Sleepless nights. Sick on every silk shirt in the wardrobe. The reek of sour milk. Heaps of laundry, mounds of laundry. Nappy explosions in the middle of a crowded mall. Projectile vomit when least expected.
They’re true; all the horror stories are true. I heard about them before getting pregnant and shuddered. I heard about them during the pregnancy and sternly lectured my growing tummy that that “wouldn’t be us”. I heard about them in those hazy first days of her life and confidently assured myself I’d be spared. “We had a deal,” I’d remind my Baby A.
I continue to marvel at my naivety. Baby A does vomit like it’s no one’s business but hers. Her piles of laundry rival those produced by a family of 10. That cute, tiny, sweet-smelling daughter of mine is somehow able to produce the most mind-numbing, revolting, embarrassing nappies imaginable. My worst nightmares can’t conjure up nappies as bad as hers.
A few days ago, Baby A and I stepped into a serene, mirrored yoga studio at Abu Dhabi’s Bodytree for a mummy and baby yoga class that I’ve embraced as a weekend ritual. Baby A was fed, burped and cooing. An idyllic hour sans incident awaited us, I thought.
Not two minutes into the class, while stretching with our babies in our laps, I felt something warm and wet trickle down my arm. Remnants of milk vomit were dripping off my baby’s chin. Her clothes, my clothes, my arm and the rented yoga mat were covered.
We were off to an excellent start. After the class, with Baby A changed and cleaned, we were in the mall finishing a few errands, the pushchair weighed down with shopping. Suddenly, I was forced to a halt by the sewage-like stench emanating from my giggling baby. She had really done it this time.
I manoeuvred us and all our packages to a bathroom and set Baby A on a changing table. I looked in her bag to get a clean nappy. What do you know? I was all out.
I can’t think of anything worse to happen to a new mother, and this time, it was Mr T’s fault. He had switched nappy bags – yes, Baby A has two – without switching nappies. I didn’t double check, assuming that as usual, the bag was ready to go.
I hope to never again relive that half-hour I spent gallivanting around the mall with a wailing baby, searching for some place, any place, that sold nappies her size. In a cruel twist of fate, none were to be found and in my panicked state, I never thought to buy nappies a size or two too big and just make do.
I had to buy her a change of clothes; she had managed to get poop everywhere. I hosed her down in the bathroom, borrowed a nappy three sizes too big from a sympathetic mother and then rushed home to hide my embarrassed face and oblivious baby.
That afternoon, Mr T was welcomed with an earful. He is no longer allowed anywhere near the nappy bags, and if the girly one happens to be packed up and ready to go, then the girly one it is; he’s not allowed to switch to the daddy-friendly bag.
The funny thing is, before the baby’s arrival, everyone regales you with stories of sleepless nights, endless piles of laundry, horrific nappy explosions. No one warns you of the toll it will take on married life. But more on that later. Right now, I have laundry to attend to.
Hala Khalaf is deputy Arts&Life editor at The National
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