Donde pongo el ojo pongo la bala.

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It’s not always sunny in Babylandia

Knowing that less than five percent of women actually go into labor on their due date, I knew I was definitely not in labor on June 12th when that really bad indigestion hit in the evening. Definitely not.

Except, of course, I totally was. (It wasn’t indigestion.)

Fifty-one hours of laboring without an epidural later (and I seriously am not saying that to sound like a bad ass… if I didn’t have an allergy to lidocaine which basically made every single anesthesiologist at Wuesthoff vehemently refuse to give me one — not that I/we asked, but the nurses check anyway “just in case” — I probably would have ended up begging for one… actually, I can’t say I didn’t beg for one, because I was delirious with pain the majority of the time), I ended up with this:

My little Rafael. Oh, the posts that I have typed out in my mind about him! His “firsts”, every smile, the way he smells… that slightly traumatic birth story, how hilarious it is when he pees on you when you change his diaper, how I didn’t expect to love this much: love him, love George even more, love life, love love. But those? Those are posts for another time.

This is yet another post, along with all those status updates on Facebook, about how I can’t believe seasoned moms never tell you _______.

I have never in my life, not in my late teens/early 20s, not when partying it up in school, not when travelling to foreign countries with limited time to see everything I wanted to see, not when my body was capable of recovering much more quickly and didn’t understand the concept of exhaustion or hangovers or any such nonsense that youthful bodies are apparently impervious to which made me push myself much further than my limit on a regular basis, been this exhausted. Ever. Ever. Holy balls.

Why? Why are even the parents who laughingly say, “Sleep now while you can!” LAUGHINGLY SAYING IT? Why aren’t people more serious about how completely destroyed you will be only 11 weeks in, and how you will sit on the corner of your bed at six in the morning and cry because your baby is crying because he is gassy and nothing you’ve done all night has helped, you’ve had little or no sleep in days, you’re cranky and you’re taking out the frustration and overwhelm-ation on the one person in the world who is actually helping you by swooping in and soothing that little man after they’ve gotten not-a-whole-lot-more sleep than you have.

And that? That is just one of the unexpecteds. Because no matter how much you prepare for all things baby-related intellectually and think you know what you’re getting into… man. That first baby, these first experiences, there’s no way to really be ready. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself (and what George keeps telling me), because I’m secretly convinced that everyone else has a magic formula that I missed out on and that it’s easier for all other parents who never confess that despite their child being the absolute best thing that ever happened to them, they, too, curled up into the fetal position and cried watching someone else pacify their baby.

I love my kid. When he smooshes his little face into my neck when he’s sleepy? When he smiles when I make silly faces at him and speak in a high pitched voice? When I see how healthy and happy he is? That’s when I know there’s nothing in the world I’d rather be doing than raising him, than being there. That’s when I know that the tough times are worth it.

But this whole baby thing? It’s not easy. And I am here to tell you, friends, family, and Internet world, that I mess up, I get overwhelmed, sometimes I think I can’t do this or don’t want to because all I want to do is TAKE A FAH-REAKING NAP.

And I don’t see what’s so wrong about that.

So all you magical, mystical stay-at-home moms who use natural soaps to hand wash and line dry your cloth diapers, who make cute little frittatas for breakfast with eggs from the chickens you raise and veggies from your organic garden, who have photo-contest worthy dinners on the table promptly at six every evening, who manage to have time for pedicures and haircuts and brunches with your friends? I alternate between envying you, hating you, calling shenanigans, wanting you to come over and do my laundry while I nap, and accepting I will never be you.

But that won’t keep me from trying.

September 2, 2012   3 Comments

Let’s play Guess the Hatcher Hatchling…

I am full term this week (37+ weeks) and exhausted. AND super cranky. Oh, man, SO cranky. I still have a million things to do before the baby is born, but most of them involve organizing and cleaning… so I need a distraction. A fun one. This is where YOU come in!

I think pretty much everyone knows that we haven’t found out the baby’s sex. We thought it would be fun to have it be a surprise (who knows what we’ll decide for subsequent baby-havings) and we also knew it would keep me from buying pink tutus if it’s a girl (or, you know, blue tutus if it’s a boy) and from having the bedroom next to ours end up looking like Strawberry Shortcake horked in there. So, there’s that. There’s also the fact that in spite of my due date being June 12th, the doctor shakes her head every time I have an appointment and just says it’ll be born any time between NOW and the end of June. (How I am surviving with this much suspense when I like knowing everything in advance baffles even me. George, on the other hand, adoooores surprises.)

