“I’m afraid it’s Chlamydia.”
My heart sank. A feeling of dread swept over my body. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Don’t worry, it’s easily treated and quite curable with a month-long course of antibiotics. There are a few side effects to the treatment though. The most significant of these is an upset stomach, which commonly results in diarrhoea.”
As I stood in the veterinarian’s surgery, 39 weeks pregnant with my first child, I was feeling slightly hard done by. My two cats (Sergei and Rasputin) had had eye infections for a while and neither had responded to first-line treatment. As a result, the vet had recommended taking some eye swabs. Well, the results were now in and as it happened, both of them had chlamydia in their eyes, apparently. He told me this was actually quite common in ragdoll cats (mine are both ragdolls) and he emphasised that it was NOT the same infection as the sexually transmitted human one (thank goodness for that!). Nevertheless, I was aware that my due date was fast approaching and that soon enough my life was going to revolve around a small baby who did little other than eat, sleep and poo. I had thought that perhaps I had at least one week (perhaps even three if I went overdue) free from clearing up excrement left, but the vet had just dashed those hopes for me (my cats are indoor cats and so unfortunately that means we need to sort their litter trays). Yes, the universe had decided I had exhausted my sh*t-free days, and had dealt me this blow earlier than expected. As Ozzy Osbourne once said quite rightly “cat sh*t is the f**king worst, Sharon” when he looked horrified and panicked at the news that daughter Kelly wanted yet another cat. I have to say, I’m with him there. However, at least with two cats crapping everywhere from then on, I was likely to find baby excrement comparatively benign when the time came. Soon I, like Ozzy, would also be living in “one giant turd” (how he once described his house on account of his vast array of poorly toilet trained animals). I took to my social media accounts immediately and, without delay, advertised for someone to come and live with me and have a job helping the soon-to-be mother of a newborn baby and two gastro-ridden cats to clean up excrement. Surprisingly enough, I received no offers.
Since that fateful day in the vet’s, it seems my life has largely revolved around poo, and so, it seemed only natural to base this post on an area in which I now consider myself an expert- clearing up sh*t (after all they say you should blog about topics you are knowledgable about). The last few weeks in particular have involved a lot of sh*t so it seemed appropriate to write another diary entry based mostly on this subject. My friends and I always laugh at how, since we became parents, we seem to be covered in sh*t all the time. Tired of seeing all of these glossy motherhood blogs, we joked about how one day we would reveal the real truth of parenthood- I’ll give you a clue, it involves a lot of sh*t. LITERALLY.
My husband has had some holiday recently and has also gone on a real health kick. Whilst he was off, I was hoping for a couple of lie-ins, but thanks to his new regime, this was wishful thinking on my part and a complete non-starter. We have both recently joined the gym just down the road from us and he has taken to waking up ridiculously early and going to work out. This is bad news for me, as it means he is up and raring to go at some ungodly hour, whilst I adopt my usual and now perfected look- that of a zombie. On the Monday of his week off, he suggests a brisk walk around the park at 7am. This results in almost involuntary flexion of all my digits bar my middle finger. However, I soon admit defeat and agree, albeit reluctantly. Together, we drop Henry off at nursery and hurry to a nearby Starbucks for a large coffee (my terms and conditions for coming on this dreadful sounding pursuit include a hefty fix of caffeine, which he is paying for, by the way). As we are sat enjoying our coffees, Edward, who is sat by the table in his pram, begins to look angry and starts to grizzle crossly. Now, they say you soon become tuned in to your baby and begin to recognise their cues. They will have a certain “cry” for different needs, allegedly. Sooner or later, promise the advisors, you will know exactly what the baby wants/needs just by listening to their cry. However, as Edward grows more and more perturbed and red-faced, my husband and I remain clueless as to why. We have tried offering milk, snacks, cuddles, changing the position of his pram seat from upright to more reclined etc. Nothing we attempt works. Increasingly embarrassed by the loudening racket he is making, we make a hasty retreat to the car and hope the motion of the vehicle will send him to sleep. He is almost certainly tired, we conclude.
When we arrive at the park for our walk, we assemble the pram and store the changing bag on the bottom carrier. We put our walking shoes on and then our jackets, and last, but not least, we go to lift Edward out of his seat and into the pram. As I pick him up, my hand lands straight in a damp, slimy patch on his back. I look down with one eye open and the other closed, afraid of what I will see (although I am already sure of what I will see as that all familiar smell has already reached my nostrils). My worst fears are confirmed when I observe that my hand has indeed landed straight into a patch of poo that has seeped through every layer of his clothing. Yes, after puzzling for ages in the coffee house over why he was crying, we missed the obvious- he was in the process of doing a massive sh*t. It seems that after two children relatively close together, we still don’t have the faintest idea about what each of their cries means.
