6.18.2017

This Fire 上火

Eyes boring a way through me
Paralyse, controlling completely
Now there is a fire in me
A fire that burns
-Franz Ferdinand


We are just two Americans with a very pink baby surrounded by Chinese people, many of which who are more than happy to offer unsolicited and sometimes scientifically unsound advice. I'm sure Americans also offer unsolicited and scientifically unsound advice, but perhaps because of the cultural gap, I find most of the Chinese advice utterly absurd.

Sometimes the advice is more like commands. When she's wearing her flower headband: “You can't put that headband on that baby! It's too hot and so much trouble!” But that flower headband is sooo cute and girly. Or if she's barefoot: “She needs socks! Her feet will get cold!” But it's 90F. How can her feet get cold? When she's in the Ergo: “That's bad for her back! You should carry her so she lays flat!” Well, Ergo says it's safe sooo…..

Triple offender! Headband, barefoot, and in Ergo. Complete with condemning Ayis.

I usually nod, smile and thank them for their concern. Except perhaps when their concern is about Dumpling's red eyelids.

Oh, I know you have noticed but didn't want to be rude and ask, right?

Just like up to 30% of newborns, Dumpling was born with red patches on her eyelids (aka salmon patch), forehead (aka angel kiss), and nape of the neck (aka stork bite). These are caused by stretched blood vessels below the thin layer of skin. The marks typically fade by one to two years old.

I understand that many people do not know about salmon patches, so the direct and tactless question, “What’s with her red eyes?” (“她的眼睛怎么了?”) doesn't offend me. I typically keep the response short: “It’s nothing. The doctor says it will go away as she grows.” (“没怎么了。医生说她长大没有了。”) If I feel like making conversation, I might explain the scientific reason for her salmon patches. Usually satisfied, the inquirer can move on to other subjects like whether I make a enough milk for Dumpling. (Yes, that is another common question, “Do you breastfeed and do you have enough milk?” The answer is yes and yes.)

But sometimes people skip the question altogether and go straight to the diagnosis and cure.

After delivering a big jug of water, the delivery guy looked Dumpling over as she kicked around in her crib. He quickly surmised that she was too dry and I should give her a bottle of warm water. Surely, she needed to be hydrated. Uh no. She breastfeeds and she doesn’t need to drink water. He was adamant. Everyone in his hometown gives their babies warm water to combat dry skin. Beijing is very dry. Alright, thank you for the concern. You can go now. In case you are as clueless as the water guy, I'll tell you that breastmilk is sufficiently hydrating while providing important nutrition. No warm water necessary for a breastfed small infant.

A couple weeks ago, a self-confessed health junkie told me that I should put sesame oil on her eyelids. I said, "Come again? Did I understand you right? Sesame oil?" She said yes. Dumpling suffers from too much fire (上火了). Mmhh. So maybe sesame oil is a cooling substance? As I was picturing putting sesame oil on Dumpling’s eyelids and how she would smell like an Asian salad, the self-confessed health junkie clarified that it wasn’t Dumpling’s fault--it was mine. Apparently while pregnant, I had too much fire (火力). If that’s true, I should have drank more ice water while pregnant.

Fortunately, Dumpling is blissfully unaware of her rose-tinted eyelids. After all, her eyelids are not the reason she garners so much attention. Her inquisitive eyes and generous smiles tickle pink friends and strangers alike. Soon, next week in fact, she'll be in the land of her citizenship making more friends. She can't wait!

In addition to showing off my little bundle of joy to all our California crew, I will find out if Americans also offer unsolicited and scientifically unsound advice. You know, just for comparison's sake.

Sometimes unsolicited advice is sound... So just in case California's heat wave makes Dumpling’s fire more fiery, perhaps I should pack the sesame oil.

Chinese word of the blog: 上火 (shànghǔo)
English definition: to suffer from excessive body heat

This should put the fire out
Dumpling makes friends easy!