Two of my very best friends in the world are going to have a baby any day now. I know I mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating: I AM SO EXCITED FOR THEM!!
Anyway, the impending birth of their son has got me thinking about my own experience delivering Luki. And, you know, since having a baby practically makes me a renowned expert in childbirth, I thought I’d impart some wisdom to my friends and to any expectant readers.
Here are two pieces of advice I wish we’d gotten before the big day:
Number One — The temperature in the delivery room is set to polar. This didn’t really bother me because contractions made me feel like I was in a sauna one moment and hanging out in the Alps wearing nothing but a bikini the next, but Ton Ton, who was wearing a very thin t-shirt, shivered the entire time. Although, now that I think about it, maybe he wasn’t shivering from the cold as much as trembling from the horror that was taking place in my vagina. Either way, it’s best to dress appropriately.
Number 2 — Don’t eat while in labor. In the How To Push Out A Baby class we took while I was pregnant, the teacher suggested we eat before getting to the hospital because, once you’re there, the nurses don’t give you food until the kid is out. My water broke right before dinner and I tried to convince Ton Ton to stop at Five Guys on our way to the medical center, but he would have none of it because THE BABY COULD COME ANY MINUTE! YOU ARE NOT GIVING BIRTH AT A BURGER JOINT!
Yea, the baby took another twelve hours to arrive, but boy am I glad I didn’t eat that burger. You see, contractions hurt. They hurt a lot. They hurt so much that sometimes you throw up from the pain. And vomiting bile is much better than puking up a burger and fries.
You remember how, a few months ago, my mom was all YOU AND TON TON LOVE YOUR IPHONES MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOUR BABY. I AM SURE THOSE DEVICES GIVE OFF HARMFUL WAVES THAT CAN HURT MY GRANDSON?
Yea. Well, guess whose cell phone contract was up for renewal a few weeks ago? And, can you guess what that person upgraded to?
That’s right people, Big E is the proud owner of an iPhone and she is now incapable of sitting through a meal without checking her email.
Last weekend, my brother was home from school and he introduced us to the magic that is Words With Friends. We all spent the entire time glued to our phones, trying to figure out how to use a Q and a Z in the same word and on a triple letter space, while Luki crawled around chewing on electrical cords.
These iPhones are dangerous indeed.
(By the way, my Words With Friends username is mujerconsombrero, in case any of you guys want to play me)
I know a lot of you are big fans of Tyson, but I’m sorry to inform you that we’ve had a falling out.
No matter how many times I explain to him that my nipple is NOT the same as a strawberry, he doesn’t seem to understand.
It’s a good thing he’s still all alone, I don’t think my boobs would’ve survived an attack by more than one of them.
Aaaand, that’s all I got folks. I wish I could come up with a clever way to tie together all the randomness, but my mom just used an X in a double letter word, so I’ve got more important things to focus on.Continue Reading
At the beginning of this year, I made two resolutions. The first, was to write a letter to you about your grandpa every week and, as you can see, I’ve been able to keep up with it really well. The second, however, did not fare the same fate. I said I was going to cook dinner every night in an attempt to improve my culinary skills and, to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I was responsible for making an entire meal.
The truth is that I’m actually really amazed at myself for keeping up with the weekly letters because, usually, I’m not very good at follow through. As you get older, I’m sure you’ll realize that I’m the parent who’s really great at dreaming up outlandish projects, and your dad’s the one who excels at executing them in a reasonable manner.
That’s not to say that I’ve given up on my dreams of learning to cook, I just have to figure out how to do so in a way that fits into my schedule. And attempting to make a seven course meal on a Tuesday, only to become discouraged and give up altogether, is not the answer.
Anyway, the reason it’s so important for me to learn to cook is because it breaks my heart into a million pieces that you will live in a world without your grandpa’s fried plantains.
Your grandpa could cook, Luki. He could cook really, really well.
