Fathers matter all the time, and especially in the middle of the night when the baby monitor wails.
My husband, like so many excellent dads out there, was always ready to pitch in at 3 a.m. when I was new-mom exhausted. However, one nighttime diaper change had an unplanned consequence.
I discovered that consequence at 5 in the morning when my son woke up for the day and I went to the nursery to pick him up. The little guy was in his sleep sack and pajamas, a 6-month-old bundle of fun. I picked him up in my arms, enjoyed that special heft of baby, and then changed his diaper on the table. But when I looked down on the ground I saw something unusual.
There, in the middle of the white carpet, was a peach.
“That’s funny,” I thought to myself. “I don’t remember buying peaches. They won’t be in season for a couple of months.”
It was the wee hours of dawn and nothing made sense until I bent down to pick up the peach.
No, not a peach, but a gigantic turd.
Now fully awake, I scanned the carpet and saw poop everywhere. I put my son back in his crib and ran outside the room, following the trail. My husband must have walked the baby around the condo the night before to soothe him back to sleep. In the living room, the dining room, the hallway — poop was smeared on every floor.
It was official: My husband was no longer sleeping in. “Hun!” I shouted. “Get out here!”
My husband stumbled out of the bedroom bleary-eyed but ready to help. “What?”
“Take off your socks!”
“I’m not wearing any.”
I swore with the best word appropriate for the situation. Our son began to fuss from the nursery.
“What’s the matter? Why are you letting him cry like that?” My husband walked toward the baby.
“Stop!” I held out my hands. “You tracked poop all over the apartment last night.”
My husband looked down at his feet and his jaw dropped. “Uh oh. I bet there’s poop in our bed, too.”
I buried my face in my hands. “Oh my goodness, this was supposed to be a happy Saturday.”
“Don’t worry.” My husband carefully walked to the bathroom to clean up. “I can fix this.”
He did, too. As soon as the stores opened, he rented a Rug Doctor and spent the entire weekend deep cleaning the carpet not once, not twice, but three times. I washed our bedding in hot water, including the mattress cover just to be safe.
By Sunday night our condo was as good as new with one noticeable addition — a brighter nightlight in the nursery.
You don’t want to wake the baby all the way up during a middle-of-the-night diaper change, but Daddy’s got to be able to see what he’s doing.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.