Sunday, May 06, 2007

Milk stupor

No.3 is now a month old, and putting on weight like he was trying to out-perform that chap who tried to commit suicide by eating McDonald's burgers for a month. He gulps down milk from Dolores' breasts like a seasoned beer drinker downing a yard of ale. It makes me wonder if maybe he possesses one of those gullets that can stay open for prolonged periods to allow rapid flow of whatever fluid is being swallowed.

Such is the little one's appetite that he cannot be satisified with the content's of my wife's breasts. His little face reddens the moment she prises him off - often after an hour or more of constant suckling. At first we thought he just had colic, but the constant chewing of hands straight after each feed led us to believe that maybe he just wasn't getting enough. Eventually, we had to concede that perhaps his natural feed would need topping up with formula.

I had forgotten since the days of the twins just how much formula a new-born drinks. The instructions on the packet said about 3 fluid ounces, so that is what I told Ravel to prepare. He was gone a while, during which time I tried to placate the infant by taking him on an educational tour of the living area. When I met Ravel in the corridor he was not returning from the kitchen, as I expected, but seemed to have emerged from the main laboratory. 'Everything alright?' I asked.

'Sure boss, I was just using bunsen burner to warm bottle', answered my research assistant. 'Quicker that way, yes?'

No.3 knocked the whole lot back in a matter of minutes, and I swear I saw him pointing at his toothless mouth as if to say 'feed me' as soon as he had finished. 'They know when to stop', said Dolores, so I told Ravel to prepare another 3 fluid ounces.

He didn't quite make it through the second bottle, but he gave it a damn good try. Those of you with children will know that a newborn's stomach is about the size of their fist. I figured we stretched it by a factor of four or five, but he didn't seem to mind. 'I think we may have spawned a binge-drinker' quipped Dolores as he finally fell off the teat and closed his eyes.

It certainly appeared that way. No3. remained motionless for a moment or two before his eyes re-opened about half-way. His arms were limp, his legs were extended and floppy. I picked him up and he made not a move. His arms did not flail, his legs did not kick. His eyes remained half closed, the pupils glazed over, his lips puckered. I jiggled his arms to elicit a response, but he was effectively comatose. I reckoned that not even the sight of his grandma McHaggarty in a polka-dot bikini and full make-up could have awoken him from his milk-stupor at that point.

'Have we overdone it?', I asked, not recalling seeing the twins in quite such a state during their time on the bottle.

'We might have. But frankly, if it keeps him quiet for a while, I don't mind. You?'

'Er, I guess it'll be ok. I mean, like you said, they know when to stop, don't they?'

The stupor lasted 2 days. No3 remained half-awake the whole time, quiet as could be, barely a movement beyond the occasional startle reflex. He refused both breast and bottle, and passed neither solid nor liquid into his nappy. We were unworried for the first 24 hours, then we started to fidget, before wondering if we should take No.3 to the nearest A&E (a long long way away).

Sometime after the 50th hour, something stirred in No.3's moses basket. Dolores shouted at me to come to the bedroom. No.3 was still under the covers, but had curled himself up into a tight ball, head tucked down into his chest, arms drawn inwards, knees up to his chest. The only bit of flesh showing was on one of his feet that had lost its little sock. He was making small snuffling sounds and breathing rapidly.

'Colic?', I suggested, though, from what I remembered from the twins behaviour when they were colicy, it seemed a bit extreme.

'Don't know', said Dolores, shrugging. 'I think we might have to go the hospital though. This isn't normal.'

Ravel entered the room at this point, munching on some toast. He peered into the basket and said 'OK, now he is good. He will be less trouble now.'

'Huh?', we said, in unison. Sometimes my research assistant is just a tad too cryptic.

'I add something to formula to make him less angry', said Ravel, bending down to look more closely at the infant. 'We use it all the time in Bulgaria. It worked good. Look...'

