Friday, November 9, 2012

The Middle One

She had a blood draw this afternoon. A prerequisite to her surgery on Monday. I was not looking forward to it. Maybe even less so than the surgery itself. If any of your young children have ever needed a blood draw, and I'm not talking about a little finger poke, you know how awful these things can be.

Katherine had already been shipped off to Nana's through the surgery date. And William had a birthday party. So Brian, myself and Lucy had a date with the hospital lab.

I didn't tell her what we were there for. Only that it was a checkup before her surgery on Monday. She bounced in with her pigtails and twirly pink dress and smiled broadly at the receptionist.

"I like your pumpkin," she said, pointing to the leftover Halloween decorations on the desk.

"Oh, Mom!" she exclaimed, "Look at that girl! She has a cupcake hat. That's so silly!"

She looked right at the little girl. "I like your hat," she said.

She pranced down the hall to the elevators and pressed the down button.

The lab was empty. The technician seemed confused about us being there. I started to feel my annoyance level rise. If this was any indication of how the blood draw was going to go down I was not going to be happy.

After fifteen minutes of waiting for what, I'm not really sure, we were ushered back to a private room. She sat in the big lab chair and I sat next to her.

"OK, Lucy," said the tech, "We need to get some blood from you."

"OK," she said, not really knowing what that meant.

"When we get blood from you there's a little bit of an owie but it's really fast and then it's done and then the owie is gone. OK?"

"OK." Her voice quivered a little more this time. She was nervous now. And my heart ached. Mostly because she was putting on such a brave face.

They tied the rubber band around her bicep. Brian got out my phone to distract her with Instagram pictures. But she kept looking at her arm.

"Look at the pictures, Lucy," said the tech, "I don't want you to see this."

Why would you say that?! I wanted to scream!

Of course, now she wanted to look.

The needle went in and she yelped. And then she cried. But it wasn't the big screaming dramatic cry I had expected. It was a small whimper of a cry with big huge tears streaming down her face.

All at once I felt as if I had betrayed her. I turned her head into my chest and pressed my lips against her forehead.

"I'm sorry honey," I whispered, "It's almost over."

When they took the needle out and put on her Scooby Doo BandAid, she cried a little more. Softly. With a big pouty lip.

Then I pulled that big three-and-a-half-year-old onto what is left of my lap. And I held her close. Because sometimes all the character BandAids and M&Ms and stickers in the whole wide world aren't enough. Sometimes you just need your mom.

She was a lot more apprehensive when we walked back out into the hall. Before we got onto the elevator I knelt down and looked her right in the eye, "Lucy," I said, "No more owies,OK?"

"OK." She said. But not really sure.

"I promise, that was the last one." And this I know for sure because any IVs or other pokes for the surgery will happen after she's already asleep.

On our car ride home we talked about The Muppet Movie. And her new carseat. And how William will like her Scooby Doo BandAid. And we talked about stopping at Panera Bread for takeout dinner.

And then suddenly, she declared, "This is the best day ever!"

Of course, it wasn't. But to her, always stuck in the middle, always competing with an older brother and a baby sister, this was her shining moment. She had us all to herself.

When we got home she noticed Katherine was not there.

"Hey Mom, where's Katherine?"

"Remember? She's staying with Nana until after your surgery."

And then, much to my surprise, she started to weep. "But I love her. She's my sister and I'm her sister and I want her here with me."

I never even knew these feelings were inside her. Sure she likes Katherine. They get along and everything. But I never knew how deep her love for her baby sister really went. Her profundity never ceases to amaze me.

Lucy's surgery takes place on Monday morning. Prayers are much appreciated. If all goes as planned she should be home by Tuesday afternoon.

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