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February 2008 Archives

February 6, 2008

Ronan Will Not Be Happy About This Entry When He Grows Up

Ronan Prunes
Ronan enjoys prunes. Well, as a toy, anyway.

So, spoilers – this article is gross. If you’re bothered by grossness, go here.

We went to the pediatrician for Ronan’s 9-month well-baby checkup. “Start iron drops, Ferinsol®” she said, not actually pronouncing the ®. Now, gentle reader, you would think that we would have bells go off about why she was saying “start iron drops!” But we both assumed, since this was the well-baby visit, that iron drops were normal for 9-month-olds.

Disclaimer: iron drops are not normally given to healthy 9-month-olds.

Thanks to the USPS, the letter containing the vital information that Ronan had very mild anemia went into the Gowanus Canal. So our pediatricians were operating secure in the knowledge that we knew he had anemia, and we were operating in the assumption that he did not.

So, I’ve learned an important lesson about parenting: Always ask questions about drugs, even over-the-counter ones, even if you think you know the answer.

Ronan was getting two droppers of iron drops, plus a vitamin with iron. Everything seemed fine, Ronan was his usual happy self, until suddenly, usually while crawling or cruising, he would suddenly drop on his stomach and cry. I’m talkin’ wake-the-neighbors crying. I’m talkin’ “drop everything you’re doing and rush to see what dog has your child’s head in its jaws” crying. Rip-your-heart-out crying.

At first we didn’t know what was happening. After 10-15 minutes of comforting and hugs, he’d continue on his way. I can’t remember that I’ve encountered a constipated baby before, so I didn’t know what the signs were. For future reference, if your baby is crying like he’s gonna die, and has stopped all movement to lie prostrate on the floor, he might be constipated. Or a redneck. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

We scientifically diagnosed the constipation after a particularly gruesome and inconsolable session. A large block of black poo, about the size of a walnut, was deposited in his diaper. An exhausted Ronan just sat on my lap and didn’t move much.

The concentrated evil coming out of his ass, was so hard, we immediately knew what he was so upset about. (Duh.) Within a few hours, Ronan began to tortuously expel seven hard walnuts, and I began contemplating killing the pediatricians. Or stopping the Ferinsol®.

So, avoiding a lengthy prison sentence for me, we stopped the iron drops. All was well for another week. Those of you without infants may not realize that it’s perfectly normal for a baby to go six or seven days without a poo. So, thinking that he was free and clear, we tried to forget all about the horrible iron drops and their walnuts.

The second pediatrician recommended prunes. So, I trudged to the store, acquired the last few packets of organic baby prunes, and commenced feeding them to Ronan. Ronan commenced smearing them all over the place.

But the poo fairy wasn’t done with Ronan. While the iron drops had stopped, he still had a lot inside, and a week later we were stunned to see his terrible pain return. Frantic calls to the pediatrician resulted in Ronan losing all carbohydrates, bananas, and dairy (all cause constipation) from his diet. Also, apparently prunes in large quantities can be contraindicated. (Who knew that there was the “just right” amount of prunes? If only I had that knowledge as a child, I could have gotten out of so many glasses of prune juice, which my Mom seemed to think was actually a beverage, not a remedy. To this day I hate prune juice.) Another day of Ronan wracked with pain again and again followed, and frantic calls to the third pediatrician in the office, who then gave us permission to unleash the nuclear bomb of anti-constipation weapons, the suppository. Apparently this is so potent a weapon that more than three days of use is against the United Nations’ protocol on human rights. Glycerin suppositories are such a laxative that continued use could suck every nutrient out of our child.

Not that we relish continued use. For those readers with children, we all know that a diaper changing table is just an invitation to play to an upwardly-mobile toddler. Our preferred position for Ronan on the diaper changing table is dead-center, on his back. Ronan’s preferred position is slightly to the left of the diaper changing table, on the dresser top, playing with grandma’s heirloom lamp. Why do we have an heirloom lamp within reach of a toddler? Shut up, that’s why.

