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It Ain't Just Caviar

You know you’re a parent when you hear “Beluga” and don’t automatically think “caviar.”  My girlfriend Abby has a few thoughts on the subject of that baby-culture phenomenon/parental lifesaver known as Raffi – click to read more and enjoy!


My sister Jess gave us a copy of Raffi's album "Baby Beluga" claiming that her friends with children purported that the title song had magical properties. We tried it out one day while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at the Lincoln tunnel with a screaming baby Isaiah in the back seat of the car. My friend, Meg, was also in the back seat and had exhausted her extensive bag of baby entertainment tricks. For anyone who has experienced the screaming baby in the car, I need not tell you how incredibly stressful it is, especially when it is your first child and you are sure that you are causing permanent damage. For the rest of you, may you be spared the feeling of helplessness behind the wheel along with the tense shoulders and headache. It seemed like nothing we could do would soothe the baby, short of stopping the car, plucking him from the offending seat and comforting him, preferably by ripping open my blouse and letting him nurse. Paul was inspired by our desperation to pop Raffi into the cd player, and soon Isaiah quieted, much to our amazement. Mind you, it was only the “Baby Beluga” song that worked. As soon as "Biscuits in the Oven" came on, Isaiah he started crying again. For 30-40 minutes, we listened to the song on loop until we had to decide which was worse: the song or crying. The repetition cemented the lyrics into our mushy parent brains.

Those lyrics came in useful soon after that car "ride" through the Lincoln tunnel, on our first big trip to Vermont. It was Memorial Day weekend and Isaiah was 5 months old. As dawn broke one morning at my dad's house, I sleepily nursed Isaiah in bed. After he finished nursing, he started shaking and trying to get his breath. I woke up my husband with four heart-stopping words: "The baby's not breathing." Paul administered CPR and suctioned out Isaiah's nose with the blue bulb syringe. When we could hear him breathing again, we grabbed our bags and raced to the ER, jittery with adrenaline and fear. Hours later, the doctors could find nothing wrong with Isaiah except for a bad cold. Still, he was checked in to the Rutland hospital for 24-hour observation. Outside of the procedure room of the pediatric ward, Paul and I waited for the nurse and technician to take chest x-rays of our child. We responded to Isaiah's cries by doing the only thing we could think of-- singing "Baby Beluga" at the top of our lungs. This time the crying didn't stop, but it calmed us to do something, even if it meant making complete and utter fools of ourselves. At least Isaiah could hear our voices and know that we were nearby. (Happily, the incident turned out to be a febral or fever-induced seizure-- terrifying for the parents, but harmless for the baby. And, if you are wondering, we didn't need to do CPR. Isaiah would have begun breathing normally on his own after the seizure had passed.)

Isaiah has outgrown the seizures, but not his love for Baby Beluga. After a year or so of its absence, there has been a resurgence of the song in our household. Isaiah recently turned 3 and has a cd player on which he listens to cds during his quiet time. (He gave up naps just before baby Joshua arrived on the scene.) The favorite cd? You guessed it, Baby Beluga. For days after he got the cd player, I could hear him in his room as he carefully listened to the song over and over again, teaching himself the words. Now he sings/blurts it everywhere he goes. Sometimes Paul and I join in, which inspires baby Joshua to coo. Just in time. We've got some long car rides coming up.


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