Diaper duty is and has generally always been a sore point of contention between new parents, or so I’ve heard. One of those perennial parenthood bugbears that surface even before the child is born. Wife highlights the expectation of husband to pull his weight in the diaper change department, and husband agrees. Post-partum, this changes to wife mooting the lack of participation from the husband in the diaper change department, and the husband coughing up some half-assed excuse for this being the case.
Changing diapers, excuse the pun, is a shitty job. Who the hell would want to do it by choice? I remember seeing my brother and his wife, both proponents of the cloth nappy movement, having to change their son. Watching them wrap up this stanky cotton nappy filled with green poop, stick it in their bag so they could take it home to wash, filled me with revulsion. I don’t know if it was the sight, smell, or my vivid imagination of how the said poop cleansing would go, but it was a massive turn off. But hey, if I wanted kids, this is part and parcel of what comes with it. Just like cars comes with mechanical failures, PCs comes with BSODs, and a women comes with insufferable nagging (ha! I kid I kid…). You can’t have one without the other.
For years, every time the subject of babies came up and how much I want them, Erica and all women present always do the finger pointing thing at me accompanied with the “make sure you do the diapers!” speech or something along those lines. Honestly, I hated this. It annoyed me because it annoys me when people state the obvious. Like when you’re obviously in the middle of doing something, and then someone comes up to you and asks you to do what you’re clearly already doing, and you feel like kicking them in the nuts (or ovaries, whatever the case may be)? Yeah… like that. But I guess it’s easy to talk the talk as anecdotal evidence suggests that many husbands tend to avoid diaper duty like the plague or Justin Beiber.
Given that I wanted a baby far more than Erica, initially, I had already resigned myself to having to do all the dirty stuff for that’s really the universal rule. If you want something more, you have to pony up more. Money, effort, time, or what have you. Anyway, for the longest time I’ve had this phobia about diapers. It’s a stupid phobia, but I always have this fear of having it latch onto my face. Don’t ask me why… it’s just there. I imagine having this disgusting poop filled vessel of evil somehow slipping from my grasp and plastering itself on my face. I’m shuddering now as I type this as the imagery is just so vivid.
When K was born, I finally got to put my money (and thankfully not poop) where my mouth is. Initially, it was a technical struggle. Maybe it was sensory overload with all the wiping and the struggling and the getting the poop out of her private parts, but diaper changes was a technical challenge. I would stare at the stupid thing like it was a Rorschach painting. Is it a lamp, or is it Batman?? I don’t know!!! I just couldn’t figure up from down or back from front! Or maybe the brand the hospital uses just sucks. Not to mention trying to install it around the umbilical cord.
Fast forward 3.5 weeks, and I’m the goddamn Batman at diaper changing. We’re at 3.5 weeks and have gone through over 300 diapers. I’ve unlocked so many diaper changing perks and achievements thanks to sheer overwhelming practice. Slight of hand pro, ninja, one man army… you name it. I rock that shit. But you know what? I’ve really come to love diaper changing in a sense. I mean, ideally and in absolute terms I wish I didn’t have to, but given that this is an impossibility, I really enjoy it for what it is. Diaper changing is really another instance of bonding time between K and I. Comforting her, kissing her, talking and singing to her… I love looking at all her cute, and crazy, little movements and expressions when doing the change. I’ve gone from watching her hate her changes and crying, to laying there smiling and making the cutest little baby noises while I’m depoopifying her.
And this is what I hope that more fathers to realise, because I sure as hell didn’t previously. Any opportunity for you to interact, and more importantly, soothe and comfort your baby, is so precious and important. Regardless of how yucky or stressful it may initially seem. I told Erica that diaper changes is specifically the domain of either her, or myself. The helper or in-laws are not to do ever do it. Initially this was only to ensure that Erica doesn’t off-load this responsibility to the helper, but now I truly see what tremendous value there is in this simple task and by off-loading this, parents are missing out on so much that is so special. Now, I wouldn’t give up diaper duty for the world. That moment of revulsion when I’m faced with the hell’s fury in a nappy is quickly overcome by the opportunity to lean over and kiss K’s cheek or tummy, then watch her being happily swaddled in a fresh new one. And then my favourite moment, the post change cuddle. Each moment is priceless. You may not realise it at 4am, but you will after. Sure it can be frustrating at times when you’re exhausted or extremely busy, but the gains are worth the pain.
So guys… take my word for it. Changing your baby’s diapers is not duty, but an honour and a privilege. Don’t squander these moments as they will be gone before you know it.
Disclaimer: Baby is still on milk. I may very well sing a different tune once she’s on solids!