Archives for category: MVG Oddities

I wanted a Mini-Me. That plus the desire to have someone take care of me in my twilight years were my two primary reasons for procreation. (I know, selfish…) I passed on quite a few genes to the Worm, but surprisingly (only to myself) he got some not-so-good ones.

Allergies.

The Worm’s allergies have been pretty bad from about the age of 2. He’s 4 now and I can’t remember a day where he didn’t sound stuffed up.

The constant congestion means that Worm’s immune system is reacting or possibly overreacting to stimuli, possibly stemming from his environment or diet. (Or both.) He hasn’t been allergy tested yet, but it’s on one of the multiple lists of things we have to do in the near future.

I think food plays a part in allergies and immune system function, so we’ve made Worm’s diet fairly clean. We eat mostly organic, moderate dairy intake, lean towards low sugar foods and hormone free meats. We keep an eye on artificially sweetened and dyed foods as well. We aren’t rigid about it, but we do the best we can. (Sometimes the gift of a sweet treat can quell screaming, whining and crying…and I’m guilty of contributing to the kids’ sugar intake to feel that small pinch of sanity and quietude.)

Sinus congestion doesn’t always equal fluid in the ears and otitis media, the inflammation usually accompanying it. But, the adenoids (not the same as tonsils) can be swollen so much from allergies that they block off the Eustachian tubes. Then, when the child gets sick and snot gets pushed up the tube into the ears, the fluid may not drain back down. I can’t imagine walking around with liquid in my ears, but Worm had been doing it so long that it’s normal for him.

The downside of fluid in the ears is temporary hearing loss. (This is different from the similarly named teenage ear disease, selective hearing loss.) Worm couldn’t hear me whispering in his ear, and the TV always needed to be on full blast. It was quite bad as for months, he not once flinched at my storytellings of boogeymen chewing children’s toes off at night while they slept. (On the plus side, I could tell him the same bedtime story over and over again without him knowing…) He could barely hear me speaking at a normal “inside” voice. I must say, though, that Wormie was adapting well and getting good at reading lips, an important skill for spies and double agents.

We visited the doctor a couple times, tried allergy meds and an oral antihistamine that did not improve his lot. The last resort was surgery. The doctors suggested adding ear tubes and also removing the adenoids. Not wanting to be so aggressive right off the bat, we figured to try the ear tubes first. It would buy us about a year or so before the tubes would fall out on their own and make a nice pair of waxy Tic-tacs for some lucky cat’s mouth.

Worm, I promise that is a helmet!

Worm, I promise that is a helmet!

Ear tubes are a comparatively easy job next to quadruple heart bypass surgery. Step 1. Apply bubble-gum flavored general anesthesia. Step 2. Slit eardrum. Vacuum out fluid. Step 3. Slide in tubes. Step 4. Repeat for other ear. Step 5. Wheel Worm to the recovery room. It sounded easy in my head for the weeks leading up to the surgery. But as we got closer, I was losing my cool…

To me, nothing really is ever easy, until it’s finished. I started overthinking: What if Worm is allergic to anesthesia? What if he doesn’t wake up? What if the doctor didn’t have enough coffee that morning? What if under the fluid, there’s irreparable damage? Will Worm be able to hear us? What if the doctors get the wrong paperwork and accidentally remove his adenoids? Or a leg? Should I ask the doctor for his credentials? I didn’t run a background check on anyone at the hospital! What if the recovery room popsicles cause Worm to go into shock! Has anyone done a study on this? Maybe I should learn how to do the surgery myself! I’m pretty good with my hands…

We survived! The entire experience was much more traumatic for me than it was for Worm, who strangely enough, was giddy with excitement for surgery day. Does Worm have Munchausen syndrome? What if he starts making up diseases for himself so he can have doctors fix him? Is he a budding hypochondriac? When should I start worrying? Let me search the internet for clues…

In the short time we spent at the hospital, I got to see what looked like to me, children (and parents) facing much more difficulty than what our family was going through. I was eating lunch and witnessed another family crying and consoling one another. I shoved my face deep into my cheeseburger to keep from being overwhelmed by the emotion of what they could possibly be dealing with. A hospital can be a tough place. No, it IS a tough place.