I have such vivid memories of growing up and seeing your grandma and grandpa in the kitchen making dinner together. They had a very precise method of preparing meals, and there were certain things that your grandpa always did. He cut and deboned beef and poultry, he peeled everything, he did all the frying, he made the white rice, and he washed the dishes. Always.
Your grandma is still an incredible cook, but she often says that, without your grandpa by her side, she feels like she’s missing a limb. The other day, she tried to fry some plantains and ended up with exploding oil that spilled all over the floor and sent her running for cover to a corner of the kitchen.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what made your grandpa such a good cook, and I think that a big part of it has to do with how meticulous he was about food. In general, your grandpa was a really laid back, easygoing person, but in the kitchen, there were certain things he did not tolerate.
For example, he considered garlic powder to be an abomination and refused to use it in anything he prepared. Yes, it takes longer to peel and mash fresh garlic with a mortar and pestle (a garlic press was also an outlawed item in his kitchen), but he believed the results were well worth it. Another prohibited item? Bottled lime juice. Even if the container said 100% natural, he refused to believe it was the same as what he squeezed from a fresh lime. Mind you, he only squeezed limes with his hand — that lime squeezer gadget they sell at specialty kitchen stores was not to be trusted. And don’t get me started on frozen items, which he refused to consider real food and often referred to as “plastic meals.”
It may seem that he was nitpicking, but the fact of the matter is that his eccentricities in the kitchen resulted in some of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.
I truly hope that, unlike me, you inherit some of his culinary talents, Luki. But even if you don’t end up excelling behind a stove, make sure to always go the extra mile and put the best ingredients into everything you set out to do.
With the exception of the two or three nights a month when our diminutive dictator decides to delight us with his eloquent and powerful speeches, Luki is really good about sleeping through the night. He takes his bath, eats some boob, and falls asleep in his crib, by himself, every evening.
Usually, he goes to bed at around 9:30pm or 10:00pm (I know it’s a little late for baby standards, but it’s not like he has big important meetings to get to in the morning. Plus, it gives Ton Ton and I plenty of time to hang out with him after we come home from work.) and gets up between 6:30am and 7:00am, has some more boob, and goes back to bed until 9:00am or so.
However, when it comes to daytime naps, his schedule is not predictable at all. As a matter of fact, the only thing that I know for sure about his napping habits is that they NEVER happen when it’s convenient to the structure of our day.
For example, if I make plans to meet my mother for a late lunch at 2pm, considering that Luki will probably take a nap after eating his own lunch at noon, my child will act like I laced his baby food with speed and spend those two hours wide awake, crawling all over the floor and climbing on every piece of furniture we own. Upon our arrival at the restaurant, he will proceed to fall asleep on the highchair, causing the waiter to become gravely concerned about his lack of neck support.
Over the weekend, we needed to go grocery shopping and waited in vain for Luki to take his nap before heading out. After a couple of hours, we decided to risk it and headed to Trader Joe’s with a wide awake son who, of course, fell into a deep slumber in the car. As I pulled him out of his car seat, he refused to open his eyes and, since we’d failed to bring his stroller, I had to make do with the resources we had on hand…
Yep, that’s my son sleeping in a shopping cart. And, even though when he’s at home, a mere sneeze two rooms away from his nursery is capable of waking him, his eyelids did not flutter once the entire time we were in the store.
As we were checking out, the older gentleman who rang up our groceries was only mildly amused when we asked what the price of the baby was.Continue Reading
Despite Luki making it look like our family belonged on the next season of SuperNanny at his doctor’s appointment last week, Ton Ton and I managed to talk over his screams and succeeded in asking the pediatrician a few pressing questions.
My husband wanted to know if it’s safe for the baby to swim in the ocean when we go on vacation in a couple of weeks; if it’s normal for our one-toothed nine month old to rip through the flesh of entire mangoes; and if, at some point his life, his son will ever say da-da. (Ton Ton seems to be a little bit jealous because the only word Luki has said thus far is MAMA and I rub it in every chance I get. However, I believe I have the right to gloat after the twelve hours of labor that culminated in a child who — according to all our friends — looks exactly like his father.)
