Mayans were crazy! (birth rituals)

Since tomorrow starts the year when the world is going to end and all, I wanted to learn a bit more about what those nutty people (Mayans) believed in and other rituals, such as birth.

To begin with, when a woman was approaching her final weeks till delivery, there was a lot of freaking prayer.

The midwife would pray when she woke up, bathed, brushed her teeth (if there were tooth brushes back then), pooped, ate, entered the pregnant woman's house and then in every corner of the pregnant woman's room.

I can only imagine the laboring Mayan woman rolling her eyes and thinking, "Enough with the praying already! There is a head coming through my crotch!"

Now, here is the part that really made an impression on me (and I even had to go outside, where stepson helped his dad on the yard to share the new found news): Mayans believed that the spirit of the first born sort of sipped the energy out of the newborn.

To prevent that, crazy praying Mayan midwife would trap a live chicken inside a cloth and beat the crap out of the baby's oldest brother with it until the chicken died. Then she would make the battered kid eat the whole damn thing.

"Aren't you glad you live in 2012 America, stepson?" I asked him, "Even though according to Mayans the world will be over soon?"

Stepson responded by asking if I could make pizza because he is hungry.

Anywho, after all the chicken and first born beating and the safe arrival of the new baby, the new mother would have her hair washed (I would sign up for that) and have her house cleaned (I'd sign up for that too).

So here is what I am thinking right now: if the world is really ending this year and the Mayans were right, I have to go get myself a live chicken.


Modern woman

A bird is eyeballing my blueberry muffin. I know that if I get distracted long enough, he will take a piece of it.

I am not exaggerating. Those things are ballsy. A French couple sitting on a table near mine looked away for a second and a group of birds took a whole slice of their bagel. The French man is now covering his wife's food with one hand while she goes inside, probably asking for another piece.

This is my favorite coffee shop.

From where I sit, I see the avid bike riders tying and untying their hybrid bikes from a designated place for them, because this is southern California and bicycles always have a parking lot.

There is a lawn surrounded by rose bushes where people drink coffee on beach chairs while their dogs socialize with one another.

The sign by the door of this quaint and old spanish building says very clearly though, "No dogs and no surfboards inside."

Now two little birds stare at me, from the top of a beach umbrella. I am on the second floor, by the porch, drinking my milk, timing my contractions, while reading books on my iPad, sans wedding ring.

I am a modern woman.

Because my ring is officially not going through my knuckle, I look single and pregnant. I hesitated leaving the house from my hermit existence this morning because of this. A very pregnant woman, appearing single, in a coffee shop. Not so good.

But then I remember that most people that come here have orange or green hairs, wear flip flops and clothes that are smudged with paint, so I say, fuck it, I'll go.

My husband dropped me off with stepson who, upon seeing me this morning after arriving from the airport said, "you look even bigger than last time I saw you. Didn't think that was possible!"


Let's talk more about that wedding ring business.

Back in Virginia, while I sat in my gynecologist's office, waiting for the official urine results that would confirm the pregnancy, a nurse walked in, files in hand, beaming a smile.

She had sparkly, blue eye shadow and wore a flower on her hair, a look that distracted me enough from the papers in her hand and make me exclaim inwardly, wtf!

She says, "You are pregnant!" and without missing a beat, darts her eyes towards my hand, confirms I am married and says, "That's a beautiful ring!"

We both look at it in silence and when our eyes meet again she realizes she is inappropriately judgmental and excuses herself, leaving the room while I go back to staring at my ring.

Do I look that young? And why do people still care so much about a wedding ring on a pregnant woman?

Now there are five birds staring at my muffin crumbs. I better go so they can eat. Someone with a dreadlock is eyeballing my table, anyway.

Plus, my contractions are picking up. It's like the Murphy law. The moment I decide to venture out of the house, they restart.

I wonder if my uterus has agoraphobia.


Latest nursery pics and yet another thank you note!

A lot of the nursery were gifts from friends and family. We are overwhelmed with gratitude. The baby has EVERYTHING we could possibly imagine he could get.

My parents gave us the crib, the bedding, and other baby stuff, like clothing, video camera, video monitor, baby bath and grooming products. The snoopy decor were gifts from both Joanna and Becky. Annelise gave us the snoopy diaper bag.

The dresser was an old dresser husband had and that we painted with crackle glue (check out the blog posts with Nursery on the title). We did crackle glue on the letters and snoopy picture frames as well. Stepson's picture was a canvas transfer from a sepia paper print with gel medium (another pinterest experiment).

