Feeble Knees

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

At Last - A Diagnosis?

We may have finally discovered the root of Bug's problem.

Yesterday was a day to remember. For the Nth consecutive night, Bug woke up every two hours crying. Down at seven thirty, up at nine-thirty. Down at ten-thirty, up at twelve-thirty, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Every once in a while, just to keep me on my toes, he'd start tossing and turning an hour or less after I put him down and crawled back into my own bed. The monitor would crackle with static, then the sound of his little legs kicking the mattress, then a few little sobs that eventually wound up into one big loud WAAAAAAAHHHH!

Lying in bed I stared at the blinking red monitor lights and whimpered. I begin to really appreciate the pathos of Bill Murray's character's predicament in Groundhog Day. I can empathize, truly. Except no matter what I do, everything always ends up the same.

One of these nights Mr. F and I are just going to start playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who has to go get him. Or draw straws. Or perhaps bribe each other:

"Fifty bucks if you go get him this time. I'll throw in a bonus fifty PLUS a back rub if you can get him back to sleep."
"Eh, I'm not really into back rubs."
"Ok, fifty plus we get to watch your new Battlestar Galactica Season One DVDs all day Saturday."

Pause. "Deal."

Anyway. About yesterday.

By three a.m. yesterday I was terrified my milk was drying up. He wasn't nursing. He'd cry to nurse, latch on, take a few sips then pop off and start crying. Latch on, latch off, cry, Latch on, latch off, cry. Switch sides, repeat. Eventually he'd take a pacifier and doze off. Oh and have I mentioned how much he hates to burp? On the shoulder, sitting propped up, doesn't matter; he screams, he kicks, he throws himself backward and struggles against me. Then he looks to nurse again. Latch on, latch off.

Rinse. Repeat.

Sooo. This behavior kept up through the morning, after Mr. F left for work. One minute he'd seem happy and content and fine, so I'd wrongfully assume it might be a good time to try to nurse him again. Wrong. Latch on, latch off... Finally, that afternoon, completely stressed out and sure that he wasn't getting adequate intake of anything, I called his pediatrician's office. The nurse told me to pack him up and bring him in. So off we went. Me crying, him screaming.

The good news is that his poo test came out fine. No intolerance issues. So they checked his ears, his throat (rapid strep was negative), they even checked his little toes and privates to see if a strand of hair had perhaps wound itself around something, causing pain. The doctor checked him over top to bottom. Twice. All the while he turned red and screamed. The nurse was flustered. The doctor was confounded.

I was holding him in my lap as his pediatrician checked him and re-checked him. Finally she took a step back and put a hand on her chin and furrowed her brow, clearly stumped. At that very moment my baby boy stopped crying, looked right up at her and smiled. A ten-thousand watt happy Gerber® Baby smile. Followed by another one. Then a shy, coy little sideways grin up at her. Then a coo. And another smile.

"You're smiling at me," she said, incredulous. Then she made this professional medical diagnosis:

"Bug, I think you are just full of Beans!"

And so there we have it, Ladies and Gentlemen. That's my boy. Full of Beans.

He continued to coo and smile and look around her office contentedly while she explained all the things she was looking for, and how he doesn't fit any of them. His temperature was normal, he appeared well hydrated, he had gained weight (another irony - the so-called "slow-gainer" had some how managed to pack on five ounces despite having been feverish, fussy and finicky since Thursday).

She recommended a support group for parents of "children that are difficult to handle". This is when the thought struck me: "That's it, there's no way to fix him - no meds, no procedures, no gimmicks. I have to take him home like this and deal. Right now, at this moment, this is just who he is."

[I'm sure there is a spiritual application or lesson to be learned in all this, but you'll pardon me if I tell anyone who suggests such a thing at this very moment to go shove off. Apologies!]

My shoulders slumped, I stared at the wall just over Bug's head and muttered: "You know I used to be a competent person. I used to have goals. I had accomplishments. People used to think I was a smart person." My voice trailed off. Bug's pediatrician patted my back. She may have said something encouraging but I don't remember, it just kind of bounced off.

He screamed a good portion of the way home, then conked out. Then woke up screaming again. And wouldn't nurse. And screamed. I vaguely remember the phone ringing, knowing it'd be a telemarketer, and picking it up deliberately just to yell at someone:

"Hi, Mrs. Feeble? This is Cathy from..."
"Hey Cathy, GO TAKE A HIKE!!!!!" [slam down phone]

Cathy, if you're out there, I'm so, so sorry.

* * *

As I write this, he has blessedly, miraculously gone down for a nap. A long nap. Long enough for me to type away in silence, with long pauses of staring at the wall here and there. I just need to close my eyes, click the heels of my well-worn fuzzy slippers together and repeat over and over again:

He'll grow out of it.
He'll grow out of it.
He'll grow out of it...

POSTSCRIPT: I am clearly losing my mind. I actually had to sit here and try to remember the syntax of a hyperlink. I could write HTML code in my sleep prior to this, but I honestly couldn't remember whether or not it was "ref" or "href". Had to go look it up.

"This is your brain."
"This is your brain after motherhood. Any questions?"
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