Thirteen 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.
“Transfarmers” – Toys that change from cars into robots. Or farmers.
“Murdercycle” – Motorized vehicle with 2 wheels.
“Popsicold” – A frozen treat on a stick.