Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bun In The Oven Update: When It's Time To Go To The Hospital

Got my first real scare during my pregnancy a few days ago, as I experienced premature contractions over the course of several hours. They weren't painful, but they were definitely noticeable (and different from the regular discomfort that I feel from my son kicking/rolling around in there), but I stubbornly decided to wait until the morning before finally agreeing to go to the hospital. My husband and I tracked the contractions over the course of an hour the night before, clocking them in at about a minute long each and approximately three minutes apart. From our birthing class lessons, we already knew that that was a sign to go to the hospital, but because I was only 35+ weeks, I kept thinking that it couldn't possible be labor. In hindsight, any seasoned mom would've hightailed it to the hospital at those numbers, but I was theorizing that maybe I couldn't quite tell what a 'real' contraction was yet, so I opted to try to sleep through the night.

By the time I woke up, the contractions had not ceased and Josh finally convinced me to head on down to the hospital. Once there, they confirmed that I was definitely contracting regularly (low to mid range contractions, 4-7 minutes apart), and subsequently confined me. :(

 My room at the High Risk section

Suffice to say that they were able to halt the contractions eventually, and I'm now back home and on oral medication with orders not to overexert myself. I'm currently at 36 weeks now, with my son at a good sized 6 pounds, so I just need to manage to keep him in the over a little longer before it's relatively all right for him to pop out. (To be on the safe side, though, my doctor gave me a couple of steroid shots to ensure that his lungs develop faster in case he stubbornly comes out earlier.)

I have a lot of thoughts about the entire situation, but I think that my major takeaway is this: Better to be safe than sorry. While nothing bad happened from my waiting overnight, the fact remains that there was something wrong and I should've gone to the hospital sooner. I've just been so used to 'grinning and bearing it' over the years as an adult, and I'm still trying to adapt to the fact that I should be the exact opposite now. It's a fascinating change, however, and I'm trying to make sure that I take the lesson to heart. After all, the last thing I want to do is go to the hospital too late and end up giving birth in the car! :P

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beauty Subscription Boxes: Glamourbox and BDJ Box Review

A while back, I received a really awesome beauty box (Glamourbox's Beauty and Babies box) from my sister-in-law as a birthday present. Everything in it was very targeted towards moms (and moms-to-be, like me!), and I was really impressed with the whole thing. I'd been following the subscription box trend from the corner of my eye since it started, but I hadn't found the impetus to subscribe to any just yet. After my foray into beauty blogging a few years back, I'd actually found my go-to brands (Clinique for all of my skincare, coupled with Shiseido, Makeup Forever, and Guerlain for makeup) and had no further need to experiment. I was pretty much set on my holy grail brands, and found that spending on a few high-end products that I was sure of worked better for me than having a lot of mid-range items that were hit and miss. Of course, part of the fun of cosmetics is the experimentation of it all, and it's always a great feeling to find that low-priced product that performs really, really well.

In any case, I thought that the Beauty and Babies box was a nice way to sample a variety of things at a very affordable price, and since I did miss the experimentation of purchasing mid-range brands, I decided to try out a couple of boxes. I did my research and opted to subscribe to Glamourbox and BDJ Box, (at two months and three months, respectively), and crossed my fingers.

Thus far, I've received one box apiece-- Glamourbox's Flawless Beauty Box and BDJ's Skin Saver Box. I wasn't particular impressed with either of them, though the value for money is definitely there. In both boxes, I was able to find one thing that I would use (and have used, and would continue to use), and that in itself has paid back for the cost of the entire box.

For Glamourbox, it was Ofra's matte liquid lipstick. They sent a very usable shade-- a nice pinky brown nude for everyday wear-- and I liked it enough that it's seen quite a lot of use from me. This alone is worth P950 (versus the entire box's P595), so if you're looking for good deals, then a subscription box is definitely the way to go. Furthermore, Glamourbox lets you pick and choose your box in spite of subscribing, so you can choose to skip a box if you don't like that month's offering. (I skipped last month's Belo box because it's unsuitable for pregnant women, and besides which, I'm not into skin whitening products).

