Sunday, June 14, 2009
"Expats" Part 1 (Having a baby in China)
My wife and I have been so blessed this past March with the arrival of our beautiful baby daughter Julia Louise. We are so in love with her! Having a baby in China can be a scary and complicated thing. However, we did find a good hospital in Guangzhou that practices western medicine. But, it was two hours from our house! This was really the only choice except Hong Kong, but trying to cross an international border in labor was a risk we didn't want to take. The due date was March 3rd. I had our driver "Li" standing by in mid February, ready to go at a moments notice. They would go with or without me, because my work was two hours away in a different direction than Guangzhou. My plan was just to go straight there from wherever I was at the time.
Around the third week of February I got home from work one night, and as I walked through the door my wife said she’s pretty sure she’s starting labor! I called Li, and grabbed the big suitcase. As we head to the front gate to leave, the guard dressed in a green camouflage uniform jumped in front of me! He’s stopping us from leaving!! He was a new guard and he didn’t know us. Because we had a big suitcase, he thought we were vacating our apartment. And we had to be checked and have the landlord’s approval to leave if we were vacating. My wife is standing there in labor! It’s so obvious what is happening! But the rules say he should stop anyone with a large suitcase. This is China! I snapped a photo of the guard with my phone and another tried to take my phone away! It was a crazy scene. One we will never forget! I’ll write much more about these crazy things at a later point. I have so much to write about it’s quite ridicules. After about ten precious minutes standing there and getting ready to Kung Fu his ass, we finally got past all the guards that had responded, and off we went to Guangzhou….Finally!! We arrived at the hospital 2 hours later, and the contractions had stopped. After all that it was a false alarm. After a night in the hospital, they released her, and told us to go home. So, back to Shenzhen we went. The next day I went back to work and stayed nervous as hell every minute.
Finally about 10:00pm on March 1st, my wife went into labor for real. It was a Sunday so I was there…Thank God! Driver "Li" was still standing by, and was there within 10 minutes. This time he drove into the complex so we could avoid any scuffles with the guards. He's the greatest. I will write about him later. He will be my Chinese brother for life! Off we went to Guangzhou again! My poor wife was lying across the backseat of the car in great pain with contractions almost 10 minutes apart for two hours in that car! But, thank God we made there in time. The doctor and all but one nurse spoke no English. The whole experience was certainly a unique one, to put it lightly. At one point the nurse who spoke some English said “Don’t yell” to my wife. The Chinese believe in silent birth. And believe me, she was only complaining a little. And by the way, she insisted on going natural despite all my begging for her not to. And she did it too! What an amazing woman she is. I will forever be in awe of her courage and strength. About 4 hours later our beautiful and healthy baby girl was born! She was so amazing! So beautiful!!!
My wife and baby (Thank God) had no complications, and three days later we took her home to meet her big brother for the first time. The look on his face was so beautiful. It was a moment we'll never forget. He had wrapped up some of his teddy bears, and made her a book. Our son Marco is so special! Julia has the best big brother any sister could ask for. So, now that Mom and baby are home safe and sound, it's time to start the business of what country our daughter belongs to. At this point, she is a Chinese citizen. And, we have to start the process to declare her birth to the American government. My wife is an Italian citizen with an Italian passport. My son and I are both American citizens with U.S. passports. We basically could choose between U.S. and Italian citizenship for our daughter. We decided U.S., and they both can become dual citizens later. I had heard the process is pretty easy. The first step is a trip to the American Consulate. So I go online to get the information. Guess where the nearest Consulate is located….Guangzhou of course!
To be continued…◦
Posted by Robert Petril at 4:54 PM