HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY LULUA!!!!
Let’s just ignore the fact that I’m writing this post about 1.5 months after the fact. It has been a busy time! I still can’t believe Lua turned one. My baby! This time of year has been very surreal and not in a good way. I missed the end of the school year last year because of Lua’s birth and my maternity leave, so I had truly forgotten just how much of a struggle May and June are in the classroom. Not to mention there are a lot of changes on the horizon for our family that Husein and I have been trying to iron out.
Anyway! Back to Lua because it’s HELLA past my bedtime and I want to jot down the important details about this beautiful, amazing child. She is tiny but mighty. I think she’s 2nd percentile for height and 5th percentile for weight (17 lbs) but her personality is huge. My dad even makes these ridiculous comments about “Wow, we thought Hafiz was a great baby, but THIS is a VERY special baby” because she’s so engaging, expressive and smiley. While she does smile readily, the faces of all her emotions (concerned, pissed off, suspicious, silly, etc.) are amazing.
Sleep. She has been such an independent sleeper since early on, and now that she’s older and just generally less milk hungry, her sleep is even better. She goes to sleep so easily. Bath, diaper, jammies, one book, nurse (usually very brief unless she’s overtired and nurses to sleep), sing “peace, salaam” song and put her in her crib. She just looks up at me, sucks her fingers, then rolls to her belly. She goes to bed around 6:30, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, typical second child lack of super consistent schedule. She won’t wake up until the 7am area. Rarely wakes at night. I know, she’s the best. As for naps, she’s transitioning from 2 to 1 nap right now, so some days she takes two shorter ones and other days a longer (well, we aim for longer) one nap. We have never had a schedule and just put her down when she’s tired looking. A schedule probably would’ve helped but, eh. She’s getting the sleep she needs. I would say she goes to sleep at 11 or 12 most days and sleeps 1-2 hours.
Food. You are such an enthusiastic eater! You looooove food and eat most everything, though you definitely prefer carbs and if you see someone else eating a carb at the table you will stare it down and point and shriek until it’s yours. You also love all fruits. And mushrooms! Not super into the other veggies (not a big beet fan like your bro was) but you’ll eat broccoli if it’s cooked in butter. And potatoes are your obsession. You nurse in the morning and at night, but don’t seem to want/need it in the day at all. Since your birthday you get grassfed milk in your bottle during the day (I stopped pumping) and adore it.
Mobility. You started crawling earlier than Hafiz and I thought you’d walk earlier too but that doesn’t seem to be the case. You can stand on your own and can take a few kinda steps when you are close to something. I’m excited for you to walk but also feel good about you being my baby forever, too 🙂
Teeth. 4 on top, 2 on bottom = 6 in all — I feel like your incisors look like my fangs but maybe not.
Cloth diapers. Failing at this. Just not a priority. When we are around the house we use them but otherwise, not so much. I think Husein is better about using them. Laundry though! It’s rough. Too much happening.
Baby sign language. We sucked at doing this with you but you ask for more and ask to be picked up.
Talking. “Mamamamama!” is your constant and I think it’s intentional. You mimic sounds (tongue clicking and lip smacking included). No other words.
New tricks. You can open pens and markers too easily. You turn the pages in your board books excitedly (Not as into books as Hafiz was though) and love making music with things like shakers, hitting things together, etc. You have had basically zero interested in your baby toys and perpetual interest in anything Hafiz is touching. You seem to have a thing for little wooden men and grasp onto them for hours. Also, keys. You love keys. And toothbrushes. And Hafiz’s tool bench, which is really now your tool bench. You use Thomas the Train as a walker, or push other stuff. When you are in your crib awake, you giggle and talk and pull clothes out of the baskets on our shelf (beside the crib) it’s hilarious, we will come in and your crib is full of clothes and you’re so pleased.
It’s super late now but, sweet Lua, you are pure magic. Your papa and I seriously comment to each other every day about just how lucky we are to have you. Love you so much.
Oh hafiz! Of course I have WAY fallen off the update train for this little blog. I don’t even pretend to maintain a record of what you and your sister are up to these days, which makes me a little sad, but I also know that we are all busy living life to the absolute fullest and that’s what matters.
Well we are on an airplane right now (without internet so this will get posted for real later EDITED TO ADD: way later since I couldn’t finish on the plane) coming home from our first legit vacation as a family of 4. It’s an evening flight, arriving in philly close to midnight. It’s one of those parenting moments of zen where both you and your sister are fast asleep and your father and I can just stare into space without feeling like we need to put out fires. You turned 3 last week, which makes an update here very necessary.
This was the first time that your birthday party was really, truly for you. You had remembered bits and pieces of your 2nd birthday party (ok maybe just the trucks cake) but you were anticipating this one and I knew we’d be talking about it all year. Lots of friends came over and we wore jammies, ate bagels and Chana did a toddler music circle. It went better than I had imagined it would, meaning there were no major toddler meltdowns, our house didn’t get destroyed and people seemed to have fun. You shared your toys and loved being surrounded by the people you adore.
I have to say, Feezy, I am just so damn proud of you. Toddlers tend to get a bad reputation, and sure, you have some classic toddler moments where your father and I just look at each with huge “why did we have kids?” eyes…. however, I actually can’t relate to many of the most common toddler complaints. You have a this maturity about you and such a calm, sweet aura.
