What was your biggest pregnancy craving?
Being pregnant was something really amazing. You go through so many emotions in one day that it feels like a roll a coaster. One day you are up and another you are down. I had a spring/summer pregnancy and as you can imagine I was overheated all the times. One of my biggest cravings was of course ice cream. I could be eating ice cream all day long. I always blamed it on the heat. I really loved it, except the fact that I had nausea for the first 4 months.
What was your first thought when you saw Isabella for the first time?
When Isabella was born I remember the doctor saying ‘it’s a girl’. Then, she opened her mouth really big and started to cry really hard. When they held her close to me (I couldn’t hold her right away because I had a C section) I was the happiest person on this planet. At that moment I already knew how much I loved her. She was the most beautiful tiny little ‘monkey’ –that’s how we call her sometimes-. She is our absolute true love, she means everything to us. Alex and I can’t imagine our lives without her anymore.
What was it like when you first brought Isabella to daycare?
The first day I brought Isabella to daycare was very difficult. I didn’t want to leave her classroom and I cried a lot. I was very confused about going back to work. I didn’t want to leave my new born baby with women who I didn’t know. My separation anxiety was worse than hers. I finally made up my mind and decided that going back to work was better for all of us. I remember Jen B going with me to different daycare centers to help me pick the best one. She gave me her best advice and moral support which I needed so much at that time. The first days were very hard but I had lots of support from our families, friends at work and my boss who was very understanding. He used to tell me at lunch breaks, “Marie, go and see your baby and then come back to work whenever you are ready.”
First we had to go to a “temporary” daycare since the one we really wanted didn’t have a spot for us. After a few months of waiting, we finally got a phone call from our favorite daycare and we moved Isabella to her new school. We were very lucky to get into this daycare so quick. We think it was our “New Angel” who got us in. We really like it and are very happy having our baby at this place. Now we can take both girls to and from school. This helped Boris a lot.
Our little niece Claire -Jen and Boris’s daughter- is one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to get a spot at this place so badly. We all wanted our babies to be together in the same school for them to see each other every day and play. This daycare is only 4 minutes from our home which is really convenient for all of us. And since we live right across the street from Boris and Claire we can always help Boris to take and/or pick Claire from daycare anytime he needs us too.
How do you find the right balance for your work and personal life?
How do I find the right balance between …Having a newborn, going back to work, taking care of your home and trying to have a healthy relationship with your husband can be a challenge. But just like Jen B used to tell me, ‘if millions of women have done it before, then we can do it too’. The beginning of everything is always very rough but after a few days of repetition, you get into your own routine and things get easier. You get so practical that you start thinking you are ready for a second child. Life gets really busy but you just have to make time for yourself. At the end of the day when the babies are in bed, the bottles are ready for the next day, and I have already pampered myself with a meal, I just like to sit, relax and read some baby books.
How has your role as “Tia” changed since we lost Jen?
My role as ‘Tia’…Tia, that’s what Claire always calls me. Tia is the Spanish word for Aunt. It is something very special. I remember how Jen B just to repeat that word to Claire so she would pronounce it the right way. I have always been very close to Claire and I have always considered her as my own child. I have been with her since she was born and I am honored to pick up her care where my mentor left off. Without even knowing what the future would bring, I have been around them enough to love and care for this beautiful girl for as much as she needs me too. After our experience, I think we need Claire as much as she needs us. Jen and I were (and still are) very close. She is our “Newest Angel” and watches over us.
We usually keep Claire one night a week and sometimes during the weekends. We wish it was more often but you would not believe how busy a 3-year-old schedule can be between birthday parties and play dates with her friends. During the weekends we love to go to parks, libraries or play grounds. The girls really enjoy hanging together and we love the fact that they start seen each other as sisters. It is really magical to see how Isabella and Claire love each other so much. They like to play and hug when they are together. Claire is a sweet little cousin and sister to Isabella. The more I help with Claire the more I learn about how to manage an infant and a toddler together. The first nights were a little hard but now I can handle both of them in the same table, same bath and the same bed at the same time. And when it is time to go to bed everybody goes to their own room and believe it or not they listen to me! However, the fact that Claire is such an easy girl to take care of makes things a lot easier. She is the best niece of all. We love her very much and want to be there for her and Boris. We hope to treasure beautiful moments together with our babies.
