Sunday, May 31, 2009

Random quote from MissP (age 3)

"Mummy, I have a sore tummy. I'd like some salad, please."

You're a dag, Pers. Somedays, I just don't get you.

Stil got it!

Bloody hell! It's 38 degrees outside and I've just been in un-air-conditioned taxis to and from Lido with Mei-Mei to have her checked out at the clinic (nothing exciting, just routine).

Whenever I am in Lido, I like to pop over to Comptoirs de France and by God, this place is YU-HU-HU-HUUUUUUUUMY! Best. Hot Chocolates. Evar! And the best chocolate croissants in Beijing... and macaroons... and lemon tarts... fwooooooar! (and I'm spent!). It is my little slice of heaven here in hell Beijing.

And it is actually owned and run by people who are... French! There is a surprisingly large French community here in Beijing and I have met more French people here than I ever did at home. Most have been lovely, the lady that came to our house when we were interviewing her ayi, was... bizarre... "Your daughterrr, she is beautiful! She is not fat, she is thin!" (yeah, thanks, love!). But I digress.

So today, I figured I would give it a shot and drag the highschool french kicking and screaming from out of it's dark, comfy place and use the most basic french to order a hot chocolate and a quiche. And surprisingly enough, I seemed to pass with flying colours (and amuse the manageress, who is lovely and I am getting to know quite well). Go, me!

Actually, it's funny and I am not sure if I have talked about this before, but when we first arrived here and had absolutely no mandarin, but a very strong desire to communicate, my brain was trying to throw everything it could at people to get the point across and I kept wanting to speak French without consciously deciding to do that and mime (though, that was a conscious effort). Anyway, a colleague of Mr C's went to Indo with him and did the exact same thing.

Wacky... just sayin'.

So yes, it's 38 degrees out there and I am glad I am inside! Though when we got to the clinic, they did the usual testing of our body temperatures by aiming a thermometre at our foreheads with a new fandangled variety electronic gadget. Good thing too, could you imagine using mercury thermometres in this day and age with the whole paranoia surrounding various influenza strains? I shudder at the thought...

Anyhow, we freaked them out a bit because our temperatures registered (surprise, surprise) 38 degrees. We're talking surface temperature here, people. Not core. Core's a different story, and obviously was when they used another fandangled gadget which they poked in our ears, registering a much lower and safer temperature. I'm glad we got that cleared.


Willing Patricipants

Not sure if anyone's following my Flickr, but I have an obvious obsession with photographing my girls at the moment. I can't help myself, they're just so damn photogenic (and they're cute, too!)...

Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:


It's been a crazy old week. Mr C was in Indonesia all week, leaving me on my lonesome with the girls. It was a challenge, but we made it in one piece. Just. Jie-Jie managed to lock me out of the apartment yesterday, with her and Mei-Mei on the inside. I'd just ducked out to put the rubbish in the bin and next thing, I heard her lock the door. I called and pleaded and knocked on the door and rang our doorbell (all doorbells in Beijing play Fur Elise) and she just wouldn't open the bloody thing and she knows how to do it. Little bugger. I waited a couple of minutes and the door was unlocked.

I guess I can't be too angry with her about it. Ayi locks the door the second any of us leave, so I think Jie-Jie was only copying the habit. Still, I was a little annoyed she wouldn't let me in. Naughty.

But that aside, we've made some progress on the toilet training, Pers is now completely nappy free and dry at night. We have the odd mistake, but you get that. But that was our big achievment for the week. My life is that exciting.

I wish it was more exciting, like this man:

Somewhere in deepest darkest Indonesia, Man meets bear. Fearsome.

Oh, hi Mr C, just remember that's not Mei-Mei you are holding...

Should be returning you to more photos of Beijing/China soon because
a)Paul's folks turn up tomorrow night for a few weeks and
b)I got a new lense (macro/fish-eye combo) for an early birthday present

Kermit Flail!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cultural Differences

Ok, so over here, I'm the weirdo and I'm cool with being a weirdo. I am accepting and embracing my weirdoness, trying not to be culturally biased (I'm afraid I am failing at this) and it's all good. Infact, we have been the oddity since we got here with our cute, blue eyed, blonde curly haired 2 year old (over a year ago) in tow. We have been pointed at, stared at, followed, photographed, mimicked and mocked. We get the piss taken out of us at frequent intervals, been misunderstood (intentionally and unintentionally), laughed at and with, ripped-off and beaten around the bush. We have even been refused several rides in several taxis, just because we're Western and it's too much trouble to listen to our attempts at mandarin and try to understand us. Just too hard.

