Paging Nurse Vampire

She's gonna get ya!

Gabrielle had her one-year visit to the baby doc Thursday. She checked out pretty well. Her growth chart is a nice steady climb from Day One to Day 366. Based on its numbers I shall call her …

… dramatic pause …


Gabby is tiny. A living baby doll. Her weight is just shy of 19 and a half pounds, putting her in the 25th percentile for her age. Her height is in the 10th (thanks mom’s genes) and her head the 90th (thanks dad’s genes). Also, her motor skills are good, she’s walking well and she talks like a fat-tongued auctioneer – fast and unintelligible. The doc was pleased. So were we.

During this particular visit, Gabby was scheduled for four shots, plus tests for lead and hemoglobin. The latter two required blood, which meant some mild pain. I was sure Gabby would not be happy with the arrangement. I was right.

The most difficult time I’ve had as a new dad is watching Gabrielle experience preplanned pain. Knowing that it’s for her good health doesn’t make it any easier. It also reminds me that eventually she’ll have to deal with the non-physical stabs. They are more difficult to soothe than a boo-boo on the finger, and you don’t have any forewarning. You don’t schedule doctor visits for peer pressure.

Back to the blood. I had Gabby in my lap. The nurse instructed me to hold my baby’s right hand steady during the procedure. I secured her wrist while the nurse prepared the target area – her itty-bitty finger. Gabby sat there unconcerned, babbling happily and glancing around the room with innocent interest. I felt like I was setting her up.

When the prick came she wasn’t happy. Not at all, even less so when the nurse started milking her finger for blood. She’d found Gabby’s volume control and kept nudging it higher. By the time the nurse was done Gabby had given as much in tears as she had blood. Since I was holding her I’m sure she affiliates me with the pain (smart thinking on your part, mom).

When the nurse left, I comforted Gabby by repeatedly whispering to her, “The vampire is gone. You’re okay now. The vampire is gone.” The wife, who is a pediatric nurse, didn’t much care for my generalization.

Seconds later it was time for the knives needles. This time there were two nurses. I again had a role. I was to be the chains retraining her arms.

Gabby was placed on the exam table and I locked her upper body down. It wasn’t fun. Again, I was setting her up. She’s laying there mildly agitated, her finger a bit sore, daddy holding her arms and two strangers rubbing cotton on her legs. I recognized the look on her face. It said, “This can’t be good.”

The attacks came swiftly. Yet while the four needles were quicker than a cameo, Gabby’s reaction took time. Her eyes went from dimes to quarters. She shrieked like Nancy Kerrigan, slinging the contents of her lungs at the ceiling. When her air depleted, she paused to reload. I call this process Baby’s Backdraft. I’m sure most parents will recognize it.

It begins with the face frozen and the mouth wide open. There’s hardly any movement above the neck as the chest slowly begins to rise. And rise. And rise. (Heaven help the nearest house made of straw).

With nary a sound air she inflated those tiny little lungs to capacity. When she could take in no more she paused. Like TNT, babies know drama. They make you wait for it. The longer they pause, the more they’re pissed. Their level of indignance thus established, they release.

“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,” she cried, her body convulsing and her eyes leaking. She reloaded in 1/20th the time and the siren call was on. This is one pretty pissed off camper.

Once the nurses cleared the scene momma came and grabbed her. She hugged her to her neck and rubbed her back. The cries continued but at a more muted level. I handed Gabby her paciey and blankey. They both eased the pain and she quieted further. Within two minutes she was back to being her, which surprised me a bit. I guess she’s pretty tough after all.


One thought on “Paging Nurse Vampire

  1. Sweet story. And how dare you make that child go through such torment. Got Gabby a cute little book w/finger puppet monkeys. Hope she doesn’t think they are vampires. I’ll swing by your office on Monday….
    Happy one year of being a father…

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