Saturday, August 25, 2012

Squeeze From the Bottom

Life in China is full of quirky little things that we find fun.  For example, we buy ketchup in a tube - like toothpaste.

We choose the tube not only because it is the cheapest form of ketchup. It's also fun to squeeze out the last drop.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Primative World

Last year, while fishing the Mackinaw River in Illinois, I found a beer can. It was a relic, perhaps buried in muck for decades. It was an interesting find because I'm too young to remember pull tab cans. I even took it home and kept in the garage for a while. The world sure has changed....

"Please Don't Litter"

A vented wide mouth didn't satisfy you, and neither do cans shaped like bottles. I won't even ask about your disappointment with labels that change color.  Never fear, beer scientists are constantly researching new gimmicks technology to improve your beer experience. Enter the new "Punch Top" can....because the only way to improve beer is to make it harder to open.

Yet somehow, people in China still get by with last year's model...

Some days it's a wonder how I survive here. I can barely drink this beer.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thus Begins the Next Adventure

Oh what an amazing week we've had! I sit here keeping the first night watch while Shayne sleeps, and I'm still in awe. I'm going to start with some pictures.  Keep scrolling if you'd like to read more detail about the craziest morning of our lives.

At least someone is "on target."

"Gerke Baby of Shayne"

It certainly is real, but I don't think the gravity of the situation has sunk in yet. It all started Monday morning....

July 30th, 6:00am: At the top of the hour (almost on the dot) I was awoken to the pitter-patter of Shayne's bare feet on hardwood as she ran to the bathroom. The baby had grown larger and begun to take up more space, such a thing wasn't terribly surprising. I went back to sleep.

6:10am: My alarm went off and it was time to start another work week. I headed for the bathroom to start the day and was greeted by a closed door and the sound of weeping. I asked "Are you ok?"

"I think my water broke."

6:25am: In the kitchen and trying to decide if it really happened....we elected to wait 15 minutes for another sign. I started a pot of coffee. Shayne ran back to the bathroom - yep it really happened. I sent a message to our driver. Due to the language barrier it's best to keep such messages brief. I told him "Come now, baby!" His response (translated via Google translate app) was "OK. i will reach in 30 minute."

Mr. Wang

6:25-6:50am: I ran around the house frantically throwing everything I can find into a suitcase. She wasn't due for another 3 weeks, so our level of preparedness was at about 6:50am I increased that to 90%. Shayne started to complain about a little pain, but nothing severe.

Our birthing package came with a "candle lit dinner"

6:50am: My phone buzzes...."I reach now." We went down to the basement car park.

The candle was electronic

6:50am: The first part of our journey was on an express way and Mr. Wang found a way to capitalize the E in Expressway. I started to secretly time how often Shayne complained of pain, seven minutes between contractions. Shayne was still denying it and kept saying things like "we might get there and they send us home." I nodded my head in agreement but knew differently.

~8:00am: Because our van doesn't have a Shanghai license plate, there are certain roads near the hospital which we're not allowed to use during rush hour. Mr. Wang had to find a new way on the surface streets, the ring road was off limits. At every stop light he was looking at a map, I was watching the GPS on my phone as he missed a turn and had to circle back. This was about when Shayne started to moan during contractions and Mr. Wang started watching her in the rear view mirror. The time between contractions dropped to 4-5 minutes.

~8:05am: We got stuck behind a steady stream of at least 100 e-bikes (electric scooters...they're everywhere here). Shayne seriously considered jumping out of the van to yell at the e-bikers to get out of her way.

8:15am: We made it to Shanghai United Family Hospital and proceed to the second floor where the OB/GYN department resides. They told us to go straight to the third floor where a delivery room waited. Shayne had a contraction in the elevator, then we were told to go back down to the second floor. The second floor receptionist got confused and held us in the lobby while she called someone and said something in Mandarin. Shayne had a contraction in the lobby.

8:20am: In the apartment, my coffee machine turned itself off after two hours without any action.

8:35am: Shayne was hooked up to a fetal monitoring machine on the second floor. Baby's heartbeat was stable around 140bpm and contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. They tried to feed us toast, Shayne wasn't interested. A midwife came and announced Shayne was 4cm dilated and we should go back up to the third floor.

Shayne calls this a "milk coma." I'm immature and call it a "boob coma."

8:40am: They kicked someone else out of the delivery room, so we had to wait for it to be cleaned but we made it in. Shayne crawled slowly into bed and I went down to get the suitcase and send Mr. Wang home.

8:40-10:00am: Preparations are made and Shayne's contractions start to come rapid fire. Someone came in and insisted we read a menu and choose something for lunch.

Coming out of the boob coma
 10:00am: Shayne loudly declared she wanted an epidural. The anethesiologist was in the other room administering another epidural...we'd have to wait.

10:15am: The epidural went in, but Shayne only got a half dose because she was 8cm dilated and would be pushing soon.

10:25am: Epidural kicks in and brings sweet relief.

10:35am: Shayne started pushing and the room became instantly full of other people. Two midwives, an obstetrician, a pediatrician and a few nurses.

10:35-10:58am: Shayne pushed and I repeatedly got in trouble by the midwife for trying help.

10:58am: We became proud parents. A baby girl weighing 2.54kg and 47cm long. If you trust me to convert units, that's around 5lb 9oz and 18.5 inches. She came three weeks earlier than expected and is SUPER tiny, but otherwise healthy and self sufficient.

11:45am: They kicked us out the delivery room to let the first lady back in. We passed her in the hallway...she looked relieved to see we were done.

She loves to stick her legs straight up in the air.

 11:50am: Up until this time we hadn't time to think about what was happening. They put us in a private room and shut the door. We sat there looking at each other, finally realizing what happened.