I will give you a snapshot of Hafiz at 3 using the categories I used way back when for your monthly updates. I enjoy this a lot 🙂
Sleep. You are happily in your “big boy bed” which is a great quality organic twin mattress on the floor in your room. You go to bed easily most nights around 8pm after brushing teeth, potty, books and singing baby beluga. You need josh the giraffe and you suck your thumb to fall asleep. You rarely wet the bed, most nights you wear underwear to sleep but I sometimes put a cloth pull-up diaper on you if you’ve drank a lot near bedtime. Most of the time you wake in the night to pee, though. Or to run – literally, run – into our bed. Your fav line in the middle of the night is “I want to cuddle with you” which is very hard to say no to. You will fall back to sleep in our bed and then we bring you back to your room. This happens a few times a week. Sometimes you wake more than your sister at night actually. But still, you sleep well. Waking close to 8am most days. You nap at school but rarely when with us at home. It will be a slow transition to be totally nap free I think.
Food. This is definitely a part of you I’m super grateful for because you eat everything. We never make you special or different food. You will eat romaine lettuce wrap sandwiches, soup full of bok choy and coconut milk, bison empanadas… whatever we give you, basically. When given a choice you gravitate towards carbs of course. And you love ice cream.
Mobility. You do it all. Run, jump, swim with swimmies on, do yoga, balance bike, climb ladders, etc. You are cautious for sure, which i appreciate.
Teeth. No more drama with teeth brushing!!!! Yay! You lift your hand to tell us when you need a break, it’s so damn cute. No cavities, adorable smile, not thinking about how jacked up your teeth may be from thumb sucking.
Height/weight. Pretty sure you are 32 lbs and 28.5 inches tall. Like 5%ile height. Oh well 🙂
Potty. You trained quite easily at 25 months and had no regression once L was born. Mostly night trained as well. I’m so proud of how independent you are with the potty. It’s great that your pre-school really fosters that independence as well. Can’t remember your last accident, to be honest. You’re a pro. Early potty training is the best.
Talking. You talk non-stop and make such interesting and intelligent observations. You will hear us talking and then interject your thoughts or ask many questions to fully understand what we are saying. Your vocabulary is ridiculous, like noticeably better than many of my students. You know many letters and their sounds, oh how you want to learn to read!! You want to be read to constantly. Which is 100% the reason your vocabulary is so strong. I sometimes think about introducing one show per day (you still get zero screen time) but I love that your default comfort activity is being read to and never want that to change. I promise to drop what I’m doing whenever possible to read to you, buddy.
As for me: I have the two most amazing and beautiful kids in the world. It’s physically and mentally exhausting to work full time and also be present for you and Lua, some days are really hard, but overall I am happy with the way my time, energy and emotions are balancing out.
It’s hard to begin telling Lua’s birth story without first mentioning Hafiz’s birth. On the surface, I had the birth experience I wanted with Hafiz. It was vaginal. It was unmedicated. It was fast. He was healthy. I was healthy. I did consider myself one of the lucky ones. I was lucky.
However, there were negative aspects of his birth that I never got over. The intense fear that came over me while in transition in the packed waiting room, with none of the hospital staff seeming to care or acknowledge me at all. Feeling so unsafe, confused and on display while in active labor. Being alone in the hospital that first night with Hafiz. Constant people walking in and poking and prodding me and Hafiz and asking a million questions, preventing us from ever getting good rest while there.
I knew even before I got pregnant for the second time that I wanted things to be different when I had another baby.
I continued seeing the midwives at Pennsylvania Hospital throughout the beginning of pregnancy. Appointments were basically pointless. Just a different midwife looking at a computer screen and asking me a bunch of questions to check off some boxes. When I expressed that I felt some trauma over my experience in the waiting room during Hafiz’s birth, I was told to get there earlier. Cool.
After meeting with Christy, our home birth midwife, around week 14 of the pregnancy, I knew that was what we had to do. I would stay with Pennsylvania Hospital until the 20 week ultrasound showed that all was healthy with the baby, then would officially transfer my paperwork to Christy and pay out of pocket for a home birth.
My monthly prenatal appointments with Christy were completely opposite from my appointments at the hospital. They were 1.5 hours long of uninterrupted time to just talk. About self-care. About plans for the birth. About my physical health. Mental health. About the baby’s health. Preparing Hafiz for a sibling. Anything and everything! I would check out books from Christy’s little library about childbirth and newborns. She would suggest vitamins to ward off UTIs and yeast infections (which were an issue in Hafiz’s pregnancy), oils for my itchy belly or stretches with a scarf to help my lower back pain. We would check my blood pressure and listen to the baby’s heart with a fetoscope. Rarely did I have to step on the scale. I checked my own blood sugar twice each morning for a week to check for gestational diabetes. She tested my urine every so often and I swabbed myself to check for group B strep (it was negative). I would bring her two bags of coffee each time since we saved $500 on the home birth in exchange for my husband’s coffee at each appointment.
As the due date of April 25th neared, Husein and I prepared our home. We got the $90 box of birth supplies that included a liner for the birthing tub (which Christy lent us), a million chucks pads, sexy mesh underwear, peri bottles, etc. We put plastic under our bed sheets. Bought a brand new lead-free hose to go from our bathroom to the birthing tub, which was in our bedroom. A tarp for underneath the tub. We already had lots of towels.
