Home Sweet Home

Original Artwork by: Donald B Bennett Jr.

I’m back from the tour and sitting in my apartment in Beijing. Now I can say firmly that I’m once again “Preggers In China”!

I’m so happy to be home. I can’t express it in words, not fully anyway. I’m really a person who is quite happy in the quiet of home, in my own world, and without a lot of interaction with others. I’m a weird mixture of outgoing and social in short bursts (like touring) and then hermit-like and shy when I’m not on the job. Perhaps that’s my Cancerian nature at work? Hermit crab? So, after six weeks of constant travel and socializing, the return home is sweeter than sweet. I’ve been reunited with my kitties (all healthy!), my pillow, and of course, my partner who has been so sweet and excited about having me home with this big baby bump.

I flew back to Canada in September with three suitcases full of CDs (and a few clothes and guitar effects) and then returned back here to Beijing with two of those suitcases filled mostly with gifts for Little Spark. It’s amazing, actually, how many gifts that little one has now, packed away and ready for his/her arrival. People have been so generous!! I know that most people have baby showers, but I was showered with kindness and thoughtfulness in almost every location on this tour. I’m humbled by your loving gifts to this baby who hasn’t even yet made its first appearance into this world. Thank you!

What’s more, you all know so much! I had never thought of needing even half of the items that you all explained would be necessary. Thank you!! Now I’m equipped with nursing bottles to store breast milk, a baby ergonomic carrier, little mitts for the baby to avoid scratching him or herself at night, a perfect night-light, lots of great clothes and bedding and receiving blankets, and the cutest bibs ever. There are lots of other things (too many to list!), but suffice it to say that this baby is so lucky already!!

The day after arriving home, I had to go to my pre-natal check-up that was long overdue. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before that in China there is a lot of emphasis on regular visits to the doctor. I’m sure it’s based on a hyper awareness of a single pregnancy being a woman’s only shot at it (with the Single Child Policy) and so, therefore, everything has to be healthy and monitored to the nth degree. Anyway, I appreciate the concern and care, but I didn’t think it was such a panic to get there the day after I arrived. Guo Jian had arranged it and he felt differently. Since it had been six weeks since I’d been taken care of in this way, I didn’t protest the sudden visit to the hospital and just happily let myself be tugged along.

There, I got another ultrasound and had a dental and breast check-up along with the requisite blood and urine tests. Everything seems fine and in working order, except for the following:

The ultrasound technicians said that the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck in the womb.

It’s apparently a common thing, but they advised me to take time out every day (ideally 3 hours, one in the morning, noon, and night, but at least 1 hour a day if I’m too busy) to sit quietly without music, television or my computer to distract me and count the baby’s movements. I am supposed to keep track of each time it moves before the movement stops. On average, the baby should move 3-5 times per hour.

Well, the meditation of this exercise sounds promising, but this baby moves all the time. I’m so sensitive to his/her movements that I can’t imagine not be conscious of a period of time passing during which Little Spark might not be moving. I’ve taken to calling Little Spark a “circus baby,” in fact. The little one is doing flips and twists right now and kicking up a storm. Last night, as I spooned Guo Jian in bed, the baby kicked him from behind and it made him jump! It was a very funny moment to see Little Spark’s Daddy’s face so surprised!

They also told me that this is something that could change moment to moment. The baby moves regularly so the cord could easily unravel and wrap around his or her middle or not be wrapped around the baby at all. It may have just been its position during the ultrasound and it may unwrap naturally or may already be unwrapped.

Still, I don’t like the idea that what I’m being told to monitor is whether or not my baby has strangled him or herself!! That’s so scary!! I’ve decided to just take at least an hour per day to convene with Little Spark, mentally, like a sort of Mother-child meditation. I have the time, now, which is a privilege I’m not taking lightly.

The second thing that they’re concerned about is Little Spark’s size. Apparently he or she is about one week to ten days smaller than he or she should be at this stage. They’re predicting a later delivery date as a result. The replacement doctor (my regular doctor wasn’t there) said that there is an oxygen therapy that I can do that contributes to speeding up fetal development.

Oxygen therapy?  (My thoughts exactly.) The advice is to invest in oxygen tanks & masks and do a few hours of straight oxygen inhalation several times a day. Apparently it’s related to the oxygen levels in my blood and if I increase those then it’s possible that the baby will respond by increasing in size.

I have never heard of this before in my life! I did some research and I found several articles about it online that say that there is no conclusive evidence that this therapy will directly result in increased birth size or faster fetal development. (Here’s a clearly written article to reference.)  Besides, my sister’s baby was small too. He came in under the 10th percentile of infant size and he’s doing fine and always has been. Maybe it’s genetic?

My Dad joked on the phone that perhaps it takes longer to assemble a Swift baby than other babies! After we had a laugh about that, my Mom thought, as I do, that we should just let Mother Nature do her thing. I think Little Spark is just fine and will be just fine. I feel it in my gut—literally.

The other exams—dental and breast—went fine too. It was a bit weird to sit there and let a middle-aged doctor tug at my nipples, but after I got over the initial urge to giggle about it, I let her poke and prod me and tell me about products that the hospital offers as aids in the art of breastfeeding. I’m excited to enter into that world and so it was fun to look at the array of breast pumps and milk storage bags that are available, etc. The catalogue was fascinating!

I was glad to meet her, actually, because I wasn’t aware that this hospital offered much support for Mothers hoping to breastfeed. I’d been told that most hospitals in China don’t offer support in this way and encourage formula feeding, almost like it’s the eighties in North America. Yet, the breast doctor told me that she will be available in the first two days after the baby is born (I’m supposed to stay in the hospital for two days afterwards) to help with anything that I might need in order to make breastfeeding happen. She gave us her card.

We left the hospital with another appointment scheduled for next Friday. I’m not sure why we have to come back but there seems so be some other tests lined up but I was too jetlagged and tired to argue.

Besides, as I mentioned, my main doctor wasn’t even there during all of this and so I’ll be happy to see her next Friday. The replacement doctor had to be walked through all the preliminary details about us like the fact that I speak the language (she started by only addressing Guo Jian until I leaned into her line of vision and answered a question before he had a chance to) and that I’m vegetarian and have been for almost 22 years now (she wondered aloud if my baby’s size had something to do with my refusal to eat meat or seafood). That’s just silly. Once she had become familiar with us, though, she was friendly and informative, if only a little conservative.

So, I sit here today planning to clean out my closet and assemble only the clothes that I can wear right now and put the skinny jeans into a storage bin that slips under the bed. I’m tired to looking at a full closet of clothes I can’t wear. My new hips, ass, and thighs are henceforth no longer going to be mocked by my wardrobe!

Time to crank the tunes and get to work!

La Leche League: Beijing
Luxury Suite

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