As a result of recent technological developments, I am writing this blog entry in the obstetrics and gynaecology ward of The People’s Liberation Army 263 Hospital, Tongzhou. No, the baby’s not coming out today, we’re just here for the now-weekly check-up. This is the same sort of thing you might expect in the UK; ultrasound scans, vitamin injections, blood samples, endless tests, but since men are restricted to corridors my job is just to sit and wait for V to come back, and make sure her bag isn’t nicked. Sometimes she has to go to a different part of the hospital, so I get to sit in a different corridor, and that’s about the most exciting thing that ever happens on my afternoons here. Mind you, exciting events wouldn’t really be welcome right now, I’d be happy if the baby stayed inside for at least another few weeks.
Being a parent hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the baby is very much making his/her presence known. V’s belly moves in and out like something from Alien, hands and feet pushing out improbably. I swear, a few weeks more and we’ll be able to see the whole body shape and work out if it’s a boy or a girl by ourselves. V’s not a big lady, not even by Chinese standards, and I do worry sometimes that she won’t cope so well with having a big half-western baby, but in actuality it’s no bigger than the average so far, and apparently it’s in exactly the right position already. I’m not sure whether the stress will be increased or decreased by my being banned from the delivery room (no men allowed there either), but I’m reassured by the fact that everything seems to be going much more smoothly than it did for most of my friends when they were having their first babies.
Another hour at least to wait here now, while they produce another deliberately blurry ultrasound printout. It’s not so bad really. The chair is comfortable enough and I’ve brought an 18-hour audio book on the history of China, should be able to get through a few more chapters of that today.