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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!

 

To have loved and lost…

I woke up in the middle of the night the other day, sandwiched between  my two kulits whose soft snores blended with their dad’s own orchestra. Sleep has evaded me and while browsing Facebook, I chanced upon this artist’s painting, Alena Kalchanka

and my heart just broke into a million pieces…

It was bittersweet to have come across these photos because around this time, 5 years ago, I lost my second baby.

Time (and two epidurals) has somehow clouded my memory and I haven’t thought a lot about my little angels this past year but seeing these paintings brought me an avalanche of raw, mixed emotions.

Statistics show that 1 out of 4 women will suffer from a pregnancy loss. That’s an awful high number, don’t you think? October is, in fact, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and this post could not have been more timely.

While miscarriages may be common, it still does not take away the pain that we go through when we lose a pregnancy.

It doesn’t matter if you were 5 weeks along or 3 months or 8 — the heartache of a miscarriage would still be the same for a mother who was expecting.

While I am the happiest woman because God has given me Santi and Lucia despite my autoimmune and alloummune disorders, I am also the saddest to have never met my two Bastis.

Someday, my little ones, someday…

I will never know God’s real reason of taking my Sebastians too soon, but my Santi and Lucia are living proof of God’s infinite grace that in His time, He will grant our heart’s desires.

So, to you, my little cherubims, there will always be a space in my heart reserved only for you. Someday, I hope to meet you, wherever that may be. Til then.

 

P.S. I contacted Alena on Facebook and asked permission to use her photos (thank God for Google Translate because I speak no Italian) and she has wonderfully indulged me. Thank you so much and God bless you sevenfold. You are an incredible artist. Continue blessing the world with your craft xx

 

Sunmum’s New Look

Hey you!

Are you a pumping mama?

If you are, then you must have heard of Sunmum, the most economical breastmilk bag in the market.

Storing your breastmilk in these bags can be costly especially if you are a heavy pumper like me. In my case, I have tried the most known breastmilk bags in the market to check which one would work for me.

I love the Honeysuckle brand but for almost Php15 per piece, it was just too expensive, huhu. I have also tried Medela, but I was not a fan because it doesn’t lay flat. Lansinoh is good but you have to buy it from the US if you want to score a discount but still, price would still be more than Php10.

I was relieved to have discovered Sunmum because it lays flat on the freezer and it costs less than Php5!!!

I have been using Sunmum since Santi’s time. Now, they have repackaged to an even cuter design.

Sunmum new design

New Sunmum has a cute mother and baby design.

Even the part where you write your labels has improved.

The material is a tad thinner but it still maintains its triple ziplock. I hope the new material is as good as the old one.

Sunmum is a product from Thailand and is 100% food grade and BPA-free. I get mine from the MilkingMomma from Shopee!

Try it out momma and save some $$$ while stashing your precious liquid gold.

xx,

Balot

I am now a mother.

Mother’s Day.

Five years ago, I never thought I would ever celebrate this day. But God has been good and I am now holding my two rainbow babies, Santiago and Lucia.

The road has been long and rocky but the values this journey has taught me has been immeasurable.

I made a pact with the universe that when I would be successful in overcoming my condition, I would raise awareness about repro-immune disorders to hopefully help women who are like me.

The universe has answered this year. In ways I have never imagined.

Last Friday, I was able to share my story through the Mother’s Day special of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

I am now a mother.

To read the whole article, visit this link.

My blog has also been getting more hits. More than that, I, together with some other RID sisters are also organizing a lay forum for APAS and RID awareness in cooperation with the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Inc.

The ball is now rolling and I am glad to be part of it. I can’t wait for what is in store for us in the coming months/years. I pray that more and more women and couples will know about RID so that one day, in His time, they will also hold their rainbow baby in their arms.

Join me in this advocacy, loves. Lets get rid of RID.

xx

Bairns Clothing – To Preemies with Love

 

Having a premature birth is very common for those who are suffering from repro-immune disorders.

According to Mayo Clinic, a premature birth is a birth that takes place more than three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date. In other words, a premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. In many cases, our little APAS/RID fighters are safer outside our womb so they are made to come out earlier than most.

I was a little lucky since my babies were not really considered preemies; Santi was delivered via caesarian section when he was on his 38th week and Lucia, on her 37th week and they were considered as early term babies but nevertheless, I empathize with the plight of preemie moms everywhere.

Giving birth to a premature baby is very challenging, especially since they stay in NICU until they are stronger. Lucia spent only one day in the neonatal intensive care unit but my heart was shattered a million times – I can only imagine the strength of preemie moms who stay in NICU for weeks, or months even.

