This morning I walked into my 2-year old daughter Hayden’s room for my usual “rise and shine!” greeting only to be hit in the face by an invisible wall of odor.   The smell emanating from my daughter was bad – really, really bad.  I’ve read a lot of true crime books (back when I had free time and no children) which describe the smell of death as overwhelmingly putrid.  Unfortunately, the smell emanating from my sweet angel this morning wasn’t quite as pleasant as that. 

My general take on poop is this: anything that you can smell from 20 feet away ain’t good.  Sadly, when something smells that bad, you just start praying for good consistency.  You find yourself saying things like,”Okay, I know it smells really, really bad, but please let it be solid!” 

It was this morning’s crappy start that got me thinking about some of the more infamous fecal encounters my husband I have had over our 3 1/2 years as parents.  Here are some of my favorite anecdotes:

The Poop Explosion:  I think Graham was about 6 weeks old when we met some friends at a local diner for breakfast.  My friend Erin, a registered nurse who has her own impressive poop tales, was holding Graham while I ate breakfast, when he made the loudest, most disgusting wet noise –  and then, spontaneously exploded all over her.  Bright orange baby poop came bursting out of the legs of his pants with such force and volume as to make the 79AD eruption of Vesuvius look like a hiccup.  We all watched in horror as feces went flying, landing all over Erin’s cute white t-shirt and beige coveralls.  It was impressive, to say the least.  I found out later that she ended up throwing the entire outfit away because the vivid orange color just wouldn’t come out in the wash. Way to go, Graham!

Let’s watch daddy pass out:  Jason and I are grocery shopping with Graham, who’s about 5 months old at the time.  Two thirds of the way through our shopping trip, Graham gets that focused look on his face and turns a bright shade of red – telltale indicators that poop has occurred.  Jason volunteers (yes – I know I’m a lucky woman…) to take Graham out to the car and change him while I continue shopping. About 15 minutes later, I’m walking through the grocery store parking lot when I see my 6ft, 6in husband, leaning against the side of the car, looking pale and clearly in physical distress.  I run over to him thinking he’s suffering from heat stroke, having a heart attack – something really awful.  I was partially correct.  Something really awful had happened.  The smell of our infant son’s diaper had actually made my big, brave husband ill.  Apparently I had caught Jason just as he was feeling the urge to pass out from the stench. 

Naturally, I was able to finish the diaper-change without passing out.  And load the groceries.  And drive us all home. Wimp.

There’s good news and bad news, dear:  While this is technically NOT a poop story, I felt it was worth sharing for the sheer gruesome quality.  Anyone who has ever tried to trim the nails of a newborn infant knows how difficult a task this is.  Tiny, nearly translucent fingernails with tiny little clippers and tiny hands balled up into tight little fists further complicate matters.  One day I’m getting Graham dressed after his bath.  As I’m clipping his nails, he flails his arm suddenly and the next thing I know, I’ve cut the tip of his index finger.  Of course the pain causes further arm flailing and now, screaming, as blood spurts from the wound, splattering nearby walls and furniture.  Eventually I stop Graham’s screaming and my own sobbing, and get that nice clean cut to clot.  I do a quick wipe down of the bloody mess and vow to never again attempt nail-trimming while baby is awake. 

Later that evening, Jason is changing Graham and says to me, pointing at a large reddish brown streak on the wall, “Jesus. What happened in here today? There’s poop all over everything!”  That’s when I deliver one of my husband’s favorite lines ever, “There’s good news and bad news, dear. The good news is, it’s not poop. The bad news is, it’s Graham’s blood.” 

Jason still chalks this incident up as the primary contributor to Graham’s suspicious nature.

Let’s play Find the Feces!: While recovering from a particularly bad case of the stomach flu last winter, during which time every member of my family (myself included) had some serious toilet and bucket time, Hayden said to me, “Mommy. Poopy.”  Usually, this is Hayden’s way of telling me it’s time for a diaper change – and it was.  Except this time, as she said it, she pointed at the floor.  It was then that I noticed wet turds scattered across the deep green shag pile on my living room rug.  Immediately, Jason sprung into action, scooping her up and carrying her upstairs for an impromptu bath while I cleaned up.  As I was in the kitchen looking for my rubber gloves under the sink, Graham, my 3 year old son shouted from the living room, “Mommy!  My tummy is hurting!”  This is usually code for, “I need to poop on the potty”.  Unfortunately, as I rushed back into the room to help him, I found I was too late.  There he stood, crying, dripping with explosive, wet…well, you get the idea.  Worse yet, as he’s walking around the living room despairing his situation, he says, “Mommy.  I’m walking in Hayden’s poop!”  With crap clearly dripping from him now, too, I’m unclear on whose poop is whose and decide to focus on clean up, rather than ownership.  I hollered up the stairs, “Uh, Jason dear, I’ve got another fresh one down here!” at which time, my husband dashes down and scoops up contestant number two for some number two removal.

Let me just say that, I LOVE that green shag run in my living room – it really does hide stains well – maybe a little too well.  I soon found that the feces wasn’t as hard to find as it was to see.  Every time I’d bend over to clean up a spot, I would step on another warm, squishy spot.  

In case you’re wondering, I still have the rug, although I think I’ve spent more than I paid for it on cleaning products in an attempt to erase the memory of this day, along with the stains and smells.  The stains and smells are gone, but the memory remains…

What’s that you’re soaking in?: When Hayden was about 4 months old, I was giving her a bath in her infant tub in the kitchen.  I’d just slid her into the warm water when a few bubbles emerged from her rear end and burst at the water’s surface.  I laughed at the notion of her cute, tooting tuckus and then shoved my hands into the bathwater to start bathing her.  For a moment things were fine. Then, my fingertips grazed the surface of a fresh pile in the bottom of the tub.  In horror, I realized that, yes, my darling baby was soaking in a warm poop bath.  And, yes, it’s moments like this that I share with flaky single friends to discourage them from having unprotected sex with their latest boy-toy.  I’m told by these friends that my story is highly effective in that regard.

I heard a statistic several years back that I found rather shocking.  A parenting journal in the UK reported that only 1% of men voluntarily change their children’s poopy diapers.  Personally I can say that my situation has been quite different – my husband is an excellent partner, always doing his share of the dirty work.  Clearly, my situation is exceptional.  In the end (no pun intended), I think that the other 99% of dads who shirk their dirty diaper duties are missing out.  True love and lifelong devotion are most profoundly expressed during the hard times we face together as couples – the messy, stinky, disgusting, gut-wrenchingly awful moments that bind us to one another.  Those moments, as terrible as they are, create our shared memories and make our lives richer, funnier, stinkier and more memorable than they would otherwise be. 

After all, you can’t make this shit up.

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