Manta tying lessons, astonishing weight gain

36 weeks. Wow.

At my checkup yesterday, we found that I had put on three kilos in three weeks, which would freak me out in any other circumstances, but…  for the first time in the whole pregnancy it puts me into the “green zone” for weight gain: above the 25th percentile line, and still safely below the “way too much” line. Hooray!  Whatever position-changing magic act the baby has performed in the last week, his or her head is still downward so all is well.

At class, we all trekked upstairs and tried out different delivery positions for water birth, in the big tub (dry), which was fairly hilarious but also enlightening. There was also an extended discussion of poop (i.e., yes, during childbirth the baby’s head can squeeze poo out of you involuntarily– don’t worry about it!) which I (shockingly) understood almost all of. The lesson here is: if you want me to understand something in Spanish, figure out how to bring poo into the discussion.

Today, we had the internet tech in to fix the internet, which had been out for a day. This meant the whole gaggle of building ladies were in and out of the lobby and our apartment, along with the internet tech, with much heated and unintelligible debate. But whenever I’m in the room, the discussion turns to due dates and baby stuff. I’m getting good at this conversation, because I’ve had it so many times– you’d think this would get boring, but it’s really a fantastic way to pick up bits and pieces of the language. We established that yes, we’re due sometime around the new year, more or less, that we are currently at 36 weeks. The third maintenance lady, whose name I am deeply ashamed not to know, made an inquiry about a “colcha”. We had to consult the dictionary. It’s some kind of blanket or quilt. I dug out a couple of blanket-like things from my baby stash to see if we could clarify– the bombasí was not what she meant, and the hooded knit cotton thing was for baths, she said. I pulled out the manta we’d bought a while back and she brightened up. It was not a colcha or a colchita (the baby-sized version) but she showed me how it was supposed to be worn, and how to arrange it for carrying a baby Cusqueña-style , which was extremely helpful!

We knew that’s what it was for when we bought it, but it was such a small square I could not figure out how to tie the thing. She tied it diagonally, and instructed me to then use a diaper pin to secure the loose ends of the knot. The knot goes up on my shoulder and the body of the manta goes under the other arm. For the two dangling corners of the square, you tuck in the one closest to your body, and the other one can be used to cover up the baby.

I am not sure why everyone insists on covering up babies here. Most of the Lima ladies seem to carry them around smothered in blankets, so that you can only tell by the outline that there’s a kid in there at all. Is this to protect them from… chills? Smog? The germ-infested strangers who would otherwise think it’s ok to touch the baby without permission? It does not seem to be a modesty thing for nursing, which is done quite openly.