Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mama Bean spends too much time thinking about poo

I seem to have been raised with an unusual preoccupation with poo. I remember years of disgusting fiber supplements, and daily oat bran cereal, and avoiding bananas because they bung you up, all in an effort to attain the elusive beast called Regularity. This was a highly prized achievement indeed, and in my childhood home, it remains a topic of frequent conversation. Papa Bean can attest that few family meals go by without some discussion of the matter.

Given this frame of reference, it is perhaps not surprising that I charted Bean's poops for his first month of life. We changed his diaper at every feeding, for which I would record the time, amount and/or time spent eating, and the status of pee or poo in the diaper. I have pages and pages of entries like "black green milk flecks" (Oh, the lovely meconium! No matter your dedication to cloth diapers, do not waste their pristine absorbent surfaces to this shit. Use disposables and toss it far, far away from your life.) or "small yellow seedier." (Did I feel Bean's poo resembled a shabby, run-down hotel?) Often I simply noted its presence ("Yes") and its size ("small" worrisome when too many in a row, "big" written with great relief and pride, as though I were personally responsible for his autonomic functions.) On the evening of October 27th, we even had one designated "epic!" and another November 7th "EPIC ALL OVER MY HAND!" At one point, I attempted to quantify more specifically, marking ts and tb amounts, treating poo like a cooking ingredient. For awhile, I recorded yellow farts (or sharts) until I realized these are not important.

My accounting of his fecal activity knew no limits until November 12th. It just wasn't worth the paper anymore. (Though I did continue charting feeding times/durations/boob used, and later just times, until December, when we went to Calgary, and I finally felt comfortable enough to rely on my no longer addled or Delirious memory of how many times I fed him in a day.) Now, I am not as obsessed with frequency. All babies, but breastfed ones in particular (it seems) poop when they feel like it, and no amount of fretting or documentation on our part will change that.

I do still take an unnecessary interest in its appearance, however, much to Papa Bean's chagrin. The infant digestive system is incredibly efficient, which I guess is pretty easy when you're basically just eating one food over and over (and over) again. I spent a morning feeding's meditation trying to remember, from my Chiropractic education, which bile derivatives might be responsible for baby poo's unique neon mustard hue. The observations of "seediness" made me think of cottage cheese, and how the commercial product is made through a similar acidifying and digesting process. When the colour changes, or amount of seeds is up or down, I think about how long he's been eating at feedings, which would indicate how much early foremilk he's getting (more sugary, less seeds, greener colour) versus later hindmilk (more fatty, more seeds, yellower colour.) And when he was sick this weekend, we saw two diapers with kind of a brown mucusy output, which made us wonder just how much Snot and Dreck the poor kid was ingesting, since he hasn't quite figured out how to spit it out (though he spits out nearly everything else with zero coaching or encouragement.)

I might not get as detailed next time, but I found charting the early weeks of feedings and poops is super valuable. I love having that record to look back on. I wrote down other special happenings alongside the mundane, like when his eyelashes came in, and when his umbilical stump fell off. (I also wrote down status updates I meant to put on my facebook, only to reach the computer later that day, and realize the update was completely inappropriate. Hence, this blog.) In the midst of it, I was certain I would Never Forget these things, because I was still keyed up on endorphins, which made me think Everything Is Possible. But I was also chock full of oxytocin, which is the forgetting hormone, after all. Not to mention the crashing estrogen/progesterone levels, and general sleep deprivation. There were also times I thought I would never want to remember, the difficult moments when I reacted poorly. But in retrospect, I'm glad for that record, too, as it demonstrates what I was able to overcome. That makes me feel strong.

But next time, I won't record pees. Bean pees every ten seconds, or something. That column in the chart basically amounts to a string of "wet"s. Welp, that's two TMI weeks in a row about poo for your eternal edification. We will see how much weight he's gained on Wednesday, which may inspire more boobtastic musings for next week.

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