Dear Baby Santi – A Letter to My Unborn Son

Hi Anak! It’s me, your crazy Mummy. 🙂 This week marks your fifth month in my uterus. I am at risk of losing you because of the stress of finding out about your grandma’s diagnosis.

Actually, let me correct that. I am at risk of losing you because of other people making your grandma’s diagnosis more unbearable and difficult for our pregnancy. But everyday, I am fighting for you, Anak. Even if I  am itching to work, I forced myself to rest because you are loved. Because we waited so long to have you. And I don’t want you to ever feel like you need to be evicted from my uterus too early. No, Anak. You are staying in there and I am forcing myself to be a good patient in my bed rest. 

Stay in there, little bean. You are our joy. You are the future. And you are going to have a much happier life than mine. I will pull all stops to make sure that this is the case. I am pretty good on delivering my promises, most of the time. And I will not fail you, my son. 

I am writing this down so that I will show it to you when you grow old enough to understand and read. You see, we got help from strangers, friends, and some of our relatives. This month, I had to make a tough decision. Should I expose our situation to the world so that we can get the help that your grandma needs? I tried asking out some people for help quietly last month but they turned us away. I was so broken and I know you felt my pain, too. I am so sorry, Anak. I did not mean it.

I realized that even if I am painfully shy about our family situation, I had to do it. And we did it, Anak. We were bedridden but we did it somehow. Well, we did not really afford giving your Lola a private hospital facility but we can at least line her up for an operation in PGH and maybe she will get a chance to see you when you go out to this jungle of a world in December or January. 🙂 That thought brings me so much joy. 

Here is an important lesson, tiny plum-sized tot: we did not do it on our own. We were helped by the collective kindness and mercy of people. At a time where I was starting to feel like you are going to enter a world of filth and darkness of selfishness, I saw some light and some hope. 

Before, I had loads of plans for you like art lessons and other things that will make you an accomplished human being. I played Mozart and classical music on our speaker in the bedroom so that you can have better brain development.

And then, this happened. Instead of that relaxing environment, we were subjected to so much stress and heartache. My poor baby. 🙁 I wanted to shield you from these but the circumstances in our pregnancy make it so hard.

But you know what? Last na ito, Anak.

I am going to make damn sure that when you go out into this world, you will not have to deal with ugly things you don’t deserve under my watch. You deserve a fresh lease in life. You deserve a nice environment with which you can grow and be capable of loving others genuinely.  You deserve to be surrounded by people who will be a good influence to you, not turn you into a selfish and self-righteous intellectual. You deserve a future where you are not an extension of me or your Daddy’s life frustrations. You deserve a place in this world where you are free to be who you are and pursue your interests in life without fear of not having enough resources.

In the midst of this horrible trial and crisis, we found out one thing together: there is a kindness in this world. The simple citizens of the world is your family.

I slightly changed my plans for you.

I started planning how I can instantly immerse you into a perpetually helpful attitude and lifestyle. More than anything, I want you to be kind to people. It’s a bonus if you are smart or if your IQ is Mensa level. I don’t care. You’ll always be the best in my eyes no matter what your school grades will tell me.

This time, I value it more if your Daddy and I will raise you, our firstborn, to be kind and helpful. We want you to grow up to be an encourager of people especially those who are down and feeling the burden of this weary life.

Because that’s what saved your life in this crucial time. We were helped by kind and helpful people. 

We got more crap from the smart ones I thought would love and care for us enough to help us out quietly in this painful ordeal. So I am a little wary about you having a high IQ but not having your feet firmly planted on the ground. Yeah,  I will still play some Mozart and classical music for you. Probably, I’ll pop in a chapter of the Bible or two if we still got time.

I am glad this happened to us, despite the labor contractions. I am glad it happened because I actually saw who are the people in our life who I want to come near you when you come out into this world. I am able to filter out the people who will be a bad influence to your growth. I am able to distinguish who genuinely cares about your welfare and who are just out there to make a mess and do crazy things to make our already difficult situation even more difficult.

