We sit, tucked in a corner near the restroom. The blue vinyl chairs stick to the back of my legs. I hold his sweaty head to my shoulder and talk quietly to him, trying to keep his eyes away from the colorful decals on the windows and the toys on the floor, lest he want to go and manipulate every knob and turn every crank. Over and over I push my inner germaphobe, back off. I have no time for you now, can't you see I am far too busy trying not to look at child after child walking in the ER door, coughing and being promptly covered with a mask?
The admitting nurse, the triage nurse and the ER nurse all ask, when did he last eat or drink something? Routine, I assume. I didn't know that their trained minds were already whirling and processing and considering the options for sedation.
Children's Hospitals are a place of miracles. Being there still fills me with dread. I have to consciously make an effort to visualize white light, my attempt at keeping all of the anxiety and fear and grief that sneaks out from under the patients doors from seeping into my skin. I feel too much.
A tiny room provides false security and a binky covers up the gaping wound in my babies face. I can breathe in there. I turn on Dora and pull tricks out of my bag. A scarf for peek-a-boo. A book to read too many times in a row. A man knocks and enters. I think he's the doctor. He's the nurse. Right. It's 2009, men are nurses now. Try and keep up, I think. At Children's everyone is very soft and concerned about feelings. He writes his name and my name on the whiteboard. Beneath that is a question. What is important to you today? He asks me. It's obvious, isn't it? Isn't it?
I draw a blank. I want to say; my baby and his lip you know he's just a baby and I don't want to be here and isn't that horrible when there are so many worse things that people have to come here for and I don't want him to be scared or in pain or scarred for life and I hate not knowing what's going to happen next and his tooth you know, it's gone and when I dropped him off this morning he had two front teeth and now he only has one and I am FREAKING OUT on this inside right this minute even though I am trying to appear very zen on the outside so as not to upset the baby. He's just a baby. My baby. My baby who is still bleeding.
I blink a couple of times and say "his health" so he doesn't think I am an unfeeling robot. Ugh. What a stupid answer. He leaves and I hear people outside our cocoon talking of ambulances and pulse-ox and the baby is now on the floor playing with a telephone that beeps and rings and talks to him. I wonder who was in the room before us. I watch the clock, I watch my bloody baby and I wait.
To be continued.... You can read Part I here.