Typical plate in Venezuela: caraotas (black beans) con queso blanco (cheese), platano maduros (ripe fried plantains), arroz (rice) and ropa vieja (stewed beef).
Stranger: “So, where are you from?”
Me: “Well, I was born in NY, but my family moved to NJ around the time I was 11 or so.”
Stranger: “No, I mean what are you?”
Me: “Huh?” (As I think to myself…a person, a female, a mom.)
Stranger: “Like, what country are you from?”
Me: (Thinking to myself….what part of ‘I was born in NY and then moved to NJ’ didn’t you understand?!) (more…)
It was not an easy pregnancy. While the pregnancies of our older son (8) and of our daughter (2) were harder on me emotionally, this time it was the opposite – emotionally I seemed to be at my best, but physically not so much. I won’t go into detail, but I will give an example to illustrate.
When I was about three months pregnant I woke up in the middle of the night bleeding heavily, and when I got to the bathroom the entire floor was soon covered with blood. We rushed to the hospital thinking I was having a miscarriage, but the ultrasound showed the baby was (thank God!) 100% fine. I had been having excruciating abdominal pain for the previous three days – first suspected to be appendicitis and then a plethora of other maladies – and to this day I have no idea what caused the pain or the bleeding.
And so it went. Every week there was a different problem, the fortunate constant being that the baby was always fine. I tried alternative and allopathic doctors and treatments and spent a small fortune on professionals that were not covered by our health insurance. In the end nothing really worked, and I just prayed I would be feeling well at least on the day I went into labor.
I also began to seek out psychological and spiritual help and finally, after a family constellation and a few sessions of acupuncture (or perhaps because of the sum of everything I had tried before), I had about three weeks of peace before the baby was born, where all I felt was extreme fatigue.
I don’t know if it was because of all of the health problems I underwent or for some other secret emotional reason, but even though this was the third time I was having a baby, it was also the time I was feeling most scared. (more…)
I have always been a modest person, and I think I got that from my mom. It may have been a generational thing (she was born in the 1940s), or a cultural thing (she was born and raised in South America).
In any case, I remember that once I got a little older (maybe around first or second grade?), I wasn’t allowed to take baths with my brothers anymore, and I was always instructed to get dressed and undressed in the bathroom, by myself, behind a closed door.
This stuck with me, and as I have aged, I have continued to be a demure person…whether it be at the doctor’s office, in the shower and locker rooms at the gym, or even in the privacy of my own apartment.
Enter labor and childbirth… (more…)