Saturday, March 10, 2018

Baby Story

Alexander Jack :: born January 31, 2018  
on a Super Blue Blood Moon and full lunar eclipse
at Queen Mary Hospital

"Stories never begin where they begin"
- Jessica Fetchor

He's HEEEERRRE!!!!!!!!

Snuggly from the beginning, skin-to-skin with momma, tended by two chatty midwives, he nursed.

Already this little man is teaching his momma big lessons about letting go (of 'supposed to' and 'should') and about listening to your own heart. Mom is in for a wild ride -- these two things are not my strengths.

The decision to try for baby number three - so topsy turvy! Are we too old? Are we asking too much? Can we parent THREE? How will our daughters do? Are we crazy?? Years of back and forth, of fears and worries, of longing, of being unsure, of realizing that ultimately it was out of our hands except for the choice to try or not, then of being disappointed... and then... elated. WE WERE PREGGO. :)


Addie hugging her new baby when Mrs. Willmott showed his photo in class on the day of his birth.

Hong Kong is a two-option medical landscape. Private - or - Public. Private healthcare is expensive and fancy (favored by expats). Public is basically free and blessedly provided to any and all. Public Care also boasts some of the best medical care and physicians IN THE WORLD. We are very lucky.

ready to pop

morning of birth
We opted to do private prenatal and to deliver at public hospital. By far the preferred choice for risky deliveries and anyhow, at a cost of about $115 HKD (that's $14.00, folks. fourteen bucks.!) including C-Section it was a no-brainer. Not a typo. We literally paid with our Octopus Card (bus fare card, folks.)

So what's different?
  • en-masse appointments... much like the DMV: get a number and wait your turn. 
  • Weight and BP taken in the group waiting area (line up, please) 
  • public toilet urine sample (just take the litmus strip with you and flash to nurse after)
  • The mother of another patient grabbed my elbow one day in the waiting area and asked how many kilos I'd gained. She didn't give up easily when I tried to shrug and laugh it away and congratulate her daughter on being pregnant. 
  • pamphlets with QR codes for apps related to everything a new momma could be curious about.
  • different doctors/midwives/nurses each time (in public system)

I experienced incredibly efficient and high quality care in the public system. Truly impressive! I always knew I was in impeccable hands regarding my safety and physical well-being. Emotionally and aesthetically? Not so much - but hey, they focus on the most important thing so that worked for me. That was true in the post-natal ward too. The cleaning lady would sterilize the door handle of the shared bathroom 3 times per day like clockwork... but the door itself had sticky tape and marks on it that must have been over 30 years old. Such is Hong Kong. Don't look too closely at the baseboards or corners... but know that everything you touch will be sterilized within an inch of it's life.

our little nook
The post natal ward is like a scene from Little Orphan Annie - imagine a room with 25 cots separated by those wrap-around-curtains, little plastic bassinets squished in next to each one. In the center of the room is the nurses station and behind that are small areas for bathing babies, doing bloodwork, etc. Jasper called it "mommy camp" - aptly named. I would carry my little plastic toiletries bag with me to the shared bathroom. I'd hear everyone's conversations (though I could understand few of them since most were in Cantonese), and the buzzing overhead lights never turned off. The nurses pretty much left you alone unless they needed your BP or a quick blood test. Visiting hours (no kids allowed) were at lunch and dinner - when it would get noisy and bustling for a bit (while being served congee or wet meat) then quiet again except for the wee cries of all the babies. And bizarre policy of ZERO food for 24 hours after c-section. (GAH!) I was ravenous!! I have to say, I did feel solidarity with the women there - even though we all were in hazy states of crazy. And I felt a kind of peace with the constant reminder (by virtue of never being alone) that millions of women have been through this and that I was not alone. 

The day we checked out, Alexander  - in dramatic fashion- puked all over the attending pediatrician resulting in a delayed discharge to watch him a bit longer (during which he slept like an angel).

came to pick him up from hospital - BIG GIRL!!!

Eager bigger sis & Nimfa waiting at home with food, posters, and presents!

fire alarm problems 10 minutes after arriving home
false alarm. again,
solution? rip it off the ceiling!
Post Natal visits have been even more interesting. There is a government clinic offering mother-child care (free of charge). We've gone twice. Imagine a train station with those hard plastic chairs connected by a metal bar and bolted to the floor... rows of them lined up in the waiting room where you are given a small paper number. You listen for your number (mostly in cantonese... when I didn't respond they'd inevitably call me in English or someone would track me down.

MCHC waiting room - first visit
Then, like an assembly line, you're called room to room for each component of your visit. First the weighing room - a room of walls lined with a changing counter where 5-6 moms are undressing their babies and carrying them to the nurse waiting near a scale at the center of the room, marking down baby weights and saying "next". Then come the nurses office, lactation consultant's room, pediatrician's office (waiting in the 'train station' between each). They track every minute detail in a clever little booklet that you keep throughout childhood. However, despite the affordability and efficient care, we won't be going back - 90 minutes in a stressful environment just isn't worth it to me.

Biggest sister is our photo documenter - and she's very GOOD at it!



It turns out, after many weeks of lactation consultants, home visits with a midwife, consultations with 5 pediatricians plus a pediatric surgeon (!) ...  that Alexander was tongue tied. Ah, so that's why my poor breasts endured such damage! That's why he didn't gain weight for so long!

after circumcision in private Matilda hospital

master of multitasking - daddy on a work call while holding baby
(is it just me, or does Alex look quite interested in the business call?)

We have had to supplement with bottles of pumped momma-milk and have been bfeeding from one side only, lefty being too damaged for anything but the pump. His posterier tie was clipped last week, so now we heal and continue to work on our latching. Hey ho. Biological Nurturing nursing position for the win!

The weeks of fog and mix of joyful and darkly depressed sobbing are lifting now. The sun is shining and spring has arrived. Now we enjoy this incredible bundle that has been bestowed on us and settle into the adjustment of being outnumbered. :)

check out these siblings - all at 5 weeks old:

As a final thought - thank GOODNESS for Nimfa. I don't know HOW we possibly did it with babies before we had Nimfa living with us. She is a GodSend.

~ visitors ~

STATS: 7 pounds, 4 ounces
FIRST CRY: high-pitched, very much like a pig squeal (distinctly recognizable in the post-natal ward!)
TOES: perfect
NOSE: wide and adorable
LIKES: milk! sisters. auntie nimfa. mom and dad. light and shadow, preferably in lines.
DISLIKES: poopy diapers
YEAR of the Rooster & an Aquarius

Alexander Jack :: Alex :: AJack :: Little Jack :: Big Boy :: BooBoo :: Fella :: Bubby

No comments:

Post a Comment