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Children’s Hospital Emergency Services Visit

Cinco de Mayo, a Super Moon and an ER Visit

Ever heard of a “SuperMoon?” Don’t feel astronomically challenged if you have not, over forty years old and I am just now hearing of this myself. In short, a “SuperMoon” is a term used to signify when the Moon appears to be closest to Earth. This past May fifth was one such astrological event and what I thought would be a fun Saturday night star and moon gazing activity with Kim and the kids but my good intentions turned eerily disastrous.

I’ll have to rewind the story to earlier in day… Not too far back tho… Early evening, I had mixed up a frozen batch of margaritas, it was Cinco de Mayo after all, and I had mentioned to Kim the coincidental fact that a super moon and the traditional south of the border springtime celebration coincided. (I’m not sure the history of Cinco de Mayo. Perhaps Mexico’s independence day? What I am sure of tho is that on this day we drink margaritas and eat Mexican cuisine). A plan was hatched to enjoy a couple frozen beverages, down a few tacos, dust off the telescope and find the binoculars for a fun night of sky watching. Harmless, right?

Around 8:30pm I scouted for the best spot to set up the telescope. The luminescent glow of a big bright moon was breaking the horizon line behind a row of tall trees directly across the cul-du-sac from our house. Attempting to find a decent lunar gazing location was frustrating, finding a clear shot of the ascending moon was impossible and it would take at least thirty to forty minutes for the moon to rise above the trees.

Higher ground is what we needed and I told the family that we must walk up the street to the elementary school for a clear unobstructed view, (ie, I begged Kim). Mobilizing quickly, the kids stayed in their pajamas and flash-like found flashlights. I cautiously disassembled the telescope and gently placed it in our green and red Little Tykes wagon with Sophie who was playing flashlight tag, my face being her target. Everyone except Hailey was excited for our sky watching expedition. She sometimes has issues with unanticipated change of plans, her main complaints being that she was in her nightgown and didn’t want to walk up the ‘big’ hill to the school. She had many other grievances as we marched toward our destination and I’m not even sure what those grumblings were; I let her cries drown in the bask of an ever brightening moon-lit sky.

Keeping track? It is now 9pm, we have four tired (one incendiary) yet excited little girls, a gargantuan full moon, Kim and I had consumed a pitcher of frozen Margaritas. What could possibly go wrong?

With flashlights brazened, we trudged up the “big” hill, (something we do almost every school day morning) to a steep narrow staircase that leads to a side entrance of the elementary school grounds. As we crested the last cement step the SuperMoon came into full view and it was strikingly magnificent.

Olivia (8) was fascinated, pressuring me to immediately get the telescope setup and I hastily chose a dark location, (better for viewing stars, but not so great for watching children) right behind the school at the apex of three terraced fields. Hailey (7) and Kim coldly bickered. Elizabeth (4) blasted into an elliptical orbit around Olivia and me while I was focusing the telescope on the oversized moon and in her exuberance she inadvertently enticed Sophie (2) from the Little Tykes wagon to join her in ring-around-the-telescope. Worried that the two little rockets would de-orbit and crash-land into the telescope I informed them that they were in a no-fly-zone and to jet “over there” gesturing with wave of my hand to a non-descript location.

In an instant, it happened: I had focused the moon into view and was making a slight adjustment for Olivia to have her first look. Hailey and Kim were still squabbling. Elizabeth darted down a steep shadowy incline that abruptly ends at a three foot retaining wall which drops down onto a black asphalt playground. Kim had hollered at Elizabeth as she was in mid-sprint down the hillside, “Elizabeth! Get back up here now!” Indifferent to Kim’s clear direction, Elizabeth defiantly did not stop, lunar crazed she kept on running down the hill with Sophie following closely in her contrail. Even with the reflective light of the massive moon they were both essentially flying blind. Elizabeth instantaneously stopped directly on top of the retaining wall, however Sophie did not stop and careened off the top of the wall disappearing into the darkness.

