"Be strong." I hate that shit. I've actually always hated that shit. I hate it when I hear it in a movie, or on TV, or on some "love songs at night" radio program. And I know why people say it, I guess. But not really. Do I smile for Lucas and Abigail, so they don't worry? Yeah. But that doesn't make me strong. It makes me an actress.
Lucas was released from the hospital, as expected… but now he's back. This sucks. He spent the night at home with us, a happy little clam. But when we held him, he jerked a little, as if he were startled, and when we fed him, he was still throwing up. Well, that's not good. But we let it go until the morning. And in the morning, nothing was worse, but not much was better. He wasn't smiling or giggly anymore. Come on baby, I know you've got one in there. But he didn't. So we called the neurosurgeon, and better safe than sorry, we brought him back to the ER. Ugh. Another cat scan, and then x-rays of the actual shunt to make sure it was working properly.
That was the hardest part. I climbed onto the rolling gurney and held Lucas as we whipped down the corridors. "It'll be okay, sweet bean. I won't let anything bad happen to you." And then I had to hold him completely still, me in my lead apron, forcing his head still for an x-ray, or FOUR! I tried singing. "Here, Mom, hold his arms tight, and don't let him move." And I did as I was told, even when he screamed as if I were pulling something out from inside his body. "Okay, Mom, now take these felt paddles and hold them on each side of his head. Don't let him move." It's torture. Absolute torture.
His cat scan came back absolutely fine. The ventricles did not get any larger. The shunt is working fine. He'll leave the hospital again tomorrow, we imagine. And then he'll be home again, and we'll watch him, every little movement, and we'll listen for every sound, as we did this morning, when he was on his activity mat, and I heard him kind of choking because he'd spit up but didn't want to turn his head. So I rushed to him, scooping him up, wiping his mouth. His face was red. What if I weren't there? Would he have turned and worked it out himself? I hope some of this happens in the hospital so they can tell us if it's normal (which I suspect it really is).
I don't want him getting used to this, to a life of x-rays and hospital visits. It made my heart hurt. And my face twisted into a cry, knowing it didn't do any good. "This totally sucks little man. I know it. And if I could, I'd get you a cheeseburger." And it still wouldn't make up for it. It totally sucks. And the poor guy has been tortured all day. Two failed attempts to insert an IV, not to mention six or so tries at just finding a vein after using the tourniquets. And he cries like you're squelching his soul. And I just want to make it stop. And I can't. And I hold him and sing, and brush his face with the back of my hand, and none of it helps. And I pick him up and hold him close, and it doesn't work. He doesn't like me. He likes Phil better, I think. I can't do this. I feel like such a failure.
And I don't want Abigail in the hospital. I don't want her catching germs and getting sick, and since we don't have family here to babysit her while we're at the hospital with Lucas, we have to split up. And yes, our families have offered to come, but honestly, that's just more stress. And friends have offered to watch her, too. But we don't want to change up her schedule too much. I know tomorrow Lucas will be home again, and that if he gets antsy again, we'll first try to soothe him with a ride around the neighborhood. You know, to Baskin' Robbins. And then maybe baby and mama will be a bit happier. I just feel so sad, like it's my fault. Intellectually, I don't think these things, but emotionally, I'm a mess. And I feel like I'm to blame, that I didn't build him strong enough. And when I can't fix the pain away, I feel like I've failed him. Yes, I'm a great mom when it comes to songs and sign language and clipping fingernails, and I'll hold his hand until he falls asleep. But I worry I'm not good enough with this part, with comforting him. With making us both feel like less of a mess.