Friday, May 14, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I just finished watching this funny documentary by Chris Rock (my favorite black comedian of all time) called Good Hair. And while it focused primarily on black people's obsession with their hair, a lot of it hit home for me.

My hair has always been a source of love and hate for me. I have super fine, thin hair, but it's wavy. Trust me, that's a bad combo. Its just a step above thick and kinky.

To adequately manage it I have kept it short most of my life. I did try growing it long at various points in my life, but the curls would always get me in the end. On a good day they would be cute little ringlets that gently framed my face. On a bad day I was a frizz away from an afro.

In college I discovered that the perfect length for it was the severe cropped hair that Mia Farrow sports in Rosemary's Baby and I kept that hairstyle for a long time. The problem with that hair cut though is that it takes a very good hairstylist to cut it right, which most of the time means an expensive stylist. And it needs to get cut every 3 to 4 weeks. Which makes it a very expensive habit. Kind of like snorting crack. But I was addicted to the short hair and, while it ate up most of my teeny tiny salary, I would dutifully go to Rodger Craig's salon at the Manila Pen every 3 weeks to get my fix. Only an addict will spend 2,000++ on hair with a 10,000 pre-tax salary. Hahaha.

When John proposed marriage it gave me an excuse to try growing my hair out once more. I grew it a little too late in the game so in our wedding pictures you'll see me with a semi-bouffant hair-do which was really just my stylist's way of trying to manage my shoulder length curly mess. Needless to say I never took off my 15-foot long veil even if it meant it would get stepped on or torn, because I was afraid of what my hair would do during the reception.

When my hair was finally long enough I tried having it straightened. Or relaxed. On good days I'd look like a Pantene shampoo model (albeit a fat one). On bad days I looked like I was wearing a helmet or a wig. But regardless, I got addicted to straightening the same way I got addicted to short hair. Except now I'd spend 6,000 a month on my hair instead of 2,000. Fortunately I was making better money then.

And so the story goes. And my I continued to love my hair and hate it at the same time. It doesn't help that I have friends like Katcho who has the most beautiful, thick, glossy, straight hair that I have ever seen. Or that my husband also has beautiful, thick, glossy stick-straight hair --- so beautiful its a crime that its on the head of a guy. When I was pregnant with Pilar I spent 9 months praying that God would give her John's hair and not mine. Thankfully He answered my prayers. Since I have had more pressing things to pray for now that I'm pregnant with Olivia, I forgot to include her hair in my prayers, and if she comes out with thin curly hair I will have no one to blame but myself (and my dad) for cursing her with bad follicular genes. (It's ok Livie, Mommy will save money so that you can have your hair rebonded too when you're old enough).

When we started with the IVF treatments 2 years ago I had my long hair shorn off, because there was no way in hell I was exposing my fetuses to the chemicals that are in hair products. Oh well all know they're no good for us. The fact that the stylist applies it with gloves should be a clue. And the fact that my favorite stylist Edwin had to retire at the age of 42 because of respiratory problems caused by prolonged exposure to hair treatment chemicals should be an alarm bell type of thing.

When I found myself pregnant with Olivia I was planning to keep the short do. Except that I figured that since I was on bed rest, there was no point in spending 3,000 a month on hair that no one but my husband (who loves me no matter what I look like), my child (who couldn't care less one way or the other) and my ob-gyn (who has seen the hair on my vah-jay-jay so what else can I keep from him?) would see.

So for the past 7 months my adversary has been growing on my head. At a very slow rate I might add. I now have what could be, at best, described as a curly mullet. I'd post pictures but I'm afraid Billy Ray Cyrus might call and want his hairstyle back.

But watching Chris Rock's documentary has helped me come to grips with my hair. It isn't the most wonderful hair, but it isn't the worst hair either. At least I have the option of cutting it short (although while the pixie cut was cute on me when I was 23 and 110 lbs, its not so becoming now that I'm 34 and ---- bigger), or letting it grow long. I have sworn though never to have it straightened or rebonded again. It's a little scary when you consider what goes into those straightening products.

