Thursday, January 12, 2012

Julian WILL NOT be a bully!

I don’t really recall how it all began. I don’t remember who was the first person who started it, nor why. I have never been a fat kid, but I was never skinny. I am not rich, but I am not poor. I am not an overachiever, but I am not average. I am not drop dead gorgeous, but I am very pretty. I never mistreated anyone, but tried to befriend everyone. Despite of being a normal girl, kids still found all of this enough to target me. 
Yes. I was bullied.
When I was a young girl I was very shy, but once I made friends I stuck up for them and for what I believed in. It was hard for me at first to come out of my shell, but when I did: LOOK OUT! There was one problem, though: up until my sixth grade my parents enrolled me in small bilingual schools. It was good, because I learned two languages at the same time and made good friends, it was bad because in Puerto Rico we graduate to Junior High in sixth grade to seventh grade and the Junior High school I went to was also a High School. From a group of eight kids, I was now in a group of twenty-five kids. And I only knew one of them: the girl that was then my best friend.
But you see, my “best friend” knew a lot of these people because her parents were involved in a lot of things. My parents are doctors and extremely busy so I didn’t really know anybody but her. I tried to make friends but can you imagine? My English was better than my Spanish. My parents drove me in expensive cars and I was a shy girl. It was all too perfect for bullies to pass up.
There were seventy five kids approximately in seventh grade, divided into three groups. I was in “the nerd group” which doesn’t endear you to many other kids. Then, of course, there are the cliques within the “nerd group” itself. I didn’t fit into any of them because I couldn’t even figure out who I was or what I was doing there. It was a very confusing time, all documented in my diaries. I was scared, and most of all, I was alone. Then two of my favorite uncles died, making this officially the worst year of my life. So far.
On eight grade, kids started doing drugs. Of course, this meant that they started acting more and more like idiots. It didn’t help that it was my awkward stage, when my face looked like something out of a scary movie and my boobs grew incredibly... It was during this grade that one kid made fun of me when I fell during gymnastics class then proceeded to tell the entire eight grade that I’d fallen and wherever I walked people made fun of me. It was also during this grade that one kid, in a drug induced stupor, grabbed me by my bag, broke the bag, threw it on the floor and called me a bitch. And when I did something to stand up to these kids all of the others called me a traitor. 
I was a traitor, and an outcast, for standing up for myself. All in eight grade.
In ninth grade I grew into my looks, and boys started to back off. That’s when girls moved in. Suddenly, the boobs everyone saw me grow were “fake” and one girl who I thought was a good friend started spreading rumors about me kissing and letting guys feel me up in the locker room. Truth be told: I hadn’t even had my first kiss yet. My cousin was living with us at the time and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t had survived that year. She gave me confidence and told me to stay strong, that those girls were just jealous and that I needed to hold my head up high. And as hard as it was walking in to school every morning, feeling the gazes of my classmates who, years later, still remember what car my parents drove me in every morning, I did it.
Tenth grade brought forth a new batch of students. For the first time I felt like I wasn’t the girl everyone loved to hate. In fact, I grew more into my looks and I actually had my first boyfriend, outside of school of course, so no one would think I was stepping on their toes. Of course, this didn’t really work. One girl in class was madly in love with a guy from eleventh grade. I happened to be friends with him, because we looked a lot alike, and he used to call me his “little twin”. As you might expect, the girl in my class hated that and promptly made up a rumor that I had stolen the guy from her. Yeah... me, the guy’s “little twin” was actually a temptress and had made him fall for me instead of her. Yeah right.
In eleventh grade I became friends with a guy that was nearly as ostracized as me by our classmates. We clicked and, OF COURSE, we simply had to be dating and everyone had to know. Neither him nor I really cared about these rumors because, truth be told, we did like each other. But we liked our friendship more. It was never more than a friendship I still cherish. A girl who I knew then, who I thought was a really good friend, then, got angry at me for reasons I still can’t recall. It involved a boy, as it often does, but I thought we had spoken about it and were clear. Apparently not. She screamed at me in front of everyone and then proceeded to tell me that if I wanted my money back (my parents had helped her with something) I could have it. I was so stupid, such a child back then that I cried for hours. The nurse had to calm me down. My parents had to go to her house to get her to back off. It was that awful.
As you probably imagine, it got worse. During Senior Year a boy (he was nothing more than an idiot) decided to create a rumor about me. He told one of the meanest girls in class that I thought she was stupid, and that she shouldn’t be our representative in the National Honor Society Academic Bowl. It seems like a silly rumor to you? Well, she took it pretty seriously. On the ONE WEEK I was sick in school she made my life miserable, calling me names, talking behind my back and spilling a bottle of white-out on my long, curly brown hair. Among other things. People saw this, and did nothing.
I had a serious boyfriend back then (whom I married six years ago) and if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have survived my Senior Year. He gave me comfort... I could tell him anything and he would be with me every step of the way. He didn’t care if girls called me names or boys talked about me and lied about things they supposedly did with me. And just for the record: I was a virgin until I got married. I had my first baby six months ago. Back then I didn’t do ANYTHING with ANY of the boys in school, but of course, I just had to be lying...
I can’t tell you how it all began, but I can tell you when it ended. 
On the year 2000, our Senior Class was standing on the gym stage. We were declared official graduates and we all took off our flat hats and threw them up in the air. While most were hugging and crying, my best guy friend and I looked at one another, wrapped our arms around each other and shouted: “IT IS FINALLY OVER!”
And from that day on, my life began.
I have a Juris Doctor. I run three different businesses with my husband, who is also a Financial Adviser. We have a beautiful home, a healthy, gorgeous baby and a cute yorkie puppy. We are volunteers in Church. We have awesome friends who were there when we got married, celebrated with us our Baby Shower, prayed for my son when he was in NICU and now that he’s with us, love him and us with all of their hearts. We have  an amazing family and so many blessings we are grateful for. And this is just the beginning.
God has been kind to me in many ways, one of them being that whenever my biggest bully is around I never see her. I have seen her father, her kid and her husband (if they’re still together) but I never see her. It is as if she doesn’t exist even if she is standing in front of me. I thank God every day that He protects me this way.
Would I change anything? Yes. NO ONE should be bullied. I am grateful and lucky that I had a strong, loving and supportive family that was with me every step of the way but if I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t be the success I am today. 
NO ONE should have to go through this pain and humiliation and NO ONE has a right to make others feel inadequate. 
I am an advocate against bullying and I will make sure I teach Julian not to be a bully, to be part of the solution and not the problem. What are you teaching your kids? What are you doing to prevent something like this from happening to someone else?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Five Months Old... Feels like more!

