Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Knot and The Twist

I want to tell you all about this struggle
Deep in my chest
Where my insides are all twisted
And this knot is so tight
From being pulled
By by head on the one end
And my heart on the other
Which will win, I'm uncertain
What if though, neither do
And I'm left with nothing but
Little fragments of what used to be


Friday, June 29, 2018


The way you squint your eyes
Melts me
How did you learn to do this?
Are you squinting away sunshine
Or allowing in sweet wishes?


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mi esposo es muy inteligente

Apart from being radically lovely,
I also am so very lucky
To have found my very own smart hunky
In my own version of a dream rainy day


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I Put You On Mute

I'm determined,
She said.
To no one in particular,
Other than the voice in her head
I'm not them
They aren't me
Life is grand
In the ordinary
Still, she searches
For what she's unsure
I think it's her
That she's looking for


Behind because of flying

Such a bizarre feeling
To know you could be doing
What you ought to be
9 hours from now
Time moves funnily
When you move through its barriers
Breaking then one at a time
With the speed of jet fuel
On your side


Monday, June 25, 2018

What do you see?

Just one day
I want to look in the mirror
And hear something kind
Kind and giving
Without questions and hinged consequences
Kind, like a plumeria bud
That gives without needing a lot
Maybe, one of these days
I'll allow myself that sweet pleasure
Of something kind


Sunday, June 24, 2018


Just maybe
You will come and stay
A while
And when you decide it's time to move on
Leave behind
Sugary dreams
And a body ready to face the day


Hello, Home

Dear Home,

I walked in and I smelled you right away-
You smell nice
You smell of hot running water
I take for granted
You smell of smoke-free air
That's loving to my lungs
You smell of familiarity
Sounds, people, family
You smell of clean accessible toilets
With automatic flushes and faucets
You smell of memories
Sweet and troublesome, and importantly, mine
You smell of spaces so green, my eyes hurt
Where I don't have to pre-check the grass for cigarette butts
And you smell of fear
Fear so wretched
It's keeping me up at night
Regardless of this regardless jet lag
You smell of broken hopes and families
Of colonial promises kept
Of screams of little voices stuck in my inner ear for these timely nights when sleep hunts for nightmares
You smell of sweaty palms
At the border, even with my passport in my them
I'm breathless
Trying to catch up with the news
With a world that takes babies away from their mammas
Stamps them with numbers, shrouds them in masks
Leaves them to be painted white-
Like history.
Impeccable strokes of pearl, mascarpone, chantilly lace, and snowy cascades
Sweeping over holes left where old pictures hung
Holes where black and brown bodies dreamed  everyday dreams, like wishing they're not a statistic
Holes from bullets leaving clear paths for our blood to leave us,
Denied the stories of our past
So you can be monochromatic
You smell of overripe torment
Of freshly brewing tyranny
And burnt tomorrows.

And I need some air.


Friday, June 22, 2018

Goodbye, Granada

An exciting Friday began this journey
Onwards we headed to southern lands
Only to barely make it
To our part two of three

A baby who won't sleep
Nurse, or eat
But charm those around him
Into forgiving him

Bassinet didn't work
But his smiles did
And so we landed in lovely Madrid
The baby area was a life-saver
With places to run, crawl, and change a poopy diaper
A quick lunch and on we went
To our final destination

Granada only welcomed 2 of 3 parts of our luggage
But Manzil had the time of his life
Riding without his baggage

It wasn't the last of his car rides without his seat
Pretty sure he thought it was a superb feat
Got to an apartment fully equipped
With a stroller, baby bath, high chair, and crib

Got settled in, and stepped out to get some food
Mercadona was ready and waiting
Filled with yummies so good
Chocolate croissants and lactose-free milk
Got us settled in delicious ways
Naps and a late night feast in Plaza Nuevo
We were in love again with late nights and long days

Though Manzil decided day was night, and night day
And so Mamma and he had late night feasts and played
This lasted an exhausting 4 nights
And then he got in shape just in time for Nani's arrival
Daddy headed to Seville and Ronda for a night
While Mummy, Manzil, and Nani saw many sights
Nothing like the Corpus Christi festivities right before
But so much fun stories, art, and local lore

A grand birthday celebration with churros y chocolate under Alhambra's waning sun
And just like that, Manzil turned one
Madrid, trains, parks, and buses were next
We said bye bye to Nani as she headed far from west
Mummy got a little bug, but nothing too rotten
We still got a car and explored caves and palaces long forgotten
Soon it was time to say goodbye
To our favorite walks, fountains, heladerias, cervezerias, panaderias, cafeterias, sangrias, and more
Granada, we will be back, so for now, hasta pronto


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Be The Little Wonder

Let the world guide you a bit
In losing parts of you
So little pieces of you can be found
There's so much fun
In discovering a part of you
You've never known before
What if though, you don't want to?
Will you discovering self understand?


Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Skin on skin
Even in the cold
And yet when you burn
All I feel is my cold sweat
Freezing me


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Judge Less

I try to be less like him
But, no buts
I have to be less like him
Even if most of me
Is him
And comes from him
Still, I am holding the pen
To my book
And he doesn't even know what it's called anymore


Monday, June 18, 2018

Our Precious

Nights like these
Are made of dreams
So delectable and dripping
With wishes that have come true
Gratitude is my favorite flavor
And it's the special tonight


Sunday, June 17, 2018


Daddy, or Addy as our miracle might say,
Is made of all snuggles on the rocking chair
Or baritone lalalaaas in the car
Addy is made of giggles at the dinner table
And long walks to the lake
Addy is made of flying in the air
And drumming in every surface
Addy is made of kissies and tight squeezes
And cold compresses during a fever
Addy is all of you,
And I'm so grateful for that


Sit Up

When life issues you warnings
You ought to heed
Or nights become hard
And days too long to count


Friday, June 15, 2018

You Got This!

You're so strong
Some days I see iron oozing out of you
Like the smelting source of strength
You remind me that I'm so lucky
To have you on my team


Thursday, June 14, 2018


Come out and let's look at you in the eyes
Take your gooey unwanted self
Away from me

Here I am
Fighting for you
Emerging from every crevice
To help protect you


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Sweetest Thing

Dear Manzil,

Right now, you are asleep on my chest. Your tummy is on mine and they're doing a tango of sorts as we figure out how to synchronize our breaths. There is so much, so so much, terrible in this world. But right now, in this moment, the world seems alright. Perfect, even.

Thank you for that gift.

I love you,


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Too too fast

Dear Manzil,

Your toddledom is going by too fast, even though we're only 6 days into it. Time truly is a function of distance and speed. Time seems to move much slower here in Granada. Like there's absolutely no hurry to let the feet of the clock's overtake you on the sidewalk. They call our walking pace "The American Sidewalk Rage". There's really no rush and really no need to justify when you want to have a cup of coffee or that second glass of sangria. Maybe it feels even slower because we're so far from home? I wonder what stories we'll remember from our time here to tell you, when you're older, of times when time stood still.

Timelessly, yours,


Monday, June 11, 2018

Be Bravest

I tell my little heart
When the loud voices in my brain
Drown out all logic
All ability to realize,
No, remember,
That I only can do
So little
So, my little heart
Contend with that
And you will roar


Sunday, June 10, 2018


Sometimes your firsts are my seconds
And the other way around
Sometimes, we see eye to eye
And our firsts are aligned
But our true strengths emerge
When something that's on my list
Doesn't even appear on yours


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mad in Madrid

So much to smell
Really take in
Every sight
Taste every smell
Long bodies tucked tightly under
Orange and black sleeping bags
On ramps between flights of stairs
With a small cigarette sticking out
For fresh air


Friday, June 8, 2018

Dreamy Giggles

Dear Manzil,

Today, you giggled as you slept. It reminded me that even dreams can be made of sweetness. I hope I dream of you tonight. Giggling.

I love you,


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Don't Even Try

I hate puzzles
I hated that they don't come easy
And when they do
They have a spectacular way of making you feel stupid
I hate the act of feeling deceived by a random collection of cardboard pieces
Or numbers, or missing letters
They make me feel slow, stupid, and like I'm missing something

But there's something about solving them that I get
I understand, hell, I'm almost hooked to that feeling of things falling into place
Of the sound of that click
Or the perfection of a snug letter to bring a string of other letters to life
Most of all though,
I think I like that feeling
So falsely there
That makes me feel
Like I actually control something


Wednesday, June 6, 2018


The lines in your hands
Are small enough to hold a year's worth of stories
Some can be told quickly,
Though some may take longer
Each holds within it
All of the everything
Of the last 365 days
And my dear sweet baby,
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Happy birthday!


