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!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Baby Showers and Etiquette... Say WHAT?!

24 weeks and counting! 

Things are getting pretty exciting! My baby (tentatively named Julian, unless someone comes up with a better name, which I doubt) is pretty lively (except today, it seems yesterday he got a little carried away with the kicking and today he's been pretty mellow... don't like that!) and growing up well, thank God.

Of course, with time going by so quickly my husband and I started thinking about Baby Showers. Now, I've never had a baby before, and I've never really paid attention to who throws the shower. One of my friends, Jenn and I went out to celebrate her birthday and she told me that I was not supposed to throw my own shower. I am sure she laughed internally at my "huh?!" expression. She offered to do it for me (which I am super grateful for), but I told her I'd rather use her help setting up a list of items I'll need for Julian. But that conversation got me thinking: who is supposed to throw the baby shower?!

I logged on to BabyCenter and found this thread. As I sifted through some answers I came to realize how controversial this is in the United States and yet, not so much in Puerto Rico. You see, in Puerto Rico we don't really need an excuse to party so whenever we DO have an excuse we take it. It doesn't really matter to us WHO threw the party or whether or not we have to bring gifts as long as we get to eat, drink, dance and have a wonderful time. So it is not an issue of etiquette here. In the states, it sort of is. In fact, it is considered "tacky" to throw yourself a Baby Shower because, when it boils down to the nitty gritty, a Baby Shower is to get gifts for the baby.

Personally, I don't really understand what all the fuss is about. I am about to become a new parent (if all goes well), and I've brought countless presents for other friends for their Baby Showers and it has never crossed my mind that it is tacky that she is getting presents for her baby. Why would it be? Why should I think that a person is "thoughtless" for "bringing a baby into the world and expecting presents?". Maybe the truth is, I want to throw a Baby Shower but I don't care if I get all the presents on my list. And the only reason I am making a Baby Registry is because it made MY life so much easier when I had to buy presents for a Baby Shower and it came from a pre-chosen registry! Whether I get presents or not is completely irrelevant (although, who DOESN'T like a present?!), all I want is for people to come in and share this amazing life experience I am going through. 

I want people to love my baby now, before he is born, and that they will continue to love him forever. I want them to live this experience with me, to touch my belly, say a prayer and wish beautiful things for him. All I want is to be surrounded by friends and family that love us and are there with us always. Some of our friends have been with my husband and me during our courtship, they attended our wedding, they are with us during my pregnancy and I want them to experience my baby with me. Whoever throws the shower shouldn't really matter in the end.

So to make things simple, I am making it a cooperative event. 

What is that?

Simple. My mom is planning some things. My mother in law will be planning others. My sister in law will help with invites. I'm asking my friend Elaine with help with decorations (she is AMAZING!) and Jenn will come with me to help me with the Baby Registry and all those details I know nothing about. A lot of people will be helping in lots of different ways... and you know what? It sounds like a heck of a good time already!

Can't hardly wait for Julian to get here!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Week 23 - Baby Kicks!

You're probably wondering why I posted a "Week 19" blog a couple of days ago and now I'm in Week 23. Here's the thing: I had posted the Week 19 on another website weeks ago, but it was such a pain (you had to give people a password and stuff to read it) that I just re-posted it here. So in reality... Week 23 is here!

How do I feel? Hmm... hard to describe really. My baby is moving like crazy most of the time (although he is calm now... as he should be after kicking up a storm yesterday!). His movements are not painful, they are not annoying either, but they are strange. If you've been pregnant before you'll know what I mean. Picture this: you're lying on your side watching a movie or something and all of a sudden you feel light punches, kicks and movement coming from inside your body. You know it's not your organs moving in there, it is a whole other person. That's when it really dawns on you: it is really not only you inhabiting this body, you share it with a tiny living person. And in my case, the person sharing my body is not even my same sex! Talk about a life changing experience!

Other changes: I now, officially, cannot hide the fact that I'm pregnant. In fact, I kinda look like an egg! LOL! One night I went to sleep looking pretty much normal and I woke up with a bigger tummy! And not only that, I now weight 4 lbs more than I did before becoming pregnant. My doctor (and everyone else, really) tells me that 4lbs is a very insignificant weight gain at 23 weeks, especially since my baby weights 1 lbs himself, without counting the placenta and the amniotic liquid. I understand this, but I've had weight problems all my life so gaining weight for me is never a good thing. My husband has been a tremendous help in getting me to understand that I will gain weight no matter what because the baby will continue to grow. I'm starting to get it through my thick skull but don't worry: I'm eating healthy and as often as I should so that the baby gets all the nutrients he need! He is my priority!

Another funny change: my baby doesn't really dig loud music or sounds. I thought maybe I was being a little bit hormonal but on the last parties I've attended, the loud music kind of upsets me and my baby starts kicking even more than usual. I usually ask for the music to be lowered down just a tad or I simply leave early (I'm not much of a party person anyway) and when I'm back in a calm and quiet environment, my baby becomes calmer as well. He likes certain music from what I can tell, and he gets calm when I sing to him, but loud music and sounds... not so much. 

Oops, there's a kick! LOL! I wish I could see what he was doing right now!

Time to lie down a bit, I have to go out soon and I know I'll tire easily so I want to rest before we go!

Thanks for taking this journey with us!


PS. The only name on the table right now for our baby is JULIAN! We are open to suggestions though (or rather my husband is...) so if you want to give us ideas, write to me on my FB or post a comment right here! My hubby, my baby and I thank you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week 19 - Feeling Blessed

For the longest time I've wondered what it would feel like to be pregnant. 