Still, the remainder of the Flawless Beauty box fell flat to me; there wasn't much in there that I could use, and I gave the rest of the products away so as not to waste them. I kept the box, though, because it's great quality, easily converted to something else if you're crafty, and just very sturdy in general.

As for BDJ... I think I had too high expectations of this box, as I looked at their previous box list before subscribing and was really impressed by the Benefit box. What I got instead was a very disappointing mix of soap/skin/bath things, and from brands that were quite firmly in the drug store/supermarket level rather than mid-range. It seems that they knew this and tried to supplement quality with quantity, and I received two large boxes for that month.

One was full of Dial soap and body wash, and the other had the rest of the items. All of the full size items, with the exception of the one eyeshadow quad from Revlon, were pretty low-end. I'd never heard of My Choice before this, and I don't think I'd ever look twice at it. The box was dominated by it, however, and its lurid pink packaging, terrible font choices, and the odd clip art of a goat was kind of an eye sore. You get full size AND sample sachets of both bath salt and body lotion by My Choice, and it's so cheap that I feel like they could bump up the price a bit just so they can pay for a decent design team and STILL be the cheapest thing in the supermarket aisle.

(NOTE: I feel the need to say that I try to keep an open mind when it comes to local brands, and I have a soft spot for brands like SNOE and Human Nature because they're genuinely trying to elevate local cosmetics to the next level, and while their formulations are hit and miss, they have really nice packaging, and My Choice... really doesn't. Normally I wouldn't be quite so harsh when it comes to how things look (versus how they perform), but I've gotten spoiled by Korean cosmetics and really-- aesthetics are a HUGE deal when it comes to anything beauty-related.)

I gave the My Choice bath salt a try, but the smell was overpowering and the salt was... well. Salt. It was basically like rubbing your skin with sand. It's unpleasant while you're doing it, but afterwards your skin feels smooth. I feel like the same effect could be achieved by going to the beach and scuffing your feet in the sand, so I'm giving this product a hard pass. If you're looking for an affordable drugstore brand, just get St. Ive's body scrub. Smells great and it doesn't hurt as much when you're using it.

In any case, the one thing I would use in the BDJ Box is the Revlon Color Stay eyeshadow quad. I got it in a nice array of nudes and browns, and the cost covers the entire box (barely), so it's still a good deal. Everything else in the box was entirely forgettable-- Dove and L'oreal tried, but their sample sizes were pretty forgettable in the face of all the My Choice stuff, and really... they're name brands that you can get in the supermarket. I don't really need to be told via subscription box that they exist-- chances are, if I'm in the supermarket/drug store and they've got a new product out, I'm going to see it and pick it up anyway.

Generally, I feel like subscription boxes should be about highlighting brands that you're likely to overlook (whether it's because they're niche, hard to find, a local brand, a new company, etc.). I'd make an exception for big brands that haven't previously been seen here, like maybe if a big supermarket soap brand was entering Philippine markets for the first time, I'd be fine with it. Hell, My Choice would've been a nice addition because it's obscure and local, IF it had been curated. As it is, seeing 1) a sub-standard product with 2) sub-standard packaging pretty much cheapened the whole BDJ box experience for me. The bottom line is, a product has to either look nice or perform well before you recommend it to subscribers, and if it's neither, then what's the point of getting a curated box? I might as well just go to the drug store and randomly pull stuff off the shelves and take my chances there.

After my subscriptions to Glamourbox and BDJ Box run out, I don't think I'll be renewing either. But if I had to choose one over the other, I'd definitely go with Glamourbox, if only because I had a nicer experience with them, and they let you see what's in a box before you buy it (and let you skip it if you're subscribed). Also, the BDJ box material is flimsy and cheap, and it's not going to hold up to crafting (unless you paper mache over it, and then you're just better off buying a paper mache box in the first place).

If you want to try your luck, you can check out their websites here:

Monday, October 27, 2014

8 weeks to go...

