Reviews, Books, *FAITH, Relationships

Just a (Royal) Thought: “Spare” by Prince Harry

So, I finished reading Spare by Prince Harry in just three days. Those close to me know that I’ve always been an Anglophile ever since I was young (I used to joke that I could pass as someone who graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in History, Major in Royal Studies – if there ever was one! LOL!) — mostly due to my childhood crush on Prince William, which then transitioned to my admiration for his wife, Kate Middleton… then I visited the U.K. in 2016 and somehow my Anglophilia subsided after that. Add to that binge-watching The Crown on Netflix and suddenly, my overall “fairytale” view on the British Royal Family faded slowly.

I realized that I became fascinated with the British royal family because on the outside, they were the epitome of living the ideal (if not perfect) life. Blame it on Disney for adding fuel to my already burning interest for princes and princesses while growing up! But if there’s one thing I learned about the royal family, they’re just like any other family – imperfect, with human beings (sometimes borderline “human doings”) as family members, and a little bit dysfunctional just like the rest of us. And I don’t mean this in a bad way because truth betold, we’re all “broken” in one way or another.

“They can’t break me, I thought. Is it, I wondered, because I’m already broken?”

from “Spare” by Prince Harry

And that’s basically the overall theme I got from reading this book: brokenness. Ever heard of the term “hurt people, hurt people”? It was obvious that Prince Harry has unresolved issues and trauma within his family (all the way back from his childhood), especially because of what happened to his late mother, Princess Diana (may she rest in peace).

Prince Harry is a hurt person (aren’t we all?) and writing this book is somehow a way for him to cope. But since that “hurt” isn’t completely healed yet, he somehow “hurt” others, too, along the way — especially his family, the royal family, unfortunately.

I picked up this book because as mentioned, I’ve always been interested in the British royal family (albeit not as interested as before). What I liked about the book is first, as Prince Harry claims it, the source is himself — straight from the horse’s mouth although ghostwritten by another author. He talked about his unresolved grief about his mother’s death, his military experience, his relationship with his family (current King Charles III which he calls Pa; Prince William which he calls Willy; and the late queen, Queen Elizabeth II, which he calls Granny — may she rest in peace as well), his love story with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their growing family, and of course, his unending anger toward the British press (referred to as “paps” in the book, short for “paparazzi”). I find everything in the book relatable — even though he’s from the royal family, Prince Harry definitely gave me a glimpse of how imperfect his life is, how imperfect being a royal is — and that’s okay because yes, at the end of the day, they’re still just human beings like the rest of the world when stripped off of those titles, wealth, and whatnot. Plus, I valued my status as a “private citizen” more after reading all about his horrible experience caused by the media (and yet many people still chase after fame in this day and age — be careful what you wish for!).

Then there’s the part that I don’t like: well, it’s basically the underlying (or maybe unconscious?) motive of revenge on his own family members through words. As a devout Roman Catholic striving everyday (you know this blog’s theme, right?), I truly believe in Sr. Lucia dos Santos‘ message that the “decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family.” Yes, MARRIAGE and the FAMILY. Just look at what’s happening in our broken world today. And well, Prince Harry sure did prove this message with the way he wrote his book. Then again, we already established the fact that hurt people have a tendency to hurt others in return; I can only pray for Prince Harry that his acknowledgment of his brokenness (see quote above) will truly pave the way for his healing — and despite a very challenging feat by the looks of it, reconciliation with his royal family members… eventually.

Okay, the aforementioned “battle” needs to be discussed in another post altogether. I suggest you read Prince Harry‘s memoir, Spare, with an open mind to get a glimpse on his struggles and whatnot. However, if you end up hating and even blaming him or any of his family members after reading the book (which is quite the tendency), maybe just offer a prayer for them. I’m not one to impose my faith and religion on another person because that is a unique and personal journey for each of us. This isn’t about taking sides nor supporting this and that because at the end of the day, who are we to judge? We all have our daily struggles to begin with. So if you can’t pray for them, maybe just remember that not. one. of. us. is perfect and just like us, Prince Harry and the British royal family have their own struggles to deal with. It’s just unfortunate for them that they’ve been public figures from the time they were born.

At the end of it all, it all comes down to LOVE. That’s all we seek, really. It just so happens that in our imperfect and broken world, we search for love without realizing that we’re looking in all the wrong places and outlets. Hence, the vicious cycle of brokenness across generations. So help us God. *hint, hint*


TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who choose one shall eat its fruit.’”
-Proverbs 18:21

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*FAITH, *MOTHERHOOD, Beauty and Wellness

Keeping It Real: Let’s Talk about Mental Health

How are you?

Me, so-so to be honest. And no, it’s not just about the elections. Since last year, I’ve already been feeling something different and it was only this year that I had the courage to finally face it and start my way to recovery. After all, acknowledgment is the first step to healing. So here I am, sharing my story.