And this is where the game-playing comes in. Let’s play guess the delivery date and sex! Just a few rules…

  • YOU CAN ONLY “PARTICIPATE” ONCE. YOU GET ONE VOTE… and it must be in the comments section of this post. Not on our statuses. Not via text message. And please, be really clear. “May 29th, girl” is fine. “Tuesday, boy” is not. WHICH TUESDAY?! And you really can guess any date in the next four to five weeks. We’re not going to induce labor unless I go over 42 weeks, much to my OB’s chagrin.

  • Any given date only has two options. Like, June 12th can be “June 12th, girl” or “June 12th, boy”. Once someone uses a date and a sex, you can ONLY pick that same date for the opposite sex. And a “June 12th” vote counts as any time between 12:00:00am EST and 11:59:59pm EST on that date. (Eastern Standard Time since that’s OUR time zone and therefore, the baby’s birth date time zone.)

  • You cannot change your guess once you post it… and you cannot post more than one vote. If the date comes and goes… sorry, Charlie.

  • Once the first email, text message, or phone call goes out that I’m in labor, voting is closed.

  • Check the comments before yours: if someone already picked the date and sex combination, you can’t pick the same one. If you are too lazy to check and thereby end up posting the same combo someone else already posted, the first person to have posted the correct one wins.

  • If no one guesses correctly, we will just give ourselves a prize! Just kidding. :) If no one guesses correctly, the person with the closest guess wins. If someone guesses May 27th and someone else the 29th, and the baby is born May 28th, the winner will be determined by whether the baby was born before or after noon.

    The prize: It will probably take a couple weeks to get to you (especially if you don’t live locally). Also, if you don’t live locally, you’ll obviously have to provide us with your address so we can send it to you. We have some ideas on what the prize/gift will be, but it’ll definitely end up being something personalized and tailored to the person who wins (for example, we’re not going to give one of our sisters the same thing we would give a guy friend). No matter what it ends up being, we’ll try to make it something we think the specific person would like and appreciate.

    May the person with the creepiest capacity of foreseeing the future win!

    Edited to add: OK… there are a ton of guesses being repeated despite half the calendar being totally empty. Remember, guys, your vote does NOT count if someone else has already taken it. Below is a calendar image with all the votes up until 10:30am EST on June 12th. If your choice is taken, PICK ANOTHER! (I know that calendar is small, click to enlarge.)

    Edit #2: If your guess has come and gone, you’re allowed to make a new guess. 😀

  • May 24, 2012   59 Comments

    THAT Person

    It’s been months since I’ve posted, and not due to a lack of things going on in my life. Really, it’s been more because of multiple conversations I’ve had over the past four years with people, to this tune…

    “When you get married/get pregnant/have kids, just don’t become that person who only talks/tweets/status updates/blogs about any-of-the-aforementioned-things!”
    “Oh, no, absolutely! No way.”

    Except… that’s exactly who I am. I am totally that person. That person who, when you ask them what’s up in their life, mentions the most important and dear things to them? Yep. That’s me. Sure, I also have rich intellectual and cultural experiences and challenging professional moments… I read a lot of good books, watch a lot of amazing movies, work on wonderful translation and interpreting projects and conferences (and sometimes, some mind-numbingly boring ones), experience amazing things (like final shuttle launches and tropical vacations, dinners with friends and breath taking sunsets)… but the most important things in my life are definitely my husband, this soon-to-be-born-baby, and our family in general.

    I never thought that would be me or that I would be happy about something like that. Go figure.

    I don’t have volumes to share about my experience being pregnant (lucky you). I love this baby already, but I haven’t been the biggest fan of being pregnant. I am a huge fan of the miracle of pregnancy, of the statistical improbability and unlikelihood (and yet pure science) of each human being being formed exactly and perfectly imperfect as they are. But I could do without the vomiting, the sweltering heat at all times (even when it’s cold for others), the swollen extremities, the lack of sleep, the random bouts of exhaustion, the little hernia next to my belly button, and the Braxton Hicks contractions (that make me think there is no way I will ever push this baby out, please don’t make me, please? because if those aren’t even the real thing, Lord, just SHOOT ME NOW).

