Meeting “Spriki”

Two days after celebrating our 2nd Civil Wedding Anniversary here in Houston (we actually thought the little one would come out on that day), our little Spriki decided that it was about time we meet her. My parents, the excited grandparents, have already posted a few dozen photos of her and probably me in my au naturale state on Facebook and I am beyond overwhelmed with all the wonderful comments from family, friends, mom’s friends, dad’s friends, my siblings’ friends, my mom and dad’s co-workers at Methodist Hospital Sugarland where I gave birth and even some people that Marco and I don’t know. Marco and I would like to thank each and every single one of all the well wishers, all those who came to visit us at the hospital and especially those who took care of us during the birthing process—Dr. Lauren Swords and the entire Methodist Sugarland Hospital Labor and Delivery team. To the birthing team,thank you for making our stay as comfortable as possible; to mom and pop’s Methodist hospital friends, thank you for spoiling us like we were checked in at a 5-star hotel, biggest suite and all.  We have indeed received immense love and support since the start of this pregnancy and I’m pretty sure that radiated to Spriki even while she was inside my womb, I can tell our baby girl that she’s been loved even before coming out into this world. Most importantly we are thankful to God for making the labor process uneventful and for giving us a healthy baby girl.

Waiting for Cassie to “come down”

Photo courtesy of my brother, Paul Ramas.

Managing a smile for my mom and dad, my support system, right before going to labor.

My mom called in that day just so she could be with me all throughout the birthing process and my dad, with the permission of his boss, would come and check up on me every “down time” he had.

Why hello there little Spriki.

The nurses cleaning up Spriki.

Our first family picture— The Ramas-Mendezonas

My husband Marco was present and he and my mom were asked by Dr. Swords to literally hep out in the birthing process.

Daddy’s first time changing Cassie’s diaper, he got to do it before I did.

World, meet our little Spriki. Maria Iliana Cassandra “Cassie” Ramas Mendezona born on October, 19 at 7lbs. 80.49 oz.

I’m officially a mommy now!!!!

~Rhea

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Baby Haul: Community Sale

A few days after Marco and I found out that we were pregnant we started discussing where we would have the baby, were we having the baby in the Philippines ( Bacolod or Manila) or the U.S? Most of the people that I’ve talked to answered me like it was a no-brainer, “of course have the baby in the US so you won’t have to file for her citizenship anymore“. Typical. But it wasn’t as easy as that so for the longest time we weighed our options and literally went through the PROs and CONs one at a time.

Here’s the long and short of it all:

MANILA

PROs– the cost of giving birth is cheaper from vitamins, labs, ultrasounds up to labor and delivery; there are a lot of manangs and experienced help at home willing to assist me with the handling of the baby; there are manongs who can take us to our doctor’s appointments and what not; we will have a lot of friends and extended family that we can run to for advice or even needs concerning the baby; Marco can keep continue working as a doctor while I go through the pregnancy

CONs– I won’t have my family around as I go through my FIRST pregnancy; my parents won’t be there during the birth of their 1st grand child; we will still have to file for the baby’s citizenship; we will have to wait another month or so after the baby is born before we are allowed to fly her to Houston

HOUSTON

PROs– the cost of giving birth is free IF approved by Medicaid; the government is willing to assist us through the WIC program IF our situation qualifies; my parents and my family will be there to assist me hands on before, during and after my pregnancy; the baby will automatically be an American citizen; we won’t have to take a long flight to Houston with a newborn (20+ hours with a newborn on a plane is no joke, so I heard)

CONs-if not covered by any insurance we will have to pay for ALL the expenses out of pocket—vitamins, medicine, labs, ultrasound, doctor’s appointments and the actual labor and delivery process (and believe me when I say it will cost an arm and a leg); we will have help from family and friends when available but Marco and I will have to learn to do EVERYTHING and be hands on with our baby; Marco will have to drive me to all the doctor’s appointments and what not; Marco won’t be able to apply for  a job right away which leaves both of us jobless

