This weekend I held my babies tighter.
Saturday morning we had planned to make Halloween cards with Nana. A few minutes after she arrived we were out in the yard observing the "lion scratch marks" that Henry was showing us on the back fence. Lily, monkey-like as ever, was climbing on a smaller fence that separates our patio from the rest of the backyard. I was standing right beside her, but was distracted by Henry's antics and conversation with my mother in law. I noticed Lily losing her balance and reached out to catch her, but couldn't get my hands in the right place fast enough and in a blurry sequence that I can't quite remember, Lily slipped down through a gap between two horizontal beams of the fence, and her head fell back and hit the concrete behind her. That sound...the sound that her little head made when it hit the concrete ... I'm not kidding or exaggerating when I say it is haunting me. It was a crack - a really hard blow. I can still hear it in my head; it kept me up last night to think of it - it makes my whole body feel weak and hollow.
I picked her up off the ground. She started to cry - sort of. I ran her inside, near tears myself, telling Nate, "this was bad...it was really, really bad." I sat down on the couch with her so we could look at her. Her eyes rolled around dizzily. And then they closed and her whole body went limp. That was the scariest moment I have ever experienced as a mother. She only stayed unconscious for a few seconds - five maybe. And then she came to, but was still not acting normally. Her eyes were hazey and droopy and her cry wasn't normal - it was weak. I took her into her room, knelt down with her in my arms and just prayed - I've never been that kind of scared. I didn't know what to do. Nate called the paramedics which, looking back, was probably a little extreme. While he was on the phone I held my whimpering, hurting, barely-conscious girl and just sobbed and prayed.
We said goodbye to a very frightened and tearful Henry, thanked Nana for holding down the fort, and Nate and I jumped in the car and headed for urgent care. I sat in the back with Lily on my lap, going to great lengths to keep her awake. She was sooooo tired. It felt like abuse not to let her rest her head and close her eyes. She kept putting Lamby against my chest and trying to lay her head down on top of it. We phoned my dad who thought we should probably just take her straight to the ER. When we pulled up, he and my mom and sister were already there...and he had already told the staff that we were coming. It was such a comfort to see them. And also to know that Henry was in such loving hands at home with Nana. All we had to worry about was Lilsey. And oh, did we ever worry!
The triage nurse did a quick work up, which Lily did not like, and then they took us back to see the doctor. While we waited for the doctor our little lady finally surrendered and slept on Nate's chest for a few minutes. Then the doctor came in and we had to strip her naked, lay her on the harshly lit, cold exam table and hold her down while he poked and prodded her to make sure all her parts still worked properly. She checked out fine - pupils looked normal, reflexes were good, she cried heartily when he looked in her ears, walked normally when he set her down on the floor, reached for and held her Lamby when he offered it to her. He said we needed to decide whether we wanted to have a CT scan done and explained all the risks of either option (doing it or not). He said that given her abnormal behavior following the fall, it might be a good idea to scan and make sure there wasn't any damage. But then said that by the way she's acting now, if it was his own child, he wouldn't do the scan.
I called my dad.
"well, he said...even if she cracked her skull there's not a thing they can do about it, it's not like they're going to peel back her scalp and suture it up. you have to be concerned about bleeding in the brain, but if you watch her closely over the next 24 hours you should be able to detect abnormality..." By this time, Lily was awake, playing with her Lamby, running around the ER, calling us all by name and telling us about every different type of candy she'd had the night before at the football game. She didn't show a single sign of complication or damage. The doctor left the room to give us a few minutes to think about what we wanted to do. We looked at each other and both felt like she was going to be okay and that we didn't want to expose her to the radiation of a scan unnecessarily. We said a prayer, watched our girl for a few minutes more, and felt pretty assured that we should just take her home and let her have a nap in her own (big girl!) bed.
We were so happy to walk out of the ER an hour and a half later with our sweet girl, talking, walking (running!), laughing and acting as normal as ever. We've been watching her very closely over the last 24 hours -- she's been a little sleepier than usual (we've had some busy days and some late nights), but other than that, she seems to be fine.
Just after we brought her home from the hospital, we knelt down to say a family prayer of gratitude. We were all sitting on the floor on our knees and Lily waddled over to Henry and gave him a big hug. She pretty much tackled him down, actually - she was so happy to be back home with him. She just held on, and held on, and smiled and sighed as she loved on her brother. He thought that was just the best. They are such darling little friends.
don't mind the chicken nugget hanging out of henry's mouth
maybe someday their mother will teach them some manners!
maybe someday their mother will teach them some manners!
And last night before she went to bed I laid her down to change her diaper and she wouldn't lay directly on the back of her head, she turned it to one side and said, "mine head hurt, mama." then asked, "Henny will give it a kiss in a minute?"
"I'll bet he'd be happy to do that," I told her.
I called him in.
"Henny, you please give mine head a kiss?" she asked.
As I suspected, he was happy to oblige.
She sat up quickly and said, "it's all better!"
Nate and I have been talking quite a bit about the whole experience - how frightened we were, how awful it was to imagine something being drastically wrong with one of our children...
Yesterday Henry overheard us talking about these kinds of things and said, "you guys, I just don't like it when you talk about this. You just need to get those feelings out of your heart and throw them in the garbage. When you talk about this it just makes me mad and scared and sad. So you just need to get those feelings out."
So we have - or at least we're trying, to get those scared, sad, terribly concerned feelings out of our heart so there's more room for the tremendous gratitude and love we feel for Lily. And Henry. And our health. And all the pieces and personalities that make up this dear little family of ours. In an odd, please-don't-ever-let-this-happen-again kind of way, I'm thankful that this happened. It reminded me how absolutely precious my children are. How even when they're whiny and bratty and disobedient and sticky and messy, and I wish they would just disappear, the worst thing imaginable would be not to have them.
We are so lucky to have a Lily Jane in our life. So, so lucky. She is sunshine; our little sack of sugar. And we've never loved her more than we do now.