Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Dear Little Spark,

I didn't feel sick today. Thanks for giving your Mom a break. I'll understand if it's temporary, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Happy swimming.


Saturday, June 25, 2011


It's Saturday of a big week. Lots has happened this week. The moon merged into my Cancerian star sign. My sister turned 40. I had two live shows. There was more rain on Thursday in Beijing than there has been in (what some say to be) 30 years. Flooding throughout many other parts of China. My dear friend Jackie arrived to visit me in Beijing, a beautiful soul I haven't seen in three whole years. (Poor girl got held up in the Hong Kong airport for an extra 16 hours to the crazy thunderstorm in Beijing.) AND, I realized that I did NOT pass a magical line laid out by the 12-week pregnancy milestone into the "carefree second trimester."

Tomorrow will be my 13-week marker. I still feel sick. I'm not vomiting, nor have I ever vomited (which means this Little Spark truly wants every calorie I'm consuming!), but the dry heaves, the salivation pooling in my mouth, the swirls of dizziness that force me to grab hold of the nearest steady thing, the flushes of too much heat and then the shivers.... Argh.

I'm ready for the fun times of pregnancy now!! Who are the pregnancy Goddesses and do I have to dial a specific number to get them to notice me over here??

Last night, I was at a lovely gathering of ex-pats here in Beijing, all of whom have become my good friends. We're a close group, many who have been in China for more than a decade and who truly know the rhythm of our adopted home. We're all doing really interesting things with our lives and the conversation is always full of laughter and adventure.

It was all I could do to keep a single conversation flowing, however. I had to constantly stand up and move around, I had to just pick at the food and eat slowly (not eating isn't an option for this hungry belly, no matter how nauseated I feel!), and I felt myself slipping away from conversations (sooner than I was conversationally willing) so that I could breathe all of those symptoms past, each one feeling like a wave of wobbly road in an already wobbly bus--the kind that forces all the passengers to look up from their maps and travel books to fix their gaze on the landscape and the road ahead. It requires a steadying of the senses.

And after every one of these wobbly, nauseating moments, I would get the hiccups, which of course added another bend in the road to my ability to converse!

What is it with the hiccups and pregnancy? I get them ten times a day! They last anywhere from twenty seconds to five minutes. I feel like a bullfrog here!

I have noted the symbolism. Yeah, I get it. Of course, choosing to have a child is much more than a hiccup in one's life. It's not as though I'm going to pop this baby out and then all will go back to normal. The constant hiccups is clearly another way of reminding me that everything is changing, in little spurts now but then it will change in big ways--roads that I have never travelled, bumps that I have never EVER had to navigate the vehicles of my life through, unimaginable terrain. These little hiccups now are just subtle but certain road signs of the twists and turns to come.

But I was annoyed last night. I was annoyed by the constant interruptions that each wave of nausea brought to my conversations. I was annoyed by the hiccups that made it impossible for me to speak. I was annoyed by not being able to be in the same room with the garlic smells of dinner. I was annoyed but how much I really wanted a mojito in the hot summer evening (my friend had brought all the ingredients). And, last but not least, I was annoyed by being annoyed.

In other words, I was annoyed at myself.

My friend, Sarah, was there with her 15-month old who is running around and busy, busy, busy. She didn't even sit down with anyone. She was chatting while chasing after him, that is if people were in chatting distance, unless anyone else was chasing after him for her and then she was just 'watchful Mom eyes' but still unable to sit down. I noticed that she wasn't able to engage in the party except on its fringes, in constant pursuit of her two-legged monkey who was grabbing at all of the exciting and non-baby-proof things at his eye level.

And I know this is what it's going to be like.

Maybe that will be fine if I don't feel so sick all the time? (She thinks to herself) Maybe it will be fine when it's my Little Spark who is tearing around the party and I won't care that I can't have a conversation because I'm too busy trying to pry a pack of incense out of his/her mouth or a cell phone out of his/her hand. It will be okay because I'll be thrilled to finally be a Mom and this is just a Mom's job, right? (These are weak words of consolation. I've got to get better at this!) Maybe it will be more than fine because it will be simply all about joy? (It will be will be all about my attitude, I'm sure.)