Birth of a Mother: All the things you are teaching me

My Dear Manzil,

Here I am, attempting to breathe all of this in...the best way I know how.

I started writing this when you were 21 days old and I was still wrapping this up as you turned 273 days old and I finished writing this when you turned 9 months old. 9 months in and 9 months out! And here you are, a full 365 days old, today!

You are here. I wish I could slow down time and hold on to your day oneness and twoness and so on, but time, as you will learn (and you are so effectively reteaching me), only moves forward. Whether or not you're ready to move with it.

So as to not be left behind, your Mamma, is doing what she knows to do best to hold on to the ephemeral - write about it.

Before I write to you about how our lives have been magical and in the nicest way ever Upside Down (we'll watch Stranger Things together one day ; ), I want to write to you about how our world began to change exactly 12 months ago today.

On June 4th, your estimated date of arrival, I woke up with a sense of excitement. It was like any other day in the past week though. My body didn't feel that different than the day before. I woke up, got ready, and we were heading to the farmer's market because I was craving that cherry almond croissant! It was a cooler day and I wished I had had a jacket on me. The bakers were out of the croissant, but we wandered and found some yummy food nonetheless! We got home and rested, our usual afternoon routine. In the evening, I started noticing more-than-usual wetness. I waited and monitored, and then around 7:15pm decided to call the midwife line and to see what they had to say.

Throughout the day, Daddy and I were doing some big and small things we had been putting off - cleaning the patio, fixing these puppets, getting some final things ready before you arrived. Some were trivial, some significant. It should've been my signal that you were getting ready to come.

The midwives have always called back in an hour. Except that day. It was 8:30pm when I called back to reach someone again. They called back soon after and the on-call midwife said, "You sound worried, why don't you come in to triage and we'll take a look."

Nani had made cheeni-ka-paratha that night. It was what she ate the night I was born 30 years ago. We finished our dinner, put away the food in the fridge, and left home. I half-believed it was time, half-thought we would be back in our bed that night. We got to triage around 9:30pm and waited patiently for the midwife and nurses to run their tests. Turns out I was slightly more dilated, but really not much more effaced and though in pre-labor, not leaking any amniotic fluid. Cleared to go home!

Right before we were leaving, the midwife saw me scratching the soles of my feet. Dan and I looked at each other and thought to mention that though they had been monitoring my bile levels, I had definitely been more itchy in classic cholestasis fashion for the past few days. When she heard this, it became clear that she was more concerned. She explained to us the risk, though low, of still birth. We understood and waited to hear our options. I was not in active labor and didn't want to be induced. But, I was to term and keeping you in me any longer wouldn't have made a lot of difference. On the other hand, if it was cholestasis, the bile level results wouldn't come back for another few days, and the stakes were high, even if statistically the risk was low.

We were given a choice: be monitored at home or be monitored at the hospital. Either way, we were disqualified from the birthing center and we would need to be monitored. At around 11pm, we decided to stay in the hospital to have access to the best care possible. They swept my membranes and we all tried in vain to sleep. Over the next 12 hours, they continued to sweep my membranes to hasten labor. I started cramping on the night of June 4th and continued over the next 18 hours. Nani, Daddy, and I were all in the hospital room and none of us got much sleep. Mashi and Masha were on their way to the hospital too!

We were excited on the 5th! Having read many many books, watched many many videos, talked to many moms, and having taken classes on the labor process, I had a feeling your arrival was close. I was about 2 cms dilated throughout the day. But I was hopeful. Finally, after about 24 hours of close monitoring and receiving cervical ripening agents, I wasn't making that much progress, and we agreed to begin induction. They began me on a very slow drip of oxytocin. It was to mimic my own body's production. Nonetheless, it pushed my contractions, which had begun the day before, to a new level. They became more intense, but still spread apart. Daddy and Mashi took turns to walk with me on the hospital floor. By this time, we had seen a few rotations of nurses and had our favorites and ones we weren't too excited to see again! Mashi and Masha had brought doughnuts for the nurses, so as we walked around, we kept getting smiles and thanks from nurses. This was nice, but didn't ease my discomfort as I walked around with the monitor strapped on my shoulder and a pink and a blue strap around my belly. Every four minutes or so, we needed to stop and I had to hold onto Daddy/Mashi/the hand rail in the hallway of the delivery floor of the hospital. This continued for about 4 hours.