What a very sacred responsibility parenting is. I have to think positive even when the chips are down. I have to be strong even when I am bedridden and cornered. I have to SURVIVE for you, Anak. And you know what? I thought I did not know how. Fortunately, I have a good example: your Lola Lynne. She made a way even when there was none when I was a little girl.

That’s why we fought for her in this battle. The happy thing? Other people also fought with us. Not the ones we expected. But wow. They were many. They prayed with us. They sent us text messages. They showered you with love. 

And I know that your future is going to be bright. So just keep swimming inside my tummy, okay? I am going to lie in bed all day if that’s what you want me to do. I just don’t want to lose you. I want you to feel how much I love you. Like really an immense level of love that goes beyond words.

Santi, you will be a source of joy to our lives and the lives of the people around you. I will really make sure that I will properly select your Ninongs and Ninangs. They will be good people and you will be guided properly by them.

I love you, Anak. See you in December or January. Please stay inside my tummy, I promise to be less stressed. I already lined up the coloring books and cross stitch kit that I need to get myself together. You’re going to be okay Anak. Even if things are not okay, I will make it okay for you until you are strong enough to navigate your way into this world.

Your grandparents wanted to name you Seth Antonio after your grandpas. But I am adding one more as a blessing and a marker of how we swam through this storm: Seymour. It means “mighty in water.” Because that’s what you are Anak.

Seymour Seth Antonio. 🙂 Writing classes will be a bit of a pain, but I am blessing you with a name that will symbolize how you will become in this life.

You’re a tough one, baby. You are riding this whole mess with me and you are still inside kicking me. 😀 Thank you for being there, Anak. You give me reasons to keep living. Your daddy and I love you very much. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Positive!

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Since we got married in August 2014, we were really trying to have a baby. I think I was too eager to have one that it kind of backfired on me. So when I finally got a positive reading last night, I was in a state of shock. I was already starting to consider that I am infertile or sick. I was hospitalized and taken to the ER last night over what I perceived as heat stroke or a fainting spell. As it turns out, there’s already a bun in the oven and he/she has been taking up my energy.

I’ve peed on a stick countless times and I sometimes even had to delude myself into having that imaginary second line. But this time, I did not even have to squint my eyes because it’s clear as daylight. It’s finally here. All of the sore boobs, constipation, food cravings, dizzy spells, and general hot feeling seems to be worth it. The feeling is indescribable. This year, I learned new things about life and it was somehow preparing me for this next phase. I am really grateful because I was actually starting to worry about my fertility. Adoption has been a possibility I am exploring in case my worst suspicions were correct.

I am going to park this post right here for now while I think of my life-changing experience last night. 🙂 I am really grateful. I’ve always told myself that I am not God’s favorite. But I have my moments. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

FurMommy

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The latest object of my affection these days is a four-legged furbaby who has taken up most of my free time. I totally adore this puppy and I sleep beside her. She cured my decades of dog phobia with her cuteness and now I am joining in the alliance of people who are passionate for dogs, after years of preferring cats.

Now I know why so many people are crazy for dogs. They’re amazing! <3 <3 <3

My Reesey Pompom is pretty young and has a few tricks up her sleeve. A half-Pomeranian and half-Japanese Spitz, she loves belly/chin rubs, hates her vet visits (injections freak her out like crazy), and enjoys running around the house with her chew toys. I kind of spoiled her with new toys almost every week.

Strangely enough, she’s afraid of the outdoors and prefers walking inside the house. She’s what people know to be a toy breed which makes her so fragile; just jumping around can wreak havoc on her legs or trachea so I needed to develop that watchful eye to be a good furmommy. She fell off the bed once and I was unable to forgive myself for around a week. I also got equally frazzled when she acquired canine distemper, a horrible and very contagious disease that had her in the veterinary emergency room.  Fortunately, the Pendragon Veterinary Clinic in Kalayaan Avenue is super responsible. And her doctor Thea Salvador did an amazing job in saving her from doom. Had they not saved her, my poor Pompom will not have survived this long.

