Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How To Sum Up The First Month

I will get back to telling the rest of the labor story, specifically what happened before we left the hospital, the first few days at home, and OH MY GOD WITH THE BREASTFEEDING. (Which, by the way, has gone just fine.) But first, this snippet. I believe it illustrates the insanity that is being a crazy first-time parent:

Sometime around week three, I noticed something in Eve's left eye. It looked like a tiny little hair. I didn't know what to do about it. I tried the internet, but got nothing but the usual hodgepodge of shrill, non-medical information. No good.

I thought long and hard about what to do. (We're talking hours of contemplation.)

Do I use my finger to try to get it out? That can't be a good idea, right? What if, no matter how much I wash my hand, it's still dirty? Like, with microscopic germs or dirt or oil? The kind that only adults can have on their fingertips that infants can't tolerate? What if I accidentally scratch her, even though I have already cut all my fingernails down to the stub? What if I cause some kind of damage that her little body won't ever be able to repair? WHAT IF I BLIND MY CHILD???

Clearly I should not put my finger in her eye.

I next considered washing her eye out with the syringe, but also thought there might be no way to clean the syringe enough to guarantee that I wouldn't irritate her eye more. What if there's some weird residue on the syringe? What if the water itself isn't clean enough? And certainly Eve is not going to like getting water squirted in her eye.

No. The syringe isn't a good idea either.

The book says to clean around baby's eye with a cotton ball. Except what if the hair in her eye came from the cotton ball in the first place? What if more cotton just made the whole thing worse? What if she got several more hairs in her eye?

It went on like this.

I finally decided to leave the hair there. Eve didn't seem to notice or care at all. And if I've learned anything about how to be a good parent According To The Internet, it's to believe that natural is better in every way. I didn't want to scar my child for life! Natural! Her eye will flush out the hair itself.

Hours of terrified contemplation, I tell you.

The next morning, Eve woke up and I was ready to be handcuffed and carted away by child services. Because, you see, the inside corner of her left eye was slightly red, there was a little bit of yellow goo, and her eye was tearing. Yes, her eye was flushing itself out, but! But it looked kind of gross! Which means bad! And "bad" could mean blind! WHAT IF SHE DIDN'T RECOVER? HAD I BLINDED MY BABY???

Ish and I were sick with worry. We called the doctor's office and left a message for someone to get back to us asap.

When the pediatric nurse called me back, I tried hard not to sound like a crazy-lunatic-first-time mother even though that's exactly what I was. Which became evident to me as I heard myself telling the story to the nurse on the phone.

It went something like...

"I noticed a little hair in my daughter's eye yesterday. This morning, her eye seems irritated, like it's being flushed out. But I'm concerned because her eye is red and tearing up."

"You noticed a hair in her eye yesterday?"

"Yes."

"Did you get it out?"

Um.

"No? I was afraid...I didn't think...No."

"I see. So the hair stayed there and now it looks like the eye is irritated?"

"Yeah."

See how stupid this is sounding?

"It's probably just cleaning itself out. If you want to help it along, put a warm compress on it or dampen cotton balls..."

The nurse went on to basically describe all the ways in which you can try and clean a baby's eye out. And to say that I didn't need to have it looked at unless it got worse or didn't clear up in another day. And when I asked, she very kindly told me that no, it was unlikely that any permanent damage had been done.

And before I even hung up, I realized that I'd fallen into a trap of my own making. I mean, sure, let's take general health precautions and try to do what's best for the baby, but not at the expense of all common sense.

So I thought about it, and felt dumb, and eventually made a promise with myself. The next time a "dilemma" like this one presented itself (other examples include: "Oh my god, the baby COUGHED!" and "The baby scratched herself!!!"), I would ask, "What would a mom with FIVE kids do in this situation?" Certainly she wouldn't spend hours trying to figure out what to do about, well, anything. She'd just go with her gut and get on with her day. Mom with five kids? Queen of common sense.

Common sense: you see something in your baby's eye, you get it out. No hours of contemplation or referencing manuals or calling doctors required. It requires nothing but washing your hands. Or maybe even just sucking on your finger.

17 comments:

  1. Oh, it's TRUE! I would PICK THE EYE! But that's because I love to pick eyes.

    It's a quirk. I'm aware of it.

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  2. This made me laugh and giggle and smile!
    Keep up with the mum of five thing and you'll do brilliantly!

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  3. I think you did the right thing though. I agreed with all your worries and I think letting it flush out was best. I suppose a wet compress might have moved it along faster, but big deal. Her eye is fine and you made sure there were no catastrophes. Perfect.

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  4. What would a mom of five do? Not notice the hair until the eye was red and/or goopy. All respect to moms of five, but I have only TWO and I don't even BATHE them until they are sticking to surfaces.

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  5. Shortly before leaving the hospital with my brandy spandy new baby girl, I dripped salad dressing in her eye.

    Thinking of Wild Kingdom, I licked it off.

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  6. Within the first 10 days of my son's life, I elbowed him in the head quite viciously; cut his fingernails and made him bleed; and once photographed him crying just so I'd have it for my scrapbook.

    I think you're on to something with the over-thinking and calling of the doctor.

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  7. You know how it goes.....1st time parent, "Oh no, he's bleeding, lets get him to the Dr.". Second Child comes along...."Oh, poor baby, let mommy kiss it, put antibiotic ointment on it and a bandaid".....third child..."You know where the bandaids are, right?" 4th child..."Don't bleed on the carpet!!!!!"

    Like most things in life, experience is the best teacher. When it's your first, you lack that. My only advice, don't be afraid to call your doctor. Believe me you aren't the only first time parents who doubt their instincts. It's natural because you want the best for your child.

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  8. I just want to hug you with the sweetness.

    I'm all nostalgic and everything.

    Also? It's after lunch and there was wine.

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  9. Isn’t it fantastic how being a parent gives you a whole new level of neurosis?

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  10. I would have just treated it like an eye lash. They are thicker than hairs and they don't cause catastrophes when they get into our eyes. I have two kids and another on the way. It probably wouldn't have hurt to have just washed your hands very well and lightly tapped the hair with your finger. It would have stuck and came out very easily. You're doing great though. I freaked out several times with my first and I know we were at the emergency room atleast 3 times within the first month. I was sure he wasn't breathing right.(We are all crazy with the first). Keep up the good work.

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  11. okay, so i read this an hour ago and i'm still chuckling.

    -el snarkster

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  12. Mom spit is a better all-purpose problem solver than windex.

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  13. Love it! What is it about being a first time mom that makes all common sense go out the window? I like the mother of 5 theory.

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  14. That so sounds like something I would do. Too funny. What's awesome about your kid getting past the first few months-is that you quit over thinking that stuff.
    I wonder if she put you on speaker fun so that the other nurses could get a giggle?
    Keee, hee, heee.

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  15. Mommy spit cures most everything.

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  16. My first child had nothing but breast milk until she was exactly four months, at which point we added one kind of baby food at a time, according to the baby directions. My second child was gnawing on a pizza crust at six months. My third? She's a tough little thing and has survived, dare I say, thrived, for eight and a half years.

    You'll be fine. The baby will be fine. And all of your newbie questions are what keeps the pediatrician in business. The true test of a good baby doctor is how silly they don't make you feel during the first year of your firstborn's life.

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  17. You've probably already received it before, but I wanted you to know: I gave you the Superior Scribbler award. I love reading your blog.

    http://kate4148.blogspot.com

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