Dear L.

Yes, you! Thought I’d drop you a line, lest you find yourself here. 8-)

Thanks for lunch and cake and chat. I thoroughly enjoy hearing about the ongoing saga that is your lovelife: the exhilaration of just being near him, the uncertainty of reciprocity, the pain of a possible loss or rejection. It reminds me of a time when I was going through the same spectrum of emotions. I kinda miss it (the exhilaration more than pain, of course, although the latter kept me grounded and magnified the exhilaration even more.) Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy, comfortable and secure in where I am today. It’s just nice looking back at what I’ve been through coz it make me more appreciative of what I have right now. :)

I wish you all the best in your journey. I fervently hope that it’ll be a happy ending.

My Productivity Hacks

Oh hello blog! We meet again. :-) So much for this blog’s new directions. :-P But I’ve been busier, especially now that I’m back to work. We tried getting a househelp, but she turned out to be more of a liability than an asset, so in the end, we just let her go. It’s crazy, taking care of a baby, running a household and attending to sick people. Thank God for my mom who comes to the house everyday to look after Elmo so Terci and I could go to work. If only I could just stay at home and play with the baby, but we’ve got to work too, to be able to provide for our family. ;-)

So how have I been managing my time?

1. The One Most Important Thing: Baby. Our day revolves around Elmo; we schedule our activities vis-a-vis his feedings and diaper changes, bathing and playtime: bathe him first, cook breakfast later (or we can just always eat out if we’re really pressed for time); leave the dirty dishes be when he gets hungry and calls to feed (we can always return to them later); make rounds when he is asleep; wrap up work quickly (but without sacrificing quality of course!) so as to be able come home early; play with him at night, instead of idly surfing the net. :-P

Leo Babauta in his zenhabits blog wrote about having the one most important task (thing) to be accomplished for the day; the rest is just secondary. By prioritizing the one most important thing, which who in our case is Elmo, we become more keenly aware of our schedule, and work more mindfully into accomplishing our tasks.

2. Wake up early. It really does wonders for my productivity! :-)

3. Get a manageable hairstyle. I got my hair cut coz it was getting to the baby’s face. It’s a length I can still tie up in a ponytail, for a no fuss, no frills do. There’s also less hair falling on the floors and clogging the bathroom drain, so there’s less to clean. :-P

4. Clean the bathroom during the evening bath.

5. Combat paper clutter (receipts, bills, brochures, etc.) right away, before they start piling up.

6. Take out food. Shelving my Martha Stewart plans for now. :-P We still try to cook, but the preparation, cooking and washing of dishes take up a considerable amount of time, which I would much rather spend playing with the baby. :-) Good thing there’s a canteen near our place of work from which we can take out “lutong bahay” food for 40 pesos per serving. :D

I can only list down 6 items for now. :-P But you might want to contribute your ideas to make this list a round-numbered one, i.e. 10.

Have a productive day! 8-)

New Directions for the Aggiepie Blog

I’ve been blogging, albeit sporadically, since 2005. Most of my earlier entries were reviews, err, ramblings about Korean dramas/movies. I was then a medical intern, and was most of the time, tired, sleepy, frustrated, world-weary. My only respite were overnights with my girlfriends were we’d have DVD marathons of the latest Korean drama. Or if we couldn’t get together, we’d watch the dramas separately and then later discuss lengthily over the phone, text/email each other, post our reactions in the soompi forums, or in my case, blog about it. (Lexi would later on create The Little Dorama Girl blog, a repository of her reviews on J-dramas she has seen.)

After med school, I got into residency training in Neurology–an even higher level of toxicity compared to medical school. While there were a lot of blog-worthy moments during residency, I was too busy, lazy or uninspired to write about them. :-o

So despite my almost decade-long existence in the blogosphere, my blog has never reached epic proportions. I also feel that all those years of technical writing, bulleted chart entries and abbreviations have wreaked havoc on my literary style–and my penmanship too. :-P (I used to have this neat little round print a la Kristen or Kidprint, but which has morphed into a scary Matisse script during med school. @_@)

It was only after graduation from residency that I found time and inspiration to blog, mostly preps for our wedding.

I hope to make my blog grow, not so much in the number of posts, nor in readership or site stats. I want my writing to be more inspired, more thoughtful, more meaningful. I never got the courage to actually promote my blog in public; most of the time, I just PM a select group of people if I want to share with them a particular post. ^_^ I do not really mind a few readers, so long as my blog can inspire and encourage them, make them laugh, or just plain update my friends of the current events in my life. ;)

And so in this new year (also in my new *inspired* life as a mother), here are the directions I wish to take my blog to.

