play it again: boundaries

Originally published October 11, 2010

As parents, we are forever putting up and enforcing boundaries. It’s our job. Our kids believe that we enjoy putting up barriers and roadblocks to hinder them and hold them back in spite of our assurances that we do not enjoy this part of our job…let’s keep it our secret that we enjoy this part…a lot!

But seriously, as parents we encounter boundaries and barriers all the time that are put into place by our own hand, our own words and our own heart. We don’t expect that there will be barriers and boundaries that keep us from our own children. Thrown into the vortex of the NICU or the PICU with a critically ill newborn or child is definitely one of those places where a parent will suddenly find that they have little if no control at all. Even worse, from my own personal experience, is when you, the parent, is also a medical professional. Your child, your baby is critically ill and you have a very good understanding of exactly what is going on. For any parent, it is very easy to bump up against the boundaries of a NICU or PICU setting. For the parent who is also an experienced nurse, a physician, it is almost a given that the barrier between parent and medical professional will be broken down. What else could possibly happen. We, as parents, are frightened to near death seeing our own child in crisis. As pros, we can run through our mind the worst case scenario and outcome with a few blinks of an eye. It’s painfully hard not to try to intervene. We’re parents…we’re good parents. We just have bumped against the barrier that separates us the mom or dad and us the nurse or doctor.

I recall one night in the NICU where I pretty much blew down the barrier between me the mom and me the NICU nurse. Daniel required a ventilator to breathe for him for the first 11 weeks of his life but he often would self extubate knocking loose or even grabbing a hold of and pulling out the breathing tube he needed. What can I say, he was a fighter who drove his care team crazy. This one particular night, I was visiting and helping his nurse bathe and weigh him when…oops, he did it again. As his nurse, respiratory therapist and neonatologist prepared to re-intubate him, there I was standing over him watching him become paler and seeing his little chest caving in exposing every single rib as he struggled with each breath. His care team gently tried to have me step aside but I could not be moved.

“I think he can do this. I think we need to give him a chance.”, I stated as the alarms on his monitor argued loudly otherwise.

It was then that Daniel’s doctor, a colleague and a friend of mine, demanded that I step out of the room now. Before I could argue back, she told me she would come get me when she was done. I stepped out of that room and it suddenly hit me. I crossed that line. I actually crossed it in such a way that I was hindering my own child’s care. My behavior was putting him into jeopardy. Just thinking that brought the flood of hot tears. I ran out of the unit crying.

After what was certainly an eternity, Daniel’s doctor came out to the waiting area to get me. Hugging me, she assured me that Daniel was easily re-intubated and back on the ventilator, pink, stable and now sleeping in his bed. She then faced me colleague to colleague and asked me pointedly if I honestly, as a NICU professional, felt that Daniel was ready to breathe on his own…if he was my patient and not my child, would I have argued with her that way. Of course I knew the answer was no. No, of course I wouldn’t and I knew that. It was then that Daniel’s doctor built up that boundary brick by brick that separated me, the NICU nurse, from me, Daniel’s mom. In order to be the very best mom for my child, I could not, should not, would not be my child’s nurse. It wasn’t easy. It has never been easy as Daniel’s mother or as Zoë’s mother or as Jodie’s mother and certainly as Holly’s and as Hazel’s Mi-Ma. I can’t offer a how-to. All I can offer is that sometimes, for the sake of our children, there are boundaries for us, the parents. Of course we don’t have to like it, we can even push against them if we dare. But just like the ones we build for our children, these boundaries are there for the sake of our children.

another flight, another boarding pass

To Texas we go!

No, not the whole circus act. Not this time.

Bill’s high school/drum corps/perpetually single/Hawaiian shirt wearing friend, Gary, is finally getting married!

Finally!

Without the fabled Hawaiian shirt that he has always worn when visiting the Big Top. My poor girls felt sorry for the eternal bachelor who was their Daddy’s best friend because obviously the guy only had one shirt.

He has that kind of sense of humor.

It took an amazing lady to get our friend Gary to finally settle down and want to get hitched. A special lady who helped him stock his refrigerator with much, much more than condiments and beer. Lucky Gary!

Of course Bill is Gary’s best man because there can only be one best man.

The wedding could be staged in the San Francisco area where Gary (and soon his lovely bride) resides because it is October and the weather in the Bay Area is perfect. Or it could be in Texas where it is literally a 5 day, 2 city event with temps projected to be in the 90s with HUMIDITY and thunderstorms.

And so, to Sugar Land and San Antonio we go!

Yee-HAW!

We’re ready.

After seeing some of the posts on the Passenger Shaming Instagram and Facebook page, we plan to wipe everything down because…colds and flu season…

and…

OMG….

did you see the pictures?1?!?!?…

people are freaking gross!!!!

Meanwhile, fear not, the kids will be all right. Nobody tell Abby and Jodie that Daniel is really the one in charge with his bro-in-law and sister Hollie as backup. We’re the only ones who have to know.

 

boarding pass for Daniel

Even though it was 6 years ago, I remember Daniel’s first flight as if it was just yesterday.

Magical it was! Perhaps because he is so magical. We never really did leave the Earth, as he imagined. If only.

Then in the news today we learned that there is an opportunity for such an adventure, a journey to Mars!

Daniel got his boarding pass.

Have you?

Get it. Be a part of the journey.

 

potential dress code violations

Sitting in Hollie’s chair:

I know. I’m sorry. It’s absolutely frightening how I look without makeup. Still I don’t care because…

I’m getting PAMPERED!!! As I should be. As I deserve to be.

And then Hollie says to me, “I just LOVE how you let me do whatever to your hair.

I nod because it’s true. And then I catch a glimpse of…

OMG! Purple!! Purple like…

Sure it’s the IT color right now from fuschias to lavendars to deep purples to silver tones. It’s hot. Of course Hollie is fast becoming the go to person to get these luscious, colorful locks here in the Central Valley. But…dress codes…”natural hair color”…Absolutely I am a woman of a certain age who could wear the blueish-purplish-silvery hair and it would be totally legit…but, I don’t know.

“MOM! Stop peeking!!!”

I confess that now I am nervous but I keep repeating to myself how much she loves that I trust her…over and over until…

Signature copper with deep violet-red roots painted on as if baby I was born this way.

Naturally!

I may save tiny human beings but my girl makes me beautiful and that, based on the presented photographic evidence is truly miraculous.

 

 

chief cookie advisor

Fallon, who are you talking to?

Obama.

You’re talking to President Obama?

Uh-huh.

What are you talking to Mr. Obama about?

Cookies.

Cookies?

Yes, cookies. I need to talk to Obama now. K?

and so she returns to her very important phone conversation…with Obama…about cookies because she is Fallon Elizabeth, Chief Cookie Advisor to President Obama.