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7 Feb

I sit, looking at my baby, trying hard to stop counting the seconds between coughs. Eight, nine, ten, ele..cough. One, two, three…He coughs about once every ten or so seconds, and I am doing the math in my head. Six per minute. Three hundred sixty per hour. He’s been doing this for a couple of hours now, seven hundred coughs. He threw up twice yesterday, the combined mucus of a weeks-long cold that comes, goes, transmutes, returns. The coughing becomes gagging, becomes a kind of gooey non-food throw-up. Once on my lap, once down my shirt.

Meanwhile, the ingrown toenail from a week ago became infected enough to warrant a weekend urgent care visit. The urgent care doctor there told us the infection had passed, but a callus had formed at the corner of the toenail, which would likely require a podiatrist. We went home with a prescription for an antibiotic ointment, to prevent re-infection. The doctor there was sick herself, sneezing and wheezing. She didn’t wash her hands before handling baby’s foot. But baby is now banging the toe pretty regularly, and he starts crying any time it is remotely touched.

This doctor is unbelievable on a number of levels. Callus? What? Did they just pull a random woman off the street, dress her in a white coat, and collect our copay? We send off a photo to his pediatric orthopedist, the amazing Doctor David Scher. He responds via phone call Monday morning that the toe is still infected, to get a course of antibiotics, to not see a podiatrist (who will likely just exacerbate the problem by shaving the skin around the toe, which often causes another hangnail when it grows back), and to soak the baby’s foot in warm salt water a couple times a day. We make an appointment to follow up with him later in the week. The first doctor is looking like a malpractice suit in waiting. Good luck with that New York Methodist.

So fine, this has been the nail in the coffin that is our relationship with our current pediatrician. She’s fine, but her practice, Park Slope Pediatrics, has often left us feeling sad and a little angry. And if the benefit of an urgent care center nearby is offset by the fact that the urgent care center does more harm than good, well, then what’s the point? Our new doctor takes a 5 second look at the toe, declares it infected, and sends us home with a 10-day course of amoxicillin. She, like Dr. Scher, is puzzled by the suggestion of a podiatrist. We have an appointment with Dr. Scher later this week, so we’re still a little in who knows territory.

None of this post is meant to be about baby’s health. But his health has been spotty these past couple months.

Instead, it’s about a creeping sense of anxiety that I’ve been feeling since yesterday, but which has bloomed more fully in the past day or so.

I often find myself thinking I’m the wrong guy for this parenting gig. I am not saying I’ve made bad choices, that I don’t want to be married or have a baby (though I do sometimes think life would certainly be easier. Not better, at all. Easier.). I love the kid very very much, and I love my wife even more. But what I am saying is that I do not know whether I have the fortitude for parenthood. Honestly, I may not have the fortitude for adulthood. My interests seem juvenile even to myself, I don’t obsess over work. I just don’t know how to keep moving forward, not worrying about baby’s health, or family’s wealth, or my mental well-being.

Rationally, this makes little sense, I know. But I look around at the other parents, and they seem different from me. When I was a kid, my father used to enjoy reading historical fiction and James Bond novels, and playing tennis. He liked to collect fountain pens. I like playing video games and thinking about intractable social problems, like why American culture seems to hate women so much. I still read fantasy novels, and I can quote pretty reliably from any number of nerdy movies. In my spare time, I conspire to build and program robots, and I like to make pancakes. None of these things scream serious father to me.

Maybe this will all go away a bit as baby’s health picks up. It’s exhausting, maybe it’s just a lack of sleep. But when along the line are you supposed to stop feeling like you’re faking it and actually feel like you’re the adult others imagine you to be?


Can’t stop this train

22 Dec

Poor baby has had a series of medical punches in the neck lately. None of them have been super serious, but there’s been stomach flu, croup, now MRSA staph infection. This latter one is requiring me to poke and squeeze the ridiculous abscess on his belly. Plus 10 days of antibiotics. So we cancelled what was going to be the smallest of get-togethers for his 2nd birthday party, since we don’t want to infect anyone and he went to sleep with odd timing due to the day-long doctor and emergency room visits. We had even ordered cupcakes!

