Saturday, September 27, 2008

37th Week Update

Spring sprung today. Officially it started last Sunday but the weather took a week to catch up to the calendar. We spent the afternoon in our favorite park Rosedal across the street from the apartment. I gussied up and Hugh played photographer as I donned pose after pose from my prenatal yoga series. I want to have some shots that I can use afterwards in marketing materials, maybe a website or something for my prenatal yoga classes.

We ran into our new friends Mara (Italian) and husband (name escapes me) outside for the first time with their newborn Matijas - born just two weeks ago. We probed about all sorts of new baby schedule/apparatus and life change changes. Matijas lay peacefully asleep in his stroller the whole time. They have to go through some extra paperwork to register their childs name. The father is slovakian and the spelling reflects that heritage. Matijas doesn't exist on the Argentine list of "approved" names so they'll have to petition. We won't have that problem with Valentina but we would if we wanted to name her any of the in fashion celebrity names of late - Apple, Suri, Zuma, etc. The Argentines don't want to fill their country with a bunch of weirdos. They are just fine with generation after generation of Diegos, Gabrielas, Rodrigos, Sergios, Valerias.

I received a number of emails from friends this week wanting to check in and see how I was feeling - now so close to the due date. So here it is: Baby has "dropped" into my pelvis in preparation for D-Day so I am waddling around...slowly. I feel a great deal of pressure down there and am most comfortable with hips as open as possible and lots of cushy back support. Makes going out to dinner and sitting for any period of time longer than 15 minutes uncomfortable. That said, we're trying to do lots of both now while we still own our own time. I'm still doing yoga - next week I'll teach my last class for a three month maternity break. I will miss my students but am wanting to stick around the house much more these days. Still have crazy vivid dreams and occasional restless nights anxious about the coming changes. The other night I dreamt Utta bit the hand off of our baby girl. Yes, I'm a bit worried about introducing our first baby girl to the new human one. The Dog Whisperer will be consulted. I am having occasional pre-labor contractions. My OB says its normal to have 15-20 per day. Sometimes I feel tightness in the belly and other times it more intense like a menstrual cramp.

Valentina moves all day and I can feel her legs up into my ribs and knees rolling towards my belly button. She's a constant companion that I never get tired of. As excited as I am to meet her in person I have a feeling I will miss the pregnancy too. Tomorrow marks week 37 - according to most, the baby is now full term. Any time, any day. For me, she'll arrive a few days after her auntie Rachel (coming Oct 7th).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writers retreat

My writers group Thursdays@Three had been talking about a weekend retreat all winter. Half the group took vacations to the Northern Hemisphere to enjoy a summer break from the cold so we knew the earliest we could get it together would be the first weekend in September. Joanna found us what appeared to be an adorable casita on one of the islands in Tigre - a short one hours drive north of Buenos Aires. Tigre is a collection of little islands - all navigable via boats like the Florida Keys (never been there but comparisons have been made amongst other expats I know here). Its scenic and serene in the fall and spring though intolerable in the summer when mosquitos multiply and thrive in the still, moist air. In the winter, it floods and homes simply float away.

We arrived early Saturday morning to the boat launch that would take us out to the casita. It was overcast, drizzling, cold and the kind of day you'd rather not get out of bed. Sharon brought a dangerous quantity of freshly made pastries (facturas) and we boarded the boat with the “necessities”. I decided to prioritize comfort over vanity. At this point I just don't care if I'm viewed as hoggy - I am high maintenance. I brought two huge dufflebags and two small grocery bags. The full body pillow - check, sleeping head pillow - check, softest warmest blanket - ck, breastfeeding "boppy" pillow to use as a lapdesk - ck, hot water bottle, yoga mat, yoga block and blanket and cds, various writing materials, ugg boots, rain boots, comfy sweats and Hugh's heavy pea coat, and clothes for one night, two full days. For sustenance I packed my mate kit, hard boiled eggs, granola cereal, two tupperwares of fruit salad to share for breakfast, yogurt and a grilled chicken breast just in case. Excessive yes, but in my case, practical. I wanted for nothing and am so glad I overpacked.

The initial charm of the casita melted like snow on a spring day as we tried to unpack and discover how things worked – or in this case, didn’t. Oh, how quaint - the toilet doesn't flush. Looks like we need to pour water from a bucket into the tank for a manual flush. Lovely! There are only two burners on the stove that work and light manually to barely a simmer. Good thing we're in no rush to heat hot water for coffee or anything else. Look at that - the "bedroom" that sleeps 4 is a separate outhouse from the main casita, is 10 below zero with a non working heater and two sets of incredibly tiny and unusable bunkbeds! Hmmm, that’s odd, the electricity seems to flicker on and off. Guess we’ll have to unplug the refrigerator so we can heat the living room where we’ll write and hang out. Luckily several of us packed extra blankets and pillows. By group consensus we pulled the wafer thin mattresses off the bunk beds so that most could sleep on the floor in the living room.

