Unshockingly shockable

In the interests of full disclosure, I’m writing this while wearing my third pair of trousers today.

By the time your second baby comes around, you’re pretty sure you’re unshockable. The first introduced you to diarrhoea so explosive it went up the walls, poo so gravity-defying it could somehow climb from the nappy up and out the neck of a sleepsuit, and vomit so pungent it melted the clothes from off your body. I’ve had piss on my nipples, shit on my neck and puke on my toes. The second child? A breeze.

And it has been. My four-month-old Rosie has been much easier, as far as that sort of thing goes, than her sister. She’s always snotty – my clothes are held together by snail-trails at the moment – but she isn’t particularly poopy or pukey. Indeed, other than a poo that jumped into my lap like a rocket-propelled sausage when I was changing her at about four weeks, she hasn’t grossed me out once.

And then today happened.

I was sitting on the sofa with my baby on my lap, happily cooing and gurgling and squawking to herself, as she does from half-five every morning. The Olympics was on the TV, my toddler was playing with a colouring book, and all of a sudden I noticed my testicles were getting incredibly warm.

Weird, I thought – my baby’s sitting on my thighs so it’s not her. But now my butthole is getting hot, too. It’s like I’m lowering myself into a lovely relaxing bath. What the hell is going on?

I lifted up my baby and discovered the awful truth – her sleepsuit was sopping wet. It was dripping down between my legs onto the sofa cushion, and then soaking up into my jeans and boxers. And yes, my nether regions were now swimming in baby piss.

It’s amazing how quickly urine goes cold. I stood up and as my boxer shorts tightened against my balls, I couldn’t keep a look of horror from crossing my face. You know the one – the look that comes over you when a pleasant, refreshing fart in a restaurant turns out to be something a little more than gas.

Screaming at the utter horribleness of it all, I handed the baby to my wife and hobbled upstairs looking like John Wayne after riding a stallion for twelve hours. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Stripping off, I washed my junk in the sink, relieved to be free of the curse, and changed into fresh underwear and jeans. I went downstairs, to where my wife was changing the baby, and sat down on the sofa to watch.

Why does my butthole still feel wet, I wondered to myself. And then I realised I’d sat down in the puddle of urine still soaking into the cushion, and my newly-sterile groin was covered in baby pies again!

Poo from your face to your feet? No problem. Puke from my nipples to my nuts? Unpleasant, but I’ve got it in the bag. But white wine on my wedding tackle? You can get the hell out of my house.

I guess I’m still shockable after all.

Are You Raising a Demon Baby?

A handy checklist to see if you are raising the spawn of Satan. Has your five-months-and-one-day-old baby:

  1. Kicked you in the nuts?
  2. Kicked you in the chin?
  3. Twisted your beard until you screamed?
  4. Backhanded you across the mouth?
  5. Backhanded you in the nose?
  6. Punched you in the Adam’s Apple?
  7. Scratched your neck?
  8. Scratched your forehead?
  9. Used your ears as leverage to pull herself to her feet?
  10. Crushed your bottom lip in her meaty little hand while trying to ram her other fist down your throat?
  11. Shoved her fingers up your nostrils?
  12. Pulled off your glasses?
  13. Palm punched you repeatedly in the eyes?
  14. Tried to bite your head?
  15. Screamed when you tried to feed her?
  16. Screamed when you hugged her?
  17. Screamed when you put her down?
  18. Screamed on her front?
  19. Screamed on her back?
  20. Screamed non-stop right in your face?
  21. Thrown up pureed apple and banana down your shirt?
  22. Thrown up pureed apple and banana down your vest?
  23. Thrown up pureed apple and banana down your bare chest?
  24. Pulled out a handful of chest hair?
  25. Tugged on your armpit hair until your eyes watered?
  26. Spat on you?
  27. Sneezed on you?
  28. Done a pile of liquid yellow-green poo thirty seconds after you changed her nappy?
  29. Laughed uproariously as you tried to change her again while she kicked you and hit you?
  30. Shrieked like a banshee as you tried to put her sleepsuit back on while she kicked you and hit you?
  31. Stood up unassisted against the sofa for the first time?
  32. All of the above in the space of two hours this evening?

If the answer to all the above questions is yes, you may very well be raising the offspring of Beelzebub a.k.a. a teething baby.

To assist parents like us, I have set up a support group named Demon Dads Anonymous. Call me on 1-800-I-need-an-exorcist and we can help each other! Or we use more teething gel, yes, more teething gel, now.

The Small Things

A few days ago my life was a movie in which I played myself while my partner Lizzie was played by the Devil. Actually, that’s a little harsh. She was more like Kathy Bates in Misery. Now, things are a little better: she’s become Kathy Bates in Titanic – happier, jokier, with a trifle more backbone. And I’ve gone from Jack Nicholson in The Shining to Jack Nicholson in…actually, he’s pretty crazy in most things. Maybe that’s a bad analogy.

Putting aside which Hollywood characters we most resemble, I said that I’d keep this blog positive, and I’ve noticed my posts have become rather whiny and self-pitying of late. So here’s to all the small and wonderful things that make this endeavour memorable and worthwhile, the kinds of things you’d forget if they weren’t written down, divided into four categories: the physical, behavioural, developmental, and simply gross.

