Reality bites?

Our culture, our society, the media, our peers and basically everything that surrounds us in the day to day of our little lives teaches us that babies are a happy thing. Babies are a miraculous event we should all be grateful for and everything associated with this is meant to be positive. I’m not here to disagree with all of this. After all, there’s something unprecedented about having a baby and realizing that there’s a little human being now alive because of you.

But I’m writing this post because I need to point out that not everything is peaches and cream when a baby is born. I want to say this because, in light of what appears to be a baby boom where many people I know are having children right around the same time I did, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that my instant reaction to having a baby didn’t quite mirror theirs. Theirs being the reaction we “expect,” the reaction we’ve seen and the reaction we’ve been taught: sincere happiness, marvel and wonder, immediate bonding and acceptance of all that surrounds the new bundle.

Sweet mother-newborn moment. Photo via Lifepregnancy.com

Woe is me. Photo via Television Trope
As mentioned in previous posts, I did a whole lot of reading during my pregnancy in order to “prepare” for what was “expected.” Every good pregnancy book will have a chapter on “Baby Blues” and postpartum depression. Bored, I skipped over those chapters. In fact, I incorrectly thought that postpartum depression was triggered because the mother “missed” being pregnant and I was certain that wouldn’t be the case with me since the last few weeks of my pygmy hippo-ness was chalk full of aches and pains. I figured, I’ve never been a truly depressive person (minus the abyss of eternal despair I’d throw myself into post break ups in the past) and the idea of being depressed, in every sense of the word, just didn’t register with me. Those weren’t the experiences I had heard about and it wasn’t something that ANYONE I knew even remotely hinted about. That type of thing happened to lonely, depressive, crazy cat women, who fell into loveless marriages at a young age.

Um, except it DID happen to me and let me just say, it was UUUUUUUGLY. Now, before your imagination starts running wild, I wasn’t psycho depressed, a la wanting to hurt my baby type of thing. No way, no how. I guess that now that I know how desperate things can seem, I am grateful that that extreme kind of postpartum depression (PPD) didn’t affect me. But it was bad enough that I began to question my own sanity and I wondered if I’d ever smile or laugh again and feel truly happy about anything. Perhaps this sounds dramatic and unnecessary and to that I say, F off!!! You have no idea what it’s like to have a baby and not feel motherly about it. Quite the contrary, in fact: feel as if it’s the end of the world as you know it.

I know that this doesn’t totally make sense. After all, you might say “hey, you were preggo for nine months and had nine whole months to get used to the fact that you were going to be a mom and have to worry 24/7 about this baby.” Except I’m here to REPEAT that no amount of time, studying, reflecting, reading or investigating actually prepares you for life with a baby. The before and after are so close together, it’s almost a mind f*ck to remember that just the OTHER DAY, you could come and go as you pleased and didn’t have to worry about a crying baby next to you.

I would cry every single day and wonder what was wrong with me. I couldn’t feel happy about the baby because I felt as if it was a little stranger and, even worse, that I was a stranger to my own self! Who was this person who now had to worry about breastfeeding and diaper changes and crying babies and color of poop (hers, not mine)? In a sense, it was as if I was in mourning and “what” I was mourning was my former life and my former self. That person, in a sense, had “died” when my new role as mom was appointed to me. Add to the fact that no one tells you that how lonely the first few weeks can truly be. Yeah, people come by and visit you and that’s always appreciated, but in my case I just felt like they were visiting me in prison and I envied their freedom. It depressed me that I couldn’t go out, not even with the baby because of the cold weather. If you’re not used to being home 24/7 with the sole responsibility of taking care of a newborn, then all of a sudden doing so becomes your own personal hell realized. I felt lonely – as if I was truly the only person I knew walking through the strange land of being a new mom (at that point, I was.)

What society would do to me (in my head) for not embracing momdom. Photo via pinealeye.com
Adding insult to injury is the guilt you feel for not embracing motherhood the way it seems that everyone else embraces motherhood. Facebook might tell a million lies via happy pictures that everyone (incl myself) upload to their pages but it was exactly those pictures I recalled of smiling moms with their newborns in my Facebook feed that made me feel like I was the worst woman – worst MOM – in the world. I was certain that if we lived several hundred years back, I’d be burned at the stake like the witch I was for not reacting “properly” to the birth of my daughter or not wholeheartedly embracing my new role as a parent.

Yeah, those were some tough times that I don’t wish upon anyone. I know it sounds weird… after all, society makes us question “how can a new mom not instantly love her baby?” As I said, I’m thankful my PPD wasn’t as extreme as it could have been and I was by NO MEANS near reaching the horror of Andrea Yates. But I was sad and I was scared. I felt lonely and overwhelmed and I felt that if anyone besides my family and G knew, that I’d be horribly judged.

So then … can I tickle you pink with a story of a happy ending? Part of the reason as to why I waited this long to write about my experience post my daughter’s birth is so that I could genuinely give you hope for yourself as a future mom who may go through something similar … everyone said this to me and I didn’t believe it at the time, but now I can jump on the bandwagon and tell you – remind myself – that IT GETS BETTER!! In my case, the first step was putting aside the fear of judgement (my own and by others) and merely recognizing that I wasn’t feeling what I wanted to feel or reacting how I wanted to react. I had to trust others, namely my doctor and my husband, and accept help in all of the required forms (there are many options that a medical professional can explain). I also had to help myself and though it was hard, I’m now writing from a position where I can look at my daughter and want to hug her and kiss her, just as I always imagined I’d do. Of course the passing of time helps immensely – now I can go out with her! We run errands, go out to lunch, get our Starbucks fix, etc, etc all with baby in tow. It’s how it should be. I’ve also returned to my pre-baby routines at home, something we all take for granted but something vital I had put aside unknowingly when I was in the midst of the PPD.

