Otto the Silent

Well, maybe “silent” isn’t really what I am looking for. Averbal? Nonspeaking? Unintelligble? Man of few words? Monkey boy?

Should I be worried that my nearly 16 month-old son has virtually no words and chooses to communicate through a combination of fist whacks and gibbon-like shrieking? Which, technically, would make him more “Lesser-ape boy” than “Monkey,” although let’s not get bogged down by semantics. The fact is that Otto doesn’t really speak. And The Book says “1 word sentences by 1 year” or some such nonsense. But here we are. 4 months past the deadline. And nothing.

Kid wants to be picked up? Lifts his arms and shrieks. Wants a cookie? Beats at the cupboard and shrieks. Wants to go into the room where his sisters are? Presses his face against the glass door and—and yes, you got it—lets loose a long, high-pitched, ear splitting screech. Jeez Louise. I don’t know how much more of this my ears can take.

So what does the American Academy of Pediatrics have to say about Otto’s communication skills? Well, by age 1, most babies say “ma-ma” and “da-da” and apply the words to the appropriate parent. (Um, let me see. Does he do that? No.) They say at least one word. (Hmmm, uh no.) Point to items and make a sound? (Hey! Finally. Although they don’t really describe an “ear-splitting screech” option. Anyway.)

And am I worried? No. And not just because I’m a hot mess, 3 kids dripping off me, bigger worries on my mind, like where my sanity has gone. And no, it’s not because I haven’t even bothered to think about it. It’s because Otto is doing all the other things right on track. Responds to his own name being called? Yes. Understands what a “cookie” is? Clearly. In fact, in 2 languages. Before you go there, it’s arguable whether bilingual kids really have language delay. Big milestones are supposedly on track, so I can’t go pulling that card as much as I might like. But anyway, hearing and receptive language seem okay. Makes repetitive sounds (other than the gibbon like one, obviously)? You bet. All kinds of “nnn-duh” and tongue clicking. So he’s at least trying and capable of making some repeated sounds. Points to items or makes his wishes known? Hell, yeah! He has no problem letting us know the infinite ways in which we are total morons, oblivious to his desires. We just got back from a trip where every time we went through the restaurant he went completely bananas as soon as he saw the ice cream stand. So, yes, Otto, I’m aware that you like ice cream. And I’m also aware that your preferred flavor is chocolate.

So to sum it up, every kid develops at his or her own pace. So long as the big picture seems pretty on track, a couple months here or there when it comes to milestones is usually perfectly okay. Any doubt, obviously ask your pediatrician. But for now, I will continue to give him very clear instructions when I leave for work. “Today, Otto, I would like you to learn to speak, use a fork, and entertain yourself for 5 minutes. Do you think you can do that?” I’m quite confident I’ll come home one of these days not too far away and find out he’s met at least one of my goals!

Otto the Impossible

Were the girls like this or did I block it out? Is my PTSD from raising 2 babies born 3 months apart (14 weeks and 3 days to be exact) protecting my fragile psyche from the memories of what that was like? Or were my girl babies just very, very, distinctly, undeniably different than my son? Those of you with children of different genders, can you chime in here now? Are girls so different from boys or is this just a matter of gender-neutral personalities? And frankly, does it matter? I’m stuck with the 3 of them, so why ask questions now?

Alas, I’m only half joking. I love, love, love all 3 of my kids. But when we were waiting for Otto, my husband expressed outright fear: what if he’s like those boy children we see? You know, the ones that run screaming through public buildings, jumping off playground equipment, wrestling each other in the dirt, using everything from plastic straws to hairbrushes as swords?

And then I pointed to Zoe and asked, so what’s the difference? Can a boy really be any worse than that? (At the time she had developed this obsession with jumping down entire staircases.) When Zoe was a toddler, I would routinely snap photos of the blood-stained towels around our house, collecting them for the day I would demand repayment for the years that child had stolen from my life.

