The Big Owie

Last night, the inevitable happened. Animal got his First Big Owie. And actually, it was more like his second owie. A few months ago he fell on a wooden block and I heard the crack of his cheekbone and saw the first smear of blood. However, the incident last night was a bit worse.

Yesterday afternoon I was forced to snatch him up from afternoon nap, dazed and bleary eyed, so I could cart him along to Einstein & Pigpen’s Parent Teacher conferences. Now, any parent knows full well that an interruption in the sleep cycle of an infant can be hazardous to your mental health. And yet, I really could not avoid it. I figured that I would just put him to bed an hour earlier and he’d make up the sleep time.

By the time 7PM had rolled around, he was impossible. Like us, when babies get overtired, they get cranky. The only difference, is that we can usually fall into bed and immediately pass out. Unfortunately, with a small child, they have some sort of internal switch. Before that switch is flipped, you’ll probably be able to get them down, but if you wait too long, you’ve entered The Point of No Return. This is where I found myself at approximately 7PM last night. I tried everything. I must have nursed him 16 times between 7-8PM and I put him in bed with his blankie and binky and a dry diaper on THREE separate occasions. Each time, he was standing up within seconds, gripping the crib rails and thrashing about, his cries turning into full blown screams, mixed with the occasional choking and hiccupping sounds. And so, I decided to wait it out and let him stay up a bit longer until fatigue finally got the best of him and we could all have some peace. Perhaps this was my big mistake.

When Animal gets overtired, he doesn’t just get cranky. He seems to lose a lot of coordination and balance and he walks around like a drunken trucker. He trips, he throws himself on the ground, he plops down, and he gets kind of…violent. These are the times that I kind of wish for a padded room. (And maybe for the times I feel like depositing all three boys on some poor soul’s doorstep so I can drive fast and furiously across the US border to sunshine and margaritas. Oh but I digress.) So Animal is acting like he’s angry and drugged, and my Mom and I are sitting in the living room watching this weird behavior unfold. And although we both have been endowed with lightning fast Mom-reflexes, we are unable to grab him before he hurls himself into his activity cube . (The same cube that I proudly discovered at Goodwill for a measly $2.50.)

I see him on his hands and knees on the floor, and the cry hasn’t come yet. It’s still in the “Silent Cry” stage, which usually only occurs when a child has been hurt. The duration of the Silent Cry is dependent upon the intensity of the pain. In Animal’s case, the Silent Cry lasted an uncomfortably long time. I swooped him up, but didn’t want to look at the damage. I wavered for a moment, and then flipped him around, seeing nothing at first. Usually with children, and with injuries of this type, you will see blood from mouth, where they have bit their lip or tongue. I’ve also learned from two boys prior that an unusually large amount of blood can come from the mouth. But this time, no blood.

When his cry finally became audible, I did what any nursing mother will do. I pulled out my boob and offered. He refused, grabbing the binky he was holding, and popping it in. Then he closed his eyes and put his hand to his forehead, and it appeared. At first, just a tiny rectangular shaped spot of bright blue above his left eyebrow. However, within seconds, it had morphed into a walnut sized goose egg that was a shade of blue I had never seen before on human skin. My mother and I watched with horror and the seconds seem to tick by in slow motion. I was yelling “Mom! He’s not supposed to go to sleep is he?” And she back at me “No! Don’t let him go to sleep!” and both of us “Look at the size of that thing!” and “That is not normal.”

Within 15 seconds of injury, my Mom was holding ice to Animal’s forehead and I was on the phone with the consulting nurse line at The Mayo Clinic (God bless them.) They fired off questions, such as “Is he conscious? Is he breathing normally? Is he moving all of his limbs? Is there any bruising behind his ear? Is there any fluid dripping from his nose? Is he bruising under the eyes?” And then came a clean bill of health, and instructions to continue with the ice, Tylenol for the pain, and to wake him every 3 hours to make sure that he was responding normally. By this time, he was already happily cuddled in my mother’s arms, as I was pacing the floor and trying to get control over the adrenaline that was pumping through my body. I put him to bed (nothing like a good head injury to tire out the baby who has reached The Point of No Return) and I did the next obvious thing. I called his Dad.

