Pregnancy: From Tradition To Maternity
When it comes to pregnancy, we Chinese take top prize in the weird stakes. As if there’s not enough law and order – whether civilian or not – to follow, some queue-wearing ancestors of ours had to come up with Rules for pregnancy!
One: The pregnant woman must think positive and beautiful thoughts to ensure that her child is born with a sweet disposition. Which is fine, after all, as they say, a happy mama makes a happy bubba.
Then comes the cut – rule number two: the pregnant woman should place a knife under her bed to protect her unborn child from evil spirits (and in the process get a scary new coif, if not several cuts, in the morning).
Oh yes. But wait, there’s more.
Three: The pregnant momma cannot cut anything on her bed, not even her toenails, as the cutting signifies a severing of the baby’s umbilical cord.
Four: Drilling, hammering, chopping, sawing and other renovation work around the house is banned. These could lead to foetal deformities.
Five: The pregnant woman should partake of light coloured foods if she wants her child to be fair of face.
Six: She cannot go to the zoo or her child will look like an animal when born.
And most importantly, she must not attend weddings or funerals. Hilarious, isn’t it? I thought so too, until I attended both (within days of each other) while pregnant and had a miscarriage two weeks later.
So several months after, when the HPT displayed a positive, I was too scared to celebrate, or to follow any rules – except for the last.
Obgyn appointments were dutifully attended, and all the ‘bean’ scans kept in a homemade peanut gallery. Hubby and I discovered the family and parenting section at the library and Gina Ford, Supernanny, Dr Sears and Marc Weissbluth became our bed buddies as the gynae had stipulated a no-sex rule – another Rule! – because of the previous miscarriage.
But despite becoming more blimp-like with each passing day, I was not completely convinced that a baby would be the outcome after 40 weeks of waddling. The fear of loss still stung.
This foetus however, turned out to be a stayer. I nicknamed him Pod. He unleashed a hurricane of hormones that enabled me to sniff out every single layer of perspiration on sweat-stained commuters, and that turned this usually calm woman into a cabbie-abusing harridan. The pregnancy-induced supersonic olfactory senses that ensured approximately 75.6 daily pukes are no more, but mummy is still a bitch in a taxi.
In an era where it was “too posh to push” and babies had become every celebrity’s ‘It’ accessory, pregnancy became exciting. There were amazingly beautiful baby products to lust after and drool over.
People out there were actually designing furniture, clothes, accessories and travel gear for babies and kids. Even Gucci and Louis Vuitton got into the game, the former with a baby carrier, the latter with a diaper bag. (In case you’re interested, Fendi has recently collaborated with Ingelsina on a line of baby products as well).
The only branded luxury I could afford was Erbaviva’s delicious-smelling stretch mark oil (used by Catherine Zeta Jones, Cate Blanchett and Gwenyth Paltrow). Still, I religiously followed celebrity baby websites to stalk the pregnancies of Madonna and Guy Ritchie (David Banda), Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner (Violet Anne), and Britney Spears and Kevin Federline (Sean Preston), who were all gestating at the same time. Perhaps some of their glamorous celeb dust would rub off on Pod and I?
The husband and I attended Hypnobirthing classes, hoping to ‘om’ our way to one of those blissful, glowing births that you see in pregnancy books.
The reality was vastly different: a 36-hour endurance test that involved an ER-panic room full of medical staff and lots of blood. But that’s another story for another time.
In hindsight, we probably thought too much. Pregnancy and birth happen. A growing foetus is a force on its own and the creation of life – no matter who or what you believe in – is a miracle. Then comes motherhood, which makes pregnancy look like a cakewalk. Ready yet?