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  • Divine Lee's Unconventional Pregnancy Journey Began When She Had Her Eggs Frozen at 24

    Divine's journey to motherhood spans a decade and a half, thanks to technology.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • Divine Lee with her son, Baz Go.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong

    Most pregnancy journeys begin with two lines on a home test kit, indicating a positive result. For entrepreneur Divine Lee-Go, mom to one-year-old Baz, it began 14 years ago at the reproductive medicine center of a local hospital where she had her eggs frozen and stored.

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    She recently sat down exclusively with SmartParenting.com.ph to talk about egg freezing, pregnancy via in vitro fertilization (IVF) and being a mom at 36.

    "I was 24 years old when I started [storing my eggs]. Sayang lang daw sa pera. Wala daw ba akong balak mag-asawa? Ganun pa dati eh," Divine recalls. But many of her married friends were having their eggs frozen. So despite her single status, she decided to do the same.

    Fast forward to 12 years later in 2017. Having accomplished most of her goals and now engaged to her boyfriend of one year, Divine wasted no time fulfilling her dreams of becoming a mother. Shortly after her civil wedding to Cebu-based businessman Blake Go in May, the couple went on to create embryos from her stored eggs months ahead of their church wedding.

    "I was married already [in civil rites]. Yun lang naman yung hinihingi, eh. I was already able to make embryos with Blake kasi we were married na yung time na yun." She explained they had to comply with the clinic's rule that stored eggs could only be fertilized with the sperm cells of the husband. 

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    "So after our August 5 [church] wedding, by August 19 na-transfer na [yung embryo sa akin], which was already five days old." And, voila, she was pregnant!

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    Egg freezing and IVF

    Divine says freezing her eggs took away the pressure of having a child at an early age. "I was able to take my time choosing my husband, I was able to study. I would recommend it to all women."
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    It's not as simple as it sounds though, Divine clarifies. In fact, she thinks there's a lot of "emotional investment" involved in a pregnancy that is done through IVF. 

    "In a normal pregnancy, you make love with your husband, and then you wait kung mabubuntis ka. [Kami] we see each and every step na may nawawala.

    "From the harvest, I got 26 eggs. But then, four of those were not good enough.

    "We had 12 [sets of egg and sperm to make] embryos. But two of them didn’t fertilize.

    "Then, out of the 10 [embryos] that were sent for testing in Thailand, only eight came back — four boys, four girls. Part of the chromosomal test was finding out the gender. So may nawala na namang dalawa."

    Thankfully, even if she was already 35 when she got pregnant, she didn't have difficulties carrying the baby to term because she has been taking good care of her body and was in excellent health.

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    "The [embryos] are cultured for five days, then they transfer [to the mother]," explains Divine. Even then though, there is no guarantee the pregnancy will progress.

    "Luckily, even if I was a bit older, I had no conditions. I was a totally healthy woman with healthy eggs — healthier than my age at the time I got pregnant because I was 35 , but my eggs were 24 years old. Prime na prime di ba, dalagita? So, I guess that’s why the success rate was higher."

    Still, out of the two embryos transferred, only one made it, she reveals. "And nine months later came Baz."

    Unconventional pregnancy

    "It was the easiest," Divine describes her pregnancy although it was considered high-risk by her doctor because of her frequent traveling between Manila and Cebu, her husband's hometown.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    "I was considered a high-risk pregnancy because I would travel frequently between Manila and Cebu," says Divine, who needed supplements like vitamin C and probiotics and suffered from a severe type of morning sickness.

    "I had hyperemesis, which means I have morning sickness na extreme. With Baz, I would throw up five to seven  times a day," she says. "Pero di ako nade-dehydrate kasi matakaw lang talaga ako. I just kept eating."

    Her favorite food during her pregnancy? "Sweets and Boy Bawang," she says with a laugh. 

    Despite the hyperemesis, Divine considers her first pregnancy quite easy. "I had no bad experience. I was even able to travel in my second trimester still."

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    Labor day

    For her first pregnancy, they transferred one boy and 1 one girl embryo, but only the boy — baby Baz — made it, revealed Divine.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
    Like any first-time mom, Divine had no idea what signs to watch out for that would tell her it's time to give birth.
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    "I was due May 1, but I didn’t know ano ba yung feeling ng in labor. A few days before, I ate at a shabu-shabu restaurant, then [naramdaman ko] nag-ga-gas ako, so I thought ito na yon! Takbo ako ng hospital, nag-video pa kami sa Instagram Live. Tapos pinauwi ako, binigyan lang ako ng Kremil-S," she recalls her false alarm.

    She went back to her doctor on her due date but was told the baby had not descended yet (a sign that labor will soon ensue). She was not likely to give birth that day.

