the days are packed

BlogHer Original Post

I was going to try to make this funny. Maybe I still can. I don’t
know. First off, everyone’s fine. I tend to the melodramatic anyway,
and as a mother who has watched the skin on her child’s split head curl
open like sneering lips, well, I don’t expect to have much control over
that drama now. No. Frankly, I just want to write this to get it out of
my head. Feel free not to read ahead if blood or injured children makes
you queasy.

I feel no guilt. I wasn’t off chasing dreams when it happened. I’d
just pulled Gabriel’s diaper off when Noah yelled. He’d hit the floor
in the kitchen, taking a barstool with him. Usually that particular
combination of sounds–thwack, smack, Aaah!–means that Noah’s pulled the
chair down on purpose and maybe got bumped in the process. I didn’t
jump up to see what was wrong. I looked around for the wipes. But then
he yelled in a way I can’t describe except to say several prayers that
he be alright rushed through my head. I found myself kneeling on the
floor with him in my arms, my hand on the back of his head, my mind
belatedly processing the visusl that he’d been inside the bottom of the
barstool when I first looked at him.

I always grab the back of his head when he bumps it. I hold the boo
boo. I assumed it was a bump until he squealed and jerked his head out
of my hand. I realized my hand was wet. I could feel that his head was
dripping on me. I thought, “Please, God, don’t let it be blood.” I
looked at my hand. It was blood. I moved around to get a look at the
back of Noah’s head. There was the cut, big drops of dark red cascading
down his hair. I looked back at my red hand. I looked at the kitchen
floor. How had I not noticed that there was blood splattered everywhere?

Noah kept crying, his mouth making that angry rectangle. I shouldn’t
have met his eyes. I just scared him. I was completely panicked,
searching for my phone. Noah clearly needed stitches. I needed to call
Nathan. I needed help with Gabriel, who was still diaper-free on the
living room floor. I tried calling Martha. She didn’t pick up. I was
afraid of how I would sound if I left a message. I called her again a
couple of times, even tried her cell phone. Bless her heart, when she
realized it was me she called me back and later met us at the doctor’s
office.

The doctor. I remembered to call our pediatrician. “My son busted
his head. It looks like he’ll need stitches. Where should I take him?”
They checked with Dr. Malone. Where did he want to meet us? Somewhere
in there I found my cell phone. I’d been running frantically from room
to room looking for it. I’d sent Nathan a text message saying come home
now, but I wasn’t sure if he’d seen it. His number is long distance
from my home phone. We aren’t set up for long distance. I called my own
phone to find it. It was beside Noah who was sitting right where I left
him crying, “Hurts! Hurts!”

I got Nathan on the phone. He tried to ask me questions. I told him
I couldn’t talk. Really, I couldn’t. I was honestly afraid I might
faint. There was all that blood on the kitchen floor. The cut on Noah
head was still forming huge red drops that soaked the back of his
shirt. I knew it was just a cut. I knew head wounds bleed a lot. I knew
it wouldn’t need more than stitching. I’d busted my head when I was a
tween, but every time I looked at him I was convinced I could see brain
matter.

Gabriel still needed a diaper and by then had peed on himself. Noah
yelled every time I came near him. I finally realized he was staring at
my blood-coated hand and washed it off. I reminded Noah, who hadn’t
moved from the kitchen floor, to “just stay there.” He didn’t seem
dizzy, but I didn’t want a repeat fall.

It took me twenty minutes to gather what we needed to take to the
doctor: the diaper bag, a dressed infant, my freaked out toddler, extra
clothes for him, my prayer scarf so I wouldn’t miss Asr, Noah’s
favorite blankey, an icepack and towel, and the sling. I also grabbed a
book to read, which I think is probably the most telling item with
regards to my state of mind. Except, perhaps, for the four pictures I
took of Noah broken, crying and surrounded by his own blood. I remember
thinking, “Before and after.”

