Yue Sao

Splish Splash

Photographs of Chong Chong being bathed by our Yue Sao. Shanshan bought a small plastic tub that is set on the floor of our guest shower. The Yue Sao squats down to wash Chong Chong. She gently moves him back and forth by using her left hand under his neck and head. He seems totally relaxed in this small tub. (I don’t think he’s ever cried during a bath.)

Later, she will take him out, dry him off, and give him a massage.

You shall not pass!!!

It seems a common practice in some parts of China for a mother and her newborn child not to leave the house/apartment for at least thirty days after the child’s birth. Since the Yue Sao believes this to be the correct path, below is their impassable threshold for the next 23 days or so.

Shanshan has no problem with this. She is very good at entertaining herself, and the Yue Sao has quite a lot of good stories. And, of course, the parents come over fairly often to visit.

I’m not sure of the original intention, but I think this does make some sense:

  • Establishes a safe home space for the child (sound, touch, smell, etc)
  • Keep the child away from possible outside injury
  • Makes the child the mother’s focus of attention
  • Lets the mother rest (fully acknowledging that she’s still working)

The Yue Sao (Cont)

So, about thirty minutes into the visit of our perspective  visit Shanshan’s mom arrived. Now, something to note here is that I call Shanshan’s mom, well, mom. The transition from formal to informal happened during the wedding ceremony, when I served tea to the senior members of the family. With Shanshan holding the saucer, I worked my way around the table, saying to each something “Ma, please drink tea” (妈,请喝茶), they would sip the tea, and from then on, they would be my mother, father, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, etc. Likewise, Shanshan now refers to my mom as mom. (From what I understand, referring to member’s of the spouse’s family as “in-laws” is impolite.)

Anyway, mom joined Shanshan and the Yue Sao in the baby’s room to continue the inspection. After a bit, they retired to the sofa in the living room couch, where the Yue Sao once again invited me to sit in my chair. Which, again, I did… and, just as promptly as before.

Everyone got along swimmingly, and the Yue Sao agreed that she would work with us. She agreed to work for her normal price, and forgo the 500 RMB bonus. In addition, she would stay with us for three months instead of just the one.

btw, before the visit, there’d been some discussions about how our sleeping arrangements would change after the birth of our child. At first, it was suggested that mom would sleep with her in the main bed, the Yue Sao would sleep in the baby’s room with the baby, and I’d sleep on the couch. Then, it was suggested that the Yue Sao and Shanshan would share the main bed, with the baby in the master room, mom would sleep in the baby’s room, and I’d still get the couch.

What was finally decided is that Shanshan and I would sleep in the main bed, the Yue Sao would sleep in the baby’s room with the baby, and, when mom would stay over, she’d sleep on the couch. This way, the Yue Sao could attend to the baby at times where Shanshan didn’t need to be woken.

The Yue Sao (Cont)

We were scheduled to meet the Yue Sao at around 10 am yesterday. We received a call from her at around 9:30 that she was ten minutes away. I’d been reorganizing the house, and had really counted on having those few extra minutes. I somehow had a vision of Mary Poppins dropping-in for an unannounced inspection.

In any event, Shanshan and I went into high gear, and got the place somewhat organized.

When she arrived, she looked and acted exactly how I expected. I think a defining moment was when she and Shanshan were sitting on the couch talking. I brought in a chair from the dining room, and was placing it close to them so I could participate in the conversation, and she told me to sit. Which I did. Promptly.

The introductions out of the way, we went into the baby’s room so that the good which Shanshan had purchased could be examined and discussed.

Here are a couple of photos:

btw, even though Shanshan has purchased baby items during travels to the US, Japan, and Germany, most of them were manufactured in China. Because of (American) corporate greed, Chinese tariffs, and economies of scale, many of the items were incredibly expensive to purchase locally, or just simply not available (at least through legitimate avenues).

More about the adventure tomorrow.

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]