September 22, 2011 by Shannon
Sometimes, it’s the seemingly minor parenting decisions that precipitate a disaster of epic proportions. In my case, it was two innocuous decisions: (1) to let Ella wear just a diaper and (2) allow her to sit on the couch while she and her brother watched some PBS cartoons.
About five minutes into the rare Saturday afternoon viewing session, I walked into the living room to return our camera to its regular (and rather odd) place on top of a stereo speaker. Both kids were sitting so sweetly on the sofa that I said, “Smile!” and snapped a picture before I put the camera back. Ella didn’t smile for the first picture, and then she scrunched up her face and whined as I took the second. I said something to the effect of, “Awww, what’s the matter, Sweet Pea?” and walked over to give her a little cuddle.
Then I saw it.
A light brown substance all over her hands, all over her diaper, all over the couch. As I dropped the camera on a nearby chair and screamed, “WHAT IS THAT, WHAT IS THAT!!!” the first thought that came to mind was puke. She had puked her guts out! And then the realization slowly dawned that no, this was not puke, it was 1,000,000,000,000 times worse.
I did not gag. I did not puke out my own guts. I simply picked her up, held her as far away from my body as my arms would stretch, and screamed, “MICHAEL!”
I think the sheer alarm in my voice, not to mention the decibel level, told my husband that this was no help-me-corral-the-dog or please-come-light-the-grill-for-me-because-I-have-two-hungry-whiny-kids-attached-to-my-legs kind of scream. He was there in an instant. “She had a blowout!” I said as I whooshed past him, and just for effect, a chunk of smooshed-up poo fell from Ella’s leg and onto the carpet at his feet.
I put Ella, poopiness and all, right into the tub. I think this is why bathtubs were invented. They are the hazmat cleanup solution for the modern American household. After the strip-down, rinsing and sudsing, I proceeded on to Stage 2 of the hazmat cleanup: the TV remote. As you can imagine, this was no easy job. Apparently, after Ella tired of playing with her own poop, she moved on to one of her favorite pastimes – pushing the remote buttons. The entire thing was smeared with a thin layer of feces, and I had to finesse a disinfectant wipe in between the buttons to get it all out.
Next up: the cushions. Michael noted that the poop was ground into the fibers of the fabric, and he was concerned that simply throwing the whole thing into the washing machine would just mean that the cushion would swish around in a bunch of filthy water. Being the Head Diaper Washer around here (this position should come with some sort of gas mask, by the way) I assured him that the way to clean it is to run a rinse cycle first, then a hot, soapy cycle, and then do it all over again if you’re still worried about filth. We then speculated on how the fabric would even fare in the washing machine. Michael went back to the scene of the crime to examine the couch for the “fabric care” part of the label. And wouldn’t you know it? The label was ripped off. The only information we could gather was, “This fabric can become stained, so never–” Never let a child with a propensity to make giant poops sit on it with just her diaper on? Check.
In the end, we opted to place the cushion cover outside to dry, so that we could then shake the poop off into a trash can before washing. Let it be noted that this is not a good option. Allowing ground-in poop to dry only leaves you with dry, ground-in poop that doesn’t go anywhere with a good shake. So as Head Diaper Washer, I took charge of the situation and threw the whole thing into the washing machine. Genius idea. It all came out without a hitch.
So now I know from experience how to handle the impact of a giant diaper blowout on a couch. You can bet that I now make sure there’s at least one layer of clothing on top of Ella’s diaper to help contain any future blowouts. I also gathered a very important piece of information during the whole hazmat situation: a 4 year-old sibling who normally acts as the “town crier” whenever his sister is concerned (”Ella is standing on my keyboard!” or “Ella is trying to climb the dresser!”) will suddenly become completely disabled by a television and lose all ability to notify the household of any disastrous baby behaviors. In fact, you’re lucky if he even moves to the end of the couch when the hazmat cleanup begins.