Monday, November 21, 2005

the ballad of the broken baby: a play in four acts

[well, that was fun. i'm still a little shaky, but much better. i think the culprit was some cranberry-apple cider that had possibly turned the corner.... i decided this when i woke up in the middle of the night, still with the fever and headache and dizziness and also with the new addition of wrenching nausea, and i thought, as a i curled into the fetal position, "this is such a familiar sensation...where have i...aaaahhhh, yes. college. sideshow. too many tanqueray-and-tonics." thankfully, unlike senior year, i didn't end up barfing. but it made me think that the most likely cause of my anguish was the closest thing to alcohol that i'd consumed that day. but i'm back on solid food now, and actually left the house for a longer journey than yesterday's bleary stagger to the corner bodega, mr. baby man clinging to my hip, to fetch some ginger ale.

so now, without further ado....]


act 1

dining room, early evening.

me: okay babe, i'm just going to turn my back on you for a second to put this stuff down on the table and have a sip of my tea. you stay standing there where you are.

[thud]

me: holy jeez, are you alright?!

wile: [blank, surprised stare]

[mama picks up child, who starts crying into her shoulder. they retire to the bedroom for some therapeutic nursing]

act 2

doctor's office

dr. baker: so, what happened?

me: well, of course i didn't see it, but he fell, i assume when he was taking some steps and possibly tripped, or just capsized. he's just starting to get the walking. he cried, but i've heard him cry harder. but when he tried to crawl, he couldn't—he would try to bear weight on his left hand and he would start crying. so i poked and prodded his hand and wrist and arm and shoulder and he didn't cry, so i figured that maybe it was just sore, which is why i didn't bring him in right away... [looks at doctor like "please tell me i'm not a bad mother for not bringing him in right away"]

dr. baker: totally understandable....

me: ...but then when he still wouldn't put weight on it two days later, we came in.

dr. baker: [poking and prodding mr. baby man's left arm] it's hard to tell with the little ones, but i'd say if he's still not bearing weight on it, you should get an x-ray. you'll have to go over to the hospital, our x-ray guy is gone for the day. but don't worry—at this age, they break easy and they mend easy.

act 3

basement of hospital

[mama pushes baby in stroller out of elevator and down hallway to sign that says "diagnostic radiation" in two different places, with two different arrows pointing in opposite directions.]

me: huh.

[mama pushes baby in stroller down hallway to the right, because why not. finds deserted reception area, but a big sign that says "sign in here for", among other things, "x-ray", so decides she's in the right place. sign-in sheet seems to be with missing receptionist, so she lurks.]

receptionist or nurse or whatever who finally comes down the hallway: can i help you?

me: hi, we're here for an x-ray, someone from dr. baker's office should have called—"

r.o.n.o.w.w.f.c.d.t.h.: you're in the wrong place, x-ray is at the other end of the hall.

me: oh, sorry, the sign there says "sign in here for x-ray".

r.o.n.o.w.w.f.c.d.t.h.: no it doesn't, this isn't x-ray.

me: well, yes it...does. [points at sign]

r.o.n.o.w.w.f.c.d.t.h.: no, it doesn't.

me: [still pointing at sign] uuuuhhh....

r.o.n.o.w.w.f.c.d.t.h.: [finally walks closer and looks at sign, seems completely nonplussed by fact that it doesn in fact have the word "x-ray" on it.] look, i'm telling you where to go.

me: okay! thanks so much for your help!

[mama pushes baby in stroller down hallway to other "diagnostic radiation" area, where they have an inconsequential check-in procedure and a fairly short sojourn in the waiting room before being called by large male x-ray technician, who leads them in to x-ray room.]

l.m.x.t.: so, i'm gonna need you to hold his arm still while we do dis. now i need to ask yous, is dere any chance you're pregnant?

me: oh dear god no.

l.m.x.t.'s raised eyebrows: so you got the one broken child and the thought of another one makes you that appalled? should i be calling child welfare?

my most beatific smile: what was that? i couldn't hear you over the love for my baby that fills every last inch of being, like the singing of angels. love love love love love love love!

l.m.x.t.: okay...so yous got to lay him down on the table [mama plops mr. baby man gently on to the table], and put dis ting on [l.m.x.t. helps mama on with lead apron at least 25 sizes too big for her].

me: [to mr. baby man] alright, honey, do fall back for mama. [wile flops back from sitting position to lying-down position and lies there peacefully.] now we're just going to take some pictures of your arm. see this? this is a really big camera.... [wile immediately pastes on his "camera face"] uh huh, i said your arm, norma desmond, not your little mug.

[montage of l.m.x.t. positioning mr. baby man's arm, mama holding it as still as possible, and mr. baby man really, all things considered, behaving incredibly well.]

l.m.x.t.: okay, now yous can go back into the waitin' room and a doctor will take a look at dese, should't be too long.

