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How did I have a baby?

I can still remember our appointment at a Fertility Center, I was so nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. My husband sitting right next to me and the doctor, a young looking lady who I think is a little bit older than me explaining the process and who will be helping us while we go thru this process.

So how did we end up in the clinic?

My husband and I got married June 2011. We’ve been trying to get pregnant since then nothing is really happening, although I already have an idea on why but I guess I am denying it.

I have what you call Polycystic ovarian syndrome, my OB-GYNE told me that back in the days they will do surgery and like “comb” out all the cyst in the ovaries but this would cause a lot more problems so it was stopped. She prescribed me pills until we decide to get pregnant and together with that was a referral to a fertility specialist.

Fast forward to today, our doctor asked us for a blood draw, ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram  and sperm count for my husband. My husband already had 2 boys in his first marriage so I know it is me! The HSG was painful and it was like having a monthly period multiplied to 10x, that’s how painful it was. So far, my blood work came back okay, sperm count is okay, fallopian tube is not block and plenty of cysts in my ovaries. With all these information on hand, our fertility specialist came up with the treatment plan. First we start with the pills, if that will not work we move to pills + injections and if that still does not work the last option will be IVF.

I didn’t want to do the IVF simply because I want to get pregnant the natural way plus I am scared that we cannot afford all the expenses. At that time, our insurance only covers “1 shot” of IVF. I am already happy that I have a really good insurance at that time.

First treatment plan: Clomid and other pills

I take the pills for a week, we started with the lowest dosage and I have to come to the clinic (after starting the pill) like 3x/week. I have to do a bloodwork and ultrasound to check if my ovaries are producing eggs.

During this process, we do the bloodwork and ultrasound in the morning before going to work. They would count and measure the eggs, they will tell us if that is a cyst or eggs that we are looking at. We would get eggs but it didn’t grow to the size that they wanted. Every time, they will say “I am sorry to say but we will have to start over”. This means they have to increase the dosage or change the pill that I am taking. The moment we get to the car I will start crying, feeling frustrated and confuse on why this is happening to me.

The doctor does not want me to take these pills for more than 3 months if I remember correctly. This is because my body will get use to it and will not produce the right eggs that we needed.

Second treatment plan: Clomid + Injections

I do not like this treatment plan because it involves needles. But I really want to have a baby!!! So I take the pills and my husband will inject the medicines in my belly. The injections are done every night and one night we will do it on the right side, other nights on the left. At one point my belly was swollen with all the injections. There are nights I will be crying myself to sleep, I kept on praying that I hope this one will work!

During the 2nd treatment, one of the nurses told us that maybe we should take a short vacation. A change of scenery, those are the words that she said. It may help us with the process. Since at that time my husband have United voucher, we decided to go to Puerto Rico for our 1st wedding anniversary. Such a great idea and the place was so beautiful!!!!

A week after we came back, I had my usual bloodwork. Usually I do not get a call from them so getting a call at the time made me so nervous and anxious at the same time. The nurse on the other end of the line ask me if I am busy and I said I am just working from home. Her words was “Congratulations, your blood work shows you are pregnant!”

I did not jump for joy nor cry, I want to wait to see the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat. They told us to just continue with our normal routine and come back after a couple of weeks to do another ultrasound. Weeks pass by and it is time for the ultrasound, at first we are not hearing any heartbeat. Of course, I started to be anxious. I turned to my husband and told him “I counted and we are just barely 6 weeks pregnant, they said heartbeat can be heard at 8 weeks. Why cant they just tell me if I am having a miscarriage?”. The nurse went outside and her supervisor came back, they apologized and said that they miscalculated. There are 2 more weeks for us to wait until we hear the heartbeat. She apologized repeatedly and she told us that she will be in another location on our “correct date” so she insisted that we go to her location and she will do our ultrasound.

8th week came and it is time for my appointment. Almost everyday I am crying and talking to my belly, I keep telling her/him that please be alive, I am so excited to see you! During the ultrasound, my hands were so cold and I am so nervous! Then the a very loud thumping sound!!!! My baby has a strong heartbeat!!!! We are so happy and I can see my husband trying not to cry!

