Regarding teeth. . .

August 1, 2009 at 12:58 am (pieces of me, random Puffs, status report, whimsically silly)

“Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principal one was that they escaped teething.”

-Mark Twain
Toothless Wonder Girl
October 2007
There was a time before teeth. It seems only moments ago that The Toothless Wonder Girl ruled my world. I love the smooshy old-man mouths that all infants are in possession of before those first ivories sprout, so sweet and kissably soft. Perfect little rosebuds. . . though I must admit that my feelings of sentimental nostalgia diminish when I think back on the copious amounts of drool that are required to bring each and every little pearl to the surface.
Teething doesn’t get as much credit as I think it should. Everyone goes through it, both as a parent (if so blessed) or as a child. Though babies generally retain no recollection of such trying times, it seems that these memories lose their clarity to the parents also. Though mild sympathy is generally given to the parent in this situation, I feel that there isn’t quite enough empathy there to deflect the torture that said parent is being made to endure.
Teething is a bitch.
Seriously. It can be BAD. The range of symptoms that a teething baby can exhibit can easily be mistaken for nearly every disease known to man – including those of the mind:
Irritability
Drooling
Coughing
Rash
Decreased appetite
Cold like symptoms
Biting & gnawing
Cheek rubbing
Ear pulling
Gum swelling and sensitivity
Diarrhea
Fever
Insomnia
Night waking
Runny nose
Acne
More . . .
And if that happy list isn’t enough to convince you, keep in mind that these things do not come on a schedule. Oh no. There may be a sweet little note in your how to be a parent book about when to expect that first pearly white, and possibly a handy little chart that shows an entire mouth-full and when each one generally makes its grand debut, but if you look at the fine print you’ll see that nearly every child in existence refuses utterly to conform to the standards that have been put into said text. The range for that first tusk to pop goes from before birth all of the way up until 14-ish months of age. . . babies are like time-bombs.
And they don’t play fair.
A baby who knows what she’s doing can exhibit signs of teething for weeks, yet show no physical manifestation of a tooth. Then they’ll stop. For an hour, a day, a week, a month. . . you never know when the trauma will begin anew, or when said tooth will actually appear – if ever. And it does seem at times (usually at around 4 am when you’ve just gotten out of bed for the umpteenth time to attempt to console your inconsolable child) that they do it just to spite you. That maybe, just maybe, there isn’t anything ACTUALLY wrong at all. Perhaps there is an elite clan of babies somewhere who’s members arbitrarily torment their parents based on a whim. Baby whims can be inconsistent, at the best of times.
In the past, when doctors were a touch more heavy-handed then they are today, it was standard procedure for the infant’s gums to be sliced open at the first sign of teething. This was done to allow the tooth to push through unobstructed. I know some mothers today who use a similar method (you know who you are). They may use a fingernail rather than a razor blade, but the effect is the same (I don’t think I could ever bear to do that to my girl). And doesn’t it go to show you how awful teething is? That a mother would attack her own child just to get a night of rest. . .oh yeah – and to make the kid feel better. Because you should know that the very most absolutely horrible, wretched, and torturous thing about baby’s teething to mom is that there is NOTHING that she can do to make her baby feel better.
And I just I don’t think that parents with teething children are given nearly as much sympathy as they deserve. And it is baffling to me, because everyone – at least those who have been there – should remember and react accordingly. So why don’t they? Perhaps its something akin to the pain of labor and delivery – only not at all, of course. I’ve read that mothers forget how much it hurt to get that kid out when they finally look down at their new baby. Which is why there are still human beings on this planet. Remembering teething must be a lot like that. . .a kind of blurry, distant, fuzzy recollection of having once been painful.
So, yeah. When mom actually manages, on 3 hours of interrupted sleep, to drag herself into work the next morning, bleary-eyed and chewed-on, I don’t think that a mere “Oh yeah, teething. Poor baby.” is really quite. . .enough. I think that standard procedure ought to entail a full-body massage, a nap, and the lady’s choice of coffee or hard liquor. And a day off . . . or 7.
Photographic evidence of teeth
February 20th, 2008
T got her first tooth, the bottom bottom right central incisor, on January 12th of 2008. The bottom left showed up on February 15th of that year. Today, Teagle got her bottom left second molar. For some reason, for which I will remain eternally grateful, this tooth came through as easily as the one before. A few days of off-and-on fussiness and a missed nap or two was all the torture I was made to endure. And I thank God on my knees for that. Only two teeth to go, and we will be totally finished with this phase of T’s baby-hood. This will be one thing that I will not miss about her infancy. Not one bit.
First non-finger toothbrush
February 2008
Of course, along with those teeth comes the wonderful world to tooth-brushing. We’ve had our ups-and-downs on this one, but I’m pleased to be able to say that at this time in her Puffy little life, T not only enjoys brushing her own teeth, but will also allow her mom and dad to help her out with it. Without throwing 16 hissy fits. . .which is wonderful. Not only does she like brushing enough to ask permission to do it several times a day, but within the last week or two T has figured out the whole rinse and spit phenomenon. When we first told her that she had to start spitting out the toothpaste when she was done, we were rewarded with a dry “TTTTTT” sound after she had swallowed all of her water. It seems odd that she somehow managed to forget how to spit, since she was so amazingly skilled at it earlier in life. Perhaps we went a bit too far when we ingrained the commandment “Though shalt not spit” into her. But after all of her clothing was stained beyond repair with baby-food, it seemed a good idea to be heavy-handed at the time. Nevertheless, she has re-learned the trick, and does it very well. I’ll admit that this is one of those little milestones that only the parent really enjoys, but to me it is a biggie. I’m proud of my little Puffy-head! Proud enough to document it, anyway. Which isn’t really saying too much, neh?

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4 Comments

  1. hehehe said,

    1st!

  2. YourbiggestFan said,

    I really do feel that it’s necessary for me to inform your readers about something. I do NOT slice my child’s gums open with my thumb nail. I gently scrape my nail over the very thin piece of skin that’s stretched to the breaking point over that tooth that’s taking forever to break the skin itself. It’s not attacking my child, it’s attacking that piece of skin that refuses to break! I like to think of it as preventative care, just like vaccines, or vitamin C. Once that skin is broken, allowing that tooth to move into it’s proper place, I like to feel as though I have prevented additional pain for my child. 😀

  3. chesherca said,

    You crack me up, Fan… I knew you’d know who you were! 😉

  4. Zzzzzz. . . « Huginn, Muninn, and me said,

    […] I’ll blame teeth. Anyone who has ever had kids knows that teething manifests itself in all manner of odd ways. The tippy of T’s last 2-year molar popped last Saturday. But it and its mate are both still […]

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