the (un)sweet smell of new life!
has this happened to any of you? my beautiful newborn child, she smells like -- oh, how to describe this politely? -- well, she smells like nine month old maggot cheese, stored in 25-year-old gym shoes buried under 18 pounds of warm yak intestines. she does not smell good. the source of this stench is clear: it's the withered remains of her umbilical cord, clinging to her torso by a thin-yet-steely strand of slimy ooze. an ooze that refuses to let go of her sweet body. an ooze that, i'd like to add, stinks.
my two-week-old daughter -- who is lovely and cute and sweet and loved dearly by her parents and is clearly brilliant -- smells like the entire state of new jersey tucked inside your great-uncle Lorenzo's unwashed groin. right after he spilled a 12 pound wheel of expired Limburger into it. and then puked on it.
this baby does not smell good.
or, to be more precise, her umbilical stump, which has been attached to her, does not smell good. her blackened husk of a cord, i fear, is rotting. she has Stump Rot. rather, she has Umbilical Stump Rot ... which i have pointed out to friends would make an excellent name for a sludge metal polka band -- if only it didn't refer to my baby girl.
a tour through the internets suggested that some smell shouldn't be too worrisome, as long as it's not accompanied by inflamed skin and obvious infection. none of this was noticeably present. well. so. after a few days of living with our new roommate, Kid Stinkbelly, i decided to take action. i offered to change her diaper this morning. i escorted my daughter -- who i rechristened Stinkpot McStumprot -- away from my bride and over to the changing table with utmost care and tenderness. i cooed to her as i removed her diaper and dabbed at her deliciously scrawny newborn chickenbutt. i booped her on the nose with my much bigger dadschnoz. i gently massaged her all over.
and then i assaulted that fetid pit of a navel with three gallons of rubbing alcohol, a hacksaw and a blowtorch. this bitch of a stinkcord needed to come off!
and off it came! pop! right off! a tiny, withered strand of black death tippled right into my palm. the baby didn't even wince.
for a brief deranged moment i went insane. i considered keeping it forever. it wasn't such a foul thing after all, this little piece of my baby. maybe i'd make a necklace out of it and wear it until i died. i'd have this little chunk of child dangling close to my heart for ...
then my wife, who happens to be terrified of stinky black umbilical death, approached the room. i threw the remains into the trash! i coughed nonchalantly before my babymama said a word and shouted crazily, "NOTHING! i'm not doing anything, why do you ask? SHE'S FINE! and i am definitely not going to wear her vestigial bellybits around my neck like some totem of lost babyhood in case you were wondering."
and then i left the house alone. got on a subway and went to work.
today was my first day back at the office since she was born -- we get two weeks of paid paternity leave around these parts. it's generous, i suppose. anyway, i don't know what it says about my life that two weeks home with a newborn and her 3-year-old big sister felt like a vacation. but that's what it felt like. it was a wonderful moment of sweet family nesting.
tonight i got home and ate dinner with my family. as i scooped the first few bites of my very special dessert into my maw, i paused. something about the homemade whipped cream atop the ramekin dish of warm strawberries and rhubarb reminded me of something. i bent over and inhaled deeply. took a loooong whiff. and i realized what it -- ever so faintly -- reminded me of. the creamy dairy mixed with the tart compote to deliver a remarkable facsimile smell: a faint echo of the rotten umbilical stump! quel surprise!
suddenly i wasn't as hungry for dessert as i thought i was. the spell was broken! the evil Monkey's Paw that was my daughter's satanic umbilical cord held no more sway over my sleep-deprived brain! oh, happy day! no more cord, no more smelly baby.
i still didn't feel like finishing my dessert, though.