Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fake Mom

Norah is, of course,  a perfect angel. Gorgeous, smart, cute, funny, everything. However, she does get sick. All. The. Time.

The latest happened over the weekend. It was of course a Saturday, and of course the clinic had booked up within the first five minutes of being open, so we ended up at the ER. Our third visit there, actually, in 14 months. She had a fever of 105. So besides being terrified that something was horribly wrong with my perfect angel, I also had the privilege of knowing what to expect from the ER. A whole lot of waiting. With an angry baby.

My mom had the honor of coming with us. It started out OK. The Infant Motrin had kicked in and Norah was having fun trying to run around the waiting room, terrorizing the sad-looking bunch there. There is no happiness in an ER waiting room. Except for Norah when we gave her a couple of safety brochures.

Then we got into a room and the hell began. Between waiting, Norah was tortured with the usual methods: RSV test, chest x-ray, throat swab, rectal thermometer. She was hot, angry, bored, confused, scared, poked, prodded, tired, and tear-streaked. Grandma and I were all of the above except bored, poked, and prodded. 

Also, we tried desperately to keep her from crying, but it was nearly impossible. We could distract her for maybe a couple minutes at a time. It was also insufferably hot in the tiny room full of mysterious equipment, and we kept trying to crack the door for a sweet relief of breeze from the cooler hallway. But Norah's screams prompted people to slyly come by and shut the door. One gal had the decency to at least pretend her visit was out of concern. "How's it going in here..?" Slam.

And just when we had about reached the breaking point, and I was in tears for the fourth time, some stranger in scrubs asked me, "Oh, is this your first?"

I nodded.

She smiled condescendingly, nodded, and patted my shoulder.

I guess when you have a second child, you don't give a rip what happens. Eh, go play with that knife. You can sleep on the bed alone at 3 months. Have a nice, thick blanket. I'll just run to the store while he/she naps.

But it's not just that people seem to think that first-time moms are overprotective psychos. It goes way beyond that. I get the feeling that mothers with one child are second class citizens in The Club.

The Club is parenthood. You aren't even really aware of The Club's existence until you have a child. After you have a child, you suddenly are invited into conversations with strangers, knowing looks and smiles from other parents, and a use-anytime get-out-of-anything-free card. "Sorry I can't make it to your destination wedding-- kid issues."

But there are ranks within The Club. Standard membership is parents with two kids. Three or more are elite members, unless you have more than four. Then your status drops because people think you're a little cuckoo. If you have them close together, your sympathy rating increases, also directly affecting your status level. "Oh, three under three? You saint!" Parents of onlies are probationary members. It's like you're not even a real parent. Here are some common things parents of one hear on a regular basis:

"Oh, just one? Wait until you have two."
"That's nothing. It was so easy when there was just one."
"Is this your first?"
"Are you going to try for a boy/girl?" (mostly asked to mothers of daughters in regards to having a male offspring to satisfy the husband)
"When are you having another?"

Don't ever try to vent or complain to a parent in a higher position than you in The Club. Oneupmanship is an accepted form of communication. Parents of one child apparently don't know anything, worry about too much, and are also depriving their child of the experience of having siblings, which is sometimes brought up much to our chagrin.

So I learned that during the next trip to the ER, to act cool and nonchalant about everything. Like I've seen it all. Yeah, that's bone. Walk it off. I'm no rookie.

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