The third trimester brings a whole different slew of things to the pregnancy equation, and despite not having gained much weight (thus far, I've only put on 8 pounds in the entirety of my pregnancy), I feel as if I've grown exponentially larger. Logically speaking, I can tell that my face and arms are still about the same, with only my stomach, chest, and thighs getting bigger. But with the return of my old friend 'nausea' and the new addition of 'shortness of breath' and 'really freaking tired all the time' as symptoms, I feel like these last few weeks are going to be a hell of an experience.

Strangely enough, I don't have much of an appetite. I still eat meals regularly but I get very full on relatively small portions, so battling weight gain isn't a battle so much as it is a small skirmish that I've already won. I've seen other mothers-to-be pack on the pounds during this stage so I was a bit worried that my lack of weight gain wasn't normal, but during my last visit to the doctor, she assured me that everything was progressing just fine. Apparently I'm just burning everything I'm eating (despite being too tired to exercise as much as I should be), and the baby's still getting bigger despite my not gaining weight.

The only conclusion I can come to is the fact that my son is slowly consuming me from the inside out, and come D-day will burst forth in a shower of guts and blood ala the chestburster from Aliens. :P

Not actual baby.

Kidding aside, though, I've read up enough on this to know that every woman and every pregnancy is different, and that I should be patient and take things as they come. As someone who's used to planning everything out to the smallest detail, this is a trial in and of itself!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Capsule Review: Fujifilm's Instax Mini 8

Bought myself a little gift the other day: an Instax Mini 8. I’ve been wanting to include photos in my correspondence, but printing out pictures is out for me (my home printer is total crap), and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go all the way to the store to get them printed properly. Did a bit of online research and discovered that the answer was Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 8— a polaroid-like camera that served out credit card-sized prints on-the-go.

I guess I’m showing my age here, but digital photography didn’t reach professional quality at affordable prices until pretty late in my college years. I had to learn how to use the old DSLRs (that had like a million settings) + develop photos myself in our university dark room, which let me tell you— wasn’t fun. Still, it allowed me to develop a healthy respect for the art of photography, and while I appreciate the fact that my iPhone lets me take high-res photos that look fantastic at every shot, there’s something about having one-of-a-kind photos in your hand immediately after you’ve taken them.

It took me a while to figure out how to work the settings (there are only five and the camera points out which one it recommends that you use based on the current light), and I think I spent about one roll figuring out what the camera’s limitations are.

Pros: Fantastic at selfies. The camera’s range is 2-6 feet, so if you literally hold it in front of you and take a picture of yourself, it’ll give you the best possible outcome regardless of day or night. (The flash goes off at every setting automatically). It also takes pretty decent full body shots, so long as the lighting conditions are appropriate. Also a major pro: very very inexpensive. The camera itself goes for about $60-$70 on Amazon, and one roll of ten shots is worth about $15.

Locally, these can be purchased on for around PHP 3,500.00 and film ranges from PHP 350 up. (The film with cartoon character decorations usually go for around PHP 400). If you prefer to buy them from stores, you can check out a list of authorized distributors here:*

*Not a complete list; I bought mine at Automatic Center in Eastwood Mall, and saw another one over at Digital Walker. I think most electronics/appliance stores carry this, though the cheapest prices I've seen are still on

Cons: It’s not great at dim light shots, and forget trying to take landscapes at dawn or dusk. It also doesn’t focus, but as long as you heed the 2-6 feet distance rule, you’ll get good results. However, it does need to be said that taking photos closer or further than the recommended distance can yield some pretty interesting results, so if you can spare a roll of film, go to town with experimenting!

Overall: A fun toy camera that serves the exact purpose I bought it for: scrapbooking and sharing slice of life photos with my friends and family.

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Ob-gyns, Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, and Birthing Classes

As my delivery date draws nearer, more and more thoughts crowd my mind. Everything from my birth plan to trying to get all my work done in between brief fits of headaches/needing to lie down often are all jostling for importance, but I'm thankful at least that the worst of the nausea seems to have passed.

I transferred to a better Ob-gyn, someone far more suitable to my personality and one that both I and my husband feel more at ease with. My last doctor was a bit too strict on brands and prescriptions, and didn't really seem to understand that I was hoping for a bit of flexibility, especially when it came to my pre-natal vitamins. It had gotten to the point where my husband said he was scared that we would strangle each other every time we talked, and I theorized that she was, perhaps, vastly supported by BioFemme, the brand she kept touting. It was also a brand that I kept consistently throwing up, but she refused to entertain the notion that hey, maybe she could try recommending other brands and they'd be easier to keep down. (I ended up buying multivitamins from Healthy Options and they're still what I'm taking now.)

