It was only a few days after my first son was born when it happened. I tweeted a poop joke (because babies and poop, am I right?) which went straight to my Facebook feed. Only minutes later, my friend responds, “Facebook content goes downhill once your friends have kids, I swear.” I reeled in horror; had I become one of those parents? The ones who’s profile picture is not actually them, but of their children? The ones who only talk about poop and diapers and play dates and the colic, whatever the heck the colic is? I shuddered.
But poop (along with many other things) is something that you cannot understand until you become a parent. Specifically poop. Someone on Twitter also responded, “Fully 40% of your conversations the first year will revolve around poop.” It’s true, and it is (despite my previous belief) inevitable.
Poop is one of those indicators that can tell you nearly anything about someone. Everything, as the Scrubs musical episode declared, comes down to poo. The nurses didn’t need to measure how much the baby was actually eating; they could tell by the number of times our kid expelled poop out of his system. Every nurse check-up, every pediatrician visit asks you how many times your baby is pooping and peeing every day. This is something they fully expect you to keep track of because apparently it is vitally important.
I no longer keep track of the passage of time through minutes and hours like normal people who lead normal lives. I’m a parent now, and I keep track of time by poop. We meticulously keep track (we have a spreadsheet) of the time of poops, along with the quantity, color and consistency of poops. When our child poops, we praise him, and we mean it, because if he stops pooping, he will probably die.
One time, my kid did stop pooping. It wasn’t for a very long time — about 36 hours. At around the 12 hour mark, my wife and I looked at each other, worried. At 24 hours, we were panicking, though a nurse reassured us to wait and see. At 36 hours, we called, frantic, and they told us we probably just needed to switch formulas. Aside from the fact that the lack of poops was a possible health hazard, there was something entirely eerie, almost sinister, by the lack of poop. As conventional time ticked on with no soiled nappy in sight, I felt like I was trapped in some kind of Twilight Zone scenario, where I was caught in some time stasis bubble, and the longer I stayed there, the more likely my son would die.
Eventually, he did have a poop (and, up to that point, an incredibly epic one). When we opened the diaper and saw his poop, it felt like air rushed back into a vacuum and I could breathe again. I was free of my diabolical time prison. Sounds once muted came back to life, and watercolors splashed back into my scary, monochrome world. I could smell the fresh aroma of his poop, so beautiful, so full of life and vigor. My little boy would be okay.
As I write this, I understand that this sounds dramatic, very dramatic indeed for something as everyday as a dirty diaper. But it’s true. I had never considered poop to be anything monumental. But suddenly, overnight, I became a parent to a newborn, and when you become a parent, poop transcends its previous definition. It becomes the arbiter of time itself. It becomes a matter of life and death. Your newborn parenting world revolves around it, and there is very little you can do to escape its powerful gravity.