Last night Megan and I took Kate to her first - of few, we hope - visit to the emergency room. Let me say first that she is fine, don't worry. When changing Kate's diaper last night Megan found what looked like blood in her urine. Switching into protective mother mode, Megan called the after-hours nurse hotline, who, after asking a series of questions including what Kate had to eat that day, advised us to take her to the St. Louis Children's Hospital and to ask for a special section called CARES, where they would be waiting for us. In this case, the nurse's attentiveness actually scared Megan, who feared it meant we were dealing with something serious.
Luckily, Jenny was available to take Clara, and when we arrived at the emergency room, we were escorted to a separate section of the hospital. Megan asked what CARES stood for but the nurse hesitated when answering - it was then that I realized how frightened Megan was. "Do you not want to tell me?" she asked the nurse. The giant sign that said "Radiology" just added to our fear. But he wasn't hesitating out of respect for the gravity of the situation; he really didn't know what it stood for. Several people working in the CARES section didn't know either, but we were reassured when it turned out to be just a separate emergency room for children whose doctors called ahead - kind of a way to bypass the regular crowded emergency room. It's called the Center for After-hours Referral Emergency Services (although the best guess we got from a nurse there was Children's Ambulatory Referral Emergency Services). If anyone in St. Louis has to take a child to the emergency room for any reason, I suggest calling your doctor and getting into CARES - it probably saved us hours.
The doctor reassured us that there was no reason to worry, that they'd check her urine for sign for blood and then move on from there. Often, she said, discolored urine is unexplained, but if no blood is present there's no danger. Poor Kate weathered the visit like a champ, mostly smiling and making sweet noises at anyone who passed us - the doctor said they weren't used to a visiting child who was so happy. But two hours after her usual bedtime, Kate turned into a lunatic. When she wasn't desperately trying to get anywhere but where she was or wailing at the injustice of it all, she was belly laughing at nothing. At first I was playing peek-a-boo with her, which she found quite pleasing, but then she began laughing at nothing and didn't stop. Now I know I'm funny. Correction, I'm hilarious (to my children.) But I wasn't doing anything!
Finally the doctor returned with the good news that they didn't find any blood and we could take her home. Kate fell asleep in Megan's arms and as I got the car I saw a dad pull up with his high school age son, still fully dressed in his football uniform. His ankle was wrapped and he had to be helped out of his car. I couldn't help but flash back to when I paid a similar visit to an emergency room in Sacramento with a broken arm after a high school football game. It just highlighted the fact that while this night was a false alarm, one or both of the girls will probably be back to the emergency room at some time in their lives.