The baby is desperately constipated. Watching him in such pain has been awful and we have tried everything medical and otherwise in the book to sort out his intestines without much joy. But I think I’ve found the solution: with cold season upon us again Ben has suffered with a series of nasty colds and because he has had difficulty breathing I have been searching for a nasal aspirator. For some reason nasal aspirators are frowned upon in the UK and therefore difficult to find. So I turned to the net and I found just the thing. But when I looked at the picture all I thought was: THIS NASAL ASPIRATOR FRIGHTENS ME BUT YOU CAN BET IT WOULD SORT OUT HIS CONSTIPATION.
Three weeks ago this evening we had asparagus for supper. The next morning Ben, who at five months is still exclusively breastfed apart from something like a huge bowl of porridge at breakfast, a large bowl of baby rice at lunch and a dinner plate full of apple puree, had what I have come to learn is called “malodorous urine”. Stinking wee. Ha!, I thought to myself, it must be true: everything I eat or put on or in my body is linked to what he gets in breastmilk. Therefore my abstinence from alcohol and large amounts of caffeine has been worthwhile after all, because it definitely hasn’t felt worthwhile to me. I need that cappucino in the morning to get through the school run without crashing the car from sleep deprivation and I need that evening glass of wine to get through the witching hour without murdering everything in sight.
Two days later the smell was still pronounced. He was also constipated. Ever tried to get that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube by squeezing it so hard that you feel like your thumb might dislocate because if you don’t then there is no way you are going to get laid by that gorgeous guy waiting in the other room while you brush your teeth and fadgewash? That’s what the boy’s constipation was like.
Because of the constipation I made the next logical leap. He’s dehydrated! Hence constipation and ergo, his wee will stink! I checked his fontanelle (good mother). It looked fine so I thought, he just needs a bit more milk, maybe a bit of water if that doesn’t work (also, good mother).
The days pass in a sort of blur in this household. I’m lucky if I can remember whether it is Monday or Thursday and some weeks I seem to miss out a whole day of the week. I don’t know where it goes. Perhaps it’s God’s way of rewarding me for getting through the week: I know, I’ll just scrap a day so Ella can get to Friday in one piece. The stinky wee didn’t get any better but the constipation was still there. I fed him more to rehydrate him and auto-piloted my way through the days. Then last Thursday I thought: shit! it’s two weeks since the asparagus. He still stinks. I mean you could smell his wet nappy from across the room, well not really, but almost! So I drove down to the doctors to get a penis-bag. It’s not what they’re really called but that’s what they are and I can’t imagine what they’re really called if not penis-bag. It’s like a horse’s nose bag but for a boy’s, you know, thing. If you’re feeling really creative, or cruel depending on your point of view, you can attach the bag so that the penis and tentacles are all squished inside the transparent bag, making them look like they have been artfully displayed for passers-by. Nappy on and, voila, a clean urine specimen awaits at the next nappy change. It helps of course to keep checking the nappy because the problem with constipation is that, with him, little and often is popular and it is possible to get through several nose bags that have a lovely clean urine sample inside them but are covered in yellow pollyfilla-type poop. And desperate as I was to get a sample to the doctor’s given my shockingly tardy assessment of the whole stinking wee situation there was no way I was taking down a bag of sterile wee with that on the outside.
Eventually a clean sample in a clean bag was obtained and off I shot, nearly running over the neighbour’s cat, which would have been no bad thing seeing as it sits on Matthew’s car scratching the paintwork and leaving little deposits, and perhaps encouraging me to attach a little nose-bag to its appendages, and handed the bag over as if it were the crown jewels. Hell, by this stage it felt more important than the crown jewels. Save the proud parent moments for the other parents at the school nativity play; my boy can pee in a bag when I most need him to and I might just have felt like telling the whole waiting room at the doctor’s surgery just that.
In his office, “hasn’t your eldest son just had a UTI?,” the doctor questions suspiciously. “In fact….,” looking at the screen he deliberates, “he’s having antibiotics now?” “Yes, but I think Ben also has a urine infection.” He looks at me slowly. “He’s teething you say? I would think it’s highly unlikely this is a urine infection, particularly if he’s not showing any other symptoms. I’ll send it off for analysis, but I expect you’ll find it comes back clear.”
This is why mothers are made like lionesses prepared to fight to the death for their lion cubs. Because other people like to think they know more and better than a mother’s instinct. Mothers are always fretting needlessly over their children. Especially first time mothers! First time mothers should be vetted before being allowed near doctors’ offices because, my God, they waste so much of the doctors’ time, what with all their wittering and worrying!
So I went home thinking I was a neurotic time-waster. All that worry about stinking nappies and stuff! I was to call Monday for the results but they weren’t in. “Call Tuesday,” I was told knowledgeably. Nothing Tuesday. But that okay, I reasoned, it’s not a urine infection so there’s no chance his kidneys are being scarred so I’ll call Wednesday. Nothing Wednesday. By today, with the smell worse than ever and Ben increasingly poorly, still no results. Please call the lab I pleaded, he’s not well. Then, at two o’clock, the phone rang. “It’s a UTI, you need to bring Ben in straight away and we’ll start antibiotics,” said the doctor with a trace of sheepishness.
My poor boy has been in some pain (and at a very small risk of kidney damage) because I am, frankly, useless. Although I’m just not going to think about it the kidney damage thing. I’m feeling way enough guilt already.