PictureThe well-intentioned offender
Recently Megan has been stressing out a little about the things that could be bad for Ava.  And this isn't a bad thing at all - but it does provide some amusing times.  I've written before about some of the more ridiculous products available, preying on new parents' insecurities, and we've been conscious about not buying into the silliness of it all.  One thing, however, has been the source of some fun recently.  Meg bought a steriliser.  

While neither of us wants to mollycoddle our baby, we agree that it's a good idea to keep things germ-free, especially in a place like Manila where infections abound (i.e. hand, foot and mouth disease, respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal infections, etc).  Also Bruce is getting much more confident around her, and while he's mostly clean, he does have some pretty dirty personal habits....  So periodic sterilisation is probably a good policy, generally. 

The fun started last night when she started to sterilise whatever she could find - primarily the bottles, teats, etc - that is supposed to go into the baby's mouth.  From there, it escalated somewhat.  The good bits started when she took the various bits & pieces out of the steriliser - what to do with them afterwards?  I did suggest that she also sterilise the paper towel with which she wiped the condensed steam off with, which was met with a moment of total confusion before she realised that I was being completely facetious. 

The conversation immediately turned farcical, from "we should also sterilise this" to "are you sure we can't just sterilise the baby"...  While it's great to be vigilant and actively try to prevent infections, there's only so much we can do without becoming those parents.  Ultimately, she's going to eat a fist full of mud somewhere, or pick up some other kid's flu or something, but for now, watching Meg try to avoid touching anything with her hands is some pretty good entertainment. 

This afternoon, Megan had herself a strange experience while going to the supermarket.  While I was at home trying to rest (read: trying desperately not to die from not sleeping today) she went out to forage for dinner supplies.  She took Ava with her, in a new pram that one of our friends has lent to us. 

Now seeing a lone woman with a baby isn't a novel sight, even here in the ultra-Catholic Philippines, but seeing an expat woman on her own with a baby obviously is...  Our decision not to hire a yaya (nanny) seems a bit of a shock to some of the locals in our shopping mall; many staring quite obviously at her doing the shopping all on her own.  Back home, in some areas, seeing both parents with the child is a rare occasion, but this cross-cultural paradigm shift that Meg had perpetrated was indeed very amusing to all around. 

Shoppers cooed over Ava, and seemed bemused that we didn't have any hired help.  When Megan had her hands full of groceries and Ava cried, they looked on as if to say "why doesn't someone pick up that child?"  It occurred to us - it's so rare to hear a baby's cry here!  We live in a fairly affluent area, and simply hadn't noticed that the babies here don't cry.  They're always consoled before they can kick up too much of a ruckus.  Some of the passers-by even asked her where our yaya was, seemingly stunned that we haven't got one, and even more shocked to find out that back home, we generally don't use nannies (she described the look as somewhere between surprised intrigue and pity). 

Logistically speaking, the trip was another strange combination of the good and not-so-good.  Our security guys always go out of their way to assist us, be it hobbling out of a car on crutches or carrying luggage to our doors when we return from the airport.  Today, as they saw Megan coming, they switched off the overhead air conditioning units as she passed, so that the cool air would not blow into the pram.  They're amazingly sweet to us.  The general population is usually great, too, especially when they see that we have a baby with us.  Sometimes it's a bit hit-and-miss, as is anywhere, but the locals all jump out of the way when they spot us coming, especially in tight spaces.  Now if you've ever been to Asia, you'll know that this does not apply to elevators.  Ever.  It seems with elevators, it's the quick & the dead...  Even if you've got a shiny new baby in a massive pram, and your white skin makes you stick out from the crowd like a pimple on a bum...  Escalators are very similar.  Why this phenomenon exists, I have no idea & will be forever wondering, but it's true, I swear! 

I'm looking forward to seeing the reactions when Ava & I go out walking on our own.  I can only imagine that it'll be a similar scenario.  There aren't too many white folk around, and the majority of the ones that live here usually have local wives, so our blonde, Caucasian baby is a bit of a novelty.  Of course, we think she's amazingly special, and when strangers react the way they do, it gives an extraordinary feeling of parental pride in our little girl. 
I'm incredibly proud to announce that our baby is here!  At 3:00 am on Thursday 8 August, weighing 3.68 kg (8lb 1oz), measuring 51 cm, Ava Strid Anderson was born by emergency Caesar after 39 long weeks and a few sleepless nights of painful contractions. 

Both mother and baby are doing great, and we couldn't have done it without our superstar team of Dr Maria Theresa G Henson, Dr Gerry de Jesus, Dr Vina Cabahug, and our legendary support staff of Grandma Strid & Grandma Anderson (and of course, late arrival Grandpa Anderson). 

So far, Ava has been feeding well, and sleeping better.  She is the most amazing little girl and will be out & about to make some public appearances very soon!