We did ask our fertility specialist that we want an aggressive treatment, I want to give birth before 35 years old. My little lady was born 174 days before my 31st birthday. Our job, the health insurance, the medicines, our trip to Puerto Rico, Prayers and husband’s unwavering support made all of this possible.

The entire process I can say is heartbreaking, traumatizing at time and it showed me how much my husband loves me. Regardless if I get pregnant or not, he said he would love and treat me just the same. We didn’t tell our entire family that we are doing this process, we kept it to ourselves. Even though there are less than 10 people in our family who knew, their support and prayers help us. 

If you are planning or doing the process right now, you need a really good support system. Take a break if you have too. Don’t forget to stick to your normal routine, you may need to re-start or increase the dosage of your meds but there are still a lot of things that can you do.

Do I want to have another child? Yes I do!

Do I want to repeat the process? No

For now, I will enjoy the company of my husband and the challenges of raising a little lady.

Note to self: School, Work and Savings

I would say growing up my parents never really thought us how to manage money. When we were going to school, we always have a packed lunch and snacks, my father will drop us off and pick us up in the afternoon. No need for us to buy food in the cafeteria or ride public transportation. On a monthly basis, I noticed my mom will have a small paper cut in squares and stapled to stash of cash which she will either give to my father or to me to pay for our newspaper delivery, payment for our tuition fee and money for grocery. Everything is labelled and she will leave those on top of our TV stand. She will also indicate in the label if there is change and if we can keep it!

 

When I graduated high school and started a summer job ( I got a college scholarship back then, money that I earn goes to my books, projects and of course party!!!) that’s when I learn that earning money and getting free money is so different. My grandparents would give us money every time we visit them, its not too much but it goes directly to our piggy bank. That is getting free money!

 

The earning money part was so hard!!! Of course it involves having to work hard for it. I remember working for a famous fast food chain in the Philippines and when I got my first paycheck I started crying! No it was not tears of joy but it was more of disappointment, I was working long hours and I was expecting a higher paycheck. I quit the job (there is nothing wrong with it, I think it is not for me), found a clerical job. Note to self #1: I told myself I will never again work in the fast food/restaurant industry.

 

During college I have my fair share of “cutting classes”, “drinking sessions” and almost failing 2 subjects. In one of the final exams that I was taking, I was surprised a lot of my classmates are exempted. They studied hard from the beginning of the semester and in the end they didn’t have to take the final exams. I was the opposite! I was partying at the beginning of the semester and killing myself with projects towards the end to make sure I pass the subject. Note to self #2: I will never procrastinate again, I will study hard and I will be one of the students who are always exempted from the final exams.

 

After college, I found a job (earning money) immediately! I was so happy that I am able to buy things for myself, sometimes treat my parents out for dinner and give them allowance every now and then. This is when I started to learn how to really manage and save. I finally realized what my mom was doing when we were kids, I didn’t have to cut papers and staple them but I adapted the same methodology. I got a plastic envelope with dividers in it, I labelled it with rent, utilities, savings and grocery. I would withdraw my paycheck and put my money in each of the labelled slots in the envelope. This is now my piggy bank! Then the unexpected happened. Someone broke into my apartment, found my envelope and took all the money in it! I lose all my savings and I ended up borrowing money from my parents so I can pay my bills. Note to self #3: Open a separate bank account for your savings

 

I would say there are things that I learn thru my parents and there are things that one has to learn the hard way. These are just 3 things I noted to myself and I keep reminding myself about it until now. Even though I am married and already a mom I am still following it. If you are reading this, I hope I help you in my simple way.

 

When you want to ensure your child has money for college….

When I was growing up, I have always wanted to become a flight attendant and a lawyer. Right now I am an industrial engineer and works for $3 Billion dollar company here in the US.

So what happen?

Back then there is a myth… i say it is a myth because I don’t have evidence if it is real.. that for a woman to become a flight attendant she must be 5’5 or 6 feet tall, has good eyesite and knows how to swim. I am 5’5 but I wear eyeglasses and I am not “Michael Phelps” type of a swimmer but I can swim.

