Monday, June 29, 2009

Forty Weeks...

Today is my due date and there is no sign of baby; I haven't even had a proper contraction yet. My lazy cervix has stayed at 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced for the past three weeks. Of course, Ton Ton is stressed out -- the way he gets when we have a plane to catch and I'm still doing laundry a few hours before takeoff. He seems to believe that calling every hour, on the hour, to inquire about the state of my uterus, will send me into labor. That technique may work to get me to run errands, but it's not working on Belly!

I too am anxious to meet our baby, but figure that I can use a few more nights of limited sleep before they turn into nights of no sleep at all. Plus, I really want to go see "Away we go"...I got priorities people!

Last time I went to the doctor, he told me that I will be induced on July 8 if the baby hasn't come by then. 41 weeks and 2 days. I do not want to be induced, it is not part of my plan/pipe dream! I saw the Business of Being Born, and Ricki Lake said that all those extra interventions are bad for baby. I am supposed to go into labor naturally and have the kid without any drugs. I even considered doing it at home in a birthing pool, but I care too much about my hardwood floors.

Why I choose to believe in Ricki Lake instead of personal experience is beyond me. In the past few months, three of my friends have had their births induced and they have nothing but good things to say about their experiences (and their epidurals!). They all had beautiful, healthy babies that are thriving. The film also implies that mothers who have c-sections don't bond well with their kids. Well, my brother and I were both born via cesarean section, and I can assure you that Big E had no trouble bonding with us. We are actually still trying to completely cut off the umbilical cord.

Despite all of that, I'd still like this baby to come when he or she is good and ready and not thanks to Pitocin. But I've also decided that if Belly needs to be induced out of me, I will just take it as a compliment to my uterus. Maybe there's a whirlpool tub and a plasma TV in there!

Flexibility -- it's what being a parent is all about, right?

Other plans/pipe dreams that may fall by the wayside: breastfeeding for a year and cloth diapers!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

R.I.P. King of Pop

Ton Ton has been working on a special "labor playlist" for me. A mix of happy, upbeat songs I can sing along to while having contractions in order to, hopefully, ease the pain. Last week he was playing some of the songs he had chosen, and one of them was "Say Say Say", the duet between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. I immediately requested he add more of Michael's songs to the list.

Last year, we threw Ton Ton a big birthday party. It was a live karaoke event -- his musician friends played instruments and the rest of the guests sang. Ani and I did a rendition of "Beat It".

If we have a house party and it goes past 2:00 a.m., you can bet "Thriller" will come on the stereo. Ton Ton and I will probably lead whoever is still around in the dance.

The first song Ton Ton and I ever danced to was "The way you make me feel". After seeing him do the moonwalk and grab his crotch, I KNEW I had found the one!

As a college student in D.C. right after September 11, I went to a United We Stand concert with a bunch of my best friends. The headliner was Michael Jackson. We sat in a hot stadium all day waiting for him to come on. At around 11:00 p.m., he took the stage and sang "Man in the mirror". Our seats were very far away and we were disappointed he only did one song, but it was totally worth it.

Belly may be born into a world without Michael, but not without his music -- Ton Ton and I will make sure of that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I promise, I won't spontaneously combust

As a local government employee in the greatest, most industrialized, most powerful nation on earth, it is only logical that I not have maternity leave. After all, that's something that only exists in... PRACTICALLY EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!

Wow. That Wikipedia article made me cry a little bit. Women in Azerbaijan get 18 weeks at 100% of their salary, and here I am trying to scrape together all of my sick and vacation days so that I can at least have enough time to teach Belly how to microwave milk and call 911 if there's an emergency.

So, at 39 weeks pregnant, and with my cervix dilated to two centimeters, I am still being hoisted up from bed every morning in order to go to work. And I plan to do this until I am physically removed from my office because the yelling from the pain of my contractions is scaring away the customers.

The truth (or what I've brainwashed myself to believe) is that it's not so bad. I feel pretty good for being 39 weeks pregnant, plus, if I stayed home all day, I would just check my drawers every ten minutes to see if I'm leaking amniotic fluid. Working helps me to not obsess about when this baby is going to come. Yea. It's good for my mental health. It keeps me active. Yea. Yea. Going to work every day is just great. I could not be happier.

Big E and Uli, however, do not share my joy. They are convinced that I am going to go into labor and have the kid on the highway on my way to the office. Because you know, babies, especially in the case of first time moms, are born in a matter of seconds. Bam! Even I could miss the birth if I don't pay close attention.