In any case, my new doctor is far more sympathetic to the reality of being pregnant, and was even able to find a stronger Iron supplement that I could actually keep down. (I was previously taking Solgar Gentle Iron which was wonderful and had no ill effects, but I think wasn't enough for my prenatal needs). I'm currently taking Iberet-Folic, which I can keep down because it's slow release. (My previous doctor was recommending that I take-- you guessed it-- more BioFemme. Ugh.)

I've also started drinking red raspberry leaf tea, which is admittedly a bit more on the hippie organic spectrum than I usually go for, but I figure even the placebo effect might help me during delivery. As with many organic things, there are no substantial formal studies that support this, but many midwives and mothers claim that red raspberry leaves helps strengthen the uterine lining and that in effect, it helps you give birth easier. I always take things like this with a grain of salt, (given my experience with organic vitamin swindlers during my late mother's bout with cancer) but in this case, I had nothing to lose if I tried it.

I bought three boxes of Earth Mama Angel Baby's Third Trimester Tea, and the taste (when sweetened with orange spice honey) is pretty good. I couldn't find any brand of red raspberry leaf tea locally, so I had to buy it from Amazon. It wasn't expensive, (around $6 per box of 20 bags) though as usual the shipping costs were annoying (especially when Amazon chose to pack three regular sized boxes of tea in a huge box filled with plastic bags filled with air. What!?)

My son at 22 weeks. 3D Ultrasound taken by InMyWomb

I suspect I won't actually know if it has worked until after I've given birth, but even then it could be a variety of factors that lead up to a quick natural birth. Ah, the nature of organics! I think the one formal study conducted about red raspberry leaf tea showed promising results (I think they tracked about 100 women), but there really needs to be more research done into this. Until then, women will have to content themselves based on testimonies and little else, which is really just a depressing thought altogether.

In other news, my husband and I are starting our Bradley method birthing class next week, and I'm pretty excited about it. As first time parents, we want to make sure we're as prepared as possible for what's coming, and while we know that nothing beats actual hands-on experience, the mental fallback of having done our best to prepare for this is a comfort. I finished typing up a tentative birth plan a couple of weeks back (it comes in to just over one page), and I'm eager to see if any of my choices/requests are actually suitable for me. I've done as much research as time allows, but nothing beats being able to ask an actual expert. After that, I plan on double-checking everything with my actual Ob-gyn, and then making 'final' decisions based on that information. If push comes to shove, I'm certain that I'll defer to my Ob's call, but as long as my birth progresses well, I'm hoping to stick to an unmedicated birth. Only time will tell if I'm up for the challenge, but here's hoping!

Monday, July 21, 2014

17 Weeks And Counting...

I've finally managed to find some semblance of normalcy in my life, due in no small part to hitting my second trimester last month and the rush of hormones rampaging through my body gradually abating to something more manageable. I had a pretty rough first trimester, and having to juggle work and the copious amounts of nausea and vomiting was not a pretty sight. I had very few good days in my first trimester, and feeling ill for me started very early on. Josh and I had been trying for several months to get pregnant, so we were watching my period like hawks and found out almost immediately after I missed a few days in my period that I was pregnant.

I remember being so miserable, laying in bed with massive headaches and feeling as if my world was about to end (an exaggeration, I know, but I digress), unable to eat or drink because I'd be throwing it right back up. It seemed as if whatever I could keep down during one week was entirely repulsive to me during the next week, and I seriously began to question our decision to have a child this way. Adoption had been a possibility for us ever since we'd began discussing children in the first place, and neither of us was averse to it. When we were having a bit of trouble getting pregnant, we immediately thought to adopt instead, and set a time limit to our trying to get pregnant naturally. We're big fans of 'going with the flow', so if natural conception didn't take, we figured we'd start researching the local adoption process for real.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), regular conception did take, and with it came all the "joys" of pregnancy. My mother never had too many horror stories about her pregnancy with my brother and I, and I had always assumed I'd be able to handle whatever my body threw at me. Had I not worked through shingles? (Doubled over my computer in pain and pathetically pushing my mouse around my desk, but I worked nonetheless). Hell, I even completed a full day's work when I had amoebiasis from the (incredibly non-drinkable) water in Boracay before crawling to the hospital. But apparently my determination of iron stops when faced with my first trimester of pregnancy. Who would've thunk?