Inside this dresser are gifts from many friends, such as Robin, Mary, Rob, my brother and wife, Bridget, Ibsen, Michelle, Jayme, and my parents (such as clothes, blankets, towels, shoes).

The chair was an old chair from husband. This chair is very lucky that she is blue, because she was on craigslist to be sold when we decided she belonged in the baby's room.

The closet still has no doors and it may stay that way. We got those organizers at Lowes. In it there are gifts from Clayton, LeAnna, Mary, Rob, Ann, Sonny, Karen, Lora, Sam, Steve, Jenni, Jayne, and Debbie (such as dining chair for going out, fancy breast pump, fun toys, food storage, bibs, hats, baby spoons, baby cooking book, pacifier holder, cover for shopping cart, bottles, first aid kit, pacifier, cloth diapers).

Parked on the floor is one of the many gifts from Jayme and Stan (the bouncy fun chair).

The door on the wall by the crib is actually a very large closet where the rest of the baby stuff is, such as stroller and car seat (a gift from my brother and his wife), high chair (a gift from Jeff), pack n' play (a gift from Bridget), awesome jumperoo (a gift from Marcela), fun gym mat (a gift from Terry) and the cutest bath tub (a gift from Sandra).

I wanted to say thank you again to all of our friends and family! You guys make us feel special.

Special thanks to my parents and Jayme!


Things I don't feel like doing today

Find the difference

Although seemingly identical, there are subtle differences between these two images of the same creature. Hint: one is smiling. Can you find the others?


Mommy brain

- when you wake up in the middle of the night and walk around like a mummy, hiting things with your large body in the process of making it to the baby's room because you are worried you haven't heard him cry in a while. Then you look down and realize the baby is still in your belly.


- waking up panicked with the sound of a baby crying and jumping out of the couch. Then you look down and realize the baby is still in your belly AND that the baby crying was on the tv show you left on as you snoozed.


- getting mad when someone says someone else's baby is ugly. You immediately think that this is not the case with your baby. Then you look down and realize the baby is still in your belly AND that you have no idea how he looks like.

Weird. The strangest part is that I never took care of children, so I can only blame my primal mommy instincts on this.


Food porn

Definition: looking at pictures of food for the sole purpose of giving oneself eye pleasure. Such needs may be enhanced by the surge of female hormones during pregnancy.


- watching a comercial that features an extra cheesy and garlicky pizza and saying out loud when it is over, "that was awesome! I hope they show it again soon!"

- pinning decadent desserts on pinterest that one may never make and imagining how it would taste and smell like

- watching cooking shows just because

- watching baking shows just because and consider becoming a baker

One may act on such urges in the middle of a sleepless night and, lacking any real sweets and junk food in the household, such sick person may indulge in a spoon of cocoa powder, choke on it and cough all over the kitchen sink.


The little tombstones of Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry is a historical town located in West Virginia, where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet and divide the states of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia.

By hiking one of the hills that faces the town, one can see the three states at once and also one of the most beautiful views of a old town by a river, especially if it is fall.

The civil war supposedly started in this town, when a white man named John Brown and some slaves (along other white men) led a raid to take over buildings and weapons to start his own version of an abolition.

Those men were captured and killed by Marines, btw. This was another time; another mentality.

Many subsequent battles for this war happened in this area. Pictures of Lincoln can be seen in posters by remote trails, while he visited with soldiers.

My husband and I went camping and whitewater rafting there. The wine of the area is decent for East Coast standards and if you sit long enough in one of the battlefields, dozens of deer will eventually show, cautiously staring at us, wondering if we are going to eat them, and then trotting closer. The town is also apparently haunted and it can be truly spooky at night.

At the top of this historical town there is a church and a large cemetery.

While walking around it I noticed the small tombstones. I joked with husband if this was a midget town back in the day, until further inspection of dates and names worn out by weather and time, showed that the tombstones were of babies. Most were a few days old and many were placed next to another adult death of the same date.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that these women and their babies died during or a few days after giving birth.

I wondered what could have possibly happened to so many babies and women and that's when it downed on me what they lacked: doctors.

And modern medicine.

I am thinking this as I read "Ina May's Guide To Child Birth," where she pretty much claims that intervention from doctors and modern medicine is a product of the devil.

Ok, she doesn't use these words, but that's how it sounds like.

Why did I pick up this book when I am decided on an epidural and further medical intervention if needed?

The journalist inside of me (that was my degree in college) wants to weigh both sides of the coin before making a final and wise decision.