With the passage of time and with the help of my doctor and husband, things got better. Things are GETTING better (to the tune of baby sleeping longer stretches and for me, learning the ropes – yay!) and I’m happy to say that I’m closer to my former self than I’ve felt since my little 9-pound human was born. Pretty soon, I’ll be going back to work and though I’m sure it will be another hard transition, I’m very much looking forward to it: A return to a role I recognize from my “former” life.

At the end of they day I feel that I went through hell and back when I became a mom, but I reached the light at the end of the tunnel. While it’s hard work and still somewhat overwhelming, I embrace the fact that since going through this, I’ve been empowered to get through ANYTHING – and just in time as I head back to the corporate world (don’t mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns!)

So to answer my own question, does reality bite? THANK F*CKING GOODNESS, NO, REALITY DOESN’T BITE. Not anymore.

Did you like this? Share it:

My Labor Story (complete with Q & A)

I talked about it, I wrote about it, I griped about it. I feared for the day and lamented the day. I had anxiety everyday for the past two months over it and imagined the worst-case scenario with every article I read about it.

Then finally, on April 30th, I lived through it. “It” being actually giving birth – me, the person who has had the recurring anxiety dream since I was a teenager that I all of a sudden go into labor without previously knowing I was pregnant. No joke, I spent years haunted by this dream so you can imagine what the thought of giving birth did to me in real life.

This is not the labor you've heard about....

At first I didn’t want to believe I was going into labor, but the pain, which felt like taking a brutal hit with a baseball bat right to my lower back was different from all the other pains I had experienced in the last two months of pregnancy. Still, my attitude was “sit and keep watch.” The reality was that I didn’t want to be going into labor. First of all, it was nighttime and if there was ANYTHING I had repeatedly hoped for was to go into labor during the day. You know, so I could count on a full night’s sleep and proceed with energy the following day for the labor portion of the agenda. The mere thought of being up all night in pain just made me want to crawl into bed and sleep. And that’s exactly what I did. After a long, hot shower – where yet again I was met with a debilitating pain I can now recognize as contractions – I crawled into bed and decided that this wasn’t labor, but instead, false labor known as Braxton Hicks contractions.

Yes my good people, I tried to Jedi-mind trick myself into thinking that I was NOT going into labor. This mind over matter exercise I was putting into practice was destined to fail, of course. I was obviously in labor and as much as I tried to carry on with my evening as if there was nothing to see here, this baby was RSVP-ing her appearance to the outside world in a matter of hours.

And speaking of … one always hears these cray cray stories about women being in labor for a million and a half hours. To the unknowing mind, this sounds like one is doing the stuff seen on tv the entire time – i.e. pushing and sweating and hurting for 30+ hours. The reality is that labor involves the ENTIRE process of giving birth, and the pushing, sweating part, is a small fraction of the process. Also, it’s not bloody and it’s not painful (that is, if you have a lifesaver called an epidural.) Don’t get me wrong, before the epidural I was in the most painful state of my life. I didn’t realize that something could hurt that much. I always used to wonder: “What do contractions feel like?” and I’ve read answers that state “like really bad menstrual cramps.” UM – WRONG!!! It’s like really bad menstrual cramps times 5,000. No, times a million. Then imagine a baseball bat being involved, hitting you right where it hurts most – and hard! And it’s not just your lower stomach but also your entire torso! It’s a sharp pain that starts either in your abs and immediately grabs your back, or vice versa. In any case, your back is involved which makes it ridiculously difficult to “walk it off” as many sites tend to suggest. You can barely stand up straight, let alone walk it off. I also tried to breathe through it but that was a joke as well. Whoever suggested either of those as possible solutions to the pain was clearly a Birkenstock-wearing, hippy.

In any case, my labor story started off like this and continued on until 5:56 am when the little pygmy hippo made her debut out here. Between the time elapsed with the details above and the actual time of birth, a total of 10 hours passed. Of these 10 hours, 5 were spent in complete and total, utter and relentless, pain. For all those who are interested, I’d really like to address some true-to-life questions about how it all went down between the Jedi-mind trick, the contractions and the actual birth. To do so, I think the best way would be via a Q&A of the top questions I’ve been asked about the whole ordeal. If there’s one thing I won’t do is sugarcoat it so here it is, in all its gutsy glory.

My Labor Story Q & A:

Q. Does your water really “break?” Because that sounds gross.
A. I don’t know if your water will break but mine didn’t “break” … it kind of just sprung a leak. Since tampons are forbidden during this time, I had to bust out the woman diapers – I mean, the maxi pads – which was all kinds of gross. But in short, no, I didn’t all of a sudden gush the new Niagra Falls from in between my legs. It just felt like I had my period – and I was 12 again, with a big ol’ pad to weather the storm.

