The maternity ward doesn't accept returns. I should know.

When I was 32, I had my first child, the product of an obsessively a carefully planned pregnancy. I read every book, magazine and article on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, infant development and parenting. I consumed no canned tuna, deli meats, soda, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, or brie. So I was a complete bitch.

Also, I took plenty of Folic Acid before I even got pregnant, tracked my caloric intake and weight, exercised, ate from all 5 food groups and gained exactly 25 lbs. In short, I did everything that the books said I should do. I was prepared, I was ready, and I was uptight. Hungry and uptight. And bitchy.

I'm an only child, so I'd had very little experience regarding babies, and absolutely NO experience regarding newborns. However, as a relentless anal-retentive obsessive control freak, I was used to making my life do what I wanted, and I fully expected motherhood to be no different. Here is what I thought it would be like:

Here is what it was really like:

As you can see, there was a discrepancy between how I imagined motherhood to be, and the actuality of it. A BIG effin discrepancy, and I wanted to know why. None of my books ever mentioned the fact that my child would fill 6-8 diapers a day with a runny, foul-smelling substance that could peel the paint off the walls, OR that I would get this substance on my skin and under my fingernails!  

My magazines never informed me that my child would projectile vomit approximately 10 times a day, in addition to crapping on the lovely outfits I placed her in. This necessitated numerous outfit changes for her and myself, which of course led to an exponential increase in the amount of laundry I had to do.

Here. I've drawn you a graph:

I was not let in on the fact that BREASTFEEDING F**KING HURTS, that my breasts would leak 24/7, that I would feel like a cow and that there would be times I would seriously consider allowing the cat to nurse my child, just to give my boobs a rest.

I knew that my infant would need to be fed every 3 hours, but I was never advised that it would take her 70 minutes to eat and 20 minutes to get back to sleep, leaving only 90 minutes for me to achieve all 5 stages of sleep between feedings. Did you know REM sleep doesn't even occur until about 90 minutes after you fall asleep???

I understood that her greatest bond would be with me, her mother, but somebody forgot to tell me that I would be the ONLY person she would allow to hold her. Ever. At all. For 6 months. And that she would want to be held ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME.

I knew she would cry when hungry, wet or sick, but nobody ever disclosed that there would be a lot of times she would just cry. Often. For absolutely no reason. For hours on end. Just to piss me off, I'm sure. For a control freak, that was the worst. I just wanted to know what the problem was, so I could fix it and she would shut up. But do you think she would even give me a hint? Of course not.

On the morning following her first night home, rolling on 2 hours of sleep and covered in spit-up and fecal matter that was not even my own, I dimly recalled that my child had never cried in the hospital, but once we brought her home, she had not stopped wailing.

After thinking about it objectively and logically, I concluded that my infant obviously missed the comfort of the maternity ward. A place where there was order, routine and plenty of helping hands. She undoubtedly had not been ready to be released from the hospital. It became glaringly apparent what needed to be done.

I called OSF St. Francis Hospital and asked if I could return her.

Voice on the other end of the phone: "OSF mother/child unit. This is Becky, how can I help you?"

Me (sobbing): "B-becky? Are you a nurse?"

Becky: "Yes I am Ma'am. What's the problem?"

Me: "Umm...I had a baby in there a couple of days ago, my name's Von. Maybe you remember me?"

Becky: "No Ma'am, we get a lot of mothers through here. What exactly is the problem?"

Me: "Ummm, well...My baby, she won't stop crying."

Becky: "Yes Ma'am, babies will do that. What did you say the problem was?"

Me: "Th-that's the problem. I mean, she's REALLY crying. Like, ALL THE TIME. I only got 2 hours of sleep last night (more sobbing).  I think..I think there's something wrong with her."

Becky: "Do you mean you think she's sick?"

Me: "No. There's something seriously WRONG with her. I....I don't think she was ready to come home from the hospital. Can I bring her back?"


Me: "Becky? Are you there?"

Becky: "I'm here. We don't, um...we don't take babies back, Ma'am. We send them home with their parents."

Me (really sobbing now): "But can't you make an exception just this once?? It'd only be for a few days!"

Becky (sighing): "Ma'am, I'm trying to make you understand. We DO NOT take babies back. Ever."

Me: "So what am I supposed to do??? She won't stop crying and it's driving me crazy! I just need some freakin' sleep!"

Becky: "Ma'am, what did you think having a baby would be like?"

Me (snuffling): "Well, I thought it would be like having a dog, only a little harder. Like, I thought she would just eat, sleep and poop. But when she eats she makes my boobs hurt, she never sleeps and she poops on everything!"

More silence.

At this point, I was feeling more than a little judged by Nurse Becky.


Becky: "Ma'am, are you going to be alright? Because I really need to be going now."

Me: "Shhh! Wait...holy crap! She's asleep! Awesome!"

Becky (muffled laughter): "That's great Ma'am. Congratulations."

I love you [name withheld]. Here's a flower I drew for you to make up for the humiliation.