by Laura Onstot | Laura Onstot, registered nurse and mom of 2 young kids, rarely pees alone, only frequents restaurants with Kraft Mac N Cheese, and blogs at Nomad’s Land. In her spare time, she can be found sleeping on the couch while she lets her kids watch endless episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Her parenting advice is questionable, but at least she’s honest.
Do you ever wonder what are some of the motherhood truths that other moms don’t ever get a chance to tell you? Maybe you’re curious about the lesser known facts about motherhood like how to manage car seats, or what to expect “down there” during birth when things don’t go so peachy.
If that’s you, then this article is for you. Here are 7 motherhood truths that I am happy to share with you!
#1 My Cervix Dilated to an Apple Fritter.
I tour the hospital where I will deliver, pregnant belly bulging, and find myself face to face with a cervix dilation chart. Using different foods, it illustrates how large my cervix will expand during birth. 1cm is a cheerio, 6cm is a can of Diet Coke, 10 cm (go time) is a donut. I break out in a cold sweat, eyes darting around the room.
The other pregnant moms appear to have their lives together, showing no signs of distress over the revelations of the cervix dilation chart. One takes notes, the other leans against her partner as he massages her shoulders. I do not fit into this category of “has her life together.”
I am a beached whale, thighs glued to the vinyl of the hospital couch, as the midwife leading the tour pulls out various torture devices and shows us how they work. “If your baby is in distress, we will stick our hand into your jelly-donut-sized hole and screw this scalp electrode into your baby’s head.” I look on wide-eyed, unable to escape the grips of the couch, leg sweat suctioning me down for good.
She wraps up her presentation, “Don’t forget to bring a car seat for your baby. We won’t let you leave the hospital without one.”
Husband shoots me a look. “Did you get one?” his eyes ask. I shoot him a look. It’s the, “I’m growing a child. I can’t see my feet, rolling over in bed requires 6 different steps, and all I want is this baby out, but I think she is going to be here forever. So no, I do not have a car seat; and furthermore, we probably don’t need one as she will be staying in my body until I die” look.
After husband extricates me from the couch, I waddle back to the car. He walks. In his serious, calculated way, he says, “We should find a car seat.”
“Yes,” I reply, “you should.”
That night, he pulls out his computer and compares 50 different car seat models on safety, cost, reviews, dimensions, weight, baby reviews, reviews of people who don’t have kids but bought car seats just for fun, reviews of all the Karen’s, blah, blah, blah.
To encourage his finest effort, I drop the bomb, “Trauma is the leading cause of death in babies.” I don’t even know if it is true. Maybe birth is the leading cause of death and then trauma? Does birth count as trauma? Nothing like a little fear-mongering to encourage husband to select the difference between life and death for our little peanut. I go back to reading a Buzzfeed article about 50 things from Amazon that will change my life as if being pregnant isn’t enough.
Husband narrows his search to two different models and pulls me up from my splayed position on the couch to review the options. One is $150, the other is $350. “They are about the same for safety ratings,” husband points out. “We must buy the $350 model,” I reply.
“Why?” he asks, scrunching his eyebrows.
“Because,” I say, glaring, “I grew this baby and if anything happens to her, imma be super pissed. More money must equal safer.” The truth is that the $350 model is much cuter than the $150 model, but safety is always a convincing argument, especially when your husband is an actuary.
#2 I Have the Baby.
Why do people even say it like that? “I had the baby.” It’s too simple. Having a baby is not the same as having a donut. You shouldn’t be allowed to use the same verb to describe the actions of enjoying a donut and pushing a baby out of your vagina. It just doesn’t seem right.
So, no. I don’t “have” the baby. First, I am a cheerio. Then, a can of diet coke. After 20 hours, my cervix dilates to a jelly-donut-sized hole. Baby isn’t impressed.
“Sorry ma’am,” the doctor yells up from my crotch, “She doesn’t want the jelly donut size. I’m going to need you to dilate to apple fritter.”
Yeah, sure, no problem, doc. I’m happy to dilate past what the human body is capable of doing.
The doctor sticks his hand up my jelly donut and screws the electrode into the baby’s scalp. It tells him that things don’t look good.
He tries pulling her out with forceps and a suction device. Neither work, so he pulls the trump card. “Your baby is in distress. This is your last shot to push her out and if you can’t, then we will need to do an emergency C-section.”
So much for a car seat to protect our baby, she isn’t even going to survive the journey out of my body. Where is the car seat for that?
Apple fritter status is achieved and the baby eeks her way out; though, things might have gone quicker if the doctor took my suggestion to use a little WD40 down there.
#3 Perky YouTuber Teaches Us Proper Car Seat Strap Use
When the time comes to leave the hospital, we plop her in the seat that will protect her from all evils. But the straps… we can’t figure them out. They aren’t going to let us leave if she isn’t buckled in, but they also said they can’t help us buckle her in for liability purposes. Are we going to be stuck here forever?