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With how things went in the Philippines, at 7 months and a few weeks I was medically certified to fly back to Houston with Marco and with God’s grace everything fell into place—the flight to LA was smooth and we got see Papi and Javi for a few days (my feet were crazy swollen though after that long flight); the flight to Houston was smooth as well and a after a year and a few months we finally got to see my family; we got Marco’s SS number a few days after we arrived and since we’re both unemployed at the moment we filed for Medicaid and got approved which means all our doctor’s appointments and my labor and delivery should be covered; we found out that Marco aced his STEP I USMLE (Woohoo, two more exams until he can hopefully start working as a physician); we applied for WIC and got approved until we both can find jobs (I’m telling you that FREE monthly supply of cheese, milk, eggs fruits, bread, rice, beans, peanut butter, etc. is a BIG help); we got his Green Card a few weeks after and now we’re working on getting his Driver’s License, applying for jobs and waiting for this baby to come out.

 Other women in my position are embarrassed to say that they’re having a “welfare baby” ergo Medicaid and WIC but the way I see it, I am in a temporary situation where I’m needing help from the government whom I’ve paid my fair share of hard-earned tax money to for the past few years and they have agreed to help me, I don’t see anything wrong with that and personally I think that’s its nothing to be ashamed of.

I think every excited expectant mother wants the best for her baby (especially if its her first) that’s where I’m at right now. I want to get my little Cassie everything she needs and might need, I want to buy her nice new things even before she’s out but just because I’m going to be a new mom that doesn’t mean I’m going to have to buy her EVERYTHING brand new. Even without considering the current situation I’m in, I’ve always been a bargain shopper—always have and always will. I’m the type of person who gets excited over garage sales, estate sales, antique shops, consignment stores and thrift stores so yes, I do thrifting and I buy second hand stuff for myself and I will buy second hand stuff for my baby as well, its a matter of knowing when it’s a “good buy” or when it’s not. In fact I just came from a community sale over the weekend and here’s a run-through of my baby haul (the breast pump and crib were purchased on a different day)

Medela Pump In Style Breast Pump – $179.00- $349.99

It also includes PersonalFit breast shields, PersonalFit breast shield connectors, valves and membranes, tubing, 5 oz. BPA-free breast milk bottles with lids, one wide-base nipple and travel cap, a removable cooler bag, a contoured ice pack, power cord and battery pack (not shown in the picture).

Before you go judging me by thinking “ewww she’s buying a second hand breast pump” , I suggest you relax because I did think this through and I am aware of this thing we call “hygiene”. Of course those items that are “personal” (those that touch the skin/ breast) I’ve purchased and replaced with my own but the actual machine works perfectly fine and that’s whats important.

We paid: $30

Delta Children’s 4 in 1 crib – $150s- $350s

The price range of this crib varies depending on the style that you get but I love how it is a “4 in 1”. We almost lost the deal because someone was willing to pay the asking price of $65 (which was still not bad) when I still opted to haggle for $50, it’s a good thing the interested buyer didn’t show up and the owner ended up contacting us saying that she was willing to give it at our price as long as we picked it up within the weekend.The one we purchased came in the color espresso and and it fits perfectly fine with the rest of the furniture we have inside the room. There are  a few minor scratches and when I say ” a few” I mean 2.

We paid: $50

Dekor Diaper Pail- $29.95- $49.99

Dekor Diaper Refill – $ 12.99

People say there really is no need for expensive diaper pails and that normal trash cans will do for dirty diapers, if we didn’t see this deal I probably would have agreed with them but let’s face it who wants their room or the baby’s nursery smelling of dirty diapers. This thing can hold up to 46 diapers asides the fact that it keeps the room odor-free.

Priced at $10 for both pail and refills.

Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad- $16.99

I wouldn’t have considered this a “super need” since I’ve seen my mom change my siblings diapers anywhere and everywhere without this item but having this may come in handy especially if you want the baby to be comfortable and to hold still while being changed.

Priced at $2

Cotton Tale Designs Lollipop and Roses 4 Crib Bedding Set- $148.93- $215.26

Although this crib bedding wasn’t in the color scheme of Cassie’s area, I fell in love with its vintage feel— the combinations of light pinks, cream and tan were after my own heart and the set was in perfectly good condition so we bought it anyway.