I get it. Natural birth is better for both mom and baby. Both will recover faster and will have a better chance to survive.

A few friends that described their natural birth say that the pain is in fact excruciating, but that holding your baby is the fastest and most effective pain killer. These women also say that they bonded quicker with the babies that came naturally.

I get all that.

What rubs me the wrong way is how far Ina May goes into claiming that most of the women that gave birth in her midwifery farm had perfectly awesome deliveries. She goes so far as to say that some even giggle and find the whole experience amusing.

As a shock factor more than anything, there is a picture in the book of a woman with a baby's head coming through her vagina while she laughs hysterically.

Let me tell you something. The few times I felt labor pains, I didn't think it was funny at all.

Ina May also makes some dangerous claims that her patients with preeclampsia were treated solely with diets filled with beans.

I understand that her book is to advocate natural birth and its benefits, but in the same token, there are women with high risk pregnancies that could take her book to heart. They may end up not considering the other side of the coin, and how important is to have a real crew of professionals with many years of studies behind their backs and a NICU at hand.

Ina May makes me think that she considers the advent of modern medicine to aid in labor and survivorship of mother and baby to be a business plot to make money. When I read all that, however, I think of the little tombstones.

Maybe doctors do lack the caring and bedside manners for a true spiritual experience in giving birth, but I will take my chances. Off to a hospital and their evil machines I will go.

To husband

"Does the rest of my body still look the same?" I asked my husband without looking at him while brushing my teeth, even though he said a few days ago that I look like Humpty Dumpty.

A short silence ensued, which forced me to look at him. He had a panicked look on his face and I could tell he was weighing whether to tell me the truth or say what I wanted to hear.

Because he knows better, he said I still look sexy and that no, my ass does not look that much bigger.

Of all the changes and transformations this pregnancy brought me, my husband's seems to surprise me the most.

I could never imagine the amount of patience, love and adoration this man has developed for me, which I think is completely nuts, given that I am not in my most attractive or fun self.

I am this hungry blob of a ball with arms and legs coming out of it that will cry once or twice a week.

My husband is used to my working long hours, almost never being home, cooking elaborate meals and being competitive when riding our bikes. I feel like lately all he sees is a horizontal version of me (and not in a good way) and he is lucky if I make him a sandwich.

He is beyond patient, loving and caring.

There is no real purpose to this blog entry besides expressing my greatest appreciation to this wonderful man I married and all he has done for the baby and I.

I love you, monkey.


Positive sides of bed rest

Let's stop complaining and see the positive side of bed rest, shall we?

1) you get to lay around on your pjs all day long and no one thinks you are lazy

2) actually, you get to be a complete lazy bum and people actually encourage you to do so

3) you catch up on movies, books and emails

4) you don't have to clean the house

5) you get to order your husband around and he will respond promptly (get me water, fix me a meal, clean that sink, rub my foot, don't talk)

6) you don't have to feel guilty for not working out

7) you have an excuse as to why your legs are looking like tree trunks and your fingers look fluffy

8) since you are not leaving the house, you get to wear your ugly maternity clothes that are awesomely comfortable but that make you look like you are wearing a curtain

9) you get to take naps


Tick tock

Note to self: after week thirty of pregnancy, always leave your house looking clean and wash your hair. You don't want to look like shit and come home from the hospital to a messy place.

The due date is a myth. They should just come up with a due year. In my case the doctor would just predict, "Your baby will be here either on 2011 or 2012," that way I would always clean my hair and iron straighten it.

As we drove to the hospital and my contractions got stronger and steadier at midnight last night, something suddenly downed on me: sex is a trick God created to make us procreate. If sex wasn't good, about eighty percent of us wouldn't be here. Ask your parents, if you don't have children. Most likely either your or your sibling were not supposed to be here.

Human beings, interestingly, are one of the few animals that have sex when they are not in a fertile phase. Anthropologists claim we are those horny beasts that can do the deed at any time mostly to keep the male entertained, so he doesn't go around making babies with other females and can, that way, keep his attention on the female at hand. Add the love chemicals to the equation and the male specimen stays put. That's the monogamy math for us humans.

God made it especially easy on us females to keep our distracting duties and trapping techniques by giving us orgasms. No other female animal has been reported to have it. Orgasms keep us from brushing off completely these needy creatures (men).

Once at the hospital, however, after the nurse figured out what triggered these contractions (we had " soup," for lack of better words), she said, "no more soup for you!"

