Tag Archives: husband

Te quiero Papi

10 Aug

Sometimes I get caught up in the everyday grind and forget to notice the small big things. Like what an amazing papi sig-o is to z-baby. I always knew he would be, but it’s a joy to see it in action. So just a quick post today to say, ¡Te queremos mucho, Papi!

Te quiero papi

Hecho por z-baby

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An Evolution

7 Aug

I always knew I’d breastfeed. But when I set out to nurse, I think I saw breastfeeding as a static, uniform thing — you did it or you didn’t, and for those who did, it was just all the same. As a new parent, it was both enlightening and reassuring to discover that’s not true. It is, in fact, extremely nuanced, as individual as the ones doing it. But I also discovered that as soon as you find your footing, things change. Like your baby, breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship is a living, ever-changing creature.

So in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m sharing with you the evolution of my breastfeeding experience… two and half years of the ups, downs, tears, joys, and mundane of nourishing my little one (and myself) in the process.

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Pre-birth – I suppose this started years ago when I watched my step mother nurse twins for 18 months. I’d never seen a baby breastfeed before and this seemed revolutionary to me at the time (at 15). Closer to time for z-baby’s birth, though, I took a breastfeeding class at work and attended some lunchtime discussions at work for nursing moms (led by a lactation consultant). A few days before I gave birth I started getting nervous and watched every video I could find from Dr. Jack Newman. I watched healthy newborn latches over and over and over…

Birth – Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I wanted to nurse right away but z-baby was in a transition nursery for over 6 hours. When I did get him, we started right away and he latched — but not a great one. I had already asked for a lactation consultant and we saw them three times before we left the hospital. Z-baby was a sleeper… he wanted to eat, but he wanted to sleep even more. So my most vivid memory of those days was stripping him down each and every time he needed to eat (so he didn’t feel too cozy) and gently nudging him awake throughout every feed. Z-baby’s papi took this very seriously, like his personal mission those first few days.

Month 1 – My milk came in quickly and plentiful and z-baby was a great eater. I loved nursing, but it was soooooo painful. But not in the way I could have imagined. I had a bit of Carpal Tunnel during the pregnancy, and it kicked into overdrive those few weeks following birth. My hands would freeze up like hooks and I was terrified I’d drop the baby. And my hands didn’t just go numb, they ached and pain shot up through to my elbows. I remember crying through several of those feedings from the pain. My mom or husband would have to either support the baby or my breast or both. It sucked (no pun intended). I couldn’t sit down to nurse without water and a towel because there was so much milk it seemed to get everywhere!
*Nursing equipment was very important: Boppy upstairs, Brest Friend downstairs, multiple towels, nipple cream, pads for the bra, nursing bra.

Months 2-3 – When the painful claw hands went away, nursing became a breeze. I loved it still, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then I had to have my gallbladder taken out and we happily fell into co-sleeping, which made the night-time nursing even better. Z-baby loved nursing and was still in that pre-wiggler phase where he’d pretty much stay put through a whole feeding and was serious about his nursing… no playing for this guy… yet!
*Equipment: We dropped the nipple cream around this time and started trying the pump and bottles. 

Nursing z-baby, 5 weeks

Months 4-9 – I went back to work after 3 months and it was hell. H-E-L-L. Z-baby refused all bottles and reversed cycled. My first day back I had an off-site meeting and tried to pump in the car, only to realize I had no batteries or charger. I got so engorged but survived. I was at a leading public health agency in the country and they had lactation rooms and pumps which were great, but it was still a challenge to find the time during the day to do it and an open time slot in the rooms. I luckily telecommuted several days a weeks and had someone watching the baby in the house, so I could just nurse those days. But on days when I wasn’t home, z-baby waited for me all day and then we nursed all night. I welcomed the nursing, but he would be so hungry that he’d overeat and puke everywhere and I could never keep up with the laundry. We introduced some solids in here but he could care less. Most of this is a blur for me because the postpartum depression set in during this time, though I wasn’t fully aware of it. But I know I worried all day about z-baby not eating and raced home to be with him and only then was I ever at ease. And in those early days of still undiagnosed postpartum depression, it was the nursing that kept me going… alive even.
*Equipment: Pump, pump, pump. And pump some more. Sometime during this time we also stopped using the nursing pillows.