Finally we settled down to business and started in on our real agenda - writing. There was one truly comfortable chair - offered freely to the preggo, yea! We stayed on task throughout the drizzly afternoon with writing exercises, some free time to work on individual projects and a lengthy discussion of writing achievements over the year. We took a break when a floating store passed by. Bought freshly made ravioli for dinner and a ton of water (of course, you can’t drink the water in the house or use it for washing dishes, your face or your teeth!). Some of us took a stroll in the rain around the other properties and through a foresty trail that reminded me of Muir woods. I retired early (to the one bed that existed) and fell into a black slumber while the rest remained giggling on the floor deep in bedding, champagne and stories.

Sunday we started with an Ambi-led yoga class in the living room. Another full day of writing, planning for the coming year with new goals for our group (hosting a reading event, participating again at the Feria de Libros, focusing a bit more on writing technique in our weekly meetings and all of us submitting more work for publication), walking, frequent smoke breaks (for the two puffers) and eating of course. The bus boat came by to pick us up at 7pm. I felt strangely rested and pleased with the course of things. With all its discomforts, it was the perfect getaway - only an hour away and filled with adventure to laugh about later and bond the group.

We decided not to wait another year before retreating again. Next time we'll go to the beach at the end of the summer and hopefully have more luck with the rental but just as much fun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A whole lotta belly

A few days before Vaughn left town, I got an invite to dinner from one of the women in my prenatal yoga classes (that I attend not teach). It was the first time anyone had "asked me out" and I was thrilled at the opportunity to make friends with another "embarazada/preggo". She said a few others from our class were coming too with their Sig O's/spouses. Vaughn rolled his eyes and said "great, an evening with a bunch of pregnant women" - with special emphasis on the "p" word as if we're lepers. I guess I can understand. He's swingin single, on vacation, wanting to do man things and somehow is getting dragged to an evening of flying female hormones.

The evening was a huge success and we all had fun - even Vaughn. I suggested from the beginning that all the women sit on one end of the table and the men at the other (a common practice anyway in Argentina). The men bantered all night about sports and other manly things - cigars? porn? who knows. gals talked of our burgeoning bellies, birth plans, nanny set ups, cravings and the like. It was heaven and giggles of fun. We took this pic of the six of us - all in our third trimester. Starting on the left, there's Mara, Italian and living here with her husband for two years while he finishes a work assignment, next is Sally, Australian and married to an Uruguayan that grew up in BA (they are moving back to Australia when the baby is two weeks old), then me, then Melanie, Swiss and living here for two years while her Swiss husband works and then they'll return home, Mariela is the Argentine with Australian boyfriend in all black with the biggest bump at 40.5 weeks (she had her baby girl Sofia two days ago - nearly 10lbs) and lastly Carolina, also Argentine and coupled with an Australian bloke. Both the Australian men want to move their Argentine girlfriends and new babies back to the motherland. Hugh and I are the only ones sticking it out here. Will be nice to socialize with this group over the next year but soon all will be gone...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Boogie Night

Saturday night we took Vaughn (Hugh's friend from SF in for a 10 day visit) to a "boliche" aka late night dance club. Why I waited until my eighth month of pregnancy to visit a disco is a mystery. The Boliches don't even open until 1am. So, in preparation we took naps from 9-11pm, then drank mate. Friend Gaby arrived at 12:30am and we took off in her car for a place called Museum in San Telmo. There was already a line of 50 or so people when we arrived and the place was nearly full inside. Eyes widened as I sashayed by with my big bump. I knew what they were thinking "good god, what the hell is she doing here!" I felt high from the mate and excited to be out in the middle of the night like a real Portena. It was either retro night or Argentines love the 80s - either way, the DJ rocked Erasure, Boy George, Wham (wake me up before you gogo) Early Madonna, Michael Jackson, Shania Twain (yes, and all the women knew the lyrics word for word), and many others. I rolled my hips in circle eights and Valentina enjoyed the ride. About 4am my feet started to swell and the heat from 500 pulsating Argentines started to suffocate me. So, Hugh and I took a cab home and Vaughn and Gaby stayed out till a more respectable 7:30am when the sun came up.