Last weekend, Mr. And Mrs. Z, who used to be an intern with me, invited our whole family to a dinner party, saying that they had a new discovery of delicious food and must have a taste of it.I mean, since I’ve been in the South, I’ve always bothered you to take care of the mail and the cars. One by one, it’s my turn to treat you. Z said, “I have been grateful to you for your care and advice during my several summer vacations as an intern. It should always be my invitation. It seems that I am destined to be a inheritor of ancient civilization and respect teachers and principles. Let’s bring a gift certificate for the baby he said was coming.Mrs. Z is still young and slim, a couple of college student’s appearance, blurt out but ask: last time you said to prepare for baby’s birth, when will your child be born? Mrs. Z blushed like a little girl and said, Not yet.We were preparing for it, but the baby didn’t come. I laughed: very much like those days with us, ah, everything was ready, except for the east wind which needs to blow. Mr. And Mrs. Z asked quickly, did they? Was Tian coming late? I said, yeah, according to the experts, you should take a romantic trip to Hawaii. It was 11 years ago when I was doing my PhD in Vancouver. We lived a simple life of a typical overseas couple. I was particularly lucky that year. In addition to a research grant of 15,000 Canadian dollars equivalent to a full scholarship from the Scientific Research Bureau of the provincial government, I also had a teaching assistant job in the department, which together just reached the university’s maximum limit of 22,000 dollars for doctoral students. It was hard to get full pay back then, and I was one of the few pre-doctoral students who came close to a postdoctoral salary. Mary is very happy and says this year is our golden year. She also got a job at a Chinese newspaper, typing and typesetting with Wubi, and though she didn’t earn much, it was a decent job in an enviable office building at the time. At that time, most wives of overseas students could hardly find jobs as waitresses and dishwashers. However, the good times did not last long. Mary was so skilled at the work that she not only ranked first among the eight or nine professional typists in terms of typing speed, but also quickly became familiar with the typesetting software of Peking University Fangzheng System. As A result, she offended Mr. A, the boss who had hired her. Mr. A, a jealous and narrow-minded middle-aged man, was sent by his company to learn how to use the new typesetting software for a few months and then returned to the newspaper to manage the typesetting stand. He deliberately hid the instructions from anyone. But Mary suggested: Well, I think it’s a good idea to print out the help sheet. Then Mr. A got upset and made it clear that you should not interfere in typesetting in the future, but just type. As long as she believes it right (get familiar with the business and job skills as soon as possible), Mary is more willing to do it in spite of the boss’ objection. In her mind, why do other sisters do typing and typesetting concurrently, while I only do typing and such monotonous work? So she went ahead and tried to take notes on the details of the software’s functionality, until one day Mr. A had enough and fired her. Mary suddenly realized that she was not in a position to fight back with her direct boss. Although many people in the newspaper secretly complained on her side, thinking that Mr. A had gone too far, after all, it was just a relatively low-level ordinary job, which was within the purview of the grass-roots manager. Her colleagues and sisters could only comfort her behind the back.
Mary felt really upset that she got kicked out of her job because she did a good job and learned skills. I took her for a joyride along the cove, reassuring her that it was all right to quit, since she could get unemployment benefits and attend free training classes as required. Persuading her for a long time, she still could not swallow this, obsessed with thinking how to report this Mr. A. I think it was not worth energy pursuing a revenge. In my eyes, Mr. A is actually a poor man, with insufficient education, but with years of experience working in the newspaper office. As a small manager, he has a sense of crisis when he is middle-aged, and it is meaningless to fight with such a petty guy. Trying a way to further persuade Mary, I said: why not just take advantage of this opportunity to have a child we had wanted for long. We have some savings now, and we are a bit too old to put off the baby any longer. At the mention of having children, Mary burst into tears and smiles. In retrospect, I really have to thank Mr. A, otherwise Mary worked so hard at night every day that we would not have energy for giving birth. Well, once you have a goal, act on it and work hard every day. In the past, we were very careful, for fear of pregnancy, it would be extremely difficult in life. Now, we are determined to have one, but nothing happened. Three or four months went by. We thought we had to see doctors. Although it was difficult to talk about it, I’d better go to see one. I felt embarrassed to talk to a male doctor about this matter, so we made an appointment with a Chinese lady doctor nearby. In the clinic only to find that the doctor is a younger professional than we had expected, she just opened her small office after getting license, perhaps not married herself. The only prize showoff in the clinic, originally thought to be from her patients to express gratitude for her service, with a closer look, turned out to be from the doctor’s mother for her daughter’s opening business. The young doctor is particularly warm. As we were the only customers, she asked us about the “conditions” in detail without hurrying. She doesn’t see anything wrong, according to her analysis. It seems you guys are too nervous, too focused, she said, Things in the world are often like this, the more you pursue something, the less you can get done. In my opinion, you should go to Hawaii for a new honeymoon, completely relaxing. We’re still students. We can’t afford a vacation in Hawaii. Although we could not follow her advice, we felt good to come out with advice from the doctor. We felt that she was very kind and understanding. When we came back home, we could well imagine the small apartment as a Hawaiian villa. We told ourselves that this takes time and there’s no need for worry. Like magic, not long after, it was confirmed that Mary was pregnant, and when she counted the days, it was really a success that day after seeing the lady doctor, so to date we have been very grateful for her. (Maybe she just said it offhand, but she did bring us good luck after all. She must have become a seasoned veteran doctor now, and we wish her practice in Vancouver well.)
