If that doesn’t scare you, this should:
These two pictures are before and after pictures of the penny lodged. And then dislodged.
This is a souvenir of our 7 hour adventure at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Sunday evening.
I told you my baby-est was gonna be the end of me. Then end of me. And what was I saying about lettin’ ‘em be and then just scoopin’ ‘em up and takin’ ‘em to the E.R.? Yeah, well, I only meant that when I fully expect to go to the E.R., right? Not when I think my 18 month old maybe had something in his mouth. And then he didn’t. I swept his mouth as I’ve been trained. Nothing. And then he gagged, threw up, cried. And repeat. About 8 times. In about 10 minutes. And when he started drooling along with it, life sped up. And slowed down. We began making split-second decisions. Who was going? In what vehicle? What about the other children? If I go alone, I’m holdin’ the baby in my lap as I drive, in order to handle whatever comes next – immediately. Not acceptable to my honey. We load everyone in the van. As is. My girl had dressed herself after church in pink tights (showing her flower undies) and a not matching shirt – no shoes, no pants. The baby – in a diaper and throw up. Me – shorts, tank top, no bra, and the dress shoes I wore to church – slipped on as I ran out the door. And the throw up. Don’t forget my throw up covered shirt.
It was the longest 90 mph ride of my life.
My other babies were alternately saying,”Go faster Daddy” and “Is he gonna live, Mama?”
I ran in the door of the hospital with a sleepy, lethargic, drooling baby. But his color and breathing were normal. I clung to that.
They streamlined me like I’ve never seen. “Come on through.” “Come on back here.” “Tell us what’s going on.” “Let’s have a listen.” “We’ll take you straight back to a holding room and get the doctor right here.”
Many professional listeners and they all agreed. His breathing sounded great. But something’s going on. Scheduled for an X-Ray. They explain this contraption. It won’t hurt him. It just holds him still. It’s kind of cold and a tad uncomfortable. He’ll just be scared.
“Do whatever you need. Just fix my baby.”
My sweetie in a raspy voice calling for me, facing away from me, more skinny-looking than before (is he always this small?) “Mommmmy. Mommmy.” I stood as close as they’d let me and from the next doorway spoke so he could hear my voice. My comforts that didn’t comfort. And the nurses that gasped and said,”Oh, there it is! Mom, we’ll have to do a second X-ray.” I looked. I shouldn’t have. Seeing his tiny little grainy image on the screen and this bold bright white circle right in the middle of it. It was just too much.
I was relieved to know what it was. And that it was fixable. I was devasted that my baby was enduring all this. I was scared – what comes next? I was pressured to get it together for my other three children that were waiting for my reassuring stability in the holding room. I was overwhelmed with guilt. Why did I keep such a messy house?
More doctors. More questions. “When was the last time he ate?” “I’ve consulted with the surgeon and I’m not comfortable with the risks of anesthetizing him within 6 hours of eating. The ENT surgeon is certain that he’s stable enough to wait. We’ll schedule your general anesthesia and removal procedure for 8:30pm. Try to relax and make him comfortable.”
My honey leaves with the others and finds Nana to rescue some very stressed, very little people. Daddy made it back to us by 8:24pm. We are catered to while he was away. Warm blankets. Toys, trucks, music makers, books, Toy Story on video in our dimly lit holding area. “A coke for you, Mom?” A baby that is tired, worn-out, hurting, hooked to machines, with bracelets on his wrist and ankle. And a Mama that won’t nurse him in his hour of need.
A procedure that’s delayed until 10pm. A baby taken from me crying. Both of us. I have no one to hold up anymore and my honey catches me.
I feel crushed. By my ineptness. By the hour. By my hunger (when did I eat last? did I really go to church today?). By my guilt. By my doubts (if I just cleaned better, watched better, parented better. if I didn’t have four children..) By the hospital at night. By the mom that I talked to in holding. Her fear. Her tiredness. The other baby in holding that kept pulling his IV out. By the weight of a beautiful facility that would be the dreams of any child, the sweetest night nurses, the most competent doctors, and the inevitable pain and fear behind each door we passed. The realization of how common our predicament is. How mundane. How run of the mill. How simple the procedure for our child. How inconsequential.
And yet. Not.
“He came through it great.” “Here’s your culprit.” “They’ll call you when he wakes up.”
More waiting. More praying. More pacing. My arms are empty.
“Come this way, Mama, and just listen for him. He’s calling you.”
“mama. mommy.” Such sweet words. Such sweet relieving words.
Holding. Cuddling. Nursing. Relief.
The baby-est diapered, dressed and cooed over by strangers right there in my lap. Funny “We’ve been there too” stories. Ice-breakers. A “puh-ple” popsicle. A warm blanket wrapped around not only my baby but me as well. Burritoed together against the newly cool weather and buckled into our safe familiar van.
We spend the next day “licking our wounds” as my honey says.
The thoughts still swirling. I can’t help but think of Christian “Dozer” Drews. I can’t help but ask “Why?” on Marsha’s behalf. I marvel at her faith. I struggle with the desire to clean my house like it’s never been cleaned and the pull to just sit with my children and love them more. I’m so torn. Which one is right? I can’t do it all. I can’t do enough. I can’t be enough. And all the circles of thoughts come to rest each time at the same place of comfort. I can’t. I’m not asked to. He does. He holds our days. He has them numbered before there is even one. And nothing I ultimately do or don’t do changes that. He has us. He has my baby-est. And I’m so glad the pressure’s off me.
TheBaby-est woke the next morning dancing. Laughing. Squealing with all his siblings hovering over him. Checking out his unusual markings from the night before. So much giggling and tickling and loving. So much relief. So many new mercies.