Feeding Luke

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Feeding Luke

A couple days ago the barge came in, so Holly and Mark left to do the shopping while I stayed home alone with Luke. We were both having a nice relaxing time at home when all of a sudden, Luke unexpectedly woke up.

After the initial shock wore off, things settled down and we hung out for a while, but he was clearly not happy to be stuck with me, as Holly is the one who gives him nearly all his food.  Eventually, his tummy began to ache and he began to fuss.  To be honest, I’d suspected he was hungry from the beginning, because very often he’s hungry when he wakes up.  Little babies are like that:  rapid cycles of eating, playing, and sleeping with the first two modes being interchangeable if the play is interesting enough.  I guess I need to be more entertaining.

Two options presented themselves: either feed him some real food, or melt some milk which we have stored in the freezer in Ziploc bags. I never want to melt the milk, because I always imagine the milk being for Margaret to use, or anyone else, if they ever take care of him while we’re both gone.   Holly can not stand the smell of the bananas so there are usually plenty of bananas around even many days after the barge comes in. So I started mashing up a banana (without a goo machine, a fork works best: far better than a spoon or a knife). 

Luke is used to nursing when he eats, so he always wants something in his mouth on which to suck when he’s getting any sustenance so it’s always a big production when we feed him: he sticks everything in his mouth and sucks on it, the food, the spoon, nearby objects, his hands.  I call it the chew-suck method. 

Frankly it’s a mess.  So, trying to be clever, I was holding his hands down away from his mouth while I tried to feed him mashed bananas (he has no teeth yet, but is cutting the two lower front ones).  Everything was working out great.  Due to my high angle of retreat: I was lifting the handle of the spoon up at an extreme angle so that the mush was being scraped off the spoon by his upper gums. The banana was actually making it from the roof of his mouth, over the tongue, and down into his stomach.  He’d eaten about 1/5 of a banana and was happy and seemingly not hungry anymore.  I was feeling pretty good about myself, being such a good father, feeding my boy, actually getting food into his stomach, not just on the table, his face and hands, the high-chair and the table, not really even making a mess at all.

I thought to myself, ‘this is the way fatherhood is supposed to be: a scene of domestic tranquility with me calmly and deftly making decisions and carrying them to completion.  Everyone else following my lead.’  Life was good.

It all ended like this.  I’d just inserted a little bit of goo when one of his hands unexpectedly popped free and began to swing wildly at the spoon, back and forth and up and down.  In my surprise, I botched the high angle of retreat technique I’d worked out to lift the spoon handle really high, and the food slipped under his gums, on the spoon bucket, and was scrapped off the spoon into his mouth only by his upper lip.  The banana goo being lodged there between his upper gum and his upper lip, I knew time was of the essence.  Bringing all my concentration to bear, and attempting to avoid the now wildly swinging arm with its unpredictable hand attached, I readied the spoon to catch the soon to be visible clump of goo.   As I anticipated,  due to his chew-suck method, it squirted out of his mouth.  I botched the critical timing required to scrape the goo off his chin, his other hand popped free, he smiled and let out a gleeful but piercing squeal. It became clear that Luke was going to try to catch the food himself with his own inexperience arm-hand, while battling me off with his other hand. 

He must be learning about the spewing effect of his own chew-suck method because with deftness I’d never before seen from him, he fended off the spoon I was using with one frantic spasm of his arm-hand, and on the return stroke formed a shovel with the palm of his hand.  As the food-goo started to drip from the steep slope of his upper lip down to the gradual slope of his chin and gain speed, the shovel shape of his palm caught the food in the last instant before it fell to his chest and pushed it up almost into his mouth.

It quickly bypassed his mouth and was shoved irretrievably into his nostrils. 

I could go on to describe his unexpected inhalation at that point and the effect his closed mouth chew-suck method had on the velocity of the air entering his nostrils and the screaming which then ensued, but I think you get the idea. 

It is often my luck that Holly would chose a moment of this type to enter the front door.  But as fate would have it, I as able to clear the blockage, with great amounts of heart rending screams, anguish and protest from the little one, and then everybody settled down wonderfully.  By the time she walked in the door, nothing remained in the house but orderliness, peace and tranquility. Of the plugged nose, the ear piercing screams, the anguish, stress and tears, she knew nothing.

Of course, if you’re reading this, she may well read it too.



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