Would I be sick often? Would I be overjoyed or scared? Would my family be happy? Will everyone love my baby? How does it feel to have a life forming inside of oneself?

A couple of months ago I started feeling a bit strange... craving apple pies (which I hated, and still do, actually) should have been an indicator that it wasn't just me inhabiting this body anymore. Still, I resisted to a pregnancy test. I've had a few pregnancy "scares" in the past year and every time the test came back negative I felt a bit of hope leaving me. I know having a baby is not as exact a science as some would think. It is really quite complicated: you have about TWO days in which you are at a prime to get pregnant. Your weight and stress levels have a lot to do with how quickly to get pregnant and if you have an irregular period (like I was having) it can be even tougher. 

My husband and I were in no hurry, but it still hurt to see that negative on a pregnancy test. So as you can imagine, when my husband demanded I took a pregnancy test before we left for vacation (Walt Disney World and I'm an adrenaline junkie... you get the drift!), I did it begrudgingly.

I went to the pharmacy and bought the test. Then I had lunch. Then I ran some errands. Then I visited my grandparents and THEN I took the test. I did everything the little instructions said and placed it on a flat surface and went about my business. About five minutes later I came back. And there it was... the elusive second line was clearly in place. According to the test I was pregnant. I called my husband feeling both happy and terrified at the same time. What if it was a false positive? He wouldn't have any of it, and made me go get a blood test STAT. Which I did. And it was POSITIVE.

At this point I allowed myself to start dreaming. I told my grandparents, my sister, my mom, my dad... everyone! In retrospect maybe I should have waited, it was only my fifth week and things can go wrong. Thankfully nothing has so far and people have been SO supportive of me, my husband, my puppy (she's my angel!) and my baby that I can't regret telling everyone so early! I wouldn't miss this for the world!

So I take it one week at the time. At week six I saw my baby for the first time: he was just a little dot on a black thing that I knew was the sac. The doctor pointed to a tiny, flickering dot and told me, sounding just a little surprised: "His heart is beating already, and its visible!" So thus far my baby was fine.

At nine weeks I went back to the doctor (he wanted to see me as soon as I came back from vacation to make sure everything was in apple pie order... apple pie... ugh!). I was shocked to see how big the baby was in comparison to three weeks earlier. Once again, we saw his heart beating and it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

At week thirteen we went back (once a month, the doctor told me) and I haven't gained a pound (which doesn't make the doctor concerned but doesn't make him happy either, he hopes I'm eating as much as I should, which I am). The baby was kicking and punching around and his heart was beating beautifully. I could see his spinal cord and his limbs clearly. I've been feeling little fluttering since week ten so I was happy to see him move around so much: vindication! I'd been right: the little guy likes to MOVE!

After Christmas, the doctor told me to visit his other office, which has a much more modern equipment. He wanted to see the baby more clearly, to make sure he's developing correctly. At seventeen weeks, he said, his little parts should be visible. 

I have never seen something more beautiful. His heart, his ribs, his spinal cord, arms, legs, placenta, umbilical cord AND his little boy part was showing! He moved around like it was no one's business. At first he was laying upside down, then in the middle of the sonogram he flipped right side up. The doctor switched the machine to 3D and I saw his little body and tiny features with amazing detail. To our amazement, he lifted his little face and for a moment it looked like he smirked before turning around and giving us his back! It was kind of like: "enough pics for one day! Thanks for watching!" My husband (who has been with me to EVERY appointment), the doctor and I burst out laughing! That's my baby!

Now, as I write this, he is moving up a storm. And he moves even more when I speak to him. I can feel him more every day and now my husband can feel him too when he touches my bare tummy. We look at each other in amazement. God is so amazing to create life in such a way! Even my Yorkie seems to know something is different. She lies down on my tummy and presses her ear against my skin and then gives me the funniest look when the baby kicks. It's definitely no longer me living in this body: I have a beautiful, special little resident in here with quite a bit of personality and a lot of energy!

So... how does it feel to be pregnant?

1. I haven't thrown up. Not even once. The doctor said I've been lucky and I know I have!

2. At first I was excited, then scared, then terrified, then extremely excited again, then wary and desperate to know my baby was doing alright... There is no way to explain how strange this has been for me and my husband. We want this baby so much! We experience every day to the fullest, marveling at the tiniest things... the baby moving, my dizziness sometimes, how my body is changing, how many times I visit the ladies room... We are no longer four living in this house (God, my husband, my puppy, and me), our baby is very real and very much a part of our lives.

3. Strangely enough... being pregnant feels... Natural. It feels different to have a little body inside your own, of course, but natural at the same time. Your body knows what its doing, its not something you have to really think about. If you eat a lot you put on a lot of pounds but your body tells you exactly what amount, when to eat and even what to eat. You just have to listen to it. Thus far I eat almost exactly the same way I did before, and my doctor says it fine because although I have a baby, the baby is extremely small and doesn't need me to eat an extra piece of chicken, another piece of pie or another spoonful of rice just yet. There will be a time in which I'll get hungrier, but it doesn't mean its a free for all: pregnancy is not a free ticket to eat EVERYTHING you want. Not everything you WANT to eat is what you SHOULD. And I'm well aware of that. My craving? Chicken somedays, homemade hamburgers the other, broccoli one day, soup another. The least healthy craving? Chocolate. But I deal with it drinking a glass of chocolate milk once a day (low fat, low sugar chocolate, of course!).

I feel very lucky, and very blessed, and extremely happy. Life is not any easier, and I know it will get more complicated as time goes by. But for now I'm enjoying my baby one day... one week at a time.

Join me,