“Mom! Hannah Grace had a big fall! She’s needs to go to the hospital!” my ever-dramatic four-year-old informed me.
I was less than six feet away from my kids, doing the dishes while they ate their dinner. Matt was still not home from work. I wanted to get the kitchen as clean as possible before he got home so that we could relax and enjoy our Friday night. I somehow missed the fall, having bent down to put a plate in the dishwasher as Hannah Grace’s head hit the floor.
Of course, I heard her cry, immediately shot up, and ran to her and asked the question which prompted Caleb’s reply.
“Oh, Caleb, she doesn’t need to go to the hospital,” I said while checking her head for bumps. “Don’t try to scare her.”
Hannah Grace was still crying, so I asked her where it hurt.
“My heaaaddd!” she pathetically drew out the word.
I was hoping for a more specific answer. “I know your head. Point to where it hurts.”
I felt the upper portion of her head where she was rubbing and pulled her in for a hug. I rubbed her head until she stopped crying, which didn’t take too long.
After a few tries, I gave up figuring out how she fell. All I could gather from both kids was that she was standing on the chair, leaning on the table, and somehow ended on the back of her head on the floor.
She was fine now, though, so I didn’t worry anymore. We had the talk (again) as to why she shouldn’t stand in her chair, and the kids finished their dinner. Then they went on their way to clean up the playroom while I finished cleaning the kitchen.
Ten minutes later Matt called: “I’m stopping at the store now to pick up the brownies, and then I’ll be on the way home.”
Good. Matt had made most of the drive in from work, and I was almost finished with the kitchen. I could start getting the kids ready for bed while I waited. We were going to have our weekly Friday date night which normally included a snack, an attempt at a movie, and someone falling asleep on the couch.
As I started sweeping, Hannah Grace was tip-toeing her way into the kitchen, singing a little song to herself.
“Have you finished cleaning up?” I asked. “Hurry up, babe. Mommy’s almost finished in here.”
I looked up from the pile I was sweeping as she twirled around and headed back toward the playroom.
“OMIGOSH!” I yelled. “What did you and Caleb get into?!” For a millisecond I was baffled at the reddish-purple substance matting Hannah Grace’s hair to the back of her head. For a millisecond.
And then fear set in.
“Hannah Grace, come here.” She had fallen on the back of her head, and now almost all the hair in the middle of her head was red and sticky.
I didn’t want to panic, and I didn’t want to scare her, and I really didn’t want to search through her hair to her scalp to find the injury that had caused this much blood. I started to move the hair away and didn’t see anything protruding from her scalp. I breathed a small sigh. I continued to search for the source and thought I found it, but she had too much matted hair. I decided I needed to put her in the tub so I could wash away the blood and see better.
I began dialing Matt. Straight to voicemail. I had just spoken with him! I tried again–maybe he was ignoring me because he was in the checkout line. I called again. And again. And again.
Now I had to think about the other two kids. I didn’t want Caleb to be scared or to scare Hannah Grace with his questions, and Chloe would just try to climb in the tub. I had to trust Caleb until Matt got home, which should be soon.
“Caleb, I need you to stay in the playroom with Chloe. Please watch her. I need to wash Hannah Grace’s hair.”
I can’t remember the questions he asked, but I know I emphasized how I really needed him to be a big helper then.
As I was moving Hannah Grace upstairs, Matt called.
“If I call four times in a row, it’s probably important!”
“I didn’t hear my phone. Well..what’s wrong?!” I had worried Matt with my ‘greeting’ and needed to fill him in on the details, which I did. I told him I was taking Hannah Grace upstairs, so when he got home, he needed to check on Caleb and Chloe.
“I’ll be home in ten minutes.” He sounded as scared as I felt.
While I moved with a purpose, telling myself to act calm, Hannah Grace continued on in La-La Land–not because of her injury but because she is a regular inhabitant of the place. I sat her in the tub and began rinsing her hair. We both watched as the clear water became pink and swirled around her feet. I looked at the back of her head. Yes, there it was.
