Whenever the doorbell rang in the first few weeks of Evan’s life, I’d open the door four inches wide, just enough for my fist, and then — as unexpected visitors chirped, “We were just driving by…” — KA-POW!
In my dreams. I wanted privacy. I did not want to be on stage. I wanted the freedom to be as dishevelled as I felt. And not just vain-dishevelled (“Pardon me, but I haven’t showered yet today!”) but diagnostically, hobblingly dishevelled (“Pardon me, but it’s time for me to soak my crotch again. Would you mind helping me get settled on my epsom salt butt-bath?”)
This is what becomes ordinary after giving birth. If you come to the door expecting to immerse yourself in a BabyGap ad, expect instead to be schwucked in the eye with spraying breastmilk. Expect to get regurgitated upon. Expect that smell (from me, not the baby).
I am not dressed. Literally. I am hanging out. Literally. Besides, this much should be obvious — I’D RATHER BE SLEEPING. In fact, I’d rather be doing bloody anything else other than hosting visitors and enduring chit-chat. Sounds miserable, doesn’t it? It wasn’t. We were just intensely inwardly-focused. We listened to Miles Davis, and rocked, and stared at him in wonder as he slept, and explored his soft, floppy body. We fed him, and fed each other. The rest of the world went ‘pouf!’ and we couldn’t have cared less.
From the moment visitors stepped over the threshold, any sense of calm was vacuumed out of the air, replaced with friction. It didn’t matter how much they’d smile and congratulate — they were gawking, an unwanted audience despite the best of intentions.
How’re they holding up? A bit awkward, didn’t you think? Don’t quite seem to have the hang of it yet. They seemed really, like, tired. She was limping around… them’s the breaks with a labour-fresh crotch. Gawd. And did you see her boob? It looked like a botched implant. Or a live grenade. The kid was pretty cute though.
My parents: check. In-laws: check. Relatives of all shapes, sizes and sorts: check — as long as they’re willing to roll up their sleeves and help me get settled on my epsom salt butt-bath. Anonymous casseroles: check. Anyone else? Do Not Pass Go. DO NOT park yourself on the couch and make me offer you a drink. Do not just sit there and watch me with the baby with that simpering grin on your face.
I’m already anxious about the first few months, dreading the inevitable magnetism of twins. During boot camp, I want peace, and quiet, and solitude — and everything on my own terms. I don’t need people to be in awe at the sight of us: Wow, look at them, so unaffected by the new baby. Haven’t let it change them at all! They were out at the pub a week afterwards, did you see them? They just hop in the car and go! They just bring the baby with them everywhere. Good for them.
I know what people thought after we had Evan: They really need to loosen up. They need to just keep doing the things they did before. They said they couldn’t come out for dinner, did you hear that? They said it was ‘naptime’. Hmph.
Truth is, we were like that for a good many months. But it worked for us. We were too consumed with keeping care of ourselves to miss the company of the civilized world. We knew it wouldn’t be like that forever. And in the meantime, being uptight gave us freedom. Within the safe haven of our ecosystem we learned how to be parents in peace. And to us, peace was more important than getting a stamp of approval from the In-Order-To-Be-A-Cool-Hip-Parent-Your-Life-Should-Continue-Uninterrupted camp. The moments when we tried free-spiritedness on for size were disruptive and exhausting — and almost never worth the effort involved.
But that’s just us. Hermits. Fast-forward to three months from now: I fear a steady stream of ooglers lined up to witness the spectacle at our expense. Another twin-mama advised post visiting hours, and make no exceptions. I couldn’t agree more. We’ll have a twin-oogling open house, and I’ll have plenty of time to apply industrial-strength undereye concealer and tuck in my exploding nipples. Otherwise, the phone will be unplugged. The windows will be blacked out. The door will be booby-trapped, dumping unexpected knockers with vats of steaming baby shit.
That’s what this blog is for, after all. Not real-live steaming baby shit — but pictures of it, supplied plentifully to be enjoyed at a distance, at your convenience and ours. You’ll get a closer view from here without getting sprayed or punched in the face. Spread the word.
What’s your take on boot camp etiquette? Any other new-baby scrooges out there, or am I just a first-class grump?