The birth of a belly button is a hallowed event. Six to twelve days after a baby is born the withered umbilical stump falls off and sweetie’s darling new button is revealed to the world. Up until this moment there is no guessing what it will look like. Genes seem to have no factor in whether the button is in innie, an outtie, oval or circle, craggy or smooth.
We carefully tended my newborn’s umbilical stump with alcohol swabs, cleaning it thoroughly to ensure the prettiest button possible. My first child’s stump fell off on day twelve so I was happily surprised when I found Charlotte’s stump in the blanket on only the ninth day. My joy was shortlived. I pulled back her shirt and saw it. At first I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I finally understand those who suffer from omphalophobia, or a fear of belly buttons. They must have seen something like this.
On an otherwise flawless being, Charlotte’s belly button is a blood stained nightmare. It protrudes at least half an inch from her abdomen and is almost as wide as a nickel. The stump must have fallen off prematurely because the entire thing is still oozing something nasty. I’ve never seen anything like it. Ever since discovering her extra appendage, I’ve taken care to dress her full sleeper suits to help me forget what lies beneath. When I do find it necessary to change and bath her, I find myself focusing on her face, her boogers, her toe lint, anything to keep my eyes off the utter outtiness of her outtie.
Yes it true, I am one of those people who secretly believe that we “innies” are better than the 10% of the population with “outties.” Outties are aberrations of nature whose bodies never fully accepted the separation from their mothers. Outties are unable to slip discreetly through crowds as their large protruding belly buttons catch on strangers’ belt buckles. Outties wear brown socks with black pants. Outties are just weird. And now I have the biggest outtie of them all living right here under my own roof. True, it could be just an umbilical hernia and may go away in a few months time, but if it doesn’t?
She’ll never be able to wear spandex tops. She’ll never be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She’ll never be able to feed small woodland animals out of her belly button. Oh, the things she’ll miss. Of course, there is always umbilicoplasty (belly button cosmetic surgery to create an innie). Or an even more drastic option, dare I accept her the way she is? Take in the outtie? These are frightening times my friends. Frightening times indeed.
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