Many things change once you have a child. Your life revolves around this little, precious person and you kind of learn to just figure things out as you go along.

Last week, my husband and I had to do just that. I had a random medical emergency – a nose bleed that would not stop and was profusely bleeding, starting from one nostril, then pouring (literally pouring) out of the other nostril. Then I was coughing up blood. I happened to be on my way to an important work event and was in the car by myself and started to freak out. At first I wondered if it would just stop but the amount of blood and the speed at which it was coming were clear signs that I needed medical attention. (I hardly ever get bloody noses and have no known blood disorders).

So I drove myself home so that my husband could take me to the ER. You never really think about what you would do if you have your own medical emergency after you have a kid. We had no choice but to bring her along. She was so awesome, I can’t even tell you. But here are some of the many things I learned from this experience:

1. It’s OK to cry and be afraid in front of your child. To tell you the truth, I didn’t believe this before my medical issue. The entire drive to the ER, despite the fact that I was bleeding through a towel, I tried to not panic and played down what was happening. But after we had been in the ER for a bit and I had nasal packing stuck up into my sinuses, I couldn’t help but break down. I was scared and had lost a lot of blood. As soon as I started crying, my daughter looked right at me and said, “Mommy don’t cry. Everything’s going to be OK.” I still get choked up thinking about that. For the first time in her life, she was comforting ME. She didn’t get freaked out or upset about me being afraid, she felt compassion.

2. It’s OK to rely on extended family. Since this happened in the evening, my husband had to leave me at the ER to take our daughter home to do dinner and bedtime. My family moved to Florida several months ago so I called my in-laws to see if they could come be with me and take me home. I’m lucky to have really awesome in-laws, but they had never seen me in a state like that, I don’t think I’ve even ever cried in front of them. But of course, my mother-in-law came right away and sat with me and then drove me home when I was released. I learned that it’s OK to be a total mess in front of people who care about you and I’m so grateful to my mother-in-law for being there for me.

3. People either act weird or are really kind seeing someone with something on their face. This was really interesting actually. I had this nasal packing up my nose and into my sinuses and it was blown up with a little balloon. That resulted with me having an obvious piece of medical equipment attached to my face. I decided that I would still go to work and do everything I normally would, even though a small part of me felt embarrassed. I decided that we are all human and I wasn’t going to hide and that meant that for the first time, I experienced what it feels like to be someone with something wrong with their face.  There were so many kind people who stopped, looked me in the eyes and said “I’m praying for you” or things to that effect. And then there were people who could not look at me. That experience made me feel so much compassion towards others with any kind of medical device or obvious medical condition. Everyone deserves to be looked in the eyes and the way someone’s body looks, does not mean anything about that persons character.

4. Birth trauma makes traumatic experiences more difficult. I had a very traumatic birth experience 2 years ago and ended up in the ER the day after being discharged. The trip to the ER last week was the first time I’d been back at an ER since that time and I ended up feeling very panicky and very high anxiety. I know now for the future to have a plan for myself (doctors to call etc.) to help me manage the panic.

5. It’s OK to post not so happy Facebook status updates. I admit to posting more than one Facebook update talking about how miserable I was and how much of a hard time I was having. I felt guilty afterwards, I think because I struggle as a recovering perfectionist. I try to keep my Facebook positive and happy, but I just wasn’t that way last week and it showed. Thank you to all my friends who sent me messages and commented on my posts. Thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable and human.

Last week was really rough, but I learned a lot about myself and hope that I’ll be better equipped to handle a personal emergency if it happens again in the future.

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