2 Under 2 – 6 Weeks In!

The first post since Baby Lars joined our family and the world!!

P.S. Photos below!!

💖💕💖💕💖

I just remembered that I can publish a blog post from my phone- so here we are!! I haven’t managed to post from my computer, despite several attempts over the last weeks, so maybe the convenience of the WordPress App is the ticket! 

Baby Lars is 6 weeks old tomorrow and is currently slumbering on my chest. He is a sweet lump of baby boy that I never imagined would become a reality. But man, is life really real with two little ones to care for! I’m so grateful that Rodney is here with me and able to lend a generous helping hand every day. It’s because of him that I’m not merely surviving these challenging days. 
Lars is starting to squirm for my attention, so I’m going to leave this post with what I started to write weeks ago and have unsuccessfully tried to finish several times in the last weeks:

One Poop at a Time: Week 6 Postpartum; Week 15 Coronavirus Isolation 

June 24, 2020: I started this post 2 weeks ago and haven’t sat down to write since. Needless to say, I’m finding it difficult to make time to write. But here’s another go at it:
From June 12, 2020: 3 weeks and 2 days ago I gave birth to an 8.5 lb baby boy on my bed. I’m not pregnant anymore; I have two children under two years old! It’s truly remarkable how time marches on and how often it feels like we’ve gone through a time warp. How is my baby boy (my SECOND child?!) already nearly one month old, when just moments ago I was pregnant and anxious for him to arrive? Moments before that I was battling infertility with injections and diets and a few moments prior to that I was unattached and chasing lizards in Portugal.

However, at this moment, I’m on the couch in our apartment in Ecuador just weeks after giving birth and finding it harder than usual to find the words to express myself … and perhaps I’m not even forming cohesive thoughts. Bear with me as my tired, breastfeeding-in-the-middle-of-the-night brain tries to make sentences that make sense.
I wanted to write several posts in the last 3 weeks, but I am finding it difficult to juggle my various responsibilities and find time to do things like feed myself let alone write a blog post. Right now Py is sleeping and Lars is draped across my chest, alternately staring out at me and then rolling his eyes back in his head as he falls asleep- sweet little mouth wide open. There is no question that I won’t finish this post before Pyra wakes up and I need to go back to priority #1: caring for our children.

I WILL be writing a post about this birth experience, as many friends and family have asked to hear “the story.” I was able to jot down some notes in the previous weeks and hopefully I can get a full account written out fairly soon. I will say this for now: it was all that I hoped it would be, and maybe more. I am forever grateful to our midwife, and feel fortunate to have experienced childbirth in this way. We never left the apartment and barely needed to adjust our daily routine with Rod’s work and with Pyra. My body did just what it was supposed to and has been feeling great. Aside from the stretch marks and little bit of a tummy pooch I still have, I wouldn’t know that I had recently given birth- oh, the huge breasts leaking milk might be a give-away, though.

I (perhaps somewhat foolishly) started a fitness regime 3 days ago that I’ve not been entirely sure I can finish with the rules that I set out for myself (no grains, processed sugar, or dairy; veggies take priority on each plate; daily exercise). I’ve never been good at managing all my domestic tasks and food preparation often falls to the wayside. I often wait until I’m toooo hungry to find something to eat, so I’m scooping leftovers right out of the storage container into my mouth. It’s even tougher now with the new baby and limited resources/grocery opportunities, so I’m not sure what I was thinking. Well, I was thinking that I want to feel GREAT. I want more energy. I want to eat healthier and incorporate exercise into my rather sedentary quarantine lifestyle. I may end up relaxing my rules and just sticking to the exercise program and trying to incorporate more veggie whole foods and less crap … but we’ll see what happens. It’s day three, and I’ll keep trying.

Overall, things have been great since the birth. The first week I felt fabulous. More recently, I’m slipping back into negative thoughts about our situation: missing family, freedom to go outdoors or wherever we want; bored to tears with the “trapped” domestic lifestyle that little kids and quarantine bring about. Thank heavens for technology. My mom and sister responded to my SOS text yesterday, sending love, perspective, and encouraging words that I needed so badly.

Pyra is in love with her baby brother. When I open the door to let her into my bedroom in the morning, she ignores me and has eyes and kisses only for Lars. I do think she is experiencing some jealousy that comes out as grumpy and mischievous behavior, but not any negative actions towards Lars (except pulling his hair once!).
(and PyPy just started to call “Mom! Mom! Mom!” in her sweet little voice)
* * * * * *
OK- back to today. Well, once again, Lars is draped across my chest and Pyra is napping. Not too much has changed in the last two weeks, although now, Pyra can open my bedroom door on her own! She reaches up as high as she can on the tippiest of her tip-toes, and her chubby fingers just barely grasp the handle. But it’s enough to get her inside to see her favorite person in the family: Baby Lars.
I’m going to try to keep this brief so I can actually get it done. A few updates:
I’m still on the fitness band wagon. Week 3 started today and I’m loving my daily exercises. I quickly learned that it’s way more fun to have Pyra as my workout buddy than trying to find quiet time alone. Much easier too! Her pushups and squats and jumping and “breathing hard” like mom suffuse the experience with joy. The harder part is eating healthy. I feel like I’m constantly hungry, but I’ve been eating tons more veggies than usual and I have steered clear from grains, processed sugar, and dairy. I’m not super strict though: I just ate some dark chocolate pieces and I indulge in tastes of Rodney’s desserts and beer! I’m excited to accomplish 8 weeks and see how I look and feel at the end.

