Monthly Archives: June 2009

Photo Friday


Three photos today, one from last night’s trip up to Cold Spring, NY for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (which is quite wonderful, by the way–check in the next couple days for photos and a follow-up), and a couple from our visit to the High Line this afternoon. The High Line is NYC’s newest urban park and it’s incredible (stay tuned for follow-up there, too):

mas y mas 147

mas y mas 174

mas y mas 194


No worries, folks; everything’s WNL.


WNL is medical speak for “within normal limits.”

I had my third medical appointment yesterday and was told that everything is WNL for Mariel and yours truly.

Sorry about the pre-eclampsia scare. False alarm.

Everyone loves babies!


Every community has its mentally unwell folk, but when you live in New York, it’s easier to see them than it might be where you live. Population density’s higher, for one thing. For another, we live so much of our lives in public here: on the streets, on the train, in crowded apartment buildings. For tourists, the mentally ill who are unmedicated, untreated, and wandering the streets are shocking or entertaining; for those of us who live here, they’re like anyone else: they just blend into the backdrop of your normal days.

Until you become pregnant.

After my doctor’s appointment this morning, I stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a few items. “I love your belly,” a man growled into my ear as I passed him with my cart. I glanced back at him for a second look since I hadn’t really noticed him as I was headed to the check out. He was dirty, with a scraggly beard, his shirt spotted with stains. “Um, thanks,” I said, pushing toward the cashier with a renewed sense of hurry.

Then, I stopped by my least favorite store in the universe–B & H Photo–to pick up something for Francisco. A man was picking through a trash can on the corner of 34th and 8th, but looked up when he saw me. “God bless you,” he whispered, almost reverently, pointing at my stomach as I passed him. “You too,” I said.

Finally, it was time to head home. I walked toward Penn Station, where people in various states of disease, distress, and despair tend to congregate. A guy was ranting at full throttle– something about Jesus, about the government, the weather. “Oh, a little one’s coming into the world!” he said, changing rhythm, tone, and topic completely as I walked by. My belly had broken his psychotic reverie.

Maybe the world needs more babies. Post-election crisis in Iran? Send a baby to the Ayatollah and Ahmadinejad! It works for the psychotic guys in New York. Couldn’t hurt to try it elsewhere.



I was on my feet for most of the day every day last week, leading kids on a 7 day tour of Puerto Rico. Overall, the work wasn’t nearly as tough on my body as I’d feared. Sure, I ate horribly, but I paced myself while remaining available to the group and I drew some inviolable lines for reasons of personal safety. Nope, I wouldn’t hike the trail in the rain forest or take the slippery path into the cave at Camuy. I also wouldn’t kick around in the Caribbean the night of the bio bay visit or during the group snorkel. Though I love all of these activities, I knew it wasn’t the best idea for me to engage in any of them.

But being on my feet did take its toll and everything from my calves downward became–and stayed–swollen. I’d arrange hotel pillows into towering mounds at night, to little avail; within an hour of waking up the next day, I’d feel the tightness in my ankles and feet surge and pulse again.

A woman in Francisco’s group (he was also leading a tour) noticed the swelling and decided to warn me that the condition might be a sign of preeclampsia. I’d heard of preeclampsia, but didn’t really know what it was, so I Googled the condition one night–feet up–before drifting off to sleep.

The short report of my findings is this: preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced hypertension and though its symptoms are also common of other pregnancy-related conditions, one of the most telling signs is massive swelling.

The bad news: It can be fatal.

This is precisely the kind of stuff I don’t need to know, especially before I go to sleep. I’ve never had high blood pressure (in fact, it’s historically low), but I couldn’t stop staring at my feet and saying “preeclampsia” over and over again.

There’s lots of other weird stuff out there about this condition (the very weirdest being that it is far less common among women who perform oral sex on their male partners frequently and who swallow their semen– I know, I know; sounds like some male researcher’s ultimate fantasy), but I’d read enough.

I propped my feet as high up as they’d go.

Elida says she’ll live to be 100 years


It seems that being laid up for the past seven days has made Francisco’s mom exceptionally talkative.

Last week, Elida fell down the stairs in her apartment building, somehow managing to avoid breaking any of her bird-light bones. But since then, she has been in bed, where, Brayan says, she continues to rule her roost, complaining about the videos he brings her to watch and the sweets he brings her to eat. Very little makes her happy, though that’s nothing new.

What did make her happy, though, was the fact that Francisco called last night. Who cares how she feels? she asked him, “How’s Julie?” and “How’s the baby?” He responded with the obligatory report, noting that all parties are well and that the due date is September 25.

“I’ll live to be 100 years old!” she said, interrupting him. “I don’t care if you have 10 more children, but I will live to see your first child and the first girl.”

Asi es Elida.

Message on a Post-It Note


Among the things that pass through my mind occasionally and about which I make the mental note to follow up at some point between now and September 25 is breast feeding.

What do I know about it?

I mean the technical, how do you do this besides stick the baby on your breast stuff?

Next to nothing.

So I was particularly pleased that the box of garage sale finds included the New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding by the American Academy of Pediatrics… a little light reading for the train up to Cold Spring, NY tomorrow night.

And to the book was affixed a post-it note with this message from my dad:

I found this at a yard sale. Hope you find it informative. I thought that everything you needed to know on this subject could be covered in one paragraph but I was wrong. Oh well. -Love, Dad”