Saturday, December 27, 2008

In sickness & in health

Our little warrier baby, little miss healthy, little miss independent, has just had a week of quite a change in her personal health fortunes. And acquired a host of new nicknames in the process. Here are some of them to give a general picture:
Stinky pants
Smelly bum
Super Sooky Baby
While they may all sound rather derogatory, they're all said in the most loving fashion! She also attracted the following nicknames, to counterbalance:

About a week ago, Maya started to get diarrhea. On day three, rather than just getting better, as I'd hoped, she almost completely lost her appetite, and what little formula she drank got vomited up, all over herself, carseat, back seat of car and her blanket. I drove this charming mess to the pediatrician in Playas. He prescribed a medicine Unamol, a lactose-free formula for a week & lots of fluids. Easier said than done. All of the above. Trying to get a rather fussy eater and a definitely fussy drinker to take liquid medicine involved screaming and lots of arm-flailing. Similar results with attempts to get her drink fluids. Even the novelty of drinking out of a cup was extremely short-lived when Maya realised that she was actually supposed to swallow the stuff inside it.

Anyhow, the little amounts of the medicine that actually made it into her body and the lactose-free formula eventually did the trick, and we went back to being able to survive the day with one outfit, not four or five, which would be soaked through by watery poos every hour or two. Maya went back onto lactose formula with gusto. I breathed a sigh of relief. That same day she started to cough. Which then developed into the worst cold she's had so far. Super snotty, lots of phlegmy coughs, and the strangest one: extremely clingy and unable to be put down for a second without fits of tears and rage. My active, independent little miss was suddenly this little cuddly, inconsolable cling-on. This might normally just mean me sticking close to Maya all day, but it happened at precisely the time we moved from Brisas del Mar back to our old house in Playas - on one of the wettest days yet - and over Christmas with all its cooking needs. Phew! So Maya in the frontpack was my cooking assistant for the Christmas baking, salad preparation, roasted fish and various other dishes.

This morning Maya woke up to her normal self, and instead of looking forlorn and bawling when I put her down with her toy box, she took off in the opposite direction to explore her new (old) space. She still stops and looks back at me with a big cheeky grin, to check that I'm watching her, and let me know that she's planning her next mischief. All's well, and long may that last.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas all round

Maya and I were kindly invited to spend Christmas Eve and Day with Anna's in-laws, Hector's parents and family. We had our small, stress-free Christmas celebration with Ahmed back in early December, but of course Christmas isn't the same without a bit of last-minute present buying, frantic wrapping, and lots of cooking. All in due time, and the day before Christmas Eve found me still trying to unpack our stuff from the move, lugging a clingy baby around in the front pack, baking, and tying ribbons. No doubt a sign of things to come in our future.

On Christmas Eve, Hector and Anna came and whisked us off to Hector's parents' house for a gigantic Christmas Eve dinner. We had: Romeritos (Nopal cactus in mole - very strong and not for the faint-hearted), smoked salmon, lobster (absolutely the best lobster I've ever eaten, blows Puerto Nuevo and all it's lobster-touting restaurants out of the water, pardon the pun), five different salads: potato salad, carrot salad, tuna salad, corn salad, and my contribution, a cous cous salad, which was eaten with curiousity, more than gusto! Nobody had heard of cous cous before. Followed up by flan and cheesecake. Phew. We were all wobbling afterwards.

Hector's parents have an enormous collection of Christmas paraphenalia, and Maya and Yara spent ages watching a swinging reindeer sing Frank Sinatra, a pot-bellied Santa swinging his beer gut, a house of elves busily churning out toys, a series of singing, dancing, drum-playing reindeer belting out Jingle Bells, and a whole host of other great Christmas kitsch. Even themed toilet seat covers! How's that for dedication?

Late at night, we all toddled off to bed, and Maya proceeded to keep the household awake most of the night with regularly intervalled waking up, crying and coughing. Poor thing was coming down with what ended up being one gigantic, never-ending cold.

