On the second day of my daughter’s life I accidentally ripped off her umbilical chord while trying to change her shirt.  I heard this terrible popping sound and then there was blood everywhere and then I went screaming for my mother. On the seventh day she shit in my mouth and in my eyes simultaneously. It was so confusing when it happened, I just sort of spun around in a daze muttering “I have poop in my eyes can anyone find my toothbrush”. These little mishaps seemed to happen weekly. Some were comical, some were upsetting but all made me feel just a little bit out of control and clueless. So after four or five months when I started to get more graceful with my child; when I found myself skillfully positioning her at my breast while nursing her or nimbly strapping her into her stroller I felt really eager to show off my new skills and knowledge.

So I began making trips to Buy Buy Baby. Though there wasn’t anything in particular that I needed, I’d throw Sage into the Baby Bjorn and head into town. Once in the store I’d sort of prowl around searching for a pregnant lady who looked overwhelmed. Then I’d go stand next to her and pretend that I was in the market for the very same thing that she was looking for. After a while I’d sort of start muttering to myself. I might say something like, “Oh this is a lifesaver.” or “I’m going to stock up on these”.  Eventually the mother- to-be would look over at me with these really desperate eyes and say, “Can I just ask you a quick question?” I’d glance up as if I hadn’t noticed her and say, “Of course…” Then I’d be off. I’d give her advice.

I’d make jokes.

I’d put her at ease.

It felt so good.

Sometimes I’d link up with a couple who was registering for a baby shower. That was the big score! They’d have their list and I’d look through it saying “Need it, forget it!” like I was a judge on some new reality show and that was my catch phrase. Sometimes I got invited to join them as they registered. One time I even got to hold the portable scanner.  It was the best!

On one trip to the store I brought my husband along. Unbeknownst to him I was trailing these two pregnant friends (not friends of mine) who looked extra desperate as my husband was searching the store for a case of diapers. At one point we all converged on a ramp lined with nursing pillows.  The pregnant friends looked up at the pillows with great trepidation. This was my moment to interject and share my newfound nursing wisdom. But just as I was going to pipe up my husband said, “I’d go with the My Best Friend. It has pillow support all the way around. The Boppy is just really too limited.” The mothers looked over at him like he was some sort of sick maternity stocker. “Uh thanks” one of them muttered as if her subtext was “Who the fu#@ are you”.

Now here’s the thing about my husband, he is shy. Not in an obvious way but he’s the kind of person who will spend an hour in the grocery store looking for shoelaces just to avoid going up to a stranger and asking where they are. So for him to just offer up nursing advice to complete strangers, for him to interject like that had to mean that there was something so powerful about the need for new parents to share their discoveries.

I think this must be because parenting is scary. Not just the occasional fright but daily, sometimes even hourly holy shit terrifying. You are in charge of a person. If you don’t feed them they will die. This is an earth-shattering sort of power. And it is yours, all at once, the second your child enters the world. It just makes you so eager to be competent. After all, someone’s life is in your hands.  So you become a scientist desperate to find a cure for your own inevitable failings and flounderings. You just want to get it right. You try thing after thing until something works. And when you find something that works you feel utter joy. You want to race out and share your newfound discovery, “Hey everybody, have you seen this nasal aspirator. It really works, it sucks the snot right out. You’ll no longer have to listen to your kid struggle for air and wonder it he is going to suffocate on his own mucus. It is a miracle.”

And so you will do silly and maybe even illegal things to get the message out-like stocking pregnant ladies at Buy Buy Baby.

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