Sunday, June 7, 2009

Non-mom needs help

The smooshy infant was back in Babyland this morning.  Matthew is his name.  In fact, at 6 weeks of age, he is noticeably less smooshy.

This time he woke up crying shortly after his mom dropped him off.   I'm no expert on babies but when he sucked on his soother aggressively for a few seconds and then spit it out in frustration, I figured out that he was hungry.  

I took a look around the room.  The experienced mom had her own son sleeping in her arms.  The other volunteer was a dad who, though sweet as can be, has told me many times that he's not a natural with kids either.  So, it was up to me.  
"I can do this," I told myself.  "I can give this baby a bottle.  How hard can  it be?  I just need to think it through step by step."  First: get the bottle out and take off the cap.  Place bottle within reach of rocking chair.  Now, remove baby from carseat.  

This proved to be more challenging than I anticipated.

I unsnapped his little safety belt, got one hand behind his head and one under his butt, and tried to get him out of the seat.  But he wouldn't keep still and his arms kept catching against the carry-handle.  I tried a few times to wiggle him out of there, but it didn't seem possible.  Finally the experienced mom let me in on a secret - if you press the magic "release" button you can flip the handle back out of the way.  I felt a bit stupid, but at least I was able to easily lift him out of the seat.

OK.  Support his head.  Don't trip on anything.  Get to the rocker.  Insert bottle in mouth.  And, Ta-Dah!  The baby eats.  Success!

He watched me from huge, dark eyes while he downed his milk.  He sucked that stuff back like nobody's business.  Eventually he was done.  I put down the bottle and we looked at each other.  

"Now what?" I asked him.  He stared at me, goggle-eyed.  "I guess I have to burp you," I said.  "How do I do that?"  I picked him up and looked around for a cloth to throw over my shoulder, but the nursery only provides paper towels.  We went to the experienced mom.  "Non-mom needs help!"  I told her.

"He probably has burp rags in his bag," said the experienced mom.  Of course!  His diaper bag.  Why didn't I think of that?  So obvious.  I am ignorant.  I went to the bag and found a burp rag.  Experienced Mom showed me some burping techniques, and I thought we were off to the races.  

But this whole burping business?  Not as easy as it sounds.  I thought I'd just tap Matthew on the back a few times, he'd let out a belch like Barney on The Simpsons, and we'd be all good.  But I had to try to get him against my shoulder while supporting his head and patting his back... Wait: one hand to hold baby's rear end.  One hand to support his head.  And one hand to pat his back.  That's three hands, and I only have two.

He wasn't making it any easier on me.  He wouldn't stay steady against my shoulder.  It was as if someone had built a baby from balloons filled with pudding.  He kept flopping to one side.  Or if he was centred his head would sink down into his neck so that his face was pressed into my shoulder, which made me nervous that he would suffocate.  Non-mom needs help!

I tried to change his position but manipulating his body  quickly became terrifying.  I was standing up, and it's a long way to the floor.  Mr. Bag of Pudding kept throwing his weight around unpredictably.  Then my ring caught on the back of his onsie, effectively trapping my hand.  I was all "OMG this kid is going to either flop onto the floor, or I won't support his head well enough and he'll break his flimsy little neck."  Note to self: my spiral ring has no place in Babyland.

In the end the experienced mom, whose son had finally woken up and gone to terrorize his older brother, took Matthew from me.  At her confident touch he settled right down and snoozed in her arms.  The volunteer Dad and I exchanged a look.  I think we both felt like incompetent dolts.  But anyway, the important thing is: the kid got fed, and was delivered safely back to his mom by noon.

I gave myself a B- in Basic Baby Wrangling.

I'd best improve my skills and my confidence, because there will be more babies there in the near future.  There was an 11-day-old infant in the nursery also.  He made Matthew look enormous by comparison.  His mom stayed with him this time, while the dad went to the service, but I'm sure she'll be leaving him with us pretty soon.  Or maybe not, after watching me handle Matthew.  

