Home Remedies and a Month

We have reached the one month mark for baby G! Wait, sorry, since I'm a parent now I have to count everything in weeks. In fact, it was five weeks this Wednesday. Happy birthweekday, baby G! You're all grown up now, horray! I jest, but he really is growing. He's gotten noticeably taller (longer?) than that first week, and he now clearly weighs more than the cat. That's our main metric around here. Getting heavy there, big boy.

Medical issues

I accumulated many little things to write about over the last few weeks. I now want to reflect on some ailments. Maybe medical annoyances better represents what happened. Read on and judge for yourselves. Before he was born, I admit I was nervous about cleaning poop off of him in a very intimate way. I got over that real quick, after the first day of near-constant diaper changes. But I again found myself not prepared--and I reckon still not prepared--for wiping him and coming away with blood.

Luckily it wasn't blood in his actual poop, but little baby G had a diaper rash, poor guy. In part maybe because we weren't changing him quickly enough. Maybe also because he rapidly outgrew the newborn-sized diapers, so that they were too tight and constrictive and lacking air flow. Mostly, though, it was probably the antibiotics my wife had to take, which affected her breast milk. Turns out this makes him susceptible to infections, so he didn't get just a diaper rash; he also got a yeast infection.

We noticed his skin down there was starting to get red, so we applied diaper rash cream (hilariously called "Butt Paste"). It didn't get better. In fact, it got worse. Eventually we noticed blood when we wiped. The doctor told us about the yeast infection and said to put a mixture of 1% hydrocortizone and Lotrimin (athlete's foot/antifungal cream) on it. That sounded like a good idea, so we went away relieved.

We put that "special butt cream" on him twice a day, and for the other times, we used something the doctor recommended, called Calmoseptine. It's got a super thick consistency, almost clay-like, and contained a pretty strong dose of zinc oxide (promotes skin healing) plus some menthol, which I bet feels nice. After a little while he was back to looking smooth as a baby's behind. Thank god.

As part of this, we improved our diaper change routine in a few other ways. Originally, if he pooped only a little smidge, we might leave the diaper to change later, but we started changing it promptly. We use glycerin-based wet wipes on him, but now we always pat him dry before putting on the diaper, so there's no moisture left in there when we close him up. We've also switched to using some A+D ointment, a moisture barrier/skin protectant to help prevent diaper rash.

Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is for quite a while, even after his rash was basically healed, he started crying as soon as we put him on the changing table, because he knew what was coming and thought it was gonna hurt again. Now that he's healed he's started getting over it, whew.

All of this kind of sucked, but to make matters worse, he also had an eye infection at the same time! He started with a blocked tear duct (a common condition in newborns), and some small infection developed around there. We got somewhat unclear and inconsistent directions from different doctors at the pediatrician's office about what home remedy we should apply. They all agreed that we had to massage the tear duct (inner corner of the eye) to help unblock it, but they only later suggested first using a warm compress to loosen and soften the skin, making the massage more effective. Once we started doing that, the blockage cleared right up.

The infection was caused by the blocked tear duct. His right eye started turning more and more red, which of course freaked me out again (while I was simultaneously freaking out about the rash). This whole deal probably cost me 5 grey hairs. To her credit, my wife was much calmer about all of this, as she always is. I'm the chronic worrier in this family.

Anyway, the doctor prescribed some erythromycin ointment, which we had to apply directly to the eyeball. Here was yet another thing I was not prepared for: spreading ointment right onto the eye of my newborn son. I made my wife do it for a while, but eventually sucked it up and learned how. Weirdly, he didn't seem to care much, nor did he care about us poking and prodding his eye for the massage. I dunno, man, I hate it when other people touch my actual eyeball. Strange kid.

On a less depressing medical note, he finally regained and surpassed his birth weight! When we went into the doctor's office for one of the problems above, they weighed him as they always do and found that he was up to 8 lb, 6 oz (born at 8 lb, 1 oz). This was a good milestone and quite a relief. At that point he was still gaining over an ounce a day, which is kind of a lot. Seeing as how his entire purpose of existence at this point is to put on weight, though, that's okay by me.

