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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.


Buying expat stuff in Brasil

I’m not dead (well I’m sick and super tired, but not dead).  I’m just in the US, and have been for like a month now, letting our monkey visit the grandparents and great grand parents (and well doing a lot of flying for work).

And after a month, I realize while it’s nice to see the family I miss Brasil.  It’s grown on me.  I miss being able to walk to the stores, and buying fresh veggies and bread.  I miss the “Brasil” of it.  Of course while in Brasil, all I could dream about was all of the things from the US I missed.

It’s funny, I never bought sparkling pomegranate juice in the US, but now that I can’t find it for $3.50 in every store, I want it! I rarely ate cheddar, because I’m a havarti, muenster, jack fan, but now I want it, and I want to eat mac n’ cheese!  I also want havarti, muenster and jack, but they don’t have that in Brasil.  It reminds you of home, when the flavor hits your tongue you remember more than just food, you remember the place.  Cherry Caprisun reminds me of sitting on the edge of a hotel bed in Germany as a 7 year old… not that I like it, or drink it EVER, but every now and again I want to be taken back to Germany. Kind of like feijoada for my husband.  Even though my nanny swears she loves my black beans, my husband complains because it’s too American, not feijoada!  And now that I’m in the US, I want my morning Pão, and cooking everything with loads of garlic.  I miss food and baked goods made from scratch not a mix (gasp! I know, but I’ve really gained an appreciation for REAL cooking).

With that being said, here’s my list of the foods expats (American) miss the most:

Cheddar cheese: I’ve seen it at Pao de Acucar in Brooklin Paulista, and bought it (R$88 a kilo!) because I wanted mac n; cheese. I have also found it at the CEAGSP cheese stands.  Neither consistently.

Chocolate chips: They do have them here. Chocorob in Brooklin has it for R$5 for 250 grams.  It’s a bit waxy and not creamy like the good stuff in the US.  But I just buy the bars of Garoto chocolate they sell and chop it up, white, dark, semi-sweet, milk, it’s all really good.  If you get Crocante, you get the nice little toffee with the chocolate, and it’s better than a Hershey bar any day.

Corn syrup: My Pao de Acucar doesn’t have it, but my friend in Morumbi says Karo is in the same section as the honey.  I buy it for a tiny jar at Chocorob because I don’t cook with it that often ever.

Agave Syrup: They sell it and it’s expensive as is Maple Syrup.  I bring both of this in from the US, as a bottle usually lasts me about a year, so Merry Christmas to me… and I do buy the BIG bottles 🙂

Mexican Spices: I’ve found them, although they’re not cheap.  Same thing with Lemon Pepper.  It’s just a matter of learning what they call things. Like Nutmeg, it doesn’t come ground, but I’ve learned to love the freshness of grating my own nutmeg!

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake: R$65 at Sam’s Club. I’d rather just make Cheesecake from scratch, and never really ate it anyways.

They do sell small avocados here, and they’re not sweet, they’re perfect for making guacamole.  The big ones are too sweet for my liking. It did piss me off to find Avocados for .44 at Walmart here…. in the snow… when they’re like R$5 a kilo back in the tropics of Brasil.

Everything else you want, you’ve got to make yourself.  Brasil isn’t like the US where you can buy everything pre-made. If you want black beans, you cook it from scratch. You want diced tomatoes with spices, you can buy a can of whole tomatoes (though most boil the tomatoes themselves) dice it and add your spices. That goes for rotel tomatoes. You want them, then boil the diced tomatoes, chop up some hot peppers, and add a bit of salt, boil, and you’ve got something pretty close. There are not huge sections of canned veggies and fruit, or ready made dinners.  Which is good as canned food is bad for you anyway right?

Tortillas are pretty much Wrap 10s, and they’re not that great if you like REAL tortillas… and if you do, well learn to make them yourself.. and give up on corn tortillas all together.

You want chicken broth, substitute their bouillon cubes, or boil yourself a chicken! I usually buy Swanson flavor packets, as they’ve got a great brothy flavor, but are just packets so easy to bring a bunch in the suitcase.  I’m too lazy to boil a whole chicken to get that yummy broth.

Things I have yet to find:

Clorox Wipes: I’ve seen a “how to make your own” online, but they don’t have the same super sturdy paper towels here.

Cheap Toys: Well you can buy them in Centro, but they’re “cheap” as well; you know ala China. Cool toys are more expensive here. So I’m loading up during the holidays for future birthdays.

