|Worse than it looks.|
Thursday morning, my week already sucked. I mean it. It was terrible. I felt like Alexander. I did not want to get out of bed Thursday morning and so discovering that Maren had wet through her diaper, Brynna had taken everything out of her backpack and I couldn't find my keys was just what I needed. We were running late. Like really late. Like, I'm-not-sure-if-we'll-make-car-line late, which in retrospect, is so not a big deal.
But we ran out the door, calling farewell to The Husband and sprinting to the car. Once there, I opened the door and loaded Brynna in. Maren tried to climb in her side to "climb through," and I took her out of the car, set her on the ground and told her to go around. She took a couple of steps in the right direction and I turned my attention back to Brynna. I made sure she was in completely in the car and slammed the door. Because it's a mini van with sliders in the rear, I turned as I slid. There was Maren. Right by my leg. With her hand in the door.
I screamed, opened the door and pulled out her hand. I couldn't see anything for the blood, so I ran back in the house. Except the door was locked. I screamed "Help me!" at the door while I fumbled with my keys. Just as I found the right key, The Husband opened the door and asked what happened. I tried to explain while I pulled off Maren's coat and ran for a rag.
"You asked for help and now you're trying to do everything," he yelled. "What do you want me to do?"
"Go get Brynna out of the car." It was the only useful thing I could think of. As he went looking for shoes or something, I began soaking up some of the tiny handful of blood my precious girl was holding. I couldn't see anything that looked like a cut, only something that looked like a huge black maw.
"We've got to go to the hospital." I was stating the obvious and I knew that, but I also felt like it had to be said.
"Of course you do, it could be broken," The Husband yelled back at me.
"Okay, well, I'm not putting her coat back on." The whole time Maren was crying, in a quiet mewing sort of way, not the wailing you'd expect, which made it somehow worse. "You take Brynna to school and I'll take Maren to the hospital."
"I don't have time to take Brynna to school. I'm probably already going to be late to work."
It was at this point that I snapped. I screamed something about not caring if he never made it work because Maren had to go to the hospital and Brynna had to go to school and I was offering him the easy way out and he should damn well take it. It was not my finest hour. On the other hand, neither was it his, and I had already blown having the best parenting day ever by smashing my kid's hand in a car door. I had nothing to lose.
I picked up Maren and carried her, wrapped in a blanket, hand wrapped in a towel to the car. As I buckled her in, I told Brynna to go in the house and Daddy would take her to school. Maren and I were going to the hospital. And thus began the longest car ride of my life. It takes, I discovered, about 20 minutes of hard driving to get to the nearest hospital. I spent most of it wailing incomprehensibly into the phone. I called my boss to tell her I'd be late, the babysitter with the same basic message and my mommy to beg her to come to the hospital with me. I was a little hysterical by this point.
When we finally got to the ER, I whisked her in, blankets flying. We were triaged and in a room almost instantly, proving once and for all that there is an advantage to small town hospitals. I had to tell people over and over and over what happened.
"No, I did it. I shut her hand in the car door," I repeated. "It's a slider, so it sort of slams and then goes in," I explained once, wincing. "I should have been watching." "I didn't know she was there." "I was in a hurry." "We were late." If the hospital had brought me a crown of flashing lights that declared me Worst Parent of the Year, I wouldn't have felt any worse, any more on the spot, any more criticized. Of course, it was all in my head. The staff was friendly, kind and more than once said, "These things happen."
We x-rayed and there were no breaks, leaving just the gaping maw of doom to deal with. The doctor finally entered with four nurses in his wake. They wrapped Maren from her chest down in those miniature sheets they give you to cover your lap, making her a giant immobile mummy. Then, with the four nurses and I holding her down, the doctor began stitching.
I won't go into detail about the horror of it all: the assurance I felt that she wasn't numbed properly, the decision that this was the worst stitching in the history of the universe, the unease as she screamed "All Done, All Done, ALL DONE, ALL DONE!!!!
I've had bad days. My son died. I found out my daughter was being abused at daycare. And this, well, compares. I'd like to say that in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't so bad, but that's a lie. It was bad. And it was worse because it was my fault. Ethan and Brynna, I failed them. I failed to protect them. For one it was something that I probably couldn't have stopped and the other, something that I never saw. But failure all the same. I didn't fail Maren, I hurt her.
People joked all day that I was hurt worse than her, and I'm sure it seemed that way. She rebounded, showing off her bandage, happily picking out band aids to cover the five stitches and being more or less happy with the world. I still haven't really. I still feel a rush of nausea when I change her bandage, not because I'm squeamish of stitches, but because I re-live that moment of understanding. I still hold her a little tighter than necessary, kiss her a little more and baby her much more than she is willing to take. I'm trying to make up with someone who isn't the least bit mad at me. Which, of course, because I am me, makes me feel worse.
Tomorrow morning, we go to have the stitches out. I could send The Husband on this errand, he is off work and would go. But I won't. I will see this through to the end. I will be there to hold her hand if it hurts, to dry her tears, to try like mad to absorb her pain. I will take her Buzz Lightyear band-aids so that if she needs one when we are done, she can use the ones she picked and loved. I will probably cry like a crazy lady again.
The other day The Husband told me that I need to stop beating myself up. We were in the middle of an argument and I responded angrily, "I will when the stitches are out."
"Fair enough," he replied. I think he was surprised that I was willing to let it go that quickly, and the truth is that I'm not sure that I am. I am not sure that I will ever be able to look at her precious hand and not feel my stomach turn, not suck in that breath of heartpain. But I will stop crying about it. I will stop talking about it. I will stop worrying about my mothering skills and whether or not this will come up in therapy in 20 years.
Who knows? Maybe it's my therapy I should be worried about and not hers.