I’ve gone out a lot more recently, taking over some of the responsibilities that Rodney had single-handedly been covering on his own when I was pregnant. I’ve started to do some of the veggie/fruit shopping (especially since I’m needing more produce these days!), and have gone to the bank several times to pay rent and bills. I also took the kids for their vaccines, one kiddo each on two different days. Free healthcare for our little Ecuadorians at the local Centro de Salud. Getting there was good exercise for this recently postpartum mom: approximately 2-mile walk there and back. END PREVIOUS POST

Back to Tuesday, June 30- I AM still on the fitness program (wooot for me!) and plan to stick with it. Here’s the end of this post for today- my heart goes out to all my new-mommy-and-daddy friends, dealing with the challenges of new parenthood on top of the challenges of life during the pandemic. 

Someday this will all be behind us and we’ll sit in the sun together, side by side without masks and recount tales from those crazy, stifling days of coronavirus isolation. Until next time,

Much love from Cuenca,

Di 

Life in Cuenca, Ecuador – Pregnancy: Week 32; Coronavirus Isolation: Week 1

Our adventure grows more and more interesting- I suppose that holds true for just about everyone these days!

The Move

Today is Saturday. On Monday, we moved into our “permanent” apartment on the last day before the isolation mandates from the local government became much more serious. We didn’t “need” to move until Thursday, and had planned a leisurely 4-day transfer to our new home. That was when confirmed coronavirus in Ecuador was limited to a single family in a distant city. Things changed quickly as our local government started to take preventative measures. We hadn’t even started packing when we heard that we needed to start home isolation on Tuesday and that Monday would also be the last day that the grocery stores would be open for regular business- good thing we had stocked up a bit on dry good and diapers already!!

I went to get the keys for the new apartment at 10 am on Monday (an hour earlier than scheduled because the owner of the apartment was getting out of the city to her country home in front of the impending “lockdown”). I got the request for an earlier meeting around 9 am as I was heading to our favorite local bakery to stock up on sourdough bread (3 loaves of classic and 4 loaves of seeded whole wheat ☺️). The bakery was serving one client at a time, and since we had ordered ahead, they had it packaged up and ready to go. I was glad to see they were already taking precautions to reduce risk to themselves and their customers.

Because we have no car and we needed to get all our stuff moved in as little time and as few trips as possible, I took a backpack and stroller-load of groceries and baby clothes with me to the apartment via taxi. Rodney stayed at home with Pyra so she could nap, and to limit our exposure. The driver wore a mask, but no gloves; I had neither. I had intended to handle all my luggage myself, but he started to help before I could say anything. I asked him how he was doing and he said he was a little scared. No kidding. Talk about an occupation that not only holds a high level of risk to contract the coronavirus, but will also likely be restricted or forbidden for an extended period of time.

I returned to our temporary apartment Rodney had started to pack up and together we finished packing and cleaning up in just a couple hours. A generous and dear friend had agreed to help us move back when coronavirus was much more abstract, an illness only affecting people in far-off places. All of a sudden the risk of contracting the virus was much more real. This friend decided she would still help us, despite our assurances that she was completely free of any obligation. Luckily, we were completely ready, and it only took two trips. We skipped any hugs or direct contact, and we were moved over and done with our old apartment in about an hour and a half. WHAT A RELIEF!!! We are so grateful for the generosity of our friend who no-doubt should have been getting groceries or tending to her own family’s needs, but chose to help us out. It was incredible and we are so thankful!! We didn’t make it to the grocery store that day, but we were completely moved and were supplied enough with necessities to survive awhile. We are Lord and Lady of our own little apartment ☺️.

The last load to take up to the new apartment! So much lovely crap 🙂

Isolation

So, this is only our 5th day of isolation and living in our new apartment, but it feels like so much longer! With nowhere to go, and nothing much else to do, we were able to clean up, organize and move-in much faster than we normally would have. In three days we were feeling pretty settled-in, despite the fact that we hadn’t been able to acquire many items we had intended to … like sheets for the beds, furniture for the terrace, and a couple of toys for Pyra. Luckily we were insane and brought SO MUCH STUFF with us from the US; having our favorite kitchen items and household goods on hand has helped out a ton during these crazy times. It has also helped me feel a lot more “at home” to have so many familiar items with us. I never imagined how important it would be to us- we had started out feeling pretty frustrated with ourselves for schlepping so much “crap” from the US … no regrets now!!!

Cleaning and organizing provided plenty of distraction this week!

