The invitation to my husband’s company Christmas party could not have arrived at a better time. Like a summons from heaven, we were invited to don elegant clothing, dine amongst corporate elite, and spend the evening at an upscale hotel.
I wept tears of joy.
See, at the time, I had a three-year-old daughter, an infant son, two large dogs, and four cats under my round-the-clock care. (Take my advice: just have the baby; don’t pretend you’re not ready and adopt too many animals instead.) Still nursing my son, I was severely sleep deprived and generally ragged. Showers were infrequent (as was any basic hygiene), and milk, bodily fluids, and other mysterious substances constantly covered my skin and clothing. My best outfit included some capri maternity jeans from Old Navy and whatever machine-washable shirt didn’t have stains on it.
I was desperate for an adult night out without anyone clinging to me, needing to be comforted, fed, or changed. I was desperate to feel clean and beautiful. I was desperate for a full night’s sleep.
Oh yeah, I also wanted to support my husband, Mr. Foxy. Recently promoted, he wanted to make a good impression with the new VPs and the CEO. Arm candy couldn’t hurt. Operation “Be the Perfect Wife in Exchange for a Free Night on the Town” commenced.
The first order of business was to find the Perfect Dress. Because I’d not yet lost all my pregnancy weight, I embarked upon a quest for that magical dress to disguise my postpartum pooch and enhance my breastfeeding boobs. It took several shopping sessions and many bribes in the form of lollipops and chocolate to keep the three-year-old quiet. Some trips were interrupted by a howling baby demanding to nurse; some were aborted because of threenager tantrums. Once I even ran out of a store pushing a stroller with a screaming preschooler foisted over my shoulder. After much agony (for everyone), I finally found The One: the dress that made my breasts look amazing.
I then purchased the perfect shoes and the requisite Spanx and borrowed the perfect necklace from my best friend. To complete the package, I scheduled hair and makeup appointments. (I needed an expert to cover those eye bags. Seriously.) Because I absolutely wanted to
impress my husband and his colleagues feel human again.
The company hosted the party at a nearby hotel, so my husband reserved a room for us. The promise of wild hotel sex prompted me to make a deal with
the devil Grandma to do the overnight babysitting, including the late night and early morning baby feedings. I pumped before I left, and we had enough breastmilk in the refrigerator that I could drink the free wine and pump-and-dump before bed with no gap in the milk supply chain.
The hair and makeup were a breeze…mostly because I didn’t have to do the work.
Dressing myself, however, was another matter. Perhaps I should have put on the Spanx before hair and makeup because I tugged and shimmied and labored my way into that shapewear for a good ten minutes. The entire exercise was just that—a workout. After a couple of blotting wipes, I managed to remove the sheen, smooth out the wobbly bits, and adorn myself with beautiful attire.
My husband’s jaw dropped when I entered the living room. I was The Perfect Wife. “Mommy, you wook beawtiful!” my daughter exclaimed as I used my arms to fend off the animals and offspring. No one was going to ruin my perfection.
After dazzling my family and then leaving them behind in the dust, I felt liberated. Entering the ballroom on my husband’s arm and immediately being offered champagne by the tuxedo-clad servers, I felt glamorous. Talking to adults who didn’t need their faces wiped, their food cut up, or their undergarments changed, I felt like a brand-new person.
“This is what perfection feels like,” I whispered to my drink.
The first glass of wine transformed me into an outgoing, articulate person who rocked meeting and mingling with the executives. I was polite, graceful, and witty. They all loved me, of course. (I’m sure it wasn’t my impressive cleavage.)
Over dinner, I drank some more wine and befriended my husband’s colleagues and their spouses. I politely chucked at the office shenanigans and politics I’d left behind three years earlier. I didn’t even cry once thinking about my groundhog-day-like existence back home. (It was probably the wine.)
Because I was still breastfeeding my son, I hadn’t consumed much alcohol in over a year. Because I was severely sleep-deprived, I didn’t notice the waiter constantly refilling my wine glass. And because I was being squeezed to death by a spandex boa constrictor around my waist, I picked at my dinner like an obstinate child. Still, my mummy wrap was quickly becoming intolerable.
I excused myself to go to the restroom. Maybe a quick trip could relieve some of the pressure building inside of me. Using the toilet with Spanx presented a dilemma I’d never before faced: should I take off the deathtrap to pee freely or should I use the pre-cut hole in the bottom of the shapewear instead? Remembering my spandex aerobics from earlier in the evening, I opted for the latter. I awkwardly straddled the toilet, tried to pry open the hole wide enough, and attempted to pee straight through the opening. Between my drunken swaying and the screwed-up nature of my post-partum nether regions, it was like pouring a gallon of milk through the eye of a needle. Though I managed to empty my bladder, I might have peed a little on the undergarment. Maybe.
