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Goodbye Brazil

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We flew out of Brazil for good on Friday night. That’s the end of things for us here. We’d been dreaming about the food of the US, the things we can buy, and all of our friends and family for weeks before.  My husband started perusing Costco’s website a month ago. I of course one up that behavior, shopping online so that I already had purchased items once I arrived in the US.

I took this photo awhile ago, as I knew it was the photo I wanted to use. In Hawaii when you’re done you say you are Pau! Friday end of day is Pau Hana time. In Portuguese Pau is wood, or well slang for the male anatomy. But in Hawaii it means you are done. So that we are, we are done with Brasil.

Everyone asks, “Oh what will you miss?”   And the thing is, in all honesty I don’t know if I’m going to miss anything that drastically.  The freshness  and the diversity of the fruit cannot be matched.  The convenience of bakeries and butcher shops on seemingly every corner are nice.  The bread’s delicious.  But then for me, when I weigh it against the sheer cost of living and the traffic, it kind of just washes out.  So the one true thing, I will truly miss about Brasil is Brasilianess of the people.  Brasil’s great love of children from strangers loving my kids, to preferential treatment everywhere.  Brasilians large hearts and social disposition is hard to match, and will truly be missed.

I would have said my son will miss his nanny most of all.  However, after a failed Visa interview last week, we got the good news this week.  Intensive prepping the days before we left Brasil for good, paid off.  She was approved for a Visa on Monday!  We put her through an Aupair program, so she will be able to join us in the US on the 23rd for the next year.  We’re so excited to share the US with her, and show her all the things that I always complained of missing.  She’s already in love with Big Red Gum, Oreos, and Clorox Wipes 🙂



Portuguese Word of the day- Garoa

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So if you plug garoa into google translate it translates it as drizzling.  As a resident of Sao Paulo for the past year, I can tell you that is an incorrect translation.  Sao Paulo seems some days to be in a constant state of garoa.  Garoa isn’t just drizzling, it’s more like a constant mist.  It’s lighter than any drizzle I’ve ever felt. It reminds me of the water that would hit me as I would stand next to the showers at the beach… or that mist you get sprayed with when standing near a waterfall.  Drizzle it is not.

All I know for sure now though, is that I could NEVER live in Seattle.  I am not a fan of garoa, or the grey skies that accompany it.

So I’m crazy (about natural births)

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But mostly I’m crazy in the eyes of most doctors in Brazil.  Since my husband is ever so sympathetic (sarcasm), I thought a Doula would be wonderful.  She could help inform me about what positions I should move into so I can help the birth move along, massage in the right spots, and generally keep things happy and moving a long. BIG Doula fan here <<——


So I went through the list of Doula’s in Sao Paulo, and emailed them in Portuguese in English searching for an English speaking Doula, and found two.  Raquel Olivia and Cris Toledano.  I also found GAMA and Ana Cristina a midwife (who from readings seems to be the other English speaking popular expat midwife in Sao Paulo other than Marcia from Prima Luz).  They told me that I needed my doctor’s approval… um okay that’s kind of weird… this is my birth, I can have whomever I want right?! ha, this is Brazil everything is mandated by some obscure law.  In fact in 2006 they passed a law saying hospitals had to allow a woman the right to have someone with her. Random right?  Albert Einstein in fact allows Doulas up until the birth part, and then they cannot participate.

So I had a list for my doctor on what she would let me do about natural (when I say natural she hears vaginal I’m sure).  I generally got the impression from the answers that my doctor has one idea in the back of her mind, and is totally happy telling me everything she thinks I want to hear… my husband says I’m a crazy hormonal, paranoid pregnant woman…. maybe, we will see.

Here are my questions:

