On starting maternity leave

Last day in the office for a while. I'll miss my coworkers and the students.

A week ago, I woke up from a dream in the middle of the night. I don’t remember much about the dream except that my friend Gerry was in it and said something like, “Nope, those are real. You’re in labor.”

I laid in bed without waking Sean and wondered if the mild pains I was feeling were cramps from gas, Braxton Hicks, or very early labor.

The worrying began immediately. We were so not ready. The newborn and 0-3 month clothes gifted at the baby shower had not been washed, our hospital bag was 1/3 packed and the nursery was still in progress. He won’t be sleeping there for some time, but I figured we should move gifts out of the living room, take them out of boxes and put them together sooner rather than later. The apartment needed to be cleaned — can you tell my nesting instinct hadn’t kicked in yet? — and more.

The to-do list of things at home worried me, but I was more anxious about what would happen if I had to start my maternity leave a week earlier than planned. In the past month, I’ve been getting things ready for coworkers taking over different aspects of my job, but most of my notes and directions were still a work in progress. There’s only so much I could do a few months in advance. Plus, I had to balance preparing for my leave with normal duties during the quite busy early weeks of summer.

Eventually, I fell asleep. When I awoke in the morning I still had mild cramps but they went away before I left for my 37 week doctor’s appointment.


I’ve always stressed about leaving work before a vacation. I’m that person who makes sure to store files in DropBox and checks work email while away. I can’t help it. I have a tough time handing over my responsibilities. I feel a sense of ownership with my programs/students. I also work with great people and don’t want to leave anyone hanging. I’ll miss campus too as I’ve always loved the calmness during the summer. My best memories go back to the August I first arrived and met many of my closest friends. It’ll be the first time in 15 years I won’t be around campus in the early fall quarter.

Now that I’m leaving for a few months, I have mixed emotions. I’ll miss the office and my co-workers, but I also welcome the break and the chance to relax a little (maybe) before the baby gets here. When I set my last day a few months ago with HR, I didn’t know how I’d feel late in pregnancy. As the day drew closer, I thought about pushing it back a week since aside for some nausea I feel okay, can do my job without a problem, and am not in that “I’m so uncomfortable, this baby needs to be born already!” stage yet. However, after my dream and reminder that there’s so much to do, I knew I didn’t want to change the date. I want the time to relax, sleep in and get our home ready — if it works out that way.


Friday was my last day. My co-workers surprised me with some snacks and gifts mid-morning. Meatball now has his first UCLA Bruins onesie to go along with his collection of Dodger gear.

I spent the day leaving notes behind on my programs and tasks for the period while I’m gone. I was amused when some of the students in my programs told me to “enjoy [my] vacation.”

As co-workers left for the weekend, there were longer goodbyes than usual, hugs and requests to send lots of pictures. I stayed for a while since I still wasn’t ready and had more work to do. It was past 9 when I finally left.

I walked out feeling incredibly sad. I’ll miss the campus where I’ve spent all of my adult life. I’ll return, but as a different kind of adult.


Recent reads: The A list

Sometime late last year Lotería Chicana became all baby all the time — or at least when I updated every month or so. I didn’t intend for that, but pregnancy was the only new thing I felt like writing about. Everything else — even newlywed life — felt familiar. I actually wish I’d been writing more over the past 9 months even if just for myself. I’ll never get to experience this for the first time again.

Anyway, I could’ve blogged about other topics. First up: my recent reads.

I have a list in Google Drive with books I’d like to read. Some have been on there a long time and others were just added. Now that I can read without worrying that I may get motion sickness on the bus, I’ve been making some progress on my list. I also have the feeling that I won’t get much of a chance to read for fun in the near future. Recent reads:

A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez
Part travelogue and part essay on visiting Haiti after the earthquake. It’s saddening but leaves you with a sense of hope. I also like that it continues her theme of exploring immigrant life and borders.

Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez
YA fiction. It bugged me that she never mentioned the country Milly and Pablo are from, but I understand why she left it out.

Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite writers

Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories by Sherman Alexie
Alexie has been one of my favorites since I read Ten Little Indians about ten years ago. I was geeked out to meet him after a reading in San Francisco in 2009. Even his Twitter feed is entertaining. Anyway, I was a little disappointed that most of the stories in this collection had been published in previous collections. Still, I remembered them well and found myself highlighting (read the e-book version) the same passages that originally struck me many years ago. There were a couple of new stories that really shook me.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Achebe’s classic had been on my bookshelf for a while. Unknowingly, it would start a mini-Nigerian contemporary fiction kick.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I heard about Americanah from friends, but didn’t know anything about the story or the author until my friend Gene posted a photo of a page. Gene was rightfully excited to see the blog he started PostBourgie and worked on with friends (including yours truly — I’ve cross posted a few times) mentioned in the novel. In it the protagonist, Ifemelu, mentions PostBourgie as one of her favorite blogs. Sean — also part of the PostBourgie family — bought the book that afternoon. A week later, I was at the Central Library downtown for AloudLA where Adichie read from the novel and discussed the various themes (race, taking on a black American identity, relationships, immigrant experience, hair) with Faith Adiele.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When I really like a writer, I tend to binge on her work. Adichie is no exception. Purple Hibiscus didn’t have me laughing like Americanah, but I was still touched, saddened and disturbed.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I didn’t read this short story collection with the same eagerness as the previous two novels, but still enjoyed it. I found myself thinking of characters in the short stories as characters from the other novels.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
No, I didn’t intend to read books by “A” writers. It just happened that way. I really liked this novel and was a little upset with myself for taking so long to take it off my bookshelf and actually start reading it. I don’t know why I delayed. I probably wanted to read it in Spanish, but that always slows me down a lot. The final third of the novel reminded me of what I’d learn in my contemporary Chilean film and literature course in college. I no longer felt like I was reading fiction as the novel covered the Salvador Allende presidency, the military coup and the repression and torture under the Pinochet dictatorship — without ever mentioning any names.

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez
I’ve never been drawn to Rodriguez. When I was younger, I knew little about him and simplistically just thought of him as the sell-out against affirmative action and bilingual education. However, I grew more interested when others recommended him as a strong essayist and memoirist. I can’t say I liked it mainly because I never could relate to Rodriguez even when he talked about growing up devoutly Catholic (he remembers pre-Vatican II days). I do intend to read his more recent memoirs.

Bebe, Familia

Take me out to the baby shower

Proud first time grandparents

My parents and sister hosted a baseball-themed baby shower in honor of me, Sean and baby Meatball on June 22nd. It was a beautiful day filled with family, friends, good food, cute decorations and — of course — lots of adorable baby clothes.

Party planner extraordinaire

My family once again showed that they’re experts at party planning and hosting.

Dodgers and Yankees goodie bags

My mother-in-law, Eula, hosted her a baby shower in NY a few weeks before the California party. We tried to Skype in, but there were technical difficulties.

A blanket for Sean?

We’ve been very blessed by our families’ and friends’ generosity. I know it’s cheesy to proclaim “so blessed!” on social media, but I can’t help it.


It’s the truth.

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