that last day

i know how it goes by now. i’ve been through it a few too many times, maybe… that last closing of your usual programs, that last email, that last call, last signature, last thoughts and lists, that turning off the computer really has an effect on me.

i’ve done it before and everytime it happened it was always my choice, my decision and that’s probably why it’s hard because at that last “are you sure you want to turn off computer” you have no clue what you’re sure of. the decision was made, but it seems way too scary to click YES, and it’d be so easy to say NO and keep sitting at your desk.

not many people have had this kind of last days, i’m sure we all complain about our jobs, i’m sure we all hate or have difficulty getting up in the morning so early and either take the bus/tram/car to work, face traffic, most people have to take care of a million things before leaving the house wishing they could start work later but still finish in time to see daylight. i’m sure there are a million things to say about what we like least about our jobs, but our jobs are our lifes and take up enormous amounts of our energy so it’s naturally a very big part of us. i’ve complained, i’ve whined really, gosh i worked in places where i had to struggle through rain by bike to get there, imagine that at 8am and then having to work 8 hours with wet clothes. i’ve worked in places where i had to drive 12kms through unbelievable traffic and praying “our father” in order to keep myself from thinking i was going to die! i’ve worked in a place where a tram ride would take 30min, i could read a book feel relaxed but had a car speed by at my exit sending a massive wave of dirty rain water at me! so, yes, i’ve have reasons to complain. i’ve had stressy bosses, wierd colleagues, long work nights, early morning deadlines, stupid printers and computers that would be better off in the trash… but that last day…

that last day seems a bit too ridiculous to think about all of the things above, but mostly i think about how scary it is to picture the next morning you won’t know what to do, as if you could eliminate habits in one second… seeing that habits take about 3months to BE a habit, stopping one might take more, maybe… or not. because after that last day you notice how much you needed to stop. all of the last days i’ve had have been sad and in a way plain simple. you start work, there’s a glow in your face only because you know everyone is thinking about it, and then there’s a moment where you get hugs and best wishes and all of the most amazing compliments for what has been and who you are. which believe me, compensates for any stress you’ve ever had. i’ve even had ex-bosses cry that last day because they finally realized how much i’d be missed and was important to the “team”… not here in moz! i think i was appreciated every step of the way and that helps make my job easy ;)

anyway, every last day has a calm aspect to it, a moment of laughter… and that insane feeling that you’re about to burst up in tears at the end.

not everyone has had the amazing opportunities i’ve had and who knows if they’ll keep coming, but i’ve been very lucky. in maputo i worked with friends, with people my age, with great minds, great designers and above all what it felt like family. this will be a turning point for me, for i’d like to start something of my own, though i will look for a job nonetheless, somebody needs to pay for the daycare, but i’ve reached a point by watching others around me, where i hope to do something with my name on it too.

it’s been a great ride working with you estudio4 i’ll always remember my corner in that office and will keep the memories, the sand, the lunches, the red-lining, the misspelled emails we received, the frustrations, the stress but foremost i’ll remember you… us… the team!


14 months and moving on

after the twelve months i really thought things, surprising things, would slow down, i really imagined that between their mommy who started walking at 9 months, and their daddy that got up at 2 years-old, it’d take a while before walking was part of their lifes. but their 13th month was really just a space between crawling fast, to too fast and getting up and walking. 5 days before their 14th monthaverssary they got up and instead of the usual and already so common two-steps-fall, F got up and walked from their bedroom to the livingroom (mommy style)… which are about 15steps in their tiny feet… M watched that day still playing it safe and not really wanting to be less than perfect (daddy style)… the next morning M at around lunch time decided it was his turn to shine and did the same, circa 15steps from bedroom to livingroom and clapped in the end. i never thought it’d be so overwhelming, i mean i had seen so much already, between sleeping the whole night, eating everything (only complaining when the plate is empty… which always seems too soon for them), blabbing, crawling, i thought i had prepared myself to see them walk and think “good for you” without tears or ridiculous “awwwws”… but no. no way could i see those proud smiles, laughs, claps and not shed a tear or hold them so tight they’d want to not walk but run away. it’s impossible to watch all that effort for a few steps and not feel an imense joy, and a scary feeling for them. if you look at them while they focus on their feet and overcome obstacles… my kids not only walk but they prefer to step over higher things, they don’t go around the toys, they rather go through them, stepping over boxes and pillows, the harder it is it seems to make them happier and less scared of whatever crosses their way. and i just stare. i cheer, and i hold them at the end of the corridor when they decide that they want to try running and they can’t seem to find the brakes, but just before they fall into my arms laughing and pretending their running from eachother, i freeze time and see every muscle growing, moving and their hearts beating faster and happier. i see their eyes open up as if they just saw the world, i see every little movement as a conquest. there isn’t anything in this new phase that i can’t relate to right now.

