13 Stitches

by Abby on June 4, 2012

Riley in the hospital, June 2012Thirteen stitches. That’s how many it took to close up the 1.5-inch gash in my baby boy’s forehead. A freak accident: Daddy’s shoes, stairs, a sharp corner. You hear the scream – THAT scream – and your heart stops. Then the blood, so much blood. You think you could never handle a moment like that. That you’ll freeze. Pass out. Throw up. All three. But you don’t.

Something kicks in, and you spring into action. Grabbing towels. Calling neighbors. Finding shoes and car keys and your way to the ER like you’ve done this a million times.

Only once, when your husband has taken the baby into triage and you stay behind to give the nurse his name, birthdate, address, do you lose it. But then you pull it together quickly and join them, saying, It’s OK. It’s OK, baby, everything’s going to be OK. Mommy and Daddy are here.

You brace yourself for the worst. But aside from some whimpering — I want to go home — he’s calm. Brave. Quiet. You hold him on the hospital bed, breathing into his hair. It’s OK. You’re OK. He falls asleep. You remember to breathe. Even when they wake him, bind his arms to his sides with a sheet, cover his face with a paper shield, and begin to stitch his head closed, he does not cry. Lies stock-still on the bed, grasping your hand. So brave.

Only when the doctor’s done do you allow yourself to look at the wound. It’s as bad as you feared. Angry. Red. Raw. Beetling with black threads. It’s going to heal nicely, they tell you. He’s young. He will have a scar, but as he grows up his eyebrow will probably fill in around it. They bring a lollipop for him, a bag of bandages and ointments for you. Finally, you can go home.

On the way home you stop for ice cream. He smiles. He looks like himself again, only with a huge white bandage over his eye. At home, later, he’ll be running around with his brother like nothing ever happened. You will think you’re fine, too, but you will feel worn out, drained, hung over, like after giving birth. You will lie awake that night thinking, What if? Every possible danger your children could ever encounter will run through your head, over and over again.

But in the morning, you will be OK. You will realize those count-your-blessings people that always pissed you off are right. You ARE blessed. Thank God his dad and I were there when it happened. Thank God it wasn’t an inch lower. Thank God we live so close to a good hospital. Thank God for kind neighbors, compassionate doctors, health insurance. Thank you, God, for my strong, brave, healthy boy. He’s going to be just fine.

Power Ranger costumeRILEYISMS: “Pala Rangers” – Costumed superheroes with freaky-looking masks.

“Transfarmers” – Toys that change from cars into robots. Or farmers.

“Murdercycle” – Motorized vehicle with 2 wheels.

“Popsicold” – A frozen treat on a stick.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

neena June 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

Oh, I’ve so been there! My daughter had to get 17 stitches in her head when she fell off the monkey bars at Pre-K a few years ago.


Ali June 4, 2012 at 8:59 am

I know my day will come, as my boy is a stunt devil at the age of 10mos.

I’m glad your little one is okay. Give him lots of ice cream and he’ll be fine. When I got stitches, the thing I remember most was not the pain or fear, but my dad going out to get me Mary Brown’s fried chicken (my favourite!) and pampering me for a few days.


Lou Mello June 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

This was me as a kid with multiple trips to the hospital for stitches and broken limbs, OY!
As a parent, I had to rush my 3 month old daughter to the hospital around Midnight when she had cried and screamed to the point where she was losing color. Drove 40 miles at about 90 mph in a state of absolute terror. Turns out it was just bad colic and nothing more serious. I feel your pain and glad that it’s “only” stitches and nothing worse.


Abby June 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Ugh, 40 miles? That’s awful. Good to see you here! I was just thinking about you & wondering where you’ve been!


Kathleen Basi June 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Oh, Abby, hugs to you! What a day.

I think we all have to have one of those kids. I WAS that kid. I have two–one, two–big scars on my head. I must have given my parents gray hair. Ice cream is an AWESOME antidote. 🙂


Pamela June 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Oh yes, my son was just like this, and now he has three little (under 3) boys. Now it’s his turn to get the gray hairs. Thanks for your blog – you write wonderfully on the ordinary, extraordinary aspects of our lives. Thus, I’ve nominated you for the Readers Appreciation Award at http://roughwighting.net/2012/06/04/appreciation/. Thanks!


Abby June 7, 2012 at 9:57 am

Thank you, Pamela! I’m so honored. 🙂 One of these days I will get around to participating in these memes, promise!


Abby June 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

OK, you guys have made me see that this may be a rite of passage for most kids. I hate this rite of passage.


Frume Sarah June 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Oh Abby — how frightening it must have been. You did a great job of holding it together. {{it’s OK to cry now that the danger has passed. good way to get the stress out.}} So glad that you guys are OK.


Corey Feldman June 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

So scary. I remember when my oldest trip at the playground at preschool and split his chin to the bone. I was in the middle of conducting a training seminar for about 30 people how had flown in for the conference I was significant participator in. All I wanted to do was hop in the call drive to the hospital. Sadly I couldn’t


Angie Mizzell June 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Ah, Blake would love to have a popsicold with Riley and go for a ride on the murdercycle. That photo gets my heart. I’m so glad he’s okay.


Abby June 7, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks, all. It’s unbelievable how all the stories come out when something like this happens. One of my friends said she fell off a *bridge* as a kid! It’s a wonder we’ve all survived this long.


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