Months 10-14 – I finally started getting treatment for the postpartum depression, and while this was still a very difficult time, it did start to get a little better. Breastfeeding was still the light at the end of the tunnel each and every day. Looking down and seeing z-baby and seeing him relish the time as much as I did left me speechless. Or maybe it was from the biting, I can’t remember. No longer just a wiggler on the couch, he’s a roller during nursing, too. He nurses upside down and sideways, bouncing and swaying. I never knew my nipples were so flexible… I still overproduced and donated gallons (and gallons…) of it to a friend. But I’m finally not gushing every time I go to nurse.
*Equipment: I think I still used nursing pads when at work or separated from z-baby, and the pump, of course.

Months 14-24 – I stopped working, put away the pump, and started staying at home with z-baby full time. Life is goooooooooooooood. Nursing becomes something I do often throughout the day, but no longer think about. Z-baby became vocal about his nursing during this time and asked for it frequently. Nursing in public became both easier and more difficult. Easier because he could just sit in front of me and I could angle away from people… harder because he never stayed in one position and insisted my shirt be ALL the way up to give him total access. I struggled with the decision to wean or not so that I can get pregnant again, but it just never felt right. Z-baby went through lots of ups and downs… times when he needed to nurse a lot (usually growth and developmental spurts and teething) and periods where he didn’t nurse as much. Biting still an off and on issue, and the nipple fiddling started (playing with one while eating off the other). Momma became a serve yourself buffet during this time — z-baby would pull up my shirt and insist on his “deeta” whenever he wanted it.
*Equipment: A chair. That’s it. No pads, towels, creams, pillows, nothing. Oh, and a nursing bra. But I had to be careful somedays because he sees the act of sitting down as an open invitation.

Months 24-30 – Here we are, nursing at 2 1/2 years. Nursing is still an acrobatic act, day and night. We’ve pared it down to going down and waking up from naps and bedtime. He’s starting to respect my wishes some — needing to wait or stop during the night, for example. But he manages which side he wants and the exact position he wants it in. I also have to nurse cars and trains, and he’s even tried to push it up so I can have some, too (such a helper!). He even managed to get chocolate milk out of me one day (that’s a post for another day)!!! He had his first sleepover with grandma (our first night apart!), which was his first night ever that he didn’t nurse. And just very recently did I hit the nursing wall. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m ready to wean. I know I’ll miss it, and I can’t imagine motherhood without it (at first at least), but I’m ready. Is he? I don’t think so, and we’re working on potty training so I won’t do anything right away… but we’ll see what the future holds for us.
*Equipment: Nada. Except for the darn bra! There are times when he needs a quick comfort session of about 3 seconds and I don’t even sit anymore… just bend over.

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Two and half years of breastfeeding. No cracked nipples, plugged ducts, or mastisis. A little bit of yeast once. Overproduction and numb hands. Gallons of milk in my freezer. Lugging the pump to work and z-baby on a week-long business trip. Surgery and anesthesia. Postpartum depression and medication. Nursing pads, pillows, and towels. Reverse cycling and cosleeping. Nursing in bed, on the couch, at the table, typing, writing, on the phone, in the car, in public, in therapy, on planes, in meetings, standing up, sitting down, bending over. Two and half years. And I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything in the world.

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Little surprises

19 Jul

Sometimes… actually most times… it’s the little things that put a smile on my face and make my heart soar.

Sig-o had to go away on an overnight trip this weekend, and I asked him to bring back a few things I can’t get around here. That in itself made me happy.

But he surprised me with one my favorite treats: litchis! It was so totally unexpected. Small but made me melt.

Litches

Not the prettiest I've seen, but sooooooo good!

