Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Baby Story Part 7

My wife and I recently continued our pre-natal education by attending an infant care class. Unlike the childbirth classes, I was pleased to find that this course featured videos and material produced after O.J. was acquitted. We covered several subjects but one of the most fascinating was colic. Before taking the course, I had only a rudimentary understanding of its cause and diagnosis. I now realize medical school would not have changed that.

It turns out that colic is the diagnosis given to a child that cries a lot. The medical definition could be “a term used to describe the absence of a discernible cause for incessant crying in a newborn” which is medical parlance for “we have no idea why your child won’t shut up.” The medical establishment has amassed an impressive amount of research on what doesn’t cause it (premature birth, parental anxiety, risky investment strategies) but at best they are simply placating the parents until the symptoms disappear on their own.

The video covered some breast-feeding techniques and impressed upon us that the birth of the child was “a good time to give up smoking and alcohol.” We were then instructed not to violently shake our newborn as this could be detrimental to the child’s development and may lead to the other great medical ambiguity of infant care: SIDS.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is as tragic (and unexplained) as the nomenclature suggests. As with colic, we do not really know what causes it and can only speculate as to which preventative measures are effective. I looked at SIDS monitors on Amazon and was shocked to find that they all had great reviews. I could not fathom how it is possible for all the customers to be happy with almost all of the models. Then, I realized how brilliant the SIDS monitor market is.

Ultimately, there are only two outcomes to the product’s use: either your child does or doesn’t live past infancy. If your child does not become a SIDS victim (and statistically-speaking most won’t) it would be disingenuous of you to go online and claim that it did not function as promised. After all, it is a SIDS monitor and since your child didn’t experience SIDS it had nothing to monitor thus rendering the device nothing more than an effective way to burn through batteries. If tragedy were to strike, how many consumers would have the presence of mind to complete a review that made a convincing case for manufacturer culpability? I doubt that a grieving parent’s first course of action would be to shake their fist at the heavens and shout, “As God as my witness, I will not stop until the SIDS 4000 is saddled with a 3-star average!”

Perhaps I will manufacture a monitor that will detect excessive infant crying and alert the parents that their child may have colic. I also have an idea for a Bluetooth diaper that will alert the parent(s) via text message once it detects a foreign substance. I am still playing with the message formatting but I am leaning toward something like this:

From: Infant’s Digestive System
Just dropped a deuce. Please render immediate assistance. #FecalArmageddon          

We also learned the fine art of swaddling. Each couple was given a unisex doll with a blanket and shown how to create a “baby burrito” by folding it into a triangular shape and tightly layering it around the infant. Raising my hand, I asked if it wouldn’t be easier to simply purchase a large ACE bandage to wrap the child with. This was met with a look of horror from the instructor and an eye-roll from my wife. Later, when she was advising us on which blankets to purchase, we were told to acquire “thin, stretchy material that will adhere to itself.” I could not help but point out that sounded exactly like an ACE bandage. I was immediately instructed by my wife to stop talking.

Fortunately, the class was winding down about the time I had pulled the doll’s beanie over his eyes, hung his pacifier from his neck, and begun giving pound-love to nearby participants. I have a feeling that I was one chest-bump away from having my doll confiscated by the instructor.

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