Teeth II: The Revenge

So, Laurel’s bottom two front teeth came in easily. She nursed funny for a few days, and that was it. Poink. Teeth.

We knew we didn’t have long before the top front teeth came in. We could see them swelling below the gums, hiding out behind her upper lip until she grinned and they shone like little half-moons in the pink sky of her mouth.

We really had no idea what we were in for.

On Thursday afternoon last week, she started crying and being cranky seemingly for no reason. On Friday she was miserable all day. By Saturday, she’d started running a fever. The temperature (of about 101F) continued through Sunday, when it became apparent what the problem was: the corner of her top left tooth had cut through the gums.

It’s clearly, according to Laurel, the worst thing that has ever happened to her.

The fever dropped, but instead she refused to nurse or take bottles on Monday and Tuesday. She reacted to the breast like I had just lit her on fire and she needed to wrestle away from me immediately to go extiguish herself. She kept pointing to her ear and jaw and pulling her hair, trying to tell me where it hurt.

I tried everything. Lots of moms here swear by a couple of homeopathic remedies, and I started with those because they’re gentle. I know. But still. So they did nothing. Tylenol didn’t do much more except make her a little stoned. She didn’t like cold or frozen teethers, or frozen food. Finally, on Tuesday, I discovered baby Motrin. That was the first thing that seemed to give her any relief.

Today has been better, either because the tooth has worked its way through the gums or because of the Motrin. She was brave enough to try nursing several times, and sighed with relief when it didn’t hurt as much as it did two days ago. She nurses to sleep, among other things, so getting her to fall asleep was an exercise in rocking her while she screamed, until she calmed down. We’re all much happier when she can nurse.

In a parallel plotline, I developed a mastitis infection on Friday, likely due to her pre-teething latch problems. The main treatment for mastitis, besides antibiotics, is nursing. Lots and lots of nursing. So having her not nurse for three or four days meant a lot of time with the breast pump. For better or worse, she figured out that when I’m pumping, I can sit still and read to her. The same books. Over and over and over and over.

I’m hoping we’ve learned a few tricks this week to prevent some of the pain (and breast woes) when that other top tooth comes through.

— Beth

Figures of speech

Until this week, I didn’t think Laurel was using any words yet. I thought she was one of those wordless babies who hasn’t brilliantly pointed to something and pronounced its name yet. Then I realized — as I feared might happen — that she’s half-using a couple of words already, and working on more of them, and we just hadn’t really picked up on it yet.

Part of the confusion draws from the fact that the two words she’s saying most are “shoes” and “cheese,” but without the vowels, so they’re more like “shhhhs” and “chhssss.” They’re definitely distinct from each other, and she says them when presented with the correct item. I know she can say “oooo” and “eeee” sounds, so I’m not sure why they don’t play into her pronunciation of these words. In any case, shoes are one of her favorite things to play with, and cheese is one of her favorite things to eat. Other than that, it’s odd that she started with such difficult words.

Also, she’s been trying to say “mooo.” One of her favorite books right now is “Peek-A-Who?”, and one of the first pages says, “Peek-a … mooooo!” In addition, one of her stuffed animals is a cow that moos when you squeeze it. So, I wind up saying “moooo” to her a lot. Sometimes she says, “oooooo,” and other times it’s more like “boooooo,” but she’s only managed a proper “mooooo” once.

As I’ve mentioned, recently we’ve been walking a lot, and she likes to point out the trees. Today, on our way to the park, she pointed at one of the street trees and clearly said “tree,” but in a whisper. She wouldn’t repeat it when I asked her. :(

And, lastly, she said “Dada” the other day while pointing at Devin. It was totally spontaneous, unlike when I try to prompt her to say “Mama.” When I ask her, “Where’s mama?” she points at my chest and then makes the sign for milk, which tells you something about my usefulness to her. While we’re on the topic of signs, she’s gotten good at letting us know when she wants something by using the sign for “more,” and she has made up a couple of signs, including this one, which either means “I want a hug” or “I’m done,” we’re not sure:

It’s exciting around here with all this communication. On top of that, it’s clear she understands many more words: kitty, milk, boobs, ears, nose, toes (she can also point to these parts on herself and on us), water, doggie, baby, Mouse, bottle, formula, and many others I can’t think of now.

As a writer, it’s exciting watching her begin to make sense of language. For example, when I say, “Where’s your ear?” not only does she understand I’m asking her to show me her ear, but she also understands it when I say, “Yes! That’s right!” I imagine her hearing this soup of babble from us, until one day, sense begins to emerge. It must be exciting for her, too.

— Beth