Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rite of Passage

I took Logan to the ER last Wednesday to get four stitches. My dad informed me that this is just part of being a parent. It's something that all parents go through at one time or another, he said. While I agree that this is true, I have to say, though, that it caught me off guard. I know that all of my nephews have had staples, stitches, and possibly even glue in their heads at one point or another, and even I (a very cautious sort of person) have a small scar on my knee from my own childhood experience with stitches, but still...It's not something you can prepare yourself for. For some reason I expected this to occur later on, not at 23 months.

Here's What I Think Happened:
I was actually not in the same room when it happened. It was shortly after 2:00 pm and I was in the kitchen writing out labels for the blueberry jelly we had just finished making, and my mother-in-law had just walked in the door. Logan was playing on the hardwood floor with his matchbox cars. There was a boom instantly followed by wailing, and my nephew informed me that "Logan's eye is bleeding." That didn't sound good, and he definitely sounded like he was hurt badly, so I quickly headed down the hallway toward the entryway where the sound had come from. Logan had actually darted the opposite direction to find me, so I saw the drops of blood on the floor before I saw him. Looking back, I feel a teensy bit bad that I went and got a damp washcloth to clean up (and try to stop the bleeding) before I even picked him up and tried to comfort him. When my mother-in-law handed him to me, I saw the gash on his left eyebrow, realized he needed stitches, and blurted out, "It's my fault!" Yes, I know it was an accident, but I wasn't exactly rational at this point. My baby was bleeding and in pain, and I hadn't even seen what happened. My best guess is that he wiped out on the floor and fell onto one of the matchbox cars.

The Guilt:
Despite the fact that he calmed down quickly (within 5 minutes, I think), I knew he needed medical attention. I felt like a total failure as a mom, and it took me longer to pull myself together before I could drive him to the Emergency Room. I kept thinking that I should have been keeping a closer eye on him so that I would know what had happened (although that wouldn't have changed the outcome). By the time we left, he was more sad about missing the library video about big trucks that we put in for the other kids than he was about his injury. I suppose I should be thankful for that, but his sadness about missing the video added to my guilt. During the 20 minute drive, he fell asleep because it was during what should have been nap time.

At the ER:
It was about quarter to 3 when we arrived at the hospital. It turns out that the hospital is in the process of renovations, so it was a little confusing to find the right place to go. Then, the woman working at the registration desk was on the phone so I didn't know if I was supposed to sit and wait or follow the signs to the next area. After a couple of minutes, a doctor saw me looking confused and told me I was in the right place. After registration was complete, the woman tried to put a bracelet on Logan but he wanted nothing to do with that so she gave up and just handed it to me along with a printout with 20 (Yes, 20! I have no idea why they need so many.) labels with his name and info on them.

Once we sat down in the waiting room Logan was as happy as could be. I gave him a Dum Dum sucker just like the little girl, about 3 years old, who was also waiting with a head injury to be patched up. One lady commented that it "must be a mom thing" to carry those. Yup. Totally a mom thing. In fact, I made sure I had at least 2 in the diaper bag before we left the house. Logan's boo boo was of interest to the other mom and she asked what had happened as did the next lady who came in with her ailing husband. She informed me that the same thing had happened to her son and to expect about three stitches. She also warned me that I would probably have to hold something on his head to numb it.

While we waited, Logan watched something called "Street Ball," some kind of basketball game, on the TV. I people watched for the most part. An elderly lady sat and grouched about how long she had been waiting to be seen (2 1/2 hours) and then complained loudly when the little girl with the head injury was called back before she was. "Why does she get to go now? She hasn't been here very long!" Her entourage of children (or whoever they were)-- there were about four of them-- explained that it was in order of importance, and the little girl was bleeding from her head and that took priority. I personally think that the fact she was a young child may have had something to do with it, so I silently prayed that she would be called back before we were because as much as I didn't want to annoy her, I was not keeping my little man sitting in that dingy waiting room longer than necessary! Obviously, I was relieved when she was taken away in a wheelchair.

watch because of what happened next.

