Still Eating for Two

Hello – I am Mari Anjeli, 23 months postpartum and still eating for two. “Facebook Memories” is a traitor because all my thin pictures keep popping up. Right now, I can’t do anything much about it except eat more healthily and put in a little more exercise. I’ve shed kgs before. But since Marikit and I are still breastfeeding, I have to be more careful when it comes to my postpartum weight loss journey.

I was very big during my pregnancy. Marikit was quite small when she came out (I think we would have been able to push for a normal delivery – but that’s another story). I think 90% of what I ate as a pregnant woman still went to me and only a little bit went to my still petite baby. Yes, our little girl has a small frame (I’m pretty sure she got it from her dad). But she’s very healthy, gets sick only rarely, so her weight shouldn’t be much of a concern for us.

Me and my big belly.
Us and our teeny baby. 😅

My weight, however, has been my perpetual postpartum concern. Whenever Adrian asks me on how I’m doing, I usually reply, “I’m frustrated with how big I still am.” I tell him how the people I’m following on Instagram are already back to their pre-pregnancy weight and he says, “Mommy, artista naman kasi sila. Trabaho nila yun.” Good point, Daddy. Still, I can’t help but feel a bit down sometimes whenever I look in the mirror.

Almost 6 months postpartum.

In all fairness to myself, I did lose 5kgs at the start of 2020, allowing me to fit into some of my old dress pants. But that was also the time that Marikit’s weight plateaued – the mom guilt in me wonders if my weight loss had anything to do with it. The little one is now gaining steadily again, as did I (*laughs and cringes*). She gets her nutrition primarily from solid food, she drinks her water, and takes one bottle of chocolate milk when she feels like it. But, since her liquid is still primarily her momma’s milk, her momma has to make a lot of it. And breastfeeding makes this momma hungry. Very hungry. Yet, even if I weren’t that hungry, there are still leftovers to eat when she picks at her food. So there goes my weight loss goals.

But I had recently signed up for a remote training program that encourages me to be more disciplined with exercising and lets me be more mindful of my eating. After an initial assessment, I was given work out sets personalized for my lifestyle and body type. The program offered nutrition advice, too! So far I have lost some Benguet-quarantine weight. More than that, I also feel stronger and happier after each exercise session.

Stronger and happier!

I do feel that this works for me, so far, and something I can sustain in the long run. And I have to remind myself over and over to be kind to myself and my body because it housed a human being and still continues to nurture one. It is beautiful no matter what form but I do press on for a healthier one.

With that, wish me luck with this fitness journey! Still eating for two but making sure it’s all healthy and that I am exercising too. 🏋🏻‍♀️💙

Fighting!

#LoveTeamForever (Year 4)

We were finally able to go out for a lunch date and a quick mall run for our fourth anniversary. It was a simple yet meaningful time.

Adrian and I left Marikit with the grandparents and had our fill at one of our favorite Baguio City restaurants, Hill Station. Hill Station is actually where we had our wedding ceremony and reception four years ago. We chose to go there instead of trying somewhere new because: 1) ventilation was good; 2) food was good; and 3) memories were good.

How it was vs how it was going. Yes, somebody needs to get back on track with her fitness goals.

It was a welcome break to have time to talk without having a sweet but clingy toddler constantly interrupting us. (In truth, we couldn’t help but have her still make her way into our anniversary conversations.) As we drank our chocolate and coffee, Adrian asked me what I had learned for Year 4. I told him I learned that I had to be even more patient! He was having some health issues and Marikit was, well, becoming a toddler. For the past year I learned to ask God for grace, upon grace, upon grace so I would not snap too much. I think this is just the beginning as I/we will probably need more grace when Marikit approaches her teens!

But let’s focus on Year 4. I wasn’t able to tell Adrian this, but, one other thing the past year has taught me is how important it is to learn how to adapt. I had to adapt of course to the constantly changing temperaments of the two people I love the most. But we also had to adapt to the shift in how the world turned because of COVID-19.

