In true hippie fashion, my midwives and I didn't bathe my son after I gave birth to him. For them, that was an intentional choice: they always wait until a baby's cord stops pulsing before separating them after a routine birth, and try not to do anything that would interrupt their skin-to-skin time. For me, it was accidental: a bath just didn't occur to me, as I was preoccupied with my whole "don't kill the cute thing I just made" agenda. I chuckle when I imagine what my baby was thinking during his first bath, after a few weeks of being gingerly wiped down with warm washcloths whenever he needed.
I know what I was thinking, which was usually something along the lines of, "OMG, OMG, OMG. You're so teeny and delicate and floppy and can barely hold yourself up and how is it even possible that you exist outside my body OMG OMG OMG I really don't want to drop you and now I'm worried you're going to drown and did you just inhale some water? Is this how dry drowning starts? OMG you're going to die of bathwater and I'll never forgive myself OMG how am I even in charge of a whole other person this sh*t is crazy."
In hindsight, my newborn son definitely had it more together than I did. While I struggled valiantly to not drop him or give any obvious hints as to just how terrified I was, he first looked perplexed, then flashed his first, soon-to-be legendary side-eye. Based on the subsequent facial expressions, yelps, squeals, and sighs, if he could talk, I imagine the conversation would have sounded a lot like this.
“What Is This?”
Oh, thank goodness! You’re finally taking off the clothes you insisted on making me wear. What’s this you’re talking about now? A “bath?” What is a “bath,” exactly? I don't know about this, mom.
“Are You New At This, Too?”
What's with the clumsy hands, there? You act like you’ve never held a baby before. Yeah, I'm a little slippery and floppy, but at least pretend you know what you're doing.
Now, that's what I'm talking about! Warm and wet is my jam. So fun and cozy.
“Kinda Like The Old Days”
If it weren't for the bright lights, I'd say this reminds me of what things were like in the Before Place, before I came to this dry new world with all the Big People.
“So Much More Space To Splash!”
I didn't used to be able to move around this much, or splash this far away. This is pretty cool!
“Whoa, What's That Scrubby Thing?”
What is all this? I thought we were just being warm and wet and splashy here, what's with the scrubby cloth thingy? A “washcloth,” is it? Yeah, I think you think it's soft because you're a Big Person. To me, that is basically wet, roving sandpaper on my skin and it needs to go far, far away.
“What Is Soap?”
That feels weird. And maybe good. But mostly weird. Ooh, bubbles!
“Hey, Watch Those Hands!”
If you could just let me splash in peace without putting your little scrubby washcloth thing near my ears, that would be great.
“OK, I'm Over This”
Yeah, so this is officially not as cool as when I lived in the Before Place, when I never had to worry about “washcloths,” and when food was always being piped into my belly.
And I’m tired, and I need a cuddle, and basically need to be doing anything but laying in this not-as-warm-as-it-used-to-be tub right now.
“I Gotta Go”
Well, if I’m stuck here, I might as well add a bit more liquid to this tub. Ahhh. Being able to watch yourself pee is way more fun than wetting a diaper.
What? Why?! How is it possible that the temperature dropped twenty degrees from when they put me in the tub to when they pulled me out? OMG, this new world makes no sense.
Oh, thank goodness. Warm cuddles. Oh, and what’s this new thing? A “towel?” I like this “towel.” It’s like a thick blanket that keeps the cold out. In the future, let's have more “towel” and less “washcloth.” Please and thanks.