Monday, December 29, 2008

The Clapper

Some women cut other people's meat. Some will wipe off dirt from co workers faces. I have become a clapper thanks to my baby. Amelia loves to clap. Not a surprise since we clap a lot at our house. Everything ends up being a song and so clapping is inevitable. But what I did last Wednesday was baby clapping during an adult conversation and that is the perfect example that motherhood has indeed changed me.

I was chatting with my girlfriend Celeste about the latest class reunion that I missed. She was giving me a rundown of who was there and when she mentioned a particular person, I clapped with glee. Celeste said "Ana you just clapped." I knew excatly what she meant. I clapped like a 14 month old. I clapped when I could have just as well used an adjective to describe my feelings. I could have said "he was there. That's so cool." I clapped because that's what I do for hours on end for the last 300 and some days of my life.

I'm a clapper. I accept it and shamelessly admit it I'll probably keep doing it until Amelia starts expressing her delight with words. Ay Mama!

Grandparents wisdom

I've said more than once on this blog that my parents are not your typical grandparents, or at least, they don't think they are. Their house in not wall papered with their grand daughters pictures. They can't quote every statistic on their grandkids development and middle of the night feedings are not their thing. They are loving grandparents who adore their girls but they are done taking care of babies full time. They believe it's their kids job to raise their own.

So as you can imagine, there were some memorable quotes during this trip from them and their friends who are also grandparents who aren't looking to be parents again.

First up, my Dad. He was taking my husband and daughter to pick something up. I called to check on them and asked where my child was. This conversation was in Spanish, so things might be lost in the translation.

"Y mi hija?" = Where's my daughter?
"Con su papa."= With her dad.
"Por que no se quedo contigo en el carro?"= Why didn't she stay in the car with you?
"Ay no porque pega a gritar." = No way, then she'll start screaming her head off.

I thought the way he said it was so funny and honest. He loves Amelia but he's not about to put up with her whining. He already did that with me. His granddaughter's laugh is the only sound he wants to hear.

My mother's neighbour Doña Tere has 4 or 5 grandchildren. None of them babies anymore. But she accepts with no remorse that the best part of their visits is the moment they arrive and the moment they leave. I love that woman!

And last but not least, my Mom. Amelia gets a lot of gifts for Christmas. People love to give her toys. But we travel carry on (that experiece will be blogged about soon) and we can't bring the toys back with us. Besides we go to PR often and having toys there is great. So I said to my mom that I was going to leave the toys in her house.

Here's an excerpt from that conversation.

"Mami, voy a dejar los juguetes aqui para cuando venga en marzo"= Mom, I'll leave the toys here for when we come back in March.

"No hay problema. De camino al aereopuerto yo para en un lugar en Isla Verde para rentar un storage place." = No problem, I'll just rent a storage space for your stuff on the way to the airport.

In all fairness, I have a lot of crap at home. My husband and I have a week's stay worth of clothing, shoes, and toilettries and so does Amelia. I totally understand what she means.

Come to think of it, I think my parents should have a blog for "reluctant grandparents". Now a days when so many grandparents end up raising their grandchildren, I'm sure they would love a space to vent how they really feel. And since I know they are reading this:

Papi y Mami:

Amelia es tan afortunada de tener abuelos como ustedes, como yo de tenerlos como mis padres. "Amelia is just as luky to have you as grandparents as I am to have you as my parents."


We are back and I'm happy to report Amelia was great on both plane rides. As you know, I was especially scared about the plane ride down to Puerto Rico since Amelia would be riding on our laps. But, believe it or not, she was better going down than coming back up.

I think 3 things worked in our favor. We traveled in the morning, close to her nap time. A bit of Benadryl helped relaxed her. Last but not least, I promised everyone sitting around us a round of free drinks if she got out of hand.

The girl fell asleep 20 minutes after take off. Took a 45-50 minute nap and woke up nice and mellow. Enjoyed the plethora of DVDs we provided for her pleasure and, by the time she wanted to go, we were almost landing.

I wasn't going to go for the Benadryl on our way back but I think my daughter sensed we were coming back to the frigid city, so she was a handful. Amelia had her own seat so thanks to that and the Benadryl, she slept for an hour and 45 minutes. But she didn't wake up happy. No DVDs, no food, nothing made her happy. You know when she calmed down? When the plane shook like a blender trying to navigate the bad weather over Chicago. Ironically, I was the one freaking out. Maybe I should have taken the Benadryl. Ay Mama!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Who's  at fault now. My husband went personally to the store. Dealt with the owner, the one that blamed me for everything.  We got charged for one thing and received the cheaper version.  I swear God wants me to learn something from this.  Maybe to have patience with stupid people at expensive baby stores.  Or maybe the artist who hand makes the necklaces is the one screwing up. Too hard to understand that there were two separate babies and the names should go on two separate disk.  The big charms that I paid for and not the little ones.  AHHHHHH!!!!

Last time, when they first screwed the order up, my husband almost drew on a piece of paper what we wanted  for the owner who insisted she did what I told her. So now what?  I have to give my best friend from forever sort of the gift I wanted to give her.  Can you believe I've been on this since the last week of November.

So Steve is on his way tomorrow to at least get the difference back.  Remember that these expensive boutiques never refund your money.  It's an exchange or credit when you pay too much for a baby t-shirt.

And to top it all off, I'm cheating on my girlfriend Michelle who owns a baby boutique but doesn't carry the necklaces.  Ay Mama!

Next time, I'll procrastinate

It started in late November. I ordered custom made necklaces for my two girlfriends who were each having their second baby. I thought I had explained myself very well to the woman who took my order but three weeks later the necklaces arrived all wrong. After taking the blame myself, since these day the customer is always wrong, the necklaces have been reordered. I'm leaving to PR in 3 days and I still haven't received the new necklaces. I don't want to call for an update because I'm afraid I'll get blamed for the delay. So my best friend from home is going to have to hear about her lovely gift, instead of actually seeing it.

Another thing I should've left for last minute. My Holiday cards. I also ordered them the day after Thanksgiving and was told they would be at my house on December 5th. Since I live in the city with the worst mail delivery system in the nation, I gave it a couple of days. I called the Tuesday after they were supposed to arrive and was told that indeed they had the cards sitting at the store. I said that they were supposed to mail them. I even double checked that they had the correct address when I first ordered them. The cards arrived 10 days late.

So what have I learned, leave it all for the last minute. Ay Mama!

Friday, December 12, 2008

What is too much TV?

Be careful what you wish for, I guess? We have been wanting Amelia to show interest ina TV show so that we can entertain her on our trip to PR for the holidays.  Now , the kid is hooked.  Blues Clues, Elmo, Dora, "la novela", Spanish TV documentaries on the human body ( her babysitter really likes the latter 2).  She also likes Handy Manny which drives me crazy since the stereotype is insane. A latino handy man. It's only saving grace?  He is adorable and Wilmer Valderrama does his voice and he is an awesome Latino businessman and a decent actor. 

But now I'm worried she watches too much TV. So do I.  I have watched TV from the day it caught my eye.  When I was single, it was my companion. It's the first thing I would turn on in the morning and the last thing I would turn off at night. I work in television for crying out loud. That thing feeds my family.

Yet, now I'm worried I'm a bad mother for starting Amelia on this family tradition too early. But what am I supposed to do with a 14 month old  when the temperature outside is below zero with the wind chill factor.  I play with her. Her babysitter plays with her all the time.  She moves away from the TV to play on her own often. 

She's 14 months, I can't give her a crayon yet. She navigates our 2 bedroom apartment like a police investigator. She opens drawers, tries to put her hands in the toilette.  Drags her dolls all over the place but if Blues Clues is on, she's frozen on her bean bag. 

I take her to be with other kids at least twice a week and in the weekends we go out often. But still, the other day she gave Steve the remote first thing in the morning when he didn't turn it on quickly enough.

Then again, I grew up on TV and my brain didn't turn to mush.  My Mom never sat down to play with me for hours and I don't resent her. Plus, except for the Spanish soap operas and documentaries, and the morning show I work for, Amelia watches Nogin and Sprout.  

TV and all, I got good grades, had extracurricular activities, a social life, graduated cum laude from college, have a successful career, found a guy and have a family. Maybe there is a future for her.

I guess I could have my father's approach. (Si, Papi por fin estas en el blog) He was offended when we didn't consume anything his company sold. From electronics to Coca Cola, anything Bacardi distributed, no matter how bad it was, we had to buy it.  Still now, after being retired for over a decade, the man only drinks Bacardi. So do I.   The least Amelia can do is appreciate television for what it is, Mami's passion and what puts food on her table. Que no sea malagradecida. Ay Mama!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Who the hell raises a kid in this weather?

I've lived in Chicago for almost a decade.  I adore this city but I HATE it's winters. I'm not exaggerating. We had our first snow storm on December first and right now we are under another winter storm.  Last Friday, it was seven degrees when we woke up.  That's without the wind chill factor. That might be the reason people shiver when I tell them I live in Chicago.  I don't mean my tropical "compatriotas", I mean everyone who doesn't live in this neck of the woods where winter lasts 8 months and summer lasts 8 weeks. 

