La Comida de Mamá – Tradiciones Mexicanas Para Mis Hijos

Comida, Tradicion, Tradiciones

Ahora que estamos en la temporada navideña empieza la preparación de comidas típicas mexicanas de este momento: tamales, buñuelos, champurrado y mucho más. La mayoría de nuestras tradiciones están envueltas en la cocina – haciendo y comiendo en familia. Con eso en mente quiero tomar el tiempo este año de hacer el esfuerzo y devolver estas tradiciones con las cuales yo crecí, a mis hijos.

Cuando yo era niña mis papás nos llevaban a fiestas en casas de familiares. Al parecer había fiesta sábado y domingo el mes entero de diciembre. No recuerdo mucho sobre lo que hacíamos ahí y menos con quien estábamos, pero si recuerdo que muchas veces llegábamos temprano para ayudar a hacer la comida. Me acuerdo de todas las mujeres sentadas en las mesas preparando tamales. Cada una con su hoja de elote. En la estufa otro grupo de mujeres friendo buñuelos y echando burla. Todas platicando y riendo y apresuradas para terminar antes de que llegara la gente.

Siempre esperaba con anticipó que las señoras terminaran también para poder comer. No bastaba con tan sólo oler la riqueza de la comida que hacían. Cuando podía me ponía a ayudar y entre escuchar a la plática me echaba un bocadito. Y si no me pedían ayuda buscaba los panes y el champurrado y me buscaba un lugar para sentarme.

Hace muchos años que he visto algo así. ¿Será que a estas mujeres se las llevó el tiempo? No lo sé, también puede ser que las necesidades de mis padres de trabajar horas extremas nos distanciaron de estas festividades. O, también que eso mismo las haya distanciado a ellas. Sea lo que sea, ahora tengo a mis hijos y les quiero dar la experiencia que tuve yo al crecer. La experiencia de pasar las festividades navideñas disfrutando de la misma comida tradicional mexicana que yo. Hay sólo un problema: no sé cocinarlas…

¡No me maten! (Todavía…) ¡Yo sé cocinar! El problema es que no se cómo hacer las más complicadas de nuestras comidas. Por ejemplo, los tamales. Ah, ese tamal… el mismo por el cual los güeros se someten a ser tus amores para comerlos. (Mi esposo, ji ji ji).

No es que no trate de aprender, pero cuando la ocasión se presenta hay que hacer un montón y se hacen rápidamente (y saben mejor) en grupo. Cuando hay que hacerlos en mi familia siempre son hechos por mi mamá. Ella prepara la masa y nosotros (mi hermana, mi papá) preparamos el relleno y las hojas. ¡Varias veces prepare la masa pero las mamás (y abuelas) mexicanas nunca miden los ingredientes! Se mide a sabor, dicen. 😉

La intención que me propuse es aprender.  Quiero tener la capacidad de proveer todas esas delicias navideñas para mi familia. En especial quiero que mis hijos tengan la oportunidad de pedirme a mí que les enseñe a cocinar esas comidas. Que ellos tengan por parte mía lo que yo tengo por mi mamá. Sobre todo en la familia mexicana es mamá la que con su manto (o su comida) provee el amor y la seguridad en abundancia. Es por el cual nosotras como mujeres y madres tenemos la capacidad de alegrar el corazón (y el estómago) a cualquiera.
Quiero en esta temporada que la comida de mamá siga trascendiendo el tiempo y los obstáculos culturales. Los mismos que yo me encuentro desintegrando por parte de mi matrimonio a un hombre americano. Que mi cultura mexicana siga viva en mí como mamá mexicana y que mis hijos, sean quien sea que ellos decidan sea su amor cuando grandes, puedan traer a la mesa (literalmente) su cultura mexicana.

A Bicultural Couple – Stories Of Our Life

bicultural couple

Most of the time we don’t even notice the fact that together we are a pair of different cultures in an interracial marriage. We deal with life as it comes. Our differences only made apparent when we are not together or when we are recounting stories of our younger lives. It’s possible that our almost ten years together has made us indifferent nowadays; however, I do remember that in the beginning, it was all we talked about.

Part of the problem, my mom, said at some point, was that white people were always on time. They didn’t like to be late. If you are Hispanic, however, it is inherent that you will rarely be on time for anything. After being together a few years, I would like to think I have improved my on-time skills, but I don’t think I’ve managed to be on time for anything other than job interviews, and medical appointments. Unfortunately, I’m positive lateness is in my genes. (Sorry, kids.) My husband has learned not to expect my family at the time they say, and together we’ve learned when it’s ok to be late or when it’s not.