Development notes

Now let's talk about how he's been developing so far. He's undergoing changes for sure, but they're pretty small. I was hoping by now he'd be smiling, but instead he continues to look concerned and suspicious a lot of the time.

Ever since that tongue clip, he's started experimenting with his tongue a lot. It's like he's discovering it exists in there and can do all kinds of stuff. Sometimes I'll catch him doing nothing at all except playing with his tongue, moving it around in different ways. Sometimes, when he's tired of eating, he'll push the bottle out with it. Other times I see him sticking it out, something he never did before it was clipped. It's fun to watch him discover what it's like.

He hasn't mastered control over his little neck, but that doesn't stop him from trying real hard. When we put him on his belly for tummy time, he mostly likes to wiggle around and get his arms into better positions, but when I sit him on my lap for burping, he takes that semi-upright position and runs with it. He does a pretty good job of keeping his head at some angle sort of under his control, albeit with considerable bobbling and many muscle corrections. His big ol' head is growing so fast I wonder if his useless neck will ever catch up with it.

Along with the neckwork there, he's started tracking objects by moving his head side to side. Sometimes during those burping breaks while eating, he'll turn his head far to the side to look me right in the eye. At night when we put him to bed, if we turn on the crib soother's cartoon projector thingy onto the ceiling, he'll turn his head side to side, trying to watch the rotating characters. That's surprising because he definitely can't make out distinct shapes yet, only the suggestion of them. His eyesight still has a ways to go.

I think in the last few days he's begun holding his arms out a bit in anticipation of being picked up, but maybe I'm imagining things, since his arms still flail erratically most of the time.

When he was just a week or so old, swaddling him was like a miracle drug. It mimics the feeling of being wrapped up tight in the womb, so it put him pretty much straight to sleep. One month in and the most useful thing about swaddling is it keeps his random arm movements from whacking him in his own face and waking him up from an otherwise peaceful nap. The comforting effect seems to have largely worn off.

Feeding bugaboos

Feeding has started to get more complicated for him, maybe because he's no longer behind on his weight progression. Whereas in the first week he used to furiously guzzle all the milk we offered him, he's now started expressing opinions about things, getting sleepy, or maybe getting bored. We aim to get 5 oz of food (milk + formula) into him at every feeding, because that seems to keep him happy until the next feeding, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

Sometimes he gets really sleepy while eating, before he's eaten even half the food he needs. I can't just let him go to sleep, because I know for a fact that he'll wake up way before his next feeding, disrupting the schedule badly. Both my wife and I have developed our own bag of tricks for waking him up during feeding. I keep a blanket on the floor, and if he gets prematurely sleepy I'll plop him on it on his back. The sudden lack of contact with me and position change tend to wake him up enough to remind him that he's still hungry. If that doesn't work, I flip him onto his belly. This causes him to start squirming around, but sometimes I help by tickling the heck out of his neck and back. Usually that gets at least some reaction out of him.

If I'm 2/3 or more through the feeding, I'll do what I call my "intermission" and change his diaper. All my inept fiddling with his clothes and wiping and so on are guaranteed to stimulate him enough to wake him up. I like to watch him on the changing table for a few minutes and touch his giant frog belly a little, which reminds him that he has intestines full of poop that perhaps he should eject. The other day, oh man, he pooped for like five minutes straight. When I peeled off that diaper, hoo boy! there was a veritable ocean inside. Afterwards, as I picked him up, I noted how much lighter he felt... seriously.

We've been adjusting his feeding and sleeping schedule as he grows. We fed him at 3 hour intervals all the time, so 10 PM, 1 AM, 4 AM, 7 AM, etc.. At four weeks, we started combining the two skeleton shift feedings into just one. Instead of 1 AM and 4 AM, we feed him just once at 2:30 AM. This means it's important we stuff enough calories into him to make it four and a half hours. His weird eating moods I mentioned make that challenging at times. He's been pretty decent at making the first leg, but usually wakes up at 6 AM instead of the ideal 6:30 or 7.

