Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the science of babies

There is a great deal of science that goes into making sure that my son is well, most of which is highly invasive. When he doesn't seem to be feeling 100%, I make sure that his temperature is normal. We also have regular visits to our local child health care professional, or, pediatrician.

When he isn't well, I have to treat my child as if he's gone aboard an alien spaceship or as if I were checking him into prison. That's right - take that thermometer, put a little petroleum jelly on the end (yes, I have some compassion) and stick it where the sun don't shine. I hold him down while holding it up there till the thermometer beeps. Doesn't that sound like fun? Fortunately, he has never been out of normal range. Although I hold him all the time, I believe it is still a good idea to check my instincts against a scientific tool.

Today was his four month visit to the doctor. The visit to the doctor begins normally, strikingly similar to an adult version. Additionally, there are immunization intervals babies follow. First, we wait in the waiting area until his name is called. In the examination room, we strip him down to his diaper. Next, we wait for the doctor. I told you, just like the adult version. Then she takes height, weight, and head size. The head size I don't understand. Then she looks in his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Finally, she uses the stethescope to hear his inner thoughts. (FYI, he is 15 lbs, 14oz. - 75%, 27.5 in. - 100% and 50% head size.)

All the while, he is smiling and cooing. He is a very happy baby. Then the doctor is finished with her dealings and we do some more waiting. We are waiting for the nurse. My wife and I know what is coming. My wife is trying not to have an anxiety attack. Our son wears the expression, "Aren't we done? What else is there?" And we wait. Finally the nurse comes with the tray. I put him on his back. He is becoming more skeptical of the goings-on. She feeds him the oral vaccine. He begins to wince. It must be some gross stuff. But he takes it down. Then come the shots. Four of them to the legs. I don't look, but hold his arms down. I know what's happening when the big cries come. He's sobbing and there's nothing I can do. The aliens have him strapped down.

Fortunately, this suffering was short-lived. The sequence of shots took about 30 seconds. Then I put his pacifier into his mouth and he held tight. I picked him up and he held tight. He slept most of the afternoon away. Hopefully he'll sleep it off tonight. After being poked and prodded, a good night's sleep is certainly in order.

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