Until then, however, I'll take a bit of relief from the nausea (please) and a slowing down of the hiccups (if that's not too much ask of the pregnancy Goddesses) so that I can get on with the business of this attitude adjustment that is desperately needed.

If nothing else, this experience is reminding me once again (for the billionth time) how vital it is to be present in the moment. This is my moment and this is what it looks like. The nausea, the hiccups, the annoyance, the contemplation. It's all part of the journey that makes this bus to Motherhood so crammed with passengers. Right. I chose this. The ticket stub is still in my hands. As I look down at it, I know it's going to be okay.

Happily, thanks to the public announcement and lots of reaching out, I have found out that there are a lot of wonderful and compassionate women who are also on this bus who are ready to talk and share. We're all riding the bumps (or have ridden the bumps) together.

I'll get through this. The Goddesses will hear my plea. I'll start to feel better. And if I don't, I'll still get through it, because time is on my side. It will pass. I will eventually meet this creature inside of me and it will all be worth it.


[Bullfrogs unite.]

(Excuse me, I can't help it!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


So, I'm finally announcing the news publicly today. That means that I can stop blogging like an anonymous person and start referring more openly to the rest of my life.

Some of you are just checking out this blog for the first time and these are the first words you're reading. For those of you who have already been following this blog (the few and loyal!), I'm here to share that I'm a Canadian musician and performer and so is my partner who is also my husband (although he's Chinese). My name is EMBER SWIFT and he is Guo Jian 国囝 of Long Shen Dao fame (龙神道), a Chinese reggae band. He's a bit of a rock star here in China and I'm definitely not a star, but I have a strong following of beautiful people all over the world who I hope will be SO HAPPY for us to hear this news!!

In "coming out" about my pregnancy to others and my actual name and background (outside of just being a Westerner in China married to a Chinese guy), I feel finally free to trust in this pregnancy. It's funny how not telling anyone except for some close friends has made it almost feel like a secret fantasy or a dreamlike reality that isn't necessarily going to come true. As soon as I posted onto my Facebook walls and sent it out into the world, something clicked and shifted in me, making me feel like throwing a huge pregnancy party!!

You see, these past two days have also coincided with a slowing down of my nausea and general illness. I have had "night sickness" rather than "morning sickness." My fingers are crossed that I'll start feeling more and more like my old self again (with the exception of the growing belly!) rather than the revolting, heaving, nauseous, miserable waif that I was under a cold, wet cloth and flat out on the bed at 7pm most nights. If "coming out" about my pregnancy to the world is not reason enough to celebrate, then coming into my second trimester and starting to feel normal again is reason enough on its own!

Above is a pic of my 12-week-and-3-day-old "Little Spark," but this time you can see that it's me (in my pj's) as I wave at the camera. Good thing you can't smell me this morning because, woooo-eeeee, I sure need to take a shower! :-)

So, welcome to this blog... and please send me feedback and comments!

Much warmth,

Friday, June 17, 2011


Since last Sunday, I haven’t written and there has been so much that has happened!
First of all, I’m so grateful for my extended family here (my partner’s parents) for not putting pressure on me regarding hospitals. They all gave me a couple of days to just let my thoughts simmer after my breakdown in the second hospital.
Last Tuesday, I agreed to go in for a check-up (at least) at the first hospital where they had been kind and I had felt comfortable. The experience was really positive. No one treated me like an outsider. Everyone spoke to me at normal speed. The doctor who I was assigned is an older woman in her late fifties who was gracious and gentle and incredibly respectful. There were no raised eyebrows about my foreignness, my age, my biracial partnership, etc.  In other words, I felt normal. Relief.
Since it was the hospital called “Mary’s,” I suppose I can accurately insert a “HALLELUJAH!” in here!!!
While I was sitting in the (plush, comfy) waiting room with my husband, both of us snuggled into big purple couches like chair-shaped “Barneys” were personally hugging each of us, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the idea of several months alone in North America without him.
You see, to give birth in Canada (my home country), I would have to remain there after my work that is already scheduled for a month’s period between being 5.5 and 6.5 months pregnant. In other words, I have to be there anyway and so flying back to China after my work is finished and then returning again to Canada before the 36th week (airline restrictions) really doesn’t interest me. Spending 12 hours on the plane is already uncomfortable enough and it just makes me nervous to fly so close to my due date. 
My parents, of course, said their doors are always open and that they'd take care of me in my 7th & 8th month before my partner could come and join me and wait for the birth. Because of his work, he’d only be able to come towards the end of my 9th month and stay for 6 weeks in total to give us time after the birth as well. But, regardless, timing is unpredictable and who knows when this Little Spark of ours will decide to emerge?