Holy OUCH!! via nysora.com

Q. What does the epidural feel like? Does it really NOT hurt because I call bullshit!
A. Let’s get one thing straight – the actual insertion of the epidural hurt like a MOTHERFUCKER. Like seriously, I burst into tears. I wasn’t sure if the contractions hurt more or if that ginormous whatever-you-call-it being inserted between two discs in my spine hurt more. It wasn’t just a prick, wham, bam – pain is gone in two seconds type of thing either. It hurt, then it hurt some more, then it REALLY hurt, then I thought I’d pass out from the hurt and just for shits and giggles, it hurt one last time. And then all of a sudden ….nothing. Bliss. Heaven on Earth. Zen. In.the.zone. Call it what you will, all of a sudden after 5 hours of intense pain and then 10 minutes of spinal cord pain – no pain. Ahhhhh, the almighty epidural. Trust me when I tell you that despite the pain of it going in, the relief you feel afterward is SO worth it. And no, seriously, you don’t feel the pain of the contractions.

Q. You pushed a 6 pound baby out of your va-jay-jay… tell the truth – are you a disfigured mess down there or what?
A. Oh the vaginal birth … good for quick healing, bad for your post-baby sex life? On the contrary, my dear friend! That is, if you have a doctor like the one I had who made sure that after all was said and done, I was neatly put “back in my place” so to speak. I didn’t know it before, but birth is a sure way to leave your inhibitions at the door. What I mean is that there is NO ONE – NO ONE – within a 10-foot radius of you, who doesn’t take a gander at your hoo-ha at some point or another throughout the ordeal. Most of these people will take a gander repeatedly throughout the three days you’re in the hospital (clinica). It gets to the point where you just spread eagle for anyone who walks through the door, just to save time. All this is normal, of course. What I found to be off-your-rocker strange is the fact that EVERYONE wanted to see the stitches of the episiotomy … and what’s more, they wanted to see them because it was my doctor who had performed the procedure – they all agreed, he does “fantastic” work. Never before, and probably never again, have I had so many people oooh and ahhh in splendor at my nether region. Amidst the bloated middle, disheveled hair, makeup-less face and swollen feet, I could rest assured that my hoo-ha was left in top-notch condition. Thank you, Dr. Alcalde! I salute you.

Q. Holy shit!! You had an episiotomy???!!! What the hell?
A. Yeah, I know, crazy. And no, I wasn’t expecting it and no, the doctor didn’t tell me about it until right AS HE WAS PERFORMING it. However, I didn’t feel anything (all hail the mighty epidural) as it occurred and so, it would be a lie to tell you that it hurt. What DID hurt was the healing!! OMG it hurt. I couldn’t sit straight for about 5 days and the first few days were awful! But at that point, the baby was out, I was in recovery and apparently my hoo-ha was looking spectacular – what was the point in complaining?

Q. Is the post birth bleeding “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” style?
A. Good Lord, where did you hear that? Actually, yes and no. The first few days it is … then it’s not. Then it’s like a normal heavy period that eventually gets lighter. You’ll survive. I did.

Larger than life. via Wikipedia.org

Q. So that means you have to wear those “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” pads that the hospital gives you?
A. Yeah and they suck. It’s like you’re walking around with a throw pillow between your legs. I wasn’t a fan and I don’t think you will be either. You’ll feel better knowing that by the time I left the hospital, I didn’t need the throw pillow pads anymore so you just have to suck it up for a few days.

Q. So you gave birth to an actual human being – do you now have feelings of self-entitlement? Are you all “I am woman, hear me roar” now?
A. Listen buddy, I’m not sure I like your attitude! But since you asked, no, I don’t feel entitled just because I’m able to make a person and pop her out. Yes, when I think about how crazy it is that a woman’s body knows exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it, I find it downright miraculous. But after the fact, when the baby is out and you’re faced with actually having to care for it, your ass is kicked from here to Albuquerque in such a way, that any feelings of smugness quickly fade. In fact, it’s the worst “standing-naked-in-front-of-the-classroom” equivalent because you are vulnerable, have no idea what you’re doing and all of a sudden realize you’re faced with the greatest challenge (and opportunity) in your life. There is no smugness to be had when all you feel is, quite simply, humbled. Scared and humbled.

And that, my friend, is where you find yourself immediately after giving birth. But that’s a story for another day.

Did you like this? Share it:

End of the road

I’ve been consumed with doctor’s appointments this week and visits to the clinica (hospital) for one thing or another. Why? I guess there comes a moment in some pregnancies where the woman’s body just says “peace out” or “get this ball of baby out of here because it’s literally cramping my style.” This is what seems to be happening with me and as a result, my doctor has turned the hourglass over on this journey called pregnancy.

Like sands in the hourglass .... via 411onsoaps.com

And when I say hourglass, I mean that the days are numbered. By that I mean either tomorrow, Thursday, or next Monday, at the latest. Are you getting what I’m telling you? It means that by THIS TIME NEXT WEEK I’LL BE A MOM. Let’s ponder that for a second….

When one first embarks on this journey (again, if you’re like me), you spend a bit of time trying to wrap your mind around the fact that you’re now one of those women who breeds. You spend an equal amount of time trying to come to terms with the fact that you can no longer enjoy the glass of wine that made all lousy days bearable. Just when you need that glass of vino most, all of a sudden it’s one of the biggest no-no’s around. That and caffeine. Just like that, your morning and evening drinks are no longer applicable to your body’s new role of “baby making.”

