Hear Me Roar

Saturday millions of women all over the world took to the streets in protest.  Friday, a great (tremendous, terrific) defiler of women was sworn in as the president of my country.

I sat in the school office Friday, and watched the speech that he gave.  And I cried.  I cried as he spoke about being a president for the people.  The secretary next to me turned around in surprise at my tearful expletive, “Are you crying, Jania!?”  I explained, yes… I am crying.  I am crying for my country.  For my family.  For my daughters.

See, Mexicans don’t understand how Americans are JUST feeling this way.  Politicians have been less-than-wonderful and undeserving of respect for years here in Mexico.    They have risen to power because of the money in their pockets, and the exchange of that money from hand to hand.  Politicians  have rallied in poor communities, bribing the people with promises of good roads and clean water, while literally PAYING for their votes.  Mexicans have snickered at the poor english spoken by their leader, and joked about the connections that he has to the cartel.

My Mexican colleagues don’t understand that I have never felt like this.  But at the same time, they understand how dangerous the world just became.  They understand what people all over the world can see: America just crept into the rat’s trap.  They understand what the rat doesn’t: that no matter how tasty the cheese might be, the chance of never tasting cheese again is just as sure.

Has America been embarrassed by our leaders before?  Sure.  Have they ever been this fearful?  This disgusted?  This disillusioned?  Not in my lifetime.

(No doubt some readers of this very blog post are disagreeing with me right now–and no doubt those readers are white middle-class citizens who have probably had access to fair pay and healthcare most of their lives.)

I didn’t vote for the former (and far superior) president in his first campaign.  But I attended his inauguration with thousands of others.  The air was electric with promise of change.  The metro was so full of people, that moving was like something from a cartoon.  Everyone was pressed together as one unit, shuffling their feet, and moving as possible onto the train and through the platforms.  Every inch of the lawns were full of people, and not just white people.

Say what you want about Obama, but he was the people’s president.  He made hard decisions that were made for the good of MANY, not just a few.  And that was evident that day eight years ago.

Which brings us to the protest of women all over the world: Has there ever been such a huge protest in reaction to a president taking office?  Has there?  Not in our country.

I wrote a post the day after the election in November, and since then I have seen many posts pleading to give Trump a chance.  But he hasn’t earned a chance yet.  And if anything, he has time after time shown how unworthy he is to be our commander-in-chief.  Unable to take responsibility, full of accusations and immature finger-pointing.  Even after his speech on Friday he shook hands with many standing behind him,  but skirted around the one who secured more votes from the people and her husband.

I watched with pride as a far more worthy politician held her head high,  pasted on a smile,  and continued to stand with pride.  Isn’t that what women have done for years?  She didn’t need to speak out in the protests, because the voices of many others rang out for her.  

And so here I am: a mother of two little girls, a sister of three strong women, a daughter of two respecters of human kind, and a teacher of the future.  I may not have marched in protest, but I am ready to defend our future.

Shock and Sadness on the Day After Elections

I feel sick.  I am literally crying as I write this a country away.

When I visited home during the summer of 2015, Trump had recently began his race.  He had gone on camera talking about Mexicans, and we all were still wondering if it was a joke.  

And that was a question even during the spring of this year:  Is this a joke?   We have all been waiting for the punchline to be delivered.

You know what?  Hate is no joke.  I cannot believe that my countrymen just voted for a man who says the things he says.  Someone who has repeatedly spoken out against Muslims, Mexicans, homosexuals, and women.  Someone who makes fun of people with disabilities.  Someone who jokes about using weapons of mass destruction on other countries.  Someone who every living president has warned us about.  Someone who opens his mouth and spews anger, ignorance, and hatred with every word.

I am reeling, thinking of my little family here in Mexico.  I am wondering  if I need to apply for Victor’s visa earlier than planned.  We were planning on applying for a visitor visa in January.  But now?  What does this mean for us?  Do you, dear readers, realize that with the exception of one brother and my mother, my own family hasn’t met my husband?  Not one family member or friend from home has met my child?  Did you think of us when you voted?  Did you think of the thousands of families like us–or families who have to live seperate in order to survive?

And what does this mean for our country?  Do we really belong to a nation that wants this man as the leader?  I am appalled.  This is the first time in my life that I can say I am embarrassed to be American.  

And I am scared for our future.  

