It’s all about the Cake: Revealing Our Baby News to My Taiwanese In-Laws

(A Video)

**I tried to include a lot of info in this post, so I hope it flows smoothly and makes sense to you. As always, thanks for stopping and reading. It means a lot!

All pictures were taken on CNY’s Eve.**

'We're Having a Baby' - Our Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year's Eve [3]
‘We’re Having a Baby’ – Our Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year’s Eve [3]

The Element of Surprise

Surprises that are totally unexpected are the best. You know, the ones that catch people off guard and have them feeling a whirlwind of emotions inside. The type of surprises in which a person’s reaction turns from shock and surprise to pure happiness and uncontained joy. Surprises that are gifts and memories – the ones that you look for the perfect moment to share. The special times which turn into stories that will be talked about for ages and last a lifetime.

Awkward Moments

But, on the flip-side, there are those awkward moments. The incidents which make sharing your surprise a little tougher. Those moments which make you uneasy because sharing your joy may cause others pain and grief. You find it hard to contain your excitement, but you keep your secret safe and sound inside for just a little longer.

Yes, yes!! There is a reasoning behind my rambling and I am getting to the point now!!

Monkey Red Envelope and Tulips [my student gave me the tulips]
Monkey Red Envelope and Tulips [my student gave me the tulips]
'We're Having a Baby' - Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year's Eve [4]
‘We’re Having a Baby’ – Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year’s Eve [4]

Announcing a Pregnancy in Taiwan

I can’t speak for all Western countries, but I know that North Americans usually wait until the end of the first trimester before sharing the news that they are expecting. Of course, there are exceptions, but most people usually stick to the rule as the majority of miscarriages occur during the first three months and once you get passed that point, statistics show that the risk of loosing the baby decreases to three percent.

From what I have heard and witnessed over the years, most Taiwanese don’t follow this rule of thumb. I have had people tell me that they were expecting at six weeks, even before their initial visit to the doctor. Some have waited for as long as five months before revealing the news. Others do indeed announce after three months. Then, there are people like us who wait four months until they know everything is OK. However, like I will tell you below, some don’t even make sure before announcing – thus, leading to a little awkward situation for me.

The Story of My Awkward Moment

My husband and I had been tight-lipped about my pregnancy since November. With the exception some friends that I had to tell during Christmas, the news had been under lock and key for nearly twenty weeks. It was our decision to wait until the end of the first trimester like most couples do, but then we decided to postpone it a little longer until we got the results of the tests we had done back.

In all honesty, we really wanted to tell. We wanted to shout it out loud, but we were more interested in making sure everything was OK before telling the world. I, personally, didn’t want to get anyone hopes up and then have them come crashing down.

Also, I know what my Taiwanese mother-in-law is like. She has been asking for a grandchild since we got married. She has stated over and over how our kid would be ‘the cutest kid ever.’ And I knew once she knew, the world would know [OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but she loves sharing news with everyone she knows.]

However, during our ‘waiting’ period, my husband’s older brother announced that his wife missed her period and may be pregnant. And that was followed by two weeks of my mother-in-law saying ‘Maybe she is pregnant, too early to tell, not sure yet, could be, don’t know yet, etc.’

Then, one day she said to my husband ‘They got me happy for nothing.’ Disappointment was written all over her face.

All along, my husband kept his game face on and didn’t spilled the beans. He said he nearly let it slip one day, but he didn’t.

It actually made me feel a little uncomfortable about telling my in-laws that we are expecting. We had always planned to make our baby announcement a special one because we always love the element of surprise and we knew how much joy it would bring to my husband’s mother. But at the same time, I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad.

That is when our revised plan came into play. We would share the news with my mother-in-law privately.

'We're Having a Baby' - Our Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year's Eve [1]
‘We’re Having a Baby’ – Our Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year’s Eve [1]

It’s All about Good Timing – The Surprise

We got the test results back three days before Chinese New Year’s Eve and everything is fine, and we took it as a sign. We couldn’t think of a better time to share out wonderful news. Chinese New Year’s Eve is a time for family. It is a time for joy and happiness. It is a time of coming together. It is a time for good luck and fortune. It is a time for new beginnings.

The following day, Friday, we faxed our cake order to Costco, so the words ‘We are having a baby’ would be written on it in Chinese. We picked it up late the next evening and we were all prepared for the big announcement the next day.

