Don’t Shake the Baby

When Lemon was in the hospital, there were dozens of forms that needed to be filled out. Usually, since I have absolutely atrocious handwriting (if you want to see how bad, check out the original Tiny Life in the last 150 pages of Tiny Life Demos. That’s actual Nick Jones lettering. Now I just use a font I made a few years back), The Wife does all the form-filling. However, she just got done doing something super-gross, so I had to look at the forms. We had to fill out the logical stuff: birth certificate and social security and insurance; we had to do the normal hospital stuff: non-disclosure agreement and disclosure agreement and liability release. But we also had to fill out some stuff that you wouldn’t normally think one would have to fill out.

We had to fill out a form saying that we:

  • Saw a lactation consultant.
  • Watched a video on breast feeding.
  • Watched a video about transitioning to home care
  • Would contact a doctor should either of us have serious thoughts of suicide
  • Understand how room service works
  • Would see a doctor within a week or being released
  • Got the car seat checked by a certified professional
  • That we would not sue the hospital should our baby become lost or stolen (this was a different form than the liability release form for our phones and wallets)

But this is the one that really got to me: We had to fill out a form saying that we have read material about – and promise not to – shake our baby until she falls asleep.

The way any type of bureaucracy works is that they’re reactionary. You didn’t hear a lot of politicians saying stuff like, “We have to make sure that, if a deep-water oil rig somehow explodes, we’re able to plug the hole and clean up the mess in a timely fashion” before this whole BP Deepwater Horizon nonsense. So it make sense that they have a disclosure agreement (“You never told me that you’d share my anal leakage information with my employer! I’ll sue!”) and a liability release (“You never told me that it was possible for someone to steal my TracFone if I left it on the toilet seat! I’ll sue!”) and even a form about seeing a lactation consultant (“You never told me that I could feed my kid for free from my nipple! I’ll sue!”). But this “baby-shaking” rule means that someone actually shook their baby until it passed out, got brain damage, and then they sued the hospital for not telling them that it might be a bad idea.

This is the actual pamphlet we were given. Click on the picture to see the sage-like parenting advice it gives.

When I looked into it a little more, I found that this is a state-wide initiative. There are millions of dollars going into this program reminding parents not to shake well before using. We had to read a pamphlet explaining that a newborn person is not a full-grown person and it does not react in the same way grown-up people react; meaning, if you yell at it, it won’t respond. It also said that if the baby won‘t stop crying, maybe you should consider feeding it or changing its diaper or rocking it instead of pretending it’s that can of spray paint you used to camouflage your Camaro.

We also had to watch a video on it. Apparently, when you shake something so vigorously that the smooth-cuz-there-isn’t-a-thought brain rattles around in the so-new-that-it’s-still-in-two-pieces skull, you can cause brain damage.

On the other hand, my grandma did say that it makes babies quieter.

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2 Responses

  1. Now that I think about it, my grandma used to say, “I’m gonna shake the shit outta you, Nicky!” and then shake me vigorously.
    I wonder if that’s what was wrong with my dad and aunt.

  2. I don’t know anything about this particular initiative, but it may have nothing to do with hospital liability. In fact, it seems pretty implausible that hospitals would really be concerned about that. I would guess there are two goals.

    1) Legitimate education.

    2) Criminal prosecution. Establishing that parents knew the consequences of shaking babies makes it easier to prosecute parents when children are so injured. This seems the most plausible reason for making parents sign the acknowledgment of the education they received.

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