On Saturday mornings my mom used to clue us in to start cleaning by playing her Mexican regional music on our stereo system as loudly as possible. We listened to people like Christian Castro, Joan Sebastian, Juan Gabriel, Los Tigres del Norte, or Banda el Recodo. As soon as the first song came on it was game time – start cleaning! Each of the kids had a task to do. At the time my brothers were too young, so it was mostly my sister and me. She would get to clean the living room, dining room, and hallway. I would need to clean the stairs, landing, the bathroom and sort the laundry. (Mind you, she is two years younger than me, and we were full on house cleaners!) We would switch chores every other Saturday. Now that I’m grown-up I still have that habit. The difference is when I decide it’s time to clean on the weekend, and I start blasting my Mexican music, my husband looks at me like I’m crazy (lol!). Had he been Hispanic he wouldn’t even bat a lash. Sometimes I listen to American classic rock, or Lana Del Rey, Muse, John Mayer, Emeli Sande, Young the giant, La Santa Cecilia, OG Shakira, reggaeton, etc.,  – yet he still looks at me, while I’m dancing and doing the dishes like I’m crazy. He’s learned just to let me be, but I think he has unconsciously clued into the cleaning routine. I’ve made my mark. (I did learn later that listening to music while cleaning isn’t only a Hispanic thing; however, blaring the music loudly enough for your neighbors to hear is.)

Comparatively, he’s done things that make no sense to me or that have bewildered me. Notably, my introduction to movies or film. He is a movie aficionado. He studied theater before he settled on being an IT professional. His family is just as invested. There was a time before we dated when we went on a lunch “date.” I made the mistake of asking him about his favorite movies. He started naming and quoting and mentioning, and I just couldn’t keep up. There was not a single thing he said that I recognized. I was aghast and stupefied. It would be a long time before I would ask him anything related to actors, or movies, directors or theater. (A long time! LOL)

Nowadays he makes it his mission to “educate” me. We’ve watched movies from directors like: The Wachowskis (Matrix, V for Vendetta), The Coen Brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men), Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s 11), Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element) John Woo, Peter Jackson, plus many others. He’s shown me movies like Boondock Saints, Chocolat, and so on. The list of films we’ve seen is endless; likewise, is the list he wants me to see. The time when I was hesitant to ask him about his movie preferences is long gone, nowadays I sit back, listen, and enjoy his movie ramblings.

Here’s a particularly sensitive difference between American culture and Hispanic culture: birthday cards, thank you cards, Christmas cards, birth announcements. Just, why? In my opinion, it’s overkill. If you are close to the person and the event being celebrated then why is it necessary to send a card? It’s a waste of money; it usually gets tossed in the garbage (after the obligatory few months on the fridge).

I feel it’s “sensitive” because all kinds of people have different opinions of them. My husband’s family adores them. My mother-in-law doesn’t expect them from us anymore, lol. However, if I didn’t send one in the past (I use the twins as an excuse now, sorry busy!), I could feel the oppression coming at me from a mile away with, “oh, we didn’t get your birth announcement – when was he born?” (You know damn well – you got the text) Then, recently we heard, “you guys didn’t do Christmas cards, but they are so fun!” (No, they’re not, they’re just a chore). This requests for mailed announcements wasn’t necessarily from my family anymore, but from friends or relatives, we didn’t see often. Maybe this makes me a grinch (or lazy) but I just can’t.

The ones that confuse me the most are thank you cards (writing them, not receiving them!). If I attended your birthday party or whatever celebration, and I gave you a gift, then chances are you already thanked me for it. Why would you need to thank me again? I applaud you for having the time management skills that I don’t have! However, if I didn’t attend the event and I sent a gift, it’s a gift. I don’t expect a thank you. I assume you will hopefully love and enjoy what I gifted – it’s so simple. I’m confident that the next time we meet you’ll probably thank me anyway (I have awesome friends like that). Or if YOU attended my celebration and gave ME a gift I will be thanking you for it right then and there. Nowadays, I can get away with not writing them because I have a legit excuse: twins and a toddler (my oldest is getting up there with the needing constant attention too.).

When you look at my side of the family, then you’ll notice our fridges aren’t covered in Christmas cards and birth announcements. It’s typical at Hispanic celebratory events to have a receiving line for gifts or to expect a verbal thank you from the hostess at an event. You CANNOT get away with not talking to Tio Carlos about his new venture or Tia Consuelo about how her family is doing while giving their gift – it’s rude. So, eventually, during the conversation rounds, you are bound by blood and law to say thank you for whatever gift they gave you and expect a thank you immediately when you provide a gift. And that is that. No written thank you cards in the mail to be sent later – more like backtalk and scolding if you don’t say it then.