Later that night, my contractions picked up pace. Our doula told us later that when you get induced, it often feels like one long continuous contraction. Speaking of doula...

UCSD has a pretty spectacular volunteer doula program. Their rules are simple: when you get admitted, ask for a doula. Catch: they will only call in a doula when you are 5 cms dilated. It wasn't easy getting to this point, and our nurse, who had been watching me struggle through my contractions, called in a doula when I was still only about 3 cms dilated. Thank goodness she did that! At around 11:30pm, they upped my oxytocin dose and that's when my one long contraction began. I kept wondering what you must be feeling through it all. All of our childbirth classes, books, and sage advice from other moms helped me understand just why we have contractions. I have seen videos of balloons with ping-pong balls in them and watched lots of videos explaining the pain-fear-tension triangle. But none of it prepared me for the amazing and excruciating thing our bodies were going through. Mine - my muscle squeezing and releasing to evict you out of your home for nine months. Yours - moving about and getting into position to be squeezed out of a very small hole. That hole was getting bigger, and at the speed that it needed to. Our bodies were working together, but mine needed a little more help.

Sometime after midnight on the 6th, Daddy had been swaying with me, holding me, and squeezing my hips. Mashi and Masha were saying comforting things and taking turns to hold me. Nani was making sure I was staying hydrated. After trying to lie down, stand, walk (I didn't get far), squat, crouch, and sway, I asked the nurse if I could go sit in the shower. We weren't in the tub-room of the birthing center, but the labor and delivery room had an inflatable "shower chair". I sat on that and the hot water on my back helped a lot! Daddy, Mashi, Masha, and Nani took turns to sit with me. I don't know how long I was there for, but I remember Daddy telling me repeatedly that the doula was almost there.

At 1:15am, the doula walked in. Amanda! She was every bit as graceful, kind, supportive, and empowering (and then some) as I could have asked from a doula! Amanda didn't even set her bags down, she got right behind me in the shower (in that teeny-tiny space between then shower and the toilet!) and began applying pressure at all the right places. She assured me that I was doing my best and helped me breathe in all the most helpful ways. She got me moving on my feet, off my feet on the exercise ball, and held me up when I thought I was going to collapse. Most importantly, she gave Daddy and everyone else a much-needed break.

This went on for a few more hours. There was no "coming-and-going" of contractions; no spacing between them. They were an "it". One long, endless, excruciating, pelvis-killing experience. I vomited a few times, cried a lot, and tried to meditate a lot. We had my favorite candle, my favorite stuffy, my singing bowl, my meditation audio uploaded on my phone, and of course, my favorite people, all with me. Daddy tried to make me laugh and it worked sometimes! There were many moments when I didn't think I could make it. After about 5 hours of this one long continuous contraction, when I thought someone was sawing my hips off, and I couldn't feel any other part of my body, our midwife came in and essentially told us that we had the bulk of the hard work (pushing) still ahead of us. I wasn't dilated enough and my water still hadn't broken. She offered me pain medication and I took it. It gave me two hours of rest. The medicine wore off around 6 and the contraction(s) came back soon after. At around 7:15am, after much deliberation and many many tears (and feelings of immense confusion - gratitude, confusion, failure, disappointment, fear, relief) from me, I got an epidural. The midwife asked who I wanted in the room with me when I got it, and I asked for Amanda. She held and helped me through some difficult contractions through it all!