But just like with many other things, Amelia has made me push through this aversion to winter weather. If it wasn't for her, I would only leave our apartment to go to work.  I wear as many layers as I can plus a North Face jacket to survive an Arctic freeze, gloves to climb an iceberg and I'm still cold.  The fact that I work in the early morning hours when it's even colder just adds insult to injury. AND being in the news business means that when it snows, I'll be the idiot standing outside telling the viewers that temperatures are dangerously low and you should stay in. 

So I've had to adjust now that I have a very active and friendly 14 month old. No, there is no park to go to. But we go to Gymboree for a class, open gym and anything else they will invite us to. We pay 10 dollars at Bubbles Academy so she can run amuck indoors and literally bounce of it's padded walls. I go visit friends so that the girl can see other people her age. 

I hate every minute of the travel process, though.  I have to bundle her up and sit her in her car seat in a skiing jacket with a hood. We have a covered garage but if I sit her in the car without the coat, when I get to our destination, I could freeze her ass off just by opening the door to suit her up. She needs boots that she constantly wants to take off, plus mittens.

When I look at her in the back seat, the girl can barely move.  I give her a toy and just switching it from one hand to the other is a task. It's like strapping the Michelin man in a car seat. But true to form, she is not as miserable as I am. She either takes her pacifier and plays with or makes noises---her lips being the only muscles she can move.

According to my husband, children, himself included, have lived and thrived in this Siberian hell of the USA for centuries.  In other words, "island girl, get over it". I won't get over it, but I'll live through it for my beloved girl.  Next year, we are going to music class and even swimming classes.  The pool is indoors but you know I'll be blowing drying the crap out of my hair and hers before we get in the car. I think maybe we will both wear swimming caps. That won't embarrass her in the future. Ay Mama!

Is everyone pregnant?

Amelia and I went to Gymboree the other day for their open Gym session. Amelia went directly to this rolling platform, sat on it and pointed at the rope. I started pulling my precious cargo, when a boy decided to join her. I look up at his mom to see if it's OK that I take her son for a ride, and notice she was visibly pregnant. Then another boy got on the wagon and his mother was expecting as well.  A third child hopped on and I said, "sure, I'll pull you guys around. Everyone else is pregnant."  The latter boy's mother says, "that's funny I'm three months pregnant".  I looked around and almost every mother I could see had a belly.  So for 15 minutes, I did my duty and pulled those kids around the Gym. 

Better them than me.  I thought I wanted two in a row, but now even number two is in question. It's like this, when Amelia sleeps well I'm all for it. When she doesn't, I can't even imagine going through sleepless nights again. And these women having virtual twins...Wow! Hats off to them and their mental sanity.  They can always count on me to pull their oldest ones around the Gym. Ay Mama!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I started it

It was a Saturday evening and I put Amelia down at seven o'clock. She went out like a light but he was just starting. By he, I mean my neighbors dog. He has two: one old, one young. It was the young one. The one he introduced to Amelia face to face so he could smell her and not bark "because these are our neighbors." This was said to the four legged animal in that tone of voice reserved for babies.

I guess his Mommy and Daddy went out for the night and the dog sat at the door and barked for 5 hours. He only stopped to swallow I assume since his little throat must have gotten dry on account of the barking.

Amelia slept through the whole thing but I almost couldn't so when my baby woke up at 5:30AM, we put her by the door so she could cry her ass off and wake up the dog. I know it's childish but it made us feel better.

But that wasn't enough. Later that week I saw the neighbor and told him. He was out to walk his four legged babies and I said

"Did you go out Saturday night?"
"Oh, one of your dogs really missed you. He barked a lot that night."
"Don't worry, he didn't wake up the baby but I felt bad for him."

Bull crap. I felt bad for me and my neighbor knew it so he didn't even say the obligatory "sorry". He just said good bye as I left the elevator.

Fast forward to last Thursday. He got on the elevator with Amelia and I. He takes a look at my child and says

"You weren't the one crying this morning, were you?"

Touche my friend. I had it coming. Ay Mama!

I know that look

It was 5:50 AM and I was on my way to the car in our indoor garage. I immediately recognized the look. He was pushing the stroller in his pajamas up and down the garage. I took one look inside the stroller and gave him the good news "He's out". That poor man's reply was "Really??", his voice cracking in exhausted disbelief. He didn't even say thanks or good bye. He didn't have to. I felt his pain.

I shudder every time I think about it. Amelia fighting sleep and screaming her head off at 2 months old. I would get her in the stroller and the battle would begin. I went up and down the hallway staring down at my newborn who would in turn, stare up at me. She would be quiet but holding her eyes wide open with every lap. I went faster and faster covering my bare sholders with one of her blankets. I din't have the energy to put a robe on. The fight ensued for 20 minutes and I always won.

I think we have all done it. My friend Sylvia found herself roaming her building's lobby at 4AM with her restless twins. My friend Veronica would just leave the baby sleeping in the stroller, afraid to wake her after a marathon stroll off. I can picture all of us looking like "La llorona", the ghost of that crazy woman who lost her baby and would cry at night while she looked for her child.

Whoever that Dad was on Friday morning, I hope he made it upstairs with a sleeping baby. Lord knows I waited to turn on my car. I hope both him and his child got some rest. Ay Mama!

S.O.S. Holiday Travel

I need help. I'm taking a flight to spend Christmas week with my family in Puerto Rico. The flight is almost 5 hours long and we don't have a ticket for the baby. I shouldn't call her a baby. She's a 13 month old todler that weighs 25 pounds and measures 30.1 inches. Hence my fear of five hours with my adorable, friendly and very active Amelia jumping from her father's lap to mine, and screaming with delight at strangers.

We bought the tickets around May so we thought we could totally handle the lap ride. She was seven months then and had already traveled to PR twice, sleeping most of the flight. I know, rooky mistake on our part. The baby was bound to grow...a lot. It took a 2 hour flight to Florida at 9 months old to get us to buy a ticket for her on our next trip to the island in October. But December was booked already. It is what it is.

So I need suggestions. Amelia will be 15 months old in December and probably walking by then. She will watch a video on the DVD player but that's maybe 30 minutes. Plus she's too small to understand what the earphones are for, so we have to put the volume up for her. She's not used to sleeping on us anymore. She loves to just slide down from our laps to crawl all over the place. Confined spaces are not her thing. I know, you're happy you won't be sitting next to us.
My husband suggested we practice sitting on the couch for 4 and half hours with her and toys, dvd player and food. Funny, right? But we are desperate. Her pediatrician doesn't want us to go the Benadryl route which we would also have to practice since a lot of kids end up more excited than sleepy.

I'm hopping the plane is full of my fellow Puerto Rican families with little kids like mine and not evil people like the one traveler I encountered on my way back from Florida.
Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Ay Mama!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A weekend full of fluids

We were going to a wedding Saturday evening, so Operation Stealth Departure started around 6PM. My girlfriend Sandy was babysitting and for her sake I wanted to leave Amelia bathed and sleeping. So I had my hair and make up done but stayed in my shorts and tshirt so the baby had no idea what we were up to. Or so we thought.

Sandy showed up and Amelia embraced her presence without reservations. I followed the bed time routine as usual. Some milk and then bath time. On our way to the bath, Steve and I sang the Rocky themeto her as usual. Yes, it's riduculous but it's part of the plan. But this time, when we took the diaper off, she proceeded to pee on her Dad. Thankfully, it fell on his shorts so he didn't have to take another shower, but we think the kid was on to us and decided to pee on our plans.

Anyway, we bathed her and put her down. She was out like a light and we were on our way out. I went to clean the bathroom floor before I got dressed but the floor didn't get wet. I had left my slippers in there so I slipped into them. That's when I figured out where Amelia's fluids had fallen. So I went to this very chic wedding with my daughter's urine on my tights since they were the only pair of dark black tights I had. Lesson learned.

Then yesterday we are ready to go to brunch with our friends when I decided to take pictures of the girl in a cute outfit my aunt Marilu sent from Florida. Right after the third picture, she spits up on the outfit, hers and mine. So we change her but I loved the sweater I was wearing and notice that I was able to clean it up well. Or so I thought.

On our way to the restaurant, my perfume stopped masking that rotten milk smell of baby spit up. So there I was, a fashion statement who smelled like baby spit up. Ay Mama!

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's over

We tried it, but it's over. We stayed in the city thinking we could make it work, but even a trip to Target doesn't work. You just can't go shopping with a toddler. I don't mean the must do shopping when you run out of milk, I mean the "let's checkout what's new out there" kind of shopping.

Before Amelia was born and for her first 10 months of life, we lived around the corner from the Magnificent Mile of Chicago. We literally had the GAP flagship store 3 blocks down the street from us. So getting a fashionable scarf for the summer, paired perfectly with Amelia's afternoon stroll. If we needed a bitrthday gift, make up supplies or a new attachment for the computer, we could just put her in the stroller and run those errands in about half an hour. By the time she got restless, we would abort the mission and go home.

