Some of the things people tell you about the hardships of becoming a mom are, "You might not bond with the baby right away, and that's OK." Or "Sleep now, 'cause you'll never get a full night's sleep again." And the perennial favorite, "It's the hardest job you'll ever love." What they don't tell you about are some of simpler day-to-day realities, such as, "You and your husband will fight about the most annoying crap," and "You'll do more laundry than you ever thought possible." Also, the thing barely anyone tells you: "You're gonna lose control of your bladder and piss yourself when you least expect it."
Current moms will know what I'm talking about, and future moms, this is something super-fun for you to look forward to, Coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising — you name it. Any of these scenarios can result in instant urination. For me, though, the worst of it happens when I fall down. Fortunately, this does not happen very often; but when it does, it's a doozy.
A few weeks ago, I was heading to a celebrity-studded benefit in New York City for a close friend's non-profit. As I rushed across Wall Street in attempt to not be late, I thought to myself, I really hope I don't trip in these heels, and, Christ, do I have to pee. As I approached the steps of Cipriani Wall Street, and before I could even process what was happening, my two thoughts converged into one tragic moment wherein I tripped in my sky-high heels, lost a shoe, twisted my ankle, fell flat on my ass and — wait for it — pissed myself.
As in, I could feel the contents of my bladder running down my legs. As in, there was pool of urine in the spot where I fell. And I was sitting in it. While wearing a dress. With dozens of New Yorkers walking by.
This would not have happened to me before I had my daughter. Well, the falling part certainly would have; I've sprained my left ankle at least a dozen times. But the peeing? Not so much. It's just one of the blessings of motherhood that so many people forget to tell you about.
Luckily, two friendly and very large security guards who had witnessed my tumble kindly offered to help. I silently assessed the state of my ankle (painful, but not sprained) and told them I was going to change back into my flats, which, mercifully, I had stashed in my purse.
One of the security guards hoisted me up. I put on my shoes, and looked down in horror at the puddle beneath me. I mean, I knew a little pee had come out, but I had convinced myself it was more like a teaspoon. No, it was a full on puddle, and all I could do was hope that the two guards either a) didn't see it or b) thought it was from the recent flash rainstorm that had occurred when I was on the subway en route to the event. Mother Nature was clearly on my side. I thanked the two guards, who directed me to the check-in area.
As I limped up the steps, I felt the moisture from my pee-stained dress swooshing across my legs. I briefly considered turning around to head back home, but I realized that since I still had my coat on and it was dimly lit inside, I could probably get away with sneaking to my seat and just not leaving it until the end of the night. It was not my proudest moment, but I was there to support my friend, and dammit, I wasn't going to miss out on the fun.
Upon arriving at my table, I was thrilled to learn that I was sitting next to my friend's sister-in-law and her best childhood friend, both of whom I had met several times. Immediately upon taking my seat, I whispered a Cliff's Notes version of my tale of woe to both of them, and frankly, it was a miracle that they both didn't piss themselves laughing right then and there. Need I say they are both moms, too? I didn't think so.
My friend's sister-in-law summoned a server, who brought over ice for my swelling ankle. It was in a glass, which was not helpful. But then the SIL remembered she had a sock in her purse, and an ice pack was born. I have never been so grateful. And thus, I was able to enjoy my friend's benefit in its entirety, pee-stained dress and all.
By the time the benefit ended, my dress had dried (mostly) and my ankle appeared to be in good enough shape for me to walk out of the venue with my head held high. And by that, I mean I was just praying that no one would recognize me as the girl who tripped up the steps and pissed herself on the way in.
So, what is the moral of the story, aside from "Do your Kegels"? Keep an open dialogue about the postpartum peeing problem. Hell, I've got some friends with this issue who've never even had a baby. We should share the pain with each other. The simple fact is that, for many women, after you have a baby, your bladder is no longer your friend. Empty it regularly. Empty it even when you don't think you need to, because you never know when you might cough or laugh or trip and have it empty itself against your will.
Motherhood is full of a lot of high highs and low lows. Peeing yourself on the streets of New York City is definitely a low. But sometimes it makes for a great story.