Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fun Weekend

Still waiting on Baby. I have been spending way too much time hanging around brooding about when she will come, so it was a welcome relief this weekend to have our friends Nathan and Eliza visit from Mokpo (on the west coast of Korea) and distract me. On Friday night, we went to a crab restaurant with Keegan's co-worker Fred. He had invited lots of his friends out for a crab dinner because his parents were in town for a brief visit. The crab was really delicious, and it was fun to see everyone. We met up with Nate and Eliza after dinner for ice cream and then headed downstairs to play poker with some Deokpo neighbors. Eliza and I wanted to participate in the proceedings but weren't sure how the guys would feel about Team Pregnant Lady. Fortunately, they were very accommodating. We actually made a good team since Eliza's willingness to gamble nicely balances out my aversion to risk-taking. Next time, though, I doubt they'll let us beginners play together. It was a late night, but I still had trouble falling asleep, and we all slept in late on Saturday morning.

Considering how late we woke up on Saturday, we managed to cram a surprising amount into the day. After a big breakfast, I somehow succeeded in convincing everyone to join me in the pouring rain for my doctor-mandated daily walk. It was actually a beautiful day in the valley where I usually walk because the rice paddies are so green and lush, and the mountains were misty. But we did get very wet! By the time we finished our walk, we were all starving, so we started on a mammoth egg salad for sandwiches, and I made some banana bread while we were boiling the eggs. We all wanted to take naps after lunch, but instead we almost immediately started thinking about dinner. Eliza made a big vegetarian shepherd's pie (with lentils instead of meat - yum!), and the guys huddled over the grill in the rain barbecuing pork ribs. By the time all this was finished, it was nearly 10 p.m.! That worked out well for everyone, though, because the Korea - Uruguay world cup game started at 11. I was totally zonked and decided to go to bed instead.

On Sunday, we were lucky enough to have our friends stay with us for the whole day. We spent some time with the Ryan family, who are going to take care of Nate and Eliza's beloved dog while they are in the U.S. next month. The guys decided to spend the afternoon brewing beer at Joe's apartment, and Eliza and I spent the afternoon in town having lunch and coffee. Then we came home for a pizza dinner and and early bedtime. It was such a relaxing weekend, clearly full of food and also good conversation. I just wish that our friends lived closer to us than 3 1/2 hours away!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prenatal Yoga

One of my new activities these days is attending prenatal yoga classes at the maternity clinic. We meet twice a week on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, and it's been an interesting experience. I am the only foreigner in the class, which is, of course, conducted in Korean, so it is a good chance for me to practice my Korean listening skills and get familiar with body-part vocabulary. I've learned the words for ankle and thigh and to recognize the words for inhale and exhale, as well as getting lots of practice with left and right! I also have learned how to ask when someone's baby is due and to say that "The baby is moving." Still, it is definitely a challenge to communicate with the other students in the class, and it's sometimes frustrating not to be able to join in conversations about pregnancy and impending parenthood.

The class is held on the third floor of the clinic, in the postpartum care center. The center is a place for new moms to stay for a little extra time (up to two weeks) after their babies are born. The babies can stay in the nursery, and the moms can take classes on breastfeeding, infant massage, and postnatal yoga. I think it's nice that there is this option for new mothers to get some support, especially if their families are not nearby to help out during the first weeks of motherhood. I have heard that it is a pretty expensive option, though. The rooms are kept very warm, which I have heard is common practice for households with new babies, although it makes things a bit uncomfortable for our yoga class. We sweat up a storm, even though we are mostly only doing gentle stretching. All of the moms in the postpartum care center wear matching flannel flowered pajamas that are very pretty, but I can imagine that they are sweating up a storm, too. Because the postpartum center nursery adjoins the yoga room, we can often hear the babies crying, and sometimes the shade on the nursery window is up and we can look at the adorable Korean newborns.

