It started off as a normal night. We were fully engaged in the bath and bedtime routine, like we have done hundreds of times before. My husband was getting the baby in his pajamas and I was helping Mia out of the tub while we both sang songs terribly off-key and at the top of our lungs, when she slipped and fell, hitting her head on the side of the toilet. At first I said, “Oh you poor thing! You’re ok, just a little bump on the head,” but when she lifted her head from the fall, I saw blood GUSHING from her left eye. I froze for a second and did not know what to do. She was crying. I was about to cry. I was shaken. I felt like a bad mom. Why didn’t I just put the bath mat down like I always do?! Then she would not have slipped and fallen and hurt herself.
When your child is hurt, it is hard to think rationally. You are just riding on pure adrenaline and letting your motherly instinct govern your next move. You try your best to put on the bravest face and calmest voice for your child so as not to scare them even more. My daughter is very much a daredevil so I have been in this situation before. She’s had lots of falls and bumps and bruises before. But never have I seen blood pouring out of my child’s eye. It was pretty scary. I had her wrapped in a blood-stained towel rocking her back and forth when my husband rushed in to see what happened. “We need to go the ER,” I said in the calmest voice I could muster. Quickly he got the baby dressed, I got Mia dressed. We threw them in the car and off we went.
As I drove the 20 minute route from our house to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, blame kept going through my head. This time, I blamed myself. I thought, how did I let this happen? Why does this sort of stuff always happen on my watch? I also knew that if this had occurred with my husband in the room, I probably would have blamed him and given him a really hard time. I felt bad about this for a second, then pledged to stop blaming him for all of the things that go wrong from here on out because accidents really do happen. Life can change in an instant, with no warning or explanation!
By the time we got to the hospital, the bleeding had stopped and we could see that it was just a laceration on the crease of her eyelid that seemed to be already healing on it’s own. I am continually amazed at how resilient children are, and am chronically embarrassed by how much I still overact, even after being at this mothering gig for four years. We decided to go inside and have her checked out anyway, in case the cut need stitches. Then the strangest coincidence occurred. Our ER nurse immediately recognized us because we saw her having dinner out with her kids a couple hours prior. I had taken my daughter out for ice cream to kill some time after dropping my husband off at a client meeting he had in a town 30 minutes from ours. Not only have I never met this woman before in my life, but we have never even been to that restaurant before. I remember seeing this woman dressed in her nursing uniform having dinner with her small children and thought how difficult it must be to work the night shift taking care of sick people all night and then going home and trying to raise a family. What a small world!
And then we waited…
Finally at around midnight, it was determined that stitches were not needed. HOORAY!
Now that this whole ordeal is behind us, I feel like we’ve conquered another level of parenting and that we will likely be tested again in the future. My daughter loves telling the story about how she “fell on the toilet” and proudly showcases her wound. For me – it’s good to know I can be calm in the face of fear – I think moms are just born with this gift. I also learned from the amazing doctors at CCMC that the face is the part of the body with the greatest amount of blood vessels – when it’s injured it bleeds profusely. But after the bleeding stops, usually what’s left behind can be the smallest of wounds. I feel this sums up our human experience entirely: despite all the worries and the chaos and the difficulties in life that cause us pain, after all is said and done, what usually remains is a small boo-boo that can easily be healed with time, patience, and love. We humans are resilient that way.
And I most definitely learned the true importance of bath mats!