupied. I waited near the nurse station. That was ok, the delay gave me time to compose myself and release the tension. I have never been induced, I don’t know how it will be like, or how long labor will take, or how it will feel. I walked around and tried to relax.  Then I heard a woman in labor shouting in so much pain, her baby coming out. The agonizing cry creeps on me. I thought I don’t have to go through that if I decide to have another C-Section. Then there was silence, followed by the sound of a new baby crying. That was, Wow. I also saw a woman coming out of her room to the toilet, probably in early labor. She looks weird. I overheard a nurse whispering to another, “Parang naloloka na(She looks like going crazy).” That was funny, but oh boy, will I look like that.

After an hour waiting, I was finally escorted to room DR5. I was given hospital gown for changing. Nurse hooked my belly in belts for NST(meant to monitor baby heartbeat and contractions). Wifi connection in that part of hospital was good, so I sent updates to my mom. I asked husband to buy me water. I asked the nurse if I can drink, she said she will make sure with doctor first as it depends, like some patients scheduled for OR are not allowed anything by mouth. It’s bothering to think that she might be expecting me to end up in the Operating Room for another C-section. Later I sent a message to my doc to ask, and he said it’s ok. I drank just a bit, turned out I’m actually not so thirsty, nervous probably.

I was also on IV fluids. Waiting and hearing the NST monitor beep makes me anxious. I followed a friend’s advice. She said pray the rosary, and before you finish it, the baby will be out. I concentrated praying, shunning all other thoughts. That relaxed me.

A lady doctor came for internal exam, said I was 1cm dilated. I sent my mom the update. Another lady doctor came for another internal exam. I overheard her telling the nurse, “What, we are inducing for VBAC?” Nurse said, the order is from my doctor. Second lady doc said, “I will talk to him.” I was like, oh no, please don’t tell me I can’t have a VBAC. It’s not my first time, just give me a chance. I continued praying.

My OB finally came. Message update to my mom records 2:05pm, that I was so happy because doc said I don’t need the drugs for induction. He did an exam and confirmed to 2nd lady doc that I’m more than 4cm dilated. I don’t feel close strong contractions, no different from the past days.  I was relieved, I don’t need the drugs, he said its the power of the mind instructing my body to dilate. I’m glad. He ruptured my waters, saying it will speed up labor. That scared me, I asked first if it will hurt. I remembered from my first VBAC, my waters naturally broke in between strong contractions, it felt nice. The procedure didn’t hurt, and water breaking without contractions was actually a relief. It feels like I was sore down there for the past days, and the warm liquid gushing out was relaxing. I was transferred to the delivery room after some more minutes.

There was a nurse that stayed with me in the delivery room. Contractions came 5mins apart, bearable pain, I can still smile and chat. She said she’ll give something thru my IV that will help soften my cervix. She did an exam, I was 6cm dilated, I’m thrilled with progress. After a  few minutes, she asked if I want some pain relief. I said I’m not sure, its up to her. She cheered, “Uy matapang ha (Ah you’re brave)”. I honestly don’t feel unbearable pains when she asked me, plus I thought that numbing the pain might not help me in pushing later. It was past 4pm.

Then it came. It was the kind of pain no exact word can describe. It was more than terrible. I told the nurse I need pain relief quickly. I asked if I can curl. She said yes but on my left side, so baby can breath. I hate IV needles, I was always careful not to touch my hand with IV, but that moment I don’t give a damn care, I was holding the side railings of the bed so hard not minding the needle at all. Have I said it was very painful? It was the kind that will make you forget about everything. It can make you feel insane. It just consumes your whole being. You can’t fight it, you just have to surrender to it. I was curled up like a ball, holding the side rails, I can feel my whole body perspiring. Then I remembered I should try to relax. I breathed deeply in and out. I continued praying the rosary. I think I slept through it.

The next thing was the nurse waking me to position my legs as she needs to check my progress. Then the pain came again. But this time I have to push or contract my belly to fight the pain. The urge to push was there but not strong enough. (I was fully dilated at 5:35pm)

My doctor came. I heard him say ‘Just like that? Without anything else?’ He should mean my good progress. I remembered him offering in my prenatal check an epidural, quoting it as ‘happy-dural’. Really tempting. But I told him I don’t need it and I haven’t tried it. I’ve read a story of an unsuccessful VBAC because epidural didn’t wear off. I didn’t tell him that because he was all positive about it. I needed a VBAC, anything that might hinder my chance is a no. He told me he’ll ask me again when I’m in labor. But well, I didn’t need it after all. He was coaching me about breathing and pushing I think. But my mind was all wrapped up in pain. I think he said about giving me time to labor it out.

