Moon Month: Midway

It’s a rare moment. Both children are sleeping at the same time.

When Paz was only one week old, I had my first day solo. Guo Jian went into town to do some errands and hitched a ride with some gracious neighbours who needed to finish their Christmas shopping. He left at 9am and I survived five hours of two children—one in need of constant breastfeeding (it seems) and the other in need of constant attention because the other one is getting such “constant” breastfeeding.

Week #1 of having a new child is always the hardest: nipples on fire from breastfeeding, exhausted beyond measure because new baby wakes every two hours at night, emotions a cocktail of wonder and despair, and no time to even brush your hair!

Add to that first week the fact that my partner (and so-called caregiver), Guo Jian, was also jetlagged. We were a mess. Neither of us could keep our eyes open, but for different reasons. Patience was a precious commodity.

Then there are the “baby blues,” or the adrenaline fall that happens after a birth. Every single woman will go through this and some will be extra unlucky and have to deal with full-blown PPD (post-partum depression). The latter is more rare, but baby blues are completely normal and extremely common. It is a natural slump that happens after birth, not just based on the practical reasons like the aforementioned exhaustion, residual birthing pain or the trials of early breastfeeding; it’s also about the hormonal (chemical) shift in our bodies. In other words, if you’ve just given birth and haven’t burst into tears for what seems like no reason during your first week postpartum, then you represent a significant minority.

There was a day last week when I couldn’t reach the phone. I was in the bathroom going pee while holding the baby in one arm and also monitoring Echo who was likewise on the potty (that sits in the bathroom across from the toilet). The phone rang and I couldn’t move to get it. There was just too much going on. What happened then was an immediate feeling of utter despair followed closely by a flooding of complete helplessness. Cue the waterworks.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but that was my momentary reality. Of course I couldn’t answer the phone. I didn’t need to answer it. It wasn’t important. The crying was a hormonal letting and I “let myself let.” Poor Echo, though. She finished her potty business and came up to me, pointing at my tears and said, “Mommy?” with this curious expression on her face. She may as well have been saying, “Who are you and what did you do with my real mother?”

Week #2 was an improvement. I turned a corner on the nipple pain and Paz regained his birth weight—surpassed it by day #12, in fact. He’s feeding well. I also have discovered some good techniques for juggling cooking and baby care, and have taken to afternoon naps when Echo is napping, especially if I can get Paz to feed enough in advance so that he’ll sleep too. Guo Jian has overcome his jetlag and is much more functional in the equation, for the most part.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

Here I am midway and I’m not sure I’ll make it for the whole month. You see, there’s a bonus to having rest and recovery in the winter and that’s the excuse not to have to go outdoors, but getting Guo Jian to run errands is getting more and more tiresome. He returns from the grocery story with products we’ll never use (and having blown our budget), he doesn’t understand enough to mail a package at the post office, and getting him to shovel the walk is like asking Echo to clean up her toys. He hates the snow and it’s more exhausting to convince him to clear the walk for our guests than it would be to just put on a winter coat and do it myself. It’s caused many arguments and it’s becoming clear that his presence doesn’t actually help in the rest and recovery. Nor does it help with the emotions.

In our last argument, he focused on the selfishness of my choice to give birth in Canada when my parents “didn’t care” and “ran off to Florida” and his parents who would love to take care of us are unable since they’re still in China. Of course I insisted that birthing where I chose was my right, not to mention the fact that it was free to birth here, and that the responsibility of caregiving is not for the grandparents (in my culture), but it all fell on deaf ears.

In other words, Guo Jian is unhappy to be “stuck” here with expectations of him.  That’s the hardest part of this moon month. My vision of a close-knit time with just the four of us has crumbled. And it makes me incredibly sad.

It’s not helping with the baby blues.

Thank goodness for friends and their plans to come visit soon. They’ll distract us and make this whole experience feel less lonely—for both of us. What’s more, I know one of them will shovel the walk without a moment’s hesitation. Maybe it’s the Canadian in them… but I will be enormously grateful, nonetheless.

Echo is awake. No nap for me today. Oh well, I’ll make up for it with an early night. Must go!

Moon Month: Release
Birth Story #2: Paz's Journey

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