Mandarin lessons — can you be too young?

So what if she is minus-four weeks old?

A couple of the nurses in the NICU are Chinese, so we left this little note for them on L’s board (请您跟我讲中文). We can’t be there 24 hours a day, so many of her diaper changings and feedings are done by the nurses. Every once in a while she’s bound to get one of the Chinese ones!

In this hospital, L is a minority as the daughter of native English speakers, and she’s hearing more Punjabi than Chinese on a daily basis (both her immediate neighbours belong to Indo-Canadian families). Still, she yanked out her own feeding tube last night and the doctor decided to leave it out, so she’s one step closer to the door!

Bad husband! You make your wife do what?

The only way one of my teenage ESL students from Beijing could reconcile the fact that Canadian mothers apparently routinely engage in self-destructive life-threatening behaviour after giving birth is that Chinese and Westerners must have different biological constitutions. It was funny (and not entirely untrue). I was tutoring her this morning in between trips to see Lilia in the NICU, and she was alternately gushing with very earnest advice about what Jessica must eat as a brand new mother and appalled with the things we let Jessica do.

I was telling her how the day after the surgery Jessica walked to the NICU to see Lilia in the incubator (and rode back in the wheelchair) — my student couldn’t believe I’d let Jessica out of bed. Then she couldn’t believe that after getting discharged from the hospital we actually let/make Jessica ride in the car to the hospital at least twice a day to see the baby (there are bumps in the road!). Basically Jessica shouldn’t leave the house — actually, better that she just stay in bed, for a month.

When Jessica was still pregnant one mother of a teenager from Sichuan was talking to me about the traditional Chinese custom of being house-bound and not showering for a month after giving birth. “Oh, that’s silly. I had a shower after only two weeks!”

Of course we’d heard about the popular traditional Chinese beliefs surrounding pregnancy and birth. No doubt our various cultures contain plenty of mutually jaw-dropping popular advice in this area. But this kind of stuff sounds even funnier in Canada for some reason. :) And no matter how particular advice sounds to us, it’s great the way our Chinese friends show their care and warmth by showering us with concern and advice.

(P.S. – Commenting *should* be fixed now, so you can leave comments again. Stupid security plugin changed my settings without telling me!)

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If blogging is a little slow for the next little while, here’s why:

L was born 7 weeks early at 9:21pm on May 23! She’s 4lbs 10.5oz, 18.5 inches. Jessica is doing great, despite the unexpected emergency surgery, and L is in the NICU getting stronger every day. If you’re Facebook friends with either of us, then you can see photos.

We’re aiming to move back to China in September, but blogging will be less frequent (but not totally absent) until then.

P.S. – Chinese name suggestions most welcome! But we make no promises. Her family name is 陆。

P.P.S. – As tempting as it is, we wont be turning this into a baby photo blog. We’ll keep writing China stuff here, and just make a different blog for the baby photos! :)