Monday, December 2, 2013
Last week I was lucky enough to win an online competition* and had the chance to attend an interview, book signing and reading with Elizabeth Gilbert, who's on a book tour promoting her newest book: "The Signature of all things".
The high-tea took place at the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam. The botanical garden is one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1638 by the city to serve as an herb garden for doctors and apothecaries. It contains more than six thousand tropical and indigenous trees and plants. Its initial collection was amassed during the 17th century through plants and seeds brought back by traders of the East India Company (VOC) for use as medicines and for their possibilities for commerce. A single coffee plant, Coffea arabica, in Hortus's collection served as the parent for the entire coffee culture in Central and South America (oh how I wish I could have a cup of coffee right now).
The book itself takes place in the midst of the 19th century botanical exploration and discoveries and tells the story of Alma, the daughter of an English pharmaceutical-plant merchant and a Dutch woman of an intellectual family. She's an independent, curious girl, fascinated by science and later, evolution, who will end up being pulled in a more spiritual direction, who'll struggle to reach out of her logical and material boundaries and discover there's more to the world than the rational (but I am just starting to reach that part, as I'm halfway through the book).
It was really nice to meet the person behind "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Committed". She seemed very kind and down to earth, talking about her love for travel, living and enjoying life (saying how even if we do not understand the purpose of it all, the journey 'is interesting'), and emphasizing how the hard spiritual 'work' (and joy) is found in connection, forgiveness, love.
*Thanks to Marcela for letting me know about the event :) and to bol.com for organizing it.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I have trouble believing I am already at the end of the second trimester. That means the last stretch is just around the corner. I have been feeling great... I guess I am lucky that pregnancy is treating me really, really well. Or maybe I will be eating my words later. We feel so blessed that it feels all so real now. Mostly, my energy levels are back, I keep craving orange juice like an addict, and there are some days where I really feel like eating meat or fish (which is unusual on me), but I try to keep the latter to the minimum. Other than that sporadically I have what I think is round ligament pain (it feels like a needle or stretching on the right or left lower side of my pelvis) and I have trouble finding a comfortable position to sleep. I supposedly should not sleep on my back, but sometimes I do lay on it for short whiles (and probably when I am sound asleep too). I find it difficult to sleep on my sides, it feels like everything stretches and pulls at the same time and the tension is uncomfortable. Spooning Mark sometimes helps as he can support my back, but if we do it the other way around, little hummus starts kicking like crazy, so I am not sure she enjoys it. And that's the other major thing going on... baby is moving a lot. Particularly late at night, in the middle of the night or early in the morning there's a dancing party in my belly. And she interacts with us. It's the best part. Sometimes we put our hand in the belly and she kicks back. At times I am surprised by how strong she is, I am not sure if it's her head or legs or arms or bum she's using to push herself. I think it was around 23 weeks that the bump stopped looking like a beer belly and I started really showing. It's weird but it seemed to happen overnight. And these days, it appears to be growing exponentially.
|This is today, at 26 weeks and 1 day|
I had the glucose screening test on week 24 (though they did not give me that famous orange syrupy drink that I so wanted to try). We will get the results later this week. These days we have been mostly researching and trying to score good deals with the baby stuff, as well as trying to figure out things like, 'do babies wear a onesie underneath a sleepsuit?' Also, reading, reading, reading. I have also started driving lessons (there's no way to get the driving license without those, and my Mexican driving license is useless over here). We had a couple of birthdays this weekend, and we have another one coming up on Saturday. This week we are watching lots of documentaries at the International Documentary Film Festival. If you are in The Netherlands, check it out, there's a lot of interesting films. It will be going until this Sunday, December 1st.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
This post will be in Spanish (sorry about that). Yesterday afternoon I was thrilled to receive my swap from the AIG (gastronomic secret santa), which I told you about here.
Ayer en la tarde, mientras leía y me daba cuenta que el invierno ya está aquí (el árbol que veo desde la ventana ya perdió todas sus hojas y cada vez tenemos menos luz), tocaron el timbre. Era un chico de TNT (correos) con una enorme caja verde que venía desde Barcelona! A mí nombre! Sólo podía ser de mi Amigo Invisible Gastronómico. Tenía ganas de abrir el paquete de inmediato, pero decidí esperar a que llegará mi esposo.
