Posts Tagged ‘Pregnancy’

Pregnancy: the beginning…

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

So most of you know that Michelle is pregnant. Very Exciting. We are pumped. We are really looking forward to meeting our little Christmas gift. But, let me tell you a little bit about how it has been thus far.

First of all, one must understand the inherent differences in both of our cultures and backgrounds. American culture looks at marriage and childbearing as a wonderful, surprising and miraculous thing. Something that is truly amazing and “out of this world.” But, and I wouldn’t speak for all Chinese, I have discovered that in China, marriage and childbearing is just part of the 5,000 year long history and this stuff just happens. There are no secrets. It just happens. It’s natural. You must get married and you must have children shortly thereafter. In America, somehow it is different but essentially the same.

I have to say, the moment that we were about to find out if it was true, if we were pregnant was nothing like the movies and was completely anti-climactic. It was time. It was obviously the time to take the test. (If you don’t know what I mean, contact your local Health teacher or ask your mom.) We were ready for this since I had no idea that in Shanghai whether we would be able to find pregnancy tests or not. So, while we were in America last summer, Michelle and I ventured out to our local TARGET and picked up a tester thingy. A two pack.
We used one early on, thinking that was the time. It was not and that left only one. This was only to be used when we were pretty darn sure. Time passed and the house was cleaned a couple times by both of us. Drawers were organized and closets were too. Things were thrown away and some things were kept. In our organization and clean up attempts, someone (I’ll take full responsibility since I am the man of the house) threw the box out but kept the tester thingy. I mean, who needs a big bulky box right? Well, on the box of course, were the directions as to how to read the results of the test. Without the directions, the interpretations could be wildly inaccurate. So, there we stood in our little kitchen, next to the washing machine and microwave, looking at the result, knowing the truth but needing that reassurance that it was true. Why was that little hunk of plastic so important? Who knows, but we couldn’t make heads or tails of the result and the closest TARGET was in L.A. Fortunately, we found the truth soon. And our lives changed.

When and if we became pregnant, I wanted to try and keep it a secret because I had heard statistics of first time pregnancies. I didn’t want to go crazy and then have to detract all that excitement. But here in Shanghai, it is hardly possible to keep something this normal, this expected, a secret.
Somehow, in the city, at school, at church and in our neighborhood, Michelle was asked constantly about being pregnant and about when she will become pregnant. Some asked directly, even to me. Others made hand motions and puffed out their cheeks, signifying either they were about to vomit or whether my wife was going to give birth. The old ladies were the first. They just looked at Michelle and somehow they knew. Perhaps it is the years and years of experience the old ladies had knowing about pregnancy, or just a special gleam in Michelle’s eyes signifying the fact, or perhaps it is because Michelle looks even more gorgeous now as she is pregnant and they can see the smile on my face when I look at her. Who knows.
But they knew. It was kind of annoying.

Everyone asks Michelle, or tells her, that there will be all these different things that will change and you’ll become this way and you’ll do this. But nothing really gets you ready for the inevitable and how your specific body and experience and baby will react. Michelle, during the first month, became a force to be reckoned with. There wasn’t too many instances of “losing her lunch” but there were times when she was, let’s just say, less than happy about life and about me. My mother-in-law reassured me and told me not to worry about it. So, I tried to not have it bother me. I just tried to do everything that she asked me to do, and quickly.

Life has moved on and soon I will give you a glimpse into life during the second month… ah yes, the glorious second month…

The Saga Continues, Month 2

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

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 which was quite a day for him – too many precious hours spent on crossbow reviews and then waiting for its delivery. 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.

Read on to month 3.

The Saga Continues… month number 3

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Hard to believe that in a few short months we will be parents. We find ourselves many times looking at each other and saying, “hey, you are going to be a mother!” “Hey, you are going to be a father!” We still can’t quite believe it. Do all to-be-fathers feel this way? Perhaps that is why there are nine months to get ready.

One of the most common questions here in Shanghai, when people find out that Michelle is pregnant, is “What do you prefer? Girl or boy?” I guess we ask this too in America but somehow here it seems different.
Most people know in China that Chinese want boys and not girls. Even though that idea is out dated today and reserved for those country side people, it is still somehow a big part of life here in Shanghai. One of the obvious signs that this feeling still exists is that ultrasounds to find out the gender of the baby is illegal here in China. Many times even foreigners will ask us this, “do you want to know if you’ll have a boy or a girl?” To this we respond, “we can’t, it’s illegal here in China. But we want to be surprised anyway.” For me, the husband, I would love a little Chinese girl. My wife though, she wants a little foreign boy. Perhaps we’ll have to settle for mixed up baby…neither western or Chinese, just a little bit of both.