I mentioned we try to get 5 oz of food into him at every feeding. I know as he grows he's going to need more than that, but we have to be very careful how much we give him, because he doesn't know his own limits very well. We've inched up to 5.5 oz in the last few days with no big problems yet. On a few occasions, he's happily accepted 6 oz, only to throw it up powerfully a moment later.

Baby upchucking is an amazing visual like nothing else. Picture this: baby is calmly lying on his back or in your arms, gazing about at the world as he normally does. A brief flash of uncertainty crosses his face, you think--but he does that often, so you pay it no mind. A split second later, he erupts like a volcano. Milk floods out of his mouth and both nostrils. In the panic of the moment your mind imagines that it also came out of his eyes and ears, but that can't be right. Smooth milk cascades all over his face, hair, and body. His clothes are soaked, just ruined, and so are yours. After what seems like tens of seconds--but in reality was maybe three--it's finally over. Baby blinks away the milk from his eyes and looks up at you once again calmly, contemplative, as if thinking, "now what was that all about?

For your part, after this tumultuous event has passed, you sit frozen in shock, looking at the milk dripping everywhere and pooling on the floor or soaking into the rug, thinking, "Oh my god. Where do I even start with this??"

It's happened a few times now. Our precautions against it are feeding him slowly, taking a lot of breaks to burp him, and carefully watching that we don't give too much. Still, every errant gurgle zaps my spine and makes me tense up, anticipating the sudden and violent opening of the floodgates. It doesn't seem to bother him, and he's eating well, so we're not too worried about it. I read that it gets less frequent over time.

Spa day!

Once his umbilical cord fell off (oh, did I forget to mention? His umbilical cord fell off a while back. Whee), he became eligible to be sumberged in water. No, dude, not fully submerged! But he can recline in his little baby bath up to his waist in water, which is a huge step up from the warm washcloth baths we did in the first couple weeks. He actually loves these baths! I think he enjoys the novel sensation of water on and around him, much different than boring cloth or scritchy diapers or whatnot.

We can also use a little baby wash and baby lotion afterwards to help get the funk off (that accumulated from spitting up on himself) and help make his skin nice and moisturized in our dry, winter climate. This is probably more for our enjoyment, because he comes out smelling positively delicious, which is kind of a weird thing to say about a meaty little baby human, but I don't care, 'cause it's true.

Back to work

The new year came and with it an end to the accrued vacation I needed to "use or lose". It was real hard going back to work, doubly so because I can't remember the last time I took a month-long vacation, and it was nice. I mean, this wasn't a vacation by any stretch of meaning, but it was still great being home and seeing my wife and boy a lot. We had lots of guests coming to say hi to the baby, notably my sister and her huband, who cooked us delicious food for a week.

The first week is done, and it's gone pretty well for me. I now take the 6:30 AM feeding (well, it's usually 6 AM since he wakes up early hungry), then go to work like I used to. I now take an earlier bus home so I'm back in time for the 7 PM feeding. I do this, then cook dinner and eat with my wife. Then I do the 10 PM feeding and go to bed. Graciously, she takes the 2:30 AM feeding, allowing me to get a good night's sleep. Numerically, I do three feedings a day and she does four. That could be worse... right?

The next blog will be after I accumulate enough news to say something interesting. With this little guy, that could be any time at all!


Sister said...

This had me laughing out loud at times. Particularly the projectile vomiting which I got to witness...including his dazed staring with milk flooding his eyes. I'm happy you guys are figuring out life with you back at work! By the way, have you heard of infant swim lessons? Check it out on YouTube sometime. Might be of interest.

COM_01 said...

These are great Knut! I love how real you guys have been just with documenting everything that has been happening with your little guy's progression. Thanks for sharing and keep the entires coming! :)

Post a Comment