If you’d asked me a year ago if I’d go for recyclable or landfill-filling disposable nappies in the pub, four lovely pints in, I’d have vehemently declared that any child of mine (should I have one) would have the environmental footprint of his little toe before punching the air and asking whose round it is. In the cold reality of another sleepless, screaming-infant night/day the very thought of having to pre-boil a load of soiled towels before stuffing the buggers into the washing machine -and then having to hang the damp contents on those wobbly plastic-coated wire drier things, over and over again- is enough to drive one to the horse.
So its disposable nappies all the way, once you’ve worked out a few things. First and foremost, they’re not hipster jeans, they have to sit as high as grandad’s Woolrich slacks and failure to meet this fundamental requirement will result in all shit/piss outside. Fitting them in the correct position is one thing, ensuring they remain there is down to how tightly you’re prepared to do them up. A few days after the birth of your first child one is paranoid of injurious consequences just by looking at them in a funny way, needless to say, the nappy won’t be nearly tight enough and look, the shit/piss is outside again.
In those heady pre-cauliflower days the poo was lump-free and in the grand scheme of things relatively odourless -I’d have it down as a cross between sour milk and, er, shit. In addition, if you were changing him, it was usually pre-announced downstairs by a quack/bark sort of sound. If you’re fast (and I bloody well am) one would catch the horror by smashing a kitchen towel into the space between him and your clothes/furniture. This meant his heavy business hardly ever come into contact with one’s clothes/furniture or, for that matter, his.
The piss is sneaky, there’s no warning with piss, it just becomes a reality and because it’s unadulterated it’s Alpine clear to the point of invisibility. At the very best it can catch the light and look like a rogue hair. In fact, every time he’s pissed on the changing mat I’ve been in the process of applying a fresh nappy and gone ‘there’s a hair there, I’ll just get that away, oh no, it’s piss’. The rest of the time you simply discover he’s just sitting in a puddle of it without so much as care in the world.
Of course, all that was before he began to eat solid food, these days it’s poo this, turds that, and one is faced with another set of paradoxical preferences. I say ‘preferences’ in the grand scheme of things such options wouldn’t exist; babies would soil into a sealed container that’d compress the contents into an odourless bale (a removable tray lifts out, allowing you to drop the dirt straight into the bin, a bit like a Gtech Air Ram MK2 cordless shit cleaner) and I wouldn’t find my fingers, hands (and arm, yesterday) covered in cack following the simple and ironic act of investigating to see if he has or hasn’t actually cacked… Having said that, it’s worse when he doesn’t evacuate himself. Say we find a little something mid-afternoon, if we’re not gifted by that evening he starts to get a bit anxious, and if he goes to bed ‘full’ you’re in for a bad night’s sleep.
When he was a couple of months old one of the nurses noticed that the little fella was tongue-tied (when the stringy bit of skin (lingual frenulum) between the underside of the tongue and the floor of the mouth is too short) and we were informed, if left untreated, it could cause speech impediments later in life. We were also assured it was effecting the quality of his feeding. A simple operation was arranged and executed a week later, instantly his diet changed.
One week after, all I saw was either the back of his head or a wide-open screaming mouth. He was like a possessed man, hitting the tit like he’d not eaten in a week then yelling himself half to death when he was full. The problem, we soon discovered, was that whilst a vast quantity of matter was going in, not much, if anything, was coming out. For one miserable 48-hour period he didn’t squeeze out so much as a wisp of a fart, until he just exploded. I’ve never been so happy to see shit in my life. This single event became a turning point in our relationship with the contents of his nappy. We’ve learnt to celebrate the shit up his back, laugh at the turds on our hands, pass the wet wipes, dear! O frabjous day! etc. But when there is nothing we mourn like dark-age black-death, waiting in agony with his screams, praying for just the merest, tiniest wind-of-a fart. They don’t tell you stuff like that in antenatal classes.
It’s also worth mentioning that I used to be a geriatric nurse, a person paid to clean old ladies arses. Putting it all into some sort of horrific context, I’d rather deal with a thousand of his nappies than just one of those post Sunday-lunch monsters courtesy of Mrs. Shone. The fact I remember her name after thirty years should tell you something, or should that be smell you something, yeah.
Bring on the turds!