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Blood, part 2

This is the continuation of the story of how I bravely confronted my blood-induced paralysis (or conversely the story of how Taurus bravely confronted her first medical emergency, but who’s writing this blog, I ask you?), but I should pause here to explain my approach to childhood injuries first. I’m not a sympathetic person by nature, and to justify that lack of sympathy, I concocted a theory about hurt kids that both fit neatly with my innate lack of warmth and shifted the blame for that failing to the children themselves. That’s despicable, I know, but maybe part of you is judging me so harshly because you wish you’d thought of it first. Hmm?

Anyway, my approach from the time Cap had begun toddling was to downplay falls. I’d see other moms running to scoop up their little darlings at the playground and think gosh, that’s a lot of emotional work. Then my little angel would take a spill, and I’d call over, “Ya okay? No? Are you sure? Is there a bone sticking out? No? Sounds like you’re okay there, champ!” Privately I’d congratulate myself for the champ part at the end because good moms use names like that to convey approval. Right?

Now I know this approach can’t be used in all situations, but honestly, you’d probably be surprised at how often it works. I’m not an MD or anything, but I always just assumed that there’s probably nothing to worry about if there’s A) no visible bones or internal organs, B) no loss of consciousness, C) no property damage that I’d be on the hook for, and D) no degree of blood loss that couldn’t be contained with the wadded-up tissue or desiccated baby wipe I can normally produce in a pinch. Obviously, this approach relieves me of the onerous responsibility of kissing booboos and lovingly drying tears, but it also communicates to children that life is filled with pain and injury, and the world is a cold, unsympathetic place that will be deaf to your misery, so you might as well learn to pick yourself up and soldier on. Everybody wins!

Given this philosophy, you’ll understand why, when I apprehended the scene in the kitchen—the one in which Taurus had just collided with another child forcefully enough to damage drywall with her rebounding cranium—I immediately fell into my default state of denial.

“You’re okay, Taurus. No harm done. How about a juice box?” I asked her, reaching for the fridge handle.

“Umm…,” said rubber kid from behind Taurus, who had turned to me in a misplaced search for empathy.

I followed the kid’s gaze. There was blood. So. Much. Blood.

You know how when you watch a movie in which a person sustains a head injury, there’s always that one person who shrieks about how much blood there is? And then there’s always that one other, more levelheaded person who says it’s okay because head injuries just bleed a lot? And then the shrieking person calms down a bit because now someone has confirmed the thing they were just shrieking about, which is that blood—especially lots of it—should be pouring out of a person?

Yeah, I don’t really understand that exchange either. Knowing that head wounds bleed a lot when compared to wounds elsewhere on the body in no way lessens my concern about the amount of blood that’s currently not where it’s supposed to be, namely INSIDE SOMEONE. If the same amount of blood came out of another part of someone’s body, I’d still be freaking out because the impetus behind the freakout kind of isn’t that there’s blood but rather that there’s just so much of it.

If I were making this story up, I’d add a scene where someone came up to me at that point and said, “don’t worry, head wounds always bleed more than injuries elsewhere on the body,” and I’d pinch that dude very hard on the penis (I’m sorry to assume it would be a man saying this, but…it would be) and then say “don’t worry, pinching just hurts more on the penis than on other parts of the body. Now don’t you feel better about it, Carl?”

No one said that to me in that moment, though. What someone did say was, “Oh my God!” That person was Husband, who came into the kitchen at that moment with his brother-in-law. I imagine the scene from his perspective, and it’s terrifying: our tiny, darling four year old standing in a spreading puddle of blood. Eek.

My husband is far more emotional, compassionate, and tender than I am, and he always has been. So, you’d be totally justified in imagining that he rushed to her aid while I, cold fish that I’ve admitted to being, watched from afar, perhaps calling out the occasional, helpful suggestion, like “bring towels and boil some water” or “try not to get it on the carpet.” Maybe I should be embarrassed to say it, but I can actually imagine myself doing that, too.

So, no one was as surprised as I was when I actually sprang into action, snatching a dishtowel from the oven handle and pressing it firmly to the back of Taurus’s head. As Husband hunted down his car keys and looked up the address of the nearest emergency room, I gathered Taurus into my arms and carried her out to the car, unwisely, perhaps, given the size of my belly and impending due date. I strapped her into the car seat with one hand, the other maintaining pressure on the rapidly-saturating towel. We shouted thanks to my in-laws for their willingness to deal with the biohazard we were leaving behind, piled into the car with the other kids, and took off.

In hindsight, I’m not sure why we took all three kids with us to the ER. My in-laws would have kept them until our return without argument, but neither Husband nor I was thinking clearly. I suppose it’s reassuring for you to read that now so that you don’t start thinking I’m actually a superhero who never makes mistakes. I feel like that’s where some of you might have been headed.

I knelt beside Taurus in the back while Husband drove, wedged between her booster and Libra’s car seat. I want to reinforce here that I was substantially pregnant, so for the purposes of painting an accurate picture, imagine a beached whale that’s been dressed up in a black maxi dress and crammed into the back of a minivan between two car seats.

When Taurus read this post, she insisted I include her most vivid memory of the event, which was looking back over her loving mother’s shoulder to watch her uncle mopping up the blood on the kitchen floor. And isn’t that just typical? My uncharacteristic quick-thinking practically saved that child’s life, and the only takeaway she had from the whole thing was that her uncle selflessly tidied up. Sheesh.

To be continued in Blood, part 3…

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