#FirstMoments with My Miracle Baby - JSM

My son is already a healthy and handsome 15 year old and in his senior year in high school. Looking at him, you would not think that I had any problem giving birth to him. Or what I had experienced before I had him.

So, when I received an email from Mom Bloggers for Social Good and invited to share my birth story with Save the Children, as they present the 14th annual State of the World's Mothers Report, just in time for Mother's Day, I knew I just had to tell my own birth story. 

My son was actually my second pregnancy. The year before I got pregnant with him, I suffered a miscarriage at the first trimester. It was painful and a little discouraging, especially when it was discovered that I had an ovarian cyst, which might have also triggered my miscarriage. They said my left ovary was going to be removed and I was prepared for that...I knew I could still get pregnant with just one ovary. During the operation, my OB-Gyne discovered that the right ovary also had ovarian cyst. My ex-husband was okay for the removal of the right ovary, but my Ob-Gyne knew I wanted a child...and so she painstakingly removed the cyst to find a portion that was clear off it. It took her four hours to removed the damaged area, until only a small portion was left. She said it was just as small as the end of the shoelace or the aglet. She also told me that I could still get pregnant but further tests showed that I wasn't that fertile enough. And I believed her, and had faith that the good Lord would grant me my wish.

Six months after I was operated on and two months after my fertility test showed that I was not yet fertile enough to get pregnant, I did. Still worked for the NGO, and did the usual stuff for the next 9 months. My own ob-gyne could not believe it, she called my son my miracle baby. She knows the state I was in so she really was confounded by my pregnancy. Was very conscientious about prenatal care because I was scared and excited but had a lot of trust on my doctor that she would help me out with everything, God willing. I did not want anything to happen, again.

To be honest, both the pregnancy and the birth was very easy for me....painful but I also have a very high pain threshold, so that was okay. The first cry was music to my ears and I fell in love at first sight. It was on the next day that something happened. A vein burst inside and it was a good thing that my ob-gyne has always been conscientious and so I was not discharged that day. Had I gone home, I would have died, and left my son without a mom. 

I have always been grateful that I was given another chance to have a baby and another chance in life. I will always be grateful that I really have an excellent doctor, and all the facilities available. The Philippines may be a third world country but the cities have some of the most up-to-date hospitals and topnotch doctors. Not all the places in the Philippines have that. Some rural areas do not have hospitals or even clinics. They may not have stay-in doctors, some areas do have doctors who come in once a week or month. Or worse, no money to even have their pre-natal check-ups. Some do not even think they need any. 

But, I am glad that I knew enough to get all the right care both before birth and after. I will be forever thankful I had family support, the right healthcare support and everything that helps make giving birth a little easier.

In support with Mom Bloggers for Social Good and Save the Children, am sharing my birth story. It may not be as colorful as the other stories by other moms but I think what we all have in common is that we are all lucky to be in a better position to tell our stories. We lived to tell our stories, and we have our children with us.

My son is a healthy, intelligent and loving 15-year old, and he continues to light my life and his birth is something I will forever cherish. Not all have that and you can all read that in a report that Save the Children has released last May 7th. The State of the World's Mother Report compiles global statistics on the health of mothers and children, especially newborns, and they use this to determine the rankings of the best and worst places in the world to be a mother.

Here is a compelling video featuring Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Connelly and other mothers as they share with us their  fears, experiences, and their #firstmoments with their own children.

Advocacy: Global Newborn Health #newborn2013

It has been 15 years since I gave birth to my baby boy - Jean-Sijent. Friends and readers know how often I talk about him on and about the advises (aka warnings) I love to discuss here. 

Everything happens for a reason they say but back in 1996 when I had a miscarriage with my first baby, I did not believe that at first. It was only after my doctor discovered an ovarian cyst and realized I needed a surgery did I believe. After less than a year, I got pregnant again despite the fact that my ob-gynecologist said I was not that fertile enough. Because of my situation, I was really very careful and I was taken care of really well by Dr. Anne Goingo. I was lucky that she gave me all the time and attention because there were complications on my part. And most importantly, my son was born healthy and without complications.