After that initial shock and disbelief, what happened with me is that I just kind of “forgot” that I was pregnant. I use the term “forgot” quite loosely because the reality is that I took care of myself, signed up for all kinds of preggo lady newsletters, downloaded apps on my phone, went to all the necessary appointments, took all the necessary tests (pin cushion, anyone?) and took all the required vitamins (and we’re not talking the Flintstones anymore) expected of a mom-to-be. I took on the role of pregnant lady like I would take on any other responsibility and I did it as completely as possible. So what do I mean by “forgot?” I mean that I didn’t go all agro crazy about the baby. In fact it was during this time that G and I took our fabu vacation to Southeast Asia. This was followed by the craziest three months at work where I literally ate, breathed and slept all things work. In short, I didn’t buy baby things, or think about baby names or decorate the bedroom or even imagine in the slightest what the baby would be like. I wasn’t consumed at all and kind of took an “out of sight, out of mind” stance to it all.

This was a fine and dandy strategy until riiiiiiight around January of this year when we moved from our first apartment together to the one we’re in now, a move motivated exclusively by the arrival of this bundle. But even during this time, the reality of the pregnancy and the baby didn’t really, truly, sit in. I mean, sure, we all of a sudden had a physical space for the baby by way of an actual room, but up until a month ago, said room was really a storage area where G kept his tools. Even Obi wasn’t too sure what to make of that room and decided that it was the perfect place to poop on the newly rolled out carpet – hey, when in doubt use it as a bathroom.

I guess that the real “culprit” as to why I haven’t really registered this pregnancy as perhaps a “normal” woman would is that I’ve thankfully felt fine throughout the entire ordeal. It really wasn’t until about 3 weeks ago that I started to feel horrible (thank goodness for government backed maternity leave) and since I worked until the very last day the Chilean government and my employer would allow me to work, my mind was on other things: things I know, things I’m familiar with, things I’m good at. In between of course I read everything under the sun (“What to Expect When You’re not Sure What to Expect,” “What to Expect of Yourself When You’re Expecting to Blow It,” “What to Expect of a Baby with Expectations,” “When Expecting is not What you Expected Unabridged version” “Low Expectations, High Expectations and Baby in Between” etc, etc, what have you) and in reading found out way too much information about va-jay-jays, secretions, stretching and tearing and pooping when you least expect it. So what I’m saying here is this: I prepared as best I could but in reality, I prepared as if I were going into a final exam at the end of the nine months where I’d be tested on all things studied.

Here's what I imagined via Babble Blogs: Strollerderby

Except, now I know that this isn’t really going to go down like I thought (and by that I mean “read”) it would.
I hope I’m not alone in revealing that BEFORE this whole preggo ordeal I imagined birth to be like in the movies: blood, screaming, gooey, disgusting mess and total unexpected craziness. In the movies, the water breaks, the lady starts with her blood curdling screams, we fast forward to a sterile, cold birthing room, blood splattered walls, more screaming and then a slimy baby popping out from the hoo-ha. In fact it would seem that the first part of my experience isn’t going to catch me off guard at all. I had these visions that I’d be walking around the grocery store and then SPLASH!! – said water breaking and everyone around me slipping and sliding to avoid a gross encounter. I imagined having to call G detailing how “far apart” the contractions were coming and subsequently speeding down the highway so as not to pop a baby out in a car down by the river.

I know that this preggo journey is going to be over either tomorrow or, at the latest, Monday. I feel like I’ve had a total of one month to mentally prepare for this and, OF COURSE, I don’t feel prepared. I should feel like I’ve had months and months to prepare but because of my own idiosyncrasy, I didn’t afford myself this luxury of time. But then again, who’s to say that I didn’t actually do myself a favor? I mean, birth and having a baby isn’t something that one can “study” or “train” for. In fact, nine times out of ten, each time I read something, I end up freaking out or imagining a worst case scenario version of whatever I happened to have just read. What I mean by all this is, had I afforded myself the time to marinate on the pending momdom that’s fast approaching me, I would have ended up more neurotic than I already am. Despite this, I know that sitting on this side of pregnancy, a day will come when I’m on the OTHER side (i.e. with baby outside) and I’ll think back to this period and kick myself for not having known better. Even now I know that I should have embraced it more, but in the moment I just couldn’t.

And so, where do I stand given that possibly tomorrow (or Monday at the latest) a baby (A BABY!!!) that’s been a-cookin’ for the past 9+ months will make its debut? Yes, I’m scared – there’s just no way around that. However, I can’t say I’m not armed with information. If there’s something that I’ve been doing it’s reading every single day about every single possible topic related to pregnancy, newborns, bringing home baby, pooping and all that’s in between. If I were to be tested on this matter, I’d pass with flying colors, win a spanking brand new baby and a year’s supply of Turtle Wax 5-in-1 Fresh Shine Protectant. Pass me the Scantron, my #2 pencil is sharpened!

I seriously can’t believe that this period of my life is almost over. I’m not gung-ho-happy-to-be-preggo lady but it’s a time in my life that will never happen again – kind of how I view my wedding. I’m glad I have pictures of that so I can look back and remember “Oh yeah” about all the details. And speaking of pictures, throughout this pregnancy I never really shared any pictures of my pygmy hippo-ness … well, for the sake of posterity, here are a few:

6.5 months

7.5 months

9 months (with my numba one stunna)

Did you like this? Share it:

The Brady Bunch only exists without exes

I don’t consider myself to be a stepmom in any sort of way, even though I guess that yeah, the fact of the matter IS that I’m technically a stepmom, given that my husband has children from his previous marriage. But the whole idea behind the term “stepmom” is so cliché, I get nauseous at the mere thought of it. Just thinking of the typical image of the woman who has no children of her own, all of a sudden trying to be a mom, just makes me think of Baroness Schraeder playing ball with the Von Trapp kids (yes, one more of the million references to the movie “The Sound of Music” – so sue me.)

