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Adios, 2018!

We now close this year and all I can say is… WOOOOOW! Days flew by like crazy and the 365th day is soon to be over.

2018 is a rollercoaster ride but it has definitely been a big improvement from 2017 when we were plagued with challenges that almost broke my spirit.

Another great blessing greeted us this year and that is the birth of my little light, Lucia Gabrielle. Her arrival completes our little family and I could not ask for anything more.

 

 

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To have one rainbow baby was already a dream come true for me and Edzel. After battling my repro-immune disorder, I never thought that I could still conceive again but as they say, at the act of our surrender and when we least expect it, God gives us unexpected blessings along the way.

That first half of the year was a blur of breastfeeding, nappy changes, and just Santiago and Lucia all the way. Motherhood never felt so raw and real and the ups and downs that came with it were all worth it.

In May, I was given the opportunity to share my story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer for their Mother’s Day Special. This was very important to me because it has been my personal advocacy to spread awareness about APAS and repro-immune disorders to hopefully save more mothers from suffering a potential heartwrenching loss.

 

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In August, with zero budget to work with and only the will and heart of several APAS ladies, we were able to hold the 1st Lay Forum on Repro-Immune Disorders. This was attended by around 180 men and women who wanted to know more about the condition and graced by five known immunologists from the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and of course, my ever-dearest perinatologist, Dr. Valerie Guinto. Early intervention and continuous efforts to spread awareness for this disorder are the things that I believe can help couples overcome this very challenging situation.

 

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My heart overflows. The 1st RID lay forum was a success. Bawi lahat ng pagod. ❣ #GetRidofRID

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At the last quarter of the year, things just really “happened” for me when it comes to the things that are really close to my heart.

Sometime around October, just before my anniversary with Young Living, I was exposed to so many things in the groups that I was part of that I did not agree with. As a naturally empathetic person, I could not sit and watch. This pushed me to educate myself further and I went down the rabbit hole so swiftly, my mind could not keep up with my heart.

I took the plunge and invested in myself to take a certification course in aromatherapy to deep-dive into the world of essential oils in an educated, scientific, and accurate approach. This happened when I was looking for a certified aromatherapist in one popular mommy group on Facebook. I was looking for someone to help me understand how to apply essential oils safely on my kids because I saw with my own two eyes, how a supposedly safely diluted blend sensitized my little sister’s skin to the point that she was crying. I could not risk that same thing to happen with my kids so I ventured out – unfortunately, I did not find any. I thought to myself, for sure I could not be the only one.

And I was not.

And so I launched my Facebook support group, Lana Lane, where I try (so desperately in my free time) to educate about the safe use of essential oils regardless of the brand that they are using. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my Young Living oils, I still do – however, I could not justify the price that I was paying for it knowing now how to choose essential oils based not on the brand but on their therapeutic benefits. But more than that, it really was the haphazard information being thrown in the group (neat application, ingestion, among others) that really turned me off. Essential oils are powerful and without the social responsibility to promote its safe use, I just could not be part of that anymore. There is a time for neat application and ingestion, yes I agree with that but it really is not for everyday use.

At around the same time, I opened my online shop again, Lana Lane PH and I was taking orders from moms who just want to test out the essential oils first or those who really do not have the time to create their own blends for their families. I am not actively promoting yet but there are big things that I am planning for this in 2019 so pleeeaasse, pray for me. 🙂

At almost this same time, I also attended a writing workshop by Kerygma and this rekindled my calling to write a book about overcoming APAS.

I promised this book to God.

I told him that I will be a testament of His immense grace when I will successfully deliver my rainbow baby.

 

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“If you take away the writing in me, then I am not me.” What a productive day. 💙

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Two babies after, I am still here.

The call has been incessant, keeping me awake at night so I finally took another plunge.  Hopefully, the book will be finished in 2019, God willing!

There are so many people God is sending my way for my dreams to finally come true.

I have met Russell Lorenzo, the owner of Casa De Lorenzo, one of the main producers of Castile soaps in the Philippines and also local essential oil distiller and he gave me that clarity that I was on the right track.

Andrea Butje, founder of Aromahead, who had been very supportive of her students. Without her school, it would not be possible for me to have a proper venue of arming myself with the right knowledge.

Karren Renz Seña, my writing coach who has been nothing but a source of courage – from the moment that she walked into the room during the Kerygma writing workshop, I knew that God sent her my way (despite not knowing what it was at that time).

Just yesterday, I also met Charm, the owner of The Cool Moms PH, a very successful online seller and Shopee pioneer who shared with me many wonderful things to make my little dreams come true.

I also had a chance to talk to Brother Arun Gogna, builder of The Feast Bellevue and a successful author and he has given me tips on how I can have a grip on the book that I am writing.

And finally, Edzel, whose silent yet unbelievably rocksteady support grounds the ever-fickle and volatile me.

I have no doubt that 2019 is my year. It has not yet started yet the optimism that the New Year brings to my heart is overflowing.

APAS Mommy for 2019

May yours be filled with everything your heart desires, too!