We were ready to go by about 38 weeks, so in the nearly 3 weeks to come after that, we kept our house obsessively clean and organized. For me, it was my nesting instinct in full effect and a way to feel in control when, really, my brain was in constant “When will I go into labor?!” mode. The pregnancy itself felt so very different from my pregnancy with Hafiz that I was sure the way I went into labor would be drastically different as well. My belly was far smaller. I had no linea nigra down the middle. I was so much less active, yet felt physically far better. We didn’t know whether we were having a boy or girl, so there was the cool sense of mystery the whole time. By the time I got to 40 weeks, I was still physically feeling fine, but mentally just wanted to meet our baby! And how many more times would I have to clean our house?!
On my due date, April 25th, the practice contractions started. I feared I was going into labor and left work early, and didn’t go back the next day (which was election day and a beautiful sunny day as well) because they were still happening. But they came and went the entire week. At times at regular intervals, then not. At times pretty uncomfortable, then not so much. I went to back to work on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday night I was up almost the entire night with contractions 7 minutes apart. Then Friday morning they were basically gone! Scattered throughout the day. Luckily I stayed home from work because the entire school was throwing up that day. Friday night I drank a glass of red wine before bed, as per Christy’s suggestion, so I could actually get some contraction-free rest. That did the trick and I slept through the night.
I woke up Saturday morning, April 30th, which was 40 weeks 5 days, with contractions 7 minutes apart. I was still very skeptical of the whole thing after so many false alarms, but they didn’t seem to be letting up so I called my parents to pick up Hafiz and texted Christy to be on standby. My parents came around 9AM and hung out while we fed Hafiz breakfast and a lady game over to notarize our car title so my parents could sell our car that day without me present. The notary lady was super excited to help us out while I was in labor. Contractions were about 5 min apart when she came.
After my parents left with Hafiz around 10:30AM, Husein and I started cleaning our house like maniacs. I was hoping the movement would inspire more intense contractions and it worked. When I timed the contractions the intervals were a little wonky — 5 min, 6 min, 4 min, 8 min — but I could tell they were coming consistently enough and feeling more intense. Christy suggested doing some pelvic tucks against the wall during contractions to get the baby down and make contractions more regular. That seemed to work, though I completely stopped timing around this time because that would have involved too much multi-tasking since I was also folding laundry.
Christy arrived to our house at 12:40PM. Our house was immaculately clean and the birth pool was inflated. Our bedroom looked serene, all three window shades open and letting sunshine and trees be the background of our birth room. Clary sage oil from my friend Melissa was diffusing. My labor playlist was going both upstairs and downstairs.
Christy, Husein and I were all in the kitchen for awhile after Christy first arrived. I was leaned over the counter between contractions or holding onto the counter and squatting down, and during contractions I would do lunging stretches on our kitchen benches that Christy suggested to help move baby down. Husein brought out the entire contents of our cupboard and fridge for Christy and even made her soup. She listened to the baby with her doppler and took my blood pressure every so often. All good. Husein ate food. I just drank cold raspberry leaf tea with honey. Kept walking to our first floor bathroom to either pee or poop. In between contractions I was chatting casually with Christy and Husein. She liked a lot of the songs on my labor playlist which made me happy.
From the time that Christy arrived the contractions were coming 3-4 minutes apart. I wanted them to feel more painful and intense, since I knew that’s what had to happen for labor to progress quickly, but I also wanted to minimize the intensity by breathing really well through them. I focused on my breath and felt really quiet and calm. I never stopped moving.
Husein filled the tub up around 2:00PM (it took a long time! That thing holds a lot of water!) while I continued to pace around the kitchen and have contractions. I really loved the kitchen because the solid counters felt so grounding to lean into during and between contractions. And so much sun comes through the skylight. Christy suggested leaning back into Husein during the contractions to intensify them and move baby down, so I stopped the lunges and started to do that. If Husein wasn’t around then I’d just lean back on something else.
Once the tub was full I decided a change of scenery might be good so we went upstairs to the bedroom. I leaned on the banister upstairs for contractions or on Husein when he wasn’t doing something else around the house. He was a flurry of movement while I was laboring — typical Husein. He was preparing a lot throughout the house and helping Christy prepare her things as well. I tried sitting on the birth ball when I first came upstairs but didn’t love it. When I went to pee I tried some contractions on the toilet as well, hoping it would open things up since that is our body’s natural inclination on the toilet. I couldn’t tell if it was helpful or not though.
I didn’t feel a strong urge to get in the water but it was the perfect temperature around 2:45PM. I was worried it would slow the contractions down but Christy said if it was the right time it could actually help move things along. We wouldn’t know unless we tried. I think it’s interesting to note here that not once had Christy checked my cervix. In fact she hadn’t checked my cervix the entire pregnancy! She knew about where I was in my labor based on the sounds I was making during contractions. She even knew to call the assistant midwife, Janeyne, at this time, who was just down the street at a cafe.
Janeyne arrived at 3:00PM right after I got into the tub. The tub felt AMAZING and I was immediately happy about the decision to get in. It was big enough to move around and be in any position I wanted and the warmth just enveloped my whole body. However, part of me worried that me feeling good would mean a backtrack in my labor progress. Don’t get me wrong, the contractions were still intense, actually more intense than before, but in between them I felt so comfortable and able to just kind of collapse on my knees or all fours. Husein even has a picture of me at this time, in the pool, with a big smile, chilling out. When a contraction came I would lean into the side of the pool. This is the point where I was having to make some kind of noise to get through the contractions each time. This was also the point where my body and mind fully recalled the intense and specific pain of childbirth and I will admit that slight fear crept in; that little voice saying “NO, this is too much! Let’s get outta here!”
