When you’re pregnant, it’s good to feel optimistic. You want to imagine that nothing bad could ever happen to your baby. “My pregnancy will be smooth,” you tell yourself, “and my baby will be healthy.” You maintain this optimism until your relatives comes to visit and start giving you warnings.
The one we all hear about is how to avoid el mal de ojo, or the evil eye. Some women tie a red ribbon over their bellies to avoid it. Others wear a safety pin on their pants or underpants to keep their in-utero babies safe. Incidentally, the red ribbon serves a double purpose: it’s also supposed to protect you from miscarriages during full moons and eclipses.
Nine months go by and finally, your baby is born, safe and sound. But the warnings don’t stop there. For example, you notice that your baby boy’s hair is getting long, and you want to give it a trim. “No,” says tia, “Don’t cut your baby’s hair before he turns one or else he won’t talk.” Or, you may get the opposite recommendation, “Go on, shave the baby’s head. His hair will grow in thicker and fuller.”
Perhaps you’re carrying your crying baby, trying to console her, when you pass in front of a mirror and start to tell her, “Mire a la niña bonita!” Suddenly, your mother shoves you away from the mirror. “What are you doing? Don’t do that until she turns two, or else she won’t talk!”
And let’s not forget the advice for hiccuping. “Take a red string and put it on the baby’s forehead,” Abuela says. She licks the string and places it there.“That will make the hiccups stop.” No red string available? Don’t worry. A string from the baby’s blanket will suffice.
It’s hard to stay optimistic when your family is telling you the whole world is out to get your baby. If you don’t believe in these curses, then there’s nothing to worry about. However, even if you don’t, you may find yourself avoiding eclipses like the plague while you’re pregnant. You know, just in case. When it comes to your baby, you can’t be too careful, and I’m sure some women figure that it’s just better to be safe than sorry.