Halloween (With a Three Year Old)

Halloween with a three year old means buying grey hoodies to make shark costumes.  It means singing “baby shark, doo doo…” over and over (and over and over…)

Halloween with a three year old means that the night before a school Halloween party she informs you that, no, she is going to be a witch.(duh.) It means she will need a broom.  A hat.  A skirt.  Witch tights.

     
  Halloween with a three year old means she can remove the spider dangling from the witch’s hat, because she doesn’t like spiders.

Halloween with a three year old means giggles ensue when she talks about her calzones that Pablo looked for under her tutu.

Halloween with a three year old means toys have to be picked up before trick or treating.  It means you have to help, because she has forgotten where they go.  (And that the clean up song is for school.)

Halloween with a three year old means keeping little hands busy by gluing notes onto the marshmallow bags you are handing out to neighbors.  It means she will groan with sheer exhaustion when she can’t handle gluing one more.

Halloween with a three year old means that 30 minutes before it is time to trick or treat, she will change her mind about her costume.  It means she will be a “princess.”  It means you will have to move the bed to find her crown that fell off after she went to bed with it on.

    
Halloween with a three year means they can trail behind the big kids hollering, “Queremos Halloween!”  It means they lug their bag of candy  without help while you watch from the street.

Halloween with a three year old means you stare in disbelief that the neighborhood party starts at 8 and keeps going strong at 9.  Those people clearly don’t have three year olds.  

Halloween with a three year old means leaving the park after she screams at you–a bit embarrassed but mostly glad for an opportunity to use love and logic.  It means you get to say things like, “Would you like to walk or would you like me to carry you?  Would you like a sip of water or would you prefer to go straight to bed?”

Halloween with a three year old means hearing for the first time how little your daughter likes you.  It means she will tell you she wants a different mami, and that she wants to give you to the police.  It means you will have to hide your smile even as part of you dies a little inside.

Halloween with a three year old means that cuddles, laughter, bedtime stories, and hand holding will remind her how much fun it is to be a three year old.  It means that you made it another night. 

  
Get your sleep, mama.  Threeangers are out to get you again tomorrow.  Because Tuesdays everyday with a three year old…

Sweet Will of God

Today I had a friend ask me about what brought me to Mexico.  She and I have known each other for two years, but for some reason, the topic never came up.  She asked, “Did the thought ever cross your mind that you would find a boyfriend in Mexico?”

Whoa.

Talk about a major trip down Memory Lane! As I began telling her the story of coming to Mexico, something occurred to me: this year and last year line up perfectly with the days matching the dates for the year I left the States and moved to Mexico.  That means the day I quit my job (FIVE YEARS AGO?!?!) fell on the same day of the week this year.

Which means that this day, this time five years ago I was having a really hard realization that a relationship with a man I loved was coming to an end.

Which means that it was this month five years ago that I took a trip to West Virginia with some dear friends where I received renewing and encouragement I didn’t believe I needed.

Which means that it was five years ago that I sat in a Sunday morning meeting and cried throughout the hymn that said, “I worship thee, sweet will of God…”

Five years.  A lot can happen in five years.  Thankfully, God’s will for our lives will always be the best.  And when we allow him to have control of present, he can make something spectacular for our future.

So tonight I sit in my home in Mexico–five years later.  My baby is gnawing on my toes and pulling at my skirt-tail.  My daughter just yelled at me to come help her from the other room.  The four of us just got back from walking to the store to buy tamales and burritos from the street vendor.  And tomorrow I will (hopefully) go to Sunday morning meeting and we can sing the words of this hymn.  The words in English still have such great meaning for me!  I worship thee, sweet will of God, and all thy ways adore–and every day I live I seem to love thee more and more.  Perhaps  it’s the third verse means the most to me in Spanish–because the others are practically translated the same:

  I have no regrets today–I trust in your goodness.  I enjoy now the blessing of pleasant freedom. 

 

Hope of Rain

Until I lived in the desert, I never understood that hope of rain.  Just a little water falling from the sky freshens the air, the ground, and my attitude.

I have the same hope tomorrow–knowing that two of God’s servants will be in our meeting.  And for weeks from now–as we prepare for Torreon convention and the visitors that come with it!  Even September holds hope in the palm of her hand with the arrival of our larger convention in the next state over.

A spiritual shower may not make my tomatoes grow, but it sure does help love to grow:  Love for my meeting, my family, my place, and love for a world struggling to find a foothold in the midst of chaos.

Rain down on me.

