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Keeping It Together, Falling Apart

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Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: "That's an embarrassing amount of chin hair," I thought, looking in the rear view mirror pulling out of the parking garage at Cedars-Sinai hospital.

woman anxious on cell phone in hospital

Amazing how much the landscape of my face can change in three days. Not to mention my life. Seventy two hours ago I had a 15-month-old son with a cold. Today I have a son with "baby asthma."

Three days ago, I had begun weaning my boy and looking forward to not having to cart D-cup breasts around. Now I know the best way to blow steroid mist in a toddler's face is to stick him on the boob and turn on the nebulizer.

A few days ago I would have assumed the word "nebulizer" was an adjective to describe someone who kept details at bay, you know, in a corporate take over or a class action lawsuit or political campaign:

"Let's call in Jimmy the nebulizer, he'll handle this,"

"Nebulizer," from the root word "nebulous."

Now, I know better. Now I know a nebulizer is a machine that creates healing mist out of liquid medications. And that there can be nothing nebulous about the timing of turning on your nebulizer, because if you screw that up your child will end up in the hospital being force fed oxygen.

"He's going to the hospital," my pediatrician told me after three unsuccessful Albuterol treatments in her office to stop his wheezing. "It's not an emergency, but there isn't anything else I can do here. I'll call and tell them you're coming." Then she took out a Post-it: "Call your husband, here's what you'll need: a sweatshirt, toothbrush, your phone charger..."

I stayed remarkably composed for the three days we were there. I only lost my temper once when they were trying to stick an unnecessary IV in his fat little arms. And I didn't cry once.

Until I lost my cell phone.

At first I checked my purse, the food tray, the obvious places. Then I got more concerned and pulled apart the garbage. Then I went outside,

"I can't find my phone," I said to the nurse over my shoulder running down the hall to check the playroom where we had been earlier. On game shows they ask for a call, for a "lifeline." This was no game show. How would I call my husband Tod? How would the doctor reach me to tell me it's okay to leave? How would I talk to my friends? The funny thing is, a landline NEVER EVEN ENTERED MY MIND.

"I really need my phone," I said to the three nurses who had now gathered.

"Have you tried calling it?" one of them asked.

"No." She sent me to a phone. I dialed. It rang in Gideon's room. I raced around picking up pillows, checking underneath the cot where I slept, but still I couldn't locate it. Then I heard the sound coming from the window. I pulled it out from behind the curtain and held it to my face and that's when I started sobbing.

"I'm sorry." I said, too embarrassed to make eye contact, "It's just, I really need my phone."

"Sure you do." One of the nurses said, rubbing my arm.

"Sure you do, Mom."

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
M.L. November 8, 2008, 11:07 PM

My son is a very sickly boy, he has had problems from day 1, 5 weeks premature, premature lung disease, has had pnemonia 5 times, and isn’t even 3 yet. I know all the stuff his been through, it took the silliest things to make me finally lose it, I feel for you.

Kate November 9, 2008, 3:48 PM

I’m not trying to belittle your story, but momlogic could have gotten a more current stock photo than the one they plastered up with your post. Look at that cell phone! That photo has to be at least 15 years old based on the phone.

Anonymous May 19, 2009, 4:11 PM

i understand this feeling too well. trying so hard to keep everything together for everyone else. waiting for someone to notice you absolutely have no more room for one more little thing to go wrong. it’s worth it to stick it out, moms know that but man its a tough job sometimes. wish you and your little ones to be strong and thanks for sharing.

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