Julian is something else. This is a list of his milestones so far:
  • He slept through the night for the first time after his first month. Almost by the time he was two months old.
  • He surprised me by asking for his "eche" ("leche" means "milk" in Spanish, but he couldn't pronounce the "L") at two months old.
  • He rolled over from tummy to back at three months old.
  • He rolled over from back to tummy, and then from tummy to back, and then continued to roll to the edge of the playmat at four months old.
  • He holds his own bottle since three months old.
  • He drinks water from his sippy cup since four months old.
  • He has his social smile down since ONE month old and laughed out loud for the first time by the second month.
  • He grabs toys with both hands, passes them from hand to hand and drags them towards him since he was two months.
  • He loves bold colors since he was one month old.
  • He recognized his own name when he turned four months.
  • He is happy in his crib, he is happy in my arms, he is happy in YOUR arms if you want to hold him... 
  • He bears his weight in his legs since he is three months old.
  • He plays with his feet since he was three months old.
  • He says "mama", "nene" ("boy" in Spanish), "bebe" ("baby" in Spanish) since he was about three months old.
  • He lunges forward and is starting to crawl at five months old.
  • He LOVES tummy time.
He surprises me more every day. I read a ton of baby books while I was pregnant and I had a little milestone chart to check in his progress. When he turned two months old I looked at the chart, and then at my baby and realized that although all babies are different and I shouldn't expect him to go through the chart at the same pace as other babies. So far, he is going through it faster, which is a challenge in itself because I don't know what to expect or when to expected.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

When he was born I was trying very hard to follow what other people told me I should do with my baby and how to do it. I was grasping at the straws, trying to figure out how to deal with this tiny new person that God gave me. Then I realized something: God gave him to ME so I know I can handle this. And so I sat down, sorted through all the solicited and unsolicited advice I've been given, kept the ones I thought would actually be helpful and I am making some new rules for myself that are working for me and my little one. After all, babies don't come equipped with an instructions manual, so you kind of have to make it up as you go along. Right?



Oh well. Raising Julian is, and I am sure will continue to be, a challenge. Not because he is a difficult baby: on the contrary, he is a well behaved, loving little boy. But he is smart, and cunning and obviously knows what he wants. Along the line he will play games with his father and me and all of those times will be worth writing about. 

Try to keep up with Julian...


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NICU... The forgotten place.

The doctor fussed about with me, first showing me a syringe that held some anesthesia so he could finish closing me up down there. My husband laughed when he saw how nervous the needle made me. 