But there was no way fear could win out. I was so safe. In the most peaceful environment possible, my own bedroom, with two midwives I trusted fully and my extremely supportive husband (who I would order to get off of me when he tried to massage my shoulders, ha!). And things happened fast from this point. I kept reminding myself to keep my eyes open because my instinct in the face of pain is to squeeze them shut. With contractions I would moan loader and try to visualize opening down there. I pushed with a contraction and felt a release, which was my water breaking because soon little pieces of vernix were visible in the pool. I did feel opening and with the next contraction, a burning, the beginning of the “ring of fire” when the baby’s head is crowning. I felt like I was going to poop because that’s exactly what the urge to push a baby feels like, and if there is any poop it’s going to come out as well (and a little did – which the midwives would quickly remove with one of those aquarium nets that came with my birth kit) so I pushed once, leaned against the side of the tub on all fours, and felt the baby move down and apparently the head emerged a bit at this point and since baby’s hand was by its face, the hand poked out and held onto my midwife’s hand!
Then with another push the entire body came out at 3:19PM, so just 19 minutes after I got into the pool. It was 4 minutes of pushing start to finish, I think 2 or 3 pushes in entirety. Christy was really careful to be there and guide the baby coming out because if a baby moves their nuchal hand (the hand by the face during birth) while emerging they can mess up your perineum. I felt the entire body slide out in one push and it was the the most incredible sense of pure relief. I reached down to pick my baby up but the cord was wrapped under my leg so I couldn’t pull them to my chest, Christy had to move my leg in a moment of awkward gymnastics, but then I put baby on my chest. I say baby at this point because I didn’t know if it was a girl or a boy and still didn’t once they were on my chest. I thought I didn’t see a penis in that flash of first pulling them up (and as I recalled from Hafiz as a newborn, the penis is super obvious – big and swollen from birth!) but couldn’t be sure.
Her eyes were open from the moment she came out (apparently her eyes were open when her head was out just a little actually and she looked right at Husein and Christy!) and she stared at me while I held her in the pool, HUGE eyes and lots of dark hair. I could tell immediately that she was smaller then Hafiz. She was perfection. I couldn’t believe that she was just there! In my arms! Like that! It happened unbelievably fast and almost casually!
Christy and Janeyne wanted to get me out of the pool quickly (not sure why – maybe they don’t want the placenta to come out there? Or maybe because there’s icky stuff from birth in there it’s bad to hang out for a long time? Though I have to say the water was remarkably clear – no blood at all) and that was super challenging because my legs were like jello and I was shaking all over. And of course Lua was still attached to me. But all hands in the room helped me move from the tub to our bed, where I realized she was a girl (which shocked me – I was really thinking boy the whole pregnancy) and I just held her, cuddled her, stared at her, tried to nurse her, etc. After maybe 15 minutes Christy suggested she help me into a squat on the bed so I could push the placenta out. So we did just that and it was no big deal, one push and it came right out in one piece. With Hafiz the placenta had been painful to pass because they gave me Pitocin to force it out, which makes contractions way more uncomfortable. I was therefore surprised by how easy this was.
Husein and I laid in bed with Lua staring at her and both feeling very “whoa, that actually just happened” and overwhelmed by how chill and relaxed the experience was. We sang Baby Beluga to her, which I was sure she would recognize since we sing it to Hafiz for naps and bedtime. Christy and Janeyne were cleaning and organizing things this whole time.
After about an hour they asked me to come over to the side of the bed, legs open, to assess the damage down there. I was fearful because I had so much tearing and super painful stitches with Hafiz. They looked me over and said it was just a small first degree tear to the perineum (with Hafiz it was second degree) and Janeyne put lidocaine then a numbing shot before putting 4 stitches in. I didn’t feel them at all. Again, it was no big deal compared to the aftermath of Hafiz.
Christy and Janeyne brought me coconut water and a plate of food since they wanted me to eat before taking some ibuprofen. I also took a few arnica pills. I had no appetite but couldn’t get enough to drink. I did force down a few bites of food so I could take the ibuprofen. The only discomfort I had at this point were the after birth pains while nursing. These are apparently more painful with each pregnancy, but the uncomfortable cramps are important because it’s the uterus contracting, getting back to normal size and getting all the excess clotting and blood out. I took “After ease” herbs every hour or so to help these as well, more arnica and more ibuprofen. They still hurt a lot though those first two days! My perineum didn’t hurt at all in the hours and days following, even with the stitches and minor swelling. Again, this was wildly different from Hafiz’s birth when the swelling down there was major.
It was then time to weigh and measure Lua! We took guesses to her weight and my guess was 7 lbs. She weighed 6 lbs 12 oz, so I was pretty close! Her length was 18.5 inches. Her head measured 13 inches (though the pediatrician measured it slightly smaller, 12.5 inches, at her appointment the next day since head shape does change after birth).
She was born at 40 weeks and 5 days just like her older brother, but weighed nearly a pound less. Just as healthy and perfect as Hafiz, and they definitely have a similar look about them at birth: jet black fuzzy hair, slight hair on shoulders and ears too, big BIG dark eyes. My little indian babies.