Silence, for a brief moment, frozen, for a split second and then an ear-splitting wail. My feet grew wings and carried me swiftly to Sophie. The crying was a good sign but she laid on the blacktop in a crumpled heap. I approached her cautiously reminding myself not to instantly scoop her up knowing that I could damage her little body even worse. She lay motionless for a minute and her cries were felt throughout the neighborhood. Rapidly scanning her body I couldn’t see anything dreadful although even with the radiant moonlight, it was too dark to see. She reached up for me and slowly drew herself into my arms. As she cuddled closer I softly felt her entire body for any breaks and gingerly carried her to the meager glow of the outdoor light fixture above the back door to the school. Using one of the kids flashlights, I noticed right away a large goose egg forming on her forehead, both elbows badly scraped up and her knees a bit scuffed. Intensely scrutinizing Sophies injured little body, if anyone had been talking to me I didn’t notice or acknowledge. I’m not even sure that I explained what my intentions or plans were to Kim or the kids, I didn’t speak a word, they instinctively followed my lead.

With Sophie cradled in a one arm football hold, I picked up the telescope, threw it into the wagon and pulled it behind me. “I got this. I got this.” Kim was trying to tell me she would tend to the wagon, but we still needed to get down the steep staircase so I pulled the wagons’ front two wheels over lip of the first step and waited for Kim to pick up the rear and we carried the wagon down the steps in silence listening to our baby scream.

Briskly walking home I still hadn’t said a word.  Sophie’s cries remained a constant ear shattering high pitch. Rapid fire questions from the kids were being ignored, “Will she be ok? Is she hurt? Is she bleeding? Does she have a broken bone? Etc. Etc. Etc.  I wanted to scream, “I don’t F-ing know! Shut the F-up!” Instead I bit my lip. The short walk back home felt like one of those dreams where you are running as fast as you can but going absolutely nowhere. Then Elizabeth asked, “what happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened! Someone didn’t listen to their mother and now Sophie will probably have to go to the Hospital!” I regretted saying this as the words involuntarily exploded out of my mouth because at that moment, Elizabeth bared the blame and her older sisters let her know this too. “Yea Elizabeth, its all your fault Sophie got hurt!” Oye, sometime I say the worst things at the wrong times and this was definitely one of those moments. Elizabeth hung her head and slowed her pace. I wanted to tell her it was not her fault that Sophie fell, yet that would have to wait because I needed more than a flashlight to examine Sophie’s injuries.

Once home Kim and I quickly determined that an ER visit would be wise. Utilizing a couple stretchy hair/head band thingys I secured an ice pack to Sophie’s swollen head, made sure I had my ID and insurance card then strapped her into the five-point safety car seat. She was bewildered and crying but not as vocally. Before departing for the hospital, I talked to Elizabeth and told her again that what happened was not her fault, however by the look of regret and sadness in her eyes, our brief chat didn’t matter, she felt responsible and worried about her baby sister.

Hospitals are second nature to me; hockey injuries, childbirths, surgeries, illnesses, etc. I have plenty of expertise with emergency rooms although this was the first ER visit for any of my children. Fortunately, our home sits within a five mile radius of at least a half a dozen hospitals .Smartly, I chose (ie, Kim directed me) the children’s emergency room at the hospital where Sophie was born. Her medical information was already in the computer system which expedited the admitting process. All that I had to do before she could see a doctor was to fill out one standard medical history form, show my ID and insurance card.

This was my first experience with a Pediatric Emergency Center and the Children’s ER at St. John’s was great. The staff was quick and friendly however I was asked the same questions from the admitting attendant, the head nurse, Sophie’s nurse, an anesthesiologist and the physician. “Explain what happened?” ‘Umm… parental negligence.’ “Did she loose consciences?” ‘Umm… I almost did.’ “Did she vomit?” ‘Umm… pretty sure my wife hurled when she saw our baby disappear over a wall or maybe it was when she saw this nasty lump growing on her forehead.’

The doctor was confident that Sophie was going to be alright. The scrapes on her elbows indicated that she shielded herself and deflected some of the impact. “Better out than in,” is what the Doc said about the swollen bump on her head and “Better in then out,” regarding our taco dinner. No x-ray, no MRI, no CT scan. The prescription; Ice for the contusion on her noggin and elbows, ib profane for the pain and  polysporin for the abrasions. We were at the children’s ER for almost three hours, it was around midnight and before we departed Sophie was her inquisitive self again, playing with the toys and games that were available to us.