On Christmas morning, we had a lovely huge breakfast, and then more family arrived, and a few prayers were said at the Nativity scene, and then it was chow-down-and-open-present time. All under-fives were suitably excited!

Later in the afternoon, we were kindly dropped back in Playas - poor Hector, it's about at 45 minute round trip - and then we had a lovely afternoon and evening, including another big meal, with the twins from next door and their parents. Yes, that's another family adopting here in Mexico, shoring themselves up for the rollercoaster ride that this process is, and going at it gung-ho, full steam ahead. If I ever get the feeling that, phew, the baby business is tiring, just have to think of Fiona next door with two seven-month old babies. She's a powerhouse.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Unlike New Zealand, a day of rain in Tijuana (and Abu Dhabi for that matter) makes the front page news. It poured yesterday and we had no plans or places to be. I figured we could walk down to San Antonio del Mar and visit our latest discovery: a cafe that has just installed an espresso machine (yay!). When the rain was light enough, I bundled Maya up in the front pack under my raincoat and we trundled off down the road. She was happy as a flea all swaddled up with just her face poking out:

Unfortunately, the power cut in our street extended as far as San Antonio del Mar, across the highway, so after just two days of use, the espresso machine was out of action until the electricity came back on. So no coffee and not much of a walk either.

Here's Popeye baby after her spinach dinner. She was quite a fan!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunny side up

A few days ago, yes, I did feel like I never wanted to write anything here again. Other thoughts going through my mind were: how can I even get up in the morning? What's the point? Etc, etc. All those wallowing, depressed ideas one gets when something once again doesn't go as planned. Luckily, having a nine-month old relying on me for her love, entertainment, food, clothing and sleeping quickly puts an end to any lengthy form of indulgent self-pitying.

So a day or two after our latest piece of bad news, and Ahmed had left for Abu Dhabi after an all-out tearful, clingy farewell from me, we were back to focusing all our energy on remaining positive, looking forward to a happy end to this crazy year, and how to deal with the all-important need for the birth mother's signature. That's the beauty of being married to Mr Glass Half Full, he's always looking on the sunny side of life, and with that infectious attitude, how can I do otherwise?

So no six weeks of misery and moping. There is loads of good in our little world. We have such an amazingly supportive network of family and friends. Ahmed's parents are now planning a trip down here to stay with us (third trip for Ahmed's mum!). Ahmed's booked his next flights (sixth trip!) back here, over his next set of holidays in January. Christmas is going to be spent with Anna's family, who've invited Maya and me to stay with them. That'll be my first Mexican-Russian Christmas experience.

What's the best music to wallow to? You can't beat the seventies. Led Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen & Nick Drake are my fellow wallowers. Try saying those last two words ten times in quick succession. That'll lift your mood.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No title

No posts for a while, and I don't know that there'll be any more. Not for a while at least. Too tired. Too down. These last couple of weeks have been tougher than usual. There are lots of new confusing issues that I can't write about, and therefore nothing that's going on (which is nothing, as we're now sitting waiting till the courts reopen on 12th January) will make any sense to anyone.

I know that one day, this will all just be looked back on as a slow, drawn-out nightmare of a year, with some beautiful bright patches, but many, many low moments. Right now, in the thick of it, I'm just too exhausted to think or write about it any more.

Have a lovely holiday, Eid, Christmas, New Year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

For want of a crystal ball

The courts close this week on Friday, for one month. Our judge's secretary, Lic. Carolina has done everything she can to help us get our final decree before they close, and the last box that needs to be ticked is getting Maya's birth mother to sign the adoption. She signed custody over to us back in March, but now has to sign over all parental rights.

Our lawyer Aida once again moved all sorts of obstacles to get an appointment for Lic. Carolina to see the birth mother today. The absolute last possible time that would enable Lic. Carolina to get our case out before the court holidays begin. Since the debacle of last Monday, Aida wasn't taking any chances this time, and had spoken to the birth mother who said of course she'd sign the decree this time.

