I just thought you were getting fat!

The news is officially out that I am pregnant. At almost 6 months along, I think it’s pretty hard to miss my bulging belly, but apparently for many people here, it’s not obvious. A few people have made extremely blunt comments when I’ve seen them, such as, “You got quite fat over the summer!” or “Oh, I just thought you were fat now!” I think it’s a combination of both the fact that the Chinese are not shy about calling a spade a spade and letting people know that they are fat, along with the fact that people don’t expect me to be pregnant again because I already have a child. These comments have made me laugh, and yes, I must agree, I am getting a little fat (let’s face it, it’s not all baby).

So far, being pregnant in China has been pretty good. Some perks have included a definite seat on every bus (as long as I stick my belly out purposefully as I get on the bus, which I do, because frankly, I really do need the seat as buses here are really crowded and crazy!). The first time it happened, an old lady gave me her seat – one which frankly, she probably needed more than I did. But, as I’ve stated before on this blog, when in China, one does NOT argue with an elderly Chinese lady. You just agree and do as she says. So I sat down, hoping she’d survive the rest of the bus ride on her feet. About five seconds later, I heard a cranky groan and what was the equivalent of, “Oh for crying out loud, lady!” coming from behind me. I turned to see an older man (in much better shape than the aforementioned lady), get up and give his seat to her. I was relieved! People also mysteriously believe that if you are pregnant you become incapacitated here. I think because women only go through pregnancy once in China, people really milk it for all it’s worth that one time around. So people marvel at my ability to carry Leo, carry groceries, walk to the store, go to classes, walk anywhere really, exercise (this rarely happens purposefully if I’m being totally honest here), jog after Leo and play ball with him, etc… I am Wonder Woman here! It doesn’t take much, apparently.
Some things have been more challenging. Grocery shopping has become a pretty exhausting chore as I’m on foot and have no shopping cart, and Leo is now impossible to carry on my back along with all of the groceries. So I’m currently shopping for a good (and light) stroller, and meanwhile trying to schedule shopping trips when he can stay behind. I’ve also learned the fine art of bribing my child with treats so he’ll walk beside me and behave in the grocery store aisles. So far, so good. I’ve also received very few “Congratulations” from Chinese people here upon hearing the news that I am again pregnant. Usually people say, “Na hen xinku a?” which basically means, “Wow, that’s not an easy situation, eh?” This is a bit of a downer, as I’m overjoyed to be pregnant and wish to share that joy rather than be brought down a notch by the reminder that it’s going to be a lot of hard work. I know it’s hard work to have children, but I really like them anyway, thanks! I think people here are really trying to commiserate and relate, but it strikes an odd note with me. People know that we are here without our parents, and this already makes our situation very difficult in their eyes (I’m sure my mother is nodding her head at this!). Every child here has six adults looking after him or her – parents and both sets of grandparents. Seeing as we are already burdened with one child and no grandparents, another child seems unfathomable. Although I try to explain that in the US the grandparents do not raise the grandchild as in China, and in fact we do not think this is the ideal, it still causes some consternation and confusion in those not familiar with Western culture. We share with people that although both of us would welcome our parents to Nanjing if they wanted to be closer to us, they would still not assume the leadership role in raising our child (children) as is the custom in China. And furthermore, we’re pretty certain our parents would not want this responsibility, as much as they love our kids! These are interesting conversations and it’s great to have even more reason to have them now that I’m pregnant again.
We are also busy visiting hospitals and trying to figure out where to have this baby. This decision is still up in the air, and another whole post will be devoted to birth in China (if not more than one post, I’m sure). We’re hopeful to give birth in Nanjing, and will most likely decide in the next month or so.

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5 Responses to “I just thought you were getting fat!”


  1. 1 Mom September 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    re: Grocery store bribing
    One event that still stands out in my memory is taking John Michael to the store, handing him M&M’s as we started, and then watching him gobble them up in a wink. Within five minutes he was begging for something else and when I wasn’t immediately forthcoming with said treat, another shopper berated me for expecting too much of him in the face of all the store temptations.

  2. 2 Julie M. September 18, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Interesting!! (That applies to Mom’s comment too!)

    Liz, I would like to hear more about anything you’ve observed with Leo’s transitioning back from the US and China… as well as your and JM’s transitions. You’re all just so interesting! 🙂

    I’m off to John’s family’s house now, and I bet we will play Yahtzee as they also enjoy its endless delights!

  3. 4 mjfalk September 19, 2009 at 1:13 am

    As good parents we all want to encourage the behavior that we know will be in our child’s ultimate good, and, of course, discourage those behaviors that will (or could) become bad habits, unacceptable social behavior, etc. How to accomplish this in ways that show our child how very much we love them and want their happiness—ahhhh-this is the art of really good parenting. Many a child is well behaved because it makes him/her happy when Mom or/and Dad are obviously pleased. But then there are children who seem to lose that devotion far too soon, and become willful and may need a firmer hand, but applied with great love. We do want our child to cultivate a strong will, but also a deep love for doing good, and for being a good person. Prayer is a key component in this endeavor, and advice from other older and successful parents who seem to be doing the right things. It is fun to make jokes about this but we all have heartfelt hopes for our child’s future—a saint is in the making under our wing—big job from the Lord.

    • 5 Becca September 20, 2009 at 8:39 pm

      Yeah. Prayer and M&M’s. That’s why God gave us two grandma’s. All the more wisdom to impart! I’d like to build on the M&M’s advice. I find that giving one M&M at a time lasts longer and you can get farther in the store! ;o) You are an amazing woman Lizbeen! You’ve always been a Wonder Woman to me. (I am now singing a combination of “Wonder Woman” and “Always a Woman to Me”. Be glad you’re not here to hear!)

      I’m so thrilled for you and your family. The world will be a better place with more Lizbeen/JM Mullers in it! (and for all the Muller’s who are reading this…all Mullers in general).

      So much love and happiness for you.


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