I drove to Omaha all by myself, found my location (only having to turn around twice and calling my sister-in-law in a panic once), and found my way home again.
Now, I had detailed Google directions plus instructions from the Children's Hospital and was so overly confident in my abilities, I had prematurely started to write this blog in my head. I was going to say that this was the very first time I had driven in Omaha. (Even though technically it was the second, but since I try to block out the memories of the actual first time when I took the wrong exit, got lost, was rudely honked at, and came very close to a nervous breakdown... I was going to declare it the first).
As I was writing this mental blog, I realized it was Exit time. My directions clearly stated "Take Exit 3" and then the next step was "Turn Right at the Stoplight." Well, I took Exit 3, but could someone please tell me why in the world Omaha has sub-exits upon exits?? You take the exit, and then all of a sudden you have to make a split second decision about which way to veer in the middle of the exit, while trying to read both signs, and potentially swerve across 4 lanes of traffic??
Google-you failed me. You said nothing about this. I had absolutely no warning.
As you might guess, in the .025 seconds I had to make a decision, I made the wrong one and ended up on what is called the "Expressway." As I had never before driven on an "Expressway," I didn't realize that the definition included 600 lanes of traffic traveling at warp speed upon towering heights....
Since there were no stoplights (how could there be when you're driving 10,000 miles/hour??) I knew I was in the wrong place. Thankfully my lovely sister-in-law was home from work and was able to guide me safely and semi-calmly back to my destination.
I found the Hospital, but then proceeded to follow Google's directions instead of the Hospital's as to where to park (mistake #2), so ended up turning around a few times to get to the right parking garage. Yes, I am that U-turn-in-the-middle-of-the-road car you savvy-driving Omaha citizens love to loathe.
Next, I went to the wrong floor and checked in at the wrong place.. details....
The actual appointment was rather uneventful. The ENT specialist Ella saw confirmed what we already suspected. She has fluid in her ears and we will try to put tubes in, but it may be difficult with her tiny ear canals. No big surprises there (but that's a good thing.)
After the appointment was over, my sister-in-law picked me up and we went out for a lovely lunch at Jones Bros. Cupcakes. One word: YUM.
And the most wonderful thing happened there. Even more wonderful than my Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cupcake... I know, right?? Mmmmmmm.....
There were some younger-ish middle-age ladies a few tables over that I noticed looking over at our table. It was fairly obvious and went on for some time. I, in all my glorious insecurities, wondered what they were thinking?? Did they notice Ella's eyes didn't quite open all the way? That her eyebrows are more arched than most other babies? Did they somehow know she is 15 months old, but looks and acts more like a 9 month old? Did they think she looked funny? Were they wondering what was "wrong?"
They soon got up to refill their waters and simultaneously Ella squirmed on my lap, kicked her little size-1 foot out, and sent our splendor-filled cupcakes flying in slow-motion through the air, landing with a loud clattering of the plate. On the floor.
Which was devastating, of course, but conveniently opened up a conversation with these gawking ladies. One of them said, "Well, I'll bet they'll just give you a new one because she's so cute!" I smiled and of course agreed, but it didn't stop there. The ladies suddenly surrounded us and were all oodling over Ella. They were saying how she was the cutest thing they're ever seen, how she's just a doll baby, they loved her hair, and I must just hear this all the time... They were just in awe. At one point I wondered if they were ever going to leave!
It's a truly wonderful feeling when someone tells you your children are cute. But it is something else entirely when your baby, who you have fought so hard to even keep in this world, and who you worry about how she will be accepted by society every single day, is something that is adored, loved by complete strangers... amazing. (And we did get free replacement cupcakes.) :)
After that, my sister-in-law and I decided to drive out to World Market to spend ridiculous amounts of imaginary money. And feed Ella her bottle, of course. This is where the 2nd drama of the day began. After realizing World Market had closed (sad!) she backed her brand-new Rainier into a pole at Children's. And mere minutes later, immediately upon arrival at the strip mall, I accidentally creeped a little too far ahead in my parking spot and nudged into her hitch.... This vehicle is so new it doesn't even have license plates on yet! I should have known to call it quits right then.
Instead, I made possibly one of the worst decisions of my life. Ella had fallen asleep in the car, and since she hadn't eaten a bottle yet that day, I thought it was important to try and sneak her out of her car seat, feed her a bottle while she was half-asleep, then quietly slip her back in and continue blissfully on our way home.
Well, we decided to sit at Pier 1 to spend the imaginary money we had left over from not being able to go to World Market, and also because they would have comfy, fabulous-looking couches to sit on..
Everything was going as planned. Ella was still asleep so I carefully lifted her out of her car seat and tried to sneak the bottle in. Well, she woke up. And flat-out refused to eat.
What a waste of a bottle and a nap. I decided we'd just head home and hope she would play quietly for awhile, then fall back asleep. HA!
Normally Ella really likes riding in the car... Well, not this time. She was fussing and screaming and since we all know she absolutely cannot in any circumstances be allowed to cry, I was driving with one hand, frantically searching for the pacifier with the other hand, and trying to assume a contortionist position to try to hold the bottle in her mouth behind me with another hand (Don't think too hard about that).. Be thankful I wasn't texting.
But I could.not.find.the.pacifier. I was mortified. My mind raced. Where could it be??
The unthinkable must have happened.
We left it at Pier 1.
And since no one in their right mind brings small children to Pier 1, I just knew our dear paci, who is like a beloved family member to us, was destined to be thrown into the abyss of all things that do not belong in a store like that. I could envision it joining with the ranks of large bouncy balls, river stones, sledgehammers, and red-eyed stampeding bulls.
I didn't know what to do.
I saw a sign. It said Sioux City: 73 miles.
It had to be a full 2 hours of misery later that I saw another sign. Sioux City: 65 miles.
This was the trip that never ends.
As I rolled into Fremont, I smelled the familiar aroma of what I thought was a slaughterhouse.. or a sale barn.. or a hog confinement.
And then I realized that the odor was not coming from cattle. But instead was wafting up from the precious child I carried in my backseat.
Thank goodness for Sapp Bros. They sell everything! Do you think they might have a pacifier??
I went to remove said odorific child from her car seat and behold! There was the pacifier. ALLELULIA!!
We went in to get all cleaned up and I noticed their bathrooms were newly remodeled and beautiful. There was new tile, bright lighting, and individual sinks in every single stall.
And there was no changing table.
I did find out after the fact that there is a separate "family" bathroom, equipped with a shower for the truckers that the changing table is discretely hidden in. Do truckers often haul babies??? Just wondering..
The rest of the trip was rather uneventful. Ella slept, I drank Diet Coke. And we mercifully made it home.
I have never been so relieved to hear the crunch of gravel beneath my tires in all my life.
Unfortunately I will have to venture back into the big city in a few weeks for our tubes appointment.
Wanted: Driver. Able to get one anxious adult and one ridiculously cute, small child safely to Omaha and back. Must be able to quickly decipher misleading exit signs, make split second decisions (preferably the right ones), steer clear of ramming into family member's brand-new vehicles, and deliver us to the hospital without looking like a frazzled, shaky, pit-stained mess. (Not at all saying that's what I looked like...) :)