Ok, she didn't quote Seinfeld, but that's how I took it, and that's what I told husband, "no more soup for you!"

In medical terms, this is called pelvic rest, which I find it to be an even more entertaining name, if your mind is dirty enough to visualize it.

The labor and delivery staff administered a drug called terbutaline, which feels like a mixture of an adrenaline shot and fifteen cups of coffee.

I was nauseated and my heart rate skyrocketed. Baby got pissed! His heart rate was also elevated and he tossed and turned and punched me.

I whispered to him that this was all daddy's fault, that mommy would never do that to him.


Once the contractions were semi-normal and I still looked, behaved and felt like a heroine addict on withdrawal, they sent irritable me home saying once more, right before I left, "no more soup for you!"

They didn't really say those exact words, but you get the gist.

Ever since then I have been like a time ticking bomb, still having contractions and washing baby's clothes, sheets, blankets, putting together his car seat, ordering a breast pump, washing my freaking hair.

This may all be a fluke and baby will stay put. Only time will tell, so stay tuned.


Pregnancy and nutrition

Because my fingers turned to sausages a few days ago, I have decided to stop stuffing my face with the excuse that I am pregnant and should be eating more.

More is one thing; eating a whole cake that didn't turn out pretty enough to take to a Christmas party (while listening to Charlie brown's christmas songs) just means you have no manners and are a pig.

Coincidentally, fingers were sausages on the same day I had my first of a series of Charlie horses in the middle of the night. I almost shoved my startled husband off the bed when I screamed, "What the hell is this? Do something! Grab my foot!" The poor guy was in the middle of his REM sleep cycle and didn't know where he was, so he obeyed and grabbed my foot. What I meant to say was, stretch my calves, but I was also half asleep.

I am not the kind of person that gets sausage fingers and Charlie horses. Being that I am a personal trainer and nutritionist (please don't tell anyone about the cake) I am usually the person who tells people how to avoid them.

Pregnant or not, if you are having these symptoms, something is working harder than it should your body. You are eating too much of something, or not consuming enough of something else.

With that in mind I tackled my problem and my little fingers are back to their normal skinny selves.

I wanted to share with other moms to be that your nutrition and lifestyle habits can make pregnancy symptoms worst and how to avoid them.

If you are not expecting, and/or are a guy, some of those tips may help some of your eating issues too, so keep on reading.


Any weight gain that happens suddenly (two to three pounds in a few days) is usually water retention. It is very unlikely that you could have consumed these many calories in a few days and no baby grows that fast.

While pregnant, our out of control estrogen and insulin will cause us to retain water, especially those with gestational diabetes, so first and foremost, your best bet is to put that water and excess sugar to use with exercise.

Clients are often asking me what is the best remedy for a functioning circulatory system and excess sugar, and I always say that there is no better medicine than to get moving.

I am aware that exercising is hard while expecting, but you don't need to do much to see the bloating subside. An one hour walk (even divided in 15 minute increments) will get you there.

Nutritionally speaking, excess sodium will affect you even more now that you are pregnant.

Minerals and other nutrients are already dilluted in the much larger amount of blood you now carry, so the chemistry of your body is most likely off. Excess sodium will make it worse.

Women are usually deficient in potassium even before pregnancy. Potassium and sodium don't really get along. When one is present, it flushes the other one out of the cells. Your body will thank you for consuming more potassium rich foods.

Sodium, however, is not the only one responsible for bloating. Any excess of any nutrient or toxins will make your body go into alert mode and retain water. If you eat a whole cake, you may get Charlie horses in the middle of the night (which is an electrical problem usually started by missing electrolytes and some minerals in addition to lack of water) and also will get you to have sausage fingers.

Bloating does not mean fat gain, but it COULD make you fat.

When your body works this hard to take care of an issue, it will slow down.

What you can do: drink one glass of water for every time you use the restroom, walk one hour a day, avoid soups, eating out, popcorn, crackers; eat more bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, pumpkin; drink coconut water (don't bother with Gatorade because it is sugary); avoid simple sugars.


The biggest complaint pregnant ladies seem to have is being constipated.

In the first trimester, blame it on iron. The prenatal vitamins will clog up anybody!

In the second trimester, blame it on progesterone. The hormone will relax every muscle and, guess what? The intestines are muscles, so they will become sluggish.

In the third trimester, blame it on the baby. He or she will literally "get in the way" of things moving freely.

Because of this, so many women end up with Hemorrhoids, when simply adding more fiber to the diet could help.

