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Parental hazing and the 2-week newborn check-up

Posted By Erica Ford
October 30, 2014

No one told me that having a newborn meant I couldn’t leave my house. Ever again. Little did my husband and I know that when we left the hospital with our baby, it was the last time we’d feel sunlight. The next two weeks of our life resembled A Nightmare on Elm Street: there was a lot of fear, sweating, and sleep deprivation.

I sweated through my clothes more than the cast of Dancing with the Stars. Either because of hormonal fluctuations or because my body was desperately trying to flush out all the sodium from the potato chips I’d ingested nonstop for 9 months.

We were wild-eyed and nonsensical from being up all night sanitizing bottles, changing diapers, and swaddling her into a human burrito. We did anything and everything to stop the screaming and crying. We tried to get the baby to stop, too.

In short, we weren’t fit for human society.

So on day 14, when we realized we had to take the baby somewhere and appear in public, we panicked. We’d never buckled the baby into her car seat without the hospital’s professional help. The plastic chest buckle was as thick as her whole tiny torso. I moved it up a centimeter and it looked like it was across her throat. I moved it down a centimeter and it was level with her crotch.

“Which one’s worse?” I whispered.

We stared at her with the silent intensity of people dismantling a bomb. My husband got tweezers and moved the buckle just a hair. “There,” he sighed, beads of perspiration on his forehead. “We got it.”

Then my daughter started screaming. My breasts leaked through my shirt. “This was my last dry nursing bra!” I cried.

Not thinking to pack a pump and bottle when taking a nursing-challenged baby out of the house was a total rookie mistake. We had to make a bottle.

Just then, we heard a wet explosion. “No! She crapped herself!”

I scooped her out and felt wet, mushy fabric. The poo had shot out of her diaper and up to her neck. I mopped her down and got clean clothes. It took five minutes just to button her newborn undershirt—the one with 500 snaps that have the spatial sense of Alice’s rabbit hole.

I fed her a bottle, burped her, and then put her in the car seat.

After painstakingly buckling her in again, we heard another wet poop explosion. I started sweating. My breasts leaked anew. The baby screamed. It was an hour past our appointment time. We rescheduled.

Telling parents to bring their two-week old baby anywhere is laughable. The only explanation is that pediatricians are hazing you and inducting you into Pi Alpha Delta: the Parents Association of Distress. So when you miss your appointment, don’t worry that doctors are mad about it. They’re probably laughing.

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About Erica Ford

Erica Ford is a writer, editor, and host of the Boston radio show South Shore Live.  Her humorous essays about parenthood have been featured in The Huffington Post, the New York Times, and her popular blog Mommy Klatch. She is the author of Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox.

Erica completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, received her law degree from Boston College, and practiced law in Boston for several years. Aside from her three daughters, the highlight of Erica’s life was when Oprah Winfrey asked her to read her writing onstage at the Life You Want conference in 2014.

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