The morning after I wrote the “Waiting for Lucia” post I woke up rested, oddly at peace. Lucia came later that Friday. Poor Luis had been working around the clock that week to meet a deadline for the 20th anniversary of the climate change convention (UNFCCC) entering into force. He met his Friday deadline, but did not get a chance to rest. Lucia was born that evening.
She came much quicker than Elena’s epic 33 hours, we did not even have time to have an epidural. It was no picnic, but she was there before I could believe it. More like a scene from the movies than the last go round, though no deep and or witty conversations were held during labor.
We had an old German midwife who didn’t speak much English. I was panicking and she was saying “baby coming now” and “Frau Davila, sehr gut gemacht.” Luis was annoying me by adopting a German accent in the delivery room but I didn’t have time to tell him that.
Elena spent the night at Felix’s, where she was a shining example of a 3 year-old, brushing her teeth and going to bed without a fight. The next day the abuelos arrived from Venezuela, so timing was pretty good considering.
We were able to leave the hospital on Monday. Also a different story from Elena, where they would not let us go home and it all seemed so dramatic. I have had a very dedicated midwife visit me at home to help check her growth and provide lifesaving breastfeeding tips (I have a new appreciation for cabbage, mint tea, rose oil, infrared light).
Elena was happy to meet her sister, she called her “my baby” and “what a cutie.” She asks to hold her and tries to bring her toys and food. When she cries she says “oh no, bebe!“
But I was right to pack in the ice cream dates, now I feel like I hardly see her. The abuelos take her to school and pick her up, so I just see her in the evening. I can’t pick her up because I have no stomach muscles – and she had a growth spurt so she is extra big. But she is getting some quality time in with her Papa. Luis and I have taken up a noble project for the late night breast feeding — watching all five seasons of Parenthood. It’s a great family-centered show for this time. It’s sentimental, loving, generous, and we even pick up a few tips here and there.
Lucia’s currently has dark blue eyes and a doll in her tiny cute suits. It’s not easy but it’s a very special time.
Lucia’s due date is Saturday. It’s a strange time. You stand on the threshold, waiting to cross over, unsure how long you will be waiting. You can’t make plans other than doctor’s appointments. Tomorrow the astrology sign moves from Pisces to Aries. I always have had many Aries in my life. We will have a house full of fire signs.
Today was an odd 24 degree day in March and I went out for coffee with a friend. I have to walk very slow. I’ve been invited to a luncheon tomorrow, but I honestly don’t know what to wear. Even my pregnant clothes are too tight, and my mother taught me never leave the house in sweatpants.
Elena knows, and has turned up her momma radar. Lately she asks me “Momma, are you OK?” She wants to hug and cuddle and play with her momma. She wants to sleep in my bed. She knows Lucia is coming, and that Lucia has to come out of the belly. She still says has a princess in her belly, and that papa has a prince in his belly. Today I went shopping to buy something for the new baby, but I ended up buying Elena two pink dresses. I have taken her to the park for ice cream now for two days in a row.
I recently just listened to an interview with Ana Tijoux, a Chilean hip hop artist. She produced her latest album in the months after her daughter was born. Somehow, in the sleep deprivation, she found a creative space. The interviewer was honestly in a state of disbelief, and I along with him. Her music is so bold, layered and complex, how could it come from this space after birth? I remember Elena’s first months, it was such a time of the body, but a time of amazing sensitivity to the world around you, of thanks, of deep and fleeting comprehension of the miracle and gift of life.
Elena’s first year and a half felt like it would never end, that I would never wear coordinated outfits or go to a professional workplace again. Luckily that was not true. These last months life has been fast paced, Luis and I have both been working hard, up late nights writing, over committed, rushing from meeting to meeting, traveling for work. Now we have a deadline, even though its a moving target. The time has come to slow down and find quiet. What can worry bring me? I am hoping for a speedy delivery and healthy baby.