Become friends with breads that taste like cardboards, homemade oatmeal, homemade beans and lentils and fibery veggies.

Exercise also affects your bowels. When your heart and large muscles are strong, the other muscles will follow suit, so active people usually have more active bowels!

Also, you do not want to push out a baby while constipated. I have heard women tell horror stories of their first trip to the bathroom after baby.

What you can do: drink more water; exercise; buy breads, cereals and pastas that have at least 5g of fiber per serving; eat oatmeal and fibery vegetables.


As a nutritionist, here are things I would usually advise women preparing for birth, when it comes to nutrition:

- labor may last longer than ten hours. You may not be able to eat and will most likely be exhausted. You want to eat more complex carbohydrates on the weeks leading up to the due date to pack on energy. Avoid simple sugars and juices on the days before the due date. They will crash your sugar levels and start a vicious cycle of starving and fatigue that will make you crave for more sugar and want to give up pushing.

- eat lean meats. You will need the B vitamins that are mostly found in meats to contract properly and aid in energy. You will also need iron, now more than ever, so the baby is not born anemic.

- eat foods rich in omega 3s, especially if your heart is skipping beats due to the pregnancy. I always had PVCs and thankfully have had none during this pregnancy, but they can interfere with stress during labor. You can find them in nuts, peanut butter and most fatty fish. Also, if you had PVCs, avoid caffeine and sugar.

- keep eating foods rich in potassium.

- keep consuming foods rich in calcium. This mineral is one of the most important nutrients in making sure that the contractions are steady have a healthy pattern.

- consume foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is probably the most important healing nutrient for wounds and skin damage.

- finally, and maybe most importantly, eat foods rich in vitamin K, unless your doctor especifically tells you not to (people with circulatory issues should ask their doctors about this). Vitamin K helps heal wounds and stop bleeding. This vitamin will help you and baby. One cup of cooked spinach has enough vitamin K for the entire week, so I advise eating one or two cups a week.


Hope this helps, ladies. Please bring this list to your doctors. They may not agree with everything for your particular case.

Oh, and try not to eat a whole cake just because no one is watching and it is Christmas time.

Not a good idea.


On children

"How can two children from the same womb turn out so different?" my mom often says out loud to no one in particular.

She often says this when she offers me gifts or money, and I say no. Even during my divorce, when my parents offered to pay lawyers and my move, I said I had enough money (which was a lie). My brother, from his corner of the table, said, "If she doesn't want it, can I have it?"

(btw, I did find that money hidden in my luggage once I got back in the US and unpacked. My parents knew I would never take it.)

I lack materialism, and also patience, both of which my brother has in excess. He has way too many watches and gadgets and always seems to have a new car, but he is also one of the sweetest and most patient people I know. My mom often says, "Your brother is such a nice person. He is like a saint!" whereas I am usually referred to as the "difficult one."

I wonder what she is trying to say about me with those comments?

When Christmas comes, though, my brother makes a list of things he wants, and they are not cheap, for Santa to chose from. I tell my mom I don't need anything besides chocolate, which is true.

Another sentence my mom always mumbles to herself more than to anyone else is Gibran's quote, "your children are not your children..." whenever myself or my brother do something that disappoints her, such as moving to another country.

With that she means, you put your children in the world and feel a sense of entitlement to what happens to them, but they are not really yours.

They are people, with their own thoughts, own wishes and may even come out with a personality that does not resemble anyone that you know.

Heck, they may not even like you once they figure out you are far from knowing everything, as they once thought. They may love you, but not like you.

This just downed on me, since I am finding more and more how really different I am from my parents and how different my little one may be from me.

"The Prophet" is a fantastic book that my grandmother used to read out loud, and here is the excerpt on children:

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Mini neanderthal

The weekly email I get from some pregnancy website tells me the little guy is already four or so pounds, so I don't freak out as much when I step on the scale anymore.

My question is, is he really only four pounds and can it be possible that he will grow even more? I can't imagine becoming any more uncomfortable.

A friend said that she hasn't slept for a good four years. Her child is three years old. Now I understand why. Pregnancy robs us of any rest.

I have been wondering if I am in fact just too small for this job.

Every one and their brother have told me this baby may come sooner than later because he will run out of space inside of me. At first I thought people were being ignorant and maybe a tad mean (Japanese people are small and they have babies all the time right?), but in one of those rare occasions where I got my father to talk on the phone (and he is usually the voice of reason when my mother and I are doing our latina stunts and getting out of control) he mentioned the same thing.