Last summer, we moved away from Michicagan Ave into the trendy but more residential South Loop. There's not one flagship store in sight. Nice restaurants, small boutiques which in many cases mean expensive. But according to everyone, the Magnificent Mile is a bus ride away.

So we stood at the bus stop for about fifteen minutes. Eventhough the kid had take two naps, she was immediatley restless. She's almost walking now so she hates being strapped to any seat. The bus that would take us shopping never came. Well. "let's take the car". So much for reducing our carbon footprint.

Naiively I thought we could find a parking spot downtown and if not, I would just drive Amelia around while Steve purchased a frying pan to make German pancakes. I told you it was leisure shopping. But as stated before, Amelia hates seatbelts and she complained all the way downton.

Next obstacle, parking. We found two spots but both were taken from under our noses. One guy was saving a spot for a friend, while another spot was open behind him, so he blocked two parking spots for us.

My husband was ready for a throw down, which was the next problem. You can't really fight with a baby in the car. I begged him and reminded him about his child in the car seat. He obliged but then got angrier because I didn't let him curse someone out. So he drove like a mad man, honking the horn at old ladies slowly crossing the street (just kidding, but there was a lot of horn honking). Picture this, Amelia whining, Steve honking and I'm getting dissy thanks to the reckless driving.

He finally says "let's go home". To what I answered, "It's over. Let's go home and shop on the Internet like every other parent we know". Ay Mama!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


"What race would you want us to list your daughter under?" Wow, now that's a loaded question! I looked at my very pale, green eyed, brown hair, tall one year old and was speechless.

"Hm, white, I guess." and I added "But she's half Puerto Rican." "Although she looks white".

Come to think about it, I also look white. I'm probably one of the most pale Puerto Ricans you will ever meet. My cousin Edgar says I'm so pale, I look like I need a blood transfusion. But in this country of labels that tend to define you more often than not, I may look white, but I'm Hispanic. My race is well defined. Amelia's race---not so much.

I can't believe at her young age, I was in charge of giving Amelia her first label. From now on she will be a Caucasian female. But that definitely is not my daughter. Amelia is the wonderful combination of two races, two cultures, two religions. Two people who were born in two very different places but were raised with the same values and moral code. Yet, we have to classify her as something so society can handle it.

I admit, it's probably my issue to deal with. I hate labels and when I came to the U.S. for college, I realized we are all about labels here. I'm Puerto Rican, Hispanic, female, yet I refuse to let all those labels define me.

Also, I dread the day that Amelia says in her perfect, non accented English "Oh, yeah, my Mom is Puerto Rican". Like she has no connection to where I'm from, like she doesn't belong to that part of me at all. When I married Steve, more than the religion issue, my biggest deal was that my child was not going to be Puerto Rican, born and raised like me. I actually told him I would raise her Jewish as long as we could foster her Puerto Rican identity. At one point I thought about giving birth on the island. That is the reason Amelia has already been to PR three times in her short life. I only speak Spanish to her and teach her the few kids songs I remember from my childhood.

So, when that woman asked about Amelia's race, I had to come to terms with the fact that she will also have labels and that Puerto Rican will not be one we share. I can only hope to raise her very proud of her Latin and American heritage. That she admires the fact that her father and I were able to look beyond our labels and create our own loving family.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A bad case of Mamitis

We just arrived from my mother land. Yes, grandma's house. I know I have said Abu Tita (my mother came up with this name for herself because she can't stand Abuela=grandma in Spanish. I wonder what Jackie O's grandkids called her. If it was grandma, Mami will oblige I'm sure) is not your typical, get up at 3AM with the kid grandma, but she is an abuela in every other way. She was willing to take care of Amelia during waking hours, put her down for naps, even take care of her at night.  So I was dreaming of sleeping in, dinner alone with my husband, hell, at least go to the bathroom on my own. Wishful thinking.

Amelia developed a bad case of Mamitis. That is the Puerto Rican term for a disease all children develop at some point. It's an allergy to other people that are not her mother. Not even Daddy will do.  Amelia was stricken by Mamitis by the second day at my parents' house. It was Monday and we think she was also missing her baby sitter and her routine. Saturday and Sunday she was all about Abu Tita and Abuelo. In fact, the moment she saw my mother at the airport, she threw her arms at her, which wrote her in the book of life of Jackie O Belaval. Amelia is so in the will. 

But by Monday, when I decided to sleep in since my husband had slept until ten the day before, Amelia turned on all of us. She was cool and happy with everyone, as long as I was in the room.  Even when I left to fix her a bottle, she would cry.  So, no more sleeping in for me, no quick trips to the U.S. Embassy for my husband's daily dose of Americana (that is what my brother calls Steve's once a day trip to Starbucks for a frap), no more Abu Tita putting her down for the night so I could party. 

The case of mamitis was exacerbated by teething.  The girl is getting her molars. She's a teething machine so she was drooling and chewing on anything. I did get out with my girlfriends for lunch and with another couple for dinner. I emphasize the get out part since I almost escaped.  I made sure I left her sleeping and completely unaware of my departure,before I made a break for it. I was successful both times. 

So Steve came back well rested. He slept late more than once, read the paper in silence, watched TV.  There is no such thing as intense as Mamitis for fathers because even when little girls go through the all about Daddy phase, they still go to Mommy to get fed, changed and bathed.  He noticed how tough I had it though and  on our plane ride home he told me I wasn't a single mother and I shouldn't feel like I had all the burden.  Yeah right, can someone tell our baby that? 

That said, we had a great time and it was better to have Amelia clinging to me, as long as she was sweet and friendly to my family.  She thrived in their loudness and constant joy of living.  She was in love with her six year old cousin and her Aunt and Uncle rock in her eyes. She even took an hour nap while "merengue" songs were blasting from the stereo system in a restaurant in the middle of the country.  Just to see her enjoying that environment in which I grew up in was worth having her attached to my leg.  Plus something about crawling all over the place in an apartment triple the size of her own Chicago abode, going out every day and playing with her many visitors had her sleeping through the night for 12 hours in a row. God bless the island air. Ay Mama!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Let her eat cake!

There will be a cake, and gifts and play but there will be no huge birthday party. This might turn you off this blog but I have to be honest, I don't believe in big first birthday parties. And the more I discuss it with other parents, many agree it ends up being more for the grown ups and the older kids that you invite than about the birthday child.

For Amelia everyday is a party so this one isn't any different. She loves playing with kids her age and frankly, we don't know that many. My worry was that she would be overwhelmed and lost trying to follow her "much older friends and cousins".

That doesn't mean she won't be celebrated. It's 10AM and she's already heard the birthday song three times. This afternoon she has a play date with her friend Ellie where cupcakes will be had by all. And tomorrow we have the official cake at her grandparents house for the first year photo.

In the interest of full disclosure, kids birthday parties have never been my thing. I have to say this because my cousins who have children older than mine read the blog and probably think I will make my daughter suffer for my allergy to 60 kids in a pool of balls at Chuck E Cheese. I have avoided their kids birthday parties because I didn't have kids. I honestly don't know a lot of child less couples who enjoy an afteroon at a kids birthday party. But I know, revenge is sweet and Amelia is going to love birthday parties and Chuck E Cheese and so will I. After all, I'm starting to dig Gymboree.

Maybe next year when Amelia can run after other kids, we will expand the birthday or I'll follow my friends Robin's advise and wait until Amelia actually asks for the party.

SHE'S ONE!!! and we made it.

AMELIA VICTORIA TURNS ONE TODAY!!!! I never thought I'd be this excited for the three of us. For Amelia because she's healthy, happy and thriving. A pure joy and blessing to have in our lives and all those other "cheesy feelings" I never knew I would feel or admit to. Seeing her discover the little things in life has been awesome. Having her light up when she sees me is the best ever.

I'm excited for Steve and I because we survived the first year of the rest of our lives. We are exhausted but extatic. He doesn't sweat the little suff anymore, now I do. I'm now the organized housewife I never thought I could be. We have survived together. So far so good.

So as I celebrate Amelia and her first big year, tomorrow night I have a date with my husband. We are going to celebrate that we have a healthy, happy daughter. That we fed her right, bathed her right and loved her right. And that we still have each other, holding hands through this ever changing experience that is having a kid. Thank God we have each other! Ay Mama!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wait a minute. I have to buy her a wardrobe?!!

The weather has changed and so has Amelia. She turns one on Friday, but her clothes are not turning one with her. I've just realized all those cute outfits so many generous people gave her at birth are all gone. Plus, the girl is tall, so we are going into the 18 months size. Add to all that, the fact that she is going to walk by the winter time, so she needs shoes and a coat. And guess what, I have to foot the bill.

I love shopping for her. There is so much out there for girls but I feel like I'm under the gun. Amelia needs all the basics and then some. If you have ever been to Chicago in the winter, and for your own good I hope you never have too, you know she will need layer upon layers of clothing. I'm facing this clothing nightmare as I worry about the state of the economy (i.e. how are we going to afford life after the debacle in Wall Street).

