Sunday, June 12, 2011

Luwawa Bike Race

Now for a little time traveling, as we jump ahead six months from Dean's birth to this past weekend...

Yesterday Jorge raced in the Luwawa International Bike Race, an annual mountain-biking event that takes place a few hours north of Lilongwe on the Viphya Plateau, a wooded highlands. It was our first time to Luwawa, and I was looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet in the forest. What I got was quite different - noise, hyper-active children, and not enough sleep...the story of my life these days.

The race itself was extremely well-organized, and Jorge had a great time. He came in solidly right in the middle of the pack, which was fine with him, as his training for the 30-mile race had consisted of a couple of weekend treks through the maize fields behind our block (those of you have read about many of Jorge's past sporting exploits will not be surprised at his willingness to take on extreme feats of athleticism the way other people agree to an evening stroll).

When Jorge heard I was blogging about the race, he wanted me to make sure you all know what a hero he was, as well. There were many stretches of the course that were too steep to ride, and the racers had to push their bikes up the steep hills. Jorge, being the tireless runner that he is, figured he could make up some time be simply throwing his bike over his shoulder, and jogging up the hill. Halfway up one long stretch, he came across a woman who was struggling to get her heavy load up the hill. So he picked up her bike as well, and carried it to the top. My husband is such a gentleman.

Of course, he also apparently bit it so bad at one point that he ended up doing a flying somersault into the woods, where, in his words, he left a perfect "snow angel" impression in the bushes. So it wasn't all "Lawrence of Arabia" sophistication in the wilds of Africa.

Milo also had a great time. As he always does, he made some new friends about 3 minutes after walking through the door, and spent the weekend racing around on his bike and running off into the bush.

Hey look - even I was there! Here's photographic evidence!

The Lodge that hosted the race was packed full, and after the race, they organized an evening of local and international music acts. Which would have been really exciting, back in the days before I had two small children. As it was, I spent last night with a pillow over my head, willing the band to stop playing so that I could get at least 30 minutes of sleep before Dean started his nightly routine of waking up every 3 hours (alas, I only got 10 minutes of sleep before I had to get back up).

This morning, our friend Peter, who has been going to Luwawa for years, took us on a hike through the beautiful countryside. Milo loved it, and wanted to collect one of every wildflower he saw.

Of course, now I'm exhausted, but in one of those good, fulfilled ways. Still, I'm really hoping our next trip involves just a bit more sleep, and hopefully a lot more lazing around on the beach doing nothing!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Meet Baby Dean

Finally! The really exciting part of our trip back home to the United States! When last I left you, I was enjoying (OK, tolerating) the Thansgiving snow in Seattle. A week later, on November 30th, I got a call from my best friend Mary to tell me she'd had her son that day, a little boy named Lucas. I was 39 weeks pregnant, and for the first time, felt a little jealous. Normally I am COOL with waiting a little longer for a baby - I know all about the lack of sleep, the challenge of finding time to shower, the fact that you have a big lump in your arms (or at your breast) constantly. I'm not bamboozled by that whole cuddly newborn imagery they're pushing over there in Hollywood. I'd like my last few days of sleep, please.

But all of sudden, I wanted to have that darn baby. And what do you know? An hour later my water broke. Labor started soon after, and after just 14 hours I had Dean. He was born at 11:15 AM on December 1st, weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

Dean's birth was a bit of a triumph for me. Milo was born via Cesarean 2 years earlier, after his heart seemed to not be able to withstand the pushing phase. But, ever a public health professional, I really wanted to avoid surgery this time unless it was strictly necessary. I can't say Dean's labor was quick or easy - I pushed for more than 4 hours - but thankfully I had an awesome, supportive midwife who really believed that I could do it. And thanks in large part to her encouragement, I just kept trying. And then all of a sudden, he was born, and Jorge told me, "it's another boy!" and then Dean had to be rushed off to the pediatrician because he needed resuscitation. Minutes later, though, he was doing just fine, and was sleeping on my chest.

It hasn't been so hard adjusting to life as a family of four. Everything takes about five times more planning, but we've learned to adapt. Milo adores his little brother (when he slows down enough to pay him any mind), and Dean is delighted to just be in Milo's presence.

As for Dean (who, like Milo, remained nameless for the first few days of life, while the anxious nurses kept nagging for a name to put on his birth certificate request), you've never met a more steady, mellow child. His first few weeks of life, he never cried - he just squeaked. Even now, he is usually easily consoled, and rarely gets particularly upset over anything. He's mostly content to just watch the world around him and smile.

And, most remarkable of all, my little Colombian baby came out with a head full of golden blonde hair, and my blue eyes to match!