  • Motherhood! I’m a newbie mom to a beautiful baby boy. I want to chronicle his milestones and immortalize the fleeting moments of his babyhood.
  • My Faith Journey. A few of my previous blog entries were actually sudden moments of inspiration, I just have to write a reflection paper.
  • Other Life Lessons. Not necessarily Faith-related, pwedeng New Age-y or any practical life stuff. I am inspired by SIU who has revamped her previously sucky nega blog into a very posi and encouraging one. ;-) (pati colors, from black to salmon! :-P  )
  • Homemaking (?). I’m a frustrated homemaker, lalo na’t Martha Stewart pa ang gusto kong peg. :-P And my day job is really a 24/7 one, so I don’t know if I should continue being this ambitious. :-o My latest entry filed under Homemaking was my Chicken Tinola in 2012. :-P Since then, I haven’t tried any new dish. And work got too hectic, Terci and I would just opt to eat out at the end of day.
  • Neurology. I really wish I could blog about one of the closest topics to my heart. I just don’t know how to go about it without losing my audience to medicalese. :-o
  • Pictures! I think that’s what my blog lacks–pictures. ;-)

Prelude to “Hello Elmo!”

Finally home and settled. The past few weeks have been exciting, overwhelming and exhausting. Yet at the same time, fulfilling and gratifying. :) Just looking at Elmo’s peaceful face when he sleeps makes me feel all content and blissful inside (and I could just stare at him for hours! :D ).

Have somewhat already figured out his sleep and waking cycles (2-5-8-11), and so, I’m able to plot my sleeping time as well. Got to nap this PM, and now I feel recharged. So now that we’re home, settled–AND RESTED–thought I’d recap the events leading to Elmo’s birth. I’m putting this on record coz I want to remember everything about one of the most painful most poignant, most important moments in my life. :)

I’ve been “fixed, dilated” at 2 cm for a few weeks now. I was still holding clinics (haven’t re-scheduled my patients yet), and Terci was on standby for travel to La Union. Athough EDC (the 40th week) is still on January 9, I was already beginning to feel anxious, since a few “batchmates” whose EDCs were later than mine, already delivered. It was the loooongest wait. Was starting to entertain thoughts of leaking BOW and meconium staining. My work kept me distracted. :-o

In the morning of January 6, 2014, I had NST and BPS: Good fetal heart tones, good somatic movement, weight appropriate for gestational age, and normohydramnios (which reassured me that I wasn’t leaking). On 4D, kamukha ko daw (mukha kaseng nakasimangot :-P ), but he had Terci’s cheeks. :) Terci had me have an IE to know whether or not he’ll still proceed with his trip to La Union the next day. If I’m {still} 2 cm dilated, then he’ll still go to La Union. But if it’s 3 cm, then he won’t go anymore. When Dra. Jomelyn did an IE on me, I was already 4-5 cm dilated. :-o I am for admission that night, lest I run the risk of meconium staining.

I wrapped up clinic in the morning. Hung out at my parents’ place in the PM, while waiting for Terci to finish his rounds. We had dinner at home, and even did a last minute cleaning of the house. We took our sweet time :-P since we’ve been packed for weeks anyway, the contractions weren’t frequent yet and the hospital’s just a stone’s throw away from our house.

Checked in at 9:30 PM. Around 11:30 PM, I was brought to the labor room for labor watch. The labor room’s nice, BTW. 8-) There were artistic shots of moms and babies on the wall. So began our labor watch–and the last few hours of being “just the two of us” (in a while, we’ll be a trio! ;) ). Keeping vigil in the labor room brought back memories of OB duty with Terci, back when we were still just medical students. That was when we got to know each other and became friends. :)

At 12 MN, I was 5-6 cm dilated. Oxytocin was started to augment labor. The contractions still didn’t hurt. At 3 AM, I was already 8 cm dilated. The contractions were coming now, more frequently, more regular and very, very, VERY PAINFUL!!!! X_x It’s like dysmenorrhea x 100!!!! X_X I felt like I was going to pass out from the pain, so it was at this point that I requested for an epidural.

My good friend Ems is my anesthesiologist. It took a while for the epidural catheter to be inserted, because I couldn’t position myself efficiently. The contractions were coming in more regularly and I was doubling over from the pain. I couldn’t be sedated coz I have to be awake in order to bear down. :-o After several minutes, the catheter was finally inserted.