Bath and Body Works: If you’re into room sprays, I would bring them over from Bath & Body Works, as they are super cheap during their sales. And all the smelly stuff is either lavender or something else yucky, or super expensive fancy stuff.  Like hand soap, if you want nice you go to L’Octainne (which I like) but would rather put out some froofy B&BW pump soap.

The Jeito of Water

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So there have been some public workers in front of our house for the past few days.  2 days ago we got a call and a flyer noting that the water would be turned off for a full day and a half. In the US this would be unthinkable, because if the water is off.. the WATER IS OFF.  In fact growing up on the island of Hawaii, all I learned in elementary school was how to make conserve water posters for the state art competition (seriously don’t ask me what else I learned). So I’m already pretty paranoid about using a lot of water and being wasteful… your neighbors would turn you in if you watered your lawn on a “non water day.”

Here in Brazil though, most houses have a backup water supply on the roof. So we were all set.  It was more, please use a little water and don’t do the wash. My husband (and I’m sure most of the other tenants here) would have gone nuts without the morning shower if the water was truly off.  Today, exactly at 10am, my husband insisted I start the load of wash, he insisted he didn’t see any of the men at work, and the water should now be on for us.  I was hesitant, in fact this whole time I’ve been trying to conserve as much water as possible, fearful that all of the other people won’t be able to flush their toilets.  Hubby and nanny have not been as fearful, they’ve got the true jeito going on.

So today, as my load is running we get a call, “Hey water’s not on yet, water is really being used a lot and we only have half a tank of water left and it’s going fast.”  OH CRAP! My load of wash just took down the building! I knew it, I should have waited longer till I got an all clear sign, I’m a horrible wasteful American.  These are the thoughts streaming through my naive little head.

My husband and maid laugh. Turns out she (super plugged into the building gossip this one) heard the building maid or something and the Portero talking about how everyone in the building was acting like everything was normal the entire time and using a ton of water.  He wasn’t singling me out, he was just calling everyone to let them know.

So moral is, everyone is in it for themselves.  Get your water while you can, because if you don’t use it someone else will.

Patents, inventions, and crazy priests…

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Thank’s to this comment I read this article, and was amazed, wow this Priest was a pioneer in radio!

 Not sure if the comment was meant as sarcasm, but I really do love learning new things.  And I do think that countries tend to skew their history.  It was the one thing I remember most from high school, my World Geography/History teacher, Mrs. Johnson. She made us copy notes off of these giant sheets of paper, and we didn’t have a text book. She insisted that text books are rewritten by the views of the writers themselves, and didn’t want us to just have the “Anglo-Euro world view”. World history wasn’t just the European world. I wrote papers on great Chinese and Japanese “heroes”  and studied the tribal history of African tribes.  It’s probably the one class I remember from high school, years later.  It has also helped immensely with Jeopardy 😉

To the meat of this blog though. I thought there was real hope with this. I really had fun researching this, and learning all about the radio. I love Wikipedia like everyone, but let’s be fair, anyone can comment on it. This is why I usually try to double check the facts elsewhere.  Was this priest an inventor of radio?! Why have I not heard of him!

So the facts. I know Tesla was one of those radio guys (from various sci-fi shows I have watched, sad I know…sigh). And Marconi is a familiar name. I figured I should read up on these guys first.  Just that alone was fascinating.  The US Patent office, based on money and self interest, gave Marconi and then took away a patent for radio.  Because in the end Tesla had patented it first, just didn’t have as many connections.  You can read about that on  It was pretty interesting (and short reading).

But the main thing I got from this, is that there were slews of people before them, messing around with various ways of transmitting sound.  These two (namely Marconi) made money and isn’t that the way life is sometimes. It’s not what you invent, but what you invent that is marketable.

So what did this priest invent?

Well this is what:

So let’s be fair. Graham Bell in 1880 patetented a device called the photophone- a phone that didn’t require wires just “light beams”.. pretty cool, and this is the tech that’s used for fiberoptics today.

Robert Landell de Moura it seems used the same theories, but it was different enough that the US Patent office granted him a patent for his wireless phone. He also used light waves. I’m not geeky enough to see the difference between Bell’s and his.

What I do know is he was a priest, and sadly like most priests ahead of their time… and into science he was viewed and labeled a crazy heretic.  But at least he can proudly know that he now sits with the others religion labeled crazy, like Leonardo da Vinci right? 🙂  Moura really truly believed this was ground breaking science, that people would use it to talk to each other during interplanetary travel.  I’ve gotta say, he definitely got it right.  Had he been well connected like Marconi, or just a known scientist like Tesla he really may have gotten somewhere.  Unfortunately, he didn’t, and now he’s just another name in the books of people dabbling in transmitting sound.. like the Kentucky farmer Nathan Stubblefield.  It seems he was also the first person, by about 6 months to transmit the human voice.  So way to go Padre Moura… sorry you haven’t gotten more recognition.

