Friday 29 July 2011

Are they or aren't they?

I wanted to find out once and for all whether the boys are identical. They are getting more and more similar, and a few of the signs make us wonder. Of course they have the same colour hair and eyes, and so far all their teeth have come through in the same order.  They weigh nearly the same, and they have no physical features that distinguish one from the other except for Felix's double crown.

Here's a little lesson on zygosity.

  1. One placenta - must be monozygotic (identical) 
  2. Two placentae - could be monozygotic (identical) or dizygotic (fraternal). If the egg has split early, before the placenta starts to form, then they could be identical. This occurs in about one third of identical twins.
Well, it's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the simplified version.

So the boys had a placenta each (I should know, I had to deliver them), which means they are probably fraternal, but there's a small chance they are identical. Anyway, I contacted (through the Multiple Births Foundation) a KCL lab which runs zygosity tests based on samples taken from cheek swabs.

I spent ages researching various alternative labs, which have widely varying prices. In the end we chose this one, since there's some information on the site about how they conduct the test, what the chances are of the results being incorrect etc. Also KCL seems pretty respectable, and the test is done at cost (80GBP) because, I guess, they can use the information they collect for further study. It's quite funny looking for zygosity tests, because they are usually offered by labs which specialise in paternity testing, so anyone checking my Chrome history would find, and so on. Ok I made the second one up, but you get the picture. 

We sent off the swabs last Tuesday, they were received this Tuesday, and the results should be available on Monday! Exciting. Jo asked me if I'd be disappointed if they weren't identical - it would be cool if they were, but if they're not that just confirms their individuality so that's cool too. 

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Saturday 16 July 2011

Thursday 14 July 2011

Baby Blues and then some

The other day Vergenia was making lunch for the two of us. She was cooking chicken in stock, of the "Chicken and ham" variety that is so popular here. Knorr I think. Anyway, I was working in the morning, but when I got home, the smell of that stock totally slapped me in the face. We were feeding the boys, and I felt increasingly nauseated, dizzy and hot. I had to go to my room for a while to recover, and as I sat there I pondered what on earth was going on. I am a fainty sort of person on occasion, but there's always a trigger....then I realised that the smell of that stock had incredible power over me because it vividly took me back to the Queen Mary Hospital, where I had the twins 14 months ago. The food was largely inedible, but I will never forget that smell.

It got me thinking about the whole Queen Mary / Tsan Yuk Clinic experience, and whether it contributed to my post-natal depression. Quite a few of my friends are pregnant again, so all the discussions about who's the best doctor and the relative comfort of different hospitals are top topics again.  In retrospect, part of me wonders why I made the choices I did. Or more to the point, why I didn't make the choices I could have made.

I would like to point out that all the time I was pregnant until the last few days, I have found my circumstances normal. I didn't want to spend a fortune on doctors and hospitals, and I was proud of myself for "roughing it" on the public system. I was proud of paying the $450 for two nights in hospital, Felix's one night on the neo natal unit and two babies with an Octopus card. But now I wonder whether I was of sound mind....

Being at QMH was miserable - I didn't really feel it at the time because I had a lot on my mind, but perhaps that miserableness came out little by little after a few months? Hence the Prozac....

Most people here have a private OBGYN who will look after them throughout their pregnancy. From what I understand, each of these doctors is "attached" to one or more private hospitals, such a the Matilda, Canossa or Adventist. I never had an OBGYN - I just went along to my appointments at the Tsan Yuk, and later the Queen Mary, and just saw whoever was on duty. Same goes for the birth, I don't even know who delivered the babies, it was certainly no one I'd seen before. I didn't have a mini-fridge in my room, and I certainly didn't have a nurse on call 24 hours a day. Nor was I on the Peak. But I did have a view of the container ships, which look deceptively slow as they glide towards the Kwai Tsing container terminal.

Here are the things that weren't great:

