Monday, October 15, 2012

Lessons from a Broken Bone

I caught my oldest brother (who is both single and childless) eyeing my stomach from across the room, “What?” 

“So, pretty soon you’ll have two kids.” He said it as if no one had ever explained to him how this process works.

“Yeah… and?”

“Isn’t that gonna be a huge pain in the ass?”

Although he said it jokingly and I laughed out loud at the time, that really is one of my concerns. I don’t exactly voice it in those words, but I often think about how I will adjust to the added demands of a second child. Every day I have at least one moment where I wonder how this is all going to work. I have gone from being consistently punctual to chronically late; I have to sit and take a deep breath at least once a day; and I can barely function after 9:00pm. And I only have one kid!

Today I had one of those mornings. Everywhere I looked, another task begged for my attention and I couldn’t seem to make a dent in my mental to-do list. I bounced back and forth between my roles on the toddler entertainment committee and the cleaning crew, and I kept trying to picture a newborn in the mix. Maybe my brother had a point.

Just before lunch, Reese was playing on our bed while I separated laundry. I didn’t see her fall, but I heard the thud as her body hit the bedroom floor. I rushed to her side, trying to determine what was hurt. She pointed to her shoulder. I scooped her up and comforted her while I waited for the tears to stop. They didn’t.

I laid her on the bed and ask her to raise her arms. She only raised the right one. I asked if I could take her shirt off and she refused. From what I could see, nothing looked abnormal. There were no lumps, no swelling, and even though I felt like an overly paranoid parent, I decided to take her to Prompt Care anyway. I threw on a hat and a pair of flip flops, wrapped her in a blanket and carried her out the door in my pajamas.

On the way I called Matt at work and he wanted to meet us there. Great. Now we’re both overly paranoid. When we got there, the doctor wanted to do x-rays. Standard procedure. Or maybe he’s an overly paranoid doctor. I was surprisingly calm the whole time because I kept waiting to hear, “It’s nothing. Go home, put some ice on it, and wait for the bill for this unnecessary visit.”

That’s not quite what he said.

Fractured collarbone. Brace. Sling. Pain meds. Orthopedic referral.

We brought her home and took turns sitting with her on the couch while she watched re-runs of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and snacked on grapes and cheese crackers. The remainder of our afternoon and evening revolved around her. We ordered a pizza for dinner and Matt got displaced to the guest room so Reese and I could sleep in our bed.

As I sit here typing in bed with the computer on my lap and a sleeping toddler at my side, there is a wet load of laundry still in the washer, a dried piece of green Play-doh ground into my living room rug, and a puddle of spilled salsa drying on the bottom of my refrigerator. The messes that somehow seemed so dire 12 hours ago suddenly don’t matter at all. My mental to-do list now contains only one item, take care of Reese. Everything else has either been completely forgotten or termed unnecessary.

I would have guessed that a situation like this might worsen my concerns about having another child. Instead, it eased them - totally. Reese has never had an injury or an illness worse than a cold, and I had forgotten the ease with which this mode of motherhood takes over – the mode that gives us added strength and patience, that blinds us to the rest of life’s demands, that lowers our standards for the condition of our homes and the frequency of our showers, that carries us from moment to moment without a single priority beyond loving and nurturing the children who need us.

That's how a newborn enters the mix. That's how we accept the responsibility of dressing an extra body and feeding an extra mouth. That's how we deal with a child who has the flu or a fractured collarbone. To people who aren't ready for children, I suppose it would seem like a huge pain in the ass. But to the women who already have them, it's life. It's motherhood. And we wouldn't have it any other way. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear! I really hope that Reese is feeling better. She's so lucky to have a wonderful mother like you.