I won’t get into detailed specifics of the dynamics between my husband and his ex, nor will I get into exact specifics of my role either. Suffice it to say that the mother of my husband’s kids (also known as “b*tch face” in my small circle of me, myself and I) is equatable to a fascist dictator (according to me) and even if she isn’t physically with us on the weekends the kids do spend time in our home, trust me, she’s nevertheless omnipresent.

In the beginning of this journey, I was rather accepting of the separation and distinction made between their mom, their dad, them and me. G lived a separate life, according to me back then, when they were around. While he made plans with them with hope of including me, I always politely declined, hiding behind the excuse “no, no, this is YOUR time with them.” Literally there would be weekends when we’d barely see each other and barely had conversations. A combination of demanding kids and impatient Wife #2 didn’t make for easily accessible family time for G. Back then, the ex was more of a b*tch face than I can honesty say she is now – mostly due to the fact that she apparently has a significant other to now love/torture and has withdrawn from loving/torturing my husband – so it was much easier to draw a clear line between “that’s you guys” and this is me. In correlated events, as the fascist mother of the kids has (presumably) been diverted by the sweet smell of love with someone else, she’s become less of a presence in our home with the kids here and less of a bother and anchor around the neck when the kids aren’t here.

As time marched on, as love blossomed for b.f., and as I spent more time with the kids, I got past seeing them as the “offspring” of a “mad love affair” between my husband and his ex. (The reality is that the term “mad” applies but not “love” nor does “affair”) and began seeing them as just them. Two kids with their own personalities. I remove the thought of their mom from our time spent together because it angers me to see how she holds the noose above their heads and how she must be so invasive, that the kids think twice about any move they make with me. It’s a little more seamless now but nonetheless apparent and it’s just sickening to think that a mother is that controlling. And to circle back to my first thought, this is the main reason I don’t feel like I’m a stepmom. The iron hand of the law has far reaches into the minds of its subjects and as such, there is no room for a third party to: 1) educate or offer insight 2) offer alternate thinking 3) lead by example. There is only room for a third party to offer fun. When I choose and when circumstances allow for it, that’s all I’m really, truly a part of – something fun (whether that be introducing them to Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas, introducing them to Monopoly, playing Wii or watching – you guessed it – “The Sound of Music.”)

Unfortunately there are times, like today, when I’m reminded how in reality, there IS a clear line dividing us. Sadly, when that division is apparent, I’m the cheese that stands alone. For some reason or another, the kids’ school doesn’t do their dieciocho celebrations in September when all the other schools do them. They do them in October. Specifically today. In traditional fashion, by class, kids dance typical Chilean dances in full costume for the parents of the entire student body. G, accompanied by his mother, took his kids and I’m of course, left behind. It’s an unspoken rule that shouts from the top of the Andes Mountains: I’m not to be involved or included in these types of things. It doesn’t help that the kids’ mom is actually a teacher at the school they attend but I’m pretty sure that even if she didn’t work there, I’d still have to stay behind the invisible line that divides “his family” from “our family.” I don’t think it will ever change. In fact, a close friend of mine who married into a similar situation finally stood her ground when the youngest of her husband’s sons graduated HIGH SCHOOL! From the time she met his son at the age of 6, she’d missed every single school event, every single performance, every important soccer game. Clearly forced to watch from behind the line. I give her props for standing her ground on his high school graduation. As she clearly stated “Si no le gusta que este, mala suerte.” (If she doesn’t like that I’m here, too bad.)

At what point does it really, truly become a blended family, I wonder? It’s obviously not when the stepmom decides and it could very well be difficult for the kids in between to decide. Does that only leave the option for the first marriage to decide? Can we discuss how unfair that sounds for the now-wife? Then I wonder if it’s about the ex-wife deciding because she happens to hold the reins. Or does the husband decide that it’s ok to include his wife, opting to literally show the ex that she can go straight to hell if she disagrees? I’m at a loss.

G argues that I wouldn’t want to go to their show anyway. True, I’d find it boring as most kid shows are to me. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be cute or, at the very least, entertaining to see their pint-sized selves dance typical Chilean dances. However it’s not an option for me either way. Which is the reason I’m sitting on this side of the dividing line, writing a blog, waiting for my dog’s trainer to arrive.

Did you like this? Share it:

I choose my choice!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject of kids lately, trying to come to terms with the fact that more than half of the people I went to either grammar school, high school or college with are now parents and I’m nowhere near the task. Arguably I’m more “ahead of that game” than an unmarried, otherwise single, counterpart I suppose, but mentally I’m no further ahead than I was when I graduate college. Obviously many personal factors contribute to this: 1) adjusting to a new country 2) analysis of the disadvantages thrown at mothers in the workforce, specifically in this country and 3) trying to have a couple’s life prior to the kiddo scenario, considering I married at a much later age. All of the above are important factors to consider prior to embarking on the role of a lifetime (i.e. parenthood), the most pressing of all, to me, is the stunted career I’ll have if I don’t play my cards right.

Then today I came across yet another variable to this ever-present “Maybe Kids … yes…no….when….what” library of questions. This article published earlier this month in New York Magazine entitled “All Joy and No Fun. Why parents hate parenting.” And before half the readers of this blog jump to defend the institution of kids and parenting, let me clarify that I am neither bashing, nor supporting this article. What I am doing is adding it to my database of “food for thought on” and “things to consider before.” Besides, there’s some great writing to be found in this article and it seems very well supported, siting numerous studies and books that speak into the subject of happiness, kids, relationships and parenting. I’m never one to pass up a good read and just because the subject is laced with controversy only makes me love it more (hence, I’m promoting your reading of it.)

