My husband once told me a story about a woman who had become so obese, that it was impossible for her to clean her own body. One day the woman got extremely sick, but the doctors were at a loss as to what was the issue. After countless tests and examinations, the culprit was found: part of a roasted chicken had become lodged underneath one of the woman’s fat rolls, and had begun to decompose into her skin.
Babies are like obese people.
Even a relatively slender baby has a ridiculous amount of skin rolls, which are constantly accumulating some seriously disgusting muck. It took me awhile to realize the main culprit in the problem: new babies have no neck. Because their heads basically sit directly on their shoulders, excess drool, milk, and spit up becomes trapped deep within the folds. I used to think a simple wipe down after feeding was enough to talk care of the issue—wrong! There is nothing so horrifying as having your baby tilt his or her head back far enough to stretch the skin tight, revealing a bathtub ring of encrusted crud. It’s really gross and often wraps all the way around to the back of the neck.
The same is true with armpits, fingers, and toes. Imagine the worst bellybutton lint your husband has ever had. Now imagine that snaking in between your baby’s fingers. Combine it with a little sweat and body grime underneath her tiny armpits, and you have a recipe that will undoubtedly make you feel like the world’s worst mother.
But don’t be too hard on yourself. The fact is, even with frequent bathing, babies are simply adorable little grime monsters! All you can do is be aware of the “high traffic” areas and check frequently for build up. Thankfully, wipes are always on hand for little spot checks and sponge baths between major cleanings to keep your secret safe. No one will ever know that your little angel is really a moss-covered swamp monster from the mouth of the Mississippi.
This is the sixth in a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series and browse the archives for previous posts.