So, the procedure is for me to hold Ronan on his stomach, while Terry, donning sterile gloves, greases the suppository with KY jelly, and then inserts it into the anus. (I say “the anus” because scientific writing always makes it sound like our anuses are separate living creatures.) Ronan, of course, is happy and content about this. No, of course he ISN’T. Someone just shoved a cold, slimy thing up “the anus.” He takes off like a bucking bronco, and Terry and I try to hold on. Apparently it takes two minutes of holding the damn suppository in “the anus” for it to stick or melt or sprout flowers or whatever the hell it does.

While we’ll continue applying suppositories for three nights, already the nuclear suppository has done its work. Starting with walnuts, we are ending with a football. This afternoon Ronan passed the largest poo of his life, apparently, and I’ve seen some large poos from this kid. I wasn’t around for this one, but Terry liked the size of the-hopefully-last-black-concentrated-evil-nasty-poo to an open adult fist. Thankfully he had much less stress, even with that monster poo.

As for his anemia, his iron is 26. 26 what-sis, I’m not sure. But 30 is normal. Some pediatricians, even the three in our office, don’t agree on that. Some think 20 is normal. So once “the anus” settles down, Ronan gets megadoses of spinach, molasses and lentils. (Not all at once; one at a time.)

Ronan pooed all the iron he had stored up, hopefully, and the poo fairy willing, he will not poo that much again for some time.

February 13, 2008

First Haircut

Ronan Bangs
Capturing the increasingly mobile infant isn’t easy.
Here he is between the first and second haircuts.

So Ronan and I were at the playground with our Dad’s group the other day. One of the Dads looked at Ronan and said, “You need to cut his hair. It’s time for the first haircut.”

Not tht we didn’t know that. His bangs have grown so that they are down past his eyes, and we are constantly brushing them out of his food. (Remember, babies attempt to put their food through their noses and eye sockets. You would too if no one had explained to you how to eat.) Every night we comb the leftovers out of his hair. We had decided that we would cut it ourselves, and put a pair of scissors on our wish list for Christmas, which nobody bought for us.

So, yesterday, Terry woke me up as she was leaving for work. I don’t know why Terry thinks that giving me instructions when I’ve just woken up is a good thing; perhaps she gives me instructions so that my brain is forced into action and I’ll wake up faster. I dunno. Anyway, I heard “Give Ronan a haircut, trim his bangs,” when she actually said, “TOGETHER, we should give Ronan a haircut, trim his bangs,” which implies that I should wait until she gets home or for the weekend. Nevertheless, my sleep-addled brain heard “give him a haircut” so that’s what I did when she went to work.

Again, not really awake, I decided that the best thing to do would be to dampen his hair and trim his bangs before breakfast, when he is relatively immobile in the high chair. However, no one told me that I would need the chair from A Clockwork Orange in order to keep his head immobile. While he couldn’t move his body, his head squirmed around, attempting to keep the scissors in sight at all times.

Now, I should mention at this point that for whatever reason, my brain, which I’m beginning to think is working against me, recently gave me quite a vision during REM sleep. My jumbled day turned into me giving Ronan a haircut and accidentally stabbing him the eye with the scissors as he squirmed.

So I had a little trepidation about cutting his hair, and his bobbing and weaving (no pun intended) wasn’t helping. So, after a firm grip was applied to his chin, I cut the long bangs down to what I thought was a good length.

As I pulled the cut hair away from him, Ronan became apoplectic.  He wailed and cried as if he’d fallen down. He grabbed the hair out of my hands and looked at and cried some more. He looked at me with those big brown eyes and it was a look of betrayal and sadness. Not expecting such a reaction, I calmed him down and cut some more, because, well, I didn’t cut in a straight line, because he was squirming so much.

For those of you who aren’t parents, baby hair is strikingly beautiful hair; because it’s so fine, much less coarse than the brillo I grow. Which is great. However, when you cut it, the fineness causes it to get everywhere, and it’s really hard to hold onto or pick up. So very soon into the breakfast I suddenly realized that Ronan had hair in his hands, in his mouth, and for some reason one strand was in his food. Even though I had carefully collected the cut hair into an envelope marked “Ronan’s first haircut (bangs)” with the date, the hair was everywhere. So after his first haircut, Ronan ate part of himself. Well done, Dad!

The crying and the upsetness faded, and we enjoyed the day together. I told Terry over the phone about the haircut, which she was mighty sorry to have missed and explained the actual instructions she gave me. So I’ve made a mental note to not do anything with Ronan that might be considered a “first.”

