Growing up, I received allergy immunizations weekly to treat severe hay fever and asthma.
Fifty two weeks a year, from age seven to eighteen, I sat in the clinic and watched an endless parade of mothers with sick children file through the office. Screaming kids with runny noses and tired, rundown mothers with snot on their shoulders and badly in need of a haircut/shower/good night’s sleep.
During those years, I saw the absolute worst that motherhood had to offer, right down to the ill-fitting sweatpants; and by the time I graduated from high school, I knew one thing for certain: I was never going to let it happen to me.
Fast forward ten years and I had somehow managed to marry a man whose main goal in life was to become a father, a process that I would apparently need to be a part of.
Our newborn son had come into the world a week past his due date, a week during which we had planned to bring him home to our tiny two bedroom house in South Minneapolis and calmly introduce him to his new life, just the three of us. Instead we brought him home to house full of guests and two dogs that started barking when the first overnight visitors arrived on the day he was born, and didn’t stop until the last ones left three weeks later.
He was beautiful, of course, and talented, somehow managing to pee around every diaper we put on him, soaking everything but the diaper itself. I clearly remember my husband screaming from the nursery as he changed the crib sheets for the fourth time that day, “Why do we spend so much money on diapers if they don’t capture anything?!”
By the time my oldest brother arrived halfway through that first week, I was overwhelmed, exhausted and, due to some rocky first attempts at breast feeding, had been seen topless by more people than I care to remember.
When he suggested a trip to the grocery store I was thrilled at the prospect of getting out of the house. So much so that I even managed to shower and put on the one (clean!) article of clothing that both fit and didn’t irritate my c section incision.
I was just about to hand the baby over to my husband and walk out the door when I felt an all too familiar warmth spread across my lap. I looked down to see the front of my skirt and the baby’s onesie soaked in urine. I looked at my brother and said, “It will dry right? And I think I read somewhere that urine is sterile anyway, like you could actually drink it in an emergency.” He shrugged and we headed out the door, wet lap and all.
And it was in that moment, four days after the birth of our son, that I truly became a parent.