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.
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.
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.