Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Baby Fever
“Honey, you know that picture we have? that’s on the wall? With the yellow Mini and all the stuffed animals? The tribute-to-E.T. one?”
“Can I–Is it OK to put that on the internet?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Because he doesn’t really look like that anymore.”
“And they‘re having a virtual baby shower for these two bloggers that I read, who are about to have second babies. You know how sometimes people have themes and they want a bunch of people to write on them, and maybe you win a prize . . . And, more importantly, you get linked to people with more traffic . . .”
“You told me that you HATED IT when people did that multiple link thing. Where each word is another link to somebody else. None of whom you care to read, because ‘hello? you’re reading the post at hand,’ right?”
“Isn’t that what you said? That it was distracting and cliquey?”
“Well, I’ve tried to figure out another way to list everybody, you know without having an actual list in the middle of the post . . .”
“You said–I will quote–‘I will never do that thing, where every word is a new link to another blogger! Never! And if you catch me doing it, please go ahead and shoot me, because I have officially lost it.'”
“Well, if you look carefully, I think you’ll note that I did it by the letter and/or portion of the word, not the whole word.”
“So this is a loophole, then?”
I’m not really sure when he started to turn yellow. At the hospital, after we had gone through the requisite Seriously, you’re going to leave us alone with this thing? and Shouldn’t there be, I don’t know, an adult here or something? realizations, and I had eaten a feast of sushi, and we had developed a lifetime of swaddling experience in just two nights due to a host of gratuitous calls to the nurse, we were mostly just concerned with figuring out how to get the kid into the carseat. This seemed of utmost importance–the car seat–because he could easily fly out of it on the way home since THE FUCK? WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING!
So when the nurse told us he couldn’t leave until the results of his bilirubin test came back, I just had one thought, viz. “Who the fuck is Billy Ruben and why is he testing my son?” And then I promptly went back to worrying about the car seat, because the woman who had installed the base in our car had said, “Make sure not to get this part too tight, because if you stop short, you will kill him. But it needs to be tight enough.”
And what is tight ENOUGH?! What did she say was tight ENOUGH?!
So, then a guy, (is this Billy Ruben?, I thought) came in and told us we could go. Because although Mini had a bilirubin level of 18, this was not high enough to require him to stay in the hospital. They said something about lights, maybe we’d need lights, and I was like, “Yeah, OK,” not unlike what I do when I meet a new person and hear their name, promptly forget it, and then later think, “SHIT, I need to know that person’s name, don’t I?”
The first pediatrician appointment went something like this:
“Well, I think we need to have his blood tested.”
“Well, how does he look to you?”
“What do you mean, how does he look? He looks like a baby! [panic]”
“He seems a little yellow.”
“What?! Yellow? They said he was OK.”
“Like I said, I think we need to get his blood tested.”
And so on.
The first few days with a newborn are probably always a blur of swaddling, diapers, breastfeeding attempts, triumphs, failures, and pediatrician appointments. To that mix, we had the pleasure of adding infant blood tests. Yes. Blood tests. On an infant. Oh yeah.
You know how they get enough blood out of an infant for a blood test? Well, neither do most phlebotomists.
The first time we went to the blood testing facility, after wading through the biohazardous lobby, trying to guard our infant and his virgin immune system from the disease ridden and coughing sick people lined up there, they called our name, and the phlebotomist took a look at our 8 pound package and said, “I’ll be right back.” And then she went off and whispered some something to the other phlebotomist, casting nervous glances in our direction while the other guy was performing some kind of pantomime of how to draw blood from a baby’s foot for her.
And then Mr. Right-Click announced, “We want the other guy–the one you went to to ask how to do this–send him over.” And I was glad, for the eighteen millionth time since I met him, that Mr. Right-Click is never afraid to ask for (and get) what he wants. Because I am usually very afraid to demand things from people, particularly in a public setting, with people I don’t know. But if ever there were a time to do it, it was now . . . when Mini was so tiny and helpless.
I would learn a lot about that in those first few days–like the second time I took him to get his blood tested that week, by myself, when I would have to demand that a mother pull her toddler away from my baby’s carrier, because I didn’t want his grody toddler germs on him. And though I felt bad about it, since the kid just was curious about the baby, I knew Mini needed me to protect him. So I was demanding things for him, and not for me, and that was somehow easier.
Still, I couldn’t save him from the bad phlebotomist we got that time, who took about 30 minutes to get the blood out of his foot. And though Mini was usually quiet during the blood tests, if not asleep, he cried this time, because she was so AWFUL at taking the blood out, and so slow, and had created a wound on the bottom of his foot, instead of just a tiny hole. So I would cry also, because in those early days especially it is like you are still connected somehow, as if there is an invisible cord running from you to the baby, and when he would cry I would cry whether I liked it or not. Because why do you insist on torturing my baby?
Infants develop jaundice because when they come out, sometimes their livers don’t get started on processing the toxins right away. And the level of bilirubin grows and it makes them turn yellow. And that’s all it is–jaune means ‘yellow’ in French. [Insert xenophobic, anti-French joke to do with surrender and/or cowardice here.] Though it can lead to more serious problems if it’s not treated, infant jaundice is usually easily cured with ultra violet light.
That said, try getting a baby to sit still while you blast them with ultra violet light. And try getting newborn parents to calmthefuckdown about infant jaundice.
[singlepic=212,440,330,,right]We were able to treat Mini with light paddles designed to be loosely wrapped around him, touching his bare skin day and night. These lights were provided by our insurance company and brought to our house by a mysterious guy who, as he explained how to use the lights to us, made both of our blood run cold, and inspired a DeBeckerian fight-or-flight effort to get him out of our home as quickly as possible. We were supposed to have those lights for a week or so, just until the treatment worked on Mini. And we still have them. We have called the insurance company a million times, but nobody will come to get them–which only makes us even more creeped out about exactly who that guy was that was in our home, instructing us about bilirubin lights. Was this a new angle for serial killer victims? Did he take pity on us, and our yellow baby, and decide to target someone else? Either way, we weren’t really sleeping at the time, so we were able to keep a vigil against his eminent home invasion pretty easily.
Mini would squirm out of his paddles constantly, because even then, he was a wiggle worm. So we would constantly be re-wrapping, and re-swaddling, and after a few days of this frustrating practice, Mr. Right-Click got out a roll of sports tape and approached Mini like he was taping up an ankle before a basketball game. After gently reminding him that this was a baby, and it was more important that he be able to breathe than that the lights stay on him perfectly, we came to an agreement about what was “good enough” as far as the light exposure went.
After a few days, Mini started getting less yellow. And the pediatrician said, “See, he was starting to look like a banana for a few days there,” and we looked at him, and realized that, yeah, he was an awful lot cuter with a pink face, now that you mention it.