posted in: Motherhood, Toddler, Writing 82 comments

Sticky. Darker than I thought. So much. My shirt, his pajama top, speckled with it. Beginning to dry, on my hand. Wet, my shirt is wet, his tears soaking into my shoulder, his pain becoming mine.

Calm. Calm. Calm. Where is he? My husband? There. Come over, now.

Take him. I’m taking a look.

His hair, now matted. Sticky. A mess. A bloody mess.

I can’t really see how bad it is, but there’s a lot of blood.


Yes. Now. Let’s go.

Still calm.

He’s quiet now. Conscious. Wide-eyed. I shush him, hold him in my arms.

The bright light of the doctor’s office down the road is a rude shock. It’s a quiet night, but not for long.

Sticky. My hands are still sticky. My son’s blood, now dried on my hands, but fresh from his head, still pouring out. Screams as four grown men try to restrain him.

Flurry of activity, I have to walk out for a minute to catch my breath. I need to be calm.

No, no, no. Screams. My boy pleads with his eyes.

It’s a failure. The doctor gives up, the tiny tube of glue still in his gloved hand, my son finally unwrapped from the blanket, my arms taking its place.

We tried, he moved too much, the blood was hiding the cut, we had to keep cleaning, then tried the glue. Every time he moved, we had to clean again. And again. The wound is small, it doesn’t seem that way because of the blood.

No kidding, doctor.

My 2 year old is calm, his father now holding him, taking him outside for some fresh air.

So, doctor, what do we do?

Keep pressure on the cut until the bleed stops, give him some painkillers.

That’s it?

That’s it. 

We head home, my hand on a piece of bandage, holding it to his head. It’s soaked.

He’s tired now. Does not want to leave my side. I lay him down on my bed, holding him close. His quiet breathing assures me he’s okay, he’s still breathing, he’s okay, despite the blood on his pajama top, and on my now-dry hands.

So much. So dark. So sticky.

My heartbeat finally slows to normal, matching his even breathing.

I don’t sleep a wink that night.

My oldest, then 2 years old (January 2012), fell off the couch one night, hitting his head on the way down, on the coffee table’s edge. He was fine the next day, probably with a killer headache, but otherwise back to his toddler self. My uncle, a doctor, saw him later that day and assured me that head wounds almost always look worse than they are, because of the massive bleeding. In our case, fortunately, that was true. 

This is the second post I wrote as part of an exercise, using sensory details as a starting point, from Kate Hopper‘s book, Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do.

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • April 17, 2013 sarah

    yick. the dark stickiness. the quick look. the yep, let’s get in the car and go. yes, I know this too. Love the way you recounted this Alison though sorry you all had the scare. It’s the worst when the little ones don’t know what’s going on.

    And I agree. Kate Hopper’s book is excellent. 🙂
    sarah recently wrote…how it really does begin with you and meMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      He just wanted to cuddle, he had no idea why these people were holding him down, causing him more pain. Poor guy.

  • April 17, 2013 jasi

    hang in there, mommy. it’s hard when they tumble. if i close my eyes tight enough, i can still see my son slipping out of my arms. he’s fine now. he was probably okay then too. he doesn’t even remember but i know i’ll never forget. =(

    • April 17, 2013 Alison

      I’m good, he is too. This happened 15 months ago. 🙂
      Yes, it’s that we remember that is hard for us. Thank goodness they probably don’t.

  • Oh, so scary and evocative!! I can only imagine how this felt.
    Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) recently wrote…Time Capsule, April 15My Profile

  • April 17, 2013 Jessica

    Head wounds are always bad with blood.

    I’m glad he was better the next day. What a scary night.
    Jessica recently wrote…Poleletic Fitness: Stepping Outside My Comfort ZoneMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It was. Kids are such troopers though.

  • April 17, 2013 Elaine A.

    I was in the moment with you with your descriptions. These things happen so fast.

    I need to read that book…
    Elaine A. recently wrote…Be Still.My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      You do, it is SO good!

  • April 17, 2013 Tammy

    Coffee table. It’s always the coffee table.