So now I feel like those people who get all the help once the hurricaine hits but a year later, they still have no home and the help is gone. Or when a loved one dies and everyone calls all the time but the calls end after a couple of months. As you can see, I like to exaggerate to prove a point. I don't need help. I can thankfully afford her clothing, but the task is daunting.

But like every day of this past year, I've learned something from this marternal experience. The next time my friends are pregnant, I will wait until the baby is one to give them a gift. A certificate at a store so they can buy the kid a wardrobe after the first birhtday.

Lesson learned now I have to go shopping. Ay Mama!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crack is whacked

Low rise jeans should be banned forever. Not only for mothers but for women of every age, every race, every body type, everywhere in the world. I've championed this cause even before I thought about getting pregnant.  Women have been showing the ugliest part of our "tush" for almost a decade now (I exaggerate to prove my point) and that has to stop. I don't care how hot you are, showing your crack is whacked.

I have thrown money at the problem. I've been to Jean shops in NYC and Chicago where the denim experts were trained to solve my jeans problems.  They would always bring me the least low rise pair of the bunch.  I would sit on a chair in the dressing room (litmus test for the jeans) and my crack would stare right back at me. 

The last straw happened a couple of weeks ago, at my friend Lisa's birthday party. I sat down on the floor to change Amelia's diaper.  By the way, changing an eleven month old baby's diaper is like trying to subdue an unruly inmate high on cocaine. (I've seen it on TV)  She throws her body all over the place and takes off crawling with her bare butt exposed. She has no problem showing crack yet. Changing trays at public bathrooms have become dangerous. But I digress...

So there I am in my least low rise pair, with the obligatory long top to cover up and even so, Lisa's eleven year old cousin had to discretely tell me "you might want to pull your shirt down." Lord knows how long the party goers were getting a nice look at the ugliest part of my lower back. 

My husband had rushed into action a week before to cover me up at a coworker's party as I knelt down to pick up the baby.  Enough is enough!

So I went to GAP and tried on their mid rise Classic and Essential jeans.  High rise seems to be a curse word in the fashion world.  Natural waist is a term only to be found on the L.L. Bean or Land's End catalogs.  So I tried the Gap pairs and looked at my butt in the mirror. There it was the very matronly, shapeless, scary Mommy Jean.  If you don't know what they are, look some clips up on you tube.  I learned about the term on an Saturday Night Live skit.

I asked a sales associate and he came through for me.
Me: "Do these look like Mommy Jeans"
Him: "Yes, a little."

Say no more.  So I've ordered an expensive pair on line that actually say High Rise. Let's hope they are truly for all "Mankind" as the label suggests. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or if you've found a solution of your own, help a sister out. My butt and I and probably my embarrassed little girl will thank you. Ay Mama!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"She's got earring's" and other cultural shocks

As soon as the pediatrician gave the go ahead, Amelia got her ears pierced. She already had five pairs of earrings waiting to beautify her earlobes.  This is a common practice in my culture. In Puerto Rico, depending on your gender,  you either get circumcised or your ears pierced when you are born. But I never thought I would get so many comments on Amelia's earrings.

"Oh, she has earrings!"  "A baby with earrings. How cute".  They really mean how strange because it seems in the Anglo Saxon U.S.A., this is a very strange thing.  Mothers of older girls really hate it because their daughter usually ask why Amelia has her ears pierced and they don't. I'm sure they've already explained to them that Amelia's Mom is from another country where they don't mind causing pain to babies' earlobes. 

The cultural differences are even more emphasized because I married into a nice, midwestern Jewish family.  I was born and raised in Puerto Rico so my references to baby rearing and accessorizing go back to my island. 

For example, Amelia has been wearing a bow on her hair (or wisp of hair) since I could clip it on her. Now she likes to eat them hence no more bows.  Thank God she has earrings or she would look like a boy. She wears dresses with bows and ribbons on them, sent from PR and usually made in Colombia or Peru. The bow on her hair have to match the dress. 

My husband's family was fine with the earrings and loves the dresses. I have a in law cousin who loves bows.  The one thing that freaks them is the white linen outfits. Puerto Rico has a warm climate, so babies often wear white linen outfits that make them look like members of the Spanish monarchy. (We were a Spanish colony before being a US colony).

Every time my husband's family sees Amelia in a picture with a white linen outfit, they ask if we have christened her. Yep. That big elephant in the room we don't discuss with either side.  Amelia hasn't be christened or named at Temple. But it seems one side of the family is under the impression that when we fly over the Atlantic, all bets are off, and the Catholics win. 

Now that the kid is bigger she doesn't fit in the linen gowns, so the question is off the table, for now. Or so I think because I hear my husband still giving the same answer since Amelia was born and I've been in charge of her fashion sense. "It's a Puerto Rican thing".  That's why I love the man.  He always has the right answers. Ay Mama! 

The flying slipper

I just wanted to get a manicure and an eyebrow wax.  I had made my appointment late enough so my husband could have his appointment at 11AM.  I kept the baby all morning, through her lack of napping, went out to lunch with her, my girlfriend Sandra and her 2 daughters.  And made it back with plenty of time to take a shower and go get my stuff done.

But my lovely husband did not show up until a quarter to two.  My appointment was at 2:30 and Amelia would not go to sleep so I could take a shower. I put her in her crib, let her cry her butt off and showered.  By the time he showed up, I had 15 minutes to get to my appointment.  I was going to be 15 minutes late. A no, no for a manicurist who is booked solid on a Saturday. 

So I couldn't get my manicure or my eyebrows waxed. I called my spouse and sternly let him know what had happened. He's a sharp guy so he could tell what I meant was "you left me at 10:00 AM for an appointment at 11. Ran errands, bought yourself a nice salad and pranced home 30 minutes before my appointment".

Needless to say, when I came home, Steve was avoiding eye contact for his own good. And that leads to the title of this blog.  While I was blow drying my hair, I started a conversation with him, but he would answer while moving all over the room and staying as far away as possible.  When I asked about his behavior he said "I'm staying in constant motion so I can avoid getting your heel up my butt".  

In my English as a second language mentality I answered "but I'm not wearing heels". And then the Puerto Rican in me kicked in. "What you should be afraid of is the flying "chancla". Loosely translated "chancla" is a house shoe or slipper, a Puerto Rican mother's weapon of choice.  That thing is stealth like and has a boomerang effect. It finds the target, does the damage and returns to it's master.  

My mother used it to break fights between my brother and I. I swear that she would rub it against us while we slept so that the "chancla" could recognize our scent and never miss.  No matter how fast my brother and I ran, the "chancla" would get us. 

I'm not advocating violence against your husband and/or your children.  Most Puerto Rican mom's I know use it out of desperation and trust me, it doesn't even hurt.  It's more of a statement of discipline than an actual act of violence. But it's never a bad thing to have your kids or your husband under that threat.  That way the "chancla" will never leave your foot but only you will know that. Ay Mama.


Friday, September 12, 2008

He's going to hit us

It happened like the insurance commercials say it does. In slow motion, I saw how the cab was going to hit us.  I even said it out loud: "he's going to hit us". And he did, hard. Typical rear end accident on a Chicago rainy day.  It could have been a commercial. It happened on the emblematic Michigan Avenue. 

I saw Amelia's scared face on impact. Arms up as if being held up, followed by that fearful cry that can tear your heart apart. I get out of my SUV and check on her. She looks fine. Safe in that car seat that Steve researched his ass off about before getting. How lucky am I to have Mr. Consumer Reports for a husband? 

Then I confront the cab driver.  My CRV, which I bought from a sales guy that almost guaranteed that this thing could tell when I was going to have an accident and save my family's life, was almost intact. The cab's grill was on the ground.  The cab driver's first words: "F&^%!"  The curse word most used  by those of use who have English as a second language.  I answered: "Yeah". 

It was a stupid fender bender but I was shaken.  When something like this happens and your child is with you, you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.  I took her out of the car seat while two very helpful Chicago cops got the cab driver's info for me.

Then we went to the nearest station to file a report.  That's when the funny thing happened.  There I am trying to get a scared and screaming Amelia into her stroller.  Another very nice Chicago cop is letting me invade his parking spot with all my stuff.  I told him about my fender bender and he realizes who I am.  Tells me it will be a matter of just filing a report. No biggie; just a hassel. He looks at the baby and tells me how he can't believe she's so big already. Blah, blah, blah.

As I thank him profusely for letting me take my time and I'm ready to rush into the station, he asks me for a favor. He gives me his address so I can mail him a publicity picture for his daughter and him. I said sure, but he continues his monologue under the rain about how he knows how to say my name and how his daughter doesn't. And how she calls me Ana Banana but he knows it's Ana Belaval.  It's raining on Amelia and I. He's nice and dry in his cop car. Funny, right.