"You just went through childbirth and you're afraid of a needle?" he asked, still laughing.

It took everything in me not to smack him. Then I burst out laughing as well. I did go through childbirth! I could hear my baby crying at the top of his lungs while the nurses cleaned him up, took his fingerprints and footprints and got him ready to meet me. 

"How is he? Is he alright?" I asked fearfully.

"Can't you hear his cries? This baby is a strong one! And a big one too! Seven pounds, nine ounces, twenty-one inches long!" proclaimed one of the nurses.

"Huh? Wow, he is heavier than he looks!" the doctor said, turning his attention back to me. "Mommy, you did an amazing job! If all your deliveries are like this one, you can have three or four more babies!"

I looked at him and forced a smile on my face. After going through all the labor and delivery pain, the last thing you want to think about is having another baby. Maybe later, but not right now. Suddenly, a nurse came close to me and placed something small and warm on my chest. Instinctively, I wrapped my arms around the tiny bundle she offered me.

My eyes met his. My Julian was finally here. He was crying at the top of his lungs and he was a pasty white color. His eyes are chocolate brown and his head was full of dark brown hair.  His cheeks small and round were rosy red from crying. He felt big, even then when he was just born. He was beautiful. And he is mine. I cooed softly and began talking to him.

"Do you remember when we drove to places together? I would sing to you and tell you stories! You would kick me, and someday you'll tell me if it was to get me to shut up or because you liked my voice!"

His cries subsided. He fixed his gaze on me. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he was really looking at me; but I know better... he can't see just yet. But he does know my voice, and to him, its soothing. 

"That is so lovely..." the youngest nurse said, dreamily. "He calmed down as soon as he heard her voice! You talked to him often, didn't you?"

The doctor took this opportunity to finish closing me up. He probably thought I'd be too enthralled by my baby not to notice what he was doing. But I did! Oh boy, I did! But as I looked at my baby again, I told myself over and over that it was worth it. It is all worth it, as long as he is here and he is safe and healthy and in my arms. I never want to let him go. I didn't want to let him go.

Alas, I had to. The nurse took him from me after trying unsuccessfully to get him to latch on my breast to nurse him. They decided to take him to the Nursery to have a Pediatrician look him over and I would be able to see him soon. My husband had a camera with him all the time but everything happened to quickly he was only able to take a single picture of our baby as he was taken away. My parents were allowed to come in the Delivery Room and we all hugged and thanked the Lord for my baby.

On the hour that followed, I was wheeled to my room where I took a shower and changed into my pajamas. My parents kissed me goodbye and promised to be back the next day and my husband was sent to fetch our baby so I could try to nurse him once again. I snuggled under the covers, because it was very cold, and waited for my husband to return with my baby.

Ten minutes passed. No one came. 

I was on the verge of sleep, but a terrible feeling took over me.

My baby had meconium in his amniotic fluid. I knew what it meant then. I knew what it meant now. My baby was not alright, as I had been told. Something was going on, and I had no way of knowing until my husband returned.

Twenty minutes passed. I was still alone.

"Lord... please protect my baby. Please don't let harm come to him... please..." I murmured softly, still half asleep from exhaustion.

Thirty minutes passed, and my husband and parents came back. I knew something was happening when I saw them again. They had already said they were leaving, so why were they here? My husband had a blank look on his face.

"Honey, the baby had some trouble breathing. Apparently, he has some meconium in his lungs. They say he will need some antibiotics but he is fine," my dad said, his face calm, as a doctor.

He didn't look like my father then. Just like a doctor. I looked at my mom and she had the same expression. My husband was still blank faced.

"O...k..." I pursed my lips. "He will be alright," I said with confidence.

"Of course he will!" my parents said in unison. "But now you need to sleep."

They kissed me again and left. Just as the door closed, my husband burst into tears. I took his hand in mine and looked at him.

"He will be fine..." I assured him.

"He is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit," he sobbed, looking miserable. "The doctor says he might have a blood infection, or a lung infection of some sort. He is so small, and so delicate, and he is sick right now!" he cried again. "Maybe I shouldn't be telling you this, but you would know soon enough. The nurses are allowing me to take you there when you feel ready so you would have found out very soon!"

I squeezed his hand. 

"Can we go now?" I asked softly.

"No. You have not rested yet and you need to sleep. Let's wait at least an hour, then I'll take you," he said firmly.

I didn't want to argue with him. I nodded and laid back on my bed. 

I didn't tell him what I was thinking: if I had know I wouldn't be able to hold him again for some time,  I probably wouldn't have let go of him in the Delivery Room. I fought the urge to cry and stayed strong.

