Because I have to write it out

12/04/2011 at 7:36 am | Posted in Motherhood, Small Fry | 13 Comments
Tags: , ,

Food poisoning, croup, a busted chin.

We’ve been to the ER three times with Lily, and it never gets easier or becomes less scary.

Yesterday evening, just as my sister- and brother-in-law arrived to take Marc and me to the hockey game, Lily jumped up from playing Legos, slipped and fell. As she hit the ground, the Lego in her hand met her chin and opened it right up. The blood wasn’t the hard part. It was trying to keep my composure in front of my three-year-old. Trying not to make her feel any more terrified than she already was.

Because the wound was small and the bleeding stopped pretty easily, we thought there might be a chance we could avoid the ER. Marc called a local emergency clinic. Who, without hesitation, told us to get our butts to the ER. Marc stayed back with the baby and our guests. I took Lily.

And this is where I want to say how grateful I am for all of the knowledge I’ve gained in the last three and a half years from talking to other moms.

Deep in the recesses of my brain was this little nugget: WakeMed has a great children’s emergency department. Who told me that? I have no idea. But I’m so glad I remembered it in that moment, which is nothing short of a miracle. We’d always rushed to the hospital closer to our house, whose ER is just fine, but definitely doesn’t cater to kids.

WakeMed’s campus is huge, and of course I parked in the wrong place, but once we arrived inside the kids’ ER, Lily spotted Dora on one of the TVs and curled right up on the couch. Instant relief. It’s so much easier to undertake the arduous task of hospital check-in without a screaming child in your lap.

The triage nurse was amazing (in one brilliant move comparing blood to Elmo’s color in order to relax Lily), and the doctors, nurses and intern (who read books to Lily during her procedure) were equally wonderful. Because she was so rattled by folks even looking at her chin, one doctor advised me to allow them to sedate her for her stitches. It made sense until I heard the words, “might stop breathing” “intubate” and “vomiting.” The second doctor who visited us said that Lily would need only a few stitches and it could be quick. The catch? She’d have to be restrained.

I chose the second option and tried my best to describe it to Lily. “You’ll be swaddled like we used to wrap up Sophie.” “You’ll be nice and cozy and warm.” “Mommy will be right here.”

Amazingly, it worked.

My child stunned me. After dissolving into hysterics each time anyone just wanted to peek at her chin, when it came time to wrap up in the papoose, she obliged without a single tear. I couldn’t believe it. She was so calm and brave. My chest aches just thinking about it.

They pinned her arms to her sides with a pillowcase (“superhero cape”), laid her on her back, and strapped her into the papoose. Then, as a nurse tech held her head and the intern read “Goodnight Moon,” the doctor swiftly and steadily stitched her chin closed.

Lily lay calmly, staring at the book pages and blinking up at the ceiling. I squeezed her forearm (the only part of her body I could touch) and held back tears.

The procedure ended with an orange popsicle, Elmo stickers and a new teddy bear. Not to mention Dino Dan on the TV, which had been airing Lily’s favorite Nick Jr. shows the entire time.

We returned home to Marc and a homemade pizza, and after a quick dinner, she collapsed against me in her bed.

I didn’t cry until I got into my own bed hours later. The adrenaline crash and immediate fatigue sent me into a deep sleep.

I hope we never have to see the inside of another emergency room ever again. But I know as I type this, the universe laughs. At least with each experience comes more wisdom, right?


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  1. Ugh. Thanks for sharing — have heard good things about WakeMed too, but good to have the reminder. Fingers crossed and knocking on wood, but I’m sure I’ll need that info at some point. Glad you’re both okay and got such good care.

  2. Oh wow am I having déjà vu after reading this. Daniel had a similar chin incident about a month ago, and the papoose & the terror are still so fresh in my mind. I was at work when it happened , and by the time I got to the hospital, the stitches were complete. I felt awful seeing my poor boy 😦

    I hope everyone is doing better!

  3. Ouch! Poor Lily, and poor mom. Sounds like WakeMed’s got it going on for kids!! Wish they had services like that when I was little…

  4. So sorry you had to go through this:(

    Once we thought Nate had swallowed a pin so we didn’t have time to go to big Wake since he had to be seen immediately. We went to WakeMed Cary ER and it was horrible. 4 hours in a waiting room with an 18 month toddler with very little to amuse him. We’ve managed to get by with just urgent care visits since then (CROSSING FINGERS!). Thanks for the reminder for me to check if there are any other pediatric ERs in the area!

  5. Oh poor Lily & you! Great to hear how y’all were treated at Wake Med. That sounds like it was a pretty great experience. Hope Lily is all better soon!

  6. How ridiculously scary Sis. I’m so proud of you and Lily. Neither of those options sounded good…but I’m so relieved it went quickly and they took such amazing care of her. Thanks for the head’s up. When it’s our turn, we’ll definitely head their way. Give Lily a big smooch for me! Ps. Just store this away in your future guilt-trip bag…3 emergency room visits by the age of 3…that’s worth a lot! =)

  7. your post is the first thing I read this morning. so glad to hear that Lily is ok — what a rock star! Wake Med peds continues to shine. think of how brave you were, S, going through this alone. seriously, L sounds like she did amazing w/the papoose 🙂 how many stitches? do they dissolve or will they have to come out? remind me to tell you of Ben’s stitches story when I’m home — burrito wrap and all. He was 2. Hugs!

  8. Oh my gosh I choked up reading this. My sister busted her chin open when she was 3 on Easter Sunday and my mom said watching them restrain her for the stitches was unbearable. It sounds like you were amazingly brave and so was your sweet girl!

  9. […] forgotten that I’d taken these photos of Lily with my phone after her procedure Saturday. Since so many of you have contacted me to express your concern (thank you), I thought you might […]

  10. So sorry about Lily’s ER visit, but I’m glad that it ended up okay.

    Thanks for the shout-out to WakeMed’s pediatric ER. My brother is a pediatric ER doc, and he trained (and then worked) at WakeMed and loved it. He’s not there anymore because he moved to another state…

  11. wow, what an incredible little girl!!! can’t imagine what you were feeling in your mama heart.

  12. WOW. Just…WOW. I am so glad to see that she is ok. What an incredible story.

  13. I am SO glad she is ok! We stayed at Wake Med with Oscar earlier this year and they truly were amazing. In fact, his room was bigger and nicer than either of my rooms when I gave birth this summer 😉

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