The Reason This Blog Has A Category Called “Ew”

I looked at my referral logs today and noted that the following search string had led someone to my site: “infant welts on legs below diaper elastic.” Strange I thought, I have not blogged about the baby’s skin issues. OR HAVE I? I almost thought I might have, you know, and forgotten about it, but when I followed the link to the page of google results I discovered it was actually my post about stay-ups that got the spiders’ attention, it having used the words “welts,” “elastic” and “legs” in a sentence.

However, this leads me to one of my least favourite things about infants: their belly buttons.

What? Who hates belly buttons? They’re adorable! Is she mad?

Let me be clearer: not the belly buttons of babies or small children. Not the little swirl or pokey bit that you coochie coo or zerbert to make your kid giggle. The belly button of a newborn lies hidden beneath the inch-long chunk of umbilical cord that remains attached to the baby once the rest of the cord has been disposed of. The cord stump is the grossest thing ever, poking out so strangely from a sea of lovely soft baby flesh. It’s an eyesore, frankly. I mean – the whole umbilical cord is no picnic either – life-sustaining, yes, but ropy and vaguely intestine-like and attached to the giant slab of placenta –

sorry –

anyone still reading?

When you’re about to leave the hospital (or as you lie back in your bed if you never went to hospital) a nurse / midwife / doctor / community person will tell you, “The stump takes a couple of weeks to fall off. It dries up and drops off on its own. Just keep it dry and clean and don’t bother it. And mind it doesn’t get infected.”

You’ve basically amputated something from my kid and then you offer no bandages, no creams, no nothing – you’re leaving me with a floppy, soft infant with this black, horrid stump of dead flesh hovering dangerously close to the volatile Diaper Region? Oh and it needs to stay dry? Thanks. Will do my best.

(Raise your hand anyone who has ever encountered an infant penis. Was anything about your encounter DRY? I didn’t think so.)

With Trombone we used cloth diapers and we could not keep things from touching the cord stump and rubbing up against it in what looked like a very uncomfortable fashion. The diapers rubbed right against it (and because they were cloth, they trapped the moisture against it too); the covers nudged up against it; he wasn’t even wearing clothes because it was so damn hot but it took 3 weeks to dry up and drop off.

With Newbert’s birth weight a full pound less than Trombone’s, we weren’t going to attempt the cloth diapers right away. We applied those stinky little newborn pampers and folded down the top so they were away from the stump. Just the way the nurses had. And yet, a week and a half into his life, Newbert got a blister on his belly, where the top of the diaper was rubbing against his skin. Then he got another one where the diaper elastic met his right thigh. The blisters popped on a Friday, two days before his 2-week-irthday. We fretted. I applied a dry, non-stick dressing to the top blister to keep it from being rubbed against by the diapers; when I removed the dressing, the skin peeled off and the raw area doubled in size.

I know! ACK!

We fretted more and spent Friday night with our little guy diaper-free, to give the patches access to air so they could dry out, but by Saturday morning, the patches had taken on a rather, well, infected look about them. Also, the top one had annexed the belly button, whose stump had fallen off at some point in the previous days but was still – oddly enough – not looking delightfully kissable.

Check the Kensington Children’s Walk-In Clinic, for those of you in the area (Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam). It’s staffed by pediatricians and open 7 days a week. I got the pamphlet in a package of community health information when Trombone was born and it’s been on the fridge since but we’ve never gone before. The doctor said, “Ooooh, yep, that’s infected all right,” diagnosed impetigo, a bacterial skin infection, and prescribed an oral antibiotic. Then he told me to come back the next day because he wanted to follow up and make sure it wasn’t getting worse. What a guy.

Oh how we beat our guilty brows that night, discussing at great length: what kind of parents manage to infect their child with groin strep in its second week of life? The BAD KIND. (discussed at lesser length: what kind of parents take their child to a doctor at the first sign of a possible infection? The GOOD KIND.)

However, the infection started to clear up almost immediately (within 3 or 4 doses) and now, 9 days later, you really have to squint to see where the new skin is growing in. Not that you want to because you’ll get an eyeful of pee.

Boy this turned out a lot more detailed and disgusting than I had intended. I’ll spare you the newborn-on-antibiotics poop talk.

Of course, you know who I blame. Medical science, for failing to come up with anything better for newborn belly buttons than “just let it dry up until it drops off.” Come on! Gimme magic bandages. Fancy dries-up-faster cream. Maybe excise the whole thing right after delivery? * Damn, people, we put a man on the moon. Let’s do this.

* mostly joking

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