My wife and I developed our parenting systems through trial and error.
One of the earliest rules we’d introduced was that if it was after 5am and one of the babies became unsettled, we wouldn’t waste our time trying to get them back down in their cot - we’d just bring them in with us.
After a nice cuddle in our bed, they’d normally settle back down, barring the occasional impromptu fanny gouge or affable bollock kick. (Babies are the most violent sleepers on the planet, easily capable of committing GBH in the middle of reaching for their dummy.)
Our twins were six months old.
I was fast asleep.
At least, the deepest sleep you can get once your kids arrive.
My pre-kids sleep used to be the nocturnal equivalent of deep sea diving. Nowadays I’m lucky if I can submerge my toes in a puddle.
Early on, my sleep was lighter than a Ryvita biscuit who’d been having it off with a helium canister they’d met on Tinder.
Everything woke me up.
Some nights I’d just lie there, bewildered by the thundering surround-sound snoring from the baby twins. Coming through loud and clear on the baby monitor but also via the open bedroom door, making me feel like Goldilocks if the bears had been out on the ale when she’d broken into their house and they’d just passed out next to her.
I’d finally got into a decent slumber when I heard some commotion from the boys room so jumped up like an on-call fireman. (Albeit an overweight, exhausted fireman who happened to be wearing his wife’s maternity pants because all his undies were in the wash.)
One of the boys was crying.
I checked the time.
Ten past five.
Following our new family procedure, I swiftly picked him up and carried him back to our room.
Now, the thing about any form of protocol, be it for a NASA space mission or just a new family from Liverpool, you really need to apply some common sense.
But there’s something about the early years of parenthood and it’s accompanying sleep deprivation that removes common sense from your skill set.
I didn’t notice the smell. Or the mess.
I just climbed back into bed next to my my wife with my son clamped to my chest. Closing my eyes I tried to get back to sleep.
There was an unholy whiff in the air, but that didn’t bother me. Our entire house was a symphony of stenches at that point.
The problem with smells is that if you’re around them for long enough, you can’t smell them anymore. They’re like that knobhead mate we’ve all got from school who’s unpalatable behaviour has become the norm.
‘I know, I know - he really shouldn’t have dunked his willy in your drink. Especially without asking. But that’s just Dave, innit? You’ve got to get to know him.’
Next time you meet a friend of a friend who’s a complete bellwhiff and they pull out the classic ‘Honestly-they’re-alright-once-you-get-to-know-them’ claptrap, remember that even shit doesn’t smell bad if you sniff it for long enough.
If you have young babies, your house probably stinks too. Next time you have visitors, carefully watch their faces as they step over the threshold into your house. They’ll try to disguise it but if you can detect even the slightest nose scrunch, know this – your house fucking reeks.
So as I lay in bed that morning cradling my son, there was a vague funkiness to the room’s aroma, but nothing to raise the alarm.
And that’s when it happened - the unmistakable stench of hot shit violently shot up my nostrils like a fecal dart.
This stench was another level. And it was fresh.
‘Maybe it’s just a fart!’ I optimistically thought, running my hands down to his nappy to check.
But his nappy was warm. And greasy, like a bag of chips.
I could feel it all over my hand.
This was no fart.
I slowly opened a corner of the duvet. My fingers were submerged in so much bum sludge they resembled those poor sea birds you see on the news when there’s been an oil spillage.
‘What have I done?’ I whispered to nobody in particular.
My wife was stirring.
I pulled back the remainder of the duvet to reveal the true scale of this anal catastrophe.
‘OH GOOD GOD. NO!’
My son’s nappy had exploded and it was everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE.
It looked like an explosion in a Nutella factory.
His legs, my arms and chest and the side of our bed had all become victims of my son’s insane shitting spree.
There was a trail of arse gravy across the carpet from the boys’ room, as if Hansel and Gretel had run out of breadcrumbs so decided to shit themselves a route back home.
How had I not noticed when I’d picked him up?
Smeared across the duvet was a fresh skid mark that looked exactly like the Nike swoosh.
‘What’s happening?’ my wife asked, waking up.
‘Nothing babe. Erm, just go back to sleep.’
I’m not sure what my plan was.
Then I noticed a tiny bit on her pillow.
She saw my horrified face and sat up immediately, screaming at this little bum nugget that had taken up residence right next to her ear.
‘FUCKING HELL!!! IS THAT SHIT?!?’
‘Don’t swear in front of the kids!’ I whispered, choosing precisely the wrong moment to take the moral high ground.
Trial and error.
And from this day forth, we amended our family protocol to state: ‘After 5am, only bring the unsettled child into our marital bed AFTER first checking that they haven’t turned into a human slurry truck.’
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