Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas La Vida Lanka!

I was half-dreading this season.  Half-dreading because it will be our first Christmas away from home, and you know Christmas is like no other in the Philippines.  Only half because the main reason why we didn’t go home this year is because of the birth of our child.  That gave us all the joy (and even stress) the Christmas cheer celebrating it at home can – and more.  In any case, Christmas just the three of us is sweet as it is, but was made sweeter by the presence of my mom.  So how did we celebrate it La Vida Lanka?

our cheese and fruit platter (don't mind my legs in the background! haha!)

Hubby, Luna and I had our first ever Noche Buena with a collection of different kinds of cold cuts (stuffed pork, regular pork ham and beef), 3 kinds of cheeses (Brie, my favorite Blue and Cranberry), “shoshall” (posh) fruit medley of grapes, 2 kinds of peaches, cherries and nectarine coupled with nuts and toasted bread.  All lovingly thought up and prepared by hubby!  We had coffee and skipped the wine but will probably have one in New Year, hehehe!  My mom was too tired to wait for the strike of midnight so it was just hubby, myself and Luna (albeit asleep). 

salmon and beetroot risotto for me
tandoori chicken for nanalou
veal pasta for hubby

In the morning, we had a reprise of the Noche Buena feast for breakfast this time with my mom.  We then went for the noontime mass at St. Theresa’s Thimbirigasyaya and went to Tintagel for our Christmas Day lunch.  We chose Tintagel because it was private and not crowded.  Aside from the awesome food of course.

exchange gift!
We got home to rest for a nap, Skyped with family in the Philippines and had our exchange gift just before dinner.  Dinner was uneventful – just finished up the Callos my mom cooked for hubby’s birthday earlier in the week.  And went on the night as usual – chores and what nots.

ang pamilya zaragoza
As I was looking over Colombo from our balcony, feeling the cool breeze of December touching my skin, knowing that my own family is safe, complete and happy with the special addition of my mother to lighten up any day (and make it noisier!), Christmas away from home is not at all bad.  Actually, in as much as it lacked the usual mega family and friends reunion and wonderful Filipino food, it was also sans the stress of parties and traffic Manila Christmas brings.  This year away from home was a simple, lovely Christmas La Vida Lanka! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Baptism La Vida Lanka

I look like my daddeh!

Family Picture!

Thank you Fr. Neil!

Today, my baby girl got her very first milestone.  She was baptized into the Christian world!  (And the second one was that the stump of her umbilical cord fell off – Nanalou says it means she’s a “big girl” already… waaah!)  Initially I was planning on having her baptism in the Philippines when we go home for a vacation next year.  However Nanalou got all paranoid to make her travel (even out of the house mind you) more so fly on a plane without her getting baptized.  Blame it on Filipino old wives’ tales.  But it does make sense to baptize her as early as possible and hubby even wanted it done before Christmas.

We had her baptized in a beautiful church we go to weekly called St. Theresa’s Church Thimbirigasyaya.  The process is quite simple:

Step 1: Talk to the Parish priest and make known your intention to have baby baptized in his church.  We just caught up with Fr. Neil, the parish priest of St. Theresa’s on time after mass and he shared his requirements.

Step 2: Prepare requirements.  For St. Theresa’s it is just your Church Marriage Certificate and Certificate of Active Participation of each of your Godparents from their parishes. 

Step 3: Once you have completed your requirements, schedule the time with the parish, complete a form and submit the requirements.  You have to personally go to the church for this.  In our case, I was able to get a schedule 3 days before the baptism but to be sure, a week is what Father suggests.  I suggest you talking to Lurthur who is such a helpful guy.  He usually goes to the church office in the afternoon.

Step 4: Get your baptismal robe (we just bought it from Angels and Brats – a children’s clothes store along Havelock Road), a candle for each of your Godparents and get your video / camera ready.

Step 5: Show up!

It was that easy!  Lurther told me the next day you can actually get the Baptismal certificate.

As Luna was being baptized, I couldn’t describe what I was feeling.  There was an overwhelming sensation that, wow, my daughter is going through something major in her life.  So this is how it feels for parents seeing their kids graduate and what not!  I was so happy for her to be part of the Christian community already and welcomed to the church by our favorite priest in SL no less!  I am a proud mama!  I’m so excited to guide her into her Christian life.  She will be experiencing her very first mass on Christmas day and we are excited for that as well!   

