Help me help her!
October 30, 2006 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Pregnancy Filter: My wife is pregnant (hooray), I'd like to do something nice for her...

She's to the stage where she's just plain uncomfortable all the time. Her back hurts. She still has some nausea. She feels really unattractive.

Added difficulties are that we are American expats in Beijing on a fairly limited budget. She's the one that speaks Chinese so we can forget most surprize gifts that would require me making special arrangements. She's also feeling rather homesick as winter moves in and BJ gets more dingy. Mail delivery is also slow as molassas/unreliable.

Please help me do more than foot and back rubs! (Special recipes also appreciated!)
posted by Pollomacho to Human Relations (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No pregnancy advice, but fresh flowers are good for winter blues. If you can afford it, a treatment per week.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:01 AM on October 31, 2006

Watch out for herbs, oils etc - many are considered outright dangerous in pregnancy (eg tea tree oil is linked to fetal deformities), so do research before buying beauty products or services.

My wife is also pregnant at the moment, and the nesting urge is strong for her. Things to make your house homely would be much appreciated I think. Bring home flowers a lot, scented candles and things like that. If there are any things that you can do to make the environment more homely I imagine she would really appreciate it. New furniture? New sheets for the bed? Hire a cleaner so the house is spotless all the time? Sounds banal but I know all these things would be heaven for my wife right now.
posted by bifter at 1:28 AM on October 31, 2006

A curved (elbow?) pillow, or an extra large one (some people call them body pillows) to throw her leg over when sleeping and help support her belly might be nice.

A loose silk dressing gown, with some note hoping that it will make her feel as beautiful as you see her.

A wheat pack that you can heat in the microwave (sorry, I have no idea if either wheat packs or silk dressing gowns or pillows or microwaves are available where you are) for pain relief and just general nice warmth. Or failing that, hot water bottles and fluffy covers.

Lotion for the skin, a journal for her pregnancy thoughts (in fact, sometimes you can buy really nice pregnancy journals).

Have an at-home night where you talk about what you both miss about home, and take notes (surreptiously) and see how much of it you can track down to give to her.
posted by b33j at 1:34 AM on October 31, 2006 [2 favorites]

Hire a cleaner so the house is spotless all the time?

That's what I'd go for, but I guess "we can forget most surprize gifts that would require me making special arrangements."

So be Mr Clean yourself. Never a dirty dish in the sink for longer than five minutes. Floors spotless. Sheets and pillow cases fresh every day. Fresh flowers if she likes flowers. Watch what she especially likes right now and get more of it before you need to.

She's also feeling rather homesick as winter moves in and BJ gets more dingy.

Try to do something with windows, curtains, mirrors, and lamps to make things bright and warm. Clean windows and curtains, an extra lamp or two to add warm bright light to the room. Candles at night if such smells aren't bothering her at the moment.

When you say homesick, where is home? Can you pick up radio or television broadcasts from home? Are you in a position to record such things or get another expat friend to record them for you? Maybe she has a favorite show someone could dump to disc (or tape or whatever you might have there)?
posted by pracowity at 2:41 AM on October 31, 2006

Borrow books on pregnancy from the library if possible, so she has something pertinent to read.

OR -- read the pregnancy books yourself; I'm sure she will feel all swoony that you care enough to dedicate the time to learning more about her condition!

Anything with ginger in it is good for morning sickness.

If you've got a bathtub, some nice soaps?
posted by mjao at 2:57 AM on October 31, 2006

Oh man, by the time I got to huge and miserable when I was pregnant, all I wanted was a nice clean, comfortable bed to get into at the end of the day. Wash all your linens and pillows, flip your mattress (head to toe, side to side) and redress the bed. Clean, sweat-free sheets and a mattress that isn't digging into her hip make a girl feel surprisingly good.
posted by headspace at 4:39 AM on October 31, 2006

(I was going to ask if you have internet access, but... duh!)

Do you have a blog, website, or photosharing thing set up where people can make comments? Email her friends and family and tell them that she is feeling homesick, and ask them to comment more than usual. They can email her too, but comments are great because you get some that sense of conversation that you miss in email. Put up some pictures to inspire homey conversations... her obviously pregnant, your kitchen, you or her cooking. This site has a free live chat that you can put on your website, if you have one. Arrange a "girls' chat" where all her friend's who've been pregnant agree to get together at the same time and talk.

One things that my friends and I do for our pregnant friends is get them professional massages. You say you're on a tight budget, but it might be worth looking into. Perhaps her friends/family at home might want to contribute to such a thing?
posted by carmen at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2006

Don't just do something nice for her now. As the pregnancy progresses, she'll feel less and less attractive, though, if you're like most men I know, the pregnancy will just give her a special kind of hotness to you -- the point is, make sure you let her know how beautiful she is. I don't mean anything elaborate, I mean just tell her, unprompted, in a non-sequiter sort of way, that she's beautiful, sort of like you weren't thinking about it, but just suddenly realized it.

