Warning: Link to graphic photos in this post.
Living in China, I often find myself standing up for this country, giving my temporary home the benefit of the doubt. Mass poverty? Yes, but economic and social development take time. Corruption? Oh yeah, but what government doesn’t have its scandals? Human rights abuses? Undeniable, but the ‘bad guys’ are only a small fraction of the population. China often gets beat up and bullied by the media, but I often remind myself of how far and quickly that China has come.
But sometimes, things go too far. I cannot ignore them, I cannot stand up for China or defend its actions.
A few weeks ago, news broke about the story of a young woman named Feng Jianmei. Feng was seven months pregnant with her second child- a big no-no under China’s One Child Policy. Feng and her husband were required to pay a hefty fine for violating the Policy; the fine actually only amounted to about USD$6000, but it was an unfathomable sum for them, almost an entire year’s income.
Unable to pay the fine, at seven months pregnant, Feng was forced to have an abortion. (more…)
Just before a Chinese colleague was due to give birth to her first child, we sat down and compared pregnancy and childbirth practices in Canada and China. I was very excited to have the opportunity to do so, as since arriving in China last year I have been very curious about local customs regarding babies.
Ding (who has since given birth to a beautiful little girl) was happy to share her experience so far. She told me about how she had managed to find a doctor who would reveal the sex of her baby (pretty uncommon in China, due to the favouring of boys under the one-child policy), how she kept her diet pretty bland while pregnant to help promote the health of her baby, and how she was not even considering pain medication during labour: “Chinese women are strong; we can handle the pain” she explained. (more…)
Ever since Charlotte started eating solids, we’ve paid a great deal of attention to what goes into that tiny, growing body. Yes, we are those parents–those hippie-granola troublemakers who refuse to feed our child refined sugars, processed foods, non-organic when possible, and anything with ingredients we can’t pronounce. There is just so much crap out there masquerading as food; while we can, we’d like to keep that stuff out of Charlotte.
Since arriving in China, our food philosophy has taken on a new spin. Of course, we’ve had to adapt to local circumstances: there is no Whole Foods-type superstore nearby selling certified organic everything. Indeed, organic is a serious issue here. Official certification is very difficult to obtain. Those who do manage to are often looked at with suspicion (what did they have to do to get it?); those who don’t are unregulated and often unreliable. And it’s not just local Chinese brands and stores; Walmart was recently in hot water in China when it was discovered that their organic pork was not in fact organic. (more…)
Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
In 2011, my two year-old daughter and I left my husband behind in Moscow (temporarily!) and moved to Beijing, China. Answering the “where are you from” question is a bit difficult… I was born in Johanessburg, South Africa and moved to Canada when I was really young. Since then, I have lived in Toronto, Vancouver, Indiana USA, and finally had settled down in Ottawa before moving to Moscow in 2010.
What language(s) do you speak?
English, French, Mandarin, Tibetan. Does toddler-speak count as a language?
When did you first become a mother?
Technically, I became a mother in January 2010 when my daughter was born. But actually, I feel like I first became a mother the day I saw that plus sign on the home pregnancy test.
Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?
I work full-time, and often feel like I work full-time as a mom too! But I do so wish I could be a (more…)