When I first learned I was pregnant, my first thought was “me, a mother, seriously?” It was quickly followed by “oh my God, I’m going to have to sell my body on Ottawa’s coldest streets to pay for onesies and Winnie the Pooh toys!”
Browsing: Baby Mark
Tylenol, Sinustab… we are like drug dealers at home. “I trade you an Advil for a Tylenol Extra Strength.” “Sure, but I need to finish my Strepsil first, my throat is killing me.” We are boiling water non-stop and going through tissue boxes like a teen who has just discovered you-know-what.
So why does my mother, almost 30 years after giving birth to me, still seems to feel bad about needing some ‘me’ time when we were young? Why does she need to sound apologetic? Goddamn guilt. That’s what it is. I know where she comes from now. I feel the same.
On February 12, Mark is turning four months. The tiny little thing we brought back from the Civic Hospital on October 12, 2012 morphed into a cute little boy. Mark doesn’t look like a newborn anymore but a baby with his own personality, quirks, likes and dislikes.
Some signs of your new status as a mother are obvious and were predictable, including occasional identity crises, chronic lack of time and the appearance of mysterious stains on your clothes. But there a few “side effects” of motherhood you wouldn’t have thought of a few months ago—an eternity ago now—when you were still pregnant.
“Finally, we get something out of that kid!” I joke while opening the brown envelop from the Canada Revenue Agency. I already know what’s inside: a cheque for $300—the exact amount for three instalments of the new Universal Child Care Benefit. Or, as well call it at home, diaper and formula money.
I tend to be a professional worrier in the best of times so just imagine how anxious I was with real issues and life-changing events to face—issues that, for the most part, I had no control over.
After he is fed and changed, Mark knows that if the light is good enough, it’s “picture time”—he probably sees it as “mommy making silly faces and hiding behind a big black eye”. Well, at least the silly faces make him laugh! I mostly take snapshots of him alone, but occasionally, one of us sit for the photo with Mark… or the three of us, by setting the timer on the camera.
With a baby comes a sense of loss of control over your life. And these silly superstitions or routines we follow allow us to gain a sense of control back. That’s my best explanation for our quirks.
On January 12, 2013, Mark is turning three months. The past few weeks have been a steep learning curve for us, new parents, but we’ve taken things in stride and Mark rewards us with big smiles and cuddles. Little by little we are taming Baby Dragon and we are becoming a team of three.
Mark is a new link between the two of us—a cute biracial baby we created by blending some Chinese DNA, some French (and Mediterranean roots) DNA and mucho Canadian politeness. Since he was born, both sides of the family are trying to figure out which of his features are more clearly Asian and which ones are more White.
I’m no longer pregnant (yay!) and I’m embracing motherhood. Even though it still feels new, unreal and scary, I’m happy to be Mark’s mother.
But I don’t want to trade the multifaceted identities it took me 29 years to build for a one-size-fits-all “mother” label. I want to add that motherhood status to my personal identity because I am still an individual, with hopes and dreams—for Mark, of course, but for Feng and I and for myself as well.
New inexperienced parents like us are easy to put on a guilt trip. The media, society in general and “helpful” salespersons will pressure you into buying items that are “safe”, “tested”, “eco-friendly”, “proven to keep baby happy”, etc. Problem is, you only have so much room… and so much money.
Down there? Seriously? I’m at the ob-gyn, I fully expect my “private parts”, aka “down there”, to be named out loud.
“I think I healed fine,” I said, “I mean I’m not in pain. But I can’t really see if I healed!”
Hint: I’m not that flexible. Even with some yoga training, I cannot look inside my “private parts”.
I only published the “by the way, I’m almost about to give birth” news on this blog when I was eight months pregnant. It caught a lot of people by surprise because I had just come back from a trip to the U.K and France. Yes, I traveled when I was pregnant. Why not?
Warning, guys: if you read this article, you will never see boobs the same again (and I mean it as a turn-off).
Today, let’s talk about breastfeeding.
Baby Mark, aka Baby Dragon, is two months old. “Already?” you may think, “Time goes by fast!”—yeah, well trust me some days feel like they never end at home!
I thought there was nothing more stressful than the incessant sound of a baby crying. But I found out there is: the sound of your baby crying.
People are strange. Why don’t they mind their own business? When did it become socially acceptable to tell strangers what to do? What are they trying to prove? It’s hard enough being a new mother; you don’t need sanctimonious comments—you already tend to second-guess yourself a lot because babies don’t come with instruction manuals.
I think we have the only seven-week-old baby who can look at the camera on cue…! Mark has seen me so often with the Nikon that he probably thinks I have a lens glued to my eye, like some kind of mommy-cyborg.
Let me tell you, I will never use that expression again. Because you know what? Babies don’t actually sleep. Ever. They came to earth to suck your energy until there is none left and you resort to begging them to close their eyes and pay a visit to dreamland. That’s my theory anyway.
A day like any other. I prepared six bottles of milk, boiled water a thousand of time, attempted to put Mark to sleep four or five times and I was peed on twice. Gosh, it’s only 9 p.m.
Much has been said and written about having a baby… but how come no one warned me about these ten weird “baby side effects”?
Never mind—let me enlighten you.
Feng, who is carrying Mark in his arms, turns around so that the baby can see me (or not—I never know what babies can actually see!). He stops crying, Feng breathes a sigh of relief (the little guy is loud!) and I freeze at the doorway. Me, a mommy?