Amber

My name is Ambrin, but Zack likes to call me Amber. I am 35 years old and am originally from Pakistan where I was born and raised. I was living in Islamabad, the capital city, before coming to the US. Like most of the Pakistani population (97% according to the CIA World Factbook), I am a Muslim.

I got married to Zack 14 years ago, the best decision of my life. And then my daughter Michelle was born on August 12, 2004 changing my life completely.

I came to the US 12 years ago, got my Masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and currently work as a Systems Engineer in the telecommunications industry.

I share the passion for travel with Zack and together we plan to see the world.

I will also be posting on our weblog Procrastination, though rarely and definitely not as much as Zack would want me to.

Disclaimer

Read the disclaimer about this website.

My Surprise Baby Shower

I was really surprised to have one.

Baby shower seems like a big pregnancy thing in the US. When we started our baby registry at Babies R Us, the lady asked Zack if he needed shower invitation cards and hesitently he said No…Yes…may be… So she gave us 50 free cards which are useless for us. Actually some people even asked me why we set up the registry since no one would be buying us anything from there but we had it for our own record.

We have practically no family in the US, so unlike the norm around us we were not expecting any family member to throw us a shower. We did, however, get a lot of gifts from our family back in Pakistan. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law sent us 7 hand-knit sets, my brother sent me two baby dresses and one bedding set. My mom, who had not touched the needles for last 20+ years, knit three baby sweater sets for our baby and also she sent us 12 baby dresses.

I also recently changed my job from one software system to another within the same parent company and almost all of my friends of 5 years and colleagues were either force-adjusted or spread out in various software business units, so I wasn’t expecting any gifts/shower from the folks at work.

Every now and then people will ask me “So did you have baby shower yet?” Or like “it’s good to have registry as most of the small stuff others will buy for you.” And even though I will brag about the gifts our family sent, they will give me a look of pity.

This friday, life was going as usual. These days I have way too much work. Practically I am working more than 10 hours a day. Since my manager is on vacation, I am also acting on his behalf which makes me practically on call for 24 hours and I have conflicting management meetings and technical meetings all the time.

So like I said life was going on as usual. I had a meeting scheduled with one developer to go over some design and architectural details for some feature at 1:30pm and then I was meeting our product managers for some upcoming demo opportunities at 3:00pm. So I went to the developer’s office at 1:30pm and she seemed a bit out of it. I tried to go over the technical details but she did not seem to be following.

Meanwhile, another senior architect walked in and told me that our CEO had some questions for an upcoming demo and he would appreciate it if I could help them out with some technical information. I was a little upset with the unexpected additional work but I said ok let’s go. We walked to our main conference room. The door was closed. When he opened the door, I can’t describe how much overwhelmed I was. The room was fully decorated and there were 50+ people from at least 10 different software business units including most managers and our VP. Yes, the friends who were all scattered in different orgs, the people I worked with on various projects for the last 5 years and friends who were force-adjusted from this company were all gathered to share the excitement of the most wonderful experience of my life. They had arranged a surprise baby shower for me. There was plenty of food and gifts but what mattered the most was the thought.

I could not speak for may be 5 minutes. I was almost in tears and to embarrass me later, they took a lot of pictures.

All I can say is that I was touched and there is no better feeling than the feeling of sharing joy, happiness and special moments with your friends.

Week 21: Level 2 Diagnostic Ultrasound

The child finally looks human

I was scheduled for a level 2 diagnostic ultrasound during the 21st week. Myself and Zack were very excited as we were told that at 21st week the baby looks like a complete human vs “human like” in the early weeks.

The ultrasound was scheduled at around 7:30am. We reached our lab and the procedure started. Our baby was lying on her tummy and was very active. The ultrasound technicion took at least 50 different views. The sonogram included brain, kidneys, heart, legs, arms, face, hands, feet and what not. It continued for 2 hours. All that time our little one did not sit idle for a sec. She was not very co-operative. At one point the technician said to us “what a crazy kid she is, she is not letting me have the details I need to do”. But by hook or crook, all of the diagnosis was done. We were blessed to know that everything is normal.