Anyway, Amelia was so happy at the station, she was even laughing with the guy that hit us. She's fine, I'm fine and now, I'm having some wine. Ay Mama! Oh, and the picture will be in the mail by Monday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You will never go alone

Remember how you used to cherish your 2-5 minutes alone in the bathroom while your 0-6 month old just stayed in place in the living room. Well, kiss that good bye when the kid goes mobile. You know that saying, (probably a quote from the Bible I should know about since I went to Catholic school for 12 years) "you will never walk alone", well there should be one for mothers that says "you will never go alone".

I don't want to get graphic, but I really needed to go today and since Amelia follows me everywhere, there she was about to play with the waste basket in the bathroom. Until she realized I had a magazine (now, I think that paints the picture just fine). Well, my adorable, paper obsessed, future magazine editor cannot resist that glossy material and she climbed my naked half to grab the pages. 

It was a ridiculous scene, but I literally had to go with it.  I don't know about you, but I usually have to concentrate to go, not anymore my friends.  I think at this point I could go anywhere, surrounded by everyone.  I exaggerate but you get the idea.

Now I understand why my mother would send us kicking and screaming to ride the horse with my Dad every Saturday. She would stay home, walk around in her underwear and blast the Julio Iglesias record while she organized her closet.  I sacrifice my  mother's privacy to let you know that once you have a child, you will have to send them away to feel like you can have time for yourself.

I can't wait until Amelia starts calling me Mama and talking, but maybe I can wait, since I don't know how well I will handle going to the bathroom while having a conversation with her. Ay Mama!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

She looks just like her dad!

I love my husband. He is one handsome dude but after nine months of carrying our child, I have to admit I wanted the baby to look like me. Not a chance. Even in the 3 d sonogram I could see the girl was taking after her Daddy. "No problem", I thought. Steve has beautiful blue eyes and, in my culture (or at least in my family), one of the benefits of marrying "un americano" is the possibility of having a blond and blue eyed member of your family.

But after 14 hours of labor I gave birth to my father in law. That is who Amelia looked like as a new born. She even frowned like him. Again, my father in law is a very handsome man, but after all that pain, all that labor, the kid should have been my spitting image. How ungrateful can nature be?

What made it worse is that everyone who visits the new mom tells her about it. "Oh my God Ana, she looks just like Steve". Strangers would look at the two of us by ourselves and wonder if she was mine, until her Dad arrived. My mother, who knew what a hormonal mess I was at the beginning even called Amelia "little Howard", my father in law's name.

A word to the wise, even if the Mom is not a hormonal mess who can't sit down to feed her own baby, keep those comments to yourself. Tell her the baby is beautiful. And if she asks who does he/she looks like: LIE! Just say, "it's too early too tell" or the always safe "she's a combination of the both of you".

Those first six weeks of post labor hell, I kept looking at Amelia wondering when would I see anything that would resemble me. My best friend from home came to see us for Thanksgiving and saw a picture of me as a newborn, lying on my side. She could tell I was a little hurt by the fact that the baby looked nothing like me. She was nice enough to look at the picture and say that Amelia had my ears. That is a true friend.

Two months after she was born, Amelia smiled. And there they were: MY DIMPLES! Yes, she is my child. Those 2 indentations on her cheeks were all mine. And that's all I needed.

At 11 months, she still looks more like Steve, but I like to think that my personality is coming through. She is loud, friendly, loves the mirror, loves to laugh and smiles all the time. My parents say I wasn't even that sweet and funny as a baby--but I, in my revisionist history, say I was. Come to think of it and in all honesty, my brother was the friendly baby. Ay, Mama!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wine will get you through it

I'm sitting in my new balcony, overlooking Lake Michigan.  Humid yet gorgeous summer evening. A rare treat in the windy city.  I'm having a glass of wine, breathing in the sights.  Not really... 
I'M ESCAPING!! Hiding, if you will. From my almost 11 month old bedtime tantrum.  

I know it sounds horrible. I'm drinking wine by myself and I have left my husband peeling and deveining shrimp, while he listens to our wonderful screaming soundtrack of the last 11 months. As I've said, we have moved, so the first couple of days the sleepless nights had to do with the change of location. Now, three wonderful teeth are coming in.  Yes, nature is cruel to her and her parents.  But also, my child doesn't like to go to sleep. Has never liked it.  I think we have had 2 months where she actually falls asleep without screaming her ass off for a half hour. Then, as if a switch has been turned off, she's knocked out, hopefully for the night.

I know I'm not alone.  I come from a family of babies who slept a lot less than Amelia.  And that's when you need that family support.  Let me tell you about my cousin Vanessa. She has three beautiful children that she stayed home to raise. She has belonged to the Junior League, her local Ballet Board and thanks to her dedication to all the schoolwork, teenage drama and extracurricular crap, her kids have flourished.

But before you hate her or throw up, my cousin Vanessa has complained every step of the way.  The woman keeps it real. She adores her kids but she has no qualms telling you motherhood is hard as all hell. She is my kick ass older sister when it comes to motherhood.

Case in point: she came to visit with her youngest daughter.  She stayed with us so she had to be a part of the evening screams. I was embarrassed and ready to go get the baby out of the crib  so my guests wouldn't go back to Florida and tell the rest of my family what a horrible mother I was.  Well, Vane said "Serve yourself some wine and this too shall pass".  Words of wisdom, I know.

Before you call the Department of Family Services on us, we don't mean hit the bottle every night until the kid goes to college.  Just do what you need to do to survive. Some friends of mine take a shower to drown out the crying. Some experts recommend that actually. Some of my friends just rock the kid to sleep until they get over this phase.

I pour myself a glass of wine and wait the half hour I know it might take her to cry it out. I also sing to myself, walk around the house and stare at the video monitor hoping that telepathically I can send some ZZZs over to that baby. Ay Mama!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Me, nostalgic? Ay, please

I've never really looked back.  When I'm ready to make a change, it's because I'm so done with what I'm currently doing or where I'm at that I close that door with no problem.  Didn't cry after high school or college gradution.  Left my old job almost tearless.  The only exception to the rule  is saying good bye to my family. Every time I leave Puerto Rico, I seem to cry harder and it's been 12 years since I first said goodbye. 

So I was very surprised when I found myself reminiscing about the apartment we just moved out of. Yes, I was sad to leave a very posh address in downtown Chicago. But it was what happened in that 2 bedroom, two bathroom apartment during the last two years that had me looking back today. 

That was the apartment I spent my pregnancy in, where I prepared myself (uselessly) to be the best Mom I could be. Also, some good naps were taken in that living room. That's where my water broke and where we left a family of 2 and came back a family of three.  The guest bathroom nursed my ass back to health after labor.  I had my Mom cooking in that kitchen for a month, as I she taught me how to be a mother myself.

But the best part about that apartment is that it was Amelia' first home. Her first bedroom, her first bathroom. Amelia and I spent a lot of time indoors during my maternity leave since Chicago's weather killed all possibilities of nice walks down Michigan Ave. (If you live anywhere where your local weather guy mentions Arctic Air every evening, during winter, avoid having a baby during those months. It adds to the baby blues, big time)

Even the hallway outside our apartment brings up memories. Not the best ones though. Plenty of nights when the newborn didn't want to fall asleep, I found myself pacing, more like sprinting up and down the 10th floor hallway, with her in the stroller to make her go to sleep.  Me in my pajamas and Amelia determined not to close her eyes until maybe the 20th lap. 

At ten months, it's obvious that Amelia had some major milestones at our old address. Learned to do everything from sitting up and crawling to going from baby food to solids. Needless to say, she hasn't been sleeping well in the new place.  Neither have I, and not just because she wakes me up in the middle of the night.

Our new address couldn't be better.  A bit more room, less rent and a gorgeous lake view in a residential area, a stone throw away from downtown.  We will be happy here and probably sad when it's time to leave. 

 I guess with motherhood I have to learn that, for the first time, I will look back at life and be happy to be nostalgic.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy freaking Birthday to me!

It's 3:48 AM on my 34th birthday. No, I'm not back from a night of partying or passionate love making. Nope, I'm sitting on my couch listening to my 10 month old scream her ass off in anger. For the last three nights, Amelia has been getting up in the middle of the night due to teething. I shouldn't say the middle of the night, it's more like, an hour before I have to get up for work. Talk about being physically connected to me.

The first 2 nights, I gave her Tylenol, teething cream for her gums (the homeopathic one, not the one you all sent an email about her choking to death if I will, even though I loved that cream), 4 oz of formula and rocked my baby to calmness. I would put her down awake and she would go back to sleep.  

But last night, it took 2 attempts to put her down and I realized that, more than pain, Amelia just wanted to be rocked to sleep.  I habit that took sleepless nights for the three of us to break.

So since my birthday is today, Steve was going to take care of the baby if she woke up.  But call me a first time mom,  I can't sleep through her crying.  I could when she was a newborn because I knew after the feeding, she would be out, and frankly the crying was a lot lower. Now, I just don't know what's wrong and the girl is as loud as her Mama.  Plus, we live in a 2 bedroom apartment so sound travels quicker. 

