Lots of things happen after you give birth to a baby. Unfortunately, many of these things happen in front of the person that is bound by law to have sex with you for the rest of his or her life. There’s that time a baby Sonic the Hedgehogged her way out of my birth canal; and that time my husband unwillingly watched me chug a pint glass of eggnog while pumping breastmilk. Both were super gross, but neither prepared me for the horror I would inflict upon him (and myself) that one fateful November evening…Valerie was eight weeks old and we had our first Big Outing: my nephew’s baptism. I was focused on this event for weeks. Things were good: We were all sleeping consistently through the night, I had ventured to CVS a couple times, and I was finally able to manage the waterfall cascading out of my chest in a PG-rated way. This event suddenly became bigger than my wedding, the royal wedding, and your wedding, combined. This wasn’t just the day my six-month-old nephew became Christian, it was going to be the day I wore non-maternity tights for the first time in a year. When you’ve spent eight weeks in robes and milk-stained maternity tank tops, it’s important to dream big and latch on to the Next Big Event with everything you’ve got.
I scoured my pre-baby wardrobe for a dress that was stretchy yet modest, and had a zipper with enough physical and emotional strength to sustain gallons of curves. My hair would be blow-dried and my make up would be flawless. I wanted Valerie to show these photos to her children and say: Have you ever seen an aunt look so ravishing at her own nephew’s baptism?!
My Big Day finally came and it was great. Everything zipped and snapped, and we arrived at the chapel five minutes early. Valerie wailed through most of the ceremony, but her mother wore perfume so, who cares? Afterwards we drank champagne, mingled with family, talked about plans for the holidays, and felt human again.
Later that night, my mother-in-law offered to babysit our sleeping baby while we got dinner up the street with my sister, brother-in-law, and the new Godparents. I wore the same outfit because 1. I felt great and 2. you don’t mess with zippers. I did however, change from pumps to trendy little booties that I had bought on a zombie trance walk to DSW a few weeks prior.
Nate and I live at the bottom of a beautiful street in Washington, DC. The top of the street is buzzing with commercial activity, while the bottom slides into Rock Creek Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the country. We had a wonderful stroll up the street to the restaurant, enjoying the late November chill. We were early, so we dipped into a bar for a celebratory shot of tequila and a beer. We looked at pictures of the baby on our phones and enjoyed one another’s company. We then joined the others for a delightfully adult evening. We got to know Joanna’s new boyfriend, Dave. My brother-in-law Teddy gave a 15-second toast to his son’s new godparents and it might as well have been that StoryCorps about the single dad who raised his infant daughter in a dorm room because I cried. A LOT. The godfather, Daryl, said that it was a good toast, but not that good. Hormones were alive and well.
I had cocktails, wine, and a pitcher of ice water. The waitress told us that we were “the best-looking group she’s ever seen at one table.” I ate soup, bread, pasta, and tiramisu. We all shared a bottle of limoncello (on the house!) before we shut the restaurant down. Have you noticed how many consumable liquids I have mentioned in this piece so far? Good!
We all parted ways in front of the restaurant. I was full and happy and definitely had to pee. It was what I’ve learned to call one of life’s pivotal moments: You can either bring the good time to a screeching halt, dip back into the restaurant and use the ladies’ room, or buck the eff up and hold it until you get home. I, like I have for the past 32 years, opted for the latter.
Halfway down the hill I told Nate that I really had to pee, and that it was potentially serious. He then said something (I don’t remember what) and I giggled at it, because he is a very funny person. As a result, I peed on myself, BUT JUST A LITTLE. I told him, goddammit don’t do that again, I really really really have to pee.
We kept walking (faster), but not fast enough because of heels, stitches, etc. We walked in a panicked silence. I knew that Nate wanted to say something mundane to help take my mind off my engorged bladder. Unfortunately, I knew that he knew that he needed to think of something “not funny,” and the anticipation of what “not funny” topic he was going to come up with was unbearable. It was going to be very funny no matter what. A lose-lose situation. Then, about 20 yards from our apartment, he said it: “So. How did Joanna and Dave meet?”
I immediately started hysterically laughing and simulaneously started what we would later refer to as “the Pee of the Century.” This was no trickle, but full-blown urination, like what my dog does every morning after sleeping for 12 hours straight. In fact, this all happened on the exact same patch of grass that my dog prefers. I did not have the muscle strength down there to stop it, so pee I did. The tequila, the limoncello, the wine, the water, the minestrone. There was absolutely nothing I could do but move onto the grass and just let it happen.
Nate and I locked eyes as it was happening. I was no longer hysterically laughing but trying to figure out the quickest way to leave this planet. My stretchy dress, my non-maternity tights, my DSW cool booties. Everything was taking a bath in my pee.
By some stroke of amazing luck, not one other person passed us on our busy sidewalk. Never one to skip a beat, Nate grabbed my arm when it was all over and said “you have to keep moving, it’s too obvious when you just stand there.” We hustled towards the apartment building. I left wet footprints on the sidewalk, and my boots squeaked with every step. We gave a terse hello to our doorman and sloshed our way towards the elevator where a man was holding the door. “Going up?!” I made the snap decision to “check the mailbox!” instead so that the poor man didn’t have to endure of the stench of urine for 10 floors. We got back to the apartment and greeted his mother. Nate covered for me while I excused myself to to do something that I should have done 15 minutes beforehand: Use the bathroom.
I came back out, freshly showered and in a bathrobe. Luckily, postpartum women get a free pass when it comes to odd behavior, so my mother-in-law didn’t even bat an eye. I dumped two bottles worth of tequila breastmilk down the drain and immediately went to bed. The next morning, Nate rolled over, looked at me lovingly, and said: “You sure did piss yourself last night, didn’t you.”
So, a few lessons here: 1. A woman with an eight week old baby isn’t a full human yet, even if she’s wearing perfume and earrings, 2. You should always go pee at the restaurant and, 3. When something really awful happens, you just have to keep moving before anyone notices or smells you.