Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thank You for Thinking I'm Abusive. No, Really - Thank You!

We were back at our favourite hang-out: Children's Hospital ER. This was our first visit due to allegedly detrimental parenting. I say allegedly because I vehemently maintain we did NOT cause (nor fail to prevent) the reason for our visit.

Noah did was most pre-schoolers will do at some point; fall down and bonk his head. More accurately, his face was involved, but the results were scary enough to warrant another pilgrimage to our favourite Emergency Room.

I'd come in late from a baby shower, and Noah heard my key in the door. He instantly sprang to consciousness. I tossed my heels in the closet, hung my coat up and donned my mommy cape. Then I went to tuck him in. 

After a brief cuddle I told him to hop into bed. Which he attempted. Except that he slipped on the body pillow we stash next to his bed (lest he fall out and hit his head - oh the irony!) and he did a perfect face plant onto the wooden bed frame.

I knew it was bad because he didn't cry. He just held his breath for a few seconds before letting out a pitiful howl. I fumbled for the light switch and expected to see blood everywhere or a dangling eyeball.

But I didn't see anything gory. Luckily, the screaming began and I carried Noah out in the kitchen for a full assessment. We could see the bruise forming, and thought we'd lucked out... but then we got The Announcement:

"Mommy! I'm going to BARF!" Which, in true Noah style, he promptly did. Everywhere. And then we noticed the dozens of burst capillaries all over his face.

So... off we went to Children's. Are we neurotic, overly cautious parents? Perhaps. But when your child bumps his face and then barfs, the natural worry is that he's suffered a concussion. I wasn't about to start taking chances with our little man. (He was fine, actually. But we're glad we got him checked out.)

On the drive in, it crossed my mind that perhaps the staff would suspect us of hitting Noah or somehow causing his injury. That fear was confirmed in subtle ways. 

I was asked six or seven times (by various hospital staff) how the accident occurred. They asked verification questions that slightly altered my story to check and see if there were any inconsistencies. They even went so far as to ask Noah directly to explain how he got hurt. Thankfully, he's articulate and capable of accurate recollection. (He even quoted me directly, duplicating my tone of voice with my specific instructions about how exactly I'd like him to get to bed.)

I was really glad for this vigilance. They didn't have to bother, did they? With two hours waits and children much sicker than our son, it would have been easy to process him as fast as possible and move on to the next sick or injured child. 

They could have bought into the myth that normal looking, middle class people don't hurt their kids. (That's something only drug addicted persons, or the mentally ill are capable of, isn't it? And all of them are poor or appear so, aren't they?) But the well-trained hospital staff know better, thankfully. Everyone is a suspect, and that's how it should be. 

Our single-child household looked fairly comfortable in the waiting room. We didn't scream "neglect" or "abuse" (unless dragging your child out in his PJs at 2 am is considered abusive). I still had my dress clothes on from my night out, and Kevin looked presentable, even though I wondered aloud why he wore shorts and a t-shirt in November.  

I was glad the cop in the waiting room didn't give us a break, either. She was there for another purpose - she already had her notepad out when we arrived. But she kept an eye on us that night as soon as she saw us walk in with our toddler and his bruised face.

I'm so thankful for her wordless accusation. In the adoption world, there are countless resilient children who started out in life suffering from abuse and neglect. Most came to be adopted thanks to the care and concern of teachers, social workers, neighbours, extended family - and yes, medical staff and emergency responders who keep an accusatory eye out for the little ones they spend their life caring for.  

Thank you for thinking I'm abusive. Honestly, thank you. It reassures me you are looking out for all this city's children, That warms my heart even while you're determining if I even have one.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jumping Jelly Beans & Mexican Vacations.... Just Your Average Baby Shower

Typical baby shower graphic. Please note the presence of a pregnant belly,
and the absence of copy of approved homestudy/openness agreement/
and guests including adoptive parents, judges, social workers, foster parents, etc...

Last night I had the priviledge of attending a "celebrity baby shower" in downtown Vancouver. I won tickets from The Beat to attend a baby shower for their pregnant morning show host Nira Arora.

It ended up being a feel good, charity diaper drive event held at Absolute Spa in the Century Hotel. Guests got spoiled - free spa treatments, make-up sessions, and tons of fun party games were promised. The icing on the baby cake was a trip for four to Mexico. (Sadly, I did not win. I call conspiracy, but that's another story.)

When I won the event tickets, I called up a good girl friend - one that is terrified of parenthood and has no immediate, or longterm plans for motherhood. Perfect. We could talk about school or work or vacations if the baby stuff became too much for either of us.

I was a bit trepidacious because I hadn't been to a baby shower in a couple of years. In fact, one of the lasts one I attended was my own. Just over two years ago we celebrated our brand new, seven-month-old bundle of joy.

I wondered how much obvious disparity I'd feel between my own shower and the one offered for this expectant mom. Would the games, as usual, focus overtly on the pregnancy? When showers are hosted prior to the child's birth or adoption, it's hard NOT to put the emphasis on the parent-to-be.

I knew I'd be talking to other women - many of them mothers, some of them expecting, and honestly didn't want to have to explain to total strangers (or on-air personalities) that the reason I had no serious strech marks or opinions on VBacs or breast-feeding bras or belly bands was because it never applied to me.

Don't get me wrong, I adore pregnant bellies and newborn nieces and nephews and am just as excited to hear a friend's pregnancy announcement as I am to hear that a child has come home through adoption. The problem is, I have adoption on the brain, and events which highlight the differences between biological and adoptive parenting don't ease the adopt-o-cephalus I'm experiencing.

You see, I've been to showers where attendees must guess the number of linked toilet paper sheets required to circumnavigate the pregnant belly. I've been asked to contribute to a pie chart of pregnancy cravings. I've lent my wedding band to a party host who dangled my ring over an expanding belly, and feigned interest as she chanted something in pig Latin and rolled my eyes quietly as she announced, "She's having a boy! No, a girl! Um... well, one or the other for sure!"

I've played "pin the baby on pregnant lady" or, worse "pin the sperm on the egg". I've even heard of parents who've been asked bring baby photos of themselves and their children. The purpose? For other guests to match up mother-to-child. (Um, excuse me, if we're guessing based on looks the adoptive family is NOT going to win this round! Or maybe they will, if the point is to stump the entire crowd.)

I've heard guests exchange whispered horror stories of their own deliveries - "LOOK at her. She's as big as a house. Hope she's having an epidural."

I would like an epidural, please.

What happened last night ... was actually surprising. There were games, like match the celebrity to their children... but guess what? At least 1/3 of that list included adoptive families. There was focus on mom and baby bump, of course, but nothing that offended the highly critical eye of this adoption advocate.

Darn it, I actually had a good time! I even took home a spa gift bag for generating the longest list of baby items in a five minute period. 65 items, thank you very much - and none of them were specific to biological parenting!

So while I did not win the trip to Mexico (I'm still waiting for a jelly bean re-count, Beat executives!) I had a REALLY great time at a baby shower. Although I doubt it was planned this way, it was perfectly respectful of all types of parenting. I even got a free foot massage to finish the night.

Hmm. I might not need that epidural after all.