My career as an amateur poopologist began not long after my
son was born. Just in case postpartum depression and a sleepless, colicky baby
weren't enough, there were also the troubling green poops. (My son's, not mine.)
From the breastfeeding class my husband and I had taken when I
was pregnant, we knew that a "normal" baby poop was mustard-hued and seedy. And
my son's fit the bill, at first. But within weeks, his poop soured into something
resembling split-pea soup.
I frantically scoured the Internet for answers. Most of the
information I found said that green poop occurred when a baby wasn't breastfeeding
for long enough and therefore not getting the fatty milk that comes toward the
end of a nursing session. Since my kid was nursing almost constantly, this
seemed unlikely. Also, the hindmilk/foremilk imbalance poo was always described
as being both green and frothy; the only froth I was seeing was in the vanilla
soy lattes that kept me vertical.
I experimented with my diet to see if we could return to
the golden poops of yester-week. Once in awhile, my son would present me with a
glorious, dijon-esque squirt. But it seemed totally random, and though I'd
rejoice, he'd soon be back to his greenies. At mom groups, I looked longingly
as other mothers wiped up their babies' amber-toned feces.
But I hit my bottom—so to speak—with my son's pediatrician.
Worried over the strings of mucous that I sometimes found in
my son's green diapers, I smuggled a fouled diaper into a routine well-baby
At the time, bringing feces to a doctor's appointment seemed
normal. After all, I spent much of my days pondering poop—surely this wasn't that big of a deal.
While many moms fret over their babies' funky poop, I eventually learned that unless a baby is pooping blood or snakes, she is probably OK.
The pediatrician, an affable young man, wrinkled his nose
involuntarily as I pulled out a Ziploc from my diaper bag.
"Can you take a look at this?" I asked him.
"That's OK—you don't need to show me that," he said. My
son gurgled and smiled.
"Well, but as long as we're here," I replied.
"Really, please don't—"
But nothing could've held me back. I removed the diaper from
the bag, placing it on the examination table and gently spreading it out to
unveil the stringy, chartreuse mess.
"It does look a little mucousy," he said, keeping a wide
distance between himself and the defecated diaper.
I knew it!
"But so long as there's no blood, I'm really not concerned about it," he added.
"OK if I toss this?" he asked, raising an eyebrow—as if this might be part of
a collection of dirty diapers I kept at home, perhaps stored in mason jars and
categorized by color and size.
After getting the doctor's seal of approval on my son's
poop, I stopped worrying so much—at least about his bowel movements.
And like everything with babies, the green poo was simply a
As my son began to explore solid foods, introducing a whole
new array of colors and textures into his poo, I relaxed even more. Finally,
once he potty-trained, it all started to look the same—perhaps the white
backdrop of diapers had magnified the variety of colors and textures of poop.
But once they were in their natural habitat of a toilet, the turds all look
more or less the same.
In retrospect, I recognize that I was completely insane in
those early months. Exhausted and shell-shocked, his green poops gave my
anxiety a focal point. Of course, I also worried about all kind of other
things, like the time I kissed him, forgetting I had a cold sore, and Googled
"dead herpes baby."
While many moms fret over their babies' funky poop, I
eventually learned that unless a baby is pooping blood or snakes, she is
Hopefully, his pediatrician will forgive me … someday.