Thursday, September 17, 2009

Picnic, Chance Meetings, and a Sailing Wait.... It's All in a Day's Work

We had an awesome time at our last summer picnic this weekend. The weather was fantastic -- sunny and not too hot. It was a perfectly delightful opportunity for the kids to catch a few crabs on the beach while their parents got a chance to visit and connect.

This last picnic was hosted at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park just outside of Sechelt. Coming from the VERY south of the lower mainland, I scheduled the picnic for 11am in the hopes that I'd be there in time.

I had a tiny, wee commute from my home to Sechelt. (Please note the sarcasm). It was so wee, in fact, that at 7am I was standing outside the front door of Thrifty Foods, waiting for the doors to open so I could grab our cake and head for the ferry line-up.

At 7:05 I had cake in hand (okay, cake in trunk) and was on my way north to Horseshoe Bay. With a quick stop in Richmond to pick up my predecessor Tanya (who volunteered to join us on the day, hurray!) we were in plenty of time to catch the 9:20 boat to the Sunshine Coast.

I must take a moment to compliment the rabidly grumpy barista at the Horseshoe Bay coffee stand. Although she methodically dumped the tea bag -- string, label, and all -- into my travel mug and complained that there was "Nothing to hang the darn string on!" I forgave her because the cinammon bun she served me (along with my soggy stringed mug of tea) was absolutely out of this world.

It was so delicious, in fact, that people were lined up around the corner to purchase a cinnamon bun and get a complimentary dose of barista abuse in the process. I think I might have dreamed about the bun last night -- which is a good thing, because if you're going to dream about carbs, it had better be worth it. (It was.)

I digress. The ferry was late as usual, which I'm told is in keeping with the manana lifestyle of some of the Sunshine Coast's vibrant residents. We thought we'd be at the park in plenty of time, but I misjudged a turn and we ended up halfway to Halfmoon Bay before I was willing to admit we MIGHT just need directions.

We did make it to the park eventually, and got there in time to help set up our picnic area before any of the parents arrived (and before Heather and Claude -- there representing MCFD and the Sun Coast Foster Parents Support Agency could send out a search party for us).

The families trickled in, and when it was all said and done we had almost 30 people in attendance. Some were fostering, some new adoptive parents, and some had breathed adoption for years and years. One adoptive family was simply visiting the coast for the day and just happened to stumble upon our picnic!

They were so excited to meet us, and they sat right down to join us for cake and juice. It ended up being quite the nice chance meeting, as they had friends who were considering adoption. Now we'll be seeing lots of this new family as help their friends along on their adoption journey.

Tanya & I left in a bit of a rush to try and catch an early ferry home to the mainland. I guess a lot of other people had the same idea, because we ended up with a sailing wait on the way back. (Booooo).

As I'd spent the previous day and most of the evening in Children's Hospital's isolation ward, I was absolutely exhausted. I put the car in park and closed my eyes for a few 'seconds'. An hour later, I woke up drooling in the fetal position, with Tanya nowhere to be found. Poor Tanya. She must think I'm an absolute horror-host after that little display. She wisely decided to go for a bit of a walk and enjoy the fresh coastal air.

We caught the next ferry home, and were glad to be back on the mainland after a busy day on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Although I love the setting up there, I must admit that coming and going can be a bit of an incredible journey! Thank you Sechelt, for being such a great host to us on Sunday. :)

This Is Why I Come to Work

Every once in a while, you have a day that makes you sit back and go "now THIS is why I come to work!"

Tuesday was that kind of day. It started out with a staff meeting (don't be ridiculous, readers, it wasn't the stats that sent me over the moon with happiness - However, the chocolate muffins from Tim Horton's didn't hurt.)

It was the visitor - or should I say visitors that arrived shortly thereafter that made me smile - and kept me smiling for the rest of the day.

I really am a very lucky lady; I get to open up our  association's magazine and see two pages of smiling faces looking back at me. Their big grins or coy smirks proudly announce that they've joined their forever families.

