“You might want to leave. 90% of the parents choose to leave during this procedure. It can be hard to watch. Do you need anything? Why don’t you go get some lunch?”
For the second time in 2015, we’re at the hospital.
The first time was to bring my baby Logan home. Now, he’s back.
When I made my way in to our family doctor on Tuesday morning, I questioned my motives. I’m a third-time Mama! Do third babies even go to the doctor? Aren’t seasoned mothers supposed to have it all figured out, not running to the doctor for every little wheeze or fever? Was this just a little wheeze and fever? Logan’s fever had been elevated since the evening. He was crying more than usual and, most concerning to me, he had not wanted to breastfeed at all during the night, even though his cold and cough had him awake often.
“His fever was only 100.7 overnight. Nothing high enough to make me rush to Emerge or anything.” I told my doctor this as he examined Logan; his ears, his throat, his breathing, his temperature. I still wasn’t even entirely convinced that I wasn’t overreacting.
“Actually, I’d like you to take him to the Emergency Department.”
At the children’s Emergency department, we learned that doctors don’t take these kind of illnesses in babies lightly. “This will probably be the most investigated cold in his entire life” a nurse told me. Because of his fever and his breathing, they took blood samples, urine samples, a sample from his sinus, and a lumbar puncture. And then we were admitted to the hospital with the explanation that we would be able to leave once the cultures came back normal – in 48 hours.
And that’s how our 15 minute doctor’s appointment turned into a three day hospital ordeal.*
It was during that Lumbar Puncture that the nurse encouraged me to step out. They had offered during the blood collection too, but I didn’t feel the need to. I’m a brave Mama. I feel like it is my job to comfort this tiny little boy while the medical team do their job. I feel useful holding his hand and rubbing his head and talking to him calmly while they try three times to get a line into one of his tiny hands.
But what do I know about Lumbar Punctures? So I trusted the nurse and left.
It wasn’t until that moment that I started to worry. It wasn’t until I could no longer see and touch and be there for Logan that my anxieties soared.
The truth is, I’m not a worrier about my kids and their health. People are telling me during this event that I’m worried and they reassure me that everything will be fine, but I never really started worrying. I’m the kind of Mama who reserves her worrying for that time when the experts tell me that there is something to worry about. So even though we’re in the hospital, I’m brave. I’m not worried. I have no doubt in my mind that Logan will be fine and that this will all be over soon.
But I nearly had a panic attack when I left him.
It happened again that evening, after being brought up to our room in the Paediatric Unit. Considering I wasn’t expecting a two night hospital stay when I went to Logan’s doctor appointment that morning and that I had our one family vehicle, I knew I needed to make a quick run home. It was rush hour, and we live thirty minutes away from the hospital in good traffic, so my quick jaunt home wasn’t going to be so quick. I felt sick the whole time. Logan was alone in a room and I couldn’t get to him. The nurse’s station was listening to him on a monitor, but after the day that Logan had already had, I didn’t want him to be alone. All that bravery I had vanished when I wasn’t near him.
It wasn’t until last night that my strength faltered. Apparently Mama bravery has its limits, and mine was so stupid. I thought the hard part was over last night. He had already undergone all of his tests and we were just waiting, expecting to be released the following day. But then the nurse came in to administer to antibiotics through his IV line and noticed that the vein was no longer good. They had to put a new one in and his hands and feet weren’t good options anymore.
So they went to his head.
Apparently IV lines in the head is incredibly common for babies and no big deal. But it came as a shock to me. I was expecting to be strong for my baby while he screamed through pokes on his hands, but I was not expecting them to puncture my little infant’s head. I wasn’t expecting an IV line would require them to shave his hair.
I freaked out about the hair thing. Or maybe it wasn’t that that was bothering me. Maybe it was everything, but I vocalized the hair part of it. How stupid is that? But Logan has the most beautiful head of hair. He’s my only baby who was actually born with a whole head of it, even everywhere. And it is dark and lovely. It usually takes moms a year or two to bring their heart to a place where they can cut their child’s hair for the first time, and here we were, 1 month in, shaving a small patch of my baby’s hair off.
But what does it matter in the grand scheme of things? It is just hair.
It is weird to be in a place like this – the paediatric unit of a children’s hospital. Even though Logan has been admitted and has a justifiable reason to be here, I still feel like this isn’t where we belong. Here’s my little, relatively healthy baby and he’s in a place where children are incredibly, heart-breakingly sick. It is hard to even fathom the experiences of the families who are here day in and day out and it isn’t even fair to speculate.
Compared to home, there’s a lot of quiet here. And we’re stuck in this room so there is a lot of time to sit and think and listen. I can’t help but hear the cries. I can handle the baby cries I hear. Maybe they’re just hungry. Whatever it is, they won’t remember it when they’re older. But oh. Those big kid cries. I can’t pretend to shut them out. My Mama-heart aches. My human heart-aches.
There’s not enough bravery to go around. Not from me anyway. But maybe that’s because my bravery only needs to be big enough for Logan right now. And gratefully, that’s not very big.
*Hopefully only 3 days.