Odds are you have already been to the emergency room with your little one. If you haven’t, don’t worry you will. And you will get through it in one piece like I did. I don’t think any parent gets to escape the emergency room visit, especially moms of wild tiny human boys with no fear.
My first emergency room visit wasn’t a result of my son’s inclination to run head first like a bull into something or jump off anything with height. It came unexpectedly during his bath and was scary as shit. Mid bath, Mason spiked a fever, went limp and unresponsive, and as we took him out of the bath, and threw clothes on him while running him to the car to take him to the ER, he projectile vomited everywhere. Covered in throw up and not caring one bit, we sped to the hospital.
It turns out Mason had a febrile seizure. What the fuck is a febrile seizure I asked the doctor. I just saw my son go completely white while his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he was unable to move or talk. No-one told me my little baby boy could have a seizure from having his fever spike too quickly. No-one prepares you for the moment your child suffers from something unexplainable and you are helpless and the only thing you can do is throw him into the car seat half-dressed, take him to the hospital, and pop an Ativan while you hold your baby, wait your turn to be seen, and pray it’s nothing serious.
It wasn’t serious. After throwing up, he started to come back on his own. A round of Motrin followed by a round of Tylenol took the fever down, sent him off to sleep, and he woke up good as new. Mommy on the other hand needed more Ativan to fall asleep that night and stay sane the following day. I fully realized then that this parenting thing is no joke and there is nothing more frightening and heart-wrenching then watching your child suffer.
The abridged aftermath of this experience is that the febrile seizure led us to follow up with my son’s pediatrician, who had us then see a neurologist just to be safe, who decided she would like to do an MRI, which required him to have a blood test to make sure his kidney function was normal. She called with the results. I didn’t answer, so she called my husband, who was in Texas on a business trip. He called me. Mason’s kidney function was normal., but we needed to go to the emergency room right away. His liver enzymes were freakishly high for a two-year old. What the fuck did that mean? Okay Jen, be calm and stay off Google and WebMd. Easier said then done. According to the Internet, my son was either an alcoholic or had Hepatitis.
I would like to mention here that every single one of my family members who live here were out of town that Friday. My husband was in Texas, my brother in law was in Florida and my father in law was out of the country. Thank God my nanny was still at the house when my I got that call because she came with me to the hospital. She stayed with Mason and me the entire time–during the blood test taken to determine if the liver enzymes were just a fluke–they weren’t–during the ultrasound of his stomach and liver. And when every test came back inconclusive and they broke the news that we would be spending the night in the children’s hospital, she stayed the night too. My amazing nanny who is part of my family filled in for my husband, and every other family member who couldn’t be there to hold my hand while my heart broke watching my baby boy be poked and prodded by nurses, doctors, needles, and then put in a crib that looked like a zoo animal’s cage to go to sleep in.
My wonderful in-laws rearranged their trips, allowing my husband to arrived the next day. I was so relieved to see him. I needed his support and strength. By this time, Mason had undergone two rounds of blood tests and a few bags of fIV fluid. Still having no answers, we were forced to spend a second night at the hospital. More tests needed to be done. More blood needed to be taken.
I can’t even look at the nurse when she takes my blood. My son, always the curious one, stared at the needle and blood leaving his vein every time they poked him. He didn’t cry and just wanted a band-aid with pictures on it and lollipop when it was over. By this time, my son had become a champ. He smiled and laughed and flirted with the nurses. He probably loved the fact that we allowed him to have the iPad during the entire stay. His mommy on the other hand was a hot mess trying to be a rock–trying to hold back the tears from seeing all the bruises on his arms and hands from where the needles punctured his skin.
Still no answers which meant more blood was needed to test for more causes of unusually high liver enzymes in a two-year old. This part was the hardest. We waited hours for the lab technician and nurse to come back to take what would hopefully be the last round of blood. Of course the moment they decided to arrive, Mason had fallen off to sleep and my husband had run home to walk the dog and get more clothes for us. Alone, I watched as the lab technician found the right vein in my son’s hand, waking him up in the process. This time he cried. No, screamed. Alone, I held my sons’ hand while that man took 10 vials of blood from him. He cried more. It broke my heart all over again. I felt traumatized as I’m sure Mason did.
But after it was over, my son surprised me. I read him a few more books and he fell back off to sleep for the night. In the morning, he woke up smiling and asked if we could go play in the toy room. Of course we could. I would have let him do whatever he wanted in that moment! There, I held on to his IV cart and chased after him as he ran around the room racing cars with another patient. It’s like he could just forget about the night before. He was this strong, resilient, happy little boy. My strong, resilient, happy little boy.
It was then that I realized something so important to my journey as Mason’s mommy. Even though it had been over a year since I beat the postpartum depression, it was one of the first times where I said to myself, “I really got this.” I just went through a traumatizing experience with my son and I handled it. I was his rock. And even more, I was my own rock. It turned out, I got my strength from my little boy and from within myself.. I pulled strength from his spirit and found my own strength in the process. I spent 48 hours in the children’s hospital, watched my son have to wear a hospital gown, sleep in a cage, and endure nurses take more than ten vials of blood from him, but I held it together and held his hand through all of it–by myself for most of it. I was his mommy–his fierce warrior mommy. I rocked it. We rocked it…together.
Not that I ever want to go back to that place again, but in the event of something else coming our way, I know I would be able to handle it. It wouldn’t break me. I wouldn’t slip back into depression or want to run the other way. I would be scared and anxious and maybe cry…a lot, but I would also be his rock, his strength, his fighter, his warrior, his mommy.