This poo explosion is extensive and we have to do an emergency change in the boot of the car. This involves stripping him down and cleaning his soiled skin with a pantechnicon of baby wipes. Ideally, he needs a hosing down in the bath, but we have had to make do with our limited resources. A little while later, we are left with a semi-clean baby (the best job we could do out of the back of the car), several nappy sacs filled with soiled clothes and diapers, and we have done a lot of swearing (mostly yelling “sh*t!” rather fittingly). Following this unexpected delay, we set off on our rainy walk. On the way home, we pick up a friend who is going to go to the gym with my husband. The car obviously reeks of excrement, and so we apologise profusely and explain the mishap we had earlier.
On Fridays, I have recently started to take Edward to swimming classes. Now, I’ll be honest, I hate swimming. I realise it’s important to try and teach the boys how to swim, but it makes my hair go green and tangled and I hate the smell of chlorine. Anyway, to try and reduce my stress levels, I get myself and Edward into our swimming gear (with clothes over the top) before we leave home. After getting my crotch caught on the turnstile at the gym entrance and attracting unwanted sniggers from passers by as I try and get through to the pool/gym area with my swimming bag, Edward’s swimming bag, Edward himself on my hip, my car keys, and my gym membership card poised to swipe at the barrier (too much stuff in awkward positions, in other words), I arrive in the changing rooms. Edward wears a water nappy, neoprene nappy, and a full body swimsuit. I have asked him very nicely to kindly refrain from doing an enormous sh*t before we get into the pool, because, I have explained to him, I will cry if I have to remove all those layers to change him. Additionally, I don’t have a spare bathing suit for him. As I’m stripping down to my swimming gear, I hear that ominous squelching sound, which I know inevitably means he has shat. My heart sinks. I feel like I want to scream. The lesson is due to start in 2 minutes. I’m good at changing a baby speedily, but I’m not that good. Hesitantly, I unzip his body suit and peer inside his nappy. My worst fears are confirmed. I see the runny baby poo, and it’s all up his front and down his legs. There is nothing for it, I abandon my bag and clothes in a heap and rush into the nearest private cubicle to strip him off at lightening speed. I manage to get him changed and we make it to the poolside 5 minutes late. I have already got my “excuse for being late” speech prepared in my head and cringe at the thought that the entire class will forever remember me as the “one who was late for the first lesson because her baby shat everywhere.” However, my carefully thought out speech is not necessary, because, miraculously the class is delayed due to the previous lesson running over, and so I manage to inconspicuously place myself at the poolside and look as though I have been “waiting” for the lesson along with everyone else the whole time. Surprisingly, I don’t find the lesson that bad. However when I get home, I cry to my husband and tell him I’m never going swimming again on account of the fact that it’s just too much of a risk that the kids will crap at the eleventh hour and I simply can’t handle the stress of trying to clean and change them under such time pressure. My husband laughs and tells me I am pathetic and of course, I go the following week, as I know I should (and no he didn’t sh*t everywhere the next time, incase you are dying to find out if there is a squelchy sequel to this particular tale).
Later that day, my husband is out playing squash and he phones me to tell me that he has been walloped on the eyelid with a racket. He has sustained a laceration to his eyelid and thinks he has a concussion. This is later confirmed by the A&E doctors, and a few hours later, he arrives home with a black eye, a load of strips holding the wound together and one hell of a headache. The doctors have advised him that he should not play cricket tomorrow due to the concussion and so he is seriously upset and annoyed about this. That evening, he is feeling very sorry for himself because not only is he concussed and unable to play cricket, but his Nan is ill too. In the car on the way home from picking Henry up from nursery he says to me “it’s all just really sh*t.” We had basically forgotten Henry was there because he was so quiet, until a little voice came back and said “sh*t Daddy, sh*t.” My husband shoots me a sideways glance and tells me not to laugh as it will encourage him to say the naughty word again. About half a second later, we both erupt into uncontrollable laughter (we know we shouldn’t, but it’s just too funny- of all the words he could choose to repeat from the whole conversation it would be the “s” word, wouldn’t it?)
