The next steps

I have moved on to bigger (I mean, he is tiny) and better things at:

baby steps


The axel jump

In figure skating there is a jump called axel jump, which is considered one of the hardests jumps to land. Why? Because the jump defies the laws of physics. You skate backwards, doing leg crossovers, while circling in one direction, just to turn swiftly and rotate in the air in the opposite direction.

Strangely, this is the only jump I can land beautifully, althought I never felt that I did it. My coach, a few years ago, scratched his head puzzled and said, "I don't understand how you can land an axel, when your spins are so off." "Was that an axel?" was all I could say, puzzled as well.

He brought in a camera to record my performing it and I remember saying, as we watched it, "I can't believe my body can do this!" "Neither can I," he joked. I almost couldn't believe that person who jumped so high and landed so perfectly after a tight, air lifted spin was me, if it wasn't for my big, bubbly ass.

It's close to midnight now and this is the last night I will be by myself, without a child. Tomorrow my doctor will induce labor because the baby is getting too big (mini Neanderthal, right?), and I can't stop crying.

I am so scared.

A friend asked me to recall all the times my body surprised me, and the axel jump, followed by the positive pregnancy test were too of the biggest surprises I've had. She keeps telling me to hold on to that, since the fear I have is because I can't believe my body can do this.

Sounds good and dandy, but today, as my mom and I food shopped for the next few days since she will be alone at my house while i will be at the hospital, about four random strangers asked when I was due. Every single one of them (including a friendly black male that greeted me with, "dang, girl! you are about to pop! Now don't go getting into labor in my store!") said I wouldn't make it until tomorrow.

That's how big I have become. Everyone and everything stares at me; even dogs.

The cashier at the food store asks, "why is the doctor inducing you?" I explain to her that the baby is estimated to be eight pounds already and that I am too small. She says. "Girl, that baby in your belly is no eight pound baby; that's a nine pounder! I've had five kids. I know a big baby when I see one!"

So now I am crying, picturing him getting stuck, picturing my going through pain, panic, picturing the baby getting hurt because I am too clumsy to hold him.

A normal person spends the pregnancy preparing for the child.

A person like me spends it worrying about cellulitis and laughing at the whole thing while being miserable and only truly realizes the weight of it all the day before the birth.

It almost makes me feel naive and childish.

I will keep thinking about that axel jump, in between meltdowns, and maybe in forty eight hours I can say that my body was able to do this,

For now I will cry in the dark of the living room.


How to ruin a cute moment in six steps

1. Approach husband's face with belly

2. Tell husband to ask baby to get out

3. Listen as husband says, while rubbing belly, "Little guy, you can come out now. Mommy is REALLY uncomfortable and we don't think you fit in there anymore."

4. Watch husband kiss the top of belly and remember how baby is positioned

5. Say, "You know that's where his butt is, right? You just talked to and kissed your son's butt."

6. Notice husband's face frown.


Easy steps to peeing in the middle of the night while nine months pregnant

- wake up suddenly with your belly tightening up and strong cramps,

- feel need to pee,

- try talking yourself out of peeing and going back to sleep,

- remember your condition and think, "shit, of, yeah, I'm pregnant," and know that peeing will make the cramps go away

- decide to leave bed (this decision making may take five minutes or so),

- moan,

- suck it up and deal with it

- while laying on your side, realize that either your hands or legs have gotten numb,

- moan,

-with the elbow closest to the bed, push against it, making a swift, ninja movement into doggie style (I have found that getting in doggie style is more effective than attempting unsuccessfully to sit up),

- moan,

-at this point, if you are still sleeping on the same bed as your husband, you may have woken him up and/or scared the crap out if him by the sight of your being there on your hands and knees,

- that's his problem,

- suck it up and deal with it,

- walk backwards until your feet touch the edge of the bed,

- bring one foot at the time to the floor,

- now you have to straighten your torso (this may take some time and other decision making, since your back hurts, your pelvis feels like it is shattering apart and the movement of straightening up the back will pull your ligament muscles with shockingly strong pains),

- suck it up and deal with it,

- moan,

- you may have another contraction here,

- moan,

- waddle to bathroom,

- if you do turn on the lights, look at the mirror and find puffy and sleepy person,

- ask yourself who that person is,

- decide you need a facial,

- moan,

- sit slowly on toilet,

- pee,

- decide suddenly that you need to go number 2,

- think with yourself, "where the hell did that come from?"

