Disclaimer: This piece is repulsive (Yes, you read it correctly. I mean it!). And is meant solely for parents; even would-be-parents should refrain from reading this. No one can appreciate the obsession behind a child’s waste products than his or her parents in particular and maybe all parents in general. The poop & pee evolution from something exceptionally “yucky” to something evoking awe and excitement is a story for parents and parents only, starting from the very first meconium to the last time the child needs assistance in the bathroom. So here goes the story.
Once upon a time in the distant past, poop used to top the list of all things yucky in my mind. Prior to parenthood, I could not even conceptualize cleaning after a child. In fact, every time our nephew used to play at our house and needed help in the bathroom, it would always be my husband taking care of it. If hubby dearest was not around, then I would just call up my sister-in-law and make my nephew wait in the bathroom for the 5-10 minutes before her arrival (Thankfully, she lived in the neighborhood. I wonder how it would have played if she didn’t!!). For me, at that time, it was absolutely unthinkable to help a child clean himself after pooping. (OK, if, by now, some of you are wondering: “Where is the pee story?” let me be clear here itself: Poop is the hero of the story and Pee just the sidekick. So yes, pee will be there, just not yet and just not so often!)
Anyhow, so when my son was born at a mere 4.6 lbs and almost the size of a medium chicken, his poop was definitely on my mind (if not on top of the list, thanks to his tiny and almost fragile frame). Within a few hours of his birth, he peed (There you go…..told you pee will be there!!). And that too profusely throughout his one day stays at the hospital, so much so that we ran out of clean clothes and towels and had to borrow some from our recent parent-friends. The next day, we brought him home and sometime between day two and three (Can’t remember exactly, my brain was so foggy at that time!), he pooped meconium, the tarry blackish-green goo that signals the beginning of countless poop-cleaning endeavors that we, as parents, undertake. I am not sure who cleaned that up, was it me or my husband or my sister-in-law but I do remember wondering how such a small human being could produce such copious amounts of poop from within such tiny chicken-bums. It was awe-inspiring! I also remember wanting to clean that disgusting stuff away for him (yes, it was still absolutely yucky in my mind!). He was a part of me and I could not think of him being ridden with that sticky gunk. And that was the first time I felt a real difference between having your own son and babysitting someone else’s (To this day, if I think about whether I am being partial towards my son over my nephew for anything, poop-cleaning is the first thing that pops up in mind. I can clean my son’s poop but not my nephew’s; how convoluted is that?).
And so it went on for the first couple of months. He nursed, he pooped, he slept, he cried. I fed him, cleaned his poop, bathed him, entertained him and laundered his countless doll clothes and so on and on and on. During the beginning months, I used cloth diapers because pediatricians’ here in India mostly discourage use of regular diapers because of chances of skin rashes, infections etc. But when we traveled, I had to resort to regular diapers to ensure leak protection and then when winter came (my son was born in September) I switched fully to regular diapers to avoid exposing him to too much cold due to wet clothes.
Sometime during this zombie phase of mine, some overzealous mothers suggested teaching my son elimination communication (of course, not in these exact fancy terms!). But they did suggest that I get rid of all diapers and try to get him to poop or pee every half-an-hour or so holding him over one of those portable baby potties. I listened politely (ahem!), but decided against it because for me, at that time, it was just not a practical advice. I was sleep deprived and functioning mostly on auto-pilot; I did not have the bandwidth, energy or inclination to handle one more extra chore. I felt like a complete failure! In my mind, here I was, barely able to keep my head above water and there existed those super-moms who were potty training their kids at 4 months of age. It was not a good feeling! Nonetheless, my son could not sit up or hold his head up properly at 4 months, so why would I force him to relieve himself in an unnatural position? I decided he could continue taking care of his business lying down for a little while more.