Liz Bacelar, mom to Gabriela, 2; Ardsley, New York
Pregnancy cravings are taken very seriously in Brazil. It's believed that if you don't eat what you want right away, your child will resemble that food. It's your husband's duty to get you what you yearn for, even in the middle of the night. I mostly craved watermelon and dark chocolate. I remember my husband sometimes asking, "Can we get it tomorrow?" The answer was usually no! Once, I even made him pull off the highway. It was midnight and we were somewhere in Queens, and I needed to eat watermelon immediately.
I decided to have a home birth. It was somewhat un-Brazilian -- these days, that country has a high rate of C-sections, but I wanted something more natural. Crazy as it sounds, I baked pumpkin cupcakes during my contractions. I had to, out of a sense of duty! After a birth, all the relatives come to visit, and I was anticipating a large crowd, because I have a big family. In our tradition, no one comes for less than 30 minutes. They linger. New parents are expected to receive visitors and give them a parting gift, sort of like a goodie bag. So I gave everyone those cupcakes and a photo of my new daughter.
As Gabriela grew, I remembered other customs. For instance, when a Brazilian baby hiccups, you take a thread from her clothing or blanket, lick it, and put it on her forehead. It's supposed to make the hiccups go away. You don't touch the string until they stop. When my mom did that with my 2-day-old daughter, I had a sudden flashback to me putting strings on my younger siblings. It becomes a sign of love!