But you know, at least just for the three of us, the show must go on. And so we called forth the Subway of Justice…

subway close

This monster takes up our entire living room. Here it is a bit further back:

subway full

There is also an accompanying ‘turnstile’ and swipe machine. I spray painted this thing down in the basement; the box came from an appliance store down the block; the mock-up of the subway placard was cut-and-paste jiggery-pokery with Keynote; the swipe machine was cardboard box wrapped in metallic contact paper.

So Happy Christmas and Solstice and New Year to you all. I’m resolving to write more in 2013, but I fear the bar for 2012 was so low that there is nowhere to go but up.


12 Dec

This is the first time in a week that I’ve had the time and energy to sit down to a computer. Last Thursday, baby woke up at 4am, and being the excellent parent that I am (natch), I immediately poked my wife: ‘hey, baby’s crying, it’s 4am. You should go check on him,’ and then tried to go back to sleep.

A long few minutes later, partner plunked down a sad, kind of scared, drop-dead tired, pukey-smelling baby next to me in the big bed. Apparently, his lovey doll and a few other stuffed animals bore the brunt of his stomach’s disfavor, and sweet wife was cleaning up the mess in his bedroom. He slept on and off for a couple-few more hours, in between us in the big bed. Wait, no, that’s not totally accurate. It was more like a sleep position sampler. In any event, baby felt like crap on Friday, when our cousins came into town to stay with us for the weekend.

He held up surprisingly well, despite not really eating anything at all for a couple days. Although he had a funny tendency to just stop in the middle of whatever he was doing, and just lay down flat on the floor. Um, right. Sleepy. Tired. Sick. On Sunday morning, when I usually take him out in the early morning for coffee and oatmeal, he puked again, this time all over mama’s shoulder and the floor. Amazing, right? He just got mommy! Not our sheets, not his own clothes, just the floor and mommy! (you know, as I’m writing this, wife is looking pretty damn martyr-esque. Hrm.). He held up again for the rest of the day Sunday, just fine. Again, just sleepy. No more vomit.

But on Sunday night, I came down with the delayed version of his stomach bug. Or at least I think that’s what it was. The stomach cramps and pains and the brief passing out from exhaustion while laying on the bathroom floor at 3am wishing I was dead, that’s stomach flu, right? Or else a classical reenactment of that stomach bursting scene from Alien.

Then he pulled a fast one. Just as he started eating again, he began the characteristic cough-of-the-barking-seal that we heard last winter, when he had croup. Yep. Croup. As I lay completely incapacitated on Monday, and wife napped on and off as well, my blessed mother-in-law did childcare for our little bundle of infection.

So that’s where we are now. I’m pretty much better. Wife is still mending. Baby is coughing. Baby mama spent 3 and a half hours with baby and mother-in-law at the after-hours urgent care center (oh, in what deserves a separate post, let’s just go ahead and give a gigantic FUCK YOU to the pediatric medical establishment on behalf of everyone involved in that experience).

So, yeah, we’re a little tired, our Hanukkah hasn’t been the best in the world, baby’s 2nd birthday is tomorrow, and we’re all going to be better soon.

18 months! Our baby is a year and a half!

15 Jun

Well, well, Brooklyn Baby turned 1.5 this week. We took him to the doctor for his year-and-a-half checkup. Baby memories of checkups past, and attendant shots, made this a bit of a traumatic experience. He is clearly his father’s pup in this regard – I didn’t like shots then, and have been afraid of needles on and off my whole life. Although once he realized there were no vaccinations this time, he chilled out a bit.

Turns out that aside from sensitive skin, he’s a pretty healthy baby. I know, right? We’re going to have to find something else to be anxious about for a while. In fact, the only really interesting moment of the examination was when Doctor asked if he’s saying any words. It turns out he’s got a couple dozen.

Which led us to make a list of the unabridged vocabulary of Brooklyn Baby. We’re counting words that are recognizably close but not perfect; we’re not counting words that are BB-speak for something that we understand but that no one else would. So, he drops the ‘g’ in ‘dog’, but it’s pretty clear he’s saying dog. But his weirdo Sleep Sheep rattle doll is named ‘Ma’ (which you can buy! And no, we don’t have multiple ones of them, I can preemptively say to my Queens-y friends. And yes, we’ll almost definitely be paying a price for this sometime in the future…). Here he is, using this in a sentence, from this morning at 6:25am: ‘Ma? Ma! Ma? Ma? Cards! Flower! Ma! Ma! Ma! Ma!’ So…I’m not including Ma for lamb. No. Sorry. Also, baby mama would include pe-pe, which is how he says ‘penguin.’ I think that’s unreasonable, but she’s always giving him the benefit of the doubt. I’ll include it, because I’m not a total asshole. But with an asterisk. Cause I’m a little bit of a jerk.