    Despite all that, my mood has been generally happy. Happier, in fact, than just normal. I don’t know if it’s due to reading how much the mother’s mood affects the baby, but I just feel like I’ve never felt before. I do get really easily annoyed by things and people on Facebook (but really, who doesn’t?) and by certain people in general, but that’s relatively easy to deal with.

    George hasn’t had it bad: I’ve had pretty much no real cravings, at least not a single one involving making him drive somewhere late at night to get me a random item of food that I’ll no longer want once he makes it back home. The worst thing he’s had to deal with is the one that still makes him laugh (but only after I’ve snapped out of it — he’s no dummy): THE UGLY CRY.

    Yes, the ugly cry is still alive and well. Except now it’s even more random. Like a couple of days ago. We were lounging around, replying to our Draw Something opponents, when I started poking him and tickling him because of something he said. By the time he stopped laughing and looked back at his phone, he moaned, “MAN! I wasted three bombs while you were bothering me!”

    Bothering me.

    Bothering me.

    I cannot even explain what happened in my brain in less than a fraction of a second to take me from hyena-like cackles to snotting, hiccuping tears. IT WAS NOT RATIONAL.

    “I *hic* am so sorry *hic hic* I bother youuuuuuuu. I won’t *hic* bother you anymore!”

    All the while, my rational brain is watching this display, trying hard not to laugh in the middle of the hiccups, and wondering who that crazy lady is. George just tried really hard not to laugh, hugged me until I came back to the real world, and his laughter finally exploded when I said, “Get this baby outtttt offfff meeeee!”

    That is what you are doing to my hormones, Baby. Making me even more crazy than I already knew I was. So. No pressure… but I kind of need you to be hilarious and full of surprises and to sleep through the night all the time and get straight As and never rebel as a teenager. Deal? Awesome.

    April 27, 2012   6 Comments

    He’s a unique snowflake. My unique snowflake. :)

    While making dinner, I realized that classical music was coming from my garage. I know I am saying this like it’s a weird thing — it’s not that we’re not cultured and worldly people who listen to classical music, because we totally are — but how often does classical music come from your garage? How often does classical music come from your garage while your husband is waxing his car (or otherwise nerding out with man-toys)? Lynyrd Skynyrd? Sure. Techno? OK. CCR? Possibly. But Johannes Brahms?

    And I like it.

    A couple of nights ago, I was sitting on the couch while George was at the table working on some homework. My battery was at 6%, time to plug in the cord.

    “Hey, do you know where the extra Mac power cord is?”

    “Plugged into my computer?”

    “No, the EXTRA one. Is it in your school backpack?”

    George walks over to the living room, where I hadn’t seen his backpack WAS, pulls it out of the front pocket, smiles, shows it to me, puts it back, and walks away.

    “… Hello? I need it.”

    “Oh! Well, you just asked me if I knew where it was.”

    “I’m sorry, let me rephrase: do you know where it is and may I use it, please?”

    We both laughed. He wasn’t trying to be funny. That’s just the way his brain works.

    I have spent a lot of time during our marriage getting annoyed about things like this. I know it’s not even necessarily a man thing, just a him thing. And lately, I’ve been thinking about all the me things he overlooks without even trying, without it even being something he actually overlooks, but flaws he simply doesn’t notice because there are much more important things in life. I’m constantly surprised and pleased and touched by this person who I have chosen and who has chosen me to spend our lives together.

    My conclusion is this: I’d much rather raise children and spend the next 50/60/70/80 (hey, I’m an optimist) years with someone who forgets things from the grocery store, needs clear instructions when asked a question, and doesn’t do the conventional thing all the time than with someone who will not respect me, consider me, make me laugh without fail every single day and put me first and foremost in his world like I try to do with him.

    /end mush

    January 18, 2012   3 Comments

    Pregnancy brain and other disasters

    Today, George sent me a seemingly innocuous video.

    Innocuous, that is, unless you are a 20-something female in her first trimester of pregnancy. Two-legged chihuahua HAS NO HANDS, OK? NO HANDS. I am totally ugly crying over here.

