So you’re having a baby! You’re going to be a new dad. That’s brilliant news. I’m sure you’ll make a great dad.
As soon as you announce it, your friends, family and colleagues will either begin to wax lyrical about what a beautiful experience it is – and it is – or what a dreadful mistake you’ve made, although they won’t say it like that of course. They’ll raise their eyebrows, suck in their breath or smirk wryly at the nightmare coming your way.
I won’t offer you paradise or pain. I will offer you poo. As in, poo from your baby’s bum, poo.
Like all good stories, it starts a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Noah built an ark for all the animals and in that ark he built a big room for poo. He had to clear it out every day lest the boat capsize under the weight. You are Noah. Your baby is… an animal? Hhhmm… maybe this isn’t the right analogy. Let me start again.
Poo is good, or at least poo is not all bad.
It is a gift, so a good friend informs me. In fact it’s the first gift your baby will give you. On day two or three, your little angel might open up and deliver a small parcel of meconium. It’s like black treacle, thick and gooey. This is good. This is the start of something beautiful.
Then comes phase two. She’ll start to feed and more poo will come but it won’t be the dark, sticky colour of meconium, those days are gone. It’ll be a different colour, reflecting whatever your baby’s been guzzling, but probably a less stodgy lighter yellowish brown colour. As time progresses, it will change colour, smell and consistency again.
Basically, your angel’s poo is your barometer of her health. Ask any archaeologist or celebrity dietician. They’ll tell you the same but with their “I’m a proper doctor don’t you know” face on.
If your angel’s not pooing, something’s not right. As much as I dislike changing a nappy full of poo, I like it even less when it’s bone dry or stocked full of mammoth constipation or diarrhoea.
By the way, every curry you have from now on will remind you of diarrhoea, fingers crossed not too often though. But that resemblance might save you a penny or two on take-away. This is the first of many sacred cows from your pre-child life to be sacrificed.
This is the power of poo.
But rest assured, whatever your angel throws at you, and she may well throw her nappy at you, you will handle it. Just wash your hands afterwards. In spite of what you may have heard, it’s not like eating the placenta. Don’t fall for that old trick like I did. It takes weeks of brushing to get rid of the taste.
Which reminds me, keep your angel’s hands well out of the way come nappy changing time. They have a habit of exploring places that are covered in poo and then putting their fingers in noses and mouths, theirs and yours. And while “nappy off” time seems like a great idea, it’s only worth it if you have wipe clean floors and not shag pile carpet or a Persian rug.
Hoist and sniff!
When you’re out in public displaying your angel to all and sundry, you’ll come to realise that poo rules your schedule and choice of destination. Not all cafes, shops or friends’ and family houses are created equal. Some are better equipped for babies and their deposits than others. You can’t always know how baby-friendly a place is going to be so you’ll just have to wing it.
When you’re having a lovely latte with other new parents, you’ll take great pleasure in lifting up your angel, presenting her to the sky like an offering to the gods and then sniffing her bum. Doing this in the company of other new parents seems sensible and the quickest way of knowing if she’s delivered a little parcel for you.
People without kids may grumble or look at you in abject horror.
Fear not. You will learn to shrug off such trivial complaints or scornful looks. You have poo to inspect and dispose of. You are a proud parent now.
I don’t do the sniffing. I have a poor sense of smell (and timing, hence my own children’s existence) so I just prise open the nappy with one finger and take a peek inside. Sadly, this often leads to “poo finger”. I then have a baby sitting in poo and a finger covered in poo. Double trouble. This is why you should opt for the hoist and sniff method and to hell with what anyone else thinks.
In other words, you’ll become a poo scholar, mildly obsessed by its frequency, colour, shape, smell and consistency. This is a skill you probably never imagined you would acquire, or would want to, but you will. And that’s more than enough about poo to be getting on with.