A Year In The Life: 31 January

Sunset sky from the Ortigas-C5 flyover.


A Year In The Life: 30 January

Super duper OLD Levi's 501. My favorite jeans in my closet. The holes have become so huge I've been contemplating on cutting them up and turning them into shorts. But I just can't. The fit is just so right. Although I kinda feel store security follow me around when I'm wearing this pair. I look like a homeless person. Haha.


A Year In The Life: 29 January

A friend of mine started a photo album on Facebook called A Year In The Life. One photo per day for the whole year.

It's a month late but today's as good as any day to start.


This is our little veranda. Those two chairs were bought from carabao-pulled carts. We've always had a soft spot for those carts and we thought we'd support them by buying wood stuff from them. 

This veranda is where we go when there's a cool breeze. Sometimes we have dinner there. There was one time we got locked out and we had no house help yet and all the neighbors were asleep. C had to ram through the door. Destroyed the lock and split some wood. Hahaha. 

The fabric for the printed curtains were bought at such a bargain on Ilaya in Divisoria. It's flimsy enough to let the breeze through and yet substantial enough to afford us some privacy.


LIT (first session)

What you notice is that the couples here are kind to one another. They sit closely together and talk to each other in low tones.

We all want babies. Some are being treated for infertility while others like us are being treated for autoimmune causes for repeated pregnancy loss.

The guy bearing vials of lymphocytes arrives three hours late.

There are no screaming complaints here. Only silent and patient waiting.

23 January, 8am

We walk from PGH to this house on Pedro Gil. It's where the Manila Endocrine Laboratory is. There are maybe five couples ahead of us in the line. There are only a few laboratories who can do this procedure. If you have the "extraction" at St. Luke's it'll cost almost double.

C seems anxious. Haha. He hates needles. Childhood phobia, I guess.

They extract 12 vials of blood from him. It's a very quick procedure. We are told to go to St. Luke's at 5pm for the lymphocyte shots.

10 more to go!

After doing some errands we go home and have time to eat and nap.


C drops me off at the hospital lobby. As I wait for the elevator, I hear a girl asking the guard for directions to Dr. Aleta's office. I sneak a peek. She looks younger than me.

The girl and her husband ride the elevator with me to the 15th floor. I step out of the elevator quickly and almost dash to the doctor's clinic so I can be ahead of them in the line. Hahaha. It turns out I'm 7th and they're 8th and last.

15th floor

The receptionist informs us that the vials have not yet arrived. We had time for a snack. After talking to the doctor and discussing schedules (number of sessions we can squeeze in before I ovulate), we step out and grab chicken hotdogs. Yummy.

Back outside the doctor's office. Everyone's quiet. A girl who has been reading a pocketbook takes a call and everyone in that corridor now knows that she had just flown in from Cebu for the procedure and she had an 830pm flight to catch. It was already 6pm.

lonely, empty side of the corridor

The guy from the lab finally arrives (I remember his face from our stop at the lab that morning) and everyone heaves a huge sigh of relief. Even the doctor inside.

The girl from Cebu asks the girl ahead of her if she can go first. Girl "first on the list" obliges. When girl from Cebu steps out, other girls wish her good luck.

All the girls who come out of the clinic are given nods and smiles. It's a community of women (and men) who know all the trouble (not to mention expense) each has to go through.

Our turn comes. The doctor hands us a photocopy of a part of an article published in the American Journal of Medicine, on the safety of intradermal lymphocyte immunotherapy. She co-wrote the paper. We are thoroughly impressed and trust her a hundred percent.

Of the 12 vials of blood taken from C, the lymphocytes extracted fill only maybe 1/8 of a vial. I can imagine the laborious process of extracting it.

C looks worried again as the doctor preps my arm and the needle. I decide to look when the shots are administered. I usually look away when they draw blood from me. It's a slight prick. Not so bad. What does hurt is when the liquid is injected into the skin. You see the skin bubble up as the spot fills up with the lymphocytes.

Two shots and the doctor wraps my forearm with bandage. My arm feels heavy. The doctor warns me that injection spots may itch or hurt. A good sign, she says. They will also bruise, like insect bites. The bandage can be taken off after 48 hours. It cannot get wet.

