Yup, this post is WAY overdue. First, I didn't get pictures taken until 25 weeks, although I've been aiming to do them every 4 weeks (which would have been week 24). Second, I'm in my 27th week now... But moving is crazy and we're catching up as we can!
Baby is growing healthily and quickly, as everyone exclaims "tai da la!" (too big!) when I tell them how far along I am. People don't mind telling you their opinion over here, and I know I am bigger than most Chinese women, and my doctor is always saying I'm measuring ahead and so must be careful. They want to change my official due date to a week earlier, but I'm really not interested in that. With Hadassah coming right around the 40 week mark, I don't want to be mentally expecting this little girl to arrive earlier than is likely. If she decides to make her appearance earlier than sometime around November 4th, it will be a pleasant surprise. :) My weight gain really hasn't been abnormal, and Ryan helps keep me grounded, telling me not to let things bother me, just eat healthily and exercise as I can. With as busy as life has been lately, I definitely have gotten exercise in out of necessity!
We are thrilled to know we're having a girl, and the thought of sisters makes me smile every time I think about it. Hadassah is going to have such fun being the big sister too. She keeps tabs on my belly, often talking bringing it up, saying: "Momma bigger, bigger, bigger, then pop! Baby!" as Ryan described it as happening that way when I had her. If only it were that easy. ;) The other day she lifted up my shirt, touched my poking out belly button, and said "not popped yet!" I keep telling her that baby has to get bigger-bigger for a while yet. ;)
This new little one is quite active, and it is amazing to feel the movements. I love this stage. Not so big I can't move easily (though certain things are getting more awkward!) and yet baby is big enough and so strong in all of the movements. It makes me laugh, even though at times certain jabs are a little painful! With much to do and a toddler, it's rare that I sit down much through the day, so little girl makes up for it with dance parties when I sit during nap time or finally lay down to go to bed.
I have been blessed to feel healthy (other than catching two colds in the past month), and have everything check out normal at appointments, I definitely am feeling the heat, though. I thought it wasn't too bad to be pregnant during the summer last time, but I'm realizing it's not so bad in Iowa but pretty miserable at times in Shanghai! Especially when you have to walk many places... My face gets flushed, I just have to sit down next to the A/C sometimes after being out, and I am doing my best to drink enough water, though it never quite feels like enough!
It has been very nice to switch providers and get to talk to everyone in English in a less crazy, not-so-busy office, but getting there and back with the distance continues to be crazy. Which is part of my huge excitement that, Lord willing, this little girl will be a home birth as well!
Now before you think I'm completely crazy, we are not planning to give birth at home in China. We briefly considered the home-birth option here, but with no midwives willing to practice at home that we know of in our area, the distance to the hospital were there to be complications (and the fact that we've been told ambulances aren't reliable - it's better to go taxi, which can be stuck in traffic), and the difficulty of getting a birth certificate when there's no system other than the hospital set up to issue them, we decided it wasn't for us. I tried to lay down my desires, know God could give me the strength in any circumstance, and trust that babies have been born in all kinds of places at all kinds of times. But, being born at home myself and having a beautiful, peaceful home birth with Hadassah, I was sad that it wouldn't be possible this time around.
Well, God sometimes gives you more than you could hope! Knowing that a dear friend was getting married on October 10th in the states, we looked into every possible way to get there. This was the friend that when we decided we would move to China over a year ago, although she didn't yet even know a guy, we promised we would do whatever it took to get back to the states for her wedding, whenever it would be. But, a month before I'm due??
Yet I couldn't let go of going. We go way back, have shared hopes and dreams since we were 16, and I talked with her through each step of her relationship via weekly skypes. Missing a wedding is always hard, but this was missing the wedding of one I consider in many ways a sister. It made me sob. I knew that having a baby was worth it, and that relationships would continue regardless, but I also just longed to be a part of such a special moment, not to mention having connection with close friends before another long winter in China...
We prayed, we weighed options, we threw around so many different scenarios, but two 14 hour flights across the ocean past 30 weeks pregnant just seemed crazy. But then, we finally seriously considered: what if we went - and stayed for the baby's birth? There was so much more to take into consideration, but one by one, the details worked out. My parents have a guest house where we'll have privacy, not to mention beautiful land in the woods, such a peaceful environment to wait and then labor and bring a baby into the world. And though so many babies are born here, it makes me happy to think that the first air this little one gets to breathe will be clean and fresh, not the start of a heavily polluted winter season.
And, the community! Though God is finally giving us much more community here, being with family and friends that go way back for two months will be so refreshing and encouraging. And being in contact with a midwife who is so supportive and not concerned about a "big" baby just puts my mind at ease, that I won't have to constantly fight to be considered normal as it feels like I always am doing at every appointment. Instead, I'll be able to deliver with a Christian woman who also believes that birth is a natural process that doesn't need to be unnecessarily complicated.
Having grandparents able to be right there and help with Hadassah and also family able to be there and visit to rejoice with us and meet this new little one before we go back overseas... Even a sister who is also currently overseas will "just happen" to be in the states during November, so we'll be able to have Thanksgiving together. It's such a joyful thought!
So, tickets have been bought to leave October 1st. Ryan's boss has been very understanding and is allowing us to use the approximate month of vacation he has (between accrued leave, a Chinese holiday, and paternity leave), as well as permission to work remotely for the other month. What initially seemed like a huge deal breaker in terms of all the documents that we'll have to get after baby's born to bring her back seems still crazy, but do-able, after discovering that there's a 24-hour passport office (if you have international travel plans within 2-4 weeks) in addition to a 3-day visa rush process.
Yes, I'm still somewhat nuts, I know. Lord willing, we'll be flying and changing time zones when I'm 35 weeks pregnant, which is something I hated doing NOT pregnant. But, it will be so worth it. I'll be able to rejoice with a dear friend as a bridesmaid in a wedding I've prayed would happen for many many years, we'll be able to see family when going back at Christmas wasn't really feasible this year, I'll be able to reconnect with the community I poured my life into when single, and our sweet second daughter will be born at a home, in a place I know and love. We are so thankful, and ever so excited that the time is drawing closer to meet her!