Monday, April 03, 2006

The smell of parenthood

I love being a father. Its very rewarding knowing that you're shaping a new life into, hopefully, a great human being. Its also a constant learning experience and the ultimate exercise in patience. For someone like me who has been career oriented, this has been an adjustment but one that's been easier than I thought. More than all of those things, being a father/parent comes with a totally different life style that demands you stay mentally sharp for any and all surprises that might come your way. Maybe you put your baby to bed healthy and in a great mood and the next morning, your baby wakes up with a fever of 101 with projectile vomiting. Or maybe your eating dinner with your baby on your lap and in the span it takes you to blink your eyes, he's grabbed your fork, knocked your drink to the floor and by the time you know what's going on, your dog's licked up the spill, the baby's knee deep in spaghetti sauce and now you have no dinner.

Parenthood is grand, isn't it?

Just last week, one of these "surprises" hit me like an anvil. No, it wasn't a chaotic dinner or a surprise illness, it was a smell....a smell I had never smelled before and looking back, a smell I hope to never smell again. Before you say "dirty diaper", think of something even worse. What in nature could smell worse?

I remember a field trip in seventh grade to a sewage treatment which was the worst smell I had ever experienced to date. That field trip to the treatment plant left such an indelible mark on my olfactory system that it stayed at the top of my "worst smell" list for eighteen more years! That takes us to March of 2006 and this new, foul stench which makes my sewage treatment plant aroma experience seem like a whiff of potpourri at grandma's house.

What would emanate an odor stronger and more potent than raw sewage? What would stimulate ones olfactory receptors causing one to blow chunks? Here's a recently declassified picture:

What you are looking at is The Diaper Genie. A neat invention created by British entrepreneur John Hall which takes a "dirty diaper" and stores it until permanent disposal is needed, a.k.a. once the bag inside gets full. (How a baby weighing between 15 and 25 pounds eating nothing but formula and pureed chicken and peas could create excrement that reeks like it originated in a horse stall I'll never know. Its one of the mysteries of life that will never be answered.)

The company that produces this product touts it as The #1 brand in diaper disposal, the Diaper Genie® System, is easy to use and provides unsurpassed odor and germ protection. I beg to differ. What happened to the Diaper Genie providing unsurpassed odor protection? Sure, the Diaper Genie keeps the odors inside but what happens when we need to empty the bag? Our diaper Genie, as evident by the picture, looks pretty innocuous just sitting there in the corner of my son's room. But that's just a facade. For what lies on the inside are the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) that our US Troops are looking for in Iraq. The baby equivalent of VX nerve gas makes its home in MY home--more specifically in the bag that resides in the Genie. Yes, my infant son creates poop that if left in a closed container smells worse than anything created in nature since the dawn of time. To put it another way, my son's butt creates a product that could conceivably wipe out a small town!

Last Wednesday, my wife changed out the bag inside the Genie and lost consciousness for 3 minutes. When she came to, she asked me what happened? I told her that she was overcome by the fumes from the Genie and that she would need oxygen. Once she got her breath back and the paralysis wore off, she vowed never to change the Genie without proper protection. The very next day, she purchased a gas mask which she wears everytime she changes the bag. Yeah, she sounds like Darth Vader on the baby monitor with it on but its a necessary by-product of not turning our house into a landfill overflowing with soiled diapers that take 10,000 years to decompose.

So far, I have fended off my body's urge to shutdown when exposed to the noxious vapors that permiate the Genie. In fact, I think I've built up a tolerance to this pungent odor at the expense of my life expectancy being shortened by a few years. Like my wife, soon, I too will succumb.

If your first child is on the way and your looking into one of these neat, little contraptions in an effort to make your life easier, remember this: It might keep odors from escaping but once you break the seal, the worst odor you've ever smelled will be released and if you have a weak stomach, you might end up on the floor in a pool of half-digested lunch. So, either suck it up and handle the smell like a man or wait for the new and improved Diaper Genie commonly referred to as Potty Training.

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