For the following hour, both he and I drifted in and out of sleep. I didn't cry, I didn't even feel sad. I was numb.

"Can we go now?" I asked after an hour had passed.

So we walked towards the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at 5:00am in the morning. My husband had to hold me back a little so I wouldn't run. NICU was very close to my room and I was surprised I hadn't noticed it as I was wheeled in. I had seen the Nursery, which was a bit farther away. Why hadn't I noticed this room?

NICU is hidden behind a nearly invisible door. There is only a small sign in front that says "NICU" and the visiting hours (1:00pm and 7:30pm), a small buzzer and a clock near the ceiling. Later on during our daily visits, we parents would look at that clock as if our lives depended on it, waiting impatiently for the minutes to pass so that we could spend time with our babies. Then watching in desperation as the time went by too quickly, and we were forced to leave. Right now, it didn't matter what time it was, I was allowed to see my baby.

We went in, washed our hands and put on the protective clothing over our own. In the distance I saw the incubator that held my baby. My husband helped me walk to him, while pushing my IV cart and suddenly, I was there.

He was beautiful as I remembered. But now he had two monitors on his chest, an IV plugged to his little arm and another monitor on his little foot. There was a dome over his head, which I later learned was oxygen, and he had a temperature. For the first time since I found out my baby was in NICU, my eyes filled up with tears. 

I didn't ask why this was happening to us.

I didn't throw a fit.

Tears ran silently down my cheeks as a nurse told me she couldn't really tell me anything because the doctor wasn't there. I didn't insist. I knew she was just doing her job and I understood. I just wanted my baby to be ok. He was fast asleep and he was breathing hard so I knew he wasn't fine... but I believed. I believed even then he would be fine. I prayed he would be.

That first time in NICU I had eyes only for my child. But as I returned for each visit I began to notice the other babies. Some were incredibly small. Others had deformations on their faces. Another had a huge bulge on his head, which I was later told was part of his brain. Apparently, his cranium didn't close properly and part of his brain had grown out of place. We parents of NICU babies all looked at one another and smiled sadly every time we had to go in, and we all cheered when one of the babies was moved to Constant Care Unit because it meant that the baby was getting better.

In NICU, we were all family. Whether we talked to one another or not, we all prayed for one another and we all cheered our babies victories. Because, as I told Julian one night as I held his little hand through the opening of the incubator, we were all praying for them, but in the end, it was up to them to be strong and get through it all. 

One night, my husband and I stayed in NICU for a little while longer and we met the mother of the littlest baby there. She told us her child had been born on the sixth month, and he had weighted one pound. He had been in NICU for two months now and was nearly three pounds. She says there were a lot of people praying for her baby, and she believes her baby is strong. I believed that too and told her that we, too, would pray for her baby. We were already praying for her baby. We were praying for them all.

NICU... the forgotten place.

Was that the reason Julian had to stay there? To remind us that this place exists? That it is real? A lot of women have babies so naturally. They go in, deliver their child (natural or by cesarean section) and then leave. A lot of others have a longer stay. No one knows. No one cares. No one wants to think about something so painful as a small baby fighting for his or her life just after being born.

Behind that small, easily concealed door, around twelve babies fought valiantly for their lives. And although it was painful then, I am proud that my Julian was there, and I am proud of him for fighting as he did. Not every baby makes it out of NICU, but all of their lives have meaning, and each and every one of them is an angel. What was their purpose in life? We might never now. But they had a purpose. I believe that, from the bottom of my heart.

NICU... I will never ever as long as I live forget that place.

And I will never ever let my child forget it. It was a part of him, a part that will shape his life for years to come.

I vow never to stop praying for the children there.

I vow never to stop praying for the parents of the children there.

Please don't forget them.

To be continued...


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just like that, I was pregnant no more...

I was swimming in my parent's pool at 9:30pm on Father's Day, which this year was June 19th, 2011. I had experienced Braxton Hicks contractions all day, so they weren't painful or even particularly noticeable. In fact, the time that I was swimming in the pool I didn't feel any contractions at all. My husband wanted me to enjoy this day as much as possible, and also to get as much exercise as I could so I would dilate more effectively. After all, on Monday I would get a final check up with my OB-GYN and then labor would be induced. 

So I happily enjoyed my day and my swim, thinking that the next day I would be pregnant no longer, and my baby Julian would be in my arms.

At 10:30pm we were still all laughing and having a good time. I stood up to get ready to leave and I felt a sharp pain in my lower back. I felt myself go pale, then slowly I uttered: "I think I don't feel very good. I want to go home and rest..."

