Of babies and Beijing

My grandmother became a world traveler very late in life. She traveled to Israel. She went to Hawaii. And she’d always wanted to go to China. China had just started opening its doors to American tourists, my grandmother wasn’t getting any younger, and she also suffered from the bad kind of macular degeneration. And there were only two seasons to travel there: spring and fall. Spring was too soon. Fall was just right.

The only problem was: I was pregnant in 1982 and due in the Fall. And my mother was to accompany my grandmother to China. It was a hard decision, but it was determined by all that perhaps it was now or never. So “now” it was.

The nursery was on layaway, but a couple of weeks before the trip, we brought everything home and set it up. The crib was assembled, mattress pad protectors, mattress pads, sheets and blankets were pre-washed and put in place, the crib bumpers were on. The circus-themed nursery in primary colors was coming together nicely. The changing table/dresser was filled with tiny little layette clothing in yellows and greens. Circus posters and my grandmother’s clown paintings were hung. A convertible sofa was brought it and a rocking chair.

Now all I could do was say goodbye to my mother and grandmother and wait. And wait. And wait.

It turned out that my grandmother severely injured in Beijing the day my daughter was born. Another tourist had stupidly stuck his camera bag out in the walkway of a crowded room. Her macular degeneration prevented her from seeing the camera bag, she tripped, fell and broke her hip. I wasn’t told until the day after my daughter’s birth.

After much discussions, my grandmother, my parents, and the doctors decided that it would be best for my grandmother to have surgery at the American hospital in Beijing, rather than transport her home to have the surgery done here in the states. It turned out to be a good decision. All except the part where it meant a two-week delay in their flight home.

Which meant a two-week delay in my mother and grandmother seeing the newest addition to the family. Which also meant a two-week delay in my mother being here for me. My dad hired a nursemaid to stay with me the first week, and my husband’s mother and husband came the second week. I wasn’t alone, I was surrounded by caring people. They just weren’t my mother.

I missed her. And I knew she was missing us.

The day I was released from the hospital, my dad placed an international call and I got to speak with my mom. Well, I got to cry! My daughter was perfect. She was beautiful. I can’t wait for you to meet her!

Their flight was scheduled to arrive at 10 pm when my daughter was two weeks old. I didn’t care if it was in the middle of the night or it upset my daughter’s sleep time. Come hell or high water, we were going to be at the airport when the plane arrived.

And we were. They were the last to get off the plane, of course, because my grandmother was in a wheel chair en route to the hospital for an American assessment. But there they were. And there we were. And it was a joyous reunion.

In retrospect, I feel sorry for my mother most of all, because she had to split her time — and her loyalties — between her mother in the hospital and her daughter and granddaughter. But we all came through it together.

Although while she was gone my husband went on a business trip and was robbed, I suffered a very mild case of post partum depression, and my breastfeeding wasn’t going so great.

But all that’s for another story on another day…

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~ by Heather on February 20, 2011.

One Response to “Of babies and Beijing”

  1. I think it’s funny that Mama Anna tripped over a camera bag the day I was born and now I’m a photographer. Hopefully I won’t trip any nice old ladies… but I sure would love to go to China!!

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