I finished up my last class yesterday and am officially on maternity leave, although I still have some loose ends to tie up with my school, mostly concerning my maternity package. This was a tricky situation since obviously my contract, like most foreign teacher contracts, did not include anything about maternity coverage. They were sort of playing it by ear, as was I. When I had my son 2 years ago I was still running my own school in Kunming, and as director, had a lot of control over the situation. Needless to say, I don’t call the shots here in Beijing! However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what the school has offered me. While it certainly doesn’t compare with the maternity packages that you’d get in Europe, or even in America, it is certainly better than nothing.
The biggest nice surprise is that my school will pay for my hospital fees, which will help a lot. As I’d mentioned before, fees here in Beijing are a lot higher than they were in Kunming. I’ll be giving birth at a top Chinese public hospital, and so we won’t be facing massive fees of an expat hospital or a private hospital, but the place still isn’t cheap. Knowing the school will be helping out is a big relief.
Otherwise, I am glad to finally be able to take it easy. The weather has gotten colder here and we’ve had 3 good snows already and it isn’t even halfway through November, so staying inside as much as possible is looking quite attractive. I still have about 2 and a half more weeks before my due date, but I’m not holding my breath for this baby to come soon. My son was 12 days past due, so if the first baby sets the precedent, this baby won’t be here till December. My parents and younger brother will be arriving in mid-December though, so I am hoping that by the time they get here the baby will have been here for a week or so at least, because I don’t want to spend their entire visit in Chinese confinement (zuo yuezi). Actually I have talked with my husband about possibly not doing the confinement this time, because what with my parents visit and all I just don’t feel like it will be all that realistic. He seemed much more open to the idea this time around. Last time I actually sort of enjoyed the month of seclusion, but having done it once, I don’t feel a huge need to do it again.
In any event, by this time next month we’ll definitely be a family of four rather than a family of three, and that is pretty exciting in and of itself. Let the countdown begin!