I had another post planned for today. But then my two year old went and split her head open and I decided to write about that instead because SERIOUSLY, SCARLETTE?! SERIOUSLY?!
The Lord has blessed me with a child and that child is trying to put me in an early grave.
She weighed less than two pounds and was bound up in a bundle of wires that snaked along her isolette and ended in the continued beeping coming from a screen that told us she was breathing erratically. But when the nurse moved to put a stethoscope to her tiny chest, she reached out with her fist, smaller than a quarter, and smashed it repeatedly into the nurse’s arm. It felt like the brush of a butterfly but it was strong and sure and insistent.
“This baby, remarked the nurse, is going to be a handful when she grows up.”
It was the first day that I had put her down for a nap in her toddler bed, having converted the crib because she was attempting to launch herself headfirst over the front of it. I fretted, both because my baby was growing up so fast and also because even in sleep Scarlette can’t remain still. I worried she would fall out of bed.
I laid her down with a few books and watched on the monitor as she read herself to sleep, overtired from that morning’s gymnastics class. She had learned to do backward rolls.
It was completely uneventful, the transition, and I was simultaneously feeling bittersweet over the moment and relieved that she hadn’t ended up in the floor. Or climbing a bookshelf. Or hanging from the chandelier. She woke up, looked around and then asked me for lunch.
She was sitting at her tiny, toddler sized table eating peanut butter rolls and strawberries when she asked me for more milk. I moved toward the kitchen with her thermos and saw her twist sideways to follow me. And in the sort of slow motion vision that you acquire when you are standing on one side of a room and your child is falling on the other, I watched as she slipped and went over backwards.
The rocking chair is there, with the little padded bench that sits at its feet. A little padded bench with about half an inch of a wooden corner exposed in a big, open, baby-proofed room and I dropped the milk as the back of her head snapped against it and her face twisted in a soundless cry.
When I pulled my hand away from her head it was covered in blood. “Head wounds bleed” I told myself as I settled her on the counter and begin washing the blood from her hair so that I could better see. Only when I did, I quickly grabbed her bag and threw some shoes on her because I knew for sure that she needed stitches.
She wasn’t even crying anymore, instead she was protesting. “NO WAY! PRETTY SHOES!” she yelled at me as I grabbed the closest ones to us, a pair of plain slip on boots. I had promised her that she could put her glitter shoes back on after naptime and apparently, slicing her head open did not affect her memory.
When I arrived at Urgent Care I was attempting to fill out paperwork and hold pressure on her head when I discovered that in my haste, I had forgotten my wallet. I keep an extra insurance card and checkbook in my diaper bag so I wasn’t worried but then they told me that they wouldn’t treat her without a photo ID. I didn’t have a photo ID. Except that maybe…
“Um, I know this might sound crazy but I have a business card. And it has my photo on it. Will that work?”
And then I handed them one of my mommy cards that I had printed from Minted, which has this website on it, which they pulled up on the computer and then said it could count as my ID.
And then they peppered me with a lot of questions about what I do for a living. “Well, I sort of write about parenting…” I trailed off as I thought about how that sounded coming out of my mouth while I stood in there waiting for someone to stitch up my daughter’s head and asking them to verify my identity on the internet because I didn’t have any ID with me.
While we sat and waited for the numbing cream to take effect, I dug in my bag for something to entertain Scarlette because despite the fact that she had cut her head open, she wanted to RUN around the waiting room. SERIOUSLY, SCARLETTE?!
Ironically, the only book I had in my bag was her current favorite “Eight Silly Monkeys” and so I sat in the waiting room, Scarlette on my lap, blood trickling from the back of her head and read “One fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said…”
‘This is like you, I told her, you fell and bumped your head and now we are going to see the doctor to get all better.”
“Head! Shoulders! Toes!” she replied knowingly.
When they moved us to the exam room she perked up further, pointing enthusiastically to the eye chart on the wall across from us. “E! G! R! T! D!” she yelled as the nurse took her temperature. So the good news is that A) my child is a genius and B) her eyesight is impeccable. (What now, retinopathy of prematurity?!)
My Scarlette, she is brave. I laid on my back on an exam table, pressing her closely to my chest as they put two staples in the back of her head and she fingered my necklace, shed thirty seconds of tears and then asked the doctor for a sweet when she was finished. They gave her two lollipops.
Back at home, we laid on my bed and I turned on Super Why to try to keep her still. A futile effort as she continued to attempt turning somersaults across the comforter. “Scarlette! Be still! No flips, your head is broken!” I told her.
Later Jeff would arrive home and greet her at the top of the stairs.
“Scarlette! What happened today?” he questioned as she ran to see him.
She spread her hands and opened her eyes wide as she answered,
“Welllll, I bwoken.”
(Except that you are so perfectly whole.)