Sunday, 29 November 2009

The House at Poo Corner

It's 8:40am and both Nicola and Alex are asleep.  Alex in his bouncy chair just beside me, Nic in bed.  It was a long night for her.  Alex woke her up at 5:30 by squawking in his sleep.  Once he actually decided to wake up (6:30 or so), he was difficult to feed.  Then he threw up.  With style.  Everywhere.  Over Nic, over the couch, over the rug, over the floor and over himself.  At this point poor Nic had had enough, so I've been in charge since the spew while she catches up with some sleep.  (And changes her clothes!)  Now that Alex is snoozing too, I thought I'd write up a quick blog entry about everyone's favorite topic, poo.  So brace yourselves.  And for God's sake, don't read this over lunch.  (The photo is not related, just funny.)

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The standard joke about new parents is that everything their baby does is fascinating, right down to the poo.  This is not true.  Some baby related things are deeply dull, like late night crying or demanding to be held upright for hours on end.  Poo IS fascinating though.  Let me take you on a guided tour to prove it...

Firstly, if you're breast feeding your baby, poo is one of the few ways of knowing if your child is getting enough to eat.  A dirty nappy means a full baby.  (The other way of telling is if they're putting on weight, but that's not a very immediate measure.)  For Alex in particular, feeding times often equal poo times.  It's not uncommon for him to be happily feeding then go very still and produce a massive FFFFFrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHHHrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrP! noise.  Then another.  Then another.  (Poos, like bad luck, come in threes.)  Sometimes the sheer force of poo is enough to detach him from the nipple and shoot him forwards like a poo-powered rocket.

Oddly, the noise level is totally unrelated to the amount of poo produced.  A massive ripper can mean a nappy so full it overflows, nothing at all or anything in-between.  The best way of telling for sure is to give his crotch or arse a sniff.  (Ahh, the joys of being a dad.)  If you're not sure, it was a fart.  You KNOW when it's a poo.  Dirty nappies are not referred to in our house as stinkers for nothing.

Baby poo does not smell like shit, mind you.  It has a scent all of its own.  In fact, from conversations with other parents, it has a smell unique to your own baby.  Alex has a distinctly noxious sulfurous whiff, with high, rotten meat overtones.  A bit like a lingering skunk spray for those in the USA.  A bit like a meaty fart for those not acquainted with the odor of the skunk.  Other babies smell of cheese I gather.  I think I'd prefer that.

Once you've confirmed the stinker, it's time to get changing.  A tub of warm water (the bottom water in our house) and some cotton wool are your first priorities.  Then the change mat, some kitchen towel and a stinking baby.  Strip baby.  Assess the situation BEFORE removing the nappy.  Namely: has the poo escaped?  You'd be amazed at the sheer maneuverability of turds.  How you can get a poo out of the nappy and all the way up to your shoulder baffles me.  None the less, it is a regular occurrence.  A full squirter will require a full change.  Do your best not to smear the poo into your child's hair.

Open the nappy.

This is the interesting bit.  What sort of poo will it be?  Yellow liquid with white seeds?  (What the hell THOSE are I don't know.  He's not been eating grapes on my watch.)  Perhaps just a light green crusty coating?  (A sure sign that he actually did this poo an hour or more ago and you didn't notice.  Lose 5 dad points and go back to Old Kent Road.)  Sludgy yellow?  (A big one, then.)  Or maybe everyone's favorite, the clumpy burnt umber monstrosity?  (You'll need more cotton wool.)  Whatever it is, wet the first bit of cotton wool and get to work.

Whether it's that baby poo isn't too bad, or it's just that your own baby's poo isn't too bad, the actual dealing with the poo is the least of your worries.  Grossing out or vomiting are far from your mind.  More pressing is the need to make sure that one of those flailing feet doesn't end up in the sludgy puddle of poo, water and used cotton wool.  Or redirecting the sudden stream of urine away from your face and into the nappy.  Either way, you're not going to be worrying about the poo.  And it's really not that bad.  I've encountered far worse things attached to Ringo's arse than Alex's.

Once your child is clean and happy, slap a new nappy on them and you're done.  And as I said above, if you're breastfeeding, you know that they're eating well.  And that's what makes it so interesting.

That and the sludge, of course.

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