Zhongguó

Cultural and Pregnant Experiences

All kinds of advise comes your way when you’re pregnant. Some you take with a grain of salt, and others come in really helpful. My mother-in-law was born and raised in China, and every once in a while she’ll share her ideas she grew up with of what to do or not do during pregnancy. Some of it is really different but I try to keep an open mind. I am thankful she is open-minded, too, when it comes to my final decisions about my body and baby. She’s really supportive. I’m blessed to have her.

All kinds of advise comes your way when you’re pregnant. Some you take with a grain of salt, and others come in really helpful. My mother-in-law was born and raised in China, and every once in a while she’ll share her ideas she grew up with of what to do or not do during pregnancy. Some of it is really different but I try to keep an open mind. I am thankful she is open-minded, too, when it comes to my final decisions about my body and baby. She’s really supportive. I’m blessed to have her.

David and I decided to go to China with his parents before I got pregnant. And so, when we found out our baby was on the way, David’s mom wanted to know if I still wanted to go.

She said Chinese women do not travel during pregnancy for fear of losing the baby. There was also the issue of climbing the Yellow Mountain while there. Since I would be 4 months pregnant by the time we went, I decided it would be a good time to go. I was praying I’d be over the nausea!

When the time came for our departure, I was feeling a little less nauseated, and a little more energetic, praise God. Armed with brown rice, gluco-support bars, rice protein powder, snacks, and support hoses, I settled in for the 12 hour flight. After getting through a painful bout of indigestion (don’t know if it was plane food, pregnancy, or both), I was stretching my legs at waist height on the emergency slide box in the back to prevent leg swelling. A couple of older gentlemen standing back there were amused and commented on how much pain they’d be in if they tried to stretch like that.

When we got through rush hour traffic to our hotel in Beijing, I was aghast to find the bed as hard as the floor. Maybe people in China don’t have as many curves as I do or they don’t account for chronic body pain. Sigh— I ended up making my own pillow-top with the spare pillows and got some sleep.

Women staring at meOur relatives there are so nice, and so generous! I felt accepted right away even though I don’t really speak their language. But away from their company, or when out site-seeing, I felt pretty self-conscious as I noticed people staring at me (I don’t know if it was because I am white, or because I’m looking a little pregnant, or both). When I looked at them and smiled, they didn’t smile back. They just continued to stare. Once in a while I’d take a picture of people who were looking at me. I even took picture of the shrimp at dinner one night because they, too, were staring at me. But towards the end of the trip, I became pretty tired of all the stares and mentioned it to my mom-in-law. She told me that they don’t view it as rude, but were just looking as one does at a baby or a kitten. They’re gonna have lots more to look at when the Olympics come to Beijing next year!

Maybe I was getting tired in general because of all the different sites we’d visit each day. I don’t have enough energy to keep up with my mom-in-law, even without pregnancy. By the fourth day and 5th or 6th park, I was starting to wilt a little. I found myself getting irritated whenever a new set of relatives would comment on my chopstick skills. I know they were just being nice. It was also tiring to watch the battle for the check at the end of each meal. The fight can get a little aggressive with raised voices, arm grabbing and pushing. I say again, our relatives were so nice – aggressively nice – that they often wouldn’t let us pay for food, lodging, taxis, or admission to the sites.

Concerning things I enjoyed during our trip, I should also mention how much I love dim sum for breakfast, and how much fun Daisy and Mong Mong are. I looked forward to seeing them every day in Beijing. We were always laughing about something, whether it was taking silly pictures (like my video recording of all the super-friendly cell phone sales teenagers in the mall), or reacting to crazy-scary traffic.

Another awesome thing that happened was that I felt the baby kick for the first time while in Beijing. Since then I’ve felt different movements and stretches, especially when I put headphones to my belly and play music for the baby.

Concerning pregnancy, some of the things relatives or friends there told me were to not reach high because I might lose the baby, or to not twist my waist because they’re afraid I’ll squeeze the baby out. Another interesting experience was when the relatives didn’t want me to visit my grandmother-in-law’s grave because they were afraid if I was near dead people, my baby would die.

Some other things I’ve been told is to eat an egg everyday so that when it comes time to give birth, the baby will slip out like an egg. Also, if I look at pretty things, or put up pictures of pretty people to look at often, then I will be happy, and give birth to a pretty baby.

One thing I’m curious to find out more about is why, after giving birth, you’re supposed to drink black vinegar that has had pigs feet soaked in it. I think it’s something to do with calcium.

It was difficult to avoid cigarette smoke while in China. There are hardly any smoke-free restaurants. But the smokers were kind enough to move or wait to smoke when we asked. When we were climbing around the mountains of Huangshan, smoking was not allowed on the trails. So when we found a place to eat, everyone lit up their cigarettes because it was one of the few places they were allowed to smoke. Luckily I was sitting by a window and could hang my head out there to breathe.

In being pregnant, I got to visit a lot of W.C.s (water closets). Daisy would point out every bathroom to me as we toured the sites. Squatty potties can get really gross. It was difficult to squat after hiking around the mountain all day!

All in all, the trip was excellent, with a few little set backs like missing a flight, and getting sick in Hong Kong. But I’m so glad we went.

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