When we brought our infant home from the hospital there were some immediate things to figure out. To start with some one would have to bathe her the very next day. I had two options. One was to hire someone to do it, or find the guts to do it myself. I did not find either option very appealing.
The idea of bathing the tiny, delicate, slippery newborn myself made me very nervous. In spite of watching a dozen videos on youtube about bathing babies, I did not feel confident about pulling it off. At the same time I was reluctant to let some random person bathe her.
Then Papa (my husband), came to the rescue. He offered to bathe the newborn. I could not be happier. I trust both his intent and his competence. In a couple of days, he had figured out how to do the job well. Papa also has another wonderful quality: 'follow through'. He bathed our daughter everyday, till she was a year old and I could easily take over. Papa cut her nails too, till I felt comfortable doing it myself. But this was all quite long ago. So why am I writing about it now?
Well, Papa bathes our second baby too. But my admiration for Papa has scaled new heights as a result of an incident that occurred a couple of weeks ago.
Our second baby, all of nine months, has an exaggerated idea of her abilities, especially when it comes to eating. She puts everything, she can, in her mouth and proceeds to try to eat it. She sneers at baby food and eats from our plates. And, if she can get past my watchful eye, she eats off the floor as well.
As careful as I am with this ambitious and ever hungry little critter, I do trip up occasionally. A couple of weeks ago, she was eating bits of roti from my plate. She must have put something else in her mouth that I missed, because very suddenly she was screaming loudly and non stop. She would not even breast feed, something that almost never fails to calm her down. Worried, I called her pediatrician. He asked me to check if she had something stuck in her throat.
"How do I do that?" I asked.
"Put your finger in there and see if you can feel anything."
A look of horror crossed my face and I repeated the instructions to Papa, looking imploringly at him.
Without hesitation and very calmly Papa did what was needed. He said he could feel something small in there.
The pediatrician asked if he could remove it. He told us that, if he could not, we should take her to the hospital and get it removed.
Papa tried to remove it but our daughter was making it difficult, screaming and then trying to keep her mouth shut tight to stop him. Papa did not succeed and I was finding it hard, not to give in to the panic, that was threatening to engulf me.
I was getting ready to leave for the hospital, when Papa took a second stab at it. This time he succeeded in removing the tiny piece of crisp capsicum that was stuck in her throat.
Our baby stopped screaming. She even took a feed, and within a few minutes she was smiling and laughing. The crisis had passed.
But, was baby grateful to Papa? Not a chance! She was mad at him for sticking his fingers in her throat. For all his troubles, Papa got the cold shoulder from baby, who would not even look at him for the rest of the evening.
He was my hero though. How he manages to stay so calm and take care of us, when everything is going to hell in a hand basket, I will never know. But that is who he is. Nerves of steel and a heart of gold. And for that, I am so grateful.