Thursday, April 24, 2014

When in Rome. . .

. . . do as the Romans do?

William is over a week old, though in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago that he was born. I've been through many changes in the past week and also so many challenges. The greatest challenge has not been taking care of an infant, but managing the cultural differences that come with taking care of an infant. The Chinese approach to infant care, breastfeeding, and a mother's recovery is vastly different from that in the U.S. I am trying to keep an open mind. Ming's mom keeps reminding me, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” or “入乡随俗” (rùxiāngsuísú) as the Chinese say. I have an idiom to respond: That's easier said than done (说起来容易,做起来难; Shuō qǐlái róngyì, zuò qǐlái nán).

Eyes are open!
As I mentioned before, after giving birth, Chinese women adhere to a strict one month confinement (坐月子zuò yuè zi). Since I had a c-section, I don't have to follow confinement rules as strictly as women who give birth vaginally. This really is a load off, as I don't think I would survive a month bed ridden during which I was forbidden to read, watch TV, or surf the internet. Despite my more lax lock down, the restrictions still seem endless. And ridiculous. I can't eat or drink anything cold and ideally not even at room temperature. This means to microwaving everything from milk for my cereal (which is disgusting) to bananas (actually not too bad). I shouldn't consume salt because it leads to blisters on the baby's lips. I'm forbidden from crying because it will dry up my milk. Obviously, I shouldn't go outside for the month, though I am allowed for the sole purpose of visiting the doctor.

Despite it all, I'm trying to stay positive. It's not easy though; I totally lost my cool the other night. It was mentioned, for the third or forth time, that the baby's watery bowel movements could only be attributed to my drinking bottled water while in the hospital. When I tried to argue that nearly all American women drink room temperature or even (the horror) cold beverage while nursing, my rationale was brushed away. After all, I'm in China, I should do as the Chinese do.  

sleepy William

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