Taiwanese & Surprises

I may be going out on a limb here, but most Taiwanese are not as creative with their wedding and baby announcements like most Canadians [and Americans.] Usually a phone call will suffice. Maybe a visit to tell the news in person. But, usually it is nothing too extreme. It could be because they don’t really show their emotions or express their feelings like most Westerners do.

But, then again, they do share their joy in other ways. The giving of engagement cookies to the bride’s side make people aware of her intent to marry. A cake or box of cookies is given to relatives and friends when the baby turns a month old.

What we did may not sound like much to some. However, for Taiwanese, it was indeed unique because traditionally, there is no element of surprise which was what made our cake reveal ‘different and special.’

'We're Having a Baby' - Our Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year's Eve [3]
‘We’re Having a Baby’ – Our Baby Reveal Cake on Chinese New Year’s Eve [3]
Will it Be a Boy of Girl Monkey
Will it Be a Boy or Girl Monkey?

The Reaction

My mother-in-law arrived at our house early on Chinese New Year’s Eve to begin cooking the feast. She must have opened the fridge umpteen times that day, but paid no attention or made no remark about the cake sitting on the top rack of the fridge.

When my mother-in-law and husband arrived back from ‘bai-bai’ing [worshipping], my husband took out the cake, placed it on one end of the island in the kitchen, pressed record to start the video, and said in Taiwanese ‘Ma – cake’ and motioned for her to look at it.

She looked at my husband with the uninterested expression – something like a sarcastic Oh wow! A cake.

But, she look at it.

Read the words.

Looked back up. Processed the words.

And then her head shot back down again to make sure she wasn’t dreaming and she read the message right.

Shocked was written all over her face when she utter the words ‘Zhen de ma?’ [Really?] to me.

Smiling, I said ‘Zhen de.’ [Really!]

Then, she did a little happy dance and clapped her hands together before she became all emotional as she fought back her tears.

Her reaction brought tears to my eyes and stop the presses, my husband even shed a tear or two. [I am all emotional these days, but he NEVER cries.]

As she stood there shocked, speechless, and overcome with emotion, I kind of felt like I had to do something as we were both standing up watching her and I did what I would for anyone I love – I went over and gave her a hug.

When the initial shock had worn off and she came back to her senses, she asked my husband, ‘How long?’

‘Four months,’ said my husband.

Then, as the family arrived, she had her moment. They weren’t even in the door when she shouted ‘Lao san yao dang baba le. Wo tai gaoxing le.’ [Loosely meaning: The third oldest son is going to be a dad. I am so happy.’]

And before the meal ended, she said she hopes it is a girl.

But, does she get her wish….??

To be continued….

Since then, she has recounted her CNY surprise countless times. I even lined a picture of her and the cake to the family group, so she can show her friends and other family members. [Line is a chat app which is quite popular in Taiwan. And fun fact, my mother-in-law had a smart phone before I did.] I am so happy that we could make the moment so special for her and for us. Plus, our little baby can see how Grandma reacted to the news in future years.

Have you ever surprised someone? What was their reaction?

Lunar New Year's Eve = Annual Majhong Night
Lunar New Year’s Eve = Annual Majhong Night
Coke even got in on the 'Year of the Monkey' action
Coke even got in on the ‘Year of the Monkey’ action
Lunar New Year's Eve  - Annual Majhong Night Preparations
Lunar New Year’s Eve – Annual Majhong Night Preparations
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47 thoughts on “It’s all about the Cake: Revealing Our Baby News to My Taiwanese In-Laws

  1. I think one day if I am to get a girlfriend/get married/get a baby.. I would be one of those who would settle everything with just a phone call.

    I must make sure my mom never reads this blog post for fear of setting high expectations for her! 😀

    Congratulations again!

  2. Just reading this post made me super happy 🙂 and the cake is too cute!

    Personally with my MIL, I don’t even think she likes me still lol… she tolerates me but there’s definitely no “yes! go marry my son and have a baby” thoughts in her mind currently. But I’m hoping one day she will share a similar reaction to that of your MIL. So in that case, I think more likely than not if I was to find out I was pregnant, D would simply just tell her over the phone or if he saw her, face to face. But I doubt I would come with lol.

    My mom and dad on the other hand are slowly but surely entering the whole ‘I want grandkids’ phase since quite a lot of their friends have grandkids, so quite frequently my mom will be like ‘when are you guys going to have a baby? You guys have been together for longer than two years… you should get married soon. I am not getting any younger.”

