PHFR - New Baby Edition

Thursdays come around and I think, "I don't have any photos for PHFR."

Today I actually looked at the photos taken this week and it turns out I have plenty.


Flowers from a friend who dropped by to see us just after Dek was born.

The Girl playing in the rain.


Waking up to see these 2 guys snuggled up together.

The girls make breakfast almost every day now. This was French Toast and Aaron's homemade bacon.

Meet Elvis
We got a dog. I know! A dog and a baby in the same month! But we had already been planning to get one, and when we saw the ad for someone looking for a good home for this little guy Aaron wasn't going to let the opportunity slide. He's a purebred Jack Russell Terrier. Aaron's parents have had one for 13 years now. They are great little dogs, smart, hard working, and they are bred for hunting things that live in holes, like snakes and rats.

Honestly, I'm not an animal person. I grew up around farm people, and animals are functional. They serve a purpose, or you don't keep them around.  Well, one could argue that here a dog like this is useful. He'll keep the snake and rodent population down, and be a good alarm system. Plus he's little, so he won't eat much.

But the real reason I was even prepared to consider a dog is that Girl there. Some people can take or leave animals. She's not one of them. That girl needs animals. Something about her connects with them way more deeply than even makes sense to me. She's the kind of girl who gets on a horse for the first time and I'm told by the trainer that she's never seen anyone with a more natural seat, she should be riding all the time. (Well, we can't afford riding lessons, or a horse. Though that's cheaper here than in the US.)

When she was very little she thought she was a dog, and whenever I wasn't able to stop her, she ate their food and lapped water out of puddles on the ground just like her Beema's 3 English Shepherds did. All that to say, I have known, since she was very little, that this day was coming, that we needed to give her an animal to care for. She's very happy now.

Elvis has been here 2 days. He's a very good little guy, very eager to learn and easy to train. The Girl has watched all of the very long training videos we have and Elvis has already decided he's her dog. She went inside to play today, for a little while, and he just sat at the front door waiting for her to come out. (He's already learned not to whine or bark.) The Boy tried to get him to play fetch, but he just sat and waited for her. I was out hanging laundry and keeping him company, but he sat and waited for her. You should have seen how joyful he was when she came out to play with him.

So now we are dog owners. Goodie.

Just look at him. How could you not be happy around this little guy.


I think he looks like an old man making gang signs in this photo.

Look mommy, the baby hold my hand!

This one makes me laugh every time. Bam Bam is so thrilled to be holding the baby. Dek is so not happy to be held. "Feed me already. This kid doesn't have anything I need."


These bugs like to batter themselves against the windows and doors whenever it rains. It seems their sole purpose it to get inside and then die. If we don't sweep them up right away then hordes of red ants also come in and carry off their dead carcasses to eat.

This is what real bananas look like. They're actually quite firm and good under those brown skins though. And much nicer tasting that the bananas in US supermarkets.
The Boy coming out of anesthesia, post op.
The Boy survived surgery. All went well. He's recovering nicely, even went for a walk around the neighborhood today. It was probably bad timing to have one of my most competent helper children go under the knife a week after giving birth, but it's kind of Dek's fault for being 2 whole weeks behind schedule. Let's just say that I've gotten used to having someone who can take out the trash and sweep the floors and get a basic meal together when needed at my beck and call. He's sitting around reading his kindle, while I sweep after dinner, and I'm just putting the trash bags outside and trying to remember to specifically ask someone else to take them to the street for me. I may have mixed motives for being excited that he's on the mend and things soon will be able to go back to normal around here.

Aside from waiting for our truck to be fixed, and getting Dek a Thai birth certificate so we can get him his US stuff shortly after, we are almost done with reasons to stay in Chiang Mai. Aaron's going to try again next week to find us a house in the town we plan to move to. And then we'll see how long it takes to actually move and set up house on our own. Everything takes longer here, so I refuse to speculate.

round button chicken


A brief (I hope) interruption of the baby bliss

Because reality has rudely intruded upon my babymoon, and I'm not even talking about the part where I'm already back to cooking and cleaning, more or less.

If you follow me on instagram, or my facebook page, or twitter, and you should, I'm a very faithful instagrammar, it's all been sweet baby pics, and sweet bonding sibling pics, and even videos of him just sleeping. It's obvious that I'm smitten with little Dek, we all are.

