Or maybe not. Many, many apologies for the long hiatus, but as most of you know by now, it’s been nearly a month since Baby A exploded into our lives, a full two and a half weeks earlier than we expected him. One minute I’m waddling around with nothing to blog about because I’m so big I can hardly get off the sofa, and the next there’s simply not a spare moment which isn’t being literally eaten up by a very small person with a very large personality. Amazing how things can change in the blink of an eye.
Babies share so many characteristics with the typical Chinese. Both sleep a lot, make a lot of noise, have no consideration for others, and never do what you want at the time you want them to do it. But you can’t help loving them for their hilarious wide-eyed innocence and cheek. So perhaps China is the best place to have one – at least you get some practice. On the other hand there are a number of aspects which I’d recommend taking into consideration, should anyone out there ever, ever contemplate such a thing themselves.
1. Medical. Ok so this isn’t anything to do with China but I had to get a moan in. Far be it from me to break the conspiracy of silence which seems to prevent those who’ve had children from warning those who haven’t just how bloody awful childbirth is. I mean, I suppose the future of the human race might be at stake. But let me just say this. You know the scene in ‘This is Spinal Tap’ where they realise they’ve put the measurements for Stonehenge in inches instead of feet? Well, I imagine something very similar must have happened when God, or the elves, or whoever designed people, first saw the prototype for a baby’s head and the area from which it has to emerge. You can just see the guy’s face when the awful realisation struck that he’d made a mistake in the blueprint which nobody had noticed, and it was too late to change it. You can hear him thinking ‘Shit. Oh, it’ll be all right’ (without much conviction), and hurriedly deleting all the relevant files so that no-one would realise it was him that had screwed up.
Well all I can say is, I still can’t walk after 4 weeks, so I hope they caught him and fired him. Also, as bad luck would have it, my, er, issues coincided with one of Peter's mosquito bite episodes. He's violently allergic to the little blighters and swells up in suppurating buboes which throb, pulsate and pustulate with a life of their own, usually in several places at once. All in all the two of us spent about a fortnight looking - and feeling - as though we'd been in a car crash. Judging by the size of me, in my case I can only assume the other vehicle involved was a lorry carrying a large consignment of cakes and chocolate, all of which I felt compelled to eat while I lay by the side of the road waiting for the ambulance.
2. Logistical. Getting to the hospital at 3am while in labour was supposed to be organised in advance. Big Boss was going to lay on a car. Drivers were to be primed and ready to rush to our assistance. Did this happen? No. Peter sent Big Boss an email the week before to remind him, but BB was away and by the time he got back, Baby A had decided enough was enough and popped out. I think the email is still unanswered. So we had to flag down a taxi. At least it wasn’t raining.
Actually there was no problem and I don’t think the taxi driver even realised what was going on. Not so the SECOND taxi driver who had to take us BACK to the hospital late at night after I’d been discharged, in some pain from a bladder infection and muscle spasms in my hip. We had the baby in a car seat but I don’t think the driver noticed, so we were convinced he thought I was in labour, the way I was groaning and clutching my (still somewhat large) stomach! At any rate he raced through the Shanghai Friday night traffic at a pace befitting Starsky & Hutch and looked mighty relieved when we arrived. Thank goodness Baby didn’t suddenly wake up & make a noise; I think the poor bloke would have had a heart attack, thinking I’d just delivered on his back seat!
3. Social. The Chinese love babies, especially western babies. It can get rather annoying to be continually cooed over, and when the baby gets older, people apparently demand photos all the time. However, the most irritating thing is that they also have very strong opinions when it comes to baby care. Chinese wisdom recommends, among other things, not leaving the house at all for the first three months, keeping their feet covered at all times, even on sweltering hot days, and dressing them in bizarre crotchless trousers rather than using nappies. Expat mothers regularly complain of being stopped on the street by Chinese wifies offering advice and admonishments. So far though my main gripe is that everyone seems to think he’s a girl, for reasons unknown – even when he’s wearing a manly blue babygro with a picture of a digger on it.
4. Administrative. My feelings regarding a certain international medical insurance provider are on record, so I’ll refrain from repeating them here. I’ll say only this. It took fourteen (international) phone calls, plus several emails, to get a policy set up for Baby. Fourteen. And even then he’s barely covered for his vaccinations and well-baby checkups. It’s a bloody scandal.
The other amusing/frustrating aspect of having a child abroad is that you have to get it a passport and visa more or less immediately. Someone hasn’t thought through the implications of having hormonal women turn up at offices to fill in forms with short deadlines. I almost shouted at the British Consul for not having something suitable for me to lean on. But the fact that our son will have to endure THIS Photoshopped marvel
not only as his passport photo for the next five years but as endless humiliation potential for the rest of his life just about compensates.
Granny is due to visit from the UK on Thursday for two weeks, so the blog’s maternity leave may last a little longer yet, but fret not – we’ll be back in full force before you know it.