The nurse stayed with me. She’s encouraging me to push better. I think she’s not satisfied. I am not satisfied either. I know what real pushing is. There was no deep urge yet.

The doctor was back. From there, the memory was blurry already. I think they were asking me to try pushing. I want to tell them I want to, but my abdomen was not contracting big unlike my last VBAC. But I don’t remember talking to them. I’m not sure if I was a quiet in labor. Or I was like the woman I heard before who was so loud. I was just pushing or moving my body, whatever I was doing to ease the pain.

During the final moment, the room looked dark, I was wondering if someone switched off the lights. Of course that was just probably the effect of the pain and medicines. I heard there were others in the room, but I can only see my doctor. I actually don’t remember any other face that time. All others were just bodies. (Here in KSA, your prenatal doctor may not be the one who will do your delivery. You have to make the request, otherwise hospitals have random  doctors on duty to do the delivery. Still, there are hospitals that do not accept doctor requests even if you’re willing to pay extra). It helps to have your prenatal doctor on the actual delivery. Focus and hope was just on that one person you know. It could be uncomfortable not to know anybody.

My eyes were closed for most of the time I was in active labor. I could have also closed my ears if I can. It was my escape. The commotion of people hovering down there makes me nervous. If I watch everything, I might lose the little confidence left in me.

I heard the doctor say he was helping me as I push. I am not sure if he tried to use the vacuum. The nurse was motivating me in Filipino language to push well so my baby’s head will look nice. I want to shout to them that I want to push and I know how but the urge was not enough. The pain was more than the urge to push, it shatters me. But I kept quiet. I was just scared. This was different from my last delivery. I was only instructed to push thrice that time and the baby was out. Then I realized I might be too old already. Plus overweight, abdominal muscles might not be strong enough. Negative thoughts came, it didn’t help. I heard doctor say the baby is big, might not fit in my pelvic bone. I prayed, please I don’t want a C-section. I heard him looking for forceps. Good, please help me out.

The next memory was I pushing after each deep breath. It was the final stage when you have that great urge to push, something that you can’t fight, and just gratifying to do. I heard a lady say “Not like this, relax.”

The Weird Part,haha: this paragraph must be the effect of pain killers (just like in Sophia’s birth). “It feels like I’m floating free, but I’m inside something. I was enclosed but the feeling is without boundaries. There was a path, there’s no turning back. I just have to move forward. Then I was dreaming, or was it like flashbacks of my life, but all so clear, like I’m watching them from screens floating around me. It’s like I am inside a computer game, can’t describe it enough, it was different, something that never happened to me before. Then the scene came to the present. I remembered I should be giving birth. And I wondered why I was in a different place. There was chanting but I can’t exactly remember what it says. So whatever is happening, it’s time to give birth. I felt myself being pulled, or pushed through a tube. I have to move with some effort. It’s like reaching something to the middle of a hollow tube or matrix that goes round and round. I heard the nurse saying “Lalabas na(it’s coming out)”.. Chanting voices on the background, or music I’m not sure. It felt difficult, but there was no pain at all. Then I thought if this is what it’s like giving birth, why nobody have told me before that it’s as easy, though I know that it’s something I can’t quit on doing otherwise the structure might collapse and I will lose the game. Then I was exerting a big effort to surge forward, to reach the end, like I am being pulled to the bottom part or center of a circular narrow tube. Then I reached the end. There was a blinding bright light. Then I was floating outside. I can see buildings. I felt lost, I remembered to go back to the apartelle where we were staying in, then I was instantly on top of the apartelle’s building. I was floating in the sky. And I don’t know what else to do. I was alone with no purpose, I felt afraid. I thought, is this it, am I dead? Is that what life is. You go through each phase, then after all stages you’re done and just exist alone. Panic striked. I was so scared. Then it ended.” Totally weird, haha.

I passed out I guess. I heard the nurse say, “Joyce eto na baby mo, ang laki niya (Joyce, your baby is here, she’s big)”.   I opened my eyes and there she is curled up on my chest. The room still appeared very dim to me as if lights are out and only yellow spotlight was on. I can’t believe it’s over. She’s here, she’s out, just like that. That labor was not too bad, I was so happy I did it. I didn’t saw her face much, I felt so weak I was afraid to lift her, afraid I might drop her. She’s my third child, but it’s my first time to see a new baby fresh from my womb. I touched her, she was slimy and very warm, and felt heavy on my chest. It seems unreal that she came from me. Indeed a miracle.  She is so amazing. I wished my husband or a family member was there to share the moment with me, because our first few  minutes together was so magical. I would have said ‘Hello little one, I love you, Thank God, You’re so beautiful, Welcome baby’, or other touching words with matching tears just like in the movies, but I think my first words were “Ahhw, hello, ang laki mo nga (you’re big indeed), Can somebody take a photo?” Then I realized they were all in gloves and gowns, and that was  not so touchy dramatic for a new mother to say, haha. I slowly lost consciousness thinking that it’s embarrassing and funny to say that but I want to capture that moment in a photo when baby was still slimy fresh from me. Then I overheard a nurse say “Hinde pa umiiyak? (Not yet crying?)” Oh no, I want to ask if baby is ok. But darkness crept in, I passed out.

