Bashfulness Be Gone

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I used to bathe with a bathing suit on, well, at least in public. You’re welcome public. I would be the bashful bather at the gym, standing to the side, waiting for a private shower stall to open up, while courageous ladies stripped down and had a rinse off. No way, not me; if I was desperate I would just shower with my bathing suit on.

That was me then, pre-baby.

This is me now; stripping off my bathing suit before the locker room door latches, because I only have 30 seconds to shower before my baby starts demanding boob from his milk-less caretaker. Modesty be damned.

I never thought I would ever be in a bathroom with onlookers urging my bowels to make moves. Okay, well maybe I realized this would be a possibility someday, but certainly not before my nineties. These onlookers were a stark reality of my birth experience. They wanted me to have a bowel movement really bad; but unfortunately, the stage fright, and resulting nerves, did not have the usual outcome of gurgling bowels.

After the no-go pooping debacle, all remaining traces of my modesty were wiped away, as my body pushed out a human, as four humans and one camera, looked on. Oh yes, someone also removed my shirt during this deposit of human, to prepare for the first public feeding of said human.

No one told me that my modesty would be drained out as my internal floodgate of baby love opened and poured in. As I began to feed my baby, my newfound boob boldness was put to the test as my brother-in-law entered the room. My initial reaction was to cover up, but this instinct was quickly overthrown by the ‘whatever’ echoing in my mind. It’s easier to have my boobs out while I’m feeding this hungry infant, whatever.

Since birthing a baby, I have undergone the following, quite liberating, metamorphoses.

Bras Shmas

The first few weeks postpartum, I not only vetoed the bra, but the shirt as well. My boobs were sore and the effort of pulling my shirt down or up every few minutes was just too much. Any Peeping Toms gazing through my bedroom window would have been treated to the vision of a drooling topless-women, with a man and a baby standing over her, repeating the mantra, ‘I think the baby is hungry again.’ The no-bra thing caught on, and I only wear one when I have to go to a wedding or a funeral.

Flatulence is a Fact and it’s Fun

People fart, I don’t care how proper you are; you fart. If you hold it in too much, you may be really cranky, because your stomach is likely in a constant state of turmoil; I should know, I used to be a chronic fart-holder-inner. Having a baby loosens everything up, which kind of forces you into adopting the motto, ‘if you gotta go, let it flow’; for pretty much all meanings you can attach to that saying. I now have a new understanding, and respect, for the older folks in my life who will boldly lift the side of their tush up during dinner and let one rip; who wants to eat dinner with a belly full of hot air? I have not yet reached the ‘bold brass balls’ level of toots touting, but I’m getting there.

‘There’s a chunk of food on my shirt?’ Pass it to me, I haven’t eaten in hours.

I’ve had everything from baby poop, boogers, green mush, and unidentified liquid on me since having a baby. Pre-baby Bailey would have changed her entire outfit after a miniscule drop of anything trickled onto the edge of her shirt, not anymore. It would take a waterfall like flow of spit up being issued from baby’s mouth, to my already dirty shirt, for me to hassle with changing.

Modesty can be such a nuisance if allowed to get out of control. It holds you back from just living, from just being, by distracting you with thoughts of, ‘how does this make me look?’ Who cares if some snooty pants scoff at your boldness if you’re happy and feel free to just be.

Camping in a Thunder Storm….. with a Baby

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Flash! Pop! Crackle! Rumble! Downpour! Oh greeeat. We are in the woods, with a hypothetical tornado raging towards our flimsy tent; I win Worst Mother of the Year award. This all runs through my head as I sit on a hot sunny Texas porch, gazing at the weekend’s weather report on my phone. We will be camping over the weekend; real tent camping, away from running water, and storm shelters.

A tornado transporting baby and myself to the Land of Oz would not be ideal, but I could also be a candidate for Worst Mother of the Year if I tried to shield my child from all literal and figurative nasty weather. I decide to go for it, and hope for cool gentle showers when I’m hot, and blazing sun when I’m ready to dip into the chilly water. Wishful thinking.

Day One:

We drove out to the river with the sun blazing through the car windows and that precious AC blasting. All seemed good, but the weather report was not shifting, and there was a sheet of darkly ominous gray glaring at me on the horizon.

We arrived at our stomping grounds for the weekend and settled in. As dusk descended, the storm was upon us. Not the storm you’re expecting, oh no, something much worse, a storm of mosquitoes. I think I would prefer a tornado. They came in clouds and were the highly evolved skeeters that found the most poisonous of bug spray to be simply scrumptious. They also loved baby blood, specifically blood drawn from the head. Because I am adamantly against smacking my baby on the head, regardless of any honorable intentions, I rugged up my sweaty baby from head to toe; and the mosquitoes penetrated his clothing, they were insatiable. After an hour or so of being the helpless victims of flying vampires, the little devils dragged their full bellies back to wherever mosquitoes live; I suspect the bowels of hell. We were itchy but alive, and the baby seemed to care less about his quickly rising red welts.

This proved to be the only storm of the night and we spent the next few hours zoning out on the fire, brilliantly vibrant shooting stars, and live fiddle music; the calm before the real storm.

Day Two:

The clouds had settled in and there was menacing thunder in the distant, taunting us with occasional rumblings. Well, we in the Gaddis clan are no fair weather campers; so we brewed the coffee, popped the top on some champagne, and donned our river bikinis, even the men, just kidding. We were in it to win it, rain or shine.

