What a crazy, crazy Friday.
It was about noon last Friday when Annabel banged her head on a table, split her skin at the brow bone and was profusely bleeding. And screaming like there was no tomorrow. That gal’s got some pipes. The nurse at our pediatrician’s office advised that I take her alllllll the way downtown to Children’s Hospital for stitches (about a half hour away). She said that because the injury was on the face, I should take her to a place where they specialize in children, to prevent scarring in the future. But “Whatever you want to do,” the nurse said. "It's up to you."
I hate those kinds of statements. “Whatever?” Just tell me what to do. It’s 90 degrees outside, I have a toddler with a split eye who WILL NOT STOP SCREAMING FOR PETE’S SAKE EVEN THOUGH SHE STOPPED BLEEDING 20 MINUTES AGO and I have three boys who are hungry, cranky and generally just pissed off that they can’t go to the swimming pool like I promised them about 15 minutes before their sister inconveniently cracked her eye open. I literally sat at the stop light and vacillated between taking her to the perfectly good hospital emergency room about 10 minutes away from our house, or to the downtown Children’s Hospital a half hour away. Did I mention that it was about 1:00 on a Friday afternoon? And the freeway is ripped up and currently features a plethora of lovely orange barrels? Oh, and my blood sugar was quite low, considering that I hadn’t eaten a single thing since 8:00 a.m.? Luckily my purse is atrociously messy once again, and I found a Quaker chocolate chip Chewy granola bar in the bottom of it. God bless my messy little heart. It does come to the rescue once in awhile.
Mommy Guilt won out and I decided to take her to Children’s. God forbid I take her to the other hospital and they stitch her face up wrong. Then I have to listen to Annabel whine when she’s 16 that I’m such a mean mommy for allowing her to get stitched up by some hack at our perfectly good local hospital emergency room because she now has a permanent scar on her brow bone. And that’s why that boy won’t ask her out. Because of me. Although I’m sure I’ll get blamed for this stuff when she’s older anyway.
It was fortunate that there seemed to be only one other patient in the emergency room besides us. That kid had a broken leg too, so I immediately stopped feeling sorry for myself. I would much rather deal with a toddler getting stitches, than a 8-year old in a hot cast for the rest of the summer.
I’m not a panicky mother when these things happen. I don’t tend to lose it at the sight of blood and freak out. However, when Bill’s not with us in these situations, I question if I’ve made the right decisions. It’s always great to have his second opinion. Also, there’s the logistics of taking four kids anywhere unexpectedly that leaves me a bit cranky, to say the least. But I’ve learned to deal with it much better over the years. I always try to calm down by telling myself it could be much worse. And when I saw that cute little boy getting a cast on his leg in the middle of July, I realized that it could be worse. And I hope his mother comforted herself by thinking that her situation could have been much worse than just a cast.
Despite the fact that the emergency room was virtually empty, the whole process took about 3 hours. In that time, we had about 3 doctors and 4 residents look at her face. I’m not sure why so many people needed to check her out. Maybe they were all just bored that day. But they all said the same thing that I hear on almost a daily basis whenever I take my bunch ‘o kids anywhere: “Wow. Four kids! You sure have your hands full!” Yeah, you think so, M.D.? Did ya learn that little gem in medical school? Perhaps as you see me struggling here to entertain four kids in a small emergency room cubby for THREE hours and you hear me repeat to them over and over and over, “Stop touching that! Don’t push that red button! Don’t pull that string!” that you could possibly speed up this process a little bit? I know the numbing cream that they put over her eye took 20-30 minutes to kick in, but why THREE hours?
My favorite part of emergency room visits is this: just when you think you’re at the end, and you’ve reached the finish line, they say to you, “Okay, well that’s it! Now just wait right here and we’ll be back in just a minute with your discharge papers.” Ha. I’ve learned over the years that this is just a huge lie. Discharge papers usually take about 20-30 minutes for some totally unknown reason. A few years ago when we were visiting my parents out of state and we had to take Charlie to the emergency room, the discharge papers took an hour and a half. AN HOUR AND A HALF. On top of the 2 hours we spent seeing the doctor and getting Charlie treatment.
Just a minute? Ha.
If there are any hospital administrators reading my blog, I plead with you. Computers are quick these days. Surely you can speed up the discharge papers? This mom is begging you.
When we were finally done and out the door, we walked all the way through the hot parking lot to the even hotter car. I made sure all four kids were buckled up, and I drove to the exit, only to find out that I was supposed to buy a parking token at the front desk of the hospital. Needless to say, I was hot, hungry (the effects of my Chewy granola bar had long since worn off) and uber-frustrated at this point. I slammed my hands on the steering wheel and all that came out of my mouth was, “F**K! An effin’ token?!? I have to buy an effin’ token? F**K!”
I’m not proud of it. But a gal reaches her limits sometimes, and unfortunately, little innocent ears are the victims. (We had a talk about this moment later, and I apologized. And basically told them not to talk like Mommy.)
The kids just kind of sat there not knowing what to do, until Charlie said, “Mom, yeah. You were supposed to buy a token before we left. Didn’t you see that big sign at the exit?”
No, I did not see that sign. I was too busy making sure one of my kids didn’t get run over by an incoming ambulance as they burst out of the ER into sunlight and freedom.
So I unloaded all the kids, walked all the way through the parking lot, walked back up to the desk, bought the token, walked all the way back through the parking lot again, did a seat buckle check, and was ready to pull out of my parking spot. But I couldn’t find the token. NO. FREAKING. TOKEN. I just put my head down on the steering wheel and cried big, fat tears of exasperation.
Hey, it’s better than swearing, isn’t it?
I love how a woman’s tears can spur men to action. The boys jumped up and helped me scour the car for the missing token. I finally found it under Annabel’s butt. I must’ve dropped it in her car seat as I was putting her in it.
It was a happy moment. I think they all knew that if I had to unload everyone again and buy another token, I was going to lose it. And Psycho Mommy ain't fun.
Once I got on the freeway (during Friday rush hour no less), I called Bill and said, “It’s not a pretty sight. I was crying like a baby on the steering wheel, dropping f-bombs and about ready to bite the heads off of small children.”
To which my wonderful husband said, “So, you want me to pack it up and come home now so I can take the boys to the pool after dinner?”
Music to my ears. Sometimes he just gets it exactly right. Who needs flowers and poetry when my guy says something that wonderful to me?