My (Almost) 10 Months Pregnancy by Lia Manalac del Castillo

My (Almost) 10 Months Pregnancy by Lia Manalac del Castillo. Written for SubSelfie.com

It’s been more than 39 weeks and I’m still very pregnant. My good friend and fellow Mom Janeca, couldn’t be more right when she said that pregnancy is a test of patience and letting things happen as they are. Indeed, among other things, this whole journey of becoming a first time mom has been about those two things. Up to this day, I am still struggling to learn.

Baby bump
Baby bump

The Process

If you’ve been following my Facebook, blog or Instagram posts, you’d probably know by now that I’m carrying a miracle baby. Thanks to my polycystic ovary condition, getting pregnant wasn’t as easy breezy. It was a long time coming — one that did not come without hundreds of prayers, tons of hope and endless nights of frustration. But as in everything nice and beautiful in life, it came at just the right time: a time that was unexpected, if not, a time I thought would not almost come.

While I’ve always dreamed and wanted to become a Mom, no one is ever prepared for the journey to motherhood. Yes, not even me. When I finally confirmed I was indeed pregnant, and when the overwhelming emotions of joy and happiness that kicked in subsided in the next days and weeks, I realized how fearful I truly was.

A miracle was about to grow inside of me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and I knew I had to be stronger than what I think I already am.

Ultrasound of Baby Aiyah
Ultrasound of Baby Aiyah

The Journey of the First Trimester

Before I knew I was carrying my precious baby, my life was about traveling and doing my advocacy work religiously. In fact, the first month I was already pregnant (which I still wasn’t aware of), I traveled to Apo Reef in Mindoro, trekked the Banaue Rice Terraces, went up and down Baguio for three consecutive weeks of news coverage, and flew to Batanes with the hubby where I insisted on a couple of jump shots on the hills.

Literally, I was having the time of my life.

Apo Reef
Apo Reef
El Nido, Palawan
El Nido, Palawan
Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue Rice Terraces

Advocacy wise, I busied myself planning a premiere night, a reading camp and preparing more than a thousand labeled storybooks for Diksyunaryo Atbp.

If I didn’t notice my breasts were suddenly extra large, I wouldn’t have minded eating extra food on those days and spitting them out afterwards. I honestly thought I was just not used to eating too much anymore since I was on a strict diet before finding out I was to become a mother.

And how did I find out the good news? One day, before Mother’s Day, I decided to have a pregnancy test. And to my surprise, after years of waiting and countless negative PT kits, I saw two lines on the cheapest pregnancy test kit I ever bought. Yes, God finally heard us. And I was suddenly pregnant.

I knew big changes came with the pleasant news of being pregnant. And since I am working as a journalist, I also knew these big changes wouldn’t be as pleasant a news for me or for my working environment. I had to confine myself to desk work for almost a month since finding out I was pregnant, just to be sure both me and the baby are okay. For someone used to the hustle and bustle of the daily grind of finding and making news, the sudden shift wasn’t easy.

With Supreme Court spokesperson Attorney Theodore Te
With Supreme Court spokesperson Attorney Theodore Te

I was bored to death sitting in the office, taking notes from other reporters instead of being the one to send them to the office. I missed the action in my beat, especially since I took a sudden leave from doing field work at a time when a big PDAF story was happening in my territory. Those were the days the three senators implicated in the PDAF scam were being ordered arrested and detained. And there I was, watching things unfold on TV instead of reporting them myself.

But if I didn’t spend a few weeks doing desk work, I could have had the worst of times in the field battling my severe morning sickness (which by the way wasn’t limited to the morning, but was more of an all day sickness for me). It got me running to and from the office bathroom most times of the day.

I almost literally hugged the toilet more than I hugged my husband; that was how badly I had to endure my first pregnancy symptom. There were days I couldn’t complete my anchor stints on weekends because I would feel so bad after coming out of the restroom. There was even one time I was anchoring for Flash Report and while I was waiting to go on air, I suddenly had the urge to vomit and had to talk to my baby to allow me to do my job and let me vomit afterwards.

She did listen, and boy did I pass out right after reading the news. For a first time mom, enduring an all day instead of just morning sickness was so much of a challenge for me. At first I couldn’t believe it can last for one whole day even if sometimes all you spit out is just saliva and no longer food. But it turns out after reading pregnancy books and online accounts, I’m not the only one.

GMA News TV Live anchor duties
GMA News TV Live anchor duties

Easing into the Second Trimester

If there’s a stage I love the most about this pregnancy, it would have to be the second trimester — hands down. It was during these months that I was finally able to return to field work, with my all day sickness suddenly gone one morning.I was back to my old self, running around resource persons, climbing up and down the stairs for stories.

I worked like I wasn’t carrying a 20 pound belly, which by the way, I started to put on mostly in the second trimester too. Despite my growing bump, I still found it easy to do my day-to-day work then. But of course I also set self-imposed limitations such as not tiring myself too much. I also declined news coverages I felt weren’t appropriate or comfortable for me. I particularly refused covering rallies and stories outside of my 8-hour duty.

But other than those, I covered everything even if at times I had to remind myself I’m pregnant and I couldn’t be a superhuman those days. I usually go home early and I also missed late nights at work. But this was just a minimal price to pay for wanting this miracle. I knew nothing will compare to the joy of seeing and holding my baby one day in my arms.