Then again, Zoe could be kept still by strapping her into a stroller and handing her a brownie. Otto? Not so much.

I promised to explain the broken tooth. So I will. It’s not actually a very exciting story. There was a small child and a tile floor. I heard screaming (Open airway!! Spontaneous breathing!!) but saw no blood. And later we noticed part of his front top tooth was broken off. Dr. Zibners obviously whipped into gear, ascertaining that this was an Ellis I-type fracture—involving only enamel—and therefore wouldn’t require any treatment. The tooth was stable, not loose or out of place. I mean, what’s a mom to do? (Other than make constant comments about how ridiculous he looks? My son, the hillbilly. Anyhoo). For those of you also parenting children with no sense of self-preservation, teeth can be fractured (broken), intruded (pushed in), subluxed (out of place), and extruded (knocked out). What needs to be done depends on what type of injury and whether the tooth is missing or not. The key is to not panic. Unless you have family photos scheduled soon. Seriously, any doubt, just give your pediatrician or family dentist a call. For the most part, only teeth that might fall into or already are sitting in the lungs are a true urgency.

But back to Otto. The child intent on self-destruction. A few days after the tooth incident, he was found sitting on top of the kitchen counter. No. I’m not joking. He’s 15 months old.

What else is different? Well, to start with, he’s 15 months old (did I mention that?) and he doesn’t say a single word. He just shrieks like a gibbon. I will go into more of that soon. Should I be worried? Isn’t it about time the kid learn to use some words? Probably, but let’s stay on track. In addition to not communicating, he cannot, under any circumstances, stay seated. Okay that’s a lie. He will sit in the highchair for the 30 to 90 seconds it takes for him to shovel food in his mouth. And then he’s off.

So tell me, is it me or are boys different from girls? The small sampling of other parents I’ve been asking tell me yes, but in ways that are as glorious as they are frustrating. Presumably there will be fewer mind games in the future. Less manipulation. No weeping over imaginary love gone wrong.

But for now, I’m one exhausted lady, running after the kid with half a tooth who is hell-bent on knocking out the rest of them. Oh, crap. Gotta go. Otto, nein!

Have Doctor, Will Travel

And we’ve made it back from our trip to see the Grandparents! Summer holidays are a mixed bag, aren’t they? On one hand, aren’t we super lucky to have the flexibility and means to travel across the Channel and see family and friends? And on the other hand, who in her right mind drags 3 small children anywhere? Think about it. I am one woman with 2 arms. The kids’ dad has a couple of arms, as far as I can tell, but, well, you know. Which means it’s mostly me packing luggage, loading kids into airplanes, hooking up rented car seats and handling all the little details that pollute what seems like an otherwise wonderful idea. Yet I do it anyway. For the love of travel, family and friends.

We had a great time. I really have to admire the kids for how adaptable they are. I’ve dragged these little ones around the world and back again. That’s just part of living thousands of miles away from your family. But it’s what they are used to. So without blinking an eye, those kids whip through security, buckle up on airplanes and manage to fall asleep in strange beds without too much of a fuss. Unfortunately, though, they are still children. Which means all of the bumps and bruises that happen at home happen when we are away. And that brings us to today’s topic: What does Dr. Zibners pack in her little bag of doctor tricks when traveling with children?

You want to know, don’t you? What are the things I tuck into my suitcase to limit the chance I’ll wind up in a strange country trying to act out the word, “Ibuprofen?” Well, start there. At least 1 bottle of age-appropriate pain and fever medicine. Ditto for an antihistamine, like Benadryl or Zyrtec. Bandages in various shapes and sizes. Tweezers (splinters!!!). A tube of hydrocortisone. One more of Neosporin. And there you have it. At least as far as what you, the non-medical parent can pack. My kit actually includes a few other things, like skin glue and antibiotics. But for these goodies, you’ll have to go to medical school, which might not be practical. It’s actually kind of handy, I must say. Bringing a pediatrician along. But for those of you who can’t, at least pack the basics!

