Before Gregory came along I had never changed a diaper and, honestly, was rather unnerved by the idea of cleaning up someone else's poop (not to mention his spit-up, urine, vomit, snot, drool, ear wax, rashes and other viscosities of liquid that seem to continually ooze from his body).
But something changed once the kid arrived. Maybe it's God's design to ease parents into the task, but the mess and stench of a baby's poop is not that bad at first. When he was just a docile little blob on a diet of breast milk, changing diapers was easy and I thought, "I got this!" But then as we started feeding him more solid foods and as he's grown with greater strength and mobility, the chemistry and dynamics of diapering has taken on a whole new challenge.
Now, as he lays on the changing pad with a full load, I hold my breath and prepare for the worst. Don't let the innocent pictures of Elmo fool you: you're never exactly sure what's going to hit you once you unhinge the velcro straps of a soiled Huggies. If you're not careful, the first wave of stench that offends your nostrils from a freshly unwrapped diaper cake can make your knees buckle. And if you're lucky, it's not a total blow-out where the mass quantity of poop has somehow defied the laws of gravity and geysered all the way up his back, soaking his onesie in a fecal soup.
But the hardest part is when Gregory won't stay still so that I can actually clean up the mess. He thinks this is all a fun game as he laughs and wildly kicks his legs or tries to roll himself over or, for some inexplicable reason, attempts to grab his own poop! It's like I need octopus arms to restrain each limb just to get the job done.
But then, right in the midst of the struggle, something odd happens: our eyes meet, he gives me a sly grin, and suddenly we both know what's up. That's when I understand this really isn't about diapers anymore, but rather a contest of wills-- an epic showdown of determination between two diapering warriors.
The changing pad has become a field of battle that hosts a gridiron fight of strength, skill, and heart that we are both committed to conquer. And like any winning football team, the path to victory requires a calculated strategy and a coordinated attack of well-designed plays. If I plan to succeed, I must to be on top of my game with little room for mistakes: fumbles, false starts, or delay penalties will be costly.
Here is my diapering playbook:
Play #1: Huddle Up
Before I even attempt to remove the diaper, I gather together and coordinate everything I need: a clean, unfolded diaper, four wet-wipes laid out next to me, an open diaper pail at my feet, and my sleeves rolled up ready to go.
Play #2: The Blind Side
The key is to distract the opponent with a little misdirection play, so first I take the clean diaper and set it on Gregory's face. Immediately his arms react to grab it which gives me a small window of time to get down to business while he fusses and plays with the new diaper.
Play #3: The Sack
It's a race against the clock, so next begins a coordinated ballet of deft hand movements. I unfasten the dirty diaper and lay it flat between his legs, revealing the mess. Then I grab his ankles with my left hand and hoist his rear a few inches off the table, while my right hand carefully slides the soiled package from under him, balls it up, and drops it into the pail.
Play #4: Backside Blitz
With his butt still lifted in the air, I apply the first wet-wipe which takes the brunt of the mess and is quickly discarded. The second cleans up what the first one missed while the third garners a little more time to attack hard to reach places and the fourth gives one final wash for good measure. If time allows, I dab on a little lotion to help manage the diaper rash.
Play #5: The "End" Zone
Now I take the clean diaper from his hands and attempt to position it under him, but it's too late-- he begins to arch his back and roll himself over before I get a chance to finish. My first attempt is pathetic: he's twisted so much that he's given himself a wedgie. And since a diaper thong is neither functional nor fashionable, we try again.
It's useless to fight him, so I just have to be patient and go with the flow. But with a baby boy, patience can be dangerous: every moment without a diaper leaves me exposed to being soaked with a stream of pee. So I turn him over and we try again. This time I make some goo-goo noises and contort my face like a fish which makes him laugh—just long enough to get his butt in the zone and fasten the velcro straps around his waist. Touchdown!
It's not pretty but it'll do the job until the next time.