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.

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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.

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Just keep swimming

What is matronatacion and why should you care?

Actually you needn’t care, not unless you’re a little beached whale like I am these days. However, it’s something that I just recently tried and I thought I’d share my experience with those out there who are looking for information on what it’s like to be preggo in Chile (as an expat). There’s lots of ground to cover on that topic but for now, I’m going to share just a wee bit on matronatacion specifically – or water workouts for (human) preggo pygmy hippos.

Who dat? A pygmy hippo! Cute as a botton. Photo courtesty of Vision O2

[Disclaimer: Now, unless you’re a complete moron, or otherwise desensitized to all things empirically adorable, it’s hard not to notice that pygmy hippos are, in fact, quite cute. This is the reason I use the pygmy hippo as a metaphor for myself and in general, cute preggo ladies. If you’re offended by this, I’ll assume what I asserted in the first sentence of this disclaimer – 1) you’re a moron or 2) you’ve been genetically altered to NOT recognize what is clearly all kinds of adorable. As such, I pity the fool.]

Last week I attended my first matronatacion (water workout) class at MEDS Mall Sport in Las Condes. Actually, this first class has been pending since January, when sweet, sweet, chocolate-covered G gave me eight sessions of these water workouts as a birthday present. Unfortunately it wasn’t until now, that I’m on maternity leave, that I actually had time to trek all the way to BFE Mall Sport in Las Condes for this class.

The class is led by a midwife (midwife assistance and expertise is common practice during most labors here in Chile) and though at first glance it would seem that the purpose of the class is to provide a workout for us pygmys, the reality of the benefits of these classes goes far beyond just providing a cardiovascular, low impact workout for the mom-to-be. The main goals of these workouts are to strengthen the following three areas: ab muscles (for pushing the baby out and, let’s face it, to snap back to pre-preggo shape post popping it out), pelvis (you know, so you don’t break in two when the baby comes rearing its ugly head from in between your legs) and the…ew … perineal area (which is the area that lies somewhere between your hoo-ha and that place they say the sun doesn’t shine. You know, the “money-shot” favored by porno directors the world over.) Apparently mastering these three areas, along with the right kind of breathing and relaxation techniques (in my case, i.e. epidural) make for an “uneventful” and “easy” labor. As such, the midwife that leads these classes believes that working out in the weightlessness that water provides, allows pregnant women to work these three areas successfully in preparation for labor. Other benefits include a healthy, lightweight cardiovascular workout for the mom, enhanced flexibility and increased blood flow to all pertinent areas (wherever those may be.)

Bobbing in the water like little bueys. Photo courtesty of NYT Blogs

Upon further inquiry about water aerobics classes for preggo ladies, I learned that in the U.S. it’s been studied that women who partake in these kinds of exercises are less likely to request pain relievers during labor (i.e. epidurals, for example.) Now, I don’t know if there’s a correlation or not because I don’t know if bobbing about in the water is really going to make me forgo all kinds of medication and entice me to go all natural. I know me and me doesn’t fit in well with the whole 100% natural, granola-esque way of living. I mean, seriously, MORE POWER to those women who do it all natural and for reasons that make sense, even choose to do so submerged in water, but that ain’t me, baby. Here’s where I do see some kind of correlation to the claims: the fact of the matter is that these water aerobic classes are trying. As in any workout, you do repetitive motions so as to “train” muscles and build endurance for longer hauls. I was literally spent and almost breathless on several occasions (not to mention that I of course swallowed water and started sputtering about like an idiot, gasping for air on two occasions…in 4.5 feet of water, mind you.)

The next day was ugly for me. I felt like a burlap bag that had been hit by Bam-Bam’s club one too many times.

Ouch.

It hurt to walk, to lay down, to get up and just basically, to be. As luck would have it, my mom was with me the entire day and though that’s great, she was convinced I was going into labor (which I clearly wasn’t) due to all the pain I was in. The reality is that I’m 8+ months preggo and I spent an hour in a lovely, warm pool, doing exercises I’ve actually NEVER done in my life. Yeah, I was in pain! But it was my first time and regardless of the fact that I hurt the next day, I think it’s worth the pain, if anything because I want to believe it will help build SOME kind of endurance for D-Day. After all, how further off is labor? Aside from the obvious things, I’ll be doing something I’ve never done and be put into positions I’ve never been in. I’ll be out of breath and who knows, maybe even choking and sputtering like I was in the pool. But if my abs, pelvis and that other nether region are stronger and will help me bounce back “sooner,” then I say ok.

**UPDATE**
After writing the bulk of this post, I continued to be in pain after the water aerobics class. Because of this, I made the wise decision of forgoing any further sessions. I’d like to reiterate that it’s not because this isn’t a fabu alternative for preggo pygmys like me to partake in some healthy, active workouts. But the reality is that I should have started these classes at 20-odd weeks and not at 35 weeks. By this time, there is just way too much going on with your larger-than-life body (more than meets the eye, Transformers style!) and a mere lap across the pool – assisted by floaties, mind you – is enough to get your heart racing and make casual conversation virtually impossible.