As nice as it would be to hang out with my parents for an extended time, two months is too long to be away from him. What's more, that would be an exciting time in my pregnancy with lots of movement and growth. I really can’t imagine him not sharing in that. I would also have to switch medical caregivers half-way through my term. And, like the distance to Mary's from our Beijing apartment, the nearest hospital to my parent's house is fifteen minutes away by car. That is a really small hospital, as well, and they both suggested it would be wiser to drive forty-five minutes to a larger center for the sake of better access to equipment, etc.  
Still, one big draw is that in Canada, all the medical costs are free...
But, after meeting this lovely doctor at Mary’s, I turned to my partner and said, “Let’s just do it all here. Let’s deliver in Beijing.”
It was an instinctive feeling and I went with it. He readily agreed, relieved that I wouldn’t be leaving and happy to hear a decision come forth after two days of uncertainty for everyone.
And then, the real miracle happened:
My in-laws who had accompanied us to the hospital disappeared and came back with the full cost of all of the treatments and delivery paid for. Paying for it all at once saves money overall, but that was not something we would have been able to do on our sporadic and unpredictable artist wages. They handed me the receipt with a smile and said: “You two shouldn’t have to worry about money at a time like this. Everything is taken care of. Now just relax and enjoy this experience.”

I was overwhelmed by the generosity, kindness and love. So overwhelmed, in fact, that I again nearly burst into tears. They patted my arm and shoulders and were quick to change the subject as they shuffled me off to my first ultrasound while chattering about where we'd all go for lunch, their treat. I followed, dazed and enveloped in a sense of calm--a completely new feeling about this whole experience. It felt cloud-like and dreamy. A psychic massage.
Then, I heard the baby’s heartbeat!  The technician said the baby is a bit small and so the doctor changed my due date to January 8th from the 1st. Since I’m 99% certain of the exact day we conceived, I still vote for the 1st of January, but I didn’t contest. I was just happy to have heard the life in there. And the heartbeat was so fast!! It was a magical moment.

The only drag to the whole day was that no one was allowed in with me to get the ultrasound. The room was fairly small and the experience lasted no more than five minutes with a long queue of women before and after me. Still, I think this is something I will speak to the doctor about the next time I'm there so that Guo Jian can see the screen with me. The truth is, they didn't even show me the screen, just the pictures they printed out of a blurry blob that I couldn't distinguish as a baby at all! Still, it's in my head that he should be there in the ultrasound room. It's a Western hang-up, surely, but maybe something can be done about it.
But, to be honest, I was feeling so blessed by all the other positives of the day that I didn't complain. I figured it was a small thing and not worth puncturing my "calm cloud." 
I emerged with a smile, waving the printed images at my family and thrilled to have had visual and audio proof that Little Spark exists inside me...
Also, it appears that there’s more flexibility regarding birthing experience at this hospital than I had originally thought. Everything is negotiable with the doctor and I would very much like to push forward with my plans to have a non-restricted, gentle environment, with family and friends and no hospital staff wearing masks!  The presence of my doula is something I have to negotiate, but all of this will be a discussion for the next check-up on the 12th of July (early because I am heading back to Canada later in the month).  Regardless, I know she can attend as “my friend” and that’s reassuring. Worst case scenario is that no one at the hospital will be made aware of her status as my doula and she simply attends as my friendly support. In the end, it's about what I want and not about hospital policies. 
Nothing's impossible.

