October 22, 2006

Spitting up more

For those readers bored of our accounts of infant nursing, i.e. milk input and its travails, here is quick note for you on the opposite process: milk output. Emesis. Getting things backwards. Inserting slot B into tab A.

The boy doth vomit. [Middle English vomiten, from Latin vomitāre, frequentative of vomere.] And the frequency and volume of vomere has increased. Last night, for instance, we were bedding down quite nicely, Elliot having eaten with satisfaction some while before, but not yet inclined to sleep. So I laid him on the bed on his back, in between my pillow and Sarah's pillow, and I put my face close to his, and I began to whisper white noise in his ear. (I like to think that the warm breath of a big warm thing like a Dad is a sleepymaking spell that it is now vested in me to cast.) My awake child was looking around curiously with big, alert eyes. It's interesting to note that Elliot can move his head in concert with his eyes now--that is, he can deliberately crane his neck at the same time at he turns his gaze, and in the same direction, and in this way he can look at the things he wants to look at, rather than being purely surprised by whatever floats by. Progress.

I turned out the lamp, to give him somewhat less to be curious about. And I laid my face next to his face, and again made the whispering noises that Walter Harvey, my grandad, used to use to soothe me when I was a lively infant, at night, in a pitch-black bathroom, pacing bath and forth--the English version of a sensory deprivation chamber.

Anyway, it was then that Elliot turned his own eyes--I could see them mooning back and forth in the darkened bedroom--on me, and then opened his mouth to jabber something or other, and it must have been the darkness that slowed my reflexes, because it was then that he puked ounces of milk full in my face, with no warning. He didn't even seem perturbed by it. It was effortless for him.*

To be fair to Sarah (and selfish to my own self), by working outside the home at this time in Elliot's life, I buy myself hours and hours per day when the likelihood that the people around me are going to vomit on my face is astronomically low. And what a comfort that is. Sarah, by contrast, is never more than 2 hours from a person who might--who will--spray her with anything they've got on hand, biologically speaking. (For some reason it puts me in mind of that line from The Wild One (1953). Q: "Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?" A:"What've you got?")


* TJ asked me on the phone tonight: "Was it funny?". Actually, I thought it was surreal, so I had to ask Sarah. Sarah says that it was kinda funny. But maybe it wasn't really that funny, because it's just what happens. It's who we are. It's not funny per se to be a tailor or a shoeshine boy or a skydiver, if that is your role--though it's funny to fail at those roles, or to misunderstand them. (Except in the case of the skydiver.) It is our role now to be the ones putting the milk in and dodging it when it comes back out.


Amy E said...

There is no position or mess too much for a parent; parenting requires the removal of all put-upons and false showy dignities. You simply must get in the nitty gritty, poo, puke, and all. It's like the dust at Burning Man.

Just feel lucky that for now, it is only milk he is puking. One day he will likely experience some version of car-sickness and project solid chunks of bile-ish food all over you, your car, and your dog.

Kati P. said...

Kelley says that it is unfair to use the word "vomit." She says it is called "spit-up." (Hyphenation is mine.) Vomit is something that contains more than milk. She knows this because her mother had two babies while Kelley was a teen and the old wench made KQ her baby mama. (Old wench is my term.)

Brandon said...

If on thy face there chunkage be,
The verbiage is up to thee.
-- Milton

Kati P. said...

While I find Milton persuasive and eloquent, Google reveals many a medical page that 1) corrects my hyphenation and 2) makes a distinction between spit up and vomit. Oh, and Kelley wants me to correct the comment about her mom. I retract my characterization of her as a wench. I can say that the woman is "not very nice to me."

From familydoctor.org:
Babies spit up when they've eaten too much or when they're burped. It can also happen when your baby is drooling. Spitting up is not vomiting. Babies usually don't notice when they spit up, while vomiting is forceful and painful. Spitting up is a common occurrence for most babies.

The medical term for "spitting up" is gastroesophageal reflux, or reflux. It happens when milk or solid food in the stomach comes back up into your baby's esophagus. The esophagus is a tube that joins the mouth and the stomach.

When the baby's milk or food is in the esophagus, 3 things can happen:

The milk or food can be spit out of the mouth.
The milk or food can be sucked into the lungs.
The milk or food can go into the stomach for a while, but then it can go back up into the esophagus. It stays in the esophagus for a while before going back into the stomach.

My heart and hand towels go out to you both.

Brandon said...

It's fantastic having a journalist around here!