“Baby, are you okay!?”

Before I jump into my experience being trained in Baby CPR and how that relates to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, let me give a quick update.

The twins, Myles and Remington, have been in the NICU for close to 2 weeks now. It’s something of a downer not having them home with us yet. It feels like they aren’t quite ours yet; like they’re on baby layaway or something. But it helps that we made a schedule where Jessica and I can come visit them twice every day, even though it’s a 30-40 minute drive to the hospital.

At this point I’ve begun to see the hidden blessings in what we originally saw as a trial. The greatest of which, we get to have something of a “practice run” at being parents, before diving into the whole thing. As previously stated, we’re on a schedule, but also we’re receiving professional training on baby care by the fantastic staff at the Kennestone Hospital.

  • When the baby is feeding, watch to make sure that he is remembering to take breaths after every few sucks. This was drilled into my head by a sweet-but-scary Asian nurse with a thick accent who zinged me a few times for getting distracted. “Don’t take eyes off baby!”
  • When changing diapers, have the new clean one open and ready beneath the dirty one. This is to catch the not infrequent pee-pee ambushes that little babies like to make when exposed to the open air.
  • You can actually slap a baby’s back surprisingly hard when trying to get them to burp. Apparently Jessica and I were being far too gentle, and the nurses demonstrated to us a few between-the-shoulder blows that would be nigh abusive to an adult! And to prove that this wasn’t just a misguided old-wives practice, the whole time I watched the baby monitors and saw them practically sleeping through the assault with steady heart beats and breathing patterns.
  • NICU nurses have a secret category for babies they like to call “Wimpy White Boys.” Apparently females develop faster than males, and of all the ethnicities Caucasian children develop the slowest. So it’s not uncommon for them to see a 4 lb white boy hooked up to an incubator while a 2 lb black girl is sitting in a crib sucking on a bottle.

To top off all of this gratuitous instruction on behalf of the excellent nursing staff, there are a few required videos parents have to watch before taking their babies home; one of which is Baby CPR.

I love CPR. I’ve been certified several times and have even been trained on resuscitation for infants before. But the DVD they had us watch came out of the early 90’s; you know, with a spunky lady host with layers of short, curly bangs and high-waisted bleached jeans. Two parts of the video really stuck with me.

The first; when you see a baby that appears unconscious or unresponsive, try to rouse it by tapping on its feet and shouting, “Are you okay? Are you okay?” I understand how loud noise and vigourous touching of the feet are good ways to disturb a sleeping baby, but do you really have to ask such a mature question? Really anything would do, given the right tone of voice. I suppose it’s in case you come across a random unresponsive baby that isn’t yours so that other people around you get some context of what you’re doing. It wouldn’t do if you wander into a park and start foot-slapping some stranger’s child while yelling “Turkey turkey turkey!”

The second part of the video that made a permanent impression was the practice session on the baby dummy. In order to help maintain the proper rhythm, a hip Jazzercise track played while the host demonstrated, pumping the doll’s sternum to the beat of the music. It was a much happier tune than one would expect while in a life-or-death situation, but I suppose that’s to either keep you in a calm, clear state of mind or just to make saving lives more fun!

On the drive home, these two aspects of the tutorial tape combined with a top hits radio station to give me a chance to ad-lib like Weird Al Yankovic to one of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, Smooth Criminal.

Baby are you okay?
You’re not moving
You’re not breathing at all!
Did your heart stop beating
Are you choking
Did you have a bad fall?
Someone needs to help me,
You there mister!
Make a 911 call!
It’s time to start compressions
On the sternum
The brain damage to stall!

Baby are you okay?
Are you okay?
Are you okay, baby?

Baby are you okay?
Are you okay?
Are you okay, baby?

Baby are you okay?
Are you okay?
Are you okay, baby?

Your life vitals
Are too critical!

Maybe you have to see me sing it in person, but it made Jessica laugh until she cried. All I’m saying is the old videos are a little dated, and my idea for a remake is pretty much genius.

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