    At least your husband was home. Our accidents always seem to happen when mine is gone.

    And nice work. I could feel the sticky.
    Tammy recently wrote…iBallz, UrBallz, but Definitely not Schweddy BallsMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It was 8 o’clock at night, minutes before we were going to put him to bed. It only takes seconds for these things to happen.

      Good thing my husband was home. It would have been tough if he wasn’t. I was about 6 months pregnant at the time too.

  • April 17, 2013 Kim

    I know this calm of which you write. ‘I just need to stay calm’ – while at the same time just going.Glad he was OK. Those memories stay with us, don’t they?
    Kim recently wrote…FortressMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      They do, but fortunately he probably doesn’t remember!

  • April 17, 2013 ilene

    What a scary memory – but beautifully written! I am so glad your son was fine. Head injuries are so nerve wrecking!
    ilene recently wrote…For The Love of Lisa and AshleyMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      They are!!

  • April 17, 2013 Leighann

    Your child in hurting themselves badly or needing medical attention is one if the scariest things parents go through.
    Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart
    Leighann recently wrote…Celebrating Milestones: Win a Printable Party Pack from Magic ImprintsMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It most certainly isn’t. Especially if you can’t handle blood. 🙂

  • April 17, 2013 Tricia

    So perfectly told. I could feel the anxiety and the pure awfulness of the experience all the way through. Head injuries are absolutely the worst and 2 year olds never cooperate much with the doctors. Glad your boy was ok!
    Tricia recently wrote…Limits and changeMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      He wouldn’t cooperate even if he just had a fever, never mind a bleeding cut on his head 🙂

  • April 17, 2013 tracy

    So scary. I so love that you are making your beautiful way through Kate’s book. You’ve got such a talent, my friend. xo
    tracy recently wrote…ForwardMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Aw, thank you. xo

  • April 17, 2013 Kimberly

    Your word choice had me on the edge of my seat….definitely pulled emotion out of me.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Instructions for Life – RiskMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you Kimberly.

  • April 17, 2013 Tamara

    Oh I had to catch my breath reading this! We had a similar accident nearly three years ago when my daughter wasn’t even one, and it took me a long time to process it even partly.
    Tamara recently wrote…I Know I’m Not Alone..My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It’s so hard when kids get hurt!

  • April 17, 2013 Christine

    Yikes. I could completely feel, smell, taste, see and hear this scene as it played out. The sticky stickiness. Yes. I’m so glad that he’s OK but those are the scariest moments.
    Christine recently wrote…For BostonMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      I hope I don’t have that scare again. Seriously. Kids and blood. Ugh.

  • April 17, 2013 Susi

    Wow. That’s a pretty amazing post, Alison. Glad your son was okay. Head wounds always scare the heck out of me. My son was about 2 as well when he barreled into the corner of the wall and gave himself a humongous goose egg that later split open but thankfully didn’t bleed too much.
    Susi recently wrote…Bungee Girls {Wordless Wednesday}My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Susi!
      And ouch, glad your son’s goose egg wasn’t much worse.

  • April 17, 2013 Jennifer

    I’m so glad he’s okay.

    That was an incredible piece to read. I felt like I was there with you; experiencing the trauma with your family, your sweet boy.

    I bought that book by Kate on my ipad last year and got halfway through but never finished. Thanks for reminding me that I need to go back to it and finish.
    Jennifer recently wrote…Help for YellingMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Yes, do finish it, it really is a wonderful book.

  • April 17, 2013 Amanda Jillian

    It’s scary when Kids get hurt!
    Amanda Jillian recently wrote…Disappointed….My Profile

  • April 17, 2013 Poppy

    I’ve had more injuries in my house to last a lifetime with just my son and it always feels just like that! So glad my girls have gone through childhood relatively unscathed. You did a great job with the exercise.
    Poppy recently wrote…Boston Marathon Runners Kick AssMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      What is about boys and injuries? Gah.
      And thank you.