During our fourth year, we spent five months in Makati and seven months in LTB. Almost 50-50. We arrived at the decision to move closer to my family I think just a few weeks after Marikit turned one. We threw her a Zoom Birthday and Dedication celebration. But though that was fun, we couldn’t help but ache for the things she could experience if we moved away from the city and back to the province.

Just us three in our 1BR home.
Our guests joined us via Zoom!
We took advantage of technology and went all out with our creativity.

Thus the big uproot. I’ve already written about this in few of my blog posts before. But I haven’t written about the challenges we have had month after month since 2021 began. June has been good to us so far but let me just say we already had our share of hospital visits, police reports, symptom-monitoring, and self-isolations. Because of the things that happened, we were reminded about the importance of having our house blessed and dedicated to the Lord. We were also reminded to step out to also be a blessing because God has already blessed us greatly.

So yes, those were a few other major things I learned for Year 4, another turning point in our life.

I guess with each year God adds, more big rocks are also added to our ever growing altar of remembrance. As we begin Year 5, I look forward to going through those milestones with the one my soul loves. ♥️

Cheers from our La Trinidad home!

#LoveTeamForever (Year 3)

Let’s talk about our third year as Mr. and Mrs. Crisanto. Year 3 was marked by the last leg of my pregnancy and… the birth of our baby!

I think the eighth and ninth months of my pregnancy went by like a blur as we were filled with so much anticipation for the arrival of our little one. I only remember being really big and waddling like a duck during church events and at last-minute shopping ventures. Adrian was a real sport, lovingly giving me a foot massage every night.

I started laboring early on August 7. I remember that I had just came from my doctor’s appointment the day before. “We’re so excited to meet you soon!” we had told Baby Milktea. Apparently, she was excited to see us, too!

It was 10 days earlier than our expected due date and my original OB-GYNE was out of the country. But as soon as I felt the pain, I began timing between contractions like I was instructed to. Adrian still went to work but, once he arrived home that night, I told him it was time to go.

We continued to labor till the early morning of the following day. I asked for an epidural when I reached 5cm dilation (shouldn’t have asked for the epidural!). The pain went away but, to our panic, the doctors couldn’t find Marikit’s heartbeat after and – when they did – it was very low. We immediately went for an emergency C-section. To the tune of “… Baby one more time” as later narrated by my husband. Lol.

I kept praying throughout the operation and immediately felt relief when the doctors said, “Baby out!” I was so tired and sleepy. After our first family picture, I was finally able to rest.

But, like anyone with a baby will know, the months to come would be filled with very little rest. Groggy days were up ahead but we cherished (and still do cherish) every minute of it.

The reason for our sleeplessness!

How do I sum up our life with a baby? Well, we breastfed exclusively so where I went, Marikit went. We didn’t have a helper (still don’t) so most of our chores were done (and are still done) by Adrian. We’re into attachment parenting so Marikit sleeps with us until now and takes up at least 50% of our bed.

Our conversations mostly revolve around her and her milestones and we make sure to always put her best interest first. We’ve sacrificed many things before but it was only during Year 3 that we understood the sacrifice it took to be good parents.

But every sacrifice is worth it. This little human has brought so much joy and color to our world.

And what about #LoveTeamForever Year 4 when we suddenly had to face big decisions when it came to raising a child in the middle of a pandemic? I’ll be writing about that in my next post.

See you there!

So much joy and color! A pre-pandemic family outing.

#LoveTeamForever (Year 2)

We’re celebrating our fourth anniversary soon. No plans yet, what with the MECQ (again) in Benguet. Last year, we ordered in and had an LED-lit dinner at home. Let’s see what we’ll do this year.

In the meantime, it’s been nice going through this trip down memory lane in our journey as husband and wife. I know four years are nothing yet compared to the years veteran couples have had together (shout out to my parents who already celebrated their 35th!) but these past few years are still worth reminiscing.

So let’s talk about Year 2. Our second year was marked by #TTC (trying to conceive) and our pregnancy journey.