- you may just sit and sit there and nothing may happen, or you may get the runs,

- suck it up and deal with it,

- you make take a nap while waiting,

- wake up moaning,

- waddle back to bed and discover that you are suddenly thirsty,

- drink water from cup you leave next to bed,

- climb back to bed by doggie style,

- wake up husband again,

- feel heartburn,

- moan,

- repeat the whole process in thirty minutes,

- moan.

- easy, huh?


Shouldn't you be at the hospital???

That's what my mom is saying, frantic, from a Skype call, because I am having contractions on and off.

You see, we are from Brazil, and in Brazil, with the first sign of contraction a woman is wheeled into labor and delivery and if she doesn't progress, she gets induced... And if she doesn't progress yet again, she has a c-section, and no one thinks anything of it. And no, babies are not born with a third eye or have social awkwardness later on. The mortality rate for mom and child is no higher either, by comparison.

"You'd be home with the baby by now," my mom says, if I were in Brazil.

In my native country, about 56% of women undergo elective cesarians as opposed to 36% in the United States.

My doctor dances around the idea of my needing a c-section and he seems to be cautious to mention the big c word, like it's a big elephant in the middle of the room. I broke it down to him, "Doc, I am Brazilian. We have a very casual instance on cesarian, so there's no concern here." He mentioned that the statistics for educated, middle class and up for women in Brazil is even higher for cesarians, reaching the 90%, which doesn't surprise me.

Very few of my friends and family know someone who had a natural, vaginal birth. The ones who did were surely drugged up.

I find it interesting the differences in both cultures when it comes to giving birth, because Brazilians are in general much more inclined to hug trees and embrace natural, family related things, while my view of Americans is that there is much higher acceptance of needing and depending on some sort of drug and medical intervention. A lot of people I know in the United States seem to be on some kind of daily-type pill, whether for depression, or cholesterol, or some other heart problem and mood disorder.

Brazilians tend to suck it up and stay unhappy and crazy, or just go up and die young.

Also, antibiotics are prescribed in the US like they are M&Ms while in Brazil they are a big taboo.

So how come when it comes to birth, both cultures are so switched?

Another difference I have noticed is in the privacy of birth. Brazilians, who are usually on your face and in your business with no reservations in doing so, are much more private about the whole thing. No family members are invited in the delivery room. The husband is lucky if he can get in there. There's no pooping on the table either when it's time to push the baby out. In Brazil, laboring women get some sort of colonoscopy, or some intestinal clean up, before baby makes his or her debut.

Meanwhile and surprisingly, in the United States, a country where privacy and personal space is of paramount importance, decency goes out the window when it's time to push a baby out. Not only the whole staff of the hospital is allowed to come and go as they please, but the family of the laboring woman (sometimes in-laws, for Pete's sake) are welcomed in, and they will all watch umphased as the woman hangs vunerably with her parts wide open and when she delivers a turd along with the baby.

No, thank you.

This is one part of my culture I wish I could bring here.

I tell my mom, sarcastically, "There is a method to the madness in giving birth here, mom. Basically they have you labor at home until you feel like you are about to die, then you go to the hospital and you may or may not get drugs... It all depends if the anesthesiologist is nearby and not overworked... And then you push the baby and poop until both of you are about to die... Meanwhile the whole hospital staff seems to already know how your vagina looks like... Then they decide on an emergency cesarian and it is all rushed and panicky... So, yeah, it's like a big conspiracy to make women terrified of giving birth. I wonder if that's how they are keeping their population growth from increasing too fast... By instilling motherhood terror with medieval techniques..."

I will be pregnant forever

At least that's what the staff of the restaurant we go to seems to think.

