Friday, April 20, 2012

The Feeding Tube

Hinckley had to have a feeding tube placed through his nose this week. The dietitian here was concerned that he still hadn't reached his birth weight. He was so tired all day, and it was getting more and more difficult to coax him to eat. Now he is fed every 3 hours, and what he won't eat by himself from a bottle in 20-30 minutes is sent to his stomach through that tube.

Overall I think it has really helped him. The very next day we saw a lot of improvement in his ability to suck and drink for himself without the vigorous chin massage the nurses had to give him before. He still can't finish a full feeding by himself. But he has definitely made major improvements in a very short time.

At first I was real upset by the tube. In my head I knew it would help him and was a good thing, but I just couldn't look at him without crying after they put it in. I wouldn't want anything shoved up my nose, so I can't imagine how it feels in his tiny face. He was pretty uncomfortable the first night and spent a lot of time sneezing and fussing, but now that he is used to it he sleeps so well and is alert for longer during his feedings. Hopefully the next few days he will continue to get stronger so we can get him home.

Also, he was given this pacifier to help him practice sucking. I just love how small his little face is compared to it. He really loves that thing and it has helped his eating improve a lot so I am happy too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One Week

Eventually I will get caught up on our blog. I had some good things to write about until Hinckley made his unexpected early appearance. I will get caught up eventually now that I am feeling more human again. Until then though enjoy the updates on our baby.

Yesterday was Hinckley's one week birthday. He is doing great. The doctors were worried about his weight so they began fortifying his milk with formula and today he was up 20 grams. He is not hooked up to any IV's or machines and does great at regulating his own temperature. The only thing he really needs to learn how to do before we can bring him home is suck, so he can continue to gain weight. It takes some coaxing to get him to take his bottle, but the nurses here are awesome. They are great with him and help us out so much. At night they won't let me do anything, they practically push me back into bed if I try to help feed him.

This picture shows one of his favorite faces. He is always wrinkling up his forehead and looks so deep in thought. It cracks me up.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shanxi Hand Cut Noodles

We had about half an hour to grab some lunch before we had to get on our train. Nick told me that Shanxi was famous for its hand cut noodles. It was a little bit of a chilly day, and I thought warm noodles sounded great. We didn't have to walk very far to find a place that was serving them.

In the video you can see how the noodles are made. They have a big block of the dough and then the machine cuts off strips and flings them into water to cook. They are then served in a beef or pork broth with a few vegetables. We thought it was great that the machine cutting the noodles was done up to look like a robot.

Here they are before I dug in:

They were delicious! The best part is that when we got home, Nick talked to a coworker from Shanxi and he told us about a great restaurant where we can get authentic hand cut noodles that is close to our house! We have already checked it out, and will definitely be going back.

Datong- Hanging Temple and Yungang Grottoes

We went to two places in Datong. First the Yungang Grottoes and then the Hanging Temple.

When we got into the train station we were bombarded by taxi drivers wanting to take us around. It was so funny to hear them shouting MeiGuoRen  as we walked up. They immediately flocked to us. Nick negotiated pretty quickly and we got a guy to drive us to our hotel for the night and then take us around the next day until we had to be back at the train station for our train back.

We went to the Grottoes first, but my pictures didn't load in that order. The Hanging Temple was about 60 km out of town. The ride out there was almost as exciting as the site itself. At one point the road was closed and all traffic was detoured through the mud on the side. There were some pretty huge trucks that definitely would have been stuck pretty easily if they had slowed down at all. We made it to the temple safely and braved the cold wind to climb up to it. 

The Hanging Temple is located in a valley, but is perched about half way up the wall. Apparently it used to flood a lot in the region so they had to find a way to protect the temple. It is over 1500 years old and includes elements of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

With the Carters in front of the Hanging Temple.

About to go in.

Exploring the temple. It got pretty crowded in some spots since there is only a little room to walk.

Hanging Temple.
The Grottoes were a little closer to the city. We got up early and actually arrived before they opened. Nick visited here about 5 years ago and couldn't believe how much it has changed. Our driver did warn us that they had tried to create a tourist trap, and that the government had spent 18 billion RMB fixing it up.

When Nick first went you drove through a little village right up to the grottoes. Now you have to walk about a kilometer through a big temple and park. He couldn't believe the difference.

The Grottoes themselves though were amazing. I'm glad they are doing something to protect them now. There were a few caves where we could climb up inside and explore and others with very intricate carvings. In some of the caves there were over 3000 small buddhas carved. Some of them had been restored, and others were missing their hands and faces from the damage done to them during the Cultural Revolution.

We explored for about an hour and then had to run back to the car to make it to the Hanging Temple before our train back to Beijing. I definitely could have spent more time here.

The walk to the grottoes. They are behind the temple on the right side of the river.

Nick said he felt like Indiana Jones in this cave.

Thousands of tiny buddhas in one cave.

Missing hands and face

Monday, April 2, 2012

First Train Ride

Last weekend we got a chance to go on a quick trip with our friends the Carters to Datong. Nick had been there about 5 years ago, but it was a first for the rest of us. It was a 6 hour train ride each way. It was my first time taking a train in China, so it was quite a cultural experience.

We didn't order tickets early enough to get the nicest seats- soft sleepers. So we settled for "hard sleepers". Basically it means you are on a car with tons of other people, and it is divided up into bunks with 3 levels. Tickets were cheap, about 100 RMB (or $15) each. All the bottom bunks were taken, so we ended up in the middle and top ones. It was pretty funny to see Nick trying to climb up and get into his. The train was definitely built for smaller people.

We left in the afternoon so we passed the time eating the outrageous amount of snacks we brought, playing cards in the dining car, looking out the window, and people watching. It looks pretty cramped, and I wouldn't want to spend a night on the train, but overall the time passed really quickly and my first China train experience was a good one.

I'm sitting on my bed. Nick's bed was above me. Our friends the Carters are hanging out in the aisle since you can't really sit up in the beds at all.

A fierce game of Monopoly helped Nick pass the time.

One of many small farming towns we passed by. Nick said this was the first time I was seeing "real" China.
Nick really enjoyed watching all the farmers we passed by. Most of them are still doing everything by hand. We saw so many different sheepherders and men and women out working in the fields. We couldn't get a good picture because they were a little ways off in the distance and we were moving quickly, but we saw quite a few people plowing their fields using cow driven plows. It is pretty amazing to see the farming techniques they still use here, and then imagine how they manage to feed over a billion people! They are hard workers!