Tuesday, 05 March 2013
It’s no big shocker that having a new baby comes with a healthy dose of new mom crazy. So, you feel justified when three months or so after having your new baby, you say to yourself, out loud, “Am I fucking crazy?” Because, if you were actually crazy, you wouldn’t ask yourself if you’re crazy, because truly crazy people don’t know that they’re crazy, they’re just… crazy. Crazy is not a relevant term. I mean, you’re either totally fucking crazy or you’re not, right? RIGHT?!?
So, there I was one morning, with my three month old son on the changing table. His little cankles were held firmly in my left hand as my right hand, gloveless mind you, picked through his poop. I looked as closely as I could with just my eyes, but apparently I needed to add another sensory perception. I had to feel it, rub it between my finger tips, and hold it up to the light to make sure that yes, indeed, there was blood in his poop. “Whaaaat the fuuuucck?” I whispered, utterly confused. I grabbed another hunk and smeared it onto the clean side of the diaper. Staring intently at it, I was desperately trying to find a reason NOT to freak out. But there it was. Faint and slightly tinged, but there. Still breast feeding, I thought quickly, “what did I eat, what did I eat, what did I eat?” I did a quick mental check list of anything red or bright or bright red that I might have eaten… peppers, tomatoes, red food coloring… negative. There was only one answer then. Internal bleeding. Oh my GOD! My baby! My baby is bleeding from the inside out and I caught it just in time. I saved him from the obvious intestinal rupture that was in its beginning stages. I quickly cleaned him up (and washed my hands) and called the doctor. Then, like all new mothers, I waited impatiently for him to call me back. Which took like 3 hours… really dude? Did the message I left saying, “Internal bleeding and it’s coming out of his asshole,” not bump me to the top of the list of other moms? Surely I must have trumped all but maybe one, no? NO?!?
While I waited for a return phone call, I did the worst thing that any mom could do. Ever. I googled it. I scrolled through the possibilities, certain I had the worst one. Meanwhile, I discovered that there were different shades of red that meant different things. Was it mixed in the poop or on the outside of it? Was it light pink, dark red? Was it streaked? I jumped when the phone rang, probably because it was right next to me and on high volume, so I was sure not to miss the call. After explaining my poop journey to the doctor in one long run-on sentence, I finally took a breath and said, “I broke my baby. My baby is broken." The doctor, who I could swear was stifling laughter while eating a bagel as he listened to me, was clearly not as concerned as I was. In fact, I had this vision: he was in some doctors-only lunch room, where they put the phone in the middle of the table on speaker, and smirk at each other as they listen to the crazy rantings of moms concerned with what was probably a daily if not hourly issue for them. As they pass a big bag of Sun Chips around the table and unwrap their delivered sandwiches.
He calmly assured me that my baby was NOT broken. That he might have a small anal fissure (tear) from passing hard poop, which is very common, and that my baby was okay. And unless he was crying inconsolably and/or writhing in pain, then this was totally normal.
I’m sorry. Normal? It’s normal to have blood in your poop? How is that normal? But he reassured me it was and told me to call him again if I noticed more or if it darkened. Then he hung up. First. Normal. Huh. Who would have thunk it? I felt relieved. A little untrusting of the casualness of his diagnosis but still, relieved. Okay then. Normal.
And it went away.
For a week.
Then I’ll be damned, muther fucker, one morning, there it was again! The familiar flush of panic hit my body like a hot flash, but this time I was able to slow it down and remember what the doctor said. A fissure. Ok.. Sure.. Anal tear. Got it. I’m on it. I’m not ashamed to say that I inspected that area. Oh, I inspected it, thoroughly, methodically, with a magnifying glass on my swiss army knife. That’s right. I did it. Poor kid, I was so up in his business, I swear he started to look at me funny. But I saw nothing. Nada. Zip. Just a regular 'ol tiny hiney-hole. A perfect pink whistle. Nothing.
So, I made the call to the Doctor again, and again imagine I’m lunchtime entertainment. And again, he assures me that my baby, if NOT in pain, is fine. “I don’t understand!” I say, as I launch into my description of the type and kind of blood again. To be honest with you, I’m not sure what I was hoping for. I mean, was I hoping that he would suddenly be like, “wait, what?! You said IN his poop?” and then I say, “Yes. Yes! IN his poop!” and he apologizes that he couldn’t hear me clearly in-between his crunching of his flax seed chips (yeah, he’s that kind of doctor) and says, “Go. Go NOW to the hospital. I will meet you there for emergency surgery”... I mean, is that what I wanted? NO.. no way. But, I did feel like he was dismissing me too quickly. I did feel like he wasn’t truly grasping the situation and that I wasn’t describing it well enough to get his attention.
So I made an appointment. I asked him if I should bring him in and he said no. Instead, he gave me some serious bloody poop guidelines to follow and if I met any of them at any time, THEN I should bring him in.
I hadn’t met any. My baby was happy. But I made the appointment anyway.
And this is where crazy really kicked in and took it’s turn at the wheel. My son slept pretty well, played happily, cried normally and all around seemed joyful to be a baby. But then I started thinking that maybe he had been in pain since day one and was just used to it… like the orphan babies in Russia that don’t even cry anymore because they know that no one will come. My heart broke and so did any sense of rationality.