A Birth Story, Part Three

So at this point, I was 41 weeks and 4 days.  I had reached the government doctor’s deadline.  I had accepted a potentially dangerous intervention, thankfully without results.  Now I was just waiting.  I am lucky that my support system was as amazing as they were!  Between my suegra, my husband, and my midwife, I was good to go!

On Monday we decided we would continue to wait.  We wouldn’t return to the government hospital, as I had been instructed.  And I was okay with that!  After all, my body knew what was right, and I had confidence in it.

I had a message from my private doctor asking how things were, and I responded with a quick, “All is well! The pill didn’t work, so I am just waiting!”  I didn’t want to tell her too much.  She is wonderful, but I felt a bit awkward because I wasn’t having her at the birth.  She was my back-up plan incase things didn’t go as well as expected at home, and additionally had been the attendant at Ale’s birth.  I didn’t want us to end our relationship with poor terms–I wanted to keep things positive with her.

Then everything changed on Tuesday.  That evening I received a message from my same private doctor telling me that she was worried.

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“We have to induce labor by Thursday in a hospital with fetal monitoring or a c-section by Friday.  I’m worried.”  My heart dropped into my stomach.  I cried alone for a while, and then began literally walking the floors.  Maybe I could convince my body to send me a baby.  Finally I woke Victor up, and explained, through tears, the message I had received.  He was comforting, and reassured me that the baby wasn’t ready.  When she was ready, then she would make her appearance.  We decided to go for a walk (at around 2 a.m.) in the neighborhood, and we woke up his mom to let her know that she might need to listen for Ale.  Then we took off.

On this walk we came to the conclusion that we needed to just calm down.  We made a plan to ignore the doctor’s message, and take a little staycation at a local hotel.  The doctor had encouraged me to go to a temazcal, and this hotel has a sauna in the pool area.  We came back to the house, and I sent messages to my midwife and my family to let them know they wouldn’t be able to reach me on Wednesday.  I was going to shut out the world, relax, and enjoy my last days with Ale as an only child.  We would try to ignore the doctor, but would keep in contact with the midwife.

The next morning, I felt a billion times better.  I received a message from the midwife assuring (AGAIN) that all was well with the baby.  She wasn’t too big.  I was healthy.  She was healthy.  We could wait before trying some interventions to induce her birth.  We were going to focus that message, and forget about everything else.  We reserved a room at the hotel, packed up Ale, and drove about 2 miles away to relax.

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Ale and Daddy at the hotel.

We had a great time hanging out at the pool–and remembering our visit there for my birthday before Ale was born.  I got in the hot tub that I had avoided the previous trip, went to the sauna twice to relax, and played with my family in the water.

Pre-Josie 1

Ale loves on Mami and Baby Sis.  Mami is 41 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

It was amazing.  I even had some contractions that came and went–just like all the other times.  We went out to grab pizza, snacks, and a giant bottle of water to keep us going until check-out the next day.  I took a bath in the first bathtub I’ve been in since summer.  Ale fell asleep watching cartoons, Victor began watching the news, and I read a novel on my iPad.  It was late, but we were enjoying our stress-free family staycation.

I didn’t even think it was worth mentioning when the contractions started again…

 

 

A Birth Story, Part Two

After my scare at the government hospital, I became a bit nervous.  Not because I was 41 weeks.  I knew that the baby was fine, but I was worried about what would happen if I didn’t make the government’s arbitrary deadline.  My midwife assured me all would be fine. (She did that a lot…)

Two days later, I had a routine appointment at my private doctor’s office.  I told her about the situation, and she said, “I was going to ask you if I could give you something to help you along.”  She checked to make sure that everything was okay.  Again, all was great!  The placenta was mature, but not too much.  There was plenty of fluid.  The baby’s heartbeat was strong.  I consented (clearly without thinking much), and she implanted a little pill to help me start my labor.  When I asked about the effectiveness of the pill, she said, “It is VERY effective.  I have only had 2 patients that it hasn’t worked on. “The doctor told us that it would cause me to go into labor that evening, or Sunday at the latest.  Misoprostol works by ripening the cervix.  It is also used to cause abortions.

I didn’t know that.

I came home, and began to google search the pill I had just willingly accepted into my body.  I became terrified.  Check this out:Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 10.20.26 AM

While misoprostol is used all over the world for the purpose of starting labor, it isn’t recommended by the FDA for that purpose.  I accepted an intervention without doing the research to see what it was.  I made the choice.  I didn’t talk to Victor or my midwife, I just went ahead and let a pill be introduced into my body.  A pill that could potentially have disastrous effects.