I am writing this 5 days after it happened and still feel like it could have all been a dream. It was more beautiful, peaceful and calm than I ever could have imagined. The midwives have come back three times already to check on me and Lua in my bedroom. Christy’s rule is that I basically can’t leave the second floor of our house for a week, so I can take time to heal and relax. I feel EXTREMELY good and could easily see myself getting over confident, so I appreciate this recommendation. I’ve been far more active around the house than she wants me to be, we have a toddler after all, but am still taking her advice to heart. Lua and Hafiz’s pediatrician has also come to our house twice already to check on Lua. We have the only home visit pediatrician in Philadelphia and he’s the absolute best.
I can’t believe that it was little Lua in there these past 10 months.
There’s a chihuahua-shaped hole in my heart that I really don’t know what to do with.
A friend who recently lost a beloved pet told me to write something down so I am going to try. There’s no more tears physically in me left to cry so I figure I can write so that I’m doing something. What can I do with all the sadness? I don’t even understand the strength of this emotion. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Of course, when I realize this, my first thought is what a fortunate and privileged life I’ve had so so far in terms of death. I have never suffered a loss as sudden and close as this. I’ve lost elderly grandparents after slow battles with illness and steady decline. I’ve lost childhood pets who were older and had lived good lives. I’ve never lost a best friend at such a young age, so suddenly.
I don’t even care if it makes someone roll their eyes to hear it, but Pokey was one of my best friends. And she was my daughter. I’ll never forget that first day I held her in the palm of my hand. Husein and I had gone next door to introduce ourselves to our neighbors in Huasteca Canyon, Mexico where we had just moved. They welcomed us with open arms, all hugs and smiles and offering tecate and snacks, a huge family of great-grandparents, grandchildren and the generations in between. Sandy, who had the loudest laugh of all and a new baby named Andres, noticed that I kept petting the little dogs that ran at our feet and begged for food, so she casually said, “Uds quieren una perrita?” (do you all want a puppy?) and I said “Sí!” while Husein said “NO!” and the whole family laughed. So Sandy winked at me and went to the backyard, where her little black chihuahua, Negra, had dug a hole to have her to puppies: one black boy and one sandy colored girl. She brought me the nearly white, sand-colored, 2 week old pup, eyes still closed. I just held her in the palm of my hand in awe of how miniature and perfect she was. Husein was still skeptical. Since she was only 2 weeks old, she of course had to stay with her mama, so I had a few weeks to work on Husein. I whispered to Sandy that the dog was mine.
So for the next few weeks I would go over every few days and visit with her, Husein all the while saying we were NOT getting a dog and we did NOT need the inconvenience and burden and blah blah blah. I never engaged in an argument, just kept going over to visit the little puppy, knowing things would work out.
Then, on the evening of September 13, 2011, I asked Husein if I could go next door to get my dog. I don’t even remember how I brought it up or why he said yes, because we never had a lengthy conversation or even an argument about it, but I think he just messaged to me that the dog would be MY responsibility and he was just going to say whatever. I practically skipped next door I was so, so happy.
We had absolutely nothing that one should have for a pup, nor internet in the canyon to google “What should a puppy eat?” so I put down a bowl of milk for her. Found out the next day that’s not what you’re supposed to do, by the way. She slept in a box with a bunch of blankets in it right next to my bed. I kept my hand in there so she wouldn’t cry. We named her “Poqueta” because she was small enough to fit in our pocket — and poqueta was the hilarious Spanglish word that Husein invented for “pocket” and used frequently, thinking it was a real word, making our Mexican friends roll with laughter. The next day I took her to school with me so that I could take her to the vet after school. She hopped around my classroom and I hid her in the closet when students came in (I was a resource teacher at that point and only had kids in and out intermittently, mostly spending my time in other rooms). My friends/co-workers would come and fawn over her cuteness throughout the school day. I took her to the vet after school, where they picked about 100 ticks out of her ears (she had been living in a hole outside with her mom up until this point) and gave her some initial vaccinations. Got hooked up with actual dog food and a crate. No collar was fitting her at that point so we didn’t even try.
She soon had the nickname of Pokey (or Poke-Poke, or Pokey Bear, or Poker face, or Poquetina, or Hokey Pokey) and she spent A LOT of time in my classroom those first few weeks. My friend, Sarah, who taught across the hall, could probably fill an entire photo album from her photo shoots with Pokey whenever her class was at gym or music class. Both she and Doug, my freinds and co-workers, became like surrogate parents and babysitters to Pokey. As she got bigger and stronger, I would leave her during the day with her other surrogate parents: our neighbors and friends, John and Jenn. They had a bunch of big dogs and a big love for Pokey. John would go on long hikes through the canyon with his huge dogs and Pokey, prancing along behind them, not missing a beat. She truly thought she was as big as those other dogs, even though she never grew larger than 4 lbs.
Hus and I started off following all the “rules” of being good pet parents and had her in her crate at night and only eating dog food or meat. However, John would change all of that. He spoiled her during the weekdays and when he and Jenn would babysit her for weekends, so we had no choice but to spoil her too and soon she was in our bed and getting food off our plates. I think John taught us how to make Pokey one of us, part of the family, and not “just a pet” – and she filled that role perfectly. She thought she was a human, even putting her little head on the pillow next to mine and getting tucked in at night. For warmth as the night would go on, though, she would end up deep under the blankets, in our crotches (a favorite location of hers) or at our feet. She didn’t even mind the inevitable kicking that would surely occur each night. Since she was so tiny you could truly forget she was in bed with you.