Half-way through my morning at the hospital~before I decided to stay in Beijing to deliver~I got a call from a friend here in Beijing. It turns out that she has discovered this blog AND she’s only 2 weeks behind me in her own pregnancy!
That call was very important and the timing couldn’t have been better. I instantly had a feeling of camaraderie and community here and I knew that I was going to get the answers I needed through my existing network in Beijing--and in English! Having already had a child here, she has first-hand experience.
That night, we had a great phone conversation and she told me about a variety of groups I could join, information sessions I could attend for free, people I could contact, etc. It was totally reassuring.
Overall, I feel I made the right choice.
So, it’s going to be Beijing.
This child will have a Chinese birth certificate and a Canadian passport. A good combo! Apparently, that birth certificate will come in handy for reduced school fees...
Yes, we're already thinking about this kid's education and he or she doesn't even have all body parts formed yet!! 
Stay strong, Little Spark. You're loved.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I have to tell you about my experiences today checking out hospitals here in Beijing.
We chose two to check out: Mary’s Hospital for Women and Infants (near Liufang Subway station) and Amcare Women’s & Children’sHospital (near Lido hotel). The latter is right next to where we live, so it’s super convenient.
We went to Mary’s first and were greeted kindly by the door staff. They initially only addressed my partner and his parents but were quickly directed to speak to me and they did so. Many Chinese people are sure that foreigners don’t speak any Chinese and so they immediately defer to the Chinese people in the group. I was grateful that they turned to me and didn’t skip a beat when they realized I could speak the language. I was relieved, in fact.
We were shown into a small room and greeted by another woman whose job it is to sell the hospital. This is not a Chinese hospital in that it is geared towards higher-end care and that often means that it's geared towards foreigners. Still, the services are all in Chinese and this salesperson spoke to me at a million miles an hour about their services, using an array of fancy and professional hospital words. My partner asked her to slow down and she brought it down a notch before returning to her original speed a few sentences later but she was gracious when I continually interrupted her to clarify formal words. Still, overall, she was nice.
This hospital does allow my partner to be in the room while I’m in labour and then delivery. They do not generally allow a doula or midwife not appointed directly by the hospital, however, and this would be a problem. The woman told me that each situation could be discussed but she couldn’t guarantee permission. My doula wants to attend my birth (and I want her to be there) and so we need to find a place to allow her to be there. To have more than one person in the room, we’d have to pay more money, and the rule is relatives only. I suppose we could claim we were related, but that’s annoying.
All told, it’s about 40,000RMB to get pre-natal and natural delivery services there (roughly $7000 American/Canadian dollars). They offer weekly treatments after the 30th week and do not charge extra if it goes over 40 weeks right up until the 42nd week of gestation. But, if I’m not in the country, I still have to pay the package fee. No refunds even if I can’t attend my scheduled check-ups.
So, that’s that. The brochure they gave us had pictures exclusively of beautiful foreign women and babies and the English translation on the brochure was laughable in parts. Here are some good ones:

“Mary (China) coming from the hometown of the Maple Leaf (Canada), which has a unique international hospital management model, outstanding and elite medical professionals, modern high-tech medical apparatus and excellent customer service.”

Love that intro! The incomplete sentence is beautiful, but more importantly, don’t you love how the whole country of Canada is now “the hometown of the Maple Leaf”?
Or this one, proof that this hospital has a Catholic affiliation:

“Mary passes on holiness, love, elegance and joy for a health experience in Beijing and the whole of China as an initiator, builder and a protectors.”

