Some of This Is Not For The Faint of Heart…


First off, Sawyer has cut her first (and simultaneously, her second) tooth.

This is all that the rather large population of people who either don’t care about child details, or are squeamish about unvarnished, possibly unnecessary, and fairly disgusting child details need to know. Oh, and also, everyone is fine, and we are going to Stonehenge tomorrow. AND I hope you all have had the chance to check out Finley’s new photostream on the right-hand side of the page, below the red-line-to-England graphic. if you click on it, I believe it will take you to her Flicker account (if not, this will), and you can bask in the totally awesome (and often self-absorbed) perspective of an infant photographer. I have been downloading her camera about once a day, so the images should be changing pretty rapidly. Also, the date function on that camera will not stay set (it is, after all, an elderly digital camera we felt comfortable giving to a three year old), so there may be a false impression of her subject matter “cycling”… if you look at the Flickr page, you will see them in order.

Okay. Warning having been given, on to the nasty $h!t. For THAT is the topic of conversation– feces, and how it affects the lives of parents and children. Which encompasses, I believe, most of us.

Teething is an incredible pain in the ass. Kids hate it, parents hate it– the only people who enjoy it are dentists. (I know there was a story about a mortuary sending flowers to the nurses’ station on a maternity ward at a hospital with a note that read “Thank You For The Future Buisness,” but I can’t find it on the interwebs now.) Teething is synonymous with all kinds of horribleness– from irritable behaviour and drooling to diaper rashes, diarrhea, and low-grade fever. I say “synonymous,” because there are all kinds of lurkers out there just waiting to gush vitriol all over the poor unsuspecting blogger who mistakenly says that teething CAUSES such things. I am not here to suggest a cause-and-effect relationship (you hear about new teeth creating pressure on the infant’s ear canal and sinus cavities, stimulating the development of an ear infection, in turn causing a low-grade fever, etc. Or that there can be an elevated temperature due to broken gums that are exposed to bacteria or from the eruption of cysts on the gums.)– other, learned (or at least opinionated) people can argue about the nature of the connection between these items. I don’t particularly care. We have not had a child yet who didn’t teethe (teethe? spell check seems to think that’s right, but it looks funky) and have some or all of these things happen– if you look at Finley’s photos DSCF1932.jpg through DSCF1951.jpg, you can see EXACTLY how flushed, how drooly, and how miserable Sawyer was, off and on, last night.

And, like our other children, sad things were going on (or NOT going on) for her in the diaper department.

I’m not going to say why. I don’t know. But in my experience, rather than the diarrhea other people talk about, our kids have traditionally gotten “stopped up” during the protracted siege that is teething. In this case, things have not been helped by the differences in feeding philosophies between the US and the UK. At home, “Stage One” foods are usually very simple– one fruit or vegetable per bottle, with things getting fancy when you graduate to “Stage Three” or so. Not so here. Everything, from the beginning, is mixed together. How about a bottle of Chicken Casserole? Perhaps a tin of  Apple & Cookie Crumble? I can’t find it, but I KNOW I have seen a “Sunday Roast Dinner” on offer, purporting to have Roast Beef, Biscuit, Mash, and Onions– for the 4-to-6-month-old crowd. Not so much with the simple foods / one flavor / “go slowly & watch out for allergies” idea that is often prescribed at home. (Even one of the providers of organic baby food that we really like has a “Fish Pie with Mash” on offer, containing “Organic salmon, potatoes, whole milk, peas, broccoli, onions, unsalted butter and parsley” for 7 months & up.) And all the baby food we have seen, even if it only has two ingredients in it, seems to always mix an item on the list of “laxative foods” (lots of things that start with “p”– peaches, peas, papayas, persimmons, pineapple, PRUNES… as well as apricots, avocados, dates, endive, figs, grapes,  rhubarb, and watercress) with something from the “constipating foods” (apples, bananas, carrots, rice, potatoes), so you can’t easily find something that will help your kid… release.

Which brings us to last week. Sawyer’s teeth were bothering her, it was obvious. Just as obviously, she couldn’t “pass” much, and it required CONCENTRATION. It was like she was making change from a five-dollar-bill. One penny at a time. And, as I mentioned, we could not readily purchase a bottle of Earth’s Best Stage One Prunes. So I decided to make some.

This was not particularly difficult.

It was, however, nasty. I got a can of “California Prunes in Juice” from Sainsburys. Here, we were already partially denied, as on inspection the “juice” was not prune or plum juice, but apple juice. (Apples are on the “constipating” list, and part of the BRAT diet, as you probably know.) “Nevermind,” I thought. “The ratio is still heavily in favour of the prunes.” I opened the can. A STRONG SMELL. Yes, indeedy. I was ready to press on to the pureeing, when I realized that Sainsbury’s had dealt me a second blow– the can was not a can of PITTED prunes. Quite the opposite. So, I returned them to their can, and began to separate the pits from the prunes. I would like to mention, at this point, that I actually LIKE pitting cherries. NOT so much with the prunes. It was kind of like handling the giblets from the neck of a Thanksgiving turkey. Or, perhaps, MASSAGING the giblets of a Thanksgiving turkey, if said giblets were rotten and suppurating– and popping like an impatient teenagers’ zits. I made it through the can, but barely. I then began to puree, using the Braun Multimixer that was furnished with the flat. This worked well, and only shot thin streams of pureed prune nastiness across the kitchen a VERY few times. I BARELY had to clean up. (You may read my capitals as sarcasm.) I was left with something that I had really wanted– pureed prunes– with just barely more than the minimum of effort, trouble, and mess. I was forced, while examining my handiwork, to remark again (and I believe this is an almost universal observation) how little the prunes change with their passage through the baby.

So we fed the poor, unsuspecting baby the product of my labour. And it worked. And worked again. And continues to work. She’s happy about things– her teeth, her digestion– and we get to be happy about those same things, as well as getting to be happy about how much effort keeping up with her currently “efficient” digestion can be.

I’ll probably freeze the remainder of the prunes. She’ll either cut another tooth, or need to be punished in some other way, so it will be good to have it handy.

And hey, like I said at the beginning– she’s got her first (and second) tooth!

2 Comments

Filed under In England

2 responses to “Some of This Is Not For The Faint of Heart…

  1. Stephen

    Poor baby. I also extend my sympathies to Sawyer. (See what I did there?) Seriously, she looks miserable in one of those photos. On the plus side, this post was hilarious. Maybe read it to her?

  2. I LOVE Finley’s photostream! Best blog idea ever. I plan to steal it in approximately two years.

    A little first time parent confession: I had NO idea that all that other stuff was related to teething. No clue. You have explained SO much of our experience since the teething started.

    Your tale of prune pureeing woe is heart wrenching. On the up side, at least the apartment came with a blender . . . even if it is a regurgitating blender.

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