I would have done anything to switch places with Worm just so he wouldn’t have had to have surgery. He’s my son and, understandably, I don’t want anything bad to ever happen to him. I want to be there for him and protect him from as much as humanly possible. But I couldn’t do anything about the situation and I felt quite helpless. That afternoon, my little Worm rode the plasma car into the operating room. I learned what it’s like to love a child so strongly that you’re willing to give yourself in exchange for it. It was apparent.

I am a parent.

Well, Worm, sort of...

Well, Worm, sort of…

Ummmm...

Ummmm…No.

Gavin – 39; Honeydaddy – 22 (You held up better than I did, Worm. Kudos to your courage! And you can hear me now!)

Studies have shown that babies with plagiocephaly are kind, sweet, loving, and happy infants.  Our research has determined a correlation between a cranial flat spot and a jovial affect.  First, I must give you a little background on our two test monkeys subjects.  Smushie, the present subject, is all of those pleasant things and the posterior portion of her head is flat.  And a number of years ago, I (the other subject) was a baby with similar features, both of personality and of physique.  Coincidence?  No.  These two positive data points makes us (and by us, I mean me) confident that my our assumption holds 100% true.  Babies with flat heads are definitely more good-natured than their round-headed counterparts.

A little history about me.  I was a considerate baby.  I never cried much.  I slept a lot.  I ate when I needed to and excused myself after belching.  I changed my own diapers and took out the trash once a week before I could walk.  (I tied trash bags to my body and dragged them out to the curb.)  I was an easy child and my mom and dad didn’t have to lift too many extra fingers after welcoming me to the family.  Good thing for them, because they needed the rest of their fingers and all of their toes to control my wily older brother.  For the most part, I was left allowed to peacefully sit and observe my surroundings.  And by sit, I mean that my parents would prop me up against the one coconut tree (‘Nature’s babysitter’ is what the locals would call it)  growing in the center of our dirt floor house.   I enjoyed many an afternoon watching my older brother run into that tree only to rattle the occasional drupe loose.  (How I loved the ‘thunk’ of a fresh coconut colliding with my dear brother’s head.  Sorry, I digress.)  Gravity also took its toll on me as I lay at the base of the tree day after day.  The pressure of my head on the hard tree trunk eventually molded my occiput flat.  I was an amiable baby and didn’t need my parents to coddle me much.  And they needed to use their extra energy for chasing after my brother.  (On a side note, I recently thought about having some fat taken out of my ass and injected into the back of my head to give me a more normal human look.  But, I couldn’t come to grips with being a true-to-life butthead and so changed my mind.)

Now back to the Smushster.  Her head is flat in the back.  Not so much now as it was before, since she’s been a stomach sleeper for the past 2 months.  I know, I know.  SIDS risk, right?  But, I can’t force her to sleep on her back without duct taping her pj’s to the mattress and the wife nixed that idea pretty quickly.  (She quickly nixes most of my ideas, huh?)  Because of the fear of SIDS that my wife instilled in me, I now sleep in the same room as Smush.  I keep one ear peeled and pounce on any funny noises exiting her crib.  Anyhow, for the first 4 months of her life, she was always on her back.  Why?  Because we read somewhere that you should never try to make a happy baby even happier.  So, we didn’t.

It would have been foolish of me to bother to pick Smush up while she was being such a good little girl.  And boy, oh boy, has she been a good girl thus far.  The only time she really fusses is when she’s hungry or the Worm is trying to separate her feet from her ankles.  That’s why she has spent a lot of time in the crib, in the car seat, and in the baby sling (which saved us from having to find a coconut tree to lean her against).  Which proves my hypothesis – babies with flat heads are the sweetest ones.

