Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why we don't have a cell phone

Last week Jasmine was sick. She had had a low grade fever for 3 days and then after she spent the night coughing, thrashing and crying, we decided to see the paediatrician. Since the doctor couldn't rule out pneumonia when she listened to Jasmine's chest, she suggested that we go to Sick Kids Hospital for a chest x-ray. Even though I tend to stay away from unnecessary medical interventions, we decided to go for the x-ray, particularly since Anna had had pneumonia as a two year old, so we worried that maybe our kids had a susceptibility to it.

Somehow all my stars aligned, and Partner-Guy was able to be off work to drop Jasmine and I off at the hospital while he took Anna and Holly to McDonald's for lunch. They took along Valentine cards and gel pens and were prepared to have a good time.

I expected to be at the hospital for 1 - 2 hours and so we arranged to meet at the entrance where he had dropped me off. Sure enough, one hour later Jasmine was out of the x-ray and we went to the Atrium to wait.

The Atrium at Sick Kids Hospital is at least 8 stories high and filled with plants sculptures and seating, not to mention a food court that would rival any mall I've visited. For a little while I nursed Jazzy and opened my eyes and ears and heart to observe the stories going on in the lives of the people in this place. I watched a handsome Somalian dad tenderly lift his twisted adolescent son out of a wheelchair and hold him on his lap, all the while stroking his hair and whispering in his ear. I watched a mom playing lap games with her one year old and then rock her to sleep in her arms. I watched as taxi after taxi dropped off families carrying balloons, suitcases and gifts.

After Jazzy finished nursing I put her in the carrier and decided to walk around a little while she fell asleep. I was not bored or annoyed by the wait and I enjoyed spending time with my baby, especially as I reflected on how fortunate I was to be taking my baby home in my arms, and not leaving her behind hooked up to tubes and monitors. I knew that if my child ever had to be hospitalized I could never leave her, and that putting my trust in a team of 'experts' would be the hardest test of my life.

When Partner-Guy pulled up to the entrance, Anna and Holly were in the backseat laughing and singing. They had had a great time at McDonald's; they had eaten their whole lunches and then written out Valentines for all of their princess and fairy dolls, to be delivered when they got home.

And here's why we don't have a cell phone. If I had called Partner-Guy to pick us up the minute the x-ray was over, the girls would have missed their chance to play together, their dad would have missed the opportunity to enjoy their company, all the people who smiled at Anna and Holly would have missed that second of joy that was brought to their lives, I would have missed a whole hour of cuddle time with Jasmine and I would have missed the chance to feel truly humbled by observing the father who was so tender in his care of his son.

I have been reflecting on how important it is to be in the moment with my children. To that end, I have stopped answering the phone when I am actively engaged with them in a story or craft or baking experiment. I only turn on the computer when Jasmine is asleep and when Anna and Holly are busy. It comes down to realizing that I am less important to other people than I am to my children.

(In conclusion, Jasmine does not have pneumonia, just bronchialitis, and it is clearing up. Also, getting a chest x-ray was a terrible experience that I will not soon repeat, I hope. Being in Sick Kids Hospital made me far more mindful of how I am incredibly grateful for the continued health and well-being of my daughters.)

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