as they beging to walk and discover how amazing it is to do things by themselves while still knowing we’re there right behind them, we, the adults, the parents are also about to embark on a whole new world.

i left lisbon in 2002, initially for only 10months… well, that ended up being 9years… he has also left his home in milan in 2005 and what was uncertain became 6years. we are about to go away, towards north this time, to the hemisphere we grew up in, to europe, to portugal… to lisbon. i am finally going home.

i do not know what to expect. yes, it’s the place i grew up in, the place i left but always wanted to go back to… but while doing this i had no idea i’d be who i am right now and so going back is not going back to who i was, it’s a whole new thing. i’m scared of everything that i have missed, or thought i couldn’t live without and did, scared of having made up an idea of what lisbon is, instead of what it became. i am scared of realizing i am part of a much larger world and not of just lisbon. you may think this is contradictory to what i always said, but when the moment finally arrives you notice that you might now know the place anymore. in 9 years i’ve gone back “home” always on holiday or maternity leave and what place doesn’t look, feel, taste new than when you see it on a 24h timelimit? i had no plans, i could visit all my friends in just one day, or divide them up between meals in a whole week. i could climb all the 7hills on one day (except when i was carrying twins obviously!) or decide not to and take the tram (also not when pregnant!). i could decide to explore new shops, new restaurants, new parks, new brunches, new views just because i had time… but what happens when that time in that same city you explored thouroughly is replaces by a 9 to 5 job? do you really see it anymore? do you really live it? in milan we did, in antwerp we did, in maputo we tried… but when you had such an admiration for a place and a almost mystical feeling towards it, it might just come crashing down… and that scares me… a lot. it’s like their tiny steps…

i’m taking it slow, though all tell me to hurry for there is an economic crisis in the world, as if i’ve been living away from it, as if i haven’t felt here any of it. i know it’s going to get very tough, but i need this, i want this and i will do what i can to make the transition easy. my babies will feel the change, i know, even if only through us or maybe because they won’t see their nanny anymore, gosh if i could she’d come with us, but they will have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my friends and their children to grow up with and maybe one day i’ll be able to explain how hard thought needed this decision was. leaving is not leaving, it’s starting… it’s trying harder to give them and us what makes up happy. we chose to have them to ourselves for this year, we decided things for them and we created a world for them with the four of us, it’s time to share, to let them see everyone else to let them know that we also are beginning… also taking our first steps towards something we can’t see but hope and imagine it as a happy place.

african cold

if one could get 1 metical (which is mozambican for “worth nothing”) for eveytime people laughed, or snorted or thought it’s ridiculous when someone in Mozambique says “it’s so cold here!”… that ONE could be filthy rich. which in other words means, I’D be filthy rich… but here, these days… you can only get poorer and poorer and poorer… even if just in the cultural department.

about the weather, the way i see it is, that if you don’t believe us who live here and are trying very hard to keep warm without looking like a snowboarder in Hawaii then here is my thought-out (yes, i spent time thinking about it…) theory on african, no sorry, Mozambican weather.

let it be knwon to you, whoever and wherever you are, that if you’re in the north hemisphere your recall of winter is long gone so you’ll have a hard time putting this all together, so i understand if it doesn’t make sense, but i’m sure lots of other people in Maputo (who have lived in belgium… ) will agree with me.

