High-stakes guessing game

Remember how we were trying to avoid giving Monkey any more antibiotics? Well, we made it four days. Three days of a happy Monkey, and one of a miserable Monkey, batting at his ears, howling, looking at us helplessly, a poor tortured soul. By the end of last week, Hubby and I couldn’t stand it anymore and gave in. We started him on his newest round of amoxicillin last Saturday morning, and I’m happy to say he’s doing so much better a week later.

When we took Monkey to his 6-month appointment last Monday, our pediatrician said little infants his age have a hard time getting over ear infections without intervention. Of course, she doesn’t want to put tubes in just yet, but wait and see if the summer months and relief from cold season will alleviate the problems while his ears develop some more. So here we are, waiting again.

As a mom, I really don’t know what the right answer is. And, as I’m learning, neither does anybody else. Life has gotten so much more complicated since Monkey came into our lives, and not just because of the massive time suck that our sweet little offspring imposes. So many sources out there claim to have the answer, yet nobody ever tells you this dirty little secret: most aspects of parenting boil down to opinion, educated guessing, and luck. Only a few cases of certainty exist – you absolutely should vaccinate your child, you should never let your newborn sleep on his/her tummy, don’t feed your 6-month-old a medium-rare beef filet, no matter how adventurous of an eater s/he appears to be.

(Are you kidding me?)

Everything else is a crap shoot. A crap shoot with a little helpless being that depends on you for everything. It’s no wonder us parents wander through life in a haze of exhaustion, stress, and utter confusion. We’re constantly wondering if we’re doing the right thing. And we’re constantly amazed by our children’s development, in spite of our complete ineptitude.


21 thoughts on “High-stakes guessing game

  1. I think one of the hardest things about parenting is how so many decisions feel so high stakes, particularly early on. For me, that mellowed with time.

    I hope Monkey feels better soon, and stops getting so many ear infections. Apparently, I was really prone to ear infections as a baby. I don’t have any recollection of that!

  2. I’ve had tubes in my ears, and my suggestion would be to wait it out. I also think the current medical suggestion is to have they only put in if the problem is ‘severe’, as in major impacts on life or health, as they found that for mild or moderate problems the tubes didn’t improve anything. (I remember seeing the study, but don’t remember the exact details, like how they measured severity or impact).

    I kept getting ear infections, and had tubes put in when I was 5 or so. At the time this was the medical suggestion – keep getting infections get tubes, so it doesn’t impact schooling. However except for being sick occasionaly and having to take antibotics the ear infections didn’t bother me much. Didn’t have any problems for about 1o years then starting getting ear and sinus infections, and other ear problems. I also have scaring in my ears, probably due to the tubes. I’ve actually had ENT doctor suggest I should have tubes put in again. Did the tubes help? Seemed to at the time? Maybe not, maybe I just grew out of it. Long term though, it seems like they caused more problems then they helped. Have talked to others who had tubes in when they were younger, and this is common. So is having to get them redone at an older age.

  3. “Only a few cases of certainty exist – you absolutely should vaccinate your child, you should never let your newborn sleep on his/her tummy, don’t feed your 6-month-old a medium-rare beef filet, no matter how adventurous of an eater s/he appears to be.”

    I totally agree with the vaccination. I am mostly in agreement with the tummy sleeping-Mini-G was definitely sleeping on her back, though when I was little this wasn’t a rule. But whatever. The steak, though, you are way off course on. I think baby food is a giant scam. I made “baby food” for Mini-G, and it was often derived from what we had for dinner. She LOVED steak around 6 mo., and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I DO think that rice cereal is an abomination.

  4. Meat is a fine first food! http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/the-baby-food-lie/ The important thing is to make sure it isn’t a choking hazard, but go for it. Medium-rare chicken or ground beef would be a bad idea (salmonella, e-coli), but I don’t see anything wrong with medium-rare high quality steak.

    High-five to gerty-z! (Though ours wasn’t interested in solids at all until around 8.5 months, but when he was ready I read up on it.)

    Good luck with the ears. Everyone I know who has done tubes was very glad with the outcome.

  5. Okay, this is exACTly what I’m talking about!! Our pediatrician insists on no meat (even purees) before 9 months, yet our AAP book says meat purees are okay, in fact recommended at 6 months if your baby is on solids.

    Of course, I abhor the idea of “meat purees”. But I gave Monkey a few very small pieces of thinly sliced chicken last weekend from my Caesar (no dressing, just the chicken), and he loved it…kept signaling for more! But we got tsk’ed by our doc the next day. I’m guessing she’s worried about his digestive system handling it (???), but he was fine.

    I’m also a huge fan of medium rare (or even rare 🙂 filets, and have never had a problem with the undercooking of a high-quality steak. And I LOVE sashimi. It just never occurred to me that a baby could handle it. But why not? As long as his digestive system can handle it, and there’s no dangerous bacteria, why not?

    So that’s one more thing off the “for sure” list. Ack!!!

  6. Our pediatrician’s standard is 4 infections in 6 months, or 6 in one year. Monkey is at 3 infections in 3 months. I’ve heard lots of stories of them working wonders; they certainly did for my brother. But he was a lot older when he got his.

    I’m very worried at this point about Monkey being on so many antibiotics. He’s basically been on something 1/3 of his life since he was 3 months old (10 days out of every month). That’s not good for him either, and the ear infections just don’t seem to clear up very well without.

    If the tubes work, then I’ll do it for sure. Of course, there’s no way to know for sure. And he might get better before then. But we’ll see what happens. There are just no for sure answers, which bugs the hell out of me. 😐

  7. I spent a lot of time on pubmed researching all this stuff. There is very little actual science on anything related to what western culture assumes as given in child-rearing. Our Babies Ourselves is an awesome book because it talks about how different cultures do things differently yet still manage not to kill their babies.

    I still vote to change for a more up-to-date and supportive pedi. The idea that meat might be ok made big headlines 3-4 years ago. Your doctor shouldn’t be tsking you for anything.

  8. I’ve heard great things, too, and they really helped my brother when he was little. I just hate the idea of Monkey “going under” so young. It’s an easy and quick procedure though, and I think I’d rather get it done sooner than later. We’ll wait through the summer, or until he gets another infection (his nose is getting stuffy right now, so I feel like it’s a matter of days). But then I’m done.

  9. It’s funny, because she’s from India and is always talking about how there they feed their babies whatever at 1 month old. I think she goes in between wanting to be very western about things, and then thinking that it’s all too much to worry about. Sometimes she comes across as SOOO laid back; other times, we’re tsk’ed about something unexpectedly, out of nowhere.

    No matter what, we’ll be finding a new pediatrician in the next few months, possibly before Monkey’s 9-month appointment. I feel like we have so many resources as it is – working at a hospital complex (with state-of-the-art children’s hospital) and all the docs that come with it. I have so many resources, so I haven’t been too wedded to what the pediatrician suggests.

    I’ve read several of the PubMed articles on the ear infections, since that’s what I’m so familiar with (infectious diseases, that is), but I’ve veered away from other topics. That will probably be the next thing I enter into, though.

    Oh, and I’m loving “Hungry Monkey”, if only because of the piece of doughnut his little Iris ate at 3 months. I gave Monkey some vanilla ice cream last month, not thinking about the dairy or eggs, and he was begging for more. I don’t plan on making that a regular thing, but he certainly didn’t have any negative reactions. It just all feels like a bunch of voodoo to me, at times…

  10. i don’t have anything useful to say about that ear tubes, that is thankfully a bridge that we never had to cross. But if you ever want tips on how to avoid commercial babyfood let me know. Srsly, it is a giant waste of money to buy those little glass jars of crap. Mini-G was interested in eating early, so she started around 5 mo (I think…). By 10 mo or so she could basically eat off of our plates. This made going to restaurants MUCH more enjoyable, we just had to be a little aware when ordering. Also, our pediatrician (who is awesome) was totally supportive of this strategy.

  11. I’m ambivalent about tubes (see above post) but I know people who think they helped a lot, either getting them as a child or an adult. I don’t like having chronic ear/sinus infections and taking antibotics like I do currently but I don’t want to be 70 and not be able to hear because of the scarring tubes may have left. I don’t think the data is really there to support their use if the problem isn’t severe, and I haven’t seen a study of the long term effects of getting them (I will admit I haven’t done a thorough lit search, so I may be wrong).

  12. We started giving things like mushed up meat and stuff as soon as they took it. The ped said nothing about not doing it as long as it wasn’t a choking hazard.

    Also get one of these: http://www.babysafefeeder.com/

    You can stick all sorts of food in it and they love to suck it out and won’t choke.

    As far as the ear infections, summer will probably make a big difference. Is she in daycare?

  13. He is in daycare, and has ended up with every sniffle and cough that makes the rounds. As soon as we notice a stuffy nose, we know an ear infection isn’t far behind. At this point, I’m just hoping summer provides some relief.

  14. In the NICU newborns are put on their stomachs to sleep quite a lot – of course they are all hooked up to machines, so any problems are noticed right away. Some adapt to sleeping on their backs before they are discharged. Others never learn to sleep on their backs.

    I love the book, Hungry Monkey. My philosophy to feeding my kids is very similar to the authors. I love the recipes in his book two. Three of them have made it into regular rotation in our kitchen.

    Nothing useful to add about ear infections. We’ve had more problems with pneumonia than with ears. Hoping Monkey grows out of this soon.

  15. AGREED! Baby food in the stupid little jars is a huge waste of money-W started eating so much better once we just started to either puree what we were eating-or chopping everything up into bite size bits. In the beginning, we introduced foods relatively slowly, but then the flood gates opened. I really miss when W would just wolf down whatever we put in front of him. Now, toddler-wobbly-W is very very picky. I say get the steak in them while you can!

  16. So far, Monkey’s hated everything I’ve made for him – mashed bananas, pureed peas – except for chicken. He loved chicken. We haven’t bought any jar food, but that’s what they give him at daycare and he likes quite a bit of it (except the peas – he hates peas). We’ve bought a few packets of organic baby purees that he also loves, but I’m still trying to get him to eat actual table food. I’m not sure if it’s the texture, or if we need to add some more seasoning to it, but so far, it’s a losing battle.

  17. Like you said, in the NICU they have them hooked up to machines. Nobody knows for sure why some babies are prone to SIDS, but the dramatic drop in SIDS after implementation of the “Back to sleep” campaign indicates that’s the safest way to sleep for infants, until they learn how to control their head movement.

    Icky on the pneumonia for your little ones – that’s certainly a lot scarier than the ear infections. Hope that clears up soon. 😐

  18. Both my sons had tubes. With the first, we were so reluctant and he went through way too many rounds of antibiotics… It was such a relief once he got tubes (he was over 2). With my second, we knew what was going on and as soon as the pediatrician said it may be time for tubes (after his 3rd or 4th recurrent infection), we went for it immediately. He was less than a year old (maybe 8 months or so, or 4 months into childcare) and we all got some sleep and some peace after he got tubes. I highly HIGHLY recommend them. Let me know via email if you need more info. My guess, from Monkey having 3 infections in 3 months, is that this is all one and the same recurring infection that simply won’t go away until someone goes in there and cleans it all out (which is what they do before they put in the tubes). The whole surgery is typically super early in the morning (the younger the child, the earlier), lasts for about 15 min, he’ll wake up, want to nurse, have a giant nap in the afternoon and he’ll be as good as new.

  19. We had some issues with texture at first….we started him on rice cereal afterall…so what I did is I would mix a little rice cereal into the purees. Eventually, we didn’t need the rice cereal any more. For time sake and during travel, we would have to use the canned stuff-Earth’s Best always had the yummiest combos. Although the packets we also pretty good. It’s so much fun!! (Until they enter toddlerhood and then all eating bets are off :))

  20. His day care teacher uses the rice cereal to stretch out the purees. As far as we can tell, though, he likes the purees (except peas) way more than the cereal. I’ve tried adding chunkier stuff into the purees and cereal, and he just spits out the chunks and works on the remaining puree. No likey chunkies.

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