On February 27th, 6:07 pm, I had a baby. At home. On my bed. Atop a skillfully lain pile of puppy training pads and an old shower curtain, I pushed out the absolute greatest joy of my existence. And also the better part of my rectum.
I can’t believe that was eleven weeks ago. The perfectly slimy, gray angel – so helpless – they laid on my chest that day is now a smiling little person in a swing next to me as I type this, saying this like, “a-gaaaaaa”, “aoouuuuuu”, and “Mom, I can’t believe you’re watching back to back episodes of doctor Phil on PVR. You’re better than this. Please mix in a shower”.
The first time I realized that this Mommy thing is somewhat tricky – albeit constantly hilarious and heartwarming – was when my mom came to stay with us a week after lil M was born. She felt immediately compelled to give me a list of “Must-Dos” that clearly I “Must-Not-Have-Been-Doing”. If I can remember correctly they were:
1. Eat daily
2. Shower daily
3. Get out of the condo daily
The last one seemed the most unrealistically arduous. Get out? As in leave home? With the baby? P-tcha!
For the first three weeks it really was a big deal to get lil M dressed and fed and cleaned and into his stroller and out the door without a meltdown on both our parts. And when you have your first newborn you are forced to surrender the cozy bubble of narcissism you once thrived in. As in, if Baby is happy, fed and clean and you are out and about? WIN! Looking in the mirror or feeding or bathing yourself? A luxury you can’t afford.
During mom’s visit, our first attempted outing illustrated just that. I’m sweating from a combination of hormones and the race to get the diaper bag in order and the crying baby strapped into his stroller and moving before the cry turns into a scream. Once in the elevator and mentally congratulating myself for making it this far, mom says “Heather!” and begins frantically adjusting my shirt. I then glance down at myself for the first time that day. I’m wearing a man-shirt with the buttons open down to my navel and the boob flap of my nursing bra still down. For those of you unfamiliar with this type of apparel I’ve drawn a picture on this unopened bank statement for your convenience.
But you know what? It’s all good! I tucked that shit back in and we were ready to par-tay! We took Walmart by storm that day!
Also, I’m convinced babies are way smarter than we give them credit for and not without a sense of humour…
One thing I battle with daily is how much light to have on when I change his diaper at 3 am. You want to be able to see what you’re doing, make sure you’ve covered all potentially waste-filled crevices. But you do not want to wake the baby (for the love of all that is sacred, do NOT WAKE THE BABY!!! Sorry.). I am blessed in that my kid usually cries to be fed, feeds and has his diaper changed, all while unconscious. But there’s always the risk of waking him by turning on a light.
So I bought this little owl night light. It’s great, you just push its head, which is all I have the brainpower to accomplish at 3 am feedings. So one night last week I change lil M with nothing but the (scant at best) light from this owl. I’m pretty sure I’ve got it all but it’s really tough to see. So I take the owl and hold it and my face close to lil M’s business to be sure…
And blast-off! Biggest liquid poop of any infant, to date, hands down, directly into my eye and mouth. Up my arm. Down my chest. Over the dresser and carpet. Over the wall outlet. Everywhere. At 3 am and with nothing but the poop-drenched owl to illuminate the scene of destruction.
It’s a moment in which you might think, OK, World, you got me. I’m gonna go ahead and sit on the poop-carpet and weep now. I come close. Except that when I look at lil M to make sure he’s still asleep (after my as-quiet-as-possible overreaction to the blast), he’s wide-eyed and is wearing the biggest, open-mouthed, shit-eating grin.
[I make sure to throw a scoop of puns into my smoothie every morning. And also, flaxseed.]
I had to laugh. It was hilarious. There was shit everywhere! Despite the early hour and the fact that I had to deal with it, it was basically one of the top four funniest scenes possible. And I’ve never seen this kid happier! He maintained this open-mouthed smile right up until I put him back in his bed. I was confident that there was no way he was going to sleep.
But he slept for another five straight hours! It was just the comic (and digestive) relief he needed.
Finding the humour in otherwise awkward/exhausting/disgusting moments is the name of the motherhood game. When lil M was just four weeks old I took him home to Newfoundland for his grammy’s wedding. Despite being over-heated and sleep-deprived myself, I had him looking as dapper as possible in his little gray slacks and pink checkered shirt. But mom (like all her sisters) has this thing with stripping him down to his diaper every time she sees him.
[I think it’s a Newfie woman thing. I’d probably do the same thing if it were your baby.]
So I’m holding this hot sweaty, half-naked baby against my hot, sweaty body, and attempting to mingle and PR-smile my way through the champagne-fuelled crowd to the bathroom to escape (and pee). As I sat on the toilet with the damp, wiggly boy on my lap, I realized the ribbon which tied in the back of my dress was fully immersed in the toilet water. And then, perhaps to commemorate the moment, lil M looked deeply into my soul and shit through his diaper down his legs, onto my dress and arm.
You think you’d know how to react in a moment like that. But with your hands very full and your underwear around your ankles, there is very little you can do. I sat there for quite some time with my sweet, shit baby in my arms and my dress stewing in piss. And did nothing. I couldn’t call out; the place was packed and buzzing with people, no one would hear me. The thought occurred to me that I would sit there all night until the restaurant closed and that, hopefully, a staff-member would find me. Luckily my sister found me well before that. She changed him on my lap and I shrugged off the fact that I was shit-stained and piss-soaked and rejoined the party.
Each week I feel I get a tighter grasp on this motherhood business but I will never claim anything close to perfection. Earlier this evening I walked out the door with my son (in a carrier on my chest) wearing a toque, a tiny gray cardigan and no pants (punctuation is tricky there so, to clarify, I’m describing him not me. I was indeed wearing pants.). I realized this once we were well into our walk. I held his legs so no one would notice.
At the end of the day (literally. As in, just now), I get to dance with my son to New Slang by the Shins in the kitchen. And a moment like that is worth every last fleck of shit in the eye. No question.