Which is why this little creeping bacterial infection is completely annoying.

I thought about posting a picture of it, and then thought better because, EWW, it's disgusting. Google bullous impetigo if you want to see it in all it's glory, with the big yucky blisters and crustiness.

What's even more convenient is that it's in my armpit, which, if you are familiar with basic anatomy, you will remember is terribly near to the breast. So I have a highly contagious bacterial infection, with swelling blisters cause by toxins released by the bacteria, scant inches away from the place where my baby spends most of the day sticking his face. I consider it a crowning maternal achievement of epic proportions, and very dry hands from the constant washing, that he has not, thus far, been infected. Damn thing keeps spreading though, in spite of the antibiotic ointment. Heading to the doctor in the morning to see if there is something else that will kill it dead. Like, right now!

This will teach me to casually throw a bandaid on over what I mistakenly thought was just a bit of under bra chafing, and then forget about it for a day or two because of giving birth, and what not, until the place under the bandaid starts to itch. Rookie mistake in a tropical country during wet season.

Do you know how hard it is to have a gross rash right under your bra band? Especially when you have new mama nursing breasts that are tender and slightly bruised feeling and really need something to hold them up. Wear a bra, it chafes and collects sweat and makes the rash spread. Don't wear a bra, and it chafes a little less, but you still sweat, and your breasts hurt, and the rash spreads anyway. Actually, the problem is the constant sweating.

Add that I'm still healing in the giving birth region, you know, where infection is a real risk until you stop bleeding, and the insult that I have yet to start pooping like a normal person again, to the overall level of, you have got to be kidding me.

The Boy just had major surgery a few days ago, so the caution level around him is way up too. Dr. Google kindly informed me that staph infections like this are often caused by MRSA. Trying not to infect him with something icky and dangerous as well.

This country has taught me to love bleach. Do you know how lucky you are that your water has chlorine in it and doesn't smell faintly of sewer, like the government water here does? You can bathe yourself and your children and not worry that they will catch something from the water you use to clean them. I'm adding bleach to every load of laundry now, hopefully enough to kill bacteria in towels, without ruining clothes.

At the hospital they wanted me to nurse Dek because they were trying to draw blood, for blood typing, and coudn't get any so they wanted to try hydrating him. Only, they wouldn't let me until they brought me a little dish full of cotton balls and sterile drinking water and I used them to wash my nipples off first. At first I thought, "How silly. That seems a bit paranoid."

And then I realized how not paranoid it was. Even if you are clean, as in, able to take regular showers here, which not every one is, you can't trust the water you shower in to go in your baby's mouth. You wouldn't drink it, why would you let him put it anywhere near his tiny little mouth? So wash first with safe drinking water. It makes total sense here.

And that, my friends, is why no one in north America should complain about their completely drinkable tap water, no matter how suspicious you feel about it. It's not likely to give you infections or make your kids sick. Not by comparison to here.

So enjoy your next shower, or bath, or drink from the tap when you brush your teeth tonight. I'm off to get some filtered water to drink from the bottles that we pay the man to deliver every Tuesday, and then take to the roadside dispenser to refill when we run out, which we always do. Then I might bleach out the shower. Adam and Cindy have a cleaning lady, she helps with kids too at their house, and she comes to clean this house twice a week, which is lovely. But Thais don't like to use bleach because it smells bad. If I want something actually disinfected, I have to do it myself.

My apologies for this interruption. I promise, nothing but sweet baby photos from this point forward. Unless you want to see the legion of insects that start invading the house when it rains?


The Birth of Dek*

*Child in Thai

The night before Dek was born, Sean arrived with his 3 oldest kids in tow, two 6 year olds and a 3 year old, and his new intern, Brady, who is a recent high school graduate, and going to the village for a month or more to help him and learn from him. (This is what Sean does here. We've been staying with his family since we arrived in Thailand so we could be in the city for when the baby comes, in case we needed a hospital. His family often stays in the little house he built for them up in his wife's village where they run an organic teaching farm.)

"How are you?" He asked.

"Still pregnant." I replied, gesturing at my huge belly.

"That's why I called before," he said. "I figured if you were in labor I probably shouldn't come."

