al pacino’s excellent day

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.

25 comments for “al pacino’s excellent day

  1. liz
    August 8, 2008 at 10:24 am


    plus, the scar will just give jonah character.

  2. August 8, 2008 at 11:29 am

    *hugs and kisses*
    I’ll bet you won’t even NOTICE the scar. My oldest has a scar/skin pit right next to his eye where he hit his face on the corner of the IKEA children’s table. Ak. You can only see it in strong light, looking very closely.

    Jonah looks like he’s forgotten all about it. Congratulations on your first visit to Children’s Urgent Care/ER. Here’s hoping that any possible future visits will be totally unremarkable and low key and no problem.

    Great job keeping it together – and alone, too. Falling apart later is just the right response.

    Leila Abu-Saba’s last blog post..Pear Season

  3. August 8, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Everything is going to be okay. Thank goodness he is so young he won’t remember. Do you remember when you sliced your ear open on the whirleygig on the playground when you were 4? Talk about bleeding. Talk about parental guilt. Thank g-d it wasn’t worse. He is still the most adorable baby on the planet.

  4. A
    August 8, 2008 at 11:44 am

    These things are bound to happen sooner or later. Am glad it’s all ok.

    A’s last blog post..The Downside of being a good renter

  5. August 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Being not a mom but a writer, my comforting words are: Super post!!!! Why is it from trauma that the best prose stems? Must a child’s split-open head be the muse of the day? Oh, but yes, it appears so. :-) Besides, a man with a scar is ALWAYS sexy. Don’t let it fade all the way, not totally. :-)
    You did good by the way, mama, good.

  6. August 8, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    The best I have by way of comforting words is–at least you’ve only got one boy to do it to you. My kids point at Children’s as we drive down the highway and say, “Look, Mommy, there’s our hospital!”

    Yep. We’ve been there that many times. There’s something about boys.

    Katie’s last blog post..I’d Never Thought of It Like That…

  7. August 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I agree with Lilan… excellent post.

    And like Katie, I’ve got two boys, too. No emergency room visits but lots of little scars.

    I was actually just sitting on the couch with my youngest this morning looking at all his little white spots (he is dark-skinned so the scars show brighter) on this legs, and the one on his forehead where he got burned with grease (ay! ay! talk about mama-guilt)… and I actually felt a tiny bit happy. Happy that he is in this world, making contact, and that I am here to provide comfort, even when I cannot protect.

  8. August 8, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    And oh yes, I would say you did a terrific mom job; and I am sorry about the hospital. That image of Jonah being held down is so hard… It is nice to see his cute mug the morning after!

  9. eva
    August 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Love LOVE the pesach reference!! How often do you see those worked into a post all about a tragic first scar? Nice!

    eva’s last blog post..Reason #869 Why “Someone” Should Put The Damn Seat Down Already

  10. August 8, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    That must have been so hard! (Probably more on you than on him, but still.) Hugs.

    midlife mommy’s last blog post..Eyes to the East, Feet Planted Firmly in the West

  11. August 8, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    But … but … how is the cat?!

    Just kidding. I could totally have written that last bit about the crash, and the crying, and the post-trauma trauma.

    He looks beautiful as ever.

    mayberry’s last blog post..Haiku Friday: Revenge of the mod cons

  12. August 8, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    YAY! Thank you for all the hugs and stories and comfort and post compliments.

    My mother in law tells me especially likes the encouraging words about scars being sexy.

    And, yes, the cat is going to be okay, too.

  13. August 8, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Mayberry! That is really funny. I spoke to CM by phone tonight and I feel bad now that I forgot to ask about the poor cat.

    Leila Abu-Saba’s last blog post..Pear Season

  14. August 9, 2008 at 9:16 am

    How is the cat? Forgot all about him in the chaos. Feel guilty about forgetting about him too.

  15. August 9, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Nana! Say hi to gramps for me, too. Love you guys. What say we all feel guilty together about the cat? Poor cat… the fate of kitties after the baby is born.

    Leila Abu-Saba’s last blog post..Pear Season

  16. August 9, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Jonah looks very rock-and-roll with his (little) cut. Re. the emergency room: god, it sucks. But I’m sure it was harder on his parents than on Jonah himself.

    Took the cat to the vet today and didn’t feel even a twinge of anxiety as she got her shots (prior to baby, her checkups always made me anxious). Poor feline. Demoted from baby status back to mere animal.

    Laura H.’s last blog post..Snagglepuss

  17. August 10, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Oh, wow.

    I hate to talk about something so light on a post like this, but…


    you won a $25 B&N gift card.

    *slinks away*

    maggie, dammit’s last blog post..And the winners are….

  18. August 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    It’s nice that everyne’s being so forgiving, but I think you’re just terrible parents! (ONLY KIDDING!)
    Jacob once nibbled on an Electrasol tablet. He was fine- and probably a little cleaner on the inside!
    Love you- kisses to all!

  19. Cousin Alan (Bonnie's dad)
    August 11, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Thang G-d that the little guy is OK! Your email details exactly how a new parent will react in a situation like this! You done just fine, cousin BUT — what about the cat??? You left out the part where Scott takes your other little guy to the vet. How is THAT little guy? Boy, did you two have an evening! Hope that’s the last one like that!! Love ya, Alan

  20. August 11, 2008 at 10:37 am

    How terrifying! Good for you – you were definitely super-mom! Glad all is well now.
    :) Becky

  21. August 11, 2008 at 11:17 am


    This is fierce Bambino Kitty’s umpteenth visit to the vet for an infected scratch. Not nearly as narratively exciting. He went, he was seen, given antibiotics, sent home.

    In light of the frequency with which he gets into scrapes, we’d much prefer a renewable scrip for the antibiotics, but vets don’t play that way.

    We can be proud (?) that the infected scratches are ALWAYS on his head. He doesn’t ever back down from a confrontation.

    Our other cat, she who is no longer with us, only ever had an infected scratch on her butt. And only once, at that!

  22. August 11, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Gorgeous post, Julie. And I agree with Lilan… Why IS it that such gorgeous prose comes from trauma?? Maybe because, in that state, we get out of our own way. Same reason you were so pulled together for the handling part of Jonah’s mishap. Anyway, let’s both invite happy, fun, funny muses instead!! And yea you, all the way around. Handled things, melted down, dealt with the cat and didn’t even throw-up. I suspect that would have been my meltdown response.

    xoxo L.

  23. August 14, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I’m glad he’s okay. My oldest hit the corner of the brick fireplace when he was 18 months. It happened on his left eye and required a butterfly bandage, but I still remember our panic. His scar, 3 years later, is no longer visible.

    NoMasNinos’s last blog post..Want Not

  24. August 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Jack’s first scar/urgent care visit:

    Jack was at the time 9 months old. My husband and I had just returned from the hospital where I had outpatient hernia surgery. About 10 minutes after Jack’s aunties who had been babysitting left, Hans turned his back on Jack and Jack fell off our bed, thumping his brow on the way down. Much blood. Luckily this happened during office hours, and we were able to get a quick inspection from the pediatrician. No stitches and, eventually, no scar.

    I was way sedated at the time, so it was like: “oh honey, Jack just fell and I need to take him to the doctor.” “Oh fine, just scoot the vicadin a little closer to me, would ya?”

    Jane Huber’s last blog post..Love bug

  25. June 5, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Oh poor him. It’s quite a regrettable accident. Fortunately, Jonah looks like he’s forgotten all about it now

    personal checks’s last blog post..Spotted a Trend

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