After work on Wednesdays, the girls have ballet, and John has band practice. So, John and I meet at Hwy 32 and C to exchange vehicles. When I handed him the breast milk that I had pumped today at work, for him to put in the frig at home, one of the bottles was empty, it's contents at the bottom of my purse, soaked into my planner, a random sock of Dominic's and God knows what else down there in the dark pit of a mother's purse. On the way to ballet, Dominic fussed most of the ride. It was a bored cry. I handed him a few toys, one at a time, and he promptly threw them all on the floor of the van, one at a time in quick succession. Ballet practice went pretty well, while chit chatting with another mom, I found two new teeth in Dominic's mouth. How did those get there? How long have those been there? On the way home from ballet Dominic ramped up the fussing. I tried toys, I tried the radio. I told him to "hush up." Charlotte told me "hush up isn't nice." I told him to "be quiet." Charlotte told me what I tell her so many times, "he doesn't understand you." I started to hand him anything I could find that I knew he couldn't swallow, just to stop the agonizing noise coming from the back seat. I handed him a small Purell bottle, hand sanitizer. He was quiet. It was a miracle, a tiny victory, a moment of softer tones. And then I heard choking and crying and smelled the alcoholic smell of hand sanitizer. Panic. I pulled over, grabbed the bottle, and read the back label. "If swallowed please call poison control." Oh my God. I wiped out his mouth with Cecilia's jacket, searched the internet on my phone for a phone number, and immediately called. Darlene from poison control answered the phone. I told her what happened, how much he weighed, how big the bottle was, etc. Dominic was screaming. She told me to get him out of the car seat and soothe him. So, I was standing in the parking lot of Flieg's Farm equipment, holding a baby, talking on the phone. I didn't look up at the cars going by. The shame was real. She said the bottle is 2 ounces, which is 60 mL, and I told her half of it was still in the bottle, and we have had the bottle awhile, and knew it wasn't full when I gave it to him. She said the highest dose he could have was 15mL, so that was half of what could be missing from the bottle. Did I think he could have swallowed that much? I have no idea. Darlene said we should error on the side of caution, and go to the emergency room. She said he should eat, preferably something with protein, and drink something preferably juice. I told her I wasn't far from home and could I just go home and monitor him. She said the effects could start taking place in 30 minutes. I got off the phone with her and called John. He said I should get juice and come home and observe him here. Luckily Ste. Genevieve has a drive through convenience store, so I drove through and got some milk, took him home, fed him, gave him his first taste of juice ever. He was starving, shoving the food in, and loving the juice. He had juice everywhere. While we're eating dinner, Charlotte has to go potty, can't get her ballet leotard down in time, and pees in front of the washing machine on the way to the bathroom. I tell her to take all her clothes off, and I put a towel over the pee, and commenced with dinner. Darlene called back and asked how he looked, did he seem intoxicated, wobbly, etc. I answered all those questions with a "no." She said that all sounded good, and she'd call back again in 30 minutes. When Dominic was finished eating, I put him on the living room floor to see if he seemed off balance, He didn't. Thank God. No drunk baby here. I picked him up, put on my favorite new song, Madness by Muse, and started to dance. He giggled. Not big giggles, just one little giggle at a time, isn't-this-fun giggles. Naked Charlotte, and Cecilia in ballet clothes joined us. We had a moment, a moment of relief, a moment of forgiving myself, a moment of craziness, a moment of being surrounded by the love that can be created in a family. I put Dominic down, standing in front of me, and he stood for a long time, the longest I've ever seen him stand alone, and then took a step towards me. We did it again, and again. The girls screamed with excitement of Dominic's first steps. He stood there, desperately trying to move his foot, his little toes pushing and stretching, occasionally taking a step or two towards me and then toppling over into my arms.
I wonder if years from now I'll be able to remember the exhaustion, the thrill, of life with tiny people.
Here's the Madness song on youtube. The video is distracting, so if you could find it on spotify, or play the video then minimize the screen, that's what I would suggest.