Fun with Rectal Thermometers
I thought of that the first week we brought the Girl home from the hospital. The first week home with a baby is terrifying. You fully expect the child to stop breathing at any second. It doesn’t help that babies can die from something called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I’m not kidding. That’s really the name of it. You’d think “Sudden Infant Death” would be enough of a descriptor. But no, suddenly dying is apparently also a “syndrome” of some kind. Like a cold. But with instant death. Great name. And when you get shot, I assume you die of Sudden Bulletwound Killing Disorder.
So as you leave the hospital, you get mixed messages. Don’t worry, they say. Everything will be fine. But oh, make sure your baby doesn’t inexplicably die in the middle of the night. And good luck! Jackasses.
Thus, the first week of caring for the Girl consisted of Mrs. Drew and I listening closely to the baby, wondering if each noise she made was her impending death rattle. Confounding the problem was the fact that the Girl loves spitting up. “Spitting up.” There’s another misnomer. What do you think of when you think of spitting up? You think of some mild drooling. Sounds safe enough. I do that every day, especially if I’m having a chili dog for lunch. But spitting up isn’t that. It’s basically vomiting. But, since they don’t call it vomiting in any of the baby books, you fucking freak the first time you see it. At least, Mrs. Drew and I did. So we called the doctor, who told us to take the girl’s temperature.
I’m not a fan of thermometers. When I was a kid, I learned from TV that the way to play sick is to hold the thermometer against a light bulb so that the temperature stays up once you put it under your tongue. Of course, being a kid, it didn’t dawn on me that placing a thermometer against a bare light bulb heats it up to roughly 8 million degrees. Once I stuck the thing under my tongue, I may as well have been reverse licking a curling iron. There’s no better way to realize you’re an idiot.
You can take a baby’s temperature three ways. You can put it in their mouth, which never works because they never closer their mouth long enough for the temperature to register (always 30 seconds longer than you expect it to take). You can stick it under their arm. Which sounds good in theory, provided your baby has been through Basic at Parris Island.
Or you can stick the thing right up the baby’s rectum. This is recommended and, shockingly, it’s also the method the Girl liked the best. Which alarmed me. But I have issues. Anyway, you put a little sheath on the thermometer, stick it up there, and you’re done. The baby doesn’t even know it’s happening. Which made me wonder: at what age does it dawn on you that hey, someone’s sticking a cold piece of metal up your ass? I thought Age 2. Mrs. Drew thinks Age 3.
We’ve got five bucks riding on it.