May 10, 2013

For Mother's Day I Got Deep Tissue Bruising and Crushing Guilt

RH investigating the properties of grass
I woke up yesterday morning with dread in a lump in my chest. RH had woken up four hours earlier, had refused to nurse for the third morning running, and gone back to sleep.

It's always a bittersweet thing when your baby stops nursing. And she was holding true to form- her sudden decision to give up the breast cold turkey is precisely what her sisters did as well. But her timing couldn't have been worse. Because on this day that she woke up four hours before her routine dictates, she wasn't allowed to have any other foods. She was going to the hospital to get an MRI. More than that, she was going to be put under general anesthesia, have a half dozen blood draws, and spend an hour and a half lying unconscious in the cold, surrounded by strange noises and people.

To say I was anxious would be putting it mildly.

My happy girl
As I was getting ready to leave the house, the phone rang. It was the imaging center at the children's hospital, and they were running early. If I hurried, I could get RH's MRI over with more quickly, so hurry I did.

As I was snapping her into her car seat, I was hit by a car.

No, this is not a joke. (And no, this wasn't a repeat offender.)

Our block is home to a whopping three churches, and frequently we find ourselves coping with the incredibly thoughtless drivers coming for services0.. I can't tell you the number of times I've actually rolled down my window and asked the single adults parked in front of my house if they wouldn't mind moving so that I could carry my twin infants and two bags of groceries into the house, to be completely ignored. But the worst cases are situations like yesterday.

I'm pretty sure there was a funeral, and whoever it was trying to park in front of my house had discovered a long-lost friend or relative in another car parking across the street from my house. She was idling her SUV inches away from the passenger side of my car- making it impossible for me to get inside. I managed to gesture her away, but as I was buckling RH into her seat, suddenly I was pummeled under the arm by what I assumed must have been a two by four. A quick glimpse around after picking myself up showed clearly that the lady driving had taken her foot off the brake while she gabbed out her window with the woman across the street.

I had a moment's hesitation. Do I give this lady a HUGE piece of my mind for just hitting me with her car? Or do I suck it up and hurry to the hospital to get the MRI over with. I gritted my teeth, promised myself I'd leave a very strongly worded note if she was still there when I got back, and off we went.

RH, despite not having eaten in over 24 hours, was a delight. She smiled and cooed and babbled for the nurses, and the anesthesiologists, and strangers in the hospital elevator. And after weighing her and measuring her and squeezing her more more tightly than she probably enjoyed, I handed her to the nurses, and allowed myself to be led to the waiting room.

Sink bath!
It's amazing. Every MRI waiting room is essentially the same. They have the same fundamental feel to them- it's just a matter of what color the chairs are, or whether or not there's a cup of tea handy. As I've done dozens of times, I picked a seat, and I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited.

I watched other parents come and go. I watched brothers and sisters come and go. I watched the same two nurses come... and go. Over and over again.  And I read a book, and I watched the clock, and I waited some more.

And finally, the nurse called my cell phone. She didn't want to come and get me because RH was crying so hard, and she felt bad passing her off again.

By the time I reached her, I could hardly contain myself.

It's incredible- no matter how much you know, fundamentally, that your child is fine... that there is nothing wrong that a few minutes of calm won't fix, the gut-wrenching pain of seeing your child so hurt and confused and upset and being utterly helpless to stop it is one of the absolute worst feelings in the world.

I wept. I tried to nurse her, to comfort her in that way. She attempted for about two minutes and then only screamed louder. I dug through the diaper bag and realized that in my haste I had left her favorite lovey sitting on my bed. I sang to her, she only cried more.

Such a tolerant little thing.
Every few moments I would find another little bruise or cut. She'd had blood drawn from both elbows, from one hand, her IV was still in place on her foot, which was taped to a board to keep it still. He chest was covered with adhesive. Her face was red and irritated from the bandages they'd taped onto her eyes from drying out in the MRI. She had bruising on one cheek, I still don't exactly know from what. She had a rasping cough from the ventilator. She was wrapped in pre-warmed blankets, but she was cold, and essentially naked.

Each time they removed another bandage, another bout of screaming would begin.

She cried like she's never cried before. I cried like I haven't cried in months.

And eventually, she came around.  Eventually, she let me get her dressed and take her home. I was relieved to see that the lady who hit me was gone, and I could just forget it ever happened. Suddenly I realized how long it had been since I'd eaten, that it had been five hours since I left the house. I crawled into bed, feeling hungry and exhausted and miserable. And inexpressibly guilty.

I know it was the right thing to do. Her particular combination of delays and her family history are cause enough for concern, and I would rather know and be able to do something than find out when it's too late.

But I still feel like a terrible human being to put such a sweet little baby through such an ordeal.

Such a happy baby
I know she'll have forgotten all about it in a week. I know she won't harbor any long term resentment towards me for this.

I know she won't because I remember being very, very, very small, and my mother handing me off for a medical test I found terrifying.

I don't blame her.

But right now, I don't know how easy it's going to be to live with myself.

A Happy Mother's Day to all of you- may it be free of guilt and car-related injuries.

Have a great weekend!


  1. You know your a mom when you get hit by a car and it's more important to take your kid to the doctor than it is to tell off the lady who hit you with your car. :( I'm sorry it was such a rough experience, but she really won't remember it and you were doing what was best for her. Don't beat yourself up! You're a great mom.

  2. Oh, Lea! This just hurts my heart. I could relate to all of it (except the getting hit by a car part). I'm sorry you had go through all that. But you are doing what's best for her, out of love. There should be no guilt involved, but there always is, isn't there? I hope you get the answers you seek. I understand just wanting to know, one way or another. I've been in that position. Sending you a big hug.



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