Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Poop Rating Scale

Upon my return home from work one day recently, our nanny casually mentioned that Miri had pooped that day.  Yet it wasn't until after she left for home that I read in her log:

It left me wondering, just how extensive were these poops?  You see, Miri has the unfortunate habit of storing up poop for eight, nine, ten days or more and then detonating, and pity the soul who happens to be there when she blows.  I searched the house for signs of an epic blowout, but there were no dirty diapers in the trash, soiled outfits soaking in the laundry room, or empty cases of wipes.  Nothing but a smug-looking baby and a roll of paper towels that was suspiciously thinner than what I remembered leaving.  But our nanny is notoriously good at cleaning up her (really the kids') tracks and downplaying any trouble they caused her.  If only there were an objective way to record the magnitude of these poops . . .

But wait.

Then I recalled the poop rating scale, born in our early days of this parenting adventure.  What is this rating scale, you ask?  Let me explain.

You've all seen this, the ubiquitous pain scale used in the medical world to rate the severity of pain.  At my job in the hospital, the majority of my day revolves around pain, whether it's evaluating pain, treating pain, or preventing recurrence of pain.  We discuss pain extensively, in terms of its location, its quality, its exacerbating and alleviating factors, and its severity.

In contrast, when I am at home the majority of my day centers not around pain, but around poop.  Yet the parallels are endless.  We discuss poop in terms of its location ("Mom, Tess got poop on the floor!"), its quality ("Mama, why is Miri's poo poo yellow?"), its exacerbating and alleviating factors ("Mama, I need more fruit."), and it's severity ("Mama, I have a code brown!").

Similar to the pain scale, the poop scale ranges from one to ten, with one being barely a hint of a stain on the diaper to ten, a full-scale explosion soiling not only diaper and baby, but all surrounding surfaces including changing mat, caretaker, and any pieces of furniture unlucky enough to be within a 4-foot radius.

The poop scale accomplishes three main goals:

1. Brevity.  In the heat of the moment, with poop cascading down a screaming baby's legs, words can escape you aside from "level nine, need backup!" (see photo above)

2. Forecasting.  In our first couple months as new parents, we maintained a ridiculously detailed and painstaking log of Anna's every feeding, nap, pee and poop.

Cut us some slack; we were rookie parents and had no idea what we were doing.  Anyway, this extensive record keeping brought one benefit: pattern recognition.  Similar to analyzing the Farmer's almanac to predict rain, noting elimination patterns can help predict future events (i.e. "Last poop was 7 days ago and only a level 3.  Time to batten down the hatches, people, a big one is on its way.")

3. Objectivity.  Just as with pain, one's perception of the quantity and destructiveness of a baby poop can be influenced by emotional factors.  The poop scale seeks to reduce the subjectivity of the whole deal, so that a level five is a level five for everyone.  This eliminates the "the fish was THIS big" phenomenon so commonly seen with baby poop explosions.  All this to say, if you're not wiping poop off the TV (true story) or rinsing it out of your hair in the shower, that ain't no level 10, friend.

For more on our family's poop-related adventures, see here and here.