debbi's blog

Cue the Tiny Violins Please

I'm finding life a little hard.

I woke up this morning with a sore, sore throat. Normally, a sore throat wouldn't get me down. But it is a sore throat on a looong string of other random sicknesses and discomforts starting from our Chinese New Years vacation. We had the food poisoning, then we both sunburnt really badly, the bug bites that had me in the scratching  pain/ecstacy cycle. Then I had the cold that turned into bronchitis and now I have this sore throat. And I'm sitting here wondering what this sore throat represents. Another 2 weeks of being ill? Is our new house somehow one of those toxic houses that make it's inhabitants ill? And in my crazier, more panicked moments I worry that I'm going to end up with something really serious. Swine flu?

And it isn't just me. Dave is sick too. He never gets sick! He's had pink eye and now a rotten cold that has lasted a week. It is hard work to take care of each other when you're both sick.

And I kinda feel like I've reached the end of my sickness rope. I'm tired and upset and I'm not sure how much more I can take.

I'm sure this is a teeny blip on a life well lived, but while I'm here, it is really hard to see the good things.

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Recreating Everything

Warning. This post is about fetuses. If you are tired of hearing about fetuses....don't read this post. But because I have a little fetus that kicks me means I'm a bit distracted from other things. Please know that I can't help myself.

We went for our ultrasound on Wednesday. And we saw Otis*. Sometimes it was difficult for us to know what exactly we were looking at. The technician would say, "You'll have to use your imagination here, but these are his kidneys."

And we would turn our heads to the side and look and try and imagine kidneys or the cerebellum, or the gall bladder. It didn't really matter that we could truly see that black and white blobby thing was Otis's gall bladder. Personally, I was looking for an arm coming out of his forehead. Which he doesn't have. He also has a good looking spine with no spina bifida. His legs are in alignment. The nuchal fold is good. He has 10 fingers, a nose, a mouth. He has a heart that beats with 4 separate chambers. He was mostly compliant but at the end, he refused to move so the technician could get a better look at his heart. And throughout the ultrasound, as I saw him on the screen, I felt him move.

It is pretty crazy that I was looking at Otis before he was even born. I still have 20 weeks of baking to go before we meet him. My imagination is running wild. What does he look like? Who will he look like me or Dave? Will he be a happy baby? What will his personality be like? Will he be social like me? Or studious like Dave? Or neither? Will I be the mother I want to be? I have all of these questions that can't be answered quite yet. And that is okay. I'm knitting together a baby and becoming a mother myself. These things take time. And I'm coming to terms that our lives are going to change drastically. And that takes time too. So I have my questions, but I'm happy to wait for the answers.


*We don't know the sex of the baby. We didn't find out. But instead of referring to the fetus as...the fetus or the baby or it, we just go with the name Otis and the pronoun him.

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My baby loves Optimus Prime

Being pregnant in HK is a very interesting experience. My co-workers have tons of advice for me. And in my Canadian mind, I'm baffled by the advice. I'm not supposed to eat watermelon, mango and banana. I'm not supposed to run, jump, lift things, or get upset. My co-worker bumped me in the hallway and apologized for two days after. I usually have no problems integrating myself into Chinese culture, but I think pregnancy is where I really stick out. I'm running off of the advice that was given to my mom, when she was pregnant with me. Dr. Norris said that she could do everything that she was already doing, but she probably shouldn't take up sky diving. So, I'm trying to take that advice to heart. My co-workers just shake their heads at me as I run down the hallway and tell me to slow down. But I just smile and go off to eat my watermelon.

One of the best parts of being pregnant in HK is that was that one of my students now quizzes me everytime he sees me. "Ms. Debbi, your baby like spiderman? Ms. Debbi, your baby like sharks? Ms. Debbi, your baby like transformers?" I always answer yes to each of his questions. "Ms. Debbi, your baby like dinosaurs?"  

The rest of his class has picked up the question too. Everytime that I go into their classroom, most students have their hands up ready to ask me, "Ms. Debbi, your baby like Hello Kitty/ice cream/chocolate/McDonalds?" (yes/yes/yes/NO. I cannot, in good consious, say that my baby likes McDonalds.)

Their class teacher rolls her eyes and laughs everytime they start quizzing me. But I think it is good for them. They need to search for the English vocabulary for what they want to ask me. It's fun. I laugh, the class teacher laughs, the children laugh and learn. Perfect.

So although I'm breaking all the HK pregnancy rules, my co-workers know that it is part of me being who I am as a Canadian (or at least someone who isn't from HK). I seem to be fine, and the baby seems to be fine, so they aren't too worried. (My one co-worker wants to see how the kid's temperment turns out after all the bananas I've eaten.) I've really tapped into a part of HK culture that I had never seen before, which is great because I'm so interested in how it all works. I'm sure there is much more to be learned though.

And in case you were wondering, Yes, my baby LOVES transformers, especially Optimus Prime.

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Adventures in the cattle car....I mean maternity care in Hong Kong

A doctor appointment:

Dave and I enter the room. This nurse/assistant says, "Put your bag there and lay down on this table. And you, (Dave) go sit over there (behind a screen)."

The assistant asks me, "So you have never had an ultrasound?"
Wait 2 beats.
The doctor asks Dave, "So your wife has never had an ultrasound?"

We both say no. I skipped the 12 week dating ultrasound because I thought it was unnecessary and I want to avoid too many interventions. Neither person asks us why we missed the ultrasound and it seems as though they think that I simply forgot to attend.
I lay down on the bed...and then....I am totally getting forcibly undressed by this assistant. No, 'can you lift up your shirt?' 'Can you show me your belly?' No asking, just grabbing. I-ya!