Kim was still awake when we arrived home from the hospital and overwhelmingly relieved to hear the optimistic prognosis. One odd coincidence tho; Elizabeth had vomited a few times while Sophie and I were at the pediatric emergency center. Strange, was Elizabeth sickened with grief? Or was it a metaphysical ‘twin-like’ sibling connection where the side effects of the accident transposed from one sibling to the other? I believe the former rather than the latter, although it was an ominously monster sized full moon and perhaps there is something supernatural about a SuperMoon.

 

Wii Quipped

Kim and I decided that a Wii would be a good family investment. You know, we envisioned happy scenes of the whole family playing interactive games together, exchanging high fives, cheering each other on and spending quality time together, which for the most part became reality except for a few emotional breakdowns due to extremely competitive egos which I will get to later.

When discussing the purchase, I gave Olivia and Hailey the idea of chipping in a few unredeemed gift cards from the holidays to sway the decision in favor of buying a new Wii console. Elizabeth didn’t (couldn’t) object, contributing her unspent gift card too. The fix was in. This past Sunday we piled into the Odyssey and headed to the local Toys R Us where plenty of Wii consoles were in stock. We roamed the endless overwhelming toy filled isles for hours, each of my girls (excluding Kim) indecisive about picking out a small toy and then relinquishing the remaining balance on their gift cards to collaboratively purchase the family gift. Finally Olivia picked out a Littlest Pet Shop toy, Hailey an Aurora doll and Elizabeth a new talking baby doll.

I was hesitant when it came time to enter the tighter than airport security gamer coral and asked the young helpful Toys R Us customer service girl to unlock us a Wii console. “Is this all I need?” I asked. The perky sales assistant said that I may need an extra controller; undecidedly I turned to Kim who gave me the nod. I can drop twice the amount on new inline skates or a new road bike without a second thought, but leaving the store an empty feeling kept me thinking, “Was this money well spent?”

In the van, on the ride home, I turned to Kim and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” She laughed and repeated the phrase back too me.

It didn’t take long to get the Wii setup, but I did have to get creative with the hookup to my ancient surround sound tuner. A lack of auxiliary space forced me to change the VCR’s (yes, we still have one), audio setup, no big deal, I got all my components working.

The kiddos love Mii. They spend most of their computer time on pixiehollow.com recreating fairies so building Mii’s came natural to them. We must have spent an hour on fashioning characters that closely resemble each of us. I secretly desired Kim’s Mii to accurately depict her as she is in real life, sultry and hot, but ironically her Mii ended up bookish.

As mentioned in the first paragraph of this post we experienced a couple emotional outbursts during game play which I am about to explain. The first game we played was Wii Sports Bowling. In the first frame, Hailey knocked down seven pins and failed to pickup any more pins on her second bowl. She stormed off, sulking her way to her room and slammed the door shut. For years I have been explaining to both Olivia and Hailey the importance of good sportsmanship. Finishing a game is an important part of being a good sport and nobody wants to play with a poor sport. Luckily I didn’t have to lecture her this time and Uncle Alan (my brother in law) was there to temporarily stand-in for Hailey’s second frame, by the third frame she had come back to the game on her own accord. Not only did she finish the game she beat Kim and me.

Another Hailey outburst occurred the following day. I had just walked in the door, home from work and Hailey was in her room crying on her bed. “What’s wrong with her” I asked Kim. She said that Hailey and Olivia were playing great together on the Wii, encouraging each other to do well and when they finished bowling Hailey got upset, presumably because she lost. I entered her room and I think she was embarrassed at her behavior because she turtled under her covers. I sat down next to her, silent for a few minutes until she was finished whimpering. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She skirted the root of the problem and said that mommy had yelled at her and wouldn’t let her play the boxing game, which was probably a diluted version of what really happened but I didn’t question any further. I told her that we would play the next day which happened to be a daddy day.

Back to my question, “Is the Wii money well spent?” Yes, I think so.

Flushed Away

Elizabeth with Mom and Dad

Elizabeth with Mom and Dad

Elizabeth is one year old. Already! I am convinced that the earth is traveling around the sun at an accelerated rate. We are the coin in the gravity well or the squashed bug being flushed. Wait, maybe not, because we added one second to 08. Which is fine with me, I needed that one extra second, although it only felt like a half a second.

