Love In The Time Of Formula
This past weekend I hosted a surprise baby shower for my good friend from high school. I had a house full of friends, flowers, miniature cupcakes, and lots of estrogen. It was actually a quite small affair – just five guests and myself – so I didn’t really bother planning any games…although there are some gems out there these days.
Baby showers: The only time in your life that you can be publicly excited about smelling excrement.
It really was a fun party – the guest of honor was totally surprised (but very gently surprised – I didn’t want to stage an impromptu childbirth class in my entryway), and some of my friends hadn’t seen each other in years. And did I mention that my friend Dottie traveled from Kentucky to spend the weekend with me, and that SHE BROUGHT HER 4-MONTH-OLD BABY? As in, THERE WAS A BABY IN MY HOUSE?! As in, I ACTUALLY HELD A REAL, LIVE, PANTS-POOPIN’ INFANT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE?!
How was I supposed to know?
As I’ve mentioned here time and time and [holy shit] time again, I am somewhat of an amateur when it comes to the babies and such. I babysat for years, so I know my way around a diaper, but I’ve never had to deal with any kids under age 2, and I sure as hell haven’t spent any significant time around little kids lately.
I am told watching Baby Boom on TBS does not count.
So, yeah. Don’t get me wrong – I was TOTALLY excited to have Dottie bring her baby. I am still amazed that my friends are becoming mothers, since it seems like only yesterday we were getting drunk on warm Budweisers while listening to Blues Traveler and crying about our douchebag freshman year boyfriends.
Why’d he have to give me the runaround?
I tend to forget that so much time has passed since those [melodramatic] days, and I really can’t get over how cool it is that my FRIENDS are now MOTHERS. So I was completely excited to see Dottie in total mother mode, and also to see how I’d do with a baby in the house. More specifically, how the whole popping-my-baby-holding-cherry situation would go.
The stuff of my nightmares.
Of course, when I picked up Dottie and her baby at the airport on Friday, I was really not prepared for how cute her baby would be in real life. Sure, I’d seen pictures, but baby pictures are always taken so close up, so that you really have no frame of reference when it comes to how tiny they are. Most of the time, baby pictures (especially those taken right after birth) tend to look a little bit like pinched up, wrinkly evil geniuses with giant heads.
“The details of my birth are quite inconsequential…”
But YOU GUYS. This baby? This baby was CUTE. Seriously cute. This baby was so cute, I think I ovulated right there in baggage claim. Thank goodness I brought some paper towels.
I made the mistake of telling Dottie that I’d never held a baby before, and since she knew of my apprehension, she kept faking me out (“Here – take her! Just kidding…”) to get a reaction out of me.
Honestly, though, the baby was so fucking cute (and going through a particularly charming happy-smiley-giggly phase) that it was really tempting not to pick her up at every opportunity. But I was happy just to tickle her [FUCKING TINY!!] little feet, stroke her [FUCKING SOFT!!] little head, and let her squeeze my fingers with her [FUCKING MINUSCULE YET SHOCKINGLY STRONG!!] little hands. I drove us home from the airport as if I was transporting a carload of china teacups filled with eggshells and liquid nitrogen.
At home, we sat outside on the porch swing, and Dottie plopped the baby on my lap with a quick warning: “She’s going through a really leaky stage right now. There’s always something coming out of her from somewhere.”
So, here’s the point in the blog post where I get to share a few of my [manymanymanymany] neuroses. Simply put, I do not handle bodily fluids well. Also, I do not handle anticipation well. So you can imagine how well I would handle “HERE, HOLD THIS BABY WHO MIGHT EXPEL VARIOUS AND SUNDRY FLUIDS ON YOU BUT YOU JUST DON’T KNOW WHEN OH THE EXCITEMENT HAR HAR HAR!!”
Yeah. HoST is pretty much the same way. Over the weekend, when someone related the story of how she, as a baby, once spread the contents of her diaper all over the nursery wall, HoST said, without flinching, “I would have to burn the entire house down after that.”