As tears streamed down my face, I sent a message to Tirsa, the midwife.  She said it wasn’t what she would choose to help me along, and that the labor would probably start within hours.  I was terrified.

The one thing I believe more than anything is that my body KNOWS what to do!  God made us perfectly–and the natural development of the baby is what triggers the labor of the mom.  Without waiting for my natural induction, I worried that I was rushing a baby who may not be ready.  Victor didn’t support the idea of making something happen either, but he wasn’t with me at the doctor’s office when I had to make a decision.  I felt guilty, angry, and more than anything, scared.

I asked my midwife if I could reverse the pill somehow.  Or maybe take it out.  She said it could potentially be removed if it was whole.  I had watched the doctor crush the pill and put it into some gel, so I knew it wasn’t whole.  But I was willing to try.  So was Victor, so with great care, he attempted to scoop out the crushed up pill from inside my hoo-ha.  It was as humiliating as it sounds.  There I was, nine months plus, legs spread wide asking my husband to clean out my insides.

We didn’t feel like he had been able to remove anything, so then we prepared for a baby to arrive.  We cleaned, washed the sheets, and went through our box of homebirth/new baby necessities.  My contractions began, and continued through the night.  My midwife reassured me that all would be fine, and encouraged me to get some sleep.  Even the next day, Sunday, I was having weak contractions.  We stayed home from church thinking that the baby might arrive, but no baby.

My midwife told me, “If the pill hasn’t worked by noon on Sunday, it is out of your system.  If your labor starts after that, we can assume that it has started naturally.”

And so, the waiting game continued.

A Birth Story, Part One

 

Autumn came to visit for my labor. It was a great visit, but when she left, there still was no baby…

 

To begin the story of Josie’s birth, I should fill you in on the weeks prior to her birth.  We knew we wanted to deliver at home again, but we wanted to look into just renting a pool on our own and using our doctor.  After I posted a question online, we met with a doula at a place called Nacer Libre (Free Birth).  Silka, the doula, asked if I might be interested in a midwife.  Upon meeting Tirsa, the midwife, we were sold.  There would be no need for the doctor–we wanted to have a peaceful waterbirth at home, assisted by a midwife.

My due date was January 28th.  My in-laws were here.  My friend was here.  The baby was not sure she wanted to be here.  The private doctor I see (who delivered Ale at home) had been told that I planned a homebirth with a midwife, but I continued with my visits to her.  I was told that the baby would probably come around the full moon, but the full moon came and went with no baby.  All was fine in my visits–baby and I were healthy and just waiting for the big day.

I was 41 weeks on a Thursday, and I had to go to the government hospital to extend my maternity leave.  They had begun my maternity leave a week late, so that is the only reason I had the paperwork and payment for that long.  (In Mexico women receive six weeks before the birth and six weeks after the birth.) If the baby isn’t born by the due date, they will give you a one week extension, taking you to 41 weeks.  At that point, they induce or schedule a c-section.  The coordinator informed me that I would only have until Monday to delivery the baby.  Then they would need to schedule something, because I couldn’t extend my leave past one that day.

The IMSS doctor did a normal check (blood pressure, listening to the baby, etc.), then told me that I needed to go downstairs for an ultrasound.  This was strange, but she insisted because I was at 41 weeks.  Things began to feel ominous when, instead of pointing me in the direction, a secretary walked me down.  On the way, she said I needed to call my husband and have him come meet me.  This was really weird.  Why did he need to be there for an ultrasound?  We tried, but he didn’t answer.  Finally we arrived, but I was confused.  “Why were we in a different place,” I asked, “and not at the regular ultrasound room?”  The secretary informed me that I needed to see the doctor in the Tococirugia.  (I had no idea what that word was, but there was a symbol of a pregnant woman.  I did know the word cirugia (surgery), and that made me more nervous.

When I told the receptionists that I was going to go home, they said I couldn’t.  Because, after all, I was forty-one weeks pregnant.  I sat in a dirty little waiting room for about 15 minutes listening to the sound of some poor girl screaming bloody murder in the hallway in front of me.  I waited.  I speculated.  And I decided I needed to get out of there.