We’ve been thinking of possible names for our newborn. This will prove to be a difficult task. We’ve decided that we want two names. A Chinese name and an English name. But I’ve given the Chinese naming process to my wife since I think of some names and they all sound bad or sound like bad things. This will be a learning process for me. But the English names are my job. I’ve thought of a few. There is one big thing I have to think about is whether or not my mother and father in law will be able to pronounce the child’s name. I want to think of a good name that they will be able to use and pronounce well. Also, one of the American traditions is to name children after the older generation. For example, my middle name is the same as my grandfather’s name. This is a way of honoring him and remembering him. Unfortunately in my family, this is the seventh child to be born, my oldest sister has five and my second sister has two, so it seems all the relatives and older generation’s names have all been taken!!

If you have any recommendations for names of both girls and boys, please send them along. Chinese and English.

Michelle has continued to wake up in the middle of the night and munch on a few things and drink some water. At first, I woke up with her because she woke me up, but now she is really quiet and she won’t shake the bed too much. The baby is really doing a number on her appetite and her schedule. She is hungry all the time and wakes up quite often during the night. I don’t mind though, because I think it is good for me to share what she is going through. I mean, how difficult to go through this all by herself with nobody to help her or support her. We’re both learning a lot. We’re learning more about each other and about this new member of our family. Our Christmas gift is coming. Growing. Developing. Coming. Soon. Time will fly. But right now it seems like it is crawling.

Take a detour and read about FOOD during Pregnancy.

Go on to Month 4.

THE SAGA makes a DETOUR, let’s Talk about FOOD.

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Early on, ok really early on, according to Chinese customs, Michelle’s mom and dad encouraged her to start eating right and to get ready for being pregnant. Now, this was alarming to me since we had just gotten married and weren’t even thinking about babies… So right away at dinner time my mother in law would encourage, well strongly encourage, Michelle to eat foods that I thought were both not good for people to eat and not edible. At times we would be eating some meat, not an unspeakable meat just a normal meat I don’t remember clearly, and then she was told to eat the fat part of it. When I saw this, I would jump up like my mom and dad and tell her, “Hey, don’t eat that stuff…that’s bad for you! That will make you fat?!!” Well, that was the point! Two points for Cliff’s correct guess.

The non-edible item that I witnessed my wife consume were the pork bones that were left over from some really good soup. Michelle actually didn’t eat them but she put them into her mouth and sucked the juices and tore them apart like a wild jackal. She did all this with mom and dad’s approving looks and her husbands blank stare… and wide open mouth. This was yet another thing that Michelle was told, by her mother and from thousands and thousands of years of Chinese baby making history, that you just do because this will be good for the baby. What can I say?? I trust them.

Fish is a big thing for pregnant women. The western books even say that fish is a good source of vital nutrients for the baby. But they do fish here in China in a different way. Of course. I don’t think I’ve ever had a filet here in China. Everything is included, head and tails and fins and all. Even the eyes seem to look at you and tell you, “I’d rather be swimming in the Yangtze river…” I can’t tell you how many fishes I’ve eaten since coming to Shanghai and especially since I’ve married into a Shanghai family. Michelle’s favorite classification of food is SEAFOOD. I’ve eaten more shrimp this past year then I’ve ever eaten in my life. But the fish for these pregnant girls doesn’t stop. We eat it all the time. I was never a big fish fan in America but now I actually kind of like fish, if I can find the meat amidst the deadly bones that lurk in every clump of fishy flesh. Be it soup or sweet and sour or whatever… the fish in Shanghai is great! Another good thing about having a pregnant wife!!

