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Dr. Valerie Guinto – Our Awesome Perinatologist for our APAS Pregnancy

Matthew 9:12
But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”

And sick I was – with pregnancies that had reproductive-immunological challenges.

When I had my second miscarriage in 2014 and I knew about APAS, I grappled for more information about the condition. It was a very depressing time. Resources were very limited and overcoming the condition seemed bleak. The terminologies were scary and there had always been that thought that we would never have a baby.

My body was not baby-ready. 

My immune system was attacking the fetus inside my tummy. 

These did not make sense. How come I have not heard of this condition before? These thoughts and questions barraged my every waking hour. It was a good thing that I had a very supportive circle who encouraged us to soldier on.

And soldier on we did… and we now have two wonderful rainbow babies. 

My two babies – Santi and Lucia <3

There are many things (or people) that have contributed to our success – our family and friends, a lot of prayers and of course, our two doctors – my perinatologist, Dr. Valerie Guinto and my immunologist, Dr. Carol Gloria. In my heart, I know that God sent us these two angels to help with my pregnancies.

In most repro-immune (RI) cases, a perinatologist (high-risk OB) and an immunologist co-manage the patient to make sure that all bases are covered. Your OB or perinatologist will take care of the usual round-the-clock monitoring such as checking your general health and most importantly, your baby’s growth, and your immunologist will check if your body is attacking your fetus. If your baby falls behind in terms of growth, there are several treatments that your immunologist will administer to address the situation such as putting you on intralipid therapy>>.

Now, if you are still looking for highly-skilled physicians that can help you overcome your RI disorder, I highly recommend my two doctors.

Dr. Valerie Guinto was a blessing in disguise for me. 

It was actually fate that brought me to her, somehow.

When I had my second miscarriage in 2014, my then-OB suspected me to have APAS and requested me to undergo some tests after two months. When my results came out positive, she referred me to a high-risk OB (perinatologist) who she said specializes in APAS. Truth is, I lost that paper where she wrote her recommendation.

I ended searching and searching the net for a specialist about this RI condition and stumbled upon the name, Dr. Valerie Guinto.

An OB, perinatologist, sonologist and associate clinical professor all rolled into one. Sounded good to me. I scheduled an appointment and that was when it started.

Dr. Guinto diagnosed me positive on two out of 5 categories: Cat 1 and 2>>. She then referred me to an immunologist, Dr. Carol Gloria who needed to fix my immune system first before attempting another pregnancy>>.

Looking back, I could not have chosen better doctors to help me with my condition. But to be honest, it wasn’t all rainbows at the start.

At first, my experience was terrible (or at least, I thought it was). Doc Guinto has soooo many patients, most of them are high-risk patients like me. The line was soooo long and she was always somewhere for an emergency. I had to wait for hours for my turn and of course, this was not good news for impatient me. It was only when I was comparing notes with my other APAS sisters that it was the same experience for them with other famous perinatologists who are handling high-risk cases. Because these doctors are highly specialized in their fields, they were sought out by many.

Future me would have scolded younger Balot had I not persisted with her.

Later on, I realized that my demands were the demands of hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other women who are hoping to hold a baby in their arms again. It was a comforting thought to know that when the time comes that I needed to be attended to, Dr. Guinto will go out of her way to be there for you.

While she may come across as strict, timid or even very formal, she is one of our greatest gifts. I think she just warms up slowly or maybe, she is just exhausted because of her very busy schedule. When I get to chat with her secretaries, they often tell me that Doc does not eat anymore because she usually has to jump from one meeting to another, from one labor to another (the reason why she is so sexy, hehe!) – However, you won’t feel like you are rushed at all when it is your turn for the checkup despite the long line – she is very thorough and reassuring.

Without Dr. Guinto, my pregnancies would not have been successful as they were so I am just thankful that she was sent to me.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Guinto, you can get in touch with her bubbly and lovable secretary Macy at 09172447568. She holds clinic at St. Luke’s BGC, Asian Hospital and Joshua Clinic in front of PGH.

Babydust, loves!

The ‘Dark’ Side of my Breastfeeding Journey

Okay, so before I go on with my story, I just wanted to let this out — I am not breastfeeding anymore.

Yes, you read that right. Not breastfeeding anymore.

Instead, I am bottle-feeding Lucia with my breastmilk. Does that sound strange? You see, there is a middle ground between breastfeeding and formula feeding and that is exclusively pumping. What does this mean? Please do check my post about exclusively pumping here>>

Call Me Balot

Anyway, I have taken this route since Santi’s time and I am doing it again for Lucia. So yes…

I was and still am a proud ‘exclusively pumping mama’

But exclusive pumping is not what I really want to talk about. Today, I want to talk about D-MER or Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.