And that was without the newborn.

Now add harrassment into all of the above. I get that the Chinese way of bringing up little ones is much different to the Aussie way of doing things and we're not in Kansas anymore. I also get that here, children and babies are so cherished and not taken for granted, thanks to the one child policy (they can have more than one - at a cost and multiple births are the only way around it). I get that people here are a little starved (it would seem) of bubba love. I also get that people generally are just trying to care/take an interest/help/be friendly.

We have had a couple of scenarios over the last couple of weeks where when we are asked how old our baby is and we give an honest answer. At first there is a shocked response, then there is the muttering with anyone in ear-shot behind hands (as if we can't hear or understand), or going to get random other people and coming back, to point and stare and be shocked with, then there is the shaking of heads and tutting, the pointing of fingers and what we can work out pretty plainly as being a general telling-off.

According to the lovely waiter we met (and some of our Chinese friends), babies should not leave the home until they are 100 days old. And neither should the mother.

Two words - Bugger and That. I mean really? You can't be bloody serious!

Then on Tuesday, I was heading off to playgroup at Lido with Jie-Jie (binks) and needed to get a taxi. It was a beautiful blue sky day and about 30 degrees at 10am. As you might imagine, Jie-Jie (binks) was in a summery skirt and t-shirt (and looking very cute and girly). I hail a taxi and wait for it to pull up. In the meantime, two Chinese women come over, poke their heads in my pram, look at me and look at each other and start ranting. I can see they are desperately trying to tell me something. I know what it is, but actually, I am a 32 year old mother of two and I don't need to be told, so I take the polite option 'Ting bu dong' (I don't understand) 'debuchi' (sorry) (excuse my pinyin, it sucks).

This seems to ramp things up a bit and they become more aggitated and in my face. Their communication skills improve exponentially, aided with miming.

At this point, I have to ask why does miming work for them when they need to tell me I am a bad mother for under dressing my children and why the hell am I even outside my home and not for me when I want 2 minute chicken noodles? Geez guys, throw me a frickin bone here...

Mei Mei had no Maozi (beanie/hat/coif) on (crime #1), no woollen cardigan (crime #2) and no socks (abomination unto Nuggan oh my god the world will end!). The taxi has pulled up while all this is happening, a security guard has come to see what the fuss is all about and me, I'm just wanting to be allowed to go on with my businness, get to Playgroup and have a nice day, ya know?

So eventually frustration kicks in, I tell them to piss off (and they pretend not to get my drift and get more in my face). I get Jie Jie (binks) in the taxi, Mei Mei next to her in her capsule, collapse the pram, get it in the (already full and that's another rant) boot and push them out of the way (they are now at the window pointing and yelling at me) so I can get in taxi and get the hell out of there. Resisting the urge to really let it fly and give a few hand gestures as we depart.

Then I get to where I am going and the guys on the door at the venue help me out of the taxi (angels, bless them). As I am walking along, there's more staring etc and a random guy walks along side me, staring in the pram, gets in front of me and then stops right in front of the pram, blocking my way, preventing me from going anywhere, just so he can have a better look in my pram. I mean FFS! So I look at him, smile, say Xie-Xie and Zai Jian (thankyou and goodbye) when he compliments me on my two beautiful babies and arrive 40 minutes late at Playgroup.

So you think I have it easy here?

Again with the wisful clicking of heels and no place like home. I'd seriously just like to be able to go out with my kids and not be hassled. Just for once. Too much to ask?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Topique du Jeur

Or something like that...
While everyone's talking about the Big D, I thought I would throw in that it has come to my attention that homesickness is actually a form of depression.

I never knew that!

I find I am constantly homesick here, especially now when it is exacerbated by Hormones (or fluctuation thereof) but the most severe homesickness I have ever had was when I was 17 and had moved out of my home in Orange to start my nursing career in Darlinghurst, Sydney. I was physically ill to the point of weight loss because I couldn't eat. My mentors were about to pack my bags and send me home to my mother.

So there you go.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Birth in Beijing

I have been trying to write this post for days. But I am either too exhausted to put something comprehensive together or busy with Jie-Jie & Mei-Mei to write. So here's a very quick summary, mainly because I think some people might be interested.

Initially I was going to write a blow-by-blow, then I thought about writing a comparison between my experience in Sydney and the one I have just had in Beijing, but I would be easily sidetracked and overwhelmed by the need to rant at various points. So 'The Good', 'The Bad' and 'The Ugly' it is.

The Good (in no order of preference):
- We didn't pay a single yuan.
- Great facilities
- Very quick and efficient service
- Everything went smoothly
- Lactation Consultant in hospital was awesome!
- Private Lactation Consultant is Aussie and she seriously rocks!
- We had a candle-lit dinner in my room (ok, it was actually 'chicken-cooker'/phototherapy bed lit, but was still quite lovely)
- The staff were very kind and fussed much over Mei-mei.
- At no point did I feel like I was being closed in my room and forgotten about
- Buzzer was actually answered. And very quickly!
- The staff spoke english and were very polite, No-one was rude or harsh.
- I made it very clear I wanted to breastfeed & this was supported and encouraged.
- No recovery unit meant I was back in my room immediately, skin to skin with Mei-mei and breastfeeding within half an hour of her birth. Brilliant!
- Dr Brooks (my obs) whipped people into line when they needed to be and made them back off when I needed people out of my face. He was very relaxed and realistic

The Bad:
(And here you have to understand I am an experienced nurse and will tend to be a bit critical)

- Basic Nursing Care was a little lax. I mean, they were surprised and a little freaked out that I got up and had a shower the next morning (they hadn't given me a post-op sponge, or provided anything for me to be able to clean myself up). Yucko.
- Over here, nursing staff are not so much the patient advocates that we are back home. This means I had to call the shots (ha! cracked a funny) when it came to my pain relief and keep tabs on when, what and how. Wasn't so bad for me because I'm trained to do this anyway, but not so hot if you don't know the go.
- Oh and it never hurts to introduce yourself to the patients in your care. This is the usually the very first thing they teach you in both nursing and medical school. It's not a toughie to get right.
- It was an expensive (and oh boy, do I mean expensive) hospital, I would have expected a lot better nursing care. They fussed over Mei-mei, but did not really see to my needs as well as they should have.
- My arms were tied down during the c-section! In Australia, to do this without consent constitutes abuse! This really upset Mr C and really upset me, once I realised what had happened (too late).
- I was sedated. Totally unnecessarily. Not happy.
- They didn't explain what they were doing to me and why. Again with the not happy.
- To get any information at all out of anybody, you are really pushing it uphill. This is a country where no-one wants to accept any responsibility, therefore to give information freely puts people at risk of getting it wrong. No-one ever gets anything wrong here. Neither can they admit it when they just don't know.
- There were an endless stream of people in my room from customer service and accounts to doctors I hadn't met, all rubbing their hands together gleefully. Glad we weren't paying!
- No, my window isn't open.
- No, my baby dosen't need to be fed every half a bloody hour, she is sucking on her fists because she is trying to settle. Please don't bother her.
- No, I do not want to formula feed my baby.
- No, my baby is not cold.
- No, my husband and daughter do not have swine flu.
- Yes, I am up and walking. What else am I supposed to do, lie here like an invalid?
- No, please don't manhandle my breasts and squeeze the life out of them. They are already quite painful enough without you causing further damage. I will put the baby on the breast myself, thankyou.
- I have done this before, being the mother of a three year old already. I am not completely clueless.
- They freak out here at anything slightly out of the normal parameters. Mei-mei had some jaundice and lost a little (acceptable) weight. They placed alot of stress on me, insisting that I supplement with formula, feed every hour etc. I get why, but really, it wasn't necessary. At least I had a good, clued in, culturally sensitive (Australian) Obstetrician and a decent lactation consultant who made it all good.

The Ugly:
- We won't talk about the ugly. You don't need to know anything except that my room was on the labour ward and it wasn't necessarily Mei-mei keeping me awake at night.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Have to say, there is something extra yummy about Mothers Day when there's a newborn in the house. That and this year, we decided Persmonster was old enough to get what it actually means. So I got a handmade card, some cuddles and brunch at the Sofitel with my famiy. Brunch at the Sofitel includes endless flowing Verve champagne and some damn fine desserts (oh and a kids play area complete with ayis), so feel a bit spoiled.

And now, everyone's in bed asleep except for me...

Should I
a)Sneak out to the flower markets for a while
b)Play some Warcrack

I know it's sad, but somehow I think c) is going to win...