Thursday, September 22, 2011

Home Alone

It started out to be such a great night. Amanda had a pharmacy class in Brevard and had to leave just after I got home from Western. It would be the first night that Harper and I had spent alone together. Sure we had spent entire days together many, many times, but this was to be the first night it was just she and I.

I haven't blogged in quite a while and so much has happend. She has rolled over onto her stomach and then returned to her back (she's not crawling yet however), and most recently she has started eating solid foods like rice cereal, oatmeal and her favorite, sweet potatoes. That meant that this night we would be eating together and then I would give her some milk and put her to bed all before her mother got home.

We had a ball eating the sweet potatoes. There was lots of talking and foot kicking and red goop all over her face. After dinner we laid on the floor and played with Sophie the Giraffe and Gary the crazy winged monster. I got my guitar and we sang some songs and there was lots of laughing and rolling over. Oh what a joy it was to be a father and bask in these precious, fleeting moments.

At 8pm Harper began to get a little cranky and I knew it was time for her pre-bed nursing and then the nighttime routine. I got a bottle ready and while it was heating up I took her upstairs to change her into pj's. The changing initiated some crying as her hunger set in and when I left her to return downstairs to get the milk it turned into a full wail. I grabbed the Boppy (nursing pillow) and set up on Amanda's side of the bed to try and give Harper some familiarity with her nighttime routine thinking the smells and views from that side of the room might soothe her.

Seemed to work. Halfway thru the bottle her eyes were closing and there was only the intermittent suck on the nipple. I thought to myself, "This is going to be a breeze. She'll fall asleep in my arms, I will quietly take her from our room to hers and put her down." Well it should come as a surprise to no one that it did not go down that way. As I tried to take the bottle away from her she quickly reached back out and began to cry. "Ok, we'll finish the bottle then." From here on out the last 2 ounces were sucked down ferociously. While I had hoped she'd get to the end and be tired again, I could quickly see she was going to finish this thing and expect more.

What to do?
        All the milk is downstairs...
                The prep is at least 10 minutes...
                        She's had almost 5 ounces...
                                It's time for bed...

As expected she finished the bottle but wanted more. The wails began in earnest and I thought to get up and walk her around to try and calm her. This worked just a bit to quiet her and so I tried to lay her down in the crib and turn on the mobile. Again, my hopes were high. There were occasional squeals and then she would quite for a moment. I went downstairs and turned the monitor on hoping to practice a bit more on the guitar. As the mobile's song ended the occasional squeal turned to a constant cry and within moments it was a torrent of horrific screams. I thought to myself, "Be patient Peter, she'll cry herself to sleep." As our house is pretty open I turned off the monitor as I could hear her clearly in her room without amplification. The screaming continued. I could hear her voice getting hoarse and could close my eyes and see her in my mind thrashing in bed with tears rolling down her face.

Click for Audio of Crying

After what felt like eons but was probably only 5 minutes, I could take it no longer and went up to her. I took her out of the crib hoping a walk around upstairs would quiet her down but nothing seemed to work. The damage had been done and she was upset. Harper's whole routine was out of whack and to make matters worse her mother was nowhere to be seen. I am certain this fact alone was the most upsetting. For 5 and a half months she had gone to bed after being in the comfort of Amanda's arms and now everything was different.

"Maybe she's still hungry," I thought and put her on the bed and went back downstairs to heat half a bottle. With 2 warm ounces in hand I settled back into Amanda's side of bed and tried to feed Harper. This worked only somewhat as she would take a few sucks and then spit the bottle out and break into screams. After five minutes of this I began to smell something foul and thought something serious had happened down below. I put her on the changing towel on the bed and took off her jammies. The pungent smell was unmistakable and I got the wipes and a new diaper ready. As I took off her soiled diaper it was clearly a 3 day poop and I thought that this would be a relief to her. She was still wailing as I wiped and and open the new diaper. That is when the sweet potatoes from earlier made their exit. Moving with the consistency of Hawaiian lava into the sea, the slow orange ooze kept coming as I frantically kept running back and forth for wipes. I pulled off the pj's as quick as possible and moved them out of harms way. The changing towel was now soiled and Harper's feet we getting mixed up in the poop.

Still fits of uncontrolled screaming

As what seemed like the last of the ooze came out I went for a clean diaper. I lifted her legs to slip the diaper under and the liquid projectile poop came flying at me. I was lucky to avoid any clothing saturation but it was too late for her hands and feet and legs. Without thinking I picked up her naked body and took her into the bathroom. Laid her on a towel and got water running in the baby tub. Luckily that last squirt was the last of the poop. I got her in the tub and we did a quick scrub. I dried her off, put on a fresh diaper and we went back to the bed to finish the last ounce of milk.



I have rarely been so aware of the precious sound of silence. She lay there in my arms, quietly sucking the bottle and making the occasional sigh. How quickly it had gone from crazed panic to perfect calm. How quickly I had gone from wanting to sell the child to the gypsies to basking in the wonder that is my daughter.

I'm quite lucky.

Our bedroom still kinda smells like poop.