Yesterday I lost at least five years from my life.
George accidentally fell into the guest room door when the children were running around after bath time. The day had been perfect until that point—Frances had school in the morning, George had some alone time with Gram-E while I went to the dentist, I had my usual lunch date, we went to the pool after naptime and were winding up the day in time to have a relaxed dinner before Daddy’s evening arrival. But then I heard the dreaded *thump.* That thump that makes a mother’s heart sink from her chest to her toes. Before I could react Frances called out, “Mommy come quick! George is bleeding!” My girl is one amazing big sister.
George split his cleft from his nose to his upper lip. It bled like a faucet. He cried; Frances cried; I cried. And then I called Gram-E. What would I ever do without our wonderful neighbors? As soon as Elinor saw George’s lip she knew it needed stitches.
Without missing a beat, the four of us jumped in the car and headed to the pediatric ER. George had stopped crying, the bleeding had slowed down and thankfully he could suck on a paci without any pain. George has a borderline obsession with his paci – knowing he could enjoy that small pleasure gave me some mild relief.
The ER check-in was quick and less than ten minutes later, George and I were headed back to see the doctor while Frances and Gram-E watched cartoons in the waiting room. I remember being so proud of Frances at that moment. She was hungry; she was tired; she was nervous for George. But she showed none of that as her pajama-clad little brother was whisked away past the automatic doors. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, she was showing a brave front for George and I know he felt it, too.
The doctor examined George and not surprisingly said he needed stitches, but that the rip was so clean it would not likely leave a scar. Then she looked at me and said, “So, are you ready?” I now know why she asked me that.
They put George in a makeshift straight jacket, laid him on a cot and asked that I lay beside him. His small body was shaking and his crying pierced my ears, but I did my best to comfort him—and this was before the doctor even touched him. First came the Novocain. Then five stitches. One by one, each one seemed to take longer than the last. At this point, the screams coming from him were almost not human—except that it was my son. My baby boy. He screamed so hard, he made himself sick. He called out for me—I was right next to him; I could not have been closer to him if I were laying on him; I whispered in his ear; sang his favorite songs; told him how much I loved him. None of it seemed to penetrate his fear. I knew he wasn’t in pain—he was scared beyond belief and I couldn’t do anything about it. He was asking for my help and I wasn’t helping him. All I could do was stroke his sweaty shoulder and kiss his flushed cheeks. He felt so strong underneath my hands and I was a weak, crying mess.
At some point they finished the stitches, unwrapped George, and let him have his paci while he finished up his wailing on my shoulder, which eventually morphed into a gentle weep and then finally to those quick involuntary breaths that follow a hard cry.
Daddy found his way back to the ER at that point. The doctor gave him some good-natured ribbing for showing up after the storm, but for me his timing could not have been more perfect. As soon as he scooped up George in his arms, I completely lost it. I didn’t realize how tight I had been holding my muscles until they could relax in my sobbing. Will was there and I didn’t have to be the strong parent anymore.
George is fine now and I know how lucky we are that he only needed five stitches (or that his injury wasn’t far worse considering the many “close calls” we’ve had in the house). I also recognize that we will very likely be back in the ER with one or both of the children during these growing years. As much as I would like to put both Frances and George in a bubble and roll them around town for the rest of their childhood, I know this is not practical or possible (of course, if it is possible, please drop me an email and I will have them “bubbled” by the evening). I can only hope that George’s first major injury can be a lesson to us all—particularly me. My kids are tough, but they are not indestructible. And their mother is a weepy-eyed chump.
George with his self-described "big boo-boo." Do you think I am a tad dramatic? This makes me wonder how I will react to the inevitable broken bone, appendicitis or the thousands of other childhood afflictions that may be around the corner. No worries--I'm sure I'll write about them!