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Dirty Diaper Blowouts and Ueber Parent Syndrome

“You haven’t experienced parenthood until you’ve had to cut a onesy off your baby,” explained a friend.

I nodded, not thinking much of the comment – ok, so his kid has some abnormal bowel movements permeating through the diaper and soiling the baby’s outer garment. My wife and I did not have kids at the time and just thought it was some strange, mildly gross problem that our friend enjoyed telling people. Maybe too much fruit.

As more of our friends had kids and then multiple children, we often heard about other exciting parenthood topics, many of which pushed the limits of commonly accepted social boundaries regarding nudity, urine, mucus, flatulence, and the like. Not exactly what you immediately associate with parenting, but we assumed they were necessary battles.

But digestive issues and bodily fluids aside, these stories are indicative of a larger dynamic at play that is quite common between friends with kids and those without. There is an understood, unspoken, yet often spoken disconnect between seasoned parents and those who are childless, between the haves and have nots, between the Ueber Parents and the Childless Fools. This is represented in one my favorite conversations to hate (yes, my favorite one to hate), and it usually goes something like this:

Childless Couple to Ueber Parents: “Hey guys, we have good news, we’re pregnant.”

Insert cheers, screaming, and mindless babble.

Ueber Parents (with deliberate sympathy): “Wow, just wait, you’re life is totally going to change.”

Soon-to-be Parents: “Yeah, it’s exciting…”

Ueber Parents (with a silly disdain): “No, you don’t understand, you’re life is going to change completely.”

Soon-to-be Parents: “Yeah, it’ll be fun, my brother’s kids are -”

Ueber Parents (condescendingly): “No, really, your life is going to change forever.”

No matter how hard you try to convey your contextual experience, having interacted with human beings younger than 5 before, having changed numerous diapers for nieces and nephews, having babysat for infants, the Ueber Parents, who, by the way were not always parents, will never relent on their far more mature and profound understanding of parenthood than you will ever be capable of acquiring. In clinical terms, and by clinic I mean my basement, this is what has been termed (by me) as “Ueber Parent Syndrome.”

Fast forward a few years, introduce two children, and my wife and I have changed our fair share of diaper blowouts, used my polo shirt to wipe a runny nose, washed every known substance off of my toddler’s hands, and fought numerous other parenting battles. Life changed, drastically, but it really wasn’t that hard to understand or overcome. We humans are surprisingly good at adapting to changing environments.

Ueber Parent Syndrome can be contagious – we all like to demonstrate our knowledge of wide ranging topics, tell stories about our travels, profess our intelligence. For me, there is a natural tendency to pay it forward – learning from the mistakes and successes of our contributors was one of the founding principles for FunctionalFather.com. But I think it’s important that we do this in a constructive way and not try to preach and reveal the spoiler or rain on the parade for new parents. For me, when I come across soon-to-be parents I have some operating principles: offer advice but don’t lecture, hype up parenting but don’t spoil it, and let the newbies enjoy their ignorance.

Fast forward again, a childless friend is over the house and stood witness to a diaper blowout from our one month old daughter. He observes the scene from beside the changing table. As we peel back the diaper he notices that her entire abdomen is covered with the lovely smelling, mustard-yellow fluid that is known as newborn poop.

“Whoa. How did it end up in front of her?!?”, he exclaims.

My wife and I just glance at each other and smile. We’ve had tendencies of Ueber Parent Syndrome, but we refuse to be the seasoned veterans who make the rookie miss the minor leagues. Parenthood is best served fresh, without a preview or a template, which makes it all the more satisfying when you can get through it safely on the other end. Yes, the arrival of children changes everything, but life continues.

A couple of side notes on dealing with the diaper blowouts, which was the original topic for this post before it became a commentary on the social dynamics of procreation:

  • Babies feeding exclusively on breast milk seem to be more apt to these blowouts, so beware of the breast milk
  • Consider moving up to a larger diaper size than recommended for the baby’s weight. Unless the straps on the diaper are up by the kid’s armpits, you should be fine sliding a larger diaper on the little one.
  • Always travel with an extra set of clothing for a newborn. Nothing is worse than arriving at a social gathering, everyone is excited to see the baby (no one cares about your arrival anymore), you pick up the baby from the car seat to see a yellowish stain on the seat liner and feel a damp dampness on the baby’s upper back. Your kid’s elephant-size pooping capabilities instantly become the story of the party and you’re left with the kid naked for the remainder of the evening or heading back home to change. Always bring a change of clothes!
  • When in doubt, head for the tub. There is some truth to the first comment of this post – you may think about just cutting the onesy off the child – this may be better than dragging the soiled cloth up over the head. We’ve gotten by with just maneuvering the shirt off the baby and bringing her directly to the tub.

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