Patty Laurel Filart Host and lifestyle blogger Wife to Patrick, mom to Theo
The life of popular lifestyle blogger, model and former preschool teacher Patty Laurel is an open book to many. Her daily experiences -- from her outfit of choice, her travels and adventures, to her life's milestones are all neatly chronicled in her blog pattylaurel.com, which commands a large online following.
With her new role now as mom, her perfect adventure continues -- with husband Patrick and son Theo in tow -- but not without going through a few life-changing hurdles first. From a health scare to a momentary joy before another challenge hit her hard again, Patty tells us her inspiring story in her own words:
SP: When did you decide that you were ready to have a baby? Patty: My husband and I both love kids, so even when we were just dating, it was really a dream of ours to become parents. It was something that really united us. However, when I was still single, I took (my health) for granted, and I never really got myself checked by an OB-Gyne because I never thought that there was a need when I was younger.
After we got married in November 2012, we had big plans for the future and we said let’s go on a honeymoon and then I can get pregnant and we can have a baby -- we had everything planned out.
Around January the following year, I noticed that there was something off with my cycle. When I was younger I had always had very bad premenstrual syndrome -- I would have dysmenorrhea and I would turn blue with the unbearable pain, but back then I thought, oh I’m a woman, it just happens every month. This time though, my sister-in-law said I should go to an OB-Gyne.
I went for a checkup and immediately, from the ultrasound they found a cyst about 90% the size of my ovary.
It grew so big that my doctor could not believe it when I said I didn’t have symptoms. He said it was eating up the whole ovary and it could burst anytime. I remember feeling so sad, because I just got married and my husband and I had so many plans. After the check-up, Patrick and I just went to the hospital parking lot and locked ourselves in the car and we just cried and cried.
So we did what had to be done. I was admitted for surgery on Valentine week, and just so I would feel good about myself, my husband said to go ahead and buy nice pantulog in SM, and I bought pantulog with heart designs. If I’m gonna be in the hospital, I might as well be happy about it.
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The diagnosis was that I had a dermoid cyst. The cyst was taken out, and thankfully it’s not cancerous. I was in the hospital for about a week and Patrick was there helping me get better. He would wash my face because I couldn’t move, he would carry me from the bed to the bathroom, he would wash my armpits, scrub my butt, tie my hair and put moisturizer on my face. Imagine, a lot of people have this romantic idea of a honeymoon, but this was how we spent ours! That was definitely not in my plan.
At that moment I remembered what my dad would always tell me about the guys I was dating when I was younger. He said, right now you look good, you’re young and you’re smart. But naisip mo ba na if you get sick, will this guy carry you and bring you to the bathroom? When you have boils in your back, will he still love you? There will come a time when it will just be about serving one another. If this guy cannot do that for you, then there’s no future in it.
So in the hospital, I thought, wow, this was what my dad and my mom have been praying for all these years. And it was such an irony because I was going through so much pain, but at the same time I was so filled with joy. I was happy because this was my parents’ answered prayer.
Because of the surgery, I could not get pregnant for a year. It really stalled all our plans of becoming parents. But that’s when you realize that you can make all the plans in the world, but you're not the one in control.
From then on, we had to be responsible not to get pregnant. Everything had to heal first. In retrospect, I think it was good that it happened because Patrick and I were able to really develop our relationship as a couple and we were able to plan our respective careers.
The irony was that when we were really busy and enthralled in our new life, that’s when I got pregnant. It was the time when we resolved to follow God’s timing, the time that my husband and I said to ourselves, 'if it’s going to be just the two of us, if this is God’s story for us, then we will make it work'.
I remember taking the test and being nervous about it. I prayed first and asked God to prepare my heart kasi I didn’t know how I would react. What if we hope and then mabigo din naman? Although, I actually felt it already that I was pregnant. And somehow I knew it would be a boy.
We went to the doctor to have a checkup and then she confirmed that I was, indeed, pregnant. But then we had to wait for a few weeks for the heartbeat to be absolutely sure, and that was the longest wait.
SP: How was the pregnancy like? Did you have any difficulties?
Patty: Maybe I was coming from a position wherein I came from so much pain that I was just overjoyed kahit masakit yung katawan ko. My back would ache or I’d feel very heavy or tired, but because I understood that a baby was developing inside me, I knew the pain I was going through was part of it. It’s not to say that I didn’t go through physical pain, but it changes your perspective of things.
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There were times during my pregnancy when I was just so emotionally down, but I just had to keep reminding myself that this is what I prayed for and this is happening now.
Ang galing because everything worked out. My whole pregnancy was very good. I traveled a lot, I still continued working. And I gained about 40 pounds. Haha.
SP: Take us to the days leading to your baby's birth.