This is what they brought me as an appetizer, written with overwhelmingly hot pepper:


Mrs pac man

I didn't know that one of the symptoms of labor was eating all the contents of the kitchen cabinet.

I am definitely an emotional eater.

Guess who's coming to town?

When I woke up this morning with the sound of the guest room's door opening... Or, better yet, when I was finally dozing off from another sleepless night of cramps and discomfort while watching infomercials in the guest room... My husband approached me slowly to kiss my forehead before heading to work.

I usually jump off the bed to say goodbye by the door and check him out in his uniform before he leaves (hey, we all have a weird fetich). Today I just moaned to him, "please keep your phone near."

Of course he didn't and when I left the doctor's weekly check up I did what any other rational, cool and collected woman would do: I called him over and over again until he answered, so I could go ballistic on my phone in a public parking lot.

The doctor's verdict: I am already dialated and have lost the "plug" that keeps the cervix shut. Doctor was able to poke the baby's head, which royaly pissed the little guy off. He kicked and squirmed and if he could talk he would say, "Yo! That was my head, dude!"

As the doctor explained matter of factly that our new roommate could make his debute in the next twenty four hours to three days, I started sweating and panting, until I interrupted him and said, "Do you mind if I lay down?"

He told me what to expect at the hospital and when to make the drive there. I diverted the conversation asking him about himself. After all, doc is so busy, we never really talked. He sat near the side of the bed as I sweated and panted and told me how I am one of his last patients. He is retiring.

I picked him because he not only has been doing this since before I was born, but because he has no negative track record and was one of the first doctors in the region to successfully apply an epidural.

Speaking of which, I interrupted him again by saying I will need an epidural, and one as soon as possible, because I am terrified of what my body is about to go through.

He understands, and seems so calm. I love my doctor.

I am back to panting now, so let me go lay down. Wish me luck.


Waiting for lightening to strike

I wake up in the middle of the night, miserable with heartburn and needing to pee (again), but also moaning with a painful contraction that started in a dream and transitioned to reality. I want to let my husband know that my contractions are getting stronger; not because I am ready to head to the hospital, but because I want to share my misery with somebody.

As I attempt the difficult turn to his side, I realized, surprised: he is not there.

I find out, the next morning, when I uncover him from under blankets and pillows on the couch, that my snoring has kept him awake. Heck, my snoring wakes me up.

These days, I breath heavily, like a pervert too close for comfort in a public bus, so crammed my lungs have been.

Between carrying thirty more pounds in such a small frame, and mostly in my mid-section, while feeling like my loose pelvis joints are about to give in, and swelling acid from my stomach back in, I also have to manage little feet stuck in my ribs with a little head bopping my bladder. I can literally push his feet away with my hands now.

And this is why I am waiting for lightening to strike. When the baby drops, engaging inside the pelvis and bundling up at a lower chamber, leaving mom's lungs, stomach and heart to their almost normal shape and expansion capabilities, obstetricians will call it (rightely so) lightening.

This baby is still bouncing and as of this moment, hiccuping, letting me know that no, he will not drop yet, which makes my contractions pretty much useless. What's the point of a soft cervix if the baby may not come out that way?

My mother thinks he is just waiting for her arrival, next week. We shall see.


Whoop dee doo

Because my blood pressure has been higher and I am swelling like a balloon, doctor urged me to come in today to watch for preeclampsia, one of those wonderful deadly things about 8% of pregnant women get and die from, and that I (of course) may have.

I am standing here in my skivvies waiting for the doctor, who is outstandingly and unusually punctual, when I see that his open chart with my name on it on a table nearby says in big bold letters: WARNING.

Warning on what??

Crazy, hormonal, bitch of a patient may go off on you?

I am about to go take a peak while undressing when the door flies open and doctor comes in, while my big, brown butt hangs out.

He tells me my blood pressure is in fact higher, but that the test results don't show protein in my blood (another sign of preeclampsia). He asks that I come back in a few days to test it again.

Now here is another thing no one tells you about pregnancy, so I am going to spill the beans to all women out there, so everybody knows. The exams leading up to the due date are downright awful!