Muchísimas gracias a Laura y Carmen, del blog 'Chocolate, Aceite y Sal'. Se trata de un blog escrito por una madre y su hija,y está lleno de recetas que me muero por probar, empezando por esta tarta normanda de manzanas, perfecta para estos días grises. Le han atinado perfecto porque Mark y yo somos un par de golosos. A ambos nos decían cookie monster de pequeños, no por nada.
Fue abrir la caja y recordar la Navidad en España: estaba llena de polvorones, mantecados, almendras confitadas, hojaldrinas, rosquillas, barquillos de chocolate negro y blanco y un auténtico turrón de chocolate Suchard. Este último me recuerda mucho el primer año que estuve en Barcelona de intercambio... con el anuncio de aquella niña que se come todo el turrón antes de que llegue Papa Noel. Y hasta la fecha me acuerdo de la clásica cancioncita pegajosa que Mark tuvo el gusto de escucharme cantar anoche: "En estas navidades, turrón de chocolate, en estas navidades turrón de Suchard".
De inmediato nos comimos unos cuantos mantecados y otros polvorones, pero optamos por guardar la caja junto con los adornos navideños para disfrutar durante las fiestas de fin de año (a ver si es cierto que duran hasta Nochebuena).
Además nos han mandado unas esferas de madera, unos corazones de tela para decorar el arbolito hechos por Laura y un molde de silicón para hacer mini-tartaletas. Que ilusión! Igualmente aprovecho para agradecer a Jess de 'Decogalletas' por organizar el intercambio. Enviar y recibir correo es una de esas cosas 'simples' que pueden alegrar cualquier día. A mí me tocó enviarle a Patricia de 'The Yellow Kitchen', sé que ya le ha llegado el paquete, en cuanto nos muestre su caja, pondré un enlace aquí.
Monday, November 18, 2013
This weekend we went to Brussels, more specifically to the Mothercare* shop (the only one they have in all of continental Europe). I am in love with the variety of products they sell. I might be biased since my mom got everything there for me as a baby, during her pregnancy over there, and later, I remember studying the catalog as a 6 year old waiting for my little sister to arrive. She still talks about the high quality and great prices they had (some of the clothes lasted her for 3 kids and she says they are *still* in good condition), and when I compare to the prices over here, it still seems to be the case.
We do love a weekend day-trip, and believe it or not it was the first time I ever ate an authentic Belgian waffle, from a seller in the street. The chilly weather was ideal for it.
Anyhow, I was mostly hoping to see and feel and touch their assortment of cloth diapers (as we are looking into them, more on that coming later), but unfortunately they did not have anything from that range and they do not send those specific items internationally either. Sad face.
We got a bunch of random things: some muslins, a box of disposable breast pads, a couple of jersey-fitted sheets for the crib, some onesies and a bunch of cute sleepsuits. I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed... and ended up with tons of questions. What are the indispensable things that babies really need? How many onesies should we get (6?), and how fast do they outgrow them? I know I was born meausuring 52 cm. so I think the smaller, newborn sizes won't be of much use if we can expect our baby to be of a similar height to us (Mark measured 49 cm).
|All of a sudden the bump popped out. Sometime between 20 and 24 weeks.|
Something in me is saying that as long as we have a bed, a bath, diapers and some clothes and toiletries we should be OK? At the same time I am not so certain emergency-running to the pharmacy or shop will be so easy to do on those first weeks, so what should we stock on? Lanolin? Gripe water? Rash cream? Baby Tylenol? I guess what I am doing here is asking all new-moms and more experienced ones... what were the basic things you absolutely needed to have on those first days?
(I know there are a million lists online, and we also got some from the midwives as well as from some baby shops, but I kind of do not trust them as people seem to be saying: go and buy all the things! Right now!)
*This post is not sponsored by Mothercare, though if they'd like to send me stuff I would be more than happy to review it. I am just writing based on my memories and opinions.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Remember all the way back in January when I mentioned we were going to attempt to get crafty and make our own rolling curtains? Well, the curtains are finally ready and in place. But, oh, but, we did not make them. The plan was that we were going to teach ourselves how to use the sewing machine. We both tried, but we could not manage it. I can't wait for my mom to come and teach me because when it comes to crafts and handy stuff I am completely useless. When the engineer-husband could not figure it out either I knew the whole attempt was kind of hopeless. So we took our fabric, measurements and project to the Turkish tailor who did it for us, and voilà curtains.