Having to stay inside with Pyra with limited resources for entertainment hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been awful either. Kids love everyday items so much more than toys anyway. It’s just been a game of “what to let the 18-month-old run around with?” I’ve been much more lenient in what she’s allowed to handle … and I think that’s been good for both of us.

Trying to come up with stimulating new activities for Py … dried black beans and an empty egg carton for the win this morning!

We have small terrace which was one of the highlights of this apartment, and I am so happy we stuck to our guns and made outdoor space a priority. It is wonderful!!!!! Pyra and I stripped down to our skivvies to scrub it down after discovering that to play on it meant tracking in enormous amounts of filth. I put on my maternity bathing suit (thank you, sweet cousin, Emily!) and scrubbed that terrace on my hands and knees. It was much more fun than it might have been because I let Pyra help; her giggles and nude little body entertained me as we washed away the grime.

Enjoying the terrace 🙂 I confined waterplay to the tub and a swimsuit this afternoon after yesterday’s nudie waterplay ended in me disinfecting all the toys and terrace due to poop appearing on the scene!

Rodney did go to the grocery store once this week as we realized we needed more “flavor” for our cooking. We were so spoiled before all this started: going out for lunch or dinner several times a week. We’ve had to up our cooking game, and we realized we needed more options to create tasty meals. The grocery stores are open for only 30 customers at a time, so we were concerned that he might have to stand in line for a long time. Additionally, we had heard reports that some stores were refusing customers if they didn’t have masks or gloves. We haven’t purchased masks, but we wanted to get to the store one last time before coronavirus was in Cuenca in great numbers. So, Rod donned a bandana for a mask and winter gloves and ventured out with the stroller and backpack, looking ridiculous but as prepared as he could be. Fortunately, he arrived at the store at a good time and didn’t have to wait at all. Products were in good supply and Rod came home with lots of goodies to help us get through isolation with more convenience and less desperation. The ahí (a local take on hot sauce), eggs, and corn chips have made my life so much happier the last few days 😆.

Pregnancy

So here’s the subject that concerns me the most: giving birth to a baby (who lacks a developed immune system) in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. In Ecuador. Far from medical attention that I’m familiar with or trust. Far from family support. Far from ideal.

I am INCREDIBLY grateful that we were recommended to a midwife and we were able to meet her several weeks ago. I joined a childbirth preparation group that she leads and have been getting to know four other women who are due to give birth in the next few months as well. Despite so many uncertainties still lingering, I am not alone in this … WE are not alone in this situation, and we have a small support network that is so, so, precious to me.

Even before the issue of coronavirus had infiltrated our everyday lives, I was feeling super apprehensive about using the hospitals to give birth here. Nearly all hospital births are cesarean in this country and as I’ve been told by locals, the patient has very few rights. I even heard that random people (the doctor’s father) may be allowed in the room to witness the rare and fantastical vaginal birth, while spouses and family members may be denied access. What, what?! I was told that doctor’s don’t track c-section rates, because they are so commonplace and that of the vaginal births that do occur, 9 out of 10 are with an episiotomy. (Can you see me cringing and shrinking back with horror?!?!?! Because I am!)

Rodney and I were SO relieved to meet the midwife who is a professional (certified in Mexico) with tons of experience (started training in Columbia at the age of 17) and is incredibly empathetic, knowledgable, and makes us feel very confident in her (and our) abilities. Unfortunately, we can’t combine the assurances of modern medicine of the hospital, with the experience and knowledge of the mid-wife. The hospitals won’t allow her to be our primary provider, or even to be in the room during delivery. So we are pretty well set that we will be having this baby “at home.” Not what I had imagined when I first discovered that we were pregnant again; I had visions of a comfy North American hospital birth, with my mom and sister in attendance for support. Yeah, well, that’s not happening. We decided that dual citizenship was a higher priority for this little guy than my ideals for giving birth.

Of course now, I’m not even sure what is most responsible for me to do in terms of check-ups, ultrasounds, etc. Thank goodness I’m healthy and this pregnancy has had zero issues/complications! We still have to figure out whether benefits outweigh the risks to get the usual checkups and then an ultrasound later on as we near the due date. We have yet to discuss these concerns with our midwife. We still have a little time to make decisions and feel more comfortable: I complete 32 weeks tomorrow, giving us 6-8 more weeks before baby boy should arrive.

Until Next Time

Well, I should wrap up. Rod gifted me with time to myself, and I’ve spent it rambling away here. And now I hear my sweet little Py knocking on the door looking from Mommy. Actually, she melted straight to tears as Rod turned her away in an attempt to keep her distracted and let me be alone a bit longer. I should get back to my family so he doesn’t regret offering me this spectacular gift!!

Please take care of yourselves and your families. Respect government actions to help prevent the spread of this virus and protect the vulnerable individuals in our community. You may be healthy and fight off coronavirus easily, but your actions could potentially endanger others who wouldn’t be as lucky. People will die. But we can each help to reduce those numbers.

Much love and wishes of health and peace to you all.