First Day Back!

Today was my first day back at work.  I’ve been asked all day, “How are you feeling?”  And then I get the weirdest looks when I answer, “Oh, I’m fine!” in a cheerful tone of voice.  I know what they’re expecting.  I’ve heard them all year from my friends who head to work after maternity leave.  And honestly, if my husband wasn’t the world’s best daddy, you would hear the same thing from me.

Today was horrible.

I know you’re thinking, “But you just said you were fine!?”

Today was horrible, but the best part was leaving my baby.  (Now I am really not going to win Mom of the Year…)

Going back in a classroom that hasn’t been your own for three months is tough.  Those kids are mine.  These things are mine.  That desk is mine.  But why is everything all out-of-place?  Why do the desks have all this junk in them?  Why is my desk so tidy? (haha)  Worst of all: why am I having to remind my kids what I expect?

Oh, I know the answer to that…  And I keep telling myself, it’s not that you’ve been gone–it’s that summer is right around the corner!!  (34 work days left…)

And then there was the pumping breast milk while sitting on a child-size chair in a closet where things have been “stored” for the last 8 months.  Let me tell ya, nothing says, “Come on, let-down!” like staring at all of the things you need to clean, get rid of, and organize.

On the to-do list for tomorrow: Block the vent at the bottom of the door.  Apparently, the teacher spending 20 minutes in a closet makes second graders pretty curious.

The Mamas and the Papas

I’ve been thinking about this miraculous family unit–and how the gears all work together to make things run smoothly.  One gear out-of-place and things get rough.  Squeaky gears need a little attention to get going.  When everything works together–progress can be made.

My little squeaky is really growing up so fast.  I’ve heard people say that all my life, “They grow up too fast.”  I never knew how true those words were until now.  Her six weeks  are literally just around the corner, and this mama is heading back to work.  It’s a good thing I really love my other job (teaching)–because I might start squeaking too.

I was thinking about an event from a couple of years past.  My ex and I were at a church convention, and were playing with all the kiddos.  Suddenly, he picked up a little girl and began swinging her wildly around by her arms.  Well, my sister’s arms popped out-of-place when my uncle swung her like that–and I began freaking out.  The mama of the little girl said to me, “Jania, this is why God gave us a Mom and a Dad.”

I suppose I could twist that to mean that God gave us Mamas to keep the Daddy’s on the right track…  But in all honestly, she proceeded to tell me that kids need a little rough play every once in a while.

Kids also need time alone.  This is what my husband has taught me this week.  The Mama in me wants to cuddle, love on, and snuggle my little bug all the time.  I want her naps to be beside me on the couch–not out of my sight.  I want to jump when she says, “Wah” and fix everything wrong in her little world.  I want to make sure that she doesn’t get hurt by padding everything around her.  I want her to have music and sweet sounds to sleep to.  I want her to get to rock while she still fits inside the swing.

This is why she has Papi.  Papi said to me the other day, “She really needs some time alone.  She’s going to get used to being in your arms.”  I forget the word he used to tell me that she would be spoiled.  I let him take her, change her diaper, and he returned without the baby.  And guess what?

Her world didn’t crash.

She didn’t cry in outrage.

My heart didn’t break in two.

And I learned a lesson.

My baby doesn’t really need to be with me every second of every day (and night).  She needs peace and quiet just as much as you or I do.  Logic (and my Mama) tells me that if she were unhappy, she would have let me know with more than “Wah.”  Because when that
Wah” becomes “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” you bet we both go running.

Since then, I’ve tried to let little Sugar Bug do a little exercise on the floor–even when I am yearning for cuddles.  She is becoming stronger–lifting her head and looking around.  She’s learning to touch with intention, and loves to tickle her toy that jingle-jangles.  And Mama is learning to give a little growing space to her bebita.

See, God really does know what he’s doing.  He gives us Mamas to cuddle and love on, and Daddys to help us grow.  (That doesn’t mean that Papi doesn’t get his cuddles in there too, or that Mama doesn’t have words of Advice for growth…)  Mamas dresses us up pretty every morning.  Papi wraps diapers in a no-frills-this-will-leak-soon way.  Papi settles us down at night with no nonsense.  And Mami hums a tune as she climbs in bed beside baby–her body rocking even though her baby isn’t in her arms.  Mama scrubs baby up in the kitchen sink.  Daddy worries that baby will be hurt from leftover pepper juice and germs.    So how does it all work if Mama and Papi are so different?

Mami and Papi and learning to keep mouths shut.  This is allowing that machine of a family unit to get moving the way things were intended by a higher power.  Because the minute we start tinkering–trying to change the way things are done–it all will fall apart.

Poop Poop Everywhere

My husband likes to take my daughter’s diaper off and let her roll around naked.  Apparently, this is a Chiapanecan thing.  He says she needs some air on her nether region in order to keep from getting diaper rash.  And I don’t totally disagree…  BUT I can’t help but sigh in exasperation when she does it again.

Alexandria has pooped or peed nearly everywhere and on everything.  Furthermore, I breastfeed her.  So her poop is this really slimy yellow liquid.  Not exactly what you want to clean off:

1)  Our first bed–  this was the bed that we were in right after Ale’s arrival.  We moved to a different bed the first weekend.  She pooped or peed (or both), and Victor had to wash all the covers in the middle of the night.

2)  Our second bed– we change her diaper here most often.  That means this is where husband-0f-mine likes to let her air out and “exercise.”  It wasn’t long before he decided to get a mattress cover (Not a fancy normal mattress cover–but a sheet of table-cloth material from the Tela Store).

3)  Her Daddy– I like to sing, “Poo-poo on Daddy!”  When Victor lets Ale get a little breeze–he also will tend to carry her around naked. So more than once I’ve heard, “Oh no!”  Then he comes to show me poop on his leg.  “Look what she did!  She pooped on me again!” he will say proudly.

4)  Her play carpet– we bought this carpet because our floors here are tile.  I wanted to have a place for Alexandria to lay down and really get exercise.  Yesterday Victor had her naked (Do you notice a trend here?) when she began crying.  I always take my shoes off when I step onto the carpet–and lucky for me!  I found out the hard way that she had peed all-over everything!  (Seriously, how do baby girls a) pee so much, and b) really shoot it out there?)

Our daughter doesn’t have to have her diaper off when she makes one (I like it in Spanish when they talk about dirtying a diaper–that’s how they say it.)  She likes to really spread the love:

5)  All over the nice lady we stayed with in Monterrey during meeting–  I look over thinking that she’s handing me Ale just to see something dripping down into the floor.  Oh yes, explosive diaper.  All over the front of Rosario’s skirt and all over the cute outfit she was wearing…

6)  On her breastfeeding pillow–  I like to prop her up on this thing.  She holds her head up and will push with her legs.  Actually, she catapulted herself over the top the other day.  The same day I had to wash the cover–thanks to a little squirt (Not a nickname–just the verb…)

You know the one place she hasn’t made her mark yet?  On me.  I am really hoping to keep it that way…

Making Mistakes–Part of Learning the Language

I did it again.  Only now, I’ve learned to laugh at myself.  Which is good–considering everyone else was laughing too!

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Rosario and Antonio in Santiago

When we went to Monterrey, we stayed with a family there.  While the father and a son lived a little over a year in Texas–their English is developing.  So the majority of the time (99.9%) we spoke Spanish.  Or rather they spoke Spanish, and I tried…  Actually, upon leaving I felt like I had learned so much!  It’s amazing what five days with just a little English will do for you.

I have a friend from Monterrey who I contacted prior to visiting.  Her parents live there, and I thought that if we had time we could see them.  Fortunately, their photography shop was just a short distance from the family we stayed with.  We stopped by one afternoon, as they were leaving the next day for a trip.  Victor and I sat and chatted with the older gentleman–as he speaks English.  But we went back and forth with a bit of Spanish too.

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REALLY old church in Santiago, Nuevo Leon

Eager to show my skills when we were leaving, I gave a parting goodbye.  Here in Mexico, they often will say, “Que tenga un buen dia.”  Which means, “Have a good day.”  Or in the south they more often will say, “Que la vaya bien.”  Which is something close to,”Have a good one.”  I wanted to say, “Have a good trip.”  And I really thought I knew what I was saying.  So confidently, I said, “Que tenga un buen viaja.”  Which my husband told me later was like saying, “Have a good old woman (or can also be used as a term of enderment like ‘honey’.)”  older woman=vieja, trip= viaje

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVictor at Cascada Cola de Caballo 

Later that weekend, we were looking at photos of the family on the computer.  Both parents have large families, and it was a lot of fun to find out who’s who.  Rosario has three brothers–and she is the only daughter.  Upon looking at her family, I ask, “Quien es mejor?”  She looked at me strangely, and said, “Well, they’re all good–but I guess him,” pointing at the man standing next to her in the photograph.  Victor knew what I was really asking, and let her know I wasn’t wondering about the best brother–just the oldest…  mejor=best, mayor=oldest

I may make a lot of mistakes, but I sure do it with gusto!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFamily picture at the overlook in Santiago

Proud to be (Mexican) American

Whew!  I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve written about life and living here in Mexico.  Last week was a whirlwind of excitement (and a little stress) as I rushed around getting things in order for our visit to Monterrey.

I don’t know how many people have made comments about my baby’s nationality–before she was even born.  They were worried about her not being American.  I would just say, “She’s going to be American.  I am American.  Therefore, no matter where I have her–she’ll be American too.”  It’s funny how (as Americans) we often don’t understand the ends and outs of being a citizen.

For example, the above statement.

I, of course, grew up in the United States (of American), and lived there most of my life.  When I began paperwork on Ale, I had to prove that I had lived there a sufficient amount of time in order to transfer my citizenship to her.  It’s really only five years–but when you’re the one searching through your paperwork to find proof, it seems like longer.  It wasn’t too hard for me, because I have college transcripts that show I lived in the States.  (I like to have extra college transcripts just in case…)  Some of the citizens that were there trying to register their newborns were having a more difficult time.  My heart was breaking for a couple who drove 8 (dangerous) hours to the consulate to try to gain citizenship for their little girl.  They were unable to show five years, and were encouraged to try to get more evidence.

I was impressed by the American officer at the consulate.  He was incredibly kind and empathetic to everyone.  When a couple wouldn’t have enough evidence on hand, he would ask questions and list documents that they could bring to strengthen their case.  When exasperated Americans acted like jerks while trying to secure passport pages, he just kindly apologized and kept on track.  If there was one great thing about our time waiting for Ale’s papers–it was watching him.

So, to register your child’s birth abroad in Mexico, you first must make an appointment online.  That would suggest that you would be seen at that time, right?  Wrong.  This is the government we’re dealing with here…  We made our appointment at 8:45.  It was the only appointment available on that day.  But we knew from the appointments available on other days that appointments began at 8:15 and ended at 9:30.  We showed up to the consulate, and waited to enter through security.  Once inside, we were instructed by a guard to take a number.  The room was already full–and we joined the masses in waiting.

At 9:00, the office behind the windows began to show signs of life.

As numbers were called, anxious Americans would go first to a window where they would pay for what they hoped to obtain.  They dropped off paperwork, and sat down to wait.  After a while, they were called to a second window where a Mexican worker would have prepared their file.  They would ask questions, and get information needed for the American officer.  The ONE American officer mentioned above.  Eventually, the American officer would call them to a third window where they would take vows promising that the paperwork was correct.  FINALLY, they would receive the news that they waited for.

We didn’t get to meet with the American officer until after 1:00 in the afternoon.

I can’t help but think there has to be a better way to do this–but I guess it would require hiring more people.  And maybe they prefer to stay behind glass.  I really expected to come in, sit down at a desk with an officer, and explain why I had the paperwork that I had.  Not so.

In any case, we were SO excited when the amazing officer let us know that sufficient evidence had been provided, and we could apply for our passport.  I know people get excited when adults become American through the naturalization process, but it was pretty wonderful to kiss my American baby too.

What makes me even happier, is that she gets the best of both worlds!  Should she ever choose to study here in Mexico–she can!  If she wants to vote in the States–she can!  I am so happy to have a little girl who will get to really be a part of two very different countries.

What a lucky little Mexican-American we have on our hands.

My Amazing Husband (Is Still Alive)

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I thank my lucky stars that my husband and I didn’t really have a volatile relationship prior to the birth of our precious daughter.  Because were that the case, one of us would be dead right now.  Probably the one of us that doesn’t wake up to feed our daughter throughout the night…

See, this is the thing about a Blakley:  we need our sleep.  Alex gets sleep–she just chooses to do it all during the day.  She likes to wake up around one and stay awake until 3.  This is right when Mami and Papi are the most tired.  I think she does it on purpose.  Somehow she’s getting back at us for something we must have done to upset her.  So when Mami wakes up to feed Ale, she doesn’t mind at all.  She just doesn’t understand why (unlike every other time she nurses) Ale doesn’t fall right back to sleep.  What makes the nights so much fun?

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Honestly, I don’t mind nursing at all–it’s great!  What I don’t understand is how my husband can snore through her cries and whimpers.  He only wakes up when I get frustrated, and then it’s to impart his fatherly wisdom:  “Who told you that you got to sleep when you have a baby?”  Well, husband, one of us IS sleeping.  That’s the problem.  

I actually did get up and leave the room early in the night.  I thought, “Well, we don’t BOTH need to be awake.”  And thank goodness!  Because after a particularly difficult night, I passed her off after I fed her this morning–and Daddy had baby duty.  Mami snoozed the morning away!

Victor has been amazing, actually.  He’s totally the man for diaper changes.  So much, that I don’t remember the last time I changed her diaper.  Even during the night (if he’s awake), he changes her and sneaks her back over to my side of the bed.  It’s just those comments about being tired that really get my panties in a wad.  Really, husband?  You’re tired?!  Pssh!  One of us woke up every two hours last night to feed our fat daughter that you think is starving…  Guess who?

 

Baby Weight: Gaining and Losing

4_1_13_1Breastfeeding mamas live for the scales.  Or maybe I should clarify: they live for their child to be weighed on the scales.  (That’s if things are going well, of course.)

A week and a half ago, I decided to ignore all that I’ve read about breastfeeding.  This was at my mom’s insistence, and I wish I had done that sooner.  I knew in my gut that things were fine–so why was I holding myself to someone else’s rules?  So what if my baby sleeps longer than three hours–she eats a ton, and she’s totally happy!  She isn’t crying for more, and she looks at me with completely satisfied eyes.  (Mom will love to read this after telling me over and over, “Jania, she’s happy! Look at her!  She’s getting enough to eat!“)

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I also broke “the rules” by giving her a pacifier within 24 hours of her birth and a bottle a week after she was born.  It hurt me to see her take the bottle–as if I was less than a great mom because her breast-milk had to be pumped for a while.  It took me a while to get over that too–she was (is) getting breast-milk ..that was (is) the important thing!

I couldn’t wait  for our one month appointment–it’s still a week away!  Especially when we noticed her little double chin and chubby legs.  Yesterday we went to the mall and I voluntarily weighed myself.  (Hooray!  Baby weight is leaving!)  Then I weighed myself with her.  We repeated the same thing with Victor, and the results were consistent!  Our little chubs has gained some weight!  She weighs over nine pounds now!

It’s pretty funny: we spend the first part of our lives with people celebrating every pound we gain.  And the rest of our lives mourning when the numbers on the scale get bigger.  Glad that our weigh-in was a happy occasion for us both!

Lactose Intolerance

About three years I ago, I self-diagnosed myself lactose intolerant.  I was living with my sister in Alexandria, and I noticed that I was having a lot of stomach issues.  “Stomach issues” is the way people describe gas and diarrhea when they’re too polite (or embarassed) to admit what’s going on.

My “stomach issues” I determined were caused by ingestion of milk products: milk, ice cream, cheese, ice cream.  Oh, wait.  Did I say ice cream twice?  And so I cut out cut back on my dairy food group.  They should just rename the dairy block of the food pyramid as Deliciousness.  How many servings of Deliciousness do you get per day?

When I quit my high stress job in Northern Virginia, surprisingly, all my stomach issues disappear (along with all my autoimmune annoyances…)  While some of the autoimmune issues resurfaced with some unexplained inflammation, I haven’t had lactose problems for a year.  I’ve heard others comment that it is because the milk is different here in Mexico.

Apparently, I still can’t consume mass quantities of cheese on a daily basis.  I love milk and drink a couple glasses a day, but the quesadillas that I’ve so enjoyed aren’t a good idea.  Today Victor said, “You really like quesadillas right now!  This is the third day you’ve had one!”  Umm… oops.  I guess it’s time to cut back on some Deliciousness.  Especially since I’ve been having “stomach issues…”