Archive for the 'Pee and poop and puke' Category

Group appetizer binge

January 22, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog post was also written twelve hours after the midnight cutoff, while Silas slept and Sarah ate yogurt and watched “Caillou” in her highchair. Two things Andrew has learned about “Caillou” so far — 1) It’s not pronounced “Kaloo,” and 2) The dad on the show cuts his lawn with an electric mower. Andrew’s grandpa had an electric lawnmower when Andrew was growing up, and Andrew was surprised to learn the cord didn’t always seem to be in danger of being run over and chopped up by a giant, rapidly rotating blade. Electric lawnmowers do just seem vaguely uncool, though, like when you see a kid wear a helmet while riding his bike at 8 miles per hour.

Tonight, Tiffany made an impulse stop into the supermarket. She was in the mood to fire up the oven, shove in a continuous stream of frozen appetizers and make a night of eating them and having fun. This wasn’t a couple boxes of wings, either; it was a Noah’s Ark affair — two of everything. Potato skins, jalapeno poppers, toasted ravioli with meat sauce, popcorn chicken, spinach dip, chicken fries and four Red Baron pizzas.

Our abundance of unhealthy food led us to consider doing the impossible: having people over. In 2007, we arrived in Springfield broke, living in a tiny apartment and not knowing anyone. Just as quickly, we were pregnant. Then we had a baby. Then we were pregnant again. Then we had another baby. Along the line, we moved into a house twice as big as the old place, and just recently we got our layout and setup the way we want it, based on the humble quantity and quality of furniture we do have.

Only now, in early 2011, does it seem natural to invite a friend or two or maybe four over to hang out. But we don’t usually actually do it. We arrived at the decision tonight sometime between 8:30 and 9, and we found a pair of couple friends available and willing to come over with their 7-year-old daughter.

In the period between realizing people were coming over and people actually coming over, we force-cleaned the neglected areas of the house. This provided a missing degree of accountability; the house would not have gotten cleaned otherwise.

The bringing of the 7-year-old daughter was key to our plan. Tiffany and I get pockets of time to ourselves — some time individually, less time as a couple. Sarah plays with us, and she plays by herself, but she rarely gets to play with another kid. This turned out to be good for everyone. Kid time for the kids, adult time for the adults, and oven-warmed appetizers for all. Silas even had a fortuitously gracious sense of timing and decided to sleep through almost the entire affair.

Sarah and her new little friend played well together, and the rest of us hung out and cracked jokes and played Guitar Hero. I haven’t done Guitar Hero in a couple years (at the peak of my abilities, I did an alright job playing songs of average difficulty, which makes me perfectly mediocre), but I enjoyed making fun of the entire Rush 2112” track* and its pretentious Spinal Tap/Stonehenge spoken-word nonsense breaks.

The friends we had over went to high school with my next-door neighbor, who bundles and buddies up with me almost daily for outdoor cigarette breaks, so we went as a group to retrieve her. She’s a single lady with four small kids, and it was going on midnight by this time. But through the magic of a double baby monitor, we brought the neighbor over, and sounds of peaceful kid slumber from next door filled the monitor**.

I happened into an unexpectedly poignant moment amidst all this. Sarah had already gone to bed***, and I went upstairs to check on our friends’ daughter, who had been lying on a blanket in Silas’s bedroom, watching The Swan Princess. I peeked in the doorway and saw the little girl holding a large white rectangle with medical-blue borders.

“Know what this is?” she asked me.

I didn’t. I thought maybe she’d found it in the back of a low dresser drawer, with all the stuff we’ve been given and never use. “Where’d you get that?” I asked.

She said, “It’s my pee pad. I pee all the time when I sleep.”

I had instant flashbacks to the bunk beds I shared with my younger brother. He was in the top bunk, with a rubber mattress cover. Sometimes, when he’d wake up and shift position to where his lower leg hung off the side of the bed, his body weight would depress the mattress and cause dribbles of his overnight urine to splash down in my direction.

“It’s no big deal,” I told the little girl. “A lot of people do it. My brother did it until he was like ten.”

“They say it’s disgusting,” she said back, “they” being the other kids, I imagined.

I wanted to give an impassioned speech about how it’s not disgusting, it’s a common problem, and screw those other kids. Having just written the “Rejector or rejectee?” blog post, memories of feeling like an insecure weird kid are still floating around freshly in my brain. I’m siding big with the underdog right now.

