Road Trippin’

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June 6, 2011 by themommahen

All that build-up before we left, and not one single post about how The Trip actually went. Well, it happened. Just kidding – it actually went really well, all things considered. Especially when you consider I’ve had two six days to recover (this post took me a while) and forget a lot of what actually happened. It’s all now just a blur of fun family time together…doing things like fishing for the first time,

holding baby sheep,

going for a boat ride,

stopping at the Kentucky Horse Park (seriously one of the coolest things EVER)…

I mean, I barely remember the gazillion times we listened to the Tinkerbell and Cars movies. (Is there any way the second one can be as good as the first? I’m skeptical.) Why listened? That would be because five- and three-year-olds do NOT like to wear anything on their ears or heads, including cool wireless headphones. (It’s okay, they might actually be harmful anyway. I’ve always been suspicious of wireless technology. So you mean to tell me there are all these signals bouncing around communicating from one electronic device to another and we’re in the middle of it. And that’s okay? Of course, in true modern hypocrisy, it hasn’t stopped me from using the technology, just makes me question and fret about it.)

And I certainly don’t remember how we had to turn around five minutes after we left to get the inevitable one-thing-we-left-behind-that-we-can’t-live-without, aka, the diaper bag. Naahh, we don’t need no stinkin’ diaper bag. Argh. And I had nearly forgotten that when I went back in to get the diaper bag, I had to go back into the house three times to get other things we realized we had forgotten. So in the end, it all worked out. Except we were then on the road about two hours later than we had hoped, which meant that we had to stop one hour into the drive to get food and nurse Hatchling #3. (If I’d made sandwiches, we’d have been later you know. Much more efficient to stop for 30 minutes rather than spend 5 minutes making sandwiches.) Which then meant we were driving in the mountains at night. Which also meant H#3 would scream 30 minutes from our first night’s destination because he wasn’t in his crib (which really translates to I wasn’t holding him and letting him nurse at will) and we’d have to pull into someone’s treacherously steep driveway and hope to God a) our emergency brake worked and b) no one came out with a shotgun to see who was in their driveway at 11:30 pm. Oh, and that was after we drove through the ridiculous thunderstorm that my Weatherbug app warned me about that put Hatchling #2 into hysterics and made us pull off the road for five minutes. (You see how the minutes add up on a family trip?) Honestly, I love storms but the rain sounded like it was going to break our windshield.

But we finally got there safely that night and checked into our hotel at midnight and fell asleep at 2 am. And prepared for the remaining TEN HOUR DRIVE the next day. Yes, that really was just the first day.

Fast-forward through the next day: five stops, three meals, 450 miles, three missed exits, 20 minutes of completely stopped traffic (thanks I65), four interstates and 11 hours later, we pulled in to Paris, IL, where my WONDERFUL SIL, BIL and nieces all welcomed us with a room to ourselves, pancakes and bacon the next morning and an all-around great time. Then Sunday came, and the husband left for THE RACE (if you have to ask, you don’t know) while we stayed behind to have a wonderful day on the lake with all the cousins. Except we didn’t. Here’s how Sunday went down:

At 10:30 am, H#1 said her tummy didn’t feel good. A frequent complaint of my very tuned-into-her-body five-year-old, I didn’t give it much thought. At 11:30, she announced that she felt good enough to go to the lake party. We got there around 1 and the hatchlings made a beeline for the party with their cousins. I got the bags, sunscreen, hats, stroller, and everything else we needed, schlepped it to the yard in front of the house and started making the rounds of hugs and kisses to everyone we haven’t seen since moving. The kids came out of the garage dripping pink juice from the triangles of watermelon they found in what I can only imagine were the usual mounds of food. I can only imagine because it was about 1:15 when H#1 came to me pale, weak and almost in tears complaining that her tummy hurt again. I took one look at her and knew she was going to throw up. And my second thought after “Oh, no, my baby girl is sick,” was “Oh crap, the interior of this house is spotless and WHITE and she just ate WATERMELON!”

I scooped her up, found our gracious hostess and she directed us through the house to the back bathroom, all the while with me whispering “Almost there, almost there, almost there.” I set her down in the bathroom and I think my exact words were “Good girl, sweetie. Now you can let it go.” So she did and we went back outside and I hurriedly said goodbyes to all of the husband’s aunts, uncles and cousins we hadn’t seen since December and won’t see again for months and schlepped the bags, sunscreen, hats, stroller and Hatchlings all back to the car with the help of the same nieces that helped us schlep it out in the first place. At this point, I wasn’t worried and just assumed it was a tummy bug that I needed to shield the rest of the family (and the white carpet) from. Hatchling #2 was PISSED. He had heard there were going to be boat rides and he really really wanted that boat ride so he had a face on him that broadcast his unhappiness. But he was also torn because he really loves his big sister and didn’t want her to be sick. Especially if he didn’t get his boat ride, so he asked her if she felt better later would it be okay if we came back later that afternoon. She said yes and he seemed okay with that and we drove back to the house.

In the meantime, I texted the husband to let him know she was sick. I don’t know why I did that. He couldn’t do anything to help me, he was at The Race. And all it was going to accomplish was to freak him out, which it did when he finally got the message after the race had ended and he was on his way back. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We get back to the house, and pop in the DVDs. Yes, the SAME Cars and Tinkerbell movies we watched the entire trip all the time because I’m the anal-retentive mom who won’t let the hatchlings watch anything that hasn’t been deemed totally age appropriate. H#1 is lying on the sofa in the fetal position. H#2 is lying on the opposite end of the sofa with his blankets and his pappy (pacifier, not a grandparent) while H#3 alternated between being hungry and tired. I was on the “15 minute watch,” which is what we call it when one of the kids has a tummy bug because usually, if they haven’t vomited a second time within 15-30 minutes, you’re somewhat in the clear.