Besides the obvious incorrect “s” on the end of “protectors,” I honestly read this sentence as meaning that the hospital prefers to provide the “health experience in Beijing…” rather than “holiness, love, elegance and joy.” They pass on the former to provide for the latter. Then I realized that they meant that they pass it on, meaning they provide it for the sake of “a health experience in Beijing…” But, truthfully, it took me until re-reading it now to see the alternate interpretation. Initially, it made me laugh out loud, much to the confusion of my Chinese relatives.
It was the second hospital that really made me mad, though: AMCARE.
We arrived and were greeted by a stone-faced counter staff. One of the women came out from behind the desk and led us to some plush lobby chairs to speak about their brochures. The price is basically the same, maybe a few thousand RMB higher but this isn’t inclusive of the extra fees for extra people in the room.
When the meeting began, she asked if I’d had any check-ups up until that point and I said, “No, besides confirming the pregnancy” and she looked at me like I was stupid, even asking me, “Not even a quick check-up?” and I re-confirmed what I had just answered. She sighed heavily and then said that treatment would then have to start on the 12th week then, as in as soon as possible since this is coming into my 12th week as of Monday.
One great difference to the Mary’s hospital was the “40 weeks +3 days” service. After this, they induce labour! I was totally struck by that! I said, “What if you want a natural birth when the baby wants to be born but this period takes 41 or 42 weeks?” and the woman again looked at me like I was stupid and said, “The baby wouldn’t be getting enough nutrients from you at that point and would need to be delivered.” (Me) “Well, what if you don’t agree with that?” (Her) “You’d have to speak to the doctor.”
Okay then.
Then, she made it clear that it was absolutely not allowed to have any non-relative in the room with us, and certainly no doulas or midwives. There was no budging here. Only one person at a time, as well, unless we pay more. The woman was unyielding on these points.
By this time, I was frustrated with her attitude and turned to my in-laws and my partner and said, “I don’t think this place is for me. There’s too much that isn’t permitted that I really want and it’s more expensive anyway.”
The woman immediately stood up and left our group without a word. She was the opposite of the sales person we had met at Mary’s who was very eager to secure our business. I was struck by her rudeness in a super (over-)sensitive way and while my partner stood up too and left to see if there was a doctor we could speak to instead or another representative (since everyone chimed in that she must be having a bad day), I tried to explain to my in-laws that it’s already difficult enough to be planning delivery in a country that isn’t my own, and so when people aren’t welcoming, the feeling is just totally “off” for me. I almost started to cry when saying this but managed to keep the tears from rolling. My Mother-in-law patted my leg in sympathy at the point when my voice broke and my explanation stopped short.
Another woman then came over, also unsmiling, but offering to take up where the first woman had left off. She tried to sit across from me and everyone encouraged her to sit beside me. She resisted, not looking at me, and finally agreed to sit beside me and then didn’t address me. Everyone told her to talk to me and she said, whining, “But I don’t speak waiyu!”  This is the general term for “foreign language” as it literally means “outside language” and refers to all languages that aren’t Chinese, i.e. the language of outsiders. I then said, in a quiet voice, “I speak Chinese!” and she only muttered an “Oh” in response.
She sat down beside me then but still didn’t look at me. My in-laws and partner urged me to ask questions and tell her what I wanted to know. I said, “I just want to know about this,” and gestured to the brochures, but by then my spoken language skills were getting worse because I was upset. She said, rather curtly, “Well, what do you want to know about them?” and I just couldn’t take it anymore. “Forget this!” I exclaimed and stood up, burst into tears and was completely unable to speak another word. I could feel my face contorting, too, and I was embarrassed at my inability to control the tears or my own facial muscles. I let my hands cover my nose and mouth like a mask and walked out, cradling my own face, and turned towards home. I didn’t look back.
I will not go to a hospital that can’t even smile at me when I walk through the door and can’t even treat me like a human being rather than an outsider who doesn’t even deserve to be spoken to, let alone addressed with eye contact. I want to be cared for, welcomed, and treated with gentleness, especially at this important time.
My partner caught up with me in the car and jumped out to say that he supports whatever I choose and that if that means I return home to deliver this child and don’t deliver here in China, that’s okay too. He took my hands and then pulled me into him and held me. He even sputtered the new English he has learned from lyrics, “I care about you.” It sounded a bit choppy, but I smiled.
As this hospital is walking distance from home, I was home in a few moments and then called my parents who also said the things I needed to hear, including that they’d support whatever decision I make.
And now I have to make one. Where to give birth? Is this city where I want to do that? Can I stomach the language struggle and the feeling of being an outsider? Do I want to have to stomach it? What if a doctor or a nurse ignores me in the delivery room? Was the first hospital suitable even though it’s fifteen minutes away by car? That’s actually the same distance to the nearest hospital from where my parents live anyway…
So much to think about. 
And going through this in a foreign country is going to much harder than I ever realized.
But, now that I've got that out, for the sake of the baby, I'm going to treat myself to a big pickle and put my feet up.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Alright, I’m about to write a pile of anti-feminist crap. Beware. Its coming! Put on your deflective armour because you may just need some defensive tactics…