    As for surprises, I actually haven’t really surprised anyone directly as such… which is quite weird. But now thinking about it, I really want to surprise someone 😀

    1. Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have such a great MIL. I have been meaning to write a post about my Taiwanese friends’ MILs and some of their situations would make you cringe.

      Is D the only son? I think it makes a difference. Luckily for me, I am not the only daughter-in-law as my husband has three brothers [two of which are also married.] It seems to be common knowledge that I am her favorite though, but I am also very nice to her.

      And I am sure, with time, D’s mom will realize that you make her son very happy and that is the main thing. I am your corner rooting for you!

      You parents sound so supportive and awesome!

  3. What a creative surprise with the cake! You and your husband pulled it off really well, and it is quite surprising your MIL didn’t notice the cake in the fridge all day. She really was very focused on the New Year 😀 Very lovely cake and I hope the rest of the family enjoyed eating it as much as sharing the happy news with you.

    1. Yes, if it was me, I thought I would have had a peek. But, you are right, she was too focus on that task at hand that day.

      I am really glad we put some extra effort and thought into it as it made her feel so special, like a VIP. You can hear the pride in her voice when she recounts how she found out to others.

    1. I thought she would have said something about us waiting so long to tell, but she was too happy that it didn’t even cross her mind.

      And thanks – so far, so good. I had a level 2 ultrasound done last week to check the baby’s organs, features, etc. and everything is perfectly fine.

  4. What a wonderful surprise and experience that must have been. I just told my parents on the phone when my wife was on her second month and shortly after my wife told her parents also via phone, so nothing really exciting the way we did it

  5. I’m beyond glad and content for you-2, guys… congrats, stay healthy, optimistic and positive! 🙂
    * * *
    I’m a mama of 2 “old babies”(LOL!) and I wish you my very best… as both my 2 pregnancies and natural deliveries were normal!!! HHH = huge heartfelt hugs… ❤

  6. That is AWESOME! Also, your MIL’s reaction made my eyes tear up a little. I guess people get creative nowadays, what with Facebook pictures, but I’ve never seen the cake announcement before. (Also, I’m not into babies, so possibly I just ignored a hundred of them.)

    So happy for you guys.

    1. Thanks, Autumn. I know there are quite a few inventive ways of announcing these days, but I am kind of like you with not really paying attention. I am glad we went with a cake, even though there is some of it still sitting in the freezer.

  7. Reading about her reaction brought happy tears to my eyes. Loved it!! Congratulations, enjoy your pregnancy, it’s such a special time. And then an even more special time begins! So happy for you 😊.

  8. We used Skype for both parents. I told my family in Japanese and made them dig out a dictionary. My sister already knew and waited patiently! I can’t remember how Hitoshi shared the news. “Baby” is a well known word in Japan so he wouldn’t really be challenging them. ;D We waited 3+ months, which Hitoshi found odd. On the flipside, I was shocked when one of his relatives announced just after a month, I think it was…

    1. What a good idea to make the announcement in another language and make them work a little to figure it out. 🙂 I love it!

      Like I said in the post, there seems to be no rule of when or how long to wait in Taiwan either. Personally, I felt more comfortable waiting though.

  9. What a great way to tell them they’ll become grandparents. I think you’re on the safe side to wait for three months. And they should see the good side of it: less time to wait now 😉

  10. Very cute pregnancy reveal 🙂 I bet you already know if you’re going to either a boy or a girl. Family reveals in my family aren’t exciting. Because I live with my parents, my mom knew I was pregnant from the moment the test showed a positive sign and later on told my dad about it. I texted baby’s father about the possibility of me being pregnant and he then began asking me a lot of questions about my symptoms and said I had a high chance of being pregnant. After the doctor confirmed it, I called him and congratulated him. In a few weeks he let his mom know and months down the road when I was past first trimester more people found out, although if all goes okay and after I give birth, more of my extended family will find out.

    This is one of those times I wish I could be a fly and see their expressions when the news will be dropped.

    1. Thanks! And as you already know from my latest post, we do indeed know and it is a boy.

      It must have been a nice moment for your mom and you to share. My husband was there with me when I did the home pregnancy test and he became very emotional and nearly proved he had tear ducts [nearly.] I think the cake was a good way for us to share, especially since we waited so long to tell.

      However, I think no matter how you share the news, it is a wonderful surprise for all as a new life is always a happy time for family.

  11. Ah! Late to the party – I forgot to tell you CONGRATS!!!

    I’m with you on waiting, though. I have known people who have had miscarriages (after announcing about their baby) and that’s awkward… only making a sad situation worse 😦

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