The upside of working on the field while pregnant was the care and attention I got from everyone, including my colleagues. I was blessed to have the most concerned and thoughtful beatmates at the Justice and Judiciary beats. They always looked after my welfare on those challenging months. Most of them adjusted to my moods, others adjusted to my weird sense of smell.

I will never forget how Joel kept his garlic bread and stopped himself from eating it after seeing me run to the bathroom as soon as I smelled garlic in the press office, or how Rod would leave my side when I began complaining about the smell of his coffee. Much of the credit also goes to my ever reliable assistant cameraman, Rexson, who survived the worst attacks of my mood swings and bought me food each and every single day.

But it wasn’t all easy during the second trimester as I also had to battle with another pregnancy symptom: heartburn. There were a few days I had to leave earlier from work (days I had to go on half day duty), simply because I couldn’t breathe so well. I would also easily get tired and wanted to sit a lot in a more comfortable chair that supported my back, because of severe back pains which began on those months.

Thank goodness, DOJ was kind enough to grant my request for a sofa. When I finally took a leave from field work again towards the latter part of the third trimester, reporters who relieved for me would text me about how “diva-ish” my seat at the DOJ was. Little did they know that beyond what meets the eye, that simple sofa provided me and my baby so much comfort when we both needed it so bad.

With Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima
With Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima
Another ambush interview
Another ambush interview
Comfort
Comfort

Surpassing and Surviving the Third Trimester

When my tummy began to really show at around seven months, many advised me to stop working. Even my husband, who saw how much of a challenge it was for me to wake up on time for work and dress up sitting on the bed (since I could no longer do it standing up), wanted me to quit for the safety of myself and my baby.

But I did not listen, instead, I pushed myself harder at work. I did News TV Live anchor stints almost every weekend. I would cover every ambush interview opportunity even if I had the choice to preview them in the camera and not be present physically while the interview was being done (just like what one reporter who’s not even pregnant, was doing every single day of her life).

I would wait for hours on end for that soundbite, waited for hours chasing lawyers who didn’t want to speak a word, and covered hearings on the top most floor of the DOJ building despite the difficulties of my numb hands and frequent leg cramps. One time, I almost forgot I was pregnant I walked down the stairs faster than the rest while chasing a lawyer for an interview, to which one cameraman exclaimed when the fury was over: “Naunahan pa tayo ng buntis!”

I wanted to be there as things happened, while I can.

Of course my efforts did not go to waste, because people were quite amazed at how I could have done it, working while pregnant. I guess their admiration also stems from the fact that I was carrying a really big belly: one that is big enough for someone like me (since I’m only 5 foot flat).

But more than the accolades or compliments I got from people around, the most satisfaction I had was really from myself and from knowing that I tried my very best to deliver what is expected of me despite my physical limitations. I have always said, I only got pregnant and that did not make me a useless person.

But my most difficult pregnancy challenges, all happened during the third trimester: pregnancy gingivitis, severe leg cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome and the threat of gestational diabetes. Name the pregnancy symptom, I had it!

Luckily, I found ways to navigate through them and survived. For my gingivitis, I only had to change my toothbrush and toothpaste; for the leg cramps and carpal tunnel syndrome I had warm compress and light massage, and for gestational diabetes I changed my diet and lost a few pounds.

Live report for 24 Oras. Banter with Mike Enriquez
Live report for 24 Oras. Banter with Mike Enriquez

Going Beyond Nine Months

After nine months or 36 weeks, I decided to take a leave from my reportorial duties and went back to doing news desk work so as to prepare myself for the coming baby. Little did I know that taking this much needed break would somehow slow down my progress, I have been frustratingly stuck at 1cm dilation since two weeks ago.

Now the challenge has gone from physical to emotional for me. Many would send me messages of comfort to just hang in there as the day is near. But really, nothing comforts me so much especially when I wake up everyday seeing that my tummy is still there and the crib beside me is empty.

To say that I am frustrated would probably be an understatement, but I really am. Maybe it’s because I wanted to be with my baby on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Both did not happen. Or maybe because I couldn’t believe that I would go this far in this pregnancy, despite working too hard and (almost) harrasing myself in the field.

Or maybe because it’s hard to accept that I’ve always been first to beat the deadline, and now I’m actually cramming to meet my original due date now.

Whatever it is, it has been an emotional struggle for me and there are many days and nights I would bargain with God for the perfect time. But as my good friend Janeca said, pregnancy is a test of patience and of letting things happen. I surely understand that and what it means, but when you’re in my shoes, everything’s a blur. I guess I would only truly understand and learn once I hear my baby cry and hold her in my arms.

When that day comes, I will forget that I have been pregnant for (almost) 10 months, and thank God everyday for the days and months He allowed me to be part of a miracle. Until then, my dear child, I’ll see you soon.

[Entry 62, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Lia Manalac del Castillo with her husband and baby Aiyah.

Lia Manalac del Castillo is a senior news correspondent for GMA News. She has since given birth to a very bubbly and healthy baby Aiyah. Visit Lia’s blog: The Mommy Lia Diaries.

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