As new mommies we have accepted that the world is divided between two types of people: those who have kids and those who don’t. We are the ones who shamelessly go see movies like What to Expect When You’re Expecting to see if it bears an inkling of similarity to our new lives. We also find ourselves watching idiotic shows such as “16 and Pregnant” and “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” to make ourselves feel better knowing that the job we’re doing couldn’t possibly be that bad. Yes, doing things indoors is the new safer reality for us moms 1) because merely stepping out of the house to go grocery shopping is an event that takes about a 30 minute preparation, 2) the simplest conversations with anyone awkwardly turn into the latest poop-explosion rant and 3) it is a proverbial jungle out there, an obstacle course of possible catastrophes lurking around every corner, absolutely worthy of losing sleep over.
Speaking to other moms, we found that we all share the common fear of rolling onto our babies during late night feeding sessions or comatose afternoon naps. There’s also the random eruptions of spit-up and subsequent choking that runs through all of our minds. There are the ridiculous pediatric inquiries: “My baby is sneezing. Is that normal?”, the hourly “Is she still breathing?” checks and phantom cries in the night that send us running. Then there are fears that branch into morbid territory; those that which said out loud might make one seem unfit for parenting.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I immediately felt all common sense seep out of my brain. I should’ve known a few days before when I caught myself staring cluelessly at Univision for half an hour. It only got worse a month later when I found myself at least three times walking into traffic, horns blaring. And now, paired with major sleep deprivation, I find myself in absurd situations, like standing naked in the middle of the kitchen for who knows how long holding a crying baby, wearing only socks, then trying to walk out the front door to water the plants. Luckily for everyone, I catch myself before I do anything so nonsensical but I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be the next woman who accidentally forgot to drop off her kid at daycare, then leave them in the car to bake at work.
HIM POO = NO SHOE
“No shoes inside!” Anyone who has visited my house in the past 2 years has heard these words because in my house I live by them. Imagine walking home from the grocery store with child in tow, to stumble upon a homeless man producing brown gravy all over the sidewalk—yes, I said brown gravy but I do not mean the delicious kind you get on a roast beef po-boy—this man was literally making poo-poo waterfalls on Magazine Street. I began imagining the unlucky people that would later walk across this sidewalk and have excrement all over the bottom of their shoes unknowingly. At home that night while my daughter was crawling around on the ground, I started thinking about all of the germs carried in my house from the bottom of people’s shoes. I had nightmares about her catching diseases from “the unknown” that could be tracked onto my floors where she spent much of her time at that age. Thanks to old poopie pants on Magazine Street, I am now a shoe Nazi. You wanna come over, you better take them shoes off before you come inside, brah!
THE NEIGHBORHOOD BABY EATER
When my baby was around one month old, my fellow new mom down the block asked me to come show her how to use her breast pump. I decided to try out the dreaded “Baby Bjorn” chest strap carrier for the stroll. I say “dreaded” because I kept imagining myself stumbling over the horizontally-challenged New Orleans sidewalks and squashing my newborn child. (In fact my neighbor noticed me as I prepared to leave the house and asked if I had tripped while holding her yet). So I managed to make it the mere three blocks away without incident, inspecting every crack along the way. With a feeling of complete success upon leaving, I was halfway home when I hit the corner of St. Mary and Sophie B. Wright. As I was looking to the left for traffic, I heard the spastic sound of scraping claws on cement coming from the right, only to turn and see a white pit bull being yanked to a halt by its owner, just inches from chomping distance of my infant’s dangling leg. My face instantly went pale and knees weak as the image of a surgeon sewing up little baby arteries flooded through my head. Somehow I still made it home without passing out and crushing my clueless little one. I’m pretty sure I heard the owner say something like “You should be more careful.” Damn straight I will. I’ll be the wacko peeking around every corner shielding my baby with an umbrella.
BABIES DON’T REALLY BOUNCE
Every new parent anticipates the first accident with their child. Literally up until the moment she was born, I imagined my daughter being placed into my arms, then springing out like a slippery bar of soap onto the floor. Luckily, I guess, I got a safer head start. But the inevitable is always lingering overhead, like the sword of Damocles. As if it didn’t take me long enough to get out of the house in the first place, now I have to check off a mental list of baby supplies with my aforementioned fog brain. When my daughter was just under 2 months old, I decided to go for a stroll around the neighborhood. I put her in her car seat and walked from one end of the house to the front, putting her down as I gathered baby paraphernalia in each room. I was almost out the front door when I realized I forgot to grab money. Now aggravated and in scrambling mode, I placed her on top of the couch, not realizing I was barely balancing her on cushions beneath the car seat. Out of the corner of my eye from the next room, I saw that which replays over and over again in my memory in slow motion: the big black blob that was the car seat slowly falling to its side while a small light blob—my baby—lead the way, landing face first on the couch cushion, then flying backwards to the hard wooden floor, big black blob landing on top of her. I’ve just killed my baby. Guts in throat, legs jello, I bolted to the scene and swept her up. She totally did that baby thing where you know it’s so pissed that it’s making the most agonizing screaming face long before it makes a sound. Then, huh-hwaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! I kind of blacked out for a second because the next thing I knew I was all the way at the opposite end of the house squeezing her tight to my chest, trying to stroke her head but more like batting it because I was shaking so uncontrollably. I’d heard similar stories, how it happens all the time and you’re the one who’s usually hurting more than the baby, blah blah blah; nevertheless I grabbed her and started doing a spazzed-out amateur concussion check. I first grabbed a lighter and was about to flick it right in front of her eyes when, thank Christ, a glimmer of common sense briefly befell me and I grabbed a lamp. No concussion. I sat down on the couch debating whether or not to call my mom or sister (by the way, baby stopped crying like 2 minutes after the incident) but decided I would keep this to myself. Tortured by this image repeating in my head, I decided that nothing else could possibly happen and decided to go for that walk: to cry over a beer with another mommy… after a more responsible, clearer thinking, less baby-torturing person could look after my kid, of course.
A lot of terrifying new things happen when you have a kid. However, the fog eventually lifts, you realize that you can’t actually put this new person that you’re totally responsible for in a plastic bubble and you get your grips on your new role in life as a mother. Your circle of friends changes from predominantly bar patrons to a more mommy-friendly crowd, which pretty much means other mommies. Instead of going out all night, having too many drinks and passing out, we carefully synchronize to whatever whacked-out schedule our kids decide to give us that day. We don’t care about when the next party is or being at the bar every night with the same people doing the same thing. We don’t care that y’all laugh that we now cry during romantic comedies and diaper commercials. This what we do: game over, job done. And it’s f-ing awesome.