 

Category 5: What Your Primary NK Assay Will Tell You

Being diagnosed with RID can be very overwhelming. There are dozens of tests you need to go through to pinpoint your condition and create an appropriate treatment plan for it.

After several years of successfully battling APAS (and two rainbow babies after), I am trying to educate myself more about the condition to help more people and to lay the groundwork for people to understand our condition.

I am currently reading the book “Is Your Body Baby Friendly?” by Dr. Alan Beer, the pioneer in reproductive and immunological disorders. If you like researching, then this book is for you.

This was my result in 2013 taken at St. Lukes BGC:

APAS Philippines Category 5

The CD that you see in your test means Cluster of Differentiation and they define the function of the cells. There are two kinds if you will notice. B cells and T cells – B cells are produced in the bone marrow while T cells by your thymus gland. These cells are what Dr. Beer refer to as your body’s special military task force that specializes in killing.

When I got my primary immunodeficiency panel or NK assay, I only looked at the NK cells part. I was so relieved that it was within the normal ranges. However, Dr. Gloria told me that she still would treat me as Category 5 and not just 1 and 2 because of my previous miscarriages. She told me that the tests in the Philippines are not complete and there is a possibility that while my NK cells are within the normal range in quantity, they can be very rabid.

Looking at my test above, you can see that I have higher than normal CD8 and CD19 and lower than normal CD4:CD8 ratio.

But what does this mean?

To quote Dr. Beer, “Autoimmune women tend to have higher levels of CD8+ T cells, higher levels of toxic TNF-alpha, higher autoimmune inducing Th1:Th2 ratio and lower serotonin levels – the same markers that are seen in women with stress-triggered miscarriages.”

Below are excerpts in explaining the different roles of the cells above from Dr. Beer’s book:

CD3 or Elevated CD3 cell levels are associated with autoimmune diseases.

CD4 are also high in people with infertility.

CD19 are also usually high normal or very elevated in women with immune-mediated infertility or recurrent pregnancy losses.

When I got a second opinion from another popular OB, she asked me to take a Th1/Th2 Cytokine Assay Test. This is done in Chicago and my blood sample was sent there. After two excruciating weeks, the assumption was validated. I had very high Th1 results.

Th1 are the cells Dr. Beer calls the aggressors. When they are on fire, they prompt the production of antibodies, killer cells and macrophages that cause miscarriages.

Truth is, it is only now that I have done my research on this. All I knew then was that my body was rejecting my baby. I didn’t want to know more.

But looking back, I wish that I could have known what exactly these numbers mean. To make amends with my past self, I am writing this now to benefit those who are still lost in this world of autoimmune disorders. This blog post is only a guide and should not supersede what your doctors say. This is purely based on Dr. Beer’s book (but totally makes sense to me).

I hope that this will help you at one point or another. I will post about the other categories soon. In the meantime, please do subscribe to my blog or leave a comment. Would really appreciate it.

xoxo

 

 

 

References:

Alan E. Beer, Julia Kantecki, Jane Reed, Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?: Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF Failure, Explained, 1 October 2006

 

 

 

Why I Want to be a Certified Aromatherapist

You are so weird. Aromatherapist??!

This is the thought which I somehow imagine as a bubble coming out of peoples’ heads every time I tell them about wanting to be certified as an aromatherapist. Or how passionately I talk about oils. Haha. Why would you want to waste your money on that? Isn’t this essential oil fad just that — a fad? How will you practice? What’s your ROI?

Truth is, I don’t understand this myself either. And worse, I don’t have an answer to any of those questions. All I know is that I want to be a catalyst for change in the ever so misguided world of essential oils.

Peppermint Oil

You see, a year ago, I was introduced by a good friend to the wonderful and addicting world of essential oils. I quickly immersed myself into it and whoop! I went into the rabbit hole.

There are very few things I am passionate about aside from my family. In fact, I can name only two:

  1. writing; and
  2. my advocacy to spread awareness about APAS and reproductive-immunological disorders.

When I was introduced to essential oils, I fell in love, albeit so quickly. And it quickly created its own reserved space in my passion repertoire.

Conditioned as a true marketing person (in practice for now around 13 years), I did my research about essential oils.

The more I studied, the more misinformation I saw running around in forums. It was disconcerting.

It is a blessing (and much a curse, as well) that I am an ENFP type of personality. I am very much affected by the things around me and it is unlikely for my personality to just watch and do nothing, especially when I know in my heart that I need to do something.

Because of the constant contradictory statements I see online, I jumped blindly to taking a certification course that would allow me to really go into the scientific study of aromatherapy.

In the United States and in the United Kingdom, getting certified means you are educated and qualified to teach about essential oils, especially its safety. I wanted to have credibility especially to mothers like me who are looking for more unbiased and reliable information about the proper use of essential oils. Graduating and getting certified from the school where I study would mean that I will be recognized by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists (NAHA) in the United States and Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA).

I started my certification course in October but I am barely scratching the surface.

There’s just soooo much to learn and I couldn’t be more fulfilled with my choice of investing in this certification even if I don’t see any returns in the future.