I bent down to get a closer look but saw nothing unusual. 'Just what did you add?', I asked, pointedly.

'Timothy hedgehog gave up small sample of blood. I heat up formula and...'

'You did what?', we cried in unison.

'I mumble?', asked Ravel. 'I said I...'

'Yes, we heard', I said, impatiently. 'What were you thinking? Why?'

Ravel moved away from the basket and gazed into the garden beyond. 'In my home, we have many hedgehogs. We use them for many things. They make good companions for infants, but first you have to give baby a drop of hedgehog blood. You will see now that when they lie close, your baby will be instantly quiet. Wake him, I bring Timothy, we test, you see I am right.'

'How much blood did you use, actually?', asked Dolores sharply, her maternal instinct shining forth.

'Just to make formula very slightly pink. Timothy not miss it', answered my research assistant.

'I don't give a fig about Timothy. If you've done something to my baby Ravel, I'll...'

'I promise no harm. We test now. I bring the animal.'

We waited for Ravel to return with Timothy. The hedgehog was looking a bit fractious, undoubtedly due to having lost some blood unnecessarily. Seeing that No3 was still asleep, Ravel prodded the infant until a sharp cry was heard. I moved to pick up the baby and check he was OK, but Ravel stepped in front to bar me from getting close enough. He then prodded No.3 again, this time prompting a continuous stream of noise. 'OK, now baby is awake, you watch what happens', said Ravel, having placed the screaming infant on our bed before finally moving out of the way.

The term 'awake' was an understatement. No.3 was bawling like never before. Dolores bent over with arms outstretched, but before she had a chance to lift her baby to her chest, Ravel had already placed the hedgehog on the bed next to No.3.

The effect was instantaneous. No3. stopped crying. He assumed a relaxed position with arms and legs loosely stretched. As Ravel pushed No.3 closer, the baby first tried to latch on to Timothy's lower jaw....

When he realised that no milk was forthcoming, he put his arm around the hedgehogs abdomen, seemingly oblivious to the spines, and promptly fell asleep...

Ravel stood there, a big smile on his face. 'See, I told you it works!' he said.

'I'll reserve judgement, Ravel,' said Dolores sternly. 'This doesn't explain why he was in a milk stupor for 2 days. If Timothy's blood was contaminated...'

'No dear', I interjected. 'I've tested Timothy for just about everything. It's very unlikely. And Ravel said they use this all the time in his family. Look at Ravel. Nothing wrong with him, is there?'

'Not on the surface', acknowleged Dolores. 'OK, so it worked this time. But the effect will wear off soon, won't it. Then what? Do we put Timothy on a line and milk his blood every other day?'

'Dolores, this is long-term solution.' remonstrated Ravel. 'I sincerely promise, the hedgehog will not lose more blood. Baby will not cry if you put hedgehog nearby.'

Well, that was four days ago. So far, No.3 has been very peaceful. A couple of times he's started crying and we've put him next to Timothy with the same results. Could be just coincidence, of course, and under no circumstances can I recommend this course of action to anyone else. I would not have let Ravel use the blood of any hedgehog had I received prior knowledge of his intentions. But sometimes the greatest scientific discoveries are entirely down to serendipity and circumstance. Watch this space, as they say...


hazel love said...

Well, sometimes you've just never heard the like of it have you. I had Panda. We'll leave it there for now eh?

Sleep well and prosper, No.3!


Anonymous said...

Pardon me, but that hedgehog looks stuffed to me.

Victoria Plum out

Kim Ayres said...

Your family is steadily coming to resemble The Munsters more every time I look.

Moose said...

I think I can confirm the efficacy of such treatments. Mooselet #1 was very similar with a certain friendly lamb. This all followed an unfortunate incident involving him, the local farmers prize flock of sheep and a stanley knife. The lamb was required to gently cover his eyes and sleep was then forthcoming. We believe it was a psychological effect for him to shield his eyes from the horrors he had previously observed.