It’s surprising to read that one study after another shows that having kids DOES NOT make women, men and couples happier. In fact, as far as couple’s are concerned, marital satisfaction takes a tumble once kids are born (though parents of babies and toddlers will be happy to know that this satisfaction increases between your kid’s ages of 6-12 … then plummets again when they’re teenagers – go figure.) Yeah, as a species it makes sense that we want to procreate, pass our genes on, contribute to a legacy, etc, etc but as individuals, this article really challenges the notion of whether as PEOPLE, cultural and social people, it ever makes sense to have kids.

And what’s the main reason behind the unpleasant view on parenting itself? We’ve become robots of perfection, buckling under the pressure of “not good enough” and transferring it on to the kids! In January I posted this, describing the competitive landscape of where I lived in California and this is exactly the kind of stuff that makes being a parent intolerable. This article states that before urbanization, kids were considered an asset to economic growth since they worked the farmland next to you or worked in the shop/small family business owned by the parents. Their existence had a purpose that propelled the entire family forward. Nowadays, children are not regarded in the same capacity, seen more so as “subjects to be sculpted, stimulated, instructed, groomed” in order to promote the creation of supreme beings by the skillful hands of the parents. It’s not enough to have the big house, fancy car and European family trips – your kids need to be the personification of success just as the yacht might be.

Sounds like a lot of pressure to me. No wonder parents are stressed out and no wonder kids are stressed out. I’ve seen it first hand (and this article mentions it as well), but kids these days are over-scheduled. Can you believe such a notion? And to think that I had hours and hours of free time to play and pretend and cut coupons out of the newspaper so that I could play bank … with myself.

Geez, what a disadvantage I’ve created waiting this long to have kids. I’ve chosen to work on me, my career, my education, my life and now when I have kids, I’ll know exactly what I’m missing when I can’t focus on all of the aforementioned points. It’s different when young adults leave their parents house and shortly thereafter become parents. Chances are they haven’t had much time to notice what they’ll be missing once they do have kids.

Incidentally, when I finished reading this article it immediately occurred to me to Google the exact same phrase/notion in Spanish, specifically searching Chilean websites. I came across a lot of articles on the INABILITY to have kids, an article on couples choosing pets over kids (from a site called “Conciencia Animal” or “Animal Consciousness,” an article on a woman who dated a guy forever who didn’t want to have kids and who then ended up having kids with the woman he had a relationship with after her … and finally, at the very bottom of the first Google page, an article from Cosmo (hardly a Chilean publication) speaking to the notion of “So what if I don’t want kids?” In this very quick search (and I cannot stress enough how very quickly this search occurred), I did come across an article from a newspaper from the South of Chile called “Diario El Sur” where the writer speaks about the “dilemma” associated with the decision of having kids or not and how three entities affect this decision one way or another: 1) dedication to one’s career, 2) the “voice” of the Church, 3) contraception. But the best article I came across on Chilean sites (again, in my ever-so-quick search) talks about how the decision to have fewer kids is an active decision by educated adults who wish to focus on responsible parenting. Blogs, of course, provide a wealth of varying opinions on the matter and this one speaks quite candidly on the stance of “not wanting to be a mother someday.” Still, I have to say that the majority of the articles that come up when I Google “Tener hijos hace feliz?” or “Having kids makes one happy?” are about infertility, lower birth rates and selfish individuals. Check it out and see for yourself!

Just for the record folks, I’m not anti having kids. In fact, I’ve made reference to my relatively pro stance on the matter in the past. I do, however, find it quite interesting that the reality is SO different than what the marketers want you to believe. Parenting, in short, seems to kind of suck.

The Nestle’s, Proctor & Gamble’s and milk companies of this world (among so many other consumer products companies that exist), want you to believe that being a mom is the best job you’ll ever have … that’s the only way they’ll get you to buy that product that will FOR SURE prove to all the other parents that you’re the world’s best mom (or dad!) These companies market their products by speaking to the “proud parent” in all of you: you want your kids whites to be whiter than all the rest, right? Buy Tide! You want your kids to grow up with the healthiest bones so they can kick the goal at the last minute and win that soccer game, right? Then buy the yogurt! We build strong bones! The marketing to the inner proud parent is endless and so it’s NO WONDER (in my opinion) that one can barely find material on NOT having kids here in Chile. After all, in reference to my blog last week, the proud parent can be ABC1 or D – here is a motivating factor (to purchase a product) that doesn’t discriminate.

Anyway, I’m all over the place today and feel that I’ve covered many topics. I’d like to take this opportunity to focus my thoughts and note that my feelings can best be described by one of Charlotte York’s finer moments in Sex and the City, where she’s arguing with Miranda on her decision to quit her job in order to focus on being a wife. Whether you agree with Miranda on how socially acceptable doing that ultimately is, Charlotte has a point when she yells:

“I choose my choice!! I choose my choice, I choose my choice!”


That’s all we really want.

Did you like this? Share it:

The question always asked

I thought I’d shed a little 411 – or at least some subjective perspective – on the question of G’s kids. It’s the question that always comes up and even if it doesn’t, it’s the question that people quietly ponder. How is it with the kids … or, how do you feel about the kids?