Why?  Good babies are allowed to just be.  They don’t need to be held, carried, rocked, bounced, jostled, swinged, etc.  They hang out.  Which means that they spend more time sitting or laying down in one position than the persnickety babies that need constant attention, changing scenery, etc.  By not being held as much, the happy baby heads eventually conform to the shape of the surface they come in contact with, which is usually flat.

There you have it folks.  Theory, hypothesis, a little imagination, some results, and a conclusion.  Who said life wasn’t one big science project?  (I’m really trying to exercise my own mind here…I feel it rapidly disintegrating from lack of use.)

In Some Cultures, a Flat Spot is a Sign of Beautifulness!

In Some Cultures, a Flat Spot is a Sign of Beautifulness!

…Smush leaks.  From either the top or the bottom.  Actually she leaks out of the sides too.  Sometimes I don’t even have to squeeze her and stuff squirts out.  I can wrap her in diapers from head to toe and it’s not enough to curb her outpouring of, um, love.

VOMIT:  Worm wasn’t this messy.  In fact I can count on one hand how many times he spit up during his infancy.  In Smush’s case, I can barely fit on one hand the number of times she spits up in a day.  Steph tells me that my technique in holding Smush puts pressure on her stomach and makes for easy projectile vomiting.  I hold her as I would hold a bunch of clothes that need to go to the laundry, i.e. stuffed under my arm.  I did it with Worm and it worked fine.  Besides, it makes my arms look more muscular when I carry her around the playground.  I see no reason why Smush can’t follow the path that big brother has cleanly (and I stress, cleanly) set out already.  (In case you’re wondering…being in close proximity of my armpits has not been clinically proven to cause nausea, vomiting, and excessive drooling.)

PEE:  Little girls aren’t equipped with a firehose like the lads.  It’s not like you can move any equipment around in their diaper or make any minor adjustments.  Diapers and girls are pretty much plug and play.  Still, I’m perplexed as to how my little girl’s diaper can barely be wet, while her pants are soaked in pee.  It makes no sense.  But what does make sense, is that the gods are using her body as a conduit and indirectly taking turns pissing on me for my karmic misdeeds.

POOP:  We visit the zoo once a week.  She manages to poop through her diaper, wiggle in her stroller seat enough to get poop up to her pits and then acts like she doesn’t know why all the flies are swarming us.  Don’t even ask about the rest of the week.

On average, she’s soiling 4 bibs and 3 outfits a day.  My logical mind tells me that if we can flip the materials inside out, we can cut the amount of dirty clothes in half.  The worst of it is that I’m less and less interested in holding her without wrapping her in a plastic bag first.  Especially for long periods of time.  And if I hear any noise (or any long, still pause), my instincts cause my elbows to straighten and force the street to catch any fluid spillage.  Unless, I’m in the house.  Then, I just sprinkle some bacon bits over the fresh mess and let the dogs clean up.  (I kid.  I kid.)

Uh oh.  I think I heard something…

I'm a Lady, Dammit!

I’m a Lady, Dammit!

My two babies have nicknames.  Cutesy little monikers that I dreamed up on my own (with the help of my animal friend, Gosling’s Black Seal).  Names that one day may embarrass the tears from their eyes, when shouted in a crowded room of their peers.

First came Worm, the wiggly, shifty one.  From early on, he was a master of escape.  As hard as I tried to swaddle him, it was never enough to keep all of his limbs secure.  15 minutes of sweating, squirming, and shuffling was all it took to thwart my best wrapping effort.  Even with the lights off.  And with a wet diaper, he was doubly fast.  The writhing contortionist was so worm-like, that it didn’t take long for me to think of what to call him.