Speaking of poverty, I think I got really poor last month while adjusting to her needs. But the happiness she brings to the home is so worth it. If there was a rewind button and if I was asked to choose between the cost savings or the puppy, I will choose the puppy again. <3 Years ago, this would have been UNTHINKABLE. Haha!

Whenever I take Pompom to some place outdoors, she’d instantly get the attention of people and you cannot be a snob or ignore your surroundings when you are with a dog. I would actually end up SOCIALIZING despite my general anxiety, shyness, and introversion. It’s really nice because these days, it balances out my tendency to over-isolate myself. And you always have something to break the ice with. There’s just so many things to talk about with a dog in sight. And I kind of googled about dogs like crazy during the first three weeks that I took her home. There was a huge adjustment for me and I am happy to have undertaken that adjustment. It increased my happiness and decreased my stress levels considerably. <3

When I am working on my computer, she sits right beside my chair and she would go as far as following me to the bathroom (I forbid her, though. She tends to eat anything on the ground and I am trying my best to keep her clean.) There’s nothing more endearing than having that kind of rewarding companionship during the day while hubby is in the office and I am doing my thing in the way that I want here in my tiny nook. (Oh, and she wags her tail like crazy when her furdaddy arrives from work.)

Other than my baby Pompom, so many other things occupy my time these days. I am regularly working on my upstrokes and downstrokes for brush calligraphy and I also joined a camera club in a nearby city. Life is pretty simple from where I am but everything I want and need is within reach. I have one particular wish that has not been granted yet but I know that in God’s time, it can happen.

Meanwhile, I’ll attend to my furbaby with all my loving devotion. <3

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One Year

This is a personal blog long before the height of events blogging and the outpouring of groundswell thinking and I am supposed to write about this momentous occasion of celebrating my wedding anniversary with my DH. I used to call him my SO and it feels nice to call him DH now. I am starting to come to terms to being a wife now and approaching the Titas of Manila status. I used to be the one bobbing my head during late evening concerts but now I am mellowing into staying home and tinkering with things in my she shed.

Truth is, I can’t find words so I delayed writing it for a few days. I had pictures but not the right amount or intensity of words to describe how special our anniversary was or how special this relationship is, in general.

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I think it was in this same blog where I was ruminating a lifetime of growing old in a tiny flat alone with cats and stacks of books that hit the ceiling around 4 to 5 years ago. There are cats from where I live now, but I am far from alone, this is not a tiny flat, and the stacks of books are… very much stacked and still here with me.

I never imagined that I’d become a housewife. Yet, here we are, chronicling it from a very pretty home office that my husband helped set up for me with the generosity of my mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law.

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I still don’t have the words today. On our anniversary, we did not necessarily travel far or out of the country. But we spent 365 days exploring each other and finding so much more about the other person and our very selves in the entire process. We hit some road bumps. Those road bumps were mere anthills for most old strong couples but they surely felt like mountains to me and him. After the end of the first year, I must say, I feel more solidly like we comprise 1 body than when we started out.

Marriage is not easy. It’s a rather violent process of melding two unique individuals and turning them into this special tag team. No, your wedding gown’s price tag does not prepare you for it, no matter how exorbitant the costs.

It’s not just about making love. It’s about making things work even when the other is being extremely unreasonable. I am usually unreasonable when I am unwell. I credit this wonderful person for being able to handle that, in the same way that I handle whatever defects he has. In fact, I am one of the world’s most self-absorbed people and marrying him allowed me to realize that and amend that so that I can love him more. I just can’t stay and be my old self because I know that I still have so much more to give.

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The definition of love does not change. Affections do not necessarily fade away. It just deepens when both parties are willing to submerge themselves in the love they have for each other.

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And this means that romance is now feeling kilig whenever he makes sure that I have a nice home office, when he stands in line on National Bookstore’s Warehouse sale not because he’s a huge bookworm and book hoarder but because it makes me happy to be there, when he makes sure that my medications are taken on time, when he buys my favorite bag of chips on the way home from work, when he manages me when I cannot manage the basic things in myself. (Like the really embarrassing basic things.) It’s when he feels kilig when I support his financial decisions or diskarte in life, when I make attempts to cook something, or basically TRUST him by not tinkering with his smartphone inbox.