Lovers in KL, a few weeks after our first anniversary. 🥰

We decided to try having a baby – doing away with contraception – six months into our marriage. We had been forewarned that it could take time and it might not be as easy as it was for others. Still, a part of me was hopeful that we would be pregnant on the first, second, or third try.

We didn’t. It took us 11 months. 11 period cycles of me feeling deep sadness for at least a day before I eventually moved forward armed with new research and new ovulation kits. What a realization! You don’t just do it once and then boom, you have a baby! Sure, that happened to some people. But that really didn’t happen to us.

That said, I now have deep respect for couples who spent years in the waiting. My heart also goes out to those who are waiting until now. But, truly, God’s timing is perfect and we will be in awe when we see how He can glorify Himself in the way things work out.

For us, our perfect time was when we began our Sabbath for 2018. I tagged Adrian along with me in an academic conference in Taiwan. Little did we know would bring home a delightful souvenir – Baby Milktea.

Lovers in Taiwan. For some reason, we mostly had solo pics. We had very few pictures together there.

People think we dubbed my bump “Milktea” because I had the drink as my major pregnancy craving. (I didn’t. I constantly craved for breaded fried chicken with gravy.) However, we called Marikit “Milktea” then because, just like boba, our little one was made in Taiwan.

And so this ushered in a new season for us in our second year of marriage. We told our accountability couple and our best man and his wife about our positive pregnancy test in December so that they could pray for us and so that we can be referred to their OB-GYNE. We told my family as a Christmas gift and Adrian’s as a New Year’s surprise. We finally made an announcement to our friends once our first trimester was through.

Our lemony Milktea says hello!

We enjoyed the pregnancy journey greatly. Physically, I mostly went through mild nausea, tiredness, heartburn, breathlessness, swollen feet, and massive (but healthy) weight gain. I nested constantly, buying things online and hoarding at practically every mommy expo. And to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally, Adrian and I also attended different seminars and classes on pregnancy, birthing, and newborn care.

What did we learn then for #LoveTeamForever Year 2? Well, we learned to trust in God’s timing. We also learned that our Emotional Quotients were quite low! But we did learn to be patient and we did learn to value rest as Marikit was formed during a season of rest.

For couples trying to conceive, I pray for the strength, grace, and joy to go through the season of waiting. For those currently pregnant, I pray for protection for the mom and the little one, and for God’s fathering spirit to grow in the soon-to-be dad.

We surely needed those for those two seasons. They also prepared us greatly for the little human that would bring drastic changes in our lives! But I will write more about that in #LoveTeamForever Year 3.

For now, here is a picture of us during our baby shower and gender reveal (and my 31st birthday!). See you in the next post!

Last birthday before we were officially three!

#LoveTeamForever (Year 1)

I’ve been missing Makati lately. The tall buildings. The busy malls. The coffee shops, the restaurants – our usual Mondate venues. I miss our friends and churchmates. I miss the hussle, bussle, and yes – even the crazy traffic. I guess I miss these a lot because these were the things that marked the first three years of my marriage with Adrian, year one specifically.

We began our wedded journey in a small studio unit in a condo inside Makati’s central business district. It was a 20-minute walk from Adrian’s workplace. It became my home-office since, even before the pandemic, I worked mostly from home. We chose the place because of its convenience. We didn’t have to worry about traffic when it came to the daily commute, there was a grocery store downstairs, the only downsides were the size and the price. But it was good enough for us since we were just starting out anyway.

Ayala Ave, Makati Ave, Kalayaan Ave, and JP Rizal Ave were our usual Grab routes. I mentioned Mondates and I should explain that we made it a point to set aside Mondays for our marriage night. We would go out on dates – have dinner out, drink coffee somewhere, or watch a movie – and then talk about us and our marriage. Every Monday, yes, and for us that was sacred.

Marriage time! (Photo from Adrian)

Setting aside time specifically for our marriage was an advice we took to heart from the pre-marriage and marriage courses we took. Marriage time helped us a lot since I also went on many trips during our first year together – work trips to Los Baños, Cebu, Baguio City, Hong Kong, Jogjakarta, and Kaohsiung. Yep, I was a jet-setter back in the day. Many times, we needed to just spend time and regroup.