Patty: A week before I gave birth to Theo, my amniotic fluid went down drastically, but my OB-Gyn, Dr. Cora de Jesus, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, never gave me reason to panic. She always knew what to say without sugarcoating; she was just realistic and gave me options. I was 39 weeks pregnant and that whole week, we just kept going back to the clinic to check my amniotic fluid.
On the day I gave birth, the water (amniotic fluid) was just really going down. After 12 hours in the hospital, (halos) wala. And I couldn’t feel my contractions, I couldn’t feel anything. And the dilation did not progress, so my OB-Gyn said we had to do a ceasarean section already. I really wanted to give birth by normal delivery, but sige, let’s just do it. I was shaking the whole time, I think the anesthesiologist knew that I was panicking so he tried to distract me with stories to calm me down.
At 11 pm on July 5, 2015, I gave birth to my son Theo Oliver Laurel Filart who weighed 6.9 pounds.
When he latched on to me, everything was perfect and I cried tears of joy. I was really determined to breastfeed, I even took classes, had a lactation coach, and almost all (kinds of) breastfeeding pumps I had them. So when he latched, I thought, “so this is what everyone was talking about. It is what they all said would happen. And it was really beautiful.
SP: Tell us about your breastfeeding experience.
Patty: The day after I gave birth, my breasts just got really engorged. I asked my friends about it, and they were like, ‘Oh that’s normal!’ So tiniis ko. Then the pain became really unbearable! I’ve heard all the happy stories about moms who breastfeed and I had my mind set on that, and I wondered if I was doing something wrong because everybody says breastfeeding was supposed to be wonderful and easy and natural.
During this time, I felt so inadequate. I knew I was the only source of nourishment of this new baby, but then I was having such a difficult time.
Sugat-sugat na yung breasts ko, but I thought that’s just how it is. My friends said it will be painful for a few weeks, and to me it felt like an eternity. I told myself, ‘Four weeks, four weeks it’s gonna get better’. I read up on it, I also had lactation consultants come to the house every three days, and even doctors so in terms of effort I think I’ve exhausted everything that I could possibly do.
For one month it was like that. It was constantly painful. I’ve gone through so much pain in the past during my operation and I thought that was really painful, but this was like ten times that pain. I felt so bad because I was breastfeeding but I felt like an absentee mom. The irony was that I was glued to my son but because of the pain, I couldn’t enjoy him, I was just in a daze.
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Then I started to have chills and fever. I would wear a sweater and every hour pwede mong pigain sa dami ng pawis. I would throw up also. My breasts felt as though a sack of rice was taped on me, and my husband would have to carry me out because I could barely move. My toes would curl every time Theo would cry, I dreaded it, parang, here we go again, but I’d still nurse him and I’d feel like my eyeballs would pop out from the pain.
I felt ashamed that I could not breastfeed my child. I went in hiding for a month, because I feared that if they see how I am in pain when I breastfeed my child, that would make me a bad mom.
Not that anyone pressured me to breastfeed, but everyone breastfeeds, so I said, I can do this also, I have to make it work. Whenever possible I would express my milk by hand, but that didn’t help the pain, either. I would put a warm compress and cold compress alternately, but nothing could ease the pain. I would cry while breastfeeding. Then there was one week when my breasts were so red, like Crayola-red, and I felt a lump, so I finally said, this doesn’t feel right. I told my husband that I had to go to the hospital.
So we went. I had an ultrasound, and the diagnosis was that I had an infection in the left breast. My whole breast was filled with bacteria. It’s like mastitis that was aggravated. Na-infect pa ng bacteria. The bacteria aggravated it and it became pus eventually. And the irony of ironies is, when they cultured this bacteria, they found out that it feeds on milk. Which means that for as long as I am producing milk, it will survive.
The doctor said that she’s read about my condition but she’s never really seen it in her 20+ years in practice. I’m the first rare case.
I had hoped that she would just give me antibiotics for it, but then she asked a surgeon to take a look and right away I had to be admitted for surgery. What they did was remove the bacteria, and then I had to take medication to stop [producing] milk. Everything happened so quickly.
SP: So you could not breastfeed anymore?
Patty: I do believe that breast is best, and I always say that even to my friends who are pregnant -- but I can't.
I believe in the kindness of people. In the same way that I wouldn’t judge anyone else, I would have to trust in the kindness of people towards me also.
Miraculously, I’ve never received any backlash from [not being able to breastfeed]. I think it’s because people see that your heart is behind your decision, meaning it wasn’t a decision of vanity, or a decision in haste. The same is true with other moms who decide to do whatever they do, whether homeschooling or what. I always trust that moms don’t do it in haste. So whatever they believe in, I trust in their wisdom in it.
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SP: What is your advice to your female followers who eventually want to become parents themselves?
Patty: Have yourself checked, don’t take your body for granted. It’s very Filipino to only think of going to the OB-Gyn only when you want to get pregnant, but no. It should be important at any phase of your life.