Everyone stopped talking and fixed their eyes on me. They would later tell me my expression was completely different to my usual smile, and that all the color had left my face. It was weird enough that I had complained that I wasn't feeling well, especially when I'd been so active and happy during my entire pregnancy, but my facial expression gave away exactly how much pain I had experienced.

My cousin Hiram took everything from my arms and walked me to my car, with my husband following close behind. My husband asked me what I was feeling... the only way I can describe it is a sharp pain in my lower back, and an overwhelming desire to go to the bathroom. Colorful, I know, but that is how I felt. He asked me why I hadn't tried to go to the bathroom at my parent's place. I couldn't answer then, because another deep, sharp pain attacked my lower back. I took deep breaths and replied: "because I didn't feel like going to the bathroom THEN, I feel like going to the bathroom NOW!" He smiled and continued driving. Luckily, we live close to my parents place.

Once home, I put everything away in its place and climbed upstairs to take a shower. During the shower, the pains started getting worse, and there was less and less time in between. My husband helped me dry myself and get dressed and I called my doctor. The contractions were less than two minutes apart and incredibly painful, but he still told me it could take hours until I was ready to have my baby and that it was better for me to wait at home. I called my mom (who is also a doctor) and she told me the same thing. So I laid on my left side and braced myself for a long, sleepless night. My husband fell asleep quickly, not before telling me to wake him if I needed him. It was already 11:15pm. 

Suddenly, I felt amazingly, indescribably bad. I quickly woke my husband and cried: "I need to get up and go to the bathroom now!" He got up and helped me. I hadn't put on underwear for some reason and it turned out to be a good thing, because once I was on my feet, a bloody thing came out of me and a gush of blood ran down my legs. My husband looked horrified for all of five seconds and then whirred into action. He helped me go to the bathroom and cleaned me up. Then he asked me: "What do you want to do?!" At this point, I was lying on my side in bed once again, a very painful contraction came then and, amazingly, my body PUSHED on its own. I looked at him, frightened, and said: "I want to go to the hospital. I don't care if I have to wait for hours to deliver my baby! I'd rather be there, safe, than here wondering what'll happen!"

So out we went. He called my parents and they said they'd be right behind us. He called my doctor, who said the Hospital would call him (he later said he told my husband to call him later) when we got there. 

I'm not sure what happened on the drive there, but I found it mercifully fast. Now the contractions were every minute to 30 seconds, very very painful, and every two contractions my body would push on its own. My husband kept telling me things I can't really recall. I was there, but at the same time I wasn't. It was as if I was asleep in a way... I could barely open my eyes. I was bathed in sweat, even though I was cold, and all I could think about was my baby. Was he safe? Was he ok?

We made it to the Emergency Room and the idiot they have outside told my husband to get a wheelchair and wheel me in. Then he proceeded to walk away. My husband did just that, as I tried my best to climb down from our car and sit down on the wheelchair. Once inside the ER, he immediately drove me in, and one nurse asked: "Is it her turn?" I was completely shocked. Couldn't she see this was a REAL emergency?! I gasped: "I wasn't on the list! I just got here! I'm having my baby!" She gave me a condescending look and asked me: "Are you here because you have some pain?"

I gave her a withering look. "No. I'm here because I am already PUSHING!"

That got them moving. I answered all the questions they asked me the best way I could (gasping sometimes, whispering other times...) and they wheeled me to the OB-GYN room in the ER. My mom got there then and, although I love my husband and was glad to have him there, I was ECSTATIC that my mommy was there with me. The nurse connected me to the monitor (Julian's heartbeat sounded fine) and they could see clearly that the contractions were intense. At one point, mom said: "See? That contraction was softer than the others!" To which I replied: "OR SO YOU SAY!" My husband, my mom and the nurse burst out laughing. I couldn't really see the humor then, but I can kind of see it now... kinda! 

The ER doctor checked me out and declared that I was 6cm dilated. The nurse gave him a funny look behind his back. He said I would take hours to give birth and that it would be painful. I asked if they had epidural or something to which they all laughed and he said: "With much pain, you will deliver your baby." My mom told me he said that, I didn't hear him. If I had I probably would have insulted him for being so uncaring. He walked out and the nurse said: "He says it will take her hours, I think it will be a lot sooner. You are going to the Delivery Room right now!"

So they took me there. I was holding on to my mom the whole way, because my husband and my dad had to go deal with the hospital admission. I held on to her until they told me she couldn't go any further. I turned to her and said: "Mom, I love you... SO MUCH..." She smiled, kissed my forehead and assured me she loved me too. 