"Yeah, that would be an interesting situation." I agreed.

I had had a little more mucus making an appearance the past few days, as we drove to Burma and back. But I had that before and thought I was starting something and that turned out to be totally wrong.

I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night we got back from the border, and between that, and a whole day in the car, my feet were ginormous. I was feeling a little worried about how swollen they had become and that they hadn't gone down at all during the night as they usually do.

So right after dinner I told Aaron that I was going to take a walk to try and get some blood circulating and see if it would help the swelling. There were some moments during the walk when I felt like I might be having contractions. There was some pressure on my cervix that wasn't exactly like a baby head just kicking, and my uterus felt hard when I touched it. But they were so mild that I told myself that I was just finally having some Braxton Hicks warm up action and they would stop once I sat down to rest.

Which they did. By the time I went to bed there were no contractions and I fell asleep very easily.

But, when I had my shower there had been a tiny bit of mucus that was a different color and I started to think that maybe, maybe, we were getting near the end, finally, and this baby would come soon. So I asked Aaron to work on my feet for me, both because he can always get the swelling to subside a lot, and because he's really good with pressure points that strengthen contractions. I thought it would be worth a try to get some pressure point action in, to keep things from subsiding again into nothing. Aaron promised to do so when he came to bed. He had a late conference call with someone back in the US, and then he and Sean had plans to hang out for a while, as brothers like to do on occasion.

Sometime in the night I woke up and Aaron was rubbing my feet, as promised. He said it was after 2am later on. Whenever he hit a pressure point I started having a really strong contraction, which was awesome, because I hadn't had any before then. So he kept up the pressure point work for a while longer. Just as I was falling asleep again, Bam Bam woke up and needed things. Mostly he needed to pee, but it still takes him a while to figure that part out and he asks for other things in the meantime.

When I took him to the bathroom, I went too, because I was needing to pee very frequently at this point and I was thinking, "That head seems even lower than usual."

I think the rest of my mucus plug came out that time on the toilet, but it didn't quite register because I was so tired by that point.

I thought, "I'd better call the midwife first thing in the morning, it looks like it could be tomorrow."

But it took another half hour or more to get Bam Bam back to sleep after that. So sometime around 4 in the morning, while I waited for him to settle, I quickly emailed my parents, and Aaron's, to let them know that maybe tomorrow something might happen. I was having mild, intermittent, contractions.

Then I tried to go back to sleep. Which I managed for the most part, except for these contractions that would wake me up from time to time and were strong enough that I had to quietly breath through them and occasionally put my hand against my back. (Ok, I may have been grabbing the head board too, but they really didn't feel all that strong.) But I was determined to get some sleep, since I needed to rest if I was going to be in labor in the morning, so I lay as still as possible and fell deeply asleep in between each contraction as it came. I have no idea how many there were, it didn't feel like they were all that frequent.

Toward sunrise, I started to feel hungry at the end of each contraction, but didn't want to get up yet. But, I worried that if I didn't eat something soon I'd end up nauseous. So I ignored the hungry feeling as long as I could, and slept as much as I could, until the feeling that I needed to vomit, now, had me jumping out of bed and running to get a bowl.

I went all out this year for a father's day present.
I grabbed a bowl on the back porch, chugged all the water in my bottle and braced myself to throw up. Only, I didn't throw up. Instead, one contraction after another started to happen and they weren't gentle anymore. I paced back and forth through them, trying to figure out what to do. There was a house full of people, some on the couch, little kids just waking, my room was pretty untidy and I still needed to bleach the birth pool.

Still not realizing how close I actually was, I did realize that I was not going to be able to prepare everything as I had hoped to, and had thought I would have the time to do.

Then I had to go the bathroom, like now, number 2. I decided I really didn't like having contractions on the toilet.

Then my face was so sweaty all I could think of was getting my hair up and off of it and my neck. I took my puke bowl and water with me and moved to the bedroom, where, in between killer contractions I pulled my hair up. This is when Aaron woke up and I told him I was having contractions.

My nausea had turned out to be hunger. So I asked Aaron to get me some muesli while I texted the midwife. I have a clunker of a phone for Thai phone calls, so texting takes longer than usual. It took at least 5 contractions, alternating between eating as fast as I could between them and trying to write a text.