    You’d think he’d’ve learned by now. Last night we watched “Country Strong” (which I think I didn’t like at all, but my taste, including in movies, seems to be out of whack right now, so I’ll get back to you on whether I really liked it or not in, oh… 18-22 years). There’s this little boy towards the end with leukemia. You know the scene is coming, but when he appears in the frame, with his lack of eyebrows and his giant cowboy hat? Well, I don’t think I’ve ever lost my crap quite as quickly as I did then and there. Emotional, couch-rocking, chest-rattling sobs, snot everywhere, the works. Not pretty.

    So, word to the wise: please avoid showing me anything cute, anything sad, or anything having to do with little animals or children. Especially sick children. Or sick little animals. Or sick little children dressed like animals. Thanks.

    November 2, 2011   10 Comments

    Oh, baby baby.

    It’s officially public: against all odds (well, against some slightly dramatic and emotionally-loaded odds which I might discuss at some point but are still a little too overwhelming to me), we’re having a baby.

    If I were to write everything I feel, I would be here forever. I don’t have the experience to know any wise words to share with anyone right now, either… So I’m just going to go with what I said to a friend who asked me to scare the baby fever bug away from her:

    “OK… I will tell you this: I get up to pee like five times a night. I stress over things I didn’t even KNOW I CARED ABOUT. I’m even more of a hippie now because I’m thinking about the world this baby will inherit. During the day, I pee another 25 times. I gag when I brush my molars or floss back there, my gag reflex is NUTS. Almost every single smell makes me gag. Foods I love taste bitter and disgusting to me, like licking a vomit lollipop. (Yes, that’s the description I chose to go with, you’re welcome.) I have HORRIBLE headaches, I’m sleepy all day, my appetite sucks except for wanting spinach, pretty much, which I grab in handfuls from the fridge, rinse, and then shove in my mouth. I want to barf all the time, seeing babies makes me cry, hearing babies cry (even on TV) makes my breasts hurt.

    “However, I’m going to ruin your life now by telling you that I never assumed there could be something as awesome as putting a hand to your abdomen and knowing a little baby is growing in there, a baby that is there against all odds (because really, conceiving is CRAZY unlikely), product of that love between you and your husband (in our case, obviously that’s not the only way to have a baby). Reading about the different phases it enters into, knowing you will cuddle it, nurse it, and get to have that kind of closeness with someone nearly a YEAR before they are born? Amazing. Also makes the nausea, peeing, and puking totally worth it, because each time it happens, you think, ‘Well, that means it’s all going right!’

    “And man, when you see that little heartbeat on the screen? Your life as you know it is TOTALLY OVER. Just throw your hands up in the air and admit you will be a love slave to this little human being NOW.”

    I was always a little afraid I had no maternal instinct, that I would never feel warm and fuzzy about a little blastocyst growing inside me, or that I’d just be indifferent while people stared at me in confused horror for my lack of emotion.

    Totally wrong. All I want to do is love this baby, protect it, eat healthy for it. I can’t stop touching my abdomen, I can’t stop getting a little emotional over the miracle (yep, I’m going to be one of those people) of there being three people when there only used to be two. And I can’t wait to hold it, change it, bathe it, feed it, love it, and teach it.

    I kind of really love you already, kid. Even if you do hate all animal products so far and are basically turning me into a vegan. I still love you. That’s serious business.

    October 26, 2011   5 Comments

    Wheels, wheels, keep on turnin’

    There are certain images that just spark something in me… and today, it was one that Beca posted on Facebook.

    I know that some people may say, “A car can fit four or five people, that’s an exaggeration.” However! The fact that cars CAN transport 4 or 5 people doesn’t mean that they DO. Next time you’re commuting to the office in the morning, look to the left and then to the right of you. Cars usually have one passenger in them at any given time. More people are in them when you’re on a road trip or when the whole family is going somewhere, but since when do you go to your office with your whole family?!

    George provided a useful link to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website which states, “The average number of persons occupying a car is 1.59 and has not changed much since 1995. The largest increases from 1995 to 2009 have been in the occupancy rates for vans – from 2.07 to 2.35 – and sport-utility vehicles – from 1.70 to 1.92 persons per vehicle.” (For additional data, click here.)