She sat up at about the 45 minute mark. I almost tossed H#3 in the pack-n-play, ready to assist her to the toilet, but she told me she just needed to go peepee. I breathed a sigh of relief and then she took a step, screamed and collapsed on the floor in a heap. Now, she tends to have a bit of dramatic flair in her (where she gets that from, I have no idea), but this seemed real and I. Was. Freaked. And I don’t freak easily. In fact, if you were to ask the husband, he would tell you that I’m at my calmest when one of my kids or animals is sick or hurt. I was calm on the outside, but on the inside? Not so much.

So there she is, lying on the floor, crying, clutching her tummy saying “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts, really bad big like a giant!” (In our house, pain isn’t on a scale of 1-10, it’s the tiny-like-a-mouse or big-like-a-giant scale.) I help pick her up, but she’s totally doubled over. I ask her to take a step. She won’t. Says she can’t. Hurts too bad. Big like a giant.

I carry her to the bathroom, and get her on the potty. She is crying and saying it hurts too bad to go. So now I’m all about the questions: Where does it hurt? Tummy. On any certain side or in the middle? Middle. Does it hurt down there when you peepee or is it just your tummy? Just the tummy. Does it hurt when I press it? That response is just a scream as I press gently on her tummy. And then I asked her if she thought I needed to call the doctor. The answer to that is always no. No child ever says yes to that. Her sweet little pained voice very quietly whimpered, “yes.”

Oh hell. I quickly called my SIL, because she has three kids and should know if this is normal right? I mean, I know it’s not normal, but for some reason when things like this happen, I need someone else to affirm for me that it’s not normal. She didn’t think it was normal, but she told me what I already knew – nobody wants to go to the ER on the Sunday of a holiday weekend. Especially when it entails the drama and trauma of a small child. As I’m talking to her I realize, hello?! Your pediatrician has on-call hours dingbat. At least I can get some peace of mind from just talking to the doctor, right? So I hang up with the husband’s sister and look for the ped’s number. Since they’ve only been our doctor for five months, I don’t have it programmed, (and it’s this point that I really miss our old pediatrician in Chicago. Loved her and she really knew our kids, especially #1) but I finally find it and get the doc on call.

Guess where she was? At the ER on the Sunday of a holiday weekend with HER four-year-old son. I nervously made small-talk with her because I always feel bad when I call the on-call doc. Yes, I know they signed up for it by virtue of them being a doctor and all, but I still feel bad. And then on top of it, it’s a holiday weekend. And then I find out she’s dealing with some “minor, unexpected procedure” her son had to have that they “thankfully caught in time” while on vacation themselves. Yeah, now I’m sure I’ve got her fulllllllll attention for my kid’s upset tummy.

I talk to her for about 10 minutes and she has me ask H#1 several questions. She rules out anything serious like appendicitis because at that point, there was no fever. But she cautioned me by saying if at any point she did develop a fever and still was exhibiting these same symptoms, we needed to get to the ER, stat. Basically, we get off the phone and I have no more clarity than I did before the call, except what I know for certain is that I got advice from a doc who was distracted and had bigger issues than I did so what if she missed something?

The husband got back and looked pale and wan himself – he is the first one to admit that when something is wrong with one of the kids, his Irish takes over and he goes to the deepest, darkest recesses of the “what ifs.” We work well together – in most stressful situations he freaks out first while I’m calm and then I freak out later when he’s over it. His face told the story – every time she moved and moaned or cried out, he would turn whiter and whiter and would look at me with an even more pained look on his face, which made me even more stoic and encouraging that everything was fine and it was probably nothing, but even I imagined us squealing up to the ER (does a minivan squeal?) and running into an empty hospital where they had to find someone, anyone to perform an emergency appendectomy on our firstborn. Thankfully, that was not the case.

Because she finally pooped. Sorry for TMI, but that’s all it was – severe constipation apparently. Apparently she has the genetic predisposition to becoming constipated (I used to have to add prune juice to her baby cereal) and when she travels it becomes worse. So my images of three kids projectile vomiting all the way home for 15 hours (it’s a 12-hour drive, but we learned to add one hour per hatchling) were not destined to come true. And we were able to tuck our worst fears back into the deep, dark recesses of our overactive parental imaginations. Thank God. Because I know some parents who have lived that nightmare.

The next day, we woke up, the kids went and held the baby sheep and we got to go on that boat ride we missed thanks to some awesome cousins. And then we got back in the car and started our Tinkerbell and Cars marathon for the (thankfully uneventful) ride home, save a few arguments between me and the husband, the day at the Kentucky Horse Park where we stayed too long, and the fact that we had to stop about 10 miles from home so I could get in the back next to my sweet girl who hadn’t slept A WINK in the car. She was wailing because I had told her it was “the middle of the night” (it was midnight) and she didn’t want it to be the middle of the night anymore and she missed her covers – “my covers are so warm and comfortable, I want my covers, I can’t sleep in the caaarrrrrrrr, I want Mommy to come back here, I need a hug!!!” No problem. The easiest request of the trip.

All the way to Paris, the husband kept saying “we’re never doing this again,” over and over. On the way back, he kept saying “this is why we should’ve left earlier,” over and over. Now that it’s over and done with, we’ve both agreed optimistically that we could do this again and next time we’ll just be smarter and better at it. We’ll start packing a little every night and load up the car the night before and make sandwiches and pack a better cooler and get up earlier and leave on time and not argue in front of the kids and, and, and…

Maybe, just maybe we really will.

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