My co-workers, on the other hand, are quivering with the fear that "it" will happen in the office. They've made sure to inform me that none of them know how to deliver a baby. Oh no! Who will help me when I spontaneously combust and produce another human being?

I know that everyone is just worried and wants me to have a pleasant birth experience, but there is no reason to be so alarmed at the sight of a 39 week old bump.

And, maybe if I have the kid at work, the experience will be so traumatic for everyone that it will compel the powers that be to change the maternity leave policy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

I am very disappointed in my uterus. Father's day is practically over, and it didn't even try to contract once. Not even a Braxton-Hicks. I was really hoping this kid would come today...can you imagine? I would never have to buy Ton Ton a Father's Day present again! I was already planning the conversation we would have next February:

Me: So, Mother's Day is coming up
Ton Ton: It's not 'til May!
Me: Well, I'm just saying...remember what I got you for Father's Day last year. I worked on that gift for nine months!

No such luck. Instead of giving Ton Ton the gift of life, I celebrated Father's Day at home, as we hosted a barbecue for family and friends. We gave Uli a hat that says #1 Grandpa and he LOVED it! He immediately put it on, and made sure everyone at the party noticed it. I just hope the hat doesn't create any problems for him in the future, like in this case...

I can't wait for Belly to meet #1 Grandpa and World's Greatest Dad. That's one lucky baby!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Belly Yankee, the next reggaeton superstar

I've done the math. Even though we will be getting a tax break for Belly, it will not be nearly enough to cover diapers, childcare, health insurance, food, clothes, etc., etc., etc. So...Ton Ton and I are hoping (fingers crossed, knock on wood) that Belly can get a part time job sometime around age 2. Ever since I got pregnant, we've been preparing to cultivate certain skills in our baby that will make him or her stand out in this very competitive job market. Our focus will be in two core areas: languages and music.

It's a no brainer that Belly will be bilingual. I am from Cuba and Ton Ton is from Venezuela, so our little Cubazuelan-American will definitely speak English and Spanish. For the past nine months, we have been stocking up on all manner of didactic tools in the inglés and español: books, flash cards, interactive games, you name it. (As an aside, there is also the possibility of us giving birth to the next great dictator, another very lucrative career. The name Hugofidel was a close second, after Lucas, for a boy.)

As far as music, as you saw in my last post, I am practically a professional singer; and Ton Ton really is a hell of a guitar player. We hope that Belly will inherit some of his talent, and the rest will be garnered from a constant exposure to good tunes. Ton Ton has been working on a special iPod playlist for baby from the moment I peed on the stick.

Ideally, Belly will fuse his or her language and musical abilities to come up with something really great (and profitable!).

In an attempt to scout out the competition, I recently googled "Latin Grammy's best children's album," and what I found is truly remarkable. The 2008 winner of the Latin Grammy for Best Latin Children's Album was Miguelito with his record, "El Heredero." Allow me to introduce him:

For those of you who do not speak the español, Móntala means "Ride her".
My personal favorite lines from the song:

"Y ya llego miguelito
Como siempre a montarla
Si no abre la puerta pues
Yo voy a tumbarla"

Very loosely translated:

"Miguelito has arrived,
as always, to ride her.
If she doesn't open the door,
I will knock it down"

Looks like Belly has some tough competition to look forward to!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pregnancy cliffnotes: A brief look at the past 9 months.

I have officially been pregnant for 38 weeks. Before I cease to house another human in my body, let's take a look back at the most memorable moments of this journey...

First Trimester, in which I peed on the stick
This is me on October 11, 2008. I had climbed on stage to sing with Los Enanitos Verdes. I didn't know it at the time, but Belly was there too...most likely splashing around a pool of Heineken. A couple of weeks later, on my birthday, I peed on three different sticks and EVERYTHING changed. My initial reaction was to google hysterical pregnancy and talk myself into it. In other words, I convinced myself that I had convinced myself I was pregnant. Then, we heard the kid's heartbeat and it became real. While Ton Ton, Big E, Uli, Ani, Mamacita, and everyone else around me did back flips, I was a big ball of hormones who couldn't stomach any animal products. It was not the best of times.
Most valuable lesson learned: How to cry on cue, and use it to my advantage.

