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Anatomy of a Meltdown

October 2, 2010


My wife and I introduced solid food to our daughter a while back, and for the first couple weeks everything went swimmingly. One of us would spoon lumps of pureed fruits and vegetables into her tiny puckered mouth while the other captured every facial twist and messy chin on camera. Meals were cheerful events. We beamed every time she woofed down something new: Oh look, she likes carrots! I was so moved by it all I bought a video recorder online.

Then something happened. As we began experimenting with more new foods—banana, pear, turkey—her poopy diapers became less frequent, and then disappeared altogther. One day. Two days. We called our pediatrician who told us not to sweat it, that this was completely normal. If she goes five days without pooping, she warned us, call back.

Here’s what happened on the third day:

My daughter and I were driving home from the park and I can see in the rearview mirror that her face was all contorted and she was breathing heavily, grunting. I thought, “Good, she’s taking a dump.” I started encouraging her: “C’mon, baby, you can do this. You own this dump!” We got home, I pulled her out of the car seat and right away I smelled trouble. There’d been a leak.

I got her upstairs, laid her on the changing table, and went to work. The second I peeled off her pants I saw that her whole left leg was glazed in poop. The left side of her onsie, same thing. I tried removing them without going over her head but she was swiping at me, grabbing at the pants, and poop was getting all over her hands and arms. I finally pulled the diaper off and Holy Christ: I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like a post-apocolyptic battlefield scene, with smoke and twisted metal and a burnt-red sky all made of poop. Pure f’ing poop as far as the eye could see.

So she began to kick and it got all over her heels and calfs, got on the changing table mattress, and even the wooden frame of the changing table. Meanwhile, with my other hand, I tried to get the baby wipes open. There was poop on my right arm, in my hands, and somehow on the top of my shoes. I lost it. I started yelling angrily: Stop it! What are you doing? Why are you doing this? She, of course, started to cry. I stripped naked, wrapped a towel around her and took her into the shower with me. She cried harder now. I was hysterical. We were both covered in feces and the doorbell rang.

It was UPS. My camera arrived.

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