Having a baby in China: 28/30/32 week appointments

I am grouping these three appointments together as they have all been very straight-forward and similar. At 28-weeks we began visits on a two-week cycle rather than four-weeks, this will last up until 36-weeks and then appointments will be every week until birth.

At each of the last three there have been vitals, uterine fundal height, abdominal perimeter, fetal heart Doppler and urinalysis. Two of the three appointments included a blood test and one had an ultrasound. We have continued to receive ‘normal’ results in all testing, and baby’s heart rate has remained at a similar rate all through pregnancy which is great.

The ultrasound at the 30-week appointment was a bit long and uneventful (I nearly fell asleep a few times). They again struggled to get the measurements they were after as baby wasn’t in the ideal position for them. We did get one nice silhouette of the head but just for our viewing in the room, the images they sent home with us were of the spine and some unidentifiable (to our eyes) body parts.

The 30-week ultrasound did start with the Dr informing us that the baby was in breech position and if it doesn’t move they will schedule a C-section. This was again repeated at our 32-week appointment upon Dr’s palpations. As we are planning for a natural birth these are not the most encouraging words, however I have had lots of great ideas from my doula and books and we are doing what we can to make room for baby to move around. I will say though I have been a disappointed in the hospital/Dr to not have even suggested anything to turn baby, or let us know there is still plenty of time. At least we know the position and can give proper effort to share our position with them. (Of course I will do whatever is medically necessary to ensure baby and mother are safe and healthy, but I strongly believe in the nature of labor and birth, our bodies know exactly what to do!)

Additionally, comments about my weight (gain) have decreased significantly since I spoke to the translator about being a bit more sensitive. At our last appointment we were even told that my weight was perfect! Mr T and I had a big giggle then and saw a bit of a laugh from the Dr, we thought there was even a hint of sarcasm!!

This week I will begin to scale back on my workload just a bit. Still feeling lots of energy but the heat and demands of a class of six-year olds is beginning to get challenging. I will begin my maternity leave at 36-weeks.

We are looking forward to next week’s appointment where we can check baby’s position, go over our ‘birth plan’ and organise a delivery room tour.

-Mrs T

In Search of……

When we moved into our apartment we decided that we only wanted it to be partially furnished, we asked the landlord to provide only a bed and a TV.  This was mostly as we would rather have our cat damage our own property rather than anyone else’s, as well as just wanting to really make it our own.  That said we have been doing a lot of shopping in the last few weeks.  And as we are getting a bit older and starting to think it would be good if the things we buy last a bit longer it has not been a one-stop Ikea shop to fill this place, though today we hit the jackpot there!  We have often discounted the rugs at as Ikea as we thought they were too expensive to be from Ikea.  Today we had a long look at them and found a few that we really liked (and all were more affordable than the Muji rug we have been pining after).  We decided to wait on it, but then as we passed though the ‘As Is’ department, we saw the rug we had liked for 60% off, all due to a small sticker and a few creases.  In the spirit of saving money we went for it and are so pleased!  It fits in the budget and leaves a bit extra for our dining table and chairs.

In Tianjin there are two choices for furniture (as far as we know, please comment if you know of other places!): Ikea and Macalline.  Macalline being 5 floors of anything you could ever want when building or furnishing a home.  It can be a bit overwhelming as it is so big (with many of the same pieces repeated again and again), but we were lucky to find a sofa and chair that we really love.   Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.

So we extended our search to Beijing, just looking the internet there was nothing that jumped out, but I kept coming across Gao Bei Dian.  It is quite a way out from the city centre but definitely worth the trip.  The 500m walk from the subway station was less than convincing as all that could be seen were car showrooms and construction sites, we were worried we had wasted a day in the sweltering summer heat, until we stumbled upon our first furniture shop.  Which just happened to have a table we had been looking at online!  We found all sorts of shops: beautiful showrooms with antiques and modern pieces, tiny spaces with tables piled a top each other, and small boutiques with elegant displays.  It seems as though we had found the physcial stores for all the TaoBao shops we have been browsing the last few months. Despite finding what we had originally wanted we are now plagued with having to choose between several fantastic choices, and we are even considering the money saving option of an Ikea table.

Besides simply trying to find the right furniture we are weighing in the cost.  We recognise that unique, quality furniture is going to have a higher price tag, however we are trying to be sensible and not break the bank.  The last two days we have walked over 37,000 steps in search of… hopefully ten days on the beach can help us come to a decision.

 – Mr and Mrs T

From Winky to China: Day 5

Our second day in Beijing we headed out on a mini tour, we had booked a bus to see three major sights. We were pleasantly surprised when we were collected by a mini bus and told it would be just the three of us on the tour!   Our guide Gary was energetic, knowledgeable and spoke great English. Summer Palace was our first stop and I think for all of us it was the highlight of the day. Having no prior knowledge of what we would be seeing, it really surprised and impressed us. The beautiful lake, tons of greenery and lots of history were great to see. It is a place we will surely visit again, but perhaps not in 34 degree heat!

