the first (confinement) month

well, we have officially made it through the first month of kaylah’s life.  while we chose to go western-style for prenatal and delivery care… the postpartum period was all chinese-style.  That means the first month after delivery is 坐月子 “zuo yuezi”.  Literally translated, it means sitting the first month, others have translated it as the confinement month.  During this month, there are tons of things the mom should and shouldn’t eat, drink or do in order to fully recover.  I have had other older women tell me their aches and pains they experience later in life are because they did not properly 坐月子 “zuo yuezi”.  During this month, it’s all about doing things to properly 补 “bu” (mend).  Thanks to my aunt and mom diligently researching the various “zuo yuezi” theories, I was well cared for… and I (mostly) dutifully obeyed whatever I was told to do.  =)    ironically, my mom did not even do all these things when she had her kids, as she was in the US by then with no one to help.  but we figured it couldn’t hurt to try some of these 坐月子 traditions and wisdom.

so a glimpse at some things in our apartment during that time:


dried lemongrass – to make lemongrass water that is to be poured on your body after showering. the theory is this protects you from getting cold.  cold is a *huge* thing to be avoided in zuo rezi.  both outwardly and inwardly.  that means no direct exposure to cold air (i.e. air conditioning vent), no drinking cold drinks, no eating cold foods… and traditionally, it even meant no bathing for the first month to avoid getting cold.  thank goodness for modern technology that gives heated water and indoor shelter…  so i was allowed to bathe.  =)  just as long as i used the lemongrass water afterwards, of course.

a fully stocked refrigerator and freezer – filled with things that are nutritious and help to 补 “bu” your body.  some of the more unique things include pig’s feet, kidneys, tripe, fish heads…

chinese herbs – boiled each day to create a drink for me, which again, is supposed to be good for all kinds of things and to continue to 补 “bu”

more chinese medicines and ginseng wine – to be taken in the latter part of the month to continue to 补 “bu”.

other traditional rules i’ve heard of that i didn’t quite follow include:
no leaving the house for the entire month (thus the term confinement month)
remain lying down for as much of the time as possible
wearing long socks, long sleeves, long pants, etc… to avoid being cold.  even in the dead of summer
not bathing to avoid catching cold

it was definitely an experience for all of us.  =)   now that the month is over, all constraints are off… and i celebrated with a nice scoop of *cold* ice cream.  =)

so what are some 坐月子 traditions you have heard about or tried?  or what do other cultures do?

Sarah Wheeler - thank you for sharing so much about your delivery, and recovery in china. it was interesting to read 🙂

cornelia - i note the “yang le duo” in the fridge. pretty sure that’s not part of the confinement diet plan hehee 😉

giving birth in China

it’s been just about a month now since giving birth to our second baby, and i am slowly emerging from the fog of having a newborn.  some people can’t believe we delivered a baby in china – though i imagine it’s not *that* uncommon of an occurrence here. =)  but for those of you who are more curious, i thought i’d post about what our experience was like.

when we found out we were expecting, we considered different options for prenatal care and delivery.  having gotten pregnant just after moving here, still feeling unfamiliar to our new surroundings, and definitely not knowing pregnancy-related terminology in Chinese, and for insurance reasons… we opted to go to a “Western-style” hospital that caters to foreigners (i.e. has doctors who were trained and practiced overseas and speak English) to save us some stress.

so we delivered at Parkway Health in Shanghai.  and was definitely a positive experience.  the care and facilities are like what you expect in the US.  and perhaps even nicer – as a friend commented, we stayed in a pretty “swanky” room during and after delivery… spacious, stylish decor, comfy couches for family and visitors.  and it was the little details that i loved – like catering from Element Fresh, L’Occitane bath products, and a chic diaper bag and baby products gift to take home.  of course, i was thankful to the staff for a safe and smooth delivery as well.

parkway health

while we were thankful to be able to deliver at an international hospital in Shanghai, it was somewhat complicated since we don’t actually live in Shanghai but rather 3-4 hr drive from the city  (our area does not have comparable hospital care).  So in order to deliver there, it also entailed:

– relocating to Shanghai a few weeks before my due date

– living in temporary housing in Shanghai for a month – we ended up finding a “serviced apartment” which is kind of like a corporate apartment.  4 adults, 2 kids, 1 newborn in a 2 1/2 bedroom, 1 bathroom place.  nice and cozy.  =)  and when they say the kitchen comes with basic cookware and utensils, that means it includes items like chopsticks, wok, and a rice cooker.  and it does not include items like spoons, forks, butter knives, toaster, or oven.

