Tea Pot

After the birth of my children, I willingly did a “chor-yuet” which is a 30-day postpartum confinement. AKA stay-at-home-and-not-shower. Yes, not shower. To some, it sounds grueling and gross. To me, it’s a tradition that my grandmothers and aunts talked about when I was growing up and emphasized as the most important time for a new mom. It’s wisdom from women who survived war and famine, followed their children to this country, and persevered. I ate a special and delicious diet of ginger chicken, pigs feet and chinese soups, avoided cold drinks and limited visitors to allow myself to rest and my baby to thrive. For the record, I was allowed to do a sponge bath with ginger water. My 88-yr old ah-ngan peeled 60lbs of ginger and dried the peels for me. I used ah-paw’s tea kettle to boil water and felt her strength and presence even though she wasn’t alive. On day 30, the full month was celebrated. Items symbolizing health, happiness and wealth were used to bless the baby. My parents made vats of pigs feet with ginger and black vinegar and chicken wine for family and friends. It’s an old world tradition and not for everyone (let alone an American-raised woman like me). I submitted to the chor-yuet partly because I was scared of possible arthritis, but mostly because I respected my grandmothers and parents. To them, this was a way that they could continue to nourish me even as I became a mom. If it meant I didn’t shower for a month, then it was an easy trade. 

Place(s): New York
Year: 1979

– Vanessa Chiu

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child