The "Procedure"
The assistant (I don't remember her exact title) wrapped him tightly in a sheet like a mummy with only his head sticking out. He was pretty unhappy about that, as you would expect. Then, they put this heavy cloth over his face. It had a small opening that they adjusted so that it fit over his eyebrow that needed stitching. I don't know what the material was but it seemed like something that would be difficult to breath through. The only reason that I know he was breathing just fine was that he screamed the entire time, "Mama! Mama! Mama!" It was the saddest thing I have ever heard. I laid on the bed next to him and tried to kiss him through the sheet and talk to him to let him know I was there, but I know he was completely terrified. I don't know if it's always so heartbreaking, or if they really had to bind him up since he is so young, but I was glad when it was finished. The oddest thing is that I never looked away. I watched the entire time while the nurse practitioner stitched him up and thought about how the tool she used looked a bit like a fish hook going through his skin. When the covers came off, Logan was drenched in sweat. Poor little buddy! He looked so much better, though. And, after a grape popsicle, he was significantly calmer and ready to head for home.

It Hasn't Slowed Him Down Any...
Logan never did seem to realize he had an injury. He has kept on running around the house, playing with the matchbox cars, jumping down the stairs, climbing the refrigerator.... He is such a boy! Whenever I asked him where his boo boo was, he pointed to his knees! He slept fine, and never complained, so I still haven't given any Tylenol. Yesterday morning, though, he was started to pick at the scabs. I knew it had to itch, and I didn't know how to make him stop. By mid-afternoon, he had pulled out what I thought was 1 stitch. I was worried about this. I had spent the past few days fretting that he might somehow hurt himself again and cause the stitches to come out. My biggest fear was having to take him to the ER again, and having them think that I was a terrible, neglectful mother, and contacting protective services to take him away. I know that this is completely irrational, but I couldn't shake the thought!

The "Removal"
When he got out of bed this morning, I noticed that more stitches were missing. I thought that one was left, so I figured that he had pulled out 3 total since I thought there had been 4 to begin with. I called the pediatrician and waited two hours to hear back about what to do. They wanted to know if it looked infected. I didn't think so, but I decided to take him in, just to put myself at ease. Dr. McEwen commented that he shouldn't have been able to pull the stitches out, but then when she looked at the wound she told me it wasn't 4 separate stitches. It was a running stitch, and they had inserted the needle 4 separate times. I guess that makes sense. They had even tried to explain that same thing to me at the ER when I asked how many stitches. Clearly, I am not a seamstress.

Dr. McEwen removed what was left of the stitches even though she had wanted to wait a couple of more days (When Logan was discharged, they told me to schedule a suture removal in 5 days, which was today, but when I called the office, she said to wait 7 days, which would have been Wednesday). Getting those stitches out was much harder than I expected. Logan screamed and fought us, so it was hard for me to keep his head still. Plus, Mia was off in the corner crying, too. Apparently, she was scared because he was scared. I was exhausted by the time that was over. Now, we have to try to get Neosporin on the wound twice a day for a week. Once we were home, I tried to put some on a Band-aid, but he immediately pulled it off. And she suggested that if I was concerned about scarring, we could try Mederma for kids after the week is up, and continue that for two months.

Will He Have a Scar?
On the topic of scarring, yes, I am concerned about that. I feel awful that he got hurt in the first place but even worse that it was on his face. Logan has such a beautiful little face. I call him handsome all the time, but really I think he is beautiful. I hope he stays that way, although a part of me felt that if one of the kids had to have a scar on the face, at least it was my son, because somehow it seems better for a boy to have a scar. Boys can have scars and still be cool, but if girls have scars, it makes things tougher for them. And then, of course, I felt guilty for thinking this! My Mom Guilt is pretty much out of control over this whole incident.

{How can you look at this sweet face and not feel sad?}
So it seems that I have made it through this rite of passage as a mom, perhaps not without some scarring of my own. After four and a half years of parenting, I am now "officially" a mom. I have survived a child getting stitches. I was even praised by the ER staff for handling it so well. (Just don't tell them about the guilt!) I assume, that too, will fade in time.

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