Writer’s Workshop: A rule I broke

posted in: Motherhood, Writer's Workshop 0 comments
In my attempt to keep blogging (and because I run out of ideas easily!), I joined MamaKat’s Writer’s Workshop. It’s a fantastic idea where you are given weekly prompts, you choose one, and you write about it. Then you link back to MamaKat. Ingenious really. One day, when I’m a famous blogger, I will steal that idea. Haha! 
So this week’s prompt included “A rule I broke”. Now, I am not generally a rule breaker. I generally listen to my mother (hah!); I always park my car in legal parking spaces; I never break a red light (OK, maybe once. Or twice); I was a model employee (haha!). Yes, I also did not have an 8-course Chinese banquet wedding, a traditional tea ceremony, or even took wedding photos. That’s more, er, unconventional.
However, I did break a major rule. The all-important “confinement” rule. 
I’m Chinese. Chinese mums who have just given birth are expected to abide by the 30-day confinement period. You are confined within the home, as new mothers are viewed to be at their weakest and most vulnerable to ailments, present and future. You’re supposed to eat nutritious ‘confinement food’, avoid cold beverages and food (What? No ice-cream for 30 days??) and er, you’re not supposed to wash your hair. Or bathe.

So I did not adhere to the confinement. In every way.

1. Stay confined
Not only did I not stay in the house, I even left the country. We had the Monkey in Australia and I believe he was the youngest traveler at 16 days old when we flew back to Malaysia from Perth. Also, when he was 7 days old, we went out as a family. Albeit only for an hour. There were also numerous outings when we got home to Malaysia. I cannot imagine being stuck indoors for THIRTY DAYS. I don’t think I would have done well. As in I might have eaten my toes.

2. Consume ‘confinement food’
There are websites DEVOTED to confinement food recipes. Chief ingredients? Pork and ginger. I don’t eat pork and I like ginger, just NOT EVERYDAY. One of the key dishes is pig trotters cooked in vinegar and ginger. Urgh. Blech. Gah. I understand the theory behind this rule. You need nourishment after pushing out a baby, and in my case, I had an iron transfusion three days after he was born due to anemia, brought on by the delivery (that’s a birth story I might have to write two posts about. Another day). So I ate lots of leafy green vegetables and beef to boost my iron levels. I get that. But no pig trotters for me, thank you very much.

Pig trotters in vinegar stew, by Jamie Oliver. Sorry Jamie, even you can’t make me eat this. Even without the trotters

3. Do not shower or wash your hair
Something about not allowing ‘wind’ to penetrate the body. Um, OK. I had a head-to-toe shower a couple of hours after giving birth. I don’t think I would have been allowed to leave the hospital caked in goo and blood. Not pretty.

I am not judging the millions of Chinese mothers who do adhere to the confinement period and all its rules. I did not set out to deliberately be non-conformist. I just did what I felt was right for myself and the baby. His wellbeing and health were my priorities (still are), as was my desire to be at my best while tending to a newborn

All that said, I swear, I usually walk on the straight and narrow path. Really!

Alison

Alison

Alison

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  • April 7, 2011 Jessica

    That pig trotter bowl of food looks nasty. I would not eat that.

    How did the baby do on the airplane at 16 days old?

  • April 7, 2011 Jessica

    That pig trotter bowl of food looks nasty. I would not eat that.

    How did the baby do on the airplane at 16 days old?

  • April 7, 2011 Karen and Gerard

    First I heard of the “confinement rule.” No wonder your broke it! I'm going to share about this on my Friday “Things We Learned This Week” post with a link back here.

    Stopping by from writer's workshop. Here's a link to mine: http://zemeks.blogspot.com/2011/04/ill-wear-white-pants-if-i-want-to.html

  • April 7, 2011 Karen and Gerard

    First I heard of the “confinement rule.” No wonder your broke it! I'm going to share about this on my Friday “Things We Learned This Week” post with a link back here.

    Stopping by from writer's workshop. Here's a link to mine: http://zemeks.blogspot.com/2011/04/ill-wear-white-pants-if-i-want-to.html

  • April 7, 2011 Dumb Mom

    Can't say I blame you. Trotters, ew. Not bathing after pushing a baby out your you-who, double ew!

  • April 7, 2011 Dumb Mom

    Can't say I blame you. Trotters, ew. Not bathing after pushing a baby out your you-who, double ew!

  • April 7, 2011 Natalie

    Wow! I couldn't imagine not showering after having a baby or eating pig trotters!

  • April 7, 2011 Natalie

    Wow! I couldn't imagine not showering after having a baby or eating pig trotters!

