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Overcoming The Ick Factor

So a friend of mine read the vomit blog
yesterday, and was taken aback. She was thrown by the idea of being
topless the whole night so you could be an easy-clean target for
your child’s projectile vomiting, and could not imagine doing
such a thing willingly, much less instinctively.

Needless to say, she does not have kids.

I have to admit, after I wrote yesterday’s entry I read back
through it and thought about how far I’ve come. Before we had
kids, I would have gone out of my way – across a street,
against a light – to avoid a pile of dog poo, never mind
someone’s vomit puddle. Even after I got pregnant, most of my
late-night worries centered around body fluids and how I’d
get over that to be a good mom.

I’m not sure if there’s a
hormone that kicks in when you have a baby – if there’s
an actual chemical change – or if the change is more
superficial, and occurs while you’re pregnant. I spent most
of my unpregnant adulthood watching medical dramas and wondering
how women in labor put up with two dozen people –strangers! -
staring at their crotches with clinical detachment. But as my own
pregnancy progressed and my body became increasingly not my own I
gradually overcame any sense of prudence or shyness; after all, how
can you be shy when your feet are in the stirrups once a week in
the later months? You feel as if you’re possessed by an alien
and you have absolutely given away any right to privacy or
ownership. You have no control over burps or farts (which come with
alarming frequency) and frankly, it feels so good to get those
gases out that you’d gladly poot your way down Broadway if it
provided you with six hours uninterrupted sleep.

By the time your newborn shows up and you go into sleep
deprivation, you’re shoving your bleeding, cracked nipple in
your OB’s face, demanding that she “fix it! Just make
the hurt stop!” while waving your boobs two inches from her
eyeball. One of my friends had a grade four episiotomy (translation
– major cut “down there” and LOTS of stitches)
and was showing her friends the sutures for the next couple of

Not a lot of friends, but still. A couple.

Because that’s the other thing that happens with a baby
– you get so used to being in the ick trenches that you are
partially (ok, totally) numb to it. And when you couple that with
the sense that everything happening to you is Interesting and
Unique and Worth Discussing Volubly, you become someone with
absolutely no built in censor.

Which is how you find yourself at dinner parties, comparing poop
color and consistency with other parents (“How big are the
seeds in your yellow seedy stool – sunflower-sized, or pine
nut-sized?”). Or you become the woman that pulls her pants
down (some) to a complete stranger in the middle of the park, so
you and another mom you JUST MET can compare c-section scars.

Not that I’ve done those things.

I think that your Ick Tolerance is something that you build up,
just like a tolerance for Raffi or the Wiggles. You start out
small, shocked at the awfulness of it, and six months later
you’re singing along to the entire album. And your kids
aren’t even in the car.

Seriously, though, if anyone had told me five years ago that
I’d be offering to have my child puke on me on purpose,
I’d have called for the men in white coats. I don’t
even like hearing other people puke three rooms away. But once you
become a parent, your selfishness goes to a whole other level, and
you will do anything for either 1) a chance to stop doing chores,
or 2) sleep. Mostly 2) sleep.

Which means that if you have to choose between having a kid hurl on
you or staying up another twenty minutes scrubbing the
dry-clean-only rug at 2 a.m., there’s no question.

You just jump in.

So to my friend with the delicate stomach, trust me – God
will provide. And sleeplessness will do the rest.


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