I tell the nurse on the phone that my son has been throwing up for about 32 hours. I hardly finish my sentence before she tells me to get to a children's hospital as fast as I can with him. The tears immediately well up and my chest tightens, when someone says those words, you get scared.
The car ride takes forever, and it feels weird because the children's hospital is right next to where I delivered Eli - and it is dark, late and snowy, just like that night back in April. Except this time, it's my son that's hurting, not me.
We check into the emergency room and the nurses comment on his hair, his eyes, his thunder thighs - the usual trademarks of my son. They check his vitals, give him a stretchy wrist band, then tell us to settle down in the waiting room until we are called. Three minutes after we sit, a nurse calls for Eli. The people around us who were waiting when we got there look at us in surprise.
In the examination room, they give him a hospital gown that looks like a miniature version of the ones I've worn before. Except his has koalas zooming around in green spaceships. It's actually very cute on him, but it makes things real and I think I'd rather just have him in a onesie. Eli's already ripped the wrist band off - anything new on him always becomes a toy, zippers, buttons - you should see the kid play with stickers.
We walk the nurse through his symptoms, then the doctor, and a blood test and I.V. is ordered. We find out it is a virus that he can't seem to fight off on his own and the main concern is dehydration and his blood sugar. I'm relieved, but concerned that it requires a needle. How hard will it be for them to get one into his tiny veins?
Turns out it's very hard. Takes three tries in his hand, and two in his foot. Have you ever had to pin down your child while they scream and cry in pain?
I think it is the absolute worst thing I have ever done in my life.
I cried, and cried, and cried, and cried. You all know I'm quite the weeper by now, but I'm pretty sure even the toughest mommas would cry if they had to do what I did.
I told him how brave he was. How strong he was. How much I loved him and how I was here for him. I told him it would be over soon and that this would make him better and that if I could trade places with him I would. I told him all the things mommas should say, because it's all the things mommas truly believe.
We all know an eight month old can't communicate that well. But watching Eli fight to pull his arm free and take his good hand to try to push away the nurse's hand - we all got the message. I was getting ticked at the nurse and was about to kick her outta there and tell her to just let me do it. I may not have any idea how to stick someone, but he was my son and because I'm his momma I WOULD GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.
It's finally in and they've wrapped it up, now comes two hours of fluids, medicine and keeping Eli from going completely off the deep end. The kid can't eat, it's waaaay past his bedtime, and besides being born - this is the worst trauma he has ever experienced in his life, suffice it to say - he is ticked off.
Thank goodness Mike knows how to dance and juggle and make blow up turkeys out of latex gloves. By the end of the two hours, the meds have kicked-in and Mike's the funniest thing Eli's ever seen.
We go home but not before swinging through the McDonald's drive through. Terrible parenting? Well, I think awesome parenting. Mike and I both missed dinner because we were in the ER for so long, and we are terrible parents when we're hangry. So really, we stopped for Eli - not for us at all.
Although I do have to admit, it was surprisingly busy at midnight, and while we were waiting in the incredibly long drive through line we kept looking at each other and questioning that thought process.
It took a few days for Eli to get back to normal, but today all that's left as a reminder of that night are a couple bruises on Eli's hand and foot. It was horribleterrible, but I'm thankful he doesn't remember it.
It's not the first time I've been scared for Eli and I know it won't be the last. When you're a mom, you know most stuff isn't life or death, but sometimes you can't help but go there. But I think our worry is what makes us good in crisis. We will stop at nothing to make everything better for our babies - even pinning them down and making them experience pain for reasons they don't understand. In the midst of it we are affirming them, comforting them and soothing them and telling them this is not what you as their parent want to do, and you wish things were different - but you are loving them in a way that is for their ultimate good.
When I think about it too much, it makes me nervous for the hard things ahead. But then I remember how it all turned out okay. Eli's back to bouncing like a maniac in his jumper and sitting on Mike's shoulders while attempting to pull out every single hair on his head. The tough times are fleeting and they are not the only things life is made up of. They will pass and soon each becomes a distant memory of koalas zooming around in green spaceships.