Same goes for birth announcements – you are expected to know these events are happening and usually obligated to visit. You bring your welcoming gift (not the baby shower gift) and hang out with the family. Help them do the dishes or change diapers or hold the baby while they get to feel like an average human for a bit. You are expected to KNOW and beg for forgiveness if you didn’t. It would be a shame for you to be out of touch with your own family. It’s both a blessing and a curse – to know what is going on with everyone ALL the time.

So, what’s my husband’s view of this topic? Meh. He’s appreciative if you send anything (me too I promise) but doesn’t feel the need to address anything of our own. Please don’t get me wrong though! I love receiving them. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to book a photographer, get everyone all dolled up, and then miraculously get everyone to smile (simultaneously) for a family picture. It’s just not for us. Honestly, I’m not positive if it wasn’t a convenience for my husband – men tend to be more dismissive of this type of thing. He probably enjoyed the fact that I don’t think sending cards is necessary.

There’s a video I recorded somewhere of our oldest playing in the snow in the backyard. In it, you can hear clearly and consistently my oldest speaking Spanish – “Mami mira!”, “Mami, esta frio,” “Mami, ven juega conmigo.” Regrettably, her fluency is all but gone. Fortunately, she can still understand these words and if she wanted she could say them, she could. However, she is nowhere near the fluency she had when she was young. There is a multitude of things I could blame for her decline: myself, my job (too busy), etc. Ultimately, the excuse prevailing is the necessity to communicate with my husband – he only speaks and understands English. Now, there is a gawking obviousness to our cultural differences.

With the introduction of Jacob and the twins, it has been infinitely tricky to interchange languages at home. They are beginning to learn how to speak so, for now, it is best to stick to one language at home. That is not to say I don’t consider the possibility of my children’s future speaking Spanish, but I feel it might be much easier once they have established a language first. For my oldest, it’ll come when she takes elective Spanish courses in school. I hate to think my responsibility for introducing her to her culture via an essential tool must be taught instead by some institution that hardly holds her in any regard. My plan to make up for this is to one day send her to Mexico with my family for a crash course! In the meantime, she gets plenty of Mexican cultural learning from being with her grandparents and talking about my life growing up.

The sacrifice (as I feel it is one) of losing Spanish at home is not made with scorn for my husband because he can only speak one language. Instead, I decided because I am able. The actuality that in this lifetime I can love someone different from me is a cherished gift. Yes, it has had its consequences, but they are redeemable. We’ve made more significant strides towards a harmonious marriage despite all the outside noise by listening and believing in each other. I am a proud Mexican. My husband is a proud white American. Our two different cultures brought us together. In light of the increase in hate crimes and the boldness of previously “closeted” racists, here you have one example of how we can overcome this ugliness: love.

In conclusion, apparent differences from the beginning of our relationship are bygone. We live our daily lives as every other couple does. There is nothing “special” about us. The thing that would have a potential to divide us (hate) has only made us stronger.

I’d like to note; I do realize that other bicultural/interracial couples may not have as supportive an environment that I do. Potentially, they may not have the environment where the POC is BELIEVED to be oppressed. As a person of color, it’s hard just to live your life sometimes. At any rate, what I want to say is that there are interracial couples that are successful. There is the possibility of loving someone despite their skin color. Is it easy, no – but it is possible.

 

It is possible.

Cholestasis, Incompetent Cervix – How it Changed My World

Cholestasis, Incompetent Cervix

The Beginning Was So Easy

The beginning of my pregnancy with Jacob was easy – no, it was. I loved it. There wasn’t any morning sickness (thank goodness). Most days I woke up feeling pretty darn normal. I commuted to work from the ‘burbs to the city (about a 45-minute express commute in the morning). Then I had a 10-minute walk from the train to the office. My job was stressful, but I had managed it already for five years, no big deal. The fateful diagnosis of Cholestasis and Incompetent Cervix was yet to rear its head. Yep, there was nothing out of the ordinary.

At least, not in the beginning…

Incompetent Cervix

Did you ever wonder, before you got pregnant, what it was that kept the baby in place? You know, so your amniotic sac doesn’t just fall out? (LOL!) I’ll tell you. It’s your cervix – that muscle that separates the vagina from the uterus. This muscle is what keeps the amniotic sac and placenta from straight up falling out of your vagina. (Pretty graphic image there, thanks, Luma.) Clearly, it plays a HUGE role. During your pregnancy, your obstetrician will check your cervix at least twice. If this is your second pregnancy, but you didn’t have any complications during the first pregnancy, it may be fewer checks. Let me tell you something, my previous pregnancy was pretty damn near normal (except the killer morning sickness that didn’t seem normal, but I digress).

