The Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy in Another World

Having a baby in another country is daunting. Learning to navigate the healthcare system, insurance, maternity leave and all that is confusing. Your parents and your family are not here. You don’t always know where to get what you need. The list goes on and on. Basically it’s just tough.

But that’s not even the half of it. The biggest hurdles are the cultural aspects of it. I am 5 months along and every now and then I am told not to do something that just makes me shake my head. One woman at work, who I LOVE, tells me every day that I am getting more and more beautiful every day and that means I am having a girl. And the other day, my boss yelled at me and told me to dump the ice out of my water. Things are just different. So I decided to look into just what are my do’s and dont’s culturally when it comes to having a baby in China. Well, actually, it is mostly the don’ts. Here’s the list of what I found.

1) Don’t sew on the bed. It can lead to a cleft lip.

2) Don’t announce the pregnancy early.

3) If you eat crab, your kid will be naughty.

4) Eating mutton may lead to epilepsy for the baby.

5) Don’t sit at the sharp or pointed edge of a rectangular table. It will direct bad energy to the baby.

6) Don’t attend weddings.

7) Don’t attend funerals and if you do wear a red scarf.

8) Don’t look at frightening or ugly images of animals, babies or monsters or your baby could look like them. No watching horror movies.

9) Don’t renovate, redecorate or move into a new home.

10) You can dictate the baby’s destiny if you opt for a c-section.

11) You are fragile and as such, can’t have sex in the first or third trimester.

12) Ice cream is off limits – as are bananas and pineapples.

13) Crying during labor is forbidden.

14) Don’t raise your hands above your shoulders.

13) Don’t let others rub your belly.

14) No physical work.

15) Do not clear blocked drains.

16) Don’t eat cold or raw food or drink ice water.

17) Don’t express your own beauty.

18) Stay happy or your baby will have a sour face.

19) Put a knife under the bed.

20) Don’t buy the stroller before the baby is born.


Random Thoughts at the Week 19 Mark

So here is a compilation of random things that have been going through my head in the past 4 months. There is no logic or order here. Just some ramblings.

  • Being 40 and pregnant is hard.  Why didn’t I accidentally get knocked up when I was like 25 and wasn’t so set in my ways and so, you know, old.
  • People who say pregnancy is a beautiful journey, well I kind of want to punch them in the throat.
  • Morning sickness is the most successful diet I have been on in the past 20 years.  I lost 15 pounds in the first month.  Here’s to no appetite and constant vomiting!!
  • I have lived with anxiety and depression my whole life but I had never had an actual anxiety attack.  Until last night.  And you know what, they suck balls.  The prospect of a kid is scary.
  • Am I ever going to sleep properly again. The whole don’t lie on your back because it cuts of blood flow to the baby thing is terrifying. I am a back sleeper and I am trying to change but constantly waking with a start thinking “I am killing the baby.” Overly-dramatic? Yes! But it is where I am at.
  • The Chinese believe that drinking cold water is bad for the baby?  It’s 37 Celsius outside with 65% humidity.  I am drinking cold water.
  • My doctor said no sex until 24 weeks.  That’s a good enough reason to find a new doctor, right?
  • I only want to eat french fries and drink coke.  It is hard to find good french fries sometimes. I would literally move back to Saskatchewan so I could be close to poutine some days.
  • This is scary.  I am terrified.  I hope that goes away.

A Needle in a Haystack.

Step one after finding out you are pregnant in a foreign land is finding a doctor. Ok, no problem. I live in a city of 14 million people. 1000s of babies are born here every month. Think again. There are so many roadblocks. As with most of my issues here in China, issue one is language. Who do I ask? Where do I start? I can’t phone anywhere and ask by myself. I need help. So I need to start my telling people way before I want to.

My department at work is full of men. Just men, but one had a baby that is under a year old so I start with him. Then I move on to randomly posting in WeChat groups asking for advice. As it turns out, there are two english speaking doctors in all of Chengdu. Two. And they are both called Dr. Yang. One is at a private clinic and one at a public. So the plan is to check both out and make a decision.

At this point, I am so grateful for the assistant we have at work. She does so much for me. She checked out both hospitals, spoke to people, made phone calls, sent messages. I think I would have crawled into a hole and just wept if it wasn’t for her.

I also managed to get in touch with an American doula. I am not really even sure what they do really but I have one. She recommended one of the Dr. Yangs and put me in touch with several women who had him deliver their babies.

We made our first appointment at the public hospital and off we went – me, the man and the school assistant. Because that is not awkward at all. Whoa Nelly. So not in Canada any more. (Not that I have really been there much in the last 20 years).

As we sit there waiting for our number to be called, I watch woman after woman go into the office. The door never closes and other patients stand there listening. Sometimes they just walk in WHILE someone else is with the doctor. I can’t do this. This is insane.

I had researched all theses questions to ask the doctor and what the doctor will ask you. Nothing. He asked me very little. So I pulled out my notebook and started in. For the record. They won’t give you an epidural when you are 5 weeks pregnant. At this point, I am not one of those women who wants to go all natural. Right now, I am thinking, “GIVE me ALL the drugs you have.” Is that wrong??