There is at least one pregnant woman in the congregation, and with two marriages this summer (besides mine) the infants will keep rolling in.  Before you know it I'll have to learn to change diapers.  Now that'll be something to blog about.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

You did great.Them floppy babies are a bit challenging, but I tend to believe that they are a lot tougher than they let on. Imagine the caveman variation baby momma, do you think she was that delicate with her children? Still it is special to feed a baby. That look in the eyes where they have total trust in you to do it all right :)

Karen said...

Too funny. Taking care of babies is somewhat innate. I know you can do it when you are forced to do it. You did a great job.

Anonymous said...

I know it's not my place, as a man, to comment on this stuff, but the on the job training is really easier than it sounds. Trust yourself, trust your instincts; it will come. You'll do fine.

Heck, if I can DELIVER my kids, you can feed and burp one. :)

Scarlet said...

Congrats! You did awesome!! It's not easy burping "balloons stuffed with with pudding!" :)

wigsf said...

Babies. You know you want one!

LL Cool Joe said...

You did good!

When we first gave our adopted babies their bottles, they used to push our faces away. That was kind of hard to handle, it felt like a real rejection.

Nicely told story, as usual. I like your attention to details. :)

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Isn't it amazing to think some of this stuff comes naturally to moms after they've done it for a while?!? I'm like you, definitely thinking through all the steps as I do them!

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: That's what I kept telling myself. I'm sure I was being more careful than some mothers are (sad but true) and if their kids can survive then my little feller was going to be OK.

Karen: Thanks! I reached deep inside myself to access my mothering instincts. No wonder I couldn't work the carseat handle - that's too recent to be instinctual. ;-)

Darcknyt: I think it is your place to comment, especially as a Dad. Any parent knows more than me, it's safe to say. And you delivered your own kids? Wow. That's hardcore. :-)

Scarlet: Babies get a lot easier to handle once they develop some muscle tone. Give me a 5 - 8 month-old and I'll do just fine. If I just keep up my volunteer shifts at Babyland, in four more shifts Matthew will be in that age range and we'll be off to the races.

WIGSF: Hush, you! You're worse than my grandmother.

Joe: Thanks!
That would be hard, to have a baby push you away. Some kids are naturally more trusting than others. It's tough not to take it personally.

Nilsa: I sure don't know how moms do it when they have more than one kid. Or how about twins? Yikes. Talk about not having enough hands...

San said...

I always felt a little awkward around babies until I had my own. Then biological imperative took over. Or hormones. Or just plain dumb luck.

I enjoyed your non-mom tale. You deserve better than B-. Much better.

NicoleB said...

Grin, I think you did very well.
Don't be too harsh on yourself :D

Jameil said...

i've never changed a diaper either and floppy babies make me nervous, too. we are on the same page and i would've bugged the EM a WHOLE lot more. lol. and LOl @ "The volunteer Dad and I exchanged a look." Right!? Showing us up!! Lolol.

Jenski said...

Sounds like you did a great job! I mean, you didn't drop the baby, right? :-)

Dianne said...

You are doing great!

I handle them like footballs LOL
they are much sturdier than folks think they are

I have found leaning baby against you with baby facing forward in as much of a seated position as possible is a good burp position - rub the back in strong circular motions

3 weeks to grandbaby!!!
I would leave him/her with you any time :)

Sparkling Red said...

San: Thanks, you're very kind. Maybe a B+? Or a gold star for effort? ;-)

Nicole: Thanks. I guess the big test will come when the younger baby's mom has to decide whether or not to entrust me with her son. I'll keep you informed.

Jameil: That poor dad. His little girl is three, and he seems as surprised as though he just woke up that morning and found out he's a parent. I think he's still in denial.

Jenski: If I had dropped the baby, I think I would have up and moved to Alaska from pure shame. Thank goodness no, I managed to keep ahold of the squirmy little feller.

Dianne: Thanks! I'll try that next time. Over-the-shoulder burping was not happening. Your way sounds lots better.