Just keep swimming, naked little baby. Photo courtesy of Sleevage.com

So the verdict is in. Matronatacion, or water aerobic workout for pregnant ladies, is a fine alternative for a healthy workout… but don’t even THINK about trying to attempt this for the first time when you’re 35+ weeks preggo. You’re heavier than you think, your range of motion isn’t what you remember it to be and your silly little heart will beat way past what you’ll find comfortable. I honestly really liked it and wish I could go back, but to say it was uncomfortable at the stage I’m at would be an understatement.

Besides, the classes I haven’t yet used can be used for swim lessons with the baby pygmy soon-to-come. Visions of Nevermind dance in my head.

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Thicker than water

For the past few weeks I’ve had family on my mind. I’ve been delving into all kinds of definitions and portrayals of family and here are a few of my faves and not-so-faves:

According to a simple Google search:
fam·i·ly/ˈfam(ə)lē/
A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.

From Wikipedia:
In human context, a family (from Latin: familia) is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children.

From Merriam-Webster:
a: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : household
b : a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock
c : a group of persons of common ancestry : clan

From the U.S. Census Bureau:
“A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together.”

After a while googling and contemplating two-dimensional meanings of the term family, I considered more entertaining portrayals of family, such as:

The Bluths. (and my personal faves) Photo courtesy of Womansday.com
The (new) Addams Family. Photo courtesy of Fanpop.com
The Arnolds! Photo courtesy of abcnews.go.com
The Hoovers from Little Miss Sunshine. Photo courtesy of IMDb.com

I much rather the depictions of family that Hollywood provides because the mom, dad, sister, brother, dog, cat realities that are out there are, frankly, a dwindling version of the kind of family that currently exists in the majority of households around the world.

When I was growing up in San Francisco, I didn’t really pay much attention to the family units of my classmates. When I moved to the suburbs, said family units were all up in my face and I quickly realized that my type of family unit was just…”weird” (for lack of a better word AND to use a word that an insecure, 14-year old might use.) I had my mom, of course, the solid rock in my life growing up. I also had a stepfather I actually really, really hated though I think I blindly tried to convince myself that I liked him AND, even funnier, that he liked me. I had a sister but said sister was always in Chile so I never really grew up with her and for the record, never, ever – to this day – bonded with her. I had aunts, uncles, cousins – all who lived in Chile, all with whom I never shared more than a week out of each year with. In short, I kind of grew up a loner (in the family sense.)

Given this, who, in turn, did I look to – and still look to – as my family? Well my well-intentioned, solid-as-a-rock, often-times-pain-in-the-ass mother, for one. And I could NEVER even utter the word “family” without immediately conjuring up images of my Tio Pato. Along that note, no image of my family could ever be complete without also picturing my cousin Tony, Uncle Pato’s son. With this, I also throw into the mix a handful of amazingly good friends and at that, we call it a day. For reals.

When I was younger, my “weird” version of family really bothered me because I compared myself to other people and what their families looked like – from the outside. But that’s just it – I saw their families from the outside and most likely projected my ideals onto them, even if that wasn’t necessarily their reality either. Who knows? Maybe their families were even weirder than mine! And of course, as one grows up and meets people from different walks of life, one begins to realize that all KINDS of families exist out there and that, just because I grew up in Edward Scissorhands-town where all family units seemed to be derived from the 1950s mold, not everyone had the standard, formerly stereotypical family. It felt good to realize this and it felt good to let it go.

That’s not to say that certain things about “family” don’t really toy with my emotions and/or generally piss me off. To begin, yes, it does make me a bit sad that my soon-to-appear kid won’t have little cousins and lots of aunts and uncles with whom to share memories with. I have one sister, divorced, (that I never see) who happens to have kids that are either 15 or 9 years older than my soon-to-appear kid; G has one brother who isn’t tied down and who doesn’t have kids. Between the two of us we have one aunt and one uncle to offer our kid and two cousins, both boys. It’s slim pickins’ for the little one, slim pickins’.

That makes me sad. What pisses me off is the fact that my father’s side of the family, father included (and yes, biologically I do have a father) kind of threaded through life pretending I didn’t exist – type of “out of sight, out of mind” just because I lived in another country. And the irony here is that THAT family is typical in so many ways and there are lots and lots of cousins and second cousins, etc that would MORE than make up for the lack of siblings G and I have to offer … but alas, that entire group is pretty much a non-issue due to the way things worked out in my life. As a result, they’ll be a non-issue for the soon-to-emerge kid.

