Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nanjing and ready to get our baby

Thanks to everyone who has left me comments. I can't log on to reply on Blogger, but I can read the comments on my email, and I appreciate that people take the time to let me know they're thinking of me. It's only been about 6 people total, though. My agents all waited till I emailed them personally, and I haven't heard from any family members yet. Maybe they forgot I'm here. Hehe, just kidding.

Yesterday we went to Tiananmen Square, where Chairman Mao's presence is strongly felt. Next door to that is the Forbidden City, the massive fortress where the Chinese emperors lived from 1424 to 1926. Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who is considered a hero in spite of his vocal disagreements with Mao, was responsible for the arm of the revolution that deposed the emperor and opened up the Forbidden City. It is nothing but a tourist attraction now, but it's huge and there are lots of buildings that have been converted into museum rooms. It's Gettysburg Meets Smithsonian, except much older by far than anything in US history.

Culinary discoveries yesterday include corn gelato. Yes, it's pureed frozen corn with a little bit of sugar added. It's delicious! It came with the Peking duck lunch, which is a staple in our tour package. The duck itself was also pretty good. It was cut into small slices and presented with a basket of mu shu pancakes and a tray of assorted condiments. We had to dip, add, and spread our way through lunch. A fun way for adults to play with their food! Afterwards, I announced, “I'm full! Now all I need is some ice cream.”

I was joking. I love ice cream, and there's plenty of it in the tourist areas of Beijing, but we didn't come here just to eat the same old foods we eat at home. However, just then, the waiter presented us with the corn gelatos.

Rick was impressed. “Wow, you can conjure up ice cream,” he said.

I'm going to skip over a bunch of stuff. We meet our next guide, Sandra, in 2.5 hours, and she's going to deliver us directly to the official building (which I am too disoriented to remember the name of) where we will meet AwesomeCloud. The kiddo. Our baby. The person who is about to become a third and permanent member of our household. The person on whom we've been utterly fixated since we first got his referral, since that fateful Mexican dinner at Sam Diego's where we gave ourselves barely an hour to make our decision, but actually only needed ten minutes.

(But that's not counting the 5 or 6 hours I had to wait for my husband to get out of work so we could have the conversation in the first place, meanwhile negotiating frantically with the agency and my boss so that their respective sets of urgent paperwork would both be done in time.

But that was the past, and now the real AwesomeCloud is very, very much in the near future. Am I nervous? Hell yeah.

Our struggles with the language, while not as bad as they could be, are emotionally taxing and socially isolating. The people who promised us they'd be there to help us with anything are actually so far away. This hotel room is brand new to us, and I'm a little nervous to be bringing a child here when we're not comfortable with it ourselves yet. The toilet broke (but my husband fixed it), one of the lights doesn't shut off, there's minibar food and bottles everywhere, the internet doesn't work as of the time I'm writing this, there are no sheets but only heavy comforters on the twin beds, the receptionists barely speak English, I don't know if the kiddo will want to sleep with one of us or if he'll need a crib, I don't know yet if the hotel lends cribs, it's raining outside, I don't know where else but this tiny room I can bring the kiddo to run around, I have a stroller but I was instructed not to use it, I have a sling but I can't figure out how to
tie it, and I'm really




of having to remind myself not to brush my teeth with the water. That is much harder than it sounds. Also, fending off dehydration by having to buy drinks all the time. I've slipped up so many times while brushing my teeth, I'm surprised I'm not dead yet. And I've guzzled ridiculous amounts of tea at every meal so I won't have to worry about stopping to buy a mysterious liquid in a bottle in between meals.

Although one mysterious drink turned out to be rose tea, and tasted very strongly of roses. The whole bottle was a bit much, but I enjoyed the first half.

Am I nervous? A little bit.

We're supposed to be on our own with the kiddo for the first few days anyway. We need to work on attachment, and that'll happen more slowly if there are people everywhere helping us all the time. It's not the absence of human help that worries me more, anyhow. It's the absence of reliable resources. My own space, my own books, my certainty that if I bring him here or there, we won't be in anyone's way. If he breaks anything, it won't be my property and it won't be all right. I don't care what he takes his frustrations out on in my own house; I'll replace it, or maybe I won't. (Except the cats.) I have bunches of things in the house and the yard that he can swing, bang on, stomp on, throw, or even break and I won't worry a bit.