If you never had a baby and hate the ducklips from your usual papsmear, wait until a doctor starts checking you to see how far the head of the baby is from the birth canal. I want to slap him every time, but also don't want to infringe on our doctor/patient relationship. After all, he will be the man with the sharp little knives in a few weeks.

Speaking of that, I asked him, "what's up with the warning on your chart?"

Doctor confesses that he rarely ever writes something like this down, but that I should know that my pelvis is small (although these days it doesn't look like it from the outside) and that the baby's head is not dropping. He actually says, "That's why he is bouncing around."

Tell me about it!

He also informs me that the baby is measuring big. Husband thinks it's because I eat too much bread. I think it is because baby's dad has a big head.

I KNEW I was expecting a mini neanderthal. Didn' t I say that before?

In other words, doctor is letting me know without saying the actual words that I may have to have a c-section or he may have to use forceps to pull the baby out. Whoop dee doo.

I wish babies were born through osmosis. Either natural birth through a tight little pelvis or getting my guts cut open sounds like a terrible miscalculation from nature, if you ask me.


A gift from God

While being terrified of giving birth I asked other veteran moms how I could prepare for it and cope with my fear.

I heard some very good advice, such as believing it is a mental game, like finishing a race. If you think you can't do it, it will be a lot harder to accomplish, so go with the mind set that you can.

I can related to that. As a figure skater, when I approached the idea of landing a difficult jump, it became a lot more effortless when I believed I could.

Amist all the advices I got, however, a friend said I should ask God for guidance.

God! I complete forgot about that.

I am not a religious person and I don't go to church. Growing up in private catholic schools will do that. I am, however, in touch with that something else, whatever that is, and I believe that he, or she or it is here, everywhere and inside of me. I had plenty of proofs and don't need organized religion to teach me that.

The plains of heaven

As a little girl I had this recurring dream that I arrived in a field where women in white waited for me. Sometimes a tall figure, a male figure, more like a beam of light, would join us. There was always the most striking classical music playing; music I had never heard before.

When I woke up, I would hum the songs for a few hours as to not forget them, but eventually I would and this is the reason why I went to music school. I didn't so much wanted to write music, but wanted to put on paper the ones I heard on those dreams.

Sometimes I would fly over this field and at the end of it there was a beach, or a lake.

The women in white never let me look at them straight in the eye. They would tell me I wouldn't be able to handle it. One day I insisted they let me, and this one woman was so beautiful that it scared me and I woke up crying. I don't remember her face. I just remember it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Those dreams were so vivid and I loved going to that place so much that when I got back from school I would go into a dark room and just visualize I was in that field while listening to classical music.

My grandmother used to say I was an old soul. My cousins just thought I was weird. Maybe I am a little bit of both.

Fast forward to 2010 and my period has arrived yet again.

I am sitting in my car, crying, already late to meet with a client, parked in front of her office.

Because I don't pray that often, all I could say to an invisible God was, "Where is my baby? Where IS my baby?"

I wiped my tears and went to meet my client, a Jewish woman married to a Muslim. Both taught me a lot of other ways to look at God. She and I shared a passion for photography and paintings.

This day, as she greeted me by the door, she handed me a painting by John Martin and asked whether I wanted it. Immediately, upon seeing the image of a field, a lake and women dancing in white, I said, "Oh, I've been there!"

The cliend cocked her head and looked at me as if I had three eyes. She said, "Dear, I don't think this place exists."

I flipped the image and read the title: The Plains of Heaven.

That's when it downed on me that I hadn't in fact been to that place, but I recognized it from my childhood fantasies.

Maybe I had seen such image when I was a little girl and that's where my dreams came from coupled with my grandmother's habit of listening to classical music. A romantic part of me, however, chooses to believe on the other possibility.

I took the painting with me and kept looking at it as I drove.

I noticed then, while parked in a red light, that right in the middle of the image, surrounded by the women in white, there were babies.

The babies were there, in the plains of heaven, playing.

It's no surprise then, that while looking for the meaning of the name Matthew, a name I picked randomly, I found it to be, "a gift from God."
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