Surviving the worst poop nightmare


April 30, 2019

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image credit: Libby Mink

Everybody loves a good poop story.

I’m not talking about the story that sends little boys into fits of laughter on the floor. I’m referring to the type of story from which one emerges as a survivor; a story that epitomizes the resiliency of the human spirit, and that serves as a badge of honor to be worn with pride.

If you don’t believe such a story exists, I encourage you to read on.

It was a beautiful summer evening, and my husband decided to head out for a bit to spend some time with a friend.

We had put our twin three-year-olds to bed, as well as our two-year-old, and I sat up with our three-month-old while I waited for Dan to return. It wasn’t long after he left that the baby became incredibly fussy.

I walked him, I bounced him, and I rocked him for a solid hour before he finally passed out on my chest. As I gingerly sank into the living room sofa, I heard the unmistakable pitter-patter of the twins, Gianna and Chiara, out of their beds.

Had I not spent the past hour trying to get Benjamin to sleep, I would have gone upstairs immediately to send them back to bed. However, the risk of waking the sleeping baby was not an option, so I decided to wait until Dan returned.

Besides, the girls’ room was completely baby-proofed: they had locks on their closet, covers on their outlets, a baby gate in front of their door, and virtually nothing in their room that they could get in to.

Additionally, the girls had been in the habit of stripping once we left their room at night, so we had put their feet pajamas on backwards, zippers to the back, so they would remain clothed until morning.

In other words, I wasn’t concerned in the least and, instead, felt a sense of sincere satisfaction and accomplishment in having outwitted my twin toddlers.

About an hour later, Dan walked through the door. Upon entering, he immediately paused and asked tentatively: “Do you smell something?”  

With four children under four at the time, and all four still in diapers, I admit our house often didn’t smell like roses. And so I asked him to be more specific in his choice of words, as “something” simply didn’t suffice.

He looked toward the stairs and stammered slowly, “poop . . . do you smell poop?”

Perhaps it was a “frog in the boiling pot of water” type of situation, or perhaps I had become immune to the unmistakable aroma over the years. But whatever the reason, I honestly had not noticed anything that smelled out of place.

I carefully laid Benjamin in his swing so that Dan and I could find the source of the foul aroma.

As we ascended the stairs, the smell grew stronger and stronger until it reached peak potency outside the girls’ door. I held my breath as I slowly pushed open the door.

Standing in the middle of the room were Gianna and Chiara, beaming with two of the proudest smiles I have ever seen as they exclaimed, “Mommy! We changed each other!” And that is exactly what they had attempted to do.

Both girls had filled their diapers (and when I say filled, I mean FILLED) and, out of the goodness of their hearts, decided it would be best to take care of things on their own, rather than disturb me. The result? Let me attempt to describe the horrific scene that lay before our eyes.

As I mentioned, Gianna and Chiara stood in the middle of the room, their heads held high, beaming with a sense of pride and accomplishment. They had managed to help each other out of their feet pajama straitjackets, and had helped each other remove the aforementioned filled diapers.

Then, in a responsible manner, they had proceeded to wipe each other, as they had seen us do time and again. Now, remember when I mentioned their entire room was baby-proofed? Yes, well, somehow the girls had gotten hold of an entire package of wipes. To this day, we have no idea where it came from.

Perhaps it had been left behind haphazardly; or perhaps the girls had stowed it away to be used for such an occasion as this. Regardless, the wipes had made their way into their possession.

Due to the large volume in each of the girls’ diapers, they used not one, not two, not even five wipes to clean each other up. Oh no.

The girls felt it necessary to use an ENTIRE PACKAGE of wipes to clean up the mess.

In other words, they had wiped each other with nearly 200 wipes. What did they do with these 200 wipes? I’ll give you a hint: they were not placed neatly in their diapers, bound tightly, and placed by the door for us to gather at our convenience.

Rather, they had been scattered from one end of the room to the other: 200 wipes, covered in poop, strewn across their floor in a minefield, of sorts. Now of course the poop had not stayed on the wipes but, instead, had been smeared across their cream-colored carpet as the wipes were flung with reckless abandon by the two overly-confident toddlers.

In addition to the 200 poop-covered wipes strewn across their floor, and the poop stains smeared across their cream-colored carpet, the girls had certainly not succeeded in keeping the mess off themselves.

Now remember, their feet pajamas had been removed at the onset of the affair. Thus, poop had been smeared not only all over their hands (where one may expect to find it), but also all the way up their arms, nearly reaching their shoulders, and all over their legs, and feet, and stomachs.

Apparently, neither girl had noticed her sister was covered from head to toe in poop. As a result, neither considered the consequences of climbing into bed. I would have loved to see inside their little minds at the point they decided this was a wise decision.

Perhaps they thought, “Yes, this looks like a job well done. We should get some shut-eye now.” Or perhaps they thought to themselves, “Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. We should probably head to bed now before mom finds out.”

But whatever the reason, our two three-year-olds, smeared from head to toe in poop, had climbed into their beds, smearing poop all over their mattresses, and sheets, and pillows. They had also managed to smear poop all over their walls.

Perhaps this was done in a Cat in the Hat approach of trying to remove the stains from their hands? Or perhaps they had begun a mural, in an attempt to create beauty from the catastrophe. Whatever the reason, no corner of their room had been left untouched.

Now, if someone had described the catastrophe that awaited me at the end of the day, I certainly would have cried or, at the very least, would have imagined myself bursting into tears upon arriving at the scene.

But in that moment, the moment Dan and I pushed open the door to behold the vast expanse of poop before us, I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even feel like I might cry.

I’ve often heard that in traumatic situations, like during a shark attack, the body goes into shock, and the victim doesn’t even feel pain. Call it shock, call it disbelief but, in that moment, I felt . . . nothing.

Dan grabbed a few trash bags and began gathering the poop-covered detritus, and I immediately ran a bath for the architects of the affair.

It took about an hour to scrub the toddlers, the walls, and the carpet; to gather the two hundred poopy wipes, and to change the sheets and pillowcases. When the mess was cleaned up and the toddlers nestled snugly back in their beds, clean and cozy, Dan and I trudged wearily downstairs.

We plopped ourselves on the sofa, grabbed two glasses and a bottle of wine, and ended the night with one word: “CHEERS.”

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