I’ve been experiencing occasional panic attacks and recently diagnosed with a panic disorder. It was almost a year ago when I first experienced symptoms: hyperventilation, lightheadedness, feeling panicked and unsafe — the trigger? Mostly when I’m alone and away from my comfort zone (home, familiar faces, daily routine, etc.). Like when I’m trying to have “me time” at the mall, driving by myself, doing errands, etc. At first, I wasn’t aware that I was having panic attacks, I just thought that maybe it was all part of my postpartum phase in life, hormones doing their usual thing, and kind of shrugged it off.

Pre-pandemic, I was the kind of person very happy and content with myself. Like I considered my “me time” sacred — spending hours doing my own thing, even watching movies in theaters all by myself! That’s why when I felt the first symptoms of a panic attack last year (which at that time, I didn’t have a name for it ’cause I wasn’t aware), I knew that something was up. And then it happened again the following month, and again, and again, you know the drill. Which led me to Dr. Google (lol), and that’s when I did the one thing most medical experts wouldn’t recommend: self diagnose! Haha! But maybe I really know myself well because when I finally consulted a clinical psychologist, turns out, I was right. Hence the panic disorder diagnosis. Once that was finally determined, the only thing left to do is manage it, not be in denial, and hopefully, go back to my usual “independent” self one day at a time.

I wanted to have the best of both worlds so I consulted both a clinical psychologist (for the psychological and scientific explanation) AND a Catholic healing minister friend (for the spiritual side). As of this writing, I’m in on-going consultations with my psych, learning coping mechanisms and whatnot (which I may or may not write in another blog post); my friend also prayed over me (and continues to pray for me). I was told that one of the root causes of my panic attacks was having trauma when I gave birth alone (due to the pandemic protocols). Add to that the overall pandemic effect, postpartum hormones, major life changes (hello motherhood!), and my lingering abandonment issues which can be traced back to childhood (you’ll be surprised to know that most of our “issues” as adults can be traced back to that) — listing all that does make sense why I am where I am now in terms of my mental health.

I know I still have a long way to go. WE all have a long way to go to achieve “normalcy” again in our day-to-day life. My only point in sharing this is to let others who are also experiencing the same know that they’re not alone. And that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. Heck, acknowledging that you’re not okay is actually a way for you to eventually be okay. Mental health matters now more than ever! So if you’re still shy about it, I hope you’ll eventually find the courage not to be. I know that each person processes things differently and at their own pace (that’s why it’s really NOT helpful to tell someone to “just get over it”), but I believe that we can overcome every challenge life throws at us and come out stronger each and every single time. At the end of the day, believe that the good always outweighs the bad.

Most importantly, God always has a plan for everything. And that’s what faith is all about, walking alongside God despite experiencing the things we don’t like and we don’t have control of. After all, He didn’t promise a pain-free life. Even Jesus experienced His own sorrowful moments, but it was in those moments that He gave birth to new life and saved us all from eternal darkness.

So yes, my current mental health is probably a cross I’m tasked to carry on my shoulders for now. I can only pray that it’ll be a cross that can help shed light not just to myself, but to others as well. If that’s really the case, then so be it. 🙂


TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
-Jeremiah 29:11

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*FAITH, *MOTHERHOOD, Down Memory Lane, Marked on the Calendar, Mi Familia y Mi Amigos

My Birth Story, etc.

December 14, 2020. It was supposed to be just another ordinary “check-up” day. I was expected to give birth any day that month but based on my previous check-ups, my cervix wasn’t cooperating. I was stuck at 1cm for the past two weeks.

When my OB-GYN (shout-out to Dra. Ceres Nazareno of Manila Doctors Hospital — if you’re pregnant or in need of an OB-GYN, I highly recommend her!!!) told me to have two tests on that day (biophysical profile score and non-stress test), it turned out that my amniotic fluid was leaking. My entire pregnancy was healthy and smooth-sailing (except maybe for the first trimester nausea and vomiting! LOL!), so learning that my amniotic fluid wasn’t enough anymore at 39 weeks was a surprise. Since I’m already at full term, my OB-GYN decided to induce my labor. At 39 weeks, there’s no point for my baby boy (we found out at 35 weeks that he’s actually a BOY!!!) to further his stay at hotel utero when it wasn’t safe anymore. I was immediately admitted, and my plans on having brunch at a coffee shop after my supposed check-up was replaced by hospital food.

My Firstborn’s Birthday: December 15, 2020

I was admitted at Monday morning and gave birth at Tuesday evening. My husband wasn’t allowed inside the labor and delivery rooms (it’s the protocol of my hospital even before the pandemic), so I stayed in the labor room all by myself for almost 31 hours surrounded by unfamiliar faces of OB-GYN residents and nurses manning their shifts. In between those hours, I experienced the most painful physical pain in my life so far — from the contractions to the repetitive internal exams (IE) of my cervix. But no tears came from my eyes; just constant begging from the residents to stop what they’re doing to me (haha). To which they replied that I needed “pain” to deliver my baby. True enough, as my cervix dilated one centimeter at a time, the pain just got more intense. I think at 5cm, I was sedated and already given an epidural —- but I couldn’t really remember the exact details because I was already groggy from all the meds being given to me.

