While most of my pregnancy with Quinn was here in Costa Rica (we were in language school, remember that year? ) this pregnancy has been even more Costa Rican, if that makes sense. We live here now. We have friends here, close friends. My doctor this time around is Tico. It just feels more Tico. Add to that the fact that this baby will be born here (Quinn was born stateside) it's just been different.
There are subtle differences in how the culture approaches pregnancy. For example: Ticos have absolutely no qualms about touching a pregnant belly. No thought at all. I am not a touchy person to begin with and then to have 25 year old guys (yes, guys do it all the time!) rubbing my belly, well...it's just strange.
Something else I've noticed that is so very different is people don't ask how I am doing, they ask how the baby is doing. The conversation typically goes something like this
I walk into a room
Tico friend:"How's the baby today?"
Which I never really know what to say.
"Ummm, she's fine?"
"Ummm, she really like dinner last night?"
I don't know. I usually just say "she's growing!"
I think this points to a very big difference in how children are viewed in this culture. Here, they are cherished and loved, to a fault some times. As in when one of mine throws a fit, someone is usually there to give them a piece of candy or a cookie to keep them from crying.
Kids aren't considered an inconvenience or annoyance. We feel this even in the airports as we travel back and forth. If we are sitting at the gate waiting to board a flight in Latin America, our kids get help putting shoes on, they are given cookies by strangers, no one bats an eye when one cries or gets wiggly. That help and grace continues though the flight, but once we hit the ground in the US, the attitude is totally different. Children are viewed as an inconvenience and people often give us looks and rolled eyes. It's so striking the difference. I've even heard people say in the US things like "kids shouldn't even be allowed on airplanes." Here, if you have an infant with you, you are usually bumped to the front of whatever line you are in.
Everyone asks me if the baby is a boy or girl and once they find out it's a girl, they immediately want to know her name. As in the doctor asked me this last week so he could write it down in my medical records. I've heard him call babies by their name while he's doing the ultrasounds. I mentioned to a friend that one of our boys was a couple hours old before he had a name and look of shock on her face was priceless! She said "OH!! You CAN NOT do that to your daughter!!"
Nombre Bebé: Baby's Name
For the record, we haven't settled on a name just yet, and I doubt we'll share it before this little one is born, but you never know, we might cave to cultural norms here.
Speaking of cultural norms...earrings. Yeah, here they do it at the hospital within the first 24 hours or so. It was comical to me when I asked on Facebook for moms' opinions on this cultural custom. Most of the responses were from friends and family in the States and the overwhelming response was "DON"T DO IT! Let her choose." The response from my Tica friends was "DO IT! It won't be as painful and she won't remember the pain. Plus she's a girl!" I am not sure I've ever seen a little Tica without earrings. So we'll see, not sure what we'll end up deciding. This is defiantly ones of those "it's not right or wrong, it's just different" cultural things.
So you never know, after living here almost 5 years, you just might know this little girl's name well before she's born and she might end up with earrings within the first hours of her life.