So my husband came into the kitchen recently, and he made a really weird face.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I smell something…… Something smells!”
He came closer.
I knew he wasn’t talking about the dinner. There wasn’t any.
I knew he wasn’t talking about my perfume. Wasn’t wearing any.
I knew he wasn’t talking about flowers. He didn’t get me any!
But, I digress.
He was sniffing around like a hound dog, and finally he came right up to where I stood with the baby.
“Oh no! It’s the baby! The baby smells!”
“Oh no! Really? Oh no! It’s happened! It’s happening. Ohh!”
See, we were warned it would happen. But we still can’t believe it.
I? We? Have a smelly kid.
Here’s the backstory….when my sweeter than sweet, adorable (He really is. No, really. Ask anyone. Me. His daddy. The grandparents. He SO is.) powder fresh baby was only a few months old, our pediatrician noticed his head was flattening on one side—sort of between the back of his ear and the back of his head. It’s a fairly common problem nowadays, as it’s recommended that newborns be put to sleep on their backs to help prevent SIDS.
The problem is, many of these little bambinos prefer to tilt their head to one side, and since they can’t roll over for several months, their heads tend to flatten on the side they favor, or if they don’t favor a side, they can flatten like a big old pancake in the back. But, no matter where this kid went…the car seat, the table swing, the crib, he would always always always flop that top to that one side when he snoozed. And when they’re that little….they snooze….a ton. And….. there’s the rub.
The pediatrician recommended we take him to Boston Children’s Hospital to Neurosurgery to have his head measured to see how far “off” the one side was from the other, and she warned he’d potentially need a helmet when he was around 6 or 7 months old.
“Wha?? Neurosurgery?? This IS cosmetic, right?” I gasped. Wouldn’t you be nervous? Neurosurgery sounds like serious biz! It IS serious biz!
“Yes, it’s strictly cosmetic. If you do nothing, he will just have an odd shaped head. You can choose to do nothing.” But…you’ll be a schmuck who didn’t fix junior’s head, and…it’ll be all your fault. It will set him on a path to lifelong failure. A gargantuan, misshapen cranium. Can you live with that, MOM???
No, no I couldn’t.
But then I thought, provided he has hair his whole life, who cares if he has a funky shaped head. Right? Hey, for all I know, my head is shaped weird. No one’s perfect. Least of all me. And everyone in our family actually has really thick hair, so it’s a good bet he will, too—but that’s just it—it’s a bet. But… what if I have the one baldie in the group? One recessive gene and bam—he’s all Vic Mackey from the Shield and not Tommy Gavin from Rescue Me (WHAT a train wreck….but he has great hair!) And I actually think bald can be beautiful (Seriously, Vic would look dopey with hair), but maybe not so much with some freaky shaped head!
As I stood in the pediatricians’ office and roughly calculated the odds, all I could picture was a belligerent grown son, wagging his finger at me, cursing me that he can’t find any dates on Match.com because of his funky ass noggin!
“You knew and you did nothing! You didn’t get me the helmet!”
Yeah. That was so not gonna happen. I’ve been around the block long enough to know everything is always the mother’s fault. No way was I gonna bear that burden! Besides, I’m sure I’ll want grand kids someday!
“And,” the doctor interrupted my futuristic internal tirade, “he would have to wear the helmet 23 hours per day.”
“For three months.”
“And one more thing?”
“What’s that, doctor?”
“It costs $2500….and it’s not covered by insurance.”
“Yeah, they mostly claim it’s cosmetic.”
Hey, sorry kids, Santa ain’t coming this year! But baby’s getting a new and improved noggin!
“So…running down to Tarjay and grabbing one of those Schwinn numbers for $14.99…not an option?”
“Heh….no…sorry…no….But I tell you what, why don’t you work on tummy time with him, try to reposition him and try to get him to stay off that side for the next few months (Yeah…okay…I’ll also try to lasoo the moon. What?!). In the meantime, you should book that appointment at Children’s and have him measured. It takes a few months to get an appointment (yeah maybe because the other patients are going there for something SERIOUS), so maybe by the time they can take you, there will be some improvement and he might not even need it.”
I’m sorry, I love my doctor, but tummy time is just a crock. First of all, newborns sleep like a million hours a day. So 15 minutes of tummy time a day, or 30 minutes, or whatever a mom can realistically fit in, is not going to pop that cranium back into place when the baby is flopping to the one side every time he sleeps. Not to mention, tummy time around here with a barely two year old and four year old running around was way more dangerous than any flat head—-every time I put the boy down for tummy time I was afraid the other gremlins were gonna inadvertently stomp on his head. Which actually made me realize the helmet would be a wise investment—talk about getting more bang for your buck!
Needless to say, after five months of trying to get him to stop favoring that side (again, the moon…the lasoo…ugh uh)two trips to Children’s (No improvement. Zilch. And having a flat head is called, “Plagiocephaly”, btw…does that not sound like it warrants treatment? Yikes.), and several calls and trips to the helmet company (aka Hanger Orthotics…), we decided to get the helmet.
The good news?
Insurance paid for it, save $150 copay. Cha-ching! “Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!” (She works at Hanger and she don’t take no for an answer!)
And, my sweet baby actually doesn’t mind wearing it!
And, it’s already working!
The bad news? After a while…it smells like dirty feet. Really, really, dirty feet.
I was warned, both by the guy at Hanger (He rocks—he has to poke and prod the baby’s head but he’s like the helmet whisperer. We’ve had to go there about a half dozen times so far for measurements and fittings and tweaking and more measurements and the baby just kicks and smiles.) My friend, peasoutmama (check out her very funny blog–excellent helmet stuff— at www.peasoutmama.wordpress.com) whose son needed to rock the helmet a few months before mine, also tried to mentally prepare me.
There was no preparing for this stench.
See, the helmet is like this hard plastic on the outside. Inside it’s like a foamish type of material. The whole thing must act like an insulator, and so it makes his little head hot, which makes him sweat, and well, you know the rest.
The poor little bug can only take it off the one hour a day, which is when I’m scrubbing both the head and the helmet.
The stench has led me to bastardize a song by the Clash. Sorry Clash, but you would too if it were your kid….
“Mom-meeeey don’t like it, bwa na na na. Rock the helmet, Rock the helmet!”
But you know? If he can handle it, I can handle it. Eh. So I’ll hold my nose for the next six weeks! Christmas is coming after all!