I’m thankful that my prayers were answered, though. Not exactly the way I imagined them to be, but as always, God’s plans are better. For the past nine months, my constant prayer (with constant intercession by Mama Mary) was to have a healthy and safe pregnancy and baby, and a pain-free/painless delivery as much as possible. I had more specific prayers in between those and in fairness, most of them were answered — including having some familiar faces when I give birth (three of the pediatricians who were allowed to be with me in the delivery room were friends: two are of my sister’s [shout-out to Doc Maan – also my baby’s pedia!; and Doc Faye – a neonatologist who “caught” my baby boy right after I delivered him and helped me with my breastfeeding journey]; the other is a friend from my Catholic prayer meeting, The Feast [shout-out to Doc David!]). Add to that the fact that in both the labor and delivery rooms, a crucifix was consistently in my line of sight (when I was still in pain due to the contractions, all I did was stare at the crucifix and be reminded of Jesus’ suffering, too). After the epidural, my prayer of an almost pain-free/painless delivery was granted, and it was like I was in a trance and every thing happened in a blur. While 10cm dilated and on the way to the delivery room, my OB-GYN even commented that I’m such a calm patient because I wasn’t complaining, and it looked like I didn’t feel any pain and was at peace. Upon arriving at the delivery room, it took me around five pushes before my baby finally came out. One of the OB-GYN residents said that I had a “good push” so thanks to all the squats and deadlifts I did prior to getting pregnant because pushing involved A LOT of strong leg muscles! So yeah, when I find myself in the gym *SOON*, those are the two non-negotiable exercises I’ll do again — plus planks! 😉

Anyway, I still didn’t cry when my baby was handed to me in the delivery room. Like I said, I was so groggy I was just going with the flow of events. We did have immediate skin-to-skin contact and he was able to breastfeed already (colostrum was already present in my breasts a few weeks even before I gave birth, thank God!). It was only in the regular room, though, when tears of joy started to flow from my eyes — the moment when I held my baby boy in my arms and it finally sunk in that I’m already a mother.

You know those stories you hear about love at first sight? I always wondered what that feels like. And on that day, I finally felt it. ❤

But wait, there’s more…

Postpartum: #TeamNoSleep, Breastfeeding,
and My Baby’s First Christmas… in the Hospital

Since I delivered via normal spontaneous delivery (NSD), I was able to go home with my baby two days after giving birth. To be honest, now that I’m in the fourth trimester (postpartum stage), I can say that giving birth is the easiest in this whole parenting thing! Wahahahaha!

First, I had postpartum complications such as gestational hypertension (first time in my life to have high blood pressure (BP)! I even had to be under the care of a cardiologist), anemia (I almost had blood transfusion), and bipedal edema (my legs and feet looked like they were about to pop!!!). My OB-GYN reassured me that I was still in the so-called “puerperium” — the first six weeks after delivery — so I shouldn’t worry much. Now that I’m past that, I’m happy to say that I finally recovered from those (although my cardiologist advised me to continue monitoring my BP at least once a week).

Next, I often heard that once the baby arrives, I have to bid goodbye to my sweet dreams and at least eight hours of sleep… well, I’m telling you that that’s an understatement. Haha! From the time I was in the labor room until I got home, I literally got about only three hours of shut-eye (not counting the hours when I was sedated). Add to that my breastfeeding struggles during the first few weeks as a first-time mom…

Three days after we were discharged, we went back to the hospital because my baby suddenly had poor activity and suddenly couldn’t latch properly, which made him dehydrated. We had to go to the pediatric emergency room and I felt like Mama Mary witnessing the Sorrowful Mysteries as I watched my little baby boy being poked and pricked with needles on both his tiny hands and feet (the doctors had a hard time inserting an I.V. because of his delicate veins) and as it’s hospital protocol, have a swab test — yes, a SWAB TEST on a newborn! Ouch!!! I kept crying the whole time those things were being done to him, though I’m proud to say that my brave and strong baby boy was able to recover quickly from his cries.

Since my husband and I didn’t have valid negative swab tests at that time, we had to leave our baby in the hospital for two days. He stayed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU while we waited for our negative swab test results (dang this pandemic, really!). Once we had the negative results, we were allowed to be with him and transferred to a regular room. As it turned out, our baby was diagnosed with sepsis and he had to undergo antibiotics — which meant staying for a whole week in the hospital.

To make the long story short, the doctors traced the time my water bag ruptured before I gave birth. It happened 12 hours before, making my baby susceptible to infection and no one’s to blame; it just really happens sometimes. We spent our baby’s first Christmas in the hospital, and the few people who knew about this were our families and selected close friends (thank you for your prayers!). 🙂

Having shared that, I can attest how brave and strong our baby boy is. So whenever he cries during vaccinations or whatnot, I always remind him that he’s been through worse (even a swab test at a very tender age!), so that somehow also made our little family of three stronger and tougher too.

Anyway, my takeaway from this is it’s really hard to be a parent especially during these trying times. It takes a village to raise a child, so I’m grateful for all the help and support me and my husband are receiving from our loved ones. Also, I’m praying for all the pregnant women and women like me in the postpartum stage during this pandemic — our children are “batch mates” and always believe that we. can. do. this!!! 😀

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.”
-John 16:21

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