Ahhhh, litchis! Or lychees. Or whatever. I love them. A lot. When we lived in Mexico, in my husband’s childhood home, we had a big litchi tree growing in the side garden. And I didn’t even know it. The avocado tree? Heaven. The banana tree? Worth the wait. That tree in the side garden? I’d never given it a second thought.

Then one day we were driving through town and I saw a guy selling litchis on the side of the road. I squealed in excitement but sig-o just rolled on by. “Al rato,” he told me, later. Later that day he came through the house carrying a bucket and yelling for me. He told me to follow him and took me to the side garden. And there it was in all its glory. The tree, ripe fruit filled its branches, just waiting. Waiting for me.

You’d think I’d won the lottery. We picked buckets full and I think that’s all I ate for days on end. I planted myself under a ceiling fan and ate… and ate. My fingertips hurt from peeling so many of them, but it was glorious. That is, until I got an inexplicable rash all over the outsides of my lips. It looked horrible and itched like crazy and hurt in the sweltering, summer heat. I finally had to go see a doctor but they couldn’t explain it and nothing they gave me helped. It eventually went away on its own, but my gorging on litchis had come to and end. The doctor seemed to think I’d probably had too much of a good thing. I was convinced it was poison ivy or something like it from when we were picking the litchis… but it didn’t matter. They were gone.

Fast forward a few years. We were living in the US again and I bought up a bunch of mangos at the farmers market. Soon after eating them, I got that same miserable rash on my face, only worse this time. A visit to the doctor again and some nosing around and I learned just how allergic some people can be to mangoes (the sap/oil in the peel and bark on the trees). And apparently I’m one of them. Because I tried it a few more times and it got worse each time. The last time I had a bite of mango was six years ago (six sad years). I really wanted some mango and asked sig-o to peel and cut it for me. He made the nicest fruit salad… and within minutes I could feel it starting. But this time it was in my throat, too, and my co-workers had to take me to the pharmacy to grab some Benedryl.

Only later did I put it together. Mangoes and litchis come into season around the same time in sig-o’s hometown. And prior to discovering the tree of all things good, I had been munching on mangos. Not the big mangos you usually see (petacon) or even the yummy ataulfo, but little bitty, yellow mangos that you pop in your mouth, peel and all. Delightful. And a nightmare for anyone allergic to them!

So now, I don’t buy mangoes. I don’t eat mangoes. I can’t even touch mangoes. I dare say I’m afraid of mangoes.

But litchis? Bring ’em on, baby! And that’s why sig-o’s little surprise meant so much. Despite my love for them, I somehow forget about litchis. Maybe because they’re in season so briefly and not easy to find. But sig-o? He thinks of me and that summer each and every time he sees them and buys them for me without fail. How could that not make a girl’s heart soar?

Happy Monday

23 May

I have soooooooooooo many things to be happy about today… but so little time to share. I’ve been MIA for a bit because z-baby and I were getting ready for and are now on a month-long trip. Busy, busy, busy and lots of fun so far.

Like I said, many things to be happy about. But one is so huge that it deserves a solo appearance so I’m only posting one thing today.

Drumroll please…..

  1. Sig-o is now officially a US citizen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He was sworn in last Monday and we still kind of can’t believe it (and still can’t get visions of the hyper, over-the-top patriotic ceremony out of our heads, but that’s another story…). This is a big deal for us. We’ve been working on this process for 12 years now! Now that we reached this milestone, I promise to share the whole story with you soon. YEAH!!!

Going with your gut

1 May

For those of you visiting from the Multicultural Awareness Blog Carnival, welcome to The Vaca Loca! I’m so glad you could stop by and hope you enjoy your stay!

I’m originally from Kentucky, and besides Speedy Gonzalez and The Three Amigos, I didn’t grow up hearing much Spanish spoken. I started taking Spanish in high school, and it was there that the universe started opening little windows for me and laying out paths that would ultimately lead me to where I am today — married to a man from Mexico and trying to raise a bilingual baby.