I recently read the incredible epic Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. Reading about women in the 16th century is not reassuring during pregnancy, as their lives are often defined by their births, and they suffer the deaths of many of their children. There is a passage, odd in its prescience in a tale narrated by a man, describing Queen Mary, right before she gives birth to her first child with Henry VIII. She has a daughter Elizabeth, which is a great disappointment to the kingdom because she is female, but goes on to become one of the greatest British monarchs in history.
When a woman withdraws to give birth the sun may be shining but the shutters of her room are closed so she can make her own weather. She is kept in the dark so she can dream. Her dreams drift her far away, from terra firma to a marshy track of land, to a landing stage, to a river where a mist closes over the further bank, and earth and sky are inseparate; there she must embark towards life and death, a muffled figure in the stern directing the oars. In this vessel prayers are said that men never hear. Bargains are struck between a woman and her God. The river is tidal, and between one feather-stroke and the next, her tide may turn.
On 26 August 1533, a procession escorts the queen to her sealed rooms at Greenwich. Her husband kisses her, adieu and bon voyage, and she neither smiles nor speaks. She is very pale, very grand, a tiny jewelled head balanced on the swaying tent of her body, her steps small and circumspect, a prayer book in her hands. On the quay she turns her head: one lingering glance. She sees him, she sees the archbishop. One last look and then, her women steadying her elbows, she puts her foot into the boat.
It’s been a really long time blog. I even wrote post drafts and didn’t publish them. I don’t know what happened. Busy times. A blog vortex. Then my computer crashed and I lost all my writing. So blogging is safer. I should have learned my lesson.
But now Cutie number two is on the way, just one month to go, and I thought best to document a few things about these special times so I can look back later and laugh:
Today I wore leggings and ankle boots to work. God help me.
I am hungry all the time. It’s really too bad I am not in a food mecca like New York, Seattle or San Francisco where there would be so much to enjoy guilt free. I caught myself dreaming of a bagel. Its hard to find decent pizza. Why they put bourbon flavor in vanilla ice cream is beyond me. Where are the nachos? The PhadThai? The burritos? I have to make special trips just for cheddar cheese. At best we have waffles, schnitzel and apple juice. I can only pretend I am eating less sugar, fat and meat than the average American but who knows.
I would consider going to bed around 5pm.
I did manage to bake a pumpkin pie and treated myself to one slice per day for a week. (It was a labor of love: Libby’s pumpkin imported from New Jersey, evaporated milk from expensive British store, home made crust.)
I swear my legs don’t look that fat but I can’t zip up my tall black boots.
I found the cheesy movie What to Expect When Your Expecting surprisingly relateable, but the most relateable parts are too embarrassing to name.
The doctor gives me my weight in kilos and I do not check what it is pounds. It’s possible I weigh more than Luis.
Elena has caught on.
Yes, there is a sister in the belly button.
She has a princess in her belly button. The my little ponies are also getting sisters.
We walk about the same pace these days. Sometimes she is faster.
There are terrifying moments where I completely forget someones name or other key piece of information that I would normally know. Please, no numbers or math of any kind.
Many other un-sexy things which I will not share and which would be fine not to remember.
so, where can I put my up my feet?
Elena is talking more and more everyday, so I wanted to put together a list of her favorite sayings from 2.5. I almost forgot her her secret word for elephant (ati), so its time to write them down before they fade away in my mommy brain.
“Look-a-mirror” or “Look-a-window”. Said as one word. Fairly self-explanatory, when she wants to look in the mirror or out the window.
“Sticky Hands!” This can have several meanings. Usually it means, give me you hand so I can hold it. Sometimes it means, my hands are sticky. Sometimes it means, let me touch it.
“Baby animals” This applies to all animals. It can be the oldest giantest dog and she will say, “Look, a baby dog.”
“Coffee-mama” An astute observation, mama must have her coffee-mama every day.
