You’re home, he’s at work. Your 3-year-old has been wonderfully sweet to his baby brother today. But to you? A “NOOOO!” here and there. A rude tone at other times. Didn’t take a nap, but annihilated his room instead. No major infractions; a kid being a kid.
The baby? Not so much a baby anymore. ScrEEching when he doesn’t get what he wants (scissors are not for babies). But happily destroying anything in reach. He’s running, getting into every cabinet at eye level (but thankfully, you have no need to childproof, because there aren’t creepy chemicals around). Every storage container you own is on the floor, as well as the vinegar, a few vases and some pot lids.
You cook dinner so it’s ready at the precise moment your husband walks through the door. You think of the moment he enters: your apron securely fashioned, your hair done in that perfect bob…you’ll give him a “Hello, Dear,” and a big smootch, leg kicked up and all, when he walks through the door. Oh, Joan Cleaver, I have news for you…
You turn around to find the mess that baby boy has made to keep himself busy. With the 3-year-old’s considerable help.
Once you feed the baby boy, you’re ready to change him into a fresh overnight cloth diaper, then off to bed. Breastmilk, back rubbing, a kiss goodnight, a bottle that looks like a boob filled with water to console him.
The 3-year old graciously helps you clean up. (No seriously, Little L, come help now.) By the time Dad walks through the door, you’re ready to complain. I mean—tell him all about your work around the house and again, “Why did we think baby leashes were wrong?!”
Okay, maybe not. But you’re Done. You want to relax. Take a load off your shoulders. (Grab a good dark beer.)
Then your friend calls. Pulls you back into a reality…different from yours.
My friend is Lindsay. She and I were best friends when I was 19 and 20. We lost touch when I got a boyfriend away at college and started ignoring her—er—when I was busy hitting the books—er—We’re both really stubborn. Combine that with how the world revolves around you in your earlier years? You got it. We lost touch.
She is the one great thing that has come out of Facebook. (Okay, the other great thing is my best friend from junior high who found me, all incognito-like. My sisters still don’t know she’s my “friend” there.) Lindsay found me on FB, and I was delighted.
This was the girl who camped out “homeless” in Chicago with me. This is the girl who poured vodka into my Diet Mountain Dew while we rode the train. This is the girl who saw G. Love at the Metro with me and marveled that I got his Band-Aid when I shook his hand at the end of his show. This is the girl who not only got—but laughed at—every one of my jokes. This is the girl who’d haunt coffee shops with me and do the “creamer” joke with me, embarrassing ourselves fully.
This is my Lindsay, who is now a mom to 3 beautiful girls. And still has that same ol’ rockin’ sense of humor.
Even though one of her daughters constantly needs serious medical attention. She had twin girls 10 months ago. Amazing, strong, surviving girls.
During her pregnancy, they noticed that one of the twins, Elena, had dextroposition of her heart. Think Latin, people. Ambidextrous = you can use either hand. Dextroposition = heart on the other side of the body. That’s what they noticed during the ultrasound. What they didn’t notice was that Elena only had one lung. Her heart had “shifted” to the other side of her body because of the extra space afforded by the missing lung.
Since she was born, she has had a score of surgeries, tests, and interventions. She has coded more times than I’ve heard of…and I’m not sure even the meticulous Lindsay has the full tally. She eats (breastmilk, no less, from this amazing friend) from a G-tube. She has an spit fistula, a hole from her esophagus out of her neck. Her esophagus is not attached to her stomach. Her stomach and intestines also do not connect. Twenty-five percent of her one lung’s airways are 80 percent collapsed.
The girl has it hard, and has gone through so much in her young life.
I am one who had a hard time giving Tylenol to my first child. My Feisty Little Elena was given every heavy duty narcotic in the book and was then given a combo of Methadone and Ativan over the course of months to wean her off. I discovered that an incompetent nurse had overdosed my tiny little baby on Methadone.
Yeah, guys, Methadone. Like as in used to treat drug addicts.
Some wonderful people held a benefit for the family a while back. My proud, proud friend admitted to me in a whisper: “I haven’t touched the money, Cate. I won’t unless Juan loses his job and we have nowhere else to turn.” She could. God knows those medical expenses, the trips to Children’s Memorial, the taxing on the family would have anyone—even you—turning to the goodness of other people.
My wonderful mama friend, Lindsay: How is she holding up through these trials?
She’s still as sassy and strong as ever. Even though her daughter wasn’t home for almost 8 of her 10 months.
She is the medical community’s nightmare in a mother: a professional background in hospital bureaucracy, she is informed, aware, intelligent, and not afraid to speak her mind. Which means that a whole lot of incompetent people are called out regularly.
I banned seven people from touching my child. Most people don’t know that you can do that in a hospital. Having had worked in a hospital (as a Spanish interpreter), I already knew that you don’t just trust someone because they are a doctor. Lots of people hated me, but what’s more…lots of people respected me. I still have nurses and doctors telling me that I am the reason Elena is alive.
Lindsay has said that her daughter is a fighter.
This is where I’m a big believer in genetics. (My baby boy is as stubborn as both Mama and Da combined: trouble.)
Elena is a fighter because life handed her what it did. Elena is also a fighter because she is My Lindsay’s daughter.
So Lindsay called with another hoard of stories. Home care workers who lowered the threshold on the monitor so it wouldn’t beep so often because the baby girl was having trouble breathing. Another who put her on oxygen even though she was having no trouble breathing. People who were both over and under compensating for a situation where they had no idea what to do.
But even my forceful, articulate friend was kind in addressing the problem. She put is succinctly but sternly to the home care nurse company:
Elena is not the type of child who can be taken care of by someone with no experience with babies.
And in all those horror stories the girl gave me? Hilarity. We laughed until I cried. (Just like old times!)
Lindsay knows how to care for her 3 girls, yes, but she also has that precious thing. That elusive meaning of life.
Happiness with her life at all times, and humor to get her through the rough patches.
And on my end? I get perspective. Dude, your life isn’t so hard. Stop complaining. I have two wonderful, amazing, intelligent boys. I have even better stepdaughters. And even though the pregnancy of Baby E has helped me understand a few things about the drama of Lindsay’s parental situation, I know nothing she goes through.
But I enjoy every minute I talk to her. I hope you have someone like her in your life.
Lindsay keeps a blog about the trials and joys of everyday life. From the big sister Evie, who can diagnose Elena’s issues, to Lainey playing with her twin sister Vanessa, the stories are fantastic. Sign on and get the full scoop.
This was originally posted at the Nature’s Child blog. Find sassy and sage advice there.
Image: jbcurio on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.