Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Evening Update (Wednesday 1/14)

Another good day for Max overall. Carolyn reports that he was breathing a little fast, particularly towards the end of the day. In the past, this has been an early sign of respiratory distress. Oh, and one of the nurses measured Max's head today and found that it had grown + 1.0 cm in less than a day. Carolyn and I are completely inured to these kinds of head circumference measurement panics. We'll wait for the official estimate tonight before we leak a little adrenaline into our bloodstreams.

But aside from that, Max and Carolyn had a great day together. Carolyn only put Max through a partial workout in case one of the physical therapists wanted to work with him. However, she devised a modified tummy time exercise in which Carolyn reclines as much as the hospital rockers permit, puts Max face-down on her stomach and encourages him to move his head side to side, lift his head etc. It went quite well, Speech therapist S. dropped by and worked with Max. She report that Max did well with his pacifier.

The plan is to try Max with oral feeds late this week or early next. Carolyn got the impression that the NICU team think that Max's reflux will really flare up and that they will have to pursue "alternatives" (read: surgery on the pyloric valve). But at this point I've got my money on Max figuring it all out. He is, like his father and many other famous people, a slow learner.

It may be a sign of NICU fatigue, but Carolyn now thinks that the NICU team thinks she is spoiling Max by picking him up every time he starts to cry. (Earlier this week, Carolyn thought she had been marked out as a crazy NICU mom for insisting that the weekend NICU team feel Max's fontanels with the outgoing residents so they could compare notes and properly detect any changes.) My own view is that the NICU team have seen the entire spectrum of parental pathologies and that our behavior doesn't rate even a raised eyebrow. But back to the subject of "spoiling" babies: this was a debate that Carolyn and I read up on before Felix was born. It just seems so refreshingly normal to hear people argue attachment parenting vs. Ferberization. The last time we talked about this, we couldn't have told you where the pyloric valve was, or how to detect hydrocephalus, or even what chronic lung disease was. Battle of wills with the infant? Bring it on! (For the record, Carolyn and I are practicing orthodox Ferberarians, but we're ecumenical enough to allow attachment parenters into our house. When their coddled little darling throws a tantrum, however, out they go.)

But this brings me to another one of my crackpot parenting theories: in the same way that babies are hardwired to follow faces, I think that they are instinctive manipulators of adults. After all, the ability to get grown-ups to do what they wanted probably was a big help to babies back in the cave man days. So Max likely is trying to manipulate us, not to mention the whole NICU team. And that's great news! It means that part of that very big brain of his is starting to light up. As I reminded Carolyn, chances are we'll be able to outfox Max for a few years yet.