Monday, May 14, 2007

"Babies Change Everything"

The way I found out that I would be a father is probably indicative of the unpredictable nature of the whole experience. During the month of February Sylvie and I decided to let fate work its magic in determining when we would have a child. We had come to Ecuador placing a two-year moratorium on child production. Since being here, we had modified the plan to “let’s wait til July to start trying”. I like winter babies. Now, we were at the point of saying if it wants to come now, let it come. Well, it came immediately. Sylvie had not received her regular visit from Aunt Martha, so we decided she needed a test. While we ambled around the shopping mall on our weekly visit to civilization, we happened upon a testing center. Ten minutes later Sylvie walks out and tells me that I’m going to be a father and that all that I understood about my life up to this point will now drastically change forever. She actually didn’t say that, but she should have. “I’m positive” doesn’t really capture the gravity of the situation. So, I never thought I’d find out I was a father in a shopping mall. That seems more like a teenager’s thing, but there I was dumbfounded tossing random items into the shopping cart at the supermarket even though we had a list. I was in this surreal haze of euphoria and knawing, perspiring fear. Not the terror of knowing the beast is hiding in the bush about to pounce, but before that just after the music changes and the protagonist only begins to sense something different.

So, since that fateful day we have confirmed the fact of Sylvie’s pregnancy with an actual doctor. We have also begun the process of evaluating our entire lives and the future. I have also seen my wife’s cervix, really, a fascinating experience. I don’t know if that opportunity is unique to life in the Ecuadorian countryside, but it’s definitely a lesson for all men out there. We’ve seen a sonogram of the littlest Howard. Everything seems tip top in there. The other day I carried an IV for Sylvie as we walked on the dusty road back from the clinic. I think that may have been a signature Ecuadorian moment. She’s fine; just needed to replenish some fluids from the nausea. In fact, she’s felt a lot better since. Sylvie’s given up her bicycle for the time being. Bumpy roads aren’t good for developing babies. We walk a lot now. Lots of things are changing. The most significant of which is our decision to go home. We have labored over this one and are saddened in many ways, but we also know it’s the right thing to do at this time. So, in July when we head back to Philly for what was intended to be a visit, we will be resettling into life in the North American wild. We had hoped and intended to give life here a try for at least 5 years. However, as the saying goes, “babies change everything”. As I get older my life becomes dictated by clich├ęs. I resent that deeply. However, the power of this one, in particular, is undeniable. Those who have children understand what I mean. I, now, am only beginning to get it. Despite being sad about the change in our plans, my pending fatherhood is the most exciting, humbling thing that’s ever happened to me.

I’m not sure where this leaves Ecuador Stories – the blog. I still have a few things to recount, and I plan to keep writing even after I return to the States. And, before we return we will be visiting a couple other places in Latin America. So, for now, things will continue as they have been. And when they change, you all will, of course, be the first to know.


John said...

WOW!! great news!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to say, "Welcome back!"

mdcphilly said...

Umi and Sylvie:

Congrats! Don't worry. Philly needs you too and the Ecuadorian venture might not be over yet. We're young and I know dozens of Ecuadorian who need jobs and who could subsist on a lot less than you folks.

I love kids. I'm delighted for you both.

Sarah said...

I hope you are still checking this as you settle back into life in the States. Congratulations to you both on your pregnancy.
I stayed briefly in Dos Mangas in 2006 doing an archaeological survey. I have since moved to the UK and in the process lost all of my contact information for people in the village. The mobile numbers I have been able to find are no longer in service. I am desperately trying to get back in touch with people, and am hoping against hope that you might have something a bit more up to date, particularly for the group of guides or the paja toquilla group. You can contact me at Thanks in advance, and congratulations again!

Umi said...

hi Sarah,

do you mean the guides who take people on horseback into forested mountains? We have a cell phone number that may help you. Send me an email at with the names of some of the people you're looking for and I will see what we can do to connect you. I don't have your email to reply to, so I have to wait for that.

Luis said...


Hey interested in updates to this venture. Hope the baby is doing great!