The most amazing part was that at one point in time, she almost raised her head and seemed like she looked at us (that’s how it appeared on the screen) and while doing it, she used her pretty little hands and wiped her face. According to the lady performing the procedure, very few kids do use their hands to clean their face. Seems like we will have a neat, tidy kid after all. Like mother like daughter.

Progress of the fetus

During the 21st week,

Your baby can still move all over in the amniotic fluid. Towards the end of this trimester the baby will begin to settle, usually in a head down position (Although some babies do not turn head down until late in the last trimester.). About 3-4% of babies will remain in a breech position. Your baby weighs just under a pound (13 ounces or 369 grams).

Weeks 11–19

Will my child be bald?

In weeks 14th—17th the fetus grows hair. I was very upset that time ‘cause it looked like I was going to get laid off. So Zack kept telling me that due to all that worry, we will have a bald child as the fetus will lose all his/her hair. So what choice do I have?

Why the starter for life can endanger the life itself?

Besides major cramping and nasal congestion, rest of my first trimester ended fine so when the 18th week started, our doc gave us a “go ahead” for intercourse (they prefer to avoid calling sex). He said but masturbation is not allowed and the question comes “why? is it because it’s always better?” And to my surprise answer came out to be yes which I had said as a joke. My doc said masturbation in women results in a much stronger stimulation than regular sex so stay away from it.

I shared it with another friend of mine who is pregnant herself so she asked it from her ob/gyn at her next visit if she can use her paw or vibrator and the doctor’s eyes were wide open, unable to reply for a few minutes. I guess it’s still not good that women talk about it. They just do it quietly.

We were quite excited as nothing had stopped us in last 10 years :-) before. We planned like it’s our first time or at least we felt it that way. Everything went smooth from candle-light dinner to nice cuddling etc.

48 hours later I was spotting again. First few days I thought it will go away and on day 3, I called my doc who asked me to come right away for a check up. Everything looked fine. So they asked “were you sexually active before it started?” and it reminds you of teenage years when your mom asks you what were you doing talking so late on phone with a guy like what can you do beside talking but..and very shyly like we have made a mistake, we both agreed that we shared the bed one night. And the doctor was like “No, you can’t do it then.” We were like but you said it’s ok and they said “no, not any more. SEX is not for you.”

Progress of the fetus

During the 19th week,

This is an impressive week for growth! The baby will increase in weight to 8 ounces (227 grams)! If you are having a girl, her ovaries now contain primitive egg cells. Lanugo appears all over the baby’s body. This fine hair will remain until birth draws nearer. Sometimes you can still see some on the baby’s face and ears after birth.

Permanent teeth buds are forming behind the already formed milk teeth buds.

Weeks 7-10

Start of a new life

On Dec 29th, we went to see the Doc in the morning. We were very nervous, if the heartbeat be there or not?

Dr Darder was there that day. He performed the transvaginal ultrasound. Zack was sitting on a chair next to me while I was lying on my back in that bed. The doctor congratulated us as he saw the heartbeat. Zack could see it from the distance while I was unable to see it. So Dr Darder put the cursor next to that little blinking dot and we were so excited to see it. What a nice way to start a new year.

He also told us to visit them for another week and then start going to my regular ob/gyn.

On Jan 05, I went to the doc and everything seemed ok.They also recommended some good ob/gyn in the area, since my guy is 25 miles away and I want someone near by.

I made the appointment with the regular ob/gyn for 14th Jan 2004.

My first pregnant visit to a regular ob/gyn

As usual I hated the long wait. Also, I am so pampered by going to specialists that ob/gyn gives me the silly PCP visit kind of feeling.

Anyways I visisted my new regular doctors on 14th Jan. They drew lots of blood (which was lost by the lab and I had to redo it) and performed a pap smear.