So, herein lies the problem: I have an incompetent cervix. My cervix is a bitch. I hate it. (Strong words, I know.)

First, let me explain what an incompetent cervix is. An incompetent cervix is a condition that occurs when weak cervical tissue causes or contributes to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy. Your cervix is supposed to be nice and tight and protective during pregnancy. It’s supposed to be like the sentinels that protect the tomb of the unknown soldier – unwavering, resilient, proud.  Mine was more like – I quit. After eight months of holding it down, it just quit. That would be like the sentinels holding their post until the last few hours before deciding they didn’t want to “walk” anymore. Um, they’re not supposed to do that, and neither is your cervix.

Cholestasis of Pregnancy

If you ever wanted to torture somebody, for whatever reason, I suggest making them somehow intensely itchy. Seriously, it will drive them INSANE! How do I know? Been there, done that (as in, I, personally, was itchy not that I tortured another person – because I didn’t).

So, WTF is “Cholestasis of Pregnancy”?  You already know one of the most critical parts – it makes you EXTREMELY itchy.

It started with itching on the bottoms of my feet. I thought at first it was an allergic reaction or that the faux fur lined snow boots I was wearing were the culprit. The problem with both those things was that the itching never stopped (this itching is evil). Imagine trying to figure out how you can walk but also scratch your feet simultaneously ALL DAY. Then imagine rubbing the palms of your hands together CONSTANTLY. So much so that you don’t get much work done because you can’t even type. You itch so much that you can’t eat properly either. Know what, you can’t think, because all you think about is how much you want the itching to stop.YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU CAN’T SLEEP EITHER! (Caps were necessary, very necessary.) So, yep, pretty bad. Also, you’re pregnant – already hard – but MOST importantly it’s bad for the baby.

The End

So at the recommendation of my husband after almost a week of itchiness, I made an appointment with my obstetrician. (I think the nurse thought I was crazy for making an appointment because my feet were itchy.) The day of the appointment, as soon as I mentioned the symptoms to my doctor, I was immediately sent to do blood work. Mind you my appointment was at 5:30 PM and the lab closed at 6 pm. Luckily, the lab was on the same floor; however, the nurse had to rush me out the door and call the receptionist at the lab so they wouldn’t lock the doors. The whole rushing scenario made me extremely nervous. The doctor wanted the results first thing in the morning, and she said she would call me immediately after she got them. I went home freaking out (internally anyway).

So, the next morning I got a phone call with the diagnosis. I had to book an appointment immediately with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist because I needed to be on special medication and I needed to start NSTs (nonstress tests) to monitor Jacob for distress (shit). This diagnosis was a big deal. My husband and I were worried. I started medication; I had to have bi-weekly NSTs (while somehow also working downtown – my doc is in the ‘burbs). Also, did I mention this was right before Christmas week? Crazy. Anyway, I went through almost three weeks of testing and regular appointments with the obstetrician and MFM. Three weeks of constant research trying to figure out what I could do to keep me, and my son, relatively healthy. So, here comes the other half of the shit show. My own body was betraying me even more!

At 4 am on January 8 at 35 weeks pregnant I was having contractions. Just boom! Out of nowhere. At first, I thought Braxton Hicks. Then they became pretty evenly timed. I emailed work that I wasn’t coming in. We called my mom immediately too she had to drive from the city to my house at 6 am, and had to hurry! Denise had to get to school, and I couldn’t leave her alone! By 7 am I was panicking, and my contractions were so intense! As soon as my mom was in the driveway we rushed out, bags packed and everything! Finally, 9:24 am January 8 Jacob was born at 5lbs 6oz, 19in long. My baby was here! Except for one giant problem: he was premature. (I’ll have a separate blog post where I talk about having preemie babies.)

So, why TF did, I just start having contractions out of nowhere and so strongly? It was IC – incompetent cervix. I did not have any issues with Denise, so it was never checked (other than what the routine checkups are for a healthy pregnancy). At the time it had been about eight years since I had been pregnant with her. The obstetrician never thought it was an issue, and neither did I, obviously.

To this day I constantly think this could have happened on the train to work – that I could have gotten ready and hopped on my train and been halfway there, and then BOOM contractions! Stop the train! Pregnant lady here trying to birth a child on the nasty, dirty, grimy, floor of the train. Then I would have been on the news! How embarrassing! Anyway… not important. It didn’t happen, and I am grateful.

The Beginning, Again…

So, why am I telling you this? Honestly? I want you to know I want to help. In my research, during the three weeks of constant testing, I learned a few things.