So, did we use any of it? Oh you bet your shiny boots we did. Zoe got stung by a bee and Otto routinely ran into things/fell off things. (The kid actually chipped his tooth on this trip. Tiled floor + newly walking toddler = dental injury.) I’ll go into more detail about both of those dramas another day. But back to the story, the baby spent two days throwing up with a fever and the girls became obsessed with Doc McStuffins and needed to bandage pretty much everything. So yes, the majority of my doctor kit was on full display this holiday. Which means I need to restock before we head off on our next trip, this time with my family. The cousins arrive this week and I’ve got to pack supplies not just for 3 little kids, but for 5. (Holy help me.)

Traveling with kids brings its challenges. And joys. It’s not always appropriate for very young babies, as you can see from my post this week at Shot of Prevention. But when you can, what a gift to give your children: the chance to see new places and learn about new things. So long as they stay safe and healthy. Which reminds me, I’ve forgotten to mention the most important thing in my suitcase that keeps us happy, healthy and away from hotel doctors:

SUNSCREEN. Bottles of it.


How Times Have Changed

“Mom, what’s a water balloon?”

“Um. Um. It’s something that I used to do when I was a kid that was really, um, fun but it left lots of little shreds of latex lying around and so, um, well, just thank heavens your aunts didn’t choke to death.”

Last night’s conversation started after a trip to the grocery store. We are in Germany and one thing I’ve learned is you can’t go into a public building of any kind with young children and not be offered one of the following 3 items: processed pork meat, gummi bears or latex balloons. No joke. If we’d wandered by the meat counter, you can guess what the girls would have been busy chomping on but instead we were on a Diet Coke (mine!) mission and the check out lady took pity on their grubby, empty little hands. And, you guessed it, out came the basket of latex balloons.

We all know how I feel about the latex balloon, don’t we?
But the girls are well past the age of 4 and Zoe routinely lists the dangers of latex to anyone who offers their younger brother a balloon, so I’ve started relaxing a bit when it’s just the girls and it’s a single balloon each. (That way I can easily track the buggers and promptly remove any post-inflation remnants.) But while I am ever so vigilant about balloons, I am less careful with my language and that’s how, oops, the idea of the water balloon came about.
Quick thinking, quick thinking, what was I going to do? On one hand my childhood was littered with dead balloons and I’m still here. It was (whispered in hushed tones) really super fun. Why am I being such a stick in the mud and denying my children the awesomeness of a water balloon fight? After a few seconds of deliberation, I decided to go for it. “You guys can have water balloon tomorrow when your brother is asleep. If it’s warm out. Now, give those to me for safe-keeping and let’s go home.”
My plan obviously was to go for an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thing. We’ll see how it goes. Today they haven’t yet mentioned it, given the onslaught of processed pork and gummi bears that continued upon awakening. Actually, at the drugstore the clerk offered them what appeared to be a flavored sugar cube. (Even more hilarious is buying the girls a little pig shaped soap for their bath tonight (bribery!) and having Zoe ask gleefully, “Does it really make us smell like sausages?”) Truly outstanding, isn’t it?
Anyhoo, back to the balloons. Times are different, aren’t they? When I was a kid, I doubt my mother gave them too much thought. And this is a woman who invented her own car seat for me. Without divulging my age, I’ll just say that infant car seats weren’t really widespread and definitely toddler seats weren’t. But if you look photos of me when I was young, I’m wearing this harness contraption that supposedly she could strap into the seat belt. And before that she had some kind of baby carrier that she wedged into the floor mats behind the driver’s seat. Yes, I know. Not ideal. Far from it. But still. The point was that my mother was a car seat demanding, hot dog refusing, safety machine of the 70’s. Yet she let me play with balloons. Does this mean my mom didn’t have her eye on safety? No. Hardly. It means she wasn’t necessarily aware that she needed to include the innocuous water balloon in the list of things most likely to harm me.
Times have changed. Which is exactly the sentiment of a great post over at The Vaccine Advocate this week that ties into my series appearing now on Shot of Prevention. Now in the interest of full disclosure, A. Z. Naprawa is Amanda Zibners Naprawa. Have you made the connection? Anyway, she wrote a great post about growing up in a very safety minded home yet with a lot fewer worries on our parents’ part. Just like having to worry about whether your kids’ friends are vaccinated. Which is what I’ve been addressing over at Shot of Prevention. So go check them both out. While I find my children’s toothbrushes and wrestle them into a bath where they come out smelling like clean children.

