Pregnancy was a blessing. And by that, I mean that it felt like a gift that could have only been bestowed by Satan himself. When it came to prenatal ailments, I ran the gauntlet. Having been diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, I suffered from nausea and vomiting for the entire duration of the 9 months, landing me in the hospital twice, and the dehydration from which contributed to preterm labor. I had such bad sciatic pain that, despite being terrified of needles, I resorted to in-home acupuncture treatments just so that I could get out of bed. And the hormones. Oh, the hormones. In my first trimester, I became so enraged at my husband that I took a key to his game of Madden and then proceeded to throw the PlayStation in the pool, just for good measure. Never mind the fact that I enjoyed and played the PS3 just as much as he, I was a woman making a statement. And that statement was that I was insane.
So when it came time to take our little girl home from the hospital, I was wholly unconcerned. Surely, the struggles ahead would be nothing compared to those that I encountered during pregnancy. And for the most part, I was right. Thanks to the roughly 1,789 hours I had spent Googling during the previous 9 months, I felt remarkably prepared and never suffered from the first-time-mom syndrome of feeling like I didn’t know what to do. Despite experiencing a rather difficult recovery from my C-section, I felt good. This was a breeze! I was a natural!
And then came time for Brooke’s first bath.
I cannot adequately describe in words the sheer volume of the screams that followed. She was operating at a decibel that I was quite certain was setting Guinness world records. I was pretty sure my neighbor six doors down was going deaf. You would think that, instead of water, I had chosen to bathe her in hot, volcanic lava. It was horrifying.
And so I did what any calm, cool, and collected mom would do, and promptly ran out of the room sobbing. This left my husband as commander in chief, and being one of patience and free from estrogen, he swiftly and deftly took control of the situation. Before long, he had worked through the screams to deliver a baby who, by most accounts, could be considered clean. Until he took her out of the bath. I had just mustered up the courage to re-enter the room when I saw the events unfold before me. That’s when our daughter, our dear sweet little girl, had decided to projectile diarrhea all over her daddy. There were feces everywhere, spraying in directions that defied the laws of gravity and physics. Everything seemed to operate in slow motion, as we watched tiny fluid ounce by tiny fluid ounce make its assault on his person. What felt like minutes went by before the poop attack came to a conclusion, and at the end, there we stood: me, with tears streaked across my face, and my husband, covered in excrement. Brooke: 1; Parents: 0.
It took a few days before either of us could work through the PTSD in order to bathe her a second time. But this time, while the screams persisted, there were no tears from me and my husband escaped unscathed. And that’s when I learned my first valuable lesson of parenthood. As much as you think you may be, you can never be truly prepared, for pregnancy and parenting are, by their very definition, entirely unpredictable. You will no doubt encounter moments during both that make you want to run away and move to Yemen, but if you find solace in the fact that you are not alone and that better days will follow, you will find yourself embracing every tear and feces filled moment along the way. And with a little bit of humility and a lot of laughter, you will learn to love your new role one day (and load of laundry) at a time.