When she got home, she took one look at Ronan’s crooked hairline, and gently asked, “Would you mind if I tried to trim his hair in the bath?” Of course I had no objection, given that I had robbed her of experiencing his first haircut, and also because it looked like I took a weed whacker to his forehead.

However, trimming his hair after the bath proved slightly more difficult. Unlike the high chair, which immobilized his body but not his head, Ronan was free to move about the baby bathtub at will. And, he was determined, to keep those scissors in his line of sight at all times. Because of the distractions of the water and the bath toys and the noise and both of us, he didn’t seem to notice that his hair was being cut like he did with me. However, Terry would repeatedly comb together a shock of hair to be trimmed, only to have Ronan move and pull the hair out of her hands.

She, too, was only able to cut an inverse angle of the top of Bart Simpson’s head. The zig-zag line that we cut looks so terrible that we have abandoned plans to trim the rest of Ronan’s rather long hair. I knew Terry would be disappointed, so I attempted to part Ronan’s hair a different way to cover up the meandering bangs. She saw through that right away. The horror of the zig-zag was known to all members of the family.

The great thing about your first haircut is that Ronan doesn’t seem to care. And that hair grows back.

February 21, 2008

I’ve Created a Monster

Ronan Computer
This is the clearest image I could get with my cell phone camera
as Ronan moves rapidly to enjoy typing on my laptop

So there I was, happily working on either one of my websites, a project for my MFA in Television, or just surfing the web.

And Ronan saw me.

Which would be fine, if he hadn’t completely noticed everything I was doing and committed it to memory so that I could bask in the first imitation of my life by my infant son.

Computers are pretty important in our house. Terry uses them all the time at work, and we own three. Technically our apartment is three rooms and a hallway, so we technically have a computer for every room in the place. But we keep two of them in one room and the other one is my laptop, which I use more since Ronan was born because I can take it from room to room and keep working while he’s sleeping or playing.

The first sign of impending imitation was a few months ago when Terry was working on her computer in the back room while I held Ronan while sitting my office chair. My computer was off, but Ronan happily banged away on the keyboard anyway, constantly turning to see if Terry was typing along with him. Warning bells should have gone off. Ronan was aping our behavior. At the time we dismissed it as a cute quirk.

Since becoming somewhat mobile, he has come to love banging away on my laptop to the point that he screams and cries if it’s taken away from him. He has no idea what he’s doing; in fact, he’s discovered a few key combinations I didn’t know existed. He wrote his first email to Terry, which consisted of a few jumbles of letters and “---------------.” The repeat function when a key is held down is fascinating, but he hasn’t quite realized that it works for every key. Which is a great thing if you’re less than one year old.

The keyboard’s tactile suface, which makes small noises when I type on it, makes even better noises if you pound on it really hard. So after a few gentle swipes at the trackpad, he will commence to serious banging on the keyboard while laughing hysterically. I attempt to corral those outbursts of enthusiasm, which earns me a distressed cry every time.

In fact, if I even attempt to position the computer so he can access the keyboard more easily, he thinks I’m taking it away from him and he cries. If I remove the power cord so that he doesn’t play with it, he thinks I’m taking the computer away and he cries. In fact, while he’s pounding on my $3000 laptop, pretty much any movement I make he interprets as an attempt to remove the computer from his use and causes a meltdown.

Which is a little confusing to me. He beams – positively radiates joy – when he’s pounding away, writing nothing. He constantly looks to me and seems to want approval for attacking the computer. So I concluded, perhaps egotistically, that he is emulating me. Which means that I’ve been spending too much time on the computer, and that even at less than eleven months he watches me and wants to do the things that I do. Which is great and scary all at the same time.

When I was on the phone talking to my Mom, Ronan pounded so hard my shift key flew off and landed on the floor. I wasn’t aware of its location immediately, which led me to conclude that Ronan had eaten my shift key and kept right on going, smiling, pounding away, looking at me to see if I was proud of him.

Thankfully I soon located the shift key, and after exploring parts of my computer I never expected to see, I reattached the shift key and it’s working fine. It doesn’t even come off if I turn the laptop upside down. Yet.