Giving Birth La Vida Lanka

Birthing La Vida Lanka

When people found out that I was going to give birth in Sri Lanka, we got mixed reactions: people from Sri Lanka pretty much expected me to go home while people from home were a bit skeptical. Giving birth is really a family affair so it is no wonder to expect us to go home for it.  Especially for Filipinos like us, during this season of Christmas and especially for our families on both sides as Luna is the first grandchild.  It would have been wonderful for our families to come here but the distance and the many other family milestones prevent a reunion la vida Lanka.  The main reason why Sri Lanka is the default option for the place of birth is because my husband and I would like to be in this together all the way.  You see, it is difficult for me to give birth back home since it would entail months of separation – I would have to come to the Philippines at least 3 months before the due date, hubby will only be able to go closer to the due date.  We would however have to wait for a bit as well to be able to travel back to Sri Lanka to just process her travel documents and what-nots.  Sri Lanka it is.

Those from home were skeptical because they are not aware that Sri Lanka actually has a very good health care system.  Most of their doctors have been educated abroad, there are quite a number of really good hospitals and my experience with the E.R. and consultations with doctors of different specialties have always been excellent.  So if you find yourself needing to give birth in Sri Lanka, do not fear.  Let me share with you the hospitalization logistics post birth (you can read up on birthing in Our Birth Story).  Since I only have experience of a Sri Lankan birth, I am in no position to compare and contrast with a Philippine (or another country’s) experience.  To those who have, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences as well.

After delivery and my OB-Gyne thanking the crew, I got wheeled in to the recovery room.  The recovery room apparently was the same as the pre-operating room.  One side was for those preparing to get operated on, and the other was for those who just came from the OR.  At the recovery room, I stayed for around 3.5 hours.  They brought Luna twice for breastfeeding as well. 

I was then brought to the room where hubby and Nanalou were waiting.  Luna followed suit.  It was a default room-in arrangement here.  We did everything for baby, feeding, changing nappies and what not.  The nurses and doctors gave us excellent attention.  My Ob-Gyne came the day after and I was also visited twice by a Lactation Consultant.  I like how they really supported breastfeeding in Sri Lanka and giving you the support you need early on. 

As a C-section patient, they also urged me to move about.  On the second day they made me stand up and go to the toilet (which made me faintish I thought I was really going to pass out) and took out the catheter. By the third day I made it a point to spend most of the time out of the bed because I was due to be discharged that day and might as well practice being independent right? 

The nurses were really nice – they are not mataray (rude or snobbish) at all.  They are genuinely nice which is not the memory of Filipino nurses I have back home.

The food was also good – the nutritionist visited me (twice!) and asked me what kind of meal I would like.  They served Sri Lankan most of the time but it was a toned down version (in terms of the spices) so it was perfect for me. 

We were discharged on the third day – which I thought was quite fast for a C recovery although I really don’t have any idea.  But I was pretty much good to go by that time.

The only hiccup was there was a bit of a miscommunication regarding the discharge.  In the Sri Lanka apparently a representative of the HMO would have to be the one to check you out.  Which we didn’t know at all.  The guy apparently met up with my hubby the day I got admitted but did not tell him the process for checking out.  In any case that got sorted out pretty quickly.  Instead of a 5pm release, we just got delayed by 2 hours within the comforts of our room anyways.

The most amazing thing about my medical experience in Sri Lanka is the price is very, very affordable for the quality.  For a price of a Manila Regular Private Room, we were able to get a nice suite – with a separate area for caregivers: a refrigerator, a wardrobe, table and chair, long couch and a sofa bed.  Plus the medicines are quite cheap here as well – for the same brands as back home (at least half the price!).

All in all I was happy with our decision to give birth in Sri Lanka with a pleasant hospitalization experience!

I gave birth and was hospitalized in Lanka Hospitals (formerly Apollo), 578, Elvitigala Mawatha, Narahenpita, Colombo 05, Sri Lanka.                  

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Birthing Game: Winner La Vida Lanka!

Winners were verified by this uber cute DTI representative :-)

The day has finally come!  Thank you for waiting with us and joining the birthing game.  It was interesting to see so many entries from family and friends and the various reasons for choosing the bets.  Here are the interesting ones:
  • Lucky numbers
  • Based on birthing norms (what usually goes for the first child)
  • Their birthdays or birthdays of those close to them
  • Payroll - the 15th! (hmm, why not?)

And I’m sure you’re all wondering, who won?

The two who came closest are my soul sister W and Luna’s Ninong J!  

W’s bet is December 13, 9am because it is her nephew’s birthday.  Ninong J’s bet on the other hand is December 13, 2am since it is his birthday and he was born around the same time as well! 