Next up, the not so great part of orgainsed tours, a mandatory stop at a ‘silk factory.’ Although I had my ‘I’m not going to buy any of this rubbish’ face on I did really enjoy the presentation on silk worms and how silk is formed, as I had no idea. It did make me appreciate the higher cost of silk. And as much as I didn’t want to ‘give in’ I did buy a small silk cushion that unfolds into a small blanket.

From there it was on to The Forbidden City, a visit that has intimidated us on several trips to Beijing. It was busy as ever but we were so thankful to have Gary to guide us, as without him I think it would have been a lot of aimless wandering. Again, a beautiful, fascinating place that I am sure we will visit again. Following here we stopped at a pearl shop, no purchases this time! Then we were on to a humble Chinese lunch of noodles before going to the Temple of Heaven.

This was another location that we didn’t know much about and were pleasantly surprised. It was less busy than the first two sights, and it felt much calmer and peaceful. By this point we were feeling a bit fatigued and didn’t spend as much time as we could have. Our final stop was a Tea House, which was really interesting and tasty but the salesgirl was not impressed when we weren’t willing to buy any tea!

Gary delivered stories, facts and history, which have really peaked my interest in learning more about Chinese culture. The pictures below will really speak for themselves; we were so lucky for a beautiful day with blue skies and sunshine!

We were lucky to get the first available train back to Tianjin. We popped into the St Regis for a quick dinner and then home to recharge after our long day. (We needed it after 23,000+ steps, that is over 15.4km walking in one day!)

-Mrs T

From Winky to China: Day 4

Today we were back up to Beijing for two days of adventure. Our first stop was the 798 Art district. Although it took us over an hour to drive 10 miles to get there, it was one of our nicest days of sightseeing. 798 is already one of our favourite parts of Beijing, this visit we were able to see a bit more and found a delicious Japanese restaurant for lunch.

We took a short rest in our hotel and were out for our first meal of Peking Duck. We dined at Duck de Chine and were overwhelmingly impressed. The atmosphere and the service were top notch and of course the duck, was fantastic. They carved the duck tableside and along with a delicious lemon chicken dish and a few others, we were pleasantly full. We even tried the complementary red bean ice, it is a traditional Chinese pudding that we have seen on menus many times but never have been brave enough to try. It tasted good, just a bit strange on our Western palate to be eating beans for desert.

After dinner we were off to Sanlitun to visit one of our favourite cocktail bars Janes and Hooch. We were just out of the taxi when Mr T’s trusty Havaiana decided to break! We thought, ‘lucky for us, we are directly across from YaShow!’ Unfortunately it had closed just a short ten minutes before. He was forced to buy a pair of flip flops off the street (that were too small!), for more money than they were worth, and then after some convincing got some trainers from the Puma shop. An unexpected part of our evening but something I am sure we will laugh about for a long time. As always the drinks and atmosphere at Janes and Hooch was great but we kept it to one drink as we had an early start and a long day ahead of us on Friday.

-Mrs T

From Winky to China: Day 2

Today was our first trip to Beijing; our plan was to visit The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. We had an enjoyable ride on the bullet train and took the underground to Tiananmen Square. Though we thought we had arrived quite early it was already heaving. To start things off it took us about 10 minutes to walk 15 meters just to get through security into the area. Once through a bit of the walk, we saw queues for tickets and security and people everywhere. It was 10:00 am we were hot and tired already and made an executive decision to rethink our plans. We stopped by a tour agency and booked in for a bus tour this Friday. For 300 RMB ($48/£28) a bus will collect us from our hotel take us to The Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven and includes an English guide and lunch. After our experience this morning it is well worth the money for a day of sightseeing.

So our amended day began with a stop in our favourite art shop. Our friend was there and we picked up another moon festival painting, Sarah got two paintings for herself and her name written in Chinese characters. From there it was on to the shopping mecca know as YaShow market in Sanlitun. Shopping galore where bargaining rules. It was an afternoon filled with entertainment and good deals. It all began with 2 bags and a wallet, first price 640 RMB, final price 251 RMB ($40/£23)!

On the way out I spotted a little bagel shop with authentic New York bagels so we had a little snack. And finally ate late lunch at one of our favourite places: Great Leap Brewery. With burgers and beers in our tummies we made our way back to the train station and home to Tianjin.

Another fantastic day, my FitBit says we walked over 19,000 steps; thats nearly 13km!