Second Trimester, in which the bump made its debut
By week 16, my aversion to animal products had faded and I was putting away industrial sized plates of food, specially ice cream. However, I must insist that my rapid weight gain (9 lbs in 4 weeks!) was due to an abnormally heavy baby and placenta. It was also around this time that we saw Belly on the ultrasound. We took Big E and Mamacita and they tried to bribe the nurse into telling them the sex, but she didn't budge. I spent the next few weeks obsessing over the blurry ultrasound pictures, convinced that I saw a bird-like claw where the baby's foot was supposed to be. Doctor B. assured me that the kid is not part pigeon.
Most valuable lesson learned: How to maximize size and exposure of the bump to skip ahead in line.

Third Trimester, in which I acquired my own gravitational pull
Despite no longer being able to tie my shoes, this has by far been the best part of pregnancy. Ton Ton and I took a fabulously relaxing trip to Cancún (no, we didn't catch swine flu!) that consisted of lying on the beach for hours, eating, taking naps, and eating some more. When we returned, it was shower time! And we didn't have just one, but three fantastical showers thrown by our amazing friends, families, and co-workers. They all featured our two favorite things: food (lots and lots of it!) and free stuff! We cannot thank everyone enough. So...this is Ton Ton, Belly, and me hanging out at home last Saturday night. I'm taking a brief hiatus from singing back-up for major international artists, but having just as much fun!
Most valuable lesson learned: How to go to the bathroom several times a night without opening my eyes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Like father, like Belly

I had my 37 week appointment yesterday. At this point, Dr. B is checking my cervix every time I go in. I will spare you the details. I will say that he emerged from his expedition with some interesting news: I am 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced! Upon seeing the look of complete and utter shock on my face, Dr. B asked, "What did you think? That the kid would come a week after your due date?" Actually, YES! That is exactly what I thought. I played July 5 in our baby pool. I was sure I would have a slacker, procrastinating baby...just like mommy. A baby that thrived under pressure, one that executed a perfect delivery right before it was time to induce; after all, I wrote my best papers in college the nights (and mornings) before they were due.

I had failed to factor in Ton Ton's genes.

Now, 2 cm and 50% effaced doesn't mean this kid is coming right away. I could walk around like this for weeks...but things are definitely progressing. And, if Belly is anything like Ton Ton, he or she will be here early or on time. How did I not realize this before? Ton Ton! Who believes in being fashionably punctual, and starts packing for trips three weeks in advance!

I wonder what other traits the baby might get from dad. Will I have a mini-Ton crawling around our home, telling me I can't leave my shoes in the living room? Lighting vanilla scented candles? Talking to our house plants? I guess I could live with that...just please, dear God, don't let Belly inherit his chicken legs!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Remember Elian?

Upon finding out that Big E had purchased a major home appliance using Belly as her only criterion, Ton Ton became very concerned. He had expressed some mild discomfort in the past, like when she told us to register for an extra playpen just for her, and the time he heard her talking to Uli about adding "Belly's wing" to her house. But this time, he was for real afraid. He even confessed to having nightmares in which he came home from work to find out Belly was staying at grandma's and visitation hours were over.

I reassured him that his concerns were legitimate, and suggested we have a family meeting where he could voice his opinion. I would set the whole thing up, and I would try my hardest not to laugh. I have a problem with inappropriate laughter.

When I told Big E that Ton Ton (and I) wanted to meet with her and Uli, she immediately said, "Why does your husband have a personal vendetta against me? What have I ever done to him?" Then she called my father to tell him they were being ambushed. Uli, the voice of reason, told her to calm down and reminded her of Elian Gonzalez and what happened when his extended relatives overstepped their boundaries. They agreed to the family meeting.

We sat around our living room and Ton Ton started. He spoke about how important it was for us to have grandparents involved in Belly's life, and how much we appreciated how excited they were...and that we just wanted to make sure they understood that Belly would live with us, and that we would be making the decisions about baby. I nodded my head in agreement, and held back chuckles. Uli then spoke and said that he agreed with us completely, and that they just wanted to help and would never want to take our place in Belly's life. Big E remained stoic.

Ton Ton prodded some more, hoping to elicit a satisfactory response from Big E. He talked about how he did not want Belly to witness confrontations between him and her, and how he wanted to get his feelings out in the open before baby, to avoid any future problems. Still no response from her. Uli reassured us everything would be alright.