G has kids from his previous marriage. Like many couples in Chile, post-college marriage is the next step for a couple who has been dating for years. This was the case with G and lucky for me (perhaps not so lucky for the former wife), things didn’t work out as the case may be for many. Sh*t happens. Mainly it’s that Chile has these crazy societal pressures about getting married if you’ve been with someone longer than 2 years. Or maybe it’s the lack of opportunities present at the time being, that marriage seems like a viable option. Not to belittle that LOVE might actually be a player in this decision, the fact of the matter is that MANY times, it’s not love as we like to think of it (romantic, butterflies-in-stomach, can’t-breathe-without-eachother kind of love.) Though I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that the love I just put in parenthesis up there is the kind of love we feel right now … I’m so blessed to have gotten married with THAT kind of love. I’m not going to pretend to know the kind of love that existed when G married the first time, at the tender age of 25, but I CAN attest that it was NOT the kind of love we have for each other.

Then again we’re older – I’m 33, he’s 34. We’ve seen the world – literally been to countries on the other side of the globe. We’ve worked our a**es off in our careers to advance as much as possible. We’ve looked for higher education – these are all things that weren’t present in his first relationship as a husband that are present now. Experience, age, wisdom, desire to succeed, worldliness. Call it what you will, my point here is to build a picture for you, the reader, of the differences in time, people and circumstances surrounding his first marriage and his second (and final) marriage to me.

What occurred in the first marriage that is for now absent in our marriage is the subject of this blog: his children. He has one little girl and one little boy, born respectively.

My objective thoughts on them are these: they are very well-behaved, highly educated, highly charismatic children. If I were to hold any feelings of contempt for his ex-wife, I’m not an idiot and can recognize that she has done an exceptional job with their children. They are, in short, pleasant. Of course Gonzalo deserves credit as well, but be it as it may, laws in Chile don’t usually allow for joint custody, split 50-50 and as such, the kids spend the majority of their time with their mother. I’m right in saying “Hats off” to her for how she has influenced her children for the most part.

Hand-in-hand goes how G has been as a father. Being the product of divorced parents myself, I can attest that G is by far – literally by far – THE BEST father children from a divorced family could ask for. To say that he’s present as much as allowed by his ex is saying the truth. He calls EVERY DAY – literally every day no matter where in the world he is … that’s when he’s not actually WITH THEM. Otherwise, he has a set schedule of when he’s with them and he adheres to this schedule as much as his life allows him to (considering he travels for work and sometimes travels with me as in honeymoon). But even then, he always plans any trip considering the weekends he has the two kids. And when he’s with them it’s not simply “ok here’s the DVD player, what movie do you guys want to see?” It’s full on INTERACTION. Whether it’s planning an educational trip (like the zoo), or a family lunch with his mom and brother or just playing Wii – he’s RIGHT THERE with them, always. I simply can’t reiterate it enough – he’s an amazing father to his kids. AMAZING. And even THAT word falls short.

So what’s it like for this gringa to be a third wheel in all this? I’m not gonna lie – it ain’t easy, kid. Selfishly, I want G all to myself. Even at my own wedding, I feel I danced with him and was PHYSICALLY with him less than 50% of the time. That’s hard for any new bride at her wedding; I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Further, as with most little girls and their fathers, his daughter adores him and wants him all to HERSELF. After all, she doesn’t get to live with him 24/7 like I do. This means that when I’m with him and they’re here, there are no me-and-him seconds … the kids have radars that go off if I come within two feet of him! I’m exaggerating here but it’s as if this were indeed the case. I make it a point to be more distant when they’re around (so as allow father-child time and not interfere) but the second I forget that distance and move in for the hubby/wifey time with a mere kiss – INCOMING!! Children are at our feet … with no particular point or question in mind … just that they want to be present more so than I am in his eyes.

If you think about it for a second from my perspective I hope you understand how awkward this can be. I will understand your gut reaction to defend their actions and reactions so I hope you take JUST ONE second to empathize with the awkwardness that ensues all around me when the kids are around. I’m this random third wheel. Yes, their dad didn’t live with their mom for many years before I came around so (THANKFULLY) I’m not the woman who “replaced mommy.” But instead, I’m the woman who stole their dad’s time and 100% devotion. So there’s this CRAZY competition for his attention.

Competition is the wrong word because it implies that I participate. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I SO don’t participate, that I go in the extreme opposite direction and basically build my own life and agenda on the days the kids are here. My thought being “Go, be with your dad! Run wild and free. I’m peacing out.” Which of course, to G, is a nightmare. Basically our main reasons for arguing is this that I’ve just described. I go one way, he goes another with his kids … but he’d rather that I go WITH him in the direction he goes with his kids when they’re here.

I know it’s the logical thing to do, the family thing to do (after all, he and I are now family), the RIGHT and loving thing to do … but I’m not there yet.

For us, I hope to get there sooner rather than later. I know he suffers when I distance myself because he misses me just like I miss him. The weekends the kids are with us literally feel like days I haven’t seen him. Yes, we’re in the same apartment, sleep in the same bed and basically move around the same areas, but it’s NOT the same.

I hope time bridges this gap and eases all awkwardness.

Did you like this? Share it:

The (pre)kid post

No, I’m not PG.

So while we’re on the subject of kids (from my mention on the previous blog post), I thought it would be a really good idea to officially document how I feel about the little earthlings now that I don’t actually have any.