Baby’s First Hausschuhe

I completely forgot to mention the World Cup, didn’t I? I know all of you were watching, completely riveted. Me? Totally missed the ending. Despite being in Germany, married to a German, I have to admit that my interest wasn’t quite as high as one might think. In fact, halfway through the game I went to bed. Hey, I’ve got a 14-month old that thinks 6:30 am is a sleep-in and the game was on at 9pm over here! (The next morning my husband actually told me Argentina won. I told the kids, we all shrugged our shoulders and got ready for breakfast. Sorely disappointed at our reaction he came clean.) Anyway, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m still on holiday in Germany.

Spending time with children in another country gives you a different perspective on parenting. For example, when we were in Portugal I was shocked to see children running around at 11pm. But that’s just what they do: sleep until 9, nap all afternoon and then stay up all night. It’s culturally the norm. While my poor, pale little Anglo-American-Saxon darlings go to bed by 8 and wake up really far too early for their mother. That’s our cultural norm.

What’s also our cultural norm–at least at the Zibners house–is to be vaccinated. I’m back up at Shot of Prevention giving suggestions on how exactly to ask if your child’s friends are as well. Check me out.

But before you go, anyone have any suggestions for my list of German children toys I’m developing? I mean, here we are, deep in the Black Forest and I’ve got nothing to do but watch my children eat sausage and Haribo, right? If you don’t understand the Germans, you may not find this list very funny. But the most important thing right now is keeping myself entertained, isn’t it?

My First Meat Slicer
My First Hausschue (House Shoes…have you ever seen a German’s feet?)
My First Coffee Machine
My First Filterless Cigarettes
My First Recycling Bin

Actually, I love that my kids are bi-cultural. They are growing up with a perfect understanding that when in Germany, we wear slippers and consume mountains of pork products at breakfast. And then we turn around and go to California where shoes don’t exist and the only bacon we get is made from turkey. I completely embrace their German side. But it doesn’t mean I can’t poke a little fun at it, does it? Anyway, head on over to Shot of Prevention and give me your ideas on the reasons why it is so important to ask about vaccinations and exactly how to go about it. While we get ready to head to the grandparents and make sure they’ve had their Diphtherie-Pertussis-Tetanusimpfungen. Because somethings are important rules for parents no matter where you are!

I wish There Was a Shot for THAT!

Greetings from the Black Forest, the Schwarzwald, or as my kids call it, The Place Where We Eat Sausage and Haribo All Day Long!

No, don’t start with me. I know that Haribo is about the worst thing you can stick to your kids’ teeth. It sticks to the enamel and invites all that lovely bacteria in for a cavity party. Like dried fruit. But at least a raisin seems somewhat healthy. (Although we all know that’s a lie. Up there with fruit juice and wild-type chicken pox!) But have you ever been to Germany? They literally leave bags of gummy bears on the table at breakfast. You can’t escape them.

At least for chicken pox, there’s a shot. You all know what a big fan of vaccines I am. So much so that I pestered those kind folk over at Shot of Prevention and they have given me a 3-part series on asking about immunization before allowing your child to play with another. Check it out.