Finally, husband finds a YouTube video of a lady with no postpartum belly, explaining the art of strapping your child into a car seat. She wears skinny jeans, has boobs that match her personality in perkiness, and in my book is a fraud, never having pushed a baby out of a donut-sized hole.
I do not like her one bit, but with the help of our perky friend, husband figures it out. And with that, they send us on our way home.
#4 Getting babies into a car seat requires a lot of strength.
The car seat straps are frequently twisted. I have the option of pretending they aren’t twisted and can fight the straps into position regardless of how wonky they are, or I can be a good mother and untwist the straps, which is a 10-minute long process of twisting them one way, only to realize I am twisting them the wrong way, so reversing my twist… until I twist too far, and then have to reverse yet again until the straps are flat. All while baby squirms around, voicing her displeasure at my car seat incompetence.
At 6 months old, sweet baby realizes she can arch her back and fight the process. It becomes a full-blown wrestle mania. “Sit down,” I coo with a fake smile plastered on my face. She screams, arching her back more. The strength of babies is incredible, especially babies who don’t want to get in their car seats.
They should make a wrestling show covering moms trying to get their babies into car seats. “Mom pins the arm down, it’s looking favorable for her. Ooooh, baby throws a right hook and arches her back. That is one badass baby!”
Friends ask how my arms got so toned. “Oh, just baby wrestling.” They exchange glances, “She can’t even crawl. How are you wrestling her?” They don’t have kids. They don’t understand yet.
When I finally get baby into the seat, it is a victory. I smile at her. She smiles back. I hear a gurgle and watch as a brown tide shoots up her back.
#5 A car seat helps baby poop.
You know squatty potty? How it puts the adult human in the ideal position to drop bombs without too much strain? A car seat is the baby form of the squatty potty. It puts them in the ideal, baby pooping position.
Forget the prunes, if your baby is constipated, put them in their car seat. If you want to play roulette, put them in their car seat without a diaper.
My one piece of advice for all the future parents of the world? Sure, buy a safe car seat. But more importantly? Buy a cover for your car seat. Car seats are not manufactured for ease of cleaning after baby poops in them, or vomits or shoves goldfish down the crevices. All of which will happen.
And cleaning a car seat? It’s a special form of hell, manufactured just for parents.
What does one do with poop-covered car seat parts? I can’t put them directly into the washing machine- I wash my kitchen towels in there. Instead, I scrub them with five and a half packages of diaper wipes and then hose them off while the neighbor’s dog watches suspiciously. Finally, I wash them in bleach, destroying the cute pattern we paid $200 extra dollars for.
I wipe my brow with my elbow, pleased with my hard work, yet unwilling to let my hands anywhere near my face. I pull the car seat cover out of the dryer and prepare to put it back on. But wait. I look closer. Is that poop within the plastic crevices of the car seat?
Using a combination of toothpicks, the little plastic flossers that have a curvy pic end, and the grout scrubber that my husband uses to clean his golf clubs, I remove the poop, one dingle-berry at a time.
Parenthood is the best thing that ever happened to me.
#6 Getting stuck strapping a 5 year old into a car seat is real.
My kid is 5 now, and she’s still in a car seat because now they recommend keeping kids in car seats until they no longer fit in them. Literally.
While we are beyond the problem of back arching, a serious amount of power is required to buckle the straps. I lean half into the car and put all my body weight on the buckle in an attempt to fuse the tip and the buckle, the vertebrae in my back tilting unnaturally. The kid sits there, frozen, praying that the buckles don’t pinch her thighs when they finally come together.
It hasn’t escaped my notice that whenever I am in the “car seat buckling position,” half of me inside the car, half of me outside the car, I am in the ideal position for someone to come smack my ass.
Headline will read, “Bandit ass smacker at it again, smacking asses of unsuspecting mothers who are just trying to buckle their kids into car seats.”
A bystander will witness, shocked. “Are you ok, ma’am?”
“Look,” I’ll scream, “I just got the car seat buckled!”
“But you just got your ass smacked by a bandit. Should we call the police?”
“Hell, no. The kids are buckled, a near miracle. I must be on my way.”
“But don’t you feel violated?”
“Lady,” I’ll shrug, “I dilated to the size of an apple fritter to pop my baby out. I feel honored that the ass smacking bandit found my ass to be still smackable.”
#7 Creating traditions out of any moment is worth it.
Donuts on Fridays is a family tradition that I instituted. My kids and husband think that it is to celebrate the end of the school week.
But this tradition? It is when I celebrate the fact that the human body is capable of amazing things. Like that time I dilated to an apple fritter. It is a reminder that regardless of how cute my kids are being, to get them, I dilated to an apple fritter. It is a memorial to my pre-birth cervix. A form of birth control. A fierce reminder to that chunk of my brain that still lights up when I see a baby.
When the time comes to explain the birds and the bees to my daughters, the discussion will take place over apple fritters and I’m bringing the cervix dilation chart along. Maybe they will be in 5th grade, or maybe high school. Regardless, they will probably be sitting in a car seat for the discussion. And my ass will, hopefully, still be smackable.