Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blood And Tears

Ordinarily, I faint at the sight of blood. Or I freak out. Or both. You would think that I would be all the more the likely to do both when the blood that I'm looking at has drenched the front of my little girl's shirt and puddled in the palms of her wee outstretched hands. Thankfully, on this occasion, I keep my wits about me. I manage to stay upright and conscious as my baby girl, not quite three years old, throws her bloodied, sobbing self into my arms and dribbles blood-streaked mucous down my back.


I put her down and she opens her mouth to show me. Blood dribbles down her front, a thick red stream of slobber that drenches her shirt. Her tears streak down her face and wash little trails through the red stain on her chin. I wobble, a little, and swallow the cry of alarm that is burbling up in my throat.


I drop to my knees in front of her. If I'm going to pass out I might as well be close to the floor, and in any case, I need to check to see whether she's knocked all her teeth out. I take a deep breath to steady myself. Open your mouth, baby, I say. I need to see inside your mouth. I need to see your teeth.

She opens her mouth. Blood dribbles out over her bottom lip and splashes over her chin before dropping in midair, suspended in a thick trail of drool. I stretch out my sleeve and catch the gob, and then use the sleeve of the other arm to dab at her bloodied mouth. This is how I know that I am a parent: I do not faint, and I do not recoil at having my clothes soaked in blood and spit. I pause for a moment to marvel at that fact - I've seen this girl bloodied before, many a time, but not nearly so dramatically, and I wouldn't have thought that I could handle it - and then scoop her bloodied little body into my arms and carry her to the bathroom.

I soak a washcloth and dab the blood from her mouth.

ARE *sob* ALL *sob* MY TOOFS *sob* THERE?

Yes, sweetie. They're all there. The washcloth turns red in my hands. I rinse it under the tap and squeeze it out. I dab her mouth again, and rinse again; dab, rinse; dab, rinse. The cloth gets pinker, the water runs clearer. I can see that she's cut her lip. This is how I know that I'm parent: her blood doesn't rattle me, now that I know she's safe, but this tiny wound cuts me to the quick. My heart seizes at this little injury, this tiny marker of her vulnerability. I kiss the tip of my index finger and gently press it to her lip. We'll make it feel better, sweetie, I say. We'll make it better. I pause and press her hand to my heart. You scared Mommy.

I *sob* BETTER NOW *sob* MOMMY... I *snorflesob* *mumble* AGAIN, MOMMY.

What's that, sweetie?


How I know that I'm her parent: I let her. I clasp her little hand and, together in our blood-stained shirts, we march back into the playroom and she climbs back onto the sofa and then - still grasping my hand - flings herself into the air. And I catch her. And then we clutch each other in a mess of blood and tears and snot and I whisper into her hair, don't do that again when I'm not right beside you, okay? I don't like it when you get hurt.

How I know that she's my daughter: she puts her little hand against my heart. And I don't like it when YOU get hurt, Mommy. She presses gently. I be careful. Then she pulls her hand out of mine and climbs back onto the couch, and - grinning a mad, blood-streaked smile - jumps again.

In this moment, in this bloody, messy, painful moment, I love being a parent. Blood and tears and pain and all, I love it.


Blogger Jenera said...

Oh I know these moments well. My little man is a dare devil and doesn't know when to stop. The sight of blood always stops my heart with him. But it is funny how certain things we can go through that we used to not be able to .

11:02 PM  
Blogger Anissa Mayhew said...

Motherhood does something to you when the things that would cause you to shun any other normal person...snot, spit, drool, blood, pus, pee, poop, lots and lots of poop...makes your heart quake because it comes from those of your body. Because, in essence, it's YOUR snot, spit, drool, blood, pus, pee and all the lovely poop.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Are all my toofs still there?"

So darn cute. Love your writing! :)

11:21 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Oh dear... I think I just caught a glimpse of my future.
All kidding aside, your daughter sounds absolutely wonderful, a beautiful mix of courage and empathy.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Vered said...

Tears in my eyes.

Thank you for being able to write what I feel.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

It's soo true how blood, poop, puke... anything coming out of any orifice doesn't seem to make us quiver anymore as parents. It's like our own DNA spitting out all over us, I guess.

11:26 PM  
Blogger susan said...

Oh, cuts in