Not all newborns are fortunate to be born that way. Unfortunately for my brother, he and my sister-in-law had some problems with their 2nd baby. On the 3rd day, my nephew D was operated on because there was blood leaking in his brain. Until now, he is under medication, under physical therapy, and worse, every time he gets sick his doctor has to monitor his situation with tests that can be painful like a spinal tap. The beauty of it is he is alive and oh-so-adorable. And he is living in a country where topnotch healthcare is available.

What happened to D was not only painful for us but also surprising. The first thing my brother asked me was to research if we had anything like that in our medical history, which I found out we did not have. It was then that I realized that there is so much that we need to know about newborn health. According to Cyril Engmann and Dr. Gary Darmstadt in  the article on Impatients Optimists, there are some newborn health facts we are not aware of such as:
  • Nearly 3 million newborns die each year globally.
  • 99% of these newborns die in low- and middle-income countries. 
  • A newborn is 45X times more likely to die in the first month of life, when compared to age 1 month to 5 years.
  • The major causes of newborn death are prematurity, infection, and birth asphyxia when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth. 
  • Complications of preterm birth are the second leading cause of death in children before their fifth birthday.
  • The majority of these newborn deaths can be prevented.
There is a need a discuss and promote the global newborn health agenda. As part of the need to raise awareness and visibility of the newborn health agenda, several individuals from around the world will gather on April 15-18  for The Global Newborn Health Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is just a part of a larger, ongoing conversation on newborn health to generate action.

We need to know more, and we need to let others know more about this. More importantly, we can do something. We can get involved, we can join the conversation.

How to get involve?

  • Read more about the Global Newborn Health Conference at www.newborn2013.com.
  • Connect with conference anytime. Streaming live on the web at: www.oneworld.org/newborn2013
  • Join the conversation on Twitter. Follow and use official conference hashtag (#newborn2013) and don't forget to retweet
  • Follow Gary Darmstadt (@gdarmsta) – Director of the Family Health Division of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation @gatesfoundation.
  • Share the facts you learn about newborn health.
  • Leave comments and ask questions on Facebook
  • Access all conference presentations and resources here.
The Gates Foundation is working with USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) program and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in hosting this four-day conference.

Disclosure: This post was written for Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. No form of compensation was received for this post.

Boston Marathon 2013 - #PrayForBoston

I did not have the time to watch the news this morning as I was running late...but then I heard the words: explosion, Boston Marathon, injured, dead...the numbers were not very clear.

As soon as I got into my PC, I checked twitter...where I knew I could easily get the updates. Reading about the explosion was bad enough, but it was more when you get to hear more about those that were personally affected, like the girl who is said to have been killed while running for her cause or the guy who was planning to propose to her girl after her run...he was waiting for her at the finish line.
It gutted me to read about these things...but still it makes you feel good at the reaction of the people...how they stood strong and helped in the only way they could. Sometimes the news is so devastating that you focus on the "bad" of some people...but these things makes you believe in the goodness of people amidst pain, devastation and terror. It makes you hopeful amidst the overwhelming kindness of your fellow human beings...no color, no race, no gender, no biases,no rich, no poor...we are all people....only human.

Despite the kindness and goodness...there are also those who want to take advantage of this goodness, so have a care when you give out your information:

To end this blog: a salute to the helpers, for each and everyone of you!

