"Hey, did she poop?" Your wife calls from the living room as you change your daughter's diaper.
"Uh, yeah." You say.
"What's it like?"
You think: What do you mean 'What's it like?' It's like a skunk sprayed a bowl of beef stew that's been sitting in the sun for a week, and then someone dumped it into an absorbent bag. Is that what you want to hear?
"Uh, well…" You begin.
"What's the consistency? She’s had diarrhea lately."
Oh, now we’re talking. This is a question of poop viscosity. You got this. “Um, well today it’s kind of like potato salad made with brown mustard and too much milk.”
“So, it’s not solid?”
You have to look again. “No, kinda mushy.”
“But not totally wet, right?”
Another peek. “I guess you could say semi-solid.” And from that information we know that the baby is on the mend. Poops are solidifying. Who ever knew that would be such a joyous occasion?
That wasn't a real conversation between my wife and I, but it isn't too far off (let’s just say I’m gonna keep that potato salad analogy in my back pocket for later use). It's a good idea of how such exchanges can go. You need to know some descriptive adjectives and metaphors, man! Is it the consistency of Elmer's glue or Play-doh? Is it thick like Greek yogurt or is it the runny kind? Does the diaper feel swollen with pee, or just mildly squishy, or is it completely dry? Is your baby teething? Wanna know how to tell? Rivers of drool spilling from her bottom lip at all times, enough to make you fear her dehydration. (How much drool fits in that tiny body anyway?)
Another fun fact: it doesn't stop once they're older and potty trained. Digestive problems in your kid? Time to examine some turds. Does it burn when they pee? Let's check the color of their urine, maybe they drank too much Coke. Fall on the playground and skinned their hands and knees? Prepare for blood and copious amounts of screaming while you apply band-aids.
As a horror fan, one of my favorite films is Evil Dead 2. In that movie the main character, Ash, shoots holes in the walls of his cabin while trying to destroy his possessed, severed hand. The hand scuttles through the walls like a rat and whenever it makes noise Ash fires at it. He finally hits paydirt when a thin dribble of blood streams out of the last hole. He laughs in triumph. That is, until the thin dribble begins to build in strength until it is a full-on jet of liquid pummeling his face. From the other holes in the wall more blood erupts, turning his cabin living room into the most gruesome water park ever seen. The blood changes color, becomes black. Every orifice in the cabin is oozing this sloppy, black mess. Ash stumbles around, pinballing back and forth between jets of gross liquid while trying to gain his balance. When I stop to think about it, being a dad is kind of like being Ash in that cabin: standing there with only one hand free, panic distorting your face, not knowing where the next eruption will come from and just having to wait for the inevitable blast of baby fluid to knock you on your ass.
Moral of the Story: New dads, prepare yourselves. Fluids are coming.