My immediate family now consists of my husband, my beloved Obi and of course, my mom. Soon we’ll add a daughter. I think about G’s kid’s version of family and I actually think it’s awesome. They have an active mom and dad, they also have a stepmom (me) and will soon have a stepdad. Then they’ll have a half-sister (the current pea-in-the-pod) and I’m sure that their mom will likely have more kids and so then they’ll have yet another half-sibling. In addition to this, they have three or four uncles, all of whom have small kids ages 2 months – 6 years old. Despite not living in a “traditional” mom and dad household, they truly have a lovely version of what is family. For them, family get-togethers are truly family get-togethers.

I think the best those of us with the non-traditional sense of the word family can do is embrace the people that matter. I know this sounds simple and elementary but at the end of the day, I realize that as time passes the “traditional” family has morphed. It no longer includes JUST your dad or JUST your mom. It no longer includes only a sister and a brother, uncles, aunts and cousins. And it might just be a mom, dad and dog or mom and daughter. Or uncle and son. There are a million variations and everything seems pretty legit.

From my personal experience, blood does not a family member make. The proof for me is apparent in my reality. I have five uncles and aunts on my mom’s side of the family and in turn, through them, have 12 cousins. The reality is that of all those “family members” I truly only consider half of them family and only 2 of them true, immediate family. On my father’s side I have four aunts and uncles and through them about 12 cousins as well. Aside from my nephews, I consider NONE of them to be family (they should be so lucky.) And we’re supposed to believe that blood makes the relative and that relative makes the family? This truly is a subject matter that is up for interpretation and a subject matter that begs the redefinition of the concept of family.

Would you agree that the word and meaning of family is fantastically loaded? Do you think it’s open for real interpretation?

Discuss.

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What the hell am I going to do with a baby?

After writing my last post, it dawned on me that I threw a curve ball at you with that whole baby news hidden beneath the oooh’s and aaaah’s of our fabulous Asian vacation.

Then it dawned on me, maybe people want to hear my perspective on this preggo bit. Maybe they wonder how someone like me, someone who wrote several posts portraying conflicting views on the subject of having kids, is actually handling the fact that she’s preggo. Maybe others want to hear all about this new stage in my life and want to embark with me on this crazy adventure…. yeah… maybe people really, really care!!

Juuuuuust kidding.

Do you think I’m really that egocentric? Because I’m not.

In all seriousness, there are two reasons why I feel compelled to write about this baking bun in the oven: 1) I’d like to have a chronicle of this moment in time only because I’m interested in keeping a personal account of my history – it’s cool to look back on! 2) I think it’s only fair to put other sentiments out there, not just the typical “We’re-pregnant-and-we’re-overjoyed-with-our-soon-to-be-bundle-of-joy!” sentiments.

I found out I was preggo in September. Thinking about that now, it seems like forever ago. I mean, I found out before el dieciocho – think about it THAT way. Is it just me or wasn’t that like a million and a half hours ago? My “how-I-found-out” story is super typical – monthly visitor doesn’t arrive and you head over to the local pharmacy for one your average pee-on-a-stick tests.

Your friendly neighborhood pee-on-a-stick test. Note: this one isn't mine.

Except in usual Chilean fashion, there was a 2-for-1 deal on pee sticks so in the end I bought 2 tests for the price of one. Yes, before you have to ask, I did use both – just in case! And may I just take this opportunity to state that these tests are NOT like you see on tv. That second line that’s supposed to appear in the event that your eggo is preggo actually makes its appearance ever so slowly. Also, it plays Jedi Mind tricks on you. Like those images where you have to “relax your eyes” in order to see the hidden 3D image. You think you’re seeing the other line appear but then you don’t And then you do, but wait, you don’t. Do you? I realized rather quickly that this 2-for-1 deal was actually a life saver. I could have sat for daaaaaaaaaaaays wondering about the validity of the appearing disappearing line…

So what happened once I knew for sheez?

Nothing major, sorry to break it to you. I didn’t squeal, jumping up and down for joy. I didn’t freak out wondering “Dear God WHY ME?” (contrary to what I may have led myself to believe a few years ago.) I wasn’t overwhelmingly happy and I wasn’t disastrously disappointed either. I was very matter-of-fact, as a matter of fact. I took the information, processed it and proceeded to calculate the necessary next steps in such an event. Kind of like a fire drill! One thing I didn’t feel was like it was MINE. I didn’t look at my stomach or touch it in awe. I was, in fact, rather removed. I cognitively got it but the emotion was very practical. Sorry to disappoint those who don’t get what I’m writing but my main goal in life has NEVER been to be a mom, neither back then nor now.

Anyway, where was I?

Right – the practical steps to follow upon finding out you’re preggo. Call husband or sig other!

