Monday, 1 October 2012
Today I want to talk about teeth — yep, teeth. I started thinking about teeth as a
possible blog entry when after SIX days without eating dinner, W sprouted three
I started thinking back on how many times I have thought about or said the
word “teeth” in the past couple years. I don’t have a final count, but I have said it
Of course, babies force you to think about teeth for obvious reasons. Any time
a baby cries, one of the first answers is, obviously, teething. But seriously, how
cruel is it that they have to endure growing teeth? You see their little faces all
scrunched up, their hands desperately clawing at their gums, and it is sad.
And then there are my OWN teeth. Last winter I woke up with searing, terrible,
torturous pain in my mouth. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I was
writhing in pain. It was horrible; let’s leave it at that. W was about six months old
and still full-time nursing. I didn’t know what to do so I did the obvious: I went to
the dentist at the mall (a rather ghetto place with stores named Spexx and Lidz).
Yes, in my pain-induced fog I thought a visit to the local, low-grade excuse for
retail therapy could HELP me! The hygienist told me I needed a mouth guard,
and that would take three weeks — not exactly what I was hoping they would
say. I was fitted for said mouth guard while W taunted me by eating Cheerios and
chomping on his soother from the comfort of his ridiculously large and comfy-
looking stroller. Getting fitted for this mouth guard was further torture: they filled
my mouth with foam, pressed down, and walked away for what felt like an hour.
When the hygienist returned, I was bawling, like full, watching–Dancer in the Dark
losing my shit. I was so tired, and so sore, and just wanted a jaw amputation…but
what I had was a baby, a twenty- something hygienist, and the sickening smell of
Pizza Pizza wafting across the hall. It really was one of those moments when
you think: Jesus, fuck — this isn’t how I pictured living as an “adult.”
So the terrified hygienist says something like, “I have better hair than you,”
or “Where is your bra?” or maybe she said, “Are you okay? You can go now”; I
don’t know. But I remember riding in the elevator and just sobbing. I was in so
much pain — but because I now live as a mom, I have to pull it together, operate
a motorized vehicle, slice up some banana, and get on with the show. (P.S. To
add insult to injury, the low-grade mall-dentist’s philosophy is no medication.
FUCK THAT NOISE!)
Fast forward to the next day and a visit from my childless friend. She took one
look at me and drove me to a walk-in clinic. God bless my friend.
As I waited, jaw in hand, for the doctor to come in to the exam room, I once again
started tearing up. The stress of the pain and sleepless nights was wearing me
down. In walks probably the cutest and youngest doctor I have ever been cared
for by and says, “So, what’s up?” Through sobs I explain that my tooth is fucked
up, and the dentist said I need a mouth guard but now my eardrum is also going
to explode and I can’t sleep. And I have a baby. To this doctor’s credit he did
a great job and asked me a lot of pointed questions like, “Where is your baby
now?” and “Do you have a partner?” and “Is your partner nice?” Clearly, though
young, this doctor has seen a few new moms in his day, and while he was likely
clearing his conscience of any spousal abuse, it felt nice that he was taking me
seriously. (Unlike some local dentists!)
The doctor said I probably did need a mouth guard because, due to (likely)
stress, I was clenching my teeth so hard at night I was putting something
equivalent to the weight of an elephant inside my mouth every night. Hmm.
This angel of a man also prescribed lots of meds (all safe for breastfeeding, he
assured me, but at that point, really, I was ready for heroin if it would help) and
told me to go home to bed for TWO days. He literally said, “See your baby as
little as possible until this clears up and start asking for help and then actually let
the people you ask help you.”
And you know what? Although that is not advice I would usually heed, I did it. I
took a handful of pills (two) and lay down. I still wriggled around uncomfortably
and longed for a cheeseburger, but I did rest. Lo and behold, forty-eight hours
later, I did feel a bit better.
So, to overstate the obvious, my superwoman behaviour almost killed me (and
by killed, I mean drove me to insanity with pain).
Two mouth guards (I ground through the first one — sexy, I know) and one new
dentist later, I still have mouth pain, but now on mornings when I wake up a
little sore I know it is my physical reminder to let my husband do more. It is my
reminder that maybe I can’t get the oil changed, go for drinks after work, and
make W three well-balanced meals all in one day. Some things can wait until
tomorrow. They have to. You only get one set of (real) teeth and you only get
one chance to raise your baby. It is unfortunate that the universe felt it had to
send me such painful reminders of that, but it did. Slow down. Calm down. Stop
clenching your teeth. Breathe. It’s okay. Teeth. Who knew?
[image: poster via etsy]