Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not a prude. There’s not much I won’t talk about – and in gruesome detail. For instance, and B will vouch for this, I am the master of oral sex. Meaning, I just love to talk about it. Doing it, not so much. I mean, I will do it but I can think of better ways to spend my time. Don’t get me wrong, I take one for the team, I’m a thoughtful partner and believe you me, when I do it, I do it well but….look, whatever, we’ve gotten side-tracked. The point is, it takes a bit to make me blush.
Only one topic is particularly unpalatable to me and it’s all to do with the bum. No, not that. I’m talking about poo. I’m talking about farts. The subject embarrasses me. I relish the chance to use the word vagina in every day conversation but would rather die than utter the word diarrhoea.
Every mother knows that when you have a baby, you spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning up, analyzing, and ultimately, talking about, shit. What comes out of your tiny child’s bum becomes the single most interesting part of your day. How much and how frequent? Would you describe the colour as fawn and does your baby really grunt it out and oh god, how did he get poo on his neck?
So now, with two nappy-clad children, I’m in a special kind of hell. After spending the better part of week in hospital following the birth of Zee, changing LD’s nappy again was truly horrifying. In comparison to Zee’s tiny bum, the toddler version was almost obscene. It really seemed like he was big enough to be changing his own damn nappies.
As far as bums go, LD was a great baby. He was the model child, bum-wise. Rarely pooed when out and about. Never had a poo-explosion that required clothing to be changed. He was a very considerate pooer in that way. And still is.
And then there was Zee. From the beginning, it’s been about the poo with this kid. Being slightly premature and jaundiced bought him some time in an isolet under UV lights. One nurse took him out when he was due for a feed and almost passed out at the smell which she likened to phosphorous. The next day, she was still talking about it. Apparently, Zee’s fart had made such an impression on her that she shared the story with her family at the dinner table that evening. Later, another nurse urged me to, “Quick, run and get your camera!” because she thought it would be a good idea to permanently capture the image of Zee on the scales surrounded by a sea of green poo. The running joke about baby boys is that as soon as the nappy comes off, they pee with abandon. And Zee was no exception to this rule but he had to go one better. And, against my better judgment, I took that photo. Just the one. Which surprised the nurse who asked if I was finished taking happy snaps of shit. Yes, yes, I was, I thanked her. Someone mentioned it being a good one for the 21st. Ah yes, perfect for the invitations. Nothing says, “Come help me celebrate my coming of age” like a picture of a baby swimming in meconium. I came across this photo recently as I was choosing which ones to print for an album and I could barely look at it on the computer screen let alone consider having it printed. If I never see that photo again, it’ll be too soon.
Things haven’t improved. Two months back, in the middle of the night, as I sleepily changed his nappy, Zee proceeded to ‘skunk’ me. It was, in the literal sense, a shit fight in the dark. Now every time I change his nappy, I get tense. And as though he can sense my fear, he makes it a habit to fart in a very abrupt manner each time I change him. It’s like a gunshot or a car backfiring. I jump. And the old ‘roll baby’s legs up to the belly in a clockwise position’ never fails to produce results. I’ve become addicted to the power I feel at being able to make my son fart on cue. But it boggles the mind how much wind a tiny, tiny human being can make. His Godmother, my dear friend, Tor, accused me of being to blame for one of Zee’s stunningly loud farts. “That was you!” she admonished, as though I was pulling the old ‘blame the dog’ routine. I told her, this boy is out of control. LD never was. They both had the same diet of booby goodness. So why? How have I created this monster?
Now dedicating this entire piece to poo AND implicating my precious little baby son in the whole sordid thing is just about the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I had to do it in order to set up the premise for real story I’m about to tell. It must be the very worst case scenario of all possible scenarios. And it goes like this.
Angie the actor got trotted out when I had an audition some weeks back and it went swimmingly. So swimmingly, in fact, that I was asked to a callback the very next day. So Friday morning, with one son in day care, the other son and I set off for St Kilda where the callback was to be held. I arrived with a whole hour to spare. That was good, I thought. It would give me a chance to give Zee a little feed before I had to go in. I’d have plenty of time and the whole thing was just very relaxed and civilized. So I sat in the front seat of my car with the radio on just very peacefully nursing my baby.
A little way into the feed, I felt something warm on my inner thigh. Oh no, I thought, has Zee wet through his nappy? That’d be right. I’ll go into this audition with wee on my pants. And right near the crotch too. Perfect! I reached my hand down to feel how bad it was but the consistency felt wrong. Like, really wrong. Pulling Zee off my lap, reefing the poor fella off the boob in the process, I watched with horror as poo oozed, literally flowed, from the top of his jeans. “Fuck!” I said. Or maybe it was, “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I can’t be sure. I looked around frantically, holding Zee aloft and having no idea what to do next. Without even attempting to clear a space, the baby was deposited onto the passenger seat amidst my handbag, a script and assorted baby paraphernalia while I jumped out of the car to survey the damage. The space where I had just been sitting was now covered in poo. Like a mad woman, I grabbed baby wipes and scrubbed the upholstery. Zee was all awkward and akimbo on the passenger seat but amazingly, not crying. Some time during the frantic scrubbing it occurred to me that the part of me that was touching that upholstery, namely, the seat of my pants, must also be covered in shit. Oh shit! I felt the back of my pants and brought back a hand covered in slime.
I didn’t know where to start. Zee’s arse or mine. The back seat of the car seemed to be the biggest space available to me in which to attempt any kind of rescue mission. However, the supposedly roomy 4WD is considerably less so with two baby car seats installed. Zee’s seat is behind the driver and LD’s behind the passenger leaving a small space between the two. Crouched over and trying not to let my butt touch anything lest I defile another surface, I squeezed into the middle space. Bending in half while trying to tuck one’s backside in is no easy feat and in this position, I set about changing Zee’s nappy. But given the nature of what had just come to (explosively) pass, I’d have been better off to strip the child down and hose him off. And then hose myself. But in McGyver-esque fashion, I made do with the materials immediately available to me and cleaned and redressed my child in such a way as to give no hint of the disaster that had occurred just minutes before. And then, it was time to work that same magic upon myself.
I began to wrangle my pants off, still half bent and tucking my bum. I made encouraging chatter to Zee (who was quickly becoming less enamoured of the whole situation) and stole glances behind me, terrified that someone would see my g-stringed butt through the rear (ha!) window. My pants were off. I surveyed the damage. It was bad. Of all the spots the poo could have gone, this was the worst. Given that Zee was on my lap at the time, the trajectory of the poo was almost directly on my crotch and then seeping through and back towards my bum. So I had poo directly between my legs. Which is exactly where you might expect to see poo if someone had, oh I don’t know, say, shit themselves. Heading into an audition where people are typically nervous with a massive poo stain on my bum. Yep, that’s what you want.
So I scrubbed the seat of my pants with more wipes and debated whether to hang them out the window in the hope that the wind might dry them off or put them back on wet and let my body heat work its magic. Ingeniously, I decided to put them back on and then hop out and wave my bum around in the wind.
In the end, I went into that audition with wet pants and also, vomit, deposited on my shoulder just seconds before my name was called. The role was for an ‘average, mumsy’ type which I thought I was wildly unsuited for. I had complained to B that my agent apparently thought I was unattractive and obviously didn’t understand my ‘type’ at all. And that, my friends, is what we call pride before the fall.
So what has motherhood taught me today? It’s the genius mother who packs a change of clothes for the baby – and herself!