I started out trying to say, "Contractions, not super close together but getting strong," and realized as I typed that that wasn't true so I concluded it with, "NVM that was pretty close. I wonder if you'll make it?"

She texted back to say it would take her about 4 hours. I wasn't sure I had that long. These texts were at 6:20 and she called to ask if I needed her to try and get on the 7:55 plane. By this time part of me was finally cluing in that this was going way too fast for that, and I said I thought it would be too late. She listened to me as I went through yet another contraction and said, "That was really strong. I think you're right, I'm not going to make it. What are you going to do?"

Just last week a friend had put me in touch with D, who is a midwife in training. D had asked if she could observe my home birth while she's in Thailand, because it's part of her course requirements. I was to be the second home birth she'd ever attended. She's staying nearby so I said I'd call her.

"Ok. I'll keep my phone close. Call if you need me to talk you through anything." Then she hung up and I called D.

"I think I'm doing this one solo," I told her. "If you'd like to come you should get here now, it's going to be super fast."

"I'm on my way", she said and hung up.

This whole time Aaron was trying to get the birth pool ready. He washed it and bleached it and was clearing a corner of our room to set it up. I was obsessing about things being put away properly and was telling him where it all went.

After hanging up with D, I realized that I'd been standing and pacing through every single contraction since waking up and I thought to myself, "If I lie down these may slow down again, and I'll get a bit of a break."

So I lay down.

As soon as the next contraction hit I realized that I had an urge to push and heard myself grunting, as one does when pushing. I thought, "No, not yet, not on Prang's bed. I'm not ready! I need the pool."

But there's not much you can do to stop yourself from pushing once the urge hits, though I tried, and a second later I told Aaron, "My water just broke, hand me that towel."

He laughed in disbelief. I tucked the towel under me as well as I could to catch everything and braced myself for the next contraction, because contractions after your water breaks are usually a lot harder.

Except, instead of a regular contraction I had to push again, hard!

"I'm pushing!" I announced. "And I'm pooping! I don't know where to go."

By this point the birth pool was just not happening, but it took three more contractions, and pushes, for me to decide what to do. I didn't want to be on the bed, and get blood and poo all over it. I didn't want to kneel on the floor either. I kept thinking, "I can't push a baby out, I'm still wearing underwear."

Fortunately, I had put a pad on in the middle of the night after I saw the mucus plug loosening, so some of the fluid and all of the poo was at least contained.

"Help me get to the shower." I decided.

In the space between contractions we got to the bathroom. I stripped down and knelt on the tile floor, holding onto Aaron for support. Next contraction, as I bore down, I realized a huge problem. I had no traction. My knees were slipping. And it hurt to try and stabilize with my leg muscles as I knelt there and pushed. There were no towels in the bathroom, Aaron couldn't leave because I needed him for support. The only other people awake in the house were little kids, and maybe Brady. How was I going to get something stable to kneel on?

That's when I heard D's voice asking where I was.

"I'm in the bathroom. I'm pushing. Please bring me a towel."

And she did. And then she brought everything else as we needed it as well. Which was awesome.

For some reason I felt the need to narrate this one as it was happening. Maybe because I needed others to know how fast it was going too. So as D came in I announced, "Ring of fire, already to ring of fire."

She of course could see pretty well, she's attended at least 70 births since her training started, so she didn't really need me to tell her on the next contraction when I reached down that there was already a head between my legs and he was crowning. But I told her anyway.

I don't remember exactly, but it seems like it was 8-10 contractions between getting to the shower and delivering his head. In between I was telling D where to find the stack of sterile towels and the rest of the birth kit, which was somewhat less organized than it had once been since I tossed much of it in a bag to take along on our road trip to Burma. Just in case.

I had my hand under his head. I didn't want him landing on the floor, and it felt very long waiting for his body to turn and deliver the rest of the way. Especially because he kicked out and squirmed twice while halfway out, and that was uncomfortable, to say the least. But then his body eased out and he was all blue and floppy and that's when D was really, really amazing.

I was too dazed those first few seconds to really notice his condition much and she, very calmly, suggested I stimulate him.