My husband followed his already flawed routine. Changed her diaper, which I swear wakes her up more.  She's wearing an overnight diaper that doubles her pipi capacity, why in God's name would you expose her bare butt to the cold night to changer her.  

I forgot to tell you we change her on our bed, so the kid immediately perked up when she saw me. So much for sleeping through it.  Even Steve called it a bad move.  But after that, he gave her Tylenol, gum cream and put her ass down.  I totally understand why he did that; she was sleepy and ready to go back down.

She on the other hand, was not happy about Daddy's move. So it's 4AM and we have been listening to her crying for about 3o minutes.  Before you call DCFS on me, read Dr. Wissebluth's books and the Baby Whisperer books.  That's what we have followed. 

We monitor her every move on the video monitor and have seen her ready to fall asleep twice.  But the girl is resilient.  Has been since the day she was born.  She hates falling asleep and had finally nailed it down right before three teeth decided to ruin her nights, and ours.

So here I am, watching Olympic diving on the sofa, next to my husband and praying the neighbors can't here her. Hoping we are doing the right thing and that the Tylenol kicks in soon. Ay Mama!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just tell me what's wrong

I love my pediatrician. I've said before that I would live at that office if I could.  But, when there is an emergency, or what a first time mother like me considers an emergency, let's just say some members of the staff seem to be less than sympathetic.

Case in point, when Amelia was a newborn, one evening, out of the blue, she cried for almost 2 hours in a row.  This after two weeks of being the quietest baby ever born into my side of the family.  She barely cried when she woke up and once you fed her she was fine.  This was 2 hours of solid, desperate crying.  So we called the physician on call. And after 20 minutes (long twenty minutes of excruciating crying), she called. The diagnosis was "I don't know" She didn't have a fever, no visible signs of problems. The doctor on call had the audasity to tell me that it is only considered an emergency if the kid is crying for three hours in a row.  My very wise mother said "show me the pediatrician that would allow their baby to cry inconsolably for three hours". 

As we say in PR "que cojones". How dare she suggest that I wasn't suppose to call her, to wait it out, when I was paying $25 to page her.  I have a friend who's a pediatrician who doesn't understand why downtown Chicago doctors charge money for this service.  Me neither, it's not my fault you picked to be a pediatrician.  Kids get sick on Saturdays at midnight, not on weekdays form 9 to 5.  You should have been a dermatologist if you wanted to have evenings free. 

By the way, Amelia was colicky and saved by the awesome drops called Little Tummies, given to me as a shower gift by mother of two and kick ass friend, Kelly.  She was the one who diagnosed Amelia that evening and made me feel like I was right for calling the doctor. I should mention that when I told the doctor, who was not my lovely Dr. but the one on call, that I had those drops she said "you could try  them , but we don't really think they do much".  Ay, please!

They also can't tell you that your baby has a fever because she's teething.  Every mom in the world will tell you it's a fact but not your doctors. That takes me to my other insensitive episode with the people I pay to take care of my child and my fears.  

Amelia had a fever since Friday afternoon. Not a low grade fever. 102.9, 103.5.  Sunday rolled around and I checked in the book and it said, call the doctor if it's been three days and the baby has no other symptoms. So I didn't call. Better save those 25 dollars for when her gutts are hanging out of her body. Instead, I took her into the walk in hours. 

For as much as I love Amelia's pediatrician and nurses, I don't like taking her to share in the germs of the other children.  No parent likes it.  Trust me, we were all under caffeneited and hoping the cough, the fever, were nothing more than our exaggerated worry. 

So they call us in and the first nurse we encounter asks how long has Amelia had a fever.  I answer with the truth.  To what she says in a very condescending tone, "oh so it hasn't even been 48 hours".  So my husband,  who will always have my back, even if he knows I'm exaggerated about our baby's health, lied to the woman. He said "no, I think it started Friday morning".

From then on, it was Steve who answered every question in what seemed to be  an interrogation to catch us in the act of unnecessarily bothering people who get paid to take care of us. I had no need to open a can of Puerto Rican whoop ass, I'm saving that one for the movers today.  Steve took care of the condescending lactation specialist.

Yes, that was also her title which makes me wonder about those poor, exhausted women who call her when the milk doesn't come in and their babies are starving . "It hasn't really  been 48 hours, squeeze harder".  Ay, Mama!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The bumper and the pacifier

At 4AM today (that's the time I get up for work, but don't pitty me, I was going to a Country Club for Golf lessons,  not to cover a murder), I checked on Amelia. There she was, face buried in the bumper, body almost spooning the fluffy cushion that surrounds her crib. If she wasn't ten months old, she would be a poster child of how  not to lay your baby down.  I go in to check on her breathing every time I see her through the video monitor (the best gadget ever!) in that position. I am afraid of SIDS, although she's not at risk anymore, but I don't dare mover her because I'm more afraid to wake her up.  That has proven to be the beginning of the end.

Ever since she learned how to self sooth that is how she finally  falls asleep. Some nights (more than I care to admit) she cries for about 30 minutes, throwing herself all over the crib like a defeated wrestler, and as soon as she finds her spot on the bumper. ZZZZZZZZZZ

So I've decided that if this is what she needs to fall asleep until she knows better, I'll leave that bumper on. Even if she's 15, I'll buy her a four post bed and tie the bumper to it.  I think I'm more attached than she is.

I'm also attached, well, addicted to the pacifier.  As soon as she was born, I gave to her and she took.  I don't know what I would've done without it. Really, how do you do it if your baby doesn't like it. My theory is that it will be easier to throw out the pacifier, than cut her finger if she would've gotten in the habit of sucking it. 

My friend Veronica, who always has good tips for me (usually from her Motherland Mexico) was ready with advice about how to break Amelia's habit. Before she could finish the sentence, I barked at her. "There is no need to break that habit. I'M NOT READY TO BREAK THE HABIT.
Like Cheerios, the pacifier is my go to solution. Amelia doesn't take it all the time, but when she wants it, the timing is perfect.  

The pacifier can be a toy or a snooze button. And here's an admission that many will hate, I put three of them in her crib at night to help her go to sleep. Actually, maybe I put them there to help ME go to sleep. Ay Mama. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Let's back track

It started with an email from my girlfriend Johanna three days after Amelia was born. It was very sweet and it had a warning: if you feel like you don't want to be anyone's mom or that there is a stranger in your house, don't worry, it's normal.

Then my mother's friend and neighbor called from Puerto Rico and said "don't expect to love your baby more than anything right away, it takes time". This is an educated woman with three children, in her sixties, admiting this to me.

Both Johanna and Doña Tere (that's how we call older people in Spanish, like saying Mrs. Tere) come from a culture that expects you to want to be a mom since the day you are born female. A culture where their admissions would be considered heresy. But six days later, when I still couldn't sit and I had been to the OBGYN and she told me I just had to manage the pain and sit in the bathtub three times a day, I understood both women.

And I hated myself for it. So, I cried every day, for about two or three weeks. I felt like shit, physically and emotionally. And I felt guilty for feeling that way. I looked at my beautiful baby and I thought, "what did I do to you" "I don't know how to take care of you". I was disappointed that the motherly feelings were not pouring out of me. I felt trapped. I looked at pictures of our travels and cried. I wanted my old life back and that wasn't hapenning.

I never thought of harming my child, I just had a bad case of the blues, thanks to my hormones and the fact that my labor was a pain in the ass, literally. A word to the wise pregnant women out there, those stool softeners they give you are worthless. Take milk of magnesia to the hospital and do not leave until you poop. If not you will be giving birth to your child's fecal twin without an epidural, a few days later.

I should've known when my doctor warned me that my labor was hard (i.e. forceps were needed and my hospital believes in letting you rip) and that I needed to take care of myself.
What followed after the drugs left my ravaged bottom were the worst six weeks of my life. I describe it as the closest a woman comes to feeling like a farm animal ,since there is no medicine for how you feel, just the passing of time helps you.

My wise Dr. Wise also said one more thing, that women like me who work until the day they give birth have a harder time with post labor. Boy, was she right on the money. We are physically beaten and, since we have been in control of our lives as we pursue our career goals, we are an emotional mess when the baby doesn't work like the book says.

So that is why I decided to start this blog, for type A, career oriented women who thought motherhood would be mastered with the same success and speed as our careers. How hard it is to let go to the unpredictability of motherhood and how wonderful it is to have a baby that goes wild when she sees you, even if you forgot to change her diaper for 4 hours and can't figure out why she's fussy.

Motherhood is the hardest job I've ever had. Yes, what I feel for my daughter is a love I can't describe but, I've also learned that I'm still me, and that being me is the only way Amelia and I will have the kind of relationship I have with my mom.

For all of you out there who are not feeling like the real deal, it's normal and there are more women out there who feel like you ,but will not admit it. I will. Motherhood threw me for a loop. I adore my daughter and I'm learning to love my new job. Ay Mama!

