I was reminded of my brother’s theory today, when Sweet Pea and I went to my favorite coffee shop. I’m no expert on parenting, but I will say this: I think nature mixed up when the octopus got eight arms and human mothers only got two.
It was inevitable that Sweet Pea would have a meltdown in public, and up until today I have avoided this scenario by a) not going out and b) going out for very limited periods. Today, Dan and I were on a walk with Sweet Pea. For over an hour, she slept peacefully in her stroller. Until the moment we approached the coffee shop where I intended to grab a drink, at which point, Dan was to continue on to his office while I planned to sit with our baby and enjoy my coffee. As if on cue, just as Dan bade me farewell, Sweet Pea let out a shriek, which led to a sob, and within seconds, she was in complete freak out mode.
Dan looked at me apologetically, as he had to be at a meeting in just a few minutes. I was like “No problem, I’ve got this, go ahead,” mainly because there were a ton of people sitting on the patio of the coffee shop and it would have been embarrassing to wrap my body around my husband’s shin and beg him not to leave me alone with our screaming newborn. I assured him there was a changing table in the bathroom and I would deal with her in there. I’ve been to this coffee shop a thousand times. I could have sworn there was a changing table in the bathroom. But then again, before now, I didn’t really care one way or the other if there was one or not.
So I put Sweet Pea on a copy of The Onion that happened to be resting on the countertop and checked her diaper. Definitely wet. I found a hook that was about two feet higher than my head and attempted to hang my diaper bag there, and then realized there was no way I could access any of the contents if I placed it there, so I put it on the floor. The dirty public bathroom floor. Holding my squirmy, crying, red-faced baby in one arm, I fished through the bag to find the handy zipper pouch that holds the little pad you put the baby on, to avoid placing the baby directly on the floor in times like these. With the baby wedged between my body and my upper arm, her arms and legs flailing as she wailed, I clumsily used both hands to unzip the pouch and unfold the pad, because trust me, its basically impossible to unzip or to unfold anything with just one hand. I lowered the baby to the mat, and changed her diaper. Of course I had forgotten to put a disposable diaper on her before we left, so, with one hand on the baby to keep her from rolling onto the bathroom floor, I used my other hand to scrunch her soaked cloth diaper into a ball with the urine soaked part on the inside, and shove it into the little pouch, making every possible effort to avoid getting my hand damp with baby urine. Even with two hands, this would have been hard. With one hand, I was just barely able to do it.
Once she was diapered up and ready to go, I stood up and realized my achilles tendons ached from kneeling on the bathroom floor that whole time. I really wanted to wash my hands, but there was no way to access the sink while holding Sweet Pea. The octopus thing is making sense now, right? How awesome would that be… one arm for the baby, one arm to hold the diaper bag, while one arm can dig through it to find stuff, which leaves you with five free arms for miscellaneous activities like wiping crud off your baby’s face…
Before I exited the bathroom, Sweet Pea started screaming again. I sat down in the first patio chair I saw, surrounded by people sipping coffee, facing a parking lot, re-arranged my scarf, pulled up my shirt, and hoped that between the scarf and Sweet Pea’s head this was a G-rated venture. I have no doubt the pressure I felt to position Sweet Pea, undo my bra, deal with the nursing pad (ps, How come no one told me how annoying it is to have leaky tatas!? Not that it would have changed anything, but still), and get her to latch, ASAP, all while maintaining some degree of decency, should nursing in public continue in this way, will either find me switching to formula, developing an ulcer, or with the skills to work under pressure commonly seen in firefighters and Navy Seals.
Sweet Pea sensed my
terror tension and accordingly interrupted her sucking with regular intervals of sobbing, lest I were to become at all cocky about my mothering skills.
When she was finally done nursing and her crying had faded to a whimper, I placed her back in the stroller, which began a whole new cascade of sobs. Fun Fact: She didn’t actually shed any tears, as newborns don’t have tear ducts. But trust me, you don’t need to see tears to know when your 2 and a half week old is pissed off. I gave her a pacifier and moved the stroller back and forth a little, and soon her little eyes started to close. I exhaled.
Then, I leaned in close to her face and softly asked “Can mommy please get a coffee, now?” And then I thought for a second. Nothing about motherhood has really been like I thought it would. I never thought I would randomly check to make sure the baby was still breathing (I do). I said I would never use a white noise machine to get the baby to sleep (I would try anything). I never imagined I would change all the words to “Party Anthem” to sing to my baby (Every day I’m snugglin’… Every day I’m sucklin’… Every day I’m cuddlin.)
I realize one should never say never, but I also said I would never ask my kid stuff like “Can I get a coffee?” Seriously, who asks their child permission to get a drink? Not this mama. I got up in my baby’s face again. “Just to clarify; I’m getting a coffee.”
A mocha never tasted so good.