Before I had the shots I was feeling under the weather. I had the car aircon fixed the day before and the heat must've gotten to me.

That night, after attending to a client fitting, I got chills and a slight fever. But I was soooo cold I had to wear pajamas, socks, a bonnet and even hiking gloves! I felt awful and even more awful because I worried the shots won't work if I had fever.

hamming it up despite feeling horrible

I took paracetamol and the fever subsided. I slowly shed the layers I was wearing and fell asleep soundly.

24 January

So difficult to shower! C had to wrap my arm in plastic and seal it with packaging tape. Haha.

I was a bit worried because the injection spots didn't feel as itchy as other girls described. But what could I do?

25 January

Finally in the evening we took out the bandage and saw the two red marks on my arm. The injection spots felt itchy but not as itchy as I expected.

I still felt under the weather.

26 January

I texted the doctor and asked if I should push through with the injections on Saturday, since I was still feeling under the weather. She said to up my dosage of Conzace (vit A, C, E and Zinc) to 3x a day and we'll see Friday how I'm feeling.

Someone suggested we try acupuncture. A friend of a friend had the same problem (recurring pregnancy loss) and she saw the top immunologist in the country (who charges an arm and a leg, so they say) and that didn't work. She went to the top US doctors and still had no success. She finally went to see the acupuncturist Regina Liu (9th generation practitioner) and after the second session got pregnant. Now she has a healthy 2-year old and is pregnant again!

I got so confused and worried again. What to do? Bottomline is I don't want the heartache of another miscarriage.

I called the acupuncturist's office to set an appointment and found out that the rates are so affordable! P600 for consultation and P600 per acupuncture session. I was so tempted to ditch the western approach for this cheaper and highly recommended option.

C decided we will combine the two. What a wise guy. Haha.

27 January

I feel much better. The heavy feeling is gone. The two raised points on my arm are still slightly raised and red but has subsided substantially.

I think I'm ready for LIT second session.


LITtle Steps

Will write a proper post about this (with pictures and all) but just an update for now.

We had our first lymphocyte immunotherapy (LIT) last Saturday.

C and I went to this medical laboratory on Pedro Gil at around 8am. We were already the fifth in line. They extracted 12 vials of blood from C and we were told to go to St. Luke's in the afternoon for my shots of C's lymphocytes.

The immunologist told us to be at St. Luke's at 5pm. When we got there, we were 7th in a list of 8 patients. I rushed out of the elevator and walked fast to the clinic when I sensed that the couple in the elevator with me were LIT patients too. Haha.

The precious vials arrived in St. Luke's at around 720pm. Some of the girls in line had been there since 2pm. Two girls had just flown in from the province for the LIT and one of them was trying to catch an 830pm flight. I wonder if she made it.

The doctor showed us the small vial of lymphocytes. All that blood and just this much lymphocytes. The doctor then injected the lymphocytes into my skin at two spots and wrapped my forearm in bandage. Not to be taken off for 48 hours.

We removed the bandage last night and I still have two swollen red marks on my forearm. They're a bit itchy but not the horrible itchy some girls describe.

Saturday night I had chills and fever. Took paracetamol to lower the temp. Thank God it worked. But I'm still worried that the fever made the LIT not as effective. :(

I still feel under the weather today and I sent the doctor a text asking if it's okay to proceed with our next LIT this Saturday. She told me to take ConZace 3x a day and we'll see on Friday if things improve. I pray my body will recover fast and I will be fit enough to have the next shots on Saturday.

That's it for now. Will post pictures soon.



It was C's birthday yesterday. We had quite a productive day. We went to PGH to have his blood extracted for the screening (checking if he has HIV, Hepa, Malaria and other stuff he might pass on to me when they inject me with his lymphocytes).

I thank God for the good people we have been meeting. The staff at PGH are soooo kind and helpful. It is almost unbelievable, in this land of government offices with really bitchy and power-tripping employees.