G was at a local event center at some kind of stationery fair where his company had an exhibit. Our conversation started out just shooting the sh*t, hearing about his day, what he was doing, when he’d be home and oh by the way, are you busy? PS I’m preggo. No joke that’s kind of how it went. To this day G can’t believe that’s how I told him. I mean the guy knows me better than anyone else – what the hell did he expect? Fireworks?!! His reaction was more of what I’m sure you imagine and hope for in a father-to-be. It was cute; he was so excited. I was glad mainly because I felt guilty. I mean, the poor kid was on its mega journey of life and my reaction was as if a sales lady had told me she couldn’t find my bra size in the department store, but not to worry, she’d call another store to see if they had my size and if so, to hold it.

Pregnancy is like going through puberty all over again (and I imagine menopause must be similar.) Strange things are afoot with one’s body and to quote Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World 2 “… I’m starting to get hair in really weird places, man. I feel like I’m turning into Sasquatch.” No, not really. You do go through some cray cray changes that you forgot one single body could handle, though. Thankfully, I can attest to the fact that one does NOT spend the first three months hurling five times a day, every day. One doesn’t randomly faint, either. I’m sure that this has happened to many ladies out there but I’m here to attest that it doesn’t happen to everyone and what’s typical for some just doesn’t even come close to others. There is such thing as a pretty uneventful pregnancy and this is, happily, my case. It’s as if the baby and I have mutually agreed upon: “Listen up sister, I’ve got shit to do and people to see so if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you and I’ll just go on with my business of making things happen.”

Geez I like her already for that attitude. Eyes on the prize, little one, eyes on the prize.

And that’s another point. Where is it written that the instant a woman becomes preggo she has to all of a sudden fall instantly in love with and drool over the pod growing inside? This of course is G’s instant reaction ” I LOVE THE BABY!” and all I can think is HOW can you love the baby? It hasn’t even introduced itself to us. For all we know, she might be a total drag. I’m just sayin’. I know most people will find this atrociously weird but the reality, for me, is this: yes I’m growing a life and yes I’m thankful things have gone well, but the truth is that I feel no real emotional bond with the baby – not yet. I’ve heard that his can be normal but again, I’m not about what’s “normal” or not, especially living here in Chile (all mom’s seem to be obsessed with their babies, to the point of annoyance.) If I hear one more mom tell me how her life has become all about the baby and that I will soon find out what it truly means to love, I’m going to f-ing snap. Shut the hell up, already.

Why such brash views, you ask? As I mentioned, my life has never revolved around having a baby. It’s never been my life goal or even a TOP FIVE life goal. I always thought of having a baby in a sort of abstract kind of way. Almost as if I’d someday become a mom by accident, kind of like how Diane Keaton became a mom in the 80s movie “Baby Boom” (she inherited the baby from a hick cousin.) In fact, all my life I’ve had two different “anxiety” dreams (you know, the kind where you find you’re naked in the middle of a crowded room.) My dream always involved me, going about my merry way in life, and randomly looking down and realizing that not only was I ready-to-pop pregnant but that I was being rushed to the hospital because I was literally about to pop. This whole notion that I was pregnant and didn’t even know it. I’ve seriously had this anxiety dream for my entire adult life. See? In my most subconscious of minds having a baby was always at the back of my mind.

I’m realizing that there is a lot of ground to cover with baby blogging. I’m sure I’ll be inclined to write more posts about the baby journey but initially I just wanted to throw it out there, for those who might care or even relate, that for the most part, I feel that this whole baby thing is weeeiiiiiirrrrrrd. Who would have imagined ME as a mom? I don’t even particularly like kids (so annoying) or their parents when they think that all someone else cares about is seeing their kid do something relatively stupid. Please God, don’t let me become that mom. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, likes that mom. I want to be a cool mom, a hip mom. Dress my kid in vintage corduroy rompers and such. Introduce her to the bass guitar and crocheting at the age of three.

Or I might just end up a deadbeat mom. Already I’m so over buying the baby anything that isn’t clothes. How much stuff does a baby need, anyway?? Can’t I just roll her into my sock drawer when she feels like sleeping and call it a day?

After all this, here’s the reality: I’m only half kidding with all these thoughts. There are certain things that are true of course, but some stuff is an exaggeration of what I truly feel, for comedic effects if you will. But what I truly feel, believe it or not, is hope. I hope this baby redefines the notion of “mom” and “baby” for me. I hope this baby brings together the true meaning of family for me (my notion of family is a whole other story that merits an independent blog post). I’m hopeful and excited to teach her about things that matter to me and hopefully she’ll teach me a thing or two of what matters to her. I’m a little selfish and deal with residual only-child syndrome so I imagine that, like the love-of-my-life dog, this baby is going to teach me a thing or two about total and unadulterated generosity.

I guess we’ll see about that, no? Whatever the matter, I’m on this road right now and there is no going back. I’m going to have a BABY. A BABY. What the hell am I going to do with a baby??

Come what may, shit’s about to get REAL.

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