Fun fact – I went most of my life without changing a diaper but I promise you, I wasn’t actively avoiding it. The opportunity just never presented itself and that was fine by me.
I grew up in a large family. My mom was the oldest of seven and my dad was the oldest of three. That resulted in me having a lot of cousins on both sides of the family, a lot of whom, I only lived a mile away from. Lots of cousins meant lots of babies, so there was a plethora of diapers to be changed. Plenty of cousins came from plenty of aunts, so that meant there was always someone else, someone not me, to do the dirty work.
This memory escaped me for most of my adult life. And why would I have thought about it? My days were filled with college, then careers, then girls, and beer. Really I thought about beer throughout most of that. But that’s not the point. The point is that I never really thought about this wonderful joy of childcare enough to realize I was missing out on it.
The first time someone asked me if I was ready to change a diaper, I was pretty cocky. How hard could it be? Then one night, Bex asked me when was the last time I changed a diaper? I thought about it, truthfully, for the first time in my life. She was surprised when I answered. That’s probably because she’d had so much practice. Bex had a side job as a nanny for as long as I had known her.
One day we were on a long car ride and Bex asked if I was nervous. I pompously said, “What for?” Then she explained that you clean up a girl differently than a boy. “Yeah honey, you seriously think I wouldn’t know that? Jeez. Have a little faith.” Yeah right, I had no idea.
Of course, this was back before we knew the gender of our fresh-baby-to-be. After that conversation, I stared out the windshield at the road ahead and started to panic.
To me, diaper changing felt like a gateway drug. If I couldn’t handle that, what other terrible and disgusting things were lurking in the shadows of the nursery? So was that wipe back to front or front to back? Suddenly I couldn’t even remember how to wipe my own ass, let alone a baby’s. Then again, isn’t that what my wife is for?
Thankfully, where we were headed, there was someone who could help. Help with my dilemma, not wiping my ass. I mastered that skill a couple years back, thank you.
Here is a special shout out to my Baby Bottom Expert, my Changing Coach, my Diaper Doula. She is a hidden gem with tightly sealed lips. Her name is Jenna and she’s my wife’s best friend.
At the next rest stop I sent her an S.O.S. text. She replied immediately and told me not to worry, she had a plan.
It was late when we got into town so I didn’t see Jenna to find out what the plan was. No matter, the baby shower was the next day and I knew she would arrive early.
Meanwhile, Bex informed me that we would be babysitting, coughshackledwithcough our niece during the shower too. Bex’s sister runs her own dance studio and wasn’t able to attend. However, she gave us the lovely gift of her eight-week old infant for a couple hours. Bex said it would be good practice for us. I was skeptical.
The next day, we met Jenna first and made a Dutch Bros run. For those of you who are in the know, you are aware that Dutch Bros is the best kept secret in Northern California. I’m not a big energy drink guy but there’s something about the way they make these frozen drinks. They’re addicting. 7-11 please take notes, your Slurpee has nothing on them. Oh and their Cold Brew packs a punch . . . Sorry, my stomach distracted me from our story. Where was I? Oh yeah.
Once we were fueled up,the three of us drove over to Bex’s sister’s house. Bex is nine years younger than her sister, Jenn.
Yeah, yeah, I know Jenn and Jenna, I wish there was more variety in my life too. But there’s only so much I can do. This is nonfiction.
Anyway, Jenn has four kids. At the time they ranged in age from sixteen to eight weeks. Bex and Jenn haven’t always gotten along but they found common ground in having kids that would be so close to the same age. So while they were planning play dates, a joined family Christmas, and matching baby outfits for future trips to Disneyland, Jenna and I were left alone with baby Molly.
Jenna immediately handed me a bottle and showed me the proper way to hold a baby so I wouldn’t inadvertently drown her with formula. It turns out that it wasn’t so hard. Maybe I could keep a baby from dying after all, at least for a couple hours.
“So this is your grand plan?” I asked her.
“No.” Jenna said. Then she gave me a cat-ate-canary grin. “She hasn’t pooped yet.”
I’ve never shared this next part with anyone except Bex and Jenna but it was to funny to leave out. So Jenn, my wonderful sister in law, if you’re reading this, I promise you that the car was never in gear. It wasn’t even turned on. Please don’t forbid your kids from ever seeing us again.
