This wasn’t your typical Chinese family reunion. Because someone was going to have a baby … very soon.
Yi Wen (my girlfriend’s sister-in-law) was supposed to have already had the baby when 桂兰 and I arrived. I guess it was just taking its time. At any rate, the next day Yi Wen’s water broke, and her husband decided it was time to go to the hospital. And I tagged along.
Hospitals in China operate differently than back home. They do have nurses, but if the patient needs assistance, generally his family or relatives provide that for him. Also, privacy is a rarity here. Generally, patients share their rooms with several other people. And when you include their families, it gets to be a fairly large group.
After the water breaks, it’s a waiting game. Sometimes an excruciatingly long wait. I wasn’t even Yi Wen’s husband, and I was getting antsy. 桂兰’s dad predicted the baby would come in 1-2 days. I was hoping 1-2 hours. It looked like her dad was right.
Basically, aside from a quick meal outside, we were stuck inside the hospital for the whole day. And the baby still hadn’t come. I was thinking a little pep talk might come in handy. Maybe one for Yi Wen and another for baby. But that baby just didn’t want to budge.
The next day. Same routine. Back at the hospital waiting to hear some good news.
Yi Wen was inside the pregnancy headquarters as it were. Two other women who were also in labor were in the same room as her. The doctors weren’t terribly accommodating to relatives. Even Yi Wen’s husband was only allowed to enter a few times. Her mom and mother-in-law entered multiple times. I was staying put, praying for the baby to come.
One baby was delivered. Just not the right one. The nurses took it to a viewing room where they gave it a bath and injected it with something, which didn’t make the baby very happy. Some of us peered through the viewing window at this spectacle. When you’re waiting for another baby to come, you can be easily entertained. I certainly was.
Another day ended. Still no baby. I was tired and went back to the apartment. 桂兰 wanted to stay along with her brother, mom, and mother-in-law. I think she had more reason to be there than I did. Besides, how much help could I be? Basically, I was there for moral support.
The next day I woke up. Strange, no one else was home. Had everyone fallen asleep at the hospital? Was I in the wrong apartment? Or had my prayers been answered?
I looked at my phone. Someone had left me a text … “Yi Wen had surgery last night and delivered the baby. It’s a boy. We didn’t get any sleep last night. Feel free to cook some eggs for breakfast – 桂兰“
The baby boy had come, whether it wanted to or not. Stubbornness only gets you so far. I went to the hospital that day to see the baby. Surprisingly, he had a generous shock of hair. I had expected a balder baby. Yi Wen was exhausted. C-sections probably aren’t the most enjoyable surgeries. She would need time to recover.
But everyone was happy. Yi Wen’s husband hadn’t slept for the past two days. He was lying on one of the portable guerneys, snoring. Those were a long two days. But the wait had been worth it.
Now they were a true family. And they needed an English name for their son. I suggested Doug, but 桂兰 said that was too close to dog. So I opted for Joshua.
Some day I would see Joshua again. And I could tell him I was there when he was born. But he won’t remember a thing. He’ll just babble something unintelligible and stare intently at my strange, foreign face. And for me, that’s good enough. Welcome to this world, Joshua.