Today, we thought Noelle had dislocated one or both of her shoulders.
On our way out to the zoo with Grammy, Grandpa and Noelle, I walked out of the house to find Noelle draped from her father's shoulders by the wrists. The minute she saw me she began whimpering. Dwayne let her go and I took her. At which point she began crying.
I put her in her car seat thinking she was just having a fussy morning, and watched as she curled into a ball, her arms limp at her sides. Big tears rolling down her cheeks.
We barreled down the freeway and I pestered Noelle with silly games, trying to get her to lift her arms. An anxious knot was tying in my stomach.
"Noelle, where is your eye?" She wouldn't respond just cried. "Let's sing 'The Wheels on the Bus'." Still no movement. "We're going to the zoo. Guess what you're going to see?" Finally she calmed down and looked at me with big red eyes. "You're going to see Reggie the Alligator! What do Alligator's do?"
Really this was a dirty trick. It's a game Noelle and I play based on one of her favorite books. I ask her, "What do Alligator's do?" And then she raises her little hand and rubs her chubby fingers together in an effort to snap. "That's right they snap!" I say and show her with my own fingers.
But this time, Noelle tried to lift her little hand and immediately melted into a heap of tears, dropping her arm back down to her side.
"Dwayne, I'm really worried," I said.
"Well, lift up her arm," Dwayne instructed. I gritted my teeth and lifted Noelle's wrist.
We called the doctor, who told us to go to the ER, and then gave us faulty directions to the ER. I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin, as we waited at each stoplight, rolled behind slow drivers, and then back-tracked over wrong streets to get to the Hospital.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law were in no better shape. Grammy was tearing up and Grandpa kept turning around to hold Noelle's foot.
In the meantime, Noelle sunk into sleep, as if the pain was too much and it was just easier to drift away. She slept for about 15 minutes, until we finally reached the hospital. Dwayne pulled her out gingerly.
She cried some more, her arms hanging limp on either side, and buried her face into his shoulder.
"I think my daughter's shoulders or elbows are dislocated," I said, like a madwoman. Dwayne shuffled in behind me with Noelle, followed by Grammy and Grandpa. We filled out the papers and took our seat in the waiting room.
I knew that I couldn't sit and wait. My heart was pounding, my nerves were jumping. "I'm going to the bathroom." I said to Dwayne and marched down the hall.
When I returned I found Noelle sitting on Dwayne's lap, bright as sunshine. She lifted and arm and grabbed the chair. Dwayne's head snapped up and we locked eyes.
"Noelle, where's your eye?" Dwayne asked. She lifted her little hand and pointed to her eye. A grin broke across her face.
We watched as Noelle proceeded to touch her eyes and her head with both arms. Dwayne suddenly laughed. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
A strange ball of emotion broke inside of me. First relief washed over me. Then confusion. The embarrassment. Then frustration. What was going on? Had this all been a mistake? Had I imagined it? Was I that over dramatic that I would drag my family to the ER for a few tears? "Lord," I thought, "I'm loosing it!"
We clamored back into the car, without seeing a doctor. "Did I imagine it?" I asked Grammy and Grandpa.
"No. No!" they chimed back. "No she was definitely in pain," my father-in-law responded.
Is this what motherhood feels like? The early onset of Alzheimer's? Reality slipping away from you? Your emotions whipping over things you don't know ever existed?
We went on to the Zoo, had a picnic, saw the bear, and the tiger, and the dragons of komodo.
We walked out of the lemur exhibit one at a time. Noelle tottered out holding Dwayne's hand and I straggled behind. I looked up just in time to watch as my daughter suddenly threw a tantrum. She arched her spine, and threw her head back with such force that she fell backwards from a standing position and landed on her head on the cement with a thump so loud everyone in the exhibit spun around.
I just about threw up.
Tonight, I'm laughing convulsively.
Tomorrow, I'll be in a white jacket.