  • April 7, 2011 Alison

    I know right – we Chinese are resilient. Pig trotters, no baths for 30 days and so on. Having said that, most of my Chinese friends go on to break the same rules too. They stay confined, but they also stay clean. But I believe they did eat the porky stuff.

    Confinement after birth is not exclusive to the Chinese though – the Indians, Malays and Arabs do it too!

    @Karen & Gerard, thanks for stopping by and the promised link!

  • April 7, 2011 Alison

    I know right – we Chinese are resilient. Pig trotters, no baths for 30 days and so on. Having said that, most of my Chinese friends go on to break the same rules too. They stay confined, but they also stay clean. But I believe they did eat the porky stuff.

    Confinement after birth is not exclusive to the Chinese though – the Indians, Malays and Arabs do it too!

    @Karen & Gerard, thanks for stopping by and the promised link!

  • April 7, 2011 thepsychobabble

    I think I would have gone nuts if I had to be confined. Although I could have done without the mother-in-law. 😉 (don't tell her I said that!)

  • April 7, 2011 thepsychobabble

    I think I would have gone nuts if I had to be confined. Although I could have done without the mother-in-law. 😉 (don't tell her I said that!)

  • April 7, 2011 Alison

    Haha. My MIL was awesome actually. She's not Chinese so she didn't care. She did cook me awesome meals and looked after the baby when I needed to sleep! Lucky me

  • April 7, 2011 Alison

    Haha. My MIL was awesome actually. She's not Chinese so she didn't care. She did cook me awesome meals and looked after the baby when I needed to sleep! Lucky me

  • April 7, 2011 Bruna

    Ugh, pig trotters are not for me! LOL
    I'm not Chinese and I confined myself to my home for the first month after having my first baby. I had a c-section birth and really had no choice. It wasn't fun being home.

    Added myself to your Google Friend Connect!
    Cute blog design:)

  • April 7, 2011 Bruna

    Ugh, pig trotters are not for me! LOL
    I'm not Chinese and I confined myself to my home for the first month after having my first baby. I had a c-section birth and really had no choice. It wasn't fun being home.

    Added myself to your Google Friend Connect!
    Cute blog design:)

  • April 7, 2011 Lara Davis Barnett

    We tie for youngest traveller, I gave birth on Nov 2nd and we were on a plane back from Kenya to the US on the 18th.
    I actually couldn't shower for the first week after my birth because I had a c-section and they put a non-waterproof dressing on me. It was horrible. That was a good 'rule' to break.

  • April 7, 2011 Lara Davis Barnett

    We tie for youngest traveller, I gave birth on Nov 2nd and we were on a plane back from Kenya to the US on the 18th.
    I actually couldn't shower for the first week after my birth because I had a c-section and they put a non-waterproof dressing on me. It was horrible. That was a good 'rule' to break.

  • April 7, 2011 Danielle

    I can't imagine being confined in a house with a baby for 30 straight days! I'm pretty sure that's why some animals eat their young. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  • April 7, 2011 Danielle

    I can't imagine being confined in a house with a baby for 30 straight days! I'm pretty sure that's why some animals eat their young. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Never heard of that before, but I can see why you would break it. I'm not sure I could go 2 days without showering, never mind 30.

  • Never heard of that before, but I can see why you would break it. I'm not sure I could go 2 days without showering, never mind 30.

  • April 8, 2011 Jenna

    fascinating to read the traditions, and agree on your take 🙂

  • April 8, 2011 Jenna

    fascinating to read the traditions, and agree on your take 🙂

  • April 8, 2011 dosweatthesmallstuff

    Hi, found your blog over from the Bloggy Moms 🙂

    Yeah, I heard of the 30-days confinement rules, and I think it's a huge pain in the A$$. Some of my Chinese friends swore by it though, so who am I to judge. The most important thing is the baby's healthy and mommy's happy, right?

    Congratulations again on the arrival your baby!

    -Do Sweat the Small Stuff-
    http://dosweatthesmallstuffinfo.blogspot.com/

  • April 8, 2011 dosweatthesmallstuff

    Hi, found your blog over from the Bloggy Moms 🙂

    Yeah, I heard of the 30-days confinement rules, and I think it's a huge pain in the A$$. Some of my Chinese friends swore by it though, so who am I to judge. The most important thing is the baby's healthy and mommy's happy, right?

    Congratulations again on the arrival your baby!

    -Do Sweat the Small Stuff-
    http://dosweatthesmallstuffinfo.blogspot.com/

  • April 8, 2011 Alison

    Thanks for stopping by! The baby is now 15 months 🙂

  • April 8, 2011 Alison

    Thanks for stopping by! The baby is now 15 months 🙂

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