So who won?  It’s soul sister W!  I gave birth on December 13, 2:05pm.  But because Luna shares the same birthday as Ninong J, we are also feeling very generous and declare him as the runner up!  You guys will get a special treat from La Lanka!  Details will be sent to you individually. 

Again, thank you all for waiting with us for our little moon to arrive.  She is here!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Birth Story

Hubby and Baby, The Look-A-Likes!

Mother and Daughter

I thought the day would never come.  Well for the impatient me, that’s how it felt like.  For the control freak me I have been doing what I can to achieve my ideal birth: 3 hours of labor, natural delivery (hopefully sans the epidural) on or before the 40th week.  However as they say, you can never can tell.

I had a doctor’s appointment last December 7 and I was excited to know if Luna has engaged, and my cervix effaced and dilated.  4 days short of the scan due date, none of those have happened yet.  Then in the afternoon I had a show and I thought, “this is it!”  I rushed off with my bags in tow and called hubby over to meet me at the hospital.  With the show and all, I was not getting any contractions.  When they checked at the hospital, I wasn’t even dilating.  Seriously?  I felt I was “leaking” though and my doctor, K, prescribed some antibiotics.

I resigned myself to the fact that we have to keep on waiting.  And tried to find meaning on why our daughter is taking her sweet time, “bobbing her head” way up above my long cervix on our due week.  Maybe she was waiting for her Nanalou (our term of endearment for baby’s maternal grandmother) to arrive? 

We went for another check a day after my scan due date, two days after Nanalou arrived.  Same old story.  We were still close and not engaged.  Baby’s feeling a lot cozy back there huh?  And I am dying of anticipation.

The day after, while having breakfast, I noticed there was a stain on my shorts.  It’s hard to tell if it was the bag of waters breaking because I always imagined it was some kind of a rush – you know like uncontrollable pee.  But not like exaggerated discharge.  In any case my Nanalou got quite worried and urged me to call the doctor.  K immediately asked me to go to the hospital immediately.  I sensed the urgency in her voice.  With the conditions, she gave a heads up that if the all are favorable, we’ll induce or to be open to a CS delivery and stop taking my breakfast. 

When we arrived, it was confirmed that my membranes have ruptured.  But still no full-on labor contractions, still a long cervix and a bobbing head refusing to engage.  K said “with this, she is telling us something.  She can’t be delivered vaginally.  We can try to induce but it will just be useless pain because you have unfavorable cervix.  We have waited for a week.”  Or something like that.

I have gone from “What have I done?” to “What to do?”  In as much as I have befriended my dream birth for 9 long months, I can’t risk my baby’s health (and mine) over some ideal.  Alas, it must be done.  Then resignation to excitement.  Finally.  Our baby Luna is here.

Nanalou stayed with me in the birthing center as they prepared me for delivery while hubby did all the administrative and logistical arrangements: lunch for them, confinement details and what not.  I had another show.  Still sans the full-on labor contractions.  CS was really meant to be.

I got wheeled in to the OR (or the “Theater” as they call it here), met the anesthesiologist, C, who was so wonderful.  C explained the options, side effects and how I’ll be during the procedure.  We went for the usual spinal anesthesia, did the needful, I felt the effects working and the “theater” then became lively and booming as K came in.  She really is a ray of sunlight – greeting the operating team and myself happily.  They started the procedure while C walked me through what was happening behind the curtains.  Really, she was with me all the way, she did a fantastic job and even went beyond the call of duty.  I am thankful for her. 

Then K asked for hubby to be called in.  THIS IS IT.  In a matter of minutes, I heard our baby cry and hubby telling me she is here.  When I first saw her, it was a plethora of emotions so many that I couldn’t even express it.  I wanted to cry but just couldn’t.  It was beyond anything I ever experienced in my life.  They brought our baby to me and upon seeing her, I saw my husband in her.  Such a splitting image of the father! So big too!  And so beautiful.  C remarked, “yeah, she’s huge, imagine if you were pushing her out.”  Indeed, it would have been a struggle, pushing her full 7.7 pound glory.  Or maybe not because it wasn’t really supposed to happen anyway.

And so here we are.  Hubby, Nanalou and myself, with the rest of my family and friends all over the world, truly over the moon with the safe landing of our daughter, Luna Isabelle.  We are forever changed.    

Luna La Vida Lanka!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: Nesting in the Kitchen

The house is all Christmassy and baby’s stuff are all ready now the rest of the house should follow suit right?  Right!