It was 1:00am. Once inside the Delivery Room, they asked me if I could stand up and take off my clothes so they could put that ugly thing you have to wear... I did stand up and I tried to be brave and strong. I didn't scream, I just grunted once in awhile when my body pushed. They kept asking me questions, which I answered but now I can't recall. One of them grabbed my arm to put in the IV, another grabbed my other arm to take a blood sample. They both told me to hold my breath as they prepared to pinch me with their needles. I didn't feel a thing... all I felt was the intense contractions breaking havoc in my body. I pushed again, this time deliberately. My cousin Grechi had told me that, unless the nurses said otherwise, pushing would make me feel better. And it did! 

One of the nurses pursed her lips and asked the other: "Have you checked how far along is she? She's pushing already..."

They checked me and looked at one another. It was 1:15am. "She is fully dilated! Which idiot down there said she was only 6cm along?! Did you call the doctor?"

I assumed they meant MY doctor, but they called the OB-GYN that was due to work the ER that night, which was not the same idiot downstairs (thank GOD!) 

A long contraction came and I pushed once again. My water broke at 1:20am. A nurse said: "There's meconium in the water..."

My heart sank. I knew exactly what that meant, but I asked anyways. She explained that meconium is the baby's first discharge. I know that if the baby breathes meconium, it could harm his lungs, other organs or even his blood. But I didn't have time to dwell on it: I asked if my husband could come in. At that moment the doctor came in and allowed my husband to come in as well. 

The doctor explained to me how I was supposed to push and when. He assured me: "Three pushes and it will all be over!"

I nodded. All of a sudden he got very serious and said: "Nurse, could you please get a gauze?" She did. He said: "Would you scratch my nose for me?" 

My husband snorted. 

"Isn't it something that once you get ready and all THEN you get the itch? I mean really..." the doctor continued talking.

I knew there was something really funny about the whole situation. I told myself to remember to laugh later.

The first contraction came, and I pushed. The doctor told me I'd done great, and that he was almost there. My husband looked down and then up at me again. He smiled and held my hand and told me how brave I was. 

The second contraction came, and I pushed hard. I felt something down there tear and I cried out in pain and shock. The nurse told me not to scream, because I could hurt my throat. The doctor said the baby was almost there and my husband, after having looked down himself, told me not to stop, that the baby really WAS almost there.

The third contraction came and with a final push the monitors went silent. My baby gurgled, then cried.

Just like that, my pregnancy was over.

To be continued...


Friday, June 17, 2011

Week 38 to 39 and my Second Baby Shower!

Yes! I was actually blessed with having a second Baby Shower! My family (thank you so much: Lilly, Sharon, Eduardo, Mom, Dad, Patricia and my wonderful husband) was amazing and I can't say thank you enough! Thank you, thank you thank you!

It was a very beautiful day, which in itself was a blessing because we'd been having rain the entire week and the forecast actually called for more rain during the weekend! As you can see, the activity is part outdoors, part indoors so we were very nervous, but everything was awesome! I was a bit sad about the attitude of some people (and I'm pretty sure they know who they are) who didn't seem particularly happy and kept mostly to themselves but I can't please everyone, I guess. We tried, though... And we didn't let the attitude displayed by those people to bring us down. We simply ignored it and went on! 

Now... I'm living week 38, tomorrow to be week 39. I had two appointments with my doctor this week to check on my dilation and he asked me whether I wanted to be induced into giving birth on Friday or if I'd wait until Monday. Today's Friday and here I am writing to you all, so as you can see, I chose to wait. Everyone so far backs up my decision but I know some don't get it...

You see, I really want to try to have this baby naturally, and there is no reason to rush. I won't wait any longer than Monday, though, but there was no rush for me to give birth on Friday. Another reason for waiting is...

Wait for it...

I'm scared.

Yup. I am.

Crazy, huh? Or not so much?

Here's the thing: I'm dying to meet my baby. I cannot wait to have him in my arms and hug him and kiss him and eventually, share him with the world. But I am also scared. Right now he is with me all the time, inside me, living everything with me. Being here and changing my life a little at a time, but not making a huge impact quite yet. Once he is here, he is here forever and I know my life will be changed forever. While I know it will be for the better, how can I not be scared about a life changing moment? In a couple of hours I will go through pain, uncertainty (When will he be born?! Will he be ok?! Will he be healthy?!) and finally, hopefully, incredible joy.

How can I not be scared? And excited? And scared again? And emotional?

