August 25, 2010

Field Report (2) : Dirty Laundry

As previously mentioned, these Field Reports will be insider information from the front lines of battle, the kinds of stories that you have to live through to genuinely believe.  Nevertheless,  my hope is that you are able to live vicariously through my words and learn the lessons I learned as well.  These tales will not always be pretty but, then again, most true stories regarding parenting rarely are.  Consider yourselves warned.

This one recounts my first experience being left completely alone with my newborn son.  It is a rather lengthy story so click the jump for the full post.

When Lil Sippy Cup was 5 weeks old, his maternal great-grandmother passed away in Puerto Rico.  The M.O.M. had to fly out of the country and leave her baby boy for the first time ever.  Aside from the expected separation anxiety she experienced, there was a genuine logistical concern as well: you see my son was breast-fed; his source of sustenance was going to be leaving him. 

We did the best we could (in the short window of opportunity we had) and prepared several bottles worth of milk to be stored in the freezer.  We also called his pediatrician and got several recommendations for baby formula in order to supplement the limited milk supply.

Unfortunately, there were two problems we had to prepare for:

1. In an effort to replicate the natural whole-goodness of breast milk, baby formula is heavily fortified with the essential vitamins and minerals newborn babies require.  This means that they have a rather high Iron content.  Heavy amounts of Iron can make newborn babies constipated.

2. Lil Sippy Cup has been rather specific in his culinary preferences since birth.  There was a very high possibility that he would refuse to drink the formula at all.

The M.O.M. booked the shortest trip possible, flying in for the last day of the wake and flying out the following night, immediately after the burial.  She would be gone for 2 days and 1 night. 

This, of course, meant that I would be alone with the little bean for 2 days and 1 night.

While my heart and mind were primarily preoccupied with the passing of the M.O.M.'s grandmother, there was certainly a large part of me that was completely terrified at the thought of being alone with my son. 

A lot of men will not admit to this but, the first time you are left alone with your newborn child, the amount and intensity of the anxiety you experience is unexpected.  Men, by nature, are logical and methodical creatures.  So, of course, I prepared all sorts of checklists and to-do lists, structuring each of the 2 days and 1 night into a manageable schedule.  I figured if I planned every single hour of our first time home alone together, I was a lot less likely to find myself in a situation where I was running around the house after 48 hours with a dirty diaper on my head, un-bathed and on 2 hours of sleep, babbling gibberish on the phone with the Chinese Food restaurant down the block. 

I am glad to say that the entire first day went by with limited issues.  The little dude and I bonded over cartoons, danced to Motown music and slept in sporadic 2 hour bursts.  Newborn babies have very simple and direct needs: (a) they want to eat, (b) they want to be burped, (c) they want to have their diapers changed, and then (d) they want to sleep.  Even better, it is usually in that precise order, so you know exactly what you have to do each and every time (this is one of the first times that I realized that parenting is a learned skill, a skill that is reinforced through the constant repetition of established routines).

That night, however, brought an interesting twist to my ordered routine. 

You see, the breast milk ran out.  I had to try the formula. 

To say that Lil Sippy Cup resisted the new version of food I offered is to put it lightly.  He vehemently refused, showcasing a vocal strength and lung capacity I was previously unaware of.  It was as if he was broadcasting to the world "Help me! Help me! He's trying to poison me!"  At least, that's what I think he was saying.  In reality, it was an absurdly loud form of crying he had never utilized before.

After a few hours (either resigning himself to his terrible fate or just giving in to the hunger, I'm not sure which) he drank a few ounces of the formula. 

I felt terrible.  The feeling of guilt that I experienced was new to me.  Here I was, the proud father of the most amazing little dude in the world, and I could not provide for his most basic need.  I over-compensated in every other regard, letting him sleep in the bed with me and showering him with extra amounts of love and affection while he slept and when he was awake.

Throughout the night, he begrudgingly accepted the formula but he made it clear that he was not happy with the situation.  At one point, as I was feeding him, he looked up at me with his big round eyes, wordlessly telling me "Hey...Hairy Mommy...your food SUCKS!"

Day 2 threw yet another fun wrench into my carefully laid plans.

After his morning bottle, it slowly dawned on me that I had not changed a "deuce diaper" in over 12 hours.  This was a cause for concern.  I called my own mother and sought her consul. 

Her diagnosis was painfully obvious: the poor child was constipated.  I would have to give him a suppository.  By myself.

The process for the insertion of a suppository into a newborn is an admittedly nuanced and meticulous one.  I called the pediatrician for further instructions and for final, professional clearance.  I hung up the phone and fortified myself, prepared to boldly go where I had never thought I would ever have to go.

Now, have you ever seen those viral videos where they place a Mentos tab into a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke and you watch the geysers of carbonated beverage spray in every direction? (Click Here) Those viral videos are an excellent reference point for this story. 

You see, within 15 seconds of my inserting the suppository, the most violent and awe-inspiring "poopsplosion" in human history rocked my apartment.

I'm not sure what I was thinking was going to happen.  I wasn't entirely sure how the suppositories were supposed to work in the first place.  What I do know is that I was not expecting my son's butt to explode everywhere.  All over him, all over me, all over the wall.  Here I am, home alone with my son for the first time, and his colon has exploded.  I had only 3 simple things I had to do while the M.O.M was away: I had to keep him happy, I had to feed him, and I had to keep him safe.  And I had failed to complete at least 2 of those tasks. 

How could I possibly explain this to his mother?  "Hey, you know that really adorable, precious, sweet angel-child you left in my care 2 days ago?  Yeah, well, I've replaced him with another version.  He does look the same...sort of...but this one doesn't smell as nice.  What's cool, though, is that he does a really awesome trick with his butt!"

Once Mount Poopsuvius had subsided (and, trust me, for a while there I didn't think it would) my son and I shared a moment.  We stared at each other, covered in unspeakable levels of filth, and we just laughed.  Well, I laughed.  He let out a sigh of relief which, considering his previous level of constipation, was perfectly understandable.

It is a rare moment when you can, at the instant it happens, realize that life has taught you a valuable lesson.

This was one of those moments for me.

As parents, you are taught to believe that all sorts of scary things will happen to your child if you don't buy every safety device known to man, if you don't baby proof every sharp corner, if you don't read every book and magazine article. 

However, I had never read a single parenting book that had a chapter dedicated to "poop explosions".  But that didn't matter.  When the time came, when my son was constipated and in pain, I found a way to help him;  I found a way to make him happy again;  I worked my way through the problem.  I came out on the other side covered in poop but, that's not important. 

What is important is that everything that could possibly go wrong in the 2 days and 1 night that I was home alone with my little boy had gone wrong. And we still survived. My son's butt had exploded. And we still survived. The poop had, literally, hit the fan. And we still survived.

This was life's way of putting me through my first test. 

And, after being covered in your son's poop, how scary can the remaining exams possibly be?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Great story Mr. Cufflinks and what matters most is that you survived the days with Sippy Cups mom and you shared an incredible bond over poop lol