Annyong, Lindsay here!
Just came in from my morning hike along the mountain–literally located directly behind our apartment building. That is one of the many wonderful things about Korea, the mountains. And one of the many reasons we love our apartment so much (despite the mogi war we continue to fight!)
As I’m now in my third trimester of pregnancy and am carrying a medium-sized bowling ball beneath my shirt, it is no secret that I am pregnant. I am no longer running, which I miss incredibly. But I have taken to uphill walks and hikes along this mountain in the backyard. And I know this break from running will be good in the long-term. Come 2011, I will be a regular Forrest Gump around these parts. Can’t wait!
But back to my hiking. It’s funny the response I have gotten from Koreans. Traditionally, they believe exercise, running, or anything strenuous is bad for the baby and could cause miscarriage. But, being the active person I am, I am not about to sit around and let my bowling ball become one of those even larger exercise balls.
While only the women respond (men simply ignore me, per my liking), there are a few who gasp and whisper to their lady walking friends. But these are few and far between, actually. The majority of the ajumma (older women in Korea) smile, cheer me on, pat my shoulder, and shout a loud hello every morning when we see each other. This morning was no different. Most of the morning walkers were gathered together, huddling around a picnic of roasted chestnuts and steaming tea in an exercise pavaillion and in no time at all had called me over. With a warm hello they grabbed handfuls of chestnuts and thrust them out to me
Here are a few other perks I’ve enjoyed while being pregnant in Korea:
- I always get a seat on the bus! I take two buses every day to and from work. Sometimes, it’s standing room only. But one look at me and my bowling ball and I am promptly pulled to a seat, given up usually by an older woman who has been there.
- Government perks. Since I’m pregnant in a country with one of the lowest birth rates in the world, I get some nice benefits. As part of the national insurance plan, every pregnant woman in the insurance system gets a “beautiful mom” card, issued by a local bank, which pays the majority of my doctor visits. I would tell you how much I’ve paid so far on doctor visits but it would literally make you American moms sick.
- All the excitement, none of the hype. When I first told my OBGYN back in the states that I was planning on getting pregnant in Korea, she was the first to cheer me on. “People have been having babies for even longer in Korea,” she was quick to say. “And you won’t have to deal with all the hype.” This was so true. It’s all of the necessities here, none of the silly stuff. My doctor is as practical as they come, and rarely gives me any direction or instructions. Common sense, he says. And lots of kimchi, of course, will always be healthy for you and baby. Last week at our doctor visit, we asked what we should pack for the hospital when the time comes. Our doctor looked at us like he had never heard the question before. “Ummm, baby clothes?” he responded.