Again, I must say, I am extremely lucky to have such a beautiful family that supports me and is with me every step of the way. People like my parents, my sister, Eduardo, Sharon, Edlianne, Edier, my cousin Lilly, my cousin Chrystel, my friend Michelle, my grandparents, my cousin Lorraine (wish you were here, honey!), our friend Neisha and her husband, my mother and father in law and so many others have helped me through this journey and I know they will all be here with us when Julián is born and for that I will be forever grateful.

And to God... I will definitely BE FOREVER GRATEFUL. Grateful for making me a mother, for the ups and downs of life, for all the people that surround me... for everything.

I am scared, yes. But I am also hopeful. I know this will alter my life in ways I can't even begin to imagine, but I can also feel my heart swell up with even more love than I already had.

I can't wait.



Monday, May 16, 2011

What it means to be a mother...

I am now 34 weeks pregnant but back in week 33 we celebrated Mother's Day. I bought my mom and my mother in law presents and cards for my grandmothers but never gave a thought about the possibility of someone giving me presents. After all, I am a Mother-to-Be, not a mother per se, so it was a pleasant surprise to get a couple of gifts and tons of congratulations on my First Mother's Day!

However, something called my attention more than the congratulations and the gifts...

Someone on Facebook wrote:

To be a Mother is to understand that she is a mother before being a woman.

A man wrote this. I was, and still am, in shock.


Because I don't share that belief. I was not taught to share that belief. My mother is an excellent one, and I love her with all of my heart and she did NOT, even for a second, stop being a wonderful wife to my father and an incredible mom to my sister and me. She had mom time and she had wife time. She would sit down with my sister and me and chat about whatever we wanted to chat about, and then she would listen just as intently to my father talk about his day.

And my mom is not a stay-at-home mom, she is a Doctor and has a very successful practice. So its not like she had the ENTIRE day to dedicate to the three of us, she had few precious hours that she divided among us. I would often wonder how she kept her sanity, but she always tells me that my father, my sister and I are not just her family, but her best friends as well and while she was always listening to us, we too were always listening to her. So she was, and is, well taken care of.

During the weekends, my mom would leave us with my grandmother and had date nights with my dad. I loved the weekends because it was my special time with my grandparents, which loved us, spoiled us and disciplined us a lot! It was also a chance to change from the normal atmosphere at home and be at a more country place. I loved it, and so did my sister. And it gave a chance to my mom and dad to spend time together being just them: not mom and dad but just the two of them. I didn't really understand it then, but I didn't have to, nor really cared: I was having fun, I was being taken care of by two of the people I love the most... 

My mother also knew when an activity was appropriate for my sister and me to be in attendance or not. She was never the mother that goes NOWHERE unless her offspring can come with her. Why? Because there are simply some activities that are not meant for children. She never took my sister and I to Baby Showers when we were little because there was nothing for us to do there. We might have simply become a nuisance out of sheer boredom. She took us to some weddings, when they were earlier in the day, but she and my dad always went alone to evening weddings, because, really... what do young children do in evening weddings? They get cranky, they are tired... its no fun for them, so they become unbearable for the adults too. There is a time and a place for everything and my mother never encouraged me and my sister to grow up quicker than we had to. She took us to age appropriate places and shows, and invited us to join in when a conversation was appropriate for us, and disciplined us when we wanted to give an opinion on matters that were clearly for adults only.

Because of this, we were easy children to take care of. People loved us because we were so well adjusted and behaved. We were never the "unruly" kids that didn't know how to behave themselves in situations, we were the "Doctor's Daughters" who were always polite, always smiling and happy. Because we truly were. And we truly are.

My mother NEVER stopped being a wife because she was a WIFE before she became a MOTHER. She didn't make us alone, my dad is an essential part of us just as any father is an essential part of any baby. Mom and dad, whether married or not, make a baby. That much is obvious. 

So why in the world are women expected to stop being women, wives and girlfriends to become solely mothers?!

Yes, children require tons of attention. Yes, some husbands or boyfriends are unbearable but if the latter is your case, then why be with a man like that in the first place? If you have a caring and loving husband or boyfriend, why should he take second or even third place to your offspring when, if you really think about it, you wouldn't be a mother if it wasn't for them?

To me, being a mother is understanding how to create balance in your life. A balance between my husband, my unborn baby, our family and just me. A balance between home, work and Church. There are a lot of things to juggle, but my mom did them all perfectly which makes me feel assured that everything IS possible as long as I am willing to commit to it. 

I DO NOT want to stop being a wife to my husband. 
I WILL be an excellent mom to my baby and he will feel my love every day.
I DO NOT believe that being a mother means that I should stop being a woman first.
I WILL be strong, and I WILL create a balance in my life.