How are you teaching Isabella and Claire Spanish, your native language?
If you don’t know me, you might not know that I am Mexican and my native language is Spanish. I try to speak Spanish to Claire and Isabella all the time when we are at home. We like to make silly noises by saying funny words or singing random songs in Spanish (poor little girls who have to listen to my singing, especially when we are driving). At nights we read books or sing lullaby songs in Spanish. I recall one day when I received a phone call from Jen B telling me that she really wanted me to only speak Spanish to her child. I told her that my English wasn’t very good anyway and that it was going to be very easy for me to follow her request. I can only imagine one day when Isabella and Claire walk around speaking fluent Spanish and they may be thinking that nobody will understand what they are saying. I promise I will keep their secrets!
What is your favorite piece of baby gear that you could not live without?
My favorite baby gear are my baby books (Baby bargains, What to expect the first year, The no-cry sleep solution, etc) I have found myself reading in the middle of the night looking for something that would make me understand why Isabella is fussy without any signs of anything. They help me understand so much about motherhood and my own baby. Sometimes I worry too much for something that is not really a big deal and I think that always happens more with your first child.
What is your favorite family activity?
I could not live without my family. My husband is my biggest inspiration. He is the kindest and most caring and loving person I have ever known. And my baby Isabella is my everything. They are the reason why the sun shines even when it is cloudy outside, they are the reason why I laugh just by looking at their silly pictures and the reason why at the end of the day I thank God for giving me the opportunity to enjoy them so much. I consider myself a very ordinary person but when it comes to know how lucky I am I know I am the luckiest person in this world for having the family I have.
We love to go out for buggy rides in our neighborhood after we pick the children up from school. Since Isabella is still very little and she is just learning to walk, it is a little difficult to do too many activities outside with her. We also like to go to parks and feed the ducks (even thought we are not supposed to). Anything that Isabella and Claire will enjoy. We spend a lot of time with our families, as you can imagine grandparents are crazy about these two little girls.
What is your favorite date-night spot?
As new parents Alex and I find ourselves not going out too much lately. We do like to go to the movies once in a while. We go out to dinner by the south area in Charlotte and like to sit outside to listen to any band playing some nice music. These days you find them everywhere in Charlotte.
Where is the best place to find clothes for Isabella?
I have been very lucky when it comes to clothes for Isabella. Almost everything that she wears is either something previously worn by Claire or something that someone gave her as a gift. I don’t think that I will ever need to buy any clothes for my child. However, I will say that I sometimes find myself paying at any baby store register for a bunch of clothes that certainly Isabella does not need at all. It is just too hard not to when all you see around the stores are these cute little outfits for baby girls. I really don’t have any favorite baby store but I personally like to go to Baby Gap which I think is a little overpriced for clothes that might be worn 5 or 6 times, tops.
Minivan or SUV?
We have and SUV but if you let me pick, I would go with the minivan. I think minivans have more space and electronics to keep the children happy. They are very comfortable and big enough for traveling.
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
The best thing about raising a family in Charlotte is the fact that we have family close by to help with anything that comes along. From a night out to staying late at work. We always have someone to rely on for help.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
The best kept secret in Charlotte is the live latin music at the Stonecrest shopping center on summer evenings. The music is hot but we have ice-cream to cool us off. Bring your kids. They will have a ball.
I wish someone told me sooner about…
I wish someone told me sooner about how wonderful it feels to have a baby girl look at you at the end of every day and raise her arms for you to lift her. Everything else pales in comparison.
I love the advice and the community that this web page has to offer. It is a true “Jewel” and an asset to Charlotte and the mommies in our city. As this web page blossoms, I feel a personal joy to see how something my best friend helped start. It has already touched so many women in our society.
Thank you Marie and thank you for being such a great Tia to Claire Bear.