It hapenned faster than I thought

Yep, I'm there! Exactly where I said I would never be. After trying to squeeze the car seat, the baby and my six foot tall husband into a 2002 Jetta, I have sucumbed to the SUV. AHHHH! I am the typical mom driving the larger than life car and choosing it for it's gas efficiency

It's not a huge SUV but it's enough for a woman who has never driven anything bigger than a four door car. I think your car should match your size and according to my lovely husband, I'm a punny girl. I love him for that since back in Puerto Rico, I was not considered pettite at all. So I love punny!

So now that I'm driving the Mom Car, Amelia is getting used to my music. That is what I call compromise. I'll have the motherly car but I draw the line at the baby tunes...for now at least.

But I ask, if I had to let go of my sassy, sexy red Jetta, what is next? My city living??? Well, kind of, since we are trading our downtown digs for a more residential street close to a Target and a supermarket. I have a feeling one day... I'm going to want...a house...with... a yard. If you suggest the suburbs, I will hunt you down. Ay Mama!

Parenting magazines

Is it wrong that I don't find a lot to relate to in parent magazines? Even worse, that I rather read my Marie Claire, Newsweek, and yes, the ocassional US Magazine, rather than reading about how to get your kid to stop picking his/her nose? It started during my pregnancy. I thought magazines and baby books would get me ready for motherhood (ha,ha!). That for some reason they would be my guide and that my hormones would crave mommy information.

So I read my first parenting magazine and found myself checking out the cool stuff I could buy, rather than the insightful tips about how to eat healthy while your expecting. I guess my hormones were craving candy more than info.

Now, I've tried reading them so that I can be part of the Mommy Club at Gymboree, but I just don't see myself fingerpainting with whip cream with my 10 month old, unless a teacher makes me.

I thought when she was born, I would love the mommy literature. People told me I would become a whole different person. And I have, but my brain still likes the same stuff it used to. When she's asleep, I want to read a book, a novel, something that has nothing to do with her age appropriate development or baby proofing the house.

I want to check the fashions on skanky Hollywood starlets, rather than on toddlers. Actually, I think mom's like us deserve those 5 minutes of good reading before exhaustion takes over and we pass out for the night.

So if you are reading this and wish to share some good, non Mommy reading, by all means, feel free. It doesn't have to be Joyce, Hemingway or Kafka. I was a Cliff Note reader in high school so keep it simple.

Ay Mama!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Crust on my shirt

A friend of mine told me I would never have clean clothes again after having a baby. Lord knows I have tried to avoid becoming a stereotype, but here I am, with cookie crust on my shirt at work.

So far, every time I would catch some kind of stain from my little one on my clothing I would immediately change. Actually, I avoid picking her up with any of my nice, work clothes on. I wear my battle outfits around her, usually sweats. (yes, another stereotype). But, it's Friday morning at 5AM. Our seven AM producer already called to tell me that she can't find the tape of what airs in about two hours, so cookie on my shirt is the least of my worries.
Besides, I'm wearing a beige shirt and the cookie crust blends well. By the way, I love that the girl can eat a cookie, but do we need the cookie puree all over her mouth, shirt, pants, and carpet. I know we have to go through it, but my husband and I can't stand the mushy combination of food and drool. Poop we can deal with, spit up, no problem. Mushy cookie makes us gag.

To top it all off, Amelia rubbed her mushy cookie hands all over my legs yesterday and had a blast. I guess, I have to be thankful it was only my shirt that ended up with cookie crust.
So if you ever watch Around Town and you see some foreign speck on my blouse, now you know, the baby is eating solids.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nasty, rude traveler and she wasn't in diapers

I was her at some point. But never, ever would I have been as rude and unsympathetic as the woman I encountered on the plane on our way back from Ft. Lauderdale. She saw us come in with our nine month old and could not contain herself. As I told a passenger who had mistakenly sat on my seat that he probably didn't want to travel next to our rowdy infant, she said as she stared right at us "oh good, sit her as close to the window and as far away from me as possible!"
I was not talking to her, I didn't even look at her. But she felt the need to tell us how much she hated the fact that there was going to be a baby traveling on the opposite row to her. Not even right behind her.

But that wasn't enough for this sharp looking middle aged business woman. Every time Amelia would make a peep, (And she is my daughter, so she is loud and happy), this lady would look back and stare disapprovingly at my child. So by the second dirty look at my baby, I had enough. So I told her, "I'm sorry ma'm . This is how it's going to be the entire trio". And the woman had the gall to reply, "I know, I'm looking forward to it". To what my motherly tigress instinct answer, "then you should find someone to switch seats with you".

The passengers right in front of me and behind me told me not to worry about it. But I wanted to cry with anger. If she wasn't looking forward to traveling with my nine month old, neither was I. I had already traveled with Amelia crying the entire way down to Florida.
But surprise, surprise. Amelia was a great traveler. She jumped on her father and I all flight, screaming with happiness and very content, playing with her toys and everything she could get her hands o, on that very dirty plane. Half an hour before landing, she fell asleep.
A very small part of me wanted her to puke on that rude lady. Scream in her ear for 2 and a half hours. Part of me wants to describe the woman to a t and tell you what flight I was on, so if whoever reads this and recognizes her, can tell her how insensitive she is and that she will probably die alone. I know, that's a little harsh.

As I said, I was probably her at one point. We all have been, I'm sure. We see the baby come in the plane and we pray to the Saint of Impossible Things to please, please let the family sit at the back of the plane. But I was always aware that it was going to be harder on his/her parents and that poor child than on me. I had my magazines and my ipod. They had to deal with a screaming baby that couldn't help but feel cooped up in that tiny seat.

I wish I didn't have to travel with a baby, but my family lives far away and I want my child to get to know them. Hell, I see know reason why I have to justify my flying. That woman was rude and I just thought I would share that with you. I now belong to the other side of the plane, the one that resents rude comments and welcomes anyone who smiles at my kid.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mother's Day (a real holiday)

I never thought I'd be this excited about my first Mother's Day. I always tried to make it special for my Mom, but kind of thought it was a made up holiday. While in college, my husband told his mother it was a fake Holiday invented by Hallmark and she came very close to killing him. Today, I can safely say I totally understand her.

After seven months of constant learning, taking two steps forward and four steps back and realizing that there is a part of me sleeping in a crib, I think mothers need to be celebrated. I know, mothers should be celebrated everyday. Some even think they should get paid. But I think we deserve that one day in which the world stops to honor us.

Just like many of you, it was my choice to bring my daughter into this world. It was a selfish act. But from the moment she was born, there has been no room for selfishness. I constantly worry about her well being and do all I can to guarantee her happiness. She deserves nothing less.
I've been riddled with doubts for the last seven months. Is she eating too much? Is she sleeping enough? Should I let her cry to sleep? Should I rock her to sleep? Should I give her apples or oranges? Is she happy? Will she hate me at 15?

Today I received an email from my sister in law that made me feel so much better. It basically said there is no such thing as the perfect mother, but that we should all be admired since we do the best we can and we do it all out of love.
I thought I would share it with all the mothers out there. Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Plastic Frenzy

Many of you have heard already about the health alert on plastic baby bottles and water bottles. Well, believe it or not, I'm not the freaked out parent in our house. That would be my lovely spouse who, when the first alert came out months ago, switched Amelia's bottles to BPA free. This weekend we got a package with new bowls and spoons--all BPA free.

You'd think that as a journalist I would act immediately but I'm pretty slow about these things that don't have a conclusive answer. I still foolishly believe that "the authorities" will warn me just in time to save my child, that the powers that be will say the truth and only but the truth.
I'm also kind of cheap and all these BPA free and organic stuff is so expensive. Two BPA free bottles can cost 20 dollars. Besides, I'm probably full of lead and BPA and I've turned right ok... Maybe, that explains a lot about my behavior.

Anyway, I know we have to go back to basics and live a cleaner, more organic life. I just have to get used to it. I've started by buying organic fruits and milk. Amelia eats organic and BPA free. And I try to take my own bags to the grocery store. But I draw the line at some junk food. Let me have my chemically laden chocolate or chips or give me death.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sleep, for the love of God, sleep!

"Right when you thought your child has a pattern, the little sucker changes it on you.".Words of wisdom from my brother before Amelia was born. And darn it, he's a wise man.
Since last Sunday, I've been trying to teach (use the word loosely here) my five month baby how to sooth herself when she wakes up, after we put her down for the night. I've been following that sleep bible by Dr. Weissbluth called "Healthy Sleeping Habits, Happy Baby". In fact, Amelia's pediatrician is in his practice, so every time she goes in for a check up, Dr. Aaron King asks about her sleeping habits and kindly suggests that we let her cry, so she can learn to self soothe. There's a whole plan in the book that many parents swear by.

I admit we have waited as long as we could to have to do this. But last Sunday, our daughter kept waking up around four in the morning and by the third time my husband put the pacifier in her mouth (or pressed her snooze button, as he likes to say), we knew it was time.
The first time I let her cry it out was during nap time. She cried for 40 minutes and slept 15. That night, after I put her down asleep, she woke up 8 minutes later and cried for 20 minutes, but then slept through the night. The second night, cried for 45 minutes and slept through the night. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday she slept through the night. I thought we were home free. My bright baby had learned her lesson!