I want to remember the little physical things that might disappear as Izzie gets older. Like the uncatchable bogies that yo-yo in and out of her nostrils when she breathes, or the slimy green sleepy dust that collects in her left eye but never her right. How her strawberry birthmark, which looks like a strawberry to me, is more like a Rorschach inkblot test, since others have variously described it as a tomato, an apple, a pineapple and a maple leaf. Her belly button that can’t decide whether it wants to be an inny or an outy, and her snowplough penguin feet. Enough wax in her ears to make a candle. And she’s strong, too, like a baby Wonder Woman. A couple of years, she’ll be kicking my arse!

And I want to remember the behavioural things, like the way she somehow removes her shoes, socks and trousers no matter how high you pull them up or how tightly they’re attached. How she rather creepily smiles at me when I put Vaseline on her bottom, or chirps like a bird and kicks her legs if you lie her on her back without a nappy. The way she dances and sings to Smells Like Teen Spirit (or ‘writhes’ and ‘screams’ according to Lizzie) and chuckles at me when I sing My Girl complete with bass line (‘I got sunshine – bom-bom-bom-bom-bom, burm, on a cloudy day’). How she falls asleep with her mouth wide open like she’s catching flies, and screws the backs of her fists into her eyes when she’s tired. And she watches everything that’s going on, strives to stay awake in case she misses something – she’s more alert than I am half the time.

Then there are the developmental things that need to be recorded for this stage because they change so quickly. Like how at ten weeks Izzie is trying to sit up (my brother took nine months!), how she can stand if you help her balance, and with both as soon as she’s upright she beams with pride as if to say, ‘Look, daddy, I did it! I’m a big girl!’ How she can’t take her eyes off the TV if it’s on. The way she keeps trying to hold her own bottle while we’re feeding her, but given her poor motor control skills succeeds only in pushing it out of her mouth and then punching herself in the head. Give it another few years, she’ll be reading War and Peace and standing for public office – it’s scary how early she’s developing.

Which leaves the simply gross stuff, the anecdotes that are awful at the time but leave you laughing. Like how we have a vibrating poo chair – if she hasn’t gone yet in a day, we put her in her bouncy chair, turn on the vibration and within ten minutes she’s filled her nappy. Every single time. It never fails. Or how when I changed her the other day the inside of her nappy was entirely orange, except for two perfectly elliptical white ovals where her butt cheeks had been. How her grandmother spent ages dressing her in a pretty yellow vest, yellow trousers, yellow dress, yellow cardigan and yellow socks, only for me to remove them ten minutes later covered in sopping yellow poo. And how the other night while I was feeding her she did a massively warm, squelchy fart; I thought I’d change her after she’d finished her milk when I suddenly felt my leg grow wet, picked her up, and lo, my shorts had a large wet yellow patch of poo all over them. Yay.

These are the things that make up a life. Not whose turn is it sterilise the bottles again, where did that sock go, you forgot to buy nappies, and oh my God how can you sleep through all of this screaming? It’s about the little smiles, the laughs and the oddities. These are the things we want to remember in years to come, and the only things Izzie will care about. It’s easy to forget that the little things are by far the most important.

Projectile Poop

I don’t know how I’m going to cope. I really don’t know how I’m going to cope. Up to now I’d taken everything in my stride. Poop? Fine. Vomit? Get on with ya. Endless screaming? Bring it, my ears are numb. But I just encountered something I had no idea how to deal with.

Izzie needed changing. I knew this because she was making her surprised, pouty Derek Zoolander face – ‘I’m really really really ridiculously good looking. But I’m sitting in my own faeces.’ So I took her upstairs to change.

Sure enough, oodles of poop. Make that gallons. So I started to wipe and she chose that moment to pee all over herself. That’s okay. I can just finish up, change her sleep suit, no problem.

So I’m wiping and she started to poop again, like a particularly foul Mr Softee ice cream dispenser, all over my fingers. Again, that’s no problem: inconvenient, but it’ll give me something to talk about as the father of the bride. I clean myself up, continue to clean her up. So far, so normal.

And then it happened.

Boom.

I have no idea how a baby can explosively project a stream of Chicken Korma four feet across the room. I’ll admit it, I screamed. I leapt back like a gunshot had gone off. It was on my hands and the spare nappies; it was dripping down the wall and off the changing table; it ran in a line across the carpet towards the door. I didn’t know what to do.

I could have sworn that Izzie was smiling at me.

Luckily, Lizzie came to my rescue. Since I’ve taken over the night shift and she’s getting more sleep, she’s ten times better in the daytime. As we cleaned up, I thought how odd it felt to be in need of rescue instead of the rescuer. If I had been on my own, there’s no telling how long Izzie and I would have floundered about elbow deep in curry sauce. What if I’d been in public? What if I’d been right in the firing line? I’d have been painted from forehead to navel!

There’s a line in a movie called The Ghost and the Darkness. It’s something along the lines of, ‘Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit. You just got hit. The getting up is up to you.’

Well I just got hit. Projectile bowel movements are beyond what I was prepared for. Now I just need to work out how to cope if and when it happens again.

I’m thinking a shower curtain around the changing station isn’t a bad idea!