Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Triumphant Forest King

We've spent the last two weeks in Xiaoshan, at esther's parents place. We'll be here through the first week of November, when esther completes her zuo yue zi.  During these two weeks, we've managed to give Jordan a Chinese name.  He was christened Jordan Neil within minutes of being born, literally just as soon as we had a chance to think.  In China, it's common to wait a week or two before giving a name.  Jordan got his at about 10 days old.

Also in China, you need to consider fate when naming your child.  You must consult a master who can analyze the circumstances surrounding the child's birth.  Using the time, date, and lunar cycle, the master determines which of the five phases are missing from the child's life.  In Jordan's case he was missing fire.  A dilemma, for sure, but one easily remedied by adding some fire into his name, in this case, wood to build a fire.  After some deliberation, we finally settled on Wang Kai Sen, 王凯森, or loosely translated, Triumphant Forest King.  All hail!!!  Incidentally, his character for "kai" is the same as my chinese name, Kai Wen, 凯文.  Nice.

In other news, King Jordan eats, sleeps and poops.  Thems are his major hobbies.  However, as i'm the designated feeder in the house, i've had ample opportunity to chronicle and study his most common facial expressions.  Here are a few.
At Peace
Air Guitar Solo
Is that breast milk for me
 Hark! Methinks a poop cometh!
Hi Mama. And helllloo mama's boobies.
Now you're just making fun of me.
I've grown bored of you and your camera.
Dad, if you post this on the internets, i'll pee on you. 
Winky Frown

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jordan's First Five Days

We spent four nights at Aima Maternity Hospital, and generally had an excellent experience. The package we got included food for both of us, plus nursing care for Esther and Jordan, all for about $1,700. We found some loophole in the system where Rueben Marley prepared us a custom meal for lunches and dinners, plus the hospital still brought us two meals of really decent hospital food. Rueben cooked us pizza, chicken sandwiches, pot roast, and salmon pasta, among other treats. We ended up eating his food first and the hospital food as a snack. I can't remember the last time i ate so well.  We seriously considered staying a few extra nights.
Esther eats all the foods.
So this experience has been amazing, and i've learned quite a few new things in the last week.

I learned some new Chinese words, like earwax, boogers, and eye crusties.... they literally translate to ear shit, nose shit, and eye shit.  You gotta love when language is uncomplicated.

I learned some differences in Chinese vs. Western thinking. There weren't many as bad as the following example, but here's one situation where i was frustrated being in a Chinese hospital. When we were figuring out breastfeeding, we had a lot of resistance form the nurses, and some from Jordan as well. I'd read a lot in the past few months, so i have a decent idea how to take care of a baby.  I was also reassured by Suzanne (our midwife) that Jordan can get all the nutrients he needs from breast milk, even in the first few days.  But i lost count of the number of times and number of people who told us we need to feed him 1 oz of formula every two hours.  You'd think they were getting kickbacks from the Big Formula Lobby or something.  First off, we don't trust the generic Chinese formula they gave us.  And second, breast milk is unquestionably the best thing for a newborn.  Instead of just pushing formula on us when we clearly didn't want it, the nurses would have better served us by helping us breastfeed properly.  It wasn't until our last day there that someone started to give Esther some tips, and we praised that nurse highly to her superiors.

But we persevered, and eventually we won the war of Force Feeding Formula vs. Let Nature Work Magic.  And don't get me wrong, aside from the few nurses who seemed to not care about our wishes, most of the staff were really excellent and eager to help.

I learned that i absolutely love being a father and caring for my newborn baby. And i'm good at it. Esther is doing her Zuo Yue Zi, which translates to "sitting out a month". Not just common in China, it's a necessity. Here are two different perspectives on it, both very interesting. Anyway, she's not supposed to feed or change or bathe Jordan for the first month, so i'm happily doing all the work. It helps that he's extremely well behaved, sleeps four hour stretches every night, eats well, cuddles, waits patiently while we warm his breast milk... he's just amazing.

I also learned that i'm a very uncommon type of dad in China.  I don't mean to generalize Chinese fathers, but the nurses at Aima were amazed at how confident i was holding, cuddling, feeding, dressing, changing, and cleaning my new son.  They said most Chinese fathers are afraid to even touch their baby, and since the mother has to take a month off, they end up hiring a nanny to do all the work.  Obviously the most unfortunate thing is that the fathers miss a great chance to bond with their little one.  It would appear the parenting roles are still more rooted in tradition here.

I learned the mathematical relationship for when to change a diaper: if the ratio of poop : diaper is equal to or greater than 1, then change. If not, maybe change anyway if he's also pee'd a lot.
Magical Poop Disposal Station
Finally, I learned that my wife is the most amazing person i know, she's my best friend and i get her for life. She's brave, loving, funny, patient and beautiful. I'm so damn lucky.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Jordan Neil Reitz

At 4:10pm, October 8th, 2012, my son was born at 6lbs 13oz.

His timing, which is two weeks early, is also a fitting bit of cosmic symmetry for my parents; their first child and their latest grandchild were both born on October 8th.

Esther woke up at 5am with mild contractions, 10 minutes apart, lasting through 7am. We continued for a few hours monitoring contractions, which sometimes got as close as 5-6 minutes apart, but just as often 10-12 minutes. This is what we in the parenting business call "non-progressing contractions." (This contraction monitoring chart is from a nifty little applet, aptly titled Contraction Monitor.)

At about 8am, she had a small water leak and some pink show. All of this is textbook false labor, which i know, because of my vast experience and the two books i skimmed. Coincidentally, we had already scheduled her weekly checkup for 10am that morning, so we just went in. We briefly thought about bringing all our stuff there, but figured we'd be sent home. We didn't want to be that couple that keeps showing up at the hospital after every few contractions.

The doctor said, "Welp! you're 2cm dilated, your water's leaking, and you're still having contractions, you aren't going anywhere."

They checked us into a room about 11:30 and esther ate lunch. We were settling in and mentally preparing for the common birthing horror story... 22 hours of non-stop, exhausting labor. Esther's contractions were steady at 5-7 minutes apart, and things seemed to be under control. At about 1pm, i ran back home to get all our stuff. At 2pm, i'm back at the hospital, esther's contractions are 4 minutes apart, and she's 6 cm dilated.

We get into the birthing room at 2:30, and Suzanne, our miracle working midwife from Kansas City, started helping esther through the contractions. The most interesting part of her labor for me was that esther was never in a bed, feet up in the stirrups, etc. She rocked back and forth on a gym ball, sat on a birthing stool, walked around, and of course, sat in the water. We used Aima's waterbirth option, and esther is a preaching convert now. From the point her contractions got debilitating, maybe 2pm, it took just over two hours total, no painkillers, no complications. Suzanne said it was a textbook waterbirth.

Since then, we've been resting a lot and basking in the amazingness of our little boy. Jordan took his first bath and went for a swim.  The grandparents came for a visit.  All in all, Aima has taken incredible care of us, with great food and attention from the staff.

So that's our story, enjoy a few pictures from camera one.

~Kevsther and Jordan