As they were leaving, Big E asked me to give her more baby clothes to launder in her new special washer and dryer...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Laundry Story

Because I'm making a baby with the lieutenant of timeliness, productivity, and efficiency, there is really very little left for us to do except wait for Belly. Our nursery had freshly painted walls and new floors installed during the first trimester and all of baby's furniture and accessories have long been assembled (nursery post to come soon!).

One of the few things pending is the laundry. A little known fact to those who haven't reproduced is that, apparently, babies can't wear clothes off the rack. Their clothes and sheets need to first be washed with a special baby soft detergent. If it were up to Ton Ton, Belly's clothes would have been washed long ago, however, Big E strictly prohibited us from doing laundry until she inspected our washer and dryer. Needless to say, our four year old Maytags did not pass inspection. "These need to be completely disinfected before you can wash Belly's clothes!", proclaimed Big E. "I am going to disinfect mine, and start washing some of the clothes and other things I have bought for Belly at my house."

And so, after several days of cleaning her perfectly clean washer and dryer, Big E began to wash Belly's things. After washing, she refused to dry anything on a cycle that produced heat ("that static is so bad for baby!")...and so decided to use the "Air Dry" function. After having Belly's clothes tumble around for an hour or so, she opened the dryer to find.....completely wet clothes. So, she did what any reasonable person would do: continued to use "Air Dry" for several hours until her dryer broke.

It's alright. Big E had been wanting a new washer and dryer for some time. So off she went to the store with Uli in search for new ones. And what factor do you think influenced her decision to purchase? Price? Color? Brand? Size? Nope.

Big E managed to find a washer and dryer with a "Baby Wear" function. Her mind was made up.

Not only that, but now that she has a front loading washer and dryer that she can stack on top of each other, she has extra room in her laundry. She immediately commissioned Uli to make her a counter with a nice big sink. The perfect bathtub for Belly!

The end result? Baby clothes that have been washed, dried, folded, and individually wrapped in plastic (to keep the dust away, of course!).

And a traumatized and terrified Ton Ton, more about that in a future post....

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Welcome to everybodylovesbaby! I meant to start this blog a while ago to document my pregnancy and all the insanity surrounding it, but alas, I am a slacker. Hey! At least I'm still pregnant! I have four more weeks to go. I will write about pregnancy highlights in a future post, but this blog will really be about the adventures of baby, being new parents, and the whole lot of other people involved in this journey. If my pregnancy is any indication, things are really going to get exciting when I pop this kid out.

Let's begin by introducing the main characters:

Belly: is our baby. We do not know the sex. If it is a girl, we will continue to call her Belly (spelled Beli) as her name will be Belén. If it is a boy, his name will be Lucas, no cute nickname yet. Lulo? Perhaps. Currently, Belly's favorite activity is waking mom up at 4:00 a.m. with an insatiable appetite.
**Belly is now Luki! a healthy, beautiful baby boy born on July 2, 2009. We don't know much about him yet, except he has giant hands and loves to eat.

Ton Ton: is my husband and baby daddy. His favorite things are: 1. playing guitar; 2. cleaning and organizing; 3. finishing projects once he starts them. Pregnancy has turned him into a sap. He thinks I don't notice, but he totally gets teary eyed when we read "Guess how much I love you" to Belly. What a crybaby!

Big E: is my mother. To say she is excited about Belly is a gross understatement. Have you seen the 12 year old girls at the Jonas Brothers concerts? That is exactly how she acts every time she steps into Babies R Us. Big E is also Ton Ton's nemesis. They have a love/HATE relationship.

Uli: is my father and a superhero. He can build anything you can imagine, cook the best Cuban food, and make sure Big E's car always has gas in it, all at the same time, and with a smile. Uli secretly wants Belly to be a boy; he has to keep it secret because Big E wants a girl and she will not hear it any other way.

Mamacita: is my mother in law. She lives in Venezuela, but visits often. Mamacita likes to book her trips to the U.S. for three months at a time so that she can have two months to complain about how much she misses home. She will be joining us in October, again for three months. Belly will be her seventh grandchild, but the first from her precious Ton Ton, so she is quite thrilled.

Ani: is my brother and a superhero in training. Despite being quiet and laid back, strange things happen to him all the time. He is excited about Belly, but expresses his feelings in a normal, non-seizure inducing kind of way.

There are many others who will be part of this adventure, and I will be sure to introduce them as they appear.

Now that you know some of the characters, I'll be back soon with stories!