Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baby Root Canals and Warrior Moms

Today was one of those days as a mom, where one has to hike up her pants, put on her deodorant, and survive on pure bravado.
I try not to toot my own horn on here… but I totally rock on those days.
I have an ability to get stuff done.  I can be nonchalant, and act like something is no big deal, even when I am having a panic attack inside. I would like to say that all mothers have this, but I don’t think that’s true. Some moms are total patsies… and some moms are warriors. The patsy moms are of course, willing to fight fire for their children, but sometimes balk at the thought of joining them in a hospital room, or dentist chair.
I am blessed to know one of the warrior moms actually. Attilla the Hun would run from her. Her name is Janis Keller, and she is the mother of my best friend Johni who grew up with Cystic Fibrosis.  A more formidable mom I have yet to meet.  I would like to think that I am a warrior, but nothing quite drastic enough has ever put my battle skills to the test, and hopefully never will. However, I am quite possibly a novice warrior… yeah I think that fits.
Today, my almost 5 year old Mads had to get two pulpotomies on her back bottom molars. This is when a dentist… eh I wont bore you. Think of them as baby root canals.
Here’s the scoop.
Today we woke up at *ahem* 7am.  It I got up and got Mads dressed, rolled my 2 year old out of her crib, and we left at about 8am. My cousin was planning on watching Roo at her house, so I didn’t bother to dress her. Big mistake. I didn’t give us enough time to bring Roo to my cousin’s before the appointment, so she had to meet us at the office. So we show up bleary eyed, with Mads and I dressed like normal people and Roo…not. She has started taking her clothes off in the mornings before she wakes me up, so I have had to improvise. Today she was wearing a backwards pair of sleeper pajamas, the ones that zip up the front. In order to get them to fit properly, I’ve had to cut the feet off, and cut a little notch in the front  (back) so they don’t choke her.  Then I added some socks, no shoes and a sweater that didn’t even vaguely match. The poor thing looked like a ragamuffin, and was totally oblivious to the fact. Plus, she was running around the office in her socks. *shudder*
When we got there, I found out that our insurance doesn’t kick in until March 1st. A whole month away. Ok, then I will pay for this first visit out of pocket, and ask the dentist if perhaps we can wait a month before doing any procedures. Unfortunately, the previous dentist of doom we visited took bad x-rays, so there is another $50 dollars for today. I can handle that…barely.
We went back to see the dentist and Mads was an angel. She sat quietly while they did x-rays again, and while they checked out her teeth.
Me: "Is there any way we could wait until the insurance starts on March 1st, before doing any of the procedures?"
Dentist: "blah blah blah… she may lose the teeth if we wait that long… or she could be fine."
Me (thinking in my head): well that sure clears things up.
This next part I will try to speed through, as it was the most annoying.
I went to the front desk, and was told they could do a partial fix, and then we could come back later and finish them up. Ok, I say, lets do that.
The partial fix was $450 with no insurance. Time to call Mad’s dad. I have to admit, for all the complaints I have with the guy, he certainly pulled through. While I am trying to get it figured out with him, and giving him the number to the dentist while he tries to call his insurance and see WHY THE HECK ITS NOT WORKING YET… my phone goes dead. Completely dead. No juice.
Lovely timing… piece of junk phone.
We finally got it all figured out, with the dentist considerably richer in the process. And it was time to take Mads back for her procedure.
I really did not want to do it. Really, really did not want to do it.
The dentist assured me that I could be in the room if I wanted to, but that most children did considerable better if a parent wasn’t present. And I totally trusted the dude.
Before I go any farther, let me describe Mad’s dentist.
When I first saw him, he was wearing jeans, lace up boots and a sweatshirt. Not a sweater, a sweatshirt with some sort of writing on the front. Bless you normal dentist, you just put my mind at ease with your inappropriate work attire. He is in his 60’s I would guess, and built like Santa without the beard and unruly hair. When we first met he told me he had 5 children. If you are a mother, you know why this would make me even more comfortable with the guy. He asked Mad’s about her ratty old blankie, and told us about how his son would use his tie as a lovey while they were at church. Could you please come home with us Mr. Dentist? Because you are adorable.
Moving on…
I took Mads back, and got her situated on the chair.
Me: “Ok, I’m going to go out to the front now so I’m not in the dentist’s way. They might have to put the nose thing on (laughing gas) like we talked about, no big deal right?”
Mads: “Ok mom.”
Me: “Give me a smooch, I’ll see you in a little bit”
Mads: “Ok.”
And I was out of there, but I didn’t go far.
I quickly walked out to the waiting room to let my mom know that Mads was doing just fine. Then I sat down for… about 23 seconds, and I was on my way back to where Mads was.
 Well that’s not true. I had myself a quick freak out, because I left my tiny baby back there on a huge dentist chair without me. Then I went back totally dry eyed to check on her.
 I expected the office ladies to shoo me away, but I actually ran into one while trying to sneak back, and she gave me a big smile. Okie dokie, guess this dentist office isn’t worried about crazy parents checking on their kids. What a relief.
It was awful. Not Mads, she was fabulous, the situation was awful. She just lay there, quietly letting the dentist do his thing. I was so impressed. The dental assistant put Taylor Swift on the radio especially for Mads. I got teary eyed again, and sniffed it back. I could see that she was fine without me, but I just stood there around the corner watching them work.
And here’s where my warrior came in.
She started whimpering. And her legs started fidgeting. And I knew that she was upset, but the rest of her body lay completely still while they finished fixing her mouth. I KNEW that if I went in to comfort her, she would lose it. And I knew that they had to finish what they were doing. But it was one of the hardest things ever, watching my baby be upset, and very brave, and knowing that I would make it worse if I went to save her. My heart was breaking, right there in the dentist’s office. And I continued to sit there and watch, even though she didn’t know I was there.  That is strength. Doing something for your kids that they don't understand, something that may be painful or scary, and never letting them know that you are just as scared as they are.
When they sat her up, she just looked at the floor and sat with her arms hunched in, not talking. I swept into that room like a hurricane and picked her up as quick as I could. The moment I held her she put her face in my neck and started to sob. My poor baby. She was freaked out about her face being numb, but I calmed that fear down, and then she started to cry when she told me it hurt. Have you ever felt so horrible that your chest actually ached, physically ached? I knew I was doing what was best for her, but I still felt horrible for doing it. (a mother’s prerogative)
I told her how brave she was, how good she did, and that I was just outside the room the whole time. I never left her. She says that she wasn’t brave because she cried. I told her that bravery is when you do something because you know you have to, even though you are scared. I figure we were both pretty brave today, but I didn’t tell her that. As far as she knows, I still think it was no big deal.
Here’s the coolest thing about today:
My four year old got baby root canals with no sedation. She was not strapped down. She didn’t even need laughing gas because she was so brave. .. and she’s not even scared to go back next month.
Maybe my baby is going to be a warrior too.


  1. Oh, I totally teared up reading this. Sorta reminds of when Ty had to get ear tubes- necessary but so hard. Good job Nicky. And way to go Mads! Here's to uneventful dental visits from now on!

  2. awwwwwwww I absolutely adore your blogs!! This is so cute, and you make a lot of good points. Question: are these here adult teeth? I was thinking if they are her baby ones, she could just have them taken out to make way for the other ones, because a root canal is a lot of pain and stress if the teeth are just going to fall out later?