My children have one thing in common. Despite being spaced apart in age and having very different personalities, they each seem to enjoy making their mother look like an idiot.
I can give you multiple examples, but today's theme will be E.R. visits.
Many of you already know that my youngest son Bastian was born with a unique condition that resulted in him having multiple surgeries and procedures. It also doubled my anxiety and has made me hyper-sensitive to any problems he ever experiences, including typical stuff like a cold or teething issue, so I've been more apt to take him in to see a doctor than I was with either of my older two.
And every time up until yesterday, whenever I took him in to be seen, I'd immediately realized I'd made the right decision. There was the time he had an ear infection and needed antibiotics, the time he needed the surgery site on his abdomen lacerated to drain built-up fluid, the time he needed a breathing treatment. But yesterday - yesterday, he just made me look like an idiot.
With my other boys, I generally just took them to our pediatrician, even if it meant waiting through the weekend. There are only two times in the last decade I remember going to Urgent Care or the ER with either of them. But believe me on this, both of them made sure their visits counted.
My eleven-year-old, Gavin, went to the emergency room for the first time ever only about two years ago. I made it almost ten years without having to take that kid to the hospital. And then the day came when his brother, Rhett, decided to pretend a toilet brush was a sword.
A toilet brush.
A toilet brush that had been soaking in bleach. Bleach that got flung right into Gavin's eyes. I still feel bad about that situation, to be honest. When Gavin first came into the room crying, I wasn't fully paying attention, so I half-heartedly told the boys to stop fighting. It sounds terrible, but they argue so much, it's hard not to glaze over when they're telling on each other. Even though, I'm always insisting for them to come tell me when there's a problem instead of fighting each other. Look, it's complicated.
ANYWAY, Gavin started shrieking his eyes around the same time that I realized orange spots were appearing on his black shirt. I finally registered that the "sword" fight he was referencing involved the bleach-y toilet brush and not the foam toys in their room. Naturally I started freaking out - which made Gavin and Rhett both start freaking out - while Chase gathered us up and hauled us to the ER.
G is completely fine, his vision wasn't impaired at all, thankfully. Now we can even laugh about it, but like, also, can you imagine how fucking awkward it was for me to explain the situation to the hospital staff?
Yes, doc, I do buy them toys, but apparently they think disgusting toilet utensils are more fun to play with. Yep, I totally left bleach where they could access it, because my dumb ass didn't think the house needed to be baby-proofed anymore. Why yes, I did basically ignore my kid when he was trying to explain to me that his eyes were burning out of his skull, thank you for bringing that up to the whole medical team, Gavin. When can I expect my Mother Of The Year award to arrive in the mail?
Rhett didn't wait nearly as long as Gavin did to need a visit to the ER. He was only a toddler when he decided to bite into a glass Christmas ornament that resulted in him needing a single stitch in his bottom lip. At six-and-a-half-years-old, he still has a scar, and he's quite proud of it. (Also, if you've been around Rhett ever, then you are not surprised that he pulled this stunt - OR that he's technically the reason that G ever had to go to the hospital.)
We make a lot of jokes about it now, but let me assure you, I still cringe when I think about it. There was so much blood, and there was the fear that he'd not only cut his mouth, but that he'd swallowed some of the glass and that it was scraping his insides the way it had injured his face. It was truly terrifying.
And also, a little bit humiliating.
You try explaining to a bunch of strangers how your child is a sneaky little twerp who never met a baby gate he couldn't figure out. Very sorry, I try to be a good mother, I see danger everywhere I look, but somehow I didn't predict my son would steal a giant red ornament and bite into it like it was a shiny apple. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even know it was possible. I knew to watch for small things he might put in his mouth and choke on. I didn't know that even giant items way too big for his mouth were also such a threat. Live and learn.
Which brings me back to my youngest son, who has joined the ranks of making his mother look like a crazy person. The difference is that my older boys made me look irresponsible. Bastian decided to make me look overly-responsible at best, which is a nice way to say he made me look overzealous and stupid.
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Let me give you some backstory. For three or four days, my ten-month-old child would randomly start gagging and coughing, making us worry he was choking on something. Chase and I would check his mouth, flip him on his stomach, pat him on the back, all the things you're supposed to do. Nothing ever came out, the moment would pass, he would be breathing fine, everything seemed okay.
But then he'd do it again.
At least twice, he even gagged to the point of throwing up a little. Or he'd start crying. It was freaking me the fuck out. Naturally, I turned to Google.
The first thing that popped up was something along the lines of "Mum Shocked To Discover Toddler Had Toy Stuck In Throat For Two Weeks" - because, of course. So on one hand, I told myself that that must be a rare occurrence and surely that's not what was going on with Bastian. But then I kept thinking about how my son was born with his intestines outside of his body, so was it really that much of a stretch to believe he'd swallowed something he wasn't supposed to?
It was a Saturday and the pediatrician's office was closed, but I couldn't wait, because what if he STOPPED BREATHING in the middle of the night, or what if it dislodged from his throat just to get stuck in his intestines and he'd need ANOTHER surgery? I called Urgent Care, they sent me to the ER, where the necessary x-ray machinery was located.
The hospital staff was very kind to us. They assured us it was better to be safe than sorry, which I appreciated and agreed with. And yet... there we were surrounded by crying, coughing, feverish, injured kids in a children's hospital waiting room, while our baby babbled loudly (indicating there was nothing blocking his airways) and happily played with his toys.
Over and over again, I got to explain - to the administrative staff and then the nurse and then the tech and then the doctor and the x-ray team- that my son, who is not blue in the face or struggling to breathe or having a hard time nursing, MIGHT have swallowed something that I didn't witness and it MAYBE was lodged in his throat because Google told me so.
By the way, that kid did not gag or cough one single time in the three hours we were there.
They monitored his vitals, did the x-rays, ran the tests. What did we learn? We learned that our son has taught himself how to gag. For fun.
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The doctor kindly mentioned the possibility that Bastian was experiencing some unusual, sporadic form of reflux. But I saw the way he and the nurse exchanged glances. We all knew the truth. I was there for nothing. I'd made Chase haul ass to the hospital right after work on a Saturday. I'd subjected Bastian to a bunch of annoying and scary testing. For nothing.
But then again, it's not for nothing, is it? It's for peace of mind. It's for the assurance, because even though you're human and you make mistakes (like accidentally letting one of your kid sling bleach into the other one's eyes) at the end of the day you're a good parent who loves her kids and will spend part of your weekend at the hospital no matter how boring and inconvenient it is.
There's one thing I know about parenthood. Whether your kid is trying to climb under the bathroom stall at a public restroom, telling his teacher how much you like to say the F word, or fake gagging himself just because he can, being a parent means your kids make a fool of you one way or another. It's just part of the job description.