Hurricane Mark

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Mark and a Dragon-Theme Stamp

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.

Yeah right.

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.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

36 Comments

  1. My mom always said she’d tried to keep my older brother to a schedule and it made everyone (including him) unhappy. So with me she ignored the advice and fed me when I was hungry and I was happy. So don’t question yourself!

  2. A “terrible mother”, are you kidding? How many babies have their parent full time, ready to feed/hug/clean them right when they cry? And such a photo album? And shown so much concern about?

    Come on. You’re great. Mark is demanding. I’ll have a word with him when he’s older about this 😉

    • Thank you Lily! I do love him even if he drives me crazy sometimes. But after an hour of napping, I can’t wait to hold him again. Stockholm syndrome!

  3. “This, too, shall pass…”

    I just visited a newborn last weekend (well, 7 weeks old) and discovered that after 8 years since my twin nieces were born, I still have the Auntie Magic for putting a baby to sleep!

    Will try the sleep magic on Mark when I see you next!

  4. I hope you don’t mind I’ve been following your blog (for some time, actually) after I lost track of you on Reddit.

    I had to respond to this post because I remember so well what it feels like to be in those early days of breastfeeding (and whatever anyone says, they SUCK). I wanted to let you know about the free breastfeeding clinics Ontario has–they’re at the Well-Baby clinics you hear about and the one at the Pinecreast-Queensway Early Years centre in particular is amazing. They can help with any problems you may have (and problems you don’t know you have–that was my experience) and are not pushy at all about a breastfeeding agenda. They just want to make sure you and your baby are doing well, whatever combo of breastfeeding/formula you’re using.

    Lastly, and I know we’ve never met in person, but if you want help on this matter from a translator from the internet, email me or PM me. My daughter and I got off to a terrible start because I was uninformed and misinformed, so I try to do what I can to help other people NOT have to go through that.

  5. Every storm calms eventually. I’m sure things would turn better sooner or later. It’s just part of motherhood! You’re doing great, I believe! 😀

  6. Hi Zhu,
    Awwwhh; Mark is a handsome boy :). Thank both your good genes for that.
    It is adjustment time for everyone, Mark included. He was in his dark and soft world and now he has to get into this business that is called life.

    I am sure that you all will be fine. Use your instincts.

    Bises.

    • I completely agree, Mark needs to adjust to the world, it’s so new to him! That’s what I tell myself when I look at him. Thank you for the “cute” comment, we can’t wait to see how cuter he becomes as he grows up!

  7. Hi Zhu,
    It’s difficult for me in english, and I’m not sure to have understood everything. But I’ve had 3 boys, and I can feel your words. Be courageous and patient : what you are living is a great moment in your life and Mark will give you more that tiredness …

  8. There is no secret manual on how to feed a baby and have him sleep. There is nothing wrong in giving him a bottle once in a while, specially if that gives you some sleeping time!!! A sleep deprived mother does not make very good milk! 🙂 I remember that the 2 first months were the hardest until the baby(ies) and I got into some sort of routine.
    (Oh, and I don’t know if that helps but I’ve been sleeping with earplugs for 2 years and a half now… I figured that if the kids are clean and fed, the only other thing they need is TO SLEEP– and me too!) (don’t worry you still hear a hungry child crying through the earplugs… it just allows a mother to sleep though all the little sighs and “fake” crying) 😉
    bisous!

    • I’m still having a hard time making the difference between the fake crying and the real one… and he won’t leave me alone for a second, that’s the tough part. Babies crying is pretty impressive (and stressful!) too!

  9. Oh, “getting into a schedule” is actually “getting the swing of things” not really waking a baby when he’s supposed to sleep. Sleep when he sleeps and you’ll be yourself again! 😀
    (You can erase my comments if that’s too much advice. I know how too much input can be irritating!)

  10. Oh, I remember those times – so tough!! It’s like the way boot camp breaks you down and turns you into a soldier: you are being turned into a mother instead. You can be just as proud of making it through. So often it is not ideal. Looks to me like you’re doing a great job.

    Congratulations!!

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