Take one step back

Oh, my word, Interwebs. To say this day sucked rocks would be like saying a deluge can be a bit damp.

Wake up at midnight to screaming baby. Comfort measures don’t work. Endure *hours* of baby flopping all over bed trying to get comfortable, a feat he seems to think can be achieved by pulling my hair, head butting me, and slapping me. Any attempts at comfort get a screamed “nah nah nah!” and a push in the face.

By morning I’m a wreck but he screams that he wants to get down. When I take off his diaper he rages that he wants it back on. I offer comfort which he refuses. He pees all over the floor then rages when I take off his wet pants. I offer comfort. He refuses. I offer new jammie bottoms. He refuses. I offer pants. He refuses. All refusals offered loudly.

The morning proceeds like this. Offer food, he screams at me. Offer dancing, he screams at me. Offer to help when something doesn’t work and he throws himself on the floor, more mad at my suggestion than at the rat bastard toy. Which he then throws across the room to express frustration. Then throws himself down again to express longing for the toy.

He screams the whole way to school, trying to leap out of the backpack carrier. My back does not appreciate 0.8 miles of sideways baby lurching around, but I try to figure out the problem. Want your hood on? NAH! Want your hood off? NAH! Do you like the rain? Dah. (beat) *scream*

He wants no playground, no home, no cafe, no music, no anything. He nurses as though it’s his 3-week growth spurt. And screams as though he’s auditioning for something very, very sad and angry.

He won’t nap. He won’t get in the stroller or the car or the sling or the mei tai or hiking backpack. At one point I leave him in the living room, crying, to go scream my head off in the kitchen. I scream so hard and loud that I actually wet myself. I’m not the only one, though. As with yesterday, the kid refuses to go in the bathroom. He pees his pants so much I almost run out of pants.

And he stays awake the whole walk to school, two hours past his naptime.

And when a friend greets him sweetly I tell her he doesn’t get any niceness today. He’s a b-a-d b-a-b-y, I say, so don’t talk to him. I’m only slightly kidding.

Brief discussion ensues. She mentions an asymptomatic UTI her toddler had around the same age. the treatment for which turned him back into a normal child. It’s Friday. I’m not going to put up with this all weekend or I will be homicidal.

Two hours later the doc finds two raging ear infections.

[brief note on second-time parents and gross stupidity: if the first one had been acting out of the ordinary, I would have assumed illness. It is evidence of the shell shock born of a really tough time with Peanut that made me jump right past “maybe he is in pain” to assume Butter had just turned the corner into his semi-long-term asshole phase. I plead exhaustion and end-of-my-rope-d-ness to excuse not seeing the signs. I also submit that he was clingy while sick and the refusing to be touch thing smacked of jerk rather than illness. Further, I offer that I used to be good at problem solving and am now good only at barely making it through the day.]

While the pharmacy mixes up some goo (don’t judge our easy use of antibiotics on this one; we’re a wait-and-see family and we’ve gone through nine ear infections with no antibiotics including one ruptured ear drum but this kid is not effing human today and I can’t let him or me go through another day of this) I take both boys to CheeseBoard for a treat. The eldest wants Peet’s instead. Fine. It was a long hour in the doctor’s office and you’re a tired, hungry kid. Muffin it is. Surely I can carry a miserable toddler and a pizza the one extra block.

Peanut gets a bran muffin, finds a table, and willingly shares with his baby brother without being asked. Things are looking up. All the little monster wants is a chair so he can sit next to the big guy. I ask a woman sitting alone at a two-person table if she needs the second chair.

She rolls her eyes and says, as sarcastically as she can muster, “Well, I guess not any more.”

I blink, unable to conjure all the replies she deserves, then walk away as she starts to point out a chair across the restaurant. Lady, I have two small children, one of whom is a Tasmanian Devil toddler who can open the door unassisted and who is currently roaming loose without supervision around strangers’ hot coffee. I’m not going to travel farther from him to get a chair.

“That’s okay. We’ll make do.”

I squat and offer the toddler my knee on which to perch. He throws himself on the floor screaming. I whisper, “Honey, sweet, I know it’s frustrating, but there’s only one chair.”

The condescending, poisonous, passive aggressive asshat says from three tables over, “Oh, geez. Just take the chair.”

Given one iota of energy and the guarantee that my children would be safe while I stepped away for a moment, I would have walked over and punched her square in the face, so help me Aphrodite.

