Having a baby comes with a healthy dose of new mom crazy. You’d been warned, you’re ready, So, you feel justified when three months into your new baby, you say to yourself, out loud, “Am I fucking crazy?” (Because, if you were actually crazy, you wouldn’t ask yourself if you’re crazy, because truly crazy people don’t know that they’re crazy, they’re just… crazy.)
So, there I was, one morning, with my three month old son on the changing table, his little cankles held firmly in my left hand, as my right hand, gloveless mind you, picks through his poop. I looked as closely as I could with just my eyes, but apparently I needed to add another sensory perception and feel it, rub it between my finger tips, and hold it up to the light to make sure that yes, indeed, there was blood in his poop. “Whaaaat the fuuuucck?” I whispered, utterly confused. I grabbed another hunk, smearing it onto the clean side of the diaper, staring intently, desperately trying to find a reason NOT to freak out. But there it was. Faint and slightly tinged, but there. Still breast feeding, I think quickly, “what did I eat, what did I eat, what did I eat?” I did a quick mental check list of anything red or bright or bright red that I might have eaten… peppers, tomatoes, red food coloring… negative. There was only one answer then. Internal bleeding. Oh my GOD! My baby! My baby is bleeding on the inside to the out and I caught it just in time. I saved him from the obvious intestinal rupture that was in beginning stages. I quickly cleaned him up and myself and called the doctor, then like all new mothers, waited impatiently for him to call me back, like 3 hours later… really dude? Did the message I left with “Internal bleeding and it’s coming out of his asshole” not jump to the top of the list of other moms? Surely I must have trumped all but maybe one, no? NO?!?
During the wait of a return phone call, I did the worst thing that any mom could do. Ever. I googled it. I scrolled through the possibilities, certain I had the worst one. Meanwhile, i discovered that there were different shades of red that meant different things. Was it mixed in the poop or on the outside of it? Was it light pink, dark red? Was it streaked? I jumped when the phone rang, probably because it was right next to me and on high volume, so I was sure not to miss the call. After explaining my poop journey to the doctor in one long run on sentence, I finally took a breath and said, “I broke my baby. My baby is broken”. The doctor, who I could swear was stifling laughter and eating a bagel at the same time was clearly not as concerned as I was. In fact, I had this vision, he was in some doctors only lunch room, where they put the phone in the middle of the table, on speaker and smirk at each other as they listen to the crazy rantings of moms concerned with what was probably a daily if not hourly issue for them as they pass a big bag of sun chips around the table and unwrap their delivered sandwiches.
He calmly assure me that my baby was NOT broken. That he could have a small anal fissure (tear) from passing hard poop which is very common and that my baby was okay and unless he was crying unconsolably and/or writhing in pain, then this was totally normal.
I’m sorry. Normal? it’s normal to have blood in your poop? How is that normal? But he assured me it was and told me to call him again if I noticed more or it darkening. Then he hung up. First. Normal. Huh. Who would have thunk it? I felt relieved. A little untrusting of the casualness of his diagnosis but still, relieved. Okay then. Normal.
And it went away.
For a week.
Then I’ll be damned, muther fucker, one morning, there it was! The familiar flush of panic hit my body like a hot flash, but this time I was able to slow it down and remember what the doctor said. A fissure. Ok.. Sure.. Anal tear. Got it. I’m on it. I’m not ashamed to say that I inspected that area. Oh, I inspected it, thoroughly, methodically, with a magnify glass on my swiss army knife. that’s right. I did it. Poor kid, I was so up in his business, I swear he started to look at me funny. But I saw nothing. nada. Zip. Just a regular ol tiny hiney hole. A perfect pink whistle. Nothing.
So, I make the call to the Doctor again and again imagine I’m lunchtime entertainment and again, he assures me that my baby, if NOT in pain, is fine. “I don’t understand!” I say and I launch into my description of the type and kind of blood again. To be honest with you, I’m not sure what I was hoping for. I mean, was I hoping that he would suddenly be like, “wait, what?! You said IN his poop?” and then I say, “Yes. Yes! IN his poop!” and he apologizes that he couldn’t hear me clearly in-between is crunching of his flax seed chips (yeah, he’s that kind of doctor) and says, “Go. Go NOW to the hospital. I will meet you there for emergency surgery”.. I mean, is that what I wanted? NO.. no way. But, I did feel like he was dismissing me too quickly. I did feel like he wasn’t truly grasping the situation and that I wasn’t describing it well enough to get his attention in the matter.
So I made an appointment. I asked him the first call around if I should bring him in and he said no, gave me some serious bloody poop guidelines to follow and if I met any of them at any time, THEN bring him in.
I hadn’t met any. My baby was happy. But I made the appointment anyway.
And this is where crazy really kicked in, pushed Jesus aside and took it’s turn at the wheel. My son slept pretty well, played happily, cried normally and all around seemed joyful to be a baby. But then I started thinking that maybe he had been in pain since day one and was just used to it… like the orphan babies in Russia that don’t even cry anymore because they know that no one will come. My heart broke and so did any sense of rationality.
