Archives for the month of: January, 2013

As soon as Smushie was born, Worm was jettisoned from the family sweet spot.  No longer the baby, he was metaphorically transplanted from his warm, cozy nest to the storage shed out back.  In addition, Worm can’t hog all of our parental love for himself anymore.  We’re now supporting a needy infant who requires a lot of our TLC (Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers & Tiaras, and Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress) to grow.  Therefore, we made the executive decision to proportion the lion’s share of our love to little Smush with the occasional scrap tossed in Worm’s general direction.  It will be enough to minimally sustain him and nowhere near the amount he received prior to his sister’s arrival.  (I’m not worried, though.  Worm will grow to be emotionally scarred, but win out in the long run.  Like an abused puppy, he will be irresistible to womankind and become a lifelong project for them to invest time and effort into.)

The big day was here.  I thought the proper ‘Dad’ thing to do would be to give Worm at least a couple hours notice of Smush’s impending arrival later that evening.  It seemed the perfect opportunity for me to practice this first of many ‘father-to-son’ talks by warming up the Worm to the idea of a sister.  I explained it to him in simple phrases like “more ice pops and cheese balls for dinner”, “nap times may disappear altogether”, and “all of your waking hours could be spent in front of the TV”.  He took it quite well.  (Ok, I could have been more direct with him, but why upset the poor guy?  He hadn’t a clue as to what was about to fall in his lap and I didn’t want to be the bad guy to tell him.)

Not knowing what else to do, I thought it easiest best to let Worm mull over our conversation in his mind while I went back to the hospital to grab the wife and baby.  The plan was for us to check out of the hospital, come home, walk Smush nonchalantly through the front door, gauge the crowd reaction, and then act surprised like we didn’t know how she got in the Subaru do our best to stay calm.

What will Worm do?  Will he be excited?  Will he gouge out Smush’s eyes?  Will he fling poop in her face?  Or will he break out in the Macarena dance?  What about the dogs?  What are they going to think?

We arrived at home around 6pm and collectively pushed baby and car seat through the front door.  The fervor and excitement in the house shot through the ceiling…and took everyone’s brains with it.  With no gray matter to control their bodies, dogs were howling (i.e. Frodo), dogs were vomiting (i.e. Duncan), and kids were flailing (i.e. Worm). Frodo’s howling was loud enough to hear three doors down and Duncan’s distress shoveled his semi-digested dinner onto the carpet.  Worm frolicked around the living room, babbling hodge podge nonsensities at the top of his lungs.  Even hours later, the air was still thick with anxiety and nervous giddiness.  A little too much adrenalin was squeezed out that night, and the troops paid for it in sleep.

The next day came at a fraction of the previous night’s intensity.  With the jitters out, Worm and the dogs got to examine the newest member of the family under the warm rays of the early morning sun.  Within minutes, Worm stamped his sibling seal of approval right on the end of his little sister’s foot.

Worm Gives His Little Sister a Kiss!

Worm Kisses His Baby Sister!  How Sweet!

Gavin – 21; Dad – 11 (You get two points for this one, Worm.  Your heart is so incredibly full of sweetness.)

Am I The Only One That Thinks Worm Looks Like a Gap Tooth Bill Murray Here?

Am I The Only One That Thinks Worm Looks Like a Gap Tooth Bill Murray Here?

One of the topics in the imaginary book “100 Things No One Tells New Parents” is that of the gap toothed baby.  I don’t yet own a copy, so when my little Worm started filling his mouth with his first set of pearly whites, I wasn’t prepared.   A huge space formed between tooth E and tooth F.  (That’s medical speak for the top two front teeth!)  I asked myself for the 15th time “Is Worm actually my son?” I don’t have a gap and neither does Steph.  So why would the Worm have such a prominent one?  The only sensible answer is that we accidentally picked up Michael Strahan and Lauren Hutton‘s love child from the hospital (and in exchange, our real child is having the champagne wishes and caviar dreams the rest of us only see on TV).