After the epidural, I was super confused about why everyone was telling me to sleep. I couldn't eat much from that point on, and I had thrown up most of what I had eaten before that. But I drank a lot of juice and water to keep my fluids up. I continued to meditate and heard many snippets of many conversations between everyone as I drifted in and out of epidural-induced sleep. The nurses kept checking your heart rate through the fetal monitor and Nani kept double-checking their work to make sure you were doing okay! You had so many of us looking out for you through every heart beat. I had to get an extra dose of oxygen occasionally to make sure we were both okay. They continued to check how dilated I was, and at around 11:15am, I was still only 6 cms dilated. A new midwife's shift began and she informed us that we may be looking at many more hours (and even into the night) before you made an appearance. At around 11:18am, our wonderful nurse, Annie, was checking our monitors when we all heard a pop on the monitor. I told her I felt something pop in me, even though I wasn't supposed to be feeling anything thanks to the epidural. Sure enough, my water had broken. Everyone's birth story is different. It struck me a few days before you were born that my water may not have a conventional story of breakage, and that was okay with me. Daddy and I only had one rule: anything to keep you and me safe.

They cleaned me up and Mashi and Masha went to get lunch. They went to Mama's Cafe and picked up some yummy sandwiches, even Daddy's favorite eggplant wrap! At around 12:30pm, I let our nurse know that I was feeling some pressure close to my vagina. If I recall correctly, my words were, "I am feeling like something's coming out, and I feel like pooping!" She said she would let the midwife know. I told her a few more times before our midwife walked in at 1:15pm (she was schedule to check on me around 2:30pm) and declared, "I hear you think you're ready to have this baby? Let's check, I doubt you're dilated more than 6 still."

I was dilated past 8 cms and almost completely effaced! Daddy had just stepped outside to eat his lunch when he was rushed back in. Our midwife made me do a few practice pushes, which helped my cervix to completely efface. Then, she stuck her hand in me and helped turn you a little to better position you (sorry, you were being turned in there!). At 1:35pm, I began pushing. She was encouraging and I had 2 medical students holding my legs up for me (thanks again, epidural) and Daddy holding my right hand, and Amanda holding my left. At one point, our midwife brought a mirror in so I could see you leaving me and entering this world. It was beautiful to watch you - YOU - coming out of me! I felt the pressure of every contraction, without any of the pain (thanks once more, epidural) and after 5 pushes, and a 2nd degree tear, you were out.

I remember our midwife handing you to my tired but enthusiastic hands. You were so small, so slippery, and she leaned in to give me a little more support. You were quiet for about 10 seconds and then yelped exactly as any baby should that's been spending 9 months brewing in a comfortable cocoon and just got evicted to this cold world. But mamma's warm happy hands had you. You smelled of all that is amazing, raw, and so pure. You looked so perfect. You were breathing and you were here. You latched on right away and I began my journey as being completely and utterly in love with you. Daddy had me in one hand and you in the other. Nani was inspecting to make sure we were fine. Mashi and Masha were trying to get pictures and videos. Everyone was crying, laughing, and just marveling at you - all of you! You had arrived.

You will hear this many many times in your life, Manzil - We come into this world alone. I have said that so many times and believed it until you came into this world. You are half me and half Daddy, and 100% you. You are 1/4 Nana, Nani, Grandma, and Grandpa. You are 100% you. You have Adam's head, and Mashi's smile. You are all you! I have thought so much about your experience of coming out of me (maybe there's an evolutionary reason we don't remember what that journey is like!). You were not alone. You didn't come out into this world alone. And you won't be alone as you go through it.

Always, with you, yours,

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

This First Year

Dear Manzil,

This is your last day being zero years old
You have done much, and had many stories told
In your name, about you, stories big and tall
You fill us up, even though you may be small
Small you may be, our hearts grow bigger for you
To see how far you've come, makes us a happy two
Every day with you has made us grow and have fun
Can't believe it, and can't wait for you to turn one!

Happy almost birthday,


Monday, June 4, 2018

Not Again!

Feel better soon
That's all I can hope for
It would be so sad though
If this happened again


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Today, Last Year

You were getting ready
To find your way out
I was getting ready
For you to find a way in


Saturday, June 2, 2018


I'll have you know
That if you pull any baffoonery
I shall not stand for it
There's nothing less tolerable to me
Than to have my dignity pulled from under my feet
And no one
Not even you
Has that power over me


Friday, June 1, 2018

Birthday Month

Dear Manzil,

Here it begins!
My new favorite month in the year
I think about last year today
I was so anxious
So big
So ready to meet you
And here you are
It's my favorite month
And it's here

I love you,