Back When I Was a Rookie Parent…

I have never shared this story with anyone, but it’s time….

It was the middle of the night, and Caleb was in bed with us. Perhaps, he had just finished nursing, or maybe he was having a tough night sleeping–I’m not sure–but I am very sure about the events that followed and my rookie-parent reaction.

The black of night filled our room, and the only noise was the heavy breathing of Matt as he slept. Caleb was nuzzled in close to me, resting quietly. Until, BLLAAACCH!!!

And out of nowhere, this precious little boy, around five months old at the time, threw up three times his body weight. Matt and I shot up in bed instantly. The noise–it was horrible. I swear I watched our baby’s head spin around seven times before the vomit left his mouth, gasped as I heard a splash when the throw up hit our bed.

This experience was our first with a child and vomit, and, thankfully, I had just read an article the day before from one of those parenting magazines that I won’t name (because I can’t remember). I never skipped an issue that came to my ‘Inbox’ telling me what my child should be doing at this stage in his development. I read all the articles on vaccines and child safety, and I studied which foods I could introduce to my baby when. I trusted this source. So when this magazine instructed me to have my child seen immediately if he began throwing up and was less than six months old, I took the advice seriously. And I did what any parent would do…

…I called 9-1-1.

That’s right; I hopped out of bed, handing the baby to my husband, picked up the phone in the middle of the night, and dialed the phone number reserved for emergencies. After all, this event was an emergency. My baby had thrown up, and the magazine said he needed to be seen immediately. And the only way he could be seen immediately was if I called the paramedics to rescue him.

My saving grace was that we used Vonage, an internet phone system. We had set it up when we lived in Oklahoma so that we could have free long-distance while we lived away from our family. A plus side of this service was that when we moved back to Georgia, we didn’t have to change our number. Apparently, however, our emergency services were tied to the state in which we first ordered Vonage. When I called 9-1-1, a dispatcher in Oklahoma answered.

“9-1-1, What’s your emergency (or something like that)?”

“My son just threw up, and he’s only five months old!”

Surely upon hearing my son’s age, the dispatcher would signal all the emergency personnel in the area. And in the process of explaining my emergency, we began to realize that we did not live in the same area.

During the confusion of explaining where I lived and figuring out where the dispatcher was, a cloud began to lift from my mind. I noticed the dispatcher did not seem overly concerned that my son threw up, and I decided I did not need an ambulance sent from Oklahoma. The dispatcher asked, “Is your son okay?” and through my foggy memory, I believe he offered to connect me to the correct 9-1-1 in Georgia.

I looked over at Caleb in bed with my husband, his little baby head no longer spinning, and I came to my senses: “No, we don’t need an ambulance. Thank you, Sir, but we are going to take him to get checked out.”

And, no, I did not mean in the morning. That’s right; we put on clothes, strapped that little baby in his car seat, and we drove to the emergency room in the middle of the night. After all, our baby threw up once.

Apparently, I had not yet learned about the ‘after hours’ phone line. I had never heard of such a thing, having never called my own doctor’s office after they closed. After all, if I were sick in the evening, I would just call them in the morning.

And if I were too sick to wait until the morning, I would go to the emergency room.

I didn’t realize that my child’s pediatrician had an ‘after hours’ phone line to give parent’s advice in the middle of the night. I didn’t realize they had anticipated how crazy parents, especially new parents, can act. Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have called freakin’ 9-1-1 because my son threw up once! And I probably wouldn’t have waited in the emergency room for three hours because my son threw up once…and not again the whole time we waited.

Four years later, I still don’t understand why the doctor in the ER didn’t seem more alarmed. I told him Caleb threw up at least an entire bottle’s worth of breast milk, but he didn’t believe me. He said it was probably only an ounce. I reminded him that Caleb was only five months old; he didn’t seem too concerned. But the magazine said that he needed to be seen immediately….

So we left the ER that morning with baby and anti-nausea pill in hand. But I never gave it to him. After all, he only threw up once.

The Rookie Parents

Mama's Losin' It

What’s the craziest thing you ever did as a new parent? Surely, I’m not the only freak!

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