The night before our doctors appointment, I inspected the poop and sure enough, there it was. I had evidence. I had proof. NOW the doctor could SEE what kind of blood it actually was. I took the poopy diaper, folded in gently like a present, placed it in a zip lock baggy and put it in the freezer. I felt good about myself. I was on top of my game, man. Proactive. Mom of the year!
About an hour later, I was in the bedroom folding laundry. My son was in the bouncy seat watching me, and I heard my husband in the kitchen crack open a can of ginger ale. Then the freezer door opened and closed. I heard the sound of ice breaking into the glass, then the freezer door opening and closing again. Then re-opening. And silence.
He calls out, “Babe?”
“Um. Is that a diaper in the freezer?”
“A dirty one?”
I heard the freezer close and I feel him walk up behind me.
I turn to him to see his bewildered yet amused look. I’ve seen it before. It’s a common look found on a man's face when looking at a woman. The one that tells me, I’m teetering on crazy.
“Because. The doctor seems way too relaxed about the fact that there's blood in our son's poop and I just feel like if he SAW it, then he could tell me what it’s from.”
“Seriously. You’re going to bring him a diaper?”
“Well, I froze it.”
“Exactly.” And he walked away.
Whatever. I mean, why wasn’t he as concerned as I was? His lack of concern not only irritated me, but made me doubly worried. I mean… blood. In his poop. Does no one care??!?
The next morning we headed to the Doctor’s office. I packed the diaper bag and placed the frozen bloody poopy diaper in a lunchbox with ice, certain that I was a champion for my child. We were going to get to the bottom of this (pun intended) and I was going to be praised for my preparation, my aggressive parenting in finding answers. My husband eyeballed me from across the kitchen as I packed up, with a strange look on his face. A mix of slight intrigue with a knowingness, a condescension. I smirked back. He’ll see.
“What?” I said.
“You know that’s a little crazy right?”
“Bringing the Doctor a frozen loaded diaper. I mean.. you see it right? It's a little off the deep end.”
I thought for a minute. From his perspective. Maybe it was a little… I don’t know… much... maybe. Screw it.
“I want answers. He needs to SEE it.”
He took a swig of coffee and resigned himself, “Okay.. let’s do this."
He seemed almost excited now. I squinted my eyes at him. He’ll see. He will soon be praising me for my parenting skills.
We sat in the room, waiting patiently for our turn. The doctor came in, maybe I was paranoid, but it seemed that he and my husband had exchanged a knowing look as he proceeded to do a check up on my son, who was laying on the table in nothing but his diaper, happily playing with a pacifier and staring at the ceiling montage of baby giraffes and elephants surrounded by bubbles. Sometimes, I imagine he’s high. Like, he’s SO into the painted scene above that seems ridiculously simple to me, yet he’s mesmerized and if he could talk, I feel like he would say, “trippy dude.”
The doctor pushes on his belly, under his rib cage, his sides, presses under his belly button, I held my breath waiting for a squeal of pain to escape my boy's mouth, but he giggled… Then the diaper undone, his legs over his head, the doctor did, what I think was a marginal inspection of his pink whistle, I mean c’mon, get IN there, man. Then he re-taped the diaper, listened to his chest and belly and said, “well…” I leaned in, here it is… “he’s gassy."
Silence. “What? You can hear… gas?” I say, disbelieving. Like a psychic can see dead people.
“Well, I hear grumbling and air. He could be a little constipated, which can irritate the intestines and what you may be seeing is just some of the lining. Which. he will out grow around 6 months and is totally normal.”
I stare it him. Really?
“You can try to bland your diet a bit, less spice, more grilled chicken, white rice, but mostly this is just something that babies go through."
Hmphh. I feel my husband's eyes on the back of my head, waiting hopefully for me to present my “gift." I start to feel a little silly. I mean, was the blood that bad? WAS it that much? WAS it even there? Or… shit. AM I crazy? I look over to my diaper bag, I can almost hear my husband's thoughts, “do it. Do it, Do it!”
I tread carefully. “So. Do you want a stool sample?”
The doctor barely looks up from the chart he’s making notes on and says easily, “Nope.” he looks up at me warmly, “Look. Weird things happen to babies. Rashes, spit-up, odd color and strange, sometimes vile smelling poop. You know your baby. If he seems uncomfortable, if he is in pain, not sleeping, can’t move, isn’t playing, or seems to strain constantly, then bring him back in. But…” and he looks over to my son, who is almost in full hysterics at those damn super stony baby animals on the ceiling, “he seems more than fine to me.”
I actually relaxed for the first time in a week. I can physically FEEL the stress and anxiety and worry leave my body and at the same time, I sort of realized that, I don’t know, maybe… just MAYBE, I over reacted.
“You must think I’m a crazy person.”
He smiled warmly at me and my husband (again, I swear they share a look. What the fuck?). “No. I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re a new mother that loves her son.” I’m placated. He gathered his chart and stood up, opened the door to leave, and said over his shoulder in a lower tone as if he was confiding in us, “I’ve had moms actually bring me a frozen diaper to inspect. Now, THAT’s a little crazy.” And he’s gone.
What sort of "crazy" have you experienced as a new mother? Are you overly concerned with what everyone else says is minor?