My mom told me that I will not pass being a flight attendant, so my 2nd choice was to become a lawyer. Senior year in high school is the time to go around, visit schools and pass the entrance exams (I did my elementary to college years in the Philippines). I didn’t pass the entrance exams of the public university but I passed in the biggest and oldest catholic university in the country. My father was very disappointed..why? We don’t have the money to pay for my college tuition fee especially my choice was too expensive for them.

I ended up with Engineering since during early 2000’s our province has expanded and become popular location for manufacturing plants that are relocating in Asia. Then I got a government scholarship that paid for my entire 5 years of education. Of course, in between I have to work so I have allowance and money to spend on projects.

Fast forward to 2013… my first child was born and I have migrated here in the US. It is totally different here, they have FAFSA, private loans, 529 plans,  Coverdell etc. A child can get a scholarship too if your child is smart and applies to different non-government organization that provides scholarship. The amount is very  little too will not even make a dent in the total cost if you and your child decides to go straight to a university.

One cannot measure the value of education, this has helped me a lot on how I got to where I am right now. I did some research and I wanted to help my child get through college. I don’t think we would want her to go to Philippines just to get a college degree. So I opened a prepaid college plan and savings account for her. Is this enough? No! The prepaid college plan will just cover 2 semester of her community college education… this is assuming she will go to a community college first then get a bachelor’s degree and finish in a university.

The plan is at least she does not need to file a loan for the first 2 semesters of her college life. The savings account though is not a 529 savings account. So now I am thinking, should I should a 529 Account? Should I use the in-state 529 plan to take advantage of the tax break or go out of state since the cost will be cheaper but the reviews are higher compared to the in-state?

A lot of planning is required, thinking, researching! It will be up to me and my husband on what we think will work best for our child. She’s just a toddler not even going to pre-K yet but at least we are trying to prepare her. We don’t want her to end up having a degree and in debt! The starting salary of the entry level job here is a joke!

I will keep you posted on whether or not we opened a 529 account or not!

 

Spicy Chicken Breasts

It was requested by one of my stepson  that we have chicken breasts once a week, of course part of his request is it should be spicy!

We used this recipe for chicken taco or with rice. If there’s leftover I used it for my salad the next day at lunch.

Hubby said we can probably do this for pork chops but we haven’t tried it yet.

Grilling is another idea too but it is too cold now, maybe when we get lucky we’ll try to grill it.

This is spicy, for those who are not a big fan of spicy food you can skip the cayenne pepper and paprika. Adjust the measurement to your liking.

2 skinless & boneless chicken breast cut in half (for faster cooking)

Paprika

Garlic powder

Salt

Black pepper

Cayenne pepper

Olive oil

I did 1 tablespoon of each spices put them in a ziploc together with the chicken breast.

Added olive oil and made sure all the chicken breast was covered with the marinade, put it in a fridge in the morning and then cook it when we got home.

Baked it at 350 degrees F for 25-30mins. Next time before serving it I will take a picture!

Enjoy!!!!

Sarasota: Our second home

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I know summer is about to end and the colors of the leaves are starting to change. My husband and I are dreaming again of the warm weather, fine sands, the wonderful sound of the waves and delicious food. Ok we are talking about Sarasota, Florida. Voted as #1 Beach in the US. We didn’t know this until we came there and saw the signs and advertisements in the airport.

It was our first time to visit Sarasota back in May. We all of a sudden just decided to have a vacation. I went looking for hotel! OMG! it was so expensive! A co-worker of mine told me to go http://www.vrbo.com and I can find decent prices of townhouses, vacations houses, condo and the likes. I got lucky finding a beachfront condo that is within the budget, clean and has at least 2 bedroom and bath.

When we got there it was hot! Scorching hot! But we don’t mind! This is what we are looking for! The sun, the beach and the sand!

We went to St. Armand’s did a little shopping, restaurant hopping and people watching. What we like about the place that we rented was it was close to practically everything. It was 20-30 minutes away from the airport, there’s Walgreens and restaurant surrounding the condo. Traffic was not too bad if you will compare it with the Chicago traffic! The restaurant across the street serves the best chowder that I have tasted. At first we didn’t want to go in because it looks dark and small. They don’t have elaborate designs when you get in but the food was awesome! The chowder, the lobster and crabs! Wow now I am getting hungry again!