Yeah right, last night our little sucker woke up at 1:42 in the morning and cried for twenty minutes like we were killing her. We picked her up, afraid the neighbors would call DCFS on us. (We live in a high rise with a lot of single people) It took her father 2 hours and 4 ounces to get her to go back to sleep. She was up again at 4:30, but then she only needed her snooze button.
What the hell! Where did the pattern go? Where did all our hard work go? I thought we had gotten over the hump. I don't know if I can take the crying out all over again. And now we are going to Puerto Rico for a long weekend, so is the pattern gone forever???

I guess I have to get back on that horse. So if you are my neighbor, we are back on Tuesday, so please forgive us if you hear a screaming baby for an hour at 1AM, we are doing it for her own good. Unless you pray hard for us and hope a miracle happens and Amelia goes back to self soothing without making a peep. Yeah, right.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What is Katie Holmes on?

Motherhood can be a wonderful club and a very judgmental club all at once. I've noticed that , as soon as a woman becomes a mom, we all feel entitled to ask the most inappropriate questions, share our feelings and give our opinions to be considered as the right ones by all.

That said and since I'm a proud card carrying member of the mommy club for all of three months and three weeks now, let me give you my opinion on the latest statements by stylish, young and filthy rich Mom, Katie Holmes.

In the interest of full disclosure, I love her grown up make over. I literally copied her haircut. But that's about all I'm emulating her on. Especially after her recent comments about her one and half year old. Here's what I read on
>> Meanwhile, seemingly beaming in from a galaxy where babies mature at > an accelerated rate is Mrs. Tom Cruise, who gushes to People of > preternaturally winsome daughter Suri, "She's a very strong woman.">> "I'm very proud of her," adds Katie, who is currently out stumping for > "Mad Money." "She's actually teaching me a lot -- probably more than > I'm teaching her."

Ok, what the hell is Katie Holme's on? I'm a 33 year old mother, wife and professional and I still don't feel like a full blown woman. How can a toddler be called a strong woman who teaches her 29 year old mom. Suri is not even a girl yet. She still drinks out of a bottle (although a lot of women I know do too. except the bottle is usually glass, doesn't have a nipple and is full of beer) and she's not even toilet trained. Come on, her teeth are called baby teeth for a reason.
Ms. Holmes has gone as far as saying that Suri and her have great conversations. Yes, Amelia and I do too, but these talks mostly include gibberish, screaming and a lot of drool.

I know a few mom's that call their children gifted geniuses ,but most of them wait to say these statements when the child starts at least day care. And trust me, I find those remarks very uncalled for as well. If your child is a tested genius, don't throw it at other people's faces. That's what grandparents are for. It's just basic manners.

Besides, most of us think our child is the most beautiful, smart and charismatic kid in the world. And we might be right, but we may also be blinded by love. Hence, these statements can make you sound arrogant and even foolish, if your baby, God forbid , is average.

My problem with celebrities like Holmes talking about their kids like this is that, just like I copy her hairdo, other women might want to follow her mothering style. Or worse yet, some mothers might wonder why their one and half year old is not a woman yet or why is her 2 year old still grunting when Suri Cruise is already having enlightening conversations with her mother.
These comments annoy me as much as when celebrities say "I'm such a devoted mother", and then the next sentence in the article reveals she has two nannies for one baby. Or when they pose for pictures with their post baby body and they "miraculously" have their abs of steal back and no horrendous dark line on their stomachs. Fess up ladies, you either hit the gym right after delivery, starved yourself and/or asked for a tummy tuck during the c section.

But see, I shouldn't judge Katie. That is the way she feels and that's just great for her... The hell with it, let me judge. I guess is my right as a member of the motherhood club.

Monday, January 14, 2008

When are you having another one

I was warned... by my mother and my girlfriends: as soon as you have your first baby, everyone, and I mean everyone will ask you, when are you having your second one? A very inappropriate question in so many levels, if you ask me. Especially when no one knows, but the woman who gave birth to the token first child, how was her post labor recovery. Mine was a living hell. The worst six weeks of my life. My body gave out on me like it never had.

My baby was in perfect health, and thank God for that because, if there is one thing you learn the moment you know you are pregnant is that YOU rather go through all the pain and suffering known to womankind, than to see baby suffer at all. Nevertheless, I was a total mess, physically at first, and then an emotional wreck for about four weeks.

So when at week three of my post partum nightmare, my loving husband kept alluding to the second child and went as far as asking me if we should save some of our baby clothes for the next one, I almost killed him right there on the corner of Fairbanks and Ohio. You'd think the fact that he took me out for a walk so I would get my mind off my overwhelming sense of inadequacy, would have kept him from asking. After all, he was the one helping me with my pain, he was feeding our daughter because I couldn't sit for 2 weeks and calmed my constant crying. Why in the world would he ask that?

I literally answered, "of course, since this first delivery went so well, why not have another one". His only defense was that having 2 children was our original plan and that since he's older than me, he had to think about having another one quickly. "Well" I answered, "since your old, you'll die and then leave ME with the 2 kids, great idea". And a quick note for husbands, anything discussed before having a baby is put on hold while your poor wife gets her hormones and body under control, so, give it about a year.

From then on, everyone from my mother in law to strangers at the supermarket asked the question. When I was finally feeling physically better and crying less and less, my answer was very much true to my usual self, "if I have another one, I'll go adopt him in another country, possibly South America. He will be 5 years old and eat on his own and will be potty trained".

My issue with this question is that not all first time mom's discover that motherhood is their calling when the doctor hands that baby over. Not all women adjust to their new life immediately. Babies don't come with instructions and for women like me who like it all under control, life as they know it takes a nose dive. Plus, physically, your body is a wreck. It nurtured another human being for 9 months, it delivered a full term baby through a very small cavity, it sure as hell will not bounce back.

I have a friend who told me she didn't feel she could have another baby until her first one was
three years old. Another one called my only child husband to find out if it was horrible not having a sibling, just because she is not sure about having a second one. I'm feeling much better about the whole thing. Amelia has made me feel things I never thought I was capable of feeling. Making her happy and proud of her parents is my priority. She will have a sibling if her father and I decide we want to have another child, not because we want her to have a companion.
But that is our decision, no one should pressure us or ask us.

So, a word of advise to all of us, since I'm sure I've asked the inappropriate question before having Amelia, do not ask the obvious question when someone has their first baby. Support their experience and enjoy the moment. We don't know how they are adjusting to parenting, we don't know if they CAN have another child. We could really hurt feelings with that one single question. It's none of our damn business anyway.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ana has a new man

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ana Belaval, who never believed in awards, never submitted anything and claimed to never care, has won an Emmy and is almost sleeping with the statue.
Let's put it all in context. Submitting material for any award show is a pain in the %$#. You have to look for a category among tons of them. Gather your material, which can mean looking at hours and hours of tape. That's if you find the tapes since the filing system at most newsrooms is not the best. Then you have to copy the material on to a DVD or tape, and then fill out the paper work, which can be as confusing as filling out tax forms.

Many of my colleagues have the system down pat or an intern who has the system down pat. I have neither, so the prospect of submitting anything once a year stresses me out. I seldom do it. To be honest, I've only done it twice and have been nominated both times. At this point, my mother would say that goes to show me I should submit more often.

But this year I submitted on three categories, at the constant nagging of my Around Town producer. The process was grueling and I could've sworn I had gotten something wrong. Since I never win anything, I convinced myself I wasn't going to be nominated. But I was, for our One Tank Trip series. And honestly that was enough to make me proud. Now I could say that I was a twice emmy award nominated journalist. That's an accomplishment.

So when the ceremony came around, I was busy with my one month old baby. My husband encouraged me to go since a night out would be nice. I went with my producer and his wife. My good friend Dean Richards was my date. Steve had to stay home with Amelia. We are on a formula budget so we can't be spending money on babysitting and a ticket for my husband to an award ceremony where his wife wasn't even going to win.

I put on the only dress that fit me, put on make up for the first time in a while and off I went. Our category was the second to last one, so I was almost ready to leave. Dean had to hold me down. But then, the unthinkable happened. We won! My producer Terry Barthel and I were shocked. Since he had won one before, he was gracious enough to let me take the statue home. We will split the cost of the second one. Hey, even NATAS is on a budget, so you get a statue per category.

Once that gold statue was in my hand, I was a believer. So proud to be a winner, especially after a month of trying to figure out my new daughter. I had spent weeks feeling physically sick and mentally inadequate, so it was a fantastic feeling to be a winner. To know that I still had my career and that I knew how to do it well. "You love me, you really, really love me" to quote Oscar winner Sally Field.

As cheesy as it sounds, I was also happy to show my daughter that women can almost have it all. So I came home with my new man Emmy to my great husband, changed into a t shirt and bathed my new baby. The best of both worlds.