Reggie (the guy for all LIT-related stuff) met C at the lobby while I waited in line for parking. I didn't even have to park as the procedure was so quick. Reggie brought C back to the lobby where I met them. He's a thin guy, with light skin and kind eyes. He was very encouraging. "Wag ka mag-alala, next year may bingyagan na tayong pupuntahan!" (Don't worry, next year we'll be going to a child's christening!)

This afternoon I asked about the results and he said they haven't been forwarded to him yet. He will request for a fax of the results tomorrow morning, just in time for the extraction of 12 vials of C's blood. They will isolate the lymphocytes and inject those to my forearm (skin level) tomorrow afternoon in St. Luke's.

I am excited and at the same time anxious. Praying my body will cooperate and "befriend" C's lymphocytes. :)


Happy Birthday, C!

Happy birthday to the sunniest, sweetest and awesomest person I know!


Life, Interrupted

I just woke up from a nap.

You know those days when you can't piece things together (schedules, people, your hair, etc.) and the only productive thing you can do is nap? Well I was having one of those days.

I just wrote about the procedure we need to go through to get a crack at having a healthy, full-term pregnancy. While writing that, I was making calls to clients and trying to help C get in touch with the guy who knows where he can get his blood screened. While I was doing all these things I was also trying to figure out what schedule we should take for the procedures.

We have to schedule our LIT (lymphocyte immunotherapy) around the time I would ovulate. All this scheduling is starting to get to me. Thank God my cycle is very regular. I can imagine how more difficult this would be for women who have irregular cycles! That's when you have to go through periodic ultrasounds for follicle monitoring... Argh. So many terms, so many considerations!

Now making a baby isn't just about being in the mood.

When I think about it now I start to worry. What if the therapy doesn't work. Such an expensive process and then nothing.

I have to constantly remind myself (like every hour) that God is in charge.

We can do our part... go through the therapy, schedule our lives, etc. but ultimately He decides what is best and when it's best.

A Different Kind of LIT

Lymphocyte immunotherapy. LIT.

This is what we will be going through to address our repeated pregnancy loss.

In simple terms, my body is perfectly healthy. It's just that I only ''recognize'' 4% of the other types of blood or tissue out there. Something like that. The doctor showed us a chart and one column had 4% on it when she said it should be at least 80% if we want our next pregnancy to carry to full-term.

I asked the doctor if this was hereditary. She said no and that it's just the ''luck of the draw''. Had I married someone else, this may not even be an issue. Haha. So I was telling C that maybe to make things less complicated and less expensive, we can just find new spouses. Hahaha!

In the distant future, these kinds of things may influence dating as we know it now. Maybe people will be carrying some kind of mini blood testing kit to see if they are a good match. Hahaha.

I'm going to share things about this journey, in case someone who needs info stumbles upon this blog. How I wish someone had shared this information with me when I had my first miscarriage.

A brief backgrounder. We've been married 10 years now. It's been a really good ride and we really pushed back having kids because we felt we weren't ready yet. 2010 was the year we were going to stop trying NOT to get pregnant. But in March 2009, I got lazy in keeping my BBT (basal body temperature) chart and we got pregnant. It was a shock and initially I felt devastated. But a baby is just difficult not to love, even when it's just a tiny speck in your tummy. I fell in love with the little spot on the ultrasound. We miscarried in May and were told to just try again. That miscarriages happen to almost 50% of first pregnancies.

So try again we did. We got pregnant again in October and miscarried in December. It was devastating. Then our OB recommended we see an immunologist, to see why my body was terminating the pregnancy.

I already had a feeling that something was wrong with my immune system because it seemed to be getting better at ''catching'' the pregnancy early on. Why so? In our first pregnancy, the ultrasound showed a gestational sac and a yolk sac. 2 of the 3 things doctors expect to find in a healthy, early pregnancy. With the second, there was only the gestational sac. I imagined my antibodies going: "Oh hey here comes that thing again. We saw that a couple of months, remember? Let's get it now while it's early!" Whereas in the first pregnancy they were still forming committees and evaluating if the "foreign object" was friend or foe. With the second, they knew right away and took action quickly.

