Today we dropped Lexi off at a friend’s house and took Milo to the University of Minnesota’s Pediatric Clinic to see a Specialist in International Adoption. That means we took him to his first doctor in the U.S.
We left the parking garage and walked through the long underground tunnel (which inexplicably comes out on the second floor), eventually arriving at the Pediatric Clinic. We avoided getting lost in the campus’ labyrinth, which reminded me why I went to a small school (though ironically, I don’t think I ever consciously decided I wanted to attend a small school).
The high point was perhaps handing over a yogurt container to the receptionist that contained a sample of Milo’s poop. I believe it was blueberry (the yogurt container, that is). We had to collect a stool sample at home and bring it in. It’s kind of like show and tell, but not really. It wasn’t just plopped into the old yogurt container either, it was inside a Ziplock bag. But let’s just say those things aren’t exactly as air-tight as advertised. That yogurt container gave off a distinct odor when I pulled it out of the bag and set it on the counter. And it wasn’t residual blueberry.
Anyway, we eventually had our appointment and several doctors and specialists told us how beautiful Milo is. Not just handsome—beautiful. Despite my lack of any sports-related skills, Milo will at least be raised confident enough in his manhood to be called beautiful.
One of the doctor’s orders is that we have to leave Milo on the floor. Yes, setting the child on the floor is not neglect, it’s therapy. Of course we should probably put a blanket down or set him on his play mat (which he often shares with Lexi) or something that seems more responsible than just putting him on the floor with the dog hair and Asian lady beetles. Though the kid grew up on bacteria-infested water that reduced his dad to bouts of nausea, so I’m thinking he’d laugh in the face of American germs. Maybe the plain old carpeted floor is just fine for Milo (Especially since we had the carpets cleaned of dog pee. Again.), but I’ll probably give in to American over-parenting and at least put a blanket on the floor. A cute one. With animals.
Sidebar: I went through our all-purpose kitchen drawer of rags, dish towels and pot holders and came away with 22 cloth bibs. Cute ones. With animals. Or goofy phrases like “Daddy’s Girl” or “Baby’s First Christmas”. Some of them were so small they wouldn’t even cover Milo’s chest, and he’s a tiny guy. I think every baby outfit comes with a free bib, some complimentary throwaway that nobody really uses. And we don’t. Cloth bibs get nasty after one meal, and you can’t just hose them off in the sink. We switched to plastic bibs long ago, which you can hose off in the sink and they’re ready to go again. Despite what you see in the magazines and stores, parenting should be about practicality, not looking cute.
Back to leaving our kid on the floor. So the occupational therapist (apparently that job isn’t restricted to occupations—unless being a baby is an occupation, in which case it has killer benefits) noted that Milo is behind developmentally, but it’s primarily because he’s small and he’ll quickly catch up. So we can help by tanking him up with food and giving him lots of time on the floor to move his body (cue Lexi’s new favorite song from her new favorite movie: “I like to move it, move it / I like to move it, move it!”) and bulk up.
The occupational therapist also noted that some of the greatest baby inventions ever, including the johnny-jump-up and the exersaucer (i.e., neglectomatics), aren’t any good for strengthening a baby’s legs. The way a child sits in them splays their legs out at a weird angle that isn’t the same as walking, which means any exercise is strengthening the wrong muscles and not teaching our kids how to walk. Yet again a beloved parenting practice turns out to be harmful. Well, maybe not harmful. She did say it’s OK to put your kid in them, but they should really be getting their exercise and practice walking from other sources.
When the doctor came we had a look at his growth charts and she told us that he’d be considered mildly malnourished. Knowing his history, it’s surprising how little it takes to be mildly malnourished. But the up side is that all those screaming fits that can only be assuaged with quick applications of formula mean he’s growing. A month ago he only weighed 8 lbs., and now he’s up to 10.5 lbs. In six months he should be riding the growth curve like a pro.
It turns out that both the doctor and the occupational therapist had been to Ethiopia in January and visited our agency’s facilities. They were both impressed with the level and quality of the care and were very familiar with Ethiopian adoption cases. We’ve known all along that Children’s Home Society & Family Services in Ethiopia does stellar work, but it’s great to have it confirmed again and again.
The appointment finished with Milo getting stabbed twice and Abby nearly passing out (when she says she doesn’t like the sight of blood, she means it). And we should probably get used to doctor’s visits. We have to go back in 48 hours to get his TB test read, we need to go see his primary physician in four weeks, we need to set up appointments with vision and hearing specialists (standard procedure for cases like his) and they’d like us to bring him in every month so they can closely monitor his height and weight. Let’s just hope his health care coverage comes through soon. I had to sign something before we were admitted that I’m pretty sure means they own us if Milo’s coverage doesn’t come through. The woman seemed very nice about it though. She didn’t make me sign with my own blood.
Milo conked out on the way home, as usual. When we picked up Lexi she erupted into her usual screaming fit when she’s told it’s time to go home. Apparently we were interrupting lunch when she tried and liked bratwurst. The child who rarely eats meat unless it’s in the form of fried chicken or hot dogs actually ate meat. I guess bratwurst and hot dogs are pretty similar, but hey, we’ll take it. The fit slowly faded as we hit up Burger King on the way home and she was assured of french fries (For some reason welcoming a child into our home, whether it’s a newborn or a husky lad of five months, renders us incapable of cooking anything fancier than bagel pizzas or mac and cheese. Thankfully a steady stream of friends and well wishers has been keeping us well fed, save for the occasional fast food indiscretion. If it makes you feel better, they forgot Lexi’s fries and we had to share our own, thus slightly minimizing our intake of fatty foods.)
Not long after getting home and putting the kids down for naps, releasing the dogs, and finishing my slightly fatty lunch, I crawled into bed for a little rest time of my own. Raising two kids is tiring.