Do this a LOT. I've never met a woman who doesn't like her man telling her that she's beautiful, esp. if it's just a random compliment.*

*Well, actually, I do know some lesbians who don't have men and therefore don't want the nonexistent men telling them they're beautiful, but well you know what I mean.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:16 AM on October 31, 2006

As b33j mentioned, a heating pillow is very soothing for lots of symptoms.
Also, I 2nd you doing lots more of the cleaning around the apartment; whenever I'm not feeling well, our apartment goes to crap unless my husband picks up my slack.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 6:36 AM on October 31, 2006

Well if you do not have an Ayi already get one, they can be had for 3 or 4 hundred RMB a month and will make your domestic (cooking cleaning) life a lot easier, plus many of them will also have had children already and can give your wife advice from a completely different perspective then you can (assuming you find a good one...). Also Chinese society has special rules for pregnant women, basically little benefits to reward this process, the most noticeable of which is that she is now allowed and to a certain extent encouraged to wear her PJs all day long and anywhere she goes, also as the spouse you get to as well when you are in her presence, keep in mind you will draw a lot of looks as a pair of Laowai walking down the street in PJ's but if she is visibly pregnant no one will pay you any mind. Finally you are in a country that LOVES babies, the Chinese are passionate about little kids and while there is no place like home you are picking a pretty good place to pregnant in. After all who knows more about making people then China?
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:46 AM on October 31, 2006

Make sure that you have Dr. Spock and the American Academy of Pediatrics books on hand. Not necessarily for the pregnancy, but if she's feeling frustrated now, it's gonna get way crazier they first weeks you have the baby on board.

In fact, make sure the nursery is a set-up as it can possibly be. You'll be a hero just a little bit later.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:56 AM on October 31, 2006

Congratulations! As someone who is going into the hospital later today to deliver our first baby, let me second (third, fourth, etc) the suggestion that you become a one-man house cleaning machine -- and do it without being asked, or even noticed (maybe while she's napping?). I agree with the notion that providing the most comfortable bed possible is of the highest importance, and would add that doing whatever it takes to make sure the house smells and feels clean and fresh, as well as taking care of any pets you might have, would probably have the most significance.

Other things you could do (and this depends on what resources you have available to you where you live): stock up on her favorite comfort foods so she can have them at a moment's notice; rent her favorite cheesy movies; bring home a pile of magazines (if she enjoys them); read up online about massage and pressure points -- a professional massage therapist just did something to me last week that virtually eliminated my hip and back pain, and this was at 38 weeks!

Good luck to you both :)
posted by justonegirl at 7:42 AM on October 31, 2006

Make her tea in the morning, esp. if she has morning sickness, and serve it to her in bed, with crackers. My now-ex did that for me, and it was essential. Share her excitement. Talk to the baby and play music for both of them.
posted by theora55 at 8:06 AM on October 31, 2006

My mother tells the story that once they went to the beach when she was pregnant, and dad dug a big hole in the sand so she could lay on her belly for the first time in months, and it was the best feeling in the world. Maybe some indoor version of that, with pillows?
posted by condour75 at 8:24 AM on October 31, 2006

We are in Shanghai and preparing for a somewhat lonely winter season away from home. Assuming you both enjoy Christmas, Thanksgiving (if U.S.), or other winter holidays at home, you can recreate them a bit in China. IKEA has lots of cheap ornaments and sometimes even trees. Upscale Western hotels often have fancy, gourmet Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners - if your wife doesn't feel up to dressing up and going out, many will box traditional holiday foods to go.
posted by piers at 8:45 AM on October 31, 2006

congratulations! i third the heating pillow idea. if you don't have access to one, you can make one with a tube sock. pour in some rice (enough to fill the sock up all the way, but not enough that the grains won't move around) and sew up the open end. stick it in the microwave for a few minutes and you've got an instant heating pillow.

and also, agreeing with the others.. make sure the house is clean and fresh. good luck!
posted by kerning at 12:22 PM on October 31, 2006

Great answers everyone! Thanks so much!

I'm making my own home made rice+sock heat pad until I can find one in the store. The cleaning lady leaves a good baseline, but I'm upping the in between cleaning. Candles, extra lamp, good ideas! Emails sent to gal pals, I think they are doing a Skype conference call (including also pregnant expat friend in Africa for extra points). Adding extra compliments and expressions of love. Reading and rereading pregnancy books (need to fing the Girlfriends' Guide somewhere in BJ). Looking for thanksgiving dinners, great call piers!

Thanks again one and all!

Love the hole in the ground story, will attempt with pillows!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:22 PM on October 31, 2006

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