One thing I loved about Pokey was how terrifically lazy she was. I hear stories of other dogs insisting to be let outside early in the morning, barking at the door. Not Pokey. She never ever wanted to get out of bed. In fact, when you shifted the blankets and started to get up she would give you this look of disdain, big bulging brown eyes saying, “Are you freaking serious?” So we would throw the blankets back over her and let her sleep in for hours.
There was nothing better than owning a chihuahua in Mexico. We could take her everywhere, no questions asked. And we really did. She continued to spend lots of time in my classroom and became the homeroom mascot. I shifted into the role of homeroom teacher by October and had a particularly spirited group of kids. Since Pokey was so tiny and fragile, my students knew they had to be calm for her and always were. She trotted around during morning meeting, all of us sitting criss-cross at the perimeter of the carpet, while we threw her toys back and forth. Then she’d curl up in her bed under my desk while we did our Math, Reading and Writing, a great reminder for the class to stay quiet and calm.
The following school year we moved to Sayulita, Mexico, which was initially hard on Pokey. She was a year old and all she had known was her vast, wonderful, Huasteca Canyon, full of big dogs and humans that she had bonded with. The oppressive heat and humidity of Sayulita in August was even a bit much for a chihuahua. She was panting constantly and eating very little at first. However, she eventually had the whole town of Sayulita mapped in her head and loved walking everywhere with us, encountering other dogs without leashes who she quickly sized up as friend or foe. She knew to stay at our feet and never ran into the street. Everyone in town seemed to know her. In fact, the one time she did get truly lost from us by following her nose at the busy Sunday market, we ran around as everyone in town emphatically pointed us in the direction she went, knowing that she was ours and that she was looking for us. We were able to figure out the long path she took when lost the day, weaving down along the beach then back up to the bridge where she started to head towards our home. But we found her on the bridge and scooped her up, our hearts full of relief.
We would bring her to the beach with us often and after running her initial frolicking circles in the sand, she’d curl up with our clothes and sandals while we swam in the ocean, watching us swim and never leaving her post. She would watch us emerge from the ocean with her ears back and tail wagging, running towards us. She always came with us to restaurants, either walking table to table capturing the hearts of others (and begging for food of course) or curled up in our laps. At Aaliyah’s they would put an entire raw steak on the ground for her and she’d eat it up. Once I was sitting outside of a cafe in the plaza, talking to my friend Cameron on Skype since there was wi-fi at the cafe and not at our house. A few of my students were in the plaza and kept coming over to harass Pokey while she was trying to bask in the sun. While I wasn’t looking she disappeared and my heart dropped. I quickly signed off of Skype and started looking around. She was nowhere in sight. So I walked back home and, of course, there she was, curled up at our front door. She just wanted to come home and get away from those pesky kids.
She had defied the odds a couple times while in Sayulita, too. While visiting a sea turtle refuge, she was sniffing around on a second floor balcony and fell off. She yelped and ran right towards me, then collapsed, breathless in my arms. I thought we were losing her. I called the vet, who was closed since it was a Sunday but met me there and opened the doors, then gave some shots to prevent swelling and she was miraculously fine. Once on a budget airline flight back to Monterrey they made us put her soft crate down with the baggage in the belly of the plane instead of under out feet. I was in tears the entire flight, imagining how terrified she must’ve been, or how the baggage was moving around down there and possibly injuring her. She came out with the baggage onto the baggage carousel. It was horrifying. But she was, once again, miraculously fine.
During my journey to get pregnant with Hafiz, Pokey was my biggest source of comfort. She was the only one with me when I got the positive pregnancy test, and I’ll never forget cuddling with her while I waited those few minutes before checking it, talking to her about my anxiety and how I had to be at peace with either seeing a line or no line. Husein happened to be out of town at the time, so after seeing a line appear, I threw Pokey in the car with me to drive the 45 min south to see my doctor in Puerto Vallarta. I got blood drawn and then played with Pokey on the beach while waiting for the results.
And the road trips we took her on! Back and forth between Mexico and the United States multiple times. And all over Mexico. That little dog has walked the streets of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, Zacatecas… and places I don’t even remember the names of at this point. She cuddled up with her blankets and Mr. Bojangles toy in the backseat or nuzzled her way behind my neck – she oddly loved laying there – or in our laps of course. She was a great traveler. Even on airplanes, tucked underneath the seat in front of us, she would stay quiet the entire time. Other dogs might bark or whimper, but not Pokey. I’d just talk to her through the mesh window and she’d lay down.
Our move back to the states wasn’t too hard on Pokey at first. It was summer and she loved my family and the luxuries of their house. She had her little cushion on the back porch where she perched for hours on end. There was always a lap to cuddle in, which was what mattered most to her. When I went into labor with Hafiz, she wouldn’t get near me though. I kept wanting to sit on the couch and cuddle but she bolted away. It was as if my energy was way too intense, or she knew that her life was about to dramatically change and was not a fan.
Two or three days after Hafiz was born, home from the hospital and overwhelmed with post-partum hormones, I took Pokey on a walk outside and just sobbed convulsively over the change in our relationship. I saw betrayal in her eyes and couldn’t handle it. I know it was mostly the hormones but it felt very real. In those early days, she was always cuddled up with me while I sat around for hours learning to to nurse Hafiz or with a sleeping baby on my chest. Husein, Hafiz, Pokey and I were all co-sleeping at night, and Pokey would curl up underneath Hafiz’s toes. As Hafiz became more mobile, she was mostly terrified of him and ran away when he would get close. His grabby, curious hands were too much for her. It is actually fairly recently that he truly learned “gentle touch” and that she stopped being nervous around him and started jumping on him to give kisses the same way she does for the rest of us. Hafiz adored watching her run wildly back and forth in the house, and would scream “RUN POKEY RUN!”