I relayed the events of the evening to B, and when I had finished my story, I was met with silence. “Hello? Are you still there?” I asked. And then I heard the tone I have come to know so well. The pissed off/disappointed kind of tone. “Yeah,” he says, short and terse. “What’s wrong?” I ask, and he firmly says “I don’t LIKE THAT.” “Don’t like what? That Animal got hurt? Do you think I LIKE IT?” I start getting defensive. And then it comes. He asks me where I was when it happened. Was I watching him? Was I close? Why wasn’t I holding him? And after the interrogation comes the lectures. Do I know what could have happened? Do I realize that he could have brain damage/swelling/bleeding? Get rid of that activity cube. It’s worried me from the day you bought it.

I don’t know why I was so shocked, but I was. I hung up the phone in a sort of stupor, wishing I had never called him in the first place and wondering for a moment if I really was to blame. When I told my Mom about my conversation with B, I had hardly finished when she started in on a tirade about how this was typical male behavior. She used words like “sanctimonious” and phrases about being “holier than thou” and “not having a clue.” I guess I wonder how typical this really is, or if it has something to do with control. I feel like B plays the “blame game” a lot with me and my parenting skills. It’s been six years since Pigpen was an infant, and yet he still reminds me of the mistakes he believes I made in the beginning, and the way those mistakes have shaped the little boy Pigpen has become. As if we mothers don’t face enough guilt. As if we don’t constantly think about the “what if’s.” As if we aren’t always questioning our decisions.

I quickly came to my senses though, and after the initial anger had passed, I came to a realization: Only two owies in Animal’s first year of life? Not bad. Not bad at all, if you ask me. Just don’t tell B that I wasn’t about to wake up a sleeping infant again, much less every 3 hours during the night. I slept right through until morning, and woke to a happy baby with only a slight bruise to show from the previous night.

Advertisements

4 Responses to “The Big Owie”


  1. 1 Anonymous October 20, 2006 at 10:42 am

    My husband acts just like that when one of the kids gets sick or hurt! I know how you feel. But, remember, it’s only because he cares so much. It means he’s a good dad. Think how much worse it would be if he was indifferent to the kids’ owies!

    Find the silver lining…..

    –(That Bradley teacher that keeps lurking on your blog. *smile*)

  2. 2 thordora October 20, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    I’M the one who usually acts like that, and I believe it’s because I’m not the predominant stay at home parent. However, i have learned to bite my tongue, because I wasn’t there and, well, shit happens.

    It’s incredibly unfair to expect anyone to be on top of an exploring toddler ALL DAY LONG. Besides which, no one wants their children coddled.

    You wanted someone to comfort you, since it’s not fun to have your heart stop (in fact mine jumped a beat reading this). Having it thrown back is not cool. I should know. I do it to my husband sometimes.

    I’m glad the little dude is ok. If it makes you feel better, my girls stagger around like drunks when tired…

  3. 3 shan October 22, 2006 at 9:11 am

    Everything that ever goes awry with children is always the mother’s fault. Duh. I thought everyone knew that!

  4. 4 Anonymous October 26, 2006 at 4:34 am

    Why don’t you get that big chip off your shoulder and look at it from his point! He wasn’t there, he’s upset, maybe he over reacted. But good lord you’d be the same way if the shoe was on the other foot I’m sure! You need a hobbie to occupy your time. You’re finding fault with everyone that LOVES you. You’re looking for a reason for them to push you away. What’s your problem? Be thankful that someone gives a damn! You could be like me with NO ONE THAT cares 2 cents for you if you live or die! I have no one to spend the holidays, birthdays family dinners! You have what I want and all you can do is grip about how they aren’t doing this for you or they’re expecting that from you, GET OVER YOURSELF!!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s





%d bloggers like this: