A Letter to My Husband on Father’s Day

Dear Husband,

Thank you.  You probably don’t hear it enough from me.  Today I am feeling so grateful for having you to “do life” with me.  You have a way of making problems disappear.  You put stressful situations into perspective; you are the calm to my storm.  

Today has been a busy Father’s Day for you–moving this morning wasn’t an ideal way to spend our Sunday.  Another house.  A lot more stuff.  A wife and two kids who are all three pretty useless moving things… And then tonight, as you left to play in the park with Ale, I felt my heart swell with happiness.  Your girls love you so much, and I know that there is little you wouldn’t do for them.  

 
I never expected to meet you when I came to Mexico.  I came to bask in my singleness–to regain my power.  I had no idea that you were waiting for me.  You exceed my expectations daily, and I say a silent prayer of thankfulness to have you around me.  You make me a better person with your constant support and guidance.

  

I realize that it is a sacrifice to stay home with the baby again, and I am so grateful!  She is building a relationship with you, and every guy she dates will be held up next to you for comparison.  Furthermore, I leave my babies knowing they gave the best care that anyone could give.   Josie will grow up like Ale: loving her “pops” more than anyone, begging to “hang out” with him instead of sleeping, and one day soon, she’ll greet you with a “Happy Fadder’s Day!”

  
So today, Fadder’s Day, I want to say thank you, my love.  Thank you for your positivity, your strength, and your wisdom. Happy Father’s Day to you.

Love always,

Your esposa

Mommy Sandwich Every Night

  
This week my kid had her first ham sandwich.  I don’t typically buy sandwich meat from the deli counter, and if I ever do–it is turkey.  But my first day back to work called for a sandwich, and after a bite, Ale was a ham lover.  She seems to sense when a sandwich has been made, and after a bite or two, she slides over to snatch it from my hands.

Today she asked for a sandwich, and I told her we were out.  She said, with more than a little exasperation in her voice and eyes slightly buggy, “Do we have peanut butter?  Do we have jelly?  Put it together, and that’s a sandwich!

Now it is the finish of a long day, and I am lying in bed with my sweeties on both sides.  I can’t help thinking that this is the only sandwich I want: a mommy sandwich.  I can hear both of them breathing, and every once in a while, a little snore.  Ale is cuddled in her “big girl bed,” which is flush against our bed.  She has her Barbie (with wet hair after her bath) and her baby lying beside her.  (Baby had to come to bed with us tonight, because she wanted chichi.)

My chichi monster is on the other side of me.  She’s propped up on my boppy with her arms thrown up in the air.  Her binky is lodged between her ear and the pillow, where it fell when her suckling stopped.  She’s already kicked her blanket down below her feet, but soon she will be recovered to ensure her warmth in our air conditioned bedroom.  Her breathing is a bit erratic and is interrupted by little grunts.

Some people don’t like sleeping with others.  They say they sleep better alone.  Babies sleep in cribs with monitors allowing the parents mothers to listen from afar.  It is true that I will wake up half a dozen times tonight.  Josie will nurse at least twice.  But sleeping with Mama means that her stretches of sleep are around five hours.  Ale might have a nightmare; that has been happening lately.  Mami can soothe her right away with a little pat or a song.  Victor will come to bed in another hour or so, and that will wake me up too.  Someone may need a diaper change or a drink of water.  We can’t all sleep like a baby husband, so I will be awake at the slightest change in breathing.

I don’t mind.

Being the middle part of a mama sandwich is the best job around.  In fact, you might say that despite the love we have been showing sandwiches these days, a mama sandwich is still the most popular sandwich on the menu.

A Letter to Our New Baby

Dear Sweet Baby,

I am lying in bed in the middle of the day with you at my side.  You are starting to drift off to sleep, and your eyes keep fluttering shut.    Sissy is busy, and Daddy walked to the store, so we have a few minutes of just you and me. 

   

I can’t believe how much you’ve grown in nearly eight weeks!!  You have started to fill out, and your cheeks are so chubby!  I love watching your dimples when you flash a big smile at me when I talk to you.  

Tomorrow I leave you and Daddy for the first of many days where I have to go to work.  I don’t want to leave you, precious baby.  I don’t want to think about you growing without me, but I’ve been through this before:  Your first laugh will probably be at your silly daddy.  You will roll over with him as a witness.  You will reach out and grab his nose in wonder.  You will push up on all fours with Daddy watching you.  You will walk with Daddy, talk with your daddy, and play with Daddy at the park.  One day soon, I will come home and hear how big you are because of something new that you’ve done, and my heart will burst.  I will have to fake happiness, while secretly hiding my jealously.

For the next year, you and your daddy are going to be best friends. You will reach for him when you need something.  He will be the one to dry your little eyes and comfort you when you fall down.  Daddy will be your hero, and that’s okay.  He’s my favorite too.

Mama will steal moments with you at night while everyone else is asleep.  You and I will put your sister and daddy to bed; when they are fast asleep, we will get up and sneak out of the room.  We will cuddle together on the couch, and I will nurse you until the sandman visits you with dreams too. 

  
You’re asleep now, my love, and I hope you’re dreaming of me, because you are what MY dreams are made of.  

Love,

Your mama (on the eve of her return to work)

A Birth Story, Part Four (The Birth)

When I booked the reservation at the hotel, something told me that my little girl would cut our visit short.  I completely relaxed during that final day, and perhaps that is what coaxed my littlest love to arrive: a mommy’s body doesn’t cooperate well when it is in a stressful situation.

(*See footnote for explanation of “Ding Dang Baby.”)

My contractions began at around 11pm, and I just continued to read while relaxing in bed.  They seemed pretty steady though, and I mentioned them to Victor about an hour later.  He asked if I wanted to go home.  I didn’t really see the need of abandoning our hotel room until we knew for sure this was it.  I also wasn’t in a hurry: Ale took forever to be born, so I thought we had plenty of time ahead of us.

Ale was asleep, so I just continued to monitor the situation without waking her.  Finally, I decided I would use the app on my phone.  It helped me to realize that maybe we were further along than expected.  Around 2:30am we started the process of cleaning up and packing up the hotel.  Ale awoke and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go swimming.  She had started the day wearing her swimsuit and tutu, and at this point was dancing around the hotel room wired.  I had been telling her for a month that her sister was “coming soon,” so she was pretty unphased.  That is until the contractions were strong enough for me to need to stop and breath.  “Mama, stop!  Stop doing that!” she said more than once.

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This was our last family photo before Josie was born.  Victor was a little irritated that I wanted a photo during my labor–so there was no time for a retake!

Victor called his mom to let her know I was in labor, and I called the midwife as we were leaving the hotel.  I also notified my mom and sister, as promised.  Clearly it was the middle of the night, as both of them asked me if I was going to go home…  Umm, no, I thought I would I would just use the bathtub here.  

This chat spans a couple of hours.

I not-so-patiently checked out of the hotel.  Contractions were pretty strong, and I had to stop to breath through them several times during the process.   I would feel one beginning, and tell the middle-aged man behind the counter, “Excuse me.”  Then I would turn my back on him, walk to the wall, hold on, and breath for a minute.  When the contraction subsided, I walked back, smiled, and apologized.

The taxi arrived and I joined my family outside.  (My husband must have been a little nervous.  He let my toddler pee in front of the hotel before getting in he taxi.  No time for a bathroom break! No sir!)  The ride home was pretty quick.  I sat in the front seat just to continue making middle-aged Mexican men uncomfortable.

We arrived home and began getting the room ready.  Remember when I said I thought we had plenty of time?  Well, we didn’t prepare the room before leaving for the hotel… So there we were, 3:30 in the morning getting everything in order.  I went through the baby basket and cleaned off the table in our room.  (By “cleaned off the table,” I actually mean I swept everything into a bag and stashed it in the closet.)  I am pretty sure Victor swept and mopped.  Finally, I took a permanent break from getting the room ready to concentrate on getting my body ready.

 My contractions were strong.  I know this next part sounds crazy, so don’t judge me: As a contraction would start, I would imagine a tall skinny man.  That’s what it felt like.  The contraction was like a long line that went down my back.  With my hands braced against the wall, I would start at his head and breath my way down his body.  Weird, I know.  It helped though, a coping mechanism of sorts.  I also nodded my head as I breathed, so I am pretty sure I looked nuts too.

The bathroom was nice because it was dark and private, but at this point it felt good to stand up.  I didn’t want to bend over, lay against the sink/wall, squat on the toilet, etc.  It felt good to stand straight pushing out to my sides with both hands against the doorframe.  My midwife arrived and did a quick check on the baby.

She, her crew, and Victor worked in the bedroom to get the pool set up and filled.  I literally didn’t see my husband again until the baby was born.  My labor was requiring all my concentration, and I didn’t have a break or all the time in the world to chit-chat like I did with Ale.  Finally I asked if the tub was ready, and continued my labor there.

I have sweet memories of Ale during this time.  She would check on me during contractions.  A couple times I remember her getting right down in my face and smiling a big, fake, slightly terrified looking smile.  I was aware that she was there and needed some reassurance.  I would smile back (I think, although it was probably more of a grimace.), tell her I was fine, and let her know baby sister would be there soon.  She joined me, bathing suit and all, in the birthing tub.  My midwife showed her how to pour water on my back during the contractions.  At some point, she got out and fell asleep in the next room.  Later I found out that she refused to remove her bathing suit before sleeping.

In the pool my contractions changed.  They weren’t a tall, skinny man anymore.  They morphed into a short, fat man.  Instead of long pain, it was horizontal and stretched across my back.  The short, fat man wasn’t nearly as nice as the tall guy. The coolest thing is that depending on my pain, my midwife knew where the baby was.  She didn’t make me get out of the water to check the progress, because she could tell the labor was progressing.  She also didn’t check to see that I was dilated, so I have no idea how far along I was.

It seemed like I was in the birthing tub for hours.  Later, Tirsa (the midwife) told me it was only about an hour.  I laid down a while, like one might in a bathtub.  Then Tirsa said it could help to change my position and move my hips.  I would ask questions like, “Why is there no break?” “Why does it only hurt on one side?”  She would just answer, and we would rest until the next contraction.  She applied counter pressure to by lower back and hips during the contractions, as well as pouring the warm water over my back.  I was on my knees while lying against the side of the tub.  I remember somehow working my way from one side of the tub to the other.

I didn’t voice these thoughts aloud, but in my head I thought, “Never again.” “I understand why women like drugs,” etc.  When I started getting the urge to push it seemed unreal.  With Ale I would push, then fall asleep in between contractions.  With Josie, there was no time!  I remember telling everyone I felt like I needed to poop.  (A bit embarrassing now…)  Tirsa said, “That’s because your baby is coming!”  Someone got my errant husband, and he held me at the end.  Three contractions back-to-back and Josie arrived!  I was on my knees, so they helped her swim between my legs to the front.  I laid back, and put her on my chest.  Wow.  That feeling.  Even writing about it now makes me tingle inside.

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The hours after her birth were amazing too.

I had watched this really inspiring video about the breast crawl, and I wanted to see if it worked.  We moved to the bed and placed Josie on my chest.  It was totally cool!  Within 30 minutes she latched onto my breast.  I delivered the placenta, but it was just placed into a bag alongside of us.  I don’t remember when we cut the cord, but it was so calm in the room, it wasn’t a big deal!  I moved to rest against the wall, and we continued to work on breastfeeding.  I had (mistakenly) thought that after nursing Ale for 2 years and 4 months, I would be a pro.  Wrong.  Feeding a newborn is no task for the faint-hearted!

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I feel like I should reiterate how calm it was.  Maybe I felt calmer because it was my second baby, but the general atmosphere of the room (and the people present) was peaceful with Josie.  I had a home birth and water birth with Ale, but it wasn’t exactly the calmest environment.  In fact, Josie’s entire labor was MUCH calmer.  When it was over, I almost immediately felt like I could do it again.

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Ale meets her sister, Joselyn Victoria.  (Josie’s name is a combination of my brother, Joseph, and my sister, Jenny Lyn.  Her middle name is in honor of her Papi, Victor.)

I have so enjoyed looking back over the photos.  The following photos are of the hours/days following Joselyn’s arrival:

 

 

 

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Josie is one day old! (Yes, she’s at McDonald’s.  We took her sister there after registering Josie’s birth with the powers that be…)

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Ale’s special Big Sister cake that she helped to make. (Because only BIG girls get to cook with Mami–not babies.)

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Daddy and Josie!

 

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Sister still likes to poke the baby’s cheeks! I blame that on old Mexican women who always grab her cheeks. 😉

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Abuela and Josie; My mother-in-law is something special.  Upon meeting Josie, she THANKED me.  It still makes tears come to my eyes to think about it!

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Los Abuelos! Having them here for Josie’s birth was really special.

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Sweet girl…

* “Ding Dang Baby” is from a Jacqueline Woodson book, Pecan Pie Baby.  I read the book when I was pregnant, and I sat and cried in my office.  It is all about a sister who isn’t overly excited about the birth of her sibling.  She calls him a “Ding Dang Baby.”  I was really worried about Ale being hurt or feeling replaced by Josie.  After reading the book to my mom, we often referred to Josie as the “Ding Dang Baby.”  This is an AMAZING book, by the way.

** I am SO happy I have these text messages with Mama and Jenny.  Not only do they remind me of details, but they provide quite a bit of comic relief!

Love in the Sink–Year Three

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Today is our anniversary–three wonderful years! We were talking about going out last week, and I mentioned getting a babysitter for Allie. “Or,” Victor replied, “We can just take her with us.”

What was unexpected was that we would wake up today forgetting it was the anniversary, rush out the door to catch the bus to school, then receive a call from daycare that the punkin’ is sick…again… (Daycare will be the death of us…) The family anniversary date is on hold for the time being.

In any case, I love my sweet husband with that big ol’ heart! These three years have been so full of love for us–sloshing over the side like Ale’s bath water! He never ceases to amaze me with his high moral standards, kindness and compassion for others, and his love for his family. Here’s to another three years!

My cup runneth over…

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Two months of Silence

My two months of silence have another name: Summer vacation. Well, make that summer vacation plus really bad customer service at our local Telephone and Internet provider.

We finally made it back to Northern Mexico, and we are now in our new house. This is the sixth place Victor and I have lived together in two and a half years. That’s a bit nuts. When we were getting ready to move here, all I could think was, “Whew! We won’t have to move again until we go home!” At least, here’s to hoping!

My little Ale Cat is growing up. She is starting to talk, place, and get a little crazy hyper. I feel like there have been a couple times this week where she was slap-happy-sleepy-drunk. She is a lot of fun.

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I’ve started back to work–and I am in my new office! I had a hard time the first couple days. I felt like I was playing dress-up. It feels good now–except ai feel like I have to prove something to my teachers. I have been working super hard the last couple weeks, and worrying a little too much. My second case of iritis since I’ve been in Mexico struck on Sunday. My doctor complemented my ability to self-diagnose. The funny thing is, I was hoping the whole time that I was wrong.

I immediately began to try to calm down. And I had Victor shop for some inflammation fighting foods. It just so happens that they are also delicious… Beets, spinach, and sweet potatoes are accompanying each meal.

My sweet husband is working hard chasing after Ale and getting us settled. I know I’ve said this before, but he is so long-suffering…

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I am a lucky gal.

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Oops! A Passport Problem

I know I have to trust him with this, I said. I was explaining to my friend what was going on in my head while I let my husband handle the baby’s passport paperwork. Normally I take care of important paperwork, but I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed. We are moving houses. I’m moving to an office for my new job. We have end of the school year madness at work…

So, he did the research.
He made the copies.
He got the doctor’s signature/letter of health.
He printed what we needed.
He paid for the passport.

I only had to do one thing: make the appointment. I made the appointment–it’s for June 24, 2014. That wouldn’t be a problem, except I will be leaving Mexico this Friday, June 20th…

My Parasite Baby

You know what’s scary? Thinking you feel a phantom baby moving around in your uterus for a week. These are the thoughts that go through your head:

Crap! Was that a baby?
Am I pregnant?
Wait…when was my period?
If I feel a baby then I’m four months pregnant at least!
Sooo, am I like those women on TV who don’t know they’re pregnant?
I can’t be pregnant. Can I?
Aww. I wouldn’t mind having another baby.
Wait! What are you thinking! You don’t need another baby right now!
What would I do if I’m pregnant?
My boss is going to kill me.
I need to google this. “Why do I feel a baby moving if I’m not pregnant?”

Me:“Victor, it feels like a baby is moving. My tummy hurts. I feel really full.”
Him:“I think we all might need to take an anti-parasite pill.”

Okay. Intestines moving around…
Whew! Just a parasite baby…

The First Thanksgiving

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You know, after you’ve been living in another country for almost two years there are few “firsts” left to experience. So I was surprised when I realized that this was my first Thanksgiving away from home. Then I promptly cried in front of my coworkers.

It’s Ale’s first Thanksgiving, so I made her an outfit that she will some day laugh at.

It’s our first Thanksgiving together as husband and wife (Last year I went home).

It’s the first time I’ve made turkey and dressing.

It’s our first Mexican Thanksgiving–so we had Mexican and Americans dining together in the true spirit of the day.

It’s the first time I’ve had to explain the significance of Thanksgiving to anyone.

Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. It isn’t the turkey–honestly, I could live without it. While I love pie, it isn’t that either. It’s the whole getting-together-with-family that makes it special!

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A couple years ago my mamaw’s Alzheimer’s won out over our favorite holiday. My mama admitted that the holiday wasn’t as much fun as it once had been. So, I made it my mission to have my own Thanksgiving with my mama. We made all the staples together: and even pulled out Mamaw’s recipe book to make her recipes.

Last night I flipped through my book looking for pumpkin pie, and my Mamaw’s handwriting popped out from one page. I looked on it with love and determination. Love for the amazing women who’ve labored on a day like this–and determination to pass on that same love by being a better mama and wife.

Victor said something that I think is really valid about today. He said, “In the United States, one woman cooks for everyone. She does it because her family is important. She just wants them there with her.” I had more than my family with me today–but I think about the moments leading up to that one meal. My baby crawling around singing a constant hum. My husband telling me stories and listening to me talk about my coworkers. The laughter we shared over something the baby did. Laying on the floor of the kitchen to nurse in between preparing the pie and turkey. Multiple trips to the store for supplies.

And now the baby and my husband are by my side. Our bellies are full of sweet potatoes and turkey. We are snuggled up and ready to beat the cold desert night together…

It’s my first Thanksgiving with my family, and we kept the family tradition alive. I’m thankful for my 28 Thanksgivings with my Mama and Mamaw–and for this, our first, as a Mama and daughter team. The Thanksgiving tradition will continue…

20131128-222529.jpgMamaw’s dressing–as dictated by my Mama and made by me.

Bad Mom?

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I have a theory. I think that every mom and dad must have moments like the one I had yesterday. But they are so worried about what someone will think–that they don’t share them. And so instead, a cycle continues where new parents feel like they are the worst parents in the world…

The story begins on Sunday. My little family went to the mall, and decided to stop in the toy store. My daughter doesn’t have that many toys, and now that she’s super fun, I wanted to find some development appropriate toys. Nothing expensive. Nothing the requires batteries. Something to help her brain grow.

My husband, ever the practical one joked, “You know that most moms who buy lots of toys feel guilty. The baby doesn’t need toys–she needs you to play with her.”

And then my eyes sprung a leak.

The next day, after walking out of the store empty handed, I tried to explain to my husband why what he said hurt the feelings of this teacher mom teacher-mom. After being with 18 other children all day, I get home tired. I sometimes need a break. And that means that regardless for the great love I have for my daughter, sometimes I don’t want to play. That conversation ended with frustration, but with a resolve to give more to my baby.

Which brings us to yesterday. I need exercise to give me energy and keep me healthy. I need to spend time with my littlest love. Why not combine the two? Into the jogger went Ale. I buckled her in then headed out. Along the way we sang songs (she sings when I sing), and I talked to her about all the neighbors. We stopped at a co-teacher’s house, and I parked the stroller. I turned around to ring the doorbell. Can you see where this is going?

I heard a strange noise, and turned quickly to see Ale’s stroller rolling. And falling. And crashing.

This story could end very differently. This careless mother could have greater sadness in her heart. Lucky for little Ale (and her Mama), she crawled (almost!) away with a little scrape on her forehead. I sat down, held her, rocked her, nursed her, and prayed through my tears. We brushed ourselves off and continued our outing. All the while I debated if this was a story I should share with my husband.

I’m glad I did. He said, “Things like that happen sometime…” Which leaves me wondering, Why did HE start using the brake list week?