I was giving Maren a bath last night and thinking about how far I have come as a mom. Baths are just a non-event now, like doing the dishes or watching TV. But with Brynna, these infant baths were a constant source of stress and anxiety. Let me share the story of Brynna's first bath:
She was about one week old. Small(ish) and squirmy and precious. I had been warned by the doctors, the nurses and, of course, numerous books that I should under no circumstances get the umbilical cord stump wet. If this unholy event occured, there would be dire consequences.
So, I set about my work. I prepared her bath things and placed the infant tub in the kitchen sink. Most of the afforementioned books recommended doing the first bath on the changing table, but I wanted to use the tub. (A piece of advice I am forever grateful I ignored.) I stripped my precious angel down and wet my rag and began working.
Just mere months before my daughter's debut, the wonderful people at Johnson and Johnson's had introduced us to disposable, pre-soaped washcloths. I thought that this would be the perfect tool for this first bath. Just wet and wash.
I wet. I washed. I watched with growing concern as my precious daughter was engulfed in more suds than a six-year-old with a box of Mr. Bubble. Of course, babies are small and by the time I realized that this would pose a problem, she was pretty much soaped.
I wet an actual cloth washcloth and endeavored to rinse the suds away. This seemed to make them multiply more than water-doused gremlins. As the insidious gremlin-like soapsuds began to swarm my poor child's body, the cold set in and she began to cry.
I grabbed a nearby cup and filled it with lukewarm water and tried to splash it on her legs. The cries became screams. Then, I panicked. My splashing became more frantic and I called for The Husband to come help. He ran into the kitchen and gaped at our suds-covered child. No help there.
As my panic began to grow, so did Brynna's screams. I realized at this point that she was not only the biggest newborn, but the loudest too. I started cooing and singing and trying desperately to make some of the suds, just a few, disappear off her body. It was at this point that I spotted (much like a well in the desert) the kitchen sprayer.
My muddled mind considered for a moment that I would surely face dire consequences because there was no way I was going to be able to spray her off without getting her belly button wet. "Screw it," I thought. "This is no time for sissies."
I quickly yanked out the sprayer from it's resting place and turned on the tap and started trying to get the water to the perfect temperature. He continued to gape, with a pause every once in while to chuckle. Brynna continued to scream. By this time, her tiny body was shaking with anger and her little fists were flying through the air like she was really trying to hit somebody, anybody for this cold, naked indignity.
When the water (finally) reached the ideal temperature, I made my biggest rookie mom mistake. I pulled the sprayer over her body and pushed the trigger. Some of you are shaking your head in wonder at my naivite. Some of you, probably those without kids, are wondering why that was a mistake.
You see, the kitchen sprayer, when not in use, lies in wait, with it's hose coiled in quite possibly the coldest place in your house. So when you initially turn it on, all that chilled water has to come out first, before your perfect temperature water.
Suddenly, I redefined screams. Brynna turned purple. Like the blueberry girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory purple. I wasn't sure if it was anger, cold or both. I realized immediately my mistake and washed her as quickly as possible, yanked her out of that tub and wrapped her in the (thin, not very warm or absorbant) hooded infant towel waiting for us.
It was at this point that I realized rookie mom mistake two. I didn't have her clothes ready to put on. So, I took her to her room and sat in the rocking chair and rocked her into calmness. Her favorite song was the Dead's "Friend of the Devil." I sang it three times through.
Then, she peed on us. It was the perfect end to the perfect bath.