Note : Some sensitive material of a medical nature and some swearing involved.
We almost lost my youngest back in 2011, when he was around sixteen months of age. Most people don’t know anything about it because updating my Facebook status isn’t the first thing on my mind when frantically pacing the hallways of the intensive care unit. It’s not something I like to talk about anyway, but will in order to make the point I intend to make with this blog post.
For Halloween 2014, my son wanted to be Elsa. As in the snow queen. He wanted the boots, the cape, the hairdo, and to be belting out Let it Go instead of trick or treat at the top of his lungs. He practiced everyday, with my scarf tucked into the back of his shirt as a cape. This, of course, causes me and my husband some concern.
If you’re wondering why, you obviously haven’t been through the hellish rites of passage known as elementary and high school or you’ve stoned yourself enough to have forgotten. I can just picture the scenario where some smart ass, ignorant fuck of a child, with parents who share similar attributes, introduces the word fag to my sweet little boy. And this will start the cycle of self doubt and insecurity in him, he who just wants to sing Let it Go and be Elsa the snow queen for Halloween, darn it.
While he walks around the house clutching his Thomas and Friends trains to his chest , I wonder what will become of my baby. That’s what he is, after all. My youngest and most likely my last. It’s something I wondered around three years ago, too, when he lay in my arms, only half conscious, while we drove him to the local hospital’s emergency room from his pediatrician’s office. He had fallen in and out of consciousness that day, pooped a diaper full of blood, and had spent the whole week clinging to me, not wanting anyone else and not willing to let go. I felt like a mother kangaroo. It had gotten so bad that at one point, I walked out of the house as soon as my husband walked in after work. I told him I was going out and to not call me. I drove to the nearest park, turned the car off, and cried.
Two doctor visits with the same doctor at our son’s pediatricians office earlier on in the week had resulted in a diagnosis of allergies. Twice. But the third time we took him in, right before being sent to the emergency room, a different doctor took one look at him, saw the potential for a lawsuit due to her colleague’s inability to recognize a child near death when she saw one, and sent us on our way to the local hospital, where they hypothesized about what exactly could be wrong with my son until a test for his hemoglobin levels returned at a level of 2.2. Normal for a child his age is around 14.
A blood transfusion and an ambulance to shift us to the larger Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago were ordered. They loaded my son into the ambulance with the blood transfusion and an oxygen machine going side by side. The nice paramedic tried not to make it obvious that he had to keep adjusting the oxygen levels because my son was having difficulty breathing. We arrived at the emergency room of Children’s Memorial. Surgeons, nurses, emergency room doctors, and the nice paramedic all crowded around us. I’ll never forget the feeling of being cared about that I got from that crowd. It was in stark contrast to the vibe I got earlier at the other hospital. One smiling, calm face after another introduced his or her self to us and asked that we tell them exactly what was going on, in detail. Their demeanor made me think that med school must have taught a course on keeping your shit together in the face of doctor doctor please please please fix my kid.
My son was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, caused by too much milk in his diet, which we were giving him too much of because he had been refusing his food while sick. Have you ever heard of death by cow boob juice? Me neither. Apparently the dumb fuck of a pediatrician who diagnosed him with allergies couldn’t connect the dots when I had told her he had been on just milk for days and that he had swelling all over his body. Swelling is a classic symptom of iron deficiency anemia. I’m guessing she pulled the degree from Rush out of her ass.
After spending three days and two nights in the hospital, one of which was in the ICU, we got to take our son home, which isn’t something every parent gets to experience when leaving a children’s hospital. I realize we were the lucky ones. I will forever be grateful to the doctors and nurses at Children’s Memorial. How they manage to keep their smiles and their sanity intact with the kind of work they do is a mystery to me. I know I would’ve gone bat shit manic depressive a long time ago.
It’s been over three years since then and the road to raising two young boys has been only slightly bumpy. Until this one big bump of my son sometimes wanting to be a girl. Eighty percent of the time he’s fine with being a boy, watching Thomas and attempting to beat up his big brother. Then there are those moments when he wants me to buy him a purse with his favorite princess character on it. Confused much?
I’ve thought about it, and really, the only thing I’ve wanted from my sons ever since they were born is for them to stick my husband and I in the same old folks’ home when we get to the diapering and spoon feeding part of old age, so that we can crap our pants at the same time, eventually croak together, and I can graduate from the school of life with full nagging honors. Oh, yeah, and for them to be happy. Super happy. When you’re a parent, all that matters to you is that your child exists. Parenting is a one way street. You give and don’t expect anything in return, although there’s a very good chance you’ll get a lot back. I don’t see how it’s possible to add fine print to the contract that was to love my kids forever.
So no, I don’t care if my son wants to be a queen, either now or twenty years from now. I don’t care who my boys marry or don’t marry or if they go live with cows on some ranch in Montana. I just hope that once in a while they’ll leave their bovine pasture and come see us, especially when my husband’s telling the nurses he’s fine with being donated to science as long as it gets him away from me.