Ages & Stages - Part 12
Karen got up a bit early the next day. A bit of house cleaning was done, and then she made breakfast for her baby. She cooked up a pan of oatmeal, but made it a little runnier than usual, more proper for a baby, after all. She went into John's room and stroked his hair. "Wake up, Baby," she cooed, "It's breakfast time!" As she pulled back the covers she caught a whiff of his urine soaked garment. "I'll change you after breakfast. I don't want it to get cold!"
Karen carried John into the kitchen and set him into his highchair. After tying his bib in place she gathered his baby bowl full of oatmeal. Karen poured a little Enfamil™ on it, that she had picked up with his diapers the other day, "Just in case" he needed it. She added a dash of sugar, and started to spoon it into his mouth. John gurgled happily, as he was being further regressed by the situation. This is what he really needed, actually wanted, from life. To have so easily returned to this stage of development was no accident, it was almost per-destined in his DNA.
A good bit of his food ended up on his face, but his mommy simply wiped him clean with his bib when finished. She popped his pacifier in his mouth and lifted him from the chair and carried him back to his room. After laying him on his back, Karen removed his doubled diapers, and tossed them with a resounding "klunk!" into the nearby diaper bin. She went about cleaning him up with the baby wipes, all the while dreaming of how she used to wipe him clean from a soiled diaper.
"Maybe, just maybe," she thought, "My little baby will be pooping his diapers as well, and I will be cleaning my baby's bottom, too." Karen smiled at the thought of John being so helpless as to need his mommy changing poopy diapers. Did she really want that? Possibly, perhaps this was meant to be, and he really was just an infant hiding inside of a twelve-year-old body.
Karen lifted John from his bed and sat him on his potty chair. John didn't waste any time in dropping a fresh gift into the chair for his mommy. Taking another baby wipe she cleaned his bottom, then set him back on the bed, to be diapered once again. After a kiss on the forehead and a pat on his diapered bottom, she sent him off to watch cartoons while she cleaned up the mess.
Karen went about her normal routine until ten o'clock. She picked John up from the floor of the living room and carried him to his room. She checked his diaper, and noting it's slight dampness, decided that it could wait. She grabbed a pair of stretch athletic pants and John's snow suit and put them on over his diaper and tee shirt. All of this activity was carried out
with-out disturbing the pacifier he held so well in his lips!
Karen packed up John's diaper bag with several Pampers™ size 7 diapers, a couple of bibs, and two sippy cups. Karen added a pack of baby wipes and an extra pacifier. As a last minute thought, she threw in two of the prefold cloth diapers, thinking they would do well for clean-ups. Karen carried him to the car, and buckled John into his child restraint seat. Because of his small stature, and the design of this seat, John looked like any other toddler going for a ride with his mommy. Karen gave herself a mental high-five for choosing this particular model, as a booster seat would only re-inforce any of the remaining nuances of his being anything more than a baby. A quick trip back to the kitchen to pack a small cooler with four more of John's sippy cups and a couple of diet Cokes for herself, and she headed back out to the van.
John asked, "Where are we going, Mommy?"
"You have an eleven o'clock appointment with Dr. McDade today," she answered. "You are going in for an exam this morning, and if you are a good little boy, we'll get lunch and do some shopping, and maybe we will get home in time for your nap."
"Okay." was his only response. No crying, no fussing, he just took it as fact that he had to see the pediatrician, and that was the way things were. All the way to the doctor's office he held his pacifier in his mouth, sucking contentedly upon it. Karen thought that he might remove it when they arrived, but when she picked him out of his child seat, he just clenched down on it, so
as not to lose it. She carried John into the office, and as she signed in at the receptionist desk, he continued to suck on his pacifier, as if it was normal for a twelve-year-old boy to have such a thing in his mouth. When Karen removed his snow jacket and snow pants, leaving him standing in just his very stretchy athletic pants and tee shirt, he didn't protest in the least, even though
the bulk of the diaper was quite prominent. So here was a twelve-year-old boy, looking all of maybe six or seven, sitting in the waiting room, dressed in pastel stretch pants, a diaper and tee shirt, sucking a pacifier, while leaning against his mommy.
This scene was not lost on the receptionist, who then quietly pointed him out to Mary, Dr. McDade's head nurse. Mary made a quick study of the small patient, who looked no different than the other babies who frequented the office.
After a few minutes John got up, handed his paci to his mommy to hold for safe keeping, and toddled over to the "Kiddie Korner" full of toys and books, to join in with the three other toddlers already playing with the toys. Without any hesitation John plopped down onto his padded bottom and joined in with what could only be described as his peers. As he sat there, with his legs spread,
his diapered state was even more obvious. His baby blue tee shirt rode up his back far enough that it was easy to see the top two of three inches of his Pampers stick out above his waistband. John was having a good time playing with a 4-year-old boy, and two 3-year-old girls, all dressed in similar attire. This situation was not lost on Karen, as she sat and made small talk with the other
Two of the women were having quite a conversation about "diaper blow-outs" and the resulting mess. Karen brought up the leaky diapers that she had to deal with.
"Have you tried 'Diaper Doublers' inside of his Pampers?" one mother asked.
"No," she answered, "never heard of them."
"Oh, they're wonderful! I put one in Bobby's daytime diaper, and two into his night diaper, and never have leaks," she explained.
"I use them with Miranda's cloth diapers," the other mother added. "Not only do they add more absorbancy, but they make dirty diapers easier to clean."
Just then the nurse called John and Karen in to see Dr. McDade. As Karen got up to retrieve her big baby, she noticed that his diaper was quite noticeable as it peaked over the top of his pants, as well as padded his bottom and hips. She picked John up into her arms, and stuck his pacifier between his lips. "I've got to do some shopping later," Karen told the other mothers, "I will look
for those Diaper Doublers. Thank you for the suggestion!"
Karen carried John into the exam room. Mary caught her as she sat John on the table, "Dr. McDade wants a net reading of John's height and weight. That means this time we remove everything but the diaper." Looking at John she said, "No high-heeled cowboy boots this time, young man! We need an accurate reading."
The past several times that John had been measured, he had worn his flannel shirt, tee shirt, jeans with the cowboy buckle, and even his favorite cowboy boots. Mary had always given Karen and John the readings including the added weight and then rounded it down for the charts. Once John was stripped down to his diaper, Mary instructed him to remove his cowboy boots. They fell to the floor with a resounding "clunk" as the contents spilled out across the floor. What fell from the boots made both Karen and Mary gasp. There, on the floor, lay two ankle weights of one-and-a-half pounds (0.68 Kg) each, and two rubber wedges, that had apparently been used to give John an added boost, in addtion to high heels of the cowboy boots.
Mary had always figured two inches of added height for the cowboy boots, and then she had rounded up to the nearest half-foot for John's ego sake. The previous exam had found John at 52 and a half inches, and she had called it "four-and-a-half" feet.
Although she knew that he was much smaller than she would elude to, she never said anything to John about it, because she was sure that he was already self-concious about his short stature. Today would be different, today the doctor would get the
actual readings instead of a "guess-timate" which now, for all intents and purposes, had actually been a lie.
"What's all this?" Karen demanded of John.
"It helps me be taller. I don't like being the smallest kid in my class," the words poured out over quivering lips, high-lighted by the little boy's tears.
"How long have you been doing this?" Karen asked.
"I have been putting the lifters in my boots since last year. I only put the weights in them when we come to Dr. McDade's office" he confessed.
"Not only is this a form of lying, but do you have any idea how dangerous this could be?" Karen asked. And then answering her own question, she added, "Dr. McDade figures any medicine doses on your weight, you could have received an accidental overdose! Putting those lifters in your boots could throw off your balance and you could have fallen down a flight of stairs and broken your neck!"
"I'm sorry, Mommy," he wimpered, "I'm really sorry..."
"You need to apologize to Miss Mary and Dr. McDade," was her response.
"I'm sorry, Miss Mary," He said, "I won't do it again."
"Apology accepted," Mary replied sympathetically, "Let's get you on the scales."
John was led to the hallway, dressed in only a diaper, and instruted to step up on the scale. Mary slid the little weights back and forth in small increments, until she was satisfied of and accurate reading. After instructing John to turn around,
she swung out the top rod of the measuring bar, and lowered it onto John's head. John instintively raised up on his tippy toes, but Karen immediately gave his thigh a smack and John dropped to his heels. Mary smiled and then took his stature reading.
The three then returned into the exam room where Karen lifted John onto the exam table. As John accepted his pacifier from Karen, Mary took his blood pressure, and then did an oral temperature reading. Mary then had John lay on his tummy, as she
pulled the edge of his diaper past the center of his buttocks and slipped in a lubricated rectal thermometer. After three minutes, she removed the thermometer, wiped it off, and then wrote down that reading in John's chart. Mary pulled John's diaper back into place and instructed him to sit up and wait for the doctor.
Dr. McDade did a quick "second-take" when he entered the exam room and saw John sitting on the table in only a diaper, sucking on his pacifier. The doctor was quite aware of John's regressive behavior, as he had been getting updates via texts from Karen, but did not realize that it now included daytime diapers and a pacifier. Karen laid John on his back onto the exam table, and at the doctor's request, removed his heavily laden diaper, and handed it to Mary, who took it from the room to weigh it on the electronic baby scale in one of the other rooms. Dr. McDade retrieved the business end of his bladder ultra-sound measuring device, and after a generous coating of some water based lubricant on John's lower abdomen, he started moving it slowly back and forth. A few seconds later came the print-out.
"Hmm... this is interesting," he mulled, "I need to recheck this." Dr. McDade repeated the steps, then announced, "Either my readings were incorrect last time you were in, or John's bladder has shrunk even further."
"How is that possible?" Karen asked.
Dr. McDade simply shrugged his shoulders. "With your permission I'd like to have Mary do a blood draw. We're going to take five tubes: one to run a preliminary check here in the office, and the others will be sent out to our lab for more
"Will you have any answers this afternoon?" Karen asked.
"I'm not sure, but I suspect I might find something to put us in the right ballpark." Dr. McDade explained. "But, I am going to have you schedule a follow-up appointment. The hormone tests will take a few days to return the results, so I
want you to come back in a week."
After a little more prodding and poking, Dr. McDade instructed Karen to dress John, and then sent him off with the nurse. "Mary is going to have a little talk with John, maybe see if he will open up with any clues as to the root of this problem," he explained. "I have a suspicion that we have a compound situation here."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well, I am not really sure yet, but the physical regression could be caused by a variety of causes... The emotional regression may be a result of his loss of control, leading him to feel and act more immature. Many children go through emotional regression after traumatic events, such as the arrival of a new baby brother or sister, or the loss of a loved one." Dr. McDade took Karen's hand, "How long has it been since John's father passed?"
"It's been quite a while," she answered, "nearly two years!"
"To a child, time is fluid. It may seem like months and months yet until Christmas. You and I see the snow outside and know it will be here in a few weeks, but to a child it seems like fore-ever. On the other hand, John Senior's passing may have only recently hit him. This may not be the cause, but it could certainly be a factor. It could be that physically these things are just happening
at a time when he needs to reach backward for some familiar things... like a comfort food, or security blanket."
"What should I do?" Karen asked.
"For the time being, just go with it. It certainly can't hurt him to have the support of the one person he loves most! Don't scold or chastise him for his accidents or any of his infantile behavior... this may pass in time. My main concern, at this time, is the physical regression, or at least the root cause." Dr. McDade explained. For a split second he thought he might mention one of his fears, the possiblily of a cancerous tumor, but he caught himself, and decided there was no need to have her worry before any definite answers were found. "One more thing, my receptionist is setting John up for an MRI in a couple of days, it is important that he get it done."
"What are you looking for?" she asked nervously.
"Oh, no, nothing in particular. I'm really not looking for anything. I am looking to rule out some possibilities. With the insurance companies, and the courts, and lawsuits, I would be leaving my practice open to some major liabilities if I didn't order these tests." He explained quite matter-of-factually, and came off quite convincing to Karen. He hoped this would satisfy her, as he really wasn't ready to delve into all of the negative possibilities that might lay ahead.
"Okay, I guess I just jumped the gun!" Karen apologized. "Sorry."
"Nothing to be sorry about," he said, "Go get your little one and enjoy your afternoon out. One more thing, you might want to look into some extra large, or 'Super Size' toddler baby pants... you know, waterproof plastic pants. If you check out the baby section in the department store in the mall, you should find some. Otherwise you might go downtown to 'Baby Lane' over on Pine Street. I believe that we have some discount coupons for that store, ask my receptionist on the way out."
"Okay, I will certainly look for them. Thank you, Doctor." Karen left the exam room and went down the hall, led by the sound of her baby's voice.
During Karen's time alone with Dr. McDade, Mary was giving John some basic development tests, as well as questioning him about his feelings and what was going on. When Mary asked John how old he was, he reluctantly replied, "Twelve." When she pushed him a little and asked him how old he felt inside, he answered, "I don't know... maybe two or three." Mary even questioned John about his feelings toward the diapers and the pacifier. John was quick to defend his need for diapers, as he couldn't help his wetting accidents. He justified the pacifier, because he had a deep need to suck his thumb, and his mommy wouldn't let him suck on anything but the pacifier. Mary worked with some reflex tests, grip and strength, as well as balance abilities, to name a few of the tasks she had given him. After the testing and questioning was finished, she suggested they go find his mommy. John popped his pacifier back into his mouth and took Mary by the hand.
Just as Karen turned the corner, Mary came out of the room holding John's hand.
"He is so precious!" Mary exclaimed. Then she whispered to Karen, "They grow up way too fast. Enjoy him while you can. In some ways you are very fortunate, you get to have your baby just a little longer than most mothers."
Karen smiled and thanked Mary. She stopped at the front desk, paid her deductible, and picked up the appointment card and instruction sheet for the MRI. "I'm sorry, the only appointment I could get for the MRI is going to be early on Friday. Eight o'clock was the only opening on such short notice. You MUST arrive 30 minutes ahead. Just so you know the next opening isn't for three weeks," she explained. "Also, Dr. McDade apparently forgot that next week is Thanksgiving, so you are scheduled to come back two weeks from today. And... Oh, Dr. McDade wanted me to give this to you."
The receptionist handed her an envelope marked "For New Mothers" with discount coupons inside. Karen thanked the receptionist and after dressing John in his snow suit, she led him to the car, and buckled him into his safety seat, and they were off for an afternoon of shopping.