Child

How it is to go to Cambodia with Olga, one month old child? Of course not for traveling. Holidays with one month old child are not exactly the thing that every parent wishes for. There is enough new world to get used to inside the walls of home, going to other side of the world is not really necessary at this stage.

But now that our life and home happens to be here, on the other side of the world, it is also the home for Olga and here is where she will have the walls of her first home, inside which to learn the wonders of the life. Of course first she has to face the change of temperature, light and noises. It is quite different world here compared to Finland even if you keep your eyes closed. Temperature during the midday is from 30-34 degrees (30 is still very fine, but over 33 starts to be difficult….). It comes pitch dark at 18.30, (this is the time when house is full of shadows and contrast of dark and light is threatening for her little mind), and that is a bit different from the early summer nights in Finland that are full of light. When there are no glasses in the windows it is like being outside whole day, and although our road is only quiet village street it is hundred times more full of life and noises than village road in Finland. There is man selling ice cream with loud music from the portable stereo, there are pigs screaming, party announcements from loudspeakers in the passing van, trucks and ox-carts. There are some things for a little girl to get used to.

Now we have been much inside the walls of this house. I myself do not remember spending so much time at home since the first weeks we came here. I still have two weeks of my very short maternity leave left, then the real reality starts. And even now my life seems full enough! Although I do not need to cook, wash laundry, clean house…which of course I would have to do if we would be in Finland. Yes I feel now it would be OK to start working few hours a day, but eight hours a day, where that time will come from? I’ve been drawing timetables already “the day of Olga and day of Mum”, with feeding, sleeping and working, but somehow these tables still keep on changing every day…and in two weeks, Olga will have to face a new change in her little life. First the environment and then even the presence of mother…Of course there are again things that I probably could not do while working in Finland. Like coming home every 2-3 hours to feed her. And not going at all to the office if there is a bad day…I will have as good opportunity as possible to work full time and be with my baby. Of course less field work, but I do not think there is problem for Cambodians to accept that.

And how is she coping then? First week was actually quite exhausting, not that I was really tired though, Olga slept well the dark and cool nights (in the evenings we were watching with Arnaldo movies after the demanding day). During the day Olga did not sleep and then this means that she was also crying a lot…” But she is crying a lot.” was one of the first comments of Chan who will then take care of her when I have to work.

But then there is time to adjust and it seems that with little kids it does not take that long in the end. Almost every day has been better after our first weekend in Kampong Thom. Now we have already reduced the horrible crisis cry for once or not at all per day. More sleeping during the day and little less in the night, but much more smiles and playing, much more time that she is also happy by herself, not only on the mother’s or farther’s shoulder walking around under the ventilator. We were very afraid about the hundreds of visitors that will come to see her as soon as we arrive here and start to shout and carry her all around…but there has not been that many, last weekend we were also completely alone, our little family. I am very grateful for all our Cambodian friends for that. I know they are very curious, but they have been very kind not to disturb us much now that Olga first have to get used to this place. And she will make this place her home too, actually we have not given her many alternatives.

Katja, Kampong Thom August 2004

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