After our trip last May, we decided we will come back. And we did! We celebrated my birthday last August. We stayed at a different place because the condo is fully-book that month. We got a good package from Expedia and we stayed at the Longboat Key Resort. We don’t want to leave. It’s just really nice in this place.

Hopefully someday we can afford to buy a house here and move here. Or if I win the lottery I can buy a condo here and be a snowbird. Someday… in God’s perfect time. For now we are happy to call this place our second home and we will definitely come back. Not this year but definitely next year.

My timeline to US citizenship

Meeting my husband was a total accident and a result of me being tactless. He’s been in the US for 20 years, we work for them the same company but I was based in the Philippines. He got a chance to go to the plant for an IT project and stayed there for like 2-3 weeks. I met him during one of his business trips and during that time I didn’t know he was a Filipino and can still talk/understand Tagalog. He was sitting by my manager’s cube and it was my time that day to have some forms signed. In a gaudy manner I asked around who he was and little did I know that everyone in that area knows that he was Filipino. That was how we met!

We didn’t really started dating after that, we are both in a relationship. Partly because of embarrassment I never went back upstairs especially if there’s really nothing important to do there. He would buy ice cream and pizza for me and someone else will bring that to my desk. A couple of years later I got the chance to go to the US for a training, everyone was telling me to meet him in the plant and go out. That is not part of my agenda so I am not reaching-out to him for anything. That was the decision I made but fate intervene and someone from our plant called him up and told him that I was in the US and he should find me. He invited me out for dinner and next thing I know we are having lunch or dinner almost every day. When it was time for me to go back, he asked me to stay and we can get married. My being pragmatic intervened and if we want to be together some day we will have to do it the “legal” way.

I didn’t realize the “legal” way would mean the long and very bumpy road! We just decided to have a long distance relationship! After my training in the US, we started to see each other every year for 3 weeks (because that’s the vacation that he has), I give up a little bit of my social life because I wanted him to trust me. We call, text, skype, send emails & pictures almost everyday. It was very grueling experience! If I stayed illegally we are both going to be very miserable (I don’t have a job and he might lose his job) and will probably be not financially stable. There was a lot of research done on how we can be together, renewal of my tourist visa, getting married in Hong Kong, etc.

My then fiancé decided that he will apply for a citizenship and file for a K1 petition. The processing of the citizenship was fast and it was the K1 petition that felt like it was taking forever to be received, reviewed and approved. Being in a long distance relationship will really test your patience. There are times in our relationship that we both wanted to give up and there are times that he will tell that he is ready to just give up everything and move to the Philippines. It was tough and even with the help of technology it was difficult for us. Finally the petition was approved and it was time for me to prepare the documents and schedule an interview at the US Embassy. I have never been more nervous in my entire life until that day. I read a lot of blogs and even join a forum to see the experiences of other couples who are in the same boat as we are.

While waiting in line, I keep asking myself if I have everything, have I organize everything, am I wearing the right clothes? My stomach was in a knot! I was there 4am in the morning and didn’t get out until about 3pm. The wait is over and I got my visa!!! I immediately filed for resignation, he search for tickets and slowly pack my stuff.

Our journey didn’t stop there! You would think that once you get here and get married you will not need to file another document at USCIS. You are wrong! After the wedding we applied for work permit/green card, then the removal of conditions and then my citizenship. Every year since 2011, we are researching, reading blogs & forums and filing different types of documents to the USCIS. This year I didn’t file any, next year? I am not sure. I can petition my mom now but I think she’s not willing to stay here. We’ll see next year!

My timeline with USCIS:

My K1 petition took 6 months to be approve.

The conditional green card took 4 months to be approve and I got my 10 year green card last 2013.

July 2014 I decided to apply for citizenship. I was interviewed November of the same year and the oath-taking was done the following month.

Production, planning and Control… 10 years later

I never really thought that I will become a demand/supply planner after college. Back then when I was in school I just wanted a title that will be attached in my name aside from “Miss” or “Mrs”. I was thinking of Atty or Engr and even the unreachable “Her Royal Highness” like Prince William will go down his knees and propose to me!