    Additionally, the cost for the infrastructure necessary for these different types of transportation is proportional to the “space” needed. Maintaining bike lanes is never going to cost as much as adding lanes to highways and building overpasses. (Not to mention that you’ll end up paying $15-50 to fix a bike, but potentially thousands to fix a car… and crash with another bike at full speed, you might have a broken arm, crash with another car at full speed, and good luck to you.) And let’s not confuse the REAL issue here: more than a matter of “space”, it’s a matter of energy efficiency and how using these different types of transportation affects our overall well-being and the future of our planet.

    Whether you believe in global warming or not is not even an issue. Fact is, fossil fuels are huge contaminants and in the long run, are not an ENDLESS source of energy. So it doesn’t matter if we disagree on climate change or not, I think we can all agree that the contamination caused by emissions and leaks in the air and in the ground adversely affect our health… not to mention the fact that driving makes stress levels rise and reduces human interaction. Public transportation and bikes are not only good for your health, fitness, clean air, but you end up at least saying hello to people you cross paths with more often. And riding bikes more often would lead to developers having to take it into account as a form of transportation when planning cities… Can you imagine the advantages of having to travel shorter distances to take your children to school, to get groceries, and the additional time you would have for leisure if you cut your commute that much shorter? We’re talking huge improvements on so many levels, and drastically better quality of life…

    I’ll keep dreaming and posting. :)

    October 17, 2011   1 Comment

    Live and let decide

    Since today seems to be the day when people would like to push their values and opinions on others regarding the subject of abortion all over Facebook, I decided I will push my values and opinions on those people, too.

    So. Abortion. Always a tricky subject, right? I know my opinion on the matter has changed probably a dozen times, according to age and perspective, religious beliefs, situation in life, etc. It’s OK for your opinions to change — that just means you’re growing as a person.

    But here is my personal stance:

    Due to every life experience that I have had up until now, and due to the fact that my religion disagrees with abortion, I can comfortably say that I would love to live in a world where abortion does not exist. However, I also look forward to a world where women are not judged for their decisions (and not just women, anyone), where women are not judged for having extramarital sex (premarital and otherwise), where family units are strong and supportive so that if an unwanted pregnancy occurs, a woman or a girl doesn’t feel alone. I look forward to a world without violent crime; a world without rape, a world without molestation and abuse. I look forward to a world where due to healthy relationships and medical advances, proper diets and healthy lifestyles, we have eliminated mental health problems to the degree where a mother having a child would not harm her psychological well-being. I look forward to a world where that same medicine has advanced to a point where we better know how to deal with ectopic pregnancies, with birth defects (whether helping correct these in utero or having a better understanding of them to where we can offer a child a healthy and full life with disabilities), and with so many things we don’t yet fully understand.

    I also look forward to a world in which we don’t judge other people’s choices. No matter what your faith (or lack thereof), I think that we can all agree that our choices are up to our conscience and our understanding of right from wrong. I also understand that there is a fine line between a blanket statement like that and people committing crimes and feeling justified in doing so.

    I fully understand equating abortion to murder, trust me. I believe in the soul, I believe a baby has one the moment of conception. I also believe that that soul is pure, and if it passes due to a miscarriage or due to an abortion, the soul itself never suffered and is somewhere much better than we will ever be able to grasp.

    When it comes to legislation, how about this: if there is a ever a bill or a law that seeks to criminalize abortion, how about you vote on it in the privacy of your voting booth without the need of pushing your values, for or against, on others? This will allow us to be unified, peaceful towards each other, and allow the democratic process that we value so much to work out any disagreements we may have.

    You never know who has been through what in this life, and what may have led them to make a tough decision one way or another. Your friend, your neighbor, your sister, and even your mother. Do you honestly think you know whether they have ever been put in the awful situation of having to choose? How do you think it feels to not only judge yourself, but feel judged by others? Have a little compassion, and remember: you’re not perfect, either.

    September 30, 2011   8 Comments

    Brats (and I don’t mean the children)

    Every so often I will run across posts/comments on blog or Facebook that just make me angry. I know, little even-tempered ol’ me? Angry? Lies and calumnies!

