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When my husband screamed to me from the baby's nursery, I figured our daughter had tumbled headfirst from the changing table or her arm had mysteriously fallen off. We were, after all, unqualified, untrained, freaking-the-hell-out first-time parents. "Vicki, come HERE!" he yelled.
I sprinted in, only to find our 4-day-old newborn naked and wiggling on her changing pad and my husband stretching his arm out, clutching the most disturbing thing I had ever seen.
Nothing could have prepared us for coming face-to-diaper with it--this thick, gummy, black, tarlike superglue that we suspected would require 220-grit sandpaper to remove from baby's bum. It was called meconium, a newborn's first poop.
We stared at it for 10 minutes. We talked about it for days ... weeks ... months ... and everything like it that has come, in so many forms, hence. We became obsessed with baby poop.
At first, we were concerned with color. ("Honey, can you look at this? I can't tell if it's yellowish-green or greenish-yellow.") Then, with consistency. ("Would you call this 'seedy'?") Next, with degree of difficulty. ("Can you believe she did all that work for this tiny little marble?") Then, with amount. ("Sweet Jesus! It's all the way up into her hair!") Eventually, we began to categorize according to the number of wipes used. Average was a "Two-Wiper." A blowout was a "Six-Wiper."
In time, our fixation transitioned from the private to the public domain. That wasn't a problem at my baby-and-me group, where proclamations of frequency seemed to be a badge of motherly prowess. (My friend Nancy actually saved every dirty diaper so her husband could see them when he got home from work.) It did, however, get a bit insidious, like the time my husband called with a report while I was surrounded by commuters on the rush-hour train. ("Runny? What do you mean by 'runny'? Like mud? Like soup?" I asked.)