Before having a child, the idea of cleaning up someone else’s feces, blood, vomit, or urine grossed me out. There is a very good reason I didn’t go into the medical field. I have too much empathy to see people in pain and I don’t like other people’s bodily fluids. Sure, I have cleaned it up on occasion. The time the drunk college student threw up margaritas on the floor at the restaurant I worked at in college, the time a co-worker cut their hand and I did some basic first aid before sending them to the ER, the time my husband tried to jump over a fire and landed in it instead and I had to peel charred skin off his leg. I did what had to be done, but I would have avoided it, if I could. Even when I was pregnant, I made sure to buy a temporal thermometer so I could avoid taking a rectal temperature.
Then I gave birth. It was a messy experience. I threw up, sweated, bled, pooped, leaked amniotic fluid all over myself. When baby X finally arrived 17 hours later, they laid his slimy little body on my belly, where he promptly pooped meconium. I drew him to my breast and he latched on. None of it mattered. I was gross, covered in bodily fluids, but his sweet little face looked at me like I was the only person in the world. I was Mother. I didn’t even shower for 24 hours after that. (When I did, it was MAGICAL!)
In the following weeks and months, I would be peed on, pooped on, spit up on. I would go to sleep covered in someone else’s liquids. I would wake up in a sour smelling pool of my own milk drying to my skin. I would wipe his mucus and drool on my pants. I would flick the boogers from his nose and scrape the sleep crusties from his eye. I would clean his ear wax and dutifully clean the dried blood from his belly button. I would clean the ointment from his circumcision area and apply more. I have noticed dried poop on my hands hours after changing a dirty diaper. I have cleaned a poo explosion out of his car seat. My life revolves around his fluids. As mothers, we monitor the ins and outs to make sure the balance is right.
After we started him on solid foods, too many bananas got my little man constipated. After feeding him peas and breast milk and water and listening to him cry while he arched his back and scrunched his legs, I located the thermometer that had come in a kit we received. I lubed it up, spread his cheeks, and inserted it. Without questioning it, because it might help him feel better. I did it twice actually, though neither time produced any results. And I would do it again.
I don’t know that there are many things I wouldn’t do. For him.