Then there’s Smush, the cuddler.  She loves to be close to another warm body.  Her spaghetti noodle arms aren’t developed quite yet, so she mainly cuddles using her face.  We have ultrasound pics of Smushie trying to ‘hug’ her mommy’s womb from the inside.  Her cheeks mashed up against her mom’s uterine wall and reminded me of a pug.  (But I drew the line at calling my daughter a pug.  I’ve got standards!  Besides, Steph didn’t approve it.)  I can’t blame the little girl.  She’s got cheeks like pillows and still uses them to shamelessly nestle and snooze anywhere on anyone.  Sometimes, I smush her cheeks together for my own amusement.  (I have a feeling that will come back to bite me in the ass.)  Smush.  Looking at those pudgy cheeks, I can’t think of a more fitting name.

When I was younger, I thought I would get a cool nickname from my friends.  (You can’t give yourself a nickname.  That’s against the rules.  Besides, it’s lame.)  Maybe they would see my mathematical prowess and call me ‘The Human Calculator‘.  But, now I see that most people can do double-digit addition without a pencil and paper.  Or maybe I would be called the ‘Big Injun’.  But, I couldn’t eat enough cheeseburgers to really nail the ‘Big’ part.  Not to say that I waited 36 years for a nickname like this one…but since it was first uttered from the Worm’s mouth in the sweetest sing-song tone ever, it has firmly planted itself into my heart.

I am the ‘Honey Daddy’.  (Take your shots now, you soulless, cold-blooded, insensitive people.)  And it’s not to be confused with the fierce honey badger.  No no no.  Worm likens me more to honey butter than honey badger.  I guess it fits.  Because everytime he says it, I melt.

Gavin – 24; Dad – 12 (Worm, can I get a tougher, more manly nickname later?  Pretty pretty please?)

How Can I Say No To That?!

How Can I Say No To That?!

If there’s anything in life that tells you that you’re an utter failure at parenting, it should be the time around 3am, when you and your infant are both crying because neither one of you has slept in days.  I, my friends, am doing everything wrong.

“I’ve done this before.  It’s not new to me.” I told myself.  So why doesn’t Smush want to sleep?  She’s been out of the proverbial water (maybe not really proverbial) for 3 weeks now and I can’t figure out why she’s not sleeping at all.  Let me rephrase that.  She sleeps during the day.  But, as soon as the moon rises and the lights are out, it’s a relentless grunt-a-thon.

Between the hours of midnight and 7 am, Smush turns into a sleep monster, eating up the slumber of her once loving parents.  Her viciously effective torture method is to squeak and snort often enough to scoop us out of our delicious dreams.  Once we flip on the bedroom light to discern the matter, she’s quiet as a mouse (and maniacally laughing inside).  Six minutes later, the cycle repeats itself…like every six minutes.

To limit Smush’s damage to just one parent at a time, Steph and I take turns sleeping with the enemy baby.  Meaning, the living room couch has recently become the best place to snooze and be snoozed.  As much as we’d both like to sleep on the couch, one of us has to comically karmically suffer for our life’s misdeeds (like the time when I was 10 and I put a frog on a railroad track during the summer time and watched it sizzle in the hot sun and then get run over by a freight train.  I’m sorry for doing that.  I really mean it this time!).  In the past couple of days, I’ve pulled the short straw.  That means grabbing an extra pillow and hunkering down in the trenches until sunrise.

I’ll be the first to tell you that Smush is not a sweet pea at 3am.  (She’s more like the pea under my mattress.)  During the witching hours, she dons horns and carries a pitchfork (or a spork.  I can’t tell.  My eyesight’s a bit blurry SINCE I HAVEN’T SLEPT IN DAYS!).  In the dark, I feel her cold, calculating stare.  If I fake like I’m sleeping, she knows.  She waits patiently until I really nod off and fills the air with “Ughhhhhh!”.  I bolt upright and curse in her general direction.  This series of events is looped until morning.

On the worst night, I was sans wits.  Wanting to do something to help Steph’s daughter (I’ve disowned her already), I thought that I could try a few things to help her (and I) get some much-needed rest.  They were a string of bad ideas.

Here’s a list of things that I did that are sure to help me win the “Parenting Failure of the Year” award.  I’ve set the bar, ladies and gentlemen.  So, if you’re wondering how NOT to get your newborn to sleep, read on.