I DO believe this is all possible.

What do YOU believe?

Anxiously waiting for my baby to be born...


Monday, May 2, 2011

32 weeks and counting... SURPRISE Baby Shower!


First things first, though... today I am actually feeling a little under the weather. But it has perfectly good explanations:

1. I am tired. Every night I sleep a little less because my Julian seems to think he is playing a soccer game inside the womb. I love every single kick and punch but it makes it kinda hard to sleep. On top of that, I have to go to the bathroom more often and getting up from the bed is not getting any easier. I am not complaining, though, I take it all in stride because, really... I am in love with my baby! Also, this weekend was very action packed and I rested very little during the day which is taking its toll... My feet are starting to swell slightly. But I'm told that's a good sign so I'm happy!

2. I am extremely disappointed at a so-called friend. Has it ever happened to you that you write a cute birthday message on a friend's Facebook wall only to discover that said "friend" deleted what you wrote? For no apparent reason? It feels like crap and it really hurt my feelings. Since I am feeling a bit hormonal I proceeded to delete said "friend". Is it any wonder I have trouble trusting people outside of my family? When I try to open myself to new friends outside of family something always happens. I am a busy, and often opinionated person. It seems some people can't handle that. *shrugs*

Oh, and before you tell me I'm overreacting let me tell you this: my "friend's" behavior has been sketchy for awhile and though I've tried to speak to him he acts as if nothing is wrong then proceeds to ignore me. So the friendship is really over, for whatever reason. Oh well...

Back to pregnancy issues!

These past weeks have gone by in a blur! I've been working, helping out in Church (Holy Week), helping out my parents in their business, prepping Julian's room (there is still a lot to do!) and watching amazed as my body changes bit by bit every day. Julian likes to move a lot, which is reassuring to me, and I know I will miss that once he is born.

Something really interesting happened on my last OBGYN visit, though. My doctor likes to check on the baby's heartbeat and contractions to see if everything is going smoothly. Everything IS going smoothly, but apparently my baby doesn't like loud noises, and the machine amplified his heartbeats by a ton. He started kicking violently, my stomach looked like it was made out of water it was moving so much! My husband was shocked at how visible the kicks were and I was getting a bit anxious because his heartbeat picked up as well. So I started caressing my tummy and speaking to him. Little by little, apparently soothed by the sound of my voice, he started to calm down until his heartbeat settled down into a normal beating, almost as if he was asleep. It was so touching to be able to actually hear how the sound of my voice calms him down! My husband was in awe... it was so beautiful!

Now... to the Baby Shower!

Last weekend my dad informed me that we'd be going to visit some relatives in Aibonito. He didn't ask me if I could he just informed me that I would be going there. I didn't mind, I love going there. And he told me one of my cousins who lives in the States was coming down so I was even more excited! I expected a lot of tummy touching and funny stories, but nothing else. It was a normal visit. So much so that I was planning to take along a comic book just in case I got tired and wanted to lie down to read.

So... we get to my aunt's place. I see decorations and what looks like cupcakes on pedestals and I immediately thought: "It's someone's birthday! Awesome!"

Yeah, I'm that naive!

Then I look at the sign: "BABY SHOWER!"

And my brilliant reaction: "Uh... is this for me?!"

My family's (including my husband's) reaction: "LMAO! Of course! We kept a secret from you! Who else in the family is pregnant?!"

And my other amazingly brilliant reaction: "There really is no other cousin pregnant?! It's really for me?!"

More laughter. Hugs, kisses, tummy caressing and well wishes! Pictures, food, games... My cousin Lilly prepared a beautiful introduction to the shower which she later gave to me and I loved! We cried, we laughed (again!) and we thanked the Lord for giving us such a beautiful day and such a beautiful baby to celebrate! We truly are blessed!

So this Baby Shower was hosted by my aunts and cousins. And I say "this" baby shower because my mom is hosting another one in about a month, but me and my husband are actually planning this one with her. I can tell you right now: it won't be as beautiful as my first one! I don't have that kind of talent and since it was a surprise... well its incredibly special! We'll have fun on the second one as well, you can be sure of that! We sent out most of the invitations already and I really hope some people understand that I can't invite EVERYONE I know, so I'm limiting the list to the people that are around me the most and have been watching over me the most during this amazing time in my life.

It's going to be great. And my First Baby Shower was amazing. It feels so incredible, I feel SO blessed and honored to know that my baby will be loved so much. I couldn't ask for more...

Thank you Lord!