The Portugal Years – Year Three: The Baby and Her Grands

On the third day after birth, the pediatrician, Dr. Maria Helena Freitas checked Elisabeth and sent us home. I felt  apprehensive. After babysitting for many years, I faced the one child who would be living with me for years on end…sobering thought.

My parents arrived the next day and stayed for a week. Until that point, the only time they had been out of the country were on day trips  to Canada. After a five-hour time difference, and a 7 hour flight, they arrived sleepy and with their heads spinning. But Mom wasted no time honing in on Elisabeth and holding her. Until it was time for the baby to eat.

After reading every bit of information on feeding babies that I could find, I chose to feed Elisabeth the way mothers (or wet nurses) have fed  babies for centuries. The manuals described what  to expect from the baby, and Bethy fell into the category of babies who take so long  to eat that by the time she finished it was time to start over again. My mother was worried that she wasn’t getting enough to eat, and added that she thought that I would get tired of it pretty fast like she did. (I didn’t get tired of it, and Dr. Maria Helena said Bethy was thriving.) But, Mom had plenty of other opportunities to play with Beth.

The next morning my mom offered to make breakfast for Harry. He thanked her and told her what time he needed to leave to catch a bus to get to work on time. Imagine being affected by jet lag while trying to cook oatmeal in a country where you cannot read what is on the label. Furthermore, it’s a strange kitchen and you don’t know where to find the cookware and utensils. On top of all that, you had to figure out the stove. Yeah, Harry did end up having breakfast at a pastelaria in Lisbon. Mom cried.

On Saturday of the week they were there, I took Mom on an outing. After I bathed and fed Elisabeth we left her with the men and set off for the outdoor market. I gave Mom the 50 escudo tour, and we shopped for veggies and other necessities. Mom was boggled by the open market. We carried the groceries home, and two worried men met us at the door. During the 45 minutes we were shopping, they had had to change a dirty diaper, and apparently barely made it through. My dad had changed diapers, but not almost square ones. Harry had never changed one. Between the two of them, though, they got the diaper on her. Not well, but, as they say, good enough for government work.

Beth and Granddad
Bethy and my dad.
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29 thoughts on “The Portugal Years – Year Three: The Baby and Her Grands

    1. Yes. She has dual citizenship. Actually, she has three, but the third one is not yet visible to our eyes. I’m counting on her Portuguese citizenship when we move back to Portugal – it will save a lot of work. 🙂

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    1. It seemed appropriate. I’ve had many a laugh thinking about that day. I thought with my dad’s expertise with children and diapers we were good. Poor Harry. He is the oldest of three and the other two are women. He is fairly lost in the kitchen and other tasks that are often associated with women’s work. But he can do a tax return and balances checkbooks like a boss. He can wash
      dishes pretty well, and he can, if requested, fold clothes.

      Thank you for reading and commenting on the post. 😀

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      1. I’ve never lost my passion for Portugal and the Portuguese people. I’m glad you like the stories from Portugal. It’s therapeutic for me writing them and when people enjoy them it doubles the joy.

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      1. A girl can dream, can’t she? At the very least a nice visit. But, yeah, I like the culture and the pace of life over there. I’ve always felt a bit bullied since returning to the states. People keep thinking that one should be busy and industrious 24/7 and it is terribly wearing. 😀

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  1. Caleb came to live with us when he was 2 years old. He was not potty trained. After my first experience with this necessary part of child rearing, I looked at him and announced: “Big Guy, you and this big white porcelain thing in the bathroom are going to become intimately acquainted forthwith.”

    Fortunately, Caleb was a quick study, and except for a few accidents along the way, I never again had to deal up close and personal with said “necessary part of child rearing”. I think both Caleb and I were equally grateful.

    Another beautifully written installment, Susan. Thank you so much for sharing this time in your life.

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  2. I saw in the comments she has dual citizenship — very nice.

    Love open markets. When we lived in Taiwan and the Philippines I suspect the markets were a bit different, but still open, and great fun — especially as a kid, then an adolescent.

    Beautiful entry! (and of course you knew what to do for you two as a mom!) 🙂

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        1. Bless you! My dad was a preacher man and he moved us regularly for years trying to find a perfect church. I went to five different schools from ninth grade through graduation.

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  3. The baby is always in charge! It took me awhile to figure that out with the Princess 😀
    I’m glad you were stubborn about feeding me…apparently stubbornness has been passed down even to your grandchildren!!

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  4. Susan, I totally loved this and I was laughing at the thought of what these two grown men must have gone through in trying to change a diaper. Too funny. Your life is sacred so I thank you for sharing it with us. Love, Amy

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