The night before our doctors appointment, I inspected the poop and sure enough, there it was. I had evidence. I had proof. NOW the doctor could SEE what kind of blood it actually was. I took the poopy diaper, folded in gently like a present, placed it in a zip lock baggy and put it in the freezer. I felt good about myself. I was on top of my game man. Proactive. Mom of the year.
About an hour later, I’m in the bedroom folding laundry, my son in the bouncy seat watching me, I hear my husband in the kitchen crack open a can if ginger ale, then the freezer door open and close, the sound of ice breaking into the glass, the freezer door opening and closing again. Then opening. And silence.
He calls out, “Babe?”
“Um. Is that a diaper in the freezer?”
“A dirty one?”
I hear the freezer close and I feel him behind me.
I turn to him to see his bewildered yet amused look. I’ve seen it before. It’s a common look found on a mans face when looking at a woman. The one that tells me, I’m teetering on crazy.
“Because. The doctor seems way to relaxed about the fact theres blood in our sons poop and I feel like if he just SAW it, then he could tell me what it’s from.”
“Seriously. You’re going to bring him a diaper?”
“Well, I froze it.”
“Exactly.” and he walks away..
Whatever with him. I mean, why wasn’t he as concerned as I was? His lack of concern not only irritated me, but made me doubly worried. I mean… blood. In his poop. Does no one care??!?
The next morning we headed to the Doctor’s office. I packed the diaper bag and placed the frozen bloody poopy diaper in a lunchbox with ice, certain that I was a champion for my child. We were going to get to the bottom of this (pun intended) and I was going to be praised for my preparation, my aggressive parenting in finding answers. My husband eyeballed me from across the kitchen as I packed up. A strange look on his face of slight intrigue with a knowingness, a condescension. I smirked back. He’ll see.
“what?” I said.
“You know that’s a little crazy right?”
“bringing the Doctor a frozen loaded diaper. I mean.. you see it right? A little off the deep end?”
I thought for a minute. From his perspective. Maybe it was a little… I don’t know… much.. maybe. Screw it.
“I want answers. he needs to SEE it”
He took a swig of coffee and resigned, “Okay.. lets’ do this”.
He seemed almost excited now. I squinted my eyes at him. He’ll see. He will soon be praising me for my parenting skills.
We sat in the room, waiting patiently for our turn. The doctor came in, maybe I was paranoid, but it seemed that he and my husband had exchange a knowing look as he proceeded to do a check up on my son, who was laying on the table in nothing but his diaper, happily playing with a pacifier and staring at the ceiling montage of baby giraffes and elephants surrounded by bubbles. Sometimes I imagine he’s high. Like, he’s SO into the painted scene above that seems ridiculously simple to me, yet he’s mesmerized and if he could talk, I feel like he would say, “Trippy dude.”
The doctor pushes on his belly, under his rib cage, his sides, presses under his belly button, I held my breath waiting for a squeal of pain to escape my boys mouth, but he giggled… Then the diaper undone, his legs over his head, the doctor did, what I think was a marginal inspection of his pink whistle, I mean C’mon, get IN there man. Then he retaped the diaper back up, listened to his chest and belly and said, “well…”, I leaned in, here it is… “he’s gassy”.
Silence. “what? you can hear… gas?” I say disbelieving, like a psychic can see dead people.
“Well, I hear grumbling and air. He could be a little constipated, which can irritate the intestines and what you may be seeing is just some of the lining. Which. he will out grow around 6 months and is totally normal.”
I stare it him. Really?
“You can try to bland your diet a bit, less spice, more grilled chicken, white rice, but mostly this is just something that babies go through”.
Hmphh. I feel my husbands eyes on the back of my head, waiting, hopefully for me to present my “gift”. I start to feel a little silly. I mean, was the blood that bad? WAS it that much? WAS it even there? Or…shit. AM I crazy? I look over to my diaper bag, I can almost hear my husbands thoughts, “do it. do it, do it.”
I tread carefully. “So. Do you want a stool sample?”
The doctor barely looks up from the chart he’s making notes on and says easily, “Nope.” he looks up at me warmly, “Look. Weird things happen to babies. rashes, spit ups, odd color and strange, sometimes vile smelling poop. You know your baby. If he seems uncomfortable. If he is in pain, not sleeping, can’t move, isn’t playing or seems to strain consistenly, then bring him back in, but…” and he looks over to my son, who is almost in full hysterics at those damn super stony baby animals on the ceiling, “He seems more than fine to me.”
I actually relax for the first time in a week. I can physically FEEL the stress and anxiety and worry leave my body and all at the same time, I sort of realize that, I don’t know, maybe… just MAYBE, I over reacted…
“You must think I’m a crazy person.”
He smiles warmly at me and my husband (again, I swear they share a look. What the fuck?). “No. I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you’re a new mother that loves her son.” I’m calmed. He gathers his chart and stands up, opens the door to leave and says over his shoulder in a lower tone as if he is confiding in US, “I’ve had moms actually bring me a frozen diaper to inspect. Now, THAT’s a little crazy.” and he’s gone.