Then I heard her crying somewhere. The nurse said something to the doctor, her weight. Doctor said, “Almost 4kgs, that is big for a small woman like her.” I felt proud I made it normal delivery. I still can’t open my eyes and talk. But baby is fine, thank God.

Then the pain started again. I woke up pushing out the pain. I opened my eyes and saw the doctor putting something on a dish that looks like pieces of blood. Then he took something big down there and I saw it. It must be the placenta, it was ‘liver-like’. He said “All out.” It was my first time to see a placenta, it grossed me out. I almost fainted, or maybe I really did.

I heard the doctor say something about someone to assist him. I assume he’s stitching me up as I felt some tugging. The thought creeps me. I closed my eyes and tried my best to pass out.

I heard my husband came in, talking with nurse about how healthy big baby is. I can’t open my eyes or move. I heard the camera clicking. Yay, he’s finally taking pictures.

I am no longer sure about the chronological order of the next scenes probably because of anesthesia. I just remember them for each time I wake from passing out. Not sure which happened first or last.

I woke up in pain. There was another doctor, and a nurse, their hands on my abdomen. I feel like everything was still raw inside, and they were pressing on it. I felt a gush of liquid coming out of me. It’s not urine, I am bleeding, it was all confusing because I am sure I gave birth already. I asked them to stop because it hurts so much. The doctor said he is sorry but they need to massage my abdomen. I was in pain the whole afternoon but I braved all that. But that time I just want to cry, I was so tired and sore, and they won’t stop. If only I have the strength, I could have stood up the bed and run home, never mind the bleeding because that massage hurts so bad. It’s not fair, it must be just a nightmare. I heard him say call my OB.

I heard my doctor came and checked on me.  He’s saying something about hematoma. I asked him what’s wrong. He replied something I can’t understand from all the confusion and disappointment thinking it was all over already, plus the pain I’m having. I told him to just give me more pain reliever. My abdomen hurts from all the pumping they call massage.

I opened my eyes and saw another doctor. He was asking me something. I tried to answer but I’m not sure if I answered correct. I passed out. (He was probably the anesthesiologist putting me to sleep).

There was the time I woke up, and there was only the nurse. I asked her what happened. She said my uterus did not contract in time as expected. I was bleeding hard. Doctor did re suturing. And I was given meds to help contract my uterus. I will also have blood transfusion to replace the blood I lost.

I heard my husband came. The nurse was telling him what happened. I tried to wake up. It was just all blurry still. I think we talked about the baby and our other two kids.

I woke up to see a doctor beside me. He’s asking how I’m feeling, If I’m cold or hot. I’m not, but I can feel my head drenched with sweat. It’s all blurry. I heard him told the nurse to call my OB and that my blood pressure is 60/30. I was like, what? What’s happening? I felt scared.

My OB was there. They were talking about the pad inserted inside me, he said “There, just like the old times. I will be the one to remove it tomorrow.” Then another scene when he was sitted with others beside my bed. Then someone was holding a cellphone saying the blood bank is on line and the blood ordered for me is coming. And he said ok but he still wants to talk to them. Seems there was an unexpected delay.

My OB was back saying, “Mary I hate to see you like this, with all these needles etc. We could have done a Caesarian blah blah blah.”  I wanted to say stop the speech it’s not needed, I am more than happy and so proud that I made it normal delivery, don’t spoil it, I have no regrets. But I just don’t have the strength to talk. He continued, “I will see you tomorrow. You’re blood is coming, it will make you feel better, just like a vampire.” Haha, I was so weak and dizzy, I think I just said thank you many times.

Everything was quiet. I started my blood transfusion. I had 3units of RBC and 2units of plasma. The nurse wakes me up from time to time to take deep breaths because she said my BP is going down. I am so much thankful to her. She was just there with me alone in the room. Monitoring me with all care and dedication.

A lady doctor came in. She asked for the ultrasound machine. She scanned my abdomen. I asked her if there’s something wrong. She said nothing’s wrong and didn’t say much.

