Today Mr Taiwanxifu and I mark fifteen years since we first started dating. And we went out today — but not to celebrate.
It seems strange to think how quickly fifteen years has gone. I still sometimes think of myself as the somewhat naive student of 1997, about to embark on a journey to study and live in Taiwan for a year. It is hard to really imagine myself instead as a Taiwanxifu who has just given birth to her second child. And Mr Taiwanxifu and I have gone through a lot together in that time. As the Chinese idiom puts it, we have shared the sweetness and the sorrows together (tónggāngòngkǔ (同甘共苦).
And now we are a family, with a newborn second child. Who happens to be sick with a cold at the moment, caught from his elder brother (who also has not completely recovered). Since yesterday evening, Baby Taiwanxifu has been sneezing and has a nasty cough. And last night all baby wanted to do was sleep. Not that I mind a sleeping baby, but not when his previously voracious appetite suddenly disappears due to illness. And all day today he would wake for a while for a brief and half-hearted feed before going back into extended slumber. Of course, while baby slept last night we didn’t get much rest because we were up constantly checking for signs of a possible fever. Thankfully, this is one symptom that baby does not (yet) have.
So today, rather than taking off for a romantic rendezvous or a candlelight dinner somewhere, we headed out with Baby Taiwanxifu to the hospital. Of course, technically I am not supposed to go out during postpartum confinement (坐月子, zuo yuezi), but what mother would stay at home and ‘relax’ while her infant was ill?
As it turns out, there is nothing majorly wrong with baby other than a cold. What a relief! And despite having a poor appetite last night, he still hit the scales at just over 5kg. Which explains why I have been spending so much time feeding him, and why he always seemed to be hungry. He has big hands and feet, so if this trend continues he will be a giant.
But leaving the house and going out was a strange experience. Even getting dressed and remembering my handbag was weird; it has only been a few weeks, but already it feels like I have to consciously remember things that used to be simple daily rituals. As the taxi snaked its way through central Xinyi district, I couldn’t help but notice the brightness of everything from the blue sky to the greenery of the parks and trees to the reflections on windows and sculptures. Buildings that I used to walk past everyday on my way to work suddenly seemed bigger and more exciting. Wow, there is a whole world out there full of shops and restaurants and places to explore.
Not just yet, though. After the hospital appointment we headed straight home to feed baby and put him to sleep. And then it was time for some shut-eye for ourselves, too, before the noisy rattling of renovations upstairs began again at 2.00pm.
Today is perhaps not the most text-book romantic anniversary. There are no flowers, no cake and no expensive dinners. (Although my confinement nanny did make a lovely meal of stir-fried prawns with pine nuts, cauliflower and wood-ear mushrooms, pork with baby sweetcorn and mushrooms, and a nutritious soup made with black chicken and cashews.) Nor did I have the time or inclination to dress up (and I still have not washed my hair or taken a shower). Yet it is a special day, knowing that our family is well and safe and that Mr Taiwanxifu and I are working to care for our family and realise our dreams. Together. We are truly blessed.