Tag Archives: Hazel

Story of the Day: 2-20-11


The Unkindest Cut

On Friday, we hurt our baby. I sat on this one for a few days because I didn’t want to jinx anything. But now we know everything is going to be okay and we can all laugh about it. When it happened, it was no laughing matter.

What happened was this: Sarah decided to clip our baby’s fingernails for the first time. Clipping baby fingernails is a surprisingly onerous task. We have several pairs of baby fingernail clippers, but basically what they are is adult fingernail clippers with giant handles. So you can more accurately position them, I guess. They’re not at all like safety scissors, which can barely be used to cut paper. They’re razor-sharp little snipping tools designed to be used on flailing, unpredictable fingers that are about 1 cm in diameter. And babies aren’t cats; you can’t wrap them in a blanket to calm them down while you do your clipping. You just gotta go in and hope for the best.

We’d avoided using the clippers for as long as possible. Instead, we’d been biting her nails off. I know that probably sounds insane to anyone who isn’t a parent, but we are parents and it doesn’t. Earlier in the week, though, Sarah watched one of our friends cheerfully clip her 2-month-old’s nails while she was engaged in conversation. It looked so easy, Sarah thought it was time to give it a whirl.

I left Sarah in the living room as she was just about to begin the de-nailifying. A minute later, I heard her shout out, “I cut off her finger.” I ran back into the living room to see a very frightened mother holding a wailing, thrashing Hazel. Blood poured out of the baby’s finger like Coke from a soda fountain. The baby’s screams pierced through our eardrums and into our souls.

“Jesus,” I said, “that looks bad.” I knew my job was to be the strong, supportive one, but it really did look bad.

“Is she okay? Is she going to live?” Sarah asked, in a state of shock.

“I don’t know,” I said. I honestly didn’t know. “I’ll call the doctor.”

I called the doctor. Even though I was filled with anxiety about my daughter’s health, I was excited to present him with a problem that couldn’t be solved by eating more meat and fruits.

“We were clipping my daugher’s nails and we clipped off part of her finger and now it’s bleeding all over the place,” I said, breathlessly, when I got the doctor on the phone.

The doctor is never phased by anything. “Put pressure on finger,” he said in his calming Lebanese accent. “If still bleeding, come in. Before 2. After 2, is busy.”

“Okay,” I said, “what about Band-Aids?”

“Sure, okay. Whatever you want,” he said, and hung up.

Hazel was in worse shape than I’d seen her since my misguided attempt to let her cry herself to sleep when she was 3 weeks old. “The doctor said to apply pressure,” I told Sarah.

“Like this?” Sarah asked. She squeezed Hazel’s finger. Hazel exploded in a new round of tortured wailing. It was all Sarah could do to keep it together.

“That sounds right,” I said.

After about ten minutes of torturous squeezing, her finger stopped bleeding and she settled down. We took a look at the damage. It was hard to tell how hurt she was, because every time we tried to hold her finger, it set off a new round of bleeding and screaming. Finally, we decided to put a mitten on her hand and take a look at it later. Out of sight, out of mind.

She seemed to be in okay shape so I went into the office to do some work. On the way home I stopped by Rite-Aid to pick up some children’s Tylenol and baby Band-Aids. To my surprise, every box of children’s Band-Aids they had in the store was covered with product placement for toys and cartoon characters. I know kids love that shit but I’ve gotta draw the line somewhere. My baby does not need to be wearing somebody’s product on her finger. I ended up buying some liquid bandage goop that I brushed onto her finger and never bothered to remove.

The next day the top of her finger was covered by a big, black scab. Two days later, the scab fell off and her finger appears to be back to normal. Lesson learned: babies have Wolverine-like healing powers. As for how to tame her unruly nails, we’re back to biting. It’s not that big a deal, really. Everyone knows baby fingernails taste like lollipopsicles and marshmallowmars.

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Story of the Day: 1-27-11


On Poop

I never gave much thought to poop before I became a dad. Even the word is difficult for me to say. It’s so round and bouncy and cutesy. As an adult, you can’t say, “I’ve gotta take a poop.” You just can’t.

It is an awful word because poop is not cute in any context. And contrary to what you might assume, baby poop is absolutely no cuter than adult poop. It is not like adorable little baby toes, or puckered little baby lips. It is a smeared sheet of turd that coats their butts and their baby genitalia and spills out of their diapers and gets all over their clothing and yours.

Which is not to say that cleaning a baby is the same thing as wiping an adult’s ass. If given the choice, pick the baby. I mean, unless it’s your own ass. If you must do both, I recommend cleaning yourself before handling the baby.

