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Opinion: Dad Alex Jee encounters a ‘doozy’ of a nappy as he gets to grips with life with a newborn

Being a new parent is a messy business, as columnist Alex Jee discovers when his new-found confidence is tested with a “doozy” of a nappy-change.

“I tell you what, I really feel like we’re getting the hang of this whole parenting lark.”

Alex Jee getting to grips with life as a new parent
Alex Jee getting to grips with life as a new parent

I truly believe those words, said to my wife as we watch our daughter sleeping away in her bassinet. I’m so lost in the moment I fail to notice fate, buck-toothed and devil-horned, laughing as it prepares an immediate response to my arrogance.

I’ve never been a particularly superstitious person. I won’t salute when I see a lone magpie (one for sorrow, two for joy – spare me, they’re solitary birds!), or worry overly if a black cat were to cross my path.

Having said that, I find myself having to recalibrate my understanding of the rules of the universe following a dramatic karmic lesson.

For as I’m watching my lovely daughter, murmuring away in her slumber, I turn to my wife and say: “Why don’t you go take some time for yourself? I’ll stick around down here and watch her – she’s sleeping anyway, so I’ll be able to handle her with no bother.”

My wife agrees and goes to take some time for herself – most likely doing the chores I promised to do that morning and entirely forgot – and fate wanders in, laughing and rubbing its hands with glee.

“You silly, sleep deprived fool,” it seems to say. “Let's give you something to handle."

Suddenly, there’s an ominous sound from the bassinet. Indeed, it has appeared to have originated from my daughter, but it’s not a cry or a murmur. It has not come from that end.

I freeze. Maybe if I stay very still… no, there it is again, louder and more… impactful.

There’s no avoiding it now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my fair share of dirty nappy changes, but as any parent will tell you they tend to pack an increasingly strong punch as the little one gets older. This one, I soon discover, is a doozy. It’s a fantastic effort – truly a step up from her previous productions.

Columnist Alex Jee with his baby daughter
Columnist Alex Jee with his baby daughter

Undeterred, I whip off the nappy and place it in a scented bag as the smell hits me.

“There,” I tell her through watering eyes. “That wasn’t so bad.”

Naturally, fate – presumably on its way out after a job well done – does an about-face and canters back to have another punt at teaching me some humility.

This time, my only warning is a grunt – and as I look down, the fruits of my angelic little girl’s labours have spread themselves an impressive distance away from her. Also caught in the firing line is my hand, still clutching the open nappy bag which is also coated.

Am I proud of the noise that I made next? No. Did I derive any satisfaction from the fact that the shriek summoned my wife at a run, thinking that I was being attacked or viciously maimed in some way? Well, also no – look, it’s not a story that covers me in father-of-the-year-winning glory but it is nonetheless true.

It’s also why, when I go into work or speak to friends and family, I never go into as much detail about my daughter’s wonderful behaviour as I used to. I want to sing from the rooftops… but I’m not chancing that.

After it is all over, and my daughter is changed and content once again, my wife prepares to take her off to a play group.

“Do you want to come with us? It could be fun,” she asks.

“Certainly, what’s the worst that could happen?” I smile. As we walk off, fate sighs, stands up and cracks its back, before following us out the door.

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