Tuesday, October 7, 2014

on socks and hats. (part 1)

This one is for you, Fiona!

Today, I was in the grocery store. Adiel and I had just enjoyed a nice lunch with our friend Deborah - who Amely calls, "my french teacher, mommy" - and I needed to replenish our pantry.
our house is filled with newborns lately - chicks and ducks!
lucky animals don't have any rules to follow!

This particular grocery store is more like a super Wal*Mart: food downstairs, everything else upstairs.  I had the baby in my mei-tei carrier, snuggled up like a bug and sleeping. Snoring, even. We went upstairs to get some felt-tip pens and foam balls (random, I know) and look at Christmas. (Never mind that it is 800 degrees in the Dominican Republic and that I wake up either shivering from the night time dip in temperature to 793 degrees or bathed in sweat from the night time rise in temperature. )

We took the elevator downstairs, I grabbed one of the carts with an infant seat and stuck the baby in there. Of course he woke up - and was as happy as a goose. As I picked out some red peppers, I sense someone staring. I've got a cute baby, so it happens. Even still, I try to avoid contact because this is what happens:

Random shopper woman (RSW): "You know what's wrong with him? He's cold!"
I look at the baby, who is obviously not unhappy nor uncomfortable. I ignore the woman.
RSW: "Hey! Did you hear me? Cover him up, he's cold."
Me: "I don't think he's cold, I think he's okay."
I usually try to be nice at first, especially if the person is older. (Unless you catch me off guard, then you get a sharp-tongued response. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME)
RSW: "Newborns can't regulate their temperature. He's cold."
I walk away. Pick up some tomatoes. I thought she had also gone to another aisle, but she back-tracked to tell me, again, that my baby was cold and should be wearing a hat and socks.

Did you hear that? A hat and socks in this heat! That's not even mentioning the heavy fleece blankets I got as gifts when he was born because we didn't have one. We didn't have one because we live in the Caribbean! (Disclaimer: we do have two lovely fleece blankets. They are in the bottom of a storage bin waiting for the six days in December that it might get chilly enough to use them, or the visit to a resort or other thoroughly air conditioned place)
brand new baby. complete with hat and
blanket. (to be fair, the air conditioning was
fierce in the hospital).

I am now cleared to wash my hair and take showers, which , at first glance, seems like the worst of the post-partum is over. Unfortunately, just because I'm clear, obviously doesn't mean that baby is in the clear. Instead of getting yelled at about my body, I'm getting snarky commentary and unsolicited advice from random strangers on the street.

My friend Kelsey thought I was exaggerating, until we were walking into a (different) super market the other day. I had the baby in his carrier and this woman walks up behind us, makes no eye contact and says "Oh my, poor little guy is HOT!" Adiel was, in this instance, sleeping. He may have been hot, but was not uncomfortably so - or any more uncomfortable than any other person walking around in the Caribbean sun! She caught me off guard, and so I kind of yelled at her. Oops.

The idea that there is always something wrong bothers me. Baby in the super market is cooing and staring at the lights, no signs of distress at all, but he must be cold. Baby is sleeping in his carrier, but he must be hot. It is a commonly held belief that newborns cannot regulate their temperature at all and therefore must be wrapped in a blanket, hat (and socks!) at all times. In fact, when I left the hospital, we were chided by the nurses into putting a hat on the baby's head (along with his long sleeved, footy sleeper). By the time we got home, he had a fever and he had to go right back to the hospital to make sure he was okay. (He's been living in onesies ever since).

As I mentioned, I carry (and have carried the other two) baby in a mei-tei carrier. I have a structured carrier for when he's bigger, and I was known to carry Amely on my back with a modified bed sheet. You would think that I was killing my child. A carrier will make a child bow-legged with scoliosis and attachment issues.

But! A stroller is no better because a baby's head will flop around and the hot sun will burn his eyes. You should, after all, keep a baby in the house at all times. Except, maybe, in the case of emergencies. If baby's head does flop because of irresponsible stroller usage, numerous people on the street - including children - will try to persuade you to "fix" the head. It's hard, because if a baby is comfortable, chances are his head will go right back to the same position.

Most of this is just nerve-grating - especially because this isn't my first baby, and while I will take all of the help I can get, I'm not really up for unsolicited craziness. Some of the other beliefs for newborns are:

- Babies can't go outside at night because the sereno or night air will make them sick. Mostly the sereno sickness is green poop and pujo - baby constipation. (Just tonight, Amalio put a blanket (a blanket!) over the baby to carry him outside at night so the neighbors wouldn't criticize him for being outside with a baby, at night. Then he wanted to know why the baby smelled like baby-sweat.
oh, (almost) naked baby. in a cloth diaper
(but that's another post for another day!)

- If you hang the baby clothes on the line at the wrong time of day (or during the wrong type of wind) it will cause some sort of problem when the baby wears the clothes.

- If a baby has hiccups:
   1) put a piece of red thread on baby's forehead and wish the hiccups to his padrino (god-father)
   2) give the baby water (because milk, apparently, doesn't work for hiccups).

- You also give a baby water to quench his thirst. And there are special "teas" for different baby ailments. The only one that I know is a double-oregano tea for diarrhea (and I know that it works wonders on adults, but is probably not too great for a baby).

- Baby cannot sleep in bed with parents because the body heat will kill the baby. (This one is interesting for me because I've never really heard of a case of SIDS here and overheating is thought to be maybe one of many causes for SIDS.)

- While I haven't really heard of a confirmed SIDS death, I have heard of witches eating baby brains in the night. When the witch eats the brain, baby dies and the doctors just don't know why.

I'm going to leave it at that for now.


Anonymous said...

AHAHHAHAHHAHA this was quite hilarious, especially that i seem to have experienced most of that stuff in the supermarkets. We have a 4 month old baby and there a million people that are always telling us what to do with her in the supermarket. Your blog is very interesting! Keep it up girl :-)

Keith Newson said...

please keep up your blogs as they are fantastic reading