Poo guy, tit woman and the little legend

In the end, our baby son stuck two tiny fingers up at the Chinese government’s best efforts to sabotage his entry into the world. Not that we knew this when, in the days leading up to his due date, Beijing closed major roads for the WWII 70th anniversary military parade and put parts of the city under martial law, making it impossible for us to know whether we could catch a taxi to the hospital should I go into labour. As a desperate solution, we booked into a hotel near the hospital for three nights, and had a bizarre sort of staycation 9km away from our house, and watched the parade on TV while jumping at every twinge in my lower regions.

The governmental restrictions had already made the last few weeks of the baby’s residence in my belly quite extraordinary. Our plans on the previous weekend were thwarted by whole entertainment areas, shopping malls and parks being shut for the rehearsal run of the parade, and instead we wandered around the block while military aircraft roared over us in perfect formation. Subway stations were closed for weeks all around Tiananmen with heavy security presence in hotspots that could potentially be targeted by terrorists. But most extraordinary of all, we had days and days of unrelenting blue skies and clean air, as road traffic and other polluting activities were restricted, partly to guarantee perfect weather during the world athletics championships Beijing was hosting just before the parade. This meant that, as my cervix thinned and dilated and the doctor predicted baby’s imminent arrival, we benefited from some pleasant walks and a feeling of good omen.

Even without these once-in-a-decade road restrictions, expat parents-to-be in Beijing worry about how to get to the hospital above most other things. Traffic is gridlock in many parts of the city for large parts of the day and ambulances only take you to the nearest hospital and have no actual priority on the road, while taxis refuse customers that look bothersome and evaporate off the streets at the first hint of rain. Every gathering of pregnant expat women and their spouses involve anxious debates about the usability of Uber, the availability of friends with cars, and even – like we did – the possibility of staying in a hotel near the hospital as the due date draws near.

But, in the end, our little boy defied the government’s mischiefs and the doctor’s prophecies, and instead strolled into our world a full five days after the whole military muscle-flexing charade was over, and gave us time to find a taxi during evening rush hour and get to the hospital without contractions. He even let me watch the first half of the opening credits of Friends before making a shift for the exit; there’s a photo of me in the hospital gown hunched over the side of the bed in agony while behind me on the TV screen the words ‘Matthew Perry’ are flashing over a dancing Chandler, a photo that DD took with a little too much amusement.

A few surreal hours later, baby emerged without fuss and took on the daunting task of being alive without a flutter, which thankfully meant that any cultural differences and linguistic miscommunications between us and the Chinese medical team were more comical than infuriating. We were very lucky, not only to have ended up with a beautiful, feisty son, but also to have enjoyed the benefits of giving birth in Beijing on a private healthcare package while suffering little of the potential downsides.

In the past week, while we wait for the air – now foul again – to clear up so we can venture outside or even open windows, baby has carved up roles for his parents very nicely. When he’s hungry, he calls on tit woman, who zealously showers him with a Niagara-like supply of milk, after which he rings for poo guy who dutifully attends to his behind. Baby’s own role, meanwhile, is simply to be the little legend that he is – bringing us joy, wonderment, panic, terror and joy again in an intense cycle that will continue for the rest of our lives, and has only just begun.

 

Copyright © 2015 followingdrdippy

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