The first being that current research doesn’t understand why Cholestasis happens. The second being that the occurrence of it varies from country to country (weird). The third, and in my opinion most important, some doctors don’t even test for it when patients complain of having the same symptoms as Cholestasis.

I don’t even know how many forums, blogs, pregnancy sites, comments, and whatnot, I read through where women commented they had to switch doctors (because their current one didn’t believe there was anything wrong). Or even bring the door down on their current doctors (fucking take my blood, dammit!). Some resorted to going to the emergency room and lie to say their baby was in distress to get tested.

Why? I didn’t understand. All it took was a blood test (maybe two, I don’t remember). Especially when Cholestasis, if left untreated can be fatal to your baby. Especially, when it is treated doctors have to induce you at 37 weeks because waiting any longer can be fatal for your baby. Like, holy shit, why wouldn’t they test?

Then comes having an incompetent cervix. This one is a wholly different wormhole. I didn’t do much research into this one when I was pregnant with Jacob. I didn’t find out I had IC until I was pregnant with the twins, but once I knew, it clicked. I couldn’t understand how I could have gone through birthing Jacob so quickly (not that there aren’t women out there who are perfect birthers) when I had such a hard birth with Denise. It didn’t make sense. Regardless, this part didn’t affect me as much until I had to deal with my pregnancy with the twins. It was during that pregnancy that I started to hate my cervix so much. We’re still not on good terms, but it’s not like I can get rid of it.

Anyway…

If you are currently pregnant and feel like something isn’t right, then get checked. I don’t care if the nurses look at you funny – just do it. Also, I know a significant amount of people say “don’t google it!” or “if you google it you’ll feel worse!” But be a rebel and google away. Do your research. Be informed. BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE. LEARN. It’s crucial for you and for your baby. HOWEVER, try your best to look at it from a third party’s perspective. Don’t go on an emotional roller coaster (even though I know it’s hard).

Lastly, find a good doctor and work with him/her. Ask lots of questions. My last MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) loved to send us the medical journals that he based his decisions on so we could read them. It comforted us to know that he was on top of his medical research constantly. Also, we’re weird and love to read and research things. I think we were his favorite patients.

So there it is. I’m happy I’m able to share this here. I hope someone out there finds it useful. Jacob is now a happy, healthy, almost three-year-old. Time flies.

P.S., I know there is an issue around having cervical checkups for some women due to privacy, female body empowerment, and too much medical outreach among other things. Everyone’s opinion is different; you guide your daily life based on what you think is best for YOU. I’m not trying to say here that you should have more cervical checkups but only that there is a condition that is hard to diagnose until the perfect conditions are met. So, what I am saying is you should do your research, listen to your body, and TALK to your doctor – and even if the dude (or dudette) doesn’t want to hear your side of the story then find someone else. Period.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The information contained in this blog post is not meant to assist in diagnosing any medical condition. Diagnosing medical conditions is the job of a medical professional; I am not a medical professional. The sole purpose of this blog post is to inform the reader of my personal experiences.

A Few Of My Favorite Things For November

These are a few of my favorite things, lalaala. 🙂 So, I have quite a few blog posts planned for the next few weeks. I am going to try to break them up with some lighter topics like this. I’m not sure what the other “lighter” topics will be, but this one sounded pretty good. So here we go! Here’s a list of my current favorite things! In no particular order…