Nathan pulled into the driveway just as I finished loading the boys
into the Outlook. Thank God. There is no way I could have driven
safely. I felt blurred and empty, like I had been hyperventilating. The
car ride was short. I spent it fumbling with my cell phone trying to
find someone who could come and hold G so I could be with Noah. That’s
when Martha called and rushed over to meet us. She arrived moments
after Noah was stapled back together and took Gabriel so I could kneel
on the floor with my sweetheart. He wanted to have a hug and put his
head on my shoulder. Those minutes where Nathan and I were able to
focus just on Noah were invaluable. I think we all needed to know that
the others were okay. And Noah needed that extra reassurance.

But let me backtrack. The nurses shuttled us through the office
right away. Nathan and I fought Noah into a clean diaper–he’d pooped
somewhere between the kitchen and the car. It turned out his bum hurt
more than his head. The poop had made a rash. I went to throw the
diaper out and Dr. Malone took it from me in the hallway. We both
looked at my hand. There was more of Noah’s blood on it. He showed me
to the bathroom where I closed the door and collected myself. I also
managed to pray despite Noah screaming in the background. The prayer
helped me recenter.

Back in the exam room (far, far away from the sick kids waiting in
urgent care, one of whom Noah had frightened when he passed head agape
and shirt sponging up his blood), I found that Noah had been wrapped
around Nathan so that Nathan could hold him down while they cleaned and
cared for his cut. Dr. Malone stood between me and Noah’s wound, asking
if I had issues with blood and reminding me that I was holding a baby.
I’m sure I was a sight. I just wanted to sit down and managed to get to
the seat. Dr. Malone explained what would happen: they would irrigate
the wound with a numbing solution, a bunch of stuff would come out of
it, his head would start to numb and they would insert more numbing
stuff around the broken skin. Then they would staple him up because the
staples were okay to get wet.

Noah yelled and fought the whole time. What I have to say here is
THANK GOD the cut was on the back of his head. THANK GOD he didn’t need
stitches because there’s no way he could hold still. THANK GOD it
wasn’t that nurse that we don’t like. THANK GOD I wasn’t alone to deal
with this. And thank God that Gabriel is so chill. He took in all of
Noah’s crying with not even a whimper. In the meantime, Noah
alternately squeezed Nathan’s shirt and my hand. He shouted until he
was red in the face that he didn’t want to get shots. “You’re not
getting any shots,” the doctor and nurses and Nathan and myself told
him as they gave him shots. Sometimes it’s best to lie.

“It’s over! Over! It’s over!” he kept screaming into Nathan’s chest.

“It’s almost over,” we said through the whole process.

We talked to him about the toys he would get for being so brave. He
wanted a pink truck. We promised him ice cream. He bargained for hot
chocolate. We also got him french fries and a toy in his Happy Meal. We
would have promised the moon. As it is, we might go get him this
construction truck set he melted down about yesterday afternoon at TJ
Maxx. Nathan says it’s true that when you’re child gets hurt you’ll do
whatever you can to make yourself feel better.

Because, truly, Noah feels fine. He knows there’s a boo boo on his
head. He wouldn’t let us wash the blood out of his hair in the bath. He
won’t let us touch his head, and he keeps reaching his hand back
hesitantly, as if to make sure the back of his head is still there.
He’s got a gooseegg on the front of his head the size of a, well,
gooseegg. He’s got a black mark under his chin about and inch long.
There are eight staples in his scalp closing a two inch gap. He keeps
blinking his eyes against the swelling on his forehead. But that hasn’t
really slowed him down.

Me? I’m still shaky. Writing this is helping. Writing has always
been my therapy. But there is still blood under one of my fingernails
from Noah’s head. And every time his swings that melon around, I
cringe. If Noah stands next to me when I’m holding Gabriel, I keep
thinking Gabriel has a cut on the back of his head, too. My stomach is
in knots. I can only assume that Nathan feels similarly. After all,
they stapled Noah’s head back together right in front of his eyes,
literally. And then he came home and washed the kitchen floor because I
simply couldn’t handle it. Eventually, the sight of Noah’s injury might
fade from my mind. The question now is what to do with the pictures on
my camera.

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