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981388120 - 2001-02-05

MY SON THE MUCUS KING

There's nothing worse in life than having a sick baby.

Well ... death would be worse. But I don't believe that death could actually be considered "in life", could it?

I'm guessing prison would be worse too. But only if you just didn't fit in. If you were a drug dealing bruiser of a guy, you'd probably have a swell time in prison. Therefore, a sick baby would still be worse than prison.

Okay ... spending 15 minutes trapped in an elevator with Cher...that HAS to be worse than a sick baby.

YOU: "Yo Cher. I can't believe this elevator is broken."

CHER: "Fuck off."

YOU: "I wonder when they'll get it fixed."

CHER: "I'm sorry. Didn't I just say 'Fuck off'?"

That said ... Andy is sick.

He has taken sneezing to a whole new art form in the past few days. If sneezing was an olympic event, I'd be the proud papa of a gold medal winner.

He was sitting in my lap the other day with me doing my usual proud papa routine of cooing like a wounded dove while he stared at my face like I was a giant hand puppet.

As I worked dilligently to get him to smile, I saw his eyes close. That was my fair warning.

I saw his chest puff out. Right then, I should have known to duck for cover.

Then it happened.

Okay ... in the last three months, Andy has sneezed on me a total of about 700 times. It's really been no big deal. He doesn't "spray" when he sneezes ... this has just been a baby defense mechanism that gets rid of excess something or other in his body.

(Yes ... I've been reading baby books ... does it show?)

THIS time ... Andy decided that maybe it was time to let a few thousand things fly.

People. You have not LIVED until a sick baby sneezes into your face.

The only thing I can compare it to is a group of firemen turning on an ultra powerful water hose right into your face.

He sneezed with such force that it almost took off both of our heads.

"Good God!!" I exclaimed, my face transformed into a mask of baby spittle.

"Cooooooooo," he cooed with enough mucus dripping off his face to qualify for a spot in Ripley's Believe It Or Not!

"I think it's time we took you to a doctor," I told him, as I used the back of my hand to squeegee some of the baby spit off my face.

He cooed in agreement. Or he may have been cooing in pain. It could have been cooing in amusement. All coo's sound the same when they're three months old.

We called the doctor's office on Saturday morning and they told us to bring him in at 10:30 a.m. Wonderful. We had an appointment.

What they DIDN'T tell us is that every child in town waits until Saturday to get sick enough to go to the doctor.

So ... if your appointment is at 10:30, don't expect to see the doctor until noon.

At Andy's doctor's office, there are two waiting rooms. One for well kids and one for sick kids.

Being a Saturday, there were no children in the well kids section. There were tumbleweeds blowing through that section.

In the sick kid's section, it looked like a scene from "Schindler's List". A bunch of screaming,crying people, with their faces pressed up against the glass, wanting desperately to get out of there.

We squeezed our way into the room which I quickly dubbed "The Palace of Puke". Every single kid in there looked like death warmed over. If they weren't hacking up lung cookies, they were sneezing phlegm all over the place. If they weren't crying, they were moaning loudly. If their faces weren't covered in mucus, they were covered in Vicks Vapor Rub.

I haven't seen this many sick kids since the Marilyn Manson concert.

I was careful not to touch anything or anybody while we sat in the waiting room for one and a half hours.

Of course, just because you don't touch sick kids, doesn't mean they won't touch you.

One little girl whose upper lip was a bright shade of green was running around touching all the kids.

When she spotted Andy, asleep in his car seat, she made a beeline to come over and coat him with her germs.

"He's sick, honey," I said, planting my hand firmly on her shoulder to keep her at bay. "You'd better not touch him."

"I'm sick too!" she said gleefully, reaching out to smear her crusty hands on his baby face.

Okay. Plan B.

"Go find your mama and sit down," I growled.

She looked at me as if to say "You know...I know 911's number and I'm not afraid to use it." Then she walked away, never taking her eyes away from mine.

She was an evil little snot-child. Half child ... half snot.

Finally, we get ushered into the second waiting room and are told to get Andy undressed. Andy gets undressed and then freezes his baby butt off for 15 minutes before the doctor comes in.

The doctor pokes and prods him, asks us a few questions ("Is he sleeping at night?" "Are his poker-playing skills declining?" "Don't you have anything better to do on a Saturday morning?") and determines the boy has what doctors call ... a "cold".

Which is doctor-speak for "You're about to see things fly out of your baby that you don't remember ever putting in there."

The doc gives us a prescription for some eye drops, tells us to keep him plugged full of PediaCare and perhaps get some saline nose drops.

I take Mama and Baby home and run to my nearest pharmacy to get his medicine.

I get home and figure, "Okay ... let's get these saline nose drops in his nose so he can breathe easier."

Andy has a better idea. His idea entails shaking his head violently so that I end up spraying half the bottle of nose drops all over his face. It wasn't the best plan in the world, but it was his best defense and it worked pretty good for him. Because it's awfully hard to cram a nozzle in a baby nostril when it's whizzing past you at 50 mph.

Then it was time to suck the excess snot out with a rubber bulb that the doctors gave us at the hospital when he was born.

To any soon-to-be parents ... do NOT lose that rubber bulb. When the hospital gives it to you they tell you DON'T LOSE THIS. That's because you can't just run out and BUY one of these bad boys. The rubber bulb is the Holy Grail of things the hospital gives you when you take your baby home. There's only maybe seven rubber bulbs in existence, and you're being trusted to not lose your rubber bulb because you will need it in the future.

...I lost my rubber bulb.

In my defense ... c'mon. It's a rubber bulb. I'm sure there's plenty of them for sale in pharmacies nationwide.

(See above for confirmation on the scarcity of rubber bulbs)

So I'm calling every other parent I know, asking if they have their rubber bulb.

They HAD the rubber bulb.

But were they willing to SHARE the rubber bulb???

No.

No parent wants your child to get his crusty nose juice all over THEIR child's rubber bulb. Apparently, that's how germs are spread. You learn something new every day.

I finally found a couple from church whose child had grown out of the rubber bulb stage and they were more than willing to share their rubber bulb with us.

I went and picked it up, took it home and boiled that sucker good.

I stuck the rubber bulb in Andy's nostril and his eyes became the size of silver dollars.

...I guess I should have let the rubber bulb cool off after the boiling before cramming it in his nostrils.

After his screams died down and the bulb had sufficiently cooled off, we tried it again. I've seen million dollar questions on Regis' show that were easier than inserting the tip of the rubber bulb in this kid's nostrils.

He figured since the "Violent Head Shake" did so well for himself earlier that this would be a piece of cake. He was right. I successfully suctioned several areas of his chubby cheeks, leaving him looking like he had the chicken pox ... but extracting a noseful of baby mucus was not in the cards at that point.

So today, he's happy and content. He's still wheezing like a '65 Plymouth Duster. He's still making bubbles come out of every orifice in his face.

And I'm still prowling quietly around his crib with a rubber bulb in my hand, waiting for him to fall deep asleep.

That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.

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