Well, once again, she didn't. I melted down. Ahmed packed his suitcases. And we prepared ourselves for another 6 weeks of uncertainty until the courts reopen. It feels like an eternity, after the eternity we've already passed here. How many more eternities before we can finally jigsaw our wee family together? Oh for a crystal ball.

The uncertainty kills more than anything. Actually, no, it's missing Ahmed. Well, I guess it's both.

Monday, December 8, 2008

24 hour party people

Maya & Yara hanging out

Bite that bottle

Party's getting into full swing


Sunday, December 7, 2008

If the stocking fits...

Here's Maya's first adventure with a Christmas stocking:

1. She crawled straight past it and headed for the coffee table instead. Much more interesting, clearly.

2. Obviously if we'd put the stocking on the coffee table in the first place...

3. Oh, stuff inside this big bag! This could be fun.

4. She started to get the hang of it.

5. And look at that - the stocking fits perfectly.

6. Why do babies all prefer the wrapping? Are they pre-programmed?

7. Phew. That was fun.

8. Yep, oodles of fun.

Christmas in Mexico

This year in the UAE, Eid & National Day celebrations are within a week of each other. In a rare display of forward planning, ZU (where Ahmed works) announced that the university would be closed from the 2nd until the 14th of December. Once upon a time, in another dream, we pictured going to New Zealand during that break. That was the dream where Maya and I were already back living in the UAE. Anyway, that didn't happen, and since Ahmed would have gone crazy sitting alone in Abu Dhabi while we're still in Mexico, he booked his fifth flight out to Tijuana for this year.

So with Christmas preparations in full swing around us - carols in the supermarkets, Christmas trees for sale, the general red and white theme - we set the date for our family Christmas: Sunday the 7th.

This was probably the easiest, most stress-free Christmas I've ever experienced. We just stopped and bought a tree from the side of the road, and I'd seen some beautiful tin tree ornaments a few weeks earlier. The Red Cross thrift shop produced a stocking. The supermarket was nothing like the crazed events of pre-Christmas madness in NZ. I guess celebrating on the 7th December has its huge benefits.

Menu: Croissants & fruit for breakfast. Maya enjoyed sucking on pieces of melon too. Dinner was baked salmon, roasted beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin & carrots, green beans, peas & coriander. A walnut praline cake and icecream for dessert. Yum!

Monday, December 1, 2008

False alarm

Monday December 1st. The day when finally Aida and the judge's secretary went to get the signature from Maya's birth mother. After various delays, hiccups, holdups (how many other synonyms for delay do I know? Well this is my year for learning them) they were able to actually go and get this final signature, that would allow the judge's secretary to push our case through the court as fast as possible to get it out of their system before they close for their month vacation on the December 12th.

I finally allowed myself to believe that we were getting to the end of our process, and had mental lists of what to pack, what to leave at Red Cross, what to give to whom. I kept finding myself fiddling around on trying out different flight variations for the flight home, with stopover in Canada, and different possible dates, and had penciled them in on my calendar. I was picturing us spending Christmas in Toronto with Ahmed's family, and wow, Maya in the snow, below zero temperatures!

Aida called in the afternoon and told me that they hadn't got the signature. Maya's birth mother had refused to sign. Aida now says that the following Tuesday is the only other day that Carolina, the judge's secretary, is available to try again, and after talking to the birth mother, Aida says she has promised to sign next Tuesday.

Well. That was the most devastating, confusing, frightening phone call I've had from Aida yet. We have no idea why she didn't sign, and why would she not sign, then promise to sign a week later? All of my worst fears started to surface. That perhaps after all this time, the adoption won't in fact go through. On a technicality. Maya's birth mother doesn't want to look after Maya. Her three older children have all either left home or are living with her parents, who can barely support her children. We feel like we have moved heaven and earth to get to this point, and all we need now is that signature. She's promised Aida one minute that she'll sign, then turns around the next minute and refuses. I wish I had more strength to deal with this, but I don't.

The person who meets Ahmed at the airport on the 2nd December, is a puffy-eyed bawling wreck, from 24 hours of tossing the what-if, what-if worst case scenarios around in my horribly fatalistic imagination.