It nearly killed me, finishing up those posts and edits while trying to wrangle the pork fat from my children’s grubby little hands. So far, all I can tell you this summer is that a holiday with 3 small children is not really a holiday. What I wouldn’t give for some shots against the following:

  • The painting ketchup on your sister’s hair without her feeling it while your mom is at the salad bar vaccine
  • The drinking so much pool water you vomit in said pool and your mom hopes no one else notices jab
  • The make your poopy diaper smell nice-we’re in a tiny hotel room immunization
  • The people stop throwing you nasty looks when your kids go bananas in a restaurant vaccine (Cuz their kids were perfect all the time, weren’t they?)
  • The make those same people not look at you with an even nastier look when you lose your temper and start shrieking “Stop it right now or Mommy’s going to eat your ice cream all by herself!” booster

And a whole host of others. But if I listed them you wouldn’t think we were having any fun, would you? And obviously we are. Even if we’re dirty and smelly and pretty much socially ostracized here in the woods. Next week is off to Grandma and Grandpa’s! I’ll try and update you then. I can’t wait to see what “gifts” await us there. “My First Meat Slicer?”

Invite Us Over?

There are lots of unintended consequences of parenthood. Five years ago could I ever have imagined shouting, “Get your hands off your sister’s vagina?!” No, no, I don’t think so. Ditto the never-ending food particles on the floor, the fights over what exactly constitutes appropriate school clothing, and the sheer realization that “silence” is not actually a good thing. Along with these little nuggets, entering school brings a new facet to raising little ones: The Playdate.

One super cool thing about living in Europe is that I don’t really need to have the “do you have a gun” conversation before sending my kids off to play. There is the “are your kids vaccinated” conversation, obviously, but we’ll save that for another post. Beyond that, all that is really left is “what time do you want us?” and “should I stay or should I go?” Awesome, right? So a couple of weeks ago, the girls, Otto and I were invited to another home for lunch and a play date. Fast forward to the day and I am now going to tell you a story that will make you feel like a million dollars. Because no matter how bad you think a playdate can go, I bet I can top it.

The kids fed, the other mom and I sat down for a chat. Otto had discovered a metal teaspoon and was happily banging it on the glass coffee table. Very sensibly, I removed the spoon from his grasp, thoroughly impressed with myself for considering the unlikely chance that a barely one year old could break a thick piece of glass with a teaspoon. Right.

Seconds later, Otto has the spoon again and just like that, “Thwap!,” he brings it down on the glass, spidering the table top. The crack extended in two directions, across the table. Horrified, I grabbed the spoon, my face flaming, and began apologizing profusely. Our very kind hostess looked equally horrified but quickly assured me that the table was old and she was looking for a replacement anyway.

Oh wait, it gets better.

As I sat back down, Eva came over to see what the fuss was about. “Look, Eva!” I cried. “Otto broke the table with a spoon! See that is what Mommy means when I say we have to be careful in other people’s homes.” My words were abruptly cut off as Eva asked, “What? This?” and slammed her tiny little hand down on the edge of the glass, shattering the table top and sending shards of razor sharp glass around the room.

No, wait, it gets better.

Trying to remain as calm as possible, I jumped to my feet, grabbing both Otto and Eva and shouting apologies. I passed Eva over the mess and told her to stay outside. I threw Otto in a playpen and started cleaning up. We carried the remaining table top outside, where its jagged edges couldn’t hurt anyone and I set about sweeping up the glass. The next thing I know, there is blood all over their flooring. “She’s bleeding!” cried my likely now former new friend.

“Oh my God, your floor!” I yelled, while the other mom yelled, “Oh my God, her foot!” (I’ll leave you to think about that dynamic. The problem with having an ER doc for a mom: very little sympathy for the walking wounded.)

We somehow got Eva to the sink where I washed out the tiniest little cut and wrapped a pressure bandage (i.e. paper towel) around her toe. Leaving her on the counter, we continued to clean the glass, first with a broom and then with a piece of bread to pick up all the little tiny bits. (Yes, I’m now dispensing household cleaning tips as well as child health and safety advice. You’re welcome.)

But wait, it gets even better!

Wiping away the last of the damage, I looked into the garden. “Oh, no, have you seen what is going on out there?” I asked, now somewhere well beyond embarrassment.

