Rachel Spencer Hewitt
This lesson came early on while on my way to my first audition post-birth when Biscuit was about 5 weeks old.
The problem-solving I used in the infant catastrophe should have been a distraction to the audition shortly afterward, but in fact it liberated my mind to deliver some great work. Below are the steps to changing a diaper on a moving train, that – much to my surprise – translated beautifully when stepping into the room. Apparently, a little poop and movement was what my process needed that day. Who knew?!
How to Change a Diaper on a Moving Train
Level of Difficulty: High
Skill equivalent: Bomb-Squad Diffuser
Soundtrack: MI Theme Song
Baby (ideally <20lbs.)
Car seat/carrier (not required by law but always recommended for safe train travel)
Baby Poop (lots)
Nursing Cover (replacement: jacket/sweater/magic cape)
Diaper mat (optional)
Haters (lots o’)
Imagine with me: you are enjoying the peace and quiet of a train car. Baby beside you, sleeping peacefully. Strapped in safely. Out. Hooray! you think, Infants are easy! Just as you gently open the crinkled, stained, and much-loved audition sides, ready to emote with artful calm, a blaring alarm goes off. This freakishly powerful wail comes not from man, machine, or beast but babe. You turn in your daughter’s (son’s) direction to see the redness in her cheeks, the pain in her gut: she needs a change, and soon, or in no time flat her wail will escalate until she’s full-blown belting Verdi’s La Forza Destino*, and – unfortunately for you – not everyone on this speeding bullet is an opera fan.
What started as the perfect opportunity to prep through text work and silence quickly evolved into an opportunity to prep through engagement. (And needing to engage now, before the growing stench paralyzes every muscle in your body except your gag reflex and the people aboard grow wild enough to toss you and your suffering child onto the passing platform…in New Jersey. And no, there is no silver lining for that.)
Like any good artistic venture, this real-life demand illustrates that silence and calm isn’t always afforded to moments of productivity, and the only way you’re going to get through this is if you get to work.
1. Forget Everyone Else
Saving everyone else from the discomfort of a crying baby will only distract you from doing your best for both you and your child, resulting in no one’s happiness. Instead of imagining the surrounding panic, judgment, and potential for failure, focus on your partner in this epic Poopsplosian: your baby. He or she is bumping and moving in a pool of filth, and only you have the power to clean it up, leading to everyone’s happiness. This is your life, your task, and your love, so what does anyone else’s judgment have to do with any of it?
2. Ready Your Materials
As much as you want to dive in and start fixing things, you will be so grateful taking a few seconds to get your ducks in a row. Like when dealing with a good script, start at the end and work backwards; pull out the doggy-diaper bag and flap it open, tucking it to your side open-side up. Prep yourself; put on the nursing cover to create a canopy if you so care to protect your baby from view. Unlatching the bottom of the straps, gently slide the clean diaper under the clothed bum. Place wipe case on lap, open, and pull first two wipes, lay loosely on top of case. It works out so smoothly with these pieces in order. When the time comes to act, a great performance often comes from great preparation.
3. Act with Abandon
You know how to change a diaper, so once you drop the haters and have your tools, the only thing left for you to do is claim that confidence. These steps are the same as at home. The scenery is just….faster. So breathe. You are still the authority in this situation. For extra modesty, drape your nursing cover over bottom half of baby and proceed with change through peep-gap up top. While the chest clip can stay in place, keeping it away from chin, unsnap onesie and tuck up around baby’s waist. Gingerly un-velcro dirty diaper. Left-hand on ankles, right hand grab wipes, go. Short wipe-spurts are bad technique. Smooth and confident brush strokes cover-well the canvas. Deposit dirty wipes into dirty diaper. Second-guessing is only going to waste time here.
4. Get Rid of the Sh*t
Rolling wipes and diaper into a ball, gently ease them out from under the bum. Be sure to secure the diaper closed and drop it into that sweet little doggy-bag next to you in order to best move forward. With all the poop safely wrapped without a chance of flopping out or spreading, you can focus on re-wrapping the clean, happy bum in diaper and onesie. Re-close the bottom straps. Tie up bag. Remove nursing cover (extra flourish like super-hero cape an option) and let the world marvel at your magic. Sometimes we try to wrap up the task while also getting rid of the problem – this can cause spillage and contaminate the victory. The victory is sweeter when the task’s garbage is given the attention needed to tie it up early and get it out of the way so you can seal the deal without any spillover. Whatever is stinking up your process – discard it immediately.
5. Feel Great
As your baby calms into a lull of bouncy purrs with bottom lip out, slowly learning that life has drastically improved thanks to your super skills, your task is simply to exhale the adrenaline in your system. That adrenaline is a wonderful thing. It’s what fueled your speed and focus in steps 1-4. The temptation is to allow the space created by exiting adrenaline fill with self-consciousness because of the amount of bodies that just witnessed your adventure. Again, I refer you to Step 1. Replace self-consciousness with victory. You gave yourself to the task. You took extraordinary care of your responsibility. You creatively problem-solved in the midst of very human chaos. What a gift! As you let go of what’s transpired, exhale that adrenaline and also be sure to fill the space it left with your personal victory. You will be amazed how creating a habit of that personal victory will become an inspiration to you the next time you’re asked to step back in, an affirmation that yes – you indeed can do this thing.
See? You’re more ready than you know.
Now, go get it, mama.
*Biscuit is insisting that I add the footnote that she is a highly-communicative baby and rarely screams – truly, I can count the number of times on one hand. One of “those” babies. She’d also like me to add that her opera of choice for the situation would be Mozart’s Requiem anyway.