Tag Archives: pregnancy

On hormones

7 Nov

I had a truly very easy pregnancy, for which I am really grateful. Unlike some of my friends, I’ve barely had any nausea or experienced any major complications or discomfort, which allowed me to remain very active well beyond my due date. I guess like any expecting woman, I had bouts of doubts and anxiety, especially after watching the news and all the crazy things going in this world (ISIS in the Middle East; global warming; pollution of air, food, water, you name it in China, etc.), and wondered why on earth would I bring a kid into life. But mostly I felt I was very serene during the whole nine months. I didn’t have any cravings or repulsion for particular foods or didn’t behave crazily at anytime. Or so I thought. In hindsight, the hormones did play some tricks on me, albeit on punctual occasions and isolated, but specific, events.

The crystallisation of these tricks happened to be T. the driver at J.’s office. The poor chap had of course the very best intentions at heart but the fact that he is culturally conditioned, his overzealousness and occasional nosiness during my pregnancy just got the best of me at a time when I wasn’t in full control of my reactions.

My resentment for him didn’t come gradually. It was triggered by his reaction when J. told him we were expecting a girl. He reportedly nearly choked on the spot in disappointment for J. Any remark on the fact that I was expecting a girl really put me off as much then as now, as a woman to start with and for my baby, unborn and already subject to prejudice. The guy couldn’t get over it and enquired a few times throughout the remaining months whether it was certain that we were having a girl. He really thought we were kidding or that results couldn’t be trusted. When I was nearly 8 months pregnant, he asked me: “So you are having a girl?” to which I calmly replied “yes”. He pondered for a minute and said, as if I had been pulling his leg: “nah, it’s a boy!” Even after S. was born, he texted J. enquiring whether the baby was indeed a girl.

That in itself, each time, drove me absolutely crazy. Unknowingly, he made matters worse for himself by sending me text messages telling me to take care of myself, rest, etc. It was out of consideration and fondness for J. and very well intentioned of course but by then I couldn’t stand the guy and would throw a fit every time he did anything at all. Whether he sent food, vitamins, text messages, told me I shouldn’t go swimming, or gave advice on which hospital to go to because (after having chatted with a nurse in our hospital and enquired about prices) ours was far too expensive and there were cheaper options. I had to tell him that I needed a doctor and staff with whom I could communicate and luckily the insurance was covering the costs.

My anger towards him became so irrational and obsessive that I once dreamt that he was going to pop into my hospital room unannounced and tell me and the nurses how to handle the baby. Or even try to impose his wife at home to help take care of the baby because we non-Chinese didn’t know any better. I would have to be very rude with him and tell him to fuck off and that I didn’t need him or his wife because my parents were here and that in other parts of the world people had newborns too and knew how to take care of them. Yes, the whole thing got very far in that little hormone-injected head of mine.

This self-winding up of mine continued for some time after S. was born and I would refuse that we go with him to the clinic whenever S. was due for a check-up. Thankfully, for him and my sanity, I’ve since then come back to my senses and do feel some degree of remorse.

Not that it recently occurred to me or that I am trying to justify the still fairly widespread tendency in China to prefer boys over girls, but I’ve given it some thought in the case of T. He has one child, a daughter, who lives in Beijing with her husband, child (I assume she has only one) and most probably her in-laws. In China, it is the tradition for the parents of the husband to move in with the new couple, so that the younger generation can take care of the older one and the older one can help out with the grand-child(ren). So T., as much as he loves his daughter, probably feels a bit screwed by the one child policy and the fact that he had a girl. In his early 60s, he doesn’t seem to have a comfortable retirement pension, if any and no one to take care of him and his wife but himself. He is sort of “doomed” to working many more years into his late age. Had he had a second child or, “better”, a boy that would’ve been his insurance for his old days.

With the abolishment of the single child policy last week (end October 2015, couples can now have two kids), 37 years after it was instated, the Chinese government intends to curb the forthcoming pension crisis. Hopefully it will also give a fairer chance for this working generation to be taken care of by their kids when they get older. In the meantime, T. happened to get in the way of my hormonal imbalance.

Back into writing mode

19 Mar

Anyone who knows about or has visited my blog in the last 9 months or so must’ve noticed the lack of activity. I have clearly been very lazy over the last year even though it was not for the lack of events or interesting things I came across or experienced. The idea of dropping the blog altogether never crossed my mind and the very few times I had a look at the stats I was surprised to see that I still had a decent number of visitors despite not adding any new content. (For some odd reason I happen to have a very strong readership in Brazil so far in 2015. So much so that it has overtaken the US in number of views). Anyhow, maybe as a belated new year resolution, I intend to get back into writing and try to catch up for the past year. I hope I’ll be able to relate past events and experiences (though perhaps not in their strict chronological order) in an interesting and pertinent way and be able to convey the feeling I had at the time it happened. Before I start writing about these individual events and experiences, I thought I’d do a short recap of 2014 so that those among you who are not family or friends and read this manage to make some sense of the changing context.

So here we go.

Unequivocally, the most important thing that happened to me not just in last year but in my life is the birth of my daughter S. in late October 2014. So I have spent most of 2014 pregnant in China and have given birth in Shanghai. Therefore, indulge me if too many of the posts relate to pregnancy, giving birth and babies. I promise to try and make them interesting.

Due to the pregnancy and other reasons, we haven’t done much travelling in 2014. We went near Hangzhou for a couple of days with four friends for a quick Chinese New Year escape. I might write about it as the Chinese concept of natural reserve was a bit skewed we thought at the time. We went (again) to Beijing with J’s parents and sister in early May. And that’s it, nothing else in China or Asia in 2014.

We’ve had some important defections in the first half of 2014. Our dear friends M. and L. and their son I. moved to Beijing about a year ago. C. and E. and their daughter A. went to Seattle. Bastards. I still can’t get over it. On the other hand – not that it replaces the aforementioned’s absence – we’ve had the pleasure of having our small Lebanese community grow with new joiners and I’ve made good friends via the pregnancy channel.

Overall 2014 was a lovely and fairly sedentary year, very much centred on myself and my growing belly. What we missed in geographical coverage was made up for in equally interesting cultural differences and a lot of emotions. As many of the upcoming posts will relate to this topic, maybe it turns out for the best that I write about it with some distance as I now realise that some of my reactions at the time may have been a bit exaggerated – hormones not helping – and it’s probably saner to be able to reflect and rationalise some of it now. In any case, I hope you will enjoy reading about it.

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