ABOARD XUELONG, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- As many in China head to their hometowns over the lunar new year, Chinese Antarctic explorers are celebrating through videos and photos of their families.
Over the past three decades, many explorers were unable to witness the birth of their babies due to their remote location and difficulty in returning home.
For some team members of China's 33rd Antarctic expedition -- a 161-day trip of 31,000 nautical miles, they missed, or are about to miss, the big moment of welcoming the little members into their families.
MORE THAN WATCHING PENGUINS
Wang Ping, wife of polar researcher Hu Zhengyi, used to think that "going to Antarctica to watch penguins was a cool thing."
But when Wang saw her husband on her computer screen with a swarthy face due to intense ultraviolet radiation in Antarctica, tears rolled down her cheeks.
"I never thought, after so many days, we would see each other this way," she said.
When Hu departed for Antarctica on Nov. 2, 2016, Wang had been pregnant for a couple of months.
"He and I used to cry when I saw him off. But this time, he did not cry, maybe he didn't want me to feel unhappy," Wang recalled.
In December, when icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, was passing the Zhongshan Station, Hu received a message from home -- her wife delivered a baby, 50 days earlier than expected.
"It was all of a sudden," Wang said. "I really needed someone to help me, just accompany me. But there was only me during all the process."
Hu has uploaded a photo of the new-born as his phone's wallpaper. "Because of the premature birth, the baby is smaller than others," he said staring at the only photo of his baby in his phone.
The couple have decided to call their baby "Manman," meaning slowly. "The infant name is an expectation that Hu and I can spend the rest of our life together slowly," Wang said.
RECORDED SONG AS PRESENT
Liu Shaojia, the third officer for Xuelong, tape-recorded a song he made for his wife.
Listening to the song, Liu's wife Xi Junli touched her belly and spoke to her unborn baby, "Hi baby, are you happy listening to your dad's singing? You are moving all the time."
She had always smiled at the sound of her husband's voice, but she soon burst into tears.
The couple married in October, 2015. On the third day after their wedding, Liu rushed back to Shanghai in order to take part in the 32nd Antarctic research mission. This year, he will miss the birth of their baby due to another Antarctica mission.
When asked if she regrets the long-time absence of her husband, Xi said she has nothing to complain about. "He loves his work."
While aboard Snow Dragon, Liu said, "We had no honeymoon and I have no time to even take a trip with her. We have spent less than three months together since we got married."
Although the Chinese Spring Festival is approaching, Snow Dragon remains on the sea to carry out research.
At home in the northern Chinese city of Shijiazhuang, Liu's wife is washing clothes for her baby, who is expected in a few days.
"Baby, these are the clothes Mom prepared for you, do you like them?" Understanding that her husband won't be around for the birth of their baby, she sends a recorded video to him. "I will be strong as you told me to be," Xi said.
MY DEEPEST LOVE
Li Dong never forgot that sunny summer morning in China's eastern city of Hangzhou, when his pregnant wife Wu Bin sat on a bus with a smiling face, gazing at him as he was riding a bike after the bus.
"It was one of the moments I treasure most as we leave each other every morning for work," Li said after finishing a day at a chemical lab on Xuelong.
Wu had already been eight months pregnant when Li left to board Xuelong in November, heading to Antarctica on an expedition.
"We have decided to nickname our baby 'little sun'," Li said with pride. "We wish that my baby will always be happy and optimistic."
A few says before the baby was born, Li sent his wife a video wishing her the best on the delivery.
On Jan. 9, when their baby was born, Li prepared a unique gift for his little girl -- a cup that had been suppressed under deep sea water.
"I've never said anything romantic to my wife," said Li. "I just want to send a message to her and my baby through this New Year gift: they are the deepest loves of my life."