As I head to the end of my 34th week, I realize that I have lots to report regarding Little Spark and our soon-to-be expanded family…

Last Sunday, our community here in Beijing threw us a baby shower. It was officially the first time that anyone’s ever thrown me a shower (of any kind) and I was so touched. I can’t tell you how moved I was by the generosity and kindness from our friends here.

Two of our friends were the main organizers, but there were about 20 people in attendance, including some of our friends’ partners. Most of these partners are male, so it was great for Guo Jian to have some guys there. He was originally a little shy about attending, but I insisted that having a baby was not just about the Mother! And, to be honest, in the end, I told him that his attendance was mandatory!! He had a good time, too.

There was amazing food, lots of laughter and some interesting games! One was trying to guess the contents of baby food jars that no longer had labels on them. We did one round by sight and one round by taste, and they were kindly labeled “veggie” or “meaty” so we vegetarians could avoid tasting the meaty ones! There was another game where everyone had to take a piece of string and cut it to what they believed was the circumference of my midriff at the moment. Most people cut it too long! I guess I look bigger than I am! Finally, we had a game where we were each given a sheet with the word “baby” on it written in more than ten (rather obscure) languages and we had to match the language to the word. The winners each got small prizes. It was fun!

I had extended a gift idea to our friends so as to avoid any worries by some about what to buy us, and also because we already have so much! I suggested contributing to my “clean air project” wherein I decided to purchase the requisite number of plants (and specific types) required to be natural indoor air filters. Because Beijing is known for its air pollution, a lot of people who can afford it own fancy air filters. They require electricity, however, and have to have their filters changed regularly (which are expensive) and so I started to research other (cheaper and greener) options. I discovered this video and several articles extolling the virtues of combining these three plants:

1) Areca Palm (chrysalidocarpus lutescens) 风尾竹
2) Mother-in-law’s Tongue / Snake Plant / (sansevieria trifasciata) 虎皮兰
3) Golden Pothos (epipremnum aureum) 绿萝 (also known as the “Money Plant”)

Many of my friends did buy us cute and useful gifts, but several also contributed some financial assistance to the botanical gardens that my apartment has now become.

Thursday of this week, Guo Jian and I headed across the city (34kms away, but still in Beijing!) and arrived at the wholesale plant markets on the Southwestern edge of the city. There, we managed to purchase almost all of the plants that are required per person and per square foot of our apartment in order to adequately clean the air. We were even able to organize a driver to deliver them and carry them up the stairs! I’ve already noticed a difference in the air quality at home. Little Spark’s wee lungs were my primary concern and I feel so much better about having made this happen. Guo Jian was amazing, too, and really stood by me with this project.

As I look up from this writing to see the plethora of green newcomers to this house, I feel showered once again with kindness and goodness. Thankful to the plants and thankful to my partner and our friends.

This week, we also had a meeting with our doula, Robyn. She’s excellent and her Chinese is fantastic. It was great to sit down with her and express some concerns, especially for Guo Jian. Her pregnancy and birthing terminology is more advanced than mine and her expertise is obvious.

For instance, I expressed in an earlier blog that I want to stick around the house at first waiting for more regular contractions before heading to the hospital. I still feel this way and the plan was met with Roby’s support. She proceeded to put Guo Jian’s mind at ease about it. Otherwise, she explained, the hospitals here often set a timer; if the baby’s not out within 24 hours of one’s arrival, they want to induce or encourage a c-section. I’d rather wait for regular contractions that are around 10 minutes apart before leaving home. Guo Jian feels better about that now too. The poor guy was afraid that I might pop out the baby almost immediately upon getting contractions! Robyn repeated my assurances that it’s very rare for this to happen!

My task this week is to iron out my birth plan, part two. I have some work to do. My current plan is fairly limited. I need to think through the scenarios in a more detailed fashion, translate everything into both languages, and then submit them to my doctor so that she can sign off on them. I’ll get Robyn to look it over first, thought. It’s so nice to have someone around who is experienced with the Chinese hospital system and can suggest things that I may forget.

So, I feel grateful for her and, once again, showered with kindness and support on all sides.

But, in final news, I’m getting anxious. I’m anxious about the messy house and our pressing need to organize things (nesting!); I’m anxious about the absence of a girl’s name picked out; I’m anxious about getting some business tasks finished that I keep not getting around to do doing; I’m anxious about sleep and how fitful it is and how exhausted I am all the time; I’m anxious about how much worse sleep issues are going to be when the baby comes; I’m anxious about his parents coming and planning to stay for a month (or more!) when the baby is born; I’m anxious about our financial stability and where it’s going to come from in the new year; I’m anxious about my body and it’s increasing foreignness and heaviness, making both walking and sitting uncomfortable; etc.

I could keep listing anxieties, but listing them is just making me more anxious!

I hear I’m normal. I understand this is a Mom-to-be’s typical reaction. I’m not special. Little Spark will be here in just over five weeks and I know it’s all going to work itself out. I know all of that intellectually, but I have to keep taking deep breaths to remind myself to just calm down, relax my shoulders, and stop stressing about things….

… and remember that I’m so lucky to have had so much LOVE showered around me and that this love will most certainly extend to Little Spark.

Everything will be fine.




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