Chapter 238 - Washing Ceremony

The two midwives looked at Miss Cao’er’s small and delicate little hands and their eyes lit up. The midwife who stated that it was a breech birth squeezed out a smile and said, “Miss, if you’re the one doing it, then it’s likely the lady will survive! Don’t be scared, just do what we say and everything will be fine!”

Lady Fang had been tormented by the relentless pain and was semi-conscious at this point. Yu Xiaocao carefully fed her a few drops of the mystic-stone water and managed to squash down the nervousness in her body. She diligently washed her hands over and over and even rinsed them with some mystic-stone water as she firmly enforced the belief that her godmother would survive this with no injuries.

The cervix had already dilated to the width of seven fingers and Xiaocao’s hands were small and soft. She gently inserted her hand and touched a tiny little foot not far up. The foot seemed like it could tell that something was touching it and it even pushed down a bit.   

Xiaocao grabbed onto this foot and carefully pushed at it. As she pushed, she described what was happening to the midwives. Perhaps it was because she was steady and calm, but the two midwives also managed to calm down after wiping their faces full of sweat. They slowly and surely guided Xiaocao on what to do.

With the help of the two midwives, before long, the infant had been pushed into the right position. Xiaocao touched the little guy’s shaggy head and finally felt her heart settle down again.

The little fellow apparently was impatient to get out. Right after his position was adjusted, the little fellow’s head managed to get squeezed out of the birth canal despite Lady Fang having minimal energy from exhaustion. He chirped noisily as he fell into Xiaocao’s palms.

The midwives finally relaxed. The two of them helped to cut the umbilical cord and then used a soft cloth to wipe his body clean of the dirty blood. The midwives grinned in delight as they held the tiny infant up towards Xiaocao, “Pat him a bit, let him cry!”

Xiaocao gingerly held the little fellow in her arms. He had tiny and incredibly soft body. The infant, who was just born, had an entirely red body and his skin was so tender that it almost looked transparent. The little boy had his eyes shut and his face was wrinkled. It was hard to tell who he resembled. As he lay in Xiaocao’s hands, he apparently felt a bit uncomfortable, so scrunched up his face and kicked his tiny legs. Such a tiny adorable baby, how could Xiaocao bear to pat him hard?

When the midwife saw this, she laughed and took the baby and flipped him over in a practiced movement. Perhaps being moved from a soft embrace to a more rough one made him feel uncomfortable as the little fellow started to cry raucously before the midwife could even pat his butt.

Fang Zizhen was waiting anxiously inside the courtyard. When heard the loud and powerful cry of the baby, he finally relaxed. A smile blossomed on his face as he muttered, “Stinky brat, you have quite a pair of lungs to cry so loud. You must be an energetic little fellow, just like me, your father!!”

With the help of one of the midwives, Xiaocao managed to put a diaper on the baby. She looked at the little fellow’s tiny and delicate p**** and wickedly thought, ‘If this little guy grows up and finds out that he was once buck naked in front of me, I don’t know what kind of expression he would have on his face.’

A smile fluttered at the edges of her lips as she swaddled the little fellow up into a neat little package. She held him in front of her godmother and whispered, “Godmother, this is little brother! Look at him, he’s quite adorable and lively.”

Lady Fang pried her exhausted eyes open and looked at the little fellow’s red face as he cried. A loving smile slowly unfolded on her face——this was the little fellow who had the same blood as her. For this sake of this child, she had waited for a very, very long time. She almost gave up this dream. With him, she could finally consider herself satisfied. After being tormented by this child for an entire day, Lady Fang sweetly fell asleep after seeing her baby. As she dreamt, her loving smile still lingered on her lips.

“Wife...is my wife okay?” Fang Zizhen, who had finally been allowed inside the room, asked about his wife first and wasn’t concerned about the baby at all.  Linglong was holding a basin full of dirty water and whispered quietly towards him, “Shhhh...Madam is very tired, so she just fell asleep. Be a little more quiet to avoid waking her up.”

