New York had Sandy; we have Mark. Don’t get fooled by the cute face—baby dragon rules the house.
Feng and I, the two victims, are trying to keep our heads above water, trying to keep up with daily tasks I used to take for granted—taking a shower, eating, going to the bathroom.
Each time I step out of the house—which is pretty much never these days, I’m getting cabin fever!—I’m surprise to see that somehow, the world is still spinning. Buses packed with commuters come and go, kids stopped by our house for Halloween, and now people are starting to do their Christmas shopping (I definitely saw a plastic snowman on display at Walmart—or did I dream that?), the sun is rising and setting like usual.
Hell, we even switched to winter time. Not that we noticed much of a difference at home, we stopped looking at the clock about a month ago.
I feel exhausted. Mark needs constant attention. Feeding, changing, bathing, sleeping—or trying to, because putting him to sleep can take hours. And by the time he is finally sleepy enough, he is hungry again and the trilogy starts all over again—feeding, pooping or peeing, changing, desperate attempts to put him to sleep.
I had principles. For a few days. Mark shall eat regularly as instructed by the hospital. Mark shall not use a pacifier. Mark shall sleep in his bed, tightly wrapped into his Winnie the Pooh blanket. Diaper rash cream shall be used each time we change him. Vitamins shall be ingested on a daily basis. Breastfeeding shall be a bonding and relaxing experience.
You know why they call it a “pacifier”? Hint: there is “peace” in “pacifier”. When Mark cries on top of his lungs, we use it. We also use it to put it to sleep, otherwise he’d be sucking my nipple non-stop. I don’t mind breastfeeding but I am not a giant pacifier, honey.
A few days after we went home from the hospital, Mark wasn’t sleeping at all. It was 4 a.m., I had been up for twenty hours and I was exhausted. I feel asleep in the big bed, holding him, his head in the crest of my elbow. Yes, I made sure he could breathe, that no blanket was covering his face, etc. We finally got some sleep. Now he sleeps with either of us in the big bed.
Eating. Ah, eating. For the first week, I’d panic whenever he’d sleep through feeding time. We gave up on a feeding schedule soon after. He has “cluster feeds” when he is hungry every hour, and then he can go without eating for a while. Is it good, bad… no idea. I stopped asking for advice and checking popular wisdom online because one thing is for sure: waking Mark up is a terrible idea. Each time we did that we paid for it, he was cranky and fussy and didn’t sleep at all for the next ten hours.
Breastfeeding. I don’t mind it, it’s cool and convenient. But Mark still seemed to be hungry after eating for an hour. One night, we gave him a bottle of formula after breastfeeding and he drank it all. Alright, so apparently my milk wasn’t enough. Now we mix: some breastfeeding and some bottles of formula. He doesn’t seem to mind.
I feel like a terrible mother.
We are getting through the days. Well, we try to. It’s tough, because we have no down time. Besides, I can only relax when he sleeps—there is nothing worse than trying to wolfing down dinner while Mark is being fussy and crying. I’m dreading it, actually.
But Mark is a baby, and he is counting on us. Sometimes, the feeling of responsibility is overwhelming. You are exhausted, barely able to move, but you still have to feed him. You just feel asleep twenty minutes ago but he is crying so you have to go and figure it out. You have to make sure he is safe, warm, comfortable… even though you are not.
I cried uncontrollably, big powerless tears. A few times, I left him in his crib for a few minutes when he was crying and I stepped out on the porch to calm down and try to think straight. I begged him to stop crying even though he has no idea what I’m saying.
Sometimes, I feel completely powerless.
It gets better. That’s what everybody says. That’s what I tell myself, like a mantra.