No adventure in parenthood would be complete without a few tales on the three P’s – pee, poop, and puke. It’s a fact that new mothers can spend hours discussing the contents of dirty diapers. They also like to compare the latest spit up stains on their clothes. When a child is sick, moms can spin epic yarns about how much vomit and diarrhea they had to clean up. All of this means one thing.
Motherhood is one hell of a messy job.
I’ve been dealing with the three P’s ever since Cassie was born three and a half years ago. Her first week of life, I obsessed over whether she produced enough poop and pee. The nurses in the maternity ward had given me a neat little form to fill out that listed times I nursed Cassie, times we changed her diaper, and the contents of those diapers. It was sort of an input/output tracking sheet, I guess you could say. The outputs were referred to as “S” (solid) and “W” (wet), and Cassie was expected to produce a certain number of solids and wets per day. I’ll let you figure out what solid and wet stood for.
So I dutifully recorded every little solid and wet my daughter made for the first week, and I sweated over whether she was meeting her quota. Then after the first week, I quit worrying about whether she was making enough so-called solids and wets and began worrying about how to get solid and wet stains out of her clothes. And my clothes. And the carpet. And the bed spread. And off the wall.
Cassie became champ at producing solids and wets, and she liked to show off her talents. I could never change a diaper without getting the “fountain of youth” – a flood of pee that squirted straight up from her little hoo-hoo and flooded the entire changing table. Didn’t matter if I dropped a wash cloth over her while I was changing her. Didn’t matter if I put a clean diaper under her immediately to soak up and messes on the table. She would wait for that fraction of a second when she was unprotected by anything absorbent and that’s when she’d cut loose. I reckon she soaked at least three changing pad covers a day, and usually forced me to change outfits at least once due to her excessive peeing.
The pee, however, was nothing compared to the poop. Early on, we nicknamed Cassie Slurpee Butt. If you have never seen the poop of a breastfed baby, let me tell you, it looks exactly like some fancy brand of mustard blended with a banana slurpee. It’s seedy, yellow, and just thick enough to go splat when it hits the walls. It can also spurt out the rear end like water from a fire hose. I remember one particular afternoon when Michael was changing her, Cassie just let rip and a river of poop came shooting out her tiny behind. I estimate she ejected half her body weight in poop, causing a big, messy, yellow pool to form around her on the changing table. Fortunately, there was a lip on the end of that table that acted as a levee; otherwise our carpet would have taken the brunt of Cassie’s natural disaster, and I don’t think even FEMA would have paid for that.
Sam has similar talents, of course, although she employs different methods. Rather than spray pee in a fountain, she prefers the old Nile River flood plain method, where she very sneakily leaks a stream of pee that you don’t notice until it’s deep enough to grow crops in. As for her pooping skills… well, I’ve taken to calling her “Bullet Butt.” Sam doesn’t give off rivers of poop, but instead shoots out concentrated pellets that fly all the way across the room to her intended target. Frequently, Sam will wait until I’ve lifted her little butt off the pad to slip a diaper under her and then she’ll shoot, using the higher trajectory to aim for more distant targets. So far, she’s managed to hit the bedspread on the far side of our bedroom and yesterday she nearly took out one of the cats.
You’d think between all the pee and the poop that moms would have enough to clean up in the house. Not so! Puke and spit-up, though not as frequent as poop and pee, do make up a considerable amount of mess in a mommy’s life and you never know when they’re going to happen. I remember earlier this winter, Cassie came down with her first case of stomach flu. We didn’t even know she was sick. We just put her to bed that night. Then three hours later, I woke up to hear my daughter crying in her bed. I walked in and was nearly knocked flat by the smell of sour milk and vomit. Cassie had woken up and puked all over herself and her bed. I went in to calm her down and that’s when she puked all over me. I had to carry Cassie up to the office to get Michael. I couldn’t put her down without risking puke dropping all over the floor. Of course, when we walked in, Michael just stared at us like a deer caught in the headlights. “What am I supposed to do?” he asked. “Well,” I said, trying not to blow my top, “you could help me give Cassie a bath, and then maybe you could change the sheets on her bed, unless you expect her to sleep in a pile of puke tonight!”
It’s then that I came to realize my husband has no idea how to handle messes like that. Michael wasn’t bad with diapers. In fact, he’s really good about doing it when I ask him too. But when confronted with a bucket-load of puke, his brain just turns off. I had to direct my husband in every step of the clean up procedure. First step? Get the sick, screaming child into the tub and undress her. Second step, one parent (Daddy) changes the bed sheets while the second parent (Mommy) bathes the kid. Third step, find clean clothes for everyone who’s been puked on, namely the still-screaming child and the very frustrated mother. Fourth step, take everything that’s been puked on and run it through the washing machine, and no, don’t bother asking if Mommy wants to wash that stuff by hand. The answer is a definite “NO!”
I suppose it wouldn’t have been so bad that night if Cassie had just puked on me once, but right after I got us both cleaned up, she did it again. I was sitting on the bed, holding her and trying to calm her down. She still didn’t feel well, but I couldn’t understand why she was screaming so loudly. Then she opened her mouth extra-wide and out came a gallon of half-digested milk (Cassie drinks a lot of milk, by the way). Michael said it looked like a fat snake of white cheese slowly pouring out of her mouth and onto me. I thought it looked like someone had dumped a bucket of ricotta cheese all over me. It was impressive, to say the least, and extremely messy. Once again, I stood there holding my screaming child, both of us covered in puke. Once again, my husband the aerospace engineer stood there and stared, as slack-jawed and dim-witted as a sitcom husband.
“Well?” I demanded.
“Well what?” he replied.
“Aren’t you going to do something?” I prompted.
“LIKE GET A TOWEL, YOU MORON!”
With a bit of shouting, I was able to direct Michael through the proper clean-up procedure yet again. This time, I took a bath with Cassie, who was suddenly feeling much better. She danced around in the tub, singing and laughing until she finally wore herself out. I put her to bed and slept on the floor next to her, with a bucket ready just in case.
Sam’s spit-ups have been minor compared to that night, but still pretty stinky and messy. She doesn’t have the capacity to produce a gallon of half-digested food, but she spew a fountain of breast milk at my best friend’s house last week, one big enough to coat her face and ruin my favorite Hawaiian shirt. It reminded me of Linda Blair for some reason. Not to be outdone, Cassie puked the next night at the dinner table. Never fear, she wasn’t ill. She was just talking too fast while eating Chinese and drinking club soda. At least this time she didn’t scream when she was done.
Yep, pee, poop, and puke and the three main messes of a mother’s life. As I wade around in all this mess, I can only blame myself. After all, I’m the one who agreed to have kids. Gotta take the stinky mess that goes with them as well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. Someone needs her diaper changed.