After presenting at a conference in Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Our first year of marriage was fun. Happily enough, we didn’t fight too much. We didn’t have to adjust a lot because I think we went through the growing pains during our time as girlfriend and boyfriend. The first year (well, the first six months, at least) was also really the time we made it a point to just enjoy each other’s company and not yet try to have a baby. We knew there would be a world of changes once we had our third (and then fourth, fifth, sixth…) wheel.

“Trying” deserves a whole other post and I will write about this when I get to #LoveTeamForever Year 2. But, for now, I will leave you with my biggest lesson from Year 1 and that is to really cherish the one-on-one moments with your partner and not take them for granted just because you tied the knot and they are already forever there. Cries of “Mama!” and “Dadddd!” will change your dynamics and will make you miss those times you can go for a weekend getaway without having to worry about who will take care of the kids.

Not that having Marikit around makes me unhappy (on the contrary, she makes every day happy!). I guess what I’m trying to say is that if and when you have a season that kids are not yet on your mind or tugging on your hands – treasure it. You’ll look back at it with fondness and nostalgia as I do now. <3

That’s it right now for Year 1. Stay tuned for Year 2!

Year 1! (Photo from Adrian)

Familiar Yet Different

“What has changed here?” Adrian implored one time. It has been 16 years since I had left La Trinidad for college, then for work, then for marriage. Since 2004, I don’t think I have spent more than a week in my hometown. Now, Adrian, Marikit, and I have passed our fifth month here.

“A lot,” I replied. “That drugstore wasn’t always there. There used to be a bakery nearby that marked the boundary between KM5 and KM6 for jeepneys bound for Buyagan.”

I think I could have gone on and on about the ways the years have caused La Trinidad to change. Even sleepy towns like ours are not exempt from urbanization. But I guess the biggest thing that has made our town more different – just like everywhere else in the world – was COVID-19.

If things were different, it would have been lovely to come back to the familiar viridian town where you were sure to meet at least one person you knew while taking a stroll outside. It would have been wonderful to return to the place where you could easily crisscross between a city and a slower-moving municipality (Yes, I’m talking to you, KM4 traffic). Yet the La Trinidad we have come back to only has handfuls of masked people who’re likely to be strangers walking about; the La Trinidad we have come back to now has border restrictions that constantly divide Baguio and the surrounding towns, making me think that La Trinidad has already become like North Korea and Baguio the more open South.

Well, there are also certain changes that have been a big plus for us. We now have Grab Food and Foodpanda here in addition to various errand and delivery services. There are also fiber Internet providers making our work-from-home set-up much easier. Shopee and Lazada delivery fees are also not that high thus much of the items we have bought were actually only a few clicks or swipes away.

If there was something though that I would have wanted to remain the same but didn’t, it would have been the ability to meet up with my high school friends. Were it not for COVID-19, we would probably have had several coffee meet-ups already, several mini-reunions during special events. But this is our situation now – most of our interactions have just been online.

I apologize if this is yet again a melancholy post. But though it has been sunny here, you can’t help but feel that there are still notes of sadness in the air.

Well, there is a time and season for everything, as Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Our hope and prayer is that this season will pass soon enough.

Viridian.

La Trinidad Summers

It’s starting to get hotter here. The other day, it was around 27 C and in the coming days it might reach 30 C. A friend of ours living in Metro Manila said, “Nakakahiya sa 40 C dito!” (How embarrassing for our 40 C here!)

Quite true. At night, we still wear jackets when we go outside. Our bedroom still feels like the air conditioning is turned on 24/7. But Marikit can now wear sundresses and I can take ice water baths at night without complaining about the cold. (We don’t have a shower – we go by the tabo system in our new home).

“Do people look forward to summers here?” Adrian asked me one time.

