Saturday, January 22, 2011

Having A Baby {lack of sleep jokes aside}

I've been thinking a lot about this post...actually even started writing it a couple of times, but always kinda lost my train of thought on the subject. Maybe I was exhausted. Maybe I wasn't feeling inspired. Maybe I didn't feel like sharing just yet.

So why the sudden change of heart? Yesterday a friend asked for advice on pregnancy and postpartum. Me, she asked ME for advice! Now, I realize that I am no expert on the subject, but the last 2 months have been an intense crash course in I feel OK about putting my two cents in. But still, I feel like such a novice that it's amazing that anyone would want my advice. Although if you don't have a baby yet, aren't pregnant, or are just dreaming of kids...I am one up on 'ya! So here are some thoughts on the subject.

You always hear people talk about the beauty of pregnancy and the wonder of birth, but you don't hear much on the topic of postpartum. Even if you are told of all the difficulties that come with being pregnant and the pain of giving birth, there still isn't much talk about postpartum. WHY???

I've concluded that this is some unconscious way women ensure the continuation of our species. If the thought of being pregnant and giving birth makes you nervous and even a little hesitant, the truth about postpartum will scare the daylights out of you. As a friend, new momma, and fellow blogger M put it, "Pregnancy is a breeze...Labor is a dream...Postpartum is no joke. It will knock you on your...never mind." I don't want to scare anyone, but she is right.

The sleep deprivation people talk about is definitely hard; but harder yet is how the sleep deprivation amplifies all the other issues people don't mention. So here goes. This is where I begin talking about breastfeeding, and for some of you, it may be a little TMI. You've been warned.

Before I start. here are some pretty pictures so you don't accidentally read anything that will scar you for life.

OK, so you are still reading. But at your own risk, don't blame me if you are grossed out.

Breastfeeding hurts. A LOT. "Exquisite pain" as my suegra puts it.

You will NOT look like this when you start:

Instead you will be screaming, crying, and wanting to pull your hair out. And if you are one of the rare women who is a personification of the above photo from the get go, then you have been truly blessed.

Things you should know [because it could happen to you]:

1. You need to make sure baby is latching on properly. The best would be for a lactation expert at the hospital to show you how it should be done before you go home. This will ensure you and baby are doing it "right" from the beginning, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it will be painless. It will will just be painful for less time probably. There is also the La Leche League website with tips or you can visit your local LLL, but honestly Thank the Lord for YouTube. You don't have to worry about taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and looking presentable in front of someone. Search for breastfeeding videos and TA-DAAA! Free lesson on your laptop in the privacy of your bedroom.

2. When you start breastfeeding, your body doesn't really know how much milk to produce because baby hasn't made it clear how much s/he's going to be eating. So instead of falling short, it overproduces and your boobs get so full, I swear they feel like they are going to explode. Your little one may not be able to empty them at the beginning and you'll end up with lumps [or milk balls, as I call them] in your boobs. Just go stand in the shower under hot water. It will start flowing. Sweet relief.

3. Some breastfeeding advice goes only so far as mentioning the possibility of sore nipples. SORE nipples are very different from CRACKED nipples. with actual wounds. that bleed. and re-open. every feeding. [OK, they don't bleed every feeding; just the first time. Thank God, 'cause you don't want to see a trickle of blood running down your baby's cheek at each feeding, once is enough to freak you out!]. None of the books I read or websites I looked at mentioned even the mere possibility of this happening, but yet almost every mother I've spoken to, including my own, knew this would happen. HA! There's the catch, no one tells you. And then when it does happen, everyone is sympathetic because they know what it feels like. Again, I think this convenient memory lapse is somehow connected to the continuation of procreation. If we had such vivid memories, I wonder how many women would have their second, third, fourth, fifth...eleventh child...and breastfeed. {sigh}

What to do if this happens to you? The best advice I got from another mommy R was AIR-DRY. All day. All night. If you can sit out in the sun for about 5-10 minutes a day, even better. This is your chance to make like a German tourist on a Mallorcan beach. Sans Mallorca unfortunately. Seriously though, this works wonders and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of support from your husband by prancing around topless 24/7. [If you do have to cover up, make sure your nipples are completely dry – use your hairdryer on a low setting] They say your boobs will never be the same after breastfeeding. Neither will your nipples. Not in a bad way though, so don't get scared! They'll just be...different.

