Wednesday, March 28, 2007

There's no place like home...even for an American in China

After five months in the US (two before Justin was born and three months after) I am back "home" in Shenyang, China. It was nice to be in the US again and staying with my parents, but there is something to be said for being back with my things. I am once agian with my things and they are kept how I like them. Actually that is not necessarily true. Rob was here without me and in five months things can really change. There is work to be done. I feel appreciated. It is obvious that the house does not clean itself.

People have been asking me about my trip. Short answer: it went very well. For those who would like a longer answer I have decided to cut and paste from an e-mail I sent to my dad. Now you can choose if you want the "it went well" answer or something more substantial.

The trip went better than expected. We flew from Spokane to Portland with my mom. She was able to help get us through security screening, help with carry-ons, and assist getting settled in the plane. Justin and I had two huge carry-ons plus his car seat. I had him in a baby bjorn carrier. Once we arrived in Portland my mom was able to help get us to the gate for our next flight. She watched our bags while I changed Justin and then watched him and the bags so I could use the bathroom all by myself! When it was time to board, J and I got on the plane and my mom left to get her bags and head off to the Oregon coast with my brother's family. J and I had business class seats by a bulkhead. We (flight attendant helped) got his car seat situated and a man behind us put away our carry ons and offered to help anytime if we needed during the flight, even if he was asleep. He said that he and his wife had adopted a little girl from China and they took their kids with so the five of them traveled back together and he knew how long the trip between Tokyo and Portland could be with a small infant. For the 10 1/2 hour flight Justin spent about two of those hours in his car seat, but it was nice to have the extra room. He actually slept in it while I ate my dinner. :) We are able to put a blanket down on the floor in front of our seats so he could stretch out a little bit. That helped a lot. He sat on my lap and played with toys for awhile and also slept or rested on me with the seat reclined back. When it was time for breakfast he sat on my lap and watched Baby Einstein while I ate. He did manage three poopy diapers on the plane, but they were all contained, though one spilled into the diaper cover. Glad I had that on him. I lugged the poor child to the bathroom with me when I had to go. Flight attendants offered to hold him, but he had a nice hold of my shirt and/or hair at almost all times and I knew a transfer would get him screaming. I was able to manage it though, thanks to previous practice at home when I was nursing and would really have to go to the bathroom. Such interesting multi-tasking mothers develop.
When we landed I put J on a blanket on the floor while I got our stuff gathered up and him into the carrier. We had to go through security again. Leave it to the Japanese to screen you as you get off the plane if you have a connecting flight. Juggling baby, car seat, shoe removal, two carry-ons (one with a laptop), and a ziplock of my liquids/gels was busy. I let people go around me as I got things situated into place while holding our passports and tickets. An elderly couple refused to go around me, but instead helped me get everything on the belt and then on the other end helped me pack up again. They offered to help me carry (I wonder if they were physically able!) but I said I had it alright. At the gate a man and his daughter saw me and the man said his wife and older daughter had just gone to buy some water and snacks with their leftover yen and offered to send his other daughter after them to get something for me if I wanted. I thanked him and told him I was okay because I had just eaten on the plane. He and his family helped me carry my things on board and get them settled and put away though.
J was pretty good on the flight from Japan to Beijing as long as I held him. I was able to watch a movie and doze a little. He took a lot of comforting to keep from crying, but as long as I was attentive he was fine. That was about a five hour flight. When we arrived in Beijing we were able to go through the diplomat line to have our visas checked (one person ahead of us instead of a long line). We went out to the baggage area and there was a man from the hotel holding a sign with our name. I don't know why they let him in there. No one else was there meeting people. He got our luggage and carry ons on a cart and went through customs with us. (On the other side of customs is where everyone else was being met.) He loaded us up on the hotel shuttle and we got to the hotel. Bellboy took our things to our room and J and I were in for the night. It was just after 10:00 pm on Friday in China and we had been on the go for 22 hours.
J and I took a bath and I hoped for some sleep. He wanted to play and then be walked. We walked and sang most of the night. He got some sleep, but would wake up if I tried to get any. I managed about two hours of sleep with J cuddled on me.