[mama and babe retreat to waiting room, where, amazingly, they don't wait too long before a young female doctor comes out, followed by l.m.x.t.]

y.f.d.: hi so he's got a fractured wrist you'll have to go up to the emergency room and have them put a splint on it good luck bye. [turns and practically runs out of the room]

me: [blink] ......um, okay...thank you? [turns to l.m.x.t. for further help, which, thankfully, he seems to be ther to provide]

l.m.x.t.: just go up to da e.r. and make sure you tell dem dat you was down here and dat the x-rays are in da system. easist way to get to da e.r. is to go outside and around da corner and back in. [chuckles] you're probbly gonna be dere a while....

act 4

entrance to emergency room

[mama arrives at door of emergency room with baby on hip, pushing stroller full of their belongings, looks up and sees....stairs. leading up to the emergency room, where the gravely injured and dangerously ill people go, is....a set of stairs. okay, fine, there's also one of those wheelchair elevator thingys, but come on. fucking stairs leading to an emergency room? mama hoists baby higher on to her hip, picks up stroller with left hand, and clomps up the stairs, into the waiting room, and up to the sign-in podium. she takes the sign-in sheet and goes to sit down in the seat across from the podium to fill it out.]

security guard at podium: you cannot take that away from here! you have to fill that out here!

my raised eyebrows: i'm sorry, do you not see the baby on my hip and the overflowing stroller? both of which i just lugged up your stupid stairs?

s.g.a.p.'s blank look: i'm sorry, i stopped noticing anything a long time ago. i just know what the rules say, and the rules say that the little clipboard stays on the little podium.

me: it would be kinda difficult for me to fill it out standing here, with the baby on my arm and all my stuff—

s.g.a.p.: you cannot take it! you have to fill it out here!

me: yeah. okay, i'm just going to take it riiight over here and sit down and fill it out, and i'll bring it right back.

s.g.a.p.: there is no need to be rude!

me: [filling out form] i completely agree.

[montage of mama and baby waiting waiting waiting, including scenes of being interviewed by the triage nurse, purchasing and consuming a granola bar, phoning for paternal reinforcements, walking around the room and around and around and around, and what seems like an endless loop of footage of mr. baby man emptying the contents of mama's wallet onto the seat next to him, mama collecting the contents from the seat and from the floor, putting everthing back in, emptying again, collecting again.... finally paternal reinforcements arrive.]

dad: i can't believe there are stairs leading in to this place.

me: i know. listen, we need to change this child's diaper.

[short montage of dad conferring with several hospital employees as to where a changing table might be located, cause there ain't one in either bathroom, cause you know no one ever brings a baby to an emergency room, nooooo, ending in dad, mama and babe being ushered back into the emergency room itself and told they can use one of the beds back there.]

nurse: what's wrong with him?

me: fractured wrist.

nurse: oh, you're next on the list, you can just stay back here.

me: eeeeexcelent.

[diapers are changed, fussing commences, boobs are offered.]

familiar voice: what are you doing here?

me: [looking up from nursing child in lap] oh my god. hi! what are you doing here?

terra: nola's been sick all week, vomitting after every feeding, and today she seemed really dehydrated so we brought her in. we've been here for hours.

derek: [holding nola, who has a tiny little i.v. tube in her tiny little hand] hi!

me: hi! this is crazy.... well, we have a fractured wrist....

[montage of playdate in the e.r., chatting about our respective sick/hurt babies, trying to keep an increasingly tired mr. baby man from spazzing out. nola peacefully drinks a whole bottle of formula and starts in on another bag of fluids. several nurses and doctors talk to us, then finally we get to see the pediatric orthopedist.]

p.o.: okay, so i'm going to put the cast on now.

me + the dad: cast?? not splint?

p.o.: yeah, we need to do a full cast. he'll have it on for a month, and you can't get it wet.

dad: can't get it wet? at all?

p.o.: no.

dad: um, that could be a problem..... he takes a bath every night....

me: yeah, i can't imagine trying to keep it dry for a month....

p.o.: oh, okay. okay, yeah. i'll go upstairs and get the waterproof stuff.

me + the dad: uh-huh.

[final montage of mr. baby man watching with detatched interest as his arm is wrapped up in "the waterproof stuff", which looks like opaque bubble wrap, and then in the goopy mesh that hardens into the cast. there's a little crying after it's done, but nothing cataclysmic, and then we're free to go, down the stairs and out into the night.]



and that's pretty much the whole story, folks. we went to see an orthopedist on tuesday who said that the e.r. ortho had done a good job and that everything looked fine. wile got more x-rays taken and again posed for the x-ray camera like it was his job. d-day for cast removal is december 13th, and the orthopedist said not to worry that he falls on it and/or bangs it into things at least fifty times a day.

1 comment:

casey said...

ok, i'm now convinced that i shouldn't ever have a child. not because i can't handle a baby or injuries to one, but because i probably would have gotten arrested for decking the shit out of r.o.n.o.w.w.f.c.d.t.h., or l.m.x.t., or s.g.a.p., or possibly all 3 in rapid succession.

you are a patient, patient woman.

but i'm glad he's doing well, and i'm glad YOU'RE feeling better.