I always envisioned myself becoming a beautiful pregnant woman. I mean, the kind that I would see on the streets that glowed. These women all just looked like they had sprouted a belly independent of the rest of their bodies. From behind, I couldn’t tell they were pregnant. They walked confidently and proudly. They were fit and flowing with that pregnancy brilliance, an energy aura as colourful and visible as an African scarf wrapped gleefully around them and trailing in the wind. They didn’t look like balloons; they looked like perfect pregnant pears with little normal legs carrying them on their way, smiling.
I, instead, am beginning to look like a butterball turkey. I have ballooned outwards in all the wrong places. I have gained ten pounds in 11 weeks—a startling amount considering what all the guide books and websites have said about the first trimester and how women are meant to gain 2-5 pounds—and it is mostly gathered in the thigh and ass regions, which is making me extremely self-conscious and completely unable to wear any of my pants.
My pear shape is the unfortunate kind.
My doula tells me that every woman is different and that meant-to or supposed-to statements in books like the ones I just referenced are based on averages and not expectations.
Yeah, yeah, I know all that.
I also know that I may very well look like a beautiful pregnant woman after this trimester when I have happily discarded the blues, or should I say: the storm cloud above my head, the scowl on my moody lips, the nausea creasing my forehead, the bags under my exhausted eyes, the strain in my shoulders as I attempt to hold up these increasingly ridiculous boulders that used to be my breasts…
Or will I just get used to this?
I’m just descending into terrible pits of teenaged despair. I actually feel sometimes like I did when I was sixteen and obsessive about my weight and body size. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this frame of mind—so long in fact that I actually feel nostalgic for it, even though I know how incredibly unhealthy it is. So many years have gone by without bothering to weigh myself, without stressing about my body weight even though it fluctuated, mostly because I could rest assured that I was eating healthily and that I was consistently active. And here I am, pouting at the mirror and chastising myself nearly every day. It’s disturbing.
Ah, there it is. I landed on it. The difference now is that my diet has completely changed. I’m constantly craving Western food like bread and cheese and ice cream and yoghurt—foods that are full of fat and calories. Also, with the exception of cycling to the subway, a forty-minute commitment on days when I pick up work about twice a week, I’m not doing much in the way of regular physical activity. Mostly because I’m exhausted all the time and don’t really feel like doing much more than laying on my back reading a book and then getting a snack every two hours. So, my habits have changed and therefore my body has changed.
(Adult voice of reason interrupting here)
“No, my dear, it’s not just about habits changing. YOU’RE PREGNANT. Your body is changing because you’re bringing life into the world! You should listen to your cravings. You should listen to your body when it wants to rest. You should celebrate your fat ass and thighs! You should get the #@$! over yourself and recognize that this is merely a nine-month commitment that precedes becoming the Mother you have always wanted to be. Stop being so bloody superficial!! Your body WILL recover!”

And that adult voice of reason usually wins and gets me to move on with my day, sweeping the adolescent thoughts aside.
I certainly am hoping, though, that I can learn to enjoy this, even just parts of it. I have heard several women tell me—independent of each other—that they really didn’t enjoy being pregnant at all; it was giving birth that was so incredible and the thing they would do again if they could. I should keep that in mind. Perhaps feeling so disgusting and not enjoying being pregnant is not a sign that I will be a terrible Mother at all. Perhaps it’s just about being honest. In fact, it may even be evidence that I’ll be an even better Mom because I’ll always be able to be honest with my child. I’ll be able to say,
“Actually, sweetie, I really didn’t enjoy it when you lived inside of me but I love being your Mom and I’m so glad we could bring you into this world.”
Today I’m going to avoid weighing myself and try to avoid all mirrors.
That’s the only option because this Momma Bear is HUNGRY and LAZY and nothing is going to keep us (baby and me) from food and rest.

Friday, June 3, 2011

DILL PICKLES: The Cliché Continues

Okay, so yesterday, I went to a different foreign store and found these gems, at which point I gleefully cradled the huge jar in my arms downstairs to the cash register and plopped down about the equivalent of $8 to purchase these suckers (!). 