When I was fantasizing about becoming a parent, I would promise myself I would stop drinking Dr Pepper, exercise, brush my teeth three times a day, floss, clean house regularly, all to teach him good practices. When Ronan was actually born, Dr Pepper’s stock went up from my consumption to stay awake for hours at night, I haven’t exercised (besides walks in the park) in over a year, I found floss in the medicine chest I thought I finished years ago, and I still brush far too little. Terry just implemented a new house cleaning chart; we’re both a week behind in our chores, but the house is cleaner than before, because previously we stopped cleaning. After he goes to sleep it takes all our energy to stare into space and mutter, “I have so many things to do,” over and over again.

I have to stop using my computer so much. When it gets warm out, I have to take him out every day. I have to teach him to floss and brush his teeth three times a day.

Crap, I have to start being a stay-at-home Dad full time. Who said parenting gets easier the older they get? They never had kids.

February 28, 2008

The Pillow Fort

Ronan Under the Dining Room Table
Ronan in his own fort.

When I was a kid, my favorite hiding place was under the stairs, which had a tiny closet built in. I would remove the vacuum cleaner and the other stuff my parents kept there and it would be my bunker. I’d take my army soldiers and my air force planes and hide out. I could fit but Mom and Dad could barely get their shoulders in. They used to try to get me to come out for dinner. I relished being just out of reach and coming out when I wanted to, which was pretty much every time dinner smelled good.

Today, if I visited that house, I’d probably be amazed that I ever fit in there. Going back home to visit all the places I used to live/go to school/hang out makes me realize how big the world seems to a little kid. All the places were so small compared to my memories of them. Everything seemed much bigger then. I vividly remember standing up in the back of the family car (while Dad was driving) just to make him panic and shout at me to get back in my seatbelt. The sense of self-control and triumph at letting myself out of the seat belt without help as he hit 60 mph on the highway was a feeling I’d never forget. Standing up while driving, which was forbidden, was a new and exciting thing to do at age three.

Ronan, age less than one, is finding his own hiding places, which is a feat unto itself in our cramped apartment. It was cozy for the two of us when we moved in together; now that we’ve added a crib, playpen, playzone, exersaucer, little computer desk for me, and moved our master bedroom into our office (while leaving the office there), it’s downright small. I imagine that if we still live here when Ronan gets even a little older, he will be craving his own privacy. Ah, well; he will miss New York when we have to move because we can’t afford to live here anymore.

But for now, the apartment must seem very large to him. He can get into nooks and crannies that Terry and I overlook. He crawls very fast, and loves to cruise around the place checking everything out. This is great. What’s not so great is that he now has the ability to lift heavy books, which because of space issues are very close to his playpen, and drop them on top of himself. Which is not so great. But he thinks it’s great fun. He has probably stared up at those books for the past year, wondering what they were doing there, hoping to get his hands on them. Now he's big enough and strong enough. I only hope his head is strong enough. In the mean time we’ve moved his playpen into the middle of the room, which has done wonders for our apartment's feng shui.

One of his favorite places is standing under the dining table. Here he can play with his high chair, one of his favorite things to chew on, and cruise from chair leg to chair leg. This is great. What’s not so great is that I have to figure out how to get him out from under the table from time to time, which is not so easy, as he can now move the chairs to prevent me from instantly reaching him. Which he thinks is great fun. Plus, he hasn’t quite figured out how to get out always from underneath; this sometimes results in tears from a  bumped head. Or he will climb through the chair’s legs, which isn’t a problem from my point of view (it’s kind of silly to watch) but requires great effort on his part.

But I won’t have to worry about the table for more than a few months, because his head is already brushing on the underside of the table. Soon he won’t be able to stand up under there, and Terry and I will be left with our memories of his table adventures, which will only grow more nostalgic. He probably won’t remember the table at all, but will move on to find a new place to call his own.

It’s too bad we have a futon instead of a regular couch. I remember when I was too big to fit into the closet and I was sad. I built a fort out of the living room couch, complete with roof (made of grandma’s handknit blanket) and I felt a lot better. I’m sure Ronan will be just as creative in finding private hiding places, even in our tiny apartment. For now, I’ll enjoy his table fort. I know he does.

About February 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Freaks & Geeks Parenting in February 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2008 is the previous archive.

March 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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