Last Friday, I took our triplets for their 18-month check up. It was to be a routine appointment… height, weight, maybe a shot or two… or three… all the standard stuff. On the ride over though, it occurred to me there is really no such thing as a “routine” trip to the pediatrician.
I can’t help but recall one of our most eventful visits, when I had all three babies by myself – as I often do. It was last fall and we were going for flu shots. I can’t remember if it was swine flu or seasonal flu or the first dose or second… with so many kids getting so many shots, I kind of lost track… yet another parenting reality that I’m not so proud of but, there it is. In any case, I had raced home from work, thrown the kids in the car and sped away without so much as a wipe along for the ride. Big mistake.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I heard a strange, gurgling noise coming from the back seat and just as I put the car into park, Kevin puked all over himself. No problem, I thought, this is easy. I just whipped him out of the fleece he was fortunately wearing, wiped him down with the inside of a clean sleeve and popped him into the stroller. The double stroller. I have to take the double stroller vs. the triple to the doctor’s office because the triple doesn’t fit in the elevator or through the doors. Which left me single-handedly pushing a double-stroller while lugging along my third one year old. I must say, they didn’t look too happy to see us when we walked through the door fifteen minutes late and smelling like puke.
“How’s everyone feeling today?” the nurse asked with a forced smile. “Oh, fine! Just fine!” I replied. I’d gone down this track before – this was at least our fifth visit for flu shots. We kept going and kept getting denied because someone had a cold or an ear infection or a fever and they refused to give us the damn shot. Vomit hadn’t come up before so, I thought it best to keep it to myself lest be denied the coveted flu vaccine once again. As I rolled the double stroller and dragged my kids into the tight exam room, a different nurse approached us with a thermometer and a glint in her eye. “So, they’re all fine, you say?” “Um, yeah, I think so. I mean, Kevin might have spit up a bit on the way over but I think he’s ok.” And that was it. Out came the thermometer and down went my hopes for ever leaving with three vaccinated kids.
Sure enough, two of three had fevers – and yes, one was Kevin, King of the Back Seat Hurl. So, despite my best efforts, just one kid got just one shot because of course, they were now out of the swine flu vaccine. As I sighed and tried to keep my cool, I realized that I now had several return trips in my future – and the associated scheduling nightmare that goes along with a trio of tots who needs lots of shots.
As I juggled my babies and blackberry to check available dates, someone in the waiting room gasped, a kid screamed “EW! GROSS!” and a kind woman gently pointed and said “One of them just threw up. A lot. Oh you poor dear, you really have your hands full.” Huh. Now what to do? It was Kevin again. And he’d already been stripped of his fleece. And he was soaked to the skin and my only available supplies were the tissues the nice lady kept handing to me. That’s when I noticed the pumpkin costume in the bottom of the stroller and couldn’t help but smile. While the waiting room watched in horror and I kept Cormac and Declan entertained with my wallet and car keys, I stripped Kev down to his diaper, popped him in the pumpkin costume, bid them all adieu and rolled us all out.
So, while last Friday’s visit was certainly no walk in the park and I did have to juggle three babies with three shots each all by myself, it was a relatively routine trip by comparison. I remembered my diaper bag (although I forgot the sippy cups which might have stopped the post-shot screaming) and the nurse with the glint in her eye seemed to have a newfound respect for us. The way I see it, there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a little ingenuity and good humor – even if it means leaving the pediatrician in a pumpkin costume.