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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.


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Comments (3)


For the record, I didn't think iron drops were prescribed for all, or even most, 9 month olds. I thought they were being prescribed because the pediatrician thought Ronan might be anemic, because he doesn't have a very big appetite. I didn't, however, think it was a big deal, or I would have asked some questions. I thought it must be incredibly benign if she's prescribing it without even knowing for sure if he's anemic. I didn't know she was basing her opinion on the results of the only blood test Ronan's had - for lead exposure. Also, we had already asked a ton of questions that visit ... if either of us had been more awake, I think we would have asked more though.


Toni Morrison writes an intensely vivid scene about relieving baby constipation in one of her books. Sadly I can't remember which one. It might be Jazz.


I absolutely loved this post and the picture is too cute for words.

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