Like many newborns, V. had begun to scratch own face. On advice from a paediatrician, we limited the use of tiny mittens on her hands. The doctor gave us the option: she either learnt not to do it now, with soft nails, or weeks later when her nails had hardened. It was hard to wake up in the morning and see her perfect complexion left with a new scratch. But eventually, this behaviour lessened.
However, now she had taken to pinching away at F.’s chest whilst breastfeeding. So we tried either peeling her nails off or biting them. Neither worked at all for us. We left it.
But weeks later, V. had learnt to use her nails as deadly weapons. They were both longer and stronger. At breastfeeding, she was still clutching away at her mother and this time leaving visible, angry scratches. V. was also beginning to claw away at my forearm when lying in the ‘tiger in the tree’. I choked back tears of pain as she would attempt to sever my forearm from the rest of me. We took to renaming her Lady Deathstrike.
So we had to bite the bullet and try to trim her nails with a nail clipper. As I lined up a tiny finger tip and brought the steel clippers to her nail, she would not stop moving. A trickle of nervous sweat rolled down the side of my face as I slowly pressed the jaws of the clipper over her minuscule nail. What if I snipped off the end her finger? Years later, she might sit, seething at me, as her piano teacher patiently explains to us how V. would never be able to reach an octave and should abandon her dream of mastering Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Concerto. I bailed.
It was up to my wife’s nerves of steel. She waited until V. was in a deep sleep, following her feed, and clippered every nail. Three days later, they were grown again.