Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Curmudgeon's grandbaby doesn't do what a baby is supposed to do

I'm not exactly certain when a crisis was declared. By the weekend, however, Younger Daughter and Olaf had become increasingly concerned that their baby had stopped doing what a baby ordinarily does so frequently. I've been around babies who did this sort of thing every three or four hours. For the grandbaby, it had been three or four days already without.

"It might be the medicine," speculated Younger Daughter. The baby has been on a specially concocted medication because her upchucking was more acid reflux than little-baby-normal. Older Daughter R.N., carefully monitoring the situation by phone from her perch in Indianapolis, was inclined to agree. She also concurred when Younger Daughter resolved to call the pediatrician for advice.

"Prune juice," said the nurse at the pediatrician's office. "Just an ounce ought to do the trick."

"Makes sense to me," said Long Suffering Spouse. But, then, Long Suffering Spouse regularly takes a dose of prune juice each and every morning. Very regularly.

"Prune juice?" asked Older Daughter. "That doesn't sound right to me." She recommended another application of the Old Thermometer Trick, the particulars of which I have refused to consider and which I wouldn't share even if I had. Nevertheless, the womenfolk of the household dutifully reported to me every time the thermometer therapy was tried. I think they like watching me cringe and turn green.

"Prune Juice?" asked the Greek pharmacist. "Are you sure that's what they said?"

Younger Daughter assured him this was the case. "Hmmmm," he said, "I don't know." But, by this point, he had filled the other prescription Younger Daughter had come to get.

I used to make fun of my mother-in-law for this. She never made a decision, particularly after Abuelo died, without consulting at least a handful of people for their opinions. Now that I see Younger Daughter doing it (and I know Older Daughter has done it, too) I begin to suspect that this may be a fairly common decision-making strategy.

Each of the aforementioned has their own distinctive response to the advice they solicit. My mother-in-law would tell me about all the people who've disagreed with me (perhaps testing the strength of my convictions or, perhaps, encouraging me to reconsider); Older Daughter would reflexively tell me I was wrong. Younger Daughter seems inclined to agree with the last person she asked, no matter what they may have said.

In this case, the solid majority this weekend was against prune juice. "Well, let her kick," offered Long Suffering Spouse. "We are," said Younger Daughter, tightening her grip on the infant snuggling into her shoulder. "She just doesn't feel good right now."

I knew it was a crisis because what the baby was not doing was not just the only topic of conversation, it was a conversation that was becoming increasingly hard to follow because the baby was becoming increasingly fussy. Sometimes she was crying. Sometimes she was making straining noises. By Sunday afternoon it had become difficult to watch football over all of this.

With no resolution to the problem, Younger Daughter determined to take the baby to the doctor yesterday. An appointment was scheduled for the afternoon. I wasn't in the office very long, however, before Younger Daughter called me. "She's kind of listless," Younger Daughter told me. "She's not herself. I've moved up the appointment to 10:45."

"Well, call me afterwards," I said, "so I can relay the news to your mother."

My wife can not be interrupted during school hours. So she calls me when she gets a break to see what news the kids have asked me to relay to her. I am a living, balding billboard.

And my direction was superfluous. There was no way Younger Daughter wouldn't call. In fact, she hadn't backed out of the parking lot at the doctor's office before she called me.

"Prune juice," she said.

"Well, hello to you, too."

"Sunsweet's the best, they told me, because it's the most natural. It doesn't have any crap in it." She started laughing. "Isn't that funny? It's got no crap in it, but it --"

I interrupted. "Yes, I get it. I get it. So you'll try the prune juice now?"

"Yes. Tell Mom."

I promised faithfully that I would.

An hour or so later, Younger Daughter called back. "I tried it. Nothing. She just spits up brown stuff now." It was hard to hear Younger Daughter over the sound of the baby making straining noises.

"You have to give it time," I suggested.

"I drank what she wouldn't," Younger Daughter said. "It's already worked on me --"

I tried interrupting again. "TMI, TMI," I said.

"Well, I don't know what I'm supposed to do now," Younger Daughter said.

"Your mother will be home in a couple of hours," I suggested helpfully.

"I guess it's not too serious if they just said to try prune juice," Younger Daughter said. "But I think her stomach is too hard. And she had a low-grade at the doctor's office. The doctor said that was just from being bundled up in the car." But, even through the telephone, I could see Younger Daughter was frowning. "It wasn't our regular doctor."

The conversation continued awhile longer, punctuated by the baby's noises. Eventually Younger Daughter decided I should go back to work.

Shortly thereafter Long Suffering Spouse called. I relayed all the pertinent information. "The prune juice will work," Long Suffering Spouse said with confidence.

"I'm sure it will."

I hung around the office for a couple of more hours but, eventually, it came time for me to head home. I remembered I had prescriptions at Walgreen's, so I asked my wife to pick me up at the train. The Greek pharmacist wasn't in, so I didn't get the chance to ask him what he had against prune juice. But Long Suffering Spouse did bring me up to date on all the latest, which was the same as it was before, except that another ounce of prune juice had been introduced.

I think I had my coat off and had made it as far as the kitchen before Younger Daughter corralled me. She started rattling off the latest bulletin, but I interrupted and said I'd already been fully briefed.

Younger Daughter, Olaf and Long Suffering Spouse congregated in the living room watching the baby in the playpen.

"Let her kick," said Long Suffering Spouse.

I cowered in the den, as far away from the living room as I could get, and tried to eat dinner. I looked for something on TV. If a Jamie Lee Curtis commercial came on I think I would have screamed.

Older Daughter finished her shift at the hospital in Indianapolis and called Long Suffering Spouse's cell phone from the parking garage. "Has it happened yet?" No. "What did the doctor say?" Prune juice. "Prune juice? That doesn't sound right." No, it will work. (Long Suffering Spouse was not looking to reopen the weekend's Great Prune Juice Debate.) I turned up the TV. Jamie Lee Curtis did not make an appearance.

With the TV blasting, I didn't hear the celebration until it was well underway. But eventually I heard Younger Daughter cry in triumph, "Olaf, come smell!"

"I'll get the bath started," said Olaf, and ran up the stairs.

"Coward!" said Long Suffering Spouse. "Slacker!" said Younger Daughter.

But the crisis was over. The Curmudgeon household once again stood down from Red Alert.


Jeni said...

Here's a little advice in that area -my Mom swore by this and, so do I as it worked quite well with all 3 of my kids and the grandkids too -just put a little bit of karo syrup (dark kind) into the bottles. No bad taste and very effective to keep things moving along!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posted above. That's also what my mom did and what I did with my own babies. A little Karo in the bottle. Back then we actually gave our babies a bottle of water everyday in addition to breast feeding but Im not sure mothers do that now. Anyway that was when I would use the Karo when needed. In with the bottle of water.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i have no idea what you are talking about today. that's my story and i'm sticking to it.

smiles, bee

The Curmudgeon said...

Karo... hmmm. Sounds familiar, now that you mention it. But water apparently has been outlawed. We used to give our kids water at a fairly early age, but apparently that's just one of the so many things we did wrong....

Sari said...

We have three boys in our house. We don't speak of things so delicately. I admire your restraint.