And I relish the thought of eating them -- har har har! In fact, I have already sampled two of them and may have to create a special pickle fund to be able to continue this expensive habit. But, oh, how pleasant and 爽 it feels to taste them.... (shuang-3rd tone...the almighty "feel good" character in Chinese).  Picture the near orgasmic look on my face after tasting one of these. I might have to admit that pickles are more important to me than sex right now.

(Ah, pregnancy, you're so silly sometimes!)

So, some news deserves its own post. That's all I have to say. I have to go and eat more pickles now.



It's coming up on 10 weeks and I've started to get used to this bump on my belly. It's here and it's not going anywhere. Not for another thirty weeks at least!

It's been an interesting week, actually. I've been alone all week as my partner has been away on business. It's given me time and space to just *be* in, which has helped to contextualize some of what I've been feeling.

I've been much more positive, mentally, than in previous weeks, in light of having had the worst day of nausea to date on Tuesday:

I was coming home from an appointment at about ten thirty at night and while I was in the cab, I kept feeling like I was going to lose my dinner. I would breathe it down, talk myself out of it, and then it would threaten again. On three separate occasions throughout the ride home, I came just a moment away from asking the driver to pull over so that I could be sick on the side of the road. Eventually, I made it back to my apartment complex without having to do that. The walk up the stairs was another feat and then when I arrived at home, I suddenly felt better. About five minutes later, however, the recovery was a lark and I was bent over at the toilet retching where I stayed for about fifteen lonely minutes. Nothing came up. I just dry heaved like you do when you've had too much to drink but have already gotten everything out of your stomach. (Oh, I shudder at being able to remember that feeling from my days of partying. Yuck!) Anyway, following this, I was relatively fine. Slightly weak, of course, but I was able fall asleep without any other nauseous waves.

I have had a fairly calm few days since with little to no bouts of nausea. So far so good. I think it's because I've taken to eating small meals and lots of snacks. This has helped. Even just a few crackers or a piece of toast and I feel instantly better. As soon as I'm a bit hungry, it's accompanied by the nausea. I find it so bizarre to simultaneously want to chow down on everything in sight while also wanting to puke up everything I've chowed down on!  What I am taking from this experience is just that: the uniqueness.  

When else will I be able to say that I was hungry while wanting to barf?  

We have to champion our unique experiences here, don't we?! How lucky am I that I can now say that I've experienced that!!

(Here's to positivity...)

In other news, I have started to tell my extended community back in my home country and the response has been beautiful. Lots of warmth and love, even from my once-bitter ex-partner who only recently started speaking to me again. Wonders abound!  Sharing the news is really rewarding even if no one can really hold the reality of the news in the way that we do here, in our home, in our intimate lives. That's to be expected, of course. Everyone is wrapped up in their own lives and our news is just a small part in their worlds while, in our world, it is news around which we are orbiting daily in anticipation and excitement. But even if it is just a momentary bubbling email or a happy smile, they have made all the difference. It's really lovely to feel community springing up in my mind like spring flowers, especially being so far away and sometimes feeling the desertification of distance. Self-imposed, I know, but dry, Beijing-style distance all the same.

One of my friends back home who I actually met in China (love that!) is the mother of two beautiful little girls and she wrote me this:

 "The one thing that I firmly believe is that a woman should never doubt her pregnant body (or any other form her body is in).  Whatever you are feeling, be it a desire for a western dill pickle :) or not wanting to be touched, or fatigue, have the confidence to listen to your body and know that it is telling you the truth!  Every single thing a pregnant woman feels is right.  No book will ever give you the right answer of "is this normal" because if it is happening to you, it is normal."

What precious words to read at a time when everything feels so foreign to me, namely my whole body! And then add to that being surrounded by a foreign culture that dishes out foreign advice and ideas and imperatives as though there's no other way to do things. Yes, "normal" is relative and I need to remember that I am truth because I simply am. The truth is what is.

This is the truth.

Next up will be making sure we have our appointment booked properly for the 12 week marker. I can't wait to see movement on an ultrasound monitor!! Two more weeks and they'll surely fly by. Between now and then, my in-laws are coming for five days and there's lots of business to take care of. I started writing this blog at only 5.5 weeks and we're already coming up on 10 weeks. I can't believe it!

But it's the truth.