We haven’t discussed it on the blog yet, but something kind of big happened in our lives here a few months ago. Our Indonesian nephew was born!
Last January my counterpart, whose family Will and I are really close to, asked me if I minded if she had another baby. I told her of course not, and that she didn’t need to ask me first! A month later she was pregnant. Here it is acceptable to tell everyone as soon as you are pregnant unlike the three-month rule we are used to.
Bu Kis handled her fourth pregnancy like a pro, attending iGLOW camp with me, mid-service training and riding her motorcycle all they way up until the day she gave birth!
The depth of our friendship became clear to me too when it was time for the baby to come. Having declared it her last day of school the day before, Bu Kis informed me via text message that she had some signs of labor and would let me know when the baby had come. The next day at school, the Indonesian teachers were asking me (ME, the foreigner in the office!) if Bu Kis had given birth yet. A few hours later I received another text that she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Alif. Not even in the United States have I had a friend keep me that informed of their labor and birth. It was truly touching.
About a week later when it was time to go see Bu Kis and Alif, I asked her how the process went. She said that she had some manageable contractions around 2:00 am. She got up, cooked, washed clothes, prayed and took a bath. Then, around 7:00 am, she took her youngest daughter to pre-school and then headed straight to the mid-wife since her contractions were about six minutes apart. She gave birth at 11:00 am and then walked home (just a few houses down) two hours later. Superwoman!
The first 10 days of a Javanese baby’s life are different than an American baby’s. The most noticeable thing perhaps is that they hire an elderly woman to come by to give him a bath. Javanese mothers apparently don’t feel they are qualified to give a bath to a new born, so they hire someone. This woman was very old, walked bent over, and learned this skill from her own mother and took over when her mother retired. We got to see Alif get his last bath from the woman on his tenth day of life.
Today Alif is just over three months old. He still sleeps, eats A LOT, sleeps and eats again mostly. He has started smiling at people though, and we look forward to watching him continue to grow and develop over the next six months.