Number 2 stepson, Alberto, is 'married ' i.e. living with, which is Dominican married, to Chivirico's aunt Ana. Last Monday she gave birth to a baby girl, Adibel, which makes me a step grandmother.
Here she is just after she was born weighing 7 lbs 7 ounces. She was born by Cesarean section which is how most children are born in the DR. Not because a C section is needed but because the doctors want to make more money which was exactly what happened in this case. The doctor told Ana she would not be strong enough to push the baby out, carried out a C section and charged RD$40,000 which is nearly US$1,000. They have insurance which covers 80% but then had to find RD$8,000 which is more than Alberto's monthly wage and way beyond the reach of the majority of Dominicans. Family and friends usually have to come to the rescue as mother and baby were held hostage by the clinic until the bill was paid. In this case it was my mother and we were all extremely grateful.
Ana is now staying with her mother until she is "out of risk" or "fuera de riesgo". This takes 41 days but I am not sure what she is at risk of. She has cotton wool in her ears and socks on her feet to stop cold air getting into her body and cannot eat eggs or pork. She is not supposed to bathe during her "risk time" but she is doing so.
Chivirico thinks his new cousin is very pretty, but was more than pleased that he has finished school and can come and stay with us for the holidays until August. He wants to stay with us after then and go to school here, so fingers crossed his father and his grandparents will let him.
When I learned that Ana was pregnant I can't say I was over the moon, as I am now so accustomed to first world thinking that you should be financially stable, with good jobs and a nice home before you start a family. Everything is programmed so that it happens at the 'right' time. But as I was looking down at Adibel, laughing at me, just six days old, I remembered that so often I compare the Dominican Republic to the UK in the 1950s.
I was born only just over 10 months after my parents married, and Mum would tell me that women had a child as soon as possible in case anything happened to their husband. My Dad was a navigator in the Air Force and there were conflicts all over the world in the 1950's. Plus the memory of the Second World War was very raw. I was born when my parents were living in a rented room, and then a caravan. Not so very different from the wooden house where Adibel will be brought up.
And another new beginning. I make my living working for various clients, writing, doing marketing, translating and my main client has decided to probably close his business. This will mean a major hole in our income. So it has forced me to get off my backside and launch something I should have done ages ago.
I spend a lot of time answering emails to ladies who want to know if their boyfriend is a sanky panky, or wanting them investigated or people wanting information about the DR. I get asked to translate text messages, asked how to find a job, about schools and accommodation. I receive between 100 and 200 emails a month and have always tried to help free of charge. But now i have decided to make a business out of it - or try to. DR Sisterhood has been launched as a membership service where people can have access to me and other ladies for help and information and to be their eyes and ears in the country. Fingers crossed it works!
In the meantime Chivirico is helping collect the eggs for breakfast!
And as I sit here typing this he is making biscuits to go and sell. The puppies ate my cell phone (and a diary, two books, four CDs, 2 rolls of tape and a cushion) so I nicked his phone and told him I would get him another one. He wants an iPhone so has to make a few thousand pesos first. Methinks will end up with a basic phone again!