I was right with my hunch.

We went to see the immunologist right before Christmas. She ordered a long list of blood tests. We had already done some research and found out that the tests were cheapest at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). I started following a discussion on a female forum and all the girls there were recommending taking the tests at PGH.

The PGH Medical Research Laboratory was closed for the holidays so we had to wait till January to get our tests done. We went there one weekday last week and paid P12K for all the tests, including the one for Autoimmune Phospholipid Syndrome (APAS) and Lymphocyte Antibody Test (LAT). We went on a Monday for my blood extraction and got the results on Friday. The people at PGH-MRL are some of the kindest hospital staff I've ever encountered.

We went back to the immunologist last Saturday and she said I don't have APAS (the most common immune problem I've been hearing of) but my LAT shows that I have low recognition of C's tissue, thus the repeated pregnancy loss.

Our next step is LIT, to get my body to accept C's tissue. According to the immunologist, statistically, after four sessions of LIT, the body responds well and the percentage increases to at least 80% and it's safe to try getting pregnant again.

LIT involves extracting blood from the husband. The lab then extracts his lymphocytes or white blood cells from this. The lymphocyte is what the immunologist will now inject into the wife (skin level, like a patch test).

Our next step is a blood screening for C. To make sure he doesn't have diseases that he can transfer to me. The list is long again, like HIV, hepatitis and even malaria. We went to St. Luke's for the screening but were turned off by the cost of the screening. It's P6K plus. We will check with PGH if there is another lab that can do the screen for less. PGH does it for free but only for people donating blood to patients there. C joked that maybe he should donate blood to get the screen for free. Hahaha.

I forgot to mention that each LIT session costs P14K. It can be done weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Depends on how urgently you want to get pregnant, I guess. After several sessions, you can get another LAT or blood test to determine if your body has responded well and you are okay to get pregnant again.

We are thinking of having our first two LIT sessions this Saturday and the next. We need to skip the first Saturday in February because I'll be at the beach with friends (heehee) and you can't get the injection spot wet for 48hrs after. But we're also considering doing the every other week schedule which means we'll wait till next Saturday to start with the LIT. Will keep you posted on what we decide.

I hope this will be of some help to another woman going through the same thing.

We are quite upbeat and hopeful. We praise God for the doctors and people who have been very helpful. Also for the resources that He provides. We will do our part and leave the rest to God.


You Are What You Read?

The father of my bestfriend once told her to take a look at the things she reads and see what most of them are about. According to him, what you read is what you are most passionate about.

What a surprise it was for her, a political science professor by training, to discover that her books on church and ministry, specifically counseling, far outnumbered her books on political science. It was a clear sign for her that she needed to rethink what she was pursuing and maybe finally get on with pursuing what she constantly thinks (and reads) of.

I went shopping with a friend this afternoon. Actually she did most of the shopping while I hung around, fiddling with details on some clothes, making mental notes of what I can do in the future. It's end of season sale and there were just so many things to look at.

I really didn't feel like buying anything. Nothing really spoke to me. Some things whispered but not enough to make me want to leave the store with them.

What I finally bought was this back issue of Vogue Espana. What caught my eye was the black and white cover featuring Lauren Hutton. I love her. I wish I can grow old as gracefully as her.

I couldn't care less if I wouldn't understand the copy in the magazine, except if the words beber and agua or casa and mi were involved. Just leafing through the magazine, looking at shots of Ms. Hutton and of beautiful dresses will be enough.

So going back to what my bestfriend's father said, I know with much certainty what it is I'm passionate about. If you come and visit, our house is littered with magazines and books on fashion (a lot of them gifts from people who truly know me!). And a lot of Jane Austen. :)

What is your passion?


Feeling Summer

It's summer in our little workshop.

I shopped for fabric during the holidays and decided to use tan, orange, navy and white for our summer stuff.

Today we are working on a polka dotted jersey mini skirt. Its base color is orange and the dots are fuchsia. I of course get to try out the sample. Sooo excited!


Green Pizza

We live far from where C works so we usually have dinner very late. Usually when our neighbors are all quiet and asleep. Haha.

