Our baby had been in the world outside the womb for 24 hours when a woman arrived. Her job is to look after women and their babies during the month-long confinement (“yuezi”) almost every Chinese woman goes through after they have a baby. This is not an unusual job. Obviously I was pleased to see her, and managed to get off home that evening to have a proper sleep.
The next morning I came back with a load of special yuezi food, V’s mother and M. While we’d been in the hospital V’s mother had noticed that M’s “neck was too hot” so she’d given him a haircut like Henry the 5th. He wasn’t allowed in the maternity ward, but V’s mother got around this by just picking him up and taking him in anyway. The nurses didn’t think it was worth the trouble to argue with her. M made friends with the baby, who he insisted was named “Momp.”
The next few days were spent between the house and the hospital, trying to make myself useful in any way I could. V slowly got better, but it was still a few days before she could stand up and as I write this a week and a half later she’s still pretty far from full fitness. Here she is looking just about internet-post-acceptable.
On the Thursday they decided to turf us out. The national holiday had begun, and she was off the drips and could just about walk – and the baby was doing great, of course. We had a bit of an ordeal getting home though – I went to the front of the hospital to get a taxi, then tried to direct the driver inside the complex to where V was waiting. Instead of driving the whole way though, he just parked about 50 metres away, then honked his horn and shouted at her to come more quickly. I tried to explain that she couldn’t walk well and that we had a newborn baby, but this just made him even more furious for some reason. When she got to the car he announced that we were too much trouble, he wouldn’t take us and I should pay the fare and leave. Obviously I didn’t want to pay him anything, but he refused to open the boot and let us have the bags back, and showed he was serious by starting to drive away, so I had to pay up, then he sped off through the hospital shouting various obscenities at us. We were a bit shaken by this, V called the taxi company when we were inside another (very friendly and professional) taxi, so hopefully something will happen to him.
I hope this doesn’t all come off as extremely negative. We’re very happy with our baby, and happy that V is out of danger too. I wouldn’t say the hospital was terrible either – for China, at least. We could have gone to a private clinic for ten times the price, but the likelyhood was that for all their expensive decorations and free tea, the facilities would have been worse, and we couldn’t take any risks. We would’ve liked to go to Hong Kong, but they hate mainland women giving birth there. We would’ve liked to go back to the UK, but V isn’t allowed to use the NHS, even when she’s risking her life to give birth to a British citizen. So that’s just how it went.
We’re a week and a half into ‘yuezi’ now. Our little flat is full of people, to the extent that I’m not really needed, and have cancelled my leave and went back to work yesterday. My job so far has been taking care of / entertaining M, which has been just brilliant, honestly. Usually I only see him in the morning / evening and at the weekend I just want to rest, but this week I’ve just taken him all round the neighbourhood and forgotten about trying to get any chores done. Writing this, for example.
And the baby, of course, shouldn’t forget him, though there’s not that much to say. He’s tiny (still under 3kg – he was born at 37 weeks, so basically a month younger than M when he was born), and he still doesn’t do much apart from sleep and drink milk. Even crying is fairly minimal. Now’s the time that people want to hear about him, but at 37 weeks there’s just not that much to say. We don’t need to register his birth for another couple of weeks, but I suppose he sort of has a name now. ‘Theodore’ on paper – either ‘Theo’ or ‘Ted’ (not ‘teddy’) in real life. No real story behind this one – it was just the name that neither of us objected to. Middle name is still TBD, as is his Chinese name. He has to be 梅书-something, we’re just missing that third character. Apparently 梅书馆 and 梅书房 are not acceptable.