M. Giant's
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Monday, March 21, 2005  

I'm Not Gumby, Dammit!

There are things about your first kid you don't realize you're going to be paying a lot of attention to until it's actually happening. Like the shape of his head, for instance. When we first met him, at the ripe old age of eight hours or so, his noggin had been somewhat compressed by its passage through the birth canal into a sort of H.R. Giger-alien shape.

And then we brought him home and watched as his head got all properly and cutely spherical. We'd been warned about what positions to let him sleep in—namely, always on his back. We'd been told to encourage him to turn to both sides so his head didn't get all uneven from always resting on one side. This happens, you see, because a newborn's skull is still relatively soft. And, of course, thanks to SIDS we couldn't let him sleep on his stomach, since all babies who do that wake up dead, which, to many parents, is even worse than having a kid with a lopsided noodle.

We had a plan. We had his bassinette in our bedroom for the first couple of months, and we made sure to rotate it every few days so that he wouldn't always be looking in the same direction as he lay on his back. He'd spend a few nights looking left to face our bed, and then we'd turn his bassinette and he'd spend a few nights looking right to face our bed, and then we'd turn his bassinette and he'd spend a few nights looking left to face our bed, then we'd turn his bassinette and he'd spend a few nights looking right to face our bed, then we'd turn his bassinette and he'd spend a few nights looking right to face away from our bed…

Uh-oh.

And then, during his bath one day in December, I looked down at the top of his head. The perfect, symmetrical oval was gone, and overnight it had been replaced by a trapezoid. Thanks to our failure to be sufficiently vigilant, our beautiful boy was suddenly the Elephant Man.

The problem was exacerbated by his natural preference for looking to his right all the time, even when not lying down. Things to his left might as well not have existed. This quickly caused the muscles in the left side of his neck to tighten up, so much so that if he was really interested in checking out the sinistral side of things, he might be persuaded to point his head straight in front of him while cutting his eyes to the left. And even if he'd wanted to rest on the left side of his head, the fact that it came to a point on that side meant that it would roll right over to the flatter right side the minute he relaxed, like an improperly inflated basketball.

Obviously this couldn't stand. We started rolling up blankets to jam under the right side of his head so he couldn't look in that direction. At his next doctor's appointment, he got a referral to see a physical therapist to even out his neck muscles more. And we received instructions to keep him off the back of his head as much as possible.

All these things are working. The flatness on the one side isn't nearly as severe as it was when we first noticed it. His skull is still forming, so he has plenty of time for it to even out before it sets, as it were. Some babies his age have such severe Gumby-head that they have to wear special, custom-fitted helmets designed to reshape the infant's melon. These helmets run about $2,700 apiece. We're lucky, in that it looks like we caught it before it got to that point.

Also, don't tell Trash, but when she's not around I plug his ears and blow hard into his mouth and nose in order to inflate his head like a dented soda bottle. I figure I'll teach other parents how to do this for half the price of a $2,700 helmet, and I'll still clean up.



posted by M. Giant 9:33 PM 18 comments

18 Comments:

Well, hello, little trapezoid baby. You made my ovaries go into some sort of rave scene just now, especially with that second picture where you're all lounging and "...'sup?"

By Blogger Aarika, at March 21, 2005 at 10:11 PM  

That is one cute little baby-person.

By Anonymous Wheeliecrone, at March 22, 2005 at 3:40 AM  

So, so, so CUTE!

Maybe if you get him a guitar, he'll be forced to look to his left a bit to make sure he's forming chords correctly.

It's never too early to start rockin' out!

By Blogger Rachel, at March 22, 2005 at 5:09 AM  

Oh crap. I think I feel my maternal instinct stirring, so forgive me while I now flee to the cuteness of M.Tiny. :)

By Anonymous Angie, at March 22, 2005 at 6:12 AM  

When 500,000 new babies are born 36 weeks from now - it's all your guys' fault.

I want me a cute lil' trapezoid baby!

- JeniMull

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 22, 2005 at 7:12 AM  

Hooray! M-Not So Tiny Anymore pictures! What a cutie pie. His head looks perfectly normal to me, but even if he did have trapezoid head, he'd still be adorable.

By Anonymous Elle, at March 22, 2005 at 8:18 AM  

But a helmet is so attractive!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14258-2005Mar7.html

--Cori

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 22, 2005 at 8:41 AM  

I knew M. Tiny was adorable. But THAT CUTE? I didn't think it was possible. Dear god, are you trying to kill us with the cuteness?!

By Blogger DeAnn, at March 22, 2005 at 10:07 AM  

Ahhh, poor M. Tiny has to sleep in a laundry basket! He will be screwed up for life. Maybe your readers should chip in and buy him a crib.

* Amy * (a librarian like Trash)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 22, 2005 at 10:29 AM  

hi hi -
i had the very same problem as an infant. my mother freaked out, and an aunt made a tiny pillow out of the buckwheat seeds that move with the head. i have a very pretty shaped head today, because of that pillow.
cheers!
pooja

By Blogger pooja*, at March 22, 2005 at 2:19 PM  

M Tiny has TRANSFORMED!!! He is now M. Big Juicy Baby I Need to Squeeze!!! I chime in with the "holy crap, my ovaries are exploding" crowd, dude. Mind you don't toss him in with the laundry, now.

By Anonymous MissBanshee, at March 22, 2005 at 3:08 PM  

Aw, what a cutie! He looks like a little teddy bear in the first one. Actually, the fact that he's starting to sit up on his own and not lying down all the time will help with the trapezoid-headed-ness too.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 22, 2005 at 5:09 PM  

He is so cute! He looks just perfect. I bet you suddenly are thinking about having another one.
Mary

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 22, 2005 at 9:20 PM  

Wait a minute. All this time, my parents have insisted my angular head was "normal" and everybody else was weird. Next thing you're going to tell me is that having 10 fingers and toes is "preferable."

By Blogger J, at March 23, 2005 at 6:57 AM  

Physical Therapist? Ick.

We've got a great holistic chiropractor near 694 & Lexington if you'd like to get him fixed up. It really reduces illnesses as well having the little fella adjusted whenever he seems a little out of whack.

~ Michael ~

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2005 at 12:02 AM  

Is he sitting up by himself already? Isn't that rather early? Especially because he was a premie. And he no longer looks like a premie. He looks like a cute, plump, normal baby boy. So, what else can he do? Can roll over? Stand? Drive a car?

Come on, you people who know M. Giant and M. Tiny in *real* life, fill us in. Is he as cute as he looks?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2005 at 8:33 AM  

My nephew was a N. Tiny because of problems with his heart, and like your little guy he just all-of-a-sudden filled out. Look at him chillin'! The trapezoid head will resolve itself, I'm sure.

Off to go post pictures of my kitten, which is my baby-impetus substitute for the moment....

By Blogger parcequilfaut, at March 24, 2005 at 5:59 PM  

Oh, most definitely, he is as cute as he looks. In fact, I would argue that neither of those pictures entirely does him justice. The first one is better at giving you some idea of what a beautiful face he has, and the second one kind of indicates some of the ways in which he is also a bad-ass, but he's better than both of those pictures put together.

By Blogger Linda, at March 26, 2005 at 8:39 AM  

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