Here is an example of how my father, although impatient and cranky ninety nine percent of the time, keeps his cool if events matter. When I was about fifteen years old, someone hit my mom's car with his and wanted to flee the scene after he got out and saw the damage. My mother and I would have none of that. We lunged at the guy and hit and scratched him, keeping him from getting behind his wheel again. When my father appeared, followed by an amused policeman, he apologized to the stunned a-hole that got attacked by women in heals, and giggled to himself, which infuriated my mom and I even more.

Anywho, I am getting sidetracked.

My dad said, in a politically correct manner, that my husband's family seemed to be of big-boned people and that the baby could be as well.

You mean, a little neanderthal or perhaps a little viking?

He surely stretches his little leg all the way pass my third rib and I swear it hits my heart. There's no position that gets him and I comfortable. We are both tossing and turning all night long.

I have become best friends with the heating pad and take Tylenol like it's M&Ms. The back pain and heartburn never seem to subside. When I find a position that will soothe one, the other takes over.

Our little mutt is coming from a melting pot of Irish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Italian and Native Brazilian so only time will tell what kind of heights he will grow to.

Either way, viking or not at least someone is staying up with me watching infomercials at three in the morning.


Coffee, anyone?

I am locked inside my bedroom, dreading opening that door. Opening that door means leaving this room, and leaving this room means dealing with what I have done, and what I have done is not pretty.

In my defense, I am experiencing now, for everyone's delight, what back labor feels like.

Waking up with excruciating pain in my lower back that feels as if someone has punched my kidneys and my lower abs from inside out with a knuckle brace does not make me pleasant to live with.

The nurse on duty counseled that I took Tylenol and applied a heating pad on my lower back, both of which I did not have at home in the middle of the night.

As I placed myself instinctively on my hands and knees under a hot shower that hit exactly my lower back, my husband went hunting at two in the morning for the pain killer and heating pad.

When he got back I still cried helplessly under the water. The poor guy drugged me up and sat on the couch with me until I fell asleep. He got some brownie points for it.

Husband had to wake up a few hours later and go to work. Much later I finally ventured out of the cave where I almost grew roots on the couch from fear of moving in any direction.

The pain was back and I literally breathed lamaze breaths on the way to the kitchen to fix myself something to eat.

Maybe I was in fact seeing double because of the pain, or maybe I chose not to see it, but the coffee grinder (that was full) was in front of the pan I wanted to get and it came flying on top of my head, showering me with coffee grounds.

I had coffee all over my hair, my face, inside my clothes, inside my underwear! The whole kitchen took on the black shade of it.

My first instinct: become paralyzed with my pissed off feelings in my new black tan.

The second instinct: cry uncontrollably.

And the third reaction: sit on the floor, grab my phone and tell everyone about it, looking for sympathy.

My friends reactions were not the most sensitive, however. "You have coffee inside your underwear? Hahahahahah"

At this moment I didn't find it funny at all, until of course, I decided to go to the bathroom (and drizzled more coffee on the hallway in the process) to look at myself in the mirror and realize I looked like a coal mine worker after a psychological meltdown. Between tears I started laughing.

Crying that turns into laughter is my favorite.

I would have procrastinated going to take a shower a little longer, feeling overwhelmed with the mess, if the coffee didn't start to itch.

I decided that such traumatic event and the continuing of lower back pain granted me a bath soak.

In the light on this part of the bathroom I discovered that I have been doing a terrible job shaving my legs and also cleaning under the cabinets.

A friend had told me, when I were still sitting on the floor of the blackened kitchen with coffee covering my eyelashes, which made my vision crumbly, that this probably happened for a reason, and here are the reasons I can think of,

- The gods of labor want me to suffer and find out instinctively that getting on my hands and knees will make the pain less horrifying.

- The gods of cooking don't want me to cook any more.

- The gods of coffee want me to learn that coffee is itchy.

- The gods of ridicule want my friends to have a good laugh.

- The gods of harry legs want me to shave properly.

- The gods of babies want me to watch my bump float in a full tub as the alien inside practices martial arts.

- The gods of procrastination want me to write this blog instead of cleaning the mess I left in the kitchen.


Contractions at Home Depot

We are on our way to Home Depot or Lowes or whatever for the umpteenth time since moving to the new house, back in July. I swear that the Cheers song, "Where everybody knows your name..." should start playing when we walk in, since this is our weekend spot.

As we arrive I am thinking kettlecorn and Sprite. Don't ask me why. The baby wants what it wants.

