Words that Terrify Every New Father
Did you know August is the month when the most babies are born in the U.S.? Of course you didn’t, because you’re out there having fun and praying you never know the terrors of fatherhood. Well we asked new dad E. Reid Ross to scare you straight with visions of the screaming future.
Writing about personal experiences (or even in the first person, for that matter) is not something I’m in the habit of doing. But now that the leaders of the Man Cave Daily politburo have given me this opportunity to serve the motherland under a fancy column banner, I figured I may as well give it a shot. And when the suggestion was made that I try to share some of the things I’ve learned about being a new dad (for the second time,) it seemed like a good place to start.
Luckily I just so happened to have been provided with plenty of material for something like that, seeing as the recent birth of my son was surrounded with enough weirdness to launch a SyFy Channel/Lifetime Network crossover series. Not “I’m sorry to inform you that your son is in fact a lobster” weird, but weird enough.
I won’t go into all of the specifics of what happened in my case, but it certainly expanded my vocabulary. Even if your entrance into fatherhood is completely free from complications, you can still count on seeing plenty of exasperating and disgusting things enter your life. Here are just a few of the ones that have barged their way into mine.
Just so you know, I don’t plan on any sort of follow-up to this article. We don’t plan on having any more kids and immediately after the C-section had the entire area filled in with cement just to be sure.
The fact that an oral fungus shares the same name with a type of songbird seems misleading, but that’s probably for the best. After all, anything is probably better than calling it what it actually is, which is a yeast infection of the mouth.
Our first clue that something might be up was when we noticed that our baby’s mouth and lips had suddenly turned chalky and white, like one of us had accidentally applied powder to the wrong end in an early morning stupor. And since it seemed too early for him to already have developed an addiction to crack, we thought we’d better have him checked out.
We discovered that the offending funk in question was a particularly virulent strain of diploid fungus called Candida albicans. We were assured that it was a common thing and that most babies have some amount of the fungus crawling around, but a weak immune system can result in it growing into the mouthful of cottage cheese we had going on. 2 weeks of Nystatin squirted daily into the mouth later, everything was back on track. Unfortunately (for me and my big mouth) we were also informed that although there were many possible reasons behind why the thrush may have developed, one of the ways, theoretically, could very well have been because of my wife’s dirty, yeasty boobs.
Besides infants, the other segment of society that thrush most commonly afflicts is the elderly. So yeah, there’s another thing to look forward to. As a prevention measure for codgers, it’s suggested that they soak their dentures nightly in a solution of chlorhexidine, which, if there’s any justice in the world, is a potent form of corn liquor.
More specifically, “Hyperemesis gravidarum“. Alone, hyperemesis is simply a fancy word for excessive vomiting, or as this medical dictionary inexplicably but accurately defines it: “puke, puke, much, much.” Adding “gravidarum” at the end means that you’re barfing so much that the situation has become grave. It’s basically the morning sickness that’s so common in the early days of pregnancy, only this version can last for every single day over the entire 9 months.
You heard that right. Mild cases can be treated with a change in diet and maybe some antacids, but the severe ones cause you to feel like it’s 3am after a tequila and mayonnaise eating contest for the better part of an entire year. Obviously the dehydration from regular porcelain deity worship can become a problem, and many women wind up having to make regular visits to the hospital for IV fluid replenishment. Oh, and it can cause your teeth to rot out.
Only a very small percentage of all mothers-to-be have to deal with hyperemesis gravidarum, and my wife happened to get a lucky spin on the vomit baccarat wheel with both of our kids. What that meant for her was that both times she was issued a Zofran pump. Zofran is a medication that’s prescribed to alleviate the nausea in pregnant women (and chemotherapy patients), and the pump contraption she was given was basically the same thing a diabetic uses to provide a constant squirt of insulin. Also like a diabetic, she had to deal with maintaining a constant supply of syringes. The situation was lightened, however, every time she, as a pregnant woman, happened to drop one of those syringes while trying to pull her wallet from her purse in a busy grocery store.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, even if it consists of two words that most certainly don’t belong together unless you’re a crocodile obstetrician. It means a baby has been born with teeth. Seeing a newborn preloaded with a set of choppers might be par for the course in a Guillermo del Toro movie, but to see it in person, right there in the delivery room, couldn’t have been more disconcerting than if the kid came out with a tattoo.
Depending on the study, the presence of teeth right off the bat is a phenomenon that’s either rare or exceedingly rare. It can be indicative of some troubling medical syndromes, but doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything wrong with the baby. This is probably the most important thing to realize. I wish I had known that fact when my mother, upon hearing about the situation, seemed convinced that we had just produced a son whose only future lay in carnival sideshows.
In the old days natal teeth were extracted at the earliest opportunity for fear they could pose a choking hazard. More than likely this procedure was also strongly advocated by mothers who were tired of their nipples being treated like a tasty Slim Jim. Nowadays, unless the teeth are really loose, it’s common for pediatricians to let them stay in, much to the chagrin of the nipples. Just to be clear, we’re not talking about a full set of Jabberjaw teeth here. What usually occurs is the appearance of 2 of them in the center of the lower gum, as in our case. But as my wife will gladly inform you, that’s more than enough.
Natal teeth usually aren’t an indicator of any troubling things to come, thankfully, unless you count the fact that the parents will be getting a headstart on the joys of a teething infant. That’s an unpleasant phase to be sure, but you might find yourself wishing you had an Octomom’s worth of teething babies rather than putting up with the misery that is…
You might accuse me of cheating here, since everybody’s heard of colic. But what is it exactly and what causes it? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know, because neither does anyone else. Including medical science.
“Colic”, according to Merriam Webster, is “a condition marked by recurrent episodes of prolonged and uncontrollable crying and irritability in an otherwise healthy infant that is of unknown cause and usually subsides after three to four months of age.”
Yeah, that sounds about right. Every new dad expects to lose some sleep with a newborn in the house, but for the full deprivation experience, complete with all the hallucinations and uncontrollable babbling usually reserved for a peyote overdose, you need to be one of the up to 25% of parents forced to share the vicinity with a colicky baby.
People have been making theories as to the source of it for ages, from blaming the condition on the antibodies in cow’s milk to Satanic intervention. Some doctors, possibly Satan worshippers, will tell you that colic isn’t even a real condition. But try telling that to the parents who have to steel themselves daily for the 3 hours of relentless screeching of such volume and intensity as to make World of Warcraft raiding nearly impossible.
The latest theory points to the presence of a certain type of stomach bacteria as being the culprit, but still presents no explanation for the relentless bawling.
The suggestions for treatment vary as wildly as the theories on its cause, with everyone from herbal medicine peddlers to quack chiropractors claiming to have the answer. The solution in the Middle Ages was actually to rub down the mother’s nipples with opium lotion. As tempting as that sounds, the sad truth is that there’s not much you can do about it other than wait it out. We wound up trying out something called “gripe water,” a traditional home remedy with ingredients that can… vary. The fact you can buy it over the counter should eliminate the opium fears though, and how can you not support a product with a name like that? Even if it doesn’t do a damn thing.
E. Reid Ross loves the ladies, and by “ladies” we mean “microwaveable burritos purchased in bulk.” Feel free to friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and check out his supple body of work over on Cracked.com. He and a few pals also blaspheme old comics at RealToyGun.com.
You think a binky and a burp towel are humiliating, try reading The Most Embarrassing Collections by Fully Grown Men. Or gain some respect for the toughness of Teen Girls Way Tougher than You.