Fresh parents still being broken in

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Husband-and-wife journalists Bob Miller and Callie Clark Miller use this space to offer their views on everyday issues.

HE SAID: The good folks on the copy desk were poking fun of Callie and me a few weeks ago, as it seemed every one of our columns dealt with baby poo. Or the lack thereof, as it were. Feeling that you might be tiring of the, er, substance of our columns, we veered off the baby talk for a while to discuss other things.

But, folks, there's no getting around it. When you're a parent of a newborn, your life revolves around a rainbow of digestive substances. And as this is a column about the inner workings of a relationship, it would be dishonest to you, dear reader, to pretend otherwise.

I will henceforth, for this column anyway, spare you of more talk of Dawson's doo. That issue I can thankfully report has resolved itself. Now, I'm afraid, spit-up has taken over our lives. Read for yourself.

It's around 6:30 a.m. Callie has already gone to work. Dawson's asleep. I had fed him only 90 minutes before, and I'm thinking that this will be the day I finally get to shower in peace, that my morning routine won't be interrupted by a feeding, that I'll avoid a crying spell (his or mine).

I climb in the shower, enjoy the rare tranquility of the running water and begin to wash my hair when I hear the dreaded bawling of my 11-week-old son. I scramble. Rinse the suds. Forget the conditioner and go to comfort the boy. The pacifier doesn't work. I bounce him gently in the bouncer seat. Strike two.

I throw on some clothes, minus the new dress shirt and tie I got for Father's Day, because I know about Dawson's uncanny situational spitting. Just the night before, I changed my T-shirt three times. I'm wearing my new pants, because, well, it's just weird to try to feed the baby in your Looms. I grab the biggest burp cloth I can find, which when draped over my shoulder covers me pretty well. I'm good. Covered. Prepared for whatever the kid can spew at me.

The feeding goes well. The burping goes well. I go to place Dawson back in the bouncer so I can finish getting ready and it happens. A steady stream of white liquid. Not on the cloth. Not on the T-shirt. But on my pants. Not just anywhere on my pants. Yeah, there. Strike three.

SHE SAID: Dawson does seem to have a particular talent for aiming his spit-up wherever the burp cloth isn't protecting our clothes. And the worst part? That spit-up is disgustingly warm. Oogy. No wait, that's not the worst part.

The worst part is the residual effect the spit-up has on my laundry duties. Since Dawson miraculously entered our life three months ago, Bob and I have divided the two most dreaded household duties: laundry and dishes. I've taken over the laundry, and I must say I'm pretty sure Bob got the better deal since Dawson isn't actually using plates or utensils at this age. He is, however, using clothes, blankets, burp cloths, towels and washcloths, socks, mittens, hats and so on.

We basically pile up an entire load of his laundry every day. On top of that, there are our clothes that he has spit up on, peed on or otherwise soiled. Bob isn't exaggerating about going through three shirts in an evening. That's pretty much me, every evening. And that's about the number of times I have to change Dawson's clothes every night, too. He's not particularly vengeful: If he pukes on us, chances are he also got himself. And then he has a real tendency to smoosh his face into it and sort of wallow.

I've been too afraid to peek closely, but I'm sure our water bill has skyrocketed from all that laundry (not to mention all the bathing this requires). That's one thing all those parenting books never warned about: Just how much laundry one baby can go through in a week's time.

Ready to swap chores, hon?

Callie Clark Miller is the special publications managing editor for the Southeast Missourian but is thinking of opening a laundry service instead. Bob Miller handles the doodies of managing editor at the Southeast Missourian. Reach them at and


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