So its the last 7 weeks in what feels like forever of my wife being pregnant. You’d think being pregnant would be the same anywhere in the world right??? Wrong! China certainly takes a classic situation and adds its own “China style” weirdness to it. I think the funniest thing so far has to be the last time my parents were visiting in October. This time we had taken them to another city Hangzhou and were in the hotel lobby, a man also waiting told my wife how hard working she was. Confused she asked what he meant, he then motioned to us and said “still being at work translating for the foreigners”. The look on his face when she said “no their my family, I’m not a translator” was priceless!
Then and now pictures
Much like any couple trying to have a child health is important, giving up drinking smoking and other bad life habits is not strange at all, so far so normal. After this however theres a whole host of other things, these can range from things which could just be seen as overly cautious, for example not using a microwave incase it zaps you and the baby, all the way through to strange traditions such as pregnant women not visiting any babies under 1 month old because it is bad luck and will “take the milk from the breast feeding mother and cause a premature birth of the unborn baby”.
Theres also many extra preparations to be made, my mother in law bought 10+ kilogramsof fresh ginger from the local market. She then spent around 3 weeks slicing it up, steaming it and drying it in the sun, this had to be repeated until it had all been steamed and sun-dried 9 times. Finally the finished ginger was taken back to the local market and they ground it into a fine powder. Apparently this is to mellow the ginger so that for the first month after the birth water and ginger can be drank regularly to help the body recover.
The finished ginger, packaged and ready to use
All things going well and a normal birth occurs usually 3 or 4 days is enough of a stay in hospital, but then here in China when you go home another classic Chinese tradition of 40 days bed rest is to be undertaken. My wife will of course follow this tradition so will stay in bed (at least most of the time) for 40 days and will not shower, some people even refrain from brushing they teeth (yuck). As assistance for this time we will also require the services of a special “yue sao 月嫂“, this is a specialist maternity nurse who will live with us for the duration of the 40 days and help my wife to look after the baby and show her what needs to be done. These are expensive, and for us the baby will be born unfortunately right before Spring Festival. For anyone who doesn’t know this is the Chinese equivalent of our Christmas (which isn’t really celebrated here) and so means the already high prices go up again as compensation for the 月嫂 not getting to go home to see her family during this time.
A quick shot of the temporary nursery that will do until we move into our new house a few months after the baby is born.
The most annoying part of the whole situation for me is not knowing the sex of the baby! Its illegal to tell parents to be the sex of the baby in China, and can result in serious punishment if a doctor is caught doing so. This is all due to the one child policy (which has now been relaxed to allow people to have two children if one of the parents is an only child) because in the past people would abort the child if discovered that it was a girl. The Chinese ideal favors boys, I assume because they carry on the family name. We actually found a person close to us who was willing to tell us the sex of the baby, but theres so little time left it seems pointless now, going back a few months I’d have jumped at the chance.
The obligatory pregnancy photography session
Having one parent Chinese and one parent English raises an important question, what nationality will the baby be?? For us this was easy, Chinese, we decided long ago to make our life here in China so logically it makes sense to have the babies nationality Chinese (you can choose) as it will make life much easier. Living here as a foreigner child would make life expensive as free schooling for foreigners is not possible, and also our child would need a visa to stay in China the same as I would. Now the cool thing I’ve discovered after a little research is that having one English parent means that a special form can be applied for and then a special page put in our childs passport allowing visa free travel to England (unlike my wife who always needs a visa to visit) and gives our child residency rights.
So yeah, the count down begins!