Hazel has not had a poop since Monday. And before that, the last one was the previous Monday. Before you freak out and call child services, please note that it is actually rather normal. We asked our doctor. We weren’t just like, “well, I guess that’s what babies do.” We sought professional advice. And he says it’s fine. His advice was for Sarah to eat only fruits and meats. That’s his advice for everything. “Before bed, apply heat pad to breasts. Take warm shower.” He’s Syrian.

The first time we went to this pediatrician was when Hazel was about a week old. She looked a little yellow to us, so we asked him if she had jaundice. He produced a chart that had been photocopied so many times it was difficult to read. It listed ages and jaundice levels. So like, if your child is 1 month old and at a level 12 of jaundice she’s fine, but if she’s only one week old, that’s too high.

I asked the doctor how he determined these jaundice levels.

“You look,” he said, pointing the pen at the baby. “You see, here 10 jaundice” — pointing at her arm — “here 3 jaundice.” — pointing at her forehead.

“I see,” I said, even though I didn’t really see.

“Here 8 jaundice” — her leg — “here 13 jaundice” — her cheeks — “here 5 jaundice” — her feet. “So that’s …” doing some quick calculations in his head, “7 jaundice.” He looked at the chart. “She okay.”

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“It’s okay. It’s no problem,” he said.

“Alright,” I said. I assume he’s had some kind of training. She looks pink enough nowadays, so I suppose he probably knows what he was talking about.

But we asked around about the poop issue, just to get some other opinions. We know about 3 other parents who have dealt with the same poop issue. Yes, we’ve spoken to at least three other sets of people about this problem. We talk about poop now like we used to talk about movies and bands.

Some people have been aghast when we’ve told them our baby only poops once a week. These people’s babies pooped far more than once a week. The only people who say, “of course! That’s totally normal,” are people who have experienced the same phenomenon.

I admit, it sounds abnormal. It doesn’t make much sense to me. But I guess all she eats is breast milk. If milk was the only food I consumed, I might be able to get down to once a week, too.

The downside of her not pooping is that she farts like a linebacker. She is so, so farty. And she’s always got this tight swaddle around her, so she just hangs out all day, bundled up like a mummified worm, filling her swaddle with farts. The farts are not cute either. We went to a party on New Year’s Eve and Sarah brought incense, just in case. More than a few people have, after holding her for a few minutes, said to us, “I think she has a dirty diaper.” Unless it’s Monday, you don’t really have to worry about that.

On the plus side, she’s healthy, she sleeps well, and she doesn’t whine much. And given the choice between farting and crying, I will gladly take farting. That is where I am, having to choose between farting and crying, with farting being as good as it gets.

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Story of the Day: 1-26-11


A Terrible Name

Before our daughter was born, Sarah and I had four names we were trying to decide between. They were:

Charlotte. Plusses: It is a very cute name. Can be shortened to Charlie, and little girls think boy nicknames are pretty cool. Minuses: It is very popular.

Lucy. Plusses: It’s classic. Peanuts is the best. Minuses: A bit boring.

Juniper. Plusses: It’s interesting. Cool nickname possibilites – Juni and Juno. I have never met anyone named Juniper. Minuses: I have never met anyone named Juniper.

And Hazel. Which [spoiler alert!] was the winner of the name contest.

It first entered our consciousness the night that Lisi came to visit with her son, Fiver. Fiver is the name of the prophet rabbit in Watership Down. We were joking around and said that it would be funny if we named our daughter Hazel, because Hazel is the leader of the rabbits in Watership Down. And then Hazel and Fiver could hang out and, I don’t know, get attacked by owls or whatever rabbits do. It started as a joke, but the more we thought about it, the more we liked the name.

A week before she was born, my parents came out to visit. We had managed to keep our name choices a secret up until that point, but with the birth date so close, we decided to run our names past them. BIG mistake. As soon as we told them the names, they both said, “Ugh. Well, whatever name you choose, do NOT go with Hazel.” We were both totally surprised. To me Hazel seemed, at worst, innocuous. But their reactions made it seem like we had decided to name our daughter Adolf.

“Hazel is an old lady with cankles,” my dad said. Cankles! I had never heard my dad use the word cankles before.

“The other kids will call her witch Hazel!” my mom complained. Which, A) do kids have any idea what witch hazel is? and B) Witch Hazel is a badass nickname! 