As many of you may well know, we got a bit of a fright this week... 
Instead of being due around the middle of next month, a new scan was handed to Megan last weekend, with the prognosis that our little boy or girl was could be due to arrive at the start of the month.  This wouldn't be so scary if it wasn't in three short weeks' time...  The last month has flown - it might as well not have happened.  I have no idea where it went...  and now my baby's arriving in less time than that??   I'm panicking, slightly.
At the moment we're both incredibly busy: Meg has the end of financial year to deal with, along with a recent trip to Australia for an IT conference; I followed her there so spent all the last little while seeing family & friends in a whirlwind trip, got back to Manila with a heap of admin to do, and now I'm about to take off again for the UK.  Meg won't be joining me - she's too far along to fly - but her mother is coming here to help her with anything she needs.  I feel less bad knowing she'll be here, but of course I'll be upset that I'm not here to help her (in my defence, I had this trip planned months before anyone got pregnant).

The Sydney trip was great, we were able to do get some shopping done & pick up some much needed items - including an Australian standard baby capsule.  I also got to pop in on a mate who's just had a beautiful baby boy.  Catching up with those guys was invaluable!!  Everything they had to say was a great help.  It seemed like when I was first getting my drivers licence - you can do all the reading you can for a year, but it all gets thrown out the window with one week's practical experience...

My parents also got to see Megan in all her glory.  As it's their first grandchild, I think it was pretty meaningful to them & really hit home that this baby is coming! 

For me now, though, I don't have time to scratch myself...  I've got to make sure Meg's still breathing before packing my bags for another long haul flight... 

Today is Father's Day here in the Philippines, and how did I spend my day?  
I awoke to find my darling fiancee watching some terrible, terrible television, so I cooked her a nice Sunday breakfast.  Unfortunately, though, she felt a bit queasy afterwards & went straight back to bed.  So my morning didn't really get off to a wonderful start, but I did get a cheeky lie-in, and now my TV isn't so embarrassed.  

We have had a very busy time of late - we've had all of our parents visiting - who brought some amazing gifts with them; we've just picked up our new car; Meg went to Sri Lanka; we were able to get to Hong Kong and get some precious shopping time in; and my rugby team has returned to its winning ways!  

Meg's parents visited recently (in two stints, mum first, then dad), bringing with them a whole heap more things for baby.  They've delivered hundreds of leak-proof nappies as well as formula, clothes, toys, and all manner of other miscellany, and we are incredibly thankful.  It's always great to have visitors like them :)

Our traveling has kicked up a notch, with Megan attending a work conference in Colombo for 5 days.  Flying was a bit unpleasant due to her increasing belly becoming increasingly uncomfortable, combined with the late-night flights, does not for a happy Megan make...  Our Hong Kong trip was much more enjoyable, however.  A shorter, direct flight & the relative ease made for a much more relaxing experience.  We were also able to fit in a good, solid shopping session at one of the SoHo baby stores which, even after a long day of traveling, saw Megan's eyes light up like an oasis in the desert.  She was able to pick up a few maternity items which aren't available in the Manila stores - she keeps blaming the Filipinas for all being far too skinny... 

For now though, we're back home & can put our feet up....  Well, sort of.  Purchasing our new car will undoubtedly make our lives much easier.  Getting a Manila taxi can be a harrowing, anxiety-promoting experience at the best of times, so after two years we've bitten the bullet & picked up our own vehicle.  Neither of us really wanted our newborn to have to ride in the back of a cab here...  the roads, safety standards & traffic is bad enough without having to share it with families of cockroaches & whatever else lives in the back of those cars....  
I did have a small win - we didn't have to get a mini van!!  We've got an SUV with 5 seats, which should be ample for the two of us with a baby seat.  It means, though, that we wont be able to have a driver, a yaya & all of our family/friends ride along with us wherever we go, but I'm not concerned about that at all.

And finally my broken foot is healing up nicely & I am getting much closer to being back on the rugby field to join my mates again.  No more sulking on the sideline!!

P.S.  We still have no idea about a name...

Bruce is still a little unsure
Our past weekend was an interesting one.  We were fortunate to be able to spend time on Saturday night with our ever-developing circle of parent friends, meeting some new arrivals in Manila with their own new arrival, as well as consulting some of the old hands at the baby game.  While most of my time was spent talking about the rugby, I'm sure Meg got a few good snippets of information, along with how to light a BBQ (all the boys were either playing sport, or being treated at hospital after playing sport).  
We did, however, learn how one couple's birth plan got thrown into disarray when they fell ill, which got us thinking that we need to develop a birth plan...  

