My children love to poop. In fact, they fill diapers like they are pooping for their country in the Olympics. I recently gave birth to my third child, and she is the light of my life, my first daughter, an adorable bundle of sugar and spice and everything nice, and a veritable poop machine. Just like her brothers.
I’ve never really counted, but I’m pretty sure I’ve changed at least 45,984 diapers in the last five years. It’s a messy, smelly, unpredictable, and largely thankless job, but looking back I think my life has actually been improved by the experience of wiping newborn butts for a living. I’ve learned some very valuable and highly relatable life lessons from baby poop.
- You are what you eat- The first time my baby pooped bright green or navy blue I panicked. Isn’t baby poop supposed to be yellow or brown?!? So I, as any good modern mom would do, started describing my infant’s droppings in graphic detail to Google. I was certain he had come down with some sort of horrible disease, but luckily it turns out there were no viruses or bacteria responsible for his technicolor number-twos, only asparagus and blueberries. Since that day I’ve become something of a shaman, reading my baby’s diet through his diapers using my poop runes. Almost nothing shocks me anymore. Watch out for those beets though. That’s some scary sh*t…literally.
- Actions speak louder than words- As parents, we become intimately involved with the bodily functions of our children. We know their bowels better than they do. The toddler might think he’s screaming because there is a speck of dirt on his favorite blanket, but we know it’s really because he hasn’t pooped in…seven hours, twenty-six minutes, and thirteen seconds. Even as newborn babies they develop distinctive tells when they are about to do their business: red face, watery eyes, or loud exaggerated grunting. They may hold all the cards in the family, but poker players they are not.
- Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth- Never EVER, under any circumstances, put your face within six inches of your baby’s undiapered backside. I don’t care how cute those butt dimples are or how difficult it is to see into all the folds and crevices you’re charged with cleaning. Unless you want to spend the next hour picking mustard yellow chunks out of your hair, turn on a brighter light and keep your distance.
- It ain’t over ‘till it’s over- The unwritten rule of baby poop is: no matter how long your wait to peel open a dirty diaper after the first sign of action, they’ve always saved at least one last squirt to decorate your favorite shirt, pants, or face if you’ve yet to perfect your changing technique. Diaper rash be damned, I suggest leaving that poop alone until it’s gone cold. It’s the only way to really be sure.
- Small things can pack a big punch- Despite the fact that a newborn’s stomach is only the size of a walnut, he can poop what appears to be half his body weight in slimy yellow goo. I can almost promise you that at least once in your baby’s life you will be so awed by the size and power of one of their stools that you will feel compelled to document it…for posterity (also known as future blackmail).
- Don’t go swimming right after eating- I can’t really describe the horror and disgust I felt the first time my beautiful, happy baby looked me in the eyes while we were bathing together, held his breath, turned purple, then pooped what I can only describe as a yellow mushroom cloud of doom all over my lap. I’m not sure if you know this, but baby poop has some very strange chemical properties when it is exposed to water: it spreads, fast. Within seconds of the nuclear blast, the entire tub was contaminated. There was no escape. Nothing says “welcome to motherhood” like picking little yellow curds out of your pubes.
- When it rains, it pours- Frankly, there’s no point to packing a single, neatly folded, extra outfit into your tidy designer diaper bag. Your little cherub will never soil his perfectly matched outfit once and then stay pristine the rest of the day. Nope, it is a mathematical law of nature that the occurrence of one blow-out poop makes it several times more likely that he will have another, then another, then another until you run out of clean clothes and resort to bringing him home passed out and wrapped in a dish towel like a tiny toga-clad extra from the movie Animal House. Either pack a suitcase or nothing at all. Anything else is simply not playing the odds.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder- As annoying as it might be to change 14 poopy diapers every day, the first time your little feces factory goes 24, 48 or even 72 hours without moving his bowels you will inevitably freak the freak out. You’ll find yourself begging him to poop, feeding him prune juice, messaging his stomach, and even offering to take a bath with him again. Nothing will ever fill you with such joy and contentment as the sound of runny poop gurgling into your baby’s diaper after a long draught. You’ll jump for joy, call your mom to share the good news, and then hunt down Daddy so he can change the diaper!
So next time you find yourself elbow deep in a particularly disgusting deuce, remember that all your hard work is not without benefits. There are many important and life-long lessons that you can take away from the experience if you just stop and embrace the poop once in a while.
At least, this is what I tell my husband when it’s his turn to change the baby…