By Amy Boshnack
I met my kids at the park after work yesterday (they were with their babysitter) and my daughter was playing with her friend from school. I knew the little girl had just recently (a few days at most) become a big sister and asked her father how his wife was doing. He told me she was fine and recovering. I asked if labor was long and he told me they almost had the baby on the highway but managed to get to the hospital just in time. Then I leaned down to the little girl and asked her if she liked being a big sister and was it fun to have a baby in the house. That's when the father told me her mom wasn't home yet and wouldn't be for a few months. Huh?
I looked at the dad confused and he told me that he couldn't take care of his wife (he can't cook for her, etc.) so she is staying at a maternity home for a few months until she is back on her feet. He said he would be working from home a lot because he'll have to get his daughter to and from school until his wife is back. Again, huh? They are recent Chinese immigrants (at least I think they are recent Chinese immigrants since my daughter's friend didn't speak any English when she began school back in September) and from the little bit of research I've done it appears to be a cultural thing. I offered to have their daughter come over and play whenever he needed; he thanked me and we went our separate ways.
I couldn't help feeling a little sad for the girl. Not only does she need to share her mom for the first time... she's, essentially, lost her mom for a few months. I assume they will visit her regularly but they will go home without her. As a mom to two kids, I don't think I could ever do this. I just couldn't imagine going to bed every night and not giving both my kids a kiss goodnight. Although, this one site in particular does make it sound all zen-like, pampering and hotel-ish.
It seems some Asian cultures believe that 30 to 40 days are needed for a woman to recover from childbirth. Woman are supposed to rest, stay indoors, and follow a special diet - and when there is family around (mothers, mother-in-laws, or other extended family) they take care of the postpartum mom and baby. But when this family is absent some new moms go to homes like these so they can be taken care of. I had no idea homes like this existed and am fascinated by them. In fact, after I told my husband about it he said he thought it was a good idea because that infant stage can be full of sleepless nights. I couldn't get a handle on whether he liked the idea because then he wouldn't need to share the nighttime feedings or because I would come back fully rested and ready to take on the world. Lucky for the both of us we had lots of family around to help and didn't need to investigate alternative options.
Related: My son kicked my ass last night