Adventures in babysitting

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Regular readers of this column know that last December, I was blessed with my first grandchild. William Edward "Liam" Loftis was born on Dec. 2, 2015.

There's nothing I wouldn't do for little Liam, I said at the time, except for one thing: I'm not changing any diapers. I've paid my dues, I told myself, and I can relax and let somebody else handle the diaper duties from now on. Liam is welcome to come and stay a few days with me in Berryville, I said. As soon as he's potty-trained.

But things have a way of surprising you.

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my son Ronnie and his family in North Little Rock when Liam's mom, Christi, began having some sharp pains in her stomach. Ronnie convinced Christi to let him take her to the emergency room, and I offered to babysit Liam and his older brother, Hayden.

I knew I would have the boys for at least a couple of hours and it wasn't that long before Liam's normal bedtime, so I figured it wouldn't be a difficult assignment. Liam had already eaten his dinner, so all I had to do was put him in his swing and wait for him to fall asleep, right?

Wrong.

Things went OK for a few minutes, but then the little guy started to fuss. I waited to see if he would settle himself, but instead he got even fussier. Hayden went to check on him, and informed me that the blue line on the front of Liam's diaper meant that he needed to be changed.

Now, Liam is a smart enough baby, but he's only 7 months old. He wasn't about to change his own diaper. And Hayden wasn't going to change it, either. That left dear old Pops to handle the situation.

So there goes that solemn vow about not changing any diapers.

Still, I knew this could be not fun, or it could be really not fun. And there was no way to know until I got that diaper off.

So I scooped up little Liam and took him to the changing table in his bedroom. I located the clean diapers and got one ready, then held my breath and said a little prayer as I pulled the tab to start taking the old one off.

Whew! It was just wet!

I folded it up and moved it to the side. The next step was getting the clean diaper on. But diapers these days don't look the same as the diapers my sons wore. Or maybe I just don't remember these things correctly. Do the tabs go in the front or the back? Is that velcro? What is the meaning of life?

Finally, I managed to get the diaper on and the first tab secure. But the second one wouldn't stick. Maybe it's a defective diaper, I thought. Because surely, it couldn't be operator error. Eventually, I decided that in my fumbling around I had somehow damaged the diaper. So I wadded it up, moved it to the side and grabbed another new diaper. The whole time, poor Liam cried and probably thought this Pops guy isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

Miraculously, somehow I was able to get the second diaper on and fastened. Maybe it wasn't perfect, but it was good enough. Back to the living room for me and back to the swing for Liam.

Much happier now, Liam soon drifted off to sleep. About that time, I got a text message from Ronnie saying that Christi had been admitted to the hospital. I assured him I had everything under control at home. Liam was down and Hayden and I were watching something called "Uncle Grandpa." This is a children's cartoon. I'm not making this up.

Things went fine until I checked on Liam and noticed that he had turned onto his side and his head was at an odd angle. I didn't like it, so I reached in to try and adjust him. Of course, this woke him up and that led to more fussing. So I decided to pick him up and try rocking him, as I had seen Ronnie do. Well, that didn't work. Neither did holding him to my chest and patting his back. Finally I laid him flat on his back on the couch beside me. That seemed to calm him down, and soon he was asleep again.

Carefully, I picked him up and carried him to his crib. But I wasn't sure if I should put him on his back or his stomach for the night. Since he often falls asleep on his back in the swing, I decided to put him on his back.

Then I returned to the living room and texted Ronnie to make sure that was correct. Of course, it wasn't. He should be on his stomach.

No problem. I went back to Liam's bedroom and tried to gently turn him over onto his stomach. But apparently I wasn't gentle enough. Once again, he was awake and crying. Poor Liam. Poor Pops.

By this time, it was about 10 p.m. -- well past the time Liam would normally be down for the night. It took another hour, but finally around 11 p.m. he fell asleep again on the couch and I was able to get him in his crib, on his stomach, with no more issues.

By that time, I was exhausted, hot and cranky. Ronnie came home briefly and showed me how to get Liam's bottle ready the next morning, then went back to the hospital while I settled in to spend the night on the couch.

Surprisingly, I slept great on the couch. And the next morning, after I got the bottle ready, I nervously went to check on Liam. I found him in his crib, making peaceful little baby noises. And then he saw me and greeted me with a huge, happy smile. That made up for everything. We went on to have a nice, calm day. I fed him lunch and changed a couple more diapers (even one that was more than just wet) before Christi's stepmom relieved me.

All in all, it wasn't so bad. I even joked that I was going to quit my job and open a daycare center. That's not true, of course. But at least I know I can change a diaper when I need to.

* * *

Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.