Doctors apparently frown on parents sedating their babies. They also won’t advise you on how to do it. You’re kind of on your own.
My friend Danna recently asked me for advice about traveling with a tot in tow. This was extremely baffling to me, because although I don’t eat babies, I don’t really have any experience to draw on or knowledge about how to provide for one, either.
Also, babies scare me. Like, a lot.
A while back, when Danna’s son Oren was about 6 months old, I was hanging out at her house on a Saturday night – I know – and she unexpectedly handed him off to me while she made a phone call. Despite my dual look of horror and dismay, she plopped the plucky tyke in my lap and left the room. He was OK for the first few minutes, but soon my novelty wore off, and in no time he was squirming and drooling and grunting. And I was all, “I don’t know what you want. Use your words, baby.” Then I remembered he couldn’t speak, and he just kept flailing his extremities and trying to grab my hair and gouge my eyes out. So I was like, “Hey, what did I ever do to you?” And he just played dumb and pretended not to understand what I was saying, which is so typical of a baby. As a last-ditch effort, I decided to try playing with him as if he were a kitten. Unhooking my shiny Fossil watch, I waved it in front of his face and voila – he channeled his inner feline and batted at it like the cat I knew he could be. I was feeling rather cocky about my cross-species parenting skills, until Danna – completely mortified – poked her head into the room to check on us, only to find me cooing “Who’s a pretty kitty?” while Oren clutched the metallic watch in his tiny fist and stuffed it in his mouth. And that’s the last time I was allowed to hold him. My plan worked perfectly.
Despite this episode in which I demonstrated my complete inability to care for or relate to a human under the age of 25, the other day Danna started to tell me about how she was departing shortly for a trip to Israel, and the flights would be a total of 12 hours. She didn’t really have to say any more than that, because I knew exactly what she was hinting at. So I said matter-of-factly, “You totally have to drug him.” And she flashed me such a look of relief, as if to say, “Thank you, friend, for supporting me in my bid to sedate my child for his comfort, as well as my own, and the greater good of all passengers on board our transatlantic flight.” You’re welcome.
We agreed it was the humane thing to do – for all involved. If I were stuck on a plane for that long, I’d self-medicate. But that’s the thing about babies – they need our help. Well, probably not my help. But other people’s. Preferably people who like babies.
Benadryl was the logical choice. But what dose do you give a 10-month-old? “And what are the odds that he’d be allergic to something harmless like Benadryl? It’s what you take to *stop* an allergy attack,” I said. “Exactly. It’d be like someone being allergic to fruit,” Danna replied. Except, as it turns out, Danna is allergic to all sorts of fruits and vegetables. She started rattling off a laundry list of natural killers. Peaches, strawberries, carrots, celery. “And apples, but only certain kinds,” she assured me. As if that made her less of a freak show.
Then we became paranoid that Oren might be allergic to the one drug on Earth that is universally prescribed to undo allergic reactions. Or that she might go to jail for sedating her baby. Or that the baby would have an allergic reaction to the usually harmless allergy medication and she’d go to jail. She resolved to call the pediatrician, but she didn’t want to come right out and ask about baby sedation. So we agreed she should phrase the two-pronged inquiry as follows : “Is there a remote possibility my baby is deathly allergic to Benadryl? And if not, what is the proper dose to give him?” Sneaky, right? No mention of drugging babies. Just a simple, 1. I want to give my baby Benadryl, and 2. How much? No reason necessary.
Except apparently, a reason is necessary.
The next day, I received this tragic text from Danna:
I just got off the phone with the nurse and she found out my ulterior motive and DID NOT approve of me sedating Oren! I tried to tell her about you and how normal you are and that you thought it would be perfectly fine to sedate an infant, but she wouldn’t give me the correct dosage. 😦 My hopes of drugging my baby have been dashed!
So, basically, the nurse left Danna* no choice but to sedate herself during the flight, and let little Oren fend for himself at a cruising altitude for half a day. Because, obviously, one of them had to be sedated, and the nurse was uncooperative and Danna didn’t want to risk killing her infant on an airplane with an antihistamine when all she really wanted to do was drug him. Thanks for nothing, nurse.
* Danna’s a really good mom. She’d never** sedate a baby. Nor would she sedate herself while caring for a baby.
** Unless the situation were dire. Like, say, a very long plane ride. Or if he hadn’t slept in a few days. Or if she couldn’t get a babysitter, and Tori Amos was on tour. ***
*** And not even then. Probably.****
**** I haven’t spoken to Danna since before she left the country. I actually don’t know whether any adult or baby sedation occurred. After she reads this post, I may never know. But I’ll always wonder.