Eggs are another item on the menu here in Shanghai. But not the normal egg, oh no no. I was introduced to the Pigeon egg early on in Michelle’s pregnancy. This is smaller than the normal egg and has a few characteristics that differ from a normal egg. The big difference other than the size is the black splotches all over the egg. I made an omelet with the pigeon eggs but I had to use a few just to get to the normal size omelet. Little did I know, but these pigeon eggs are a bit steep when it comes to buying a few in the market. According to my father in law who searched all over his district for an honest pigeon egg seller, he said that one pigeon egg was about 3 yuan for each egg. Now for those of you in America, this comes to about 35 cents or so but I have to say, 3 yuan for one egg is a rip off big time. Especially because they are so small! A normal egg in Shanghai, according to my wife, is about 5 mao each, which comes out to about 6 cents in America. Orignally I thought dad was cheated like I normally am when I go to the market. But no, this is the price, this is the price for a special egg for pregnant girls. These needed to be purchased to show the love for his daughter and my wife. Much appreciated DAD!! Our cousin from an island near Shanghai even came with a really special delivery early on when they heard that Michelle was with child. He came with a Werther’s Original tin. I was like, “wow, this kid is cool! He came and brought us some candy. My MAN!!! Not so good for a pregnant girl but it’s good for me!” Then he opened it. It was filled with saw dust. I was disappointed until we sifted through them and found the tin filled with tons of pigeon eggs. The real thing! These were fresh from the country side… Thank YOU Cousin!!

My wife wanted to add, that this is normal here. Take it with a grain of salt. I am learning as I go along. I object sometimes, but when stuff tastes so good, how can I object?

On to Month 4.

The Pregnancy Continues MONTH 4

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Our fourth month coincided with one of the hottest summers in Shanghai in a long time. What great timing we have eh?? My mother always told me that being pregnant in the summer was the worst. Fortunately, I never had to worry about that, but now my wife does so I guess now I kind of have to worry about this. We’re trying to keep cool. These days are so hot that after about 2-3 minutes outside, your shirt already is showing signs of sweat and your hat is already soaked. Now according to the many books that we have, Michelle is on a daily marathon. The heat doesn’t help. I’m not even pregnant and my strength is gone in this heat. My father in law continues to tell us that the weather is comfortable but I think he is a little crazy. The only relief that we have are some of the evenings after dinner when we take a walk outside over to a small river than runs near our mom and dad’s house. We climb up the short number of stairs and stand on the bridge amid the other people trying to live to 99 years old and feel the breeze. It’s nice. Some evenings there is no wind and our clothes are glued to our bodies.

In the evening, we don’t get many stares since it is in the evening. It gets dark here in Shanghai too, for those of you who know nothing about China. But during the day if Michelle and I walk together we get stares. Now, I’m used to this. I lived in the Henan Province for a year where we had very white people on my team and very African American people on our team, which caused a lot of stares. It’s kind of fun sometimes. It can get really annoying afterward though. Being married to a Chinese looking person doesn’t really help in the staring department. The migrant workers can’t believe their eyes and the older people just look in contempt. The people at the local market look at Michelle now as a person who can pay top YUAN on all products and food. (that is why most of the time I have to hide around the corner and wait till she bargains on items to get the Shanghai price then I come swooping in to help with the item bought, making the seller annoyed that Michelle could’ve given him a lot more money. Ha ha.) But, nowadays, instead of the people staring just at me, Michelle’s belly is the thing to stare at now. They look at me, alarmed that a foreigner would be in this area, then they look at the Chinese girl with me, annoyed because here is an outsider taking an eligible female away from them, then their eyes growing bigger as they move down to her belly. Most people are accustomed to seeing foreign men with Chinese girls, but not foreign men with PREGNANT Chinese girls. That is really something to stare at!! And they do.

With the belly getting bigger and the baby developing, this month and also with the last month, Michelle has found that the clothes that she loves to wear and the clothes that I love seeing her wear just don’t fit well anymore. There are a couple things that are a bit maddening about this. First of all, Michelle is small. Sometimes when, as a good husband slaving away at home, I am doing the laundry, I marvel at just how small her shirts and trousers are compared to my own. So, now that these clothes are not fitting her it is really annoying for her. These dresses don’t fit, these pants don’t fit, this and that. It does open up a whole new wardrobe of clothes, but that wardrobe isn’t as fashionable as you might think here in Shanghai. Secondly, we continue to find bargain clothes and fashionable clothes at store after store for relatively cheap prices. Michelle tries it on and we both look at it and say, “mmm, if only.” We could buy the clothes now and keep them until after the baby is born but then the clothes would be out of fashion. I sit back and tell Michelle, “You’re pregnant, of course these clothes aren’t going to fit you.” Yes, I am truly so sensitive.

