For the first time, I’m sharing publicly the story of my first Mother’s Day.
While I think the holiday is kind of silly, we took advantage and went out for a fancy sushi dinner, baby in tow.
Mack was just shy of four months old and in those first early months we took her out to eat all the time. She’d reliably succumb to the white noise and snooze through brunch or dinner; frankly, it was some of the best sleep she got.
But for Mother’s Day we stepped it up and put on our fancy clothes. I wore a little black dress that I hadn’t worn (or fit into!) in over a year, and even put on a necklace and some lipstick.
We parked her car seat at a third barstool and promised the bartender we’d eat for three.
I could feel the clouds of postpartum depression clearing over me as we ate. We let the bartender order for us and that ceding of control and decision making felt almost as sublime as the sushi tasted.
Midway through our dinner, Mack began to stir and fuss. How casual I felt, responding to her squawks. No problem here; she just needed a top off.
It was in that moment, as I went to release her from the cocoon of her carseat, that I realized how blinded I’d been by the thrill of fitting into my LBD. I might as well have been wearing a spacesuit for how breastfeeding incompatible it was.
No problem, I thought, this can be worked around. I scooped up the baby and asked the restaurant host if there was a back office or supply closet I could commandeer for a few minutes.
That was an apologetic but firm no.
No problem, I thought, this meal will just have to happen in the bathroom.
I parked the carseat on the floor of the handicapped stall and hung my dress and necklace on the door, and put an extra seat cover on the toilet. As I went to sit on the toilet, I considered pulling down my underwear, too, but decided that peeing wasn’t urgent, and would be easier without a baby in my arms, anyway.
I sat, we latched, she quieted.
As she enthusiastically and rhythmically soothed herself, 30 years of conditioning kicked in. Without hesitation and without recourse, my body responded. Naked except for underwear and heels, on the toilet, while I cradled my nursing infant, I peed my pants.
I sat for a moment in that unfamiliar wet feeling trying to strategize my next move. Did I interrupt this feed to clean myself up? Did I grin and bear it until she finished?
Then there was a knock at the bathroom door and I froze, horrified. Was it a person who needed the disabled stall? Was I potentially causing a chain reaction of peeing your pants in a fancy-pants restaurant?
“Just a minute,” I said, trying to disguise the panic in my voice.
“Are you breastfeeding in there?!” came a gruff voice.
“I thought so! I recognize the noises!” the voice exclaimed. “I want you to know, I am a lactation consultant and you have a LEGAL RIGHT to nurse anywhere you want to! You don’t have to hide!”
I started laughing, the kind of laughter that spurts out in the most awkward of moments: when someone farts during a funeral, or something sets you off in the middle of a deeply emotional conversation. The kind of laughter that escalates out of control when you try to stop.
“Thank you,” I managed, “Normally I nurse in public. But I wore a dress that doesn’t work.”
“Well,” she said, “even if you have to show a little boob, you are still LEGALLY ALLOWED to be in public.”
“I am literally naked right now.”
“Ok.” She clearly didn’t know what do do with me. “Well, if there’s anyway I can support you – do you need anything?”
I considered asking if she had a spare pair of underwear and decided that was grosser than it was funny.
“I’m all set, thank you so much,” I said, and I heard the blissful sound of the door closing.
I might have had to toss those skivvies, but I got to wear a smirk back to the bar.
No one would ever need to know that I peed my pants on my first mother’s day.
And since I’m in confession mode: this is not the only time in my adult life I’ve peed my pants in a public place. Maybe I’ll tell that story next year. 🙂