Poogate! Extract from The Unmumsy Mum Diary
Friday 26th August 2016
Oh my God, I can’t breathe for laughing. This tale of early motherhood, from a mum who has asked to remain anonymous, is, quite frankly, the sort of stuff I wish I had heard at antenatal classes – not that it would have prepared me for anything (there could be no preparation for this, and you’ll see why), but it would have made me laugh and given me a snapshot of reality, which is a darn sight more than the Bounty pack ever did. The message is pretty lengthy but I couldn’t bring myself to condense it when she has described the unfolding events so well. Enjoy. Oh, and maybe don’t read on if you’re eating . . .
So I was reading a ‘things no one tells you when you have a baby’ article the other day – you know, the ones that circulate on Facebook, and it made me think of a particular occurrence in our house, from not long after I had our son, my second baby. My husband and I lovingly refer to this day as ‘Shitgate’, and I think I’m ready, after two years, to share it with the world. This is something that nobody warned me about.
I arrived home after a few extra days on the ward, having had an elective C-section (thanks to problems with previous labour, but that’s a whole other horror story), and, after probably a few more days, I felt that familiar rumble and decided it was that time ‒ time for my first poo. The fear hit me, as it had last time – what would happen, would I be able to poo? Would my bum fall out? Would I burst a stitch? Would I end up with piles? Would I even be able to go? It occurred to me that I couldn’t actually recollect my last ‘motion’. It was certainly before I went into hospital, so it must have been at least a week ago, and with someone bringing me three square meals a day, which I didn’t have to cook myself (or wait to go cold while feeding everyone else before eating), I obviously didn’t turn any of it down. A considerable volume of additional boredom snacks, late-night feed snacks, and any-excuse-for-extra-snacks snacks had also been consumed. This might be a bit of a biggun, I thought. Little did I know.
So I told hubby what I was up to and could he keep an eye on the kids, and off I went up the stairs, with no idea of the events that would unfold. I sat down and, at first, there was nothing. How could this be? I definitely needed to go, why couldn’t I go? As the minutes wore on I started to worry. I tried moving about, walking around, feet up on a stool, you know, all the normal stuff. This was starting to hurt, I was getting desperate, I really, REALLY needed to go. I asked hubster for some laxatives, but no luck, they didn’t help, so in a bit of panic now, I called the out-of-hours doctor. He (yes, a man, fab) was very understanding and said he’d email a prescription straight to Sainsbury’s so I could collect it. Several phone calls to Sainsbury’s and nearly two hours later, hurrah ‒ they have my suppositories there and we can collect them immediately. By this time, it’s the middle of the night, I’m glued to the loo, afraid that I’m gonna have an epic bum explosion at any given moment, but at the same time petrified that I won’t.
The only person my husband can get hold of to come and sit with the kids, so he can nip out and collect the prescription while I’m stuck on the loo, is my father-in-law. Arghhhhh. He’s one of those manly builder types, so over he comes (did I mention that our bathroom door, at the top of the stairs, directly in front of you as you come in the front door, doesn’t close?) and now he’s sat downstairs in probable silence with my brand-new baby while I’m sat on the loo trying to shit. Thank God, he’s had four of his own, so I try to convince myself that he’s seen it all before and that at some point he’s surely already encountered some sort of labour/pregnancy/ baby poo situations.
This was painful now. I felt like I was gonna poo, but no poo (plenty of sodding wind, though), and I felt like my stitches were just about to burst open. This was hideous. Hubby arrived home with the thing, with THE most fear I’ve ever seen in a man’s eyes, as he bounded up the stairs two at a time it crossed his mind that he might be asked to administer his bounty. Over my dead body. So I did the deed alone and, bloody hell, it did do what it was meant to do, in some respects. If you didn’t know this, apparently glycerol, which is what suppositories are made of, is a mild irritant – they basically make your bum muscles angry. So angry that, hopefully, you poo. Is that what I needed, to make it MORE ANGRY?! This was an epic fail. Now I felt EVEN MORE DESPERATE to poo, like more desperate than ever, and EVEN MORE ANGRY. I couldn’t understand it, why couldn’t I just poo? I’d felt permanently just on the brink for the past five hours, FIVE HOURS on the loo.
I did next something that I will regret forever: I decided to reach around and have a feel. There were piles. Lots of piles. Could this get any worse? I asked myself.
Yes. Yes, it could.
Ah, I’ll call NHS direct, they’ll help. They wanted to know everything ‒ my whole medical history, my life story, my every movement since the moment I became pregnant. On their clever multiple choice ‘yes go left, no go right’ flow-chart thingy, one of the questions was ‘Do you have any pain in your chest?’ Well, by this time, everything ached, so innocently, the response that fell from my mouth was ‘Well, yes, a little actually.’
That was it. I was informed that, because I had answered yes to this question, they’d be sending an ambulance. WTF? I didn’t need an ambulance, I just needed a poo! I pleaded, I begged, please pleeeeeease don’t send an ambulance, it’s a total waste, they’re not THOSE kind of chest pains, Christ that’s not what I meant. No, they’re sorry, they have to send one, it’s on the screen. Fucking hell.
There was a knock on the door as the dark bathroom filled with flashes of blue, and in they came, perched now on the side of the bath, while I sat there, pants round my ankles, horrific wind, piles the size of small countries, a desperate look on my face, and toilet-seat marks imprinted on my arse. I could not have apologised enough as we all sat there together, making small talk in our now foul-smelling bathroom, while I tried to poo and everyone else tried badly to pretend that this was ‘all in a day’s work’. Unbeknown to me, there was a small crowd of neighbours gathering outside, who’d seen the blue lights and, knowing I was about to have the baby, put two and two together and got God knows what, so my husband went out to let them know that all is OK and Mum and babe are fine, thanks for the concern.
But all was not well, Mum is definitely not fine. If Mum doesn’t poo soon she is actually and genuinely going to explode. Her stitches are going to burst and a fortnight’s worth of poo is going to fly out. The ambulance crew – satisfied that I am not on the brink of a poo-induced heart attack and having fulfilled their duty of care – make their escape.
A couple more suppositories and close to half a litre of lactulose later, and finally, through gritted teeth, and with tears in my eyes, it happens! And Jesus Christ does it happen. Once I start, I literally cannot stop. It goes on for what feels like forever, it’s like a labour all on its own – I swear the evacuated material was close to the weight of a newborn. As I turned in fear to observe my creation, it was with utter shock that I discovered that I hadn’t just blocked the toilet: no, no, I had filled it. YES, FILLED IT. Right to the top, the very top. How was this even possible?
Exhausted from my ordeal, I had a quick shower and flaked out on the couch as, by this time, we were in the small hours and the baby would need another feed any moment. I had no idea, then, that my husband was about to undertake a task no husband should ever have to undertake. Yes, I’m pretty sure all husbands or partners see things or do things that they definitely didn’t foresee or sign up for when they got us up the duff, but that night, my husband, with a dustpan and carrier bag in hand, silently did the unthinkable. The toilet was finally clear and my husband had the same look on his face that he had after his first peek of me crowning in my first labour – the look of a man changed forever. Only this time, instead of a beautiful bouncing baby to hold at the end, he had a pegged nose and a Bag for Life full of his wife’s poo. Two years later, and we are thankfully able to laugh about it, but I’m surprised he’s been able to look at me ‘that way’ since then.
It’s certainly something I don’t recall being warned about before I got pregnant.
The Unmumsy Mum Diary is out in paperback on 22 February. Available to pre-order here.