Great, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s what happened on the way to the shower.
When I moved Molly’s car seat from Jenn’s van to my SUV, it took a long time for me to figure out how to buckle the damn thing in. I got so frustrated that I had to call in the ringer. I asked Jenna to demonstrate for me. I still didn’t get it. At one point I remember thinking, wouldn’t this be a whole lot easier if we put the kid in a helmet and straight jacket? Eventually, we got it. I had a great teacher so now I was an expert, badda boom.
When everyone was finally ready to leave, (I mean seriously, how long does it take to get out the door?) Bex brought Molly out and buckled her into the car seat. We even took extra time to make sure her restraints were tight enough and all the buckles were clicked. Then we all started talking about how we could go for another Dutch Bros trip. I climbed into the front seat and Bex was on the passenger side. I slid my keys into the ignition, was about to turn them over, when I heard Jenna in the back seat.
“Congratulations, you both failed Parenting 101.”
It turns out that, even though we did a fine job buckling Molly into the car seat, neither one of us had taken the time to buckle the damn thing into the car!
Even though Jenna had demonstrated only ten minutes prior, I still forgot to buckle the car seat into the actual car. My only solace is that I didn’t blow it alone. If this was any indication of things to come, Bex was going to be just as lousy a parent as I was bound to be.
So with the baby buckled in to the car seat and the car seat buckled into the car itself, the three of us made a promise that we would keep that little mishap to ourselves (Until now. Sorry ladies.). Whew I’m glad that one’s out in the universe now.
Jenn, I hope you’re still reading this and aren’t already on the phone with Bex. I’m gonna assume you haven’t thrown your phone across the room yet. I just want to say thank you for letting me practice on your kid before I had the chance to screw up on my own.
As it turns out, babysitting Molly wasn’t so bad. Dare I say, it was actually fun. She was a generally happy baby, all smiles. The thing I liked most about her was that we could give her back at the end of the night.
It was a backyard party with a good number of people and Molly got me some street cred with the in-laws! If only I had a cupcake for every time I heard someone say, “Look at him, what a natural.” and then heave out a sentimental sigh, well I would have a shit ton of cupcakes that’s for sure.
As great as things were going, disaster struck about halfway through the party. Bex had just walked away to say hello to some guests and Jenna walked up and tugged at the back of the baby’s pants. I wanted to tell her that it seemed so undignified. She hadn’t even asked for consent. I wanted to ask, “How would you like it if somebody walked up and looked down your drawers without at least buying you a drink first, let alone saying hello?” But Jenna was making that face at me again and I just knew.
“It’s time.” she said before escorting me into the house.
We set up shop on the couch of a very nice lady whom I had only met a few times before so there was the added pressure of making sure I didn’t get poop on any of her furniture. Jenna walked me through it, step by step.
Step one: Put a clean diaper underneath the baby.
Step two: Open the dirty diaper.
I choked on step two. No really, I was gagging, choking, it basically took everything in me to keep from vomiting. I have never smelled something more disgusting in my life. In the middle of my choking fit, I panicked and slapped my hand down. Jenna immediately burst out laughing. I looked down and saw that I was knuckle deep in poop. Again I panicked.
“Wipes!” I shouted like it was radioactive waste (It was.).
“Where are the wipes?”
Jenna handed me one single wipe as she dabbed away her own
tears of laughter.
“Calm down. Take a deep breath.” She instructed.
“Not in your life.” I said, opting to pull my shirt high over my nose instead. Once I could breathe again, we resumed.
The rest of it wasn’t so bad. Jenna inspected my handiwork every step of the way. I learned that, for girls, you wipe front to back. With boys, it doesn’t matter so much. I remember wishing so hard for our baby to be a boy.
By the time I fastened the new diaper and redressed the baby, Bex had joined us. The first thing she said was directed at Jenna.
“So how did he do?”
“Fantastic.” Jenna said. “He’ll be a great dad.”
I looked back and forth between the two of them, slowly
piecing this together.
“So you knew the whole time? Jenna, she knew?” I asked.
“I told you I had a plan.” Jenna smiled.
I was so proud of changing my first diaper that I think I used it as small talk with everyone at the party that night, as if it was some weird form of an A.A. meeting.
“Hi, I’m Bex’s husband, David and I successfully changed my
first diaper today.”