Known to music aficionados as the "Bossa Nova Queen," Sitti made a name for herself in the local music industry when she became a regular 'Sessionista' in ABS-CBN's Sunday variety show ASAP from 2009. Her musical career flourished with several albums and concerts to her belt. In May 2015, away from the limelight, she married triathlete Joey Ramirez and hoped to start a family.
However, as followers of Sitti's blog would know, the journey to motherhood hasn't been easy. The singer has made no secret about the many disappointments she went through waiting for positive news, literally — at one point even trying alternative treatments.
"Before, mga three to four days before [my period] nagte-test na ako, pero lagi namang negative," she told SmartParenting.com.ph. This time, she willed herself not to overthink it when her period got delayed in March.
"I was expecting my period on March 24. May feeling ako [that I was pregnant], pero, alam mo yung ayaw mong umasa? [Kasi] lagi ka nang nadi-disappoint in the past." At the time, she and Joey were on their way to spend a weekend in Davao and Cagayan de Oro and then flew to Bacolod for her father-in-law's birthday. Little did she know that it was going to be a double celebration.
"It was 4:30 in the morning. I had been delayed for eight days, and I bought two pregnancy tests. The first one, positive na. Two pink lines talaga sya. I checked the packaging kasi baka mali ako ng intindi," she recalls. "Hindi ako makapaniwala. Totoo ba 'to? So I used the second pack, and it still showed two pink lines."
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"Joey asked me to wake him up at 5:30 in the morning that day because he was going to run. Pero [because of the pregnancy test results] hindi na ako makahintay, ginising ko na sya. When I shared the news, hindi rin sya makapaniwala.
"Hindi pa yata gising yung in-laws ko, kinatok na namin sila. Then I shared the news with Daddy Dan. Sabi ko, 'Daddy Dan, happy birthday, may gift kami sa 'yo,' and gave him the test results. Nung una hindi nya maintindihan kung ano yung inabot ko sa kanya kaya sabi ko, 'Magiging lolo ka na. You're gonna be a grandfather again.' Tapos nag-iyakan na kaming lahat. It was a beautiful revelation."
At this point during the interview, Sitti turned emotional as she talked about how perfect God's timing has been. "He answered my prayer talaga. If nabuntis kami [nang mas maaga], we couldn't have adjusted yet as husband and wife. Ang dami ding nangyari in the past and sabay-sabay na expenses."
"Ngayong nangyayari 'to, [and despite] the APAS, [we realize] gift talaga sya, kasi di talaga namin sya ine-expect."
A runner and Pilates practitioner when she was single, Sitti found it strange that she couldn't do her usual run when she tried a few months ago before the pregnancy news came. "Hingal ako! I felt so out of shape. At that time I thought, kailangan kong tumakbo pa. Wala na akong endurance." Now, in hindsight, she realizes that she may have already been pregnant at that time.
She's thankful that she didn't suffer from morning sickness, and apart from sleepiness and a short-lived aversion to the mere sight of dark-colored food (which made her feel like gagging), the first two trimesters have been relatively uneventful.
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She did not have any strange food cravings, either. "Yung mga friends ko nga, sabi, 'Mag-pretend ka na lang! Kunyari ka na lang na magpahanap ng mga fruits na wala sa season,'" she says, laughing at their silliness. "Pero wala. Swerte ang asawa ko."
The singer says applying shea butter on her tummy has so far been helpful in preventing the appearance of stretch marks. She also loves her bra extenders, "para hindi ka bili nang bili ng bra." Her maternity belt and leggings have been keeping her comfortable, especially during these last few weeks, "But really, I think the positive attitude talagang importante."
The third trimester is an entirely different story, however, and Sitti describes it as the most difficult. "Dito ko naramdaman yung sciatic nerve pain. I wasn't aware that there was such a thing. There are days I couldn't walk, and then days na hirap ako to transition from sitting to standing, standing to sitting. Sometimes it acts up. Ngayon masakit na talaga sa likod. Mahirap matulog, parang hindi ako makahinga, so I have to prop up three pillows at the back. Sleeping is really a challenge now in my third trimester. And nandyan din yung acid reflux."
Did she have to change her diet, then? "Pareho lang with what I was eating before, but on my 20th week of pregnancy, [I had to go on a] high-protein diet kasi nakita ng ob-gyne na the baby was lagging in measurement. The high-protein diet was to help her catch up. Now okay na sya, o baka nga mas ahead pa nang konti."
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Because of APAS and a delicate pregnancy, Sitti had to avoid any strenuous activities during the first trimester, "Especially since may nakitang hemorrhage sa akin on the tenth or eleventh week," she reveals. "Pinag-bed rest ako nang two weeks, then thankfully, nawala naman yung hemorrhage when I reached my second trimester." She was allowed some exercise after that, but now she's limited to just walking or swimming for a maximum of 30 minutes. "Pinapakinggan ko din yung katawan ko. If I feel tired, I'd rather sleep it out na lang. If naka-nap, may burst of energy, ayun, kasi I know that exercise is also good for the baby."
Preparing for childbirth
With barely two months left before she gives birth, Sitti says there is still so much to do to prepare for the arrival of "Lilibubs," the nickname they are giving daughter Issiah Dañelle. Joey is finishing up the nursery, while she does research and reads parenting books, including A Guide to Breastfeeding by Jack Neuman and Brain Rules for Baby. That's when she isn't binge-watching the BBC series "The Midwives," or videos of women in labor. "I’ve also taken two breastfeeding classes and will join a birthing class to prepare," she adds.
Other than that, she knows she needs to actually get some baby stuff, although she confesses, "Very practical kasi akong tao, I don't buy on a whim. I've actually just really bought waterproof mattress pads pa lang." She says she'll do the rest of the shopping after the last baby shower.
Sitti is hoping for normal delivery although her doctor already told her that all her APAS patients undergo a cesarean delivery automatically. "[I'm] category 2 thrombophilia, so mabilis mag-clot yung dugo ko. I don't know how that would fare with a CS or normal delivery. We have yet to clear that up with her," she says. As for the baby, "We're going for delayed cord clamping."
At this point in her pregnancy, the soon-to-be mom says she couldn't wait to lay eyes on her child finally.
Asked if she's going to miss anything about being pregnant, Sitti replied, "Yung movement ni baby inside. I think it's really one of the most amazing things a human can feel.
Sabi ko nga kay Joey, I wish you could get pregnant, para maramdaman mo. Wild sya, it's amazing talaga. What a gift."
What kind of parent does she think she will be?
"Parenthood is not a joke. You're gonna be in charge of molding an individual for the rest of your life. So it's scary, but at the same time, it's exciting to watch her unfold, like watching a plant grow.
"Between myself and Joey, feeling ko ako yung "bad cop." But the kind of relationship I want with my daughter is the kind where she would feel free to discuss anything with me. Ayoko ng, 'wag mong gawin yan, kasi sabi ko.' I really want to explain everything to her, and to treat her like we're the same level.
"In the book Brain Rules for Baby, ang sabi is to create a safe environment where the child can flourish. Of course, we're going to raise her with a lot of love. Everything else will spring from that."