Kate Winslet's What If

What If

Here I stand alone
With this weight upon my heart
And it will not go away
In my head I keep on looking back
Right back to the start
Wondering what it was that made you change

Well I tried
But I had to draw the line
And still this question keeps on spinning in my mind

What if I had never let you go
Would you be the man I used to know
If I'd stayed
If you'd tried
If we could only turn back time
But I guess we'll never know

Many roads to take
Some to joy
Some to heart-ache
Anyone can lose their way
And if I said that we could turn it back
Right back to the start
Would you take the chance and make the change

Do you think how it would have been sometimes
Do you pray that I'd never left your side

What if I had never let you go
Would you be the man I used to know
If I'd stayed
If you'd tried
If we could only turn back time
But I guess we'll never know

If only we could turn the hands of time
If I could take you back would you still be mine

'Cos I tried
But I had to draw the line
And still this question keep on spinning in my mind

What if I had never let you go
Would you be the man I used to know
What if I had never walked away
'Cos I still love you more than I can say
If I'd stayed
If you'd tried
If we could only turn back time
But I guess we'll never know
We'll never know 

Real Men Treat Women With Respect

This video caught my eye on tumblr recently. My fellow Madridistas are young and I often see what's important to them. It's nice that I get to see that men are not all a@$%holes....gotta show this to my son although, I can proudly say that I know he is one teen who treats women with respect, like he does me and all his aunts and my colleagues.

UP Education: Where is it going?

Last Friday I read  the news about the young woman who committed suicide because she was being asked to pay off her loan and she couldn't take it anymore.

As one of the those students who experienced the first time the UP system used the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program  or STFAP, as it is more popularly known, I was also one of the first of thousands of students who opposed it. Supposedly, the STFAP calculates school fees based on students' family income, in a bid to minimize state support for those capable of paying full tuition and divert funds to the financially needy. It is supposed to adjust the tuition fee's based on the capacity of the student to pay. Unfortunately, getting the correct bracket is a long, complicated and tedious process, with so many supporting documents required. And sometimes it can happen that you are put in the wrong bracket. 

It makes you ask, as I used to ask, why should I be the one to worry about these things when I am supposed to be studying in the state university? Shouldn't the government be doing the worrying for me? And, why put the burden of my education to the wealthy and better-off families? 

I can understand how frustrating, how difficult, it could have been for Kristen Tejada. Yes, she could have appealed for transfer to bracket E, but then again getting all the necessary requirements would need time, effort and money. Yes, she could have appealed for extension, but then again it is a cycle that she knew she would experience over and over again. I mean being on the same bracket and not having the capacity to pay for that fee would mean applying for a new loan again and again. Yes, she could have looked for a job as a student assistant or summer job or scholarship...but then again, why?

The UP Manila Chancellor Manuel Agulto said, "UP has and will always be a government institution that values quality education for deserving bright students of the country especially those who are underprivileged."

Kristen Tejada falls under deserving bright student who is also underprivileged. So, why wasn't she given that much needed  opportunity for quality education that could have changed her life and the lives of her family?

The UP students should stand as one to make sure that the UP board officials and the government study once again the mechanisms to assist the poor students in paying for their UP education as well as for them to rethink their "no late payment" policy. Let us not deprive these deserving youth the best education they can obtain simply because they do not have the capacity to pay the tuition fee. UP is a state university and it should get the correct subsidy they need in order that they can lower the tuition costs, so much lower than private schools. 

Students tie black ribbons in front of University of the Philippines campus in Manila on 18 March 2013. The students demand justice for the death of Kristel Tejada, a freshman student at UP Manila, who committed suicide for after reportedly being forced to go on leave because her family could not afford to pay tuition. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images) - From Yahoo News

Kristin Tejada is an isolated case they say. Do we need more in order for them to see that need to change their policies? In a year's time, my own son is going to graduate from high school and go to college. Do I have the capacity to send him to UP? Unfortunately, no. Fortunately, Bicol University is available for him.  Is it the same? No, but at least we have options, and that option is considered today as one of the best universities in our province. Will it ensure him work? I can only hope so. I for one believes it's not the college you come from that decides whether you get work or not but hard work coupled with determination, good work attitude, the right opportunity and a little luck.

While we cannot expect our children to find work in the Philippines easily, now or in the near future, with so many unemployed and underemployed Filipinos, there are opportunities in other places, God willing. But, first and foremost, the UP education or better yet, the Philippine education should be a priority in order to give our children all the edge they need to be able to find work and excel here or abroad.

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