Upon closer inspection, Steph and I found that our boy’s maxillary frenulum (or frenum) is quite low on the gums.  Worm’s upper labial tie (not to be confused with a neck tie, or cravat) attaches very near the bottom of his gums at the edge of the hard palate.  This gives me good reason to assume that Worm’s teeth are gapped due to the thick (about 3mm) frenulum that sits between his front choppers.  Other possible gap teeth causes for Worm (besides the theory that he isn’t mine) are:  his teeth are small, his jaw is big, he may have extra teeth in the gums that prevent correct positioning, etc.

Bad Frenulum!  Bad, bad!

Bad Frenulum! Bad, bad!

To be on the safe side, we made a special visit to our pediatrician.  The kid doctor had a look and told us not to worry about the teeth or frenulum just yet.  And to have it evaluated at the dentist when he turns two (Worm, not the dentist).  She also said that since the teeth and gums change as more teeth emerge, it may be less of a problem, or go away completely as his adult teeth come in.

Having never before seen a living frenum like Worm’s, I decided to get a second opinion from our other doctor, the internet.  I researched a few articles reassuring me that my son was not a mutant lifeform and that other children also suffer from different levels of lip-tie.  Worm’s frenum looks to be between a class III and IV, which are the most tightly attached.  I don’t know if it was because he was our first child, or because we didn’t pay close enough attention to him, but we missed catching it early and it’s most likely Obama’s fault in some way.  I felt slightly better when I read that plenty of “tight frenulum” issues go undetected because many babies adapt well enough to overcome some of the associated problems.  Worm’s workarounds worked right around us.  Scouring the internet, I found many parents’ stories that share a lot of our fears and concerns about the frenulum fracas.  Because sharing is caring, here is a summary of our story, small enough to fit in a pocket of your mind:

When Worm was an infant, he was fussy.  Early on, I spent many hours sleepwalking through the house trying to bounce and squeeze the extra air out of him.  We thought he was a little colicky but normal, as we also didn’t have any prior parenting experience to compare him to.  He was our first child.  After being introduced to solid foods, Worm quickly lost his desire to breastfeed.  That never bothered us, because it gave us an excuse to use our brand new baby food processor earlier than anticipated.  We figured that his personality was the driving factor in his desire to switch to solid foods, so no red flags arose.  During the first year of his life, we didn’t really look inside his mouth for longer than the amount of time it took him to yawn.  An occasional peek showed us a tongue, pink gums, and a couple of cobwebs in the back corner…nothing out of the ordinary.  Then he got old enough to belt out a hearty laugh (from one of my horrible jokes) and his upper lip only curled slightly. Voila!  We noticed a thick flap of skin holding onto Worm’s upper lip and gums and the wife and I started pointing fingers.  “That’s not from my side of the family!” we each exclaimed.

(We’re still trying to locate the family member that passed this gene down so we can bill them for the dental procedures.)

So to make other new parents aware of this ‘more common than you think’ issue, I’ve provided a list of upper labial frenulum complications below.  I tried to gather a concise list of signs and symptoms I’ve found that make sense of the upper lip frenulum fuss:

  • Baby may have problems latching, make clicking sounds during feeding, or take in excess air during feeding
  • Breastfeeding may be painful for the mother (and cause cracking and bleeding of the nipple)
  • Baby may fail to gain weight during first year of life
  • Bottle feeding may also pose a problem
  • Colicky baby or symptoms of colic
  • GERD and indigestion
  • Poor lip movement that can affect smiling and talking
  • Diastema (or gap teeth) that carries on through adulthood
  • Accelerated upper teeth decay
  • The need for orthodontics, such as braces later on

So now the question is:  What do we do?

