I’m at the point where the slightest thing (like bumping my finger while hauling a massive crate out of a cramped shed all the way down to the driveway only to be told by the puppy sitter “never mind” and then hauling it back UP to the shed, fitting it back in, and then going to wash the blood off of my hands) makes me feel like I can’t possibly be expected to finish the rest of my work day. The thought is too unbearable.
Counsellor stood you up? How can anyone work after that? Swollen knuckle? CALL WORKER’S COMP. Of course, I do continue through my day, because I realize how pathetic these excuses would sound out loud… but I don’t think I can until I have to do it anyway. Thankfully, now I am home, and I can curl up with my baby books.
I’ve long owned a copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, which lives in our bathroom and occasionally prompts my husband to emerge saying things like “PREGNANCY IS WEIRD!” and “how is your body supposed to DO that?!” Now I’ve picked up a copy of What To Expect The First Year. Both of these books cost me two fifty each, because I pick them up from Value Village, and I basically use them to live vicariously.
I also just read It Sucked And Then I Cried from cover to cover. I recklessly spent thirty bucks on it because I love Dooce.com, and I’m glad I bought it. It was the first thing to make me really laugh in… I don’t even know how long. Months? Anyway, the laughing felt great. However, when she talked about how many doctors she had to see until she finally found a shrink who knew what he was doing, and how quickly she felt better once on the right combo, I went from giggling hysterically to nearly crying with empathy and… yes…. jealousy. I want that combo.
I don’t know why reading about how to deal with diaper rash and how the overwhelmed Heather Armstrong was driven insane by parenthood actually makes me feel a little better. No matter how terrifying the parenthood story, nothing really scares me away from having kids. I know it’ll be overwhelming. I know I’ll be a sleep deprived, unshowered mess with excruciatingly swollen and leaking boobs who screams whenever she pees because it burns, it burns.
I remember how, when I finally got the puppy that I had been obsessing over for months and months, I was sleep deprived and almost ready to throw him out a window because “the book says to take him outside to pee every two hours but he just won’t pee outside and what am I supposed to DO? WHY DOESN’T THE BOOK COVER THIS?? WHY HAS MY PUPPY GONE SIX HOURS WITHOUT SLEEPING OR PEEING WHEN THE BOOK SAYS HE SHOULD BE DOING BOTH AROUND THE CLOCK???“
…So I just multiply that by fifty billion times and figure it’s a distant glimpse of the reality of parenthood.
I can’t say why I still want to have children even when I’ve just read the most frightening of tales. I can’t say why I enjoy reading the baby horror stories. I imagine it’s because, by being closer to the horrible raw truth, I am somehow closer to actually having kids. Closer, anyway, than the idiots who moon over Pampers commercials thinking that parenthood is just this fluffy and sweet. I like to read the What To Expect books, and bask in the warm assurances that it offers to the most bizarre or unnerving of Frequently Asked Questions. (Typical passage reads:
Question: My baby is screaming so loudly and unceasingly that my ears are beginning to bleed and I am having copious hemorrhagic diarrhoea from the constant stress and utter misery that is my life since this evil milk-sucking larva was born. Is this normal?
Answer: Your experience is not unlike those of many new parents! Don’t worry, your sweet baby is not actually a minion of the Antichrist, but simply suffering from a little colic! You may want to check and make sure that your baby’s latch is correct so that he isn’t swallowing air (his lips should cover the entire areola, not just the nipple), and you may want to examine what you have been eating. Sometimes certain things in your diet, like dairy products, can come through your breast milk and upset your little one’s tummy! In the mean time, try to soothe him by burping him, providing some calming white noise, or distracting him with some gentle rocking or bouncing. Just remember, no matter how much you want to shake the brains out of the little shit, this will not actually stop the crying and may do permanent damage to your baby. Resist the urge drop your infant in the nearest dumpster (especially during extreme temperatures!). If you find that you need a time-out, hand the baby to someone you trust, and step outside and take a couple of deep breaths!)
And I can imagine that I am the harried parent fuming at this useless book. Somehow, it makes the ache in my chest a little less severe when I imagine that I will, someday, actually need this advice.
Or… I can just have fun trying to assure myself that I will hopefully be a better parent than these people are.