the smell of my desperation has become a stench

I Left My Baby in San Francisco

I think I’ve already established that I’m not so good at this Mother thing, what with not picking up my baby or loving her enough and all the times I’ve wrapped her up like a mummy in dangerous paper towels and left her to scream in the middle of the street.

In the weeks leading up to Leta’s birth I received several gifts from friends, including infant clothing and receiving blankets, breast pads and tiny nail clippers. I remember looking at all the stuff and wondering, “What the hell do you do with a breast pad? Can you eat these things?” because I had NO EARTHLY IDEA what I was getting myself into. I honestly thought that the baby would come with all the clothes she needed. After giving birth to the baby and the placenta, I thought a whole package of cotton onesies would shoot out the birth canal, followed closely by several nightgowns and a six-pack of tiny pink socks. I had gained so much weight that I was certain Leta would arrive with luggage.

I’ve learned a lot in the last five months. I’ve learned that babies don’t necessarily like to be dangled by their toes from the rooftop or to have their mouths clamped shut with clothespins. Duct tape works better at silencing the screaming than swings or strollers or diaper changes. I’m now an expert when it comes to breast pads (no, you cannot eat these things), and I can shoot breast milk at a target thirty feet away.

Jon and I are totally neurotic first-time parents, and we’re learning how to do this whole thing day by day. I will admit that he is a little less neurotic than I am, and he doesn’t throw things or growl or serve as a host body for Satanic demons. But every night we take inventory of what we’ve learned and add it to our notebook of parenting: Leta likes to be outside; Leta does not like the vacuum cleaner or other obnoxiously violent noises; Leta likes the book about the ladybug, does not like the book about the rocking horse; Leta will stop screaming if you sing her that new Morrissey song about forgiving Jesus for all the desire he placed in me when there’s nothing I can do with this desire, and please don’t sing it in your normal voice, you must sing it in your Morrissey voice, because SHE KNOWS THE DIFFERENCE, you stupid parent people.

Last week we were feeling a bit over-confident in our baby skills and made the monumentally insane decision to click the “Book Now” button on two plane tickets to San Francisco (Leta will be traveling for free, on my lap). We made this decision after two screamless days and after a shot or two of whiskey — bourbon is good for the baby as it gives her liver practice for the hard life ahead. In that frame of mind we were thinking that not only could we travel with this baby, but also that she should have eight or nine brothers and sisters! There are actual days when babies don’t scream! How cute is that! Let’s have MORE non-screaming babies! Pour me another shot!

After the screamlessness wore off we were sort of confronted with the fact that shit, we’re going to travel with this baby? What idiot made that decision? [points finger firmly in the direction of She who serves as host body for Satanic demons] HOW THE HELL DO YOU TRAVEL WITH A BABY?

No seriously, I’m asking you, how the hell do you travel with a baby? We have no idea what we’re doing. Keep in mind that Leta rarely sleeps anywhere but in her crib, and she never falls asleep on our shoulder or in the stroller. How the hell will she fall asleep in San Francisco? Are there cribs in San Francisco?

Do you have any tips, other than to shoot myself?

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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