Baby Andrew is teething. At least we hope that's all it is. His father checked him out and said nothing other than diarrhea (which pediatricians will tell you has no clinical connection whatsoever with teething, but every mother who has ever raised a child will insist that the two almost always accompany one another), drooling more than usual, gnawing at everything within his reach, and crying a lot. He has no fever.
Andrew's father has to operate early in the morning (it's a semi-emergency but can wait until 6:00 a.m.) and knew it woulld be a rough night, so he took a sleeping pill and went to sleep in a bedroom in the farthest part of the house from the master bedroom. Scott and Jillian deliberately put a comfortable Westin bed in that room for nights such as tonight, when the father (or perhaps mother later) really needs to sleep and a baby really needs to be fussy.
The room can be reached by intercom in an emergency, and of course i'm also here to walk down the hall and get the baby's father if it becomes necessary, but that's unlikely. We can also call the baby's mother's parents, who are an MD and a pediatric nurse practitioner. We could call my parents if we needed to, also, or the next-door neighbors, a childess couple who are MDs. The baby has two other MD uncles living within ten minutes, and I have an uncle and an aunt five minutes away who are medical doctors. Teething, however, is not a medical emergency. as long as the baby is not feverish, we'll tough it out with Ora-jel, acetaminophen, Motrin, and cold things on which the baby can gnaw.
Becca, do you remember Bennie's teething phase? Did he have an especially hard time? do you have any tricks?
If I could, I'd take the baby to the living rooom to let the mom get some sleep, but the baby wants his mother now. I'm here because the baby's mother is not supposed to get out of bed, so I change him as quickly as his diaper gets messy so that he doesn't get a rash. The stool from the diarrhea (TMI) tends to be very acidic and can give a baby a rash very quickly if the baby is left in the diaper for much longer than a minute. We're going through scads of diapers. It's a good thing the family is not strapped for cash.) I keep Andrew well-coated with A & D ointment for added protection from the acidic mess until i can get the messy diaper off of him. That's at least something useful I can do. In a real pinch Andrew's mother could change him on her bed, but it's more hygienic to carry him to his changing table.
I already called Andrew's pediatrician, who happens to be my uncle, to make sure we're doing everything we should be. He said everything sounds good, and to give Andrew cool teething rings until a tooth pops through, after which he can have cold damp cloths. Both of those two bottom teeth look as though they could burst through the gums any minute. (One of my favorite baby looks is when they have just the two bottom teeth sticking up. I think babies look so incredibly cute at that stage.) My uncle said to check Andrew's temperature if he feels warm, as babies are less resistant to other illness when their bodies are weakened from teething. He also said to go a bit light on formula/breast milk and to try to replace it with Pedialyte if Andrew will go along with it, but only if Andrew will drink enough Pedialyte because the very last thing he needs is to become dehydrated, and to give him bananas, which have recently been introduced to his diet and which he seems to like. There are advantages to being related to half the doctors in the county. I feel as though I can call any of them whenever I feel like it.
Jillian told me that when I become an MD and an intern and am dealing with teething babies, I must not forget that no matter what pediatricians say about there being no connection between teething and diarrhea, there really is; it's not an urban legend. Sometimes, she said, when people become formally educated, they lose common sense they formerlly had before they completed their education, and that I should not let that happen to me. Diarrhea and teething often accompany each other, period, whether the text book authors admit it or not.
I'm sure there's some study that babies born to pygmy tribes in the rain forests of South America don't experience teething issues because they supplement the babies' diets (or the mothers' diets and breastfeed exclusively until the children are 8.5 years old) with coconut water or guava seed puree or some other such thing, but at the moment, I'm not all that interested. Coconut water and guava seed puree are not on Andrew's list of approved foods. He just barely made it past rice cereal to bananas. Food allergies in children are less of a problem if parents wait a bit later before introducing babies to solid foods. This is especially true if the baby is breast-fed. Andrew receives almost 3/4 breast milk donated from lactating aunts who froze extra milk so that he wouldn't need quite so much formula. His mom could only breastfeed him for a month. So far it's been good for him. He's a not-even-eight-month-old preemie and he weighs sixteen pounds and is starting to walk.
Nanny Helen won't be here tomorrow (today) because she doesn't ordinarily work Sundays although she has said she will anytime she's needed. Jillian's mom will arrive just before 6:00 when Scott leaves. Andrew actually likes me more than he likes her (sorry, Grandma) but she's a nurse practitioner and knows far more about how to make him comfortable than I do. She can probably get him to sleep so that Jillian can get some sleep. I'll go to sleep as well as there will be no point in my staying awake when grandma is here.
Jillian said she hates to see Andrew get his days and nghts turned around because it's a tough cycle to break, but for her personally it's actually good to be awake a bit more in the night and less in the day. She subsxcribes to a theory that because babies sleep more when there mothers are up and around and are awake when the mother is still and resting in bed, a mother can shift a baby's sleep cycle in utero by being awake at night so tha baby has developed the habit of sleeping at night while the mother has been up and around. This would work a lot better if she were actually up and around as opposed to being on bed resr, but she showers during middle-of-the-night hours and sits up more during that time.
It worked to some degree with Andrew, who quite quickly took to doing the majority of his sleeping at night. He's not much of a sleeper, but he did well at night from the very beginning.
At thirty-three weeks, which is in exactly two weeks since it's now officially Sunday, Jillian will be given walking papers if she hasn't delivered yet, meaning she'll be released from bed rest. That's still early for the baby to be born, and taking her off bed rest increases the chance she'll have the next baby soon after that point, but Jillian will recover from her surgery more quickly of she's had even a few days on her feet before she goes in for the C-section. She said she plans to reverse days and nights as much as possible, although she'll ned to be awake during the day to some extent for Andrew. She says she'll get by with just naps.
My prediction is that the next baby is about 2 1/2 weeks away. If I were to pick a date, I'd go with July 8. That's still quite early, but everyone's expecting this baby to be early. With everything Jillian has going on, the baby is lucky to have stayed in place this long. The baby's weight, relative strength, lung maturity, and other factors will determine the length of her NICU and hospital stay, but i seriously doubt it will be more than a couple of weeks. This kid will be home by mid-to-late July according to my uneducated prognostication.
Time for another diaper change. I hope all of you are slumbering blissfully without a teething baby or anything or anyone else interfering with your sleep.
Update: the baby's father has given up on sleep. He has called the hospital and told the team to prep the pateitn for surgery and to alert the anaesthesiologist. An anesthesiologist is supposed to be in the hospital at all times, anway, but he or she was probably in the sleeping quarters dreaming about cotton candy clouds or San Francisco Giants' victories or some other such thing and expecting a full night of sleep. That's the way life often works out, though. You don't always get what you want.
The surprise is that immature Alexis is being allowed to stay with a pregnant woman on bed rest and a teething infant (and the dog, who is for real a major playor in this equation and probably would bark until a neighbor showed up if anything truly out of the ordinaty were to happen) without a real adult [sarcasm font]. Scott's not even calling anyone to alert them to the fact that Jillian is at home with just the baby and me. He's assuming I'll have the presence of mind to call someone if either Jillian or the baby has an issue beyond the ordinary.
Silly as it sounds, this is a milestone of epic proprotions. Someone is trusting me to conduct myself as a competent adult in the event that an unforeseen complication should arise. This place is armed with "I've fallen and I can't get up" alarms, video surveillance, and just about every other technological fortress imaginable, bit still it's the first time in my life I've been entrusted in the middle of the night with any amount of responsibility even close to this. Could it be that someone has finally deduced that I'm not a complete freaking moron?