    "Sabi ni doc, 'We’re giving you until [May] 7, so pick na lang ng date in case kailangan natin mag-cesarean section (CS).'"

    Divine originally wanted May 4, which Star Wars fans celebrate for its reference to the movie, "May the 4th (force) be with you." The Chinese, however, avoid the number 4 as it is believed to bring bad luck. Divine and Blake agreed on the 5th of May — if Divine doesn't go into labor then, she would undergo surgery on that date.

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    "Maraming beses akong nasita because si Baz di ko nga nilalapag hanggang 3 months, bitbit ko lang siya. 'Ay wag mong sanayin sa buhat,' sabi nila. But for me, that works, that was our bond," the soon-to-be mom of two shares.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong

    Still, she couldn't wait to give birth, and wanted to do it naturally. "I called my doctor and asked, 'Pag nag-workout ba ako, delikado ba sa baby?' Sabi ng doctor, 'Hindi, he’s supposed to be out na nga. You can work out, [pero] ang laki mo na rin, wala ka na ring masyadong magagawa di ba?'

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    "I think my doctor underestimated me. I ran five kilometers, I went up 30 flights, kasi 30th floor yung bahay namin sa Cebu, and I did a hundred squats. Gusto ko nang manganak, e! Naligo na ako, nag-ayos na ako, malinis na yung kuko ko, bago pa yung pilikmata ko para maganda ako sa picture. Nothing. Wala akong naramdaman. Ang sarap lang ng tulog ko," Divine recalls.

    Baz was born on May 5, 2018, or Cinco de Mayo, which is a Mexican festival. It was also the theme of his first birthday party.
    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    On May 5, Divine was at the hospital for her CS procedure. They began preparing her at 12 noon, starting with the epidural and the anethesia to numb her from the waist down. "[But] I was super awake. I was telling my doctor, 'Di ba man lang tipsy dapat?'"

    After a few minutes, they cut her open already. "I heard the doctor say, 'Okay, coming out.' Apparently, pinu-push pa rin pala [yung baby] even if CS. Hindi siya ganun kadali. I felt force. I didn’t feel any pain, but they told me, they’re gonna push him out." (Read more surprising facts about a Cesarean section here.)

    Divine is thankful that she gave birth via CS because it was discovered the umbilical cord was wrapped around Baz's neck.

    "Maybe that day lang nangyari kasi I had an ultrasound on May 1, wala naman [cord coil]. So, nacho-choke na pala si Baz inside. When they took him out, I heard the doctor say, 'cord coil, cord coil!'

    "Si Blake was panicking because apparently yung baby paglabas hindi pala maputi. Super itim, parang wala pang blood. Pero sabi nung friend ko na nandun din, he could see the baby na nagkakakulay, parang nakita niyang nagfo-flow yung dugo, na doon nya na-realize yung life."

    Within 30 minutes from the time she was brought into the O.R., Divine's baby boy was out.

    "My son Basquiat Delfin Lee Go was born on May 5, 2018, at around 2:30 PM. He was an 8-pounder."

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    PHOTO BY Stanley Ong
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    Motherhood in the time of social media

    One year into her motherhood journey (and with a second baby on the way — IVF also, from their frozen embryos), Divine shares three of the most important lessons she has learned thus far.

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    Do you, be yourself, don’t mind the noise

    "With social media, ang dami talagang mangangaral. Actually, not just on social media — even the people around you. But you should know what’s best for your child. Maraming beses akong nasita because si Baz di ko nga nilalapag hanggang 3 months, bitbit ko lang siya. 'Ay wag mong sanayin sa buhat,' sabi nila. You hear so many things but for me, that works, that was our bond." 

    Enjoy motherhood

    "There's pressure, there's stress na mafi-feel mo from the outside. 'Wag ka magpa-apekto. Dapat importante masaya ka para ma-enjoy mo yung anak mo, and then I think mafi-feel din ng kid yon."

    Don't aim for perfection

    "Maganda na you know you at your best so you can also be the best mom. And when I say best mom, it doesn’t mean you’re perfect ha? It doesn’t mean IG-worthy dapat yung itsura mo. Kung nakikita niyo lang kami every day, hindi po ganito itsura ko. Naka-basketball jersey nga lang ako. But you know, I can say na I’m having the best time being a mom because I’m more focused — pareho kaming masaya ni Baz." 

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    Makeup by Jake Galvez. Hair by Francis Guintu. Styling by Carl Pabilona and Alex Castillo of Qurator. Sittings editor: Kitty Elicay. Produced by Cielo Ann Calzado and Lei Dimarucut-Sison 

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