Letting other people’s jokes, opinions and snide comments hold you back is counterproductive and criminal, although I have to admit I’ve cracked plenty of jokes and snide comments over the years when I should’ve just kept my mouth shut.

Little moments like the above just provide quick reminders that I’m one of the grownups now, and any support, encouragement and rational thought I can provide for those younger than myself can only help. And beyond those things, I can also provide skins, poppers, toasted ravioli, popcorn chicken, spinach dip and pizza. Which makes the process of getting people to spend time at your house that much easier.

*I mean, this song lasts a ridiculously long time. “2112” is both the title and the duration of the song. It is two thousand, one hundred and twelve minutes long.

**The neighbor had to leave abruptly, and Tiffany and I realized later that we still have her monitor base, and she has ours. Theoretically, either one of us would be provided with daily opportunities to eavesdrop. If nothing else, though, we could coordinate our smoke breaks this way by speaking into the air. We wouldn’t even have to reach for our phones. The Information Age is so pathetically astounding.

***Sarah acted like she was going to fall asleep for about two minutes before remembering she had a new play pal who was still in the house. It was all crying from that moment until we relented and let our wide-awake toddler get up to play some more.

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Milk-chunk vomit

January 4, 2011

Andrew Hicks

My family has been fortunate enough to be in good health in our journey thus far. The ankle break incident was my first time as an overnight hospital inpatient since I was a newborn. Before that, I had two in-and-out admissions for stitches on accidental cuts, and I broke a metatarsal in my foot when I was 10. No disabilities, no congenital conditions, no allergies, none of that.*

My wife Tiffany has had basically the same clean track record. She had an ovary removed in 2003 after years of unsuccessful attempts with her first husband to get pregnant** again. And my kids have fared well so far — Silas has had a couple cry-all-night episodes where whatever was bothering him quickly went away, and Sarah has been healthy and happy aside from contracting RSV*** from one of the other daycare babies when she was 2 months old.

So it was a surprise to me to have Sarah bound into my room and wake me up at 3:30 this morning with wet hair and a new sleeper on. I’d only been in bed for about an hour, just long enough to enter that stage of REM sleep where “Shiny Happy People” starts playing in your head.

Tiffany told me Sarah had woken her up screaming, and when she went into Sarah’s room, Sarah and the bed were covered in congealed milk-chunk vomit. If you’ve ever accidentally left a half-consumed baby bottle in the car for a week, then opened the top and dumped out the contents, you can visualize the consistency. If you’ve ever handled uncooked cubes of tofu, your mental picture is even more three-dimensional.

Sarah, for being sick, was one happy little girl. She wanted to read books, play with toys and jump up and down on the bed. I wanted her to lay down next to me and fall asleep so I could go back to being a shiny, happy, unconscious person. I got her back into her own bed pretty quickly, but minutes later, followed the unpleasant noise into her room and found she’d puke-soiled her second outfit and batch of clean sheets with more tofu-milk chunks.

We were up another couple hours after that time, and there was more throwing up and dry heaving. She wasn’t holding down water or ice chips. Tiffany took off a half-day from work, and there were fleeting moments, maybe up to an hour, were everybody got some sleep. It was the first time Sarah slept in bed between mommy and daddy, which was super cute and sweet, etc. but isn’t a habit I want her to get into.

Sarah shows signs of being better now. And the upswing of this is, with the lack of rest from last night, she’ll most likely go to bed early and sleep the length of a waking day. Give dad a little break. It’s also, as a layparent, assuring to see her symptoms get better, not worse. The general health of my family and myself is something I mostly take for granted as a given, but the occasional brief reminder pops up to make me give thanks for the basics.

*Okay, I am known to chronically reach for the easy joke, but I’m turning that experience into a positive by authoring a cautionary children’s book called Andrew and the Low-Hanging Fruit.

**The missing ingredient from that equation? My single-ovary-shattering super sperm.

***Previously, as a church kid, I’d only known the letters RSV to signify the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. You know, the one that changed “Jesus wept” to “Jesus sniffled and cried a lil’ bit.”

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah and Grandma Ginny greet newborn Silas in the hospital.

Baby pee, poop and puke

October 15, 2010

Andrew Hicks

NOTE: Today’s post, while baby-related, is all about bodily functions, a subject with which every parent is very familiar. If this disgusts you, go watch a PG13-rated Mike Myers movie.

