Differences in bringing up a baby, even before she’s born.
I’ve had my worries when it comes to bringing up a baby in Germany, not just because I’m not from here but because I’m married to an Italian, who also comes from a different background as myself. And I was right. Even before she was born, we had our differences in almost every aspect.
There are the usual differences like how to bathe the baby (hot or cold water?) or when and how to comfort the baby when he or she is crying (let the baby cry for a while and if so, how long, or comfort the baby ASAP). G and my differences came quite early, although I did have a feeling we would have these discussions sooner or later.
One of the first things was about when to travel via plane. I didn’t even consider that I had to make a decision, but now come to think of it, if you have close family in two different countries, this is something that will come up very soon. We had to make plans for our upcoming holidays, which would most certainly include flying to Italy to see her Italian grandparents. Fine. I went with a rather conservative approach of “at least” five months. I think G argued a month. I looked it up on the internet (because who else would you ask?) and the answers were all different. Some said one month, others three to five, most Korean websites and moms said at least six months if you really, really had to. So overall, Koreans were much more conservative when it comes to flying while Americans and Europeans were a bit more lenient. G argued that I was being too protective and that babies tend to do better when they are younger, because they just want to sleep. Good point. But I still wasn’t convinced.
문화가 다른 엄마와 아빠다보니 아직 말도 못하는 아가의 일에 있어서 문화적인 차이를 굉장히 빨리 느끼고 있다. 일단 G의 가족들이 이탈리아에 있다보니 언제 이탈리아에 가느냐가 문제. 같은 유럽이긴 하지만 그래도 비행기를 타고 가야하기 때문에 비행기를 탈 수 있는 시기를 같이 정할 수 밖에 없었는데 여기서 약간의 의견 충돌. 사실 약간이라고 하기에는 좀 오랜 시간 고민을 했다. 나는 적어도 5개월은 되야한다고 했지만 G는 한달이면 된다는 (말도 안되는) 주장을 펼쳤는데 타협점을 찾기 위해 인터넷 고고. 이탈리아어, 영어, 한국어 모두 찾아보니 (역시나) 한달부터 6개월까지 다양한 의견들. 어릴수록 잠만 자고 뭘 몰라서 오히려 편하기도 하고 비행기 소리가 자궁안의 소리와 비슷해서 괜찮다는 의견 등등이 있었지만 역시나 너무 어린 것을 데리고 공항에 가서 짐을 부치고 비행기를 타는 등등의 상황이 나는 생각만 해도 약간 무서워지는… 결국엔 4개월로 정하고 비행기표를 샀는데 글쎄, 어떨지 걱정은 되는 상황. 흥미로운 여행이 되긴 될듯.
But then my stance comes with a reason. In Korea, babies and their moms rarely go out after giving birth. Traditionally, they stay at home and nobody comes to see them for at least 21 days, so three weeks. Some say that the number means something, while others say it’s because the baby and mother need at least three weeks to “fight” back negative “energy” from outside but now, I think it’s more of a cautious tale: a new born and a weak and tired mother won’t really do well with foreign germs, air and interacting with people for too long. I thought this made sense, since I also had to go through a small yet intense surgery, I wasn’t feeling so great to greet people, entertain, while still having to take care of the baby. But I have to admit it was hard to force my opinion, so I gave in a bit and in the end invited two close friends before the baby was three weeks old. Until now, no sign of bad energy. At least that’s what I would like to believe.
다음은 언제 사람들을 불러서 아가를 보여줄까의 문제. 우리나라는 아가와 엄마가 집에서 적어도 3주는 조용히 쉬면서 지내는 반면, 유럽은 대부분 아가의 출생은 축하하고 파티를 하고 샴페인을 터뜨려야하는 일. (참고로 모유수유에는 샴페인처럼 좋은건 없다고 함. 산부인과 의사 아버지를 둔 친구가 알려줬는데 그래서 자기 부인이 출생을 하자마자 샴페인을 엄청 마셨다고…) 그래서 한달이건 두달이건 언제든 준비만 된다면 가족은 물론 친구들까지 불러모아서 파티를 한다. 조용히 몸을 추스리고 아가도 외부공기나 외부인의 노출을 삼가는 문화에 익숙한 나는 뜨악할 수 밖에. G뿐만 아니라 친구들도 아가 언제 보여줄거냐며 계속 연락이 와서 결국엔 임신과 출산까지 많은 도움을 준 친한 친구 두명만 아주 잠깐 초대하고 한달이 되는 주말, 친구들을 불러모아 파티를 했다.
The same when with when to bring the baby out in public. Being a very scared new mom, I stated the obvious: germs, strangers, cigarette smoke which is everywhere, constructions sites and the deadly, terrifying pigeons. G laughed and said we can take her out after a week or two. Sorry, not happening. We came to a compromise and went out after three weeks, I think. But then this was a hospital outing, so technically it wasn’t for fun.
After four (long) weeks, we finally managed to arrange a small gathering/party/congratulations-for-surviving-a-whole-month-with-me-event with close friends (after discussing the timing, of course). And I’m glad we did it. It felt good to see friends, talk and eat (and drink) for a change.
I have a very strong feeling G and I will go through a lot of these situations, especially since we also live in Germany. So we’ll have to deal with three different cultures, all of them being quite important and prominent in both our lives and also the little one’s. Even at this moment, I’m telling myself it will be ok, but to be honest, I have no idea how it will go. Good luck to me, G and our little A. Especially A.
아직 두달도 안되었는데 벌써 이렇게 크고 작은 문화적인 차이라니. 앞으로가 약간 걱정되지만 결국엔 서로의 문화를 존중하고 받아들일 마음이 있으면 안될 일도 아닐듯. 이건 처음 독일에 왔을때도 매일 겪었던 시행착오라 그렇게 큰 걱정은 안되지만 문제는 중간에서 이걸 받아들여야하는 A. 어떻게 보면 행운이고 어떻게 보면 불쌍해진 A의 미래. 두둥.
- She’s started to stare and smile. Not every time, but more than before.
- Starting to follow a schedule: milk every three hours and a big poo either the end of the day or early in the morning.
- Really doesn’t want to stay in her bed. Therefore, my arms are killing me.
- Loves taking baths!
- Knows that it’s milk time when I put a small towel under her neck!
All photos by rachelsanghee.
Bits and pieces of my little one, every week, in 2016. 5/52 weeks. 36 days old.