Monday, October 1, 2007

Trauma to the Two-Year-Old

We have had a very sad day today. Very sad.

The boys and I met my mom for lunch, and after a delightfully satisfying bowl of macaroni and cheese, we decided to swing by my favorite clothing store just to see if they had any sales going on. The store happens to be right next door, so it was supposed to be a quick trip, a simple stop, and then we would drop Mom off at the office so she could finish her work day.

Well, they were indeed having some sales, and I loaded up the stroller with a few items to try on. Once we were all secure in the dressing room (and there was a LOT to us: two babies, two women, an overflowing diaper bag, purses, to-go cups of diet Coke, sippy cups of milk and juice, graham crackers - quite an entourage, I assure you), I let Tucker get out of the stroller. While I tried on my various choices, Tucker played and played. He climbed up and down off the bench, he twirled around, he bounced and giggled.

And then.... CRACK!

It was one of the most horrendous sounds, and it has been resounding in my head all day. He fell onto the corner of the bench, face first. I scooped him up, expecting to see a giant, purple goose egg on his forehead... instead, I saw blood. Lots of blood, pouring from his little mouth. That awful, unforgettable crack I heard was the sound of his teeth hitting the bench.

Tucker was hysterical, screaming and crying...and I could have easily joined him in his hysteria. It was terribly alarming to see all of this blood, pooling in his mouth and pouring down his chin, all over his little t-shirt. I held him, rocked him, and soothed him as best as I could, as only a mommy can.

Sidenote: Remember, I was trying on clothes. Hence, I was wearing clothes that didn't belong to me, and my son was bleeding all over them. I now own these clothes, blood spots and all. I think it's the first time I have left a store with brand new clothes which will need to be stain-treated before I can wear them. But, Tucker wanted his mom. Grandma was there to soothe and comfort both of us, and she caught more than a little blood in her hands, but it was mommy he wanted, regardless of whether I had yet purchased the outfit I was wearing.

I called the doctor on my cell phone, right there from the dressing room. They listened to my report of the incident, and once they heard that all this blood was coming from a head injury, they wanted to see him right away. So we loaded up the stroller with all of our things, and off we went to the Pediatrician's office.

My mom drove the van so I could ride in the back next to Tucker, since he couldn't bear to let go of my hands. He was not bleeding as profusely anymore, but now it was more the typical bleeding of any fresh wound; there was no doubt that he was an injured little boy.

Did I mention Robb left on a business trip this morning? How is it that crises like this happen when I don't have my teammate? I was immeasurably thankful to have my mom with me, needless to say.

Tucker fell asleep in the car, and he was sleeping very soundly when I carried him into the doctor's office. They took us straight to an exam room where I could lay him down, but within minutes a nurse came to move us: off to the trauma room. They weren't sure if he might need stitches, and we needed to be in a place that was best equipped for any procedure.

As we walked into the trauma room, my heart sank. We've been here before, when Tucker broke his arm last summer, and when he needed to have that cast put on three more times after he took each one off. (That's another story for another blog post.) I hate that room. I know it's an important place, and I am thankful for the ways the doctors have cared for my son there. But, I hate that room.

One doctor walked into the room and said, "Well, of course Tucker is in here. This is Tucker's room." The trauma room is "Tucker's Room" at the doctor's office. What does that tell you about my son's medical history?!?

I have learned recently that Tucker has a receptive vocabulary that doesn't quit, so I decided to start telling him what was going to happen, so he could be as ready as I could help him to be. He had woken up during the transition between rooms, so I rocked him in my arms and said things like, "The nurses will come, and they will get you all cleaned up. And the doctor will come, and he will look inside your mouth. It might hurt for a minute, but he's going to tell Mommy how to make you feel better." Can I just tell you how hard it is to say these things to my crying baby, without crying myself?

One of the things I love most about this pediatric practice is that there are lots of doctors, physician's assistants, and nurses, and they all know their stuff. They are all available to give second and third opinions, so I always know that we have gotten a thorough exam. Well, sure enough, a team of five people looked inside Tucker's mouth by the time we were finished.

It was such a process, from the cleanup to the exam; part of the time I was able to hold him and soothe him, but twice they needed me to lay him on the table so they could get a better look inside that sweet little mouth.

I'll tell you what: my son may not speak, but he was telling me more than words can say as he pleaded with me through weeping eyes while the nurses held his head still. It was all I could do not to cry, but I knew he was gaging his fear by my own. If I cried, even at all, he would be even more afraid than he already was. He needed me to be strong, and if ever there is motivation to keep my act together, my son is it.

Instead, I held his hand, kissed his fingers and said, "I love you, Tucker. You are teaching Mommy how to be the mother of a little boy. This is what it's all about, buddy."

I didn't dare look at my mom. She was in charge of Tyler, who was sleeping through it all, and she was there for my emotional support. But I didn't dare make eye contact or look in her direction... the flood gates would have flown open. Between the doctor's visits to the room, I said to her, "Just so you know, it is very intentional that I am not looking at you. I am holding on by a thread, and I can't let you give me any sympathy." My goodness, does she ever understand that mentality!

She said, "Oh, I know. In fact, let's not even talk about that right now. I will read to you. And you read to me." She proceeded to read aloud the words on the colorful poster in front of her, and I read aloud the labels on the boxes in the supply cabinet. We read aloud to one another, just to keep ourselves from really thinking about what was happening all around us. It was our saving grace.

Well, by the time all was said and done, we learned that Tucker had a gash on the inside of his right cheek, and he had knocked two teeth loose. They chose not to stitch the cut since it's inside his mouth, and stitches could cause a greater problem by interrupting the natural healing process. So, no stitches - thank you, Lord. (And I do mean that as a prayer. Thank you, God.)

As for the teeth, the outcome remains to be seen. The doctor referred us to a pediatric dentist, where I am to take Tucker tomorrow morning. It is possible that they may fall out on their own, or that the dentist may choose to take them out, or the worst case scenario: he may have nerve damage and may need a root canal. (Emotionally, I cannot go there right now.) Or, it is also entirely possible that those little roots might tighten right up, and he'll get to keep those baby teeth until we're ready to introduce him to the Tooth Fairy, in another five years.

I'm really praying he keeps his teeth, for many reasons, not the least of which is that I love his sweet little smile, and I don't want it to change.

I had to go to work tonight, and Tucker spent the evening with Grandma and Poppa, eating popsicles and ice cream, watching multiple episodes of Mickey Mouse Club. Because that's what you do at Grandma's when you don't feel good, of course.

So that's where we are now. I am getting ready for bed, but I just had to get all of this on paper so I could stop thinking it through again and again.

Sometime soon, maybe any moment now, I am going to have a good cry over this whole thing.

And it's going to be a doozy.


Alli Dunham said...

You're right, my friend. This IS hard and definitely what it's all about: being the mother of a son. They tug at our heart strings and we grow into such character-filled mothers because of it. (The added bonus is being taught to love...really love.) There's nothin' like it.

Robin said...

Ugh, what a day for you, my friend. Though your trial seems small in comparison (I'm sure you would agree), how comforting to know that you walk with a God who KNOWS what it's like to watch His Son hurting... what a blessed truth that He enters our pain and carries us through. Praying for you...

Nicole said...

Seriously, this is BOY territory. But I am all about great tales (after the pain has subsided!) Hang in there!