This is kind of like a list I made back in the day on a regular piece of paper that I can no longer find … grrr … it basically listed bullet points of the different things I hoped to accomplished 1 month, 3 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and 15 years from when I started the list. I was 25… so you can understand why I’m so annoyed I can’t find it! I’m almost at the 10-year point! I hope I’ve accomplished something!

Anyhoosers, my point is that I’d like to document how I feel about the idea of kids and my thoughts on having them or not having them. Someday in reading this entry, my daughter/son might hate me. If that’s the case, err… sorry kid. I can’t help that I have very extreme and sometimes conflicting views on procreating today in March 2010.

Here’s my first thought on the matter: once the kid is here, it’s here for good (barring any atrocious event that I don’t wish on anyone.) In general, the kid is here to stay. That means that FOREVER MORE you have to worry about this other living, breathing thing. I mean, if I have to work around my day in a way that has me home each time Obi needs to eat then I can’t imagine what it takes with a kid! I already feel constricted with Obi and it drives me insane!! Further, you never stop worrying about this being… so it’s like a lifetime of this WORRY you carry around with you. I remind you of my entries regarding G’s kids after the earthquake here in Chile … I mean G was worried sick even though he tried to play it off. For days on end and I wondered how he even functioned!! If that were me, I’d be freaking the F out!! I know myself and I do NOT handle freaking out well. I’m worst-case scenario woman in my head and if I had a kid to add to that equation, I could very well live a lifetime of hyperventilation due to stress. Yeah, that sounds fun.

Putting aside the “WORRY FOREVER” sign up sheet, here’s my second thought on the matter: pretty much you’re responsible for how adjusted or f-ed up the kid is going to be and if he/she grows up to be a contributing, happy person in society. I mean, how many people do you know that are so screwed up because of their parents? I definitely know a few and may count myself in that group every so often. What if you put your kid in too many activities after school in hopes of keeping him/her away from drugs, only to produce an overachiever perfectionist who is anorexic and much too hard on him/herself and deals by cutting his/her arm? Is that worse than drugs? Ack! And for that matter, what’s the right balance of activities? Teach them two languages, put them in a sport and in an art, teach them to meditate and do yoga, all the while taking them to a hill with lots of grass to run wild in, every other day of the week? Will my kid turn out ok then? Should I throw in some Tae-Kwon-Do too? Yeah, yeah, kids don’t come with manuals, blah blah. So then of course, more pressure on the parents!

My third thought on the matter is this: I really love Obi. I wouldn’t give him away at this point, sell him or try to pawn him off in any way, shape or form now that he’s part of our small family. However, I recognize that life before him was much easier and much more comfortable. I realize as well that if I knew then, what I know now, I don’t think I would have acquired him in the first place. Having a dog is a BIG DEAL, more than people think … so I can’t BEGIN TO IMAGINE the big deal that is a kid. Yet I take extremely good care of him, train him, love him, feed him and do all the basic necessities necessary, spoil him and cuddle him … but that doesn’t change the fact that I see him and think “Life was much easier and maybe better (still undecided) before.” Can you imagine if I feel this way with a human being who relies on me for survival and guidance? Hello, insta-bad parent – just add water!

My fourth thought on the matter relates to G and the fact that he has two children from his previous marriage. The person I love already has kids and has experienced first hand all the joy, excitement and fear that goes along with having kids. In fact, he’s even more experienced in basic things like changing diapers and burping (not to mention all the other crap that I can’t even think of because I’m not a parent and have NO idea) than I might ever be! He’s been there, done that. When I go through the “Holy sh*t I’m a parent” freak out/realization, I’ll be alone. I’ll basically be going through all those sentiments solo and that kind of sucks. It’s not his fault of course. He adores his kids, rightfully so, and I adore him for being a good father to his kids.It makes him a better man and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it does affect how I view becoming a parent, I’m not gonna lie. Any maybe it’s my own version of being screwed up by a parent, but I never had a father in my life and the man who IS my father, played favorites with my sister and me. Meaning, he ignored me my entire life and was present for my sister. So in my head I can’t imagine that G could love any other kid more than he loves his own right now. Call me crazy – I might be. But it’s how I feel at times and it’s stuff I think about.

Not all is tainted in such a negative light when it comes to kids, though. I’ve experienced first hand how much joy they bring to a parent’s life and to life in general. I’ve seen it with my mom and how happy I make HER. I’ve seen it with G and his kids and how absolutely happy they make him. I’ve seen it with my sister and my nephews and I’ve experienced it personally with family friends and their three daughters. Point being, I’m not stupid. I GET how having a kid is SO WORTH IT to some in many, many ways. The stress, the worry, the pressure – all of it is worth it and they’d do it all over again, time and time again. I get that and I totally respect that. After all, without parents who feel just that, where would we all be? And personally, I’ve never met anyone in my entire life that I’d want to have kids with more than G. He’s it – the King Bee – the creme de la creme – Mr. Right and I will look no more. That’s how I feel about him and so obviously having a family with him, IF I DISREGARD ALL FOUR POINTS ABOVE, seems like a no-brainer. It’s an immediate “duh! Of course!”

Ah, but that’s the catch, isn’t it? Putting aside all the insecurities, all the pre-conceived notions, all the ideas that your kid won’t be good enough. Shelving them and deciding to go on with your bad self. I’ll most likely have a kid or two, I’m not gonna lie. Yeah I’ll admit already that my life is easier without them … but with G by my side, can it really be that bad? I think not.

Did you like this? Share it: