It's impossible to not notice the belly now. Huffing and puffing up stairs with the extra front load. The turtle paced walk down the street. The constant need to pee. Cankles. Little feet and knees digging into my ribs, kicking me in the belly button. Tired, tired, tired.
We have no idea what to expect in the coming months - but do anticipate that life will change. It will become more sleepless. And maybe more rewarding. We will become a family of three. We'll join the ranks of parenthood. We're excited and nervous and all of that for Baby Goss' entrance into the world. [I do admit that while I'm excited to meet the little individual who's been occupying my stomach for the past 9 months, I'm also really ready to not be pregnant anymore!]
As a celebration of the past 28 years of individual-ness and the year of excitement and change to come, we took these photos on my 29th birthday. It was a fun time indeed - and nice to remember just how big a girl can get when 9 months pregnant.
While Amie has been visiting the hospital for weekly checkups, I've also kept myself busy, at various other hospitals. For me it's been avoiding death by rabies. Ever since my great idea to 'get down to the river' at Kanchanaburi and a dog chomped my leg in defiance, I've been preventing rabies full time. I recommend anyone in Asia not vaccinated to get the pre-bite shots immediately. In Bangkok it is only $10 x 3 shots = $30. The 'post-exposure' treatment is a lot more involved.
Here's an account of my visit today. Needles #1 then #2 in my forearm to see if I react to equine (from horse) immune globulin. Side effects, ironically enough, involve wheezing and hoarseness in the first 30 minutes. This was not the case for me so then I get needle #3 in my upper arm which is my 2nd shot of 5 (separate hospital visits) for rabies vaccine. This was painful enough but stopped abruptly when I realized what was next - a huge syringe with 16ml of equine rabies immune globulin (believe me A LOT OF LIQUID!). This was administered via needle #4, #5, #6, and #7 around the dog bite area. After the shock of that prodding wore off, I realized the syringe had barely decreased. The final squirts came through needle #8 into my untouched forearm and #9 into my left buttocks followed by the final needle #10 into my right buttocks. I seriously have 6 bandaids covering needle entry points across my body. Back for more in 3 days!
One of the biggest events in Cambodia for swimmers is the annual Mekong River Swim. Since most Cambodians would not dare attempt, it ends up being largely an expat event.
This year, about 150 people participated in the race. Everyone lines up on the riverbank, the megaphone screams 'go' and everyone beelines it for the other side. Two things to watch for - beelining for the other side usually means you get pushed by the current downstream so make sure to compensate along the way. Also, fast speed and inexperience leads to a large consumption of Mekong water, which I can assure is far below potability standards.
When all the results were in, I placed #68 (about 16 minutes) which is pretty bad but not embarassing concidering no preparation or training whatsoever. More information at Mekong River Swim
Jeroen and I had a chance (as Kamworks) to visit the thriving solar energy scene in Bangladesh. We made many friendships and connections through our visits to various solar companies, factories and projects like the famous Grameen Shakti for example.
Here are some more thoughts from inside smog encircled Dhaka:
Pedal power still dominates small scale transport. Where other areas in asia have moved to tuktuks, auto-rickshaws and motorbike taxies, cycle carts, cycle remorque, and especially cycle rickshaws dominate Bangladesh.
Dhaka is bumper-car central. It isn't a question of avoiding bumps - it's more of preparing for the inevitable. 90% of vehicles are suped-up with additional bumper guard bars, perfect for the rush hour smack. Buses get it the worst - there is no point repairing them anymore. Scrapes and bumps line the side of busses and the corners are all beat in.
In tribute to the hilarious blog, Stuff Expat Aid Workers Love, Bangladesh EAWs love their elite membership clubs. There's a club for everything - golf club, officer's club, flying club, ladies club, and of course every country's club - American club, Dutch club, Scandinavian club, Canadian club, international club (you name it!). A non-alcoholic country with limited night-life culture and the near non-existent tourism industry has driven the expats to near colonial era proportions. Refuge from the poor countryside and dirty cities forces EAWs to congregate in the security and luxury of member only clubs. Have a nice imported beer and a pleasant swim!
Despite the horrendous pollution, past the traffic-choked streets and amongst the overpopulated residences, people are very open about a life of tough experiences with glimmers of hope for the future.
With Baby Goss on the way, we outgrew our last house and moved into another. The new house is closer to great friends, enhanced by a more "local" feel (including extremely high population density of people and animals), and has lots of room for us to get used to.
This is what it looks like.
Being pregnant in Cambodia has its benefits. Cambodians loooooove everything to do with children and they are tickled pink that we have finally come to our senses and are being a normal couple. (Waiting over five years to have kids after getting married is completely incomprehendable in this culture.)
The past few months have been a lot of fun in our different cultural approahces to babies, pregnancy and kids. Cambodians are particularly concerned about me these days. Most days I feel like a big bellied rock star. (At least now, I'm not just considered fat!)
You know you are pregnant in Cambodia when...
-every day you arrive at the office on your bicycle and at least three colleagues cluck their tongues in disapproval and ask you when you are going to stop riding that baby killing machine. Before you leave the office, your colleagues do a weight test to make sure it isn't too heavy for a pregger to carry.
-people stare at your stomach. all the time.
-you reach up on your tip toes to write at the very top of the white board and your colleagues gasp "NO!!!" in unison. Confused, you ask what is wrong. They tell you that you should never stand on your tip toes and stretch your arms because the umbilical cord might become detached.
-when wearing maternity clothes, a couple of girls ask you why in the world you are still wearing pants (and not a mumu which is Cambodia's preferred pregnancy attire).
-the staff in Bangkok's public transit system, will not let you go through the normal entrance way. They insist the 'lady with baby' must go through the excess baggage/disability gate.
-everyone looks at you with great pleasure and approval and says, "oooh! Ptea Pua" (house stomach) followed by questions like: how many months are you, is it a boy or a girl, etc.
-you receive no end to pregnancy advice and do's and don'ts.
Sometimes it's hard to tell where cultural wisdom ends and superstition starts. But one thing is for sure, Cambodians have a deep respect for children and pregnancy. The enthusiasm of our Cambodian friends (and complete strangers!) makes us more excited about this new adventure too.
It's a pretty amazing, community experience. And so, we want to hear your comments too. What gender do you think it is. And why?
2010 is already 2 months past, hard to believe but true! But there were a few adventures we never got around to posting. And well, better late than never right? In the last half of 2010, we celebrated Pii Chnam Haoy (Two years already!) in Cambodia. Steve's cousin, Cheryl, visited us in October and we loved the reminders of family and home, and the excuse to get out and tackle one of Cambodia's mammoth mountains, Bokor.
Here are a few photos of 2010's later adventures.
Koh Kong city and surrounding area have been undergoing a major revival over the last couple years. Last time we were here in 2008 the place was a hole and we avoided it ever since. Now that bridges replace all ferry crossings towards the provincial capital, attractions, restaurants, ecolodges, and guesthouses are popping up everywhere. We took a long weekend to inspect the progress. This involved checking out waterfalls, a crazy temple recreating Buddhist hell, and sampling Asia's premier animal shows at Safari World.