The following day, whilst at the cricket (my husband has gone against medical advice and is playing despite his head injury and concussion- tut tut), Edward has his daily poo explosion. Now, I have noticed there are several mums out there who always seem to dress their kids immaculately in perfectly co-ordinated outfits. I have never been one of these mums. I figure I could try it, but inevitably the garments will end up covered in food, dirt or excrement (or worse, all three), and thus I feel that it is largely a futile operation. As it happens, I am no good at colour co-ordination when it comes to my children. Today, Edward is wearing an ensemble of navy, lime green, khaki, orange, royal blue, baby blue, red, yellow and brown. Following the poo explosion and the necessary full outfit change, he finds himself in purple, green, white, blue, black and red. There is no designated bin for used nappies at the club (I don’t blame them), so I have to store the dirty diapers deep in the changing bag, along with the soiled clothes, all enclosed in nappy sacs, and cart them round for the rest of the day until I can throw them away when we get home. This brings a new meaning to following someone around like a bad smell- yes I am quite literally doing that today.
At the start of the new week, my mum has come to visit for a while. She enjoys coming along on the nursery run with the kids. My husband has gone to the gym for his now routine early morning sesh, and I have good intentions of getting Henry to nursery early. However, as usual, this is a foolish goal to set because the kids decide to spice things up a bit for me. Edward has shat all up his back during the night and so I change him and get him ready for the day. Henry has not even stirred at this point. When I am ready to go in and wake him up, the smell of poo hits me almost instantly as I open his door. I unzip his sleeping bag and discover a poo explosion that has shot out of his nappy and vest and has gone down his leg. The sleeping bag is soiled and in desperate need of a wash. I also have to give Henry a hosing down in an emergency bath in a bid to get rid of the flecks of sh*t all over him (which I have concluded I am unable to do with wipes alone). His bedroom stinks and so, I, in the words of Drake, “crack a window, and air it out.” When I have finally got the kids and my mum in to the car for the nursery run, my husband phones and I explain I’m running late for nursery because “don’t even ask.” Of course I then go on to give him a graphic account of the various selection of poo explosions I have witnessed and dealt with so far this morning. Henry makes it to nursery just in time for breakfast and I drop him off hastily, looking dishevelled and flustered as usual.
At the weekend, I am scheduled to be baking for the cricket tea at my husband’s cricket club. I have spent a fair amount of time preparing food. My selection includes 36 cupcakes and I have decided to top them with chocolate buttercream icing. I have finally got the kids into bed and so am trying to crack on with the cake decoration. Before long, I hear intense straining noises (reminiscent of those that I myself made in the latter stages of labour, if I remember correctly) coming through over the baby monitor. Henry has inevitably decided to sh*t at this inconvenient time and so I have to go and change him and settle him back to bed before I am able to carry on with the baking. Exhausted, I start piping the icing on to the cupcakes and am busy working when I am interrupted by my husband sniggering. It transpires he is laughing because he thinks the chocolate buttercream icing looks exactly like cat turd on top of the cakes. “Great”, I mutter to myself, “even the cupcakes look like they have been shat on, literally!” I cannot get away from poo, it seems.
Unfortunately, all of my hard work in the kitchen was for nothing, because come Saturday, there is torrential rain and the cricket pitch is waterlogged. The match is called off. As a result, my husband and I decide to go to brunch with the kids. He is travelling from the club and I am going from home and so we agree to meet up at the cafe. Realising I am unlikely to arrive promptly and in time for breakfast, I send mine and the kids’ choices in advance so my husband can order the meals before I arrive with the children. This is a very good job, because just as I am about to load everyone into the car, Edward shits, Henry shits, and the cat shits (the latter at the top of the stairs-aaahhhh!). All of these require emergency clean ups, thus delaying my arrival. I get there eventually to a cold breakfast but I am no longer picky and I will eat a meal at whatever temperature it happens to be by the time I sit down (this is something you quickly get used to as a mother- you don’t care whether the food is hot or cold, just that you get to eat!)
By the evening, I am well and truly exhausted after all the gallivanting. I receive an email reminding me to buy myself a lottery ticket. As I browse through the jackpots, I can’t help but think that rather than the “set for life” jackpot, I would be satisfied with winning a lifetime supply of nappies and baby wipes instead.
My husband and I watch the kids play together. “Sh*t” I say “they are so cute, how did we make such adorable children?” He looks at me and replies “sh*t, I have no idea!”
I couldn’t fit this into the diary, but as a parent you are bound to experience the dreadfulness that is your kid pooing in the bath at one time or another. This is a truly traumatic experience for any parent! My advice would be to avoid handling the situation as I first did. One time I realised my son was about to poo (started making suspicious noises and the infamous “straining face”) and so I lifted him out of the bath. I didn’t have any resources nearby to aid in cleaning up or catching said impending turd and so stupidly, I put my hand under his arse and yes, he shat in my hand! If they sh*t on the carpet or the bathmat or the towel, all of these items can simply be cleaned. Believe me, I think that cleaning any one of the aforementioned things would be far less traumatic than cleaning sh*t off your hands!