Monthly Archives: February 2009

Where in the World is Baby?

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A couple friends, concerned that I haven’t been posting as regularly, sent e-mails to ask if the pregnancy is going ok. Was I totally flattened by the morning sickness that seems to go on all day? Had I maybe even had a miscarriage?

Fortunately, the answer to both questions is “No.” I’ve just been on the road non-stop since late January.  This baby is going places!

I first got the sense that I was pregnant in St. Kitts and came home to find out that my hunch was right. Since then, the babe and I have been to Mexico and we’re now in Brazil, where 12 and 14 hour days observing Carnaval have not been unusual. If all goes well, we’ll be headed to China this summer (more work!) and may just be able to squeeze in Lola’s and Urban’s wedding in Sweden before the baby makes its official appearance in the world… and can finally get a passport!

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Two Words: Orgasmic Birth

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A few weeks back, I received a package in the mail from my friends David and Lau.  Among the goodies they sent was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, a true classic in the literature about midwifery and home birth.  I’d first learned of Ina May and her work in the documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” which was produced by–wait for it–Ricki Lake.*

I packed the book in my bag and ended up reading it in one sitting on a flight from Miami to Rio earlier this week.

Beyond being convinced that home birth (or as close as one can get to it) is the way to bring a child into this world, beyond learning about how to choose a medical provider and what questions to ask about the pre-, birth, and post-natal phases of care, I learned about orgasmic birth.

Ina May and her colleagues are considered pioneers of a number of techniques intended to help women reconnect with the utter naturalness of giving birth. They have also studied indigenous cultural practices from around the world, adapting relaxation, birthing, and medical intervention practices that women have been using for centuries, but which have been obscured by the modern-day medical establishment.

But I think Ina May’s greatest contribution may just be the notion of the orgasmic birth. Sure, pushing a baby into the world is not a pain-free experience. But Ina May explains (and has certainly attended enough births to know) that birth can be such a sensual and spiritual experience that the mother can actually have an orgasm in the process of birth.

Sounds good to me.

There’s another idea that Ina May promotes that I really like and plan to try out when the time comes. When the going gets tough, Ina May suggests that the woman’s partner hop in the bed with her and make out. The familiarity of the partner, the natural relaxing that occurs when we’re kissing our partner– it all relaxes the woman and helps the cervix dilate.

Orgasmic birth. Read all about it. Ina May, I’m counting on you!

*Don’t roll your eyes; it’s actually a fascinating 101 course in all things related to birth and the medical establishment. Here’s the trailer (Netflix carries the film if you want to see the whole shebang):

A sweet little message in Spanglish

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This week, as you may know, I’ve been in Mexico City, packing up the incredible (and all-too-short) part-time life we had here.

I learned a few lessons:

1. You always have more stuff than you think.

2. It will always take longer to pack than you think.

3. It will always cost more to do something with the packed stuff  than the stuff cost you in the first place (even if it’s good stuff).

But it wasn’t really all that much, and since we sold off the furniture here, there wasn’t anything heavy for me to move around on my own.

At night, I’d chat with Francisco over Skype and we’d catch up on each others’ day. I’d give him the packing update.

“I am worried,” he wrote after I told him I’d moved two boxes and, earlier in the day, had tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and fallen down.

“Why?,” I asked, thinking he was worried about my swelling ankle or my propensity for falling in Mexico City (it’s happened a lot, actually).

“Because of the bebe in your tommie.”

I would have said, “Um, I think you mean ‘tummy,’ ” but I’ve never liked the word “tummy” anyway. I kind of like tommie, so I decided not to say anything.

After the Afterglow

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It’s nice, in that early afterglow of finding out you’re pregnant, to think that you’ll have the ideal pregnancy.

It’s kind of like New Year’s: You feel full of possibility, full of the energy and resolve you need to realize all those ambitious goals and dreams.

You’ll eat well. You’ll push away from work at the computer to go for a leisurely walk in the afternoon sun. You’ll spend more quality time with your partner. And so on.

And like New Year’s, a few weeks later, you wake up one morning and wonder what the hell happened to that sweet vibe…when the moment was, exactly, that you lost it, whether it’s possible to get it back again, whether it can be captured and channeled with the same intensity and pleasure. And you feel a little sad because there’s a part of you, however tiny, that thinks maybe you can’t.

When I found out I was pregnant, I imagined all the ways I’d take care of myself (and be taken care of) for nine whole months, all the new little rituals we’d initiate: talking to the baby before going to sleep, listening to classical music or something, always being gentle with ourselves and each others. Eating nothing but organic, fresh food. And on and on.

But the reality is–surprise!–that pregnancy is a lot like the rest of life. You wake up in the morning grateful to be alive, to be healthy, to love and to be loved, to have work that brings you pleasure, but worried about bills, about the problems of people you love, thinking about the  list of things to do (and the ones you didn’t get done yesterday), bracing yourself for all of the challenges and unexpected bumps any day brings. You find yourself away from home, faced with the decision to eat a cheap slice of pizza or to take the time and spend the money to eat something a bit better. Though your inner circle of family and friends is stronger and more supportive than ever, you still have people in your life who you’d rather were playing their parts on another stage, preferably one on another continent, far away. You still get into bed at night wondering where the day went, why you don’t have the energy to make love, why you fall asleep during the first 10 minutes of a pretty interesting movie.

When these moments come–and they came last night as I lay in bed alone at our apartment in Mexico and stared at the ceiling until the sun rose and the traffic started buzzing outside this morning–there’s really only one thing to do. Just be with the feeling. Invite it in, sit with it. Have a conversation. Acknowledge your limitations. And agree that right now is the moment to begin again.

Switching Sides

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We aren’t one of those couples who always have to have the same place in the bed no matter where we sleep.

In our bed in Mexico, I sleep on the outside, near the door, and Francisco sleeps on the inside. When we’re in hotels or beds that aren’t our own, we sleep wherever we land. There’s never really a discussion about it.

Soon, I expect, that will have to change. In New York,  I sleep on the inside, against the wall.  Francisco has begun to suggest, gently, that I sleep on the outside. This after I crawl over him three times a night, fumble around for my flip-flops, and pad off to the bathroom.

I guess I’ll concede. Like I said, it doesn’t much matter which side I sleep on… and for now, we probably should get all the sleep we can.

Insider Stock Tip: Buy Saltines

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I have single-handedly eaten a box of saltines in a weekend. (See the preceding entry, “Is the thrill gone?” if you’re wondering why).

Now I don’t know a lot about investing or stocks, and I’m pretty bad with numbers, but I feel confident recommending that you invest in Saltines.

At the rate I’m going (now on box 2), you’ll have a solid ROI in just about 9 months.

Is the thrill gone?

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I hope not.

But after spending an inordinate amount of time in bed this weekend, moaning alternately about a headache and nausea, I finally got up and made myself something to eat: a mashed plantain.

But yuck, too sweet.

So I tried something else: too salty.

I worked my way through the cabinets, through the fridge, and into the fruit basket, trying to counterbalance the intense flavor of one food with another.

The subtle flavor of whatever I ate was amplified x 1,000 and everything that normally brings me pleasure was repulsive.

Maybe this new development would be easier to accept if I weren’t a hopeless foodie, my palate cultivated by a long-doting chef husband whose greatest pleasure is surprising me with new dishes, new flavors, a meal we can add to our journal of memorable eats.

But as it is, I feel pretty sad that the thrill of eating is gone… for now.