From the Diaper Pail

Breast is best. It’s also THE WORST.

Breast is best. Yeah yeah yeah, we get it. We believe you. But please don’t call breastfeeding “magical,” and please stop smiling like that.

A mother’s milk may very well be the “perfect food” but the process sure ain’t perfect so let’s not pretend it is. Is it nice to be able to nurture the fruit of your loins with the nectar of your nips? Of course it’s nice. It’s convenient, even. But it is NOT magical. Unless curling your toes while your vampire baby sucks your nipples four inches down into his throat is magical. Om no.

And then there’s the pressure. I don’t mean the pressure to breastfeed (although there is that, big time.) I mean THE PRESSURE. The ratio of force to the area over which that force is distributed. There is a volcano ready to erupt and that volcano is your tits.

The day Max was born, they told me he could suck away on the ol’ chesticles but my milk wouldn’t likely “come in” until the following day. They did NOT mean that a nurse would bring me a milkshake. They meant that I would develop a huge, rock-hard uniboob that needed to be relieved or someone would lose an eye – if not by my projectile milk than by my fist. Milk would literally shoot across the room in multiple directions like a sprinkler skitzing out on the lawn.

One way or another, you MUST get the milk out of you. If the baby is not hungry when you’re ready to feed, someone is getting a mouthful of sweater-meat and you don’t care who it is. Doctor, nurse, husband, janitor, hospital pastor: I don’t care who you are, just get over here and suck on these globes for the love of god.

This rarely happens, of course, because your baby is a voracious glutton. From the moment Max came out, he was sucking: the world’s newest little perv, looking for the nearest nipple. The day we brought him home from the hospital, we caught him trying to suck the shit out of the car-seat. The Bobbsey Twins were in for it.

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His savage sucking relieved the pressure. But don’t get me wrong: it did NOT feel good; it hurt like a bitch. But it was the only way to restore some normalcy to my tender torpedoes. I bit my lip and kept my eye on the prize: 30 glorious minutes of feeling relatively normal. (Let’s leave my hemorrhoids and vaginal scar tissue out of this.)

And then the weird sensation of the milk replenishing itself inside me would begin. Just in case I forgot for a second that I was a freakin’ COW. I could actually feel the milk travelling through my ducts, from some tiny little milk factory deep inside me run by the doozers from Fraggle Rock.

This is a delicate balance between my bongos and my baby. A reciprocity that must go on, 24-7, with no escape except death. We are attached at the tit forever. It will never, ever end. IT CAN’T END. If he decides he’s had enough of the girls, I’m screwed. I will have to steal another baby. I will have to pull a Selma Hayek. I will have to slap my lady-lumps into a sandwich press. I will have to sneak into Central Dairies after hours and hook my teats up to the milking machine. When you and your babe are apart, something MUST take his place. Anything. Anyone.

Max was about four months old when I spent the first night ever away from him. Andrew and I went to a wedding about an hour out of town. Conveniently it was at a hotel, so we booked a room, pumped the milk, bought the wine, and left Max with my mom. It was time for this new mama to par-tay.

Of course, there’s no switch on the fun-bags to turn off the milk production, so I’d have to pump at intervals to alleviate the pressure. I packed my trusty breast pump and a couple hundred breast pads and off we went.

An hour or so into the wedding reception, I was practically mooing. Busting at the seams. It was time to express myself and not in the way Madonna intended. I went up to my room to pump and dump. But the bloody batteries in the pump were dead and I hadn’t brought the plug-in. KILL ME NOW. Okay wait, don’t panic. I got some new batteries from the front desk. Crisis averted.

But the pump still wouldn’t work. FUCK YOU, DURACELL. I had had it with this pumping thing anyway. Max could fill his belly in ten minutes flat but I’d pump for a half-hour to get a half-ounce of milk. (I eventually posted an ad online and sold the bastard pump to a guy named Tony.)

Okay. Plan B: manual expression in a hot bath. In other words, milking myself with my own hands, like I’m the farmer AND the cow all in one. The hot bath helps, don’t ask me why. I had tried this in the bathtub before out of sheer curiosity and I knew it wasn’t an overly effective method, but I had no choice now. It was either do it myself or wander off into the woods to find a baby beaver to latch on, buck teeth and all. I’d leave the wedding every hour or so, run upstairs to our room, whip off my dress, toss my soggy breast pads in the garbage, and jump in a scalding bath to milk myself. Just a shot glass full, but beggars with bursting bazookas can’t be choosers. Then I’d jump out of the tub, throw my dress back on, insert two fresh breast pads, and go back downstairs to the wedding. Until I just couldn’t take it anymore. Again.

