Maria and Bao came to Canada on student visas. Maria was from Mexico, and
Bao was from China. They met in college during Orientation week and became friends right away. They were in different programs, although they loved to study together and party together. They started dating by Christmas and moved in together after the first two semesters. They each worked at two part-time jobs over the summer to save money for their future in Canada. Their long-term goal was to get work visas after they graduated and eventually get permanent residency in Canada.
That all changed when Maria got pregnant in her third semester. She was so sick that she and Bao thought she had COVID, but after three negative tests, a doctor gave her a pregnancy test. Then their lives changed. Bao was furious at first. He accused Maria of tricking him into getting pregnant and wrecking his life. He shoved Maria against the wall in a drunken rage and said his parents would never accept a Mexican ‘half-breed’ and she could just “eff off.” The next day he apologized, saying it was the vodka and he would never do that again.
Maria gave birth to Li Jie on May 12, weighing 6 lbs and 3 oz. Maria and Bao had argued about naming the baby, however, Bao said he was the man and would have the final decision. Their baby had to have a name of Chinese origin.
After Bao graduated, he started applying for jobs in business, no longer wanting to work in the service industry. Strapped for cash with all the baby’s expenses for diapers and wipes, they needed money fast. Maria agreed to return to work, and they would shuffle caring for Li Jie. Marie was hired at the Four Seasons cleaning hotel rooms and started work at 11:00 a.m. and finished at 6:00 p.m. Bao was working at Tim Hortons, starting at 5:00 a.m. and ending at 1:00 p.m. They needed childcare from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Maria found someone in their building to look after Li Jie for a reasonable price, and she weened her baby and considered what formula to buy. She and Bao were arguing all the time because they didn’t have any money, and Bao said Li Jie was an expensive baby to take care of. Now Maria said they needed to buy formula, and Bao wanted Maria to feed Li Jie regular milk from the grocery store.
When Li Jie was not well enough to go to childcare, they argued about who was going to look after him. Two weeks into Maria’s new job, Bao stayed home with Li Jie because he was sick with a fever, and Maria earns more money than Bao, although this was not an easy decision because Bao said the man should earn more money than the woman. When Maria got home at 6:30 p.m., Bao had three friends sitting at the kitchen table drinking alcohol, playing cards, and smoking. Maria was shocked. “Where’s Li Jie,” she asked. Bao glared at her and said, “Well, where do you think he is, Mars?” Maria went to their bedroom, and Li Jie was in his cot; when she picked him up, he was soaked through and soiled his diaper. She was furious. She went to the kitchen and said to Bao, “How could you leave him in his dirty diaper?” Bao glared at her. A little while later, Bao’s friends left, and Bao came into the bedroom, and he started yelling at Maria, “Don’t you ever, and I mean EVER, talk to me like that in front of my friends again.” “I will do what I want with my baby, do you hear me?” Li Jie was startled by the noise and started crying. “Do that again, and you will be sorry, got it?” As he walked out of the room, Bao added, “that kid uses too many diapers anyway.”