I, on the other hand, only wanted to ask the doctor one thing:
Can I stop exposing my boobs at work?
To be fair, I must admit that I’ve been incredibly lucky with this whole breastfeeding thing. I have friends and I’ve read dozens of stories about women who, despite their best efforts, can’t produce enough milk to satisfy their babies. Fortunately, we did not have that problem. When Luki was a newborn, he used to drink so much breast milk that we had to make sure he had a designated driver every time he visited the boob bar. Drinking and driving is not something we advocate in this family!
I also want to clarify that I love breastfeeding. I think it’s awesome that my body can produce the perfect food for my child and, most importantly, that it doesn’t cost me a single penny. However, I absolutely hate having my breasts squeezed by an electric pump.
In this country, where maternity leave in non-existent, I had to return to work three months after Luki was born. Ever since then, I’ve been milking myself in the office.
It is an uncomfortable experience, to say the least. Even though I close my office door and put up a sign with a cute picture of a cow on it, my boss always needs to talk to me about something crucially important while I’m in the middle of lactating. If I don’t get a knock on my door, then the phone rings, or I receive an urgent email and then have to figure out how to respond without getting drops of milk on my keyboard. Needless to say, my office supplies don’t always emerge unscathed.
The whole thing’s exhausting.
So, you can imagine my excitement when the doctor gave the OK for me to stop pumping. Luki is eating solids like a champ, so it’s fine for me to just nurse him in the morning and in the late afternoon and evening after I come home from work.
I am thrilled about not having to work topless any longer, and yet… I’ve also come to the realization that this is the beginning of the end of my breastfeeding relationship. When Luki turns one, he’ll be able to drink cow’s milk and will no longer depend on me — or at least on my body — for his nourishment.
My baby is well on his way to toddlerhood and that notion is very disconcerting.
The only thing that comforts me is the fact that, at least for now, his vocabulary is limited to the greatest name I’ve ever been called:
Isn’t that right, Ton Ton?Continue Reading
I know that, as you get older, most grownups will tell you not to talk to strangers. But today, I want to encourage you to do just the opposite. (Unless, of course, the stranger is drunk and tries to coax you into a dark alley. Then you should run away as fast as you can.) I believe that the benefits of smiling and being friendly to perfect strangers far outweigh the dangers of being harmed by one.
Your grandpa taught me that.
He was friendly to everyone. And I don’t mean the “have a nice day” kind of friendly, I mean that he genuinely formed relationships with the people he encountered in his life. He knew the name and life story of the guy who worked in the deli at the grocery store, the woman behind the cashier at his local gas station, and the secretary who answered the phone at his insurance agent’s office. They, in turn, all knew details about him and his life.
To be honest, I always considered his familiarity with random folk to be one of your grandpa’s most peculiar, sometimes embarrassing, habits. But after he was gone, I realized that this trait was actually an incredible gift.
I remember exactly when it happened.
It was the evening of his viewing. Your grandma, uncle Ani, and I were standing in the church in a daze. We had cried and hugged hundreds of friends. We had heard the same words of sympathy over and over. Dozens of people had told us how much your grandpa meant to them. And then, three young women we didn’t recognize approached us.
“Hi. We’re from Starbucks!” they said.
Your grandpa went to Starbucks every day for his morning coffee. He knew all the employees by name. He knew that one of them had recently broken up with her boyfriend. He’d spoken at length with another about her career plans and kept encouraging her to go back to school. To him, they were much more than just baristas. And when they heard about what had happened, they decided to come by and give us their condolences.
As we realized who they were, all three of us started to laugh and cry at the same time. And for a moment during that evening of complete and utter despair, we felt happy. Happy that we’d had the privilege to live with a man who’d made such a significant impact by just getting his morning coffee.
Don’t let people slip through your life unnoticed, Luki. Being kind to strangers can result in an everlasting gift.