Time has a way of playing tricks on parents, for example, after I picked up the kiddos from preschool today, someone, ok it was me, left the bathroom door open. Olivia had left a little yellow to mellow in the toilet and I didn’t see that when quickly getting a tissue for a runny nose. I swear my back was turned for two seconds, I thought Elizabeth was playing with all the plastic food stuff that is used for play picnics in the living room/playroom until I heard her splashing and giggling. This is when time slows down, “Nooooo!” I seemingly move in slow motion, not like movie slow motion, more like nightmare being perused by some unseen force slow motion. “Nawt eighn theaighr!” Elizabeth gins at me as I pull her away, time speeds up again as I disinfect her.

“Who left the toilet seat up?! Who didn’t close the lid after making pee-pee?! (I may have said taking a piss). And who didn’t close the bathroom door?!”
Olivia took the blame right away for not flushing and leaving the seat up. I suspected it was her anyhow. “I forgot to flush daddy.” She said nonchalantly from the kitchen table while working on a coloring.
I couldn’t scold her for being truthful and only reminded her, no pleaded with her, for the hundredth time, to try and remember to flush and close the toilet seat. At that time I remembered it was me who left the door to the bathroom open but didn’t admit too it. My five year old is more honest then myself. Why couldn’t I just say “oh, that was me who left the door open”?

Screams of Passion

Originally posted on BabyCenter.com 02/03/08

Elizabeth Rose is three weeks old and has colic. She cries, she fusses and she fidgets. She has the quiver lip, a gaping mouth howl and an ear splitting screech.  Her body stiffens, her legs thrash, and her arms riffle. She is having a fit in my lap right now. Three to four hours of screaming a day which is about half of her waking hours keeps Kim and I rabid, barking at each other over trivial stuff.

On the flip side, Elizabeth Rose is the sweetest, cuddliest, cooiest, already saying “da” iest, little bundle of amazement. She makes heart-warming smiles and has the cutest most perfect spiral of life belly button. She is observant, intensely she focuses on the multi textured brightly colored C-shaped link together toy things that I rattle in front of her. Today while in her hand-me-down portable swing, she clutched and pulled down those same linky-chains that Olivia had draped around the top of the swing.

Kim and I have different styles to deal with the crying bouts. Kim gingerly scoops-up Elizabeth Rose tenderly swinging, swaying, lightly bouncing, digging a path throughout the house while shush, shush, shushing her. Kim will change Elizabeth Rose’s position, pat her, rub her, sing to her, and hum to her. Kim exhausts every effort for hours at a time attempting to sooth Elizabeth Rose.

My approach is more of a cave-man style. When Elizabeth Rose’s high-pitched noises start to emanate I will grab her and check her basic needs. Sniff first then look in the diaper and take action if necessary. I’ll ask Kim when the last time she was fed and take care of that if need be. I’ll try the Boppy Sling and occasionally that will suffice. I’ll carry her around the house football style. But I can only take fifteen to twenty minutes before I give in and lay her in her crib and let her cry herself to sleep or until an hour or so passes and Kim will eventually pick her up and run through all of her bag of tricks.

Kim and I are cagey colic veterans. Hailey, once known as Hailey Wailiey, had colic invetro. Yes, I know that’s not possible, but that’s what I tell everyone. It did seem like from the moment Hailey was born she started crying and didn’t stop until she was six months old. From six months until two years of age Hailey was super sensitive and a read-every-parental-guidance-self-help-book-from-the-library challenge. She still has irritability issues, for instance the stitching on her socks must be lined up just right, if not she will get upset, yell at anyone within earshot, peel the sock or socks off, refuse assistance and is irate until she gets the socks on just the way she likes. If I attempt to help, I must quickly dodge a flying shoe or shoes. I have a saying that I have been drilling into her head for a long time to counter her irrational sock-hops, “Hailey, Sweetie, there are lots of little bumps in life. You need to get used to those little bumps.” I have come to realize that control is her motivation for the majority of her out-busts at this point in her life.

Elizabeth Rose cry’s hard, but her colic pales in comparison to Hailey’s six month long scream-feast. In fact, Kim was so shell-shocked by Hailey’s everlasting emotional storm, it took me over two years to convince Kim that it would be impossible to bear two children with colic. There goes my credibility.