When we were boyfriend and girlfriend, it was not like this. It was more on sparks. This year, it was more on commitment and deepening out of our self-giving.

This whole year that we entered into this marriage, I saw the man I stood at the altar with for who he really is minus the barong and the entourage: a really good person who is perfectly matched to me. And the fact that I cannot post this without crying means that he has touched my life at so many tremendous levels.

It’s the type of crying you do when you realized that everything you wished for in a man was given to you by a good God and you hope that it lasts despite the numerous trials that most married people attest to down the line.

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It’s not the type you see on movies like Paper Towns but it’s still love in its deepest form. I am posting a photo of him on a plain T-Shirt to prove my point. It’s not a movie poster. But that smile on his face is enough to make me smile for a lifetime.

(Remember that matchmaker who allowed us to meet? I owe her so much of my life’s happiness and I hope that she will always be blessed for introducing us.)

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart. I love you!

 

Penmanship and Other Stories by Butch Dalisay

“He opened his book and stared at the margins and his forefinger traced the squiggle of her laughter there.”
-from the short story At the Booklaunch by Jose  Y. Dalisay.

There are no introductions needed for a writer of Butch Dalisay’s stature.

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I held a copy of this book at the bedside table the dawn after our 1st wedding anniversary while playing an acoustic Spotify playlist. I think I played the “Your Favorite Coffee Shop” playlist with 1.2 million followers.

Like the refreshing and happy day that came before it, this book did not disappoint. I devoured each page hungrily and wondered why it was priced at 80 pesos in an SM Taytay book sale.

Have I gone ancient or did I somehow find the elixir of bookstores that showcase award winning Filipino authors at such proletarian rates? I mean, it was on that same pile that I found an anthology of one-act plays that are Palanca-awarded priced at less than 80 pesos!

This book is worth so much more than the price tag on it. I marveled at the innuendoes that never happened yet happened in Matilda’s Dessert, the impending doom and danger that beheld Protacio in Delivery, the sort of perverted betrayal in Ybarra, and the very delectable stupor that the Author faced in At the Booklaunch which had a humor that will not be lost to grammar nazis. Of course, there’s the landmark story Penmanship which really indicated the writer’s deep interest for fountain pens. He practically romanticized the pen and surrounded it with people.

“He caught a blob of ink on the tip of the nib with his thumb. Old pens did that, when they were nearly empty, or when you took them up in airplanes, not having been designed to fly… The Parker Vacumatic glinted in the room light, poised to strike. It was ringed with bands of gold, and promised a wealth of words. The merest pressure on its nib could deepen an emotion.”

My breath caught in each line. I was in deep awe of how solidly it was written. There was so much respect after I finished reading it. One and a half sitting (and I can’t tell you what brought about the half sitting here!)… It was simple, but one would know the painstaking expertise it took to craft the words in such a manner, to paint landscapes without going technical over the details, and to just evoke emotions out of something as unobtrusive as an ancient fountain pen.

You don’t usually find beautiful words like that lying around. They’re usually sought in hidden independent bookstores or at the obscure shelves that are reserved for the curious.

And this book slowly eased me back to my reading habit. It’s not the one I picked up in college for completing requirements. It’s the one I had as a little girl when I had the flashlight in my hand in the middle of the night while my mom thought I was sleeping. Those were the days when you don’t label things you enjoy.

They always knew how I’d sneak past my bedtime with my books. And at this point, my husband of one year has gotten used to me sleeping with him on one side and around five books on the other. These days, I added the DSLR camera for my daily practice– a piece of advice from a nice person named Arasacha who takes such good photos.

I wrote about the book first but of course, it does not eclipse the beauty of having hit the first year with my husband last Friday. Our first wedding anniversary was an amazing experience. It’s a good and beautifully marked punctuation to the love story that’s still ongoing. Wish I had the skill of the fountain pen to articulate how beautiful he is to me. He does not seem to be aware of how many wonderful things he has done for me and what discoveries we’ve had in exploring each other up close even if we basically did not travel beyond the country. There will be a time for that.

