I don’t know what was worse. The testing or Spousal Unit’s reaction to the testing.
OK, I do know. It was the testing. And the lack of an outcome. And the possible scary consequences.
Here’s the story:
We got up at the crack of dawn in order to get to the 8:00 a.m. appointment at the hospital. These days that isn’t so unusual since the Gadlet wakes up at 6:00 a.m. every day. This means that she usually needs a nap at about 8:00-8:30. (This fact will become relevant later on…). But, since she dozed in the car for the 10 minutes it took us to get there, I was hoping that that would tide her over. Yeah, right.
The first set of tests were relatively easy. They were simple ultrasounds. They squirted some goo on her belly and back and took a peek inside at stuff. The Gadlet wiggled and played with the toys I brought while we tried to get her to stay relatively still, but it was pretty simple for the tech to get an image even if she was moving around. All-in-all that took about 20 minutes. It turned out she did have a full bladder, good little eldest-child Virgo that she is, she was following the rules. (Which they amended when they realized how young she is. And, yes, breastmilk is categorized as a clear liquid. Go figure. But, phew, what a relief!) So I think they got some pretty good images.
Then came the hard part. We knew that the catheter insertion would be the least good part of this experience, but still. It was awful. For more reasons than one.
When we got to the radiology lab, the nurses were very nice and introduced themselves and told us about the procedure. They were going to insert a catheter into her urethra, then shoot some dye in there and take pictures. Pretty simple. Then they asked if I was pregnant. “Gasp! Dear God, I hope not!!” was my response. They said, “are you sure?” I said, “Well, since I haven’t gotten my period yet, I don’t know, but I really don’t think so.” But I guess that wasn’t sufficient. They kept pressing and pressing, which ultimately prompted Spousal Unit to exclaim disgustedly, “I’m Sure!!” I chuckled, but the nurses looked aghast. I think they were feeling like that was TMI about our sex life, or lack thereof, and so got embarrassed. But they stopped asking if I was pregnant. Regardless, they decided that I’d have to stand outside anyway when the x-ray was on, just in case. So Spousal Unit had to wear the lead dress. Since his job was to be hanging out with the Gadlet during the x-ray process. My job, therefore, was to help her get through the catheter.
They got everything ready, we stripped the baby down, and put her on the table. At which point it was almost 11:00 a.m. and the poor little kid hadn’t yet had her morning nap. Not surprisingly, she started screaming and waving her little arms to be picked up even before they did anything. I put my face next to hers and talked to her and tried to calm her down, but then the nurses pinned her legs down and started with the catheter. At which point she promptly peed. After a bit of tinkering, Nurse #1 decided she couldn’t get it. In steps Nurse #2. She can’t get it in either. Meanwhile, the Gadlet is belting it out at the top of her lungs. She is pissed, as well as covered in piss, and was letting us all know it. So, we take a break. The nurses decide to send for a pediatric nurse who specializes in this kind of thing. I held the Gadlet, nursed her a little, and got her calmed down. Spousal Unit lurked at the edge of the room and started asking questions about the x-ray dosage she was going to get and how many kilojoules or metaohms, or whatever measurement they use, and why she needed this intense of a dose. In the midst of this chaos, that guy, the damned x-ray scientist, had read the side of the machine and was doing some complicated calculations to compare it to the x-rays that he works with at the Big Science Thingey. I was worrying about her tiny private parts, he was worrying about her radiation exposure. I didn’t give a shit about her potential x-ray risk, I just wanted someone to get the catheter in right so that we could get it all over with.
Before Spousal Unit got any answers that made him satisfied, along came the pediatric nurse and so we recommenced the process again. Gadlet on table, screaming, sweating, freaking out –me holding her head gently and telling her how proud I was of her — one nurse on each side holding her legs down, and the nurse in the center trying to thread the needle, as it were.
She couldn’t get it either. This did not bode well for the test. Or for the Gadlet, I was beginning to gather, as the nurses started to exchange grave looks.
They called our pediatrician. He happened to be at the hospital, so stopped on by. At this point, Spousal Unit was in a high state of anger. He was just ready to walk out and take our baby and never return. I think he was worried that the doctor would come in and attempt to show his superiority by doing what the nurses could not. Instead, our doctor, who I love, came in and called the whole thing off. But not for a good reason. Apparently, the problem they had getting the catheter in can be an indication that there may be something wrong with her urethra. So we have to go to the pediatric urology specialists in a Big City 2 hours away and get them to check it out. And if there is something wrong, she’s probably going to need some surgery to fix it.
We walked to the car with heavy hearts and an exhausted, angry, sweaty and unhappy baby. When we get everybody squared away in their seats, Spousal Unit looks at me and said, (and I quote exactly): “It really upset me that all the women in that room constructed the experience as traumatic.”
Gnuh? Constructed the experience as traumatic? Where the hell was he? Was he watching the same baby that I was? It wasn’t CONSTRUCTED as Traumatic, it just WAS TRAUMATIC!!
Anyway, I guess he was feeling left out of the experience because I had been the one to take care of her through the catheter — remember, he was going to be the point-parent for the x-ray and dye thing itself, so had it all gone well, he would have had his fair share of head holding and muttering through the screaming. But because the test never happened, he wound up kind of not getting to participate and he was feeling a little left out of the loop. So, I guess I could see his point, but I was little pissed that he thought that it was traumatic because all the “women” in the room had decided that it was.
So, while we had a big fight about this, the Gadlet slept and we drove to Target for toilet paper. I left the two of them in the car and engaged in a little retail therapy, buying the Gadlet some new toys: The Fisher Price talking retro phone
And her first set of Tonka Trucks
Bad parenting at its best, no? Bad experience? Here kid, have a toy. I swore I’d never do that. But, she really loves the phone — she’s been playing with it nonstop since I got it home.
So, really, I guess what was most interesting about the experience was to see our very different reactions to the stress. Spousal Unit opted to use his expertise as a scientist and get grumpy about what he had knowledge about, and then he decided that the whole thing wouldn’t have been a bad experience if it weren’t for the adult (read “female”) emotions in the room. I just freaked out. Was freaked out. And still a little am freaked out. I dreamed last night that I drove my car off of an icy road into a lake and as I was going over into the water I realized that I couldn’t get the Gadlet out of her carseat in time before she would drown. (For those of you who don’t know, it is pretty tricky to get a kid in and out of a carseat.) I think this was a clear metaphor for what is going on — we’ve slid off course and I can’t save her from what is looking like it might be a very bad experience. I guess this is a normal part of parenthood — always worrying and always having a terror that something will harm your child and knowing that you can’t save them from all of the bad stuff that will come down the road.
In the schema of the bad stuff that CAN happen, this is probably nothing really major. But it could be something unpleasant and scary for her. And scary for her is really, really scary for me. Just when I thought I was managing my global fear of disasters, along comes a potentially deformed little urethra to gum up the emotional works. Poor little Gadlet. Although she, of course, seems totally fine. She has gone back to normal — dancing when she hears music, cackling at all things even remotely funny, exclaiming “Ah!” when she discovers something new, and adamantly refusing solid food. I suppose if I can keep from killing Spousal Unit, we’ll all survive what ever comes next.