We are here to look for dividers for the baby's closet and in my world, if I need something, I pick what I need, and leave the store with no regrets on my choice.

Not my husband. He will pick and choose and over think every detail of every drawer and will end up at the hardwood floor section, when we don't need to be looking at hardwood flooring.

That's his prerogative, though, and I try to be understanding, especially when he says that his being this picky is why he ended up with awesome me.

I usually play along by giving opinions, when inside I don't really see a difference nor care.

Today, however, as we look at rows and rows of shelves, the contractions began, once more.

I have been having them for a week or so now. They feel nothing like the menstrual cramps I had been warned of. They feel like awfully bad indigestion that squeezes the belly and radiates to the whole entire back, making me bend over and expell profanities.

My husband is asking which section to choose from and I answer not so sweetly with a "I don't give a shit."

He understands then that he needs to place me on a couch by the furniture session, abort his mission to look at hardwood floors (have I mentioned we have no business, nor can we afford, being at the hardwood floor section?) and go pay for the damn dividers.

While I wait, a native American looking man approches with his dog inside his shopping kart and parks it next to me. Native american person goes looking at Christmas trees, which happen to be next to the patio furniture section.

His giant and tan poodle stares at me, wagging his tail.

My normal self would usually stand up and go fluff the dog's fur.

Today I just sit there, screwing up my face. I let out a moan and the dog cocks it's head.

I whisper, "It's just me and you, doggie, in a corner of a Home Depot Christmas section, in this cruel, cruel world."

My husband arrives and I still look murderous. He asks with his tail between his legs, "What can I get for you? I will do anything."

I gather all my strength and whisper, contorting in pain, as if I am on my death bed, "kettlecorn and Sprite."

Postpartum depression

As a personal trainer, I was often hired right before or after a major event, such as a wedding, a high school reunion, a cruise, while planning for a baby and after baby was born.

Training women post-baby is great because their weight comes off usually so effortlessly that it makes exercising more rewarding to both the client and I.

I had this one client that lost weight so fast that it concerned me. I asked her to please go see a doctor because she shouldn't be losing five pounds a week, when she wasn't incredibly overweight to begin with. Turns out that even though her baby was only two months old, she was pregnant again! Her poor body was basically handling a lot with breast feeding, exercising and growing a new person, and was therefore eating away at the fat. A few months later this client gave birth to the most adorable and incredibly girlie girl, whose first word was "shoes."

Another client, whose exercise routine consisted of very high intensity training five days a week could not lose a pound.

She would cry every day. She would throw the hand weights on the floor, enraged. She would say she hated her baby and made such comments as, "Look what he did to me!" or "God must hate me!"

I would say mostly under my breath then vocally at first that her baby didn't do anything to her, that it was her choice to have it, anyway. When the sessions were over I would peak in the winter room, where her nanny held her baby like his mother should. He looked so beautiful and calm and helpless. I would leave her house angry and promising myself to never come back.

A few days later I would be back, however, still trying to figure out why she was so mad, so sad and seemed to me to be so cruel. I guess in my mind I just wanted to see if she was getting better and hadn't killed herself, since she mentioned often her wish to do so.

This was my first encounter with postpartum depression. I wasn't aware it was something real. Since I didn't know this woman pre-baby, I figured she just had an awful, selfish character.

I started researching about her condition after I read the book "The Female Brain" and how it changes throughout pregnancy and after. Once I realized what could be going on with this woman, I set her down one day, mid-session, after she said once again that she couldn't get close to her baby because he destroyed her body.

As I described to her what postpartum depression was, she surprised me by adopting a little girl expression on her face. I was sure she would attack me back, as she had in the past, so many times before, with any suggestion to become healthier that I made. Instead, this time she humbly listened to me and looked down at her hands. After I was finished, I handed her her cell phone, dialing her doctor's number beforehand.

I am happy to report that this woman is now one of the most loving and present parents I know. I often quote her as saying that every day she falls in love with her kid all over again. Oh, and she lost the weight, eventually.

Why the interest in it now?

A few weeks ago, someone at the prenatal yoga center handed me a pamphlet on postpartum depression. I tucked it deep inside of my purse, avoiding it and telling myself that that was for crazy people, and I am not crazy.

That is... until the prenatal blues hit me (read the post name "Blues (but not the music kind)").

In all honesty, my prenatal blues only hit me three or so times, lasting only one day, so it is nothing worth being overly concerned about.

However, when it hits, the feeling of sadness and helplessness is overwhelming. All energy is drained of me and I feel so sorry for myself that I can hardly move.