I started to, but not very aggressively, as he made little tiny noises, and then she came into the shower, gently trading places with Aaron, and rubbed his body until his color started to turn pink and he started to cry in earnest, and take deep breaths. She said something about not being able to suction him and I remembered I had a bulb syringe in the kit too, so she found that and suctioned him as well.

Then I tried to get comfortable on the floor as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and the placenta to deliver. Our kids had heard him crying, and they each peeked a head in to look for a moment while we waited. Except Bam Bam, he stayed sleeping until the end.

I was really uncomfortable on that floor very quickly, and tired, and so we got started on figuring out what to do about the cord.

With a lot of help from D, we tied it off with some clean thread, used rubbing alcohol to sterilize the site, and Aaron's super sharp knife. Aaron cut the cord and Dek and I were separate for the first time. Aaron wrapped him in a clean towel and took him out while I knelt again to push out the placenta. It came right away and I realized that part of why I was so uncomfortable was that it was sitting there on my perineum waiting to come out.

Then I showered, and D stayed with me to make sure I was ok. It had gone so quickly that I wasn't nearly as tired, or as shaky standing as I have been in the past. Last time I needed Aaron to hold me up and help me walk to the bed. This time I stood, and walked, all on my own. In keeping with the OCD tendencies I had been displaying for the last hour or so, I not only showered but rinsed out the whole shower and all the blood and poo off the towels "so they would be easier to wash later." Had I the energy I think I would have also cleaned and organized my whole bedroom and swept it out. I may have had some adrenaline coursing through me just then. But, by the time I finished showering and walked to the bedroom I was ready to lay down. All the kids were on the bed, which had been cleaned up a bit, and the Boy was holding his new baby brother. So I laid down with them to enjoy our new baby.

By this time the kids had told everyone on the property that our baby was born and Cindy came over to see. She and Adam were great. They fed our kids all day, and watched them for much of it, and Sean watched them when we went into the hospital later. I laid in bed and slept a lot. And updated facebook.

Cindy made him a birthday cake.

D checked his heart rate and vitals, making sure all was well, and then checked me as well, making sure I could pee and that my uterus was contracting properly. She brought me food, I finally finished my breakfast, and was lovely and competent the whole time. I'm so glad she asked if she could come and watch. She ended up being very, very helpful.

Birthday party
It was 6:30am when I called D. He was born at 6:56am. I had been fully awake approximately one hour.

Looking back I realize that I had been in active labor since at least 4 am, but had been too much in denial/too tired to realize it. So to me it felt like he was born in less than an hour, though it was more like 3 or 4, which is still super fast, but not as fast as it felt to me.

He's not impressed.
And that's how my two week overdue boy finally made his appearance, making up for lost time I suppose. He weighed in at 8lbs 13oz, and it seems he was just waiting for his great grandpa's birthday before making his entrance.


Road trip to Burma

We have the kind of visa right now that makes it necessary to leave and reenter the country every 90 days. This is something people assumed I knew and so no one told me until 2 days ago. It will be this way until Aaron's work permit gets properly sorted and such.

On the bridge.
 We kind of thought that 90 days would be plenty of time to have a baby, get documents for that baby, and get the Boy a surgery he needs, whole other story, before needing to renew our visas. This was before I knew that renewing our visas involved a 4 hour drive to the nearest border crossing and a short trip to Burma.

However, there is still no baby, the Boy's surgery date is for the 21st, because I kept putting off scheduling it, not wanting to be in labor when he's in the hospital, and our visas expired on the 24th. This is one of those moments when my brain melts down and I think to myself, "There is no way." And then I cry.

You see, even if we have the baby in the next few days, the odds of getting all the documentation for said baby, including a passport, before crossing into Burma, of all places, in less than 10 days are pretty low.  Plus there's the part about the Boy recovering from what is pretty major surgery and driving for 4 hours in each direction 3 days after.

It didn't even occur to me that we didn't have to wait until the 24th to go and renew until Aaron said something. So we talked about it and decided the best thing to do was to make a run for it as soon as we could. Which is why yesterday found us once again in a rental car, this time headed for the border.

More than 8 hours back there and they did it without complaining or fighting.
You don't need any paperwork to take an unborn baby across borders, after all.

I really like getting out of the city and driving through Thailand. It's beautiful, and interesting, and Aaron and I used to spend hours together in a car during our courtship/early married days and I still really like doing that with him. We go into full on adventure mode.