You see, there is a weird thing effing my insides every time I have a milk letdown. This happened during Santi’s time and it is still happening now. For the lack of a better term, I call it nausea.

But it is not nausea, not technically. 

That ‘nausea’ I get during letdown is more emotional in nature. It’s like a hollow pit in the stomach that makes you want to throw up or gag and feel really sad. Like you are homesick or something. And it only lasts for more than a minute. Sooo effin’ weird.

I was not aware of this condition before (just like I have never heard of APAS). I just remember Googling “sadness when breastfeeding” because I wanted some solace that there are other moms out there, like me, who experience fleeting moments of sadness when they are breastfeeding. And you know, to feel normal that I am not the only one suffering from this condition.

 

Upon doing some little research, I stumbled upon what is called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER.

According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, D-MER is characterized by negative emotions, that occur seconds before a mother’s milk ejection reflex when breastfeeding or expressing or with a spontaneous MER. In their website, one mother was quoted describing D-MER. She said —

If you have read Harry Potter they talk about the creatures that suck the soul out of you and when they are around it makes you cold and you start to focus on negative things and fall into this abyss of negative thoughts — that is how D-MER was for me at times.

THIS IS ME!!! This is the perfect description of what I feel. Every single time I have a letdown, whether it is during a latch or when I am pumping, I feel like there is a dementor sucking all my happiness.

Now, before you think I am making an excuse to stop breastfeeding, I don’t. I actually love the idea of giving breastmilk to my children because I know of its immense benefits.

And we are back to this. #milkingmama #3daystash @honeysucklephils

A post shared by Balot Del Rosario (@callmebalot) on

 

The reason why I wanted to talk about D-MER is to share with other moms who might be experiencing the same that they are not alone. I have searched about this condition in Breastfeeding Pinays group in Facebook and there are several anecdotes about it.

This condition really exists.

While there may be some who would make this as an excuse to stop breastfeeding, I am part of the other side whose knowledge of this condition actually reinforces my breastfeeding journey.

Knowing I have D-MER helps me to soldier on because I know that it is but a fleeting moment caused by an instant drop in my dopamine hormone and that it is just a hormonal imbalance that can be corrected by my own body in minutes.

Knowing I have D-MER strengthens my conviction to pump rather than have Lucia latch because I don’t want her to feel that feeling of hopelessness and despair that I feel when she is nursing, no matter how fleeting it may be.

Sigh…

So there, Mama! I truly hope that you do not have to go through this but if you do, holler me! Let’s make each other feel a little bit normal even if we have this rare condition (I am such a sucker for rare medical conditions, geez). And maybe you can even share with me some tips on how to minimize that sinking feeling?

Hope to hear from you soon!

Toodles!

Love,

I am a monster… and I totally hate it!

Santi looks at me with much disdain. His eyes shout Monster Mom. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.

He looks for comfort from his Nanay (my Tita who helps me take care of Santi) or Dada (of course, who would not want Cool Dad?!) But Mommy…

Mommy is the villain of his life. 

Santi does not even say Mommy, yet! Just Dada, Daddy, Tata, Tatay, UGH! He can even sing recognizable sounds of the alphabet sometimes but say “Mommy” or even just “Ma” – nothing. Chirp chirp!

So how did this happen?

Because Mommy is always the party-pooper.

Ever since Santi’s teeth got messed up (more on this on my next posts), I have to pin him down for some serious brushing every day. And I don’t mean the cute here’s-your-toothbrush-let’s-move-it-left-to-right-up-and-down type. We used to do that but apparently, it is not enough! We got some good lecture from three different pediatric dentists who all said a good brush needs to be done thoroughly, with the child pinned down so you can reach all nook and cranny. It will involve crying but you have to be stern about it.

And cry Santi did. Or does.

Every brushing moment is not a pretty sight.

There are tears and shouting and looks that kill. The hardest part is the latter because I am sure no Mom wants to be the antagonist in their child’s life. But someone has to do the dirty job. And Daddy won’t do it (because he has to be the Cool Dad) so Mom needs to be the bad cop!

C-R-Y!

I often wonder if moms like me are just, you know, exaggerating. We always think about the worst. We panic a lot. I am not sure if this is true for all moms but this mom right here – PARANOID AF! 

I know that I will forever be my children’s nemesis because I will never stop being praning and wanting the best for them even if it means I have to be a monster in their eyes sometimes.

I just pray that when they become parents one day that they will understand why I have to be the Monster Mom. 🙂