While we wait for baby's arrival, I transformed my nesting instincts into home projects.  Well, it was more of I transformed my impatience and anxiety to home projects!  And it's not even past her due date(s) yet! But I digress.  So for the last installment of my Nesting posts, I focused on fixing up our kitchen!

Check it out!

The cookbook area
The Storage for Tissues and Whatnots


Cooking Ingredients
Snacks and De-Lata's

Now I wonder, how long will this state of order last?  Haha!

Oh and while we wait, let’s have a little fun!  Join the Birthing Game!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: The Nesting Continues

As I was able to complete our Christmas decorating, I then moved on to the second wave: the end all and be all of all nesting instincts, Baby’s Stuff!

Check it out!

The crib I got for only Rs5000/ (which is around Php2,500).  It's fairly safe until baby knows how to stand up on her own - which could be by the time we're out of here already...

the crib!

It's hard to take a decent shot of the changing table because of where it's located.  But here it is!

"the changing table"
Baby's clothes can fit into a basket (sans the nappies which are in a nappy bin)!  We decided not to buy much at this stage as baby will grow too fast anyways!
baby's clothes!
Baby's first few books... this will definitely add up later on :-)

books, books, books!
 For everything else... the closet!

baby's closet :-)

Oh and while we wait, let’s have a little fun!  Join the Birthing Game!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: Let The Nesting Begin!

One of nature’s way of signalling that labor and birth are near is by what you call a nesting instinct or the desire to clean and prepare your “nest” for baby’s arrival.  I actually didn’t know what to expect of this because I’m relatively a neat-freak.  But it does sweep over you (pardon the pun) in such a way that you have not experienced before – whether OC or otherwise.

For me, it manifested itself in the following weird ways:

  • I suddenly had the urge to do the laundry (and have seriously thought about ironing, my hatest chore ever – thank God the cleaning lady came in time!) – even if someone else will be doing it soon.
  • One of the things I wanted to wash are our curtains, you see it’s kind of hard and even a bit dangerous (at least for my heavy condition) to do this.  Since hubby was a bit busy, I took it upon myself to get myself up there, put up the already washed curtains that hubby got the night before, move on to the next room and get the curtains to be washed myself. 
  • I have seriously thought about calling in sick just to do all the nesting items on my to-do list.  At that time, I only had 3 more days to go at work.  I controlled the urge of course and got all excited about the stretch of time I have to do my nesting activities (hopefully) before baby arrives.

So even my previously already OC self have become a little bit nuttier with this nesting instinct!  I guess it also came at the right time.  My nesting instinct became really handy in decorating our home in time for Christmas!  The first wave of my nesting instinct so to speak.

Check it out!

the dining and living room

a closer look at the dining room (with my bday party menu! haha!)

merry christmas!

a closer look at the living room

red and brown/gold is the color theme of the christmas 2011

a little something at the corner

christmas tree! thanks hubby for agreeing to put one up this year! with our driver's gift (the birds)!

a closer look at our christmas tree!

the view across the couch - with our dugyot TV (mind you maganda ang sounds nyan!)

four stockings this year! papa p, mommy t, baby l and nanalou!

snowflakes hanging on the door handles

Oh and while we wait, let’s have a little fun!  Join the Birthing Game!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mama La Vida Lanka: Thoughts on Giving Birth

photo of an amazonite borrowed from

I was asked by hubby’s boss one day how do I feel about giving birth.  My answer was “surprisingly, I am quite calm and confident about it.”  I am not afraid of the pain – I mean it’s a given so why stress over it right?  I am quite impatient about it though – or at least the part I hate the most is not knowing when will be the day.  Haha!  Or I’m stressing over my nesting instincts and the gazillion of items on my home to do list in preparation of our baby (more on this next!).  Other than that, there seem to be a sense of calm and serenity washing over me about the coming of our baby.  Hubby and I can’t help but feel so excited for her coming!

I learned from birthing class that your experience of birth depends on your mindset.  If you go into the process with positive vibes, then your experience will be a more pleasant experience than coming into it all paranoid and thinking of the worst possible scenario.  Our teacher, upon one classmate’s question on worse-case scenario was like, “don’t even go there.”  True.

A close friend of mine, A, also has a good point.  She said that she believes her body knows what to do and will do it during delivery.  So have no fear!  She had a 3-hour labor sans epidural.  It can be done!

