Erik Lohla has written a hilarious stream of consciousness, or rather semi-consciousness, about his first three months with Jack: his newborn son, the son he has always wanted, the colicky son, the son in desperate need of an exorcist.
In this brutally honest journal of his first three months with his Jack, Lohla dishes the dirt on being a parent to a colicky newborn and spares no details in this true tale in which “only the diapers have been changed to protect the innocent.”
Lohla and his wife, Preva are not first-time parents. Their daughter was the picture perfect baby who slept, ate, pooped on schedule. However, Jack has colic, which the parents discover is “crying that has no cause and seemingly never ends”. This proves to be a detrimental to their schedules, sleep, sanity and of course, their sex life.
A writer for America’s Funniest Home Videos, Lohla’s journal entries range from fresh or slapstick humor to touching moments of sentimentality to maddening questions of self-doubt to one-liners filled with angst and swearing (which is often respectfully censored). The photos and captions, which often include the family pets, add a personal touch to the journal but also extra comic relief.
Lohla’s portrayal of his marriage reveals a loving relationship, but definitely strained as it starts to revolve around stinky diaper pails and nipples threatening to explode if breast pumping is not attended to immediately. In the midst of his trials with his new son, he must attempt to remain functional at work, and still manage the schedule of young, sweet Julia who has learned all sorts of cuss words from overhearing her parents as they struggle with their stress. Of course, no new parent survival tale is complete without discussion about the bodily functions. Lohla provides plenty of credible, fresh and juicy details about “gnarly poop” and, baby vomit as well as a story of the “very powerful blast from a very small wiener.” His description of the system he has developed to change diapers is at once repugnant and riotous; detailing his maneuvers to handle removing and disposing of a full diaper while keeping Jack’s hands (which he just put into his own poop) away from his face.
Though these are the rantings of a sleep deprived individual, there are times when Lohla’s humor and one-liners can get over extended and wearisome as with the list of shows he dreams up for a new parent channel or the diatribe about double strollers and Bjorns, For the most part however, the reading is entertaining.
Though Devil in a Diaper will appeal to many mothers; Lohla addresses the breakdown of fathers going through their own version of post-partum stress – anxiety that takes its toll on a dad’s mind, body and soul and can reduce a fully-grown man into a sobbing mess, a vegetarian into a meat eater (almost) or make him say that he hates his baby. Lohla’s premise about having difficult times with the blessing of a new child shines through: “I’m not saying you should wish anything away, but if you do because it’s incredibly frustrating or difficult, you should be allowed to without feeling guilty.”
Technically, the book requires some polishing to remove a couple of typos and redundancies in the apologetic introduction, and in the actual journal itself. The repetition could actually be corrected by simply removing the introduction since the opening chapter explains everything and the content of the book contains lots of self-deprecation, guilt and apologies for less-than-angelic references to Jackula.
Lohla provides a fresh, funny and devastatingly honest look at life for the parent of a colicky newborn. He deftly captures the tension, sleep-deprivation and stress caused by a crying baby, which transforms a parent who is in love with life into a delusional, life-hating psychotic and back again.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader