The Yue Sao

We met our Yue Sao (月嫂) today.

Yue as in month, Sao as in elder brother’s wife. Or, to put it more succinctly (albeit blandly), the postnatal attendant who often lives with  new parents to assist with the care of mother and child, starting immediately after birth and usually through the first month of the child’s life (hence the yue part of the title).

As I’ve mentioned before, my wife is Lao Beijingren (老北京人)… or from old Beijing stock. On the young side of it, at around seven generations in the city, but still a substantial amount of time spent immersed in the culture. As such, it was extremely important to her that our Yue Sao would also be Lao Beijingren.

So, after going through various women who might be available in October that fit this requirement, we were left with a choice of, well, one. Who, it seems, already had two families trying to gain her services for the same month.

Shanshan was able to secure today’s appointment by two main things. One, that she would pay an additional 500 RMB over the usual asking price. And, two, that I was a Caucasian-American, and we would be having a mixed child.

Mixed children, especially attractive ones, are prized here. For example, I remember the experience of a friend of mine who took her kids to the Great Wall. The (Chinese) tourists there were more interested in getting their pictures taken with her children than taking pictures of the wall.

Okay, that’s it for tonight. Still not used to writing for long periods.

[From left to right: the Yue Sao, Mama, and Shanshan]


  1. I’ve experienced the strange attraction of mixed children firsthand. My wife (老西安人) and I have been ‘home’ to Xi’an a few times since my daughter and son were born. I’ve had restaurant employees circle my table like vultures just to take an extended look, and people run across a busy street for photos. I think it’s understandable that such a large and homogenous-looking culture would be interested in the ‘hybrid’.

    1. Ah, Xi’an, that’s talking about old. 🙂

      I definitely think it is understandable. I also think that it is more than just that sort of interest, but also embracing things from other cultures. I’ve found China during these seven years to be very open to new ideas.

  2. Robert–how really interesting. And what a great idea to have a Yue Sao! Any idea why mixed race children are prized–especially by the old Beijing stock?

    1. Thanks. Actually, most Chinese seem to prize mixed-race kids. Lemme talk to Shanshan more about it and get back to you.

  3. well written and very interesting…like your photos, you transmitted something i did not know about beijing. gave another opening to a culture different than mine.

Comments are closed.