It was not so easy though. When we picked up the curtains they were way too long (well maybe 25 cm.) and as a consequence, on the biggest window they fell by their own weight. Crazy person that I am, I spent a whole week whining, stressing and crying about it and
Are you crafty? It is one of those skills I wish I had... since I could be making my own breastfeeding t-shirts* ... among all kinds of other things.
*(what! 55 EUR for a long sleeved t-shirt or 99 EUR for a fleece hoodie just because the design is great and has a zipper under the boobs that lets you nurse modestly while staying casual?)
Thursday, November 7, 2013
The first activity was an 'icebreaker' exercise to get to know each other in which we interviewed another couple on basic things like which countries we come from, how long we have been in Holland, if we are planning to give birth at home or at the hospital, if we are being followed by a midwife or a gynaecologist (which is not actually a choice you make, rather a situation that depends on whether or not there are risk factors in the pregnancy), our expectations for birth, if we have thought of using medications...
At some point the teacher made a comment, in a mocking, ironic tone saying how "some people like to say they want a natural birth with painkillers". I tried to shut up, but I could not stop myself from retorting out loud: "but, it is still natural". This "division" and qualification of birth in 'natural' or 'normal' (both words she used at different moments) versus a birth in which pain is managed medically really annoys me, because it implies that if you dare use any pharmacological product you are somehow less valuable, less brave, less a woman??? (And it saddens me to see these discussions all over the place, as if there were camps, as if it was a matter or you're with us or you're the enemy.)
Whatever strategy anyone chooses to cope with labor, whether it is breathing, hypnosis, a hot water tub, gas and air, pethidine or yes, an epidural, if you push the baby out it is a natural birth. I don't see any intrinsic value in enduring pain and I don't think it is something to be particularly glorified or proud of, and specially not something which should be used to make people feel "less" (what?) (But that's just my opinion). Yes, I know my body is perfectly capable of doing this, I trust my body. This does not have to do with that trust, I know there are changes gradually taking place in my body that are preparing me for giving birth. I also know that pain will happen. I know that pain is a very real physiological phenomenon, based on chemistry, and that when my pelvic canal and cervix open and expand I am bound to feel it. I also know that the medical science has ways to counteract pain, and if they are there why should anyone be made to feel bad about choosing to use them? In the end, it is impossible to predict how things will happen, we can not really plan for (most of) this. So why the harsh judgement and division if sometimes (many times?), it is something we can not control?
|Wax model at "La Specola" museum of Zoology and Natural History in Florence|
I am not even sure what I want, I know I want to take labor as far as I am able to, I am exercising to strengthen my core, and I want to learn all that I can. I want to be prepared, while acknowledging the unpredictability of the possible outcomes, but I am also very open to the pharmacological options out there. And yes, I will probably want an epidural. I have been there, assisting cows, and they did not seem to be having fun.
I am also thankful of the advances of medicine, and am very well aware that if it were not so, childbirth would still be one of the main causes of death for women or infants. The 19th and 20th century were not so long ago. Sometimes there is not even a choice, and it is thanks to obstetric interventions or surgery that the lives of women and child are preserved.
Like a commenter (Leela) said in response to this post (aptly named: Ugliest, Beautiful Moment, Or, Fuck Ina May)
"I think the main problem is that many women buy into a fantasy that labor is somehow a magical, painless experience. This is bunk. Natural labor is awesome, very empowering, and can leave a woman feeling a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. But it fucking hurts, and that’s the way it is. I feel that there is too much emphasis on the mistaken notion that we can have birth without pain. That line of thinking is fear-based. It comes from fear of pain. Pain is part of life. You can’t think yourself into escaping it. You can get the pain medication, or you can embrace the pain. Having done both, I can say that both have value and neither is less than the other. You can’t have birth without pain, but you can have pain without fear, and that is where I wish people would focus their energy, not on some bullshit about having an orgasm while you’re pushing out a human being from a tiny canal full of nerves. That shit hurts! Don’t pretend it doesn’t!"
|Forceps, Museum Boerhave in Leiden|