“Yea, that’s normal.”
A common, though not comforting, refrain pregnant women often hear when they tell a doctor or a midwife about the ever-changing symptoms they experience throughout the 9 months they’re sharing their body with another human. As a first-timer, I was particularly upset when I heard this from my midwife as I described the sharp, shooting pain running down my backside any time I moved. I had heard it in my other visits when I answered the question, “so, how are you feeling?” but this time was different – this was completely debilitating, and it being normal wasn’t going to cut it.
As technology, social media, and our hyper-connectedness are ever present in our lives today, each year we go through waves of content from every which direction about surviving the holidays, shredding for summer, and of course, now, Spring cleaning.
The day I landed in Shanghai was the first day of the Year of the Ox. It was 1997, I was 20, and I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. We were staying at dorms at East China Normal University and the whole campus had poured out onto the back streets. Everywhere I turned someone was lighting off fireworks, banging a loud drum, drinking a large bottle of Becks (the only choices in the whole country were Becks, Tsingtao and Tiger) and eating up a storm. Groups of people tucked into a dragon costume were wandering down the streets. Unlike in the west, this New Year celebration lasted for 2 weeks! Families came together, often bringing oranges for luck, and shared long noodles and the kids got little red envelopes filled with money.