On my 4th year, I had production, planning and control as one of my major subjects and I started taking mini-internship at Coca-Cola. After completing several projects in school and at Coca-Cola I decided that I will be in the production floor. Not manning the machines or inspecting but deciding what parts needs to be produced, the quantities and determining the entire production quantity. My first job was a miss, I didn’t do any of the 3 things that I mentioned but I need to start somewhere right? It is still a multi-national manufacturing company and I can’t really complain since they are the first company to give me a job offer right after graduation. I stayed for almost 1.5 year and a recruiter found me in one of the leading job sites in the Philippines and little did I know that this is the door that will lead me to manufacturing, production planning and to my husband.

Being a production planner also gave me a chance to come to the US for training. We are starting to feel the recession back then and our company started to transfer the production sites to China, Mexico and Philippines. The production manager proposed that I go to the US for a training. That was a huge blessing for me as I have never been to the US and I never thought I will be able to step foot to this country. I met a lot of people in the company who in turn taught me how to manage the (production) line, understand the process (machine, materials, people) and technicalities (different chemicals, measurements and quality issues) that comes with the products. They were so warm and friendly, they showed me around Chicago, introduce me to their families and treated me like their own daughter or sister. I was happy to get this opportunity and I was sad at the same time. There are a lot of people who will lose their job because of the move, the lady who trained me doesn’t know yet if she will be able to find a new job since she is already in her 50’s and this is the only job she have for the longest time. Part of the lesson that they taught me was change is inevitable and I should learn to adopt to these changes.

Aside from the overseas training, working with different production engineers and product engineers is one challenging job. I am the only female and the youngest engineer in the group, proving my worth and that I know what I am doing is a huge challenge. I spend most of my waking hours in the plant. I am renting an apartment 10mins away from the industrial park. I am usually in the office around 5:30-5:45am and will leave the plant as early as 4pm or sometimes 8 to 9pm depends if there are critical parts that needs to be produced and shipped. I spent ¼ of my weekend in the plant if there are a couple things that was not finished like reports and time study. As time goes by, I gain my peer’s respect, we all value each other’s opinion and we listen to each other. It was fun but some of us have to leave the company for better opportunities (either a job offer from another local manufacturing company or job overseas) or internal promotion. I still keep in touch with most of them, I too left the group and join the shared services before I move here in Illinois.

The 2nd job (still at the same company but under shared services) also gave me another opportunity to travel, this time to Netherlands! I went there twice also for a training. I did a side trip to Madrid as well since we have a long weekend that time. The training this time does not involve any machines or chemicals that needs to be measured. It was more of a desk job and answering a lot of calls from different customers. I was expecting the same warm welcome that I felt when I was in the US on my first day in Netherlands. Guess what?! It was the exact opposite. There are a handful of people who said hi to me and introduce themselves. The rest doesn’t even want to talk or look at me. I totally understand! I am taking their job. The job that they’ve been doing for 5, 10 and even 15 years. I am only there for work and my manager gave me instructions of the things that I will need to learn and that’s all that I care for. The decision to move their job to our country came from the people way above my pay grade, that’s something that they need to understand. I have to talk to each one and ask if they can fit me in their busy schedule some said “ok” or “I’ll just call you when I’m free” but they never did. So yes the first week was tough. 2nd week I send out invites copying their supervisors, my manager and their managers, I have no choice! With this kind of method I was able to do my training and met the customers. I didn’t expect they will show me around Amsterdam or Utrecht so I did the shopping and other tourist stuff by myself. Getting lost, canal cruises, missing the bus and chasing the bus, almost getting hit by a bicycle (lol!), and ordering food in Dutch (that is one tough language to learn, good thing there are American and Asian restaurants near the hotel) was fun and exciting! My fiancé came to visit me too and we went around Amsterdam.

Learning the culture, meeting a lot of people and travelling to different countries was something I didn’t expect when I became a production planner or when I decided to be in the manufacturing industry. I am still in the manufacturing industry doing demand/supply planning. I gain friends and I still keep in touch with them until now. Since I have my little girl, my travel is very minimal and only when needed. 10 years after graduating I still enjoy production, planning and control and I can still see myself doing this for the next 10-20 years or until my husband ask me to retire J