The Gross Out Phenomenon

Yesterday was another day off school for Robert. He started the day with a terrible bout of diarrhea and went on like this for the rest of the day. I spent considerable amount of time at the changing table trying to prevent a leaking nappy disaster.

Scientifically, an ailment of this nature can only be caused by a virus, but I do not know why I am still blaming the cream cup cakes we both consumed greedily yesterday. I was buying our usual stuff from the supermarket when he saw these ones on the discount table and started crying out : muffin.. muffin, and of course I had to buy him something. Perhaps I made him my excuse because they were discounted and I fancied something sweet.  I think next time there are more wholesome options, and I can buy him ONE bran muffin instead of a whole tray of cream cupcakes.

If it was not for another pressing translation assignment I would have enjoyed today’s break with my son a little more. It was a glorious warm autumn day with blue skies and sunshine, something that this part of the world is renowned for.  I took Robert in his stroller up Victoria Road in the direction of Camps Bay and after a brief rest taking in the views of the Twelve Apostles and Clifton beaches we headed back towards our part of the world, and Robert got to walk as well on the promenade.

We do not get this fabulous weather all the time, though. This past weekend was disastrous in the Cape. The rain and gale force winds wreaked havoc in informal settlements (shanty towns) and on the Cape Flats (where flood damage is always greatest).  I had quite a challenging time because I had to go to work and I was scheduled to drop off Robert with Britt’s nanny at their place.  As is always the case Britt came to the rescue and offered to come and pick us up. She gave me a lift to work and back on that day too, something I only got once from my ex husband since our divorce. Compassion was never one of his strongest points.

On Sunday Robert was due to be with his father and the weather was better. I had the chance to put the laundry out in the sun for a few hours when I came back from work. My ex dropped off our son late and my poor baby was drenched in mud water from the knees down. My ex insisted that I not mention anything because Robert fell in a puddle and was very upset for at least half an hour after that. At home Robbie protested bitterly at being carried into the bath and the subsequent cleanup, but I did not sense anything was wrong, our afternoon proceeded normally with the usual bath-time and bedtime routine.  I was very surprised when my ex phoned just as we were both drifting to sleep to ask how Robert was, it makes me wonder whether my ex was telling me everything about Robert’s misadventure.

Speaking of the tyke. I think he is starting the boy tradition of fascination with the gross. Whenever I change his diaper (and yesterday I had more of this experience than I care to count) he would give a comment on this, either: bum hurting (hetin) – meaning he has a nappy rash , ka ka toiten (he should have used the toilet) or just nappy on/ nappy off. Lately however he started commenting -I think- on the actual contents of the nappy.. gross.  As I wrinkle my nose at the disgusting diapers and try hard to keep the squirming toddler from smearing it everywhere or putting his hands on his dirty bum he would go : “like avocado”… Yuk… Last night he volunteered: “Like Hummus” … I had a hard time fighting my gag reflex while laughing at the same time.

The Doctor Said..

This last week of November has been quite busy for all of us. I am still working on my translation assignment, and I am finding it very hard to stay concentrated while trying to keep Robert happy at the same time. Ron has his hands full trying to help out and keep everything else in order. I would have never been able to pull it off without him.

On Wednesday I had my dreaded interview at work. It went unexpectedly smooth, and I did not have to negotiate down at all from my initial request. I now have two additional months of leave. The finances have to be thought out and planned later, but for now Robert and I are sorted. When I return to work in March I might have the option of working half days which means that I can spend maximum time with the little monkey. In theory I can continue breastfeeding for as long as Robert wants, and I needn’t worry anymore about pumping breast milk.

The news from work was positive. I got a T-shirt, a pro-rated bonus for the eight months I worked this year, and an invitation to the year-end function. In short I was made to feel part of the team, which makes going back to work next year not a totally bad idea. The only technicality I need to grapple with in the next few days is the imminent expiration of my Dangerous Goods License on December 1st. People who work in the transport industry have to take a refresher course every two years to keep the certification current. It just happened that I had to do this refresher and test within the next two days.

I opted to take the test on the very next day, Thursday. I left immediately after feeding Robert at about two in the afternoon. The course was a module which I followed on a multimedia CD, after which I was required to complete a test. Finally my certificate was printed, and my license was brought up to date. The training module and test require one and a half hours to complete, but I needed more time, because I chatted to colleagues and superiors. As usual there was more than one crisis on the floor to scatter the attention. Near the end of the test I kept glancing between my cell phone and the clock, expecting a call from Ron with a screaming baby in the background. I was heading home on a taxi, when the call finally came. Ron had done his best to entertain Robert. He took him out for a walk and played with him, but once the baby got thirsty there was nothing he could do to calm him down. Poor Pea was hot and thirsty, and so worked up it took some time to get him relaxed again for his feed. All of us were exhausted by this exercise, and I am glad we won’t have to do it again. I was only away for a little over two hours, but obviously it was too long. Once Robert was fed he regained his good humour; Ron even got a rare laugh when he popped a plastic bag near him.

Today, we had another big excitement on the calendar; Robert’s three-month check up. Ron and I had a long list of questions for the pediatrician, and I added one more after inspecting an abnormal diaper surprise in the morning. The doctor put our doubts to rest: Robert was NOT teething, and the little white spot we saw was a normal discoloration on his gum. The mole on his thigh was nothing to worry about, and the mark on his back is not a mole, but a mark that will perhaps disappear in time. The doctor explained that a child is considered “moley” if he or she has more than ten moles over the body. Such a child requires further monitoring and dermatological tests, but at this point Robert did not fall into this category. My diaper discovery this morning was a sign of diarrhea, caused by a transient virus. It would only be a cause for concern if the diarrhea becomes severe and/or lasts for a longer period of time. We discussed formula, feeding schedule, and the introduction of solids. The doctor reiterated what we read in most medical books and childcare sites: Breast milk is perfectly sufficient for babies in the first six months of life, and no supplements or solids are needed before then. Furthermore he advised against any introduction of solids before four months. Our doctor said that he advises parents to start on rice cereal after four months if their baby wakes up several times at night because of hunger. When we told him that Robert has in fact started sleeping through the night, he said that it was impressive and a little unusual. We shouldn’t brag about it to other parents, he cautioned, because they would be murderously envious. The doctor carried on with Robert’s examination and wrote down his height and weight. The numbers were as follows: Weight 6005g; Height 64cm; Head circumference: 39.5cm. I realized with dismay that he has only gained about 100g since his last assessment nine days ago. He is still on the 50% percentile, but it is obvious that he hasn’t been getting enough food since he started sleeping in. I need to do something about it, perhaps feed him one last time before I turn in for the night.

Before we went home for the day we stopped at the post office. An old friend of mine from Johannesburg had sent us a little present for Robert. We opened the present as we were having lunch. It is something that Robert will surely have lots of fun with in the future. A big blue whale and three little whale pups, they are his future bathtub friends. For now he was just happy to practice grabbing their package and try to get them into his mouth.