Anyways after some blood work and peeing in a cup – which is an adventure on a squatty toilet – we were done. No need to see another one. I liked this doctor. His English was good. The hospital looks old and run down but I expected that.

So we can tick this off the list of things to do.

When your mom comes to visit, she makes your doctor take a picture.

So, What Now? A boozy holiday with the boys, Minus the booze (for me).

I peed on the stick and 2 pink lines showed up. Now what.

Well first I had to go on a boozy holiday with 3 guys from work that we had planned when we got a week off work unexpectedly. That’s why I rushed the test. I was looking at a calendar thinking, “shit am I gonna have my period at the beach”. Thoughts quickly changed to, “Huh, am I late?” Frantic counting and recounting. Yup. Late. Shit.

How do you even get a pregnancy test in China? Are they the same? Where do I go? How do I ask for one? In the end, I got our assistant from school to come with me. That’s an awkward conversation.

So, I pee on the stick. 2 pink lines. Phone the manfriend who is on his way to work (he’s super happy at the news by the way). Cry. Laugh. Cry. Every expletive ever imagined rings through my apartment . Feel overcome with joy. Cry again. Then get ready and go to work. Now being like 5 weeks pregnant is clearly way to early to tell people but I am going on a boozy holiday to a beach in Thailand with 3 guys who know their way around a good, stiff drink. So they have to be told.

Sitting in a little staff room eating our lunch. I just blurt it out. There done. Later that night, 4 of us head to soak up the sun at the beach.

When you are the only one not drinking on a drinking holiday you have a lot of time to think and booze gets your friends honest really quickly. My boys are all concerned. My relationship with the man has not been so smooth lately. We are an inter-racial couple and he is from a developing country. One of the boys must have just watched “Not Without My Daughter.” They were not being racist, just being over-protective. So many questions. Too much time to think. And then, it hits me.

Bloody morning sickness. If I hadn’t taken the pregnancy test, I would have thought I had food poisoning or the flu. I couldn’t eat, which might be the biggest tragedy ever suffered in the history of humankind – being in Thailand and not being able to eat. 😜 I had a fever, chills, and I was hurting. After a couple of days of this and copious amounts of internet searching for what medicines I could take, I found some paracetamol and began to feel human.

So basically, since 2001, I have been working and living to travel. Every holiday I am on a plane going somewhere. It hits me, about 2 days in, that I can’t live like that anymore. This is my last holiday like that ever. And that is what scares me the most. Of course, I know you can travel with a kid but not as I have done. I spent a few days mourning the life I was losing. And honestly, I still am.

The week ends. I didn’t kill anyone. We all left still friends, but now I am heading back to reality. I need to find a doctor.


I am a crap blogger. I can’t seem to make it stick. I have wanted to for so long but it never had happened. People have told me for years I should be writing my stories down. I mean to. It never happens.

I feel like I have finally found my motivation. I have been hit my the biggest surprise imaginable. I went and got knocked up in China. Shit. I am happy. Excited. Overjoyed. Terrified.

So here I am 40 years old (for a whole day now). Here’s my deal. I have been international teaching more or less since September 11th, 2001. Yes, that September 11th. In that time I have lived in England, the Canadian Arctic, Kuwait, Guatemala and now here. I have been to 58 countries. I’ve lived a perpetually single lifestyle and been told I would never get pregnant. I am dating a good man from Guyana. For 6 months. Yeah. 6 months. I am about to start the 2nd year of a 3 year contract.

So if this doesn’t inspire me to blog, nothing will.

New Year in HK

2018 started off with some peace and quiet in Hong Kong. Not real HK though. By real,I mean what I have seen in pictures. We stayed in a village called Tong Fuk on Lantau Island. The island is the largest of Hong Kong’s islands. It is know for sunrises and hiking trails. For me, it is know for Indian food and reading books on the beach.

Photo Challenge

This year I decided to take on the #365photochallenge as a way to spend 5 minutes everyday exploring my surroundings and focusing on being grateful. I am 134 days in and loving it. I am playing around with different editing software and learning about myself in the process. I want to document the process on here as well. Wish me luck.

Nihao China! 

So I am officially on the move again. China.  Yup. There it is. I never, ever thought China was going to be a part of my path, my journey, but here it is. I am officially in China.  I don’t even know what to expect really and I am totally unprepared. As usual.  But I came with a safety net. I know a couple people here.  I pretty much only looked at Google Images of Chengdu.

I have been here almost a week. In that time not much has been accomplished. I found an apartment and started work. I am not moved in yet though.

I am sitting here looking out the window while some cleaning ladies are scrubbing my new home. I should probably move in tomorrow. It is only now that I am beginning to wrap my head around this latest adventure. And what do I think?

Holy Sh*!balls!! What am I doing here?  What led me to this point? I know the answer. Really. It was the easy choice – take the offer where I know someone. Everything else be damned. But now that I have had a few days to get situated, was this the right choice.


The city, so far, seems pretty cool. Really very beautiful. Almost 14 million people.  But a small town feel. I can’t pinpoint it but there is just a good feel.