I Want My Mommy!

There are mothers out there who don’t want anyone’s opinion, ever. Mom, butt out. Grandma, take a hike. You had your turn, now it’s mine.

I am not one of those mothers. But I’ll bet even they sometimes want nothing more than to run to their own mommy.

Over the weekend, Julianna resumed waking up during the night, and Nicholas was clingy enough that I suspected he wasn’t feeling well. Last night when Julianna woke up crying, I knew right away that it was different from all the cries that have been driving me crazy these last few weeks. There was a low, hoarse note to it that told me we were being rerouted into the land of upper respiratory distress again—a destination we’ve visited three times in her two years, and two of them landed us in the hospital.

But I couldn’t go to her because Nicholas was belly-to-belly with me. That is the only way we can get him to go to sleep some nights, and last night he just would not stay asleep unless he was facedown on my chest. So I woke Christian and sent him in to Julianna. Shortly he came back for his pillow and moved into her room for the night.

This morning, every breath was a wheeze and every laugh sounded like a seal, but she was cheery and energetic and giggly—totally herself. I called for a doctor’s appointment just as a precaution. But by the time we made it to the office, bright and cheery had gone the way of the dodo, to be replaced by miserable, slobbery, and—by the time we left the doctor’s office (nearly two hours later, I might add—who do these doctors think they are? That kind of rotten service warrants a free meal at any restaurant; why do doctors get paid exorbitant amounts no matter how bad their customer service is?)—she almost had no voice left at all, she’d been crying so long and so hard.

Three children, two hours, one examining room. A sick toddler, a hungry newborn, and a bored preschooler. So bored that he was twisting himself in the curtain and leaning over Nicholas, imitating his every cry. I thought about opening the door and moving the whole party into the hallway so the staff would have to share in my torment, in the hopes that it might spur them to slightly more timely service.

And then the resident simply told me to give Julianna albuterol every four hours, and come back tomorrow.


No, I didn’t say it. But then, she didn’t give me the chance, either; she was already on to “and if it gets worse, go to the emergency room,” which took the wind out of my already deflated sails.

Three guesses where we ended up this afternoon. Hint: not Disneyland.

We made it from December 2007 to May 4, 2009 without a hospital admission, but our streak is broken. Tonight, Julianna is in the P-ICU again. For croup, this time.

Do you ever wonder why you bother going to see a doctor in the first place?

I spent this entire wretched day racking my brain for someone I could call for help. Christian narrowly escaped being ordered to drop everything and get his butt home. My next thought was, Mom? Can Mom tell me anything about how to handle this by myself? Surely she had a sick toddler and a hungry newborn at the same time at some point.

In the end, I talked myself out of calling anyone at all, but only because I knew that what I really want is for someone to take over my job…and that’s hardly an option, is it? Or at least, I want a list that goes point A, followed by B, followed by C, covers all contingencies, and has a 100% certainty of producing the desired result. Yeah…right.

So instead, I just sent some silent screams heavenward, begging frantically for one child or the other to calm down without my help. And then I began racking my brain for solutions to the problem, that being: two children who both genuinely need to be held and comforted constantly, yet who cannot occupy the same space, for fear of the 6 ½-week-old baby catching what the 2-y-o has. What I ended up doing was assessing which of them had the greatest need at any given moment, and let the other one cry. Nicholas needs to eat? He gets held. Nicholas is just wanting comfort? Tough luck, Julianna needs me more. It’s like Solomon cutting the baby in half. How do you choose? How do I ignore the newborn, who doesn’t understand what’s going on? How do I ignore Julianna, who is so scared that she can’t get to sleep for panicking with every insufficient breath?

Christian was waiting for us when we reached the ER, and that eased things considerably.

When we dream of having children, these are not the moments we envision. But we know they’re implicit in the experience. What is not implicit is the circumstances that make things harder…like a two hour wait in the doctor’s office. Circumstances tend to ratchet our expectations up or down. Right now, I’d be happy if they could get an IV started, because I know she’s desperately dehydrated. 😦