What a difference a day makes. Baby Taiwanxifu was more settled last night. Mum and Dad got some sleep, and I was pampered with a massage.
After the night before last, we were dreading another sleepless night. But Baby Taiwanxifu was angelic, feeding well and then going back to sleep easily afterwards. He is settling into four-hour feeds, which is a relief for our tired heads.
My day is starting to take on its own routine, roughly moulded around Baby Taiwanxifu’s often seemingly random three to four hourly feeds. Morning is a rush, with Mr Taiwanxifu getting Taiwanxifu Toddler ready for pre-school and me trying to get baby fed and then expressing milk. Our nanny comes just before Taiwnxifu Toddler heads for school. And then our confinement nanny (yuepo), Mrs Yang, arrives just after 9.00am. This is a hard time to coordinate, with concierge in our building often choosing to buzz me that Mrs Yang is coming while I am in the middle of feeding baby or changing a nappy.
Mrs Yang goes to her local wet markets each morning to buy fresh produce for making us the delicious postpartum confinement (zuo yuezi) dishes she cooks. As soon as she arrives, she goes straight to work in the kitchen fixing me a ‘snack’ for morning tea (usually around 10.00am). For the first week she looked after me, she prepared liver soup. Now we have moved onto kidney soup with goji berries and rice wine, or occasionally stir-fried kidneys.
Then it is rest time for me for a couple of hours (depending on baby’s feeding needs). It feels so decadent for me to have rest time. I know this is the purpose of zuo yuezi, but still I feel like a pampered princess taking advantage of it. There is a part of me that feels like I should still be doing things. I feel bad that I am not in the kitchen washing dishes, or doing other housework.
Lunch is usually around three or four dishes served with five grain rice and a soup. Today I had lotus root and pork soup, accompanied by fried liver, pork, stir-fried squid and sliced baby bamboo shoots. Then there was a plate of guava and nectarines for me to snack on. I am surprised (in a good way) by how much fruit there is in confinement cuisine.
For afternoon tea, Mrs Yang prepares me another snack. Yesterday, it was a poached egg cooked in a sweet broth. Today, it was longans cooked with millet and black sugar. Earlier this week, I was eating red beans and purple sticky rice, and red beans and peanut soup. Many of the sweet soups are flavoured by either rock sugar or black sugar; healthy sugars in moderation are considered to have a restorative effect after childbirth.
Taiwanxifu Toddler comes home at 5.00pm, and usually wants to play for a while. This can be a bit tricky to manage in-between feeding baby, but thankfully my toddler also loves to look at and be near his younger brother. Then sometime between 5.30pm and 6.00pm, we have dinner. Mrs Yang cooks some dishes especially for Taiwanxifu Toddler. He is a fussy eater, who rejects vegetables. But she has managed to identify some dishes that are a winner for him. Tonight’s dinner included some leftovers from lunch plus stir-fried cabbage, pork mince stir-fried with tomato, and stir-fried salmon fillets. Oh, and of course more lotus root and pork soup.
I am finding that the food during ‘zuo yuezi’ is different from what I had expected from reading recipe books beforehand. Mrs Yang said that in the past, there was little variety with confinement foods. Women often ate one of the zuo yuezi staples — sesame chicken (ma you ji) — constantly throughout the 30 days of confinement. This dish, while delicious, is heavy with sesame oil and women who eat too much of it put on weight rather than lose it during their confinement month. In contrast, my zuo yuezi foods that Mrs Yang prepares are rich in creativeness and contrast.
If we are lucky, Taiwanxifu Toddler will go down to bed somewhere around 8.30pm. For some reason, baby often seems to feed at this time so just like the morning routine it can be a bit chaotic. But once baby and toddler are down, there is (sometimes) time for some quick blogging before rest ahead of the next feed.
Today’s routine was different, because mid-morning I indulged in an aromatherapy massage by a former nurse who specialises in pregnancy related massage. Ah, what bliss. The two hours just flew by, as I relaxed into a calm cloud of fragrant oil and softness. I didn’t realise how tense my shoulders were from the battle of breastfeeding. And I got remonstrated at for spending too much time typing on the computer; looking at the screen is supposed to be a no-no during confinement. Doh!
So far, loving the pampering of confinement even if I am struggling with the concept of giving up ‘doing’ things. I guess that is one reason why people often check into a luxury postpartum confinement centre, so that they can escape from the day-to-day temptations of not resting while at home.