I’ve never had to prepare so much to take a shit. I gotta get a fresh pad, fill up the watering-can you bought me for rinsing, throw paper in the bowl so the toilet cleaner doesn’t splash into my sutures. Then I use the clean end of my old pad, or the back of my nursing pad if they’re needing a change, and I’ll hold it down on my sutures so they don’t feel like bursting.
It’s the best feeling, taking an actual shit. All that pushing to give birth was weird. It felt like taking a massive dump, but with nothing coming out. Everyone waiting on me, your eyes looking down. An endless cycle of no follow-through. I gotta do so much prep now though. I don’t have a team looking after it, catching my shit at it comes out. Sometimes when I shit now it makes me pee and I piss all over my hand – ‘cause there’s no way I’m letting the pressure go on those sutures. If I pee then I have to wring out the pad and use the wrapping of the new pad to bundle it up so I don’t get piss on the floor when putting it down. If I manage to not piss on my hand and pee separately, then I use the watering-can so that the pee hitting my sutures doesn’t sting. I just pour it straight into the stream, and any leftover water I use to rinse out the shit and blood chunks clung to my pubes.
I’m so glad I trimmed before all this. It’s not just blood coming out. There’s bits of stuff from when she was in there. That white stuff that coated her skin, the layer of vernix. And the hair she lost while still inside me, her lanugo. That’s all coming out of me too. Sometimes my pad is green like my waters were – looks like it’s soaked in pea-soup – or there’s black bits, like the lumps that were along the umbilical cord. You remember how they hand over hand reeled the cord to pull out the placenta. With all this mixed in the blood, it looks like I’m wearing underwear made of salami.
I don’t wipe myself, not if I can avoid it. The watering-can does the trick. Use it for pissing, use it for rinsing. It feels so good when the water’s warm. The time you heard me yell from the toilet was me learning the hard-way not to make the water too hot – that mistake made everything even more puffy and swollen. Then I’ll pat-dry all over. I still have to wipe a little when I shit. Got a fright once from part of the sutures coming off – I almost thought it was a worm. That would top it all off, wouldn’t it. Worms. It’s enough work already, the whole process. And the pack-up afterwards – wrap up the used pad, change to a clean one, throw the old one out where the dogs won’t get at it, put the watering-can back by the sink, make sure there’s no blood smeared on the toilet seat, wash the piss off my hands, then moisturise them so I’m not changing nappies with sandpaper hands. It’s such a mission to take a shit now, but it feels good – to push, and have just a shit come out.
Semira Davis is a New Zealand creative whose work has appeared in publications such as Landfall, Takahe, and Phantom Billstickers Cafe Reader. In 2016 she was Editorial Assistant on issue four of Ika, and in 2017 contributed largely to the We Are Beneficiaries project for social change as a volunteer artist.