I wish someone would write a complete user’s manual for babies. There’s no way to know what they’re thinking. They can be laughing one minute and then crying the next and you are helpless to know what to do for them. Then they get these weird physical things to have to worry about.

When my daughter was a baby she was the sweetest thing on earth, she slept well at night and smiled a lot – just a model good baby – but she had a temper if something riled her up. One thing she hated was having her diaper changed. I don’t know why. I was the only one who changed her diaper and I always did it the same way, but at about four months old she decided she didn’t like it and she was going to pitch a screaming fit from the second I started to the time I was done.

I coped by changing her as quickly as possible. I used cloth diapers because I was an earth momma, so I’d get a new one ready along with everything else so I could whip that sucker off of there, do cleanup, then have another one on in seconds flat.

One day I had her on the changing table and, as usual, she was screaming so hard her whole body was red. Her fists were balled up, every muscle in her body was tense, she was pushing against the changing table, her stomach arched toward the sky – her normal changing table demeanor. Anyone who could read body language knew she hated every second and wanted to make that loud and absolutely clear.

I worked as quickly as I could because I couldn’t stand crying. It broke my heart. I had gotten the dry diaper under her and was pinning the first side when she thrust her stomach up and at that instant her belly button popped out. It went from an inny to an outy in one second.

Oh my gosh. I freaked out. “Oh no, oh no, oh no,” I screeched in a panic. I don’t know what I thought. That her innards were going to pop out? It just scared the crap out of me. She knew it, too. She stopped crying immediately, watching my reaction. “Oh honey, oh baby, what’s happened? Oh my gosh.”

I rushed to the phone and pressed the speed dial to the pediatrician. “My baby’s belly button just popped out,” I babbled. “What am I going to do?”

The advice nurse, as always, was very calm. She was used to my calls. “It’s okay, tell me what happened.”  When I explained she said, “Well, we’ve seen this before and it will go back on it’s own over time. It’s nothing to worry about.”

“Shouldn’t we come in?”

“No, really it’s quite common. You can press on it and it will go back in, but it will probably pop back out.”

Well, I pressed on it and it was creepy. You know how a balloon looks when it loses some of its air? It has that little stem you blow into? That’s what this outy looked like. It was a little creamy white cylinder full of air sticking about ¾ inch out of her belly. I pressed it back in, but when I let go it popped out like a Jack in the box.

After that she didn’t cry during diaper changes. She probably didn’t want to see me freaking out. It took several years for the outy to go back in. In fact I’d forgotten about it until I heard her telling one of her friends about it a few days ago.

“”When did that thing go back in?” I asked.

“Like seven or eight years ago. It just started going away.”

This is the kind of stuff they don’t prepare you for in the baby books. Someone should have said, “If your child has an explosive temper and pitches an intense fit, be sure to check his or her belly button periodically to see if it has popped out like a timer on a turkey. If so, don’t be alarmed. Besides, there’s nothing you can do about it but if you insist, you can call the advice nurse who will tell you the exact same thing.” This would have reassured me at that hour of need. The user manuals for children are certainly lacking, if you want my opinion.