My husband was coming in and out because our other two kids insisted to stay in the hospital and wait for me and baby in the room. He was talking with nurse. Nurse was giving him details. My mind is getting clearer. I was talking to them.

There was the other doctor on my bedside. He was the one pressing on my abdomen for the epic painful massage. “Mary you will be fine. Sorry, blah blah. We were just overprotective and careful that nothing wrong will happen to you blah blah.” I am not sure why everybody’s making a speech. I’m still too tired to chat and can only say thank you. I looked and remembered him all worried and stressed out earlier, but that moment, he was all relaxed and smiling sweet. From then I believed the worst is indeed over, I will be fine.

Two nurses came. It is past 3am already, (almost 9hours after baby was born),I am cleared and ready for transfer to ward. My husband and two kids are waiting for me. Baby is in nursery and will join us soon. They were angels bringing good news. Thank God.

j2 Here comes Super Love!

Maria Jadea was born at 6:20pm weighing 3.9kg/8.6lbs, 52cm long, via forcep assisted delivery. She’s my biggest baby. Can’t believe I had a second VBAC. I did it, I’m proud of myself, and we are so happy. We have to stay an extra day than normal for my blood transfusions, waiting for my hemoglobin to go up (it stayed at 6 until my second day). I had additional 2units of RBC. Then the IV fluids, and intravenous iron supplement too. Plus laboratory staff coming in many times a day to get blood samples. My hands all sore, I never had that much needles my entire life. I just have to focus on our new beautiful baby just to see the bright side of it all.

Baby was discharged a day earlier than me. We have the option to pay the nursery to keep her as insurance does not cover baby’s nursery when the mother has a complication. But 1000sar per day in the nursery is just too much, she was even rooming in with us most of the time. It could have been easy if we were living in Jeddah and relatives are around. Taking the baby to a friend’s house is the last option, but that time I won’t. She stayed with us in my hospital room. The nursery gave us a few bottles of readymade infant formula. I have no breastmilk yet. They instructed us to drop by in another hospital or clinic before going home as BCG vaccine(due during birth) was not available that time in Fakeeh hospital.

The next day, my hemoglobin luckily went up to 8.5. It’s still not the normal level, but seems it is hard to target that as I haven’t got a decent sleep after delivery. Nurses check on my vital signs every few hours. The baby cries and needs cuddling and feeding every few hours too. My doctor agreed to discharge me. We were all relieved.

Last minute trouble, baby milk ran out. We asked for an extra supply from the nursery but they can only give us one bottle because baby is already discharged from their file. Baby Jade drank that one bottle in the morning. But then we need more in case she gets hungry while waiting for vaccine in another hospital, and then when we travel home. My husband tried to purchase it from the hospital pharmacy but they won’t sell it to him saying it’s not for sale. I was all set to breastfeed, there was already milk coming out during my third trimester. Though I have bought and sterilized some bottles, I left them at home. I was not expecting breastmilk can still halt and delay.  We needed those readytodrink baby milk so bad we could have bought it even if it’s expensive just to save us the trouble. We would have thanked the nursery a million times if they have given us some consideration for a bottle or two, but no, we were not able to get some. Well after hunting for ready-to-drink baby milk in different pharmacies under extreme heat of summer, my husband ended up buying powdered formula and sterilizing bottles in the hotel. (A week after, I will be a fully breastfeeding mom.)

13141120_10207001726624069_1476160629_n Never thought I would need that ready to drink milk so bad

We left the hospital in the afternoon and went straight to the public hospital called Jeddah Maternity & Children’s Hospital/Wilada for the vaccine. The weather was humid hot, just crossing the street from where we parked was a misery. When we got there, they told us to just come back the next morning (though it’s just 2pm), probably there were too many patients, I don’t know.

We went to another hospital, the IMC. This time I just went down myself to check first while the rest of them find a parking spot. The kids are napping so I just have to go ahead myself than wait to find parking or bring down the baby again out in the heat. I know Seve is already worn out too, taking care of baby the night before, then out and around from morning packing the hotel, arranging hospital papers, the milk hunt, plus our other kids. I should be the only patient for the next weeks, he can’t get sick, we need him healthy. I walked to the hospital by myself even if I feel so sore from episiotomy because I want it over soon. But upon reaching the pediatrics department, there was a poster saying the vaccine is not available. I asked the reception when we can avail it but they don’t have an idea. We don’t know anywhere else to look, so we just went home without the vaccine. (At two weeks, baby Jade will have the vaccine in another hospital. That’s after some more trips to Jeddah looking in different hospitals. There was a ministry shortage. It was a mess, but that’s another story).

