Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Releasing a Breath I Didn't Realize I'd Been Holding

(Photo note: These are also unrelated to the text, also taken by Mugga, and are funny because Harper is trying to boss around a plastic dog.)

This morning I took Harper down the street for an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist.

Here's the story:

When Harper was born the doctors thought they heard a small heart murmur. Then it was thought to have disappeared within a few days of birth. Then she screamed like a wild banshee at her doctor appointments for the next eighteen months. Then, when she was two, she made it through the appointment without crying and her doctor heard the murmur again. She told us it had quite possibly been there the entire time, but we weren't able to hear it over Harper's, um, protests. Our pediatrician requested a follow-up appointment to check things out at 2.5 years. We went back in June, she could still hear it and suggested we go see the cardiologist, just to be sure there was nothing to worry about. She told me repeatedly that it was no big deal.

We kept the referral to the cardiologist pretty much to ourselves. With Harper's peanut allergy, I already carry a fairly heavy load of anxiety and I truly tried not to worry about this appointment today. I was trying not to make a mountain out of a molehill, not to borrow trouble, etc. This is also why we didn't talk about it much, Matt did not rearrange his schedule to be with us at the appointment, I didn't even rush to make the appointment; we did not treat this like a crisis. (Unlike Harper's first peanut reaction, after which I begged for, and made, and allergist appointment for the next day.)

Now I have plenty of moments during which I am not on my way to getting any parenting awards, but I think I get a couple of gold stars for today. For many people the things I did probably fall under parenting 101, but I was feeling on top of my game.

First of all, when the nurse called to confirm the appointment, I had the foresight to ask what they were planning to do, so I could talk to Harper about it beforehand. The nurse thanked me for asking, told me they planned to do an EKG (when there would be little sensors on Harper's chest, arms, and legs), then the doctor would listen to her heart, then they might do an ultrasound/echo if he felt it was necessary. She also told me that Harper would be able to choose a sticker when the appointment was over; a very important detail to the two-year-old set.

Before the appointment this morning I talked with Harper about what would happen, assuring her that nothing would hurt, and she knew that they were going to check her heart out and that she would get stickers if she cooperated -- good enough.

When we got to the office they took us right into the exam room. I filled out paper work while Harper played with a couple of trucks and then was weighed and prepared for the EKG. The nurses were kind and patient and Harper cooperated completely. Once she was all hooked up the EKG was very quick and then Harper got to help peel the sensors (I don't know what else to call them) off when it was finished.

After we had the EKG there was a long wait to see the actual doctor. I pulled out another good mommy trick and retrieved crayons from the bag so Harper and I could draw on the exam table paper. We worked our way through shapes, letters, numbers and were drawing bears in caves and squirrels in trees when the nurse came in to tell us it would be just one more minute. She looked at me and asked if I was a teacher; as she was walking out she said to the other nurse, "Those teachers always know how to use their time well."

I looked at Harper and asked her if I was a teacher. She said yes. Then I asked if I was a teacher right now. Harper said no. Then I asked Harper what my job was now and she said, "To keep me safe."

Isn't that sweet? She knows the answer to that question because it is what I tell her, firmly, after she does things like run away from me in public or attempt to jump off the back of our couch.

By the time the doctor came in, our drawings were covering 90% of the paper. He listened to Harper's heart, checked her pulse, took her blood pressure, looked at the EKG, declared the heart murmur "innocent" and asked us to come back in three years to follow up. No restrictions, no worries. He said the murmur is kind of loud because she doesn't have a very thick chest wall, but he was not worried, and no need for an ultrasound.

Harper tailed him out to the stickers, happily chose a couple, and away we went.

It was only after returning home that I realized how incredibly relieved I was.


Laura said...

Whew... you had me holding my breath throughout your whole story! What a huge relief and weight off your shoulders! I am happy for all of you!

I so much loved Harper's response, knowing that you were keeping her safe. She knows that's what Mom's do and you are doing a great job! You proved your mom- preparedness skills and patience throughout this whole ordeal. Job well done!

Also, since I am behind on my blog posting/reading/commenting, I just wanted to congratulate you on your anniversary and tell you how much I loved your previous post about it. I'm pretty sure you covered every angle of emotion from your anniversary to Harper's antics, all in one day. Your husband's getaway package for the both of you couldn't have been more thoughtful or deserved for such great parents, such as yourselves!

Congrats! Looking forward to hearing all about your great trip!

Giselle said...

Phew! What a relief! You do have enough to worry about with that need to pile more on.

I love Harper's response to what your job is. How sweet! I think I'll post my own story about Andrew's response to that question.

Swistle said...

I'm really glad!

Hey, I just realized I dreamed last night that Harper and Elizabeth were having a playdate.

Mommy Daisy said...

I'm so glad that everything is ok. Yep, teachers are always prepared. ;) I think that you did great, Mom, you should have gotten a sucker after that appointment.

Christine Kane said...

I, too, am happy that everything is perfectly healthy and harmonious! And I'm writing to thank you for the very kind note you sent to me... I'll treasure the picture of Harper. How sweet she is! I look forward to seeing you in October...please come up and say hi after the show!

Emily said...

I think you should get a "Mom of the Year" award, because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have handled all of that so gracefully. Wonderful news, wonderful job. Have fun on your trip without that weight on your shoulders.