Baby’s words at 18 months:
Park, dog, playground, flower, card, car, curtain, Mama, Papa, sack, bar, shoe, ball, bubbles, balloon, crack, puddle, Pooh (as in Winnie-the), moon, rabbit, turtle, bird, squirrel, penguin*, tree, leaf, down, cracker, bye-bye, hat, pants.

For those who are tempted to call child services, crack and bar are cracks in the sidewalk, and the bar of his foot brace, and sack is usually in reference to his sleep sack.

The mobility is still a tiny bit shaky – he walks, but can’t really kick a ball yet, and is a little unsteady. But it’s only been a month since he started doing it, so we’ll cut him some slack. For now.

Happy 1.5 years on the planet, baby boy! It all gets easier from here on in. Also, no more vegetables. I promise.

Clubfoot update

14 Jun

We took baby to the pediatric orthopedist last week, for a 6-month checkup. The doctor (David Scher, at the Hospital for Special Surgery) told us that if he didn’t do the procedure himself, he would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between baby’s clubfoot and his ‘normal’ foot. We will continue to have him wear his brace at night for the next 2-3 years, to be as certain as we can in preventing a possible recurrence. But the prognosis is quite excellent.

A couple of notes on grace and luck and thanks. First, the HSS is one of the top (if not the top) places for orthopedics in the country, and Dr. Scher is one of their best doctors for treating clubfoot. We are pretty much working with the top, let’s say 25, people in the world on baby’s foot problem. That our insurance covers this, and that we work and live in a place with access to this, is a frankly remarkable statement about the wildly lucky lives we lead. And, I am certain that baby’s relatively mild case would have been fine in many many places, with many many doctors.

But I don’t know that I’m quite as thankful as often as I should be about these things that are strongly correlated with 1st world class privilege. All I’m saying is that we are very grateful for baby’s response and for the excellent care he’s gotten.

The easiest baby in the world

12 Apr

So, I may have complained a bit about BB’s aversion to the amoxicillin. But it turns out that the aversion is not really to the medicine, it was to the manhandling. So now, when we want him to take his medicine, we simply sit him up, smile, and let him take the medicine a bit at a time through the dropper.

That’s right, our baby takes his medicine with no hassles at all, and then when he’s done, he shakes the bottle for a little post-medicine giggle. And for now he’s sleeping straight through the night from about 7-7:30 until about 6:30 or even 7am.

You may be wondering what we’ve done to deserve such an easy baby. And the answer is: we’ve done awesome parenting.

Got problems with that?

Don’t fear the dropper

4 Apr

Hey there, my beautiful baby, yes, just your papa giving you hugs. No, no, there’s no ulterior motive here, just sweetness and light. Awww, there’s a sweet hug, so much love. What, that? No, pay no attention to mama and that bottle of bubblegum pink stuff. No, that’s not for you, you can stop giving her the skeptical looks, just sweet sweet. What? This position? No, I’m just holding you to the side a bit, nothing to worry about, certainly nothing to start getting a little antsy over. Yes, there, there. Why am I holding you so tightly? Just love, all love, no no, just holding your arms a bit to give you sweet hugs. Why are you struggling, just relax, she’s just playing with that dropper full of yummy goodness of OH DEAR SWEET GOD JUST GET THE MEDICINE DOWN HIS THROAT, I’M HOLDING HIM AS TIGHTLY AS I CAN, YES I KNOW HIS HEAD IS MOVING, GOD THE SCREAMING THE SCREAMING…and cries and recriminations, and it’s ok, yes, just some medicine to make you feel bett–OK, QUICK GET THE SECOND DOSE DOWN THERE, JUST SQUEEZE THE THING WE’LL WIPE IT UP LATER AND AHHH THE SCREAMING THE SCREAMING AND–ah, all better, ok, yes, just love and sweetness and the clear knowledge that I will betray you at the drop of an amoxicillin dropper.