Tuesday, December 6, 2011

hold my hand, honey. everything's going to be just fine.

"Hold my hand, honey," I say to Dexter as we sit in the lobby of the Children's Hospital outpatient building.  He's getting impatient and I forgot to bring toys to distract him.

Looking around the lobby and scanning out the windows for Dexer's dada, I mumble under my breath, "where is he?"  The appointment is at 2:30 and it's only 2:10 so I relax (a little) and sit back in my seat.

I text R and tell him parking is hard to find. Dexter is watching me with a furrowed brow and I wonder if he senses my stress.  "Hi, boo boo!"  I throw my phone in my purse, nuzzle up next to his cheek, and smell his sweetness before pulling back to see his gummy smile.  My finger grazes his soft face and just for a second, I feel sorry for myself.

sitting in the lobby, waiting for dada

This is where the really sick kids go.  This is where the kids with cancer and life-threatening injuries go.  Kids from all over the entire state.  That's a lot of really sick kids.  Now I'm here, with my precious little baby, because he has his own medical issue.  It's like we're one of those families with sick kids. 

While we are sitting there, Dexter grasps each of my fingers and pulls them up to his mouth to chew on them.  He plays with my wedding rings without a care in the world.  He gets antsy and I pull him out of the stroller and onto my lap.  And while we're sitting there, I watch.  I wait.  And then I see those really sick kids go by. 

One with no hair. 
One with a tracheotomy. 
One using a wheelchair because she has no legs. 
One who was burned so badly that I couldn't look.

I looked down at my lap because I didn't want to stare.  And because staring made me feel sick to my stomach.  Sick that these kids' moms and dads don't have it easy.  Stupid for feeling sorry for myself.  These parents don't get to experience how annoying it is when their toddler won't stay in time out.  How exhausting it is that their infant still wakes up 3 or 4 times a night a few times a week.

12 minutes have passed and it's 2:22pm.  "Come on, Dex," I say, as I shift his weight to my hip and throw my purse and his blanket in the stroller seat.  "We've got to get upstairs and daddy will just have to come find us." 

Dex gets weighed and measured and R gets there just before the nurse comes in to ask routine questions.  We tell her he's sitting up independently and starting to crawl.  No, he's not really making consonant sounds yet, just vowels mostly.  Yes, he's breastfeeding well and enjoying solids 2-3 times a day.  He's just perfect in almost every way.

Then the pediatric surgeon comes in and takes a look at him.  "Yes, he's got a hydrocele on the right side.  But, you know what, mom and dad?  It's really minor and I just don't do surgery on babies this young unless it's urgent.  Do you live close?  How about you just come back in 6 months and we'll re-evaluate?"

He was really thorough, explaining to us how to tell if the hydrocele was getting better or worse, how to see it best, and what the reasons for removing it are.  I had already done my research and could have told him everything he told us, pretty much.  Ha.  He did not say that Dexter wouldn't have to have surgery eventually, but my 6 month old baby is not going under general anesthesia.  It's something to worry about on another day.  Not today.

feeling sorry for our healthy baby

As we walked out with smiles on our faces and the weight of the world off of our shoulders, I was reminded once more just how lucky we are.  I kissed Dexter's face and said "you got lucky this time, little one." 

While waiting to pay for parking in the garage, I saw more families who spend a lot more time at the Children's Hospital than we ever will (I hope I hope I hope).  My heart is still so heavy for those families.  My bones ache for them to experience what we have. 

Normal.  Boring.  Annoying at times.  Crazy-making at others.

Perfect in just about every way, despite everything else.

happy and healthy


**P.S.  This experience brought to mind the story of a 2 year old boy named Tripp who is dying from an illness called "EB," or Epidermolysis Bullosa.  I challenge you to read Because of you, EB to learn more about how illness can affect a child.  A family.  This post made me cry.  Makes me hug my kids tighter, longer.  Makes me realize how lucky I am and how stupid I can be for complaining about the insignificant.  Please, please read. 


  1. I remember back when my kids were little and they'd do something-anything, that a normal 20 month-old or any toddler of any age would do. My grandma would sense a little frustration at times and say to me, "Just be glad they're normal, healthy little boys...there are parents that wish their little ones could do what yours do." I already knew that, but hearing her say that seemed to put it in perspective somehow.

    Glad that Dex is doing well!

  2. Glad it is not serious! And that your baby is healthy and happy. Hopefully in 6 months things will look even better.

  3. Thanks ladies, we were very relieved. Now we wait and live our lives until the next appointment.

  4. Oh my. I'm so glad the appointment went well and that he doesn't need surgery.
    Parenting sort of feels a bit like dodging bullets, doesn't it? And then when you realize that some parents aren't as lucky the emotions come so hard and fast, it's just hard to describe.

    ps. if you get this comment three times it's because your blog hates me! :)

  5. Oh what a relief for now! I am so happy for you! I know what you mean about perspective - St. Jude's is in my city and I just always try and remember how good we've got it.

  6. Krista, my blog loves you! Thanks for commenting. And Sarah, why did I think you were in Knoxville? Must be the Vol thing... ha!

  7. Haha! A lot of people think that bc of the VOL thing! We actually live in a tiny suburb of Memphis that is juuuust over the state line in MS. However, we both grew up in Memphis and consider and still call Memphis our home. It's confusing!

  8. Well, gah. Now you don't even live in Tennessee? And I thought we were friends!