During the first trimester of her pregnancy, the reaction was so intense that Mary vomited so bewildered that she sometimes vomited even with just water intake. Mary is a resolute person, she eats and vomits, but insists on eating again after vomiting, nonstop, drinking a lot of milk for fear that the child’s development will be affected by lack of nutrition. As if she was afraid that we might ignore her, Tian kept kicking her mother inside. From time to time, a small lump bulged out of Mary’s stomach. Mary laughed and said, “It’s kicking me again.” A few months before her birth, Tian kicked and punched so much, seemingly very eager to come out. Mary kept talking to her: big baby, little baby, good baby. As time passed, Tian Tian seemed to be able to understand, as her mother chatted, she slowly quieted down. Up to now, I have always suspected that Tiantian’s later quick words were the result of Mary’s “fetal education”. Just as Tiantian herself said, I am born talkative, I can’t help it. Routine B ultrasound examination shows, that tis a girl, we are very happy. So we discussed about a name. Mary suggested Sweet, hoping that our baby girl would be sweet. So I wanted to find an English name with a homonym. I had two choices: Tanya and Tina. Although Tina and sweet sound closer in pronunciation, I feel it is not as good as with Slavic style Tanya, this may be related to my childhood reading the famous Russian novel “How the Steel was Tempered”, in which the bourgeois-style girl friend (Donya?) of the hero and their love story gave me a lasting impression. With spring blossoms, we were waiting for Tanya’s birth. Following the doctor’s orders, we were admitted to the Vancouver Women’s Hospital during tight contractions. Hospital conditions are very good, maternal each has a seperate room, equipped with special care of a little nurse, very considerate. But since Mary went to the delivery bed, she has been in terrible pains. For more than 20 hours, the baby still did not come out. I stood beside her, holding her hands tight to comfort her. It was an indescribable experience. A tidal wave of pain after pain, one unleveled, another rising. This western hospital is persistent or stubborn on so-called “natural” production, with no intervention, following its natural course, no matter how hard and painful it goes, not to say the use of caesarean section. It was unreasonable to my mind to let the process drag this long, exhausting the mother. Doctors and nurses stay around a circle, only blindly encouraging women to keep trying. Poor Mary was so exhausted and sweaty, her fingers bleeding, fighting a seemingly hopeless battle. Finally, when Mary was at her breaking point, the doctor realized that she needed some extra help. I thought to myself that the doctors here were stupid and didn’t know how to treat each case in a specific way. If we had started the help earlier, Mary would have suffered much less needless pains. But many people took it for granted that this was the process of giving birth, and pain was the natural effect to accompany.
Finally, the head came out first, then the shoulders. With the help of the doctor, the baby was born. The nurse gave the baby a simple wipe of the package and held her for the mother to see. Mary took the baby in her arms, forgot her pains and tiredness, and was moved to tears. The child has red face, very clean, we haven’t looked at her enough before the doctor took her away, to put her inside the incubator to observe some time because there was some concern (incubator is expensive, like the presidential suite, a night in incubator costs thousands of dollars, but Canada’s universal free medical system pays for it for any patients who need it. Once hospitalized, all expenses including patient meals are at no cost to patients). When I visited at night, I saw that Tanya had tubes on her body inside the incubator. I didn’t know how serious the problem was. I was worried and scared, and couldn’t sleep all night. Thankfully, the doctor took the baby out the next morning and said, everything is fine, the baby’s all indicators are normal, a very healthy baby. We were relieved. Shortly after Tian Tian was born, my dad (her grand-father) came to visit her. Seeing grandpa, Tanya seems to be particularly excited, very active, like a little tiger, as if to report to grandpa: I’m coming! See [music video: Here I Am, with Bryan Adams, a Canadian singer who is popular all over the world]. Adams, in his magnetic husky voice, once sang:
Here I am – this is me I come into this world so wild and free Here I am – so young and strong Right here in the place where I belong It’s a new world – it’s a new start It’s alive with the beating of young hearts It’s a new day – in a new land And it’s waiting for me Here I am It’s a new world – it’s a new start It’s alive with the beating of young hearts It’s a new day – in a new land And it’s waiting for me Here I am
This is the music I never get tire of hearing, it is a tribute to life, making my heart tremble for gratitude, with this blessing!
I wrote the blog in 2007, originally in Chinese.