Anyway, the uselessness of LJ aside, those of you who actually listened to the voice post know that I ended up trekking down to the hospital at UPenn yesterday with my mom and grandmother in tow. My sister went into labor around 2am, went to the hospital at 6:30, and popped out a baby girl at 10:04. Overall, it wasn't a great date for me in a lot of respects. First and foremost, I had only gotten 3 hours sleep the night before. Second, it turned out that more Wii's were avaliable from Amazon during the day and I ended up missing the oppertunity to snag some. I'll try not to hold it against the baby, I guess, but it would have been far more convienant if she could have made an appointment ahead of time.
The arrival of the baby also involved a lot of frantic chaos in excess of what is usually experienced by you crazy gaijin. I had been completely unaware of the practice, but there's something in chinese culture called 'doing the month' or 'sitting the month', or (for those of you who might speak mandarin) zuò yuèzi. Here's a blurb about it from Wiki:
In some East Asian cultures, such as Chinese and Vietnamese, there is a traditional custom of postpartum confinement known in English as doing the month or sitting the month (Mandarin zuò yuèzi 坐月子). Confinement traditionally lasts 30 days, although regional variants may last 40, 60 or as many as 100 days. This tradition combines prescribed foods with a number of restrictions on activities considered to be harmful to the woman's recovering body. Family elders or (more recently) health professionals help the woman to recover after parturition.
Prohibited activities include washing one's hair, bathing, climbing steps, touching cold water, reading, and crying; sexual activity is prohibited, and the woman is not supposed be exposed to the wind or to sew. She is not supposed to consume anything cold, anything hard, any salt, any plain water, or anything containing alcohol or other foods considered to have strong medicinal properties (Chinese: 毒性 dúxìng).
Over the recent months, I've picked up a bit of this info in an osmotic sort of process. It's been the prime focus of my mom and grandmother in preparing for the birth and they're completely fixated on the idea. My mother's greatest kismet joy about finding out my sister was going to give birth yesterday was that she had just finished some special chicken soup mixture the night before. My sister has agreed to abide by some of the restrictions listed above, even going so far as to conceeding them a non-bathing week, if not month, and some of the other rigamarole as well. Well, at least in their presence anyway. I wouldn't be surprised at all if she were scarfing ice cubes or salt or whatever whenever their backs are turned.
Who knows if all of this crap actually does any good, but while I was searching around for info online, I did stumble across a study which found fewer instances of post-partum depression among women who followed the restrictions than those who did not. I imagine it might have something to do with the fact that if you are going to be following the rules, you're likely to have a bunch of elderly relatives swarming about you like a queen bee. That might be a boost to the spirits if nothing else, though I imagine it'd bring frustration as well given the culture clash nowadays.
I don't have any pictures of the baby right now since I didn't bring my digital camera. Everyone else was snapping shots like crazy so it'll all filter down eventually. I was sort of surprised that the baby was generally attractive. God knows that they usually look like hell on wheels right after getting squirted out. She was also incredibly docile given the amount of fuss and bother she had to endure. I didn't hear her cry once for the time I was up there in the room.