One morning as I was getting my kids ready for the day, my 4-year-old was running amok and jumping on his bed. I said something to the effect of, “Don’t jump on the bed,” but let’s be honest, I had said this same phrase 100 times. It always went in one ear and out the other. And then I suddenly heard from behind me: THUMP. CRACK. AHHHHHHH!!!
I turned around and saw blood welling up under my son’s lip. With a quick glance, I could see a distinct hole in his chin.
I took a deep breath. As the mother of two boys, I had been waiting for this day. Every time they jumped from one end of the couch to the other, every time they ran around the yard with sticks in their hands, every time they ran up and down the stairs with no caution, I knew this day was coming. We were finally going to end up in the emergency room.
We made a brief stop at our pediatrician’s office to see if they could stitch him up there. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the anesthetic needed for this particular injury, so we made our way to the hospital. I’m actually glad this happened, because the pediatrician’s office called ahead for us, and we were ushered right into the ER. The staff applied the anesthetic, we waited about 20 minutes, and then my son got four “string band aids” — the child life specialist’s word for “stitches.” At the end of the day, I was exhausted but also uplifted. This day could have been filled with intensely negative emotions: panic, anger, fear. However, I was surprised that focusing on the positives made this experience much more bearable. Here’s how I got through it:
I stayed calm
Needles and blood don’t usually bother me, but I’ve felt differently when my children were injured. I hate seeing them in pain, particularly at the doctor’s office when they get shots or blood tests. However, with this particular experience, I couldn’t let my son see the slightest hint of fear in me, because I knew that would cause him to panic. I tried to look away when they put the stitches in, but when I did, my son got upset. So I watched every suture, and I did it all while smiling and saying, “It’s looking good, buddy! You’re doing great!”
I showed gratitude
Throughout the day, I just kept offering thanks that this situation wasn’t any worse. I was grateful it was only his lip and chin that were injured, instead of something more serious. I was thankful that my husband worked 15 minutes from the hospital and could easily be at his son’s side. I was grateful it was my mother-in-law’s day off, and she could help us take care of our younger son while we attended to his brother. I loved every single doctor, nurse, and child life specialist who treated my son with kindness and patience. The whole day, I focused on the good things around me, which helped me not give in to any panic.
I felt proud of my kid
I could have gotten very angry with my son for jumping on the bed and messing up my entire day with a trip to the ER. Instead, I was filled with intense pride for him. I was proud of him for being so good with the medical staff. He calmly let them examine his face, and he even had fun playing with superhero action figures as we waited for his stitches. Of course, he understandably shed plenty of tears, but he also showed me a side of himself I had never seen before — one that is brave and trusting. Throughout the day, I just marveled at what an amazing person he has become.
Of course, when the dust settled, I fully realized the trauma we had just experienced. The next day, my skin crawled at the realization that I had seen the inside of my child’s face. I felt nauseous as I flashed back to the image of my hands covered in blood. And two days later, I finally broke down crying. However, now that more time has passed, I can look back on our first ER trip as a great big learning experience. My son certainly learned a lesson about not jumping on the bed. My husband and I experienced a right of passage as parents. We’ll tell this story for years to come, laugh about what a great adventure we had, and smile every time we see the faint scar on my son’s chin.