  • April 18, 2013 Jennifer

    Oh I remember the night James fell in the kitchen while playing with his sister at just about that age. Unfortunately he did need stitches. I had to lay on him and hold his legs down while he screamed and they sewed him up. As much as I wanted to cry I held in all the tears until it was over, and I was able to step away. It was terrifying.
    Jennifer recently wrote…Turning FiveMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      That’s the worse, being part of the experience, having to hold them down while they get treated. Ugh.

  • April 18, 2013 Janice

    That must have been a real scary experience. I think I would’ve freaked out and possibly called 911. No way would I have been able to stay calm enough for a car ride to the ER. You are one tough momma.
    Janice recently wrote…Bathtub FunMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It was just down the road, fortunately. But the traumatic experience at the clinic is enough to scar me for a lifetime.

  • April 18, 2013 Natalie

    Wow you really did a great job writing this! Even if it was probably an event you would like to forget or wish it hadn’t happened!
    Natalie recently wrote…In Moments Like These…My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Natalie!

  • April 18, 2013 Leslie

    Oh, how horrific that must have been. We just had to have the baby checked for a head injury this weekend and I was anxious for the whole 24 hours. Head cuts definitely look worse than they are. I cut my head open on a swingset as a little kid and still remember the trip to the hospital. Glad to know that your little monkey ended up okay.
    Leslie recently wrote…{Weigh In Wednesday} Week 15My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Hope the baby’s okay!

  • April 18, 2013 angela

    Beautifully done! You really took me to that moment.
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  • April 18, 2013 Sue

    This made me squirm. And wince. And feel your pain as well as Monkeys.

    In other words, very well-written, Alison. xo
    Sue recently wrote…The Peeptini: A Springtime RecipeMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Why, thank you, Sue!

  • April 18, 2013 Stasha

    You are such a powerful writer. My hair is still standing up!
    Stasha recently wrote…Just keep runningMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      You’re too kind, my friend!

  • April 18, 2013 Kate hopper

    Alison, I’m so sorry this happened! But I love the way you’ve written about it. I especially love how you don’t wash your hands–you just keep coming back to the dark stickiness of the blood. It’s such a great illustration of where your mind is during the whole experience!! Love it!
    Kate hopper recently wrote…Comment on it’s good for everyone by KateMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Kate, thank you! It thrills me to no end that you read the posts inspired by you and your book. 🙂

  • April 19, 2013 Lady Jennie

    Oh how scary. That’s awful. It’s worse for the parents too because we can feel so helpless. I had heard about excessive bleeding on the head, and I’m so glad it really was better than it looked.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Life in the Trenches – Chapter 15My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Yes, something about many blood vessels in the head. 🙂

  • April 19, 2013 Runnermom-jen

    So scary, those head wounds are. They are the worst bleeders.
    P.S. I really need to get this book!
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…I Am a Runner…My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Yes, you do!

  • April 19, 2013 anymommy

    The only thing that freaks me out more than a lot of blood is choking. Dear god, give me a broken bone over a child that can’t breathe. And now that we’re through my little freak out … beautiful, evocative writing.
    anymommy recently wrote…Readers live a thousand livesMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Oh no, that doesn’t even bear thinking. Ugh.

  • April 19, 2013 Gina Jacobs Thomas (

    A beautifully written post about a scary matter. Those moments really seem to test our fortitude as parents, don’t they? My daughter fell out of a grocery cart at Costco when she was 2, landing hard on the concrete floor, scaring the living hell out of me. Luckily, she had a harder head than I thought. Glad to hear your son is doing well and the injury wasn’t as bad as you hoped. Blood is always scary.
    Gina Jacobs Thomas ( recently wrote…How To Live Like a Preschooler…My Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      They do have concrete heads! 🙂

  • April 19, 2013 My Inner Chick

    Exquiste description of your “Momminess.”

    Xxxx LOVE.
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…For Kay On Your BirthdayMy Profile

  • April 20, 2013 The Dose of Reality

    So glad he was okay. It’s always scary to see so much blood. They seem to bounce back from the experience so much faster than we do.
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    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      They do, don’t they? Thank goodness.

