Continued from Bumpgate 2017: Part Deux…
July 10th, 2017 (still)
And I did exactly what you think I did. I panicked for the second time. “Oh God, oh God, oh God–”
“Babe,” Sean’s said, interrupting me. I had forgotten that he was still on the phone. “I need to go pick-up C. (my oldest step-daughter) from volleyball. We will meet you at the hospital, ok?”
“Ok,” I said. He hung up. It was now me, Nurse Daphne and my panting. Because I was running around the house, looking for something. What I was looking for, I have no idea. I mean, the thing was for Frog and it was vital and had to find it immediately, whatever it was.
“Oh God, oh God,” *pant, pant*, “Oh God, oh God,” *pant, pant*, “Oh–”
“Ma’am,” Nurse Daphne said. “Ma’am, I’m going to–”
“Oh God,” *pant, pant*. “Oh God,” *pant, pant*. “Oh God, *pant, pa–”
“I’m going to need you to calm do–”
“Oh.” *pant, pant* “God.” *pant, pant* “Oh.” *pant, pant* “God.” *pant, pant*
“I need to go,” *pant, pant*. “I need to–Oh God,” *pant, pant*
“Ma’am!” Nurse Daphne shouted. And me, and my panting, we froze. I didn’t think it was possible for Nurse to yell. Nurse Daphne is definitely not a yeller; I must be pretty bad, I thought. What I was doing, what I sounded like, must have been pretty scary. And then I saw myself, in the master bathroom mirror (I happened to be the master bathroom). And my reflection was astonishing. I looked shocking. I–I didn’t look like me. I looked like a character from a movie, like I was wearing a costume and the make-up people had done a really excellent job with shadowing. I was in a baby-stained, over-sized red t-shirt. My eyes were red too and puffed out. I was un-showered. My greasy hair was pulled away from my face but somehow, through all the grease, bits and peices managed to poke out. And my face looked hollow even though I was still thirty pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight.
“Yes?” I squeaked.
“Do. You. Want me. To help. You.”
“I can help you. Let me help you,” Nurse Daphne pleaded.
“Yes,” I said, still looking in the mirror. “Help me.”
Here’s what Nurse Daphne did. Nurse Daphne called 911 for me. Nurse Daphne answered the 911 dispatcher’s questions in thoughtful, complete sentences and prompted me to chime in with details. When 911 said they were sending someone, Nurse Daphne stayed on the phone. She asked me about my son’s name. She told me she loved it. I told her that I knew Frog’s name really early on in the pregnancy and that I was also certain Frog was a boy from the beginning because his presence in utero felt so undeniably male. She asked me if I thought his name matched his personality. I told her yes. And Nurse Daphne, she stayed with me. She stayed with me until the ambulance arrived.
“Ma’am, I need you need to calm down.” A stalky, athletic-looking paramedic climbed out of the ambulance and he was concerned. I had taken Freaked Out Melanie and apparently, despite Nurse Daphne’s hard word, she was still quite shocking. And jumping up and down. And waving. And perhaps shouting. Just a little shouting.
I led them into the house, and up the stairs to my Frog. He was still in front of Baby Einstein, and kicking his feet joyously. Happy, alert, and still himself.
The short one–the one who had told me to calm down and was obviously in charge–walked over and knelt beside Frog. “Can you take him out?” He pointed to the baby seat.
“Oh, yes,” I said, sitting down. I unbuckled Frog and pulled him in my lap. I pointed to the spot on the back of his head and the paramedic gently touched it. “It looks a little swollen,” he said.
“Yes,” I said, looking at the spot. “I think it might have gotten bigger.”
“Did he loose consciousness?”
“Which hospital do you want us to take him to?” he said, standing up and motioning to the other EMT.
“Texas Children’s,” I said.
“Ok. You probably want to get a bag together for the hospital.”
“Right,” I said, standing. “Um–my daughter is here. Can she come too?”
Right. *breathe*. Ok. So, I need to get a bag together. For Frog. For the hospital. Because we were going to the hospital. Frog, me, and E., we are headed to Texas Children’s Hospital. Um *breath, breath*. Ok, um…Frog was still in my arms and what’s the protocol here. Do I put him back in the seat, in front of the TV? Or do I carry him around with me? Or do I…?
“Do you want me to take him?” the short one asked. I hesitated because our Frog is, uh, reactionary. ‘Stranger danger,’ has always been very, very real thing for our Frog and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep whatever calm I had if Frog lost it. But carrying him wasn’t an option; I was trembling too much.
“Yes,” I finally said, slowly passing Frog over. And the most amazing thing happened: Frog immediately took to the guy, like I’ve never seen him do ever in his life. He was totally chill. Our Frog. Chill. I KNOW! No fussing, no crying, nothing. And Kermie watched from his perch, happily in the arms of a short stranger, while I darted and vibrated around trying to get everything together for the hospital.
