It was with great excitement and anticipation that I learned I would become a father of twin girls.
Being a father is awesome and I am still aglow with the thrill of having recently brought life into the world. I’m ready for this halo of good spirit to dissolve into a depressing magma of dirty diapers and financial stress. But in the meantime I am still in thrall to the idea that one of the countless loads I’ve let loose over the past decades created two beautiful human beings.
But the world of gestation and childbirth is a women’s world, and there is not much of a place for men in this gynecological universe.
And these tragically soft times demand that fathers be present for every aspect of pregnancy. A business associate recently said he wished he could trace this practice back to the one hippie in California who started us down this road, but nonetheless. We’re expected to show up, and women in their fragile hormonal pregnant health will be distressed even if we skip out on the breastfeeding class, so we comply.
One of the classes I went to with my expectant wife was an infant care class, a very basic class with advice for the retarded: Don’t shake your baby, you have to feed your baby every day, here is how to change a diaper, etc.
The one scientific fact I learned in the class that would not escape my troubled mind was the fact that newborn feces isn’t called feces. It’s called meconium. That’s right. Baby shit has its own scientific name.
I was sure that the English language already contained a healthy multitude of names for shit: feces, excrement, scat, butt mud, poop, poo, dookie, dung, excreta, crap, droppings, butt baby, fudge dragon, mud monkey, brown trout, butt nugget, stool, chocolate hot dog, steamer, growler, toilet orphan, and so on.
So why does baby shit need its own scientific name? Meconium has no curative properties or viable industrial uses that I’ve been able to find. You’ll never hear someone use it in a sentence outside of changing a baby’s diaper (“Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is fueled largely by enriched meconium.” or “This diamonoid ring is made with 100% authentic cubit meconium and can be yours for six easy installments of $39.99!”).
Meconium is a deep dark green that appears black, like some kind of exquisite oil deposit that wells up from the sands of Arabia. It’s not fueled by mother’s milk or solid food. If a pregnant woman’s broken water is green, it means that her baby has pooped inside of her and has started shitting itself out fear of its life ahead.
I didn’t get a chance to see if my wife’s amniotic fluid had any greenish tint to it. I was busy taking fatherly photos of my offspring after doctors turned my wife into a one-woman GWAR show on an operating table. I thought it would have been bad form to go on a shit hunt at the time and it may have been the wrong decision in the name of science.
I came across my first meconium deposit during my first day as a father. It gushed out of my daughter like crude oil. Is the act of finding a large deposit of this baby shit some kind of infant fracking? We may never know. I was proud to be able to remember this useless scientific name, but it didn’t stop me from getting a little bit on my hand while trying to change my first diaper. I threw away the precious meconium with no fanfare.