Monday, March 22, 2010

Public Display of Morning Sickness

I was recently informed that people really enjoy reading about all the ways I make an ass of myself in public. Here's the good news: examples of me embarrassing myself spring from a well that will never run dry. Just ask my husband. Cap'n Coupon catalogues the stories of me being an idiot. Different categories exist based on if it was something I said or did or had done to me, or whether it was accidental or intentional. There's even a category en Espanol. If we had an SAP button, you could press it now. Anyway, there's a lot to choose from, but I decided to write down this little gem as Thumbelina enjoys telling people about it all the time anyway.

I should warn you that it's gross. Really gross. Even for a mommy. And Kate tells me constantly that I'm being gross (and I don't even realize it). I know this is bad. So, maybe put the coffee down. Fine, consider yourself warned. Cuidado!

A little less than two years ago, I was four months pregnant. At four months along, I don't really look pregnant. I just look . . . big. Tummy huge, boobies huge, cankles huge. The rest of me normal. Size and clothing-wise, it's the demilitarized zone of pregnancy. You're in the low rent side of limbo, where there's just nothing good to say. No regular clothes fit and maternity clothes look heinous. During the pregnancy DMZ, people don't look at me and say - "Oh, she's pregnant. How nice." They look at me and say: "My, she has gained weight. I had no idea suburban mothers could work as Sumo wrestlers. How very interesting!"

Also, keep in mind that I was walking with a limp because I was still recovering from a Barbaro-style broken leg. So I was pretty awesome all around. Like a gimpy hippo in tight pants and clogs. Just take a minute for all that to sink in.

The Cap'n decides one beautiful Saturday to take us all to lunch at Five Guys. Five Guys is a very yummy local burger chain (that's actually somewhat national, depending on where you live). They are not paying me to write this. As you will soon read, I am saying these nice things about their delicious burgers in order to do penance. So that maybe one day I go back.

But back to the Family Luncheon of Fun. Thumbelina and Hawk are delighted, and we all pile in the car (no van in those halcyon days of two kids). I was so insecure about my appearance that I had actually showered, blown out my hair, and put on make-up - in the hopes that even if my body could do nothing more than gimp-waddle-gimp, then at least my head could good. Think Shelly Winters in the Poseidon Adventure (hint: this is foreshadowing). Stupid Lydia. You should have known better.

So we get there and eat a great noontime meal and, for the first time in weeks, my Hell-spawned morning sickness abated with the actual morning. It was all very nice. And then the bad thing happened.

Hawk: "I haffa go to da bafwoom."
Cap'n: "What?"
Hawk: "I haffa go potty. In da bafwoom. And it's a pooper. So come on, Daddy, let's go."
Cap'n: (looks scared) "Maybe mommy could..."
Lydia and Hawk: "NO!"
Cap'n: (hangs head sadly in resignation, gets up) "Fine. Let's go."

Ten minutes later...

Cap'n: "We're back."
Hawk: "But I didn't go bafwoom because dere was dis big, fat guy and he was in dere a looooong time. And when he came out da bafwoom smelled soooo bad dat daddy said he wouldn't go in dere."
Cap'n: (Muttering under his breath as the big, fat guy in question was sitting at the next table and heard everything that Hawk said) "You don't even understand how bad it is. I'm not going in there. No. Don't look at me like that. Nothing you say or do will make me go in that room. I think that smell has killed men on the battlefield. Good men. . . "
Hawk: "I haffa poop. I really haffa poop."
Thumbelina: "I have to pee."
Lydia: (glaring at the Cap'n, hoping that lasers will shoot out and burn him for getting out of yet another disgusting kid-related chore) "Fine. Let's go."

We go the women's bathroom (which is also stinky). Thumbelina pees and flushes and starts to wash her hands. Hawk jumps on the potty and decides, while pooping, to flush it again right away. But the potty did not like that one little bit. So Hawk jumped off the potty, while still pooping.

This is where we need to pause for a moment. Mommies, you know there are several Universal Truths of Parenting Small Children. Here is one of them. Small children love to eat little, yellow corn niblets and corn on the cob. And we love for them to eat vegetables, so we feed them corn. That corn goes in and comes out looking exactly the same. Crooked accountants would call this a "round trip" transaction.

So while trying to pick up my wriggling, still pooping three-year-old and place him back on the potty (that was angrily threatening to overflow or possibly explode), a kernel of yellow (fecal) corn fell gently onto my foot. And I started screaming: "Gaaahhhhh! Corn! Gaaaahhhhhh!" Then came the gagging.