More? Head over to Month 5.

Another Detour.  Learn about our experiences with the Shanghai hospitals.

Pregnancy Detour: THE HOSPITAL

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Ah yes. The hospital in China. The hospital in Shanghai. First of all, you have to understand that this is the GOLDEN PIGGY YEAR. This means there will be a baby boom this year. I was going to say a MINI baby boom, but in China there is no such thing as “mini” when it comes to people. The population is just something that you have to take into consideration.

One of the most amazing things about the hospitals here is the service. There are so many people in Shanghai and especially with this year that the people, the nurses and the doctors give us the idea that they really have absolutely no interest in helping the customers in any way, shape or form. The customer service is atrocious and they serve the patients with contempt and annoyance. With that said, everyone here in Shanghai feels that this is normal and they are accustomed to this kind of treatment, which creates angry people, annoyed husbands and exasperated parents. One of the most annoying parts of going to the hospital is when you have a question about where to go and what to do first. There is an information booth but if you dare ask the ladies a question they will act as if you have violated their break time or personal time. If they do give you an answer they will do so in the most lethargic and lazy way. They use their heads to point. I don’t know how, but perhaps the cartoon can help you understand… but if you are really lucky, they might utter a noise which is supposed to help you know if she means the third floor or the second floor. The annoying thing about this whole situation is me. Michelle is the only one who can really communicate with these people but she is accustomed to these answers. Stupidly, I go ahead and ask her what the lady said so that I can help her or at least to know what’s going on… to which she replies that the woman said nothing at all. To which I reply, WHY NOT? Thus I become the annoyed husband about 2 minutes after we enter into the hospital. Annoying.

There have been a couple different hospitals that we’ve visited. I wanted to review a few and tell you about the different situations at each place.
RED HOUSE or Hong Fangzi which is affiliated with Fudan University. Michelle says, “Oh it’s insane. It’s inhumane. The ultrasound was crazy. They quarreled with the nurses like a market, nobody can keep silent, it’s a hospital not a market, drives me crazy. If I told you, you wouldn’t believe it.”

One of the first times we went to Hong Fangzi was an episode that I will never forget. Very early on in our pregnancy we decided to make sure everything was going well. After we traveled all over the hospital paying and carrying pee and all that stuff, we went to get an explanation of the paper that was given to Michelle. The doctor saw me and decided to try to explain the issues in English. So she looked nervous as we were both staring at her, and she giggled a little bit and spoke these words: “Hee Hee, you are threatening abortion, Hee hee.” My eyes grew really really big, my mouth fell to the floor, and I said EXCUSE ME? She continued to give me an annoying smile and she said it again. Michelle quickly translated and told me “threatening miscarriage” which wasn’t much better. Apparently the explanation was that we should be more careful and take it easy. After the impulse of beating her for saying “abortion” faded, I became the exasperated and annoyed husband. If my hair was longer, it would be more gray.

Ren Ji Hospital. Very close to our home, attached to a very famous school in Shanghai. Michelle says, “Very crowded, the doctors and nurses there are just nasty, like when they know you are pregnant there is no change in expression, no words of caution, no explanation just a word, you’re pregnant.”

The process of paying in the hospitals here in Shanghai is interesting. Besides the absolute nonexistent customer service, (ie. yelling at the person for money, throwing change back at the customer, etc.) paying is something you do every step of the way. Multiple times. Any stage of the visit that you don’t know what to do next, your best bet is to just go down and pay. Since this is the GOLDEN PIGGY YEAR the lines are ridiculously long. There seems to be just an inherent distrust of all people here that if the doctors and nurses treat people then those people will just leave without paying for their treatment. It probably would happen more often than not, but they could introduce a more efficient process where you pay for everything at the same time. Not 3 yuan here 200 yuan there 15.90 yuan here and 378.30 yuan here. It’s just ridiculous. This is the reason why most women who go to the hospital go along with their mother or husband. The extra person is designated as the “stand-in-line person”. Their job is very simple. “We have to pay first before I pee in this cup, quick go down the stairs, stand in line, pay, here is my card and then bring the paper back with you, meanwhile I’ll drink more water. Quick Quick!” It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it.