Doc told me that it will bleed slightly for an hour or so but nothing to be worried. It kept bleeding for three days. Again in desparation, I called my PCOS specialist and they told me to come right away for an ultrasound on Jan 17. The ultrasound was ok and Dr Trieser told me that cervix is just extra-sensitive. Finally the bleeding vanished away.

Another annoying part of my pregnancy

There is no doubt that I am suffering from major cramping etc. But that’s not all. My nose is congested all the time. I can’t breathe, can’t sleep and have no appetite left.

I am seriously allergic to molds, house mites etc. So I thought it must be my allergies. I visited the ENT specialist who told me that I have a deviated septum and may be polyps. Later they found I have no polyps; just suffering from pregnancy rhinitis. And it will get worse before it gets better… which is after delivery.

I can’t take any medicine and they can’t do CT scan to really know the cause, so blame it on the usual suspect… pregnancy.

But so far it has exhausted me. I am unable to eat and whatever I eat I throw up since I have post nasal drip and post nasal drip always make me vomit.

Progress of the fetus

During the 10th week,

The baby now enters it’s fetal period. The average size is approximately 27-35 mm crown to rump length (CRL), or 1.06-1.38 inches. S/he weighs in at 4 grams, or 4 paper clips. Tiny toes have formed. The eyes are largely open, but the eyelids are beginning to fuse, and will stay that way until 25-27 weeks. External genitalia is beginning to differentiate. External ears are completely formed, as well as the upper lip. The biggest accomplishment this week is the disappearance of the tail!

Weeks 5-6

I was having cramps in my lower abdomen for a few days and I noticed on Dec 16th evening that I have slight dark brown spotting. Spotting continued for next 10 days and cramps starting to become severe.

On the 18th, I freaked out as cramps were getting worse. I had an ovarian cyst couple months ago with similar symptoms, so I called my doc (IVF-NJ/PCOS specialist group). The nurse told me to have an early home pregnancy test and I told her… no way, it has not happened to me in last 7 years so it may not be pregnancy.

She was very polite and asked me to come next morning to have an ultrasound to see what’s going on with my cycle. I love this setup with the fertility specialist. They have 2 or 3 hours dedicated each morning where their patients can just walk in to have a blood test and/or ultrasound and one of the doctors from the group is always there even on weekends. It’s absolutely necessary for women taking IVF treatment but is also a blessing for patients like me who have gynecological issues often and need immediate attention and correct diagnosis.

My last emergency trip to a hospital (rated very best in NJ for its women health) was a very bad experience. I was dying with pain, they diagnosed me wrong without doing any test, X-ray or ultrasound and then started the wrong medicines and asked me to go see my regular specialist, who on my first visit did the ultrasound and right away told me that I have no infection, it’s just an ovarian cyst and then provided me correct line of treatment. So you can tell how much I trust my specialist over the hospital emergency rooms.

We (Zack and me) visited the specialist next morning, Dec 19th. One of the new doctors from their group (Dr Yi) was there that day. I have never met her before. Mostly I go with appointments and only see Dr Trieser or Dr Darder. She did a quick transvaginal ultrasound and told us that it seems like I am pregnant and the bleeding is due to implantation —- nothing to be worried about. She also did the blood test and later called me home around noon to confirm the pregnancy. She also asked me to keep visiting every week till the 10th week, when they can say pregnancy is stable.

Who comes to know next —- A complete stranger

My company is not doing good in last three years. We are reduced (by force adjustments) from a group of 8 System Engineers to only 2 and this is the last ultimatum from upper management to make a sale of our product or they will close shop.

So I was applying for other jobs. The same last week of Dec, I was negotiating with S, a manager in a very good company and he offered me a good package and I was supposed to confirm Monday Dec 22, that I will join this new company on Feb 01.