Though I have yet to go back to clinic for the next days to continue my intravenous Ferosac(iron pack), and we still need to find the vaccine for my newborn, our prime mission in Jeddah is done! We are finally going home to start a new chapter. It was not a picture perfect delivery, but very special and memorable as I have seen almost each phase. I didn’t just passed out and slept through it all. I also appreciate the maternity staff for handling my complication well.  Incidentally, also during that time, my mom was told of a lady from our hometown who died from post partum hemorrhage. I can’t imagine what could have happened if my hemorrhage was not managed and I had the same fate. All praise and glory to God for giving me the strength to carry on, and for blessing my doctor the knowledge to treat me. I am grateful for the dedicated care I received from everyone in the hospital, and the support from family and friends. There were troubles but I feel very blessed. Hooray to my second VBAC!

13101559_10207001769825149_155063599_n Excuse my hair, but it’s our first selfie together :)

Then of course the greatest blessing of this event in my life, my precious healthy baby Jade, sleeping peacefully beside me in the car, all chubby cute and warm. If I had known the difficulties I will face, would I have gone through it to have her? Definitely, super YES, in a heartbeat, she’s worth it all!

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Moving House

We are moving house! This month my husband signed the contract for the house in the newly opened Al Waha Village. However, estimated turnover period is still on July. We were at first told our move is on March, that became April, then became May, probably June, then finally it’s July. But nevermind, we will definitely move to this new house before the year ends.

waha_banner

I can still remember the day when my husband arrived home from his job interview in KAEC (King Abdullah Economic City) and happily told me that he was hired on spot for an immediate position. I am happy for him but deep inside I had reservations. We are doing good in KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology). Though KAEC is just a 30-minute drive from KAUST, we haven’t been there. We were living in a nice villa in KAUST, will we have the same kind of accommodation in KAEC? The kids love The KAUST Schools, will they adjust fine in The World Academy, KAEC? There are plenty of part time jobs for spouses that pays ok in KAUST, will it be also easy for me to find a similar job in KAEC? I drive everywhere in KAUST, thus not at all dependent on my husband, he takes the bike to work, kids and I go to work and school together, I transport them wherever they need to go, I do my groceries alone, I can do anything, go anywhere without him. I know driving is not allowed outside our compound, is it the same in KAEC? These things I’m not prepared to give up. We’ve lived some years in Jeddah and I know what it’s like. Women don’t feel restricted in KAUST, it’s like not living in Saudi Arabia, we are not even required to wear abaya. My husband said he was just curious to try that job application, is he now serious on transferring work there? We told the kids of the possibility, Rinojo grumbled, Sophia cried, then I also cried. Aha, we all loved KAUST, having stayed for five years, the thought of leaving is overwhelming. We are not ready to leave and we don’t really want to. I thought well, he still needs to check the job offer, just maybe he will decide to stay. It was emailed after a few days. The offer was already good but my husband still declined it.  Then they made another offer. Two months later, we were all packed up to start another chapter of our lives in the promising new city.
First Visit

November 2013. Our first visit in KAEC

We were told that we are to stay in a temporary accommodation because the building assigned to us is still not ready for handover, with target completion after a month. They advised us to find a temporary house to rent in Jeddah or Rabigh. But that will be a big adjustment for the kids to commute far to and from school. Seve decided that if he won’t able to get us an accommodation inside KAEC, he will just cancel his transfer and stay in KAUST. His good boss is supportive of the idea, and then I of course do not mind unpacking everything if we have to. Seve received the key for a temporary apartment on the very last day we are permitted to stay in KAUST. Just imagine how up to the last day, we were still undecided whether to leave or not. The movers came to transfer our stuff. We travelled to KAEC with no idea what the house will be like.

Beach Towers. On our first months we stayed in Beach Tower 2. It is a residential building near the beach area. When we moved to KAUST we were provided with furniture and soft pack. We just brought in our clothes and that’s it, everything was provided, we even had welcome fruits on the dining table and free food vouchers to the grocery and restaurants. None of that were provided when we transferred to KAEC, the apartment was bare. Since we just got the key the day before our move, there was no more time for cleaning or to buy basic furniture. It was dusty, and our boxes are everywhere, it’s like we were in a storage area, not a house. The first days, we ate on the floor, slept on our comforters. It was crazy. The kids didn’t mind the new experience. To them we were playing camp and it’s an adventure.

On one hand however, we have the option to to stay in Bay La Sun Hotel, while waiting for our more permanent accommodation, but opted for an apartment. Despite the mess and the setup, we still find this more convenient, particularly having a pet dog.