After hearing that, Fang Zizhen immediately lowered his volume. He hoarsely whispered, “Is your mistress okay?”

“No problem, no problem! Mother and child are both doing well!” The two midwives’ faces were wreathed with smiles, as if they could see the shiny glitter of money right in front of them.

Fang Zizhen sat down next to the bed and didn’t even glance at his son. His entire attention was on his wife’s somewhat pale face. He gently used his hand to brush away a piece of unruly hair from her face. Because he was afraid of rousing her, he quietly said, “Wife, you have worked hard!”

Yu Xiaocao’s eyes were full of admiration and envy as she held the forgotten little fellow in her arms. In this society, where men were considered more important than women, and where wives coexisted with concubines, a man who wholeheartedly loved one woman was hard to find. She didn’t need someone who knew how to say beautiful things or do romantic things, all she wanted was a man who would only love her and her alone.   

From her perspective, if she had the choice in her hands, she would rather be single for the rest of her life if she couldn't find that one person who wholeheartedly loved her…

The little fellow, who had long been given the name of Fang Haolin, seemed to not get along with his father from the start. As soon as Fang Zizhen held him, he would wail inconsolably without stopping. Fang Zizhen didn’t want his wife to suffer any hardships, so he regarded this little fellow, who he had waited until he was over forty to receive, with an unimpressed eye. Lady Fang laughed and stated that these two must have been sworn enemies in their past lives. 

Although little baby Fang Haolin had a little temper, he was really quite sweet normally. Other than occasionally crying when his diaper got soiled or when he was hungry, he spent most of his time sleeping peacefully.

Lady Fang had heard from Xiaocao that breastfeeding was good for both mother and child. Although they had already hired a wet nurse, Lady Fang still personally breastfed Little Linlin. This made Fang Zizhen feel even more resentful of the little brat who stole his wife’s attention away from him. After his son was born, his status within his wife’s heart had sharply plummeted. Come on! Hmph! You little brat, just watch how I torment you in the future!! A treacherous smile hovered at the corners of Fang Zizhen’s lips.  

The little fellow, who had just finished drinking his milk, was happily blowing bubbles from his mouth in the arms of his godsister when he suddenly sneezed and he frowned unhappily.

Lady Fang somewhat nervously looked over and asked, “What’s wrong? Do you think he might have gotten cold from his midday bath?”

Right after the little fellow was born, Yu Xiaocao had fed him a few drops of diluted mystic-stone water, so she naturally knew that his body was stronger than a young calf. She smiled, “Sneezing can be caused by a lot of things, so it’s not necessarily because he’s getting sick. Godmother, my younger brother’s body is very healthy, don’t be too worried!”   

Lady Fang let out a somewhat sheepish laugh and replied, “After hoping and praying for almost twenty years, I finally got such a tiny little thing. I’m a little nervous! Cao’er, in the future, you must remind me that I absolutely cannot spoil this guy until he gets rotten!”

Yu Xiaocao placed Little Linlin, who was sleeping peacefully, on the bed next to her godmother and whispered, “There’s a well-known saying: ‘a strict father and loving mother’. Don’t you still have Godfather?”

Lady Fang thought for a bit and then chuckled, “If you’re talking about your godfather’s personality, even though he looks very fierce, he’s still like a kid inside. He actually wants to fight for favor with his own child; he’s really too much!”

Yu Xiaocao joked, “Doesn’t that show that Godfather loves and cares about you? You can’t just pour all of your attention on little brother and end up neglecting Godfather, right?”

“That’s right, that’s right! Our daughter is right!!” Fang Zizhen pushed open the door with a face wreathed with smiles. He ruffled Xiaocao’s hair and complimented her, “Good daughter, looks like I didn’t dote on you for nothing!”