In the morning we got dropped off at the airport, hired someone to load up our bags, and got checked in with minimum difficulty. The Beijing Airport is not a very well designed airport. The people at the check in counters are never sure what to do with confusing situations (ie: transferring to domestic flight from international, having an infant who actually has a purchased seat, dealing with diplomatic passports...). The people at security were nicer than I have ever seen anywhere. They did their job, but were not only patient, but helpful. Justin was wearing an outfit with metal snaps (oops) and they were so gentle doing the check and told me what they needed to do (basic pat down) while trying to keep him entertained. They helped me get my things gathered up again and on my way to the plane. On the plane a flight attendant helped me with my bags. Another brought me a pillow and blanket as well as bottled water and a wash cloth. Everyone wanted to talk to Justin with his big blue eyes. When the plane landed, the woman seated in front of me not only helped get my bags down, but carried them off the plane and got a cart for me. She was worried how I was leaving the airport, if I was being met, etc. and was relieved that someone was coming for me. Once again the person picking me up was allowed to come in to baggage claim and help me. Baggage claim is in the secure area so it is not usually allowed. I think it helped that I was picked up by a consulate driver with a US Consulate blazer and ID badge.
Back at the hotel I found that June had gotten me some basic groceries. Julia helped me assemble the baby swing and get a few things put away. Already way more info and detail than you ever wanted. Rob was so glad that everything went well. He was worried about us. It is a long trip and Justin can be a Monster Baby at times. He has been pretty good and we are even mostly on the right time zone. I think that is great for a 15 hour time difference. J has been pretty good, but he has been screaming if I get out of his sight. He is falling asleep beside me sometimes. He slept 3 hours and then 2 1/2 hour stretches on his own. He wasn't doing that in the US! I can't deal with it though. I have to keep checking on him and making sure he is breathing. I am not used to my baby sleeping on his own so I wonder what is wrong with him. I am sure I will get used to it. :) Hope he continues to get better at sleeping on his own.
I have been doing a lot of reading about trying to get babies to sleep. I think I fall somewhere in the middle in terms of theories. I don’t think it hurts Justin to cry and learn to calm himself, but when he does that for over an hour it seems to me that is long enough. I tried comforting every 15 minutes without picking him up. That way he wasn’t abandon, but wasn’t getting his way. I confess I like having the little guy with me if he is actually sleeping. He is so sweet and a cuddler. If I feed him before he wakes up all the way I get even more sleep than if he had to wake up and cry to get me in to him. Obviously now is not the time to do much until we get settled a little. He is screaming whenever I am out of his sight. When I pulled out familiar toys from Idaho he was crying and laughing at the same time. I thought he was too young to really care about those things, but I guess he was traumatized a little. Maybe I already wrote that. It is the second day on this e-mail now and many different sessions each day as I have time and two free hands. The couple of times here he has fallen asleep on the floor while playing I haven’t been able to get much done because I keep checking on him. My baby doesn’t sleep for more than a couple minutes on his own, so something must be wrong if he is. I watch him breathe or poke at him. Poor child.
Unlike Idaho there isn’t snow and slush so I have been able to take him out in his stroller. He loves that. Good way to get him some sleep time in. I can’t rest while he sleeps though. Until we figure out this 15 hour difference thing I am more anxious than ever to sleep whenever he does since I don’t know when the next opportunity will be. I think he has been doing pretty well. We have been going to bed too early (5:00 pm or so) and getting up at 3:00 am for the day, but with naps during the day that is doable for now. Plus my mom arrives on Friday. J I am so excited to have her here and to show her around the area.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Some quick clips of Justin


Hanging out

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My Sweetheart

I know I am biased, but I think my monster baby can be a cutie! Ugh. The internet at my parents' house has been psycho. We have been able to get it only on my mom's computer. I have to share it with my mom and dad in addition to working my computer use around Justin's schedule. It is VERY frustrating. Hopefully it will be "normal" soon. Oh well, I will be leaving for China soon.
I did want to at least post some pictures. I have some video clips at youtube that I will be uploading as well.