I just always expected Pokey to be in our family forever. In fact, that’s where the guilt comes in. I realize now how much I had been taking her for granted. Cuddle time with Pokey was not a priority, with working full time, parenting an active toddler and being exhausted by pregnancy. I know our whole family adored her and showered her with love, but I was her mama. I really was. And I should’ve devoted more time and affection to her.
Upon arrival at the vet, seeing her laying there, eyes closed, unresponsive, tubes everywhere… all I could do was scratch her behind the ears and on her head and tell her how much I loved her and that I knew she could make it. When we moved her little body into a cardboard box to transfer her to the hospital, she had a moment of alertness. Her eyes opened, she craned her neck up to look at me, and tried so hard to chirp her happy little barking chirp, but then her neck just collapsed weakly and her head fell. Then her eyes were closed again for the entire car ride there. Until Husein’s voice came over the speaker phone, again her eyes opened and she craned her neck up looking for him and let out a weak little bark for him. I never saw her eyes open again.
But she fought. She fought for two nights in that hospital. I know they tried everything. The second night I sat with her and though her eyes didn’t open, I just scratched her head and her ears and pet her and talked to her and told her she could do it. She could make it. And that I loved her.
I love her so much. I am angry that she only lived 4.5 years. That is not a long enough life for such an amazing little soul. She had so much more love to give, I just know it. And I don’t understand where all of that goes. Where does that love go? That love she had left to give? I don’t have a specific religious or spiritual belief about death, but I feel like I really need one to cope with this. Her soul is somewhere. Maybe if I’m lucky it can enter the baby in my belly, and this baby can be a ray of sunshine just like Pokey was. Maybe this baby will know how to love unconditionally from the start. How to always be extraordinarily happy to see the people he or she loves. How to always find the warmest and coziest spot in the house. How to appreciate those small moments and look people they love in the eye. How to always wake up with a good stretch. How to show joy unabashedly and run around like a maniac and chirp and, hey, even pee on the floor with happiness.
I hope I can come out from under this cloud of depression and be present for the new life that is inside me right now. And for Hafiz.
didn’t even come close to staying up until midnight last night. i have my first full blown sinus infection and am pretty shocked by the severity of the pain. yesterday i woke up and expected to look in the mirror and see both cheekbones entirely black and blue, because it feels as if i was punched in the face repeatedly. the pain shoots down to my gumline/teeth so i can’t chew. i’ve had a runny nose and post-nasal drip for weeks but i have no problem going about my life with a basic cold. christmas morning i just kept a box of tissues by my side and the echinacea tea flowing. and went to bed super early every night this whole damn break. i feel frustrated that all of my attempts at keeping this thing in check failed. i was doing neti pot morning and night, taking zinc lozenges, my usual 5 million vitamins for pregnancy stuff but also d3 for immunity, elderberry in my tea, humidifier, diffusing essential oils, getting as much rest as possible, eating relatively healthy (though not my best with the holiday treats everywhere)… but, bam, sinus infection. so i’m taking antibiotics again even though i wanted this to be an antibiotic-free pregnancy. nope. sorry baby. took ’em a few weeks ago for a UTI and now this. oh well. i had to take antibiotics 2 or 3 times with hafiz and he turned out about as perfect as babies come, so hopefully i’ll get lucky again in that respect.
hafiz just finished his first course of antibiotics as well, actually. the pediatrician thinks he also had a sinus infection 2 weeks ago (runny nose forevverrrrr and spiking a fever on and off for a week) and a cough he couldn’t shake. of course now that i’m down for the count, hafiz is healthy and bouncing around. i’m trying not to spread my germs back to him. i told him that mama is sick and he says “mama needs medicine” or “i kiss mama’s boo boo” and he kisses my nose/face and then says “mama feels ALL BETTER!!!” with a big smile and i want to cry because i wish it were that simple.
he’s full of so much joy these days. i don’t want to jinx myself, but he’s just gotten so easy to be around. not like he’ll do everything we ask him to do the first time – he’s still a toddler and wants things a certain way – but now that he communicates so well now that it’s easy to rationalize with him. as long as we explain the reason he needs to put on mittens, or throw something in the garbage, or leave josh on the couch, or brush his teeth or whatever… then he understands and does it. even getting him to leave places that he loves, like my parents’ house or a friend’s house, has gotten way easier. i have been so sick these past few days and he literally just plays around me, the most needy he is is when he wants me to read him books over and over and over again. my uncle gave him richard scarry’s “cars and trucks and things that go” which is 66 PAGES and i will read that whole damn thing and then he will insist i read it again. NIGHTMARE. i want to hide that book.
i love how he now observes that things are funny. he’ll say “papa’s funny!” or when something is absurd in a book he’ll say “that’s funny!” and laugh so genuinely with his whole body. when he does something silly to try to make us laugh he’ll say “i funny.” cracks us up.
there’s about 5 million more things i wanted to share about hafiz, but my freaking face is throbbing and i need to put a heating pad on my cheeks and take some tylenol. oh, but in regards to the title of the this post, as hard as it is while feeling this f-ing sick, all i want to do is have a better attitude in this new year. i’ve been getting pulled towards negativity with the hectic nature of my job and feeling like our house still isn’t where i want it to be… and focusing less on all the amazing parts of my life that i should feel super grateful for. i need to shift my attitude back to where it belongs, yo.