The kids were great, despite being crowded in to a small little backseat together, and we had a memorable day.

Looking at Burma from the Thai side.
The border between the 2 countries at the northern most point of Thailand is marked by a narrow, muddy, little river. There's a street market on both sides of this river, in what looks like a big network of back alleys that cross under the "Friendship Bridge". You have to cross the bridge to get to Burma and back. Buildings cling to the river bank and pile up several stories high on both sides, and you could play a decent game of catch with someone on the other side from your apartment balcony to theirs, as long as you never missed.

We haven't gone very many places yet, all of us together, since we got here. After all,  given the option of taking all 4 kids to the store withe me or going alone, what sane mama is going to vote for taking all 4? I've usually taken one child along with me in turns so they can have some one on one time and get a chance to get out of the muban and see some things, just not all together. Whenever we do go somewhere though we are a spectacle. People count out loud as we all parade past, culminating in a dramatic exclamation of 5! as they see my belly, usually bringing up the rear. (Five in Thai sounds like Hah, as in hahaha. So that's always fun to hear.)

See? Spectacle. Look at that giant belly.
They point, they giggle, they wave. They reach out to try and touch BamBam, who usually grins at them slyly and tries to hide behind me, or swings a fist out at them, which they think is funny. Some people ask me if they can take a family photo. Some people don't bother asking, they just point and shoot and then come and stand beside us, or one of the kids, regardless of what they are doing and smile and wave for their friends to take a picture. The Girl and Boy are mostly safe from people trying to touch them, they are old enough it seems to be seen as autonomous persons. But Little, well, she's so tiny people think she's very young, and they always want to make friends with her, and often want to hug her, and this makes her pretty uncomfortable sometimes.

They are super cute.
To cross, first we went into Thai immigration and they removed our old visas. We had to fill out some papers and Bam Bam played with the fountain and I think 100 or more photos of myself and the kids now live on 10 different people's cell phones.

Then we walked across the bridge, and I smelled something delicious from a food cart that I went back for later, and went into Burmese immigration. Here's where things got weird.

Imagine if you will a very smoky little office, filled with a bunch of guys in bright white polyester uniforms, with all sorts of medals and stuff on them. A rather portly man, also in uniform, waved us inside from the chair he sits on facing the street. The kids all found chairs and sat quietly, they are getting good at this government office stuff. BamBam was his regular charming 2 year old self, not so quiet, but adored by everyone he saw. Aaron brought US currency, because the last time he crossed this border they charged him US dollars to enter. Yes, you pay a fee to enter Burma. They wanted Thai baht, but we didn't have enough on us to cover the cost in baht. Finally they let us pay them in US dollars. Meantime, everyone smiled and laughed at the kids, one man made bird sounds with his mouth, they all said hello and did the regular trying to make friends with my kids who shrank back and clustered close to me as a result.

I was doing something for BamBam when I heard, "Mama!" and looked up to see that one of the men in the white uniforms had come out from behind his desk, picked up Little and was sitting with her in his lap. Talk about disconcerting. Fortunately, Little is a bit Thai in the way she will smile and laugh when she's uncomfortable and get a little silly as a way to get out of it. Suppressing my initial urge to stand up and scoop her out of this strange soldier's lap and run away, which would teach her to be afraid and not go over well in this strange place, I instead smiled and said, "I think he wants to be friends with you."

She reached for my hand giggling, and he tried to hold her close, all very friendly I might add, not sinister on his part, and somehow she and I managed to reach hands and make it silly that she wriggled away from him and over beside me as quickly as she possibly could.

Then he tried to make friends with Bam Bam, who was his usual self and rebuffed all advances with his usual good humor. We were almost done and Bam Bam tripped over the door step and fell on his face on the floor, setting up a nice loud wail. When they saw me trying to help him by putting my, not really cold anymore, water bottle against his cheek, one of the officers brought over a cold can of mango juice and gave it to him to drink and hold. It was really very kind. Though Bam Bam kept yelling until we left the office, and then finally wanted to try and drink his juice while hugging it to his chest and walking.

So we left our passports with them and entered into Burma. I know!!! They keep your passports and give you a card with your photo on it instead, and you pick up your passports on your way back out. So not comfortable.

