An Ode to my Scalp

i always knew you were there

but we’d never met.

you’re in all the worn photos of my own childhood

a bald baby til almost a bald toddler.

we had 31 years of peace, symbiosis

hair grew, chicken pox briefly visited, lathered on in the shower but never worried about

and then.

i saw you. just last week. why.

you’ve made yourself known. i see more and more of you as the hair leaves

the hair the hair the hair is everywhere

hair on the baby. hair in the shower. hair on the pillow. hair on the husband.

goodbye, hair

hello, scalp

i didn’t want to meet you.

I Don’t Think So, Honey

I Don’t Think So, Honey is a segment in which we take one minute to rail against something in culture… You have 60 seconds and your time. starts. now!” –Las Culturistas, the greatest podcast of all time.

I don’t think so, honey: the phrase good baby. “Is he a good baby?” “Oh, you’re being such a good baby!” What? I didn’t realize there were babies out here roaming the streets in evil gangs- glad I got a “good” one! I know what you’re asking when you inquire if my son is a good baby– does he sleep well through the night? He absolutely does not, honey! Yes, my baby is good because all babies are good because good is a ridiculous adjective to put on an actual infant. You’re equating goodness with easiness, and just as with everything in life, the ease of taking care of your offspring is all sorts of shades of gray. This shit is hard as hell, whether you have all the support in the world or are a single mother of octuplets. Telling a friend to count their blessings or stop complaining (yes, actual mothers really say these kinds of things to other mothers) because their baby is “easy” is an easy way of making that person despise you! No, my child isn’t a classically “good baby” in that he still wakes up many times a night and has a lot of feelings that equate to not smiling much at strangers. This doesn’t mean he’s a bad baby! There is no such thing as a good or bad baby because they’re not actually making moral choices fresh out the womb!! Labeling babies are good or bad is a one-way ticket to the kinds of self-esteem and anxiety issues that lead a person to starting an advice blog for their pregnant friend on like two hours of sleep per night! Babies are many things: cute, stubborn, sleepy, loved, joyful, smelly, loud, squishy, but babies aren’t good or bad or easy. I don’t think so, honey!

“…and that’s one minute.” Seriously, I worship at the altar of Matt & Bowen.

Early Pregnancy Advice

If you’ve recently found out you’re expecting for the first time, congratulations. My number one piece of advice as you begin to tell others the news is: lie like a damn rug about your due date.

If your EDD is 10/19 (me!) tell people that baby’s due date is the first week of November. Give yourself at least a two week buffer, but not because first time babies often arrive late. This is to protect your sanity and your relationship with those around you in those final few weeks of pregnancy.

Sometime around 38 weeks, the texts will start. They’ll seem innocent at first– of course people mean well. “Just checking in!” “Any signs of baby yet?” Maybe you’re a nicer person than me (most everyone is) and you’ll think it’s so lovely that people care. But maybe you’ve been isolated for most of your pregnancy due to a pandemic and really thought this baby would be coming early so your fuse is shorter than normal. This is why you lie from the beginning.

If you’re still pregnant a week before your actual due date and you haven’t taken my advice, the texts become phone calls. “When’s that baby coming?” I DON’T KNOW, GRANDMA. Shut off your phone. Just shut it down. Absolutely nothing constructive will come out of your mouth after 39 weeks. You will not need reminders from everyone around you that you’re pregnant. Did people do this in the olden days before instant communication? I doubt it. Pretend it’s still 1954, Linda, and don’t waste a phone call on, “You had that baby yet?” You are 100% allowed to get snarky as hell. “Oh shit, there’s a baby coming?!” Save a Google images photo of a baby of a different race than yours will be and text it to people, “He arrived last week. Forgot to tell you!” (Is that problematic? Probably.)

My frustration came from: 1- if you’re close enough to me to inquire about the status of my uterus, you will be told when it’s empty. It’s not like we’ve kept the pregnancy from you; why would the birth be any different?! and 2- No one, and I mean no one, Mother, wants this baby out more than me. I want to meet him. I want to see what he looks like. I don’t need you reminding me every day that he’s not here yet. The WORST is when they follow it up with “Oh well, he’ll come when he comes.” THEN WHY DID YOU ASK. I don’t want your platitudes, I want an induction!!

Tangential advice to anyone with a pregnant person in your lives, if you hadn’t picked up on it already: don’t ask. Don’t ask the due date from the beginning. Don’t ask towards the end where the baby is. You’ll be told when you’re told. All I know about Natalie’s baby is that it’s allegedly arriving in March. Am I fully in my rights to start texting her the last week of February since NATALIE HERSELF violated all of the above rules and bothered me late in my pregnancy? I am. But I won’t because I’ve been there, and I know that she doesn’t need a reminder from me that something very big is about to happen. If I haven’t heard anything by mid-May, I might pick up the phone.

The Best Baby Toy

You’ve heard of big pharma? The corporate devils behind big ag?! The trillion dollar a year cosmetics industry?!!!!

They’ve got nothing on the money generated for ceiling fan manufacturers by infants. If you don’t have at least one ceiling fan in your home, move. If you have far more electrical abilities than me, install a ceiling fan on every possible surface of your house, walls and floors included.

Why would your baby gaze lovingly into your eyes, the person who sacrificed her physical body and emotional identity to give them life, when they could instead be transfixed by the thing mounted above your head?

Grandma coming to watch the kid so you can run some errands? The ceiling fan switch might as well be demarcated with pink duct tape so everyone knows which is the magic button.

Gotta pee? Distract baby with the ceiling fan. Hustling to get a bottle ready? Have your partner Lion King that baby up towards the blades (note, for legal purposes: do not put your baby IN the ceiling fan blades.)

The second sneakiest profiteer after fans is, of course, the sweater industry. Prepare to always be frozen in your own home with that much cold air getting whirred around. WORTH IT.

Bellybutton Dirt

At some point after you give birth, you will look inside your bellybutton and see enough filth to build a terrarium. It will look like a garden gnome sneaked into bed while you were sleeping and dumped in a few tons of topsoil. You will be horrified, you will think, “But I shower!!” and depending on your relationship, you will either show your partner (who does NOT want to see it) or scuttle off to clean it out with a Q-Tip before anyone else could ever know.

Don’t panic. It’s your linea negra sloughing off. If you don’t know what a linea negra is, Google it. I’m not a doctor.