  • April 20, 2013 Kimberly

    This just made my stomach turn. I’m a Pediatric ER nurse and have seen a million cuts and worse. And truthfully, I thought they were all awesome…cause I’m sick like that…then i had a kid…now they’re not so cool.
    Even the pink eye.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Tiny HatsMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It hurts more when it’s our kids.

  • April 20, 2013 Patty

    My son hit his head on the corner of a dresser when he was little. Same deal – lots of blood. It’s terrifying because you just don’t know and it looks so bad. My son was fine; glad yours was too.

    Visiting from SITS.
    Patty recently wrote…Easy Italian ChickenMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It always looks so much worse than it is – fortunately.
      Thanks for stopping by, Patty!

  • April 21, 2013 Dana

    This took me back to when my son hit his head on the corner of the stair banister – so much blood. Three staples later, he will always have a spot where hair doesn’t grow. You captured the anxiety, fear and helplessness so well, Alison. Glad your son has mended!
    Dana recently wrote…The Time We Were in a Disney ParadeMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Dana! Yes, he mended well, you can barely see the scar.

  • April 21, 2013 misssrobin

    Beautifully done. It took me right back to the night my feverish daughter fell out of my bed and we ended up in the after hours clinic for stitches. Those head wounds sure do bleed. Well told.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.
    misssrobin recently wrote…Balance is a MythMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you so much and thanks for stopping by!

  • April 21, 2013 Alma

    whoa… my heart was racing reading this.
    So glad he was ok. Something like that is so scary especially for a first mother. My son fell of the bed when i quickly turned to get the wipes and he rolled right off never knowing he could even do that. I was shocked. My heart stopped and then realize what your mother means when you need “eyes on the back of your head”.
    So glad our boys were fine and we survived it as well.
    I loved this writing exercise !
    Alma recently wrote…Spring Festival and Mother’s Day SaleMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Alma!
      I can’t take my eyes off the kids, seriously, they move so fast.

  • April 21, 2013 Christa

    What great description. It describes what a mother sees and hears in a traumatic experience like that so well! (Visiting from SITS)

    Christa @ Mom, Paper, Scissors

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Christa!

  • April 21, 2013 Jennifer

    So glad to hear everything turned out fine. I hit a corner coffee table with my head as a 4 year old and remember the huge amounts blood. Amazing that head wounds bleed the way they do. As a mother now, I understand the helplessness you feel when your little one is hurt and all you want to do is take the pain away and be in their place.
    Jennifer recently wrote…Power Cleaning with The Home DepotMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      It’s like we feel their pain 10x more than they do. If only we can really take their pain away. Sigh.

  • April 22, 2013 JDaniel4's Mom

    JDaniel split open his forehead on the corner of a coffee table. I remember being scared to death. He ended with internal and external stitches.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…{Mother’s Day Gifts} You Can Send Mom a BirdhouseMy Profile

    • April 22, 2013 Alison

      Oh that must have been scary for you.

  • April 27, 2013 Kristen

    I was on the edge of my seat! I skipped right on over the 2 year old part because I was in a rush to see if everything was okay. You pulled me in!
    Head wounds are the worst! So much blood!
    Kristen recently wrote…Mother’s Day Gifts That Will Go Over BIG!My Profile

    • April 27, 2013 Alison

      I’m glad I pulled you in 🙂
      Head injuries really are awful.

  • April 28, 2013 Leigh Ann

    How terrifying! My heart was in my throat the whole time. Rachel threw a hard plastic toy up in the air one day and it just so happened to come down right on Zoe’s head. It bled and bled and bled, but once it stopped, the cut was miniscul. I was panicking too!
    Leigh Ann recently wrote…Rookie mistakeMy Profile

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      Stupid head injuries!
      Glad Zoe was okay.

  • April 29, 2013 Nina

    Very good and squeamish (for any mother) details! And I love that you’re using Kate’s book! We’re in the LTYM cast together. Part of the reason I auditioned was to have the chance (if I got a spot) to make some connections with local writers. So far so good!
    Nina recently wrote…First Rehearsal: Listen to Your MotherMy Profile

    • April 29, 2013 Alison

      Thanks Nina, and glad to hear it!
      (love Kate’s book!)

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