I once babysat for a little girl who was in the midst of a rigorous potty training schedule. "Do not under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES put a diaper on this girl," her mother told me, her impish toddler grinning wildly at me from her station suctioned to her mother's leg. "No diapers," she repeated, just to make it clear. Two hours later, this bare-bottomed chica had peed on the rug, the kitchen bench, a pair of my pants and a pair of pants I borrowed from her mother. But the worst--the WORST--was yet to come. I finally wrestled a pair of underwear onto the kid. I figured it best to leave a puddle rather than a pond in her wake. As I read her a book, I noticed a smell. A very bad smell. A very stick-your-nose-in-the-giant-cat's-litter-box-because-it-would-be-better-than-this kind of smell. And then I knew. Doody called.
We went into the bathroom and I counted to three, held my breath and pulled down her pants. It was everywhere. Smashed into her behind, up her back, soaked through the underwear and running down her leg. To myself I said, "please let me get through this while fostering a good sense of body image in this child and not making her afraid of her own bodily functions." To her I said, "AGH! GET THESE OFF. OH MY G-D. I AM GOING TO PUKE." And I did. Right into the toilet--where little miss poopy pants should have deposited the mess in the first place. So much for "fostering a healthy sense of body image."
I used to tell this story at dinner parties when I did not like the people I was dining with (my apologies to the friends who have heard it, there is no easy way to tell you this, but....). And the inevitable reply was always, "don't feel too badly. It was only because it was not your own."
In the beginning, they were right. Breast fed babies have very inoffensive poops. It smells a bit like rice pudding and looks a lot like Gulden's mustard. In the early months I thought a lot about the expression "she thinks her shit don't stink." I hate this expression for a number of reasons, including the obvious. But, in Samara's case, it really didn't. I thought my baby was so perfect that even her excrement was excellent.
But then we started the solids. "We have a log here," R would shout to me and I would race in, excitement building, to see that which emerged from my baby. It was new! It was different!
"She has grown up poopies now," I would coo lovingly. I even started holding my baby's butt to my nose to see if she was clean. Ah, the sniff test. I was really momming now, I thought. Then the novelty wore off and soon that whole "her shit don't stink" thing no longer applied. Because my baby's? It stank. Oh lord how it stank--and how it stinks still. Even the diaper champ can't contain this smell. It makes Melvin's litter box seem like an indoor garden.
But the smell is not the worst. It is sticky. It clings to her bum. It takes seven wipes to clean and often gets on my hands, the changing table and her clothing. This new poop is just about as appealing as new Coke, new math or any other new and improved item that was better when it was old and status quo. I miss my rice pudding-bum baby. Where has she gone? In her place is a little elf whose grunts and red-faced straining I no longer find cute. In fact, I dread them, pray that her daddy gets home before they start so I can pawn the work onto him. Oh please g-d let us make it through the day without a crap-fest.
The ubiquitous "they" have so much to say. But I can say, unequivocally that THEY were wrong about this. My baby's poop is bad. So bad it make me dry heave, makes me hold my breath, makes me mighty sad. Gone are the halcyon days of early diaper changes when all it would take was two swipes of an unscented wipe to clean her up.
Now opening her diaper is like opening a bad gift from a sweet, elderly aunt. For her sake, I feign enthusiasm. I don't want her to feel bad about her body or have any weird hang-ups. So, I give a little, "wow, look what the baby did" and "this is a big one sweetie" for her sake. And for mine? I hold my nose.