Okay, that's a misleading title. Because first, I'm going to tell you what I didn't do for Christmas vacation - I didn't deal with a projectile vomiting infant on Christmas Eve, nor did I deal with taking a kid to the ER on Christmas Eve with croup. I didn't loose a child (although I did loose a couple of dogs, we'll get to that later), and I didn't embarrass myself in front of my children with a bunch of board games (although I did do that with adults).
What I did this Christmas vacation was get through it with the skin of my teeth, I flew on the wings of angels, I skirted imminent doom.
Let's start from the beginning, which would be the week we were prepping our own sleigh full of two large dogs, gazillions of presents and five tiny children. That week I was packing, taking the 14 year old to his last physical therapy, getting him to the doctor to get his leg brace removed, making sure that the 9 year old's newly rebuilt front teeth were okay (that's a post for another time,..) and planning his last neuro/psych testing, squeezing a little work in, getting the dogs groomed so I could stand to be in close quarters with them for two whole days, dealing with the last of the football banquets, attending the Christmas performance for two preschoolers and oh yeah, doing laundry so I had something to pack.
The morning before the morning we were slated to drive up from So Cal to the grey Northwest, I got woken up at 3:30am. Not from one of the wee-est babes, but from the 11 year old. Okay, seriously, my first thought was "Really?!?" as I rolled my eyes and stomped into his room. Now, cut me some slack. I'd just come off of a week long bout with the newly turned three-year-old who sported a 103 degree fever for that entire time. I was a tired momma.
The 11 year old was crying and saying his stomach hurt. I did what every blue blooded mother would do and ran down the laundry list of home cures each time he called me into his room: try to go to the bathroom again; have a drink of water; here, eat a cracker; Omigawd, take this antacid; for criminey's sake, it's now 4:30 and I have to wake up in 30 minutes to work, come to bed with me, justgobacktosleep.
By 4:45am we were downstairs with him on the coach, me clenching my teeth warming up my computer and searching WebMD. Daddy had left for work.
By this time the kid is begging me to call the doctor. I feel bad interupting said doctor, as I'm afraid to be classified as a stalker, or some sort of freakish attention seeker. Remember, I had just been to said doctor with the three year old for her fever. I was sure she had pnemonia - but it was simply a virus, just had to wait it out. We go there so often the doctor recognizes my voice on the phone. We are known collectively when we visit as "the family." I wasn't about to just pick up the phone and call about a tummy ache.
By 5am I couldn't stand it anymore and called the doc. She recommended we go to the ER straight away. The ER is about 30 minutes away, three towns down. I called hubby. He agreed to turn around on his way up to the mountain for his last day of work until the next year, and meet me at a local gas station to do a little relay race with the kid.
I shook my almost 13 year old awake, told him he was in charge, and I'd be right back. Drove 11 year old to daddy, handed him off, and called the babysitter, who arrived a half hour earlier than she was hoping. Called preschool and told them I wouldn't be able to work in class that day. Called yet another doctor and told them I wouldn't make it for my other son's appointment. Stuck hair up in a ponytail, ate some toothpaste, found some shoes and hit the road.
On the freeway, the texts started coming - "Does Z eat dirt?" "How about pencils?"
A few minutes go by, then the text "It's his appendix." I respond "wow."
Next text, "he's scheduled for surgery this afternoon." I respond "WOW."
Then the last text, "But we can still leave tomorrow as planned." I respond (we are all adults here, right?) "WTF?"
To which I get a hurried text "But we don't have to."
Kid is in surgery before noon, I call my friend who is a nurse at the hospital and she holds our hands.
Find out it is a Seventh Day Adventist hospital, which means there is no meat, which I can deal with, but also NO CAFFIENE. This is such a departure from all the Catholic Hospitals I've become accustomed to, having had three babies and a foot operated on in them; there's a Starbucks in each one and I think also a wine bar in the reception area. But my friend hooks me up and we find the coffee pots stashed around the floors with real coffee in them. I'm saved.
The kid does great, his nurse hits him with so much morphine I feel like I'm in that Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, every couple hours he gains consciousness and asks me the same questions, "Did they take out my appendix?" "Where's daddy?" (there is no glory for a mother,..)
I spend the night and am so exhausted I actually feel like I got a good night's sleep.
We leave the next morning and go home, so I can continue to drug my son and pack. We don't leave the next day, but we leave the day after. We are every little bit of insane.
Now, there is divine providence here, or at least some serious grace happening here. I go white thinking about what would have happened had we been on the road and had to pull over to some rediclinic on the side of the freeway? It makes me realize how fortunate we have been to be safe on all the lunatic adventures we have taken our brood on, and that someone is watching over us and indeed, we are given all we can handle. Dengue fever and malaria? Okay. Burst appendix in some tropical country? Not so cool.
Then, if that wasn't enough, on the way home from our wonderful Christmas vacation we again escaped a horrible run - the Grapevine (I-5 north of L.A.) was closed. Now, if we had left the day before, we would have been trapped, on the side of the freeway, with literally thousands of other travellers. In freezing temperatures with five kids and two dogs. In a suburban. Over night. When I told hubby this, he started laughing. "Why are you laughing?" I asked him, getting a bit annoyed. "Because you're right," he responded. "It would have been horrible."
Instead, hubby had taken an extra day off work so we could enjoy New Year's Eve with our families. I'm so glad we did. What's a little side trip to Nevada on your way from Washington to California between family?