I am thrilled that one of our readers, one of my dear and unbelievably talented friends, Heather Watson Hardy, sent me one of her hot mess stories to share! This is such a wonderful forum for real, beautiful mamas to share their hard, hilarious, and honest experiences. It helps the rest of us feel like we’re not the only ones having a bad day or a difficult start to motherhood.
Thank you, Heather, for your heartfelt (and funny-in-hindsight) story! I hope it encourages other mamas out there to share their true, beautiful hot mess selves with us. xoxo
I am a recovering know-it-all. I think I will always be in recovery. I’ve spent my whole professional life working with children, and I’ve even been a live-in-nanny. So, when I had my son, I felt totally confident that my transition to parenthood would be fairly simple. I imagined taking 3 weeks off before returning to work (I love my work) and had several other delusional dreams prior to my son being born. What I didn’t know, and could never imagine, was that my son was born tongue-tied, with severe acid reflux, and with the inability to process most proteins found in foods. In other words, from birth, he was having food reactions to my breast milk, and he was in severe pain. It was 2 months before he slept more than an hour in one stretch. Eventually, we figured out his food issues because the food was so reactive in his stomach that it created holes in his intestines. Let me just say, when you see blood in your baby’s diaper, it is time to freak. It was hell and so difficult. Flash forward to the present, he has outgrown almost all of his food issues and he is a very healthy 4 year old.
But let me take you back to his newborn days. As soon as we came home, I had family visit. My sister with 3 kids, would gently say, “he really spits up a lot.” My dear mother-in-law, would say other gentle comments about him, pointing out what seemed less normal. Well, my know-it-all defensive self (not to mention sleep deprived and hormonal) just yelled back that my baby was fine. He was perfect. Some babies are fussy and some are not but mine was fine.
So, my baby is 3 weeks old, my husband is at work. I’m going stir crazy. I’m really not used to being home all the time and I spent my time holding a screaming baby, nursing constantly (it would calm him down), trying to get him to sleep, back to a screaming baby, etc. So I got the brilliant idea to go to Target by myself. I even planned. I would nurse, then we would go, maybe the car would put him to sleep. I told myself, I can accomplish things still! Watch me, world. So I set my little plan into action. Nursed my little baby, he seemed calm, We got into the car, and I’m already feeling elated.
What I didn’t yet realize is that his reactions took time to happen. The milk had to get processed in his little system before it started to hurt. Later I could time it; his screaming would begin about 30 min after nursing. Target is 15 min from my house. We get into a cart and he is in his infant carrier, still calm. So I begin shopping. About 15 min into shopping the screaming begins. Now, I’ve also learned that a newborn baby in pain screaming is way different from the normal quiet, soft little musings I’ve heard from other newborns. This was a loud, piercing, scream with all my soul kind of crying. I panic and take my baby out of the car seat. So now I have a cart full of stuff that I can longer push because I’m holding a newborn in my hands. Then people begin to ask me if he’s okay and can they help. That concern just put me over the edge. I tell people he must be hungry. It’s okay- he’s just still hungry. So I leave my cart in an aisle and I have a new plan. I will go to my car, nurse some more and then come back and finish at Target. I’m getting frazzled but I can still do this.
I go to my car and get in the back seat with the tinted windows because I’m still overly modest and unsure about all this breastfeeding (don’t worry- very soon modesty and dignity left me for good). I start to nurse and he calms down. I breathe a sigh of relief. All will be ok. Hallelujah. I’m not a total failure. Then I feel it.
One thing I forgot to mention, when a baby has severe intestinal distress, you also get baby diarrhea. This stuff is like water and there was just SO much. No diaper could contain it. And that’s what I felt in my hand, in my lap, covering my legs. My clean hand was holding my son’s head as he nursed. The other hand cupped a pool of diarrhea. Pool. In my hand.
It was a moment like no other. I cried. I waited for a true grown-up to come rescue me. And then I realized I’m the mama here (clearly a hot poop-filled mess). So I opened the door, flung the diarrhea onto the parking lot (I still feel a little guilty about that but I had no other idea what to do with it), and then used every single baby wipe in possession. My Target cart was left abandoned and I drove home, still poopy and traumatized. But now it’s like a barometer. Having a bad day? Well, are you covered in poo with a screaming baby? No? Then it’s okay. You’ll make it. And if you are holding a hand-full of poop, just fling it out the door and get the hell outta there.