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August 13, 2013 / ginavoskov2013

How having a baby has changed the way I pee, and other things.

Here are the things I do now that I didn’t notice until last Friday.

  • I pee with the door open
  • I sing while I pee

I guess every parent adapts the way he or she uses the bathroom when alone at home with the baby. The thing is, I wasn’t alone. We had visitors, and I was peeing with the door open and starting to sing my nonsense songs to Edith as if she needed to hear me soothe her from afar. Stunned, I shut the door and my mouth and started thinking about how else my bathroom routine has changed since Edith has come into the picture.

  1. Obviously, a baby dictates when I can pee. If I’m trying to soothe her, I can’t just stop and pee. She has no concept of BRB; each time I put her down she thinks I have disappeared for eternity. So I’m in for the long haul, bladder be damned. Likewise, at 3am, her little tiny waking up noises send a direct message to my bladder: “Empty now!” Even if my bladder is 1000% empty, once I begin feeding her it will fill up immediately and then I am S.O.L. for a half an hour. There is no rushing a baby through a feeding or any kind of soothing experience, especially one that happens in the middle of the night. On the up side, because of my poor timing, I feel I’ve increased the volume my bladder can hold. So there’s that.
  2. I have become skilled at peeing with a sleeping (or not) human strapped to my chest. This is harder than it sounds, especially when I’m wearing pants, and especially when they’re my pre-pregnancy jeans that I’m not entirely ready to wear in public but am stretching to fit my new post-baby size. Kind of like when you take jeans out of the dryer and you do a couple squats to get them where they should be. Pulling those jeans down with Edith tied to my front involves some crazy acrobatics, and they’re never fully fastened afterwards.
  3. Edith has, on occasion, made me make some tough decisions. She’s offered me an ultimatum or two: “Mother, listen,” she’ll say, “Either you calm me down and your bowels explode, or you poop and I’ll scream so hard I will give your neighbors reason to call DCFS.” It’s a double-edged sword, really, and our respective suffering is inversely proportionate, whereby the calmer she gets the more uncomfortable I get. But again, as in Point #1, there is no rushing a baby through the soothing process so I sit, there, silently weeping.
  4. I’ve become jealous of my husband. Dennis can luxuriate on the toilet. He can read full New Yorker articles. He can take his time in there for as long as he wants because he knows Edith is with me, cuddling, eating, fussing. And Dennis, with his highly developed sense of empathy, will come out of there talking about the great article he’s reading, or showing me the newest app he’s downloaded on the iPad, or handing me a CB2 magazine to have me check out a couple of new benches he thinks would work for the living room. He gets to do all of that with the door closed, too. It’s like he’s on vacation. But this is not so with me: I’m lucky if I can get through the comics in the New Yorker. (Let me be honest: that’s all I usually read. But before, I had time to consider taking part in the cartoon caption contest in each issue–which, by the way, are remarkably difficult! But when I see the winners in subsequent issues, I’m like, “Duh, this caption is exactly what I would have come up with.”) This goes for showering, too. What was once a lengthy, magnificent ritual of personal hygiene has now become a race against time. It is one of the three things I can do during one of Edith’s nap times, which vary in length from six minutes to four hours: I can shower, I can eat, or I can sleep. And since, of the three, showering makes me feel most like I’ve got my shit together, I aim to do that everyday. But they’re not the showers of yore–I have jumped out of the shower with suds still in my hair because I have heard a distant squawk from my daughter, or more often, have jumped out of the shower because I imagined she strangled herself with a blanket. Razors, shaving cream, hair dryer, and all post-shower toiletry paraphernalia go unused for days. They are my “weekend pleasures” when Dennis can watch over Edith and I can take a proper shower. I’m telling you, during some of those weekend showers, I just sit down and remember all the showers I took for granted–all the times I rushed through showers just to “save water.” What a fool I was. Now, when I get a chance, I push the limits of a responsible, eco-conscious human’s water consumption. Just leave me alone and let me get irreparably pruny. That’s how you make this woman happy these days.

 

So back to the singing and peeing with the door open. I have been so busy actively watching how Edith has been changing, I forget that I’m changing, too. Not that peeing with the door open in front of guests is a “milestone” or anything, but it’s an indication that my gaze is outward now, that my focus is wholly on this little girl who is, right now, sleeping peacefully in her swing after a full two hours of smiling and laughing with me and her dad. I sleep with my ears open–not a peep that she makes goes unheard. (By me, anyway. Dennis fully admits to not hearing a damn thing at night. WHICH IS AWESOME.) I ache to be near her when she is out of my arms and each smile and coo is like some kind of reward for something I’ve done. I can’t quite tell when it happened, or if it’s still happening, but it feels like there’s been a monumental shift in who I am. Yesterday, my niece asked me, “How does it feel to be a mom?” And I answered like I always do, “I don’t really feel like one.” But maybe that’s changing. Maybe it’s when Edie breaks into a huge smile when she sees me walk into a room, or when she nuzzles up into me when I’m feeding her as if she can’t get enough of that feeling of comfort, or when I look down into her sleeping face and tell her, “I love you,” and I know, even as I’m saying it that those words cannot possibly convey what I mean. Maybe that’s what it feels like to be a mom.

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