“Oh no, three pieces!” This is said whenever something is broken or dropped, no matter how many pieces there are. Its origins are Little Einsteins, when Annie’s sheet music is blown away by the wind and they have to find the three pieces before her big concert.
“Let’s go Big Jet” Let’s take an airplane to see Grandma. Also a reference to Little Einsteins.
“Princense” Being a princess is very equal opportunity, you just need to wear a skirt.
“Baroso” This is a version of sabroso, or tasty in Spanish.
“It’s-a-mama.” This is said when I arrive, or whenever she feels like it. “It’s-a-Papa” is also popular. You can pretend you are Italian when you say it.
“Where’s Polly?” At just one inch, we are always losing Polly Pocket. Amazingly, she has traveled several trans-continental flights with us and is still popular, though I want to order some back-ups on e-bay. Sometimes she disappears for several days.
“Happy Birthday!” Basically according to Elena it is always someone’s birthday.
Mother’s Day is a great holiday, in fact I would not mind it if it was more than once a year. It could also be called international Mommy sleep-in day. And a good one in my case as Elena decided to get up at 6:30 today. I dusted off my sleeping in skills, and rolled out of bed around 11 to be greeted with a cappucino and two slices of cake. The cake is still sitting on the table as it looked a bit rich for breakfast. Each time Elena sees it she says “Happy Birthday Mama”.
It’s been a long time dear readers, and a hectic spring. Elena was in the hospital, work got crazy, and we also got sick a few times. The climate in Bonn does not seem to be agreeing with us. But Spring has come, and the sun has started to make more frequent appearances.
Grandma came to visit, to help us out and have some toddler time. We got lucky and she came during a anomalous week where the sun shone every day. In between running around at the UN and headhunting, we had some good times at the park.
It was so nice to have mom around, reading Babar, baking Rhubarb cake, keeping things in order. We even went to Belgium for the weekend, where we had a great time eating chocolates, waffles and mussels and chasing Elena through the old squares.
Elena is talking more, making her demands for popsicles, “apple juice box”, Babar and Little Einsteins loud and clear. My favorite expression is when she finds something big and small, say a measuring cup next to a teaspoon, or her small rake lying on the big rake, — she says, “it’s a mommy-baby”. She is becoming an independent little girl, but mommy-baby is still a compound word, like they always should be together. Agreed.
Despite being in the doctors office a few too many times and sometimes failing at all the juggling, motherhood just gets better and better. We’re sending a big blog hug to Seattle to my mommy.
We booked our trip to the US for the month of July, and we are really excited to visit everyone.
I’m writing this blog as I hold steaming onions to my ears. It’s a trick I learned for ear infections from my German friend. We just spent a week in the hospital, Elena had bronchitis-pneumonia. It was awful and scary.
Now we are home, and I have the worst sore throat like there is a creaky hinge where my throat once was, and I also have Elena’s e eye infection. I am hoping the healing qualities of the onion vapor will sink down my eras to my sinuses. Meanwhile Elena is running around the house opening every bag, box and drawer she can find. As we had been gone for a week, the house was still clean. Now it looks like its been tossed by a small burglar.
We shared a hospital room with a Turkish-German family. Despite language barriers, we bonded after one nurse came in at 8am and ripped into us on how messy our room was — a catastroph! an explosion! It was mainly due to the variety of juices she was feeding her nice fat baby: carrot, mango, apple, orange. Her favorite was blueberry, and she talked about the antibiotic qualities at length. My internet research did not bear similar findings, but the ring from the juice cup left a tough purple stain.
I was still in bed when the nurse held up her dainty finger: “is this your sock?” Um yea, I seem to be living here in this 7×10 room with three other people, not counting husbands. Like Manhattan, the only spare real estate was up, and this was taken up by a giant Minnie mouse balloon, brought by our beloved tagesmutter hanging like a planet in the corner.