Around 5 AM, I was already 10 cm dilated and brought to the delivery room. The contractions weren’t painful anymore, but it hurt every time the baby descended. (I had sacral sparing, despite the epidural. @_@) He wasn’t exactly a small baby, and I am a small woman. All I can recall from this time were the contractions coming in close succession, and that I was trying to sync my breathing with the pushing, until…

5:25 AM. Baby out! He was a bloody grey-pink thing. :-P I remember Terci leaning over and giving me a slobber kiss. It was wet… with tears, I later learned. T_T

I was given sedatives afterwards while Dra. Jomelyn did an episiorrhaphy. I woke up later around 8 AM and was brought back to my room. Around 9 AM, the anesthesia wore off, and I can now feel the very painful episiotomy. Poor Terci; he was torn between his crying son and his crying wife. @_@ Sorry, Love. He ordered pain meds which made me woozy and nauseous.

Thank God, my Mom was in, so Terci was able to take a breather. He also had to go to City Hall for the birth registration, and Philhealth to update his MDR and include Elmo in his list of dependents.

* * * *

Reflections from my birthing experience:

  1. I laud my Mom and appreciate her more, for what she went through to have me. She delivered me sans an epidural. I was 8 lbs when born, and had a caput from the long labor.
  2. I appreciate my parents even more for everything they’ve been through and done (and still doing) for Glenn and me. May the experience teach me to be more patient and understanding of my parents also. Kase hindi pala madaling maging magulang. The physical pains are just the beginning. There’ll be a lot more hurt and heartbreaks in the future… ^_^;;
  3. And yet… IT’S WORTH IT!!!! I thought it was just cliche, pero totoo pala. Just one look at my child, and I feel like I can do anything for him, take on anything for him, and yeah, I’d be willing to go through the same ordeal just for him…
  4. Except for the delayed epidural. Hind na ako magpapakama-pride. :-P
  5. Be more sensitive of my lumbar tap patients needs.

Hello Elmo! ^_^

“For to us a Child is born,
    to us a Son is given,
    and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
– Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given ALSO.
And he will be called…

Guillermo Jesus Cariaga Manalo IV. aka “Elmo”.
Born January 7, 2014, 5:25 am, via spontaneous vaginal delivery. 3110 grams.

fetal elmo







family pic

More pictures here.

52-Week Money Challenge

There’s this 52-week money challenge making the rounds online; a local version in Philippine currency was made available by Kuripot Pinay.

Here’s the deal: For every week of the year, you set aside a specified amount of money in a jar or a piggybank; the amounts are incremental by 50 x N, where N is the week number. The  3rd column lets you know how much you’ve already saved, so do not break open your piggybank prematurely, thinking “Bilangin ko nga magkano nang naipon ko.” Because you might just be tempted to spend whatever you’ve earned thus far. If you have more money during a particular week, you can put more in your piggybank “in advance.”

Since the new year is always the perfect time for ningas cogon, ah este, resolutions, I thought of taking up the challenge. I’m thinking of using the money to get another laptop (coz my husband’s laptop broke, and we’re sharing my pink one :-P ), or  buy a new camera (to document the Baby’s milestones. ;-) )

The 2013 Year-End Survey

What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?  Play hostess to visiting friends. Organize a tour. :P

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year’s resolutions and what have become of them:

  • Sleep early – Fail. No matter how much I try to go to bed early, I still end up falling asleep at midnight. @_@
  • Wake up early – Fail, especially during the later months. But I have the perfect excuse to be batugan. :-P
  • More regular devotion time – Fail. :-(
  • Exercise – Major Fail!!!! X_x
  • Lose weight – I really can’t do this right now. :-o
  • More thoughtful and positive talk; less idle chatter. – :-)
  • Less idle Internet surfing. – I think I’ve cut back on Internet usage, although not significantly. :-o
  • A cleaner, more organized and prettier home – Status quo. House is the same. :-o
  • Learn to cook more dishes – Fail. Haha! :D
  • Take more pictures. – Fail. ^_^;;

For next year:

  • Pretty much everything above. But I shall be more realistic and strike off the sleeping and waking up early items from my list. I don’t expect a regular sleep-wake cycle this year. :-P
  • Aiming for natural delivery ;-)
  • Be a good, *realistic* mother. :-)
  • And the same Book-ish goals from 2013

Did anyone close to you…
Get married?
  Jojo & Jamine. John & Leah. Jomarie & Dondon.
Give birth? Jill to baby Kio. Emily to baby Simon Jose. Jamine to baby Aalia. Dra. Jomelyn to baby Joshua Henry. Leah to baby Anya.
Passed away?
We were not particularly close. But he was a classmate in med school, and his death was just sad and shocking.

What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Graciousness.

