Tuesday, February 15, 2005

DIY Ambulance

No matter how many baby books you read, no matter how much babysitting you do, no matter how much you imagine it, nothing can prepare you fully for how hard parenting can be. I never appreciated how hard it would be to get no more than 3 hours of sleep in a row for weeks. I never knew how hard it would be to do anything else while the sound of my own baby crying her heart out was happening in the other room. I never imagined how scary it would be to care for a sick infant.

And I never imagined I would drive myself alone to the emergency room.

That's what my sister did last night at 2 am. She'd been sick with a cold for about 2 weeks, then got this severe head pain, so bad she thought she'd pass out on her trip to the bathroom. She has twins, and one of them was still sniffly, so her hubby stayed home with the kids and she drove herself to the ER. They were afraid she had meningitis, so after many long hours of testing (including a spinal tap and CT scan) they determined she had a severe sinus infection in multiple sinus cavities, and sent her home with antibiotics and morphine.

I drove myself to the ER about 1 year ago. Something, either a virus or food poisoning, got me up at least hourly to vomit one Sunday night starting at about midnight. By the time I could feel myself getting dehydrated, Anthony was starting to ralph. I knew I had to make it stop, so that meant medical intervention. It was about 5 am on a Monday morning. We couldn't ask one of our neighbors to come over before work, expose themselves to our household, and ruin their sleep before work, just so Anthony could drive me to the ER. So, after I heaved, I pulled on my baggiest jeans and sweatshirt, and forced myself into the car. Anthony felt so bad but he had to stay and hold down the fort. I had to pull over into the WalMart parking lot to barf on my way there. Fortunately, I was seen right away, given Zofran and 2 (!) liters of saline IV, then sent home. When I got there, Anna was in our bed, and both she and Anthony were barfing. Anna and I moved to the couch, where she slept on my chest in between episodes of vomiting. Colin was just a scooting infant at the time, and I guess the breastmilk protected him, because he never got ill, just played with his toys on the floor. I remember apologizing to him as I put him down for his morning nap 30 minutes early, because I was exhausted and I wasn't really able to watch him. He cooed happily in his crib. Later, I took Anna into her pediatrician where she got an injection for nausea and didn't even cry. We all woke up better the next day, and the fog cleared, but it still seemed like we'd been in a time warp and missed a whole calendar day.

When my mom told my dad about my sister driving herself to the hospital, and that I had done it too, he said, "Our girls sure are strong." But, I guess that's the thing about parenthood: you realize you have to rise above the situation, and sometimes you have to seek out help for yourself so you can take care of your family.

Get well soon, Steph.