“It’s fine, I’ve seen it, don’t worry,” she said hurriedly, clearly wondering when we would be leaving. Because outside, Zoe and said little Friend had pulled the stuffing out of the garden furniture and were decorating the entire lawn in cotton batting.

So there you go. Today’s lessons: 1) don’t be afraid to ask questions before your child goes into another home, or even better, go the first time along with. 2) An infant can actually shatter a glass table with a teaspoon. Hello Bam Bam. 3) Even tiny pieces of glass can cause a lot of bleeding. Thankfully there wasn’t any glass in her wound, the cut was very superficial and the bleeding stopped rather quickly with pressure or the day would have ended with a post about skin glue versus stitches. And 4) whatever you do, think twice about inviting the Zibners family to lunch.

Happy Birthday, Otto!

So I was at a dinner party last weekend and our hostess said, “Lara, why don’t you post anything to your site anymore? You used to really give the impression that you were a woman obsessed with her children. And now, well, it seems like you just don’t care anymore.”
Admittedly, she was joking. (I hope). But I get it. At one point I was blogging 3 times a week. Then Eva was born. And it went down in frequency. And then Zoe was born. Ditto. And then came Otto. 1 year ago today. My last post was in February, right after Scrotum-Gate. Where does the time go?

Actually, where does my time go? As in, what did I do with myself before children? I have no idea. But I can certainly tell you what I do now: spend most of my days in a state of panicked anxiety, pulling at my hair and doing a lot of things but none of them very well. Ah Motherhood.

Oh, wait, there’s one thing I apparently do just fine and that is to feed my children. Otto, the once premature little 6 ½ pounder is now a whopping 25+ pounds. Yes, but not just round. Tall too. And his head, well, let’s just say I was ripping seams out of his Santa hat this winter. I recently bought him new clothes in a size 2T and I’m honestly not sure how long those are going to last. Seriously, buddy. This is the biggest size before there are no more snaps in the crotch. Which means no more diapers. Actually that is kind of a moot point, because after this size Pampers, you are looking at adult Depends, kid. So either you get moving and we see some of that “Toddler Slim Down” soon or we’ve got a big problem on our hands. He should be walking within a few months, which will be really awesome because I certainly can’t carry him too much longer. I did buy this cheap umbrella stroller to keep in the car for the school run but the frame, it’s sort of bent now, kind of sagging in the middle. Um, yeah. Did I mention he’s a big boy?
The good news, however, is that when you open his diaper, his surgical wound is fully healed and his boy bits are just fine. So I guess that is one more thing I did right this year.

Ah, thought of another. Poor little (ahem) guy is going on Thursday for his one-year vaccinations. Assuming they can find a needle long enough, he’ll be getting protected against chicken pox, measles, mumps and rubella. All nasty diseases that can kill. Mumps even has the gall to go after the testicles and leave a boy infertile. And frankly, we’ve had too many testicle insults this year at our house already, thank you very much.

Scratching my head, thinking. No that’s pretty much it. Unless you count simply surviving with 3 children under the age of 5 as doing something right. But I don’t think we’re in such bad shape. I’ve got three fantastic kids, each amazing in their own way. Sure, the girls are blatantly illiterate. (That’s another post, obviously. Their teachers say don’t worry about it. But seriously?) My son is generally covered in a layer of snot and dirt. But they are fabulous. I remain obsessed. Just very, very overwhelmed.

Despite that, I’m crawling out into the sunshine today to wish my most gorgeous baby boy a very happy first birthday. Say good-bye to formula, bottles and vulnerability to varicella. Hello Toddler Time!

A Boy and His Bits

I’ve been meaning to post something for a while but, well, let me put it this way. My mother came to visit and after a few days she asked, “Have you ever heard of Folie à Deux?” For those of you not versed in foreign terms for extremely rare psychiatric conditions, she was referring to a syndrome in which two normally sane individuals become psychotic when together. And she was referring to Eva and Zoe. So I’ve been busy.


I am now going to tell you a tale about Otto’s scrotum. Yes, I know that one day he will likely read this and get very angry with me. But I’ll simply explain to him that by sharing his story, he might save a testicle. Which is a worthy cause, don’t you think?

So last weekend, I opened the baby’s diaper to discover that his right scrotum was very swollen. Which was a bit of a shock, to say the least. But he didn’t seem bothered at all. No crying, no vomiting (other than the usual), nothing out of the ordinary. Except for what was inside his pants. Dr. Zibners ran through her quick list of things that make a baby’s scrotum blow up while Mommy freaked out a bit. And together we decided to practice what’s called “watchful waiting,” meaning we’d just observe over the course of the day. But by that evening it was bigger. So Dr. Zibners removed herself from the case and Mommy called our pediatrician. After talking about how well Otto was otherwise, we decided that it was most likely a fluid collection (hydrocele) and he could see the surgeons on Monday.

Except on Sunday it looked worse. And Otto started to cry.

I called the pediatrician back and within an hour I was at the hospital. 30 minutes later the pediatric surgeon was examining him. An hour after than I was holding my baby while the pediatric anesthesiologist gave him an injection to put him to sleep. And then the surgeon went on a little trip known as a “scrotal exploration.” It sounds terribly exotic, doesn’t it?

Of course, I was terrified. Worst case scenario was that I had missed a twisted testicle, called a torsion. If a testicle twists on it’s blood supply, there is a very short (6 to 8 hours) window to return the blood flow before the testicle dies and has to be removed. This can cause impressive redness and swelling but usually children are extremely uncomfortable as the condition is (usually) very painful. If I had missed that, well, I guess we’d be back to a conversation about my psychotic 4 year-olds, wouldn’t we?

Next worst? An incarcerated hernia, meaning bowel had slipped down into the scrotum and gotten stuck. If not returned to the belly, it can also lose blood flow and part of the intestine then dies and needs to be removed. Again, not good.

The only good part of this whole day was that their father was left at home with the girls. It’s good for him to see what’s that’s like sometimes, don’t you think?

About 90 minutes after I had left Otto in the operating room, I picked him back up in recovery. He was completely drunk after his Michael Jackson style nap and was a sobbing mess. But mostly fine. And the best news?

Epididymitis. An infection of the epididymis, which is a little sac connected to the testicle that helps with sperm maturation one day far, far in the future. The surgeon had cleaned out the infection and even brought me pictures she’d taken during surgery to show me how healthy the testicle was and how angry his epididymis was. (I wasn’t allowed to take them home and hang them on the fridge though. Big bummer.)

So there you go. Otto’s got a little row of stitches in his scrotum but doesn’t seem to mind very much. He’s on antibiotics for a week. And he’ll need an ultrasound of his kidneys to make sure there was no reason for the infection other than plain old bad luck.

And the lesson here? If you open your kid’s diaper and his scrotum looks really weird, call your doctor. And if your baby is screaming and you don’t know why, or your son is walking around like he’s been on a horse for 3 days and refuses to explain himself, take a look down there. Sometimes an ultrasound of the testicles is enough, sometimes the surgeon needs to take a look just to be certain. But either way, it’s his testicle, people. His testicle.


Dr. Zibners’ Thumb Sucking Cure!

Google “stop thumb sucking” and you’ll find a myriad of tips and tricks that range from sticker charts to nasty tasting nail polish. Yet I’ve always been of the opinion that nothing shy of actually cutting off a child’s thumb is guaranteed to work. If a kid wants to suck his thumb—which is developmentally appropriate in early infancy and flat out weird in adolescence—he’s going to find a way. Until now. Because I’m here to tell you that I have solved the riddle. Dr. Zibners is about to tell you the one sure way to stop your baby from sucking his thumb.

Make him fat. So fat that his arm doesn’t fully bend. So fat, he can’t actually get his thumb to his mouth. Continue reading…