There were way fewer people smiling on the Burmese side than the Thai side. I've gotten used to the always smiling Thai greeting, and by contrast many of the Burmese looked downright surly, or sad, or both. But they still pointed at us, and counted, and laughed at BamBam as he walked by and looked right back at all of them.

At the tea house.

We stopped at a tea house, just a block away from the bridge. Aaron and his brother spent all night in the exact same one 3 years ago when they went to Burma together. As soon as you sit down they put an assortment of food in front of you, and hot pots of tea. You pay for what you eat/open. Burmese milk tea is very tasty.

The bathrooms were, well, Thai bathrooms look palatial in comparison. And the flush/rinse water was the same color as the muddy river we had just crossed. Poor Little actually slipped and fell right on top of the toilet she had just finished peeing in. Poor girl. We cleaned her up as well as we could. I always carry toilet paper so I could wipe her muddy legs, and found some cleaner water a bit later to rinse her off.

After that we were eager to get back to the Thai side and begin the long drive home again. It was already much later than we had planned, and we had 4 hours of driving still ahead.

But that didn't stop us from buying some Burmese pastries on the bridge, and these amazing sort of breaded fried onion cakes, kind of like a Burmese onion ring, as well as giant grapes, lychees, shoes for Bam Bam, and Chinese Oolong tea.

The night air was warm, but cool enough to have the windows down, and we stared at the limestone mountains with their crazy shapes as the sun went down behind them.

The dinner stop was in Chiang Rai, at bed time, in the food court of a big, beautiful mall, and all rejoiced to be back in civilization again, with clean toilets, and soap, and well, clean everything.

We've gone full Asian tourist. Look at us, at a mall!

Daddy, it's covered in light up flowers! You're the best!
And then we drove for hours and hours and got home without incident just after midnight, except for a very low gas gauge at one point and passing many stations that were closed before we found one we could fill up at. That caused some nervousness. They close up at night here in northern Thailand. Things really shut down.

It was actually a really fun day, though exhausting, and we have another 90 days before we have to do that again, even if this baby is the latest baby ever in the history of the whole world, that should give us enough time to figure out the passport and stuff. And still, no labor yet.



Move to Thailand - Check

Buy a truck -

Have a baby -

Find a place to live -

Get to work -

So, one out of 5 isn't bad, right?

We found a truck, at a great price, because it needed some work. But work here is cheap, and usually done decently, so it seemed a good trade off. Here though, they don't start the work unless you pay them first. So they give you a work order, saying what they will do, ask you to pay, and then they get to work.

Well, we've been told the delay was because they were trying to find a part. Then they said they found the part, and charged us for it. Then they said it would be ready to test drive this past Saturday. But when Aaron arrived to do so, no one was there, and the engine was still laying in pieces all over the garage. A less than promising sign.

Have a baby. Well, that isn't going so well either. I'm now 9 days past due, and no sign of anything changing anytime soon. I am so not in control of that one, without seeking invasive medical intervention, so I'm just going to have to wait to check that one off the list.

Find a place to live. We thought we had. But then the owners of the house came back after we agreed on a price and asked for more money. Aaron has no intention of any further dealings with someone who will say one thing and then change their mind, even if we could afford the higher price. So we're back at square one again in that regard also.

Get to work. Aaron has some somewhat urgent business to attend to up on the mountain at the orphanage. He's waiting for this baby to come so he can go and take care of things there without being at risk of being a several hour ride away when I go into labor. There are many things to do here, online, and with meetings and stuff, but it does feel substantially stalled, this forced confinement in Chaing Mai.

The lesson of Thailand so far seems to be patience. And then more patience. And then just a little more after that, for good measure.


This is the longest I've ever been pregnant.

For the first time ever, in 6 pregnancies, I am still pregnant on my due date. I am so not thrilled about this. It's hot here, and the 5 things that I brought that are most comfortable in this heat are getting very boring to wear. Plus I miss my toes. And my feet keep retaining water. I waddle everywhere, the baby stretches and it pinches a nerve to my legs, which is really not comfortable, and I'm really super tired.

Did I mention the heat?

