Head Sock

Head socks are what Zambian’s call woolly hats/toques/beanies.  Folk here tend to ‘wrap up warm’ in the kind of temperatures that the average tourist is stripping to minimal clothing, and Zambian babies are no exception. In any and all weather conditions, little babies always wear a head sock.  In addition to this, they are wrapped in two or three big fluffy blankets.  Overheating your baby is not something that is worried about here; if in doubt, add another blanket.

Whilst pregnant with Ben, I felt very aware of how conspicuous I looked.  Ndola is one of the largest cities in Zambia, and therefore it houses a fair number of internationals, however, white skin still definitely stands out here.  Add in my height and an enormous belly and I could see I caused many a double take…  I didn’t blame anyone though, I probably would have done the same.   What was nice, though, was that because it’s not culturally appropriate to talk about pregnancy (as previously blogged about), I was looked at but no one really made a big deal about it.  Nobody came up to me, nobody commented – I was simply looked at. I was very excited to not be pregnant, for many reasons, but one biggie being, to not get the stares I was getting more and more frequently.

What I never took into consideration was that once the baby was out of the belly, it would become fair game to be talked about and, as a new mother, I would therefore be approachable to be talked to.  I fear that, because of this, going out is worse than before.  Now I am not just starred at, I am chastised for not putting a head sock on Ben and not wrapping him up in several blankets.  Every day I commit the cultural wrong of not putting a head sock on Ben.

I can’t bring myself to put something on his head when it is 28 degrees outside.  Where I come from, that is hot – no toque, no woolly hat, no beanies, nothing!  When we go out I put him in a full onesie/babygrow and even that feels so excessive for such heat.  The number of comments we have got in just the first couple of weeks of Ben’s life have been significant.  I won’t succumb though, Ben may have been born in Zambia but he’s still Canadian and British!

Dan is now keen to conduct a cultural experiment of his own. A staff member at one of the community schools knitted Ben a head sock of his very own. Dan was wondering how much is hinged on the hat itself and if we took Ben out in just a head sock, whether we’ll get nods of approval or more chastising.  🙂

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Grateful

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind but as I reflect back, I can’t help but feel incredibly grateful.  I feel grateful to God for the swift and safe arrival of Ben and to those around us for all of the love and support we’ve received these last few weeks.

I couldn’t have ever imagined how quick labour could be.  Jacob’s labour wasn’t overly long but it was a good 12 hours and took a good hour to push him out.  It was excruciating as he was in the posterior position and I only had gas and air but it was calm and happened very methodically.  On the 27th at 4:00pm I said to Dan that I thought I was in labour and perhaps we should call our friend to come to take care of Jacob just in case, however, perhaps it wasn’t anything, I wasn’t quite sure.  At 5:00 we were expecting our friend to arrive at any moment and I remember thinking, she had better come quickly or this might be a home birth.

On the way to the hospital, as Dan was navigating the crazy rush our traffic, I remember saying to him that everything should be fine, I didn’t feel like I needed to push yet and last time I had to push for an hour so we had time.  Little did I know, it only take one push to get a baby out.  Had I known this, I would have been much less calm!  We weren’t at the hospital for more than 40 minutes and Ben arrived.  There was no time to even think about pain relief (or the lack thereof), I was in the actual birthing room for two minutes and he was out!

It all happened so fast, which was intense but wonderful at the same time.  There was a tremendous sense of relief when Ben was born, healthy, scrunchy, red and perfect all at the same time.  The hospital treated us well and, in many ways, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  I am grateful.

Ben is a gift, and to me feels like a testimony of the goodness of God and how it’s best to make decisions based on the peace God gives us.

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While in Lusaka we met a few people that we had never met before who took us under their wing and loved on us during our short stay.  In a city where we knew virtually no one, we were cooked a few meals, baked a cake, given clothes and cards.

Since being home we’ve been surrounded with love. We’ve enjoyed many visitors and had many a meal cooked for us by friends.  We feel very much loved.

In a strange way, having Ben makes me all the more grateful for Jacob as well.  Don’t get me wrong, managing/containing/entertaining him is tiring and tricky in addition to having a newborn, but seeing the contrast between a newborn and a toddler, I feel like I have a new appreciation for Jacob’s personality, singing, dancing, and general antics.  He’s being a fantastic big brother so far, another thing I am incredibly grateful for.

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