Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Special Victims Unit

I seriously lost it this morning. And just when I thought everything was going perfectly. Isn't that always the way? For one thing, Jarrah slept until 7:30. Or, should I say, I slept until 7:30. When I bolted awake, totally freaked that she hadn't made a sound, I found her rolling gently in her crib, sucking the empty bottle I'd left in there, totally blissed out. Is that all it takes, an empty bottle? I think I'll put one in there every night! We had a nice breakfast together, the niceness enhanced by her attention to "Zoboomafoo" while I drank my coffee and read the paper. I quickly dressed and packed the diaper bag while she finished watching the show, then I got her dressed. Even her cowlick was cooperating! I dashed to the bathroom for a quick pee, and shut the door because she has a tendency to be a little too curious about this process. She cried outside, but she always does that, just because she doesn't like me shutting her out. She had stopped by the time I opened the door, and I scooped her up and took her to the car, making cheerful small talk about our upcoming music lesson. Just like the cat scratch, it was when I was buckling her into the car seat that I saw the blood. But this time I didn't see it on her skin. No, I saw it on her pants, her sleeve, and, when I looked, my hands. For a moment I couldn't figure out what was going on, since she looked fine and there was so much blood. I finally noticed that the underside of her hand was bloody, but due to the volume I couldn't locate a wound. I reared back and started to run into the house, caught myself--she wasn't even strapped in, and where was I going?--and ran back, pulled her out, wrapped a Purell wipe around her hand. That made her scream. A lot. She yanked her hand away and a fresh spray of blood ended up on my pants. Somewhere in the sawdust of my mind I envisioned a Band Aid, and I hauled her to the bathroom and started rummaging. We have Band-Aids in every shape and size, and I kept trying to unwrap them, but my hands were shaking so badly, and she was struggling so hard, I just kept getting them covered with blood and rolled into little balls. Then she ran out of the bathroom while I was wrestling with one (she seemed remarkably cheerful, actually) and headed towards the front door, which I had left open. Steadying herself at the threshold, she grabbed for the door frame, and as she disappeared into the bright morning I saw she had left a five-inch slash of red blood where her fingers had been. "Oh noooooo!" I wailed, and realized I was sobbing. Then I realized I was also hyperventilating, and dropped to my knees, head in my hands, and gasped for air. Jarrah kept running towards the street. As if I were mired in quicksand, I pulled myself up with huge difficulty and ran after her, still gasping, crying harder. She occasionally looked back as if I might be a bit mad. I grabbed her by the arm, and got some more blood on me. As I pulled her back in the house, she kept grabbing at walls and door frames, and our house started to look like we'd enacted The Sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb a bit too literally this Passover. Every time I got a Band-Aid in the general direction of her finger, she'd rip it off and run. With my last coherent thought, I lunged for the phone and called David. He answered, and may I just say, he's my hero.

He quickly determined that we weren't dealing with a life-threatening emergency, and said all kinds of comforting things so I could breathe again and stop crying. Then he asked about the cut, which I had determined was on her little finger, but for some reason was bleeding like a head wound. He said, "Turn on the shower. She'll put her hand under it because she likes to do that, and then you'll be able to see the cut better." I did what he said, and you know what? That's exactly what happened. I didn't have to coerce her. There was no struggle. She just put out her hand and the blood rinsed down the drain. I told him the cut was small, only about a quarter of an inch, but I couldn't get the Band-Aid on her. He said, "Hand her a bottle. She'll be too busy to notice that you're putting the Band-Aid on." Again, he was absolutely right. She accepted the bottle with the other hand, and I quickly whipped the Band-Aid around the injured digit. The one thing he couldn't control is that Jarrah, like a puppy, was interested in the Band-Aid, just not interested in having it stuck to her. As soon as I'd get one on, she'd peel it off.

David asked me not to drive until I was feeling calmer, and soon I was. I asked him if it was weird for Jarrah and I to show up at music class splattered with blood, and he laughed and said it depended on what kind of place it was. I decided to take a chance. If we didn't leave right then, we were going to miss it. We would just be Bloody Mommy and Bloody Baby today. Like a costume.

It wasn't until half-way through the class that her wound re-opened--remember, she wouldn't keep the Band-Aid on. Her hand filled up with blood again, and I watched in horror as she reached for the floaty scarves and a very nice tambourine. Soon, we'd be known as that weird duo that bled all over the music room and ruined it for everybody with our biohazard issues. I ended up asking for a Band-Aid from the desk so we wouldn't be banished from class.

When I got home, the house looked like the set of a slasher film. The sink was filled with bloody gauze and squished Band-Aids, and every doorway had bloody fingerprints on it. There were a couple small pools of blood on the floor. What is the deal with a tiny finger bleeding that much? And how do you keep a Band-Aid on a toddler? Inquiring moms need to know.

About all that crazy crying: I don't think I'm usually such a wimp in an emergency. I think I was just completely overwhelmed how much this was MY problem and no one else's; a tiny person was bleeding all over my house and I needed to make it stop. Also my panic level kept rising because for the first five minutes I couldn't even see where the blood was coming from. The only thing that kept me from fainting altogether was her nonchalance. She wasn't bothered by the blood at all, and she certainly wasn't in pain from the cut. She's a pretty tough cookie, actually. Unfortunately, her mom is not. ;)


Anonymous said...

Leave the bathroom door open. Jarrah will need some of these visual clues for potty-training pretty soon - and you'll know where she is and what she's up to!

Your reaction to her cut is indicative of what I call the "first child syndrome."
Were you to have a second child, you'd be ever so much more laid back! But with the first, everything out of the ordinary takes on a fair amount of drama. I remember staying awake at night watching our new-born first child breathe, because he had a cold and I was afraid he's stop breathing - by the second child, a cold was old hat. :)

It's all a learning process for you, too. Aren't you learning a lot about yourself, and David, as well as Jarrah?

Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

It always amazes me how blood evokes such emotions in us. When it comes to blood, it is true that a little goes a long way! It doesn't take much to freak me out also...and I'm a nurse!

Gail is right. As disturbing as it may be for you, Jarrah will find it very interesting. Ava helps me get toilet tissue and waves good-bye to whatever ends up in the toilet! Sadly, there is no room for modesty in motherhood. Wouldn't it have been nice if CCAI covered this in one of their many 'packets'??


Anonymous said...

You? Faint of heart? This from the woman who gave herself shots everyday, then allowed strangers to examine every aspect of her body and her life, then traveled across the whole world *just* to have the wonder of parenting? Hardly faint of heart. Hardly a wimp. You are wonder mom. You knew just what to do. You called David, so you could get calmed down. And, he, being a brilliant wonder dad, knew just what to do next.

It's never easy to see your baby bleed. No wonder parents develop as many defense mechanisms as kids.

You rock, Sam.

Anonymous said...

It's not fair that you are SO funny about such a serious situation! You had me alternately tearing up and cracking up! I'm glad that Jarrah was not seriously hurt after all, and I hope all that blood just wiped right off the furniture. ;) xxx Lix

Alleen said...

Maybe you can have a horror flick filmed in your house while it's all set for it!

I too am a wimp about blood. I've been known to almost pass out from a minor cut.

Jill said...

My 4 year old still comes into the bathroom with me just about every time. Each time the question is "did you poop?" If the answer is yes the next question is "can I see?" Last night:
"did you poop?"
"no, just pee"
looks into toilet-face quite close to the water
"I don't like pee cuz it smells like corn." Then she walked away nonchalantly to go play with her princesses