In any case, what helped me greatly was reading through the accounts of other pregnant and miserable women, and finding out what helped them cope. Not everything worked for me, of course, and some of them worked for a few days and then stopped the next. But sharing what little tips I have might help someone, so I figured I might as well put them up.

1) Eat small, frequent meals. Everyone says this, and it's mostly true. My doctor initially gave me a list of things to not eat/drink during my very first visit at week 8, but by the next few weeks, she was begging me to eat anything I could keep down. I lost 10 pounds during my first trimester (which I have still not gained back at week 17), and really-- eat small bits of whatever you can keep down. For me it was a rotation of almonds (unsalted, plain), crackers, very small amounts of oatmeal, half of whatever pastry my husband brought home, sour candies and, very occasionally, a few spoonfuls of meat and rice.

2) Caffeine. This is a controversial issue, I know, but recent studies have proven than one cup of coffee per day (or 200mg of caffeine) will not harm your baby. My THS levels were extremely low during my first trimester, and I could barely get out of bed from exhaustion. A little caffeine (whether taken in chocolate bar form, a mild cup of tea, or a decaf latte), would help give me enough energy to get through a few hours of work. Of course, I was never a big coffee drinker before I was pregnant, so I haven't built up a tolerance to it. The tiny amounts that made a huge difference to me might not make any difference to a regular coffee drinker, but I figured I'd just put it out there.

3) Meds. I tried Tums but this didn't help me at all. In fact, it made me feel even sicker when I had some pretty bad heartburn. I also got prescribed some other pregnancy-safe, anti-nausea medication that didn't really work either, so in the end I just went cold turkey on all of it. Some women have sworn by whatever meds their doctors gave them, and it was a personal choice for me to just stop trying with the meds. There were even some women who were advocating the use of Zofran, which is the same drug they give cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy, because it really helps with the nausea. While I had some pretty horrible days, I never considered taking it and opted to just ride out the discomfort. I'm certainly not one of those militant 'organic or nothing' people, and I have nothing against the mothers who decided to take it, but it just wasn't for me.

4) Cold, frozen anything. Ice water, fruit juice slush, ice cream. Anything cold helped settle my stomach a bit, and while you obviously can't exist on shakes alone, a trip to the local Jamba juice when you can't keep anything down helps.

When I hit my second trimester, the vomiting got worse before it got better. I think I peaked at about week 12, and none of the above worked any longer. The best I could do was ride it out, eat what little I could, and hope that I wasn't going to be this sick for the remainder of my pregnancy. It got better little by little, and now, at week 17, I'm eating almost normally. I eat about half the portions I used to with every meal, and I pair that with eating five times a day instead of three. There are still some food aversions and the occasional bout of nausea (mostly during long drives), but I'm more or less functional.

Pregnancy is different for everyone and I'm not sure if my nausea will return in my third trimester (like it does for many), but I've got my fingers crossed and I'm keeping positive!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


After a two-year hiatus, I've deemed my old Fashion blog to be officially closed. Writing about various beauty and fashion topics was great fun for quite a long time, but as I tackle another looming milestone in my life, I've been feeling significantly less enamored with my old hobby. That said, motherhood is quite a life-changing thing to look forward to, and I imagine that it will be an interesting subject to blog about. I'm not quite sure what main topic this latest incarnation of my blog will have, but it's safe to say that my pregnancy and subsequent child will probably feature in quite heavily. :)

Additionally, I'll no longer be accepting paid posts or products for review, so please do not ask. Commercial blogging took the fun out of writing for me, and I'm sticking to the bare essentials for this one.