Baby books for boys

When I returned from Vietnam, there was a new baby book sitting beside my side of the bed. Well, to be honest, I saw quite a few new baby books around, but this one appeares to have been purchased with me in mind.

It’s called “The lost art of being a man: How to bring up baby”, and it’s great.

I just thought I’d share a few pointers with you:

    Mental prep pre-birth checklist for Dad

  • Watch a film, read a book, listen to a CD from start to finish. Uninterupted. Pure joy.
  • A father is a man with photos in his wallet where monry used to be. Enjoy your last chance to spend money guilt free.
  • In the last weeks of pregnancy, stock your shelves and fridge with east-to-make food and drink (yes, beer is considered easy to make)
    Things not to do with a crying baby:

  • Head down to the local library and try to write your Ph.D thesis
    How to cope with a crying baby:

  • Bring forward that urgent business trip to Rio
    What to do if baby has diarrhoea:

  • While various nuances of baby’s diarrhoea may be fascinating to you, don’t burden our friends and relatives with details
    The do’s and don’ts of driving with baby

  • Don’t drive faster so that you can make it to your destination before baby wakes up
  • Do learn to drive safely even when your baby’s screams are piercing your innermost being

All sounds like great advice to me…

Oh no, it’s the jiggler!

Finally, baby gets to get jiggled and poked and prodded and kissed and read to again tomorrow — we’re off to meet daddy!

So I have a bit of a dilemma. I’m getting a flight from Jakarta to Singapore, where S (the male one) joins the flight. I’m thinking of asking for an upgrade for poor pregnant lady, though I know the chances are about negative zero. In which case, do I then say, well, um actually I’m meeting my husband in economy, can you make sure we sit together?

Must have bread roll

Last night I went to a dinner at which Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (I just love how that name rolls off the tongue after a little while) was giving a keynote address. I can’t say I’ve been to too many dinners with presidents or prime ministers. Erroneously, it turns out, I assumed that it would be a bit like a wedding: we’d eat and then between mains and dessert he’d have a little chat with us.

After a hectic day — already running to this hotel twice for earlier addresses during the day and just making it in time through horrid traffic (probably made worse because the president himself had shut down half the roads in the city to get there) — we were seated at 7pm with a bread roll each. Everyone at my table nibbled and finished theirs within about five minutes. At 8:30pm the president was still talking.

I couldn’t concentrate any longer and seriously thought about asking one of the people at the next table who hadn’t eaten their bread roll if perhaps I could have it instead. Then I spied a tray left on the table by the waiter with a napkin covering it. I peeked. And in full view of the seven others seated around me I shamelessly took the last one underneath and gobbled it down.

We started eating at 9 and three courses or 20 minutes later most everyone was out the door.

Pregnancy politeness?

While I was waiting in a taxi queue yesterday the man in front turned to me to offer me his taxi. I told him no, and he actually said: “Really, I insist.” I told him thanks but really he could go ahead, another one would be right behind.

So he jumped into his taxi before I had a chance to ask him: was he was offering because I was a woman… or because I have a belly now?

Giggle-free shop

Quite suddenly, baby has exploded in size. Until today, I had a pile of my normal pre-pregnancy clothes that were suiting my gradually expanding waistline just fine. It seemed like there was plenty of room for a few more weeks’ growth, but it seems that baby isn’t growing in proportion to time. There was yesterday. And then there was today.

My friend J brought across some great starter-maternity wear from the US a few months ago which has already got some solid wear. But for a wardrobe that’s going to last, realistically, for another year — not enough. In something of a panic, I went to the one maternity shop I’ve seen here (and looked in when baby was just a jelly bean and I didn’t really understand the idea of e x p a n s i o n). And I bought eight, yes eight, items of clothing in less than an hour. And for the first time ever while clothes shopping in Asia, the sales assistant didn’t giggle and say she didn’t have a bigger size to fit me. All round, very satisfying.

Slug toes

It was a holiday here in Indonesia today — Happy Indonesian Independence Day — so I worked from home, thinking it would be reasonably quiet. Ended up being reasonably busy, with sentence cuts handed out to some of the men jailed over the 2002 bombing (Happy Indonesian Indepenence Day, prisoners) and another confirmed bird flu death. So I really just ricocheted from the work laptop in my study to my own laptop on the dining room table, where it’s easier to check work email. And by 10am, my feet were the size of big bowls of jelly.

I’m guessing I’m lucky that this is all I have to complain about at this point, but boy, are they ugly squishy elephant-lady feet. The toes are like slugs and look like they are trying to flee each other in fear. I tried working with legs splayed out on dining chairs but it really didn’t make any difference.

So that’s why I had to have a cream bath (an exquisite Indonesian head massage, where they massage in a hair conditioner for about half an hour) and a pedicure (which are pretty no-frills at the place on the corner, but you do get a 10 minute massage at the end that’s not the no-no reflexology). I knew the feet would probably scare the poor girl, but the bump’s reasonably prominent now so thought she might understand the connection and take pity.

While the feet are still marshmellows, what was nice about getting out of the house for an hour was just having to sit still without any distractions. No work or email to check, no TV. And invariably when I have to just sit still thoughts float back to baby and I get all excited all over again about what’s to come. It’s great just to sit there and be thrilled for a while, in between reading snippets out of a baby book.

Then I came across this quote:

In later pregnancy you become a rather ungainly shape and lose some agility and mobility, becoming breathless more easily. Your centre of gravity is further forward and you are less stable. Once committed to a certain direction you may find it hard to change and if someone bumps into you, you may fall over.

Looks like I have more ricocheting to come.

I just couldn’t help but think of a room full of pregnant women committed to moving in a certain direction and bumping into each other and falling over. And then about baby again.

Parenting theories

While S (the male one) struggled with rain ruining his pictures and texted me asking me to let him know of any floods about to hit Vietnam’s Mekong Delta (13 dead so far), I went out for dinner with G and J, two guys I used to work with in Bangkok. G, who is here for work for a few days, has three girls and J, who is also based in Jakarta, has one rather new one.

Of course talk turned to kids and I mentioned a book I’ve been reading called Einstein Never Used Flashcards and how it was rather comforting: you don’t need to over-programme your kids and buy them educational toys that have them reading the alphabet before six months for them to turn out to be little Einsteins (and it debunks the whole Mozart for baby theory too). In fact the book argues that scheduling hour-by-hour activities before and after school and on weekends might be creating a generation of totally uncreative types who are totally inept at deciding it might be interesting to cut the whiskers off one side of the cat’s face. The book argues that talking and spending time with the munchkins, along with letting them to have time to be creative themselves (even at fatcat’s expense), should do the trick nicely.

J, who is not up to the programming stage yet, argued that that was what people used to say about the TV-generation — they’d turn out passive and unable to do much.

G, who certainly doesn’t seem the overprogramming type, complained that the whole parenting thing was becoming very divisive and competitive among his friends. Then he just looked pleased to be having a night off fatherhood. (“Once you have your first one you sometimes just sit and think of the life you used to have…”)

Is it hot or am I just getting fatter?

I behaved like a princess this morning in the taxi on the way to work, asking the driver to turn up the aircon as I fluttered a hand in front of my face to indicate how damn uncomfortable it can be being driven to work in the tropics some mornings. I was even wearing a white linen shirt.

I didn’t really start thinking about perhaps why I’m feeling the heat a bit more until another S (yes, thanks a lot) asked me about weight gain so far. I hadn’t really been paying too much attention, except to worry early on that I wasn’t eating enough, though lately I have occasionally thought that maybe a singlet and a few pairs of knickers had been washed in too-hot water.

Then I started thinking about well, dinner last night: pizza (which I oddly only want to eat when the male S is away), lemonade and a Mars bar. A few weeks ago it would have been a hearty barley hotpot, a few glasses of water then a few delicate squares of good dark chocolate. Then I started thinking about how the past week all I’ve been looking forward to eating has been either ice cream, chocolate or a pastry from the hotel opposite the office… The apples have been staying in my survival pack and today my lentil soup sat on the desk all day while I just had the two pieces of left over pizza from last night (at least I didn’t eat it all in one sitting).

Thank goodness we’re going back to Australia in a few weeks where it’s cold and I can stop thinking!

PS If you get too fat can you still feel the baby kick? And can the baby still hear you practising names on it to see if kicks?

Oh Jakarta, tis fine to see thee

Oh Jakarta, tis fine to see thee

Through the sifting sea
of mist and smog
I do see thee
You’re not a dog.

For the great Durian you are
All prickly and smelly
Yet I bow down before thee
As there’s just one belly…

To see it I must,
To rub in my awe
For inside I do trust
Lays a baby and more.

Far from jams, far from noise
It lives in your soft-centred flesh
Tis hid from all who can see
and stinking traffic mess.

Oh Jakarta, Oh Jakarta, tis fine to be home
Oh Jakarta, Oh Jakarta, I promise I won’t moan
Thanks for minding the belly and S as well too
I’m growing to like thee but you still smell like poo.

(Poetry was never, ever my strongpoint… Jakarta is often referred to as the Great Durian)