This went on all night. So much for my relaxing evening. This night was gone tits-up. This wedding was dead to me. And don’t even bother trying to get frisky later, husband. I’m busy SURVIVING over here. Sorry for my lack of romance, but I’m a little occupied with NOT DYING. If I can just make it through the night I will have ALL THE SEX, I swear.

I thought about just leaving. Getting in the car and just driving home. But my husband couldn’t drive because he was, of course, drunk on life with his tiny nipples all tucked into his cute little shirt. And I couldn’t drive either because I literally could not bring my arms up to hold a steering wheel; there was just too much boob in the way. If we had an accident on the highway, my airbags would cushion the impact (YAY) but we’d all drown in breast milk (DAMN).

We were here for the night. But sleeping was impossible. I had to lie flat on my back because lying on my side, with my side-boob touching the bed, was excruciating. Nobody touch me. Nobody breathe on me. If a feather escapes from the down pillow and lands on my chest, I will surely die. I begged for sleep to overtake me so when I opened my eyes again I’d be just one hour from seeing my boy with the mouth.

We drove back to town as early as possible the next morning, my back straight against the seat holding on for dear life. Drive, muthafucka, drive. Oh look, a hitchhiker. And he looks thirsty – pull this fucking milk wagon over! If a cop had stopped us I would have shot him right in the face; my machine guns were locked and loaded.

***

Max is four years old now, and while he does exude a curiosity about mommy’s “tiny pillows” when we’re lying in bed reading a book, he has no idea they were his breakfast, lunch and dinner for nearly a year. I’ll tell him one day when he’s older, when I catch him and his friends with their first White Russians.

So why didn’t I tell this story earlier? I would have told it years ago, but the best part of it was off limits, and I didn’t think the story was worth telling at all without it. But that’s when I still gave a shit about what people think. Since then, I’ve blogged about my broken vagina and written a friggin’ book revealing everything those What to Expect books so conveniently leave out. Guns blazin’, balls out, baby. So now it seems kind of silly to hold back on one of the weirdest moments of my life so far.

I won’t get into the gory details. Let’s just say there was a Plan C. There had to be. Shit was getting primal up in here. I was that guy who got trapped between the rocks for 127 hours and sawed his own arm off. I was one of those rugby players who crashed in the Andes and ate someone’s arse to survive. I was up Tit Creek without a paddle. I was truly and unequivocally desperate in this moment. And desperate times call for desperate measures… RIGHT, HONEY?

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Motherhood is the Sh*t.

The nurse comes into my room on the maternity floor.

“Did you eat a lot of fruit today?” she asks with a curious smile.

“Ummm, no?”

My three-day-old jaundiced son was in an incubator down the hall and Florence Frightengale here was talking about apples and oranges!?

She chuckled. “Max just pooped and it shot right out of the hole in the side of the incubator.”

Not connecting the dots? Fruit has fibre. Mommy eats fruit. Breastmilk transfers fibre to baby. Baby shoots supersonic, projectile poop missiles.

Excellent work, son! Next time, point your cute little crap cannon right at the meany-faced nurse. You know the one. Get ‘er right in the meany eye.

And so it began. My entire existence would henceforth revolve around the emissions of this itty-bitty bunghole.

During those six days at the hospital with my little Mexican midget with the excess bilirubin, I had to document every dang detail of his brownload downloads. Colour, frequency, size — it was a proper doo-doo diary. From black meconium to guacamole green to mustard yellow, his Crayola box of crappola indicated his bilirubin was regulating and we could finally take Paco home. (As his liver-tan faded to the intended pasty white, his moniker changed from Cheech to Alfredo to Billy Reuben to Casper, but we eventually settled on Max, short for Maxican — a salute to his uncanny six-day impression of George Lopez.)

I stole as many diapers from the hospital as my duffle bag would hold and went on my merry mommy way.

Before long, Max’s butt nuggets became that familiar shade of brown. Now that’s the shit I know… and love? My romanticized notions of motherhood quickly kerplunked to the bottom of the diaper pail. Beyond the bliss of little white onesies and cloud-soft chenille blankets was the fundamental truth that we are all just animals, performing the most basic of human functions: Eat. Breathe. Shit. Sleep. Survive. Max and I, both.

In a twist of cruel irony, my dad was battling colon cancer. He had a tumour removed from his bowel the very day I peed on a stick and heard it scream “pregnant!” Good and bad, the colon was certainly seeing a lot of action in our family. But let’s keep this light, shall we? Back to the ass goblins.

Shit was everywhere. Yes, fan included. If I had one of those super-cool infrared CSI poop detectors, there’d be one white patch behind the fridge where shit had yet to splatter. But hey, we were home. Let the feces fall where it may.

