I mentioned in my description of month 1 that in China it seems like pregnancy is nothing new, nothing unusual and completely expected. With that said, entering into month two, we were going to have to tell the less knowledgeable people here in Shanghai, young people, coworkers and so on about the pregnancy. The older people already knew, you see.
Due to what most people call the, radiation, that naturally occurs in everyday life in Shanghai, most pregnant girls will purchase a special dress. Now, I’ve seen this dress everywhere, this year in particular since this is the GOLDEN PIG YEAR and there will be a massive amount of babies born this year, including ours. The dress looks like a normal maternity type dress which I assume rests comfortably on the shoulders with large thick straps and comes to just below the waste where the pants then are visible going down to the feet. These are found in a variety of colors and can be actual full length dresses or just shirts, cool for summer and warm for winter. I never knew the reason or the whole point for these dresses and I never thought they were so dang expensive. Well, month two started this difficult situation with the RADIATION SUIT. Since the style is nice and since every girl in the city wears them I just assumed Michelle wanted one too. When we went to the store to look for one, we had an argument.
“What is it?”
“It’s a special dress.”
LOOKING AT THE PRICE. “YEAH, really special.”
“What? Everyone gets these, and they are really useful.”
“For what? I am sure your mom can make one of these for one sixteenth of the price.”
“NO, NO, this material is very special.”
“What kind of material is it?”
“It stops radiation.”
“Well, that is really useful, we just won’t plan on going near any nuclear reactors in the near future, at least until the baby is born.”
“No, I mean from cell phones and computers. It blocks it from harming the baby.”
“Computers harm the baby? Cell phones harm the baby?”
“Oh yeah, some girls get these special dresses before they’re pregnant.”
“So that they belly is ready for the baby and there isn’t too much radiation.”
“Well, for this price, we could get 3 or 4 other dresses.”
At that point the saleswoman came over and convinced Michelle that the radiation is everywhere and we must buy the most expensive one. Then I asked the wrong question.
“Since all women in this country have only one child, and since everyone always buys these dresses, don’t you know some one who doesn’t need their dress anymore?”
This of course opened the floodgates. I was trying to do the cheap thing at the wrong time. But Michelle is a smart girl and not to be fooled by slick saleswomen, she found a dress of comparable quality for a fraction of the price online. SMART GIRL. You can see the dress in the picture there!!
Many times while in church on Sunday, I would have to fan her face to cool her down. Even though the church has fans all over it is just too hot.
During month two, as we told Shanghai family members and coworkers, it was strange to realize that my family back in the USA, on the east coast, still don’t know about our impending Christmas gift. In May, Michelle and I went to a teacher’s house to have dinner with some of her colleagues and their boyfriends. This was the time that she was going to reveal the news that she was pregnant. She told me this on the way to the house as we picked up fruit to bring to our hosts. When we arrived, I went into the kitchen and talked with the teacher a bit, and then used the bathroom for a bit, then well into our visit it was obvious by the chatter and talking that they were talking about baby stuff. But there was no screaming and no jumping up and down and no going crazy like what I am used to by American girls. This was very confusing to me. At one point during the dinner party I asked Michelle if she had told her colleagues, to which she replied, of course. I questioned further, When? To which she replied, when we got here. I was perplexed. There was no way I could have missed it, the screaming the jumping up and down. There just wasn’t any. And they all knew. The only excitement was the teacher telling me with a smile that I was going to be a father. This was a shock and a let down of sorts I would have to say.
This of course all changed when we finally decided to call my family. The timing was perfect. It was Mother’s Day in America and we decided we would try to call each family’s house to tell them one by one. Sunday night, May 13th we just decided to call Mom and Dad just to see if we could catch them at home before they went to church. We were surprised when Dad picked up the phone with his classic, “HELLO?” Now that they were home, how could we break the news and not give them a heart attack. This is their youngest child, who gave them a heart attack a year ago in May 2006 when we called and told them that Michelle and I were coming home for a wedding and could you please plan it for us…!
At that time Dad was already at work so we had to call him to tell him the news, but this year both Mom and Dad were at home so we could tell them both. We chose to allow the conversation to naturally arrive at the fact that their youngest was about to become a father, but it took time. A lot of time. Mind you, we were on a calling card which was quickly running out. We heard about company happenings, cute kids, people we don’t know, the weather, piano recitals and all the like, stuff that was good to hear but with the kind of news we had hanging on the tip of our tongues… it was just kind of maddening to listen to their news saying the occasional, uh huh, wow, and… Finally we got to it. This was the response that I was looking for. The high pitched scream, the phone shorting out and both of us looking at each other and smiling from ear to ear.
When we called my oldest sister and her family, she is pregnant and giving birth any day now, it was a response that got Michelle a bit concerned. She began to cry, assuring Michelle and I that these were tears of joy. Here is her little brother about to become a father. My second sister couldn’t hear us clearly which was a major let down for them. We could hear her clearly but apparently she couldn’t hear us. My sister in law was the best. Just excited and congratulations all around and a good, I’m so happy for you both!! My brother had to be called on his cell phone as he was driving to New York City on his way upstate for a hunting outing with some relatives. He was also excited and a bit nervous, you know you can’t drive in New York while talking on your cell phone! But this was worth it!!
Hunger and Heat. These are the big things that happened this month. Michelle was hungry all the time. I would arrive home from work late, well after she ate dinner and when I would climb into bed she would be getting up asking me for something to eat. After a while I got so used to it, especially with a cup of water, that before we went to bed at night I would prepare some fruit or corn and water on our night table next to the bed. Many times she would wake up in the middle of the night and munch on a few things and then go back to bed. If these things weren’t there she would get up and go get them which I didn’t want her to fully wake up, because we had a problem too of getting back to sleep. I think it was the heat, Shanghai can be and is brutally hot in the summer, but she thinks it’s the baby, perhaps it’s both.