Ah, who knows. In the same way that Supersize Me got me to swear off McDonalds for 2 months, you might see me next month with super straight hair that will obviously look like I wasn't born with.

Now I know why Samson had such issues when Delilah messed with his hair.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mother's talk

I never wanted to become a mother. I never even wanted to become a wife.

When I was 23 I promised my dad that I would never get married, and at the time I meant it. I was preparing to take my GREs, I had just finished taking my TOEFL and all I could think of was moving to another country and getting my master's degree.

When my friend Twinkle told me she was getting married, I spent long hours trying to convince her that it was a ridiculous idea. We were only 23 (well, she was 24)! The world was at our feet. She was supposed to go to law school, the same way I was supposed to get my MA. After her wedding reception a bunch of guy friends and I went out drinking and toasted our wonderful single-ness and vowed to never let ourselves get caught in the same trap.

Then 6 months later I met John. At first there was no cause for alarm. He was a die-hard bachelor who had never had a serious girlfriend. On our 3rd date he told me that if I was the kind of girl that just wanted to get married and have babies then may be I should date someone else. Because he wanted to get married at 40, if he ever did decide to get married. I told him that by the time he was 40 I'd be 33, so that would be perfect because I didn't want to get married either, and by then I'd be old enough just to be his live-in girlfriend without killing my parents.

Three months later he proposed. I don't know who was more surprised by the words that came out of his mouth, me or him. Or by the fact that I actually said yes.

A year later I found myself married, but at least we both agreed that we didn't want to have kids. At least not right away.

After a year of marriage we decided that we would "casually" try to have children, thinking to ourselves: "how hard could it be?". A year later we found out just how hard.

Nothing makes you want children more than finding out that you can't have any. At least not in the easy, normal way that other people could.

So we got on the 3 year roller coaster ride that was our (well, more like "my" really) life on fertility medication. First we tried the oral drugs, but those only caused more cysts on my ovaries --- none of which resulted in a viable egg. We switched doctors. And then again. Until we finally met Greg. Then the shots in ass started. And oh what fun they were. But at the end of it all, I finally developed 5 eggs. Which promptly started dying. One by one. By the end of our cycle we only had 1 left. And Greg was doubtful that it would get fertilized. He recommended that we do artificial insemination, just to increase our chances of fertilization. So I got the turkey baster up the wazoo --- and when we got home from the clinic that night, we did it the old fashioned way. Just in case.

2 weeks later they said the words we never thought we'd ever hear: you're pregnant. Followed by: now you have to go on bed rest. For the next 9 months.

The next 35 weeks were the most beautiful, harrowing, nerve wracking, fantastic 35 weeks of my life. I was hospitalized twice. Once when I started bleeding for no reason and almost expelled the little embryo that was growing inside me. Another when the placenta partially detached itself from my uterus and almost caused us to bleed out again. On my 35th week check-up Greg saw that my placenta had started shriveling and was threatening the baby, so he delivered me via c-section the next day.

On November 13, 2004, I met the person who changed my life. Forever.

Pilar Zita T. Medina, 10:54 a.m. November 13, 2004. 6 lbs. 4 oz. 18 in.

Changed it so much that 3 years after she was born I quit the job I loved so that I could be with her all the time.

I am now Mother. And I can't imagine not having wanted to be this person. Because I am a better person now for having had her, for knowing her, and for helping her grow. I am now the person that I know God has always wanted me to be. Far from perfect, but always struggling to be better --- so that I can help her be the best person that she can be, whoever that is 15-20 years from now.

She has shown me how much love there is to be found in the tight embrace of arms that can barely enfold you. In hands so small they fit in your palm. In the sweet breath that blows against your face at night when someone snuggles up close.

So much love. So much that I found myself wanting more. Willing to go through the shots in the ass, the turkey baster, the petri-dish, the catheter.

I was blessed to hear those magical words: you are pregnant, 3 more times. Never losing hope, even when two of those magical times ended so abruptly, with so much pain and loss.

Soon we will be meeting the next person who will change our lives. Forever.

And I will tell her, "you know, I never wanted to become a mother. But may be that's only because we've never met. Not until today. But today I know I have always wanted to be yours."