I consider myself fluent in Spanish, but not fully bilingual. I think in both languages, dream in both languages, feel in both languages… but English is still by far easier for me. This became especially apparent after having my baby. I spoke to him in both languages, but when it came time to comfort him, coo at his cuteness, and play baby games with him, English dominated. Complicating matters was the fact that I had postpartum depression, which utterly exhausted me and left me with an abysmal emptiness. And it’s when I’m tired and weak that my Spanish suffers the most.

My husband and I had talked early on about how we were going to go about teaching both languages to the baby. The one-parent-one-language method felt forced to us. And since we now live in the US we knew the baby would be getting an overwhelming amount of English no matter what. So we planned on just using Spanish in the home and with Spanish-speaking friends and family. The effect that my postpartum depression had on this plan only exasperated me more and fueled my feelings of inadequacy when it came to raising a bilingual baby. But we pressed on, adamant that he learn Spanish. We quit worrying about the “right” method, and just did what felt right in our guts.

My little z-baby is now two years old and his language skills are really starting to blossom. My husband speaks to him almost only in Spanish, and I speak as much Spanish to him as I possibly can. Some days this means no English. Others it means about half and half. And z-baby? He understands both beautifully. And he speaks some of both, though he has yet to string sentences together in either. He picks and chooses the words he uses. For some things he only uses Spanish — the alphabet, numbers, colors. For other things, it’s only English — parts of the body, apple, move, bed. And for yet other things, it’s what suits his fancy in the moment — ball/pelota, agua/water, kitty/gato, comer/eat, basura/trash. He’s let loose a perfectly conjugated verb or two in Spanish (cayó and ¡ya voy!) and chastises the dog in English (Bad gur!). And I’ve even noticed recently that he asks my husband and me to pick him up in Spanish, but asks my mother in English.

My heart explodes as such displays of bilingual communication. And it’s those moments that make all the hard work worth it, and make it easier to put up with the daily aches and pains of what it’s really like to try and teach our baby Spanish and English. So what does the daily grind feel like anyway? Well, a little something like this….

  • It means translating for grandparents and abuelos
  • It means walking through stores and jabbering away in Spanish while you get stares from everyone (both Latinos and non-Latinos)
  • It means actively seeking out books and activities in Spanish (this is the only gift we ever ask for from Mexico now)
  • It means learning the words for things you may never have had to use before
  • It means getting your Spanish corrected more frequently
  • It means learning songs in Spanish and making up new ones
  • It means always being aware of the balance between how much you use each language
  • It means not beating yourself up when you slip into English
  • It means second-guessing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you say — “Did I say that right? Is that masculine or feminine? Is my accent off?”
  • It means loosening up, letting go, being persistent, and having patience

But most of all, it means trusting yourself and going with what feels natural in your gut — and isn’t that the ultimate lesson in parenting, no matter what language you do it in?

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A big Thank You to Bicultural Mom for hosting the carnival!

That’s so Gringa

28 Apr

The other day I was preparing pasta for little z-baby. One of my favorite kitchen shortcuts is to use my kitchen shears to cut his spaghetti. Just snip, snip, snip and you’re done! I was happily snipping away when sig-o walked by and chuckled, “Ok. That is so Gringa!”

I was stopped cold in my snipping tracks… So Gringa? Me? Well, yeah. I had to laugh… sig-o and I have been together for so long that we sometimes forget that he’s Mexican and I’m American, that we’re different both as individuals and because of our cultural backgrounds.

Like once when I asked him what he wanted to get to eat and he replied, “How about Mexican?” for like the millionth time. With exasperation in my voice I asked, “Don’t you EVER get tired of Mexican food?” To which he replied, “Uh, noooo. It’s just food to me.” Oh.

So here are a few other things (not sure that I agree) that sig-o says also make me “so Gringa.” 

