Parents, What Constitutes an Emergency?

As a parent, we go through stages.  For me, an emergency is all about perspective.   From the time I was a little girl, I didn’t have aspirations to be anything when I grew up (besides a movie star), other than a mom.  It was at something I seemed to know I would be good.

 Unfortunately for me, and for everyone around me, I wasn’t successful immediately, as I suffered two miscarriages first.   My doctor, who, by the way, knew me well, decided not to wait to do the obligatory testing, saying that he usually would wait for a third miscarriage, but “knowing me…”

 All tests were normal except for one errant lab artifact.  There seemed to be no reason for this other than the fact that every time I conceived, I quit smoking and drinking!!  After nine months of trying again, we finally conceived.  I have the only physician in modern times who recommended that I smoke a few cigarettes a day, and drink four oz. of white wine before bed every night.

 I did this, and nine months later, my son was born with a little butt.  (Forgive me… that has always been my husband’s joke).  We fell into parenthood very easily, until… 10 days into his life, our son had to have a kidney scan to see if had both, due to a single umbilical artery.

 Colic set in at six weeks on the nose.  Was that an emergency?  To us, yes.  To the doctor, no.  For four hours at the same time every evening, our son regaled us from the depths of his lungs.  We called the doctor every other night.

 At four months, we were playing with him on the floor, when he toppled over and bumped his head ever so slightly on the leg of the crib.  His screams reminded us of those colicky days, and yes, we called the doctor.  It was an emergency because there was a pink spot on his forehead.

 When he was two, our son fell off of his tricycle.  I had him under one arm and the bike under the other and ran home.  Was this an emergency?  There was no blood.  There weren’t even any tears.  But he fell…

 Okay, so we overreacted.   When he was two and a half, he finally gave us a real emergency.  He mustered the strength to slide a nineteen inch television out of the wall unit, and had I not caught it and flipped it over it would have landed on his head.  Instead, it landed on his hand, crushing two of his fingers.  Into the ice and down the street to our neighbor the doctor, who sent us immediately to the “emergency” room.  He’ll never be a brain surgeon, but he survived.

 My mother always told us that boys are harder to raise physically and girls are harder to raise emotionally.  I think all parents learn to listen, finally, to their parents when they become parents.  My mother was right.

 My daughter crept into our world very quietly when our son was two, and until she could talk (she was a late bloomer) she didn’t create any emergency situations.  That is, until one night, she popped a double inguinal hernia!!!!  At four months, she had turned blue from the waist down, so we left our son in the bathtub (with his grandfather babysitting), and made another trip to the emergency room.  A month later, she had surgery to correct the problem.

 When she was two, our daughter slipped and chipped her tooth on the side of the bathtub.  That in itself wasn’t a real emergency.  It fit her personality… that is, until she developed an abscess and had to have the tooth pulled.  That was rather emergent.

 We were all outside playing one day, and our daughter went inside and locked the door.  This could have presented a plethora of problems.  But that was during my skinny period, and I was able to climb through the dining room window, grab my keys and my child, and go back outside.  Just as a point of reference, even today, I don’t go anywhere without my keys in my pocket.

 The truest test, I believe, as to whether something becomes an emergency is the level of panic it can create.  We had a neighbor who was pregnant, who was extremely panicked over the fact that she had eaten a bagel that had a little mold on it.  Having been through what I had with my pre-school aged children, I had become an old pro.  I was much more aware of what an emergency was and what wasn’t quite as important, so I was able to allay her fears.

 Later that summer, my husband was outside playing with the children when my daughter came running inside to use the phone.  She was all of four.  I said, “Who are you calling?”

 She said, “9-1-1.”

 “What’s the emergency?  What’s wrong?”

 “The kite is stuck in the tree.”

 It’s all about perspective.


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