I’m not into waiting for the frenulum to fix itself.  I know there are a few dental websites that say to wait, but I don’t want this to turn into thousands of dollars worth of braces and teeth realignment down the road.  (I want a new mountain bike and I’m not spending good money on useless sillyness like teeth…)  We don’t want general anesthesia for Worm, so anything requiring it is placed at the bottom of the list as a last resort.  (The only things putting Worm to sleep are my boring childhood stories.)  I could snip it myself, but my gag reflex kicked in after only seeing pictures online.  I’m not going to do it.  The best option I see right now is an erbium laser treatment.  We will start heading in that direction and gather more information.  It uses local anesthetic, is timely, and involves obliteration of tissue and burning of flesh… but in a nice, humane and painless way.  Besides, anything involving lasers should be nothing short of awesome!

We’re going to look into the cost of the procedure and if there is insurance coverage for any of it.  Pics and updates to come.  Stay tuned.

I wonder if Smush could have the same problem…hmm.

Related Links:

Oral Diagnosis of Abnormal Frenum Attachments in Neonates and Infants – Classification of maxillary frenulum attachment and examines a laser treatment solution.

Frenums, Tongue-tie, Ankyloglossia – Excellent presentation discussing sublingual and maxillary frenula complications.  Surgical procedures and before/after pictures.  Very interesting.

Breastfeeding and Frenulums – website with excellent information for breastfeeding mothers as well as a presentation HERE.  Brian Palmer is the dentist and he put together the Frenums, Tongue-tie, and Ankyloglossia presentation above as well.  Excellent.

Blog Posts:

Frenectomy Today Frenum, Frenulum and Frenectomy – How to Effectively Deal With Them in 21st Century America –  Great blog post on one woman’s struggle with finding help for her child’s maxillary labial frenulum problem.  Other articles

The funny-shaped woman – Here’s a blog post that got me started on my internet hunt to find out more.  It’s a real life breastfeeding woman’s experience with maxillary labial tie.

The Mommypotamus Lip Tie Q & A – Great blog post on questions that you may have about lip-tie.

The Mommypotamus How to Spot Tongue/Lip Ties & Get FREE Expert Advice – Another great blog post on lip and tongue tie and how to start looking for it on your children.

Tempest Beauty Maxillary Labial Frenum and Tongue Tie – Mom’s experience with feeding and later, laser treatment for upper lip tie at Dr. Kotlow office.

I'm Watching You Dad! No Funny Business!

I’m Watching You Dad! No More Funny Business!

TV distorts reality.  Babies don’t come out sparkly and polished.  They’re slippery and slimy.  I’m 99% sure they are covered in condensed milk.  Smush smells and tastes sweet.  (I was curious, so I licked the hair on her head once.  Only once!)

I promise that I won’t do it again today.  The slick layer on the skin is called vernix or vernix caseosa.  And it’s important.

In the name of “leave it the hell alone” over “let’s poke, prod and experiment, etc. and be as invasive as possible because the insurance companies reimburse us very well for doing ‘stuff’ and we can’t lose money because we have a business to run and we have to pay our doctors and nurses to perform procedures, not stand there and watch you perform normal childbirthing activities”, we decided NOT to have Smush bathed.

And now that I’ve read more about it, I see we made the right choice to do nothing!  Yeah!

Research has shown that vernix covers the newborn’s body inside the womb and protects the baby from germs.  What kind of germs?  Well, how about:

If you are unlucky enough to test positive for any of the above microbes such as GBS, leaving the newborn’s vernix intact can also help protect your child.  There are quite a few studies that have been done.  I’ve linked some PubMed articles for the techno-heads.

For those that don’t want to read a bunch of articles, let me put it in plain language.  The vernix is to birth canal as a  hazmat suit is to toxic chemical spill.  (And I mean toxic spill in the nicest sort of way.)  Leave it on the newborn and let it just soak in…

Technical Article Abstract Links

Antimicrobial polypeptides of human vernix caseosa and amniotic fluid: implications for newborn innate defense

First Line of Defense in Early Human Life

The newborn infant is protected by an innate antimicrobial barrier: peptide antibiotics are present in the skin and vernix caseosa

Host defense proteins in vernix caseosa and amniotic fluid

Tuesday morning began at 2:30am.  I was startled awake by heavy breathing and panting from my wife.  I pried open an eye to see if I was any part of the festivities.  Nope.  A few sleepy brain cells connected, then deduced it was not lust!  It was labor!  So I rolled over and buried my head under the pillow and nodded off again.