Hello ApartmentHello Apartment

The next weekends were spent buying furniture in Jeddah (which I enjoyed of course, haha). The big ones like beds, dining and living room set were scheduled for delivery to our assigned apartment. We don’t want them delivered in our temporary accommodation because it will be hard to disassemble and move again. We thought one month without real furniture won’t hurt. For immediate use we just bought some chairs,  two study tables for our dining and also for  kid’s school work. We bought mattresses for sleeping. We are thankful the kitchen is furnished. And the bedrooms has built in cabinets.

furnitureOur first pieces of furniture in KAEC

The Dog Challenge. Oh yes, we moved from a villa with a big garden to an apartment on the sixth floor. And that means I was obliged to bring the dog out of the building daily for potty and exercise. It was a challenge for lazy me. One clumsy day while dog walking, I tripped and scraped my knees and arms. Another non-energetic day, I got pulled, fell on the curb, broke my ankle and scraped my legs (and that was the last day I walked the dog). Not that I gave up, it’s just that it took time for my ankle to heal, and when it finally healed, I got pregnant. So yeah, my husband and son took over the dog walks, three times a day everyday. (Later on, as we got familiar with the city, our dog Patty will have running exercise galore along the Red Sea or on the desert far from the residential area. There’s no dog park but KAEC is very big.)

1525377_10201625516142167_1793153978_nDog walk

The Transportation Challenge. I heard women are no longer allowed to drive in KAEC. They were allowed at first, but when we moved it was starting to become an issue. I still saw women driving. There was no shuttle bus for transportation around town. Good thing we have our own vehicle. But the issue for us was the kids school transportation. We moved in the middle of school year and there was no available space in the school bus. My husband drops them to school in the morning and fetches them in the afternoon on his lunch break. Now on times that he is on a meeting, I drive and fetch the kids. I was caught four times by different security personnels. The first time, I was asked for a driver’s license, I showed my Philippines license with the sweetest smile I can, haha, of course I know the security won’t look at me, they are not allowed to stare at women here in Saudi Arabia. He was nice to smile back and told me that my license does not apply here. The second time, I was asked why I am driving. I answered politely that it’s just an emergency as my husband was unavailable to drive. In a polite way, I was told not to drive again. The third time, I was on the road waiting for the traffic light, the security mobile was beside me. Much as I want to ignore, the green light was taking too long, so I nervously look, but the security guy just waved and smiled, maybe he doesn’t know the new rule yet but bless him, haha. The fourth time, I was again on a stop light, then suddenly a security mobile showed up and switched on it’s very loud police siren as if I was a criminal trying to escape. He signaled for me to park on the side. And there he was continuously scolding me like a little child in Arabic language. He was talking loud and waving his hand(that’s how Arabs talk), but doesn’t look at me(they’re not allowed). I don’t understand and can’t communicate in Arabic. Luckily my husband was able to talk to him on the phone. He allowed us to go, the kids were so afraid. It was the last time I tried driving in our private city. After that, I still saw some women driving. That was two years ago. I haven’t seen a woman driving in KAEC for a long time now. (Later on, transportation will be better. The community will have shuttle buses for use around the city. The school will also have additional buses to accommodate more students.)

We stayed in Beach Towers more months than expected because the new building’s turn over got delayed. It was not comfortable to live without furniture. But the apartment itself is very nice. There were wide windows and three balconies that has the best views. We were overlooking the building’s swimming pool, other residential areas, and the beautiful sea.

10403195_10202687125441736_2593097791713798661_nSwimming pool downstairs

1507961_10201625518302221_1829667853_nChillin by the  Red Sea

10313515_10202439088400965_7793448330994090991_nThis girl doesn’t know how lucky she is for that great view by her bed. Playing with view of the sea & pools, sleeping with view of the moon & stars.

Though inside the apartment, I don’t have the furniture to enjoy, I just have to look outside and see paradise. KAEC has the best views of the Red Sea and then the perfect sunsets.

1528599_10201652296011647_1681244109_nSunset. This is what I get to see everyday from our apartment’s balcony, and it’s far more beautiful than this photo

Some Personal Adjustments. I was used to moving around the whole day from the moment I woke up. Cooking breakfast, packing school lunch, preparing to work, house chores after work, groceries, more cooking, laundry, ironing, etc. When we moved to KAEC, it felt so weird to be alone in silence when the three of them left for school and work. After many years of being a working mom, I suddenly have nothing to rush about. I just have to relax, take in the fresh sea breeze, enjoy the beautiful view of the glistening waters, and watch amazing sunsets from our balcony. It was like an everyday spiritual retreat by the sea. I had my most relaxing days after a long time. I was very thankful and felt very lucky.

1187024_10201632366033410_1851723843_nRelaxing

ByeBye. It was a good decision to choose the apartment after all, as our transfer to the actual accommodation was delayed for four months.