– having family fly in from the US and Malaysia to help out (for which i am *very* thankful for)

– luke commuting for 1.5+ hrs each way for work – which also meant worrying he wouldn’t get to the hospital fast enough if  i went into labor while he was at work… thankfully he happened to decide to work from home that day. =)

– relocating back to our home when our baby was 2 weeks old…then going back to Shanghai for a weekend 2 weeks later in order to pick up her passport from the US Consulate (required in order to get her visa) and to see my mom off to the airport as she returns to the US.

A lot of constant adjustments, and yet i guess we’ve made it through this month and all is well.  We have bigger adjustments ahead, which I will post about another day.  But such is life here where things seem to be always changing.

cornelia - beautiful pictures! i’m glad you got to deliver in a safe hospital and get pampered just a bit =)

Marty & Adriana - Hi. We are currently in the same situation as you described above. We are going to Parkway and will have the child delivered there in November. As we live about 1.5 hr (flight) away, we will need to find a temporary apartment. Could you provide some more details to the “serviced apartment” you described? Thank you.

just a couple for now…

hard to believe my baby is almost 2 weeks old already. time is going by fast.  we’ll be leaving shanghai in a few days and head back to our home in ningbo.  things just keep changing… so in the midst of everything, still trying to capture a few moments.



Jodi - aww she’s soo cute i cant wait till we get to meet her

carol - she’s so cute! 🙂 hard to fully say – but i think hannah totally looks like luke and this little cutie looks like mommy! 🙂

joanne - so cute! Nice job!!!! she looks like you!!!

Sarah Wheeler - congratulations anita, she’s beautiful!

Donetta Malloy - She’s just gorgeous!!! Congratulations! As a mother of 3 daughters, I know the fun you will have raising her and Hannah and the joy they will bring you throughout your life.

Cindy - What a beautiful little girl!! The photograph’s are an awesome reflection of the precious baby! Congratulations!

Lana - Congratulations Anita- she is beautiful! I love having two girls!

Connie Warren - What beautiful children! Thank you so much for sharing!!

cathy - she’s so precious, anita! 🙂 congrats!

Amy - Beautiful! I’m sure you all are having fun!

Jeannette Chirinos G - awwww
she’s beautiful Anita
congrats 🙂

a week ago…

we welcomed this lovely baby girl into our family.
welcome to the world kaylah.


and 7 years ago, today, marks the beginning of this family, when me and luke got married. happy anniversary dear. =)
the number 7 marks a sense of completeness or perfection – appropriate now that our family is further completed.

more pictures to come… but sleep and rest and baby come first for now.  =)

Jennifer Mott - Congrats Anita!!!! She is gorgeous!! Can’t wait to see more pictures, and how neat about the 7s 🙂

cornelia - happy anniversary!! =)

Princess S - she is beautiful and I adore her name!

denise - happy anniversary! wow, 7 years =) kaylah is already so cute! just like hannah…

carol - my gosh!!! has it really been 7 years? wow. 🙂 blessings and many more to come!

jay - great news. congrats to all of you!

eclipses and expos

well, we are in the middle of our second week in shanghai, waiting for baby to come.  baby has not decided to come yet, so in the meanwhile, we are out and about exploring shanghai.
with the expo 2010 coming to shanghai, you see the expo mascot “haibao” all over the city.  like this giant one we saw yesterday in front of the  shanghai science & tech museum.  hannah loves haibao, so everytime she spots one, she exclaims “haibao!”… which is a lot of times each day.


this morning, we got to witness the longest solar eclipse of the century.  shanghai was supposed to be one of the best places for viewing it.  unfortunately, it was cloudy so you couldn’t see the sun. but we went outside anyways to an open air area to take a look.  10 minutes before the total eclipse, it started to rain.  so we sought shelter under some scaffolding.  so our view of the eclipse ended up looking like this:


didn’t get to see the eclipsed sun directly, but it was pretty amazing to have sudden total darkness for over 5 minutes.

cornelia - wow that darkness is crazy! did hannah enjoy it?