I step into the room and take a look at baby Mark, all ready for bedtime.
“Why did you pick that pyjama?” I ask Feng.
“Not yet, but remember the last time he wore it? He didn’t want to go to sleep,” I explain, while undressing Mark. “That pyjama is bad luck.”
Case closed. I’m changing Mark. Feng shrugs but doesn’t object. Hell, we are both exhausted and we don’t want to risk jinxing it.
Yes, I am aware of the fact that changing Mark’s pyjama won’t guarantee that he will fall sleep faster. I know that he probably doesn’t give a damn about the clothes he is wearing, that it has no influence on his sleep whatsoever. That I’m becoming a superstitious fool.
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.
It all starts when you become pregnant. A wonderful thing is happening: you are baking a mini-baby. But at the same time, you are somewhat losing control over your body. You are sharing it with said mini-baby, which is a strange experience. You also start developing symptoms you never had before, such as morning sickness, sudden and unexplainable food aversions and cravings, extreme tiredness, mood swings… Being pregnant is a tough job and can be difficult physically and mentally. I compared it to going through puberty all over again!
But after the baby is born, you do get your body back… right? Ah ah, not so fast! If you are breastfeeding, you will be lending a boob or two for a little while. It also takes time for your period to come back, for your baby belly to disappear, for the uterus to shrink back to its normal size, for any dull birth pain to ease. Don’t expect all that to happen overnight and all at once—every woman and every body is different. I had it easy at the postpartum stage and my body recovered very fast but postpartum issues can be understated.
Meanwhile, you are dealing with a mini-earthquake at home: the baby. You waited for nine months to meet him (and sometime much longer if conceiving took a while) but no matter how prepared you think you are… you won’t be ready for what’s ahead. All babies are different and with babies, every day is different too. You can’t plan, can’t anticipate—you have to go with the flow.
Easier said than done.
During the first few weeks, establishing a routine is mission impossible. The baby will eat whenever he feels like it and sleep whenever he wants to. On the plus side, there is never a dull moment and you are kept on your toes. On the downside, you are tired, you’d love to be able to find time to eat or sleep without being interrupted for a feeding and you can’t wait to get out of the house to see if the world is still spinning.
At first, some days are perfect and some days are awful. And good luck trying to figure out what triggers these hellish day: the baby can be hungrier than usual because of a growth spur, moody because of the weather (Mark went crazy during Hurricane Sandy!) or because he is overtired, because the parents are stressed out, because the snow is white and the sky is blue—who knows.
Once you eliminated the obvious reasons (hunger, tiredness, sickness) you are left alone trying to figure out why the baby won’t calm down.
And yes, at this stage you may change his pyjama claiming it’s “bad luck” in a pointless attempt to regain some kind of control of an out-of-control situation.
With babies, what works one day doesn’t work anymore the next. Things are constantly changing, evolving, and you have to adapt.
It’s tough. I’m far from being a control freak and Feng and I aren’t routine people; yet I often wished we had it all figured out with Mark. But there is no magic formula for babies—just a good dose of common sense, consistency and patience.
Embrace chaos, enjoy the moments.
And change that pyjama. Who knows, maybe it is bad luck.