Sunday morning was spent brunching, and again, debating potential names.  While we are still no closer to a decision, we have narrowed the field a little.  When I say a little, I mean that we re-ruled out several of the names that we had already ruled out, and some variations on their spelling.  I also started to consider the initials our little son or daughter will have.  Some weren't so good (I.R.A, N.V.A, M.M.A - a lot of fighting acronyms seem to end in A), but some weren't too bad.  I figured if he or she made it to the Olympics, and somehow the initials ended up U.S.A, all the Americans would be chanting for them.  Of course, finding names that we like starting with U isn't easy - and neither is rearing an Olympian, I suppose - but it'd be worth it.

Our breakfast turned into a shopping trip (she always gets me with that), so now we are almost kitted out with the basics (special thanks to some friends from the rugby club for their second-hand bed).  Bruce seems to be getting increasingly worried that all this new stuff is not for him.  He's becoming increasingly sooky, especially at night.  It's like he's trying to reaffirm his place as our first priority, which is super cute, but hopefully he'll accept the new person who will take up most of our time in a few months.  

For now though, we're preparing for my parents to arrive, hopefully bringing all the stuff that Meg has ordered online.  Hopefully it'll mean less shopping trips for this guy for a few more weeks!!

Every. Single. Day.
Today I am going to embark on the shopping trip.  I promised myself that I'd do it sometime this week, and now the time has come.  
Normally, I hate shopping.  I loathe it intensely.  Ask anyone.   There are thousands of things I'd prefer to do before shopping.  As a male, who was single for a long time, I don't think I ever went shopping - I went buying.  Like some nomadic caveman, I only went out to get things if and when I needed them.  It was great. 
Also, another thing that I can't stand is the local hobby here of 'malling'.  Not 'mauling', which would be understandable, but 'malling' - the practice of being inside a mall.  It's huge in the Philippines.  They love it so much that they put it on their resumes.  What it translates to, however, is thousands of people being unnecessarily inside stores.  Obviously, I'm not one to tell people what they can & cannot do, and as a visitor to the country, I have to abide by their customs.  If you hadn't already guessed, I find this incredibly frustrating and it sends me into a hulk-like fury.  
Now, though, I have a fiancee, and she enjoys shopping, and I have things that I need to buy, and all that baby stuff is just so freakin' adorable...  
I'm not going to go too crazy with the buying, obviously.  We don't know the gender, or how big he or she will be, so that limits our clothing options considerably.  And according to quite a few of the expat mothers that we have spoken to here, the locally-available nappies are quite prone to a LOT of leakage.  Ergo, most of our nappies will have to be ferried in by a couple of doting grandmothers...  
Now that just leaves me to pick up the other stuff we need - cots, tables, change bags, towels, bottles, dummies, monitors, bassinets, baths, toys, books, high chairs, car seats, prams, blankets....  

Alright.  I've procrastinated long enough...  

This morning, Bruce and I woke up at 5.30 am, packed Megan up & sent her on her way to Vietnam for a business trip.  She'll be gone all week, and I will be here to hold the fort until Friday night.  What's the worst that could happen....
Well, my first confession is that after I made her some toast, sliced up an apple for her & carried her suitcase to the car, I fell straight back to sleep.  I forgot to feed the dog and almost overslept my only appointment of the day.  
Last time I was left alone, I didn't shave for a week, allowing a disgustingly ruddy beard to grow.  I also stayed up late and ate meals whenever I wanted.  Yup, it was pretty crazy over here...
This time, however, there will be little of that sort of behaviour.  Probably.  Who knows...  

This week I'll be trying to dedicate time to preparing for our little one's arrival.  I know I still have a few months up my sleeve, but as a gold-medal procrastinator, I want to make a start.  This means cruising the baby/mother stores, signing up to parents' groups, and lots more reading...  

Of course, most of that good intention will be replaced by movies, the gym/rugby, and the dog.  Wish me luck!
Just yesterday my dear lady & I went shopping.  Not really shopping, but browsing through the baby sections of our local department stores...  For me, this was pretty scary.  I'm not a good shopper at the best of times.  In fact, I'd say I am a terrible shopper.  There are a million things that I'd rather do than go shopping, but there we were, surrounded by brightly coloured, plastic baby things.

I know that it's inevitable, but having to buy all that shit scared me.  How do people so little need so much crap?  And I guess that it's mostly not their fault - they have no idea how many shirts they own, nor do they care how cute they look in those size 0000 jeans (for like three days).  That baby's got no idea what the hell it's wearing.  It doesn't care.  It could make a mess all over my $10 t-shirt, or Megan's $400 cashmere top - it doesn't care.  
It's the people selling it that tell us that they need it.  One thing, out of the hundreds that amused me, was a food processor, made just for babies.  I mean, really, can any other adult-based food processor make baby food?  Is this something that children have been missing for the last 2.3 million years?  What happened before this?  Did babies get fed food from an adult food processor????  How did they ever survive before this?  

The questioning of things like that is probably what makes me a terrible person to shop with...