(10 minutes later)  Come on Steph, I’m trying to sleep here. Waitaminute!  I roll towards her.

“We’re having a baby today, aren’t we?”

“I think so.”  she replied.

I giggled like a teenage girl getting asked to prom.

The contractions weren’t getting any closer than 10 minutes apart, so I revisited my unproductive slumber.  Steph swayed in the rocking chair patiently waiting for more.  (Here, a knight in shining armor would have been simultaneously rubbing Steph’s back, neck, hips and feet during the pre-laboring.  But this wise serf thought that storing up energy for the hard work ahead was going to bear the best fruit for our labor…and make me look fresh for pictures afterward.)

The sun came up 4 hours later.  The dogs were scratching at the door to be let out.  Worm was lounging in his crib and singing about mama, dada, pop pop, nana, cee, and his future sissy.  (Oh, how I do miss a quiet house in the morning…)  Hospitals don’t like to feed laboring women more than salt water and needles, so we made time for bacon, eggs, and toast.  I scarfed down a breakfast sandwich and launched 5 spoonfuls of yogurt into my trap before it was really time to go.

1 minute contractions, 6 minutes apart.  (Our doctor said we should get to the hospital at 7 minutes apart, but what’s life without a little suspense?)

We show up at the same emergency room parking lot as we did 21 months and 13 days ago.  I circled for an hour and a half looking for the parking space I used for Worm’s birth because maybe it could bring us luck.  (Mom, I’m just kidding…I settled for a spot two cars away.  Close enough.)

“I need my ‘Last of the Mohicans’ soundtrack CD.  Can you get it from the CD case under the seat?” said the laborer.

We’re going to war?  I couldn’t find the CD or the words for “I hope this birth experience isn’t a battle like we had in our first one.”  I swallowed my fear and crossed my fingers for anything better than this time.  With gear in arms, I steadied myself for a positive birth and a healthy wife and baby afterwards.  Though track 5 could get anyone through the battle of birthing.

As we crossed the same street towards the same hospital, Steph had to stop at the same point in the road for a contraction.

“If people won’t stop for a laboring woman in the middle of the street, what would they stop for!” said Steph.

I couldn’t argue with that logic!  Or argue with a mother ready to have a baby!

(The similarities between our two birth experiences ended right there.)

We get into the hospital elevator and a random guy jumps in at the last second.

“Looks like someone’s having a baby.  It’s a good thing you brought a cooler full of beer!” as he looked down at my awesome older-than-me Oscar cooler with the green top that they don’t even make any more and still holds 10 beers with ice and possibly a sandwich if you can perch it just right on top to not squish it but you have to close the lid ever so gently.

“Man, that’s a much better use of the Oscar than my idea of keeping my stolen placentas cold.”  (I kid.  A little.  Ok, I stole one!  Well, I just borrowed it.)

We entered the hospital at 8:20am.

At 10:28am, Addison Zoe was born, aka Smush.  Steph cleared her last time by a full hour.  The next child will probably be born even faster, so I’ll have to prepare for a car or driveway birth.

So far, mother and baby are healthy!

We will tell the birth stories of Worm and Smush sometime in the near future.  And even though they look so much alike, their stories are very different.

Holy Duplicate!  It's a Worm Look-a-like!  Welcome Smush!

Holy Duplicate! It’s a Worm Look-a-like! Welcome Smush!