I guess it just goes to show you, knowledge is only as good as what you do with it.

Look both ways… twice

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Some people really hate this about Sao Paulo… err Brazil in general.  You can’t cross the street and expect the cars to stop.  Pedestrians do not have the right away here.  I have a super cute adorable little ball of fofo- “cute” so people usually stop  out of courtesy.   In fact some nice old lady helped me carry groceries home the other day.  See aren’t Brazilian’s nice.

Well that is of course until they get behind the wheel.  They go flying through intersections.  If you are the pedestrian you had better look both ways and make sure there are no cars coming.  And if you see a motoboy, don’t even think about trying to beat him to the other side of the crosswalk, because he will get there first. AND he will definitely not stop.

I like this, no more lame pedestrians jumping into the cross walk making you stop and miss the next light.  Yeah, I suck, oh well.

So with that introduction to the laws of crossing the street in Brazil. I found this little site funny.  A crossing guard.

See how the guy is holding a VERY long pole with a STOP flag on the tip of it? Yep that’s right, even crossing guards here know better than to stand in the center of a crosswalk with a shiny orange vest and a stop sign.  They’re not taking any chances with their lives either.

A vist to the States

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I had to head up to Beverly Hills… and as I have a kid, I had to take him with me. Since this trip was not paid for by my husband’s company this time, I didn’t have the luxury of traveling with an extra seat… just me, the baby carrier, and the wild little monkey.  Oh how I missed my beautiful, lovely Sao Paulo.  Yes, that’s right, after a week in LA, I wanted to come home.

The trip to LA, wasn’t too bad.  I was lucky enough to have a bulk head seat, so I laid down a quilt and down went my son.  The mid-flight turbuelence  required that I pick him up and that did not sit well.  But seriously, bulkheads are the way to travel.  The trip back, I also got a bulkhead seat, and no turbuelence, and he slept like a dream.  But you don’t care about the ease of bulk head seats do you right?

So let’s see, all of the things I love and hate about America.

  1. Chicago has those new sanitary toilets that automatically change a plastic liner and those were pretty cool.  LAX is a big, ugly, dirty mess and doesn’t have any such pretty toilets, so -1 LA

Am I lame because I took a photo of it?

  1. United Airlines flight attendedants were pretty rude about letting me on the plane when boarding all of the mediallion/business class passengers.  Whatever happened to letting women with children on first.  I even explained that I was traveling alone, had a really heavy backpack, and was suffering from a case of food poisoning– still no go… in fact no-go rather rudely – 1 America – 10 United
  2. The lack of a culture who appreciate babies – 1 LA + 10 Brazil The old gma on the plane from LAX was so cold to my son, and I could hear her grumbling to her husband about how annoyed she was we blocked the “natural light” from the window whenever I breastfed him. My son cried for the first time ever on a plane -repeatedly.  The super nice Brasilian woman on the way home, smiled and made my son laugh and he was a dream. Shoot, even the German director who we flew up with from Sao Paulo was nicer than this old lady…and he’s a guy! She just gave that “I don’t like that you have a kid” vibe and my son was very perplexed by it.
  3. All the freaking stop signs in Beverly Hills -1 for each one of those things LA
  4. The lame LA driver who honked at me because I was turning left.  If you have such a problem with left turns, then get rid of them like Brasil has – 1 LA
  5. All the stupid people who want to turn left and make me have to try and guess if I should be in the right or left lane – 1 LA (irony I know)
  6. Cheap baby stuff, peanut butter, maple syrup, and BestBuy +10 LA
  7. The parking ticket I got in Beverly Hills for parking at 2am … so you know Beverly Hills is a no parking anywhere at night zone.. even if there aren’t any signs. I would give LA another minus, but Sao Paulo’s no parking signs aren’t much better. Zero
  8. LA Drivers, who think they’re good, but all have their knickers in a bunch – 1 LA Even if everyone says Sao Paulo drivers are crazy, they are just some how all at the same standard, no slow-poke, crazy drivers here.  If you are flying through the intersection, you offer a courtesy honk.  There’s no doubt should I stop for that pedestrian… they have to watch for you. There’s no doubt, will this car try and squeeze in even though I have the right away… they know you have the right away, there’s no false niceties here in Brasil. And I like it that way!
  9. I totally forgot how fancy the cars are here in LA.  I guess I’d gotten used to the fleet of grey hatchbacks in Sao Paulo that I was finally awed by the fleet of porches and mercedes. +1 LA
  10. My husband was in Brasil -1000 LA