And on Tuesday, I got to meet a brand new baby boy, who was brought in by the steady arm of his brand new daddy. Every adoption is special, every successful placement its own private miracle, but every once in a while you just sit back and go "Wow. This is why I'm here, this is why I get up and go to work every morning."

This particular father had been waiting a long time to welcome home his little one, and it was so amazing to see him walk through the door as a Daddy, proud and perfectly content with his precious cargo in hand.

Daddy was generous enough to loan me his little son for an extra long snuggle.... and maybe that's why I went home that day and gave my own not-quite-baby boy an extra long hug.

On days when you get to celebrate the most amazing moments of parenthood, it makes my job all the more amazing. Tonight I'll have the pleasure of speaking to dozens of people who are just beginning this journey.

Maybe someday soon I'll watch a few of those faces walk through the door with a baby, or toddler, or teenager in tow, ready to re-introduce themselves to me as "momma" or "poppa" instead of "prospective" parent.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun and Games in the Isolation Ward

I suppose I shouldn't have asked for a padded rubber room in my recent blog. I should be more careful what I wish for. As if by request, we ended up in isolation in Children's over the weekend.

It's not as awful as it sounds. Little Man has been fighting an upper respiratory infection for several months. Each trip to the doctor yielded the same reply, "It's a virus. He'll get better. It's not in his lungs. Nothing we can prescribe."

After two months turned into three, Little Man developed a high fever and barky, congested cough. The dreaded projectile vomiting returned in spades. He screamed for six hours straight overnight and behaved like a possessed demon during the day.

We took him to the Saturday drop-in clinic, where the doctor on call prescribed a strong antibiotic and sent us for chest xrays to rule out pneumonia. We were reassured that while he couldn't hear anything in his lower lungs, the pictures would rule it out for sure.

We refused to go to the local hospital for xrays. This hospital had tried to give my mother a blood transfusion with the wrong type of blood. They read an xray upside down and sent a cousin off for unnecessary emergency heart surgery (they realized the mistake in time). They diagnosed a serious ankle fracture as a sprain - a mistake that cost my husband's sister years of pain and a lifetime of limited ability. Most recently, they sent me home without food as a diabetic who was vomiting and suffering from low blood sugar because the "kitchen was closed" and they couldn't access any juice to bring my blood sugar up.

No thanks. I'll take my son to the experts at Children's Hospital, thank you very much. So off we went to Vancouver... a little better prepared this time. Extra books? Check. Favourite blankee? Check. Three changes of clothes in case he barfs? Check. Check. Check.

We went to admitting and asked for the radiology department. "Sorry," the nurse said "They're closed on weekends and you need an appointment anyways."

She had pity on us, as we'd driven from the burbs to get the best care for our little guy. As if we'd staged it, Little Man woke up, draped himself over his Daddy's shoulder and started hacking up a lung.

"Head on into emergency," the nurse advised. "Show them the requisition, but I'm sorry you'll have to go through the whole process first."

The 'whole process' was expedited by his fever-- and I mean that in the least literal sense. Because of H1N1, any fevered child must wear a mask or be placed in isolation. Now, putting a mask on a fevered, sick 22 month old is about as easy as it sounds. We were whisked off to isolation.

Six hours later, he'd been examined by a legion of health care professionals in scary yellow biohazard suits. He endured an iv for a blood draw, and a session in the xray room strapped down (and arms strapped up) for a glamour session photo-shoot of his lungs.

We explained to three doctors, one resident, and eight staff members who inquired about family history that he was adopted. We're so sorry, but we can't tell you if he's got drug allergies or a family history of heart disease. 

All in all it was a less than horrible hospital experience. We got a private room (woohoo! Thanks H1N1!) and the dvd player worked so we got to watch "Flushed Away" seventeen times in a row while we waited for the blood test results. I've had nightmares about rats in my toilet ever since.

We got home sometime after dark on Saturday evening (or was it Sunday morning?). Little Man didn't scream all night, and -- dare I say it? - he's even looking a little chipper here on Monday morning.

It's always an adventure with our Little Man. I guess we can cross Fun and Games in the Isolation Ward off our list of things to do.