A few days ago, I was cleaning the house (a task I still force myself to do perfectly since I stopped working and want to feel productive) and as I pulled the paper towel from the closet, all the cleaning products came flying on my head.

I had been frustrated already with my lack of sleep, my back pains, my discomfort in every position, my constant tiredness, my inability to just be my energetic, normal self.

The mess I created now in the utility room brought from deep inside of me a surprisingly and reactive guttural cry, that left my husband staring at me hopeless as I set on the floor, weeping uncontrollably.

The scary thing about depression is that it really takes over the way you see the world and yourself and when it goes away, you can hardly recognize where that came from and feel shame for it.

Being a person who is often very positive and overall happy-go-lucky, it is specially scary to me when I fall on those valleys of sadness and despair, especially when they come and go so fast.

With that in mind, I had read that pamphlet and handed it over to my husband to become familiar with it.

I honestly don't think I will have a full on depression; maybe the baby blues, but you never know.

I am reading Brooke Shield's memoir on her experience with postpartum depression and she herself has never had anything like it beforehand.

In this book she mentions that risk factors for postpartum depression are extreme life changes, difficult labor, difficulty getting pregnant (especially when taking hormonal cocktails), and a history of either PMS, depression and bipolar disorder.

So let's see: I did move across the country, I did quit working, and have something close to PMDD during my cycles.

We shall see. I may come out serene on the other side. You never know. Stay tuned to find out... or not. I may hide in a rabbit hole.


Gringo baby

Sometimes I am so Americanized that I catch myself thinking, "OMG, learn some English," when a foreigner cannot really express him or herself and also, "those freaking immigrants should all go back to where they crawled from..." but then I remember I am not from here either and I'd have to crawl back to my rat hole too.

I was once also fresh off the boat, shocked with the food portions in restaurants, quiet, shy, not understanding much, and thinking that toes were called fingers of the feet.

I used to believe that Americans obsessed so much with eating that they gave food names to objects and living things. I never understood, for example, why butterfly has "butter" in it and was convinced that ear muffs were called ear muffins until someone corrected me. This person said, "I thought you were just being cute, calling it ear muffins."

What that person really didn't understand is that I am cute all the time. :oP

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, with a random thought in my head, and I had to express it to my sleeping husband. I poked him, "I am having a gringo baby!", to which he said, "huh?"

"Seriously!" I set up straight, or tried to, because sitting up straight is now a thing from the past, "I am having a gringo baby," I said it now more to myself than anyone else.

And then I couldn't sleep anymore.

I had not thought this through at all.

Heck, I am not even an American citizen and as far as the Brazilian government knows, I am not married and must be a real loser for living with my parents still and having my dad file my Brazilian taxes for me.

My husband is as gringo as they come. He thinks that when he gets a tan (an American tan, not a Brazilian tan, mind you - those things are very different) that he could pass for a Brazilian. I laugh at this because with his blue eyes and square jaw, even if he didn't wear his beige shorts and boat shoes, any one could see the "gringoness" in him from afar.

Baby may come out either a brownie or a whitey, which is a really wild thought. People will think I am babysitting him... being that we are so close to Mexico and all.

It just downed on me that don't know any American lullabies. I find the Brazilian ones more poetic anyway.

Oh, wait, I do know the ABC song, and so does my mom. Her English teacher (an American) makes her sing it, which I believe it to be for his own amusement, really.

My family in Brazil cannot spell Matthew as their tongs get stuck on the "th" sound, exaggerating it and making them spit in the process. I have relinquished to the fact that when talking with his grandparents, Matthew will be called Mateus.

As far as raising the baby to be bilingual, I think this will come naturally, since everything that is sweet and mean that comes out of me is either with an accent or entirely in Portuguese. The unconscious does a 180 degree switch when I am really mad, or when I really love something, and I love my baby.

With alcohol in it, my unconscious is even more amusing, making me speak neither English, nor Portuguese, but a mix of both, leaving at times my Brazilian and American friends staring at me like I have three eyes.

My husband thinks we should fly to Brazil with the gringo baby the first chance we have, so baby can start the introduction to his bi-cultural self. He needs to understand that deer hunting in North Carolina is as much part of himself as is feeding bananas to tiny monkeys in Brazil.

With that in mind and with no sleep in my crazy head, I am off to fill out my citizenship papers.

I have procrastinated becoming an American and having dual citizenship for way too long and can't bring no gringo baby into this world if we don't have the same blue passport.
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