There are many challenges having a preemie baby. One of them is getting them little outfits that fit them since standard sizes would be definitely bigger. When I was browsing one of the Facebook groups I am in, I came across an online shop for preemies and I would like to share this little chat I had with the founders of this shop:

Name of shop: Bairns Clothing
Established when: Nov 4, 2017
Facebook URL: facebook.com/thepreemiespecialist
IG name: @bairnsclothing

 

Clueless APAS Mama (CAM): How did Bairns Clothing start? 

Bairns is a Scottish word for child. We used the purple color (for the logo) because it means delicate and precious just like the flower lavender, which hence best described premature babies. The effect of purple is to uplift the spirit and it is also known for its nurturing tendencies. The baby’s footprint in the logo symbolizes the birth of a child; and also in Buddhism, it means beginning. Their footprints mark the beginning of their life. It is shaped like a heart because it means love. Love conquers the world; therefore, a preemie should feel love and be showered with affection to gain strength to fight. The heart on the sole of the feet symbolizes a beating heart or life. Preemies always fight for their lives so each beat of their heart is very precious.

CAM: Why did you put up Bairns Clothing?

Bairns was created through our first-hand experience as preemie moms. It was a struggle to find fit and comfortable clothes for our tiny warriors. But more than for aesthetic reason, we don’t want to cause worries to parents because of loose clothes that may cover the faces of their babies and might even lead to SIDS. Lastly, Bairns is all about giving back to the community, so it is tagged as CLOTHING WITH A CAUSE such that every purchase you make contributes to other NICU families in need.

CAM: What is unique about Bairns Clothing?

Bairns Clothing began with the purpose and willingness to help every preemie and their families. We have a social responsibility in helping NICU families through charitable works and support/guidance/inspiration through FB NICU Families and Preemie Support PH Forum. We cater to one basic need of preemies which is clothes. Specific clothes sizes for Filipino preemies that are made locally and affordable in price.

CAM: What are your product lines?

Tie-side with short sleeves, sleeveless and long sleeves; pajamas, mittens, booties, beanies, receiving blankets, plain onesie, statement onesie and printed onesie, outsourced preemie nappies, outsourced preemie/newborn sunglasses

CAM: Please share anything else you want your market to know.

To our future clients, we know that having a preemie is financially draining but let us not hinder our tiny warrior to wear decent clothes. Some moms will say “ok lang malaki, lalaki din naman sila”; and yes, while this is true, our preemies need the utmost care and fit clothes is the safest choice for them to wear to prevent any discomfort and SIDS. Bairns Clothing provides basic essential clothing from the tiniest (micro preemie) up to 3-kilogrammer preemie. You don’t need to go to the mall to buy clothes; we are just one click and call away for your needs and can provide next day delivery.

Also, Bairns is all about helping, so when you buy clothes from us you also help other NICU families. Once they have outgrown them, you can donate or resell the clothes.

Through the purchases of our previous clients, we can proudly say that we had been able to provide financial and medical assistance to NICU families through buying medicines that are rare like glucose tablets, providing fee for blood transfusion, medical equipment and monetary donation. We also held a small charity event at a government hospital providing basic preemie goodies.

Please continue to support and purchase preemie clothes from Bairns Clothing so we altogether can help more NICU families. Also to promote local industries and be proud to wear Philippine made!

CAM: What is your message to Preemie Moms?

We know how it feels and we know how much it hurts. We just want you to know that we have been there. We have been truly blessed out of circumstance that at first, it didn’t seem like much of a blessing. God loves us. Yet sometimes it doesn’t feel like He loves us.

Some NICU moms prayed for their little ones but they passed away even before they say goodbye. Some NICU moms prayed for their NICU graduate to grow up healthy but instead they watch them suffer from illness and complications from their prematurity. Most of the NICU moms prayed for that little extra money to make ends meet, but end up losing their resources.

What we didn’t realize that the very thing that is best for us isn’t the same as what we’re praying for. God hears each spoken need. He loved us too much to give us lesser things. God is watching over always, directing every moment we experience.

Through this journey, we realized that it wasn’t our preemies being in the NICU but about our transformation in Christ and allowing Him to be in control of everything.

Trusting in God is a daily walk and we are grateful that our journey has and still reminds us that He is in control and not us. Mommy, our warriors had been where your baby is now. It is okay that you are crying but never give up.

Never give up when your last defense is faith.

We share your burden.

The wonderful ladies behind Bairns Clothing

Bairns Clothing

UST Pharmacy Batch 2000 classmates who happened to be preemie moms.

Joana Pauline Caoleng (Pharmacist, OFW)

Karen Anne Sia (Pharmacist, WAHM)

Jadie Suzette Tan (Pharmacist/SPED Teacher, WAHM)

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