We reached the river and went about optimistically setting up our sunshades, chairs, and various colorful floating objects. Hudson and I stuffed his baby chub into an ultra sun proof body suit, covered his noggin with an adorably blue sunhat, complete with earflaps, and smothered his remaining skin with absurdly expensive organic baby sunscreen. Yes, it was sprinkling by this point, but the sunrays are most intense when it’s cloudy, right? With Hudson in his full sunny summertime getup, I plopped him down on the edge of the shallow sandy bank and handed him a bucket full of exciting new beach toys. Happy as a baby with a boob in his mouth!

We have snakes in Texas. Rattlesnakes are usually the biggest concern, but on a Texas river we have an even more unnerving slithering creature to contend with, water moccasins. Rattlesnakes have no desire to go head to head, or mouth to foot, with humans, but will strike when startled. Water moccasins are nasty brown territorial serpents that will spot you from across a river and swiftly come over to not so kindly tell you you’re on their turf. Because of my rational, but paranoid fear of snakes, the brown swimmers in particular, I consider myself truly blessed to have not seen one of these slimy devils at this river in over ten years. My blessed luck was about to change.

The first sighting was made by my father while walking through the young vegetation that had popped up along the river’s edge, since the last time we had dipped our toes in this slow moving water. Dad was in search of rocks to pelt over to the thickly forested other side of the river, where our rope swing and the snakes hung out. As he was slogging along, a brown biter wriggled in front of him and slipped into the water, to alert his buddies on the other side; ‘the people have arrived.’ WTF, why is there a snake on our side?! This is not good. They now had a source of shelter on our usually sandy side, which had never before existed, at least not in the past 30 years.

I tried to eradicate the panicked hormones coursing through every inch of my being and focus again on splashing around on the edge of the water with my little man. But, because I’m now a mother, I could not shift out of high alert. Sure enough, after 20 minutes of obsessively scanning the dark green water, I spotted a thick and ugly golf ball size head traveling across the water, about 15 yards from my baby, and traveling in the wrong direction. My voice then adopted a foreign shrill tone as I asked my impeccable rock throwing abilities brother, to do something. He quickly gathered a few warning rocks; not big enough for a kill, but big enough for a ‘holy s*** these walking creatures mean business’ reaction. He got in a few good shots and just to show us that he, or she, was no sissy, Mr. or Mrs. Snake would go under water for a frightening amount of time, and would pop up a few feet closer to us. As this horrifying dance was playing out I spotted another moccasin crossing the river. They’re closing in for battle, save the baby! Brother continued his rock blitz, getting just close enough to threaten them, but not close enough to thoroughly piss them off. Then, a miracle happened, they turned, and swan back to their side of the river. Thank the river gods, there was no second act to the snarling snake dance.

As my panicked hormones slowly seeped out of me, probably through all the water I was peeing out, a traditional storm rolled in. As a large group of us huddled under the non-waterproof sunshades, being thankful that the storm was not accompanied by lighting, a terrifying bolt of lighting struck, accompanied by an even more terrifying immediate crack of ear splitting thunder. I was not holding my baby at this time. I assumed he was in safe arms, but I was quickly re-saturated with panic. I waited for a shrill baby wail to closely follow the BOOM, but was met with something even worse, silence. I then looked three feet to my right and saw my dad holding my smiling baby. In that moment, I swear he gave me a ‘What? Chill out mom’ look. My baby was braver than I was; don’t tell anyone.

This ominous snap, crackle, pop rattled us all enough to cause a mass scamper up to the higher and “safer” ground of our campsite.

After battening down the hatches we waited, and waited, and nothing came. Murphy’s Law wins again. We all emerged from our caves, I gave my muddy baby a freezing solar shower hose down, that he was unfazed by, and commenced to stuff myself with sinfully creamy potluck food. Goodnight.

Day Three:

I awoke to a jump-evoking clap of thunder. Here it comes, duh duh dunnnn. The wind quickly picked up, the temperature dropped 5 degrees, and we scurried about, building a makeshift “water proof” fort we could breakfast under; because by golly we are going to feed our faces. Again, baby Hudson proved to be more of a trooper than his mama. As I huddled in the leaking corner of the fort, he giggled as the rain spattered his fuzzy head.

As quickly as it came, the rain whizzed away, and left gloriously sparkling sunshine in its wake. Quick! Dry everything out and smash in every non-card playing activity we can before the next wave of rain surges in. Spring pool hike, check. Canoe rides full of snake mimicking turtles bobbing their heads up and down in the water, check. Snake free rope swing flips, check check. Laying solar shower out, praying it gets warmer than ‘frigid,’ check. We did it, and made it all the way to dinner, downpour free!

As we sat around the campfire, receiving our karmic revenge from the mosquitoes for throwing rocks at the snakes, I felt the sense that everything was too calm. Then it happened, the burst of light on the horizon. One, two, three, four, five……eighteen. The storm is eighteen miles away. Another burst of light on the horizon. One, two, three, four, five….ten. Oh great. Here it comes. Save the coconut cream pie, and the baby.

It was not a drill, the storm descended upon us and rained down with the fury of a den of water moccasins stirred up by a raging flash flood. Cold solar shower clean baby snored through it as I lay in wait for the railroad train roar of a tornado that never came, go figure.

Day Four:

Torrential downpour, Cards Against Humanity, chocolate, and beer; in our rain fort.

Moral of this story; watch for snakes and rinse your baby in a solar shower every evening, when camping.