“Hmm… I don’t think people look forward to the warm weather in particular… I remember looking forward to summer when I was a kid though because it meant not going to school…” was my hazy reply. To be honest, I don’t think I looked forward to the heat because – prior to living in Los Baños, then Malaysia, then Metro Manila – I avoided hot weather as much as I could. But when I left home, it was an everyday part of life.

I remember summers though when we would make ice candy using Milo, melon, and buko juice. I think we were also able to have avocado flavored ones one time and that was a treat! It also got hot enough for us to crave for the halo-halo our neighbors sold only during the warm season. It got to a point when we would eat halo-halo everyday.

I still remember summers more though for what we did rather than for how high the temperature went. Daily Vacation Bible Schools when I was young. School-schoolan with my cousins wherein I got to be a student, and then eventually a teacher, then a principal at some point as the years passed. Ten days fieldwork as an initiation to high school. Violin lessons and voice lessons. And finally, UPCAT reviews and then eventually graduation parties.

Now it’s Marikit playing with her cousins at the compound pointing at bugs, butterflies, birds, lizards, and frogs. It’s supervising them running around, throwing mini-tantrums every now and then.

If the heat wouldn’t give way to the rain and to the cold yet again in the next few months, it would somehow feel like an endless summer here. Everyday I feel I am experiencing the summer of childhood with work sandwiched in between.

It’s a pity we can’t take Marikit to the beach like our parents would take us at least once each summer when we were young. And that GCQ has kept us from parks nearby. But she’s happy with our yard, with the compound, and with our parents house. I guess that will have to do for now.

Summers bring me back to simpler days. I guess the three of us are lucky we can enjoy these simple days here. For what it’s worth, with all the chaos happening in this world, it still pays to pause for a moment to look for and be thankful for uncomplicated things like these…

Oh to be a child enjoying the summer life.

Mountains and Valleys; Ponds and Playgrounds

It’s ECQ/MECQ Season 2 at the National Capital Region. As in many places in the world, COVID-19 cases have kept on increasing in Metro Manila. Yet we have hopes that the stricter lockdowns implemented the past month have somehow helped slow down the spread caused by the early reopening of the economy and the emergence of more infectious variants.

In Benguet, we are under the less strict GCQ. I know, all the terms (MGCQ, GCQ, MECQ, ECQ) are all confusing. Truth be told, they seem to be all synonymous with each other. We are still on lockdown, mass gatherings are still dangerous, and – if you can help it – please stay home as much as you can. For my hometown, GCQ means Market Passes valid only for specific days per Barangay, disinfection Sundays, border restrictions among neighboring municipalities, and home-quarantined minors and seniors. As one friend put it, “You guys are technically in ECQ, the ‘G’ is just there to keep the people happy.”

True. But at least our family’s situation here in the province is still better compared to our quarantine life a year ago in Makati. What I mean is, we made the right decision to move back here and we are blessed because our jobs actually allowed us to do so.

One year ago, Marikit was stuck crawling around a tiny one-bedroom apartment (it wasn’t tiny pre-Marikit, but all her *stuff* have made it smaller). One year ago, her interactions with people were limited to me, Adrian, and pixelated faces in Zoom and Messenger calls. One year ago, we always caught her looking out from our fourth floor balcony and I would point out to her cats and dogs from afar.

Here, Marikit has more space to run. Our family lives next door and the compound has a pond, a playground, and dogs and cats that Marikit can now see and play with up close.

By the pond at the compound.

It’s sad and infuriating because our country’s situation has come to this while there are others who are already on the journey to herd immunity, who have been maskless for months, whose healthcare systems have not been overwhelmed. But as pandemics do not immediately come to an end, if we can do something to make the most of the situation we are in (and even help out), by all means let’s do it. For our family, it means moving to the mountains – to this valley.

We’ll be staying here for a while. I get homesick for Makati like I got homesick for Malaysia and Elbi. But home is wherever family is and home is wherever God has placed and called us to be.

All that said, let’s continue to stay healthy and keep safe. Wear a mask, follow minimum health protocols. In the meantime, our family hopes to send you good vibes from Benguet. See you in the next post!

Naimbag nga aldaw!