Having achieved some relief, I cleaned up the best I could and staggered out of the bathroom, using the wall for leverage. Across the hallway, Mr. Foxy eyed me with concern. “How are you feeling?”
“Greath!” I raised my arm triumphantly.
“Uh, let’s get you up to our room.” He secured his arm around my waist, and we quietly exited the party.
By the time we arrived upstairs, my head was spinning, I was sweating, and the elastic vice around my stomach and nether regions was going in for the kill. My insides churned, and I could feel saliva pooling in my mouth. “I’m gonna hurl.”
I stumble-ran to the toilet. I fell to my knees and heard my nylons rip as the bile rose in my throat. No longer the perfect wife, I became Mt. Vesuvius—spewing vomit everywhere: in the toilet, on the floor, on myself. The sheer force of the eruptions even caused me to hit my head on the toilet tank. Also, I might have peed a little. Again. Maybe.
When the puke storm passed, I hobbled over to the bed, and face-planted on the mattress. My stomach flipped. I was panting. Dizzy. Woozy. The Spanx was cutting off my circulation, crushing my internal organs. I was going to die. Sounding like my preschooler, I whined, “Can you take off my Thpanx? PLEATHE? It’th trying to kill me.”
Mr. Foxy’s initial concern gave way to confusion. “Uh, your what?!”
“My Thpanx! The giant grandma underwear that ith thqueezing me to death!” I flopped over and pulled up my dress to show him. “I’m going to thwow up my inerds.”
Horror flashed in his eyes, but he quickly concealed it and ran over. He gave the shapewear a gentle tug; it didn’t budge.
“You’re gonna have to pull harder. It’s like a thecond thkin.” I tossed my head back and forth on the bed.
So he pulled a little more. They still didn’t budge. “HARDER!” I commanded. (That’s what she said.) Spit flew from my mouth and landed on my face. And my chest. And the bedspread.
Steely-eyed, he crouched down and prepared for battle. He yanked my Spanx…and my entire body down the length of the bed. As my butt crash-landed on the carpet, I realized I was stuck. “Oh fuck. It’th hooked to my bwa by those thrappy thingys. You’re gonna have to sthrip me.”
Not even remotely sexy, Mr. Foxy undressed his semi-conscious, sticky, reeking-of-vomit-and-pee wife right there on the floor. Every article of clothing. Probably not what he had imagined when he booked the hotel room. Once he stripped me, he heaved me into bed, very similar to hoisting a giant, flailing octopus into a cradle. My body melted into the mattress, completely exhausted.
Mr. Foxy’s hand touched my shoulder. “Uhhh, Foxy? You’re leaking.”
I was mystified. Disoriented. “What?”
“You’re leaking milk.” He spoke slowly. “All over yourself.”
My hands flew to my hard and slippery boobs. “I need to pump.” I started crying. “But I can’t move.”
“I’ll get the pump for you.” Mr. Foxy retrieved my breastpump and set it up for me while I helplessly watched. He eyed me cautiously. “Do you want some help?”
I waved him away. “Nooo. I can do dis mythelf.”
“You sure?” Doubt dripped from his words.
Fortunately, I was already naked, so there wasn’t much to do except hold the pump parts to my chest. Unfortunately, between the wine and sleep deprivation, I kept
passing out falling asleep during the extraction. My arms would fall, dropping the pump parts. Breast milk poured down my chest, on the sheets, on the pillows.
Whether he was full of horror or mercy, my husband finally took over. He propped up the pillows and positioned me upright. He held the pumps against my chest.
He. Pumped. My. Breastmilk. For. Me.
The gentle tug at my nipples was the last thing I felt before I passed out for good.
I woke up the next morning to the stench of Eau de Sour Milk, Vomit, and Pee. Dried bodily fluids sullied my body. Honestly, I would have been cleaner at home. (Fortunately for everyone, there are no After photos.) The hotel room, however, was spotless. My husband had cleaned and put away the breastpump parts. He had tidied up the mess I made in the bathroom. He had carefully placed my filthy clothing in a bag (to be sent directly to the cleaners). In the end, I was not even close to the perfect wife, but Mr. Foxy was most definitely the perfect husband.