Patience with Poop
“Go back to sleep, sweetie,” I groaned at my nine month old daughter. My soft pillow and warm blankets weren’t ready to surrender me to the day yet.
She giggled and patted my arms. I pushed her back against the bed, ready for a few more snuggles. She squirmed and leaned her little body against me. That’s when it happened: she slapped a paste-like-goo onto my arms.
The warm squish made me cringe. Curdled milk made my nostrils flare. I popped awake, and sat up to find my youngest daughter, Lexi, sitting in a diaper explosion. Her hands were coated in poop and she was smearing it all over me.
It was a moment where patience truly was a virtue. Patience is a word parents often hear. It’s difficult to find at times and can wear thin, but the best way to stretch it is with a positive outlook. If I’ve learned anything from motherhood, it is to bear down, push through, and definitely laugh at myself.
I read numerous parenting books, listened to advice from family members, baby-sat a lot of little ones, but nothing prepared me for: What to do When your Child Paints You With Poo. I froze for a minute. How can I even clean this?
I thought my eldest broke me in as a parent, but Lexi seemed born to defy everything I learned. Her sister had fallen into a sleeping routine with no problems, ate like a horse, and enjoyed going places. I knew no two kids were alike, but mine resembled polar opposites, night and day.
Lexi slept an average of about four hours a night, two of which she needed to be read to in the nursery rocking chair or she would wake up screaming from colic. She didn’t enjoy meals or going out. All she wanted was cuddles and singing.
Waking up covered in poop after another short segment of sleep left my mind clouded. I blinked in disbelief. My sore throat and itchy eyes made me sigh, but her bright smile softened me. She giggled until her chubby cheeks were as red as apples. I slapped my hand on a smudge of poop and shook my head, unable to control the laughter that consumed me.
I scooped her up in my arms. “Okay little poop monster, we need a bath.”
I flew her into the bathroom and got the tub filled. We didn’t often take baths together but I cuddled her to me as we washed off. I sang all of her favorite songs and she hummed along, adding in her own baby words on some of the notes.
It made me think back to when she was born. Her father and I had decided on another homebirth, a decision that is not meant to be easy. My first homebirth was well researched and planned point-for-point in case of emergency. We lived near a host of hospitals and trusted our midwife. Things went well the first time, so we had prepared for round two with our second child.
Any woman who considers home birthing should do her research, have the correct support, and mostly, believe in herself. It’s difficult and gets scary toward the end. If you’re not in the right mindset, it’s not a good idea.
Even with my bright outlook on the practice, and the trust I had with the midwife, Lexi’s birth had some complications. The labor was nearly painless. The opposite of what I had experienced with her sister, but once my water broke and we neared time to push, the pressure on my hips stabbed like a pain I’d never felt. Natural labor feels like a bomb is going off inside of you, this was different. My midwife got me prepped for pushing and my husband got behind me to help support my body as I began to bear down. After what felt like hours, we still had nothing. I pushed and pushed, but no baby.
This was nothing like before. My first laboring experience had been painful, but the pushing brought relief and a healthy little girl. This time, my body grew weak. My muscles started giving out. I’m sure the neighbors will never forget the screams.
The midwife locked eyes with me. “Her head is crowning, but it keeps going back in. I need you to get ready to push as hard and long as you can without stopping.” The authority in her determined sapphire eyes grasped me. I nodded and obeyed.
That last push was the most excruciating experience of my life. I could sense it was our last chance. If I couldn’t do it then, we would have rushed to the hospital, or worse. I determined to get my baby out, safe and sound. Breathing in as full as my lungs would allow, I gripped my husband and tensed every muscle in my body. My eyelids fluttered. My face burned. The veins in my face and neck bulged so far I thought they would pop. The midwife reached in and pulled out my second little girl, my Lexi.
It took a while to get her breathing, but within minutes she was cuddled against me. The hard work paid off. Pushing through the pain to find the smile gave me one of the greatest gifts. I didn’t fight to bring her into this world to grimace at poop. A bath was all it took to clean that mess, and changing the sheets, just like after her birth.
Now that she’s a little girl, Lexi is a healthy ball of energy. She loves to give super tight hugs. She especially enjoys making people smile. Her life began with a positive attitude, and it’s been a constant theme in our daily routine. When things get rough, we bear down and push through. Once we get through the hard stuff (or clean off the poo) we usually find a good laugh waiting on the other side.
Jessica Marie Baumgartner is a current member of the Missouri Writers Guild and snagged a few awards with her writing. She has published numerous articles and personal stories featured in a wide variety of publications including: “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers,” “My Wandering Uterus,” “Circle Magazine,” “Guardian Angel Kids,” and many more.