Sunday, July 29, 2012

week 96_Feeling pretty Preg-O!

I've tried to avoid converting this to a baby blog - and will continue to do so (just in case you all are already as bombarded as I am by people around you having babies!), but let's face it folks --- that is most of what's going on with me these days.

In baby's room ~ I love the colors :)

So for week 96, why not record a few of the highlights of being pretty darn preggers in hot Taipei City in July?! Someday I will need my own notes to remember these details... and if 'mommy-brain' is as bad as I hear, I may be needing help with my memory sooner rather than later! It is one excruciatingly hot summer, and the heat is probably the #1 thing slowing me down at this point! Just 10 more weeks to go... but I think they will all be hot!

I've just recently reached the point of feeling big. I am starting to walk slower and more carefully, watching my breathing when I'm exerting myself, and stepping more cautiously onto the bus while holding the handrail. Some women do this throughout pregnancy, but it has taken the actual bump getting in my way at this point to truly slow me down! It's true that I can't see my feet when I look down anymore - unless I bend over my stomach to get a peek at them - and reaching my feet can be truly uncomfortable when I wish I could just tie the straps on those cute shoes! The local women have been telling me for months how "big" I am, and are always shocked to hear how far I still have to reach my due date! But by American standards, I feel like I've stayed on track pretty well. Luckily, I love my maternity wardrobe and so most of the time I just feel like the cute pregnant American lady. 

They say everyone loves a pregnant woman, and it seems to be true - I feel like I'm getting more attention these days, and people are so kind to me. 

Thankfully, my appetite has gone back to normal from about 5 months onward. Food is just as delicious as I remember it was pre-pregnancy, and it's amazing how I can be starving one minute and overly stuffed the next! I guess my stomach really is squished out of the way for baby at this point. Keeping my health in check, I've also started exercising with a fitness trainer twice weekly, and I am feeling great about it. It is tough work (especially with the equivalent of a 20 pound weight tied around my belly), but each session gets a little easier and it has definitely boosted my morale and energy level / helped me fall asleep faster two nights per week! 

We haven't loaded up on a ton of baby things, but mostly I am still trying to sort out what we will need and what is just fluff consumerism. Does baby really need a baby bathtub or will the sink or regular tub suffice? How many outfits, diapers, bibs, pacifiers, bottles, does one child need? It seems impossible to tell without baby in hand, but we are mostly sticking to the big staple items and I guess the rest we will have to figure out as we go! 

It's pretty fun to be so far along with baby now because he is active and it is as though we're spending time together every day. In the beginning I was not as emotionally invested in the little guy, but as time moves on and we grow together, he's 'really growing on me'! :) He kicks, turns, flips, and somersaults. Elbows, knees, head-buts, whatever! My little Olympian has become more and more active every day, and I generally look forward to it --- of course worrying a little any day when he is not practicing his moves as much. 

My in-laws have booked their flights and apartment for the big delivery, so I suppose I'm going to have to hold out until they get here! I'm secretly hoping I will get lucky though, and baby will arrive early! 

I've been feeling great these past couple of months, but now that I am reaching the grin and bear it phase - I am ready to have baby here in person asap! Hopefully we will squeeze in a few more preparations and adventures before 'hubby and me' become 'us three'! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

week 95_Halfway through July already?!

I have been keeping busy this month.

It's summer here in all it's glory. The weather is HOT, but at least the humidity has lessened recently so it feels a lot more like a sunny Texas summer. Bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Time to wear sunglasses, sunscreen, and flip flops for sure! [Not to mention, this pregnant woman is even more overheated than the average city-goer].

I can't believe July has escaped me already. Where has 2012 gone?!

Just thought I'd share a few shots from work - yes, work. We have a large skyscraper project underway and the views are spectacular on a clear day.

Enjoy ~~~

Looking down on Keelung Road & Zhongxiao E. Road intersection (Hankyu Dept Store at right)

Lots of cranes for this project. City, bridges, river, and mountains beyond.

101 in all her glory (as usual) :)

Heart of downtown on a sunny afternoon. 

Downtown Taipei is just a stone's throw away from mountains filled with hiking trails.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

week 94_Renovating for Baby

The norm in Taipei homes seems to be leaving ALL walls/ceilings painted WHITE. Clean and simple can be refreshing... but can also get boring to folks who are a fan of colors...!

Although our landlord was originally hesitant to permit any painting (or touching the walls in any way in our apartment - nails, 3M hooks, etc.), we have gradually gained her trust and she even took me shopping for paint last weekend! We agreed to hire a painter for our 2nd bedroom in preparation for making it 'baby's room'. Aside from providing our landlord with peace of mind that a "professional" would be handling the makeover, it also made it possible to have the room painted while I was away -not even in the apartment, let alone providing the labor - so there was no danger of excessive fumes around me and the baby. He did a great job, and I'm so glad to  have the room painted (even though we would usually save the cash and do the painting ourselves in the States...)

Ah, welcome to COLOR! :)
Bright and Cheerful, just as I'd hoped :)
One of the HARDEST puzzles I've ever worked on!

When my landlady and I visited the B&Q home store in Neihu, she was shocked to learn that not only were low-odor paint color choices abundant, but the staff actually mix the paint there as you wait (!). None of this was news to me - I had assured her that there were more colors available than the painter believed - but it made me wonder how many other locals (even workers who paint homes for a living) are unaware of custom paint colors? The small home shops on our block sell a set menu of paint colors... probably 20 choices total... and keep these stocked at all times. Maybe the Taiwanese don't paint with colors often because the majority of people are unaware of the color and brand choices available?

