[Warning: If you have just eaten, the author will not be held liable for any inadvertent barfing.]
MANILA, Philippines – Before our child was born, I promised my wife that I would purposefully and enthusiastically be involved in every child-rearing activity not called breastfeeding.
She would challenge me by saying that with man-boobs large enough to block out sunlight, I could definitely breastfeed.
But that’s beside the point. My ultimate intention was to assure her of my all-out support in raising our child. I was quite proud of myself for being the epitome of a modern dad: breadwinner outside the home, Pseudo-Mom in it. Piece of cake!
Or so I thought.
The unassuming diaper goes by different names: nappy, “Pampers” (as “Xerox” is to photocopying), “Dad’s worst enemy” and “spawn of the devil.”
OK, so maybe I’m stretching it a bit too far (some people also call them “Huggies”).
But diapers have truly been my waterloo as the (supposedly) Involved Father. No matter how much I braced myself for the diaper after receiving such sage advice from dads who have come before me (“Don’t trust anything whose name starts with ‘DIE!'”), nothing could have prepared me for the big D.
It seemed easy enough at first. Baby pees, baby cries, diaper is changed, repeat cycle. The absorbency of today’s disposables is such that a baby’s peeing does not provide much of a bother to both baby and parents.
But when the newborn starts doing #2 a few days after being born – and after being fed just breast milk – all hell breaks loose. And I mean that literally. For the first few months of a baby’s life, his poo is really loose.
Try going on an all-liquid diet and see for yourself what happens. See? Loose. Short for malusaw. You get the picture… and it’s not pretty.
I struggled the first few times I changed our baby’s diaper. The pressure to get it done quickly and with the least amount of mess was so intense.
I felt like I was at the free throw line, no time remaining on the clock and needing both free throws to win the championship. The noisy opposing crowd was ably represented by one irritated baby wailing non-stop and one impatient wife hovering in the background.
In the midst of my panic, I would get “stuff” on the sheets, on my hands and even on my forehead when I reflexively wipe away the droplets of sweat trickling into my eyes.
There’s nothing more invigorating than having your child’s crap emblazoned on your forehead like Harry Potter’s lightning scar. Avada crap-davra! Lord Voldemort, kill me now!
Unless you are lulled into a false sense of complacency, diaper changing doesn’t get easier with practice, either.
Just when I was getting the hang of the look and consistency of a newborn’s poo (it doesn’t change much early on), solid foods are introduced into the baby’s diet. As if by magic, our little bundle of joy starts churning out crap of different colors, shapes, smells and sizes.
I’ve seen more varieties than there are kinds of Frappucinos: green, black, orange, pasty, rock solid, spherical, oblong, no whip, twice blended. Talk about endless possibilities.
And it gets more difficult to clean, too. Some types stubbornly stick to the baby’s bottom and no amount of wiping will get it out.
Others are so runny that I only realize the baby had done something when I feel a hot, molten-like substance trickling down my leg.
At one point, I tried to console myself by thinking that it couldn’t get any worse. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Just when I thought the learning curve had reached a plateau, God decides to up the ante vs. the world’s dads. The baby learns to grab, roll over and kick. Pretty soon, while changing him, the baby will be sticking his hands and feet into the used diaper before turning onto his stomach in the blink of an eye to crawl across the bed, oblivious to the muddy trail left in his wake.
This onslaught on the senses (sense of sight, sense of smell, sense of sound and sense of panic) leaves the dad in a mixed state of disbelief, powerlessness and suicidal urges.
But for some strange reason, these things don’t happen to my wife. If she changes our baby’s diaper, it’s as simple as unfasten-wipe-change-toss-done.
But for me, it’s almost always unfasten-wince-hold breath-smudge-grimace-swear-scatter-swear louder-have heart attack-give up-pass baby to wife.
To all the moms out there: am I doing something wrong?
And for the dads, do you go through the same issues?
I don’t regret making that initial promise to my wife because it’s the least I can do for someone who had to endure 9 months of gestation.
But in moments of extreme desperation – and if it would mean I could give up changing diapers forever – I silently wish for the gift of mammary glands.
Would anybody know if Vicky Belo does transplants? – Rappler.com
This is a modified version of an entry originally posted on mom.exchange.ph.
Michael G. Yu is a loving father and husband who first wrote for Rappler in April. He then joined our Mother’s Day celebration month by writing a tribute to his wife. In August, he blogged for us about Soc Villegas, autism and the challenges of parenthood.
Michael currently works for a Chinese-owned multinational company in Hong Kong as head of Corporate Human Resources.