Hospitals, Stitches, & Dog Bites ~ Oh my!

If you’re a parent, I think you’ll understand this a little. Maybe a lot. Okay, yes you’ll completely resonate with the words typed here! I never thought that parenthood – motherhood – could be quite so . . . ah, what’s the word?

Painful.

I always imagined it to be the definition of utmost satisfaction; love in all its glory, fulfilled and shining like a beacon in the darkness! Man, that was a simplistic view of mine! The career, the life pursuit of parenthood is so much more than just love. I don’t say ‘just love’ lightly, because the bond between a child and parent is something so unfathomably strong that it can’t even be described. It’s deep, cutting, full of emotion and worry and care; a parent’s love for their child or children is love at its finest, most fulfilling form. The bond is unspeakably strong and incapable of brokenness. 

But it is also incredibly crushing. Not all the time, but in moments of a child’s stress or pain or discomfort, yes, the parent suffers more than anyone else could ever realize.

I never understood how my parents could suffer because of my tears. I never saw how much hurt they could go through because of my own pain. I never thought that my heartache could potentially break the hearts of my parents.

But it can, and unfortunately it did, I’m sure more often than I am aware.

People say that things in life have a way of coming around to bite you in the butt; you do something in childhood, or perhaps you swear to yourself that you will never do something in adulthood, but it always comes back to haunt you later in life. I’ve found this to be true in many instances, but the particular one I am thinking of was almost unbearable. In fact, I wished I could have just snatched my baby into the safety of my arms and sink us both down into the floor, away from everything and everyone. Now, over a week later, I think back on those experiences and I still feel the fear, I still shed tears of pain and heartache, I still feel like clawing at my heart to make it stop hurting. More than anything I wish I could have taken the place of my baby, to have taken the bite and the shots and the stitches for myself rather than watch her go through it. I’m sure that every parent, no matter the age or circumstances of life, has experienced these feelings too. If you haven’t, trust me, you will. Life is too full of scary accidents, and your connection with your child(ren) is too strong to ignore.

I don’t regret the pain. It proves to myself that yes, I am a good mother! I do love my child more than life itself! Sometimes I need that little reminder – the reminder that even on the bad days, during all the tantrums and screaming and tears, my daughter is still the most important thing in my life . . . admittedly, even more so than my husband. (Sorry babe)

So yes, the raw emotions are sometimes a little jab to my self-esteem that I actually am not failing miserably at this “whole motherhood thing”.  Still, though, it was an experience I would rather not have experienced, and I’m sure my companions throughout the ordeal feel the same way.

A little over a week ago, I was lucky enough (inseart heavy sarcasm here) to spend four hours in a tiny hospital room with a traumatized one-year-old, an even more scarred granddad, and a calm family friend. Those four hours were hell on Earth. I have never had such an agitated experience, nor do I ever wish to have one again. I have no doubt that my poor dad feels exactly the same way, if not more so. Poor guy, he was the one who had to pin the baby’s arms to her side. For me, as the #MamaBear extreme, I couldn’t do it; for the simple cleaning of the wounds I held Pepper Ann’s arms, but I ended up shoving the nurse away from my baby. No joke, I pushed her and she stumbled into the chair behind her. In my defense, I didn’t mean to push her so roughly, but she just would not remove her latexed hands from my baby’s little head! Just thinking about it again has my nerves all fired up . . . look, my hands are literally shaking right now!

Pepper Ann was rushed to the hospital on a Saturday evening due to a dog bite to the face. I should have been paying closer attention to her at the house; we were in Florida visiting my family, and on our second full day there, I was busily putting together Easter baskets. Now, you can imagine my excitement – a first time mom with a baby who was only a year old, celebrating her FIRST Easter! I was giddy as a school girl and trying to hide it, though I’m not sure if I succeeded at all. I was happily placing chocolates and bunnies in six different baskets, paying special attention to my daughter’s, but trying not to choose favorites. Pepper Ann was sitting just a few feet away from me, munching on some applesauce while the dog watched her from the corners of her eyes. I should have been more careful. I should have seen the warning signs. I should have removed my baby from a potentially dangerous situation. But I didn’t pay attention. It was my fault, and I admit that. Things just happened so quickly, and I watched in horror as the dog leaped towards Pepper Ann’s face, giving a warning snarl but not hesitating, and nipping my baby’s squishy little cheek. I screamed, shoved the dog, and scooped up my baby. My mom, sitting on the bed with her own newborn baby, yelled at my brother to remove the dog from the room. I continued freaking. A lot. 

A little side note here: I don’t do blood. I just can’t. As a kid, the sight of blood dripping continuously out of someone else’s wound made me queasy. If it were my own body leaking blood, I’d faint. Almost.

Can you imagine what it was like to see my daughter – my sweet little pun’kin girl – mixing her tears into three different face wounds? No. Neither can I. But I didn’t have to, because unfortunately we experienced it. The dog had cut into the baby’s flesh in three different areas – just under her right eye, on her cheek, and at the corner of her lip. The bites weren’t disastrously huge – thank you GOD for saving her eyeball!!! – but each mark was bleeding what seemed to be all of the blood inside her little body, constantly streaming and not stopping no matter how much pressure I applied. I was freaked. I could think of nothing except to get some dang ice for those suckers! I prayed to make the bleeding stop, begged God to let Pepper Ann be okay, asked Him to please let her stop hurting! Of course, my prayers in that moment consisted of “oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God”. I couldn’t seem to find any words to ask God exactly what I wanted, but I felt it in my heart and I knew He did too.

The bleeding didn’t stop. It was all over my shirt, my shoulder, running down Pepper Ann’s face. I was shaky with fear and tears. I tried to do my Yoga breathing; I needed to remain calm so that Pepper Ann wouldn’t freak out because of my freak out. Yoga breathing helped (thank God for small favors) but I was still terrified. My entire body was shaking with the fear and adrenaline and the pain of my daughter. She had ceased her crying, but she still whimpered every now and again and refused to allow us to come anywhere near her face with those damp washcloths.

My dad had taken the one family car out to drop my younger brothers off at work, so I called my best friend’s mom. I just told her we needed a ride to the hospital, Pepper Ann was hurt. She asked no questions, didn’t bother with the details, only said she would be there in a few minutes. I praised God at that moment for such amazing, wonderful, selfless friends!

Fast forward about an hour and a half later, and Pepper Ann was sitting on my lap in a tiny hospital room. My friend, my dad, myself and my child, a doctor lady, and one nurse were all squeezed into the room. It was a tight fit, but we made it work somehow. I hated being there, though. I tried not to show my worry and fear to Pepper Ann – who was actually handling things so far like a champ; she had stopped crying, nursed and slept on the drive to the hospital, and was now her curious little self, trying to explore the room and touch all the germ infested hospital gadgets. Ew. 

The doctor told me Pepper Ann would need a DTaP vaccine and two stitches. I about died and came back as a ghost. I personally am terrified of needles, but for reasons other than that, we have not had Pepper Ann vaccinated. That’s right, we’re those parents. But that’s another post on another day for another argument.

It seemed like an eternity, but the doctor and two nurses finally returned with the needles and thread to sew my baby up. I held her arms, one nurse held her head, and the second nurse played soft music and colorful shapes to distract PA from the ordeal. Ha! Needless to say, that didn’t work worth a squat.

The doctor was simply cleaning out the wounds, but I could tell Pepper Ann was traumatized already. She was screaming in terror and pain, begging me with her eyes to please, please just pick her up! My mama instincts kicked into gear; my heart reached out to her, my eyes flooded with tears and I couldn’t help but sob. I tried to comfort her with my voice, tried telling her that it would be okay, we would be finished soon. But she was hurting, and the pain I felt as consequence was more excruciating than that of a twisted blade ripping through my guts. Oh, God, it was awful. A week later and I still can’t recount these pieces of the story without crying. I just wanted to hold my baby, to save her from the mean old doctor and nurses who were torturing her so unnecessarily. So I decided to move the nurse holding Pepper Ann’s head. The vision of my actions – me taking my hands and moving the nurse’s away from my daughter – flooded my head and I could think of nothing else. No words came to describe to the doctor what I wanted to do, and even if I had been capable of speech, they wouldn’t have been able to understand or even hear me through my own tears. So I reached my hands and gently pushed the nurse away.

But she would not let go. She would not remove her hands from my child’s head.

Yes, she was doing her job. But dammit if those hands didn’t move I was going to stab her with my own dang fingernails! I was angry with her for not releasing my child, for not allowing ME, the mother, to do what I thought was best for MY baby. Adrenaline took control and I pushed her hands a little too roughly. I didn’t mean to, honest I didn’t, but I was seeing red and the nurse was standing in the way of me holding my baby. Ain’t no one gonna do that!!!

I know I should have apologized. I wanted to, but at the same time I was still angry with her. I’m blessed and lucky, however, that the nurse didn’t press charges against me. I could be in a whole world of trouble right now. I’ve thought of writing the doctor and that nurse a formal apology, but am still too angry with it all to truly feel sorry.

After my rude behavior, my dad helped to hold the baby down. I felt so terrible forcing him to be there, but I just couldn’t be in such close proximity, pinning my one year old daughter down and refusing the hug she wanted from me. I detested not being there for her, I loathed the position my dad now faced, but as I sit here now, in my hallway bathroom, writing this, I realize how important it was for me that my daddy was there. I couldn’t have done it without him. My poor baby would have been completely surrounded by strangers if he hadn’t been willing to hold down his granddaughter. I’m sobbing now, but the truth has to be told: my daddy is my hero. He really, really is. I’ve thanked God every night for his bravery and love. As for me? I stood in a corner, biting my fingers, and sobbing into the shoulder of my friend’s mother, wishing for it all to stop. Pepper Ann continued to cry and scream, at one point almost falling asleep from sheer exhaustion, but not succeeding in blissful rest. My poor baby . . . .

Long story short and several hours later, we were finally out of there. Not before Pepper Ann received TWO shots, one in each thigh, by nurses who were the sugary sweet kind of friendly – the kind where they’re so nice it’s almost nasty. Yeah, those nurses. I was so exhausted at this point, I didn’t bother fighting them or being angry with them for making us wait for thirty extra minutes while they figured out a stupid syringe (seriously, don’t get me started on that joke). They eventually stabbed my daughter in her poor little legs, slapped a band-aid on, and sent us on our way. After we waited ten more minutes for release papers. Lord have mercy, it was an awful experience.

My prayers since that day have more or less repeated the same things over and over again.

Thank you God for saving Pepper Ann. By the time we celebrate her Sweet 16 (and we will, thankfully) the scars will hardly be noticeable. It could have been so much worse. I’m still blessed to have my baby, wholly complete and healthy.

Thank you God for my dad. He really stepped up to the plate, even though I know how hard it must have been for him, he was there for my baby when I could only be from a distance.

Thank you God for such amazing, wonderful friends. Thank you for Mrs. A, who was there for support and comfort and whispered consolation. Without her, I probably would have been sobbing on the hospital floor. Without her, we wouldn’t have made it to the hospital in such a timely fashion.

Thank you God for a healthy baby. She may be terrified of any hospital or doctor’s office-type
setting from now until eternity, but thank you, thank you, thank you for her life. I couldn’t live without it. Even when my mommy days are less than exemplary, I still share a unique and unbreakable bond of love with my sweet pun’kin girl.

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