Priced at $30

Carter’s by Kids Line Love Bug Baby Hamper- $35.99

This hamper was sold with its matching crib bedding set but it was too pink for me and the set looked more used than the other set I just got so we just purchased the hamper alone to hold Cassie’s dirty clothes.

Priced at $5

American Princess Peach Floral Dress with Bloomers- $15-$45

The baby clothes at the community sale were in abundance, they were in good condition and really cheap too. Within that crazy pile, my mom found this cute peach dress with bloomers by American Princess for a 12 month old that looked like it was used once or twice. The one in the photo is not the exact dress that we bought but its the closest one I could find, I’d like to think the one we got is cuter.

Priced at $1 for the pair

Petunia Pickle Bottom Crosstown Clutch Wristlet Diaper Bag $45-$65

Now this one would have to be one of my favorite purchases because it’s not only for Cassie but also for me. Not all the time, we’d want to be lugging that big, attention seeking diaper bag especially at parties and dress-up events so this little clutch can be your bestfriend. It has enough space for a skinny wallet or maybe just your credit cards, a phone, your favorite lippies, mascara, eye liner, hand sanitizer and what not, a diaper or two and did I mention it has a built-in detachable diaper changing mat perfect for every fashionable mom.

Priced at $10

And since we bought a lot from the community sale, they gave us an additional discount so instead of paying $58 from the diaper pail down, they gave it to us at $50. Now if we bought all of these things including the breast pump and the crib brand new we would have easily paid $635 instead of the $130 that we just did.

…And this is how we’re making do with what we have here in Houston and honestly I don’t think it’s that bad.

~Rhea

It’s Good to be Back, Houston

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(CARDIGAN: black /TOP: Merona/ SHORTS: Liz Lange Maternity/ SANDALS: Qupid / NECKLACE: Fossil / SUNGLASSES: Aviators; Kenneth Cole)

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I actually got this outfit as a “Welcome Home” present from the family

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I know, I know my baby bump is big.

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The last few weeks of July and the first few weeks of August were quite chaotic, we literally had a million and one things to worry about. Marco was scheduled to take his Step 1 USMLE around that time and for days I had a very anxious husband. The delay of his US spousal visa didn’t help the situation either, it added to his anxiety and it added to mine. I on the other hand had to finalize my thesis drafts before leaving and I had to communicate with my adviser through email due to my current state. Its never fun for a pregnant woman to be stuck in the middle of Manila traffic, the drive from Alabang to UP Diliman now that school has started is no fun at all.

Being the big worry wart that I am, I still kept telling myself to trust in the Lord because he’s never let me down…EVER, but I’d be lying to myself If I didn’t say that I was starting to get impatient (boy, if you could only hear my dialogues with the Lord). I worried about a lot of things, I worried that Marco’s visa might take longer, I worried about not finishing my thesis (again), I worried about the tickets being so expensive by the time we get his visa, I worried about not being able to fly because I was a little bit over 7 months already, I worried about not being able to handle the long flight, I worried about the results of Marco’s exam… I was just WORRYING big time and so I finally gave it up and I offered it up to him, I mean there’s nothing else that I could do anyway and as soon as I did that things started turning out for the best.

On what we didn’t think was our last week in the Philippines, we got to visit family in Bacolod to celebrate Marco’s niece’s 1st birthday, they also threw me a baby shower and a despedida for me and Marco. We got a text from the embassy saying that his visa was going to be delivered in Manila (its a good thing we had Dolly Ann in Manila to accept it in behalf of Marco), the next day we purchased our tickets to LA so we could see Papi and Javi first before flying to Houston. We got to do a 4D ultrasound and we saw our little one for the first time and we got to visit the dentist. We then flew to Cebu to say goodbye to our grandparents in both sides and got to meet up with some close family and friends and then we flew back to Manila.

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Here’s the 4D of our little angel.

