It was bound to happen. I have 2 boys who have very little regard for personal safety. They both think that you are standing still if you are not running as fast as you can. And, as Luke is fairly new to this whole “walking” thing, he falls a lot.
Well, Wednesday morning last week, the day after an amazing Halloween night full of adventure and costumes and adorableness, I get the call. I had just pulled in to the parking lot at work. I hadn’t even taken my seatbelt off yet. My phone rings and the caller ID is Luke’s daycare. I always have a brief moment of anxiety when I see that name on the caller ID. I assume that most mother’s do. I always hope that it is something minor like ‘he ran out of diapers’ or ‘I need to update his immunization records.’ But deep down, I always assume it is something terrible.
When I answered, the voice on the other end said, with a rushed voice, “Luke is okay, but…”
My heart sank. Before she could get the next words out of her mouth a million tragedies are running through my mind. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and I truly don’t know if I can handle one more thing. I have had about 4 weeks of non-stop everything with barely any moment to catch my breath.
Between my husband going out of town for a week for work to my own work travel to school events, Halloween, sicknesses, and life in general, I haven’t had a single moment to recharge. I am someone who needs time to recharge. I know that about myself. As a result, the craziness of the last month has sent me into a funk… A funk in which any emergency might break me. This call from daycare did it.
“Luke is okay, but… He fell on a toy and the corner hit him in the face and split his lip. It looks pretty deep and it may need stitches.”
She sends me a picture of him (when I get it, I die a little inside) and I let her know I will be right there. I call Luke’s doctor. She tells me to take him to the pediatric emergency room. I didn’t even know our city had a pediatric emergency room. I call Matt. He does absolutely nothing to calm me down. He asks if he needs to go with me. I say no even though, inside, I am freaking out and begging him to be there because I truly don’t know if I can do this alone.
Just then, the light comes on in my car telling me I need gas. Fuck.
I stop at the gas station.
On the way to pick up Luke, I call my friend who is usually pretty good at calming me down. She doesn’t answer. After all, it’s not even 8am yet. She calls me back, sensing an emergency. I tell her about the situation and she, as hard as she tried, did little to comfort me. At this point, I just need my baby in my arms. I need to assess the situation myself.
I get to daycare. Luke looks pitiful. His face is swollen and bloody. His eyes are puffy from crying. I know he can tell that I am freaking out. I try not to show it. The cut does look pretty bad. I don’t think it needs stitches but, I am not a doctor. We head to the emergency room just to be safe.
I check in at the ER and I didn’t even have to sit down in the waiting room. A nurse was waiting for me at the door to take us back to our room. Luke perked up once she started taking his vitals. He seemed to forget about the gaping hole in his lip and was mostly excited to explore this new and exciting hospital room. The doctor took a little too long to get there because Luke pretty much destroyed the room. Between the latex gloves, hand sanitizer, and hospital gowns, there was very little floor showing by the time the doctor got there. He even unplugged something at one point that set off a little alarm.
He was acting like himself which brought my craziness down several notches. The doctor assessed him and determined that it didn’t go all the way through and it didn’t cross the “lip line” so no stitches were necessary. He prescribed an antibiotic ointment and sent us on our way.
He fell asleep in the car on the way to the pharmacy so I sat in the car in the parking lot and cried. Not a sad cry, but a cry of relief, of exhaustion, of release.
On a normal day, and on a grander scheme, this is not that big of a deal. Toddlers fall. It happens.
But, as I am sure many other mothers feel on a regular basis, I am just trying to make it through each day, one step at a time. This parenting thing is hard enough on a good day. But after a month of not being able to recharge, a month of zero self-care, a month of absolute crazy, I broke. And it sucks. And it makes me feel weak. And it makes me feel like a bad mother.
Ultimately, I know better. I’m freakin’ awesome. But in that moment, on that day, I hurt for my baby. And it is a hurt that doesn’t go away just because his lip is healing. It is a hurt that is screaming at me to take care of myself.