When I heard the baby news, I started to take it slow at work and decided not to change jobs. Moving to a new company requires a lot of extra work hours and effort before you make a good reputation. Zack and myself talked and decided it’s not a good time for me to start all over at work front. If I lose my present job in 6 months, so be it, but we should not be taking any risk.

So I told S on monday Dec 22, that I am sorry I can’t join and he was so disappointed and he tried to convince me and asked me if I wanted more benefits etc. I felt kind of sorry too and told him that I just found out I am pregnant and I don’t want to take any risk of extra work load etc.

Everything seems ok but cramps keep getting worse and worse. There were days when I was unable to sit staright in my office.

I told a few of my friends at work… mainly Steven, Rob, Laura and Daksha. I was feeling very tired and sick, could not sleep properly at nigt so I wanted to ask my boss if I can telecommute one day a week. Most of my friends at work told me not to tell my boss. Considering the force adjustments and stuff, they feared that he might use it as a negative impact on my employment continuation with my present company. But my lower abdominal pain was killing me so I decided to trust my boss. When I told him, he reacted very happy and told me to work from home as much as I needed. I was not sure if it was a good idea to share with him or not but I trusted him. It’s very important that you trust your immediate boss at work.

On the 24th Dec, I was scheduled for an ultrasound to see the baby’s heart beat. My doc could not find the heartbeat and he was concerned that it might not be the good sac since I am having such bad cramps. It made me very sad and I did pray a lot for a healthy baby.

My doc told me to revisit on Dec 29th to again check the heart beat. According to him if there will be no heart beat by Dec 29th (6 weeks) then it’s not a good sign.

Weeks 1-2

First step: Zack is coming home on 27th Nov for Thanksgiving. After a very painful month (Zack’s CRVO problem), finally we are relaxed a little bit.

I got up 25 Nov and realized that I may be ovulating. (I have PCOS and a year back my doc put me on Glucophage which seems to be working in the sense that at least my cycle is regular now). This realization was purely based on the fact that mucous was very watery and clear. So I said to myself… well I missed this window too as Zack will not be here till the 27th (2 days later).

Later I forgot. Zack came home and we had a very nice time. We had friends over for thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed a lot.

Brain Persuasion Test

Following Zack, my Brain Persuasion Test had the following result:

Your Brain Usage Profile
Auditory : 66%
Visual : 33%
Left : 47%
Right : 52%

Ambrin, your hemispheric dominance is equally divided between left and right brain, while you show a moderate preference for auditory versus visual learning, signs of a balanced and flexible person.

Your balance gives you the enviable capacity to be verbal and literate while retaining a certain “flair” and individuality. You are logical and compliant but only to a degree. You are organized without being compulsive, goal-directed without being driven, and a “thinking” individual without being excessively so.

The one problem you might have is that your learning might not be as efficient as you would like. At times you will work from the specific to the general, while at other times you’ll work from the general to the specific. Sometimes you will be logical in your approach while at other times random. Since you cannot always control the choice, you may experience frustrations not normally felt by persons with a more defined and directed learning style. You may also minimally experience conflicts associated with auditory processing.

You will be systematic and sequential in your processing of information, you will most often focus on a single dimension of the problem or material, and you will be more reflective, i.e., “taking the data in” as opposed to “devouring” it.

Overall, you should feel content with your life and yourself. You are, perhaps, a little too critical of yourself – and of others – while maintaining an “openness” which is redeeming. Indecisiveness is a problem and your creativity is not in keeping with your potential. Being a pragmatist, you downplay this aspect of yourself and focus on the more immediate, the more obvious and the more functional.

Us at My Brother-in-law’s Wedding

Zack and I at Fowzi's Wedding

Iraq and WMD

I think the US is looking for some nasty stuff that it gave to Saddam in the 1980s. The Bush administration is worried since inspectors haven’t found the stuff and nobody destroys WMDs unilaterally and voluntarily.

Camera Service

Best Buy Store and its service are horrible.