  1. Can I have a Doula? I only work with Midwives (that’s the Brazilian way of making it hard on me, and the short answer is no).  Marcia Koifmann was out of town, and Ana Cristina only delivers at Sao Luiz… So meeting my doctor’s midwives at my next appt.  Good thing I have super expat insurance.
  2. How many days over can I go? 10 days over, and I have to meet with her ever 2 days
  3. If my water breaks how many hours before I have to be induced? 12 hours
  4. Do I have to stay in bed during labor? Only if i get an epidural (I think she missed the natural part)
  5. Mandatory fetal monitoring? Only after epidural, otherwise every 15
  6. Can I eat once admitted? Yes eating and drinking until you get the epidural.. again with the epidural.
  7. Enema? Nope
  8. Can I keep the baby with me after birth?  30 minutes of bonding time, and then 4 hours where neither you or the father can be with them other than looking through a glass window!
  9. What tests and procedures are done? Vitamin K, Hep B and TB, hearing, and genetic blood test
  10. What do you put in the baby’s eyes? Silver Nitrate, and regular antibiotics are not an option… for the record the US switched to antibiotics like 10 years ago…tho Sao Luiz said something about lasers???
  11. When will you show up? When you are 7cm.  Midwife when you get to the hospital.
  12. How will you bill us? We will quote you up front, then send you the bill after birth and you have 1 week to pay it all, then submit to your insurance for reimbursement
  13. What about the baby pediatrician? If you can get the neonatalagist to sign off on it and take responsibility should something happens, sure (again Brasilian no there).
  14. How long is the hospital stay? 2-3 days (google translated link here from Einstein showing a 3 day package)
  15. Does that increase with C-section? Nope- 3 days.
  16. Will you wait to clamp the cord if I want? Yes
  17. Do I have to use stirrups and lay on a surgical bed? Umm yes it’s the only way. In fact, she looked at me like I was speaking Chinese…. yes people you can deliver a baby in other positions. Like maybe I want to stand on my head or something, heck if I know what I’ll feel like, but I don’t want to be told I can’t… I’m a bit stubborn.

The reality is my husband is not into natural births.  He thinks I’m a granola eating nut job.  I’m actually doing hypnobabies home study right now, so we’ll see how effective that is… and yes maybe I’m a nut job. But my mom had 5 kids naturally and said it was no big deal…. so I’ve got to be able to do this.

I have to say after the above conversation I am even more invested in making sure I have this birth 100% natural.  There’s now a level of stubborn pride attached to this whole birthing in Brasil adventure.  Either way, I’m not meeting all of her Midwives (4 of em, 2 speak English, and one REALLY speaks English), so hopefully my paranoia will dissipate.  The first Midwife pointed out that all of the women in the public hospitals have babies naturally. . .

*UPDATE* I get a lot of questions from individuals on this, so I assume like me it is a hotly Googled topic.  Deleting cleaning up some of my old files of baby prep in Brazil I found the following links on natural childbirth that I found useful … and hope you do it.  I left in Google Translate to English for everyone’s convenience.

Pizza! Za.. Za. Za.

Love the stuff, crave the stuff, but am usually let down here.  It’s different, and unless you like real olives, you may not like every pizza they have here.  Thinks CPK, where they throw random things like boiled eggs and fresh spinach on the pizza pies. The crusts are all thing and crispy, and a nice chewy one is rare.  Heck, they’ve gotten to me, I’ve added green beans and carrots to pizzas I’ve made at home.  The throw everything and anything on a pizza way here has gotten to me finally.  However, I still crave American style pizza.

Thus why we were pleasantly delighted with our Pizza from Speranza, simple, doughy pizza.

Our neighborhood Recycle Man

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Sorry for the bad photo, best angle I could get

All neighborhoods have them, they probably have a few (it seems we do).  When we first moved here, I looked out our window and saw a large dumpster in the street (across the street was doing construction).  Some guys came and went through the bin, VERY thoroughly and took everything recyclable or semi usable out.  They were pulling hand carts, and my lil’ American mind thought, oh how interesting the government recycling guys.

So now that I’ve been here longer, I’m a little more aware.  These are the guys I always saw in downtown LA or at the beaches in Hawaii digging for plastic bottles and cans to recycle.  Except these guys take it to the Brazilian extreme. They’ve got the jeito going on.

See, our building even asks us to separate out our recyclables and I think sets them out for these guys.  I’ve noticed around town, all of the cardboard laid out for these guys.  Businesses hand them their boxes for them to recycle it.  It’s not just dumpster diving, they’ve got a symbiotic relationship going on with those with money.

I feel bad, as really how much could they be pulling in with recycling, compared to how much they’re pulling around on these handcarts.  But I also really respect them, and others who go out and try and find a way to make money.

So exactly when are we going to be mugged?