Number one Fu ying Maternity Hospital. Near Huaihai road in downtown. Michelle says, “First time wasn’t so crazy. Solo trip, same thing as the other places. Too many people, too many women too many pregnant women. Also like a market. You have to wait in a long line, just to get your blood taken. The bathroom was, I can’t think about it, you’ve never, it’s just like, you don’t know where you should stand, or where you squat, so wet so smelly, the nurses there and all the hospitals are the same, you ask a question, they won’t answer they just gesture or point, there are too many patients.”

To give you an idea of the crowds who come to the hospital I drew a picture from my memory of the scene at the desk of Hong Fangzi. Michelle was going for one of our first ultrasounds. The scene was a large desk where there were two nurses who were announcing people’s names as to who was next. But if anyone came up to the desk you would’ve thought they were giving away free money. There were so many ladies crowding around the desk YELLING and pushing and shoving. Finally, the hospital police came to try and make it more orderly, which consisted of telling some of the ladies to stop pushing. But it did nothing. All my wife wanted was an ultrasound. She is definitely more civilized so she just stood and waited for her turn. Any question she just asked the police man. Smart girl.

On to Month 5.

Pregnant Story MONTH 5

Monday, August 27th, 2007


My mind races. Often. I keep thinking that I am going to be a father. I notice babies more. I notice bad fathers and mothers now. I notice smiling grandparents and happy babies more. And this pregnancy and summer moves on. A strange phenomenon happened this month that we were not expecting. We were not ready. We were perplexed and confused. We didn’t know what to do… Michelle’s belly started itching. I was confused until we looked into the book that my oldest sister sent to us. She’s officially given birth to 5 children, so any advice from her is like gold to us. The baby is getting bigger and bigger and the skin is stretching. Fascinating. So the stretched skin itches a bit. So funny. So interesting. And virtually nothing I can do… but scratch a bit.

Our lives changed in other ways too. We received a package a while back and we were very excited. My parents and family members are good about consistently sending us stuff. You name it they will try to send it to us. Not much food for various reasons. Books are a big thing they send, most of them have been read and are really good books. Lots of letters from nieces and nephews have been sent. Even deodorant has been sent to make my wife and others on the bus and subway very very happy. Coffee has even been sent and every last ground of coffee that has been sent has been consumed. (this is not a shameless way of telling you I want more… honest.) But when we received a package the other day, my life changed, my thinking adjusted and my selfishness started melting away a bit. Just a bit. I was excited to think of what stuff was inside. I was excited about the coffee, a new book or whatever they sent. But when we opened the box, we found baby clothes. Oh, yes, of course. Baby clothes. That’s right. I’m going to be a father. Gifts will start to change. Gifts will focus more on the child not on me. This is a great lesson. So selfish.

Recently, while Michelle has been resting in bed, I’ve crept up to her and decided to become acquainted with our new member of the family. What fun it is. They don’t talk back yet. But I’ve been talking about current events happening in this crazy world. I’ve been explaining what it’s like in Shanghai. I’ve been filling the baby in about his or her mother. Also about his or her grandparents. Both sets. Especially how he or she won’t be able to understand the China grandparents, but mommy understands them, and how daddy and you will be in the same boat, we won’t be able to understand much of anything here. As a matter of fact, the idea of China is hard to understand. And we might be going to America sometime soon, that is hard to understand too. We’ve heard that my voice is good for the baby to hear, but at this point I think the baby will come out and look at me and hear my voice and think, “Ah ya, this is the guy with the weak jokes and bad breath!”

On to Month 6. We’re almost done!

Pregnant Story MONTH 6

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007


Life continues. Shanghai keeps going. This city just never stops. And the pregnancy continues. Month number 6 has been uneventful which I guess is a good thing.

Michelle has reported a couple of interesting aspects of pregnant life. One of the big things that she has mentioned is her heartburn. During this month, there were times when Michelle complained a lot about the heartburn. It was constant for a week or so. We checked our books and found that this was totally normal. It also mentioned that most likely our baby will have a head of hair. This would be a great improvement over the child’s father but the book quickly mentions that it is just a silly belief with no real proof.

Before, perhaps you remember hearing about the “butterfly feelings” that Michelle reported. These have changed into more than butterflies, now it’s more like a Bull in a China shop. Just like its daddy. Michelle has reported kicks, punches, jabs, right hooks, lefts and a couple of Kung Fu moves. Not exactly like its daddy. But the baby will kick or punch at some inopportune times. When, after a long day, we’ll be hitting the hay ready for a nice cool evening, the baby will start just pummeling her belly. Also there are times when Michelle will be about to start eating dinner and the baby must get so excited that they just go nuts inside! For example, “the food is coming! Yes thank you mom. HOORAY the food is coming. I can almost smell it!!”