NEW YEAR, NEW ATTITUDE!
So I know I have basically given up on writing updates about Hafiz here, but considering that he turned 2 this month I figured it was about time I shift my focus back to him AKA the reason I created this space in the first place.
It is 8:15AM on Thanksgiving Day, 2015 and my little man – the center of my universe – is still asleep, so I might as well write something about him at age 2.
Throwback to the categories I used to use for his monthly updates:
Sleep. He sleeps so freaking well (knock on wood) that it makes me cringe to think about dealing with a newborn come this Spring. He’s asleep by 7:30/8 and awake by 7ish. Today is an anomaly since we kept him up late last nigiht. When he’s sick he will wake up once in the night due to his snot situation or coughing and say “Mama and Papa’s bed” and will come lay with us for a bit, but then he asks to go back to his room. If he doesn’t ask I’ll say “Josh misses you and wants you back in bed!” which works every time. (Josh is his giraffe lovey)
Food. You still eat everything, but not huge amounts. And you have very clear preferences now, slightly less open-minded than your 1 year old self. You eat whatever we eat. Sometimes we just need to put yogurt on it to trick you into eating it, though. You freaking love pizza and fries. We actually can’t order fries at restaurants because then you will only eat that. We make our own pizza about once a week and the smile on your face when we say you’re getting pizza is ridiculous.
Mobility. You have been working on your jump for a long time now and you have it DOWN, two feet off the ground at the same time and everything. Unfortunately you enjoy practicing your jumping skills everywhere, all the time. Like on the couch. And my bed. And in our tent when camping at 1AM.
Teeth. I don’t think you’ve gotten those 2 year molars people talk about? But you have the first molars and all other teeth. They are so damn cute. You’ve gotten way better at teeth brushing and let me do it without any drama. You need “Hafiz’s turn” first for about 5 minutes but then you accept that it’s “Mama’s turn” – I ask if you want to stand up for Mama’s turn or lay in my lap which makes you feel like you get some voice on the issue.
Height/Weight: You weight 25 lbs and are 31.5 inches tall. I think at one year you were 20 lbs and 28.5 inches, so makes sense that you are below the 5th percentile for height, little peanut. Your weight is 25th percentile though. Not that percentiles mean anything but, semi-interesting nonetheless.
Cloth diapers/Potty: We are still doing cloth diapers and when we commit to being inside all day with plenty of pants-free time, you will pee on the potty easily. You go loooong periods of time with dry diapers so whenever I notice it’s dry we sit you on the potty and you go. However, so far you refuse to poop on the potty and we are a little confused about how to proceed with potty training from here. I know we need to just go “all in” and ditch diapers but I’m not mentally prepared for it yet! I figure we have until April…
Baby sign language/Talking: Even though you are full blown talking so many words I can’t keep up with and putting sentences together, it’s cute that some sign language still remains. When you say please or that you want something you still emphatically hit your chest with one or two hands. You gesture up when you want me to pick you up (and say “GET UP PLEASE!!”) and use the sign for “fork” – that we invented – when eating. But otherwise you talk up a storm. Yesterday this ceramic lizard broke in our house and Hafiz goes “Papa needs to glue it” – I was like umm when has this kid every glued something?!! He is constantly narrating everything he hears, “Police car coming!” “Doggy barking!” “Mailman here.” etc. I love that when he wakes up in the morning I can bring him to our bed and have legitimate conversations with him about the shadows on the ceiling, our eye color, going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, etc. A few days ago my mom called to tell me that Pokey got hit by a car, and I was really upset. I explained what happened to Hafiz and then a few hours later Hafiz seemed sad. I asked what was wrong and he said “Pokey has a boo-boo, hit by a car” – he head really been thinking and worrying about her that whole time.
As for me: 18.5 weeks pregnant. Feeling pretty good overall. Can’t complain. Need to go get ready to eat all the Thanksgiving food. xoxo
15 weeks with Hafiz on left, 15 weeks with this baby on the right! HEY UTERUS WHAT’S UP!?
I’m happy to report that life is feeling way less depressing since entering the 2nd trimester. And, damn, it was an overnight change, too. All of a sudden I’m able to eat vegetables and stay up past 8pm! Yeah!
I still feel too busy, but I’ve fully accepted my fate for the year and am at least looking forward to peacing out for the last 6 weeks of the school year to go on maternity leave. I know I have a long way to go – 170 days says the app on my phone – but I already can’t.freaking.wait to meet this baby. Will he/she look exactly like Hafiz?! Will they sleep and nurse like he did? Weigh more or less? Not finding out the gender is going to make the waiting game even more brutal. Oof. But I’m comforted by the fact that these last 16 weeks have FLOWN by. Another month and I’ll be halfway there.
Can’t freaking believe that my original little baby turns 2 this week. To be honest, his cuteness and big personality are getting out of control. I love being able to communicate so easily with him; kid talks up a storm. I now can’t imagine going back to those early baby days of being like uhh.. are they hungry? tired? wet? YIKES! Sounds scary. At least the mind of a newborn is way simpler though. Toddler reasoning is pretty mind-boggling.
Okay it’s 9PM on a Saturday which clearly means one thing for me: bedtime. Pathetic. Oh well. Big plans tomorrow though and need to feel alive. xoxoxo