My baby had an “accident” in the bathtub yesterday, reminding me to finish this true life glimpse into the step-by-step process of recovering from bath poo. Proceed with caution, unless you have personally experienced the horror of bath poo, in which case, I offer you this piece of solidarity, with all my love.
After missing your morning opportunity for a shower before your husband goes to work, you finally send the big kids upstairs to play at 10:00 a.m., you strip your rambunctious 1-year old down and start him a bath, and you quickly get in the walk-in shower right next to him.
During the first shampooing of your hair, right after your hair gets all sudsy and almost ready to rinse, you notice that the baby is being very still and that his face is slightly red.
Then you hear the grunting.
“Oh, Lord,” you pray, “please let it be constipation. Just this one time? Just until later this afternoon, maybe? Pretty please??”
Trusting that all will be well, you proceed with your sudsing, you begin to daydream a little about what needs to be done that day, and then you realize that your baby has stopped grunting and is playing in the water again.
“Perfect,” you muse, happy that your constipation prayers have come true.
And that’s when you see the toy in his hands.
Last time you checked, all of his bathtub toys were black-and-white penguins from McDonald’s Happy Meals.
“Ack!” you yell, throwing your hands up in panic, berating yourself for being so naively optimistic.
You venture closer to the bathtub and see that the little brown playtoy is one of many brown playtoys, some big, some small, some so exceedingly tiny that you know this is a code red situation. All bath-poops are bad, but some are REALLY bad.
You slick your shampoo-filled hair into a bun to give you a good headstart before the soap starts to drip into your eyes, you turn off your shower and you tiptoe as quickly-yet-carefully as you can to the side of the tub where you immediately grab the baby’s hands before surveying the nightmare.
Your attack plan presents itself without conscious thought and step one is definitely to get the baby out of the water. You grab him by the trunk and lift him out of the water…
now where are you supposed to put the little booger?
Standing right beside the tub will have to do.
“Stay here,” you say, pointing down at him like he is a puppy, knowing full well that he has no idea what you’re saying.
You berate yourself for only knowing how to say “more” and “milk” in baby sign language.
Step two is to go fishing. You grab the big, clear plastic cup that just happens to be nearby (thank you, Lord!) and start scooping the biggest pieces of poo out of the water so you can drain the tub, and the saddest thing, in your mind, is that you have done this before. Many, many times. With four children in your house, you’ve probably fished for poo at least twenty-five times in your life, which is funny because you didn’t know that poo fishing was a thing before you had kids.
Before long, the cup is getting too full of water to catch any more pieces. This is a real predicament.
Meanwhile, the baby has started wandering about on the tile floor behind you and you are so flustered by this and worried over his haphazard slipping and sliding that you just plunge into step three and start grabbing poo with your bare hands and tossing them quickly into the cup.
Now, with the added poo, the cup is really full of water and the only course of action is obviously to proceed to step four by quickly covering the top of the cup with one hand and draining all the excess water back into the tub, like you’re a human colander.
A bundle of poo is resting affectionately on your hand, which is just like you’d think it would be – SHOCKING AND SO GROSS – but soon the water is all gone and you can flip the cup back over.
The big cup of poo and nothing but poo.
(When you bought those pretty plastic cups at Target, you never dreamed they would be used for this purpose).
The shampoo has started to drip down onto your face now and is apparently running into your mouth because you can taste it. You sputter and spit into the tub and wipe the suds off of your forehead with your shoulder, all while holding a cup of poo.
The baby is still wobbling and falling and grinning his face off behind you. He hasn’t had this much fun since the day he emptied a giant bag of miniature M&M’s on the kitchen floor!
You finally get the last big piece of poo out of the water, and scrunching your nose, you plunge your arm into the littered water to pull the plug, sending any last tiny vestiges of ickiness down the drain.
Your baby has fallen on the tile now three times, but he’s still smiling, so you just go with it.
You dash to the cabinet above the bathroom toilet and grab the Lysol wipes.
You zip back to the tub, turn on the hand-held sprayer, and start washing down the sides and bottom of the tub before grabbing a huge wad of Lysol wipes and disinfecting the tub with the vigor of Rosie the Riveter.
During this cleaning frenzy, the baby has made his way to the toilet and is happily splashing in the water, but since you have one eye closed to block shampoo and you are freezing to death, and since you know he is about to receive the scrubbing of his life, and since you are SO close to being finished, you find this rather fortuitous as it is keeping him busy and he is no longer ice skating on the bathroom tile. But you still call out his name and tell him that “that is a no NO!“, just so he’ll know you heartily disapprove of his behavior.
You rinse off the disinfectant and you start a new bath for the baby.
While his bath fills up, you scrub his bottom with wet wipes and you vigorously wash his hands in the sink.
You return him to the bath before turning on the shower so you might rinse out the shampoo that has nearly dried into a meringue on top of your head.
Five seconds into your rinsing, however, the baby pulls the plug out of his bath and you have to hop over to put it back in place, scolding him while he blinks at you with his precious baby eyes.
This is clearly a fun game, and so he does it five more times, and your shower water gets less hot with every trip you make to the bathtub and back.
Finally, panting and frazzled, you finish your shower and while you are hurriedly drying off, you realize the big kids have wandered back downstairs and are hunting you down in the master bedroom.
Your oldest daughter is calling for you to tie the sash on her dress, your youngest daughter is jumping on your bed and you can hear your son’s voice drawing closer to the bathroom. You shriek at him not to come any closer because you’re drying off.
You frantically get dressed, and you realize there is still a big cup of poo sitting in the floor. You grab it, dump the offending contents in the potty, and flush it resolutely away.
Then, because the cup still looks rather disgusting, you rinse the cup in the toilet water to get the excess poo off so you can disinfect it in the sink and then put it in the dishwasher so you can throw it away and then burn it.
But first you have to get the baby out of the bathtub. He has drained the water again and keeps falling in the slippery tub and his lips are tinging blue from the cold. You set the cup down on the counter and turn to fetch him.
You wrap the little stinker in a towel, you take him to your bed, dry him, diaper him and dress him, all while chaos resumes in the master suite, with your entire litter present and talking and wiggling at one time.
And then, in the haze of the mayhem, you absentmindedly hear the sink water running, you hear one of your children say “ahhh…” in thirst-quenching relief, and you hear a plastic cup being set back down on the bathroom counter.
Photo courtesy of Benjamin Grey Photography
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