Baby traditions – by Justyna

21 Jan

Well it had to happen. A post all about babies. Not a huge fan of this genre in the best of times, but since I finally popped last Tuesday, I actually do have baby on the brain.

The baby shower, as far as traditions go, does not really exist in Poland. I lie, it is making a debut in the more ‘let’s be more West’ mother circles, but generally it’s a non-event. I, for one, have not attended nor have I hosted a baby shower whilst living in Krakow. Instead the tradition is that your friends and family visit you after the baby is born, coming to your home for coffee and cake, bearing gifts for the newborn and sometimes token gifts for the mother (after all, she’s just been through a major slog). There’s a tradition from Michal’s region that if the newborn is a boy, then the paternal grandparents buy the pram, if a girl then the maternal grandparents are stuck with the bill. Also, if you want to be mega orthodox, you do not prepare the nursery in advance. It’s considered bad luck. Of course for logistical purposes this is no longer followed much, but some parents do adhere to it. We did. Mainly because we’re very unorganised and do things at the last minute. I popped on Tuesday. Michal was putting the last coat of white paint on Kazek’s old crib on Monday. The girl I was sharing the hospital room with hadn’t even purchased the crib yet. Her husband was sent on an errand for the baby bed to be ready by the time she left hospital.

My favourite baby-related custom/tradition is associated with what guests bring to hospital. And it is not flowers (in fact flowers are not allowed at the hospital I was giving birth at – deemed as ‘bacteria spreading’. Well the water they sit in anyway. I think it’s because the nurses can’t be bothered with cleaning up the flowers afterwards or having to change their water upon the patient’s request. Or there are just not enough vases in the Polish health care sector). Nor is it pink or blue helium balloons. Or teddy bears. It’s food! Families come with huge bags filled with food parcels from home, with food assisting in lactation, with food assisting in general rejuvenation and with food that is generally considered ‘better than this hospital rubbish’. My young mum neighbour had the complete works. Her family brought her Polish doughnuts (helps sweeten the milk), ham and other cold-cut meats (strength), home-made stewed apple kompot (digestion), various yoghurts and dairy products (lactation) and beetroot soup (lactation). Our room smelt like a deli. It was awesome. Pity the hospital did not provide mini fridges in every room. Every day she was there her mother or her in-laws would arrive bearing more food parcels. And she would make herself gourmet sandwiches at two in the morning in between breast feeding sessions. Pretty damn excellent, I say! I too had my share of goodies brought to me by Michal. Fresh bread rolls (cause I like them), Greek yoghurt (as before), kabanosy (really dried out, extremely tasty smoked sausage), plenty of water, a thermos with good coffee he brewed at home, and various pastries. There were also apples and mandarins (probably for lactation purposes) as well as chocolate wafers. I really wanted beer, but he drew the line.

When we arrived home with Julian, my mum was already here, and in true house-keeping Polish tradition, she had cleaned our flat spotless, ironed my linen (!!!) and probably cleaned the windows. Hang on, she already did that before Christmas.


10 Responses to “Baby traditions – by Justyna”

  1. Mary Gawron January 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Dear Justyna-Bill Wale forwards your blogs and I have laughed so hard each time–this one is is also hilarious and culturally accurate down to the last bite of kabanosy! Congratulations on the birth of Julian and I hope, along with all the other necessary good genes he inherits from you and Michal, that he is gifted with your sense of humor!
    Love and kisses,

    • Justyna January 21, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      Hi Mary!

      Glad you’re being amused and entertained. The pressure is on!

      It would be just my luck if Julek turns out to be a solemn and reserved fellow. Or worse still, a priest! We’ll just have to work on him.

      Next you and Zbych are in town you better drop in!


  2. streetfighter January 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    After I had Phoebe and finally got to come home, after some pretty major complications, every visitor to our home came bearing huge quantities of food. Mainly cakes, muffins & biscuits predominantly from woolies. Although some people arrived with red meat (the best was the kg of scotch fillet steak) to help restore my iron levels (post partum 3 litre blood lose requiring 2 blood transfusions). It was fabulous. And our nursery still isn’t really finished. She’s 7 weeks old 🙂 Hope all is going well for you xx

    • Justyna January 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

      Crap had no idea you went through so much trauma! Kurt should have organised a cow slaughter for you. Or ploughed through a field of spinach. I say scotch fillet is way better than a onesie any day!

  3. Karen January 22, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    Glad to see you’re up and posting! I got a little hungry reading about those lactation-inducing treats.

    As an aside, I had always wondered where the Australian “cabanossi” came from…

  4. Beth January 22, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Hello Justyna! That is very sensible for people to bring food – just what you need so home cooking. Great to have you still posting! xx

  5. Tabitha January 24, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    I love how flowers spread bacteria, but not copious quantities of unrefrigerated cold cuts. Those crazy Poles.

    Welcome back home and welcome back to the blog and welcome little Julek to the world!

  6. Justyna January 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Thanks dudes. Being home with the second sprog is a bit weird. But getting used to it.

    I too thought that two day old ham would have the nurses in a frenzy. Obviously it’s about the vases then.

    Ok, I must have had my head in a gurgler somewhere, because I have NEVER made the connection between kabanosy and cabanossi. Thanks for that Karen. Maybe it’s because the two processed meats are so diabolically different in taste and look. Still, a light should have flashed.

  7. Suzysiu April 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Congrats! I have known Australian hospitals to use cut in half soft drink bottles as vases. All that food sounds delicious, and so sensible for a ravenous breastfeeding mother! Must admit, at first I enjoyed the hospital food, I also enjoy airplane food, but after a week I knew it was time to go home when I could no longer stand it.

    • Justyna May 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      It’s the tidy tray that makes it a winner. And the ‘you never know whattya gonna get’ butterfly-in-stomach moment.

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