It’s when we ventured out into the real world that things got messy. More than once we stripped Maximus Stinkimus down in public places, including once in the parking lot of a car dealership as we shopped for a new ride. I triple-bagged his clothes as my husband dangled the 15-pounder out of the car door, Michael-Jackson-balcony style; Max had shat himself from neck to knees. If I hadn’t packed extra clothes for him, we would have had to wrap him up in a Pontiac poster. Stool-resistant seats blasted to the top of our “things we need in a car” list. Basically, we needed to drive Frank Barone’s couch.

We were rolling with the punches of new parenthood, but this shitstorm was a new climate for us. Two years prior, our new puppy had arrived, fully trained to poop in the yard at nine-weeks-old. Human babies are so dumb.

But I didn’t realize just how wonderful infant poop was until Max, around age one, started depositing full-size, mega-toxic shitsicles. I may as well have been changing my husband’s diaper. One day, honey. EW! (Please read that EW in all caps, 48-pt type, and followed by 10,000 exclamation marks.)

And around age two, the butt-munchkin started assuming “the position.” Turbo Ginger never stops, so when he does it’s either because Thomas is on Treehouse, or there’s a corn-eyed butt snake en route to Pantsville. Here’s how it goes: I notice a sudden silence. This can only mean one of two things. He’s either standing there across the room, holding a pair of scissors and staring at me thinking, “Will she stop me, or shall I go ahead and carve the shit out of those curtains?” Or, he’s bent over at the waist at a 45-degree angle, red-faced and quivering, squeezing some Mississippi mud into his diaper like a human tube of toothpaste.

His body in a full Nazi salute, it’s like he’s a member of the Turd Reich. Okay, that’s it. When my kid starts to remind me of Adolf Hitler, I know it’s time for change. It’s potty time, baby.

But we didn’t push the potty training too hard, warned by many that he might rebel and either get a tattoo or start pinching loafs all over the house. But once he realized what we were up to, Max started hiding. Behind the couch. Behind his bedroom door. And he started saying things like, “I gotta go see a man about a horse.” Okay, that’s a lie. But he did start saying, “I go hide,” and “Don’t look at me.” Oh OK, Mr. Mysterious, what ever could you be up to? You better not be smoking cigarettes in there, or watching those skanks on Toddlers & Tiaras.

But now, at two and three-quarter years of age, he’s ready and about 87 per cent trained. He has the occasional accident, but who doesn’t? (Blush.) The day is quickly approaching when I will no longer accidentally lick “chocolate” off my wrist, and I can buy more vodka and less crap-catchers. Those friggers are 50 cents a poop, er, pop! I’m broke. And I’m not just talking about my vagina.

In the meantime, I’m savouring my little pooper’s first life endeavour. (Well, second, if you count “latching on.”) His determined, wide-eyed poop face is cute as hell, despite the assault on my nostrils as an ungodly aroma wafts up from below him. He looks down through his legs to see the chalupas he’s dropping and exclaims, “Look — it’s poop!” No shit, Sherlock. He has pooped on the potty about 70 times now and he’s still psyched — every time. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Then we “drop some friends off at the lake.” Proud and excited, he watches it swirl down the drain and exclaims, “Bye poopy, see ya later!” I sure hope not, dude. What’s that? — A knock on the door. Oh… God… Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hide and Seek for Dummies

We play a lot of hide and seek at our house.

With the exception of hiding behind the couch to chinch his shorts with hot shit, Max sucks at this age-old game.

He is the worst hider in the history of the world.

He is on the America’s Most Found List.

If he had been a part of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden would have Bin Gotten on September 12th.

Here is how it usually goes. I stay in the living room and start counting to ten while Max scurries excitedly down the hall. I get to eight… nine… nine and a half… nine and three-quarters… and I can still hear him running around from bedroom to bedroom, giggling.

So I shout, “Ready or not, here I come!” and start giant-stepping down the hall so he can hear my approach and make last-minute adjustments to his cloak of invisibility.

Clearly his cloak needs mending.

I walk into his bedroom pretending not to see what’s right in front of me: He’s standing there holding a pillow up to cover his face. I prolong the game for at least a few seconds, seeing as we came all this way.

“Hmmm, what’s this strange pillowtop statue doing here? And why is it wearing Max’s tractor jammies? Imposterrrrr!!!”

Muffled giggling.

“Wait a second… this faceless, pajamma’d statue with feet is laughing! It’s… it’s… it’s ALIVE!”

His arms go weak with laughter and he drops the pillow.

“There you are. I knew it was you!”

This is progress. Sometimes he doesn’t even apply the pillow. He just stands there with his eyes closed, because obviously I can’t see him if he can’t see me. Perfect logic. (Did you know Max served on the jury for the Casey Anthony murder trial?)

