I guess it’s finally time that I got round to writing something about the last week, but, well, where to start? I’ll take it one day at a time, I suppose.
This time last week V went into hospital to check up on the progress of the week-late baby. The doctors were unequivocal – it needed to come out, by caesarean section, as soon as possible. V wasn’t happy about that, she’d had her heart set on a natural delivery from the start, and she suspected that the hospital were just covering for a lack of expertise in dealing with natural births. She stayed in hospital that night, and I arrived with her mother the following morning to take her to another hospital for a second opinion – but this plan never happened. When we got there she was on the baby heart monitor machine, a frightening little box that amplifies your baby’s heartbeat so that you can squirm and panic for 10 minutes a time. When the results were out the doctors had a further word with us – the baby was too big now, every movement or contraction was restricting his air supply and making his heartrate drop – a c-section was needed ASAP. We had to agree. A few hours later and we had one more monitoring session before the surgery. Around halfway through it the baby’s heart-rate started dropping dangerously. A crowd of doctors and nurses rushed in, looking panicked, and ordered me and V’s mum to leave the room. I paced up and down the corridor while she prayed and shook. It was a truly terrifying five minutes before they let us in again. The heart-rate had risen again, the dip had been caused by constriction, surgery was needed immediately.
V was wheeled up to the fourth floor. I waited outside with V’s mother, she continued praying and I continued pacing. After 20 minutes, at 5.30pm on the 25th of February 2011, we heard the sound of a baby crying from behind the door, and ten minutes later my son was wheeled out in a hospital cot, and I got my first look at him. He was BIG, 4.05kg (8lbs15oz) apparently. V isn’t a big girl, so it’s fortunate that we didn’t press for a natural birth. She came out half an hour later and we all went down to the ward. I hope she can forgive me for posting such an unflattering photo of her, but it pretty much says it all
While I took care of V, her mother looked after the baby, who was sleeping soundly. He was very pink and looked a little like me, a little like V, and a lot like Winston Churchill.
We stayed in the ward for another 5 days. I left occasionally to go home and even went to work a couple of times, but V’s mother went home for only about three hours, on the 4th day, otherwise staying on constant baby-watch. She can’t have got more than 10 hours sleep – quite a feat for a 59-year-old woman. We were all feeling pretty exhausted by the end of the stay, and tempers were frayed a bit of course, but generally all ended well.
We shared a “ward” (a little room with three beds in it) with two other mothers-babies-and-families. At times I would count how many people were there and get a figure of 17 or 18. At the start there was an immense, red-faced woman in the next bed, but she was replaced by the wife of a soldier who’d named her baby ‘TangTang’. V’s mother helpfully told them that was the name of our dog, and they didn’t speak to us for the next day.
Our baby needed a name too, of course. Since we’re in China right now it’s a Chinese name – 梅亚雷, pronounced Méi yà léi (the accents show the tones – up, down, up). An English name isn’t needed immediately, but we’ve chosen one anyhow. The closest sound I could find to “Meiyalei” is “Milan”, a Czech name and nothing to do with the city in Italy. V & I also like Milan Kundera, and Milan Baroš played in the famous 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan, so it seems to have a good lineage. The middle name is Curtis, partially because I love Curtis Mayfield and Adam Curtis, but mainly because “Milan Curtis Errington” sounds like a very distinguished individual, in whatever field he decides to try. On the other hand it doesn’t sound like a baby’s name, and people are going to ask endless questions about AC Milan. But we’ll have a nickname soon enough, and people always ask annoying questions, so it saves a bit of thinking time for them.
Yesterday V was feeling well enough, and walking around unaided, so we came home with “The Baby”, and set off the traditional firecrackers outside the apartment building. Here he is again, with his eyes open (finally!), looking a bit grumpy.
No, we don’t know why the nurses put a red splodge on his forehead
PS – a note to anyone who gets here from a link on Facebook – I’ve set up an automated thing where LJ forwards posts to FB, because the Great Firewall means I need a couple of proxies and a bit of good luck to get into Facebook at all. I only get on there for ten minutes every couple of weeks, and after I press a few buttons it tends to stop working. If you want to leave a comment could you please put it here? Ta.