I pushed Thumbelina out of my way and started to projectile vomit into the sink. Meanwhile, both kids (one on the potty and one backed so far into the corner that she appeared to be trying to tunnel through it backwards) were simultaneously fascinated and completely horrified. I may have screamed at them to stop screaming for the love of God in between wretches. I don't know. Also, because I was pregnant (for the third time in five years), I may have peed a little.

After the retching subsided, I took a moment to take stock of the situation. The bathroom was trashed. Like really trashed. Like the day after Mardi Gras, public port-o-john, unparalleled nasty. Like don't even try to clean it, just get a hose and some bleach and hope there's a drain in the the floor. Karen Silkwood would've felt dirty. Then I looked in the mirror. Suddenly, the bathroom didn't look that bad.

Mascara was running everywhere, Alice Cooper-style. Skin was flushed, sweaty and blotchy. My hair was a crazed bird's nest flecked with . . . just imagine. My entire head (which ten minutes ago had been the one part of my body that wasn't totally embarrassing) was now like something out of a horror movie. I splashed cold water on my face, and it splashed all over the top of my shirt, soaking it. I went to reach for paper towels and there were none.

Then Hawk said: "Momma! Wipe my bottom!" Thumbelina and I looked at him incredulously. He shrugged and said: "OK. Fine. Wipe my bottom, please."

With that, I snapped out of it. I mean, who cares that I had just turned into Linda Blair from the Exorcist in front of my kids and now looked as if I were Scary The Clown. Mommies live to serve. And wipe. And clean. This day was a bridge too far.

Thus began five futile minutes of cleaning up myself, my son, and the bathroom with half a roll of industrial toilet paper. I will spare you the specifics, but it was bad. I gave up and just prayed that the next person who had to use that bathroom had a really strong stomach.

As we walked out of the women's hell-hole bathroom, I became aware of the fact that we had been gone a long time. I didn't recognize any of the faces at any of the tables near ours. In fact, I couldn't see my husband anywhere either. Thumbelina spotted him first and started running towards him. Everything went into slow motion like that scene in Saving Private Ryan.

Waiting by the door with the car keys in his hand, the Cap'n looked at me with the international "that took a while" expression. As I got closer, the expression on his face changed. First concern, then horror, then stifled laughter. Like I said, third pregnancy in five years. He knew exactly what had happened. I tried not to look at anyone else because I was scared to see their reaction to my truly frightening countenance. Hawk and I were limping slowly towards the door, holding hands like we'd just seen combat or escaped from the basement of a serial killer. Then Thumbelina started screaming in the high pitched shriek that only little girls can make. It was clear as a bell and impossible for anyone to ignore.

"Daddy! Hawk pooped on the floor and some of it got on mommy's shoe and then she screamed and started making weird noises and then DIARRHEA came out of her MOUTH! A lot of it! Most of it got in the sink!"

Stunned silence. Everyone put their delicious burgers down. And looked at me. Except for the people standing in line. Who seemed to be scanning the place for any possible exit and were seriously considering a leap through the plate glass window just to get away from me and my kids.

"DDDAAAAADDDY! Didn't you HEAR me?! Hawk pooped on the floor and DIARRHEA came out of mommy's MOUTH!"

The Cap'n then realized if he didn't say or do something, she was going to say it again and louder. He hesitated one second too long.

"DAAAAADDDDDDY! I SAID Hawk POOPED on the FLOOR and --"

(Picture a man shaped like Dom DeLuise with an open mouth, dropping his burger, and glaring at the Coupon clan with the transcendent "Come on, you filthy carnies!" expression).

At that point, we were at the door. The Cap'n gallantly held it open for us, his charming family, firmly pushing Thumbelina through it so that the rest of her recital was projected into the parking lot. As he closed the door, he tipped an imaginary hat to the still silent, confused and nauseated dining room.

"Well," said the Cap'n looking at me with more than a little amusement in his eye, "The Coupons have left the building."

(Editor's note: You guys are a really professional family. - Kate)

It's been a long time, but some experiences just never leave you. In part because every time we drive anywhere near the Five Guys in question, Thumbelina starts in. "Remember that time at Five Guys when..." And I burn with embarrassment and think to myself: "I'm sorry Five Guys. We promise never to come back to your fine establishment. I'm so very, very sorry."

And that is but one of my finest Lydia moments. There are a lot more. And some of them are worse. So, please, don't judge me.
xo, Lydia, who clearly puts the "ass" in embarrassment, is out.

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