Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Fellowship of the Diaper Rash

My apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien for this post.

One Rash to rule them all, One Rash to find them,
One Rash to bring them all and in the redness bind them

It all started at the end of January. It seemed innocent enough at the time. I had no clue that it was the harbinger of an epic battle. But that's how all sagas begin, right?

John had a bout of diarrhea during the last few weeks of January. I recorded the ordeal on this very blog since I am apparently committed to sharing all the information about bodily functions that you never wanted to know.

His sweet little baby bottom was no match for the onslaught of poop and soon became red and excoriated: diaper rash. Diaper rash? You may be thinking. Babies get diaper rash all the time! True but this was no ordinary rash. It was insidious in its trickery. It frequently waxed and waned. One day it seemed to be all but healed and the next it would flare up like the balrog that killed Gandalf (except, spoiler alert!, he didn't really die. Nor does anyone in this story, fear not.).

Like a hobbit dilly dallying in the shire while evil lurks on the borders, I was lulled into complacence by these healing episodes and then shocked when the rash relapsed. Here and there I dabbled with various remedies only to find that the rash had won again. I had been blinded to its power until finally I realized that this had been going on for nearly 6 weeks! I was certainly verging on (if not already in the territory) of negligent motherhood by letting this rash have dominion over my baby's behind for so long. I realized I had to fight. And yet everything in my power had already failed: Desitin, changing brands of diapers and wipes, antifungal cream, triple antibiotic ointment, going diaper-less and baby powder! All hopelessly unequal to the foe!

Until I realized: this is just like Lord of the Rings! I need
all of them at the same time! And that day was initiated the Fellowship of the Diaper Rash: morning and night we gave him a "bottom bath" followed by "dry time" in which he roamed about, singing folk songs, without a diaper on so as to let his nether regions dry. Each time we changed him we slathered his bottom with a parfait of either antifungal cream, desitin and baby powder or antibiotic cream, desitin and baby powder. We upgraded even further to the costliest diapers and wipes in the land, also we employed fervent prayer.

With their powers combined, these were a force to be reckoned with! All of these remedies played their part. But the Frodo and Sam of this story, if you will (and why wouldn't you? Because you've already followed the ridiculous analogy this far...), are "dry time" and a change in his pooping habits.

Dry time, though it pays dividends in healing a sore bottom, is a terrifying thing. Think of The Fellowship Of The Ring when they're in the mines of Moria. I had similar feelings of anxiety. Only instead of Orchs I was dreading bodily fluids.

There were several times I turned my back momentarily only to turn around to find John crawling through his own poop or splashing about happily in a puddle of his own urine. But, as we learned from Frodo and Sam, I had to press onward or face certain doom. Thanks goodness for tile flooring. It's like mithril for a stay at home mom.

Perhaps the Gollum of the story was John's own bowel movements. The diarrhea lasted about 10 days. That is 10 days longer than I would have preferred. But I was dismayed to learn that after a bout of diarrhea, the gut can take weeks to reestablish its normal patterns. This was definitely the case with John. After that initial 10 day episode, he continued to have small, frequent poops night and day, day and night. His bottom was constantly sitting in excrement which never allowed the rash to fully heal.

When his intestines returned to their normal functions, the rash lost much of its powers. With dry time and normal bowel functions combined we reached the end of all things (for the diaper rash).
Now I'm happy to report that lilly-white, chunky baby flesh reigns supreme on John's bottom. None of us have plans to sail to across the sea to another world a la Frodo.

I learned several things from this battle with diaper rash:

1) Pampers wipes really are superior at cleaning the bottom. They seem to adhere to poop rather than just smearing it around. They are also gentler on a baby behind. That said, we're still going back to the cheap wipes. But we will use Pampers in the event of a relapse. Which I hope won't happen because, according to LOTR, the evil was destroyed once and for all...

2) Pampers diapers, however, meh. They aren't more impressive than the much cheaper Target brand, to me. I don't think they had a huge effect on the resolution of the rash.

3) Dry time seems to be the ticket. Since this saga, whenever his bottom is looking red, I give him a bottom bath and dry time before bed or in the morning if he's dirtied his diaper over night.

I'm going to be really surprised if no one makes this into a 9 hour movie trilogy.

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