Now that we are home, tonight is the first time we will not be eating cold cuts and sliced bread, a typical German supper. When I asked for different food for Elena, the orderly told me that two-year olds eat cold cuts and bread. They also eat bread and jam, the breakfast variation. Not in our house, so when I brought Elana some fish sticks one evening in a version of baby take-out, she said “Good job Mama.”
Home sweet home has taken on its absolute meaning. The simple things are so good: dancing baby beluga in the living room and making muffins. Though before we left, I had some of that hostage dilemma. I felt like I could not go out into the world on my own again, I didn’t remember how. Leaving was like saying goodbye after a bleak summer camp visit, I wanted to swap phone numbers with the staff and our room-mate, but they hardly noticed our exit. Luis was sorry to miss mittagessen (lunch is the only hot meal, and it is hearty meaty-saucy-salty German fare). Everyday a funny German woman built like a linebacker would come to my room and say in a demanding voice “junge Frau, Mittagessen“.
I don’t care how sick I am, tomorrow we are hitting the toy store. And saying a prayer, blessings to you and your precious health.
The greatest mommy blogger in the world takes you to a bookstore that used to be a movie theatre. As the escalator sinks into the floor, she lifts you off your feet. In the corner there is a giant orange mouse sitting on plush blue seats. You give it a hug. Everything in the store is at your eye level. You remove as many price tags as you can. You try to steal a Star Wars Easter egg even though it is only January. You only leave the store after you are promised a ride in the elevator.
The greatest mommy blogger in the world buys you a nutella crepe. It is freezing and you say “yummy” and it is so cute but the vendor does not care. She rips off pieces and hands them to you and you both get chocolate on your hands and faces. You put your sticky hand on her light grey Tahiri wool coat. She will wear it to the office like that for the next month. When she offers you a bite, you shove the whole thing in your mouth.
The greatest mommy blogger in the world takes you for a haircut. At the salon you are very serious. You are beginning a ritual that you will have for the rest of your life. Your reflection stares back at you, completely uncritical. You name all the animals on the front of your smock: zebra, monkey, cat, cow, giraffe, rabbit. The greatest mommy blogger in the world has found that if you are looking, giraffes are everywhere. Under a fringe of bangs, you face appears. She is the proudest mommy blogger in the world.
A friend writes, she is so cute, how do you stand it? The truth is that the greatest mommy blogger in the world has to hug you you constantly. When you press your nose to her face, it is delicious. She holds your small hand and you walk in the snow wearing matching wool peacoats, boots and jeans. She dresses you like herself without thinking.
The greatest mommy blogger in the world dreams that she is flying a blimp low across the Hudson to Manhattan. But the blimp skids on the water and is hit by a great blue whale. It crash-lands in Battery Park. She can see it all perfectly in her head for several days afterward and wonders what it means. She realizes that she been reading too many children’s books.
The greatest mommy blogger in the world takes you to the grocery store. You want to run loose through the aisles so she hands you the IPhone. You play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on repeat. She sings along while picking out the dairy, vegetables and pasta. A few people look at you strangely but it is a calming way to shop. The greatest mommy blogger in the world wonders if there are kids that actually sit still shopping carts.
The greatest mommy blogger in the world thinks about time. How it cannot be stopped. How she cannot hold onto the perfect moment when you sit in her lap in your polar fleece pajamas with feet reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar. How there is no way anyone at anytime has ever held onto one moment. When the caterpillar has a tummy ache you point at its sad face and say “ooh, baby”. She thinks about all the other mommy bloggers from the beginning of time and how they have each felt the same thing. The feeling is a wave and it is beautiful and hurts at the same time. She wonders how it will change as you grow up.
The greatest mommy blogger in the world thinks you are the greatest two-year old in the world. You took off your shoes all by yourself today. You can almost count to twenty. Yesterday you pointed at the sky and shouted “moon!” and it was just a tiny sliver so high up that it was almost invisible. She wants to remember this forever, how good your face feels against her check. How you sleep in perfect child’s pose. How you wake up laughing.