Old Hat

Originally posted on BabyCenter.com 01/16/08 

A month ago, Kim and I were cleaning out our bedroom closet, packing up the non-essentials getting ready for the move to our new house. During the closet clean-sweep I found an old favorite Blues (Hockey Team) hat. Fashioned in the ball cap variety with fading team colors of blue, red and gold, the billed still curved tightly with greasy finger prints all over it. The old hat had been stuffed into a corner and forgotten. I wore that hat daily throughout my college years and even up until Kim and I bought the house that we were now getting ready to sell. I put the old beat up hat on. I figured that it would slide right on without any adjustments and fit perfectly, but I was wrong. It was tight, chaffy and felt unbroken, kinda like new, when I first tried it on so many years ago. Kim asked me if I need to keep the bruised hat. If not, then to get rid of it, but instead I stashed it deep within the box we were packing, un-wanting to give it up and hoping one day it may fit again.
 
Under Contract
Speaking of our move, we have another contract and this time around we agreed on a price. So now we are waiting for the buyer’s financial commitment and awaiting the outcome (the bad news) from the building inspector. If all goes smoothly we will be handing over our keys to new occupants in five weeks. Olivia and Hailey mention the move every day now “Are we moving to Bubie’s today?” It will be good for them, more room to play, quiet cul-de-sac and a big back yard.
 
A day? A Week!
It has been one week since the birth of Elizabeth Rose but it feels like one long day since I have yet to sleep for more than three hours at a stretch. I’m on paternity leave and wishing it could be permanent although by next week I think I will be ready to get back to work. There is only so much laundry, vacuuming, dishes, and clean-up I can do before pleading domestic insanity. Today was Elizabeth Rose’s one week check-up and I took her to see the pediatrician. My baby is doing great. Her hips look good, (something breech babies have issues with), she has topped her birth weight by .1 of an ounce and besides frequent wet-burps during feedings she appears to be in spectacular health.
 
Shopping With Daddy
After the doctor put the seal of approval on Elizabeth Rose, we had a little excursion to Babies R Us for her first shopping trip. She can’t even talk yet and she cleaned me out. A cute purple on purple polka-dot zip-up sleeper, the girl has to have some new clothes. A couple pink hoody-towels, the hand-me-down towels are scratchy and frayed. A girly colors pack of face cloths, the hand-me-downs are grotesquely stained and have lost their fluffiness. Three new 9oz Vent Aire plastic bottles and a pack of old-school Gerber nipples, she collapses the nipples that come with the Vent Aire bottles and yes I know where she should have the nipple in her mouth. A new Boppy sling, our old sling was once willed to my sister Rachel, been through countless infants and its original color no longer recognizable, not to mention that it is back-wrenchingly uncomfortable. And a manly, well as manly as you can get for a diaper-bag, Columbian brand diaper-back-pack, my old pack has had it, the zippers unfunctionally tattered, the stretchy mesh on either side no longer able to hold its contents and a shredded gaping hole in the center divider. A ten minute showing of Elizabeth Rose’s new goodies ensued upon our return home and then Kim asked, “Did you get the lollypops you promised Olivia and Hailey [from doctor’s office]?” No, I forgot to grab a couple free lollies for my two big girls and spent a fortune on Elizabeth Rose, I thought I was being a good dad, but I failed.
 
Old Hat Feels New
Much like my old grungy Blues hat, I figured Elizabeth Rose would automatically fit, I wouldn’t have to make any adjustments and I could keep parenting, business as usual. I have forgotten many little things since the last go around. It took a week to get my diaper changing technique down and I’m rusty slow still getting peed on. Once a master, I forgot how to swaddle, I can’t seem to figure out my old method and in the mean time, rolling her up like a burrito. Her first bath which Olivia and Hailey eagerly helped with, I forgot to uncork the infant tub while rinsing off Elizabeth Rose nearly submerging her. Every child comes with a whole new set of challenges as well as the same old routine demands. They create a completely different dynamic in the family and unlike my old Blues hat Elizabeth Rose can’t be tucked away for future considerations. I have to get comfortable with my beautiful delicate infant and figure out how to make her fit. But it won’t take long, it is old hat.

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