"Maybe I'll hide in here. Oh wait, I'm already hidden."

Occasionally he does find a good hiding spot (with daddy’s help). I see him right away, of course – in the clothes hamper, behind the door, or — everyone’s favourite — playing a CSI cadaver under the bedspread.

“Where’s Max?” I ponder exaggeratedly.

If he doesn’t start laughing right away, he immediately announces, “I’m right here!”

“Oh thank God, I thought you were lost to me forever.”

I have not been this fake since I was 18 pretending to be legal drinking age.

If his hiding skills don’t improve, he’ll be grounded for the duration of his teenage life. And what ever will I do with all that poorly-stashed weed?

Kids just can’t keep a secret. I remember spending the day with my nephews many years ago, when Max was but a pipe dream. (You know, from his daddy’s pipe.) Glenn – my brother and dad to Jack, then 6, and Sam, then 3 – was working offshore at the time. It was the day before Mother’s Day, so I took the boys to the store to buy a card and some flowers for their mom. On the way home, I coached them on the art of discretion.

“Now guys, remember – this gift is a secret. You need to hide it when you get home and give it to your mom tomorrow. Not today – tomorrow. Mother’s Day.”

Oh yes, they assured me. It was top secret. Classified. Mum’s the word.

We walked into the house and Peggy, my SIL, was there to greet us.

“What did you do today?” She was eager to hear how the boys enjoyed their day with crazy aunt Vicki.

Sam’s gums were flapping before the front door was closed behind us. I flashed him the hairy eyeball but it was too late.

“We had fun,” said Sam. “And we definitely did NOT buy you a card and flowers.”

It’s safe to say Sam will never be in the CIA.

Kids. They make terrible secret agents, criminals, and witnesses. Take today’s supper conversation:

“What did you do at daycare today, Max?”

“Play outdoors,” he says.

“In the rain?

“Uh-huh.”

“Did you get wet?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And did you also stay dry?”

“Uh-huh.”

“So glad you had a great day, Houdini.”

That’s my boy. So full of shit, in more ways than one.

 

 

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Ugly Baby Alert

So you think you got a cute baby. And maybe you do. It’s possible; some of those sneaky c-section babes manage to dodge the cone head. But come on, new parents – see beyond your baby blinders. Does your newbie look like a baby walrus? Does your new son look like Steve Buscemi? Would Anne Geddes put your baby waaaaaay in the background?

Oh I forgot. All babies are precious gifts from God, how can they be anything but beautiful?

Easily. But I will spare your butt-fugly babe and use my own child to demonstrate.

When Max was born, he was pretty easy on the eyes. Big lips. Button nose. And lovely olive skin. Waaaaait a damn second. I quickly recounted all my sexual rendezvouses of the last none months. Hmmm, just one skeety white boy from Mount Pearl. It had to be jaundice.

I show people Max’s baby album now and they ask, Who’s the little Mexican? I say, That’s Senor Max – he comes from the village of Taco. It is very hot down there. 

He had such an orange tinge, it was like I had been impregnated by Ernie. Which could have worked out, come to think of it. I mean what better neighbourhood to raise your kid in than Sesame Street? If I married Ernie, I could control his every move. But then there’s the whole gay thing. Bert would have been pissed. (Can paper clips be used as weapons?)

The jaundice went away with the bilirubin and my baby boy was 100% Irish honky. We also stopped calling him Billy Rueben.

But his skin problems did not end there. After a few weeks of cuteness, he started to morph into a kid from the first half of a Clearasil commercial.

Wow, that’s a cute… elephant. Max was a total Gremlin.

Once, I nodded off with him in my arms. Dreaming of my beautiful boy driving a cloud car with the Care Bears, I woke up and looked down to see his googly eyes and crater face staring back at me. Imposter! I almost dropped him on the floor.

But fear not! All you parents of motley munchkins out there, there is hope. At one month of age, Max looked like a pizza with eyes and hair. But it only lasted a couple of weeks. And today he is God’s gift to midget women: a full head of curly, copper hair; big, brown eyes; a heart-melting smile; and bulging biceps.

But I’m sure there are uglier days to come, at age six or seven, when he starts to lose teeth and grow hair on his shoulders.

I am living proof of the fluctuation of childhood beauty. I was a pretty cute toddler, and this is how things panned out…

Yikes.

In my defence, I was not born with a mullet. Or that geometrical nightmare of a shirt. Some kids are born ugly and some have the ugly thrust upon them. So my pukoid elementary school days were less the fault of Mother Nature and more the fault of Mother Shirley. Thanks for keeping me humble, mom. I owe ya.

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