  1. Mis calzones (underwear) — They’re cheap. And I know it. But I can’t help it ya’ll. It’s a habit I picked up in college. When you don’t do laundry as frequently as you should… you solve the problem by just going and buying some cheap Hanes Her Way. While I do do laundry regularly now, I still have over 20 pairs of the cheapies. Though not the same ones from college… geesh!
  2. My obsessive planning — I plan everything. I even plan when I’m going to plan. Visitors coming? Trip to take? Picnic in the park? Lists make me happy. And there’s no way I would be able to not plan at least meals when I know my suegra is on her way for a visit. Of course, she always brings enough food for an army and takes over my kitchen anyways… but it’s the thought of not being prepared that would drive me to insanity. Sig-o tells me not to worry about it. I tell him I’ll add that to my list.
  3. The way I worry about everything — A close relative of #2. I worry too much about things. Like seat belts and firecrackers and not waking the neighbors. I’m not as bad as I used to be (except for when the postpartum depression was in full-swing… then it was BAD). And it all seems to be relative to place. In Mexico, I’m still a worrier, but I let a lot more slide.
  4. My immersion blender — Since sig-o and I have been together, we have been through countless blenders (lots of salsas, lots of aguas frescas…). And I got tired of them always breaking down. Or just breaking. We had a collection of mismatched bases and jars that did us no good. So one day I tossed them all and got a sleek little hand blender for a change. So what? It’s worked well so far, and I’m sure we’ll go back to the other kind as soon as it gives out, too.
  5. The way I watch TV — When I sit down to watch TV, I could also be reading blogs, playing Words with Friends, perusing recipes, making lists. And I may or may not have the volume on. But when sig-o (and everyone in his family) sits down to watch TV it’s like zombies sucked his brains out… he sits and stares open-mouthed at the blaring screen and can hear no other sound around him. Commercials are even worse. They’re not something to be muted, but rather something to lean into, the main attraction. I could strip off my cheap calzones and he’d never even flinch.

On borders and growing up

20 Apr

Borders. They have caused sig-o and I much grief over the years.

In our early days, the problem was usually separation. Either I was in the US and he was in Mexico, or I was in Mexico and he was in the US. At one point we even found ourselves to be ilegales in each other’s country, he in the US and me in Mexico — ¡qué cosa! But we were young and distance did make the heart grow fonder and we weathered the bumps together.

After living in Mexico for over three years, we came to the US to finish out a long and drawn out process to get sig-o permanent residency and ultimately citizenship (which we are still in the process of). Then the issues turned more towards family. No matter where we decide to live, one of us will always be separated from family. Luckily, sig-o’s mother, sister, and brother all live in the states now. But it has caused many headaches, heartaches, and punches to the wallet to both get them and keep them here. This is an on-going struggle, and one that gets harder and harder with the passing of every new piece of racist legislation.

Now that we have a baby, matters feel even more complicated. We’ve always known that we would return to Mexico at some point. We want our child(ren) to spend part of their childhood in both countries, to not just hear our stories but to know in their heart and feel it in their gut what it is to be Mexican, what it means to be American.

Borders. They have separated us, united us, and taught us lessons in patience and humility. They have watched us grow into adulthood.

When sig-o and I first met, he was a mere 19 and I was only 21. We have been together for almost 13 years now. And in those 13 years we have literally watched each other grow up. Some of the change has been subtle over time. But sometimes you can see it unfold before you in an instant, catalyzed by events beyond our control.

This weekend we learned that one of sig-o’s young cousins passed away after a difficult battle with leukemia. Sig-o was understandably upset, and as he is an extremely sensitive soul, he took the news quite hard. It’s these moments that borders make you feel so helpless, so far away. Mexico isn’t even on the other side of the world… but it may as well be when you can’t be there.

But it’s not just about the border. Technically, sig-o could have hopped on a plane and been with his family within six hours or so. But we really couldn’t afford it. And it was at that moment that I saw the change, saw the pain in my husband’s face and felt his heavy heart as he made the sacrifice for his family — for me, for the baby — and stayed. I watched, my own soul troubled, as he came to terms with his decision, growing up just a little bit more before my very eyes.

It’s hard straddling a border. It’s even harder growing up.