As in Scarface. You know. Baby’s first:
We’d had an amazing day. The playtime in the jumper. The two-plus hour morning nap. The champion solid-food-eating. All the laundry I’d gotten done with our new dryer (this deserves a separate post — will tell story another time). The swings.
It was a lovely day, up until 6:15 p.m. when Jonah toppled over as he was playing with his toys on the living room floor. He often plays on the living room floor, a hardwood floor; seated on or near pillows, blankets, folded towels. And at this stage in his development, when he wants to get from seated to prone, he tends to use the weight of his head to just sort of tip over. Even with one or the other of us sitting right next to him, sometimes he still manages to hit the floor. Clunk. Usually, he’s fine.
Mah nishtanah ha laila hazeh? What makes this night different from all other nights?
On this night, his skin somehow caught. Friction of flesh against wood sealant. I was in the kitchen, getting my dinner plate. Scott was in the living room, already wolfing down his food, because he had to be at the vet by 7 p.m., with our other dependent creature, Bambino, who, being a frequent cat-fight type, has an oozing cut on his ear.
Suddenly there’s a commotion, baby crying and my husband’s voice in a tone I’ve never heard, which I now recognize as alarm. I think he said “Oh my god oh my god.”
We converge in the bathroom, Scott presenting bleeding baby. Blood. There’s blood. Not a lot of blood, but still. What are we supposed to do?
I’m yelling at Scott to go call the vet and cancel the cat’s appointment as I’m pulling betadine from the drawer and applying it to Jonah’s forehead, followed by bandage. Jonah stops crying almost immediately after.
Scott’s on the cell phone, on hold with the vet. I call the pediatrician’s after-hours line, while bouncing Jonah on my knee. The advice nurse asks me to remove the bandage and describe the cut. It’s an inch long, and gaping a little, though no longer bleeding. She says if a cut is longer than 1/4 inch, we have to go to Urgent Care and he may need stitches.
There goes his baby modeling career.
Scott realized before I did that we could no more ignore the oozing cat than we could the wounded baby so we split ranks, he with kitty and me with boy, and headed off in our opposite care-facility directions.
Despite the fact that we were now moving past Jonah’s bedtime, he remained calm. Even seemed to be enjoying the ruckus somewhat.
At Children’s Hospital, I kept him in the Ergo as we went to Triage. The Triage nurse thought I was a complete nut. Sit down, she said. I’d rather stand, I said. Baby on my chest, diaper bag in one hand, dinner in a tupperware in a plastic grocery bag in the other.
Well I’m not going to stand up, she said, so you’ll have to sit down, waves a hand at the chair next to her desk. Ummm okay, I said. I need to take his blood pressure, she says. I’ll need his leg. I lean towards her, offering his calf. Could you take him out of that THING? She inquires, none too patiently. Oh, yes, right, of course. Remove baby from Ergo. Present leg.
On the drive over, I’d called a friend for moral support. She told me the reason to try to go to Urgent Care instead of the Emergency Room, aside from potentially a shorter wait time, is relative cost. ER is more expensive.
I ask the Triage nurse about Urgent Care. Not if he needs stitches. She says. What about adhesive? I ask. This forces her to call for a consult. A physician appears, checks under the band aid, pronounces the wound glue-worthy, and disappears.
FYI: If it had been in his eyebrow hair area, glue would not have been an option. Missed it by a milimeter.
Back into the Ergo, down the hall to the Urgent Care ward. We’re called into the Admissions room. Jonah flirts with the Admissions nurse, who calms me with horror stories about her baby swallowing a penny — see, these things happen to all of us, we do what we can, they still get hurt.
In the next waiting room, Jonah contentedly watches Spongebob Squarepants. Even though I now think TV causes damage to the visual cortex in babies under age 3, I decide tonight is a special case. The cartoon is mesmerizing. He doesn’t even try to wrestle me for the cheese sandwich and salad (my dinner to go) that I was eating with one hand.
We’re called into the exam room, where we wait. Then the nurse comes in, give us a little gown for him.
And removes his band-aid.
He’s still totally chill.
Two doctors arrive. One, blonde, not an ounce of extra fat on her, pregnant in that I’m-just-wearing-a-basketball-on-my-petite-muscular-frame way, looks at Jonah’s head and says, I can’t promise, but if there’s any scar, it’ll be gone by his tenth birthday. Or something like that. Meant to be reassuring.
The blonde lady leaves. The tall, Asian doctor lady stays. The nurse, a brunette, since I’m describing, who must be paranoid or had a cold because she was wearing a face mask, wraps Jonah up burrito-style in a sheet. Doctor takes the instrument of torture, a syringe with a little cup on one end that shoots a high intensity stream of water directly into the wound, for cleaning, fills it with said water, and applies it to my baby’s head.
He’s never screamed so loud in his whole life. The nurse is leaning on his body and holding his head still with both hands, clamping his jaw shut. His face is beet red. I’m standing between nurse and doctor, my hand on Jonah’s chest, looking into his eyes, mumbling reassuring things.
The doctor pops open the little plastic packet of glue, applies it to his forehead and it’s over.
The nurse is unwrapping him and I’m fighting her on it because I’m worried he’ll put his hands on his face. It dries fast, they tell me. I’m still confused, overwhelmed, in shock. Pick him up and comfort him, the nurse instructs. Oh. Okay.
I hold him while she removes the rest of the sheet from his body. He buries his face in my shoulder, wraps his arms around my neck. Little body heaving.
So much tsurris over such a tiny cut.
We leave the hospital. It’s 8 p.m. He falls asleep in the car on the way home.
After we transfer him to the crib, after I finish the rest of my dinner, after I email some friends, poke around the internet a bit, suddenly, I crash. Start crying.
I’d been in shock. Supermom mode. I’d held it together in that way that moms do. Adrenaline-fueled calm get-it-done mode. I’d been the Calm Mama. And now, tears, frustration, accusations. Not pretty, but not surprising.
Again, I know, this is NOTHING. A tiny tear in my universe. Much worse things happen. Many similar cuts, bruises, et. al. lay in his future path to walking, growing up, etc.
But try telling that to my nervous system.
Meanwhile, we all got a good night’s sleep and this morning. He’s fine.
We’re fine, too. Maybe still getting over it. A little.
Comforting words welcome.