This is, cliche of parenting cliches, a poop story. Skip it if the very title fills you with dread or an uncontrollable impulse to roll your eyes.
Athena's usual cheerful babble was punctuated throughout the day on Tuesday by several bouts of sudden screaming and crying, accompanied by squatting and straining. Kid was obviously in pain from something going on in her body. I was somewhat perplexed that she seemed to feel immediately better if I would change her (barely streaked) diaper and wipe her down, but the respite would only last an hour or so. When babies can't tell you what's going on, you make your best guess.
My guess was that she was constipated, and it so transpired that I was right.
Less than an hour before her daddy was due to get home, she started pushing out a veritable poop boulder. It was so amazingly huge and solid and dry that I could tell, the moment I got her diaper off of her and got a visual, that she was going to need hands-on assistance.
I stripped her down and plunked her in the bathtub in three inches of warm water, rolled up my sleeves, and helped her pop that boulder out. Scooped up the offending waste, flushed it down the toilet, rinsed the tub, and then bathed Athena from the shoulders down. By the time her daddy got home, she was clean, dressed, and happy once again. Athena's daddy got regaled with the whole story, which I'd also documented blow-by-blow on the notes I always leave for her mom.
How did I know she was backed up? How did I know to put her in warm water? How did I know where to push on her body to get that monstrosity out of her? I don't know if I had heard of the warm water trick somewhere, or if I did it by instinct. Athena's mom later said she would've had absolutely no idea what to do if she had been the one home.
Regardless of how I seem to know what's going on and what to do, I am thankful for it. I am thankful I handled the situations so relatively effortlessly. It made me feel like what I'm doing -- working with kids -- is what I am good at, and what I should be doing. It made me feel like a superhero.