I think that’s the question on most of our family’s minds.  They told us not to go, it was too dangerous.  Let’s face it, there are some scary things that happen here in Brasil.  While in Utah on the international page of the newspaper I happened upon an article noting how a judge was killed in broad daylight by 8 dirty cops (they’d taken over the Favelas from the drug lords and were running it mafia style).  Anyway, people ask all the time how safe is Brasil? Can you drive down the street with your windows open? Can you walk anywhere? Have you been mugged?  I’ve been told by people that you never walk anywhere, it’s too dangerous.  And to all of that, I laugh.  Maybe I’m naive, but I tend to think that my odds in life are good.  I will walk to the store at 9pm at night.  I drive with my car window down, and I take photos all over Sao Paulo with my smart phone.  I’ve even been known to flash a 50 at the feira. 🙂

from Aljazeera

This morning (6am ish) we awoke to 2 gunshots.  Followed by a very very loud shouting match between what sounded like a husband and wife, and then some other guy (to which they all silenced down).  Fairly sure some angry guy shot off a gun in his house, thus the sudden eruption in yelling.  We couldn’t figure out where the sounds were coming from, as there are so many complexes around us, but it happened, it was interesting, and it made us laugh. And yes they were gunshots, we know what they sound like.  So it made me think, how dangerous is Brasil really? Even with gunshot sounds, my husband and I were more curious WHAT the fight was about then that someone shot a gun.

See the thing about Brasil is it is dangerous.  I would be unrealistic and lying if I didn’t type it out.

But when you think about this mega-city you don’t think of small town life, but it’s here.  If we took my mother in law and put her in downtown Los Angeles, she’d have the same stories of fear and death that I hear from the average Brasilian.  It also doesn’t help that the media here loves plastering bloody shot up corpses on their front page (sensational much). Brasilians are close, walking home I get accosted by random grandmas and grandpas all the time that just want to chat.  The last time some old guy approached me in LA he smelt of beer and urine.  People here are connected at a level that you don’t see in the big cities of the US, and with that comes sharing of stories… so I do think there is some exaggeration going on to a small extent.

They also live REALLY REALLY close to everyone, kind of like downtown Los Angeles.  See in downtown Los Angeles all the wine drinking yuppies with their teeny house dogs live just a few streets over from all the whino, druggies, with their tents and cardboard boxes.  The closeness means, the rich encounter the poor on a daily basis.  Unlike the rest of California, where those in Beverly Hills can feel nice and secure in their happy little utopia, as they know all of the “trouble” is freeways away in South Central.  Sao Paulo is like downtown Los Angeles, with favelas smashed up against the homes of the super rich…. you get all close and chummy like that rich folk are going to have bad things happen to them… those same bad things that probably happen to most poor folk in South Central.  Except if you’re rich and something happens to you, you’re going to exaggerate it 100% over because “things like that just shouldn’t happen to people like me.”


The interior.. interior. Altos and Floriano

My son’s favorite person in the world- “Inha” is from Altos, and is spending the next 3 weeks on vacation with her family, which coincides with our trip.  This was great, because after about a week without Inha, he was picking up the TV remote and saying “hello Inha” “hello?”

We got Inha’s address and googled it, only to discover that the town is so small it is only on Google Maps by name, none of the streets are viewable.  Heck, some of the streets were all dirt and grass.

Most of the houses are simple brick with concrete floors, the yards are usually large, swept, fenced-in dirt.  Everyone has fruit trees, the types of fruits that are rare in Sao Paulo, like acerola, caju, rose mango and one’s I don’t even know! It was a fun taste fest.  There were also chickens roaming the streets, but I was told everyone knows which chickens are theirs, and they always come home.  And they did, even after my son chased them all out of the backyard.

We visited several of my husband’s friends in Altos, and my son visited the water hose.  As the extreme heat was getting to him…even though he was only running around in slippers an a diaper

 The next morning we drove into Floriano.  Floriano was a bit more city and a lot more hot.  These streets were mostly paved or stone, and the houses had tile flooring, but I was still amazed that the roofs were the tile roofs you see in Brazil, with the red stone tile. I guess it doesn’t rain up here like it does in Sao Paulo, otherwise life would be very wet for them.

We spent hours just visiting with Brazilians, me and my pathetic Portuguese.  By the end of the day, I found that I was actually understanding a lot better than I did before, and I was more apt to say something in Portuguese than in English… like “hey hon there are cars ahead” came out as “temos carros aquele” … I didn’t say that my Portuguese was good.