Manila was more hectic than ever, in less than a week we had to visit Marco’s eye doctor to make sure everything’s okay since his corneal transplant, I had to visit Tita Py, my OB-GYN for my final check up and also so she could clear me for the long flight to the US, I had to meet up with my thesis adviser so he could approve my final drafts before binding 3 copies of my thesis, we met up with our families for farewell dinners and we had to PACK (some wedding gifts from last year, all the baby shower gifts and tugons). We ended up with 4 Balikbayan boxes, 1 check-in maleta and 2 carry-on maletas. I’ll probably write about our travel experience in a separate entry and as I sit here in Houston recalling everything we had to go through I still can’t help but be amazed how all of those things happened in a span of 2 weeks (or less), “When it RAINS it does POUR” and once again HE came through for us. We are very grateful and are truly blessed, it’s good to be home Houston.

~Rhea

It’s 50-50.

(DRESS: from Mami/ BAG: Gap from Mami/ SANDALS: Parisian/ EARRINGS: Aldo/ NECKLACE: Icing/ WATCH: New York and Co)

At 16 weeks and five days I seriously am noticing a lot of changes in my body and I know women differ in pregnancy changes but people have commented how I’m showing so early in the pregnancy. It has reached a point where I myself wonder how I’ve still managed to squeeze in some of my old clothes but I love my baby bump and I’m actually proud of it. Don’t expect me to be taking any pregnancy photos showing my belly though, I have nothing against it but I guess it’s just not my thing (haha, maybe in the second pregnancy) besides I think my lola (grandmother) would  kill me if she sees me exposing my belly that way.

As I near week 17, we’re getting more anxious to find out the baby’s gender. Marco and I would gladly take a boy or girl or even both (haha) because this pregnancy has been more than we could ever ask for. Now that (we think) we’re ready to be parents and we’ve spent some alone time as husband and wife, we asked God to bless us with a little one and he gave it to us in an instant, now we’re just continuously praying for a safe pregnancy for me and Spriki but for betting purposes Marco’s going for a boy (no surprise there) and I’m going for a girl. I actually know of people who are doing bets on our baby’s gender and I really don’t blame them because from Marco’s side there are 5 of them boys and 2 girls and on my side is the total opposite, there are 5 of us girls and 2 boys which makes the chances 50-50. I guess we’ll see in a week 😀

~Rhea

Who is “Spriki”?

(SHORTS: Tomato/ TOP: Kimono top from the Alabang Hills Bazaar/ PURSE: Mustard Sling from my sisters/ SHOES: Peeptoe Cut-outs from 168)

Still fit my clothes at 14 weeks

Happy momma-to-be

Looks like a beer belly to me. haha.

Wasn’t really sure if I was up for posting maternity OOTDs but I guess I’m giving them a try. Can’t predict when my hormones are planning to act up either so I am not going to be pressuring myself to take OOTDs every week just to monitor my pregnancy bump. Speaking of the size of my bump, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback already saying I’m showing a bit earlier than expected but my OB says its normal for petite girls to show so early in the pregnancy. Thank God I didn’t go through the vomiting phase either, yes I’ve wanted to puke a few times or so but I guess I’m more disgusted with the thought of vomit so I just don’t do it, hahaha. So far this pregnancy has been kind to me although I’m not going to lie, I dread the scary changes in my body thanks to the horror stories of some of the mothers that I’ve talked to, I guess I am vain after all.I am sooooo not looking forward to the stretch marks, darkening of the neck, darkening of the underarms, belly button popping out, swollen extremities, swollen nose and that dark linea nigra on my belly but as long as my baby is safe and healthy then I really don’t mind at all.

Right now we don’t know the gender of the baby yet so my husband has resorted to calling our baby a  disgustingly funny name that caught on. It started out with us picking names for our baby and Marco, being the funny guy that he is started blurting out stupid made up names like “Kapitan Love”. Well, he started calling our baby with one of those “stupid names”—“Spriki” and because he just kept saying it over and over again I found myself calling him/her that name too. So now the entire household has joined in the name calling, from siblings, cousins, friends, our manangs , even our parents sometimes call the baby “Spriki” so “Spriki” it is until we find out his/her gender. Hahaha, you are a very loved baby, “Spriki”. Btw, “Spriki” is short for “Sprikitik” and if you get a chance to find out what that Filipino slang means, just don’t bother (seriously, I mean it).

P.S. If she’s a girl, Sandro and Pilica says we should call her “Sprikitika”. Guh-reat! 😀

~Rhea