start with BELGIAN WEATHER, let’s say around March! I specify the exact month because then in BE the snow season would be over and people are anxious for sunny days, or just sunny minutes to refill on vitamin D.

so, March in Antwerp:

. turn the temperature up a few degrees around 16, which would be summer in A’pen, but not here

. add more rain, yes, EVEN MORE rain. and they call summer here the rainy season!! pff

. take the scarves, sweaters, boots, gloves and any self-heating clothes that you might be wearing if in A’pen

. add lots of wind

. make sure your house has NO double glass windows

. take out all heaters in your house, not the portable ones, yes the ones that come with the house itself… central heating

. make sure all windows and doors are hand-made so the the cold and wind can get through the large cracks (so stylish… and so cool in summer) in between pieces

. now add an ocean where the wind comes from

. make sure your closet, as the emigrant that you are, is basically filled up with bikinis, beach towels, skirts and tops… and maybe, just maybe 2 cardigans

i think that’s about it… oh and take off hot water in the bathroom adn kitchen sink…

ok… now, enjoy Mozambican’s winter!

a birth story…

that morning i woke up feeling tired for the first time in 37 weeks of a wonderful pregnancy. someone once told me “the moment you feel tired, something’s about to happen”… they were right.

my c-section was scheduled for two days later and i had spent the day before enjoying a wonderful time with friends on our terrace eating a great and tasty bbq. i was not worried, but that morning i woke up wanting to go back to bed. my sister sent me an sms very early knowing i was waking up early too to pick up my in-laws telling me that i should measure my blood pressure just to keep an eye on it until the delivery on wednesday… she knew i had no more appointments until then so as a doctor herself her advice was very clear. as he went into the coffee place i decided to go to the pharmacy and have that blood pressure measured… as the nurse measured it and his eyes become worried i felt a small panic inside… “maybe you should call your doctor…” i did… “stay calm… get someone to drive you to the hospital asap and i’ll be right there” i cried… there was no one to drive me… i drove myself to the hospital with a very high blood pressure, two babies kicking and tears swelling up in my eyes… while i drove, he made a few calls and his parents who were already waiting for us at the airport were picked up by someone else and found out in their first moments in lisbon that they’re 5th and 6th grandchildren were about to be born.

as i parked the car in a non-parking zone and walked slowly to the EMERGENCY entrance at the São Francisco Xavier Maternity Ward in Lisbon i felt better, someone feeling them move and kick made me know we were ok. the three of us.

the doctor that received me was not the onw i was witing for… in a public hospital you can’t really chose… so i took it as it came. she meassured my blood pressure confirming it was too high. she decided that i should calm down a bit before deciding to deliver the babies and with that deciding also to do one last ecography to see if everything was ok.

it was then that my sister walked in and held my hand. things weren’t supposed to be this way but it took about 5 long minutes of silence, 2 more minutes of calling another doctor and a very long sigh… “one baby hasn’t survived” i heard… i’m sure my heart skipped a few beats. my sister, doctor as she is but more importantly my sister, gasped, cried, and left to not make me nervous. i yelled to her not to tell him… and i told the doctor ignorant as i alsways have been in medicine… “it’s not true. they’re both alive… but if i’m wrong, please get my little bosy out” no one had told me they were boys, but i knew it, for 37 long weeks i knew they were boys… two… two alive little boys. but i’m not a doctor, just a pregnat woman speaking as afraid as she’s ever been. tears ran down my cheeks slowly and quietly and a silent prayer was said. i felt the kicks still and secretly hoped the doctor was wrong. another 2 minutes went by that seemed so long until i hear “no… it’s here, it’s here. they’re both alive”, no excitement, no happiness but a beating tiny heart making all the noise it could to make mommy know everything was going to be ok.

after that everything went a bit too quickly eventhough i had to lay down for about 20mins in order to slow down my blood pressure and be ready to deliver the babies in a c-section.

