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Freedom Day

Today, Independence Day holds a new meaning for me. This is the 40th day since I gave birth to my second child and it signals the end of Chinese tradition of post-partum confinement called gelai or zou yuezi. It is my first time to follow this tradition as I have learned that there is great wisdom in taking care of your spirit and body at this vulnerable phase. It is not just practiced by the Chinese but by other nations around the world. It is a tradition that spans centuries and continents as I have gathered from my research.

Rose Power

For 40 days my husband has taken the task of cooking the traditional post-partum meals lovingly  mixed with lots of ginger, red dates and sesame oil to help my body recover and encourage lactation. He has taken on the household and homeschooling tasks, aside from his work, while I concentrate on resting and nursing our newborn son.

It has been 40 days of rest and recuperation while getting to know my new child. Part of this is the no bathing rule, like the one described in the Bible. I did not take heed during my 1st post-partum experience and it cost me.  Now I know better to listen to ancient wisdom. I still  cannot believe I had lived through 40 days of no bathing! For someone who has to have a bath every day or suffer from extremely oily hair, it is purely grace that I survived this prohibition.

It has been a good retreat, one that I am glad to have taken. A part of me is reluctant to leave it, even as I am looking forward to celebrating and enjoying the outside world anew.

I like the advice of authors of The First Forty Days (The Essential Art of Nourishing The New Mother) about taking care of one’s self post-partum and beyond:

Soon the routine of mothering will settle in and you’ll find yourself comfortably moving through the world with a baby on your hip, exuding the air of maternal confidence that the ancient ones described. Then, before you know it, you’ll be chasing a toddler, managing the needs of a school-age child, and ushering a teenager through adolescence. Through it all, remember the significance of your role as mother. You are a powerful being, a force of nurturing and strength. Though your child is always changing, finding moments of ritual, small ways of honoring yourself, can help to anchor you as the ground moves beneath your feet. Ritual means making time and space for what feels good for you: walking in nature, sitting in the sunshine, lavishing yourself with a coconut oil rubdown . . .even sipping a warm bowl of soup. As your child grows and your responsibilities increase, ritual transforms into necessary self-care, a piece of your life that must be consistently attended to if you are to remain healthy and strong. As the epicenter of your family, the hub of the wheel, your vitality is paramount. For the next forty days and beyond, treat yourself as gently as the ones you love: Feed yourself well, rest well, be well.

40 days

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