Leaden


You wouldn’t believe that sweet little peanut could have lead poisoning, would you?

Enough days have passed since I got that news (about ten) that I can write about this without it looking something like, “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODPANICPANICPANICXXXXXX!!!!!!!11111” But I am not ashamed to say that I cried at my desk that day and had what felt very much like a minor panic attack.

What his doctor will say is “elevated lead level” because the words “lead poisoning” tend to make parents’ faces melt off. But the internet tells me the truth, and Alden’s 11 earns him the title by one point. So he’s mildly lead poisoned. Which, to me, feels like being mildly flung off the top of a high building.

It was the remodeling of our 100-year-old apartment in New York, of course. The fucking flood caused by our upstairs neighbor and her illegal plumbing by some uninsured jackass whose only qualifications was the ownership of an assortment of wrenches. The subsequent mold infestation. The declaration of our apartment as a hot spot. The men in space suits who quarantined our apartment for a week while they ripped out our floor, our walls, our ceiling, and abated all the mold.

We tried to be so careful. We moved out for two months. We cleaned. We corralled. We worried. We researched. I guess I should be glad his level wasn’t much much higher. I try not to dwell on the fact that it probably was quite a bit higher than it is now. I also try not to dwell on his pediatrician saying that he’s so young that his growing brain will almost surely compensate for any damage done. What if that little bit of brain that had to compensate would have otherwise been used to write an award-winning book about his mommy?

He’s going to be fine. That is, of course, all that matters. We’re going for a more detailed blood test on Friday. I don’t know how they draw a bigger blood sample from a baby, but it’s just a few moments in our life and we’ll get through it. Someone who would know pointed out to me that those of us who grew up in the era of leaded gas probably all had lead levels higher than Alden. That was infinitely comforting. And I will do what I can do. I’ll continue to load him up on iron and calcium. I will keep his environment as clean and healthy as I possibly can. I’ll nurse him. I’ll buy organic. I’ll limit his exposure to potential allergens and other things that could challenge his system. I will nibble his belly. I will let him eat my dinner. He’ll be fine.

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22 responses to this post.

  1. How absolutely terrifying. I’m glad he’s going to be okay. The pictures are beautiful, with the light in his reddish hair.

    Reply

  2. How absolutely terrifying. I’m glad he’s going to be okay. The pictures are beautiful, with the light in his reddish hair.

    Reply

  3. Oh, honey. When something like this happens, call.
    It will be okay. It really will.
    And leave Google alone. You are not a doctor and you are not a scientist.

    Reply

  4. He’s adorable. Don’t ever cut that gorgeous hair!
    How terrifying! There’s really nothing more frightening than discovering that thing from which we could not protect our children. For Liam, it was the asthma. You do everything right, you try so hard to protect them, and sometimes things happen despite your diligence. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t panic. And for God’s sake, don’t Google! He’s a healthy, precious little boy and he’s going to be just fine with a good mama like you to take care of him.

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  5. Oh, honey. I’m so sorry you are carrying this. He’s going to be fine; he is fine. It just sucker punches you when you do everything right and something still happens, doesn’t it?

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  6. Oh, dear. You sound just heartsick… he is a young, strong baby, and he will be okay. I encourage you to go watch some Mad Men and search for the scenes where the kids are licking windowsills or somesuch. Hopefully the next round of tests will be reassuring.

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  7. Thank you. I have a terrible habit of hiding under the bed with my fingers in my ears when disaster strikes. Maybe if I do not speak of it, it will not be true. You know?
    My internet sources, at least, were CDC and EPA. I didn’t even get into the part where his new (and former) pediatricians a) didn’t call me with the results, I had to chase them down and b) told me someone would call me to discuss in 8 DAYS. Nah.
    It will be okay.

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  8. Thank you! I am fighting off half my family and their shears, but I’ve got plenty of energy for that.
    Yeah, you’re totally right. I really value the illusion that I can protect Alden from everything and don’t appreciate it when something challenges that.
    He is going to be okay. Just like Liam is okay. These boys are made of good strong stuff.

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  9. Yes, it does. I burn so much energy nitpicking the details of his life and then WHAM.
    Thank you thank you for the good words.

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  10. Thank you for the good thoughts. I was thinking perhaps I would go lick some windowsills and then see if I feel any dumber.
    I will definitely update with his new blood test results.

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  11. Oh, that awful, sick fear. I hope that the next test will put your mind at ease–as mothers, we’re simply wired to freak the fuck out over stuff like this. It’s your BABY. He’s also a strong baby who has been taken the best care of by his parents, and will most likely be just fine. Breathe.
    Email me if you need another number you can call when you’re flipping out. Love you guys.

    Reply

  12. oh my gosh, he is getting so big and beautiful.
    Your old neighbor needs a kick in the teeth, and of course, a copy of the doctor bills.

    Reply

  13. ::hugs::
    He’s beautiful. He’s happy (what a grin!) He will be fine.

    Reply

  14. I vote that you give him a jar of mercury to play with to compensate.

    Reply

  15. Thank you thank you. I’m feeling more rational by the day. We just found a pediatrician we think we’re going to love and that’s going a long way. But I’ll definitely take that phone number, just in case!

    Reply

  16. No kidding! I’ll bet she works for Dell. Or Alienware.

    Reply

  17. He is so adorable. Your heart must have stopped, I can’t imagine. At least you found out and can take the necessary steps. Light and love to you both.

    Reply

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