Coming home with a baby for the first time was a completely overwhelming experience. I hadn't been around one at all since my teenage babysitting days. So there I was, too afraid to let Henry cry to take a proper shower, let alone change into a shirt without spit up caked on the shoulder. And I found myself feeling completely untended.
So one vain day, I decided that with the right accessory I might feel more put-together. I put on a gold bangle and went about the regular rituals of nursing and burping and diaper-changing. Henry, just a few weeks old, still had the dried part of his umbilical cord connected to his belly button. I reached for a wipe, and his umbilical stub hooked on to my bracelet and came with it. I know. I am horrible.
I screamed for my husband, forgetting I was alone. After a while, I decided to put the shriveled cord on the side of the changing table, and tried to regain sanity. When Jonny finally came home, I relayed the story. Probably exaggerated it for maximum sympathy. I brought him to the remains, and the belly button was gone. In my hysteria, I must have knocked it off of the table. We searched high and low. Turned everything upside down. But I should have mentioned - we have a small dog, Wayne. When we finally found him, he rolled onto his back, arms extended in the air: the universal guilty-dog pose.
I had fed part of my baby to my dog. I hadn't had enough time as a mother at that point to say "whoops, can't win them all!" because I didn’t yet know any better.
When my daughter was born I took comfort in the fact that no one was looking at me when she was in my arms. Sure, I hide my under eye circles behind their bright, sparkly, eager eyes. Who could blame me?
My advice: if you find yourself with a new baby, and are feeling a little un-beautiful, look down, reconsider, and remove the bangle.
Patrice Heins - who last wrote for Olympia Monthly in September, on the topic of traveling light with her two precious tinies - has generously agreed to share here what is actually Barbara's all time favorite story about the earliest days of motherhood. And accessories. And basically life.
However we must here make a correction and insert the true fact that, whatever she says, Patrice always appears totally put together. Her pregnancy style, for example, is perfect and probably unparalleled in its glamour and un-fussy-ness. If you can even imagine such a combo, which is hard to do.