Being diagnosed with autoimmune disorders in pregnancy, I somehow believe that this was caused by many wrong and unhealthy lifestyle choices in the past. The path to using essential oils to promote my family’s health and wellness is just a start. Hopefully, through these little things, it will nudge my family towards a better future.

More than that, I want to start a movement of educated mothers who know how to use their essential oils as safely as possible so that it becomes an important tool in their health kits.

If you are like this mom I envision, hop on to our brand-agnostic Facebook group, Lana Lane to see how you can use your essential oils safely.

I look forward to many wondrous things in the future and thinking about where this journey will take me is exhilarating.

I can only (giddily) wait.

Yours in this aromatic journey,

Balot

Top 5 Oils You Need if You Have Kids

There’s an oil for that!

Boy, I heard this a lot.

After a year of my oiling journey with a famous direct-selling brand, I had accumulated more than 80 oils because of all the marketing promos that hooked me in. Sadly, I didn’t know what to do with all those oils because truth is, you only need a little when doing your blends and your blends will go a loooong way.

So if you don’t want to fall into this trap like I did, I am giving you five essential oils that you can start with especially if you have kids at home. No need to break your bank account to hoard them all —

LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia)

My go-to oil for everything. Skin problems, muscle spasms, stress, anxiety, sleep disorder, burns, insect bites. Very nourishing for the skin. Energetically, this oil is very calming.

LEMON (Citrus limon)

Antibacterial and disinfects the air. Cooling. Immune system stimulant and defends the body against infection. Phototoxic so don’t use more than 4 drops in a 10mL blend when going out in the sun. Energetically, this oil is very uplifting.

FRANKINCENSE (Boswellia carterii)

Good for the skin. Can be used as decongestant, for muscle pain relief, and headaches. Energetically, this oil is emotionally grounding and reduces anxiety.

Note: There is an unbelievably remarkable difference in the price of frankincense. Recently, I came across a direct manufacturer from Somalialand (where frank is mostly sourced) and their price is $80 per 30mL bottle. I realized that anything more than that is just ripoff.

CEDARWOOD (Cedrus atlantica)

Cedarwood is calming, a good decongestant, calming for the nervous system, and antifungal. Many use Cedarwood for focus ro3llers for studying.

ORANGE (Citrus sinensis)

Very uplifting, thus an antidepressant. Analgesic and antibacterial. Many people find this oil helpful for constipation, cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and vomiting.

Side note: Citrus oils such as orange and lemon oxidize quickly so don’t purchase in big quantities unless you will be using them all the time. When they oxidize, they can be skin irritating.

Hope this helps! Compare prices if you must especially if you are a practical mom like me. To know more about oils regardless of the brand and to learn more about your options, hop on to Lana Lane and let’s discuss these wonderful products of Nature.

Happy oiling everyone!

I am a writer…

At one point in time, you will hear this – writers are weird.

Writers are weird because they talk to themselves. They create scenarios inside their head that play on their own and sometimes, they get out of control. We cry while we write. We laugh while we write. We curse and turn red when the writing gets down and dirty.

I acknowledge this part. This is me (I??) when the creative wind attacks.

I pity my husband for dealing with this but I think he has already mastered to just let the moment flow and leave me alone in my weirdness. He, for one, doesn’t not like to read literature. At least I know that now because when I met him, he said he was a big book guy and impressed me with a Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. I didn’t know that it was one of the very few “legit” books he has read and in general, books to him meant comics. Sigh.

Anyway, back to my writing.

I don’t know if I am weird because I am a writer or I am a writer so that I can channel this weirdness.

I have been writing since I was four years old. My affair with words started when my parents laminated a printout of 100 difficult words that I needed to spell correctly (at four years old or five maybe) –

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Easy peasy. No need for autocorrect on that.

That laminate sealed my fate. As I fell in love with words,  I read and read. But most of all, I wrote.

I was writing. Always writing.

Mama told me I used to write her hurtful letters asking me why she needed to work and that I didn’t her money; I needed a mom (ouch on that now)! My tita tells me how I always carried a pencil and paper wherever I went. I didn’t have lots of toys. But I had a Mongol and a duyan where I got lost in my thoughts and that was more than enough.

Since then, I never stopped writing. Wrote until I reached national writing competitions. Wrote until I became EIC in highschool. Wrote love notes, breakup notes… name it, I’ve probably written it.

But my writing has transcended into another level now that I am in my 30s. I want to write to change the world. Not a superhero kind of thing. Not that. Just you know, be a catalyst in the circles I move in through my writing. Whether it’s writing to spread awareness about APAS and autoimmune disorders or putting my faith in words, or lecturing about safe use of essential oils.

I have avoided to say this for the longest time because I always thought that I am not good enough. However, I realized that God gave me this talent for a reason. And this is how I will be a catalyst to the world – by being a writer.

And yes, I am.

When darkness visits
E’rething becomes clear
You can try to hide
But you can’t deny
The seed in your heart
That He has planted.
-balotdelrosario 120118