I heard the scream but honestly, didn’t think much of it.
You see, our house is a loud house.
My kids are not what you call....quiet.
So when I heard Natalie wail, I just thought, ugh, now what’s happened?
That’s when I saw it.
Running down Natalie’s stomach.
I immediately thought to a horrendous scene in The Tudors when a guy was disemboweled. I remember seeing the blood flood down his stomach and I remember covering my eyes because I do not do well with blood.
Which is why I immediately felt faint when I saw it all over Natalie.
“What happened?” I shouted. I scooped her up as the blood trickled onto my fingers.
“It wasn’t me,” Tommy answered.
I grabbed a paper towel. “What’s HAPPENED?” I repeated dramatically. I really wish I could react calmly sometimes. But it’s just not in the cards for me. Like when I thought the car was breaking down I wailed, “What is going ON? What is GOING ON?!” It turns out nothing was wrong with the car, it was just a loud train rumbling past in distance.
“Did you push her?” I snapped at Tommy. “Did you push your little sister?” I pressed a paper towel down on Natalie’s wound.
“I didn’t!” Tommy said.
I managed to get a look at Natalie’s wound. It didn’t look good. It was deeper than any other scrape she had ever gotten before.
“I don’t know what to do,” I mumbled to myself. “I don’t know what to do. Go to the ER? Just slap a band-aid on it?”
Of course I couldn’t get a hold of Tom. If I could, I’d have called him on Skype and lifted Natalie up to the web cam, “Do you think,” I’d have said, “I should take her to the hospital?” I mean, he should know about wounds. I’m sure he was trained in how to take care of them.
But Tom was at work. And in Korea, halfway around the world.
Should I ask the neighbor? Knock on his door, shove Natalie’s gash at him and go, “Excuse me, sir? Should I take my kid to the doctor?” But no, that seemed weird.
I’m a mother, I should KNOW when to take her in to the hospital. Where was that instinct that mothers had? I shut my eyes for a brief second, willing the instinct to come. Nothing happened. The only thing I pictured was chocolate, which was so inappropriate at a time like that.
The only thing I could think of to do was ask my friend Amanda if she thought I should go to the ER.
She arrived a few minutes later and thought that I should go to the ER and offered to take Tommy home with her.
I agreed and bundled Natalie into my car. She wasn’t crying anymore, just sniffling in her seat. There was a band-aid on her gash and every few minutes I would ask Natalie if she was okay. Because then I started to worry that the gash had somehow punctured her lung.
Or....what if she got internal bleeding?
Internal bleeding? I pressed my foot down on the gas. What if she passed out on the drive to the hospital?
She didn’t, thank goodness.
No, instead she started to regale me with her rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. In fact, I almost wanted to tell her to hush by the time I parked in front of the hospital. But I didn’t, because hello, bleeding wound.
I walked into the ER with Natalie in my arms. A part of me wanted to rush up to the check in counter and shriek, “My daughter is BLEEDING and I’m not sure if she’s punctured a lung or has internal bleeding and what if she always has a scar there and blames me?”
I composed myself and calmly told the check in guy what happened. I had to peel back the band-aid so he could see and he winced and went, “Yeah, that might need a stitch.”
Oh God. Natalie would NOT be happy. She’d scream the place down.
We were told to sit in the waiting room—which was empty so I thought, “Hooray, this shouldn’t take long.”
Then it seemed like a button was pressed and all the sick people in Wyoming came barreling in.
There was an old lady who broke her leg.
A newborn with a cough.
A little boy with a sliced finger. (I tried not to throw up when I saw his blood.)
A tween who got a hard knock to the head. (I was sitting beside the check in desk, it wasn’t like I was listening in or anything. I just happened to hear…)
Many of these patients got priority over us so we waited.
And all the while Natalie was acting as though she didn’t have a disgusting gash on her side. She crawled around on the floor, she rearranged some magazines, and she knocked over a display about the hospital.
The people in the waiting room immediately looked over at me when there was a crash.
“Sorry,” I said, putting the display back up. “Sorry. Natalie, how about we sit. Aren’t you in pain? Here, read this AARP magazine.”
“I don’t LIKE this magazine!” (Yes, gone are the days when she’d pronounce like YIKE. I sort of miss it because at least when she was being defiant it sounded a little cute.)
“Here. Have my phone.” I pressed it into her palm.
Why wasn’t she sitting? You’d think after losing a bit of blood that she’d be out of it, but no.
When I felt like I was about to lose my patience all together, we were called back. (Seriously, I was on my last straw, Natalie had leaped from her chair onto me and then tried to run off with my ponytail holder that she had tugged free from my hair.)
“It’s not the best room,” the nurse said and then led us into the psycho room where they put the patients who are crazy. White walls, no windows, bare….
It was a little unsettling. And actually, we had been in the room before. Last year I had to take Natalie to the ER because she had a huge cyst form on her leg. Ugh, Natalie. She was always giving me a heart attack. You’d think it would have been Tommy always in the hospital, always scaring me because the kid literally doesn’t sit still. But no, it’s always been Natalie who has terrified me.
I told the nurse what happened and showed her the wound. “I’ll get a doctor to look but I’ll for sure come back and clean it up before we decide.” Her eyes flicked over to my chest and she looked taken aback. I followed her gaze and realized that I had my Happy Bunny sweatshirt on that said Hi, Loser! on it.
I had rushed out of the house so fast that I didn’t even think about what I was wearing.
We waited around, the doctor checked it out and she felt that it wouldn’t need stitches, that she could use Dermabond.
I thought Natalie would scream when her wound was washed but no, the weirdo laughed because it was ticklish.
The nurse said, “She’s doing great, that’s the worst part.”
But Natalie didn’t agree, because when it came time to put the Dermabond on, she screamed at the top of her lungs.
So obviously she didn’t puncture them.
After that was over, we were told our discharge papers would be given to us quickly...
....and then a half hour later, someone came back with them.
This is her owie all Dermabonded up:
When we finally got home, Natalie started jumping off the couch as though nothing ever happened.
“Natalie,” I said. “Stop it. Do you want to go back to the ER?”
She grinned at me. “I like the ER!”
Of course she does.