On the wall there was a sign that said if you wanted to leave against the doctor’s wishes, you had to sign something accepting responsibility.  That sounded pretty good to me, so I asked the receptionist to sign so that I could go home.  This was a different girl, and she began to tell me that I could leave–I had not been to see the doctor, so I didn’t need to sign anything.  At that point, her partner began to text on her phone saying, “Espérame, espérame.  Es que tiene cuarenta y uña semanas…”  (Wait for me.  She is 41 weeks pregnant… )  I wasn’t going to wait around to see what they wanted.  “Okay, bye!” I said quickly, and ran out the door.

I was so scared someone would follow me or call security.  I was walking so fast, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and all I could think was, “Get out of here!”

When I made it home, I googled Tococirugia, and found out that it means Labor and Delivery.  I sent a message to my midwife updating her on the situation.  She said, “It’s a good thing you got out of there!  It sounds like they may have tried to induce you.  I’ve never known IMSS to let anyone go past 41 weeks…”

Gulp.

Happy Siblings Day! (Hug an Only Child)

According to the Facebook posts, today is National Siblings Day.  I don’t know exactly who thought this one up–but I suspect that it is a day for people to share cute photos, and therefore, it came into existence after social media decided to take over the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot of family lately.  We took a trip last weekend to a neighboring state to visit with some of the isolated friends that live there.  There are two families and no one else for miles around.  The first family has five kids and the second has twelve…  Yes, you heard me right… twelve…  It is that family of twelve that recently gave us our latest sister worker.  Both families live humble lives on farms, and the way they work together to survive is admirable.

Sometimes we talk about how selfish it is for us to have had Rocky here in the city–when all he wanted was a place to run around and smell.  It feels like that with Ale too.  She was in her element on the farm!  She wasn’t afraid of wondering in and outside with the others.  They took her to watch the cow being milked, and later the baby lambs drinking from bottles.  She would come inside the kitchen (which is a separate entrance from the interior of the house) and ask for a drink or a snack.  How I wish that we had some land she could play on!

And how I wish she had family nearby.

Sweet Ale doesn’t have siblings yet, and that is always painfully apparent when she is with other children.  She really loved one of the babies (10 months), and kept trying to feed her a bottle.  Another little boy would grab her by the hand and pull her off to look at the animals, and it wasn’t long before she asked to see the “coco.”  (Cócono is another word for turkey.)

Because she doesn’t have siblings, Ale has learned to play alone.  But watching her entertain herself makes me think of how I would play with my siblings and cousins.

Ale is content.  She is building blocks and singing to herself as I write this.  She has never had a brother knock down her towers of blocks–and she doesn’t yet know the pleasure of singing with her sisters.  She just finished swimming outside in her plastic pool, and it won’t be long before we head to bed.  Ale doesn’t know what it is like to have a brother to hang onto, but she hangs onto us in the pool.  She will be sleeping with us too–because I can’t bear to have her sleep in her own bed without a sister to cuddle.  And tomorrow, we will read countless books together, because she has to learn the right way to read before a little sibling begs for story-time.  She just brought me a piece of plastic cake and I pretend to eat it, but one day she will know the joy of making mud pies in the back yard with siblings in tow.  Ale doesn’t know what she is missing, but I sure do…

Happy Siblings Day!

 

Mommy Wars in Mexico

I’ve been thinking about these Mommy Wars that you hear about. (Without social media, would they exist?) Basically, this refers to moms judging one another for what they feed their kids, whether or not they immunize their kids, if they use cloth or regular diapers, if their boys are circumsized or not… The list goes on.

Well, if the Mommy Wars were Mexican they would different. They wouldn’t be about breastfeeding, childbirth, or food. Nope, this is what makes the list:

1). Does your kid wear shoes or go barefoot?
2). Do you cover your babies up sufficiently–even in 100 degree weather?
3). Does your kid bath, swim, or play in cool water?
4). Do you give your kids cold drinks or ice cream?
5). Do you coddle your kids enough or do you expect some independence?
6). Does everything get -ito attached to the end when talking to children? (Platito, besito, amorcito, etc.)

Basically, Mommy Wars don’t exist here because you don’t have to be a mommy to tell others what they should do with their kids. Mommy Wars at home refers to women feeling judged. Rarely does someone actually say, “Hey, woman, you shouldn’t sleep with your two year old.” Here? There are no boundaries…

If Juan Venada (John Doe) saw me carrying Ale without a blanket covering her mouth, he would feel the need to tell me what to do. Once a lady stopped her car on the street to give us her sweatshirt for the baby. Basically, if you are living and breathing, that gives you the right to tell people your opinion about raising children in Mexico.

Mommy Wars? I don’t think so… These are Pueblo Wars.