    I get particularly upset when these posts have to do with certain aspects of parenting. Now, I know you’re thinking, “Are you freaking kidding me? You don’t even have children yet, just wait until you do and then try being all holier than me!” But see, the thing is, it’s not even that. I don’t care if you co-sleep or if you put baby in the corner, I don’t care if you breastfeed or formula feed, I don’t care if you stay at home or take your child to day care, I don’t care if you cloth diaper or disposable it up. I may have very defined ideas about what I plan to do when it comes to decisions like those, but that doesn’t mean I’m inflexible or incapable of realizing that when the time comes, I may change my mind and that many things depend on the patience you realize you have, your child’s personality and temperament, and your life circumstances at a given moment in time. There are no two identical mothers, and even if there were, their husbands would be different (if they were even in the picture) and vice versa. We, and our life experiences, are all unique snowflakes.

    So what are the parenting statements that bother me? Gems like these: “I was going to go to Bonaroo, but I couldn’t find a baby-sitter for this kid.” Or, “After two hours of trying to feed Mikey and him just spitting everything up, I gave up. And now that I have to go to my nail appointment, he decides he’s hungry. GREAT, CHILD.”

    Look, I understand and appreciate that when you have a child you are exhausted, hormonal, and that it’s an emotional roller-coaster dealing with your tot’s moods, rhythms, and needs. I understand that sometimes we all need to vent. I understand that sometimes a parent may suddenly feel like they stopped being an individual and are just “Jonie’s mommy” and are frustrated that they always have to put someone else’s needs before their own (or… at least I hope they do).

    What I don’t understand is this concept that a child, a toddler, and even an infant has to conform and fit around the lifestyle you were accustomed to, and any deviation from that pattern is seen as a discomfort or a nuisance. You had a child; your life will naturally change. (“Organically”, one might say. Erin, I’m lookin’ at you!) Your child did not ask to be brought into this world. Your child did not nag you to pop open those knees and lay back and enjoy the show — and I don’t mean childbirth, I mean the nine months prior. Your child did not choose you as a parent, it got you.

    And he/she is a blessing… remember? Remember 9th grade biology and awkward high school health class when your gym coach had to talk about conception while everyone uncomfortably shifted in their seats? The likelihood that a woman happens to be ovulating AND fertile AND that a particular sperm fertilizes that egg AND that it implants AND that it develops into a baby that grows to term? Those odds are NOT THAT DIFFERENT from the odds that there are planets in our universe inhabited by sentient beings. So, blessing indeed.

    George laughs because I often say that it frustrates me that people are logically required to obtain driver’s licenses to operate a hunk of metal. No one disputes that little law, right? It’s to ensure the safety of all of us as a society. Well. I think people should be required to obtain baby-having-licenses before procreating. First, you should be a certain age. Second, you should have certain skills under your belt… I’m cool with people having a learner’s permit while they acquire the aforementioned skills. Third, you should pay every so often to renew that license to make sure those skills are still sharp. If you do it wrong, do something that recklessly endangers others (a.k.a. YOUR CHILD) then you should get a ticket. And if you drink and parent, you should just get your license taken away. (And by drink, I mean do anything stupid.)

    I recently read a Jezebel article entitled, ‘Isn’t a baby supposed to cramp your style?‘ I’m normally a little weary of any family-related Jezebel articles, but it made me super hopeful to realize that there are parents out there that put their children first and don’t lament (or resent) their lives changing.

    All this to say… next time you’re rolling your eyes over having to find a sitter, having to clean poop off the seat of your car, or not getting enough sleep, remember that you chose to have sweet sweet love making your child.

    August 29, 2011   3 Comments

    My mom needs a new hip… I mean, is so hip!

    I’m currently in Cancun interpreting for a conference having to do with law enforcement. During breaks and at lunch time, we play music from our iPods in the room. I keep making fun of my mom for playing music that is too ancient and boring to keep even old people awake.

    Today she grabs her iPod at lunch time before I was able to beat her to it. She’s like, “Hey! I’ll play this! Who is Ham-eero-kai?”

    Laughing, “You mean, ‘Jamiroquai’?”

    “Oh, whatever!” The music starts, the organizers are pleasantly surprised in the change in music and even remark on it. My mom smiles smugly. “See? Now you can’t tell me this song isn’t even from this millenium. At least I’m playing something current now.”

    More laughing, “Mom, I think this song is from 1993… it just sounded futuristic 18 years ago…”

    She can’t help but laugh, shrug, and just give up.

    August 15, 2011   3 Comments