Looks like the baby spit up again.
Suffice it to say, we are not a hardy people when it comes to the messier side of life.
I am happy to report that the baby did not (visibly) expel a thing while sitting on my lap. However, right after I handed her back to my friend, her diaper leaked on Dottie’s pant leg. I think I let out a pretty audible sigh of relief – because I’m both tactful and a good friend – before offering to get Dottie some paper towels. “Nah,” said Dottie, “It’s OK. I’m just going to go in and change her.”
Yes, that’s right, friends. She left it there. She left the pee. Just left it to dry, right there on her leg. A totally unattended wet spot, right there for the world to see.
And I tried to be cool with it. Really, I tried. But underneath my very thin veneer of calm, I was kind of…not OK with it.
It’s not like I walk around my house in a surgical mask, coating every available surface with antibacterial gel (well, maybe only during flu season), but I get pretty squicked out by germs and bodily excretions and such. And the pee spot? Wasn’t even very big, and not really that gross. And I hated – really hated – that it bothered me that much. For fuck’s sake, I’m the woman who bitches and moans all over the internet about trying to get pregnant, and I can’t even handle a stupid little pee spot? And it’s BABY pee, not battery acid. I’m pretty sure the chemical makeup of baby pee is 45% champagne, 30% sunshine, and 25% laughter of the bouncing baby Jesus.
Which begs the question: what’s in baby Jesus’ pee?
It was all just really confusing for me, because the entire time I was freaked out about coming into contact with whatever happened to be spurting out of the baby at the moment, I was still totally enamored with her. I missed her when we put her down for naps, I got excited when I heard her coos from the guest room first thing in the morning, and I don’t think there is a sorry bastard on this planet who could refrain from grinning like an idiot when on the receiving end of a spontaneous baby smile.
Yeah, yeah, even if it’s just gas.
I made a little bit of progress over the course of the weekend. I voluntarily changed a quite interesting diaper while Dottie took a shower, and I actually HELD THE BABY, for reals, TWICE. Not some lame-ass lap-sitting, but honest-to-goodness holding the baby in my arms. Until my weak left arm got tired and I started to wonder how much time had elapsed since her last installment of the Spit Up Diaries, at which point I handed her over to HoST (who said he didn’t mind if she spit up on him, but…see: burning house down, above).
Altogether, I kind of felt like the weekend was a mixed bag as far as my performance around a real live baby was concerned. On the positive side, I did think she was pretty damn cool, and I liked to be around her. On the negative side, I seemed to be missing the tolerance/indifference towards the messy parts. At first, I told myself that it was just because I wasn’t the baby’s mother…until all my childless shower guests arrived and happily passed her around and bounced her on their laps (even in their NICE DRESSES, I mean ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!). This, of course, made me feel like a pretty awful candidate for parenthood, not to mention pretty shallow. What the fuck is wrong with a person who is so afraid of a little regurgitated formula?
Nothing to fear but Similac itself.
When Monday morning rolled around – the shower weekend over and my houseguests gone – I did what I so often do: complained to my friend Bird about the sorry state of my mothering instincts. And she did what she so often does: said “Bitch, please,” and set out to prove me wrong about the entire situation. She brought up the only current child in the Turkey household (and the Achilles heel of my cold, black heart): our cat, Tootsie. “You two love Tootsie more than is probably healthy in some situations,” said Bird, “and you would do anything for her – including collecting urine samples [which HOLY FUCK is quite a story, I assure you, as it involves roasting pans and unpopped popcorn kernels] and with a child it will be like this, but a billion times more. If you can feel an emotional connection with a plant, bug, animal, or inanimate object, you will be amazing parents.”
Thanks, Bird. I hope you know that means a lot.
Of course, now you guys know who to blame if we go away for the weekend and think it’s perfectly acceptable to leave the baby home alone with a bowl of pureed bananas and a hamster bottle filled with breastmilk.
She just LOVES her wheel, but is still getting used to the litter box.
Entry filed under: And you KNOW THIS!.