There’s this book review, and then there are other things I need to do so let this be it for now. I plan to update this blog a bit more frequently but like being in a playground, there’s a set timer to how much you can indulge without feeling the bulge of unproductive guilt. 🙂

 

The Complementary Clash

It’s almost 6 months since I made this lifelong “til death do us part” commitment and hooray, we are both still alive! Unless you are in it, you will not know how challenging this is. Co-habiting with someone you never grew up with has its own perks and drawbacks. I totally think differently from my husband. I am actually amazed at how we managed the years of being together as couple (pre and post-wedding) without strangling each other. There is a certain grace from God, I really believe in that more than ever.

Like a coin, being married has its requisite two sides.

The first side is where you expand yourself through your partner’s point of view and experiences. He balances me in so many ways, in my experience. I am not the world’s most agreeable and gentle person. I am brutally frank and it leads to my undoing, occasionally and admittedly. He has this Zen-like ability to blend in with people like water to the shore and it’s magical for me to live with someone like that, so smart and yet so pleasant.

The other side is the clash side of the partnership where you will painfully remember how different you are and you have these head to head fights on what should be done on a certain issue. The worst one we had was a recent fight that lasted for almost a week and it began with a voice-raising match turned silent or cold war turned into civil behavior and cease fire turned into loving mode again. It was so difficult to work. Even when I was a workaholic, I could not bring myself to do anything remotely productive because it was so hard not to be at peace with my partner. The discord extends to my entire being. I just cannot function well if we are not okay or at least agree to disagree without ill feelings.

A well-meant apology is the oil that waters down the friction. 🙂 A willingness to compromise revs up a dying engine that begins from a downward spiral of disagreement. The decision to GIVE more and go the extra mile in keeping things peaceful and harmonious never goes wrong. As of this writing, we are still both adjusting and trying very hard to keep it great and achieve our dreams together. And it’s nice. Because often when couples start deserting their partners, disasters happen and you are left in a stream of broken hearts, broken dreams, and railroaded family lives.

It’s really an uphill climb. Some people really say that marriage is overrated and ancient and completely out of touch with the needs of the times. I really hope I don’t go to that extreme level of hating the institution or the sacrament. Unorthodox as I may be, there are still certain things that I hold dear and sacred and marriage is one of them.

 

 

Optimization Determination

A week ago, a friend asked me how I manage to optimize things to an almost ruthless level of efficiency.

I find it hard to answer because it was not something that happened overnight. I guess the most motivating factor of all is LOVE. It’s not the fluffy love in red letters and heart shapes. It’s the love that works for its beloved, the type that can go on with certain discomforts if it means a moment of reprieve for the one that you love. One day, I just fell in love and I realize that I cannot afford to waste any more of the precious moments in life for meaningless things.

It became a crusade that is switched on all the time and this crusade is pushing me to outdo my previous self, to go farther than I have gone in the past, and to just be the best possible version of myself.

Optimization is scary. It can be construed as too structured or not fun. But it’s fun because it multiplies your time and maximizes the resources available. It takes time to hit optimization milestones but I get all giddy when it happens to me.

Few people will understand why I am such a sucker for planning and for optimizing. Even waiting time in queues like LRT train stations is used for reviewing new music on my iPod or reading chapters from a long novel. I just make sure that I am productive. Even when I am drying my hair in front of an electric fan after shampooing, I make a mental list of my things to do for that day and organize my time chunks accordingly. I am subscribed to blogs of people who are productivity freaks.

Love has profound effects on people. For me, it has the effect of jolting me to optimizing my life so that I can do everything well. In a way, some people think it’s overkill but I cannot see myself living in any other way. Sure, there are still moments that are unplanned. I still have pockets of time given over to chaos and unexpected things. But most of the time, if I can schedule or align it, it will have its own pre-assigned or ordained space in my mind.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7

In my case, it OPTIMIZES ALL THINGS. 😀 HAHA!