The rectal thermometer had been sitting in a drawer since before baby was born, quietly lurking, hoping to never be used.
We took a basic baby care class out here in suburbia when I was pregnant. The nurse who taught it suggested we play it safe and use the underarm if god forbid we needed to take baby’s temperature. She was concerned about the possibility of us shoving the thermometer too far in, but this prompted some lame, homophobic jokes from some of the expectant dads.
I worked hard to keep the smirk off my face as I thought how much they might actually enjoy a little prostate massage. Then I thought how scary it would be if I ever needed to take the baby’s temperature.
Well, the other day baby’s head felt strangely hot. Our pediatrician had already told us that if we needed to take his temperature (which he hoped we wouldn’t need to do for 10 years!), rectal was the way to go.
I was home alone and ready to face a fear. I read the instructions in the little booklet that came with the thermometer. It said to put baby on his stomach in your lap or on the changing table with his legs dangling over the edge. It said to lubricate the tip but to avoid petroleum jelly. I couldn’t find any Vaseline in the house anyway and I considered Aquaphor, but decided on some lanolin-based nipple cream. I figured if it was safe enough for a baby to suck, it was safe enough to go up a baby’s ass.
And it was fine. Baby had been fussing a bit before he went up on the changing pad, but once he was on his tummy with his legs dangling a bit, he cooed and sucked on his fist. Temperature taken, no drama, no fever. One less thing to stress out about.
That leaves me free to worry about teething, neck muscle development, walking, ear infections, whooping cough, and a million other things I can’t even begin to articulate.