I keep telling myself exactly what I would tell another mom in my situation when I was a doula. Baby will come when baby is ready. Don't worry about it. Keep busy. Rest as much as you can. Enjoy these last days with your family this size before you add another person. I know these things. But really I feel a little crazy with the waiting.

Totally thought I was near labor a week and a half ago and got everything ready. False alarm.

This week we rented a car, (we're also waiting for the vehicles we just purchased to get back from the mechanics from the various tuning up and repairs we wanted done on them before driving them around), and drove to Pai. It was a bit crazy, but I needed to get out and do something besides wait.

Pai is a 3 hour drive away through the mountains on bumpy, extremely windy roads that go high enough that pine trees can grow, and I figured that if anything would send me into labor, the extreme altitude changes plus the hair pin turns would do it. We had an excuse to go. The lovely Rae has been scouting for houses for us up there, since that is where we want to live once we have this baby, and there were houses for rent for us to look at.

So we drove. It's a beautiful, gorgeous drive, and now we know for certain that BamBam is prone to motion sickness, and spent the night with her family. She's amazingly hospitable. "Sure you can come and crash at my house with less than 24 hours notice, shall I cook for you?" I love her.

We looked at houses. We're pretty sure one of them will be just what we need. Then we drove back to Chiang Mai to get the rental car back in time to not have to pay for another day.

You would think that would bring on labor. But nothing. Not a single contraction. The baby was very excited about the driving though, kicked all over the place.

At least now I know what our house is going to look like, and I can start to furnish it in my head, and figure out what we need to get to make it home.

(In most places here you actually have to provide your whole kitchen. As in, the kitchen is a room, it might have a sink in it already, and you have to get your own stove and counters and storage, etc. Ours has a little fridge though and a rickety looking sink on a metal cart, so you can tell it's the kitchen.)

Today I missed my scheduled C-section appointment. I tried to call yesterday and ask to talk to the doctor, but no one understood me and they said someone would call back who spoke English. Today someone with better English called and asked why I missed my appointment and if I wanted to reschedule and I told her I wanted to talk to the doctor first, who is now supposed to be calling me sometime.

I was going to tell her I wasn't going to come in. I was going to tell her that I had done some research and found that in 2010, 3 out of every 1000 C-sections performed in Thailand ended as fatalities. That's an insanely high number, and I'm not comfortable with that. Especially compared to the fact that the number of women who died in a VBAC the same year, out of 100,000 was 3.8. So basically, I'm 100 times more likely to die if I go under the knife here than if I have this baby naturally. (For all those who think I'm being reckless, just think about those numbers for a minute. Three in every 1000 women died. That's just plain terrifying.)

I've been having fun thinking about my own mortality and stuff. Can't you tell?

I realized we don't have many pregnant photos with the kids in them this time. I feel as tired as I look in this.
 I was going to ask her if the hospital even had any of my blood type on hand in case I needed it, since hospitals here don't stock RH negative blood types. Less than 0.5% of the population here is RH negative so anyone who needs a negative blood type usually needs to get people to donate it for them in advance. I have learned that there is an expat donor list, and you can call them to get blood donated if you need it and have an unusual blood type. I was going to ask her if she had blood on hand in case of emergency, or if I should ask for donations. I was going to tell her that given all these things I was afraid to come in for surgery, and that my husband is against it. (Which he is, it's just an easy line to use in a male dominated culture.) I was going to stall, in other words. It turns out the language barrier has saved me most of that problem. Until she actually calls me that is. Then we will have whatever conversation we will have.

Goofiness. Look we're still pregnant.
It would be nice to just have the baby already and then have a conversation when I go in with short person number 5, (or 6 if you count Shiloh, but I don't usually, since I only actually HAVE 4, please let it be 5 very soon.)

So we wait again. And I waddle, and nap a lot, an try to make myself take an interest in projects that I should do, but that I just don't want to do. I want to push a baby out, and paint my toenails, and move on to the hundred other things we've pushed off doing but need to get done this coming month, because we didn't want to schedule an appointment when I would most likely be having a baby that week. Only I haven't, so it's time to make some appointments and just let the chips fall where they will. Things like consulate visits and immigration check ins don't wait for babies to be born. They have to be done when they have to be done. Which, of course, will probably be when I finally go into labor. C'est la vie.
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