It ain't so bad. I've learned to take my meals according to this schedule and I usually take snacks before dinner. I just had a handful of dry roasted peanuts and a packet of Raisinets. :)

Usually while I'm having a snack, I watch cooking shows like Giada's Everyday Italian. Why I do this is quite unclear to me.

I got to the TV earlier than usual and caught Martha. Got bored and found myself thinking of making pizza.

Not tonight though. I realize I don't own a rolling pin. I used to make pizza from scratch but that was a loooooong time ago when I was still single and living with my parents. They own the rolling pin. I should've brought it with me when I got married. Haha.

So I went online and searched for a pizza dough recipe that uses whole wheat flour (because that's what I have now). Found this interesting site. And this interesting recipe!

I have to try making this soon!

Happiness Is A Half-empty Supermarket

I'm typing this while riding a caffeine high from instant coffee. Woohoo!

I ran errands today and felt so blissful at many points.

I realize one of my happy places is the supermarket (specifically Landmark in Trinoma, which is just 15 minutes from our house) on a weekday afternoon. No crowds, no mad rush, no loud droning from the food court.

I had to buy fruits and toilet paper (what a combination) and as I walked down the long aisle leading to the grocery "gates", I felt like breaking into song and sliding on the shiny, newly waxed floor. Hahaha. Ang babaw (shallow).

Since I was already in the grocery, I decided to get some breakfast food. Since the holidays, we've become enamored with cold cuts dredged in sugar and fried. The chicken ham we buy was out of stock so I considered some chicken hotdogs. The things you discover when you are not rushed into buying things! Purefoods Chick'n Tasty hotdogs have beef and/or turkey meat!!! Waaahhh! I'm okay with the turkey but I DON'T EAT BEEF, Purefoods!!! How dare you delude us into thinking we were eating purely chicken?! Grrrr!!! Thank God Turkey SPAM is really made of turkey. Or so they say.

After buying groceries I went to the sewing supplies store and bought buttons for a coat, thread for a long-sleeved shirt, garter for a 2'' waistband, and an attachment for the sewing machine. The attachment was something I didn't think I'd get there. I was surprised too that it was very affordable. I felt a surge of joy when I held the attachment and paid for it. Let me explain.

I've been planning on making easy shirt dresses for summer. The kind you just pull over and wear as is or over shorts or as a belted mini dress. I always know how I want something to look. Most of the time though I'm quite clueless about how they get that way. Thankfully my sewer is old and wise and has many experiences tucked under her belt. However, when I showed her a kind of stitching I wanted, she was quite unsure as to how to do it. She was familiar with it but had not actually done it. She just knew there was an attachment that we needed to have for the machine.

When I bought the attachment this afternoon, I felt so encouraged because we were one step closer to making the shirt dress. It's just an attachment, I know. But that's how I look at goals/tasks. They come in many puzzle pieces and each piece and correct fit is precious and worth celebrating.

Going home the sky was littered with fat, fluffy, cottony clouds set against a blue blue sky. Oh how beautiful. So like a Peanuts comic strip. Haha.

So there. Just a happy day that started with an almost empty supermarket.


New Year, New Adventures

Many people I know are glad that 2009 is over. So many bad things happened last year (global recession, the super typhoons that hit the country and for me and C, our two miscarriages). I'm glad too for the new year and the chance to start over.

I read this today and feel even more invigorated about the things this year holds. This year will for me be about learning. I'm going to study patternmaking and hopefully sewing too. I realize I need to learn these two skills to become more effective as a designer. I need to know how to construct what I have envisioned. Even if I don't make the garment myself, I have to know how to guide the sewer in making it.

Aside from learning new things, I'm going to try to wake up earlier and sleep earlier. I promise this every year. I have to keep trying till the good sleep habits stick.

What else...

Ah yes, I will try my very best to get rid of more old stuff (C, if they don't get sold in the garage sale, we throw them out, okay?) and make more storage space.

Simple but tough goals I've set out to accomplish. Someone remind me to check in June how I'm doing with these things. :)

How about you, what are your 2010 goals?