Lady Fang felt a bit bashful inside, yet she obviously rolled her eyes to cover up her inner happiness and shyness…

After the baby was born, the most important ritual after the full moon celebration was the washing ceremony. On the third day after an infant was born, they needed to hold a washing ceremony. Friends and relatives were all invited over to participate. The purpose of this ‘washing ceremony’ was to wash away all of the bad and dirty things and also pray for fortune and good luck for the newborn.   

Because most of their friends and family were in the capital, Fang Haolin’s washing ceremony was simultaneously simple and grand. It was simple because a lot of people didn’t come over. Although many of their friends and relatives got the notice in the capital, they weren’t able to make it. As for grand, it was because her godparents and the people around them all attached great importance to this and didn’t let a single detail go. 

On the third day after Fang Haolin was birthed, Yu Xiaocao’s whole family came over in the early afternoon. Madam Liu and Xiaocao’s oldest paternal aunt both helped with a lot of matters regarding this ritual.

The two midwives grinned until their faces almost split open. With the help of the servants, an incense burner table was set up in the reception area outside of the birthing chamber. The table was set with the images of the Childbirth Goddess, the Sending Children Goddess, the Measles and Plague Goddess, and another thirteen gods. Rice was set on the censer and held the powdered incense. Lady Fang’s bedhead also had the images of the God and Goddess of kang beds, and the images had five bowls of osmanthus flower pastries in front of them as offerings.

The maids all placed copper basins full of locust tree and mugwort juice in front and also set the table with the required articles for the ceremony. At this time, all of the officials in Tanggu Town and the docks, including Fang Zizhen’s personal assistants, came in with gifts. Even Princess Consort Jing came over with her two sons to send her congratulations.

The two midwives held Little Linlin and the washing ceremony began. Fang Zizhen had been an orphan since he was a child and his martial teacher was stationed far away at the borders. Thus, the Yu Family represented his side of the family. Yu Hai added a ladle of clear water to the copper basin and also put his presents in there. This represented ‘filling the basin’. 

Yu Hai and his wife had added a pair of carved ‘auspicious fortune’ and ‘longevity’ silver bracelets. Yu Hang also used his personal cash reserve to add a beautiful and exquisite silver necklace for Little Linlin. Xiaolian added a pair of anklets that had tiny little bells on them. Even Little Shitou, who hadn’t reached the age of seven, added a silver nine-link chain. As for Linlin’s older sister, Xiaocao, she had prepared her gift a long time ago. It was a set of auspicious jewelry for children that was made with pure gold and inlaid with jade. The jewelry was finely made, unique, and full of auspicious meanings. 

Princess Consort Jing’s gift was a pair of jade scepters made of the finest mutton-fat jade. Her two sons also gave them gifts of immense value, especially Royal Prince Yang. His gift was not only expensive but also extremely rare as it was from his travels in the west hemisphere. It was a small belt accessory that was carved out of ivory.

The officials of Tanggu Town and Fang Zizhen’s personal assistants also added gifts to the copper basin one after another. The maids and older servants also added some longan, jujube, chestnuts and other fruits with auspicious meanings.

The two midwives continuously spouted out words of good fortune. For example, when a person added water, they would say: ‘flowing water lead to a mind that is clever and quick-witted’. When someone was adding jujube, chestnuts, and longan fruits, they would say: ‘jujube seeds will lead to unending descendants; longan, longan, one shall place first on all three examinations’...

After the ritual of adding gifts to the basin was over, the midwives picked up wooden clubs and stirred the contents as they chanted, “One stir, two stirs, three stirs; an older brother will take his younger brother for a run. Seventy sons, eighty sons, silly sons, naughty sons, all of them will quickly come!” Xiaocao listened to the proceedings as her excitement shot through the roof. She thought all of this was very interesting!  

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Myst's Thoughts

Osmanthus flower pastries

Sanguine’s Thoughts: I’ve heard of the full moon celebration for infants before but this is the first time I’ve heard of the washing ceremony...

Translator: Sanguine