The day before we were to go into the hospital and get induced … which we had to do because the baby was two weeks late even though in my estimation they totally misjudged the due date but whatever, I’m not bitter … and when I say “we had to get induced” I really mean Sarah … we told my parents that Hazel was the winner. They reacted well. “Well, she can always change it later in life if she doesn’t like it,” my dad said. We had since come up with the nickname Zellie, which seemed to soften the blow somewhat. And my dad decided as long as he could call her his little Hazelnut, he’d be okay.

We sort of had the last laugh when we announced her birth on Facebook. Commenter after commenter told us how much they loved her name. “You notice that no one of my generation said they liked her name,” my dad remarked, unwilling to budge an inch.

In the meantime, the name Hazel seems to have exploded onto the zeitgeist. Julia Roberts’ new daughter has the name. Barely a day goes by that we don’t hear about another Hazel somewhere in our extended social circle. By the time Zellie gets to school, Hazel could be the new Britney. We’re not worried, though. We’ll just change her name to Juniper.

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Story of the Day: 1-13-11


Baby Sleep

I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure people have been taking care of babies for at least a few hundred years. During that time, the human race has demonstrated many impressive achievements, like walking around on the moon and inventing rollerblades and such. So why have we not figured out the perfect formula for putting babies to sleep?

The stock answer I hear from other parents is “every baby is different.” I think we give ourselves too much credit. I’m sure Hazel has her own little quirks, and I would assume she has an infantile version of a personality. But I have a hard time believing she’s so incredibly different from every other baby on the planet that she needs her own unique sleep plan, completely tailored to her individual specifications. Here’s my scientific way of knowing that all babies are basically the same: take one baby and set it next to another baby. Observe such things as their looks and their behavior. Now set one of those babies next to any other item in existence. A sandwich, say, or a mylar balloon. I can guarantee the baby has more properties in common with the other baby than with the sandwich or the balloon. You see? Science.

Yet baby sleep remains one of the biggest mysteries in the parenting realm. There are a gazillion books on the subject and they all offer totally conflicting advice. Of the parents I’ve talked to who seem to have it worked out, the most common bit of advice they give us is, “don’t read any books.” Which would be great advice, if we’d ever gone through this before. But at this point we are literally without a single clue. Not that we’re having trouble; compared to many horror stories I’ve heard, our baby is a sleep genius. Last night she went from 10:30 until 4 in the morning with nary a peep. That is a pretty impressive stretch for a 6 week old, if I do say so myself.

But I recognize that eventually we’re going to have to put her on some sort of program. Right now it is just anarchy. She eats, she sleeps. We put her in the crib at night and hope she doesn’t wake up. That is our program: pure faith. 

The hardest part of being a parent so far is striking that fine balance between instant gratification and delayed gratification. That is, figuring out what is going to pacify the baby momentarily, and what is going to teach her valuable life skills. If my baby is crying her eyes out, I assume that’s a sign that she is not very happy with the way things are going. And my job as a parent is to keep her happy, right? But what if that momentary sadness is going to make her a happier, more well-functioning human being in the long run? 

Somewhere along the line, we learned the interesting fact that nothing really matters in baby world until three months. We are supposed to respond to the baby’s every whim until she’s three months old, and then we can start teaching her things. Until that point, the baby is a molten lump of pure stupidity. Baby doctors refer to this period as “the fourth trimester.” Because evolution somehow decided human babies should be born 3 months before they’re technically able to exist. I feel like this is a bit of hogwash. It doesn’t seem like a very practical stance for evolution to take, and if there’s one thing evolution is, it’s practical. We’re born when we’re born, and in my opinion, the minute you are alive is the minute you start learning.

Which brings me to the story, which is that a few nights ago, we tried to let Zellie cry it out. We set her down in her crib nice and sleepy and then went into the other room. She started crying immediately. And crying. And crying. 30 minutes went by as we listened to her crying on the monitor. It was insanely intense. Over in the other room, a creature I have been tasked with caring for was miserable and confused and pissed. And not being very polite about it, for that matter. 

30 minutes was all we could take before we broke down and rescued her from her misery. When I got her out of her crib, she could barely breathe, she was choking so hard on her own tears. It took her another 1/2 hour to calm down, at which point she collapsed from exhaustion. 

So the question is, have we now planted the seed in her tiny reptilian brain that we will always come in and rescue her after half an hour? And next time, we’ll have to wait longer than half an hour? And so on, and so forth, until she’s finally just crying nonstop around the clock? No question, she’s a stubborn little beast. Which, you have to admire in some ways. I know some very successful people who are stubborn as all get out. Interestingly, they’re all insomniacs. 

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