Anyway, Bo was 6 weeks old last week. We took him to Dr. Dan for his well baby checkup and the first round of evil, evil shots. We love our pediatrician. How can you not love a doctor that you call by his title + first name? He's younger than us by about 4 years and straight out of residency. He's joined his father's practice - with plans to eventually take it over I'm sure. We really like having such a young doctor, although it totally freaked me out at first (as perhaps evidenced by my use of the word young twice in the last two sentences). He's really dedicated and earnest and we can totally relate to him. You have to love a doctor who refers to his patient's testicles as "his boys".
Boaz is 13.25lbs and 23 inches long - or was when I started this post. The boy is a gorilla so I'm sure he's heavier by now. We learned that he has symptomatic reflux. Well, the internet already told me he had it but I shared the symptoms with the doctor for official confirmation. Dr. Dan gave us a prescription for itty bitty baby Zantac which Frank took to the pharmacy immediately after our appointment to get filled.
Before Bo, when I was one of those insufferable know it alls who liked to pass judgement and expert opinions on parenting out of my ass, I would totally have looked down on a mom who gave her tiny boy Zantac instead of just sucking it up and riding out the inconvenience of baby reflux. Because I am a jackass who would deem baby reflux an "inconvenience" while having no frame of reference to do so.
As a fully formed grown up, I have no problem sucking up a little baby reflux. Seriously, I'm impervious to crying. My son however, is only 7 weeks old and cannot suck up anything. He can't lay on his back at all. He writhes around and arches his back. If I do put him down on his back after he's fallen asleep, he wakes up shrieking as if he'd been burned. They aren't the cries of a baby waking up, they are the cries of a baby in serious pain. He vomits and chokes on it. Not instantaneous, greedy, "I swallowed more than my belly can hold" spit up. Oh no, I'm talking half digested, 30 minutes later vomit that he chokes on. He gags. You know, gagging where you can't breathe and you open your eyes and mouth really wide to take a breath but you're gagging? Right. Imagine a 7 week old making that face. Imagine your 7 week old making that face from his precious little lamb swing and straining to lift his head to get some relief. Now add the specter of SIDS that haunts your little family because it's been here before. Zantac is a damned godsend.
Speaking of swings and godsends, while struggling with what the hell is wrong with the baby syndrome, the only place Bo could sleep peacefully was his swing. Which is in our family room. Which is not where our bed is. For about a month we slept on the couch and love seat (Frank on the love seat, me on the couch) while Bo slept in his swing. So really only Bo got any sleep at all. But what else could we do? He couldn't sleep on his back. He would sleep on my chest but really, that wasn't practical because at some point I would fall asleep and weren't no way that boy was being put down on his tummy to sleep. So the swing it was.
Then we dragged our bleary eyed, sleep deprived selves to the doctor for the six week checkup. When we told Dr. Dan that Bo was sleeping in the swing, he told us it was very important to try to get him to sleep either in the crib in his room or in the bassinet in our room. Apparently a new study has been published that suggests a relationship between sleeping elsewhere and a higher risk for SIDS. Awesome. Other than that Bo passed his physical with flying colors. He's spectacularly normal and developmentally fantastic. He's in the 95th percentile for his weight which whatever, I pay very little attention to that stuff.
Then it was time for the shots.
I don't really have anything to say about the controversy over infant immunizations. Well, that's not true. It's more accurate to say I don't have a firm position. The autism spectrum is vast and growing; not to mention overwhelming and devastating to a parent who finds herself thrust onto its merry go round. This I've seen in person and it's not for me to say that it's over diagnosed or that the spectrum is too vast. We don't know why it happens or what causes autism. There's no describing the anguish of parents not able to reach or help their precious baby through that darkness nor the need to find a reason why it happened; to blame something or somebody for what really is in some way the loss of their child.
Do immunizations cause reactions in the brains of some children that result in autism? I really don't believe that they do. But I'm not going to dismiss anybody that does believe it. Although certain 90s MTV game show host, quasi-celebrity, former playboy models do their cause no favors by being so angry and screamy and dismissive of anyone who isn't as religiously convinced as she is. My Dad always said that nobody listens to the screamers on either side of an issue and he was right. It's too easy to tune them out because they make no allowance for informed dialogue or conversation. Nobody wants to listen to an attitude of my way or the highway. You marginalize yourself and make your message less effective. Also, those certain celebrities may want to examine the relationship between frequent and habitual coke snorting during those 1990's and her son's problems. I'm just saying.
All of this is to say that of course we got Bo immunized. I don't know about shots and autism but I do know about rotovirus and hepatitis and other creepy crawly things that I do no want infesting my boy and that these shots will most definitely thwart them. And that is what I kept telling myself and him, while apologizing profusely for the whole experience.
Everyone knows that watching your baby get shots is excruciating. Most people expect the parents to cry just as much as the baby. All of this I knew but I didn't know exactly why until I held my fat, wriggly son in my arms and offered his delicious thigh up to the nurse for the shots. Word of advice to parents who haven't had this experience yet: do not look at your baby's face while this act is being performed. Avoid his eyes especially. See, I thought parents cried because of the pain being inflicted on their precious baby. But that's not it. At least, that wasn't it for me.
Bo was in my lap, waving his arms and legs uncontrollably and looking around with his giant blue eyes, probably happily expecting to be fed soon since it was time and he could smell that he was in the right lap for it. Then the shots came. It's almost too hard to describe the looks of first surprise and then hurt and then pain on the boy's face. You know in the movies when a person gets stabbed or shot without warning and that look of confusion and betrayal that they always telegraph? That's the look that was on Bo's face. And before he can really process the pain, here comes another shot and another and another. Of course he starts screaming in pain but the confusion and surprise on his face is what really got to me. It was like I betrayed him. I couldn't explain to him what was happening or why. I could only hold him and rock him and pray that he didn't associate my smell with that awful feeling forever.
He was pretty out of it the rest of the day, sleeping a lot and waking up when the Tylenol wore off. Yes, Tyelnol too. Every time he woke up he was in pain. His cries were different and I could just tell it hurt. Projecting a little? Perhaps. But he was in pain and I was going to fix it if I could.
I was also going to use the opportunity to try and get the boy back to sleeping in his bassinet and thereby get myself back to sleeping in my bed. I suggested to Frank that while our son was groggy and kinda whacked out we should try putting him to bed properly and he agreed. Don't you know that boy slept in his bassinet that night and every night since? A full week of sleeping in a bed like people. It's been awesome and I don't think I've ever been more grateful for my bed.
The Zantac started working immediately, despite Dr. Dan's warning that it would take 5 or 6 days. There's far less vomit and writhing around. Bo is sleeping well for about 3 hours at a time at night and we're luxuriating in our fabulous Ikea queen size. Ok, maybe not so much luxuriating as passing out cold amongst the cat and the dog and each other. Even so, it's better than the couch.
Not that it matters because I'd sleep on the ground outside if it means never seeing my baby gag and choke again.
It was a very rough day.