I am suddenly surrounded by a Dr, 2 medical students and an assistant. No one introduces themselves. The doctor sticks a FREEZING cold stethoscope on my chest. Brrrr. The medical students stare.

Then before i know what hit me, a freezing doppler is stuck to my stomach. That is when I put the stops on. "Stop. What are you doing?" I say.
"This is my assistant" says the doctor.
"No, no, no, WHAT are you doing? Is that a doppler?"
"Those are my medical you want them to leave?" She looks at the students and gives them a dirty look. Like they had totally disrupted her flow.
"NO. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Is that a doppler?"
She looks at me like I'm crazy and says, "Yes it is a doppler, I'm listening for the baby's heartbeat."
"OK, thank you." (Thank you for finally listening to my question.)

She finds the heartbeat and I get all warm and gooshy. I have been having a recurring fear that I actually have a stomach tumor and not a fetus. Well, at least my tumor has a heartbeat.

While all of this is happening, Dave is stuck behind a screen. Like he has never seen what my stomach looks like. Like there is some sort of modesty to preserve. Let me tell you ladies, modesty in this relationship disappeared a loooong time ago.

The doctor finishes listening and wipes the goop off my stomach. I am now allowed to sit up and go behind the screen. The doctor begins to dismiss me. I haven't been asked if I had any questions or concerns.

I broke down at school the week before because I really hated the way I was being treated in the hospital and my principal had this great wisdom to share. "Don't care about them. They are very busy and need to get through many people but you must demand that they answer your questions. So if they seem impatient with you, ignore them and demand answers."
So I start asking. "I think I have pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. Is there anything I can do?"
"You should do more exercise." the doctor says.
"I easily get cramps while walking. Is this normal?"
"It's normal. You should walk more slowly." the doctor says.

Note to self, do more exercise but do it slowly. Ok.

"I have a head cold and would like a sick leave certificate for all of today."
"Do you have a fever?"
"If you have a fever, you should go see a doctor." (Aren't you a doctor?)
She is actually very reluctant to give me a sick leave certificate and it appears that she wants me to waste more time and money going to a different doctor to get a sick certificate. I have to remind her that I need the certificate.

After this exchange, she just stops talking to me. Her assistant takes over. I am told that if I miss my 20 week ultrasound, I don't get any other ones. Ok. I am also told that if I go a week overdue that I am to admit myself to the hospital. I nod my head but know that there is no way on earth I will go and admit myself to the hospital for only being a week overdue without any other concerns. (note: I'll not be playing footloose and fancy free with my health, I'll be under the care of a private midwife.)

And with that, I leave. I'm happy to have heard Otis's heartbeat, but man-oh-man, if we have a second kid, he/she will not be born in Hong Kong.

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frenemy? or just plain enemy

Ah, my old friend Anxiety. I can't say that I've missed you much. Not that you're usually gone long enough for me to to miss you. I see you've brought friends this time. Not nice to see you Panic and I wish you hadn't brought along Insomnia. I really don't like him.

Anxiety, I liked you better when you had moved to the suburbs. You didn't like the city too much and didn't come to visit me as often. But now because I'm pregnant you decided to get a house right next to mine. Perfect. And of course you've invited Panic and Insomnia to stay. How very kind of you.

I've got to see if there is a zoning restriction and get you evicted.

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This is a very sad post.

Last night, our beautiful dog Caper was hit by a taxi and passed away. Dave was there to comfort him in the end.

Caper came to us as a wee little puppy and grew up into a very happy dog who was gentle with children and baby kitties. He always amazed us by being afraid of old ladies with umbrellas, bicycles, shutters on windows, loud noises and the dark and all of his little neuroticisms helped him to fit in perfectly with us.

Both Dave and I are really devastated and are going to miss his happy little face welcoming us home.

Caper's cool outfit
Caper - getting bigger
Laying Caper
Caper and Dave doing the laundry
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A Witness

I was back stage watching. I really wasn't involved other than I was an extra set of hands.

My K3 students put on their graduation show and it was marvelous. There was so much action backstage. Teachers putting piles of make up on each student, adjusting costumes and asking students to be quiet. No one really had an opportunity to see the other two sister kindergarten's performances. We were too focused on our own students this year.

I don't think I can explain the scale of these events my kindergarten puts on. The students rehearse for months. They dance and dance and dance. There was to be a component of a choir, but it got canceled because of all of the swine flu scares.

Each year they choose a theme. Last years performance was all about getting married and having a baby that would go to kindergarten. It was cute, but this year they really outdid themselves. They based all of their dances on traditional Chinese music. One of the students was this teacher/professor of sorts who was introducing his student to different things. They had him wave a massive paint brush and had a video of someone writing Chinese calligraphy. The students ran around under massive red lanterns with magenta-coloured feathered fans. Several students did the splits and showed off their flexibility. They had a massive lengths of blue satin to represent rivers and students dressed to be fishermen with paddles and straw hats. One group of students did a lantern dance and when the lights were dimmed you could see that the lanterns were lit with glow sticks. And at the end off this incredible routine one of the smallest students climbed up on top of a pyramid of his peers and stood up perfectly straight and he didn't fall. He stood until the curtain closed.

And when the curtain closed, I clapped so hard. And I cried. I was so proud of these kids, my students. I had taught them for 1.5 years and even in that short time, they had grown so much. And this crazy and extravagant routine was the the end of their kindergarten years. I was proud to have been a part of their lives.

I do think that it is going to get harder as the years I spend at this kindergarten go by. Last years students were wonderful kids but they were only taught one semester by me. This up-coming school year, I'll see students I started teaching when they were three years old move into their final year of kindergarten. And hopefully I'll get to stand back stage and applaud them for all of the wonderful things they had achieved.

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