What date(s) from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 4, 2013 – LNMP

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting pregnant again. :-)

What was your biggest failure? Can’t think of anything right now. @_@

Did you suffer illness or injury? Hyperemesis gravidarum, leg cramps, GERD and CTS—all pregnancy-related.

What was the best thing you bought? Bottle sterilizer. And VMV Hypoallergenics products. :-P But nothing major. We’re saving up a lot for the baby.

Whose behavior merited celebration? Marissa. Coz she’s sooo posi! :-)

Where did most of your money go? House, and baby stuff.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Birth of our baby, which we thought would be coming out by the end of the year.

What song(s) will always remind you of 2013?
Let It Go and Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?, from Disney’s “Frozen.”
Pagiging Bukas Palad. Les Miserables OST. Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” :-P

Compared to this time last year, are you…
Happier or sadder?
 Happier. :-)
Thinner or fatter? Fatter. I’m 136 lbs. But I’m actually on the lower limit of allowable weight gain for AOG. ;-)
Richer or poorer? Richer.

What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercise. Clean and organize the house.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Sleep. Facebook. Fashion pulis. :-P I’ve successfully cut back my FB surfing, but I hope to cut it back even further.

How did you spend Christmas? At home, counting my {Braxton-Hicks} contractions.

Did you fall in love in 2013? Yes. Over and over again. ♥

What was your favorite TV program? We {still} haven’t got TV. @_@

What was the best book you read? The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason

What were your greatest musical discoveries? The Piano Guys. Jose Mari Chan—a re-discovery.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Flats. And utilitarian maternity clothes.

What did you want and get? An iPAD. Getting pregnant again.

What did you want and not get? Our own house. We really thought it’d get finished this year. Grr…

What was your favorite film of this year? Les Miserables. Frozen. Iron Man 3. She’s The One

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Clinic. Rounds. Dinner at home. Nothing fancy.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? None. It’s been good. ;-)

What kept you sane? Faith. My husband ♥

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? John Lloyd pa den, for the 6th year running (since I started answering this year-end survey). Oh, and Enrique Gil. :-P

What political issue stirred you the most? Organized corruption in the government. :(

Who did you miss? Flummoxed pa den

Who was the best new person you met? Churchmates from VCF. I’ve met them before, but I got to interact and know many of them more this year. ;-)

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
God makes all things beautiful in His time. – same as last year’s
Be thankful. ;-)

Frozen Delights

Image courtesy of

My husband and I watched Disney’s Frozen last night… for the second time (I’m due to give birth anytime, and this might be our last movie date before the Baby arrives. :-P ) It’s Disney’s best movie, since their renaissance. And it’s high up there with my personal Disney favorites: “Beauty and the Beast”, “Mulan”, and “The Little Mermaid.”

And now my Frozen thoughts:

1. The music is PHENOMENAL!!!! Vuelie, reminiscent of Enya, is both haunting and soothing.  And of course, Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” is epic!!!!  8-)

Check out the official movie soundtrack here, including other songs that didn’t make the final cut.

2. Each sister is able to hold her own, without being overshadowed by or outshining the other. Most of the story revolved around Anna, her search for affection and affirmation all her life, as well as her adventures to save her sister. But Elsa shined in her own few moments too, and she wore the better gown. :-P

3. It did not bank on the usual Disney “Love at first sight” formula. In fact, “You do not marry a guy you just met.” The romantic story takes a backseat….

4. And yet, Frozen is still A LOVE STORY. :) “Only an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart.”And Anna giving her life for her sister is a far more greater act of love than a true love’s kiss. Reminds me of “The Little Mermaid”–the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, not the Disney-fied one. Indeed, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13).

5. In the beginning, Anna seemed to need a “Prince” to “save” her. But in the end, it was her by *own* power–her act of true love, selfless and sacrificing–that saved her, her sister and the kingdom.

Image courtesy of

7. Frozen is no Disney-fied “The Snow Queen.” Elsa’s character is only inspired by it, but nowhere near cold and frightening as the original Snow Queen. (I’m glad because I read the original story back when I was a kid and it really spooked me out. @_@ ) Elsa is actually the frightened one. Her fear, her inability to control her powers, is what has alienated her from people, especially from her sister, who is nearest and dearest to her.

Image courtesy of

Between Anna and Elsa, I am able to relate to Elsa more. I am an introvert (Terci doesn’t believe me whenever I say this though :-P ). Having been hurt and betrayed in the past, I tend to put up walls when it comes to dealing with people. I am slow to warm, selective in sharing, and only open up to a few trusted friends. Yeah, because I’m afraid of getting hurt again. ^_^;;

Only love will thaw. ;-)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18 (NIV)