i didn’t tell him straight away, i let him not worry about it until the day after. so i went into this surgery room hoping i’d leave it with two perfect little boys that would be as beautiful as he was… at least to me.

c-section isn’t something i’d chose myself, but i believed and still do that mother’s in labor should suffer the least in order to give their best afterwards. in case of twins, if one delivery can strain you, two is just crazy. i didn’t give much thought, i wanted them out, clean and smelling of CHICCO products, no matter how they got there. but… if i can be totally honest a c-section is a traumatizing occasion. i hated it. i felt as if they were just plainly shaking my body back and forth, i felt nauseous, dizzy, tired and i admit, afraid. not feeling almost your whole body is a horrible experience… until… until you hear that cry.

matteo arrived first right at 13:01, just in time for mommy to skip lunch and there for helping me lose weight… he cried, not loud, but still a powerful cry. Federico arrived three minutes later at 13:04, crying the same tiny, quiet but beautiful sound. this time tears fell again but my heart pounded so much stronger! they were here… just a meter away from me… they were alive. i kept thinking they’d die riht away, thinking that because they couldn’t find a heartbeat that someone they were born with some defection in their hearts…

i cried a lot, silently, watching the nurses clean and dress them, but it wasn’t until they brought them to me, and laid them in my arms that i realized there was nothing to cry about, nothing to be afraid, they needed me and i was ready, whatever came our way i was there. they were finally here… my tiny little boys.

the three of us “lived” together still by ourselves for another two hours, and in those two hours i talked to them constantly, reminding them who i was, what was about to happen and how i wished the best in the world. they were the most perfect little boys and i was the happiest and most fullfilled woman on the planet at that moment. at least until he saw them and named them… then yes, i was done. everything i ever wanted was there… the pain was gone, the fright relieved, and worriness diluted… at least for then. and he was in love.

three days later we went home, from that moment on we were a family, learning everyday, together and for eachother.

i will never forget the day you were born my bunnies and no matter how scared i was deep inside i knew it couldn’t be true. sometimes instinct is all that keeps you focused. trust it… always.


1 year!

10… 11!

it’s not that the 10th months of their lives doesn’t deserve a post of it’s own, but when i realised it was already too late… it went by not quickly but full of so many things that i couldn’t keep up!

it was their first month when they were sick, they had had a cough or so before, a fever a few times but never long and this time it came crashing down on them, to the point of resisting antibiotics. i hate them specially thinking about using them on little babies, of ocurse i wouldn’t be such an idiot if they had to use it, but risting is a priority to me… but we arrived to a point of doing something other european parents never think of… the malaria test! we tried not thinking of it too much but it’s necessary, and it was negative, thank goodness. of course deep inside i thought it couldn’t be positive, but it’s awful to hear their litle cries and realize that you wish you didn’t have to hurt them and live in a place where these diseases don’t exist. so, i cried too with them and hated that feeling because i’m supposed to tell them “it’s ok” and believe it… but for the first time in their lives i realised that i don’t know if it’s going to be ok all the time… i just wish as hard as them that it will.

we spent a few nights not sleeping very well, between feeding them light things and watching not want to play so long, and helping them breath with air masks and holding them for hours because they really needed to be cuddled and held close to our hearts. it went on for a while and a lot of cough syrup, a lot of aerosol machine noises, but they came ou perfectly well and in the end we know they had a “bronquiolite”, someone please trasnlate this is other languages because i sure have no clue what it is in dutch!

anyway to compensate this as soon as they were better their grandmother came to visit and brought them new shoes making them a lot more eager to stand up and hold on to the dvd collection bookcase and trying to get them out and decide for us which movie we’d see. they were slowly understanding how to reach things higher than themselves and how to get around the room… but crawling… that seemed ages from them!

