A Womb of One's Own

A Womb of One’s Own: The Tao of Poop

I have, historically, been a somewhat squeamish person. If something fell in a just-cleaned toilet, I would just try to flush it, because EW POOP GERMS. But then Gabe came along, and while I still have a very firm aversion to poop, I’ve had to relax somewhat about it. If I didn’t, I’d never be able to deal with the kid again.

Babies are, on a good day (in a good hour), soft, wonderful-smelling, and mostly dry. But once they relax into whatever the situation is (breastfeeding, the car seat, your lap and your clean khakis), it’s likely they’ll poop. If you’re lucky, it’ll stay in the diaper.  But more often than not, the poop becomes free-range on the baby. If it’s someone else’s baby, hand them back. When it’s your baby, however, you have no choice but to face down the stink and clean up your kid.

Until the day after Gabe was born, I had never changed a diaper. The first few at the hospital are just wet, to ease you into your new all-day chore. Then comes the infamous meconium poop, the one that’s been building up for nine months. It’s like cleaning roofing tar off of your squirming, screaming, tiny progeny. Everybody’s confused and nobody’s happy. I’d like to say that it gets better, but really, it just becomes different.

The fourth day Gabe was home, my husband gave into the inevitable and did the finger-dip diaper check and came up with poop. While a month before, this would have been an occasion for a “kill it with fire!” freak out, the combination of baby love hormones, sleep deprivation, and the overwhelming nature of recent parenthood meant we just rolled with it. A diaper wipe to the finger, followed by a diaper change and a good hand washing.

At about a month, he pooped while being changed. This wouldn’t have been an unusual event, except it managed to fly off the changing table, over the box of diapers, and hit the crib”¦ three feet away. We weren’t mad, we were just impressed. After that, we learned to only leave things that could be easily wiped clean or washed in Gabe’s changing table firing area.

I’ve cleaned poop off of his hands, his feet, out of his armpits, and from the back of his head. I’ve washed parents’ pants, shirts, sheets, underwear. I’ve apologized in multiple doctor’s exam rooms for what he’s done, and wondered if I could get a roll of exam bed paper for the changing table. We’ve called each other in to marvel at the crap our son has produced or is currently producing. We scrutinize it more than someone on one of those weird colon cleanse diets.

We never thought that, of all the thousand things to discuss and obsess over regarding a baby, one of them would be his bowels. We didn’t know that at the beginning, we’d have to help him coordinate his pooping muscles (as directed by the pediatrician). I’ve always had a soft spot for stupid humor, and I think that’s what’s gotten me through the bad times–the times when he ruins his fourth outfit of the morning, when he has two blowouts in one 30-minute Babies R Us run, the fact that I refuse to leave the house with him without at least two back-up outfits and half a dozen diapers.

Everyone tells prospective parents about the sleep deprivation, the unexplained crying, the sudden and drastic rearrangement of your home life. But nobody ever seems to touch on the gross stuff that suddenly becomes pedestrian to you– the spit-up in your bra and the crack of the couch, the unwelcome news that your favorite gyro place means your breastfed baby cries all night from gas, the poops so explosive you can watch them blow up the back of your child’s onesie.

I love my kid more than anything, but he truly is the most adorable and the most disgusting being I’ve ever encountered.

By Jessica Werner

Free-range librarian in Seattle. A sucker for happy endings, teen angst, and books that make me want to sell my possessions and travel the world. Incurable homebody and type A. Send love letters and readers advisory requests to

5 replies on “A Womb of One’s Own: The Tao of Poop”

I used to work with special ed kindergarteners, half of whom were not potty trained. I found myself wondering what in the world parents had to feed their kid to make him shit bright orange.  And one time while I was changing another boy’s diaper, he proceeded to poop all over his pants/socks…you know those sausage casing machines that you put the meat mince in and then a rope of sausage shoots out? Yeah, it was kinda like that.

*cradles abdomen* IUD, I love you.

If you haven’t gotten them already, the Dreft stain pens are fantastic at knocking out poop stains. I think the worst we ever had was on a road trip from NYC to North Carolina when Lexie was 3 months old. We flat out threw away one onesie that got annihilated (poor Starbucks bathroom – at least bf poop doesn’t smell that bad), and a tossed a couple others in plastic bags to wash out when we got home. I forgot about them for  couple days, and one of them grew god only knows what kind of mold or mildew. It was horrifying. Down the garbage chute!

I’m sorry, I thought you knew.  An unusually large amount of post-baby conversation involves poop.  MiniB also managed to shoot pop across the room at a very young age, it’s one of her daddy’s favorite stories. :)

It is pretty amazing how quickly poop becomes interesting, and how quickly it becomes just another part of a normal day.

Leave a Reply