“Do I need his car seat?” I asked the other paramedic.
“Well, we’re going to put you in the stretcher and you’re going to hold him until we get to the hospital,” he said.
“Ok,” I said. No need to bring the car seat then.
“I’m going to text Mommy and let her know we’re in an ambulance,” E. said nervously. We were on our way to Texas Children’s and E. hadn’t said much.
“Call your mother,” I said, from the stretcher and moving Frog from one arm to the other. “And the first thing you say to her is, ‘I’m alright, everything is ok, and then tell her you’re in an ambulance with me and Frog.'”
Frog began to fidget in intake. Fidget and whine. And fuss.
“Did he loose consciousness?” the nurse asked.
“No, he did not,” I replied crisply.
Sean, C. and C.’s friend met us shortly after Frog, E. and I had been placed in a shared room. We were separated from the other family by a curtain and our space was small and barely maneuverable. The five of us plus Frog, packed in alongside the hospital bed and the weird hospital equipment.
At this point, almost two hours in, Frog was not pleased. Not pleased at all. His whine and fuss had turned into full-blown cranky because he was hungry but I had been told by hospital staff not to feed him until he saw the doctor. Great. Not a problem. I’ll just continue to hold my squirming, screaming, hungry six-month-old in this hot half-a-room populated with two hungry, smelly just-from-volleyball-camp teenagers, one freaked-out pre-teen and a very concerned husband. Not. A. Problem. I’ll wait, patiently. I’ll patiently wait for the doctor.
My cousin came to the hospital and left to take our step-daughters home. Sean had gone to escort C.’s volleyball friend to her mother, waiting in the car on the opposite side of the building. So Frog and I were alone, waiting. Still. Still patiently waiting for the doctor.
But instead of the doctor, two nurses arrived. One of them was shouting questions at me (because Frog’s hysterical crying was, ehem, loud) and the other was attempting to hook Frog up to a pulse monitor. “Did he loose consciousness?” the nurse shouted brightly.
And I lost it. Not, like, panic lost it (I had already done that twice). No, more like ugly-cry lost it. And this when being a Claire Danes crier comes in handy because ugly cries invariably tend to shift the priorities. Suddenly, the nurses were less concerned about information and/or the hospital equipment. The top priority became getting the permission from the doctor to feed my screaming baby.
Miraculously, I got the go ahead to feed Kermie about three minutes after my meltdown. When Sean returned, I happily fed Kermie and regaled him with what had happened during the eight or so minutes he had been away. Sean was horrified and amazed. And then, Frog passed out in a heap of exhaustion on the hospital bed. He was quiet. He was still. Me, Sean, and a sleeping Frog. Weird.
The doctor examined Frog about fifteen minutes later. The doctor was heavily pregnant and worth the wait. “Maybe he’ll sleep through the whole exam,” she whispered hopefully and gently rolled Frog onto his side. She asked me the same questions, starting with, “Did he loose consciousness?” (because of course) but I wasn’t annoyed, probably because Frog was quiet and because I’d finally gotten to the gatekeeper.
Frog stirred at the end of her examination but he was happy. And the doctor sat down next to me. “We have very good protocols,” she began, “that tell us when we need to do a scan. And those protocols tell us we don’t need to do a scan. A scan would do more harm than good.”
“Really?” I said.
“He’s going to be fine,” she told me. And I broke down. Again. But this time, not out of fear. Not out of overwhelm or frustration or exhaustion. No. This cry came from a different place: Relief. Relief is a beautiful, wonderful thing. And it was mine. And we could go home. And–wait. How were we going to get home without a car seat?
Two days later, many hours after getting the car seat brought to us at the hospital and many hours after my many meltdowns, I was on the phone with a nurse at the 24-hour nurse line. This time, I had made the call.
“Hi,” I said, tentatively. “This is Melanie Coerver and I spoke to Nurse Daphne two days ago about my son. I just–can you give me her address or her contact information so I can send her some flowers or a card?”
“No,” the not-Nurse-Daphne nurse said. “For safety reasons, I can’t give out that information.”
“Oh, right, yes,” I said, embarrassed.
“But I can pass her a message for you.”
“Oh yes,” I said, gathering myself. “Will you tell her,” I said, beginning to tear up, “that he’s ok. Tell her that my son is ok and I couldn’t have,” I was crying now, “done it without her because I was just, I was” yes, I was full-on sobbing now. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I just–”
“It’s ok,” she said in a soothing voice. “We get this all the time.”
Bumpgate, 2017. May there never be a 2018, or 2019, or–you know, let’s just not do this again. Deal? Please and thank you.
Psst! Do you want more Frog in your life? No problem!
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