  1. Complete lack of bedside manner from almost all the staff
  2. Not knowing who anyone was
  3. The (surely unnecessary) severity of the pinching involved to get breastfeeding started
  4. Lack of communication - I didn't even know that there was a nursery, let alone that I could leave the boys there overnight and they would be brought to me for feeding. Also at the Tsan Yuk during my ultrasounds, it really freaked me out when the technician went all quiet for several minutes, then went off and spoke quietly in Canto to her supervisor.
  5. The nursery (when I found it) was not nice - that many babies crying all at once is truly harrowing for anyone, let alone someone who just pushed a baby (or two) out. Their schedule is very rigid, so if your baby is crying before it's had its bath, tough, it'll have to wait to see Mummy.
  6. You can't go into the delivery room until you're 3cm dilated (sorry that's a bit graphic) and your husband is only allowed to be with you once you are in the delivery room
  7. Visiting hours are 6-8pm.
  8. Nasty pink PJs
  9. 1 TV per ward, in Canto only. Ok, that's a minor thing.
Here are the good things:
  1. There were a few very sweet student nurses
  2. It was super cheap! which meant we had money to buy the boys what they needed.
  3. The meanness of the nurses gave me immense motivation to get out of there asap (by the way, did you know that Felix was born at 5.59pm? that's because if you give birth before 6pm, you only have to stay 2 nights, otherwise it's 3 nights. Man, was I pushing hard by 5.58!)
  4. Lack of communication was possibly a very good thing during labour. It helped me stay calm and in control I think, because they only spoke in English if there was something important that I needed to know / do 
  5. A rigid schedule is actually pretty good preparation for life with twins! 
  6. If you are expecting twins, you get loads of extra tests and ultrasounds during the pregnancy - not much fun, but reassuring. 
  7. My superb husband managed to find lots of little tricks to stay with me for longer, or at a non-permitted time...I wonder if a gweilo privilege was accorded?
  8. Nasty pink pjs meant that I didn't wear anything of my own in hospital. Actually in retrospect, I am glad of that. It means that somehow it's a very detached episode in my life that is over and strangely impersonal.
  9. The lack of TV gave me a few minutes now and again to read The Poisonwood Bible, my favourite book. 

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Quick plug for The Hong Kong Ballet

Ok, here's what you've all been waiting for....a rundown of the upcoming shows from The Hong Kong Ballet.

Swan Lake - everyone except me has seen Black Swan, so I'm sure you know the story. Evil sorceror casts a spell on a girl to be a swan by day, and a girl by night. The Prince falls in love with her while she's in swan form (what the??!) and hopes to marry her; happily the betrothal will break the spell over the White Swan, Odette. However, the dastardly sorceror will not be beaten that easily, so he transforms Odile, his daughter / niece (depending on who you ask) into the spitting image of the White Swan, and the poor old prince is fooled by her appearance and proposes to her instead. Disaster! Anyway, in the end, Odette and the Prince seal their everlasting love by topping themselves together. Very romantic.

Swan Lake is partly famous for its extreme technical demands - not least because traditionally one ballerina dances the role of both the White Swan and the Black Swan. (This will not happen in every performance of the HKB version by the way) The music is very well known, and the show will have live accompaniment from HK Sinfonietta.

Coppelia is a comedy ballet, which is popular with kids and families. Well, it's not HILARIOUSLY funny but it does make you giggle now and again. Essentially the story revolves around Coppelia, a beautiful, incredibly lifelike doll, created by Dr Coppelius. The Dr sits her our on the balcony, "reading", where she catches the eye of Franz, the local flirt who's passing by. Incidentally he's due to get married in less than 24 hours, but that doesn't stop him giving Coppelia the eye. When she doesn't respond, he decides to break into the house and meet her. Meanwhile, Franz's fiancee, Swanilda, gets a bee in her bonnet about her betrothed flirting with the new girl on the block. She breaks in too, in the nick of see, Dr Coppelius, scheming old curmudgeon that he is, wants to use Franz's life force to bring his doll to life (don't ask me how) but Swanilda comes to the rescue, and what's more she doesn't dump Franz, she marries him in the morning. And they all live happily ever after!

Coppelia is sweet and jolly and light-hearted- there's lots of humour inspired by mistaken identities (it's not exactly sophiscticated) Often cited as a good first-timers ballet.

Moments in Time is a triple bill, featuring 3 ballets which are each about half an hour long. They have all been commissioned by The Hong Kong Ballet, and their performances will be world premieres. They are all contemporary ballets, but not "someone sitting on a chair staring into the distance" contemporary... Luminous is inspired by the way that people often change partners, and a new boy/girlfriend brings out new aspects of yourself. Black on Black is inspired by, wait for it....the colour black. There are lots of videos of the choreographer's work on his website if you want to get an idea. He's called Kinsun Chan. And finally there's a piece by the resident choreographer of the National Ballet of China, Fei Bo. Title's about a writer, who becomes paranoid about the nature of her husband's relationship with a new colleague. It's very emotional from what I've seen so far.

The Nutcracker - all about Christmas! The story focuses on Clara, a little girl who is given a nutcracker for Christmas (slightly rubbish gift, but never mind). Inspired by the nutcracker and no doubt fuelled by egg nog and mince pies, Clara's dreams take her to a wonderfuil world filled with fairies, mice, toys and of course, the nutcracker. Finally the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince who whisks Clara away.

The Nutcracker is a really charming ballet, with well known music, and a very joyful, upbeat mood.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Felix and Grandpa in the pool at the Metropark

Josh giggling at Iggle Piggle In the Night Garden

Josh and Felix watching In the Night Garden. Josh thinks it's hilarious that each time Iggle Piggle stands on one of the stepping stones it makes a noise...and Felix feels that he should get in on the action so he giggles a bit too (while displaying his tummy HK style)