The class always begins with us doing some stretches while we sit cross-legged on the floor, and then progresses to more difficult exercises with our legs outstretched or lying on our backs. There is a lot of giggling amongst the class as we try to bend our bodies into various poses while our enormous bellies get in the way. A few times, we have been asked to partner up, much to the mortification of whoever is partnered with me. Although most of the girls are shy about talking to me, as I am shy about talking to them, they are all friendly and smile when we inevitably meet in the bathroom downstairs after the class. At the end of each class, a nurse brings out a box full of chilled apple juice boxed drinks, which I look forward to like crazy while I sweat away in the hot classroom. I plan to continue going to yoga class until the baby comes. Who knows? Maybe I'll run into some of my classmates on the other side of the third floor, in the delivery and recovery area.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Latest Photos

Thought you all might enjoy a few photos of recent events:

A few of the baby shower guests: Sandra (thanks for organizing things!), Jennie, Ellen, Mina, Kayoko, and Joy. Leandra is behind the camera.

Proud mama-to-be at 37 weeks.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Baby Fair and Baby Shower

Baby, baby, baby. It's difficult to imagine that I will be even more obsessed with Baby when she finally arrives in three weeks or so. Seems like all of our activities these days are somehow related to pregnancy and the upcoming birth!

This past weekend Keegan and I met our friends Nathan and Eliza in Busan to attend a Baby Fair at the convention center there. We met them at the Lotte Hotel around 10 and took the subway to the fair. Once we got inside, we were quickly overwhelmed with the sheer variety and number of baby-related products being peddled. Nate and Eliza were interested in car seats and strollers, and Keegan and I found ourselves drawn to the toy and book booths. We did pick out a few English language books, including our new favorite, William Steig's The Amazing Bone. We oohed and ahhed over some very fun and unusual wooden toys, and both couples bought plastic baby bathtubs, which are a bit bulky to ship from the U.S. There were definitely some items at the fair that were different from what we'd expect to find at a similar event in the U.S. For one thing, many of the book booths were very focused on English language learning and advertised expensive packages containing scads of books and CDs to help children learn English. Our daughter is certainly lucky to be growing up in a household with two native English speakers! We also saw some Korean-style cribs meant for keeping baby comfortable on the floor. They were like giant, cushioned pens, with soft padded bottoms and walls. I thought that they looked like a good bed for me to sleep in as long as I curled my legs up. They were like cozy nests. Does their appeal for me mean that I am "nesting"?

After we finished up at the baby fair, we took a quick break at the hotel and then headed back out for dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, Cine de Chef at the Shinsegae shopping mall. Everyone had a great time choosing something to order from the impressive menu, and it was fun to relax with friends at a classy restaurant. The only slightly odd touch was the ABBA video playing on the big screen over the bar. Why is ABBA so popular in Korea?

On Sunday, Keegan and I headed back to Costco, where we found a few more baby items and stocked up on salmon fillets, which are our new favorite dinner staple. We also got a ginormous beach towel to go with our beach chairs from last time, so we had better have good beach-y weather this weekend!

In other baby-related news, today I had a baby shower with my friends here in Korea. Several invitees were not feeling well and couldn't come, which made me sad, but it was wonderful to see everyone who could be there and to sample all the delicious foods that everyone brought. I have been pestering my friend Joy for weeks to make her world-class potato salad, so I was happy to enjoy it at last this afternoon, along with lots of sweets, and an amazing tomato-cheese quiche. My Korean teacher/friend Jennie made some amazing kim-bap (Korean-style sushi). Everyone was so generous and picked out adorable clothes for Baby, including a bunch of Korean kimono type shirts that are apparently all the rage these days. Baby was kicking a lot while I opened my gifts, and I surmised that she wanted out to try on all her adorable new outfits! Only three more weeks to go, unless she decides to show up a bit early...or late.

I am still feeling very well, although I am tired like never before, possibly as a consequence of getting up so often to go to the bathroom at night. I am dreaming like crazy, and even though I can't always remember everything in the morning, I think I am in the middle of a different dream every time I wake up. Not too many of them have been baby related, although I did have one dream in which Laura was teaching me how to breastfeed by demonstration, and I told her "Ok, stop, now I want to do it!" Guess I'm ready for my more experienced friends to pass the torch. Anyway, we have a doctor's appointment tomorrow evening, so I am hoping that Dr. Lee can give me an idea of whether the pre-labor ball has started rolling yet. I know that the baby's arrival is one of the most unpredictable HUGE events I'll ever have to deal with, and it is driving me crazy. Apparently, fatigue and uncertainty make me prone to rambling, so I'll stop there. I hope I'll have more news to report tomorrow after our doctor's visit.