"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Friday, April 15, 2011

A New Man

A few weeks ago I watched another father carrying his little girl around at church. She couldn't have been more than a month older than Xander. She might have even been Xander's age, just born on time. Anyway, this father was carrying her around like fathers do: football style, superbaby style, underhand seat style. But something was amiss. I couldn't put my finger on it.

Xander wasn't with me. We hadn't taken him out much at that point, and we definitely weren't taking him to church. Old people wheezing and sneezing into their gooey handkerchiefs. Toddlers touching every surface in the chapel with their grubby little hands. I exaggerate, but my wife's sister's two kids were perfectly healthy for 18 months, the age when Mormon babies are allowed in the nursery at church while their parents go to Sunday School. Within hours both kids ended up in the hospital with RSV. True story.

An old-timey oxygen tank. No shoulder straps.
So I watched this other father, and I kept looking behind him, like I saw him drop something, but he hadn't. I expected something to be trailing his path, like a wake. Then I realized what was missing: no oxygen tube connected him to his daughter's nose. I had grown so accustomed to literally watching my step, my every move while I held Xander, aware at all times of where his oxygen cannula was and how it extended away from us, reaching down and out and behind to keep track of the tubing so it didn't end up under foot or catch on a corner or under the furniture--I was so used to this behavior in myself that I expected it from others. Doesn't every parent have to watch out not to get their cannula tubing stuck on things as they moved about the world? Where is your oxygen tank? And why is that baby even at church? Doesn't he know this place is a crater of bacteria and germs just biding their time until some unsuspecting child puts his hand from pew to mouth?

Apparently I'd adapted to the oxygen cannula situation so thoroughly that I couldn't separate it from the rest of the world. I had two daughters before Xander, and I never had to consider bulky medical accouterments as part of my parenting. But I do now. It's not like it's that terrible. Turning one tank on and another off only gets tricky when you forget to turn on the one you're now connecting to. Plugging and unplugging the tubing only gets complicated when you can't pull the end off of the small tank because your wife really cranked it on there this time. And carrying the tank on your shoulder while you travel from place to place only gets annoying when you've got several other bags on your shoulder and you accidentally let the wrong strap loose first.

I can do this indefinitely.

But it looks like I won't have to. Check it out:
What's missing from this picture?

Sorry for the teaser, but we're weaning Xander off the oxygen. At the doctor's office yesterday, he passed his room air challenge and we were told to go ahead and turn his oxygen off for several hours a day, like three in the morning and three in the afternoon. He needs the oxygen most when he sleeps, so nap time and night time will still require the cannula. But before we left the doctor, we took the cannula off his face and it was a revelation. He is a new man. Such a nose. And an upper lip. I kinda forgot he had those. And you can see up his nostrils. He has boogers. Cute, gross boogers. Though he's done it every day for weeks and weeks now, it's like he smiled at me for the first time.

We're also trying out some mashed bananas. He seems to like the taste, but who knows if he's actually swallowing any.
Mommy, do I have to?


  1. That sure is one cutey-patootey baby!

  2. Aw, Xander looks so pleased to not have those things shoved up his nostrils. Seriously, I can't imagine that's comfortable. Are those band-aids on his head? Are those to keep the tube things from irritating his delicate baby skin when he has to wear them?

  3. YAAAAAAAY! I'm so, so glad Xander gets to take baby steps off the oxygen...he's such a cutie.

  4. Glad to hear the oxygen weaning has begun!

  5. Awesome about the oxygen.

    I know what you mean about something being missing. Our kiddo has to have a specialized diet, which takes a lot of measuring and counting of proteins and so forth. When I see someone just mix up a regular bottle for another baby without a second thought it makes me twinge.

  6. Interesting insights. Xander is just about the cutesy baby I've ever seen, and I can't believe how much his eyes look like May's! Happy for you guys!

  7. I meant to type "cutest.". Stupid autocorrect.

  8. @ May: You would know.

    @ Chanel: Now that we take the tube off his face, when we put it back on, he just wants to rub it off. Those tabs on his cheeks are grips to tape the cannula with. We can't really take those off. They just eventually fall off.

    @ Nicki and Melisa: Thanks. We hope next doctor's visit is the take-him-off-all-day visit.

    @ Doug: We've also been extra vigilant about how much milk he takes each bottle. He needed all the calories he could get at first, and he's still on caloric and vitamin supplements. With my daughters, I would just throw them a bottle and say "have at it." It's a different experience now.

  9. Thanks, Christy. He is pretty cutesy, though.

  10. It makes my heart sing to see him without the tubing. Having had some experience carrying him about with the tubing connected, it will definitely be less cumbersome without it.

    Love that little guy.

  11. What a beautiful post and your baby son looks so cherubic and awesome. He's fortunate to have a dad that cares for him so much :)

  12. It was great seeing your whole family at church. He is adorable with or without the tubing.

  13. Another award for your hoard.

  14. That's FABULOUS about Xander's lack of tubing. He's a REALLY cute baby, and that's coming from the mother of 2 of the cutest kids ever born. True story.

    Anyway, I TOTALLY know what you mean about the nursery at church. My son was perfectly healthy up until the age of 18 months, and then he would come home from church sick. We'd get him well, and then as soon as we sent him back to nursery, he'd get sick again. Blech! My daughter will be old enough for nursery next month, and I'm hesitant to send her. A "crater of bacteria and germs"--SO TRUE!!!

  15. Thanks for the comments everyone. He only gets cuter.

    I stole "cherubic" from you, Michael. Thanks for the word.

    And Thanks Chanel. I appreciate the recognition. I'll mention in a post soon. I'm not ignoring it, I just haven't had the time.

  16. BRENT! I was so excited to see you guys at church yesterday! And Xander's photos do not do him justice! Photographed, he is a cutie pie but in person he is just adorable! What a handsome little young man you two have. :D
    So exciting to hear that he's being weened off of oxygen, every little thing counts.

    Joe and I can sort of relate to this post - Enoch had that colostomy bag for 6 long months, it was hard to imagine him without it but the day it came off, it was amazing.

    Congrats on Xander's big step! Yah for you guys!!! :D