Okay, so... What was I thinking?
Explain to me again exactly why I thought this would be a good idea?
Theron is now two months and four days old, which - owing to the fact that the number of weeks in any given month varies wildly - translates into a bit over nine weeks since he was born. Unfortunately, the event that prompted this particular entry was not another Cute Baby Milestone.
My wife has developed mastitis.
I could tell that this was bad, just from the way she was acting. First of all, it's obviously painful. And, well, it just started last night and she went to the doctor about it this morning. Usually she suffers for a day or two before admitting that medical help might actually, well,
help. And then, when she called me after her appointment, she sounded pretty far gone. Not actually delirious, just speaking very slowly and having trouble keeping her thoughts focused. Even if I'd been willfully blind to all the other signs,
that would have been a huge, flashing, neon warning sign, with strobe lights all around it. If there's one thing the Beautiful Woman is
not, it's unfocused.
But, being me, I couldn't just say, "Wow, that sounds ooky," and leave it be. Oh, no.
I had to go and look it up on the internet.
"Breast infections are usually caused by a common bacteria found on normal skin (Staphylococcus aureus). The bacteria enter through a break or crack in the skin, usually the nipple.
"The infection then takes place in the parenchymal (fatty) tissue and causes swelling of the parenchymal tissue outside the milk ducts. This swelling compresses on the milk ducts, and the result is pain and swelling of the infected breast."
So now, I'm not only feeling sorry for my wife (the description neglects to mention the associated immune system responses: fever, headache, lack of energy, etc.). I'm also a little grossed out. I guess this means we should have been wiping down her breasts with bleach or something. Who knew?
Foolish Optimism springs eternal…
Actually, this could have been a whole lot worse. First of all, since it's essentially a bacterial problem, it can be resolved with a combination of antibiotics and sleep. The doctor has already given her antibiotics, and she's already asleep. So that's all to the good.
The downside is that until the Beautiful Woman recovers, I am Theron's sole caregiver.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking… but
no, I'm not going to give the boy a knife and send him out into the wilds to fend for himself. I won't do that until he's
at least two years old. Unless I find out that Pacifier Trees grow wild in our area. In that case, all bets are off.
The evening so far
I discovered, shortly after my wife turned the baby over to me and retired to our bed, that I was absolutely bloody exhausted. After some consideration, I decided that this was largely a result of not getting enough sleep.
So, I made sure Theron was A) Fed; B) Burped; and C) Changed, and I set him in the bassinet. Then, in a fit of touching naivete, I put a sleeping bag down on the floor beside the basset houn- er, the bassinet, and tried to get some sleep in before his next feeding.
The podling's reaction to this was to scream. Loudly. For about two hours.
I experimented with various baby-quieting strategies. (I'm sure you'll all be pleased to know that none of them involved duct tape or super glue.) I tried the pacifier, which worked brilliantly for about two and a half seconds, until he spit it out. I tried feeding him (again), and then burping him (again). The sprog responded by producing enough spit-up to cover my entire right shoulder, and most of my back. I checked his diaper. I turned the fan off. I turned the fan back on. I put on a movie. I paused the movie. I played music at him. I gave him a little baby Tylenol, in case he was still feeling sick from his immunization shots.
So far, the only thing that helps is to carry Theron while I'm walking around.
I lack the discipline to do that for more than about ten minutes at a time. It might be manageable if he held still, but he wants to be carried
while he squirms.
So I did what any sensible parent would do: I set an alarm for the next feeding, laid down on the sleeping bag, and did my best to ignore the wailing. My dad says it's good exercise for the baby's lungs, so you can see that I really had the
Podling's best interests at heart.
I think got about forty-five minutes of scream-saturated nap.
And now we try again…
After Theron's second feeding, I put him on a pillow in my lap and watched a bit more of the movie.
He promptly fell asleep… for about ten minutes.
Ah, the sweet taste of victory… and the bitterness of having it snatched away. I was
Don't overmedicate the baby
I'm a great fan of modern science. I love living in a country where technology (especially medical technology) work as well as it does here. Still, there are limits. With medicines that work so well, it's easy to see them as the solution for every little problem… even if they aren't really needed.
I suppose in the dark ages they just used whiskey.
Anyway, I try not to overmedicate. If I have a headache, I generally have a largish glass of water and wait a little while. If that doesn't fix it,
then I try aspirin. My allergy problems are remarkably persistent, but sometimes a hot bath loosens things up better than anything you can buy over the counter. Basically, I try not to solve every problem with medications.
So, having given the Squalling Terror From Beyond Space a bit of baby Tylenol earlier, I wasn't in a big hurry to give him anything else.
That was before the screaming baby marathon entered its fourth hour.
Unfortunately, there's really only one other medication we can give him: gas drops. They're designed to help with babies who have a lot of gas, and the Dark Forces That Rule My Universe know that Theron is a world-champion burping machine. So maybe that was the problem? Maybe gas was making him uncomfortable?
No. Apparently not. The gas drops did nothing.
So I'm right back to where I started, except that having gotten up to feed the baby, I'm not so easily able to go to sleep with him wailing.
Discounting minor interruptions - like, when he actually has a bottle in his mouth, or about half the time when I'm carrying him around - that means that Theron has now been screaming for
five consecutive hours.
And the worst part is, if he ever stops screaming, I'm going to leap up in a panic and start CPR. Because, G-d help me, the logical assumption is that he must be dead.
For those watching from home
Raising a baby is not a professional sport. This is probably a good thing. But, if it was, the current score would be approximately:
Also, the announcers would be making fun of me.
So, obviously, this is some kind of bonding experience, right?
I figure everything will turn out okay. This can't possibly go on much past four in the morning. Either he'll have quit screaming by then, or cognitive dissonance will have set in and I'll think that this whole night of Not Sleeping is really a touching, heart-warming experience that should be treasured for always.
Because, you know, these times pass so quickly. And once they're gone, you never get them back.
At least, I hope so...
Also, for the record: I'm a wuss.
Horrific as this entire entry sounds, I'm fairly sure that my wife has been putting up with this ever since the baby came home...