It is no coincidence that around the time
my first child came into my life, my first smartphone did too. I was one of those stubborn hold-outs. One of those "Why the hell do I need to access my email on my cell phone? That's dumb. I don't want to be obligated to answer emails 24/7" type of people. I was metaphorically a grumpy, fist-shaking old man with pants up to my armpits, is what I'm saying. But once that baby came along, I was forced to sit down and stay home a lot more. A lot. And if I wanted contact with the outside world, I would need a phone that provided the richest, fullest access to as many social media outlets as possible. This was never truer than when I was on maternity leave.
I wasn't much of a texter before I got my smartphone. (I'm not kidding people; total Luddite over here.) But the combination of having a new baby complete with all the questions, concerns, squealing celebrations, and shrieking freak-outs that come along with one, plus new technology,
plus the relative isolation of maternity leave, all meant that I became a prolific texter... and my husband was on the receiving end of most of them. But I know I'm not alone in this! Here are the texts I know many of us have sent our partners while we have been on maternity leave. "I Am So Damn Tired"
As my husband told me in the hospital after our son was born, the sleep deprivation new parents go through is a technique used to break prisoners of war and Navy SEALs. Chances are you have never experienced the kind of sleep you will come across when you become a parent. It's jarring and hellish and you will need to talk about it all the time to someone who understands.
"I Am Covered In Every Possible Body Fluid Right Now" Seriously. Breast milk, blood, tears, urine, feces, vomit, spit, sweat, mucus. I was swimming in a grody bath of it all for weeks. It was disgusting. Someone else needed to know. "I Just Googled [Symptoms] And The Baby Definitely Has [Terrifying Disease]"
Is there a more notoriously nervous set than new parents? It makes sense of course, we don't know what the hell is going on and babies do weird-ass stuff. We don't know what's normal. So we start Googling every perceived symptom we note and convince ourselves that our children have the kind of esoteric diseases you only ever seen on
House or a TLC series dedicated to horrifying parasitic infections. Then we have to break the news to our partners that we need to drive the baby to Princeton-Plainsboro, because only Gregory House and his team of attractive interns will be able to save our child. "She Has One Onesie Left That Fits. We Need To Go Back To Target."
Maybe it was just my behemoth children, who were born huge and grew at a rate that could only be described as "science fiction," but we were seriously out every couple of weeks buying new clothes.
"We Need More Diapers"
Always. You will always need more diapers. You will blink and they will be gone. If you can swing a Costco membership, go for it. That way you'll only have to buy diapers once every two weeks instead of every four days. ("Just buy more at once," you say. It doesn't matter how many you buy in one shot. Your baby will sense this and simply poop more to make up the difference so that you have to keep going out and buying more diapers.)
"I Just Changed Him And I'm Pretty Sure That Poop Was Foretold In The Book Of Revelation"
Infant poop may not smell as bad as toddler poop, but my
God, is it terrifying. From those first meconium poops to the seedy mustard-colored poop of breastfed babies to the dull brown-yellow paste of formula fed babies to liquid projectile poop... it's a literal shitshow. If I had to suffer through that nightmare, you bet your ass I was going to make my husband hear about it. "I Saw A Really Cute Puppy And I Started Crying"
Damn those postpartum hormones. (Oh, who the hell am I kidding: I don't even need the hormones as an excuse, but the point is I look like slightly less of a weirdo when I
can pardon my emotionally fragile behavior on postpartum hormones.) "Have You Seen My Peri Bottle?"
There are a couple of things I've lost in my life: My She-Ra lunchbox (and I know who stole it and it kills me that I'm too chicken to call her out on it, even 20 years later), a pair of diamond earrings I got from my grandparents for high school graduation, and my
peri bottle. That thing is amazing. From showering your aching nethers after you use the bathroom to rinsing the shampoo out of your baby's hair so soap doesn't get in their eyes (clever, huh?), that thing had a million and five uses. I don't know where it went, but wherever you are, Peri, know that I miss you. "The Baby Fell Asleep On Me And I Really Have To Pee" "I'm So Busy"
Baby's crying. Baby needs to be fed. Baby also needs to be changed. I also need to fold laundry. And wash laundry. And put away the laundry I washed and folded yesterday. And move the already full laundry basket out of the way... good God, how is there
more laundry? I also need to empty the Diaper Genie and put away the dishes I somehow managed to take out of the dishwasher. Then I have to do something about all those dishes in the sink that have been sitting there for about a week and a half. Also I have to rest because the doctor said that's important. *head explodes* "I'm So Bored"
This baby doesn't
doooooooooooooooooooo anything. Entertain me, partner, because our kid is failing. "What Else Can I Binge Watch?"
Between late-night feedings that take an hour or so and the fact that a lot of babies will only sleep in arms, thus pinning you down for long stretches of time, maternity leave is all about Netflix binges. Maybe your partner has seen something you haven't...
"I Don't Ever Want To Go Back To Work"
How can I leave my baby?!
"I Can't Wait To Go Back To Work"
I need to speak to another damn adult before I actually go crazy.
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