Our teacher also gave us 3 things to give us “strength”:
  1. Our own power word – You make your own of course!  Mine is “CAN!” I want to enter that delivery room with all the can-do attitude I can muster!
  2. Amazonite for the Mommies – “Amazonite is a soothing stone.  It calms the brain and nervous system and aids in maintaining optimum health.  Balances the masculine and feminine energies.  Amazonite helps you to see both sides of a problem or different points of view.  It soothes emotional trauma, alleviating worry and fear.  Dispels negative energy, aggravation and blockages within the nervous system.  Amazonite assists in manifesting universal love.  It protects against electromagnetic pollution and absorbs microwaves (”
  3. Lavender Tea Light for the Daddies – To relax and calm, although this is for the pre-delivery room stage!  I don't think they'd let you burn candles in the birthing room :-(
I believe during the last 9 months I have prepared for this – not in a control-freak kind of way but prepared myself to go into the process.  I have been eating healthily (most of the time, ok fine!), managing stress and stressors, exercising, praying and psychologically gearing up for the occasion.  At the end of the day, I have my life’s calming presence and my biggest source of strength by my side, my hubby.  And to support both of us, the strongest woman I know, my own mother.

Birthing?  Game on!

Oh and while we wait, let’s have a little fun!  Join the Birthing Game!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Working La Vida Lanka

One of the things last year that was a source of anxiety for me was if I will be able to work in Sri Lanka.  The thought of being “stuck” at home was scary – even if I have wanted to be an “expat’s wife” I didn’t really think much of being a housewife.  But my 3 months of being a housewife was quite blissful!  I was able to continue learning and expand my network of friends, not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world!  I attended Sinhala class here and enrolled in a Certified Professional Coach Program which I do online.  I delved deeper into yoga.  I got a lot of rest and was able to make a simple home for hubby and myself.

At the start of the year however, after getting my much needed rest, I was lucky enough to be granted a work visa.  You see it’s quite difficult to get one especially for someone in my field.  So a new life started for me in Sri Lanka’s biggest FMCG company (which is where hubby works as well).  So what did I learn from the experience?
  • Culturally there are many adjustments you really have to make – I have worked in the Philippine office of the same company for most of my working life and in as much as it is the same organization, the organizational culture is very different.  Which I believe is driven by the local / country culture as well.  How is it different from the Philippines?
    • When it comes to gatherings (townhall, meetings, etc.) they are really very serious.  It is so quiet that you can even hear a pin drop.  For us Pinoys, we can’t help but talk to our seatmates, right?
    • Related to that – things presented in a serious manner is taken seriously as well.  If not, it will not be perceived seriously.  Whereas in the Philippines, if you give it some comedic twists here and there – you will still be taken seriously and the audience will appreciate you keeping them awake.
    • They are still very rooted in tradition – in a sense that for example for field jobs, these are mostly occupied by males.  Not for any reason but because ladies won’t be “allowed” by their parents / family to have that kind of role.  In the Philippines, we have a lot of female field employees. 
  • It is such a different experience working in the biggest company in town!  They are the biggest FMCG company for a reason. 
    • The standards are just world-class.  I came to the plant in 2008 as part of a conference agenda (even before we moved here) and I was impressed that their plant was very similar to the one we visited in New Zealand.  As the company values Health and Safety, the H&S score for our plant in Sri Lanka is even THE BEST in the company’s GLOBAL collection of manufacturing facility for the number of employees it has (which is around 400!). 
    • The way people work or people’s attitude to work is also exemplary.  We have a value of “Make it Happen” and truly the team makes everything happen!  Even the seemingly impossible.  The driver is pure passion and the belief that there is no option than to make it happen. 
    • At the end of the day, it is really exemplary leadership that steers this organization to unprecedented growth.  The strategy is clear and very attuned to the dynamics of doing this kind of business in La Lanka.  The ambitiousness is also there – which permeates to the other levels of leadership in the organization. 
  • People make the difference.  I have met the most amazing bunch of people from all over the organization.  Amazing in the way they work, but more so for the persons they are.  I am lucky to be part of such a team where I can be myself (even if I’m the “foreign lady”) and feel at home.  In as much as we’re different in beliefs, nationality, looks and what not, I’ve felt more similar to them than different.  And I will treasure forever their friendship.

Yesterday, that phase ended.  I am now into the final stages of my pregnancy.  It is bitter-sweet.  After almost a year, I have grown to love this workplace.  But for our circumstances here and the thought of giving the best possible care for our baby, I will not go back after my “maternity leave.”  I am excited for what is to come next, our baby!  Career-wise, I’m also going through something a lot different – more on this later!  As a friend said, exciting times are ahead.  But for a moment there, I would just like to stay with this feeling, this experience of Working La Vida Lanka.   
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