by the time they were on their 11th month we took a weekend off to Ponta do Ouro and relax with our Mozambican “family” and enjoy what might be the last real summer weekend before the african cold comes around. Mila made sure these boys grew up quickly and made up for their ill days. because she, at 19months old, moves and walks and runs like the wind, these little boys didn’t know what was happening but i«m sure it was because of her energy and that good weather and that amazing beach that made them realize that the world is yet to be discovered!!! so… three days with her and by the time we were home i set them down on the wooden floor as i unpacked their bag from the weekend and off they went, crawling like never bef they had been wound up for a few days and were now crawling for the time they had spent not crawling. and they’re FAST!!!! we can’t keep up, and after 2 hours of running after them and saying things like “no!”, “don’t touch that!”, “not the shoes!”, “not the electrical wires!”, “no, no, no!” we gave up… we jsut let them go and wonder what they do next. somethings they have learnt not to do or touch, but others like computer wires and computers in general are too temptive. they basically explore everything and anything, so from this last month, every toom that is forbidden has the door closed, every cupboard with detergents, plates, pans, toiletries, anything is closed at all times. the kitchen is a NO NO zone and they somehow understand it when they’re already 1m away from the door, other rooms no matter how much we try to explain, they still go stright for it. and where one bunny goes, the other one follows. always! M. tends to be the leading man, he talks ALL THE TIME and it’s almost as if he’s talking to F. explaining what new adventure they’ll go on next, they make a line and off they go. one stands up, the other stands up, one picks up a shoe on the way, the other tries to get to the shoe too, one choses one dvd, the other choses another, and so on…

it’s a lot of fun. ok… also a hell of a job, but we love it in the end. because no matter how exhausting they make us, or themselves they alwasy collapse in our arms at night and know just how to become the perfect, quiet, still little boys they were born as. and i love silence, actually i don’t but now i do!

what else? oh yes, new foods have arrived, beans, bread (it took my a while to give it to them… seeing how much i love bread and how much it has given me, i wanted my kids to wait), fruit juices (again, unnecessary sugars), minced meat, a bit of ice cream (oops), one or two french fries (oops again), pizza (they say once they’re 1 they can eat anything… what’s 2 weeks going to change anything?? trying to make them have dinner at the dinner table has been a challenge, i try but i’m so lazy. so we end up giving them their dinner watching “toy story” so they can stay still… because if you’re not careful they’ll be inside the bathtub in one second! it’s a challenge.

and what can i say… they’re growing… and it’s so nice to watch from such a close angle. and hear sounds that almost make sense but only they get it and we pretend to our friends that we’re experts in it, but what do we know? ppfff!

in 17 days we’re off to lisbon and milan for a deserved holiday and 2birthday celebrations (we’re this type of family), one with PARABÉNS and another with AUGURI… soon another with GELUKKIGE VERJAARDAG  hopefully. it’ll be an experience, besides plane rides… and my babies will turn into little boys!

it’s my fault

he’s dying and it’s my fault

i’m making him cry at night

and his heart hurts everytime i pick up the phone

i could blame someone else but i shouldn’t…

it’s me

he will die soon and i’ll be too far from him

i’ll hold his hand but he’ll die without me

i could blame someone else but i shouldn’t

his voice on the phone aches,

his voice pleads me to come closer

i stay

i struggle

and as if in a dream i want to run but my legs don’t move

i want to hold him but my hands are tied up somewhere i can’t quite see

i could blame someone else but i shouldn’t

if we blame we hurt

if we blame we cry

if we blame we bleeds

we watch and become small

the evil heart turns us into evil people

i am dying myself but they keep me up

he will die and it’s my fault

i can’t hold him up ’cause i’ve given up

i could blame someone else but i shouldn’t

he says it’s not right so it’s me… it’s me killling him… slowly and from so far

products that work 005

now this little thing it MARVELOUS!!!!

as we start slowly moving the babies to the adult dining table and pretending we can all eat without having food fly around, we use this marvelous thing. it’s not a potty. it’s a chair in the shape of a potty. with something in between their legs to keep babies from just getting out. it’s soft, confortable, safe, fun, and portable!!!!!

my babies have used it since their first REAL FOOD meal and have ever since have their lunch and dinner on it. they love it, they move in it safely and just look like little men.

i recommend it to every mother-to-be and to every friend of a mother-to-be. it’s perfect. it works.