Depending on how you look at it, you can blame the low-price megastore everybody loves to hate (but I need, unfortunately, in this economy), the basic curious nature of small children, or an error in my judgment. But surely something is to blame for landing us in the emergency room last night.
Picture the scene: lunch time in our house after a morning at W@l-m@rt. I learned something important about shopping yesterday - if you go to the store at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, do you know who your fellow shoppers are? The kind of people for whom going to the store is the big thing they will do all week. Let's just say moving down the aisles took a long time. On the bright side, everyone had time to stop and smile at the babies.
Anyway, it took much longer at the store than I anticipated, and by the time we got home, all three of us were tired and hungry. Silas expressed his thoughts through screaming, Asher expressed his by running in circles and doing the opposite of whatever I asked, and I suppressed mine by keeping my mouth shut. So here we are, groceries everywhere, one baby screaming, another bouncing, cartoons on in a (failed) attempt at distraction, and me dicing turkey as quickly as humanly possible. I make his plate, heat the water for Silas' bottle, then move the high chair to the living room.
Here is my first confession - one of many in this post: If I have other things to do, Asher watches cartoons while he eats. Not every meal, not every day, but often. And I don't care. That's it - end of confession.
So I move his high chair into the living room. Asher has the kind of high chair that has a base with no legs; you strap it onto a kitchen chair and it takes up less space. His is strapped onto an old desk chair, so there is room for him to stand between the end of the base and the end of the seat. He likes to climb up (like a big boy) and sit down on his own, and will sit in his chair without his tray and watch t.v. with his milk until his meal is ready. Asher knows what the rules are - he knows he's supposed to sit ("on your bottom") whenever he is on furniture, but he is at an age - and was certainly, in that moment, in the frame of mind - where he likes to test rules. So he'll stand up, look at me, say "bottom!", smile, then sit back down. He's reminding himself, I guess, or hoping for a response - who knows. ANYWAY, as I am chopping furiously and stirring formula and looking for bibs, I can hear him in the other room. Pause. "Bottom!" Pause. So I knew what he was doing (confession #2: I didn't stop him. Now I know better). I heard him repeat the Pause. Bottom! Pause. cycle a few times, then I heard silence. Followed by the unmistakable WHACK! of a child hitting the floor. Silence. Wailing.
I run into the room, and he has hit his temple on the corner of the fireplace. My first thought was, that's a hard way to learn to sit on your bottom. My second was, Thank God it's a wooden mantle, or he would need stitches. He was upset, of course, and quickly developed a purple little goose egg along his hair line. But after seeing Georgia's Mom's son (Georgia's Brother) fall down a flight of stairs and crack the TILE, friends, he fell so hard, without a concussion - after witnessing something like that, a little fall from a high chair just did not strike me as an emergency.
So I held him. Once he was calm, I put him in his high chair (strapped in this time), put his lunch in front of him, sat down with Silas and his bottle, and turned up The Backyardigans. End of story. Right?
Of course not.
We went through our routine. Nap follows lunch, so once he was finished eating I put him down, as usual. The nice thing about a routine is it's predictable, and like the sun will rise Asher will take a two hour nap. When he didn't wake up after 2 1/2 hours I thought I was lucky enough to have more quiet time today. When he didn't wake up after three I became concerned.
At almost 3 1/2 hours, I went in to wake him up. He stood up and got out of bed easily enough, but he wasn't himself. He wouldn't give up his pacifier (a sure sign he's still sleepy), and he wouldn't get off the floor. He kept lying down and asking to watch t.v. And here was my grave error in judgment: I should have called the doctor. If I had called then, at 4, our evening would have been so much easier. But I wasn't sure if I needed to, and it was time for Silas to eat again, so I decided to just keep an eye on him.
You see where this is going, don't you? By five, when Brian came home, he wasn't any better. Then Brian changed his diaper and realized his eyes were dilated, and that warranted a call to the on-call doctor. I honestly thought she would tell me that if he wasn't throwing up (and he wasn't), he was fine. Instead she said, "You need to go to the ER. He needs a CT scan. Little kids have very few clues to tell us when something is seriously wrong, and since he's showing some of them, you don't need to take any chances."
To make a long story less long, Grandma came over to stay with Silas, we packed a sandwich for Asher's dinner, and off we went to the hospital. Two and half hours, umpteen books and coloring pages, even more laps around the front foyer, and one scary experience of being strapped down and glided through a tunnel later, the doctor confirms what I have already decided: he's fine. By the time we got to the ER he had perked up and was running and playing again. An hour into it I felt silly for being there, but every time I started to say, he's fine, let's go home, someone else would remind me of comas and use the phrase "better safe than sorry." So we were. We were safe, and we were also sorry. Sorry I didn't check on him and stop him from trying to climb the fireplace (which is what I think happened), sorry I didn't call the doctor at four, when I should have. But we were also safe - his little brain was perfectly normal.
And that's the story of how we met another milestone last night - our family's first trip to the emergency room.