Like a soldier going to war who will inevitably see death. I knew going into parenthood that one day I would bear witness to something so grim that it would fuel my nightmares for years to come, a Poonami. And I would not lay my eyes on just one but countless poonami's that would scar my mind and make me fearful of all nappy changes in the future. Hi, my name is Rob, The Regular Dad, and I suffer from PTPD - Post Traumatic Poonami Disorder.
Post Traumatic Poonami Disorder
I'm hoping by sharing the story of my struggles with PTPD that other men may feel comfortable enough to share their own struggles with a partner or friend. No one needs to go through this alone and talking always helps.
We all have a friend who loves to share the horror stories of pregnancy and early parenthood. They will revel and take enjoyment from the fact that it all lies ahead of you and secretly hope it's as bad if not worse for you. Projectile vomiting, sleepless nights, screaming babies and Poonami's so bad you consider just burning the vest and babygrow instead of washing it.
So, it was safe to say I had an idea of what was coming with a newborn. But even after fore-warning, you don't know how you'll deal with that sight until you lay eyes on it.
The first Poonami
It was a fresh spring morning and the sun was shining as I enjoyed my morning coffee looking out at a sun-drenched back garden. I thought to myself "Rob, today is going to be a good day".
Erin, my baby girl, had slept and fed well during the night. I felt rested. Which I was in shock about due to the overnight feeds. Looking back, I was lured into a false sense of security that I was on top of all this parenting lark.
"I feel great and rested. Erin is feeding well and sleeping well. I have this parenting stuff sewn up. Why have people been banging on about how hard it is?"
This was my headspace as my wife hinted to me that she thinks Erin's nappy might need changing. I happily obliged as any willing Dad would in that situation.
I took my baby girl in my arms, looked lovingly into her eyes as I (in baby talk) said "do we need to change your nappy". Erin had a different look in her eyes, my spidey sense was tingling. Then I spotted in the corner of my eye Erin's back in the reflection of the mirror.
There it was, in plain sight for all to see. Like some yellow, brown and orange shit stained tramp stamp. And that was only the tip of the iceberg that brought down this Titanic Dad.
The Goggles, they do nothing!
I moved gently to the baby's room and changing table. I didn't want to disturb what was already a brutal nappy murder. I stripped off the babygrow and vest and lay it to one side for incineration later.
I hadn't opened the nappy yet. But what I witnessed from my initial look is hard to describe other then, that poor Pampers nappy never stood a chance. Like a lamb to the slaughter or in this case a nappy to a shit Tsunami.
Immediately, on viewing what was going to be absolute nappy carnage, I took some deep breaths to hold back the gag reflex. I also made a mental note to not breath in with my nose.
"Do Not Run The Risk Of This Being Smelly Too" my inner monologue screamed.
Next it was getting the cotton pads, a fresh nappy ready and the WaterWipes to hand.
"Fuck sake...Are you fucking kidding me?" I lamented. The bastard waterwipes were being tricky to get out of the pack and next thing I had 15 wipes in hand all stuck together.
I can't be the only one this happens too with WaterWipes I thought. Right, it's time to open up this nappy. "It's like a band-aid Rob" I said to myself, just rip it off and let's get over this.
I opened the nappy and like a dam breaking its barriers. Water or in this case poo flowed out of everywhere. I was actually impressed at how well the nappy held up as it was clearly at bursting point.
The sheer amount of poo was both flabergasting and impressive. How could something so small produce so much? I know people say your baby's poos won't bother you when it comes time to change them. But lads this was on a whole other level, my hands were covered in it all before I even realised it.
I was trying to frantically wipe up poo off my own hands, off Erin and stop the flow of shit as it rushed to the end of the changing mat and the end of the table. Bang I got it.
False Sense of Control
I thought I was getting a control of the situation while simultaneously thinking how I'm going to scrub my hands with Brillo pads and bleach after all of this.
I had wiped up all the mess. Erin was clean and ready for a new nappy. The end was in the sight, the light at the end of the tunnel. I swiftly manoeuvred the nappy into position before looking to apply some Sudocrem.
Then it happened. After all my efforts to clean and get where I was, with the Sudocrem in touching distance. A little fart, a tiny squeaker of a fart. Like a warning shot to say 'heads fucking up'. I couldn't move quickly enough before more shit shot out of her like she was attempting to use it as a jet propulsion system and fly away.
My only saving grace at this moment was that the front flap of the nappy was up and blocked the barrage of excrement from going anywhere else other than the changing table or on me.
I'm man enough to say it, I wept as I stood frozen like a statue, pale and white at what I had just seen. Shit everywhere... again.
"How?...Ah... I just cleaned it all? Why is there so much poo? How is there so much poo? I wanna go home!... Ah feck sake, I am at home, there's no getting away from this. This is the first of many".
My wife could hear all the commotion and came running to my aid. She could see I was physically shaken at the ordeal. Man is just not meant to see that sort of poonami from their baby girl so early on into their Dad life.
She sat me down, took care of Erin and gave me a slap in the face. Whack! with a solid right hand. "Man the fuck up!" she said. "This is parenthood".
The Fear of Nappy Changes
Ruth was right (It pains me to say that). I have to man up. I had stared down the barrel of the poonami gun and had witnessed its destructive force & power. I won't see anything worse than that surely, I remember thinking.
I was apprehensive with nappy changes for days and weeks afterwards. Cautiously peeling back the straps, wondering what lay inside. Gasping with relief if it was just a wet nappy.
As time went on, my confidence grew and returned with every passing nappy change. I thought to myself, I have become battle-hardened from the experience. Able to deal with whatever poonami's or nappy massacres lay ahead.
But my PTPD was simply lurking in the dark recesses of my mind unbeknownst to me. Scratching away and waiting for the perfect moment to show its ugly face again. My PTPD started creeping up on me slowly, like a lion stalking its prey. A routine nappy change resulted in getting pee'd on. It's no big deal I thought, I just need to get the fresh nappy on quickly.
Then another moment just as I opened a nappy, the sound of a massive poo. It was like I dodged a poonami grenade and there wouldn't be a mess to clean up. But flashbacks of that horrendous moment came flooding back and your PTPD starts rearing its ugly head just to remind you, it's still there.
Then it all comes roaring back when Erin decides to do a poonami so big that that poo fires out of her back passage so hard and fast that it clears the entire changing table and hits the bedroom door 4 foot away.
"Nooooooooooo! Not again!" (*falls to the ground and assumes the fetal position).
PTPD is real.
Some will say that PTPD is not a real thing. These people are the same ones who say Man-Flu isn't a real thing. To those I say.
"You weren't there man, you weren't there! There was so much poo, so much poo!"
I'm taking it one day and nappy change at a time as I live with the symptoms of PTPD. Sometimes I get cold sweats at the thought of a nappy change or the bollocking that follows from my wife who says you're doing it wrong and that's why it keeps happening to you. It's your own fault I'm told.
I don't think I'll ever get over it. A smile and a laugh from Erin when I change her with no poonami helps. She knows my struggles. Beer or whiskey does help numb the pain and helps me relax.
The nights are the hardest but then the day comes. And that's every bit as hard as the night. And then the night comes again.
But with the love and support of Indie my dog and beer. I know I'll get through this and conquer my PTPD.
By sharing my struggles with PTPD, it is one step forward on the road to recovery and hopefully helps fellow Post Traumatic Poonami Disorder sufferers speak up and look for support.
I'm always here to talk. I've been there.