I have mentioned before, I didn’t know A THING about babies before I had mine.
For instance, at my baby shower, I must have received no fewer than thirty blankets. At the time, I was a bit miffed, because while I realized the baby would be born in October, I doubted she would be cold in the house all winter, to the point of needing thirty freakin blankets. I mean, come on, y’all couldn’t buy more lil pink booties?
So I washed all those blankets, and folded all those blankets, and stacked all those blankets on the changing table.
The baby came, and I was shown how to swaddle her in blankets. You wrap em up real tight, which mimics being cramped in the womb, and it comforts them. Or, if you’re me, you wrap em up so they can’t flail about, scratching their tiny baby faces and kicking the socks off their tiny pink feet. Whatever, swaddling is like a straitjacket for babies: “I love you, now be still and calm down for your own good.”
Those 30+ blankets came in handy! Every time she messed her clothes, through her assorted bodily functions, she also messed her blankets.
Eventually, my mother left, my husband went off to work, and the children off to school. I was all alone with the baby. The whole world was new again.
I realized, with such clarity, I am completely responsible for this person. Like, then, and FOREVER. It freaked me out completely. You would think I had realized this immediately, or perhaps even while I carried her, but I didn’t.
I thought I was neurotic before her, and even the first tender days, but no, my neuroses had come full circle with this sudden rush of feelings. “Oh my God, I just love her so much, and she’s so tiny, and she needs me for everything, and I cannot fuck this up.” Then it occurred to me that my own mother might have loved me this much, and felt the same way, and this must be what everyone’s always going on about all the love.
Awed by the impact of our six-pound human, I informed my baby that I would do right by her, and she could always count on me. I did not mention that I had ever been a Commitment Phobe, or that I was scared outta my wits about taking care of her, or that I knew absolutely nothin bout babies.
I finished changing her soiled breeches and clothes, gingerly pushed her tiny limbs into new, clean clothes. I carefully strapped her in her carseat to carry her upstairs and across the tile floors. I attempted to shower while watching the baby. It’s hard to wash your hair with your eyes open, but I did the best I could. When I was clean, but not dry, because who has time for that? I nudged her carseat to the edge of the bedroom carpet, picked her up and took her to our bed, only to discover that she had spit up. And all over her pretty pink blanket, too.
So I put her in the middle of the bed, walked backwards to the changing table, reached behind myself to grab a blanket from the pile…and there was no pile! I stopped staring at the baby and looked at the changing table, and there was no pile! There were no more blankets!
My first day alone with my daughter, and I had already fucked it up.
I had to haul my baby, blanket-less, in her carseat, back downstairs over many, many feet of hard floors, to do laundry. Fortunately, my mother had done a load before she left, and a pile of clean blankets rested on the dryer.
I tell expectant mothers, “You can never have too many blankets.”
They always say, “Ooohkay….”
You never know when your mother will leave, and you’ll hafta wash your own damn blankets.