Instead I lovingly scoop up the demonic presence inhabiting my youngest’s body and walk outside with him. I gently ask the beleaguered older brother to come with us. The wee one squirms out of my arms and almost knocks himself unconscious on the concrete. I help him stand and offer comfort and options. He pees all over the sidewalk. In his only pants. In the rain on a 45 degree Fall evening four blocks from the pharmacy.

And I actually don’t cry. Or bang on the window and curse at the fathermucking selfish c-word who couldn’t even admit that she needed the empty chair.

I put the screaming sadsack in the carrier and sing to him as we walk to the pharmacy. I pick up the goo while he screams. I pay while he screams. I walk him to the car while he screams. And sit down in the car with the five year old who willingly reads a book and eats his muffin. I want to cry but don’t. I nurse the baby, text Spouse a warning about my mood, and tell myself that if I can make it 10 hours into this day, I can do two more.

Look, I know sometimes you have a long day and want to sit alone in a cafe. I know sometimes you’re waiting for someone and need a second chair. I know sometimes the love of your life just occupied the chair across from you and you want to keep the essence of your bond alive by leaving the chair vacant. In that case, just say you need the other chair.

I’m not entitled to the chair. I am, however, entitled to some fracking human compassion. There are only two answers: Yes or No. Sarcasm and confusing condescension and weirdass nastiness should not be part of the equation.

I’ve been asked if I can spare a chair. I answer either, “Nope, it’s all yours,” or, “Actually I’m expecting someone, sorry.”

Isn’t that in the social contract somewhere?

This might be the end.

Buttercurl has another ear infection. We’re off to the osteopath. Then to the pediatrician to discuss allergens and their role in recurrent acute ear infections. Even though little Butterbug has only ever had serous (2) and acute (3) ear infections when he has some kind of sibling’s-preschool-generated illness, I’m now desperate to prevent another ruptured ear drum, and I’m looking at food and airborne allergens.

From what I’ve read, we might need to eliminate a lot of foods from our diets. (Mine, really. Butterbean hasn’t eaten any of the foods on the list himself. But I do. From the look of the below list, my milk is made exclusively of allergens.)

The allergen elimination diet is daunting. Could *you* give up:


for four months and still be alive?

Looks like I’m going on a hummus and sweet potato diet, y’all. Wish me luck. This might just be goodbye.

Miracle on Fourth Street

Funny things happened this week; adorable things spilled from the lips of my precocious preschooler. Definitely blog-worthy material. But I can’t remember any of it. All I can think about are the baby’s ears.

Our tiny Butter Curl had a string of ear infections really young. Each cold Peanut brought home from school meant congested ears then infected ears, then a tough decision between antibiotics and a ruptured ear drum. We tried everything to give him relief with each bulging tympanic membrane: warmed olive oil, mullein oil, a pillow elevating his mattress, massaging his ears and neck, bulb syringe to clear as much as possible from his nasal passages, avoiding the bulb syringe to keep nature handling the buildup in his sinuses. During every cold I monitored Butter’s ears with an otoscope and every time I watched the eardrum fill, then redden, then yellow and swell.

So after a ruptured eardrum in September I did lots of research into natural remedies, trying desperately to spare him the probable choices of prophylactic antibiotics or surgery for tubes.

I found anecdotal evidence that lengthy labors, posterior-facing babies, and vacuum extraction often means much higher rates of ear infections. (Butter was a 48-hour labor, posterior at the end, five hours of pushing, and an eventual vacuum extraction. Horrors for me, but potential lingering horrors for him if that process really did jack him up enough to block his ear drainage.) My online searches led me to the idea that chiropractors, craniosacral massage therapists, and osteopaths have gentle, simple treatments to release whatever damage the birth trauma exacted on wee heads and necks.

I didn’t believe it for a minute, but I had to try. A tiny baby in persistent pain and facing icky options and future hearing loss needed me to try.

So I found the practitioner most heralded by local moms for fixing ear infections: an osteopath trained in Britain and forced in the States to practice as a massage therapist. Insurance doesn’t cover her work. Of course. I’m going to pay a premium for voodoo while we’re pinching pennies. Figures.

After one visit the osteopath told me it should take a few visits but she could fix the tension that was blocking Butter’s ears. After three trips she said he was done; come back if he gets a cold and she’ll double check, but he should be fine.