Marina Towers. After four months, we moved to our assigned apartment in Marina Tower 4. The building is along the Marina canal, which the city is developing for berthing yachts. It was on a quiet corner of the city. People are mostly going to the Beach Tower side because of the beach promenade and dining areas. On our side of the Bay La Sun District it’s just mostly residents, which were just very few that time. We enjoyed the peace and privacy.  We are nearby the city’s mosque, and the edge of the wide desert.

10437786_10202581087950865_768996688504419256_nSunrise in KAEC from Marina Towers

marina4Marina4

On our Marina apartment, we had city view. We can still see a portion of the sea from the balcony. I watched the action at daytime, while nearby Marina buildings are still on construction. And then at night, the sight is just pretty, overlooking the lights of the city.

10366220_10202461745327374_862669211909817940_nMarina 4

Settling In Easy. In two years, we witnessed the city’s quick growth. Another Marina Tower opened. Lots of people moved in. We now have more dining options too. In the Beach Tower area we have Piatto Express, Uptown Sur, Bhar, Bert’s Cafe , Linas, Tex Mex, Baskin-Robins. In the Marina Towers area, we have Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway, and a 24hr convenience store called Meed. There is Seasons Restaurant in Bay La Sun Hotel, and Steakhouse too. Our community also has a medical clinic for primary care or emergency, managed by Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital. For grocery needs, we have Panda. Three buses are now operating to transport residents around the city.  The kids like their new school. Community activities are organized more frequently. We have our own gym, pool, playground, and multipurpose hall in the building. We can walk to the beach to play on the sea side or go fishing. The baby and I usually takes lovely morning walks along the Marina. On weekends, we drive off roads and take the dog for running in a secluded wide area in the desert. In the afternoons, we can easily walk to the newly opened Juman Park for some relaxation. KAEC is easy to love.

out2The City is still a work in progress and a good place for some off-road adventure.

10449975_10202687138682067_3503278628966557643_nCommunity gathering in Oceana Villas

kartGo Kart in Juman Park

fishingFishing by the Marina canal

bdayMinecraft party in our building’s Multi Purpose Room

The apartment is a smaller version of the one in Beach Tower. My son and daughter shares a bedroom on a bunk bed. They didn’t mind sharing when we moved in, but now on their preteen years they are requesting separate bedrooms. The apartment has a maid’s room, but that’s where the dog sleeps. When I gave birth, we felt real need to transfer to a bigger accommodation. With the addition of baby furniture and things, we are now cramped.If only it’s bigger, I would love to stay here in the Bay La Sun district. But we need to move.

I will miss the solemn call for Muslim prayer from the mosque beside our building

Al Waha Village.  Early this year, the company offered a Housing Ownership Program to employees for house purchase in Al Waha Village, we decided right away that is where we will transfer.

The program entitles the employee ownership of the house and lot after payment of 20 years. It is nice for the company to promote a long term relationship with present employees. We would love to see KAEC’s vision of becoming a mega city into a reality. However, for now I can’t wrap up my head on how we can stay in Saudi Arabia for that long, imagine my newborn will be 20 years old by that time, haha.

KAEC is a promising city. We have seen the houses and buildings built from what was plain desert before. It is nice to be part of what it has become and we are looking forward to what it will be in the future. My husband opportunity to work in this special project is a real blessing.

We can’t wait to move in Al Waha. The house is a 2-storey villa with a garden. It has three bedrooms and a family room on the second floor. While on the ground floor is a living room, dining room, kitchen, maid’s room, driver’s room, and garage. We fell in love with it right away when we saw it as it is similar to the villa we had in KAUST. We are so much looking forward to living in a bigger space.

13081784_10153612835923753_964133999_nFirst visit in Al Waha house while it is still under construction

There is no specific date for our move yet. As for now, we are just enjoying each day, and feeling blessed for the opportunity to live in a special city like KAEC.

Jade’s Universe

Sophie’s World Rinojo’s Playground is SWRP in swrphome. Already with a boy and a girl, we never thought of having another child, until she came.

It was almost 10 years since my last pregnancy. When I noticed that I was missing my period for two weeks, the thought of buying pregnancy test kits felt exciting and troubling. It was mixed emotions. Raising two hormonal preteens and a workaholic husband, plus a silly dog, and house chores had stretched me to the limits. Now having a new baby, what am I thinking?

Double line

Confirmed!

