Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Baby Manicure: A Prelude to a Bloodbath

The amazingly fast rate that babies' nails grow is in direct proportion to how difficult it is to clip them. Yet you have to clip them, or the little bugger will claw his face off in the night, and you'll wake to find what looks like a crime scene in his crib. And the next time you bundle him up and take him to Babies R Us for a diaper run, people will take one look at his pitiful, mangled face and report you to Child Protective Services, and perhaps beat you with their purses as well.

Yet it's next to impossible to manage this task. Imagine trying to clip the nails of a raccoon found in the wild. The baby's arms pinwheel like he's trying to take flight, while you duck and weave with your microscopic baby fingernail clippers, hoping to accidentally connect with a fingernail. And baby nail clippers are incredibly dull, probably because the manufacturers of them understand that you will inevitably clip more finger than nail, and they want to minimize the potential for crippling handicaps. However, the result is that if you do beat the odds and grab a fingernail between those tiny, tiny nailclipper "blades," you will now basically have to use the "blades" to merely clamp onto that nail while you tear it off. In other words, you're really not clipping at all, but wrenching the nail off. Try doing that 10 times in a row, once for each finger. You will burn more calories at this task than in a step aerobic class. Once you manage to clip all ten nails, you will feel a sense of exhausted accomplishment akin to what an Olympic swimmer must feel after a successful match. And yet, 2 days later, your jaw will drop open when you discover that all 10 of those nails have magically returned to the exact length they were before you had your face-off with them--perhaps even a tad longer. You will only notice because your baby has a fresh, bloody groove in his cheek that wasn't there yesterday.

The first time I clipped Jake's toenails, I sliced off a bit of skin. That's a testament to how delicate a baby's skin is, because I managed to cut him with what I've already pointed out is the dullest instrument possible. I gasped, felt horrible, and braced myself for the indignant cry that was surely to come. Interestingly, Jake didn't notice he'd been cut, and didn't even flinch. More interestingly, though, is how comically long it took for the bleeding to stop. The kid bled so long I thought I was in a Saturday Night Live skit. He continued to snooze throughout the gore-fest, while I kept applying pressure and filling up Kleenexes. No one told me that babies' blood apparently doesn't clot. I'll have to keep this in mind next time I'm juggling knives near his playmat.

13 comments:

Pete said...

So let me get this straight. You "wrench" the nails off? The whole thing??

Ouch...

karla said...

Well, it's not painful for the baby, because their nails are so thin that they're like paper. The only thing that's painful for them is when you clip the skin accidentally, but the actual tearing of the nail doesn't hurt. Some mothers chew their babies' nails off, but that just seems crazy to me. I can't picture myself with a mouthful of baby fingers, gnawing away.

Carolyn said...

Oh, I can totally relate. I remember the first time I cut the skin of my daughter's finger. I felt like the worst mom in the world. I did the same thing with my son a few months ago. But this one was on his thumb and pretty deep. The worst part is he kept wanting to put his thumb in his mouth, and was annoyed that I kept a kleenex and pressure on it. It eventually healed, but the scab kept taunting me about how I had tortured my son!

I do have to admit that I use regular fingernail clippers. I found that they clip faster, so I don't have the issue of tearing the nails off. Both of my kids have my ridiculously strong nails so tearing them off was pretty difficult.

Horsey said...

I had no idea that babies gore themselves. Awesome! They must be fierce.

I wish I could say I relate to your experience here, like the other readers, but all this is as alien to me as the lives of Inuits. But still interesting research, that will surely come in use at some future time when I reproduce via cloning.

Cesca said...

Those nail clippers are a piece of crap. After about 2 weeks of not managing to get a single bit of nail off, and my son's face resembling Freddy Krueger's, I went out and bought the nastiest, pointiest, sharpest little nail scissors I could find. They work a treat!

(Just have to make sure the child makes no sudden moves...)

Mar said...

I just bite them off with my teeth until the child is old enough to verbally protest. This makes my husband crazy...but you won't catch him clipping their nails himself, so I figure his vote doesn't count.

undercover celebrity said...

Carolyn told me how funny your blog is. Turns out she's right.

Not having children myself, I have only second hand information for you. My mom said that she used to wait until I was asleep to cut my finger nails. I'm telling you the woman is super-mom. Genius!

Thor said...

howcome you don't have a link to raymitheminx.blogspot.com ?

BMF said...

good idea, nightime nail clipping seems to be a grand solution.

Janet said...

Your blogs are so funny and honest. I am laughing out loud!

malfouka said...

Karla--
I don't know if you've got older kids, but some of them seem to NEVER outgrow the nail-cutting hysterics. My 6 y/o son still acts as if I'm performing surgery on him when I clip his nails...

rebcram said...

I just found your blog and man, you and I appear to be living parallel lives. I too dread the thrice-weekly baby manicures (my baby is 3 months old). Also, long live baby heroin...

Christi said...

I, too, have given up and have gone to regular nail clippers.

Thanks for the warning about the massive bleeding. Now I'll be even more freaked out when I finally do cut my daughter's finger, b/c I'll know to expect tons of blood!