  1. Butt Paste – The name says it all! This stuff is fantastic! My boys are generally not prone to diaper rashes, but when they do get one it’s not at all good. I put this on as soon as they’re clean and by the next diaper change I can already tell a difference! Amazing. Get it. http://a.co/5ZqvPoo
  2. Hoover Floor Vacuum – I have 4 pets at home: 2 dogs, 2 cats. With the amount of fur that collects around here I could make 4 more! I probably shouldn’t mention that… Anyway! This thing is a life saver. Before, I would sweep everything – which meant that I had fur flying all over the place. The fur would get stuck on the broom, or I would have a hard time actually trying to keep the fur together to sweep it up and throw it away. My new best friend. Amazing. Get it. http://a.co/gXHW0HR
  3. Puzzles – This cube puzzle from Melissa & Doug has been great! Jacob loves to figure out the puzzle itself and the twins love to stack the cubes on top of each other. Win, win! http://a.co/ck8Ut8F
  4. Super Simple Songs YouTube – There are so many videos that you could play this in the background ALL DAY. I have. For multiple days in a row. (I’ll stab myself if i have to do that again. Jk, Kinda…) It’s educational and fun for all ages. Jacob loves this channel, clearly. https://www.youtube.com/user/SuperSimpleSongs
  5. Blender Recipes – Things like muffins and pancakes, so easy! All the ingredients go into the blender, blend, pour, bake, done! Very little clean-up, usually minimal ingredients. I love time savers like this. Here’s one of our favorites. http://www.wellplated.com/banana-oatmeal-muffins/
  6. Coconut coffee – I buy mine at Costco but it’s another quick and easy food item for me. When the twins are awake – and I don’t want to spend time making a real cup of coffee – I just turn my electric kettle on, wrangle the kiddos, grab a cup, pour a few tablespoons in, pour my water in and done! It has a perk too! I swear that this stuff has made my nails and hair so much stronger and healthier! Good stuff. Get it. http://a.co/5VxH97k
  7. Quiet time! – These keep getting few-er and far between-er (not proper english, i know!). I luxuriate in it each time I manage to grab some! These days they last at least an hour. So, I’ll do a long bath, straighten my hair, put a mask on, or whatever pampering I feel I need to keep me sane. Forget trying to clean or do chores. Take care of yourself. Your sanity is what keeps everyone else sane, trust me.
  8. Colder days – I love fall. It means warm house, baking and holidays, but also shoveling snow and negative degree weather, bleh. However, the reason colder days are a favorite is because SNUGGLES ALL THE TIME. I have an excuse to make hot drinks – which means I have someone requesting my love (or the hot chocolate) at all times. I soak it up.
  9. Naps – Not for the kids but naps for me! Usually on a weekend when my husband is home and I’ve run out of gas from running around with the kids all week. I’ll grab my favorite blanket and stick my thumb in my mouth and go snuggle myself to sleep. Leave the hubs to the chaos. He can deal; they’re his too.
  10. Music – Growing up in my house meant that on Saturdays my mom would blast the Spanish music and that was our cue to start cleaning! It was her way to keep her focus. Nowadays I play music at home (loudly) almost every day. It helps me calm my mood when I need it. There’s the added bonus that it helps me focus when I need it. Though, the best part is that it helps me groove in the kitchen at dinner time. Especially when I really don’t feel like cooking. It really is a mood swinger for me. I love it.

Hola!

Alo! Alo! Bienvenidos a mi blog! Como estan? Yo… pues bien… nerviosa! Ja! Me llamo Luma. Soy nacida Mexicana pero criada en Chicago, IL. Soy ama de casa y aqui intentare escribir temas sobre mi vida, temas que me apasionan y lo que es cuidar a mi familia: Elliot y Jackson, gemelos de un año, Jacob de casi 3 años, Denise de 11 años, dos perros y dos gatos. Al parecer no tengo mis manos llenas todavía y quiero un lugar donde pueda escribir lo que quiera sin tener que censurar (jejeje) para los pequeños. También voy a cubrir temas que tengan que ver con la estructura social de los Estados Unidos, temas sobre mi matrimonio interracial, temas sobre salud y mucho mas! Mi deseo es que este blog sea un poco mas que el típico blog y que les interese a ustedes. Sin embargo, tampoco esperen temas a diario. Esta mamá tiene responsabilidades fuera del blog y esas son mi prioridad. No van a encontrar aquí fotos tipo “instagram” tampoco. Pura vida real aqui. Asi que, a leer se a dicho! Dejenme comentarios y ayudenme a sentir como que no soy la unica rara en este mundo, je je.

P.D. – Este blog sera mi primera vez escribiendo en espanol a diario. Hare mi mejor intento de aprender de mis errores y ojala ustedes me puedan ayudar. Dejenme comentarios si creen que escribi algo mal. Les prometo que no muerdo (mucho).

Hypothyroidism – My Journey With An Autoimmune Disease

Hypothyroidism

The Beginning

Hypothyroidism – this one is hard for me. This autoimmune condition always hits me with all its got. It likes to make itself known in the weirdest ways – always. That, exactly, is what makes it one of those disorders that are very hard to diagnose. I was fortunate though. I’m sorry if you weren’t. I’m sorry if you were one of those people that had a hard time getting answers. I know the toll it takes. I know.

Symptoms

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced that pesky feeling named “stress.” That emotional response that causes your heart to beat a million miles a minute – that makes your palms and your forehead shiny with sweat. It makes you anxious, and it makes your stomach loop around itself, endlessly. Nowadays, you hear it all over the place that you should do what you can to reduce stress levels. However, it’s one of those things that’s harder said than done.

Stress… I swear it’s what triggered my thyroid issues.

