Happy X'mas, all that.
This is not your traditional holiday fare, I realize, it's just that I heard this story earlier in the week, and now five minutes before the end of the day, I finally have a few minutes to get this down. If you were looking for an uplifting sweet & sour soup for the soul sort of entry for today, look elsewhere.
My beautiful wife delivered a healthy baby girl to us two weeks before X'mas, and in keeping with Taiwanese tradition, she is --"sequestered" is as good a word as I've been able to come up with lately for it-- at a Post Natal Care Center (PNCC) for a 25 day period following her three day stay in the OB/GYN clinic. This period of time is to allow the mother to acclimate to motherhood, and to be fed copious amounts of traditional Chinese medicinal food and to drink teas that are supposed to increase milk production. Women are not supposed to be exposed to lots of visitors, wind, the public, cold water, for obvious reasons and for feng-shui purposes. Which came first?
The PNCC is a 9 story building; there is a clinic on the first floor, a maternity clinic & delivery room are on 2 and 3. It being a hospital, there is no fourth floor (the word for "4" in Chinese sounding the same as "death" they decided not to include one in hospitals & all others would be leased out to foreigners). The fifth floor has patient bedrooms for either the clinic below, or the PNCC above. On 6 is the nursery, a waiting room, classroom, and two separate feeding rooms. One for father's to hang out with the baby, and where boobs are not normally whipped out (unless you're lucky, har har har, knowwhatImean?) Then, 7-9 are all patient bedrooms. Each floor has 9 or 10 rooms and each room has a private bathroom. Ours has one bed and a sofa, TV, fridge & wardrobe. It's a college dorm room without the cigarette smoke & the empty whiskey bottles.
Because who would smoke in a place like that, right?
Last week, a mother moved out of the room next to Maggie's. If I remember correctly, she was the Taiwanese wife of a Japanese businessman who lived in Japan. The wife returned from Japan either right before or right after giving birth. Not too clear on that part of the story, but it's not important. She came back to Taiwan for the purpose of entering the Post Natal Care Center to take care of her body and that of her child. I mean, that's why I would pay for this service.
The mother was doing something right. She produced more breastmilk than she knew what do with, much more than the child was hungry for, and she must have feared that it was going to waste, so she offered it to one of the other mothers in the women only room. I've not seen the inside of this room, as I don't have a womb, but it's the place where mothers go to feed, usually from the source, but there are also two breast pumps that are, apparently, something. The woman squeezed out her two quarts of milk and surrendered them to the nurses who stored them until they were needed to feed her child, or the child of the other mother who was also using her breast milk.
Then, she left the building to go shopping. Mitsukoshi Mall is a short hop by taxi from there, as is SOGO and Tiger City. It would take a bit longer to get to Chung-Yo, but that's surely not out of the question. Shopping in FABULOUS Taichung!
When the maids came to clean out the woman's room after her time was up, they found a month's worth of cigarette butts and a dozen whiskey bottles. Maggie walked past the room, caught a whiff and was shocked. The maid, not being one not to gossip, said that the mother had just been using the place as a hotel while she was in Taiwan, that her husband had paid for everything.
I've been hoping that the mother was offered that monster's breastmilk wasn't so thick as to give it to her child.
The PNCC and the whole concept of Early Motherhood Sequestration is without a doubt the best thing about Taiwanese society. I can stand here for an hour and mock their ice cream, their driving, their insane public spectacles such as the dancing team from the chemistry department that practices in the park by my house. But I'll sing praises about the health care provided to new mothers from the top of my building.
I don't know where the US Government would ever find the money to pay for/or subsidize this sort of a program. Pity.
December 26, 2006
Happy X'mas, all that.