ParentingĀ is known to toss an array of bodily fluids at the nostrils, hands and clothing of moms and dads. There’s the expected and the unexpected. Poor Silas threw up all over himself a couple hours ago. That’s unusual for him, as he generally throws up all over whatever clean shirt I just put on.

Baby accidents happen, but I’ve gotten pretty lucky. Only once with each child have I had the diaper off for that crucial, “I’m still not done peeing,” burst of yellow liquid. Sarah’s was a kind of slow, pooling eruption, while Silas had the loose, haphazard spray of a spastic, one-armed-clown lawn sprinkler. Each equally messy in different ways.

Then there’s the poop. Sarah’s getting close to the potty-training stage, which will be completely foreign to me. I’m going to have to take notes from the Elmo Goes to the Potty* DVD my mom bought my toddler. “What’s that, Elmo? You sit on the toilet and then you go potty? Slow down, dude. You’re going too fast! Rewind!”

Sarah reached a personal landmark achievement a few months back. She had her first poop that was so big, it clogged the toilet. I swear, I see more and more of myself in that little princess every day.

Yeah, her poop is usually a nice, healthy turd-ball. Sometimes, Sarah grunts and makes the poop face while she’s wrestling it out of her body. Other times, she just walks up to me, my nose wrinkles, and I check her back-pocket area for that telltale lump. We’ve been doing this since her lump was the size of a chicken nugget. Now, more often, it’s that one mutant chicken finger that looks more like a chicken fist**.

We’re brand-loyal to Pampers for both babies. Diabolically enough, when Sarah’s in the store, the Pampers draw her attention because there’s a little cartoon Elmo on the bottom corner of each side of the box. It’s about a half-inch tall, like a quarter the size of the UPC, and I never would’ve noticed it on my own.

They are super-absorbent, though. Many mornings, when I’m changing Sarah out of the overnight diaper, that thing’s sagging at a bowed-down angle like a tightrope with three fat dudes in the middle. I’ve tossed some five-pound pee diapers in the trash.

A collander

I saw a five-minute report on “Nightline” about which generic equivalents of name-brand items are just as good and which are inferior. If you’ve ever had generic Ruffles***, you know what I mean. The TV report didn’t mention diapers, but I’m here to tell you, spring for the name brand. Generic diapers are like collanders. They leak from every possible angle. You’d swear you wrapped a thin layer of cheesecloth around your baby’s privates.

Now Silas, he’s on a strict diet of formula. He’s still a few weeks away from the varietal switch-up of rice cereal and, if he’s a really good little boy, oatmeal cereal. So his poop has that look of soupy guacamole that’s been exposed to a little too much air. Tiffany breastfed the first month or so, and Silas’s poop almost smelled like roses. (Well, you know, plastic roses.) Switch to formula, and that poop smell goes way downhill. Today’s batch of stale, tableside diaper guac was twice as rank as usual. Either he had an upset stomach, or it’s time to start feeding him name-brand formula. Which was also not mentioned in the “Nightline” report.

This post isn’t going to win me any Pulitzer prizes, so I might as well close with a poop story of my own. Last month, when I was in the hospital and the nurses were tossing stool softeners**** in my paper pill cups, I asked them how much warning I’d have when the SSs did their trick. Because, you know, I was bed-bound with no crutches and no bedpan. They laughed.

An upside-down Douglas fir

“Oh no, you won’t poop for days. This is just to make it softer when you actually do.” They were right. I was checked into the hospital late Saturday night. Nature didn’t finally answer the call of the stool softener until Friday. Now, normally when pass a tough bowel movement, I compare it to pooping out a pine cone. This was like pooping out an upside-down Douglas fir.

Okay, thanks for reading. You are hereby dismissed. Hope you get your appetite back before Thanksgiving.

*I don’t think that’s the actual name of the DVD. That name sounds like it could be misinterpreted by the less than pure among us. Such as, say, me for suggesting it.

**If a chicken could make a fist. It’s Friday night, my evocative, poetic imagery is spent for the week. Besides, I’m writing about crap here.

***Ruffies, right? Or are those trash bags?

****I accidentally typed “stool samples” first. Which, gross.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah's hesitant look means it's time for Daddy to stop talking about yucky things.