We continued to attend classes at the local hospital like dutiful new parents-to-be. The classes range from teaching us about what music the baby will like to massage strategy for daddy to give to mommy. We took notes and listened and only Michelle understood since it was all in Chinese. Lunch was provided free to the mothers and if I wanted it I would pay 10 yuan. I was surprised with all the classes and advice about food that the hospital would provide this mediocre lunch. I guess it was ok since Michelle did eat it. But I was more than happy to go out and get my own food. It prompted me to take more interesting notes which is where the inspiration of this picture came from.

During our sixth month and before Michelle started work again at school, we decided to take a trip together for the weekend to get away from the city and go out into the countryside. We decided to take some relatives up on their constant invitations to come to Chongming Island. So we went there on Saturday until Sunday afternoon. It takes a long time to get there, a bus a ferry and then another bus then a 3 wheel motor bike. But we got there in one piece and it was so beautiful and the sky was so blue and it was so much fun. We just ate and relaxed. Saturday night was so nice, we were treated to a great feast of really fresh food and we ate outside to the light of the moon. It was so fun. The next morning we decided to drop in on some other relatives. We needed to drop in because if we called ahead and told them that we were coming they would go crazy making food and then treat us and we didn’t have time for that. Of course I asked the stupid question of, “I think we should call first, I mean what if they aren’t home?” This is the countryside Cliff. People are always home and if in the rare moment they aren’t home, their ever curious neighbors will know exactly where they are and what they are doing and when they are coming back. So, when we showed up at the other relatives’ home they were of course surprised. We were on our way to the wharf so we already had tons of stuff to bring home for example, young sugar cane sticks, freshly harvested peanuts and actual cotton that was recently picked. According to our relatives this stuff was not enough. So they went and found a goose. No, that isn’t a typo. They gave us a live goose to bring back to Shanghai.
A live goose. A goose that was a living and breathing and honking goose. I was shocked. I told Michelle, “we can’t bring a goose back. We can’t bring a live goose back to Shanghai. There is no way!” To make a long story short, they tied the wings back, put the goose in the bag and tied a little red ribbon around the beak. So, since I was the only one who wasn’t pregnant out of the two of us, I had to carry everything. I had a big bag of food, a huge bag of cotton (for clothes for our child) and a large goose in a bag. This was quite the sight and we got some pictures. I felt like a real country side person. While on the ferry heading back to Shanghai, the little red ribbon slipped off the goose’s beak. The goose then voiced his opinion of his impending doom. It was loud, annoying and it peed all over the ferry floor. I got annoyed and Michelle laughed and the other passengers just stared.

When we arrived home, Dad proceeded to kill the goose and we had goose for dinner. It was delicious.

After our time in Chongming, I returned to work with what I felt was a sunburn on my face and neck. The first day I didn’t really notice it and the second day it was just annoying. The third day, mom and Michelle noticed that there were many little tiny pimples on my face and neck. I had somehow gotten heat rash.
I couldn’t shave for fear that I would cut all these pimples and bleed like the goose so we went out and got some powder stuff and Michelle diligently every night applied the powder on my face. In about a week it was gone and everything got back to normal. I tried to look up information on the web about heat rash and all I found was that infants usually get it. Thanks. One thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was that this was the very first time I spent the whole summer in Shanghai. Every year, I or Michelle and I returned to the states for a couple weeks or a couple months and this was the first time I really experienced a Shanghai summer. Figures. First time I experience it and I get a heat rash. It must be my delicate Norwegian skin reacting to this harsh Asian climate.

Month number 7.

End of November Start of December

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Hey everyone. It’s been a while since I posted. I want to keep everyone up to date. The pregnancy is going well and we’ve entered the 9th month.

There will probably be a long time where I don’t post until the baby comes. So please be patient.

For now though… here are a few photos for your enjoyment.

These are a couple of friends here in Shanghai. We hung out together in a coffee shop and played SCRABBLE. You want to see the result??

Here is the result. I, of course, won the game.

Think of us as the baby develops and grows. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

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