Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Christmas Eve

The night we bring him Hotel (home wasn’t in the cards for now) there were some hiccups getting him in and out of the truck. The car seat is, in theory, not that hard to use. We think. There’s a handle you use to carry the seat, and then a base, and a red thing you lift up to put the seat in the base…but do you lift the red thing before putting it in the base? Is the red handle supposed to click into place without lifting it? What if there’s no click at all? If there is a click, and seat doesn’t move, and the base doesn’t move, and you put the handle back towards the top of the carrier, and the baby is buckled in the five-point restraint snuggly in appropriate clothing for the weather but NOT a snowsuit because that’s too appropriate/puffy/you didn’t bring one even though it’s December then is this the part where you sing FIVE GOLD-EN RIIIIIIIIIIINGS?

In a halo of lightly falling snow we drive the two blocks to our hotel and count the hours until we show off The Miracle to our entire family.

Then The Miracle becomes less of an idea and more of an actual human being with needs and a tiny, piercing wail.

Right. Down to business. First of all, food. My husband kicks into a previously unseen Primitive Hunter Mode and goes to track down and kill some sandwiches (“where?” “I don’t know, I’ve never been here.” “But what have we seen?” “The inside of a hospital.” “What else?” “I DON’T KNOW, EVERY FIBER OF BEING HAS FRIED WITH HAPPINESS AND SHOCK AND WOMANLYNESS AND USE THE DAMN GOOGLE MACHINE.”).

Now I need to organize a place for Baby to sleep, a place to make his food, to bathe him, change him, and…this is a hotel room. Those are all the same place. Right. Nesting has taken place in far less favorable circumstances than this, so I shall remain very Earth Mother and Zen and just let motherhood….be. Or something.

Nope, can’t do it. Type A takes over and tells Earth Mother to stuff it; we absolutely cannot have the baby formula stored near the diapers. There is literally a saying about not shitting where you eat. Therefore, the formula, nipples, burp cloths and the like must live on one side of the TV. New clothes, the blankets from the hospital, and anything we don’t yet understand will go under the TV. Diaper changes will happen on a towel on the coffee bar. We won’t bathe him because that is unquestionably Grandma’s Advice Territory.

My husband does kill some sandwiches, and then we eat them on the bed with Baby in the middle as a centerpiece we admire from all angles. It’s then time for the playpen farce, where the instructions insist the playpen will unfold easily if you touch the red button in the center and pull the walls up. These instructions were written by the same people responsible for the car seat, and if I wasn’t a Zen-Earth Mother-Christmas Baby Miracle recipient right now I’d push the red button in the center and pull the walls up inside their rectum.

My husband eventually did get it open, the old-fashioned way. He used the Google machine to find a video on YouTube explaining how to do it. Please don’t tell my husband this, but after he fell asleep I picked up the baby out of the playpen and held him all night. It was blissful. And I don’t trust anything that collapses with the push of a single red button, like playpens or nuclear weapon treaties.

The next morning we drove to the hotel that was as close as we could possibly be to Nebraska. It was in Council Bluffs, which a Facebook friend told me is often called Council-tucky. Well, I’ll tell you this: I don’t know what part of town she was thinking of, but we lived in a very nice casino hotel. It was close to a dilapidated mall, horrifying sculptures of metal that shot into the air like Viking warning arrows (see visual aid) and strip malls located within gas stations, but I’m sure that’s not all Council-tucky, er- Bluffs– has to offer.

OK, see? Viking warning shots. It’s obvious. Credit to bloximages for the demonstration that I’m not making this up, and that artist Albert Paley has a lot to answer for:

File photo - Visitors to CultureNOW can view Council Bluffs art online, including works by internationally known artists Jonathan Borofsky, Ed Carpenter, Jun Kaneko, William King, Deborah Masuoka, Albert Paley (pictured) and Brower Hatcher.

File photo – Visitors to CultureNOW can view Council Bluffs art online, including works by internationally known artists Jonathan Borofsky, Ed Carpenter, Jun Kaneko, William King, Deborah Masuoka, Albert Paley (pictured) and Brower Hatcher.

So now we get to the good part, the part where my family meets the baby. By “meet” I mean “I rush into the hotel lobby and say “Mom, this is my son” and then we cry, touch foreheads, and hug so much we look like a commercial for feminine itching. All of Christmas has transported from Nebraska to Iowa because if Baby leaves Iowa it will be Very Many Scary Things. The social worker used the phrase “kidnapping and custodial interference” and the non-adult part of my brain imagined a custodian trying to cockblock my husband while he changes a diaper.

My sister and her family arrive. My four old nephew announces that if the baby can’t talk, then “he’ll be playing by himself.” You can’t blame the poor kid for being less than impressed. The way all the adults were freaking out and carrying on, you’d think Aunt Sarah was bringing the Flash over for Christmas.

My sister and her husband are excited. We’re excited. The baby is expertly swaddled (by whom? Our attempts still require duct tape) and excited. I’d say my mom is excited, but she can’t stop vibrating with joy long enough to really talk. My dad seems pretty pleased that, statistically speaking, we have doubled the chances of someone playing for the Chicago Cubs that will get him good seats.

We all go out for Christmas Eve dinner. This is rare for us, Mom usually cooks it. While we’re at dinner we learn that the birth parents have signed the 72 hour consent form, meaning the last papers they will need to sign, the “no take-back clauses,” will be signed the 27th. We raise a glass in their honor. All funny aside, I know Christmas 2014 was dramatically different for the two sets of people on those papers, and only one set gets to think of it as the best Christmas they have ever had, or will ever have. I won’t forget that.

We trundle back to the casino and find mom has packed Christmas Eve for us. I mean it. All the presents, cookies, cakes, stockings, the only reason there’s not a tree is because my father would have to lift it. We give Santa the night off in the Imes Borden casino/hotel room and wish a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

I’m kidding. They go to bed and we get up every time the baby moves, snores, whimpers, cries out, farts or has an adorable look on his face.

Join us next time for a Guide to Living with Newborns in a Casino over New Year’s Eve.

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