Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Ordeal

When I heard the thud I didn't know it was any different from a hundred other bumps and falls he has throughout the day. When I heard the intensity of his cry and saw him writhing, I knew he was hurt badly. I picked him up quickly and blood streamed in his eyes from the gash in his forehead. As the bleeding slowed, we saw clearly that we would be making a trip to the emergency room that evening for some stitches.

Christopher Robin and Peanut Butter had been playing happily together. Christopher Robin had a plastic sword and a plastic golf club, and he was using the two to chase and "capture" Peanut Butter, knocking him to the floor and landing on top of him. Rough play, but accompanied by laughter and giggles from both of them. Such play is refreshing to watch after endless hours of competing and fighting over toys and complaining about each other. I should have known it would end badly. Such fun, rough play rarely finds reason to stop until someone gets hurt. The final chase and capture knocked Peanut Butter into a jutting corner wall, forehead and wall colliding, tender skin giving way.

We packed the boys in the car, and decided to drop Christopher Robin off at my parents' house on the way, if they'd have him. They willingly took him in and sympathetically wished us well. They experienced the ordeal of taking a toddler for stitches numerous times when I was forehead bears the scars. I'm not terribly coordinated, and apparently when I was young I did foolish things like run with my hands in my pockets. Christopher Robin has inherited my lack of grace, though, while Peanut Butter has been sturdy on his legs since he first pulled himself up. Yet Peanut Butter has had two significant injuries, while Christopher Robin, in spite of hundreds of bumps and bruises, has never been seriously hurt. I wonder if it's coincidence, or if it's because of Peanut Butter's strength and intensity about things. Christopher Robin sort of flops about, while Peanut Butter is all drive.

Peanut Butter is so strong in his opinions and so determined to have things his way that the nurses struggled mightily to swaddle him in the sheet that traps his arms and legs and holds him still. He was so angry about the treatment he was getting, that I had handed him over to strangers, STRANGERS, people he has always been absolutely opposed to, and they were insisting that he not move, that his furious wails began long before he felt any pain. His anger turned to fear and confusion when they shone a bright light in his eyes, and the shots of anesthesia, that actually were terribly painful, turned his crying to tears of the betrayed. That was certainly the hardest part for me to bear. After the pain was gone and the stitching began he sunk into resigned, exhausted whimpering. The whole ordeal lasted no longer than ten minutes, but I longed with my whole being to have him back in my arms, snuggling him close, knowing it was all over.

I always wonder how such an ordeal can fade so quickly in his memory. Why doesn't he hold it against me? Why doesn't it erode his trust, that I willingly took him through this ordeal, let strangers hold him down and hurt him. Probably, truthfully, it has eroded his trust somewhat. I won't be able to take him back into the hospital to have the stitches removed with the same ease we took him the first time. He knows what I'm capable of, that I won't protect him from the things those people in blue decided to do to him. When he's older, I can explain it all to him. For now, he accepts that I'm his mama, and his attachment to me is far stronger than any ten minute betrayal could wear through.

They gave me the option to leave during the stitching, looked at me like they expected that I should, but I knew I could handle it. My Hero was sitting in the chair behind me, and I was standing with my hand on Peanut Butter's small round shoulder. As the doctor pulled tight the second stitch, though, the familiar black edges began to frame my vision, and my stomach felt tight and uncomfortable. I fought it for a minute; it frustrates me that my head can take it all in with calmness, but my body reacts in a way I can't control. Then I switched places with My Hero before I fainted. By the time they finished the third stitch and completed the job, I was fine, and so glad to hold my sweaty, tear drenched baby boy.

The gash looks much better pulled together in a neat, straight line. It's healing nicely. Christopher Robin is fascinated by the idea of stitches. He had a wonderful time at Grammie and Grampa's, but he often brings up the subject of Peanut Butter going to the hospital to get stitches, and asks question after question about it. I'm so glad he wasn't there to be scarred by the wails. If it's ever his turn to go, he has nothing to associate it with yet, unless he can tell just by looking at it that it would hurt. And I really don't think he can.

The other detail that was important to the story from my perspective is that I had just bought a new sweater and little brown corderoy pants for Peanut Butter that day, and had put them on him to make sure they fit. I envisioned him wearing them to Christmas parties, and was pleased how well they fit when I tried them on him. I left them on him for a few minutes while he played, and one of my first thoughts when his forehead was gushing blood was (how terrible am I??) to protect his new sweater. I even considered changing his clothes before going to the hospital, but I had never done this before, and the bleeding stopped so quickly I was afraid the wound would start to scab if we didn't get him there right away, and then they'd have to break it open to pull the skin together. That didn't happen, but it probably would have been messier to try to change his clothes than to keep him in them. When we returned home from the hospital I was relieved to find that the drop of blood on his sweater washed out nicely, as did the drops of blood on our light gray carpet. I really don't think such things should even register on my mind when a tragedy happens, but alas...some things are clearly just too important to me.

Here's the little boy 24 hours after the incident:


Nina said...

Poor thing! Yes, it looks like he's going to be your accident-prone one.
It's so heartbreaking when they're screaming and giving you that "Why are you letting them do this to me?" look.

Charlie said...

Unfortunately, there will be many more trips to the emergency room. It's the nature of raising boys. But it sounds like you both held together well.

Julie Pippert said...

What a brave little guy. He doesn't hold it against you because you were there for him, and he knows it. So glad everyone made it through.

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