There are lots of other issues new moms face in the early weeks; mastitis, wacky hormones and even depression, and pain from vaginal or Cesarean deliveries to mention a few. I just chose to shed a bit of light on breastfeeding because I found it to be the most doesn't come naturally: you have to learn how to do it right; it will hurt, but the pain will ease. Give it 6 weeks and I promise you will start to enjoy it! You will forget (like our mothers did!) how much you suffered and it will be all worth it. Your baby will thank you for your yummy nutritious milk.

You can do it, good luck!

*Some useful information if you are a new mom or are expecting in Mexico City*
- Local La Leche League Groups
Cepapar: read my post about courses offered by Cepapar.
Hospital Santa Teresa (Medica Sur Lomas): more to come on this hospital, but if you need lactation support, contact one of their experts, Graciela Hess (0445554171297). They also have free group support on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 10am.

**this is my experience and my advice is based on what worked for me, and hopefully it does for you too; but you should still listen to what your doctor tells you to do. None of what I mention here is meant to replace your doctor's orders.**

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cantinflas the African Grey Update {yes, I know, I am blogging about a parrot...}

I've been able to keep up with my weekly resolutions so's just that this week's task was all about auditing and the accounting of our company, and I highly doubt any of you are interested in reading about that! I wouldn't be...

But I do have other, more exciting news [to me anyway] to share :) Remember Cantinflas? He is our African Grey parrot who was supposed to settle in Mexico with us, but after endless attempts to get him across the Pacific, we failed. Not really because of the quarantine laws of Mexico, they are actually pretty maneuverable. It was because the airlines don't want the responsibility of taking on a parrot as pet cargo. I tried every airline possible and little by little became clear that it would be impossible

So then the dilemma was, what in the heck were we going to do with this parrot? Bueno, pues the stars aligned and before I knew it, my older brother J showed up at my Mom's house in Manila and offered to take the bird. Granted, I will say I was little apprehensive at first; I had already designed Cantinflas' cage in Chiconcuac and imagined waking up to him whistling on the weekends. But at this point I really had no choice in the matter, and at the end no one would do a better job of taking care of Cantinflas than J.

Thus we packed the car, bird and all, and trekked our way to Taal Lake, about 2 hours south of Manila to discover Cantinflas' new home - the yacht club J manages. And we were pleasantly surprised as you can see:

Cantinflas admiring his new view from his travelling cage
Different views of Taal Lake Yacht Club
His new friend Gaucho

The good news is that he has adapted super well! Who wouldn't want to live surrounded by lush scenery, fresh air, and an ocean breeze? He is talking, singing, and whistling more than he has in years. And he's looking pretty good too, don't you think?

Thanks to H. for these great photos!
So all ended well with the Cantinflas saga. Gordo and I just miss him dearly!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Week's Resolution

On New Years Day while lying in bed, gordo asks: "So what are your resolutions for this year?"



"Hmm. I haven't really thought about any resolutions."

This isn't really surprising though. I've never really been a "January 1st Resolutions" kind of person. Although when people would ask, I would provide the appropriate: work out more, get healthy, quit smoking, blah, blah, blah intention - you know, the ones that will warrant some sort of encouragement from the listener...(I haven't had a cigarette in 10 months by the way - and don't plan to either!)

But this year, nada, nil, nothing in mind.

But then I got thinking. I'm sure this really isn't the most novel of ideas, but for me at least it's something new to try...weekly resolutions. They always say, "set goals that are achievable..." I don't know who they are, but there is some truth to their words. I'm going to try and take it one step at a time so it doesn't get too overwhelming.

Why all of a sudden this new found enlightenment? I'm a new MOM and I'm starting to realize that I really can't plan anything anymore (long term at least) life revolves around my son S and his whims. And frankly, I can spend all day every day doing nothing but staring at him while the rest of the world carries on with their routines...

the new love of my life
But I know we can't live in this bubble. Asi que poco a poco...hence my {hopefully} achievable weekly task(s).

Recurring weekly task: blog - at least once a week. I have to find time between feedings & diapers to write about something. It's not for lack of ideas - I just need to sit down and DO it. Being pregnant, giving birth, and being a Mom in Mexico is a world of its own with lots of tales.

This week's task: the wonderful world of Mexican Immigration - I NEED to establish my residency and stop being the eternal tourist. Being allowed to stay here 6 months at a time is not conducive to getting paperwork done - the mañana attitude kicks in full force, and before you know it, it's mañana and you are in danger of being deported... OK, I'm exaggerating a bit. I've been nowhere near to being deported, but I don't want to ever be!

So there dear reader! If all goes according to plan, you'll hear from me at least once a week...maybe even more, I'll try my best.

What about you? Any daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly resolutions you want to share? I'll be encouraging :)