Pregnancy Update – 36 weeks and counting

I was 36 weeks pregnant on Friday, which means my baby is pretty near full term. If I went into labor now, it would be okay. That is a relief, and everything is looking good on the baby’s end – she is head down and growing bigger every day. Leo is more and more suspicious of my huge belly, although last week (of his own free will) he gave my belly a kiss and a pat. So there is hope for him yet as a big brother.

I am pretty much over being pregnant, and especially over being pregnant in China. JM and I were musing about this and more today, as we were coming back in the early evening from a particularly trying outing where it was freezing (no heat inside sometimes) and Leo was expected to behave like a really good 10 year old for 2 hours (that didn’t happen), and it also happened to be rainy and very cold and everyone just HAD to beat us to the bus (by running by us and not even thinking twice about letting the big pregnant lady and toddler in out of the rain in any other position but last).

Overall, our experience is that anything you do in China is just harder and takes longer than if you were in America. And that’s just not because we are foreign and lack knowledge or language at this point. It’s just true! They do not have Target here, and if they did, I would not have a car to drive there and load up full of conveniences to take back to my very likely garaged house to unload into my spacious pantry and basement storage area (because I have no car, and I have no spacious house with storage). We have no clothes drier, so we just have to keep up with the laundry and plan ahead. Sometimes it rains and then we just have to wait longer for dry things. We order clean water because the tap water is unfit for drinking. And the list goes on, but I will save you my pity party :). Most of the time, these minor inconveniences are just that, minor – and we’ve got it really good, no matter if we lived in America or China. But right now, with a 2 year old and on the verge of giving birth, we get overwhelmed and very tired sometimes.

Living in China has made it more difficult to take care of myself during this pregnancy. My old doctor would be happy to hear this, but I haven’t gained an ounce in over a month (which is unlike me – I easily and happily gained weight until the day I birthed Leo!), and have had a bit of high blood pressure developing during the same time (also unlike me – my blood pressure has always been perfect). And, to top it off, I somehow caught a virus last week that has left me with a case of Bell’s Palsy on the right side of my face (it’s mild, and probably not permanent – but it paralyzes one side of the face – so I look a little funny right now, but I’m not drooling – yet). During my last pregnancy, I had greater access to healthier, less pesticide laden food, lots of raw veggies (which I basically can’t eat here, or I risk food poisoning), and just a lifestyle that was much healthier and less stressful in some ways. So, now when my doctors tell me to just rest and take care of myself – I do try, but at the end of each day, I feel like I’ve still worked really hard to just keep it together. Remembering to drink enough water and take my vitamins are goals that sometimes still feel out of reach in between hanging laundry, bartering for vegetables at the market, staying out of the clouds of 2nd hand smoke, or trying to figure out how to reserve O- blood for my birth.

It does make me appreciate the privilege of living an American life. And for all my gripes at the moment, I am still quite grateful to be here. China is an amazing place. But if I’m really honest, I have longed for home more in the last month and a half than ever before. And not just the conveniences of American life, but also for the understanding and concern that comes without any curiosity about my ‘foreignness’. And for the understanding of what it’s like to have a second child at all without four grandparents waiting and ready to serve you and the child hand and foot. I do have to carry my toddler, I do have to do my own shopping, I do have to clean my house, and do our laundry, take my toddler out to play when it’s freezing, do a little work and a little study, and I can not always rest. (And just for the record, JM has been an absolute HERO and is taking on a TON around here so that I can rest as much as I am!) Many pregnant women, no matter what their geographical location or economic status, can relate to many of these late-pregnancy challenges, but being in China has certainly added to my own experience of pregnancy this time around.

The little girl that I tutor comes with her grandfather every Monday afternoon to our house for a lesson. A couple of Mondays ago, as they were leaving and I was telling them that I was about to make dinner, her grandfather just shook his head and said, "This house really needs a grandmother." This made me smile! It’s not that my house is a wreck (in fact, I could ease up my standards just about now), but he just sees this huge difference between the life of his daughter (who works more than full time and has her sister come every day to clean and cook as well as her own mother and father who are retired living there who are essentially raising her little girl, my student) and my life. At the end of the day though, I prefer my life. I want to raise my children, and although I would delegate more household tasks if I could, I also like that JM and I are truly the mother and father in our home.

So to sum up this pregnancy update: I would like to give birth now. 😉 I am more than ready to meet our baby girl (and so excited about that!). I am also more than ready to reclaim my un-pregnant self, who is a bit lighter on her feet and more capable of living in China.


5 Responses to “Pregnancy Update – 36 weeks and counting”

  1. 1 Im Pregnant December 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    I remember back when I was pregnant around that time so I completely understand what you were saying!

  2. 2 mjfalk December 14, 2009 at 11:00 am

    One great thing about pregnancy–it has a definite duration—and a huge reward at its completion. Be sure to point out to Leo that he came from this same belly—this same Lord of life—that Daddy and Mommy are hard at work with Joy because of him and the princess about to make her appearance in your home. Bethlehem looks wonderful on the Christmas cards, but I bet Mary might have liked to be in Nazareth for the delivery with a few disposable diapers and central heating– instead of Gold, Frankinscence and Myrhh (?). And the trip to Egypt probably wasn’t any picnic either. But today we celebrate the final outcome of that Birth with great Joy and Thanksgiving. Don’t forget, Liz, your first name isn’t Mary for nothing—–

  3. 3 Orianne December 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Liz, you are my hero. You are truly an amazing, strong, and brave woman. I feel so proud to know you and to consider you such a dear friend. Big hugs and kisses and so glad that you’re on the other side of this now with a beautiful baby girl! XOXOXO

    • 4 Sara January 20, 2010 at 4:19 am

      Dear, dear Liz, my heart strings are pulled by every word. I wish I could reach through my computer screen and out yours and give you a BIG hug and maybe even bring you back for a break over here for a few hours. Though truth be told, if you visited right now, as you feel so homesick and preparing for birth, you probably wouldn’t want to go back. I understand your every detail. I understand how tough it is for you. I am amazed how you can find joy and appreciation and patience at such times.

      I felt those feelings, I faced those plights, I murmured at those same inconveniences, and then you were always there to make me feel loved, appreciated, cheered, and at home. God bless you forever.

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