upside down

In ALL, SNIPS & SNAILS by Stephanie Klein21 Comments

"Heyyyy! So you landed? You’re all safe?"
"Yup. What did your message say? I haven’t listened to it."
"Nothing. Just, I love you. Work is on the other line… I have to go. See you soon."

Normally, this would be, well, normal. But there was a hesitation in his voice, as if he were planning something at home. Maybe some kind of celebration with cake or streamers that needed to be taped to the ceiling. I listened to his message. It was just as he’d said. Short. But it said, "Call me when you can." So that meant he had something to tell me. Usually, if he just called to say he loved me, wanted to make sure I landed, all that, he’d just say so. This wasn’t that message. I pulled into a gas station and put the car in park. I checked my email. Nothing unusual. My editor letting me know the cover for Moose should have arrived. Maybe Phil saw it and thought I’d hate it or something. Maybe that’s why he was being so short with me. He’d called to warn me, perhaps, but then figured, I’d just see for myself.

I picked up the phone and called him back. "Why did you leave that message?"
"What, I can’t just call–"
"You said to call you back. Did my book cover come?"
"And it’s awful?!"
"No, what could be awful?"
"Then what?! What the hell is going on?"

He paused, as if he were about to release something heavy. And then he did.
"I had to take Lucas to the hospital."

That’s how long it took for me to feel sick, just that word: hospital. I felt it in my stomach in three syllables. I wasn’t there. I was on an airplane. What happened? Is he still there? I don’t understand. Talk already!

Then Phil explained that he’d been playing with Abigail, flipping her around over his head as he usually does. She giggled, he said. Then he did the same with Lucas. But when he put him down, Lucas fell onto his side. "Come on Lucas, buddy, sit up." But he wouldn’t. "So I put him into a seated position, but he just fell back down again. Something wasn’t right." Oh my God. "Everything is fine," he says.

"What do you mean ‘everything’s fine?’ It’s not fine!" I was shouting I think. I don’t know.
"He was absolutely fine by the time I got to the hospital. He was crawling around, smiling at people, pointing at things. Normal. They ran tests–"
"What kind of tests?"
"They took his temperature and checked his oxygen levels, but there was nothing else to do. He was acting totally normal."
"It doesn’t sound normal. What did the doctor say?"
"Well, I decided he didn’t need to see a doctor, or to get a shunt series taken."
"I don’t understand."
"It was an equilibrium thing. You know, like when you play Dizzy Lizzy, and you can’t walk straight."

Had it happened to Abigail, had she been the one who couldn’t sit up, we’d have thought this right away. But with Lucas, we’re always on high alert. May 12, he goes for another MRI to check the progress of things, and until then, I’m going to focus on the upside of down.


  1. Lucas and Abigail are very lucky to have proactive parents. I can only hope that things are clear with the May 12th MRI and that soon you'll be able to look back on all of this with Lucas and tell him about all the hospital adventures he went on when he was just a wee laddie.

  2. I was wondering how he was doing when you posted recent photos of the little ones. My sister's twins are almost the same age in NW Austin so I can't help but compare them, even though no babies are comparable.

    I'll drop a few prayers for your little family. Try to stay positive bc little people can be pretty intuitive. : ) I look forward to good news after May 12th.

  3. It does make sense that it might be an equilibrium thing. Keep us posted.. and in the meantime, I'm sure he's okay.

    I thought of him this weekend – have you seen the movie "There Will Be Blood?" The little boy who plays H.W. looks very much like Lucas to me.

  4. That's the down side of travel that I failed to mention – that's ALWAYS when the kids get a fever, eat a marble or bug, fall down the stairs…just when mama is out of arm's reach.

    I'm sure he's fine – but I feel your pain – and as always I'm sending courage and strength from here. Please keep us posted.

  5. I'm sending positive thoughts your way. I know our kids are different but my oldest son would react to being thrown in the air the same way. It was as if he were drunk. We used to do it just to laugh at him toppling over. He laughed as hard as we did.

  6. If my stomach flip-flopped when I read that sentence ("I had to take Lucas to the hospital") then I can't even imagine what you felt.

  7. I have a son that's 5– born at 26 weeks. To this day the "typical" injuries or oddities that happen to him are always a scare. Most recently– nosebleeds. I think you are right to worry. Got his nosebleeds checked out and I was right…we are waiting on final results of a blood disorder. Are you kidding me? We go through so much.

    Did you ever read this preemie poem? I just love it and read it every now and again. Hope you enjoy and as a preemie mom, I am thinking of you.


    How Preemie Moms are Chosen

    Did you ever wonder how the mothers of premature babies are chosen? Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth, selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger. "Beth Armstrong, son. Patron Saint, Matthew. Marjorie Forrest, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia. Carrie Rutledge, twins. Patron Saint … give her Gerard. He's used to profanity." Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles. "Give her a preemie."

    The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."

    "Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a premature baby a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel."

    "But does she have the patience?" asks the angel.

    "I don't want her to have too much patience, or she'll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she'll handle it. I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has a world of its own. She has to make it live in her world, and that's not going to be easy."

    "But Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."

    God smiles. "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just the right amount of selfishness."

    The angel gasps, "Selfishness?! Is that a virtue?"

    God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't know it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says 'mama' for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see – ignorance, cruelty, prejudice – and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side."

    "And what about her Patron Saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in the air. God smiles.

    "A mirror will suffice."

    -Erma Bombeck

  8. It's amazing how mothers know something is up just from the tone of voice. (My mother is currently on a world cruise and I have to put on "the voice" when she calls. I'm obviously much older than Lucas, but I'm also older than you! But to her, I'm her daughter and the worrying never stops.)

    I'm hoping and praying it was merely the playful flip and that Lucas' May 12 MRI says all is well. Until then, I'll focus on the upside of down with you…

  9. I just wanted to say I'm thinking good thoughts for you and your family and especially Lucas. You are incredibly brave and so is that little boy. All the best to you.

  10. He didn't want you to worry, yet he forgets that women have have these little antennas….and we just know….and I hope you take some comfort that Luacs was checked out in the hospital…i can't imagine how bad that must suck to not be home…..

    Upside focus! :)

  11. How is Lucas otherwise? Did he ever get a proper diagnosis? Is he meeting milestones? There seems to be less urgency around him in your reporting, which I assumed was a good thing.

  12. Yikes! Scary! It never stops, being a parent and all. Just this morning I plucked a tick from my sons back. FREAKING OUT. Just a curious thought though regarding Lucas…if he has this issue with his head….is it really the best thing to be flipping him around like that? Just sayin….

    Wishing you all well!

  13. I think Phil handled the situation very well. You guys make a good team. I've been away on holiday, so I had a few weeks of catching up.(Posts & comments, my eyes are blood-shot!) Good luck on your book tour, you must be so excited. I loved the new photos. Thinking positive thoughts for little Lucas.

  14. To NIC:
    Even tho my brother wasn't a preemie, he also suffers from very bad nosebleeds since he was a baby the type that it is so much blood that it is scary. after countless of test and specialist visits they figure out that it isn't a disorder or sickness, he just has thin blood vessels in his nostrils that cause the nose bleeds. It can be fixed with laser surgery.
    good luck to you and your family tho.

  15. my brother has hydrocephalus, diagnosed at 6 months, and is now 34. his balance and equilibrium is TERRIBLE at times, but he's well adjusted and learns to go with it.

    i understand your worries, but please be assured that this is just a minor side effect of his condition. i kid my brother that without the use of his wrist crutches (he was a lot more severe) that he looks like a drunken sailor.

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