But when the pregnancy kits showed up two lines, I was grinning with joy. I realized I was actually ready and happy for another child. Hesitation and troubles disappeared right away. That I need not worry if I wont be able to take care of Sophie as much as before because it’s time she learns how to be more independent. That Rinojo will be thrilled to finally have a new sibling that he likes for a long time. And Seve, he was just happy realizing that he’s ready too. Then I will have someone to keep me company when the three of them are at work and school. We will have something new in the family. We were all happy for the good news.

“We… are the Crystal Gems! We’ll always save the day! And if you think we can’t, we’ll always find a way. That’s why the people of this world believe in Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl and Steven!”

Sophie loves singing this. She was so much into watching Steven Universe and researching about gems. So when we found out we’re having a baby girl and Seve suggested Jade(a green lucky stone) for nickname, we liked it right away. She was supposed to have the same initials as mine, MJ.

Maria Jadea was born on a hot and humid evening of September. We welcomed her to our family with so much excitement. It turned out difficult the first weeks with all of us coping with extra chores. But the coos and smiles are something we all can’t live without anymore.

Seve had to be back at work the very next day we arrived home from the hospital. He took over the kitchen. Waking up early at 5am to prepare breakfast and pack school lunch for the kids. We were thankful to our neighbors taking turns cooking dinner for us the first week. From there, Seve cooked dinner when he arrives home from work. He did the grocery. Iron uniforms. Do the dishes. Walk the dog. The husband who before needed coffee and massage after a day’s work, actually did all these things I never thought he can.

Rinojo became more responsible than ever. He never complained when I ask him to babysit. He was all up to being a good big brother. He was just two years old when Sophie was born. So all these things about taking care of a baby sibling is all new and exciting for him. He loves Jade a lot already even when she was still in my tummy.

Kuya

Feeding time with the proud Kuya

Sophie was bit detached at first. She was happy to have a baby girl sibling. But she had her own adjustments. She’s no longer the baby of the family. She might not be too excited to have someone to share our attention with. She has more responsibilities now like preparing for school by her self. She worked hard and proved herself very responsible. And she did well trying to be a good big sister. She babysits everyday and over a short time became close to the baby. She found pride whenever she successfully puts baby Jade to sleep. She found pleasure every time the baby laughs and coos back at her. She likes reading books to the baby, and it makes her happy when Jade listens to her. Now she happily tells me that for the first time, she will see a real baby grow right in front of her eyes. She plays with the baby in the mornings upon waking up. She goes straight to check on the baby when she arrives home from school. Jade easily won her over.

Ate Sophie

Ate and Vitamin D

With all the office work and house chore, Seve sleeps in the living room for needed quiet rest at night. I was taking care of baby round the clock from day one. When I had Rinojo, we hired a nanny to stay with us the first months until I was ready to be alone. When I gave birth to Sophia, we took my grandmother from Philippines to help us out. We were brave not to get extra help this time because we thought this is our third baby, we should be expert enough. But it was very difficult. I was anemic, and sore from episiotomy, but I need to keep up with the demands of the new baby. The first weeks, she was waking up every 2-3hours to breastfeed. She always wanted to be held. I was a crazy zombie. I was very thankful that I had her normal delivery. Jade is my second VBAC. I cant imagine how worse our days could have been if I had another caesarian operation. I just think of this blessing when things get hard, plus the thought that this must be my last shot for motherhood baby period. Days went good, like they should be.

By six weeks, baby Jade was sleeping longer up to 7hours but only at daytime. After following some routine and techniques, we made it to sleeping straight at night. By the second month I was a lucky mommy who sleeps with baby at 9pm up to 5am straight, with just one dream feed around 3am. Jade seldom gets cranky and is a happy baby. For some reason, she loves the song ‘Bright’ by Echosmith. I play the song whenever I want to catch her attention, especially on times that she gets moody. As if on cue, when she hears it, she will stop crying, and feed,then sleep.  Thank heavens, we never had health issues except for dry skin and rashes which had resolved by now. At five months, she now rolls in both directions. She babbles a lot and has the sweetest smile. She loves everyday bath time. She loves sitting with support surrounded with different things that she can bang or throw. She likes to play with rattles or anything that produces sound when touched. She wants to feel the texture of anything she can grab, and puts them in her mouth.

It's leap day

Leap Day 2016

I call her my Super Love. I am so thankful she came to our lives. Our lives must have been so boring and quiet when she was not yet with us. Seeing my two older children reminds me that she has a long way to go growing up in my arms. But then time flies by quick. When my older children were little, they can’t go to sleep without either mom or dad with them in bed. At present, on their preteen years, they won’t even let us hug and cuddle them. So now with Jade, I am treasuring the baby smiles, tears, drools, and even the soiled diapers. Everything is just so cute and precious.

Here are weekly photos since the Wednesday she was born. I am so crazy for this baby doll that we super love.

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