Sometimes, you don’t know the strength and calmness you have until it’s put to the test in a crisis.
My strong willed three year old daughter was insistent that the stool that enabled her to climb onto her bed be placed right beside her bed. I kept explaining to her that I preferred the wooden stool be kept at the end of her bed. I didn’t want anything next to her bed, in case she fell out of bed. Every day we had this battle. Every morning I would find the stool next to her nightstand at the side of her bed. I finally gave up, figuring that was one battle lost.
It was a hot June night when my husband and I were downstairs cleaning up for the night. I had just put the baby down to sleep. Around 11:00 p.m., I heard a thud and my daughter crying. I ran upstairs and found her on the floor sitting up. I asked her if she was okay. She shook her head “yes.”
As I leaned down to pick her up to put her back into her bed, I noticed the stool behind her. My hands were sticky wet and I quickly realized that her back was covered in blood. Oh dear God!
I let out a little gasp and she picked up on that right away.
“What’s wrong mommy?” she whispered.
“Oh, honey, it looks like you bumped your head a little bit,” I replied as I quickly carried her to the bathroom and set her on the counter, not facing the mirror. I reached for the brown washcloth and tried to see where all the blood was coming from. I yelled for my husband to come up and help. There was blood everywhere, as expected with a head wound. Her nightgown was completely soaked and with her long dark hair, I couldn’t see where it was coming from. I finally found the source by the time my husband came upstairs. Lord, make the bleeding stop! When I applied pressure, she only slightly winced and said, “That hurts a little bit.”
“Only a little bit? That’s good. We need to put some pressure here to make it feel better, okay?” I smiled.
My husband and I switched places and he continued to put pressure on the back of her head to stop the bleeding while I called my neighbor to come over right away to sit with the other kids so we could leave for the ER. I explained to her when she arrived that I also called my mom to relieve her so she could go back home.
We arrived at the ER and had to wait for a very long time. Of course the staff told us not to let her fall asleep, which we understood why, but how do you keep a young child awake in the middle of the night? Not an easy task when we had to wait three hours to be seen.
In the meantime, we had a revolving door of nurses come into the area they had put us. Each asked what had happened and each asked the same questions in their various forms over and over. I get it. I truly do. They need to know what happened. I drew the line though when they wanted to interview my child alone. No way. I would not leave my child alone with strangers, no matter who they were. However, after about 2 hours, I snapped a little bit. The bleeding had stopped finally, but my daughter was still laying there with a gaping wound on the back of her head. Why was it taking so long just to get a doctor in to put in staples? Finally, one brave nurse approached me, pulled me aside, and said, “We needed to know what happened and honestly, you are a little too calm considering what your daughter has been through. Parents aren’t usually this calm.”
I fumed inside. “So, you think that if I were hysterical and out of control, that would be better? My daughter is calm right now, because I am calm. My children feed off of my emotions. So if I were a basket case right now, she would be too. Is that what it would take to get a doctor in here? Because I can do that. I can start ranting and raving. That will only make her agitated and holding her down to put the staples in her head will be that much harder. Do you want me to make your job harder? I’m helping you right now!”
She backed off and considered what I said. She nodded, said “You’re right.” and then turned and left. The doctor eventually came in with that same nurse and took care of our daughter. The nurse gave us our instructions and we left shortly thereafter.
I learned something about myself that night. While I was a complete mess on the inside, scared for my daughter; on the outside, I was the picture of complete serene calmness. I learned that in an emergency, I do what needs to be done, putting aside my emotions. There is no room for hysterics. I was the voice of reason and delegated the jobs quickly and efficiently.
My mom later told me that she was a little confused when I called her so late at night. She didn’t hear a panicked voice on the other end of the phone, so she didn’t realize how serious this injury was and why we needed to both go to the emergency room with our daughter. Our neighbor told me the same and it wasn’t until later that next day when I spoke with her again and told her more details, that she understood.
I also learned that my daughter was a very brave little girl that night too. She was tough and I am thankful that my reaction that night was an example to her that even though you are scared, you can hold it together long enough to take care of the emergency. I didn’t completely come undone until the next day when I had time to process all that had happened.
So in an emergency, I’m your girl. The adrenaline that creates the calm only lasts so long though. Eventually, it needs to be processed. Crisis mode can only last so long.
Tomorrow, I will chat about when you finally let go of the crisis mode and start to deal with real life.