Here, I can't even always rely on the ability to ask for what I need. We have a Chinese dictionary and some knowledge of grammar. We don't even have a map of the neighborhood yet. Our suitcases have gotten disorganized by all the times we've had to rifle through them. I lost my hairbrush for two days. There's a bowl of fruit in the room.

Okay, the fruit is a good thing. In the absence of chocolate, fruit is comfort food, and it's good for the kiddo too. I think it's complimentary. If not, it risks rotting, so I'm going to assume it is.

Some people have told me not to worry that he won't love me right away, not to take it personally when he doesn't, and not to think when he's throwing the mother of all temper tantrums that this moment will last forever. Well, I guess that's more productive than telling me not to worry about my house flooding, since it's flooded twice already this summer.

I wonder about the tendency of people to tell each other not to worry about unrealistic things. (Or realistic things, for that matter.) Does it ever help anybody? Maybe it helps the reassurer because they don't want to discuss the unpleasant details. Instead of being told not to worry, I'd like to be told what to do. If he's kicking and screaming and just cannot get a handle on his own emotions, and the most helpful thing a person can advise me to do is to not lose my own emotions, there's a whole level of helpfulness that's not even being addressed there. Maybe I'll stand there passively and tell the curious passer-by, “Oh, I'm fine. He's not.”

I dunno, I think there must be something more I can do.

Also, I'd like someone to tell me how to use this sling. And I wish I knew if it's the right size. Sometimes I'm afraid it's too big, sometimes too small. I can't alter it here. I hope I can get it to work right without strangling him or having him fall out.


  1. I know you're worried, and with good reason, but it really is going to be good. You're getting to meet your Awesome Cloud! No matter what else happens, that is the coolest thing ever. Your baby. Your little boy. You'll figure everything out that you need to figure out, and one way or the other, it will all come together when it needs to. Enjoy meeting your precious little baby for the first time. And remember, if it doesn't go just right, that's OK. You'll have lots of time in the future and sometime it will be "just right". *hugs*

  2. I wish I was able to help you figure out that sling! I used one with my last few kids but it's not something I can explain, I'd have to try it out. :/ Meh.

    If you actually want advice about if he's kicking and screaming, read this paragraph. If not, skip to the next. If you're emotions are under control, I've always been a fan of hug therapy. You sit and wrap your arms around the child and hold tight, allowing him to struggle all he wants but not letting go. Usually my child would eventually relax against me and be soothed. This doesn't work in every situation though and you'd have to play it by ear if it was the right tactic for the time. Sometimes it's better to let them cry it out themselves in a crib or other safe area. Very situational which I'm afraid is not very helpful.

    There's a lot of trial and error in parenting. I always hope that an abundance of love will cover any of the errors!

    You're in my prayers and my thoughts have been with you all day, today especially for some reason.

  3. Ooh - the ability to conjure up ice cream! I want that skill, too!

    I'm so excited to read your posts every day (especially now that you'll be able to tell about actually meeting AwesomeCloud!). Thank you so much for keeping us updated.

    If you have specific parenting questions, I can try to give you specific answers - the problem is often that there are way too many factors of not-being-in-your-shoes and other variables for it to be necessarily helpful; it's not your basic algebra. See? That sounds like the same vague frustrating stuff.

    Sorry! I'll just shush and listen again. Keep up the news!

  4. I would be glad to help you with the sling. What kind is it? You talk about tying it, but also about what size it is, so I can't quite figure out what you have. Please feel free to email me for help sorting this out. I'm a leader of a babywearing group, I don't sell slings or anything like that. :-)

  5. I totally understand about NOT KNOWING the language can be socially isolating. When you come back to Cape Cod you can start to study. Your baby needs to learn both English and Chinese in this new world of ours! Our baby is learning both!