On a separate note, only slightly related. Our flight from Brasil and on to LA was filled with Germany’s Next Top Model cycle 6 contestants.  You know how they say babies like perfect faces…it’s true. My son seriously stared them down.   Then again, my kid likes women 😉 On the flight from Chicago to LA I actually got an empty seat next to me, but again we were on the flight with models, and the one next to us was bringing back a head dress.  They had done their shoot for Carnival in Brasil, and she said she just bought it and wasn’t the winner.  I guess the winner got to ride one of the floats and wear the whole outfit.  It hasn’t aired yet, so I couldn’t see who it was.  She just slept the whole time, and my son may or may not have broken off a few beads.  The model across the isle was much nicer, and kept smiling and my son… why couldn’t she have sat next to me? All she had was a book!  Hope she wins, just for her being the nicer one, without the big headdress 😉

Beverly Hills Parking Tip

I stayed at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. It’s one of those boutique hotels.  All modern and trendy (the crib was completely made of metal… yeah clink, clink, clink is what I heard as the little beaver chipped away at the metal rails) and recently renovated.  Recent renovations means your room smells like new carpet, paint and resin.  Parking was $30 a night, so I opted to park on the street. I was usually out of the hotel by 6 am, and not home till after 11pm anyway.  However, as I mentioned above, if you park between 2am and 5am, you will get a ticket. I managed to avoid a ticket the first night, because it turns out the Avalon hotel is right on the border of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.  My first night, I had parked down Beverly between Pico and Olympic.  I didn’t get a ticket, as I guess I was on the “Los Angeles” side of Beverly (the street signs turn blue, and don’t have “Beverly Hills” on them).  So that’s my tip, if you don’t mind walking a block.

Also don’t eat at Houston’s in Century City… I got food poisoning something wicked there… the worst sickness of my life ever.  My little sister had to pack my luggage for me. I paid the baggage claim guy at LAX (who by the way was not so subtle with his “If you take care of me, I’ll take care of you”) to check me in at the counter, got LAX security to let me in the front of the line, and chugged Pedialyte and ate my son’s teething biscuits.

**Update** The LA County Health Department called me (I reported the food poisoning, because I’m like that okay?!) to report that they inspected Houston’s and they failed the inspection on the handling of their primerib meat… so yeah, it was totally their fault.

It’s all about perspective – settling in

I got a rather long, frustrated email from the husband today.  Do you remember in college, the night before an exam where you could feel your brain studying as you laid in bed? That restless, I need to solve this puzzle feeling is something that he constantly has with him.  From trying to find the right Portuguese words to express what he needs, to figuring out where in this large city called Sao Paulo we will finally call home, I think he is feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I am sure I will feel like this when I arrive to.  But sometimes you just need to change your perspective.  I recently purchased a Johnny Jump Up for the little monkey.  He was getting a bit whiny so I took him out and laid him on the floor for a second, so I could grab something. When I turned around he was laughing at the jumper swinging above him.  In fact, I think he loved it more than the jumping.

It’s the same way with Brasil.  Sure the car we will have to buy will be something we never would have bought before. Sure he is now selling the beautiful, new cooled and heated seat Lexus that he just bought a few months ago.  Yes, a nice Brazilian apartment isn’t of the same quality as a nice Los Angeles apartment. And yes, “broadband” internet does not translate into 10 MB speeds.

But if we stop trying to make Brasil be America and take a different perspective, I think some of our stress will disappear.  We are not expecting to drive the same luxury cars as we do in America. In fact, we should welcome not worrying about getting our car keyed, doored, or hit.  Shopping daily, and getting both fresh fruit and fresh baked bread will be a welcome change to the once a month shopping trips I tend to do now.  Sure the food items may be a bit more expensive sometimes, and I’ll have to shop more often. But acai, mango, avocado, and fresh bread will be well worth the extra shopping trips.

Yes, apartments do not come with any of the fixtures. We’ll need to buy new toilet seats, and most of the carpet, flooring, and paint are well worn.  But I look forward to finally being able to DO SOMETHING with my apartment and not worry about not being able to change anything due to a deposit.  This apartment can be a mini home… and with only an 18 month assignment we don’t have to worry about do something we “may get sick of too soon,” and can take some adventurous leaps in decorating.

So I think we are going to take the perspective of my son.  Sure maybe things aren’t quite how we want them to be, but we’re going to have a good time anyway!

What have you found that you have learned to love about Brasil??