We chose two shades of yellow-orange, and left some of the white, to create a cheerful room. It is going to be a little boy's room, but could easily be anyone's room - girl, boy, adult - if by some luck we don't have to paint it back to white at whatever point we move out. I've been working on a *challenging* puzzle from a local children's artist that is blue & green with small flecks of orange, yellow and red. Whenever I finally finish, I am planning to hang it in the room. It should pop right off the orange wall and look great with those specs of color matching the wall background. :)

Shortly after visiting the store with me - and before the date the painter was even scheduled to paint at our apartment - I learned that our landlady had her mother's apartment painted by the same man. Inspired by our shopping trip?! Haha.

Other than paint, we also learned, a little late in the game, that apparently in Chinese culture (not limited to Taiwan) they believe pregnant women and their spouses should NOT hammer anything while pregnant. The fear being that doing so could cause a miscarriage or even cause the baby to be born with some abnormality. No hammers, no nails, my friends. Good to know now that we've reached the 3rd trimester... I don't think we've hammered/nailed anything since January... (?!?!?!). This was news to us, and even the hubby falls into the superstition! So... now that we have freshly painted walls and will surely have art/pictures to hang, it looks like it will all be 3M adhesive hooks for us!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

week 93_Photos from Sansia

On a recent sunny afternoon off work, the hubby ventured out to see some sights and play with our new camera. I was stuck in the office for the day, but he managed to bring me back some photos and a delicious bullhorn croissant treat from his travels (the local specialty).

Afternoon sightseeing destination: Sansia, Taiwan. Located near the small pottery town named Yingge that you may recall from older blog posts, is another small town called Sansia. Yingge is famous for it's ceramics, and I've read that Sansia is famous for it's temples and woodworking. We've learned that reaching Yingge by train is cheap and fairly painless. From there, you can take a short taxi ride to Sansia.

Check out some of the hubby's pictures below... :)

Old Street
Banana filled bullhorn croissant (local specialty)
Looking forward to when I have the chance to visit Sansia myself sometime :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

week 92_Pregnant in Taipei... and Counting Down!

Geez, where have I been lately? OH, that's right - beaching, book clubbing, visiting with friends, and studying Chinese!!!
Hubby bought me a new Dragon this week in honor of my little Dragon baby!
(He found this while sightseeing in Taipei County)
Being pregnant overseas has been a learning experience so far! Though the truth is, I'd be getting an education regardless (since I have limited-to-zero pregnant friends), but the language barrier and cultural differences do add to the adventure. I've been discovering the vast network of foreigners with children in Taipei, and have a new found respect for the parents who truly do wing it and manage to get by on their own! For me, being able to connect with others in a similar situation has been key. 

At 26 weeks and counting that leaves only 14 more weeks until baby arrives (hopefully) and probably less time than that for me to have everything ready to go! I know that sounds like a long time to some of you, but ~ it's not. Imagine your free time had a time limit. We have been determined to enjoy as much of the summer as we can before we become committed new parents!

Being a planner, I am also spending time reading and getting ready for baby. So just in case anyone reading this is in Taipei, possibly in the same scenario, I thought I'd share some of the things I have learned so far...

1. Angie, our Doula
After reading a bit about other people's positive experiences with doulas, I decided it might be a good idea for us to work with one ~ but the TRUE benefit in Taipei is working with a pregnancy/child birth specialist who is bilingual and able to help navigate the local health care system with you. As our doula, Angie is there to answer any questions and make our pregnancy smoother from start to finish. She can communicate with local health care professionals when needed, and she has loads of experience with delivering babies in Taiwan for both foreign or local families.

2. Xinzhuang Birth Center
While the health care system in Taiwan is quite good, I am excited to have found the Xinchuang Birth Center for my pre-natal care and labor/delivery (when the time comes). The hospitals here are also good, but I am happy to have found a location specializing specifically in mother and baby care. No sick patients with random diseases, no huge facility with long lines or confusing endless hallways --- just a clean, fairly new facility full of other pregnant women like me, and a doctor who can communicate with me in English. It may not be in the heart of downtown, but to us it is worth the 20 minute commute. The birth center offers all the tools for natural birth, or medically assisted birth as needed (they can perform a C-section if that's what you need, for example). 

3. Shopping for Baby Items
Of course, typical of Taipei, there are unlimited numbers of shops catering to parents and babies. Shopping is never a problem here, right?! In our hunting so far, we have found that *most* department stores have limited and very expensive selection. Baby things are abundant, most stores seem to carry many import brands, so they are expensive as well. The best selection we've run into so far is at the Living Mall, which has a wide variety of brands, price ranges and big ticket items like cribs, high chairs, strollers, etc. There is also a whole slew of baby care stores across from Adventist Hospital on BaDe Road. 

4. Cloth Diapers
We've decided to use cloth diapers for our baby (and admittedly picked up our stock in the US); this seems to be atypical for Taipei and the selection is limited here. Thankfully a friend referred us to the Little Wonders website which will be able to provide the appropriate detergents and cloth diaper accessories that we need! The stores listed above (3.) also had a limited selection of cloth diapers on hand.

5. Networking
For all things baby and family, check out the Parent Pages on Taiwanease. This site is frequented by a close-knit network of family professionals, businesses, and just plain old other parents. If you can't find something you need, or the answer to a question --- someone here can help you find the answer. The best references, baby items, services we've found have been from suggestions of other parents in Taipei! 

Guess that's all for now! Hope this brings help to a pregnant reader in Taipei someday! :)