Until tomorrow,

-Mrs T

 

Great Leap Brewing, Beijing

We popped up to Beijing Saturday afternoon to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  The venue was Great Leap Brewing’s No. 12 location, Dongcheng district.  We arrived late afternoon and the bar had a good buzz, not too busy but a steady flow of people in and around the place.  We settled right into our lunch and some tasters.  The food was delicious and the beer just as good.  I settled on a cinnamon wheat and Mr T continued on a light and fruity pilsner.  The  great atmosphere continued through the night as it got busier and busier! We even got a serenade from a Chinese bagpipe player!

We could have easily stayed all night but popped out to catch some rugby.  As Great Leap was next door to our hotel (Holiday Inn Express: super clean, a great location and 100 times better than what you get in the UK or the US from the same brand) we made a cheeky late night stop and sampled the pulled pork sandwich and fried chicken.  An indulgent evening but something of a treat as we have yet to find the equivalent in Tianjin.

We will definitely return to this brewery, think there is talk of going this weekend! Be sure to check it out if you are in Beijing and you are looking for good food and drink.

Mrs T

The Lumineers in Beijing 11.2.14

DSCF5923

Last week we made a mid week journey up to Beijing.  Prior to the show we were wondering if we were crazy.  It meant leaving straight from school to catch the train, drop our bags at the hotel and off to the venue.  The next day we would catch the first train and go straight into work.  To be fair we were as tired as expected, but the traveling was simple and straightforward, we had tested out the journey to the venue and the show was AMAZING!  We would do it again in a heartbeat.

DSCF5891

The show was in a smallish venue and we were lucky to be standing just one row back from the stage.  It was one of the first concerts where I could actually see the band and I am so glad I could!  It will be hard not to sound cliché, but they were full of energy and you could really see and feel their passion for the music.

The music was fantastic.  At one point three of them came down into the middle of the crowd to do a song and they sang without microphones.  It was so beautiful and I loved how the crowd was actually able to quiet down and listen.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another highlight was when lead singer, Wesley Schultz stopped singing and asked everyone to put their phones away, to just be there.  On one hand it felt like being told off but more importantly showed his strengths in his beliefs.  In the February issue of Time Out Beijing he shared his thoughts on this:

I understand that there is an impulse to have our phones out in nearly every possible place imaginable – at dinner, waiting on a line, at a wedding, on a beach, on the toilet – pretty much anywhere.  But it doesn’t mean that this impulse is something we need to act on.  The problem with people having their phones out and recording video at live shows is multifaceted.  One: the footage itself is generally poor quality (the sound especially) and rarely gets re-viewed.  Two: the assumption is that people who are on Facebook would want/care to see your concert footage – they don’t.  Three: by putting your phone into the air and recording the show you are distracting folks around you from being directly engaged in the show, and instead of focusing on a tiny TV.  Four: most importantly, you are distracting yourself from the show itself.

I think they are such valid points and I found myself looking around and thinking at the beginning of the show how different concerts look today than say 10 years ago.  When you look around you just see a sea of phones and cameras.

Finally I loved watching the members of the band interact with each other.  As the show ended they gave each other congratulatory hugs, which I thought was so sweet.  They also walked around the stage picking up set lists and guitar picks and chucking them out into the audience.  Two set lists were carefully folded into airplanes and shot out into the crowd. We didn’t have any souvenirs to take on with us but the memory of the night will resonate with me for a long time.

Mrs T

Time to travel

We’ve completed our first term at Wellington Tianjin!  After a fabulous staff party last night at the St Regis, we are ready to think about heading off to the states for my first Christmas at home in four years.  A quick trip to the pet market today and we’ve got everything Ravi should need whilst we are gone.  Suitcases are out and nearly all packed.  One last sleep and we begin our traveling tomorrow.  Two hour bus journey to Beijing, flight to Vancouver, Canada and finally arriving in Portland, Oregon.  It is quite a amazing with the time zones we will be landing 2 and a half hours earlier than we departed!

Mrs T

A morning in Beijing’s 798 Art District

One of the greatest things about living in Tianjin is that Beijing is only 30 minutes away by train ($15 return). This means if Mrs. T wants to go shopping we can be there an hour after leaving our front door.

This morning we headed up to the art district as a new pair of shoes was on the agenda! We had a walk round taking in the quirky scenery and artwork located down the various alleys and paths.

We had heard a lot about SOYE and had seen quite a few pairs of their shoes on co-workers. Basically it is a fantastic shop full of handmade leather goods at amazing prices.

After wandering round for a while we decided to go and get a coffee, in what looked like a boutique coffee house. I saw a food bowl behind the counter and a cushion, so we were keeping an eye out for a cat or dog. To my surprise this is what we saw….

We opted against eating here!

So, departed at 7.40am and back by 2pm. A great start to the weekend!