He got a cold last week. His ears filled quickly, eardrum going from dark and reflective to grey and dull in a day. We went in and she said the illness brought out a lot of trauma under his right scapula (directly below the ear that was causing him so much trouble, though she didn’t know that). She massaged him and stretched him; then claimed his ears would now drain fine and we would probably never need to come back.

That night his ears looked worse. The next morning they were the same. By the next night they were back to normal. His ear drum was reflecting light again even though his nose was still congested.

Why has there been no large-scale study on the efficacy of chiropractic or osteopathic treatments on ear infections, especially ear infections that have no food allergy component and could be tied to birth trauma? Why are pediatricians not tracking the results even without a formal study? Ear infections are the most common reason for pediatric visits, aren’t they?

Can someone get on that? I’m going to write to the insurance company and the pediatrician and the ENT to whom she referred us. I want them to know, and you to know, that there might be a way around the awful choices of repeated rupture or medication or surgery for chronic ear infections in little people. I have nothing to sell, no way to profit from this information. But my little guy has avoided one course of antibiotics, another ruptured eardrum, and a talk about surgically implanting tubes in his ear. And I want other parents to have that.

I know Peanut said funny things this week, but surely a complete resolution of what would have been ear infection number four in four months, a complete reversal of a condition with a couple of noninvasive sessions…isn’t that better than cuteness?

Look who’s not so teeny anymore

[Fair readers, feel free to skip this Butter-centric post. It’s way too long by blogosphere standards. But most of you have known him since he was mistaken for stomach cancer, so I hereby present this half-year, drenched in melted Butter.]

Ah, Butter. You don’t get many posts, do you? Remind Mama to tell you about squeaky wheels, grease, and why most of your baby album is hurriedly printed from a blog written at midnight after I’m done detoxing from our family.

You’re quite a creature, ButterBug. Don’t let the lack of documentation fool you—you’ve quite captivated us. Part of that is the result of your hard work. You’ve always been quite smiley and try really hard to get attention by just beaming at anyone who’ll look. And you are amazingly successful at using smiles to get what you need, ButterNut.

And it’s a good thing, because oooooh, boy, you have a temper. I love it. You SCREAM at those who don’t do everything to your standards. You SCREAM at toys when they fall or hurt you or turn out not to have a nipple.

Sucking on things is your raison d’etre, ButterBean. You wake up with hickeys on your arms and wrists. I have hickeys on my shoulders and biceps. You have a callus on your left thumb and another on your left toe. Nothing passes by your mouth that you don’t try to suck.

And this week you started sucking mushy food of a spoon. You’ve been dying to do this for more than a month, but your Mama has pretty strong feelings about exclusively breastfeeding until six months. I tried to hold off on solid food by freezing milk and scraping it into Snoopy Breastmilk SnoCones. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!” you barked; “and now may I have ravioli?” No, sweetpea. How about an empty spoon? “Oooooooooh. Now may I have a burrito?” No, sweetbutt. Soft, boring stuff first.

But holding you off even when you clearly wanted food meant that your first food was amoxicillin. Heartbreaking. You had two ear infections in three weeks, and two rounds of antibiotics even with a Mama and Papa and doctor who all believe antibiotics are a last resort for ear infections.

We felt so terrible that you might think nasty pink bugglegum flavored crap is your future in food, we decided to give you avocado mashed with breastmilk a few weeks before you were six months.

“What the eff?” you cried. “This is what you guys eat?” Well, no. Mommy and Peanut don’t. But it’s very healthy and Daddy likes it. “Never feed me this again,” you sobbed. So we didn’t until the next day. And the following day. It was looking like we had another child who wouldn’t eat until he could feed himself and take bites with all 20 teeth.

Then you got sweet potato mashed with breastmilk. “This is more like it.” You would not let me feed you, but you wiped sweet potato near, in, and around your mouth, eyebrows, and ear. You were quite happy with yourself and the three calories you actually ingested.

And now you have banana mashed with breastmilk. THIS is what you were talking about. You let me feed you banana because you figured out that if you clamp down on the spoon and let me slide it slowly out, then quickly cork your little banana hole with your thumb, you get lots of goo in your belly. At least a teaspoon of solid foods each morning.

And thanks to you, Mama now knows what banana seeds look like. You taught me that, ButterBubba. I thought you somehow got under the rosemary bush and ate a bunch of ants. I knew banana is an herb. I didn’t know it has long spirochete seeds.

Look at how much more world there is now that I have you.