  1. Massage the baby – Um, nope.  This is supposed to relax a person!  Since babies are not people, don’t try to do this at night.  You’ll only serve to wear out your hands and invigorate your child.  Trust me, I know.
  2. Stretch and exercise the baby – No again.  I thought that I could tire her out physically by making her do pushups and working her bicycle kicks.  About an hour in, I was both proud of my girl’s stamina and pissed by my girl’s stamina.  Still wide awake…
  3. Practice martial arts techniques while holding baby – With baby fully exercised, I strapped Smush to myself in hopes that my movement would fatigue her and myself.  I know, brilliant right?  Wrong.  I was worked up and so was she.  Wee hours of the morning….
  4. Burp the baby – Well, it works well for about 5 minutes after she eats, but something (a little voice in my head) told me that maybe my girl just needed to be burped again.  30 minutes of burping techniques and I could only manage to burp myself.  I’m 99% sure now that any air that makes its way past the stomach is only going to come out the other end.  Ah, the cock’s are crowing…
  5. Rum – For me, not for her.  A glass or two helped ease my pain, but not my hearing.  Nope.  Besides, who drinks at 7am?  The sun’s up and so is the rest of the house.  Yay…

I was just overstimulating the Smushie.  She would get more stressed and so would I.  The smoke from between her ears should have tipped me off, but I thought it was another devilish trick.

Yes, I’m irritated.  Yes, I’m frustrated.  Yes, I’m tired.  I’m thinking about returning her to the hospital and getting a new one.  This one may be broken.  It squeaks too much.

Don't Tell Me That's Your Eating Utensil, Smushie!!

Don’t Tell Me That’s Your Eating Utensil, Smushie!!

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.)

Worm wants to grow up too fast.  I want to revisit my youth.  Using a little fairy dust and internet magic, Worm and I were able to switch places for a day.

It was so much fun!  Some genius invented underwear with a built-in toilet.  I didn’t have to interrupt my cavorting just to pee or poop.  Even when full, it still hugged my body and accentuated my curves.  (I’m not sure why this idea hasn’t caught on for adults.)  It was awesome!  I bounced all over this huge springy pad in one of the bedrooms.  When I got tired from bouncing on it, I could use it to sleep on!  Brilliant!

I drooled on the couch.  I pulled wipes out of a magic box.  Every time I would pull one out, another one would appear in the same exact spot!  I screamed as loud as I could until my throat hurt.  I pulled the pots and pans out of the kitchen drawers and beat them until my arm got tired.  Why these toys were stored in the kitchen, I’ll never know.  I pretended not to listen to anyone and couldn’t find it in my body to stand still and act out some semblance of politeness.  I farted in front of my family a few times.  When I pointed blame at the dogs, we all laughed about it….every…single…time.

I did run into some problems, though.  I couldn’t get food out of the fridge.  The door was too heavy.  I wasn’t allowed to take the car keys and go for a drive.  I couldn’t go swimming in the pool by myself.  I just wanted to be left alone for a few minutes, but privacy wasn’t allowed.  I tried to hide in the nooks and crannies of the house, but seeing as how I wasn’t strong enough to move any furniture or climb up the bookcase, I stood there as still as possible in plain sight and willed myself to be invisible.  It worked about half the time…I think.  My bike was too big and I had trouble chewing the skin off of the grapes.  Why is the TV remote so darn big?  I couldn’t even hold it with one hand.  I did try to rub two of them together to see if I could make fire, but they got taken away before I could set them ablaze.  Being so close to the ground, the air heavily reeked of feet and dog butts.  And worst of all, I had to be in bed by 7:30pm.

It’s a good thing that after the stroke of midnight I will be back to my old, old self.

We are the September 25th ManBabies photo!  You can also vote for us on the website if you like!

Worm, Be Gentle! You Don’t Know Your Own Strength!

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ManBabies.com – If you’re up for a good laugh, check out some of these photos!

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