No bigger than a half an inch long in the middle of her head sat the cut, open. Her scalp around the cut had swelled into a tender knot. Caleb was right–we would be making a trip to urgent care. Now seeing her injury clearly, I relaxed a little. I couldn’t believe a cut that small produced so much blood!
As I called my parents and set up the arrangements for Caleb and Chloe, I watched in amazement as Hannah Grace played in the tub, apparently not in pain and oblivious to the chaos I had felt for the past ten minutes.
“Hannah Grace, we’re going to need to go to the doctor. You have a boo-boo on your head that we need to get fixed,” I told her matter-of-factly.
“To get a band-aid because we used up all the band-aids?” She remembered earlier that day I reprimanded her and her brother for sneaking and using the rest of our box of band-aids.
“Well, no, we don’t have any more band-aids, but we need a doctor to check your boo-boo.”
As I pulled her out of the tub, swaddling her in the blue hooded towel, Matt made his way into the bathroom. I showed him the cut and was surprised to see the hair around the wound was already turning red again, slowly, but confirming my decision to head to urgent care.
We proceeded to get each of the kids dressed in their pajamas and put Caleb and Chloe in bed. Hannah Grace came downstairs with us as we ate a quick dinner and waited for my parents, and once they arrived, we headed on to urgent care.
We knew the drill–almost a year-and-a-half ago we were in the same place for the same reason after Caleb fell on the playground and cut his cheek. The nurse would look at Hannah Grace’s head, then get the doctor who would tell the nurse to numb the spot, and then we would wait in the waiting room for the anesthetic to take effect before proceeding with the stitches.
We went through the routine and waited. Hannah Grace was happy reading books and playing with toys as she awaited the nurse to call her name. When she heard, “Hannah?” she looked up at the nurse by the door and began to make her way, not waiting for Matt or me. She was a big girl, and she was ready to get her stitches so she could get a sticker–no one ever told her she would get a sticker, but that was the appropriate prize, she had decided, for her injury.
We had to take Hannah’s shirt off while waiting for the doctor because the nurse said they would clean her injury again, and she didn’t want to get Hannah Grace all wet. That was the first protest we heard from Hannah Grace all night: “I don’t want them to see my boobies.”
While she lay down on her stomach on the table, her little body covered, arms and legs tucked in the sheet like a burrito, I brushed her cheek with the back of my hand. She was my daughter, my precious baby. How I wanted to protect her!
The nurse informed me, “She has a good bruise around the injury, so she may say it hurts when the doctor starts pulling on the stitches. If she says that, it’s because of the bruise.” The nurse was assuring me that the anesthetic had done its job.
I started to pray but then pushed aside the prayer. I felt selfish praying for Hannah Grace to not feel pain when I knew there were children with serious injuries and illnesses. I know in my head that God cares about me and my concerns, but sometimes I have trouble believing that in my heart. I have been so blessed–why would He listen to my prayers when there are real troubles in the world?
And in that moment I felt a peace. As I looked at my daughter, whom I loved with all my heart, God told me, “She’s my daughter, too. I don’t want her to hurt, either.”
Hannah Grace started to move, and I knew she just wanted her right arm free so that she could hug her pink bear-blankie to her face. I asked if the nurse could free her arm, which she did, and Hannah Grace fought her eyes to stay open, tiredness washing over her as her bear touched her face.
While the doctor made each stitch, Hannah Grace and I made faces at each other, sticking out our tongues from side to side. Matt had his hands on her little body, ensuring she didn’t move, but she had no plans to. She was a big girl.
“It took four stitches,” the doctor told us. That was one more stitch than her brother received a year-and-a-half before.
We dressed Hannah Grace, hugging her and telling her how proud we were. She didn’t cry, didn’t move; she was perfect. God had answered my prayer.
And He answered hers, too. She didn’t get a sticker, but she got a green popsicle. She sucked on that popsicle most of the whole way home until it was gone, and then she fell asleep.