Dear Smush,

I know you’re still cooking in the proverbial oven.  Don’t rush to come out.  It’s been in the 40’s at night for us recently and that’s quite a bit colder than the 98.6° and occasional 102° Jacuzzi temps that you’re used to.  (I waited until summer time to be born and I’ll do it again when I have to…)

When you decide to take the wild ride down the ‘chute’, just remember that you can’t go back and do it twice…unless we hang your mom upside down.  The hospital will make you John Hancock some paperwork first, so if you want to relive the birth experience, bring a pen.  Here’s an FYI and I know it’s lame, but when you hit the slide, you can’t put your hands out in front of you to save your face from eating the floor.  You just gotta go head first and pray that the catcher doesn’t drop your pitch.  You’ll see what I mean when it’s time.

I’m probably going to be the first family member to greet you.  I’m your dad.  I know you’ll probably come out white like your brother did and look at me confusingly.  Later, I’ll show you that I signed the birth certificate.  But if you need more proof, we’ll make Maury Povich (I’ve got connections.) do another episode of “Is He the Father?” and get the DNA test done.  Also, I’m growing a little stubble on my chin (and working out my arms) for the hospital birth pictures.  I want to look my best, so try to arrive during the daytime.  That way, I won’t have huge bags under my eyes for the photos.

If I faint at your coming out party, look down on your way out so you don’t fall on top of me.  If I’m awake, I’ll either be standing frozen like a deer in headlights or be sobbing like I’ve just watched ‘The Notebook’.  I’ll also volunteer to cut the cord, if you don’t mind.  This time should be a no-brainer for me.  Unlike with Worm, there should be only one cord to think about putting the scissors to.  (I won’t need to repeat this scene:  “Nurse.  It’s this one, right?  Are you positively certain?”)

After I permanently separate you from your mother, you’ll get to go back and meet her!  She’ll be laying on the bed getting the damage repaired.  (Don’t ask.  But I’m sure when you’re older and have pissed her off, she’ll tell you about what she went through just to bring you here and how you should be more grateful…)  This is the person you really want to make friends with.  Why?  Because you’ll be getting a lot of love, warmth, and most importantly, food from this woman.  She’s grown a nice set of milk pumpkins for me you, so grab a blanket and an US Weekly because this will be the place to see and be seen for quite a while.

Worm is your brother.  He isn’t going to be in the room when you show up.  Steph and I don’t think it’s a good idea for him to be at eye level with all of the, um, action.  He’s all about his tools and his workbench right now and our main concern is that he may try to run his version of the APGAR with his plastic hammer and screwdriver.  Besides, if he was at the birth, the hospital would make him sign a bunch of paperwork too.

I hope you’re not allergic to animals because you’ve got two dogs at home, Frodo and Duncan.  They’re both lovable knuckleheads and you’ll get to play with them once you’re sturdy enough to withstand being bowled over during their feeding time.  They’re a couple of clumsy oafs but we love them anyway.  We think you’ll love them too.  For now though, you’ll have to keep your distance.  Dunkie’s farts are lethal!

So that’s us in a nutshell.  Welcome to the zoo your family!  We’re dysfunctional, but no worse than anyone else…I think.

Family Portrait - Good Enough to Hang Over the Mantle...

Family Portrait – Good Enough to Hang Over the Mantle…


Oh, one more thing.  We hope that you’ll like your name.  Your mother and I couldn’t make up minds about it until recently.  Then we just got lazy researching and so the most recent first and middle names we wrote down have turned to stone.  There are no ‘clicks’ or exclamation points in them like I really wanted.  But in Klingon, your name means ‘digested serpent arm’ and that’s cool enough for me.  In my heart though, you’ll always be known as Smush.

We love you already and can’t wait to meet you!




Worm, I promise you’ll get to love your baths.  Right now though, just try to imagine you’re on the sunny sandy beaches of Jamaica with the warm ocean water lapping at your feet…

Where's My Damn Mai Tai?!

Dad, If This is Jamaica, Where the Hell is my Rum Punch?!

May 2011

After all that eating, we gotta be sleeping!  Me napping with my new best friend!

The Art of the Perfect Nap!

The Art of the Perfect Nap!

May 2011

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