In all those years with all those kids, we never had an accident that had us rush to the emergency room. No broken bones, no lacerations, no nothing. Whatever bleeding headwounds we had were small (but bleeding horribly, as all headwounds are bound to do) and healed by themselves. We had one split eyebrow but it happened in a major snowstorm and my doctor walked me through the taping and commended me on a job well done the next day.
You would think that after three wild boys, a girl would be a reprieve. In her defense, it was not her fault. She played catch with her brothers, she fell over Jacob's foot, and hit a low shelf face first. I wasn't there, I just heard the shrieking and I was about to utter my usual, "Is someone bleeding or vomiting? Otherwise I don't want to know" when Alan yelled, "Mommy, she is bleeding from her face, there is blood everywhere!!"
And there was.
Her face was a bloody mess, blood dripped on the floor in abundance, her hair was matted, drip, drip, drip... I rushed her into the bathroom, pressing the first cloth-like thing I could grap (which happened to be a kitchen towel) and pressed it to her face. At this time, I had no idea what was bleeding, my first guess was the inside of her mouth. She was panicking, freaking out over the sheer amount of blood that dripped into the toilet (ever practical mom, that's me). After a moment, I could have a good look at her and my heart sank. Her lip was cut right through, in a sickle shape that had one part of her lip dangle down. It was immediately clear that she had to have stitches for that.
Where to go? What to do? I was alone with four kids, three of them in a panic-mixed-with-guilt and one bleeding all over the place. I told one boy to hold the towel in place, ran to get some frozen vegetables, all the while trying to get a hold of Doug on his cell. Which he didn't answer. I didn't know he was in a conference call and simply muted me. Not taking no for an answer, I called the office. "It's an emergency, I don't care what he's doing, I need to talk to him right now!" Wrapping the veggies in a cloth, holding it on the lip, talking to Doug, arranging for him and a driver to come...
He was home five minutes later and the driver took me and Leah to Medpark, a spanking new hospital. Traffic was bad, it took us about twenty minutes to get there. I didn't even consider asking for help, just asked the receptionist where the emergency room was and whisked her in there. The receptionist held doors open for me and I saw clean hallways, gleaming instruments, emptiness. No waiting lines, no doctors, either. However, the receptionist ran off to get a doctor, who then got the surgeon, who then got the anesthesiologist, who got a nurse, who jabbed Leah.
That, by far, was the worst part. Leah fighting the anasthesia, freaking out over the strange feeling in her body, going limp in my arms, with her eyes wide open, staring unseeing... It was eery. They took her out of my arms and rushed away with her. I saw her limp in the nurse's arm, her bloody hair hanging down. That's when I nearly lost it.
Ten minutes later, she was back, with three stitches and a bandage on her face, antiseptic wash staining her chin.
She had a bad time waking up. She got a rash that began at the neck, crept to her face, leaving stark white nostrils, eyelids and ears. The rash spread to her arms, her torso, her legs. She grimaced, she drooled, she moaned. They gave her oxygen but nobody hooked her up to a heart or a pulse monitor. Not being a doctor, I don't know whether that just wasn't necessary or whether it was a cultural quirk.
Three hours later, we came home. Did I mention we had a dinner guest? The lasagna makings were prepared and Doug assembled it. For a first lasagna, it was quite tasty. Our dinner guest was very understanding, being a dad of three. She was awake but wobbly for an hour or two, and then slept soundly through the night.
This morning, she's back to her old exuberant self. In five days, the stitches will come out and this chapter will be closed. End of story.