I believe I’ve mentioned before (here and here) that Ton Ton and I really enjoy and look forward to Luki’s appointments with his pediatrician. Well, we enjoy them up to the part when he gets his shots. That’s when my husband curls up into a ball in the corner of the room and starts sobbing because he’s so little, and the needle is so big, and it’s just so wrong to do that to his baby’s perfect, chubby thighs.
Anyway, we’d been anxiously awaiting Luki’s nine month appointment which, due to our pediatrician’s popularity, couldn’t get scheduled until several weeks after his actual monthiversary. I was fantasizing about how impressed the doctor would be when we showed him that our kid knows how to pat his head on command and has become an expert at blowing kisses, plus, I had a good feeling about his height being in one of the top percentiles.
Yes, I know his size isn’t really a test, or an affirmation of my parenting skills, but I love to hear the doctor use the words “above average” with anything related to our son. As a matter of fact, I’ve always been kind of disappointed in his smaller than the norm head circumference.
The appointment was yesterday morning and, after being weighed and measured by the nurse, Luki decided that he really wasn’t feeling the whole Waiting Patiently For The Pediatrician In A Cold Exam Room Wearing Nothing But His Diaper thing, so he proceeded to FUH-REAK out. When the doctor walked in, he was in the middle of a scream fest, complete with flailing arms and kicking feet. Nothing we tried could get him to settle down.
And just as Ton Ton attempted to distract our child with a lovely Thomas the Tank Engine book only to have Luki snatch it out of his hand and throw it on the floor with the force an MLB pitcher, our wonderful doctor, who usually gives me a confidence boost by touting our baby’s growth and development, actually said, “Wow, this kid is much too young to be so headstrong.”
To be fair, he went on to explain that some kids are just born with big tempers and that it’s not really our fault he acts this way; but it still broke my heart a little bit for that to be his first impression of our nine month old instead of the, “Wow, I can’t believe he already knows how to play peek-a-boo. A career in NASA surely awaits him!” reaction I was expecting.
In conclusion, yesterday we found out the following about our son:
Weight: 50th percentile for his age
Height: 90th percentile for his age
Head Circumference: 50th percentile for his age
Headstrongness:150th percentile for his age.
He is above average indeed.Continue Reading
A couple of days ago, Ton Ton asked me to accompany him to a basketball game/business meeting. Even though I generally prefer to use my limited nights out without Luki to do things I really enjoy — like catching a movie or seeing a live band — I agreed to go when I heard that the event would feature one of my favorite things: Beer. Free Beer. I couldn’t let that opportunity get away.
As we got there, Ton Ton began to introduce me to some of his co-workers and I, in typical fashion, shook hands, kissed cheeks, and made banal introductory comments. However, I quickly realized that my husband was bypassing the traditional hellos and, instead, had pulled out his iPhone to show everyone in the room (including complete strangers) the latest picture of our son.
This has become commonplace with Ton Ton. The waiters at the restaurants we frequent, the cashiers at the grocery store, and the owner of the club where he plays with his band have all seen pictures of Luki. And don’t even get me started on his Facebook page. His wall is practically an homage to our baby.
I never doubted that Ton Ton would be a good parent. After all, he has kept me alive since we met and I have the maturity level and impulses of a six year old. Still, I am surprised at how enthusiastically and seamlessly he has taken on his new role of daddy. From the very first moment, even though our pregnancy wasn’t planned, he was ready, confident, certain that the new adventure we were embarking on would turn out alright.
Little by little, I’ve seen his transformations. The same Ton Ton who dreamed of traveling the world playing his guitar, now prefers to stay home and cuddle, his nose buried inside a baby’s neck. He who thought Sponge Bob was a yellow tooth, now buys albums of children’s music and has a special playlist for Luki on his iPod.
And the same guy who, when we first met, immediately talked to me about his band and their upcoming concert, now chooses to introduce himself, even if it’s to complete strangers, by pulling out a picture of his boy.Continue Reading