So, I had just switched jobs. I went from supporting 100 people to supporting over 1,500. The phone was always ringing. The emails were always coming. The people I supported were executives and their assistants. It was hard. These people were not nice. They didn’t care about me or my well being. They only cared that their shit worked so they could make the company money. I don’t blame them though. They were probably stressed too.

Needless to say, my first year there was hard, but I also had other stressors: I was a single mom at the time, and I still lived with my parents. When you love your family, but you have a child, everything changes. My happiness was dwindling, and I needed so much to prove to myself that I could be self-reliant. There was a goal for me to move out, as part of this self-reliance, but I also wanted the nagging (Mexican remember?) from my parents about how I needed to raise Denise (my now 11 year old), to stop.

Then, within that same year, I started experiencing panic attacks. If you haven’t had them before, then you can not empathize. I don’t wish them on anybody. It felt like I was experiencing a heart attack. I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. My heart hurt with each beat. My breath stopped with each beat. My heart leaped up to my throat with each beat. I was drenched in sweat. My arm felt numb. I made my first ER visit for a panic attack. It was a long night.

Thankfully, the ER doctor that treated me didn’t disregard me for having one. So many times I hear stories of people who were mistreated or belittled. It’s devastating to have a panic attack and emotionally painful to be treated like you’re bringing something so debilitating “onto yourself.” News flash people! We aren’t! The ER doctor gave me some “calming” medications and told me to get a hold of my stress. I took those damn “medications” once. I felt another panic attack coming on one night, so I grabbed a pill. It knocked me into the weirdest state I’ve ever been in – somewhere between a dream and the real world. I was drifting, sinking. The feeling stayed with me for a few hours. After I got out of it, I couldn’t function. I was drowsy and irritable. Never again. I didn’t care if I had to get myself through the next one (somehow), I would figure it out.

Then it was the constant fatigue. You know how sometimes you feel so exhausted that you pass out instantaneously? Or how sometimes you’re so exhausted that you want to sleep and sleep and sleep? Of course, once you’ve gotten enough rest, you’re ready to do what you gotta do. You just needed to catch up on some z’s. Wouldn’t it be so hard if you never actually caught up though? If you always needed five more minutes? That was me. I would wake up in the morning exhausted, every day – even if I had gone to sleep at 6 pm the day before and opened my eyes at 7 am the next morning. You know what’s even better? Needing a nap after having slept 12+ hours and then not being able to wake up from that nap either. I would joke that I was a modern sleeping beauty, but it wouldn’t be funny. Being constantly tired and continuously sleeping (especially when it’s not restful sleep) is its own kind of torture. It leads to more stress and even depression. On top of that, I still had Denise to take care of. My family helped so much, but she was still mine. She wanted her mommy. I couldn’t be present with her when I was always so tired.

Finally, I had a scheduled appointment with my family doctor for a follow-up to my panic attack incidents. There were two things I remembered explicitly: she asked me how heavy my periods were and then she told me she would do blood tests. It had never even occurred to me that my period could be “heavy.” I just thought I had needed to change a few extra pads lately. No big deal. Our bodies change all the time, but when she put it into perspective it turned out to be something to think about. When my test results came in, she wanted to see me to talk about them. I thought for sure she would say I had cancer or something (fuck me… more stress). As it turns out, she said she was looking for one test specifically. She was looking at my T4 levels (if you are hypo/er you know what that means) and mine were not right. She said I would need to talk to an endocrinologist and that I was possibly “hypothyroid.” It’s incredible how out of whack our bodies can get that something so regular as getting your period every month can also be used to determine your health.

Hypo-WTF?

So, my first question, what is a thyroid? Second question, what is an endocrinologist? Third question, what is hypo-thyroid? Fourth question, am I going to die? (This seems so funny now that I know the answers.) This was my first meeting with the endocrinologist. I was freaked out (naturally), but also hoping that this would be the prognosis that would help me deal with my high levels of stress, my panic attacks, my fatigue and weirdly, my heavy period. As it turns out, it was, and it wasn’t.

What the hell is a thyroid anyway? It’s a butterfly, he he he. No, not really. It’s shaped like one though. If you put your hand in the middle of your throat, right in front of your esophagus, that’s where it lives. It’s not very big. It causes BIG issues though.

So, what’s an endocrinologist? A doctor that specializes in diseases that are caused by problems with your hormones. They treat people with things such as thyroid diseases (me), diabetes, even menopause! Lastly, what is hypothyroid? It means my thyroid produces low levels of thyroid hormones. Here’s the general definition of hypothyroidism: an under-active thyroid; a condition in which your thyroid doesn’t provide enough of certain hormones. Here’s the kicker, these “certain” hormones, control SO SO SO many of your bodily functions that symptoms of hypothyroidism vary. They can also be confused with other things, like, depression – which has the same symptoms. The cure for all of my craziness? More hormones! Yay! (LOL.) It seems so simple, but it isn’t. Um, so am I going to die? Not likely. I could get thyroid cancer, or develop tumors (which is possible), but the likelihood is not very high.

Now What?

The next steps are the “it is, but it isn’t”, and the “it was and it wasn’t” simple part of my journey to treating hypothyroid. The easy part was taking my daily thyroid pill. It’s just one itty bitty tiny pill that I take every morning an hour before breakfast. See? That’s the “it is” part. Here’s the “it isn’t” part: it can take weeks or months for the hormones to have any effect on helping your thyroid regulate itself. Also, your first dose may not be the correct dose. It’s complicated. You could be on a dose your doctor thought to be right for you according to your blood tests, but yet you still feel the same. Or you could be on a dose too high and also experience one or even more symptoms than before. Your prescription is something that has to be fine-tuned, with time. Also, if you plan on getting pregnant, you need to elevate your hormone levels to have enough for a developing fetus. Then you need to find your correct dose during your pregnancy (more blood tests, yay). Finally, you need to find your exact dose AGAIN after birth – as if shit isn’t crazy enough already with normal pregnancy hormones. *SIGH*

So, seems simple, and it is, but it isn’t.

Current Events

Hypothyroidism is one of those autoimmune disorders that stays with you for life. I find that after almost nine years of having it I am still in the throes of battle. Every few months I ask myself if maybe I’m more tired than usual? If perhaps my period is too heavy again? If maybe I’m gaining weight because my thyroid levels are off again? Oh, weight! What a burden is thee! Here’s another tidbit, in case you didn’t know, people with hypothyroidism gain weight quickly and have a much harder time shedding it than any healthy person (and it’s already hard for some!). Anyway… that’s a whole ‘nother topic that maybe I’ll discuss separately.

What I want to say is that I’m continually trying to stay on top of it. I have appointments once to twice a year to catch up with my doctor and talk about any recurring issues. I have blood tests done every 6-8 weeks to make sure my levels are perfect. Lately, they haven’t been. After the ordeal of pregnancy with my twins, even over a year later, I’m still not finding my “normal” thyroid levels. It’s hard.

So, if you have hypothyroidism (or any thyroid issue really), I feel for you. I know. My family doctor was able to identify very quickly that I had a possible thyroid problem. Once I was on medication, I felt like my normal self again. I got a promotion. Somewhere during that time I also found an apartment and a boyfriend! I was happy. My high energy levels came back – I could exercise! I lost a tiny bit of weight gain. I WASN’T FATIGUED! Do you know what it’s like, after being so tired for so long, to be awake?? It’s exhilarating! I was a new person. I loved myself, and that meant I could also fully love my daughter.

So, if you find yourself fighting to figure out why you feel so terrible after trying to find answers to your symptoms, try checking for thyroid problems. You never know.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The point of this blog post is merely to detail my experience and share my symptoms with others who are interested in hypothyroidism. If you feel that you have similar symptoms, please consult your doctor.

Hello world!

Hi. How are you? Good? Good. I’m OK, really. Actually… no I’m not. I’m nervous. Actually, I’m really nervous. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I’m going out on a limb here, so here goes. My name is Luma. I’m a stay-at-home mom of 2 dogs, 2 cats and 4 kiddos: Denise 11, Jacob 2, twins Jack and Elliot 1. I worked in IT for 8 years before staying home after Jacob was born. This blog will be about my life, raising twins, raising 3 under 3, health issues, social issues and whatever else I feel like writing about.

I’m hoping this will be an outlet for me where I can express what I want without having to censor myself for a pre-teen and little ones. I’m hoping I can make it a pleasure to read and not just another crap blog about how awesome (hard) parenting is. I’ll also be throwing in some bits about being Hispanic in an interracial relationship plus other juicy topics.

So…stick with me. I’ll try to make this worth your while. I’ll give you a fair warning though, I’m crap at taking pictures so don’t expect pretty, well-balanced, “blog-y” type photographs. Also, in case you didn’t catch this earlier, I’m a mom to 4 kids and 4 pets, I’ll try my best to post as regularly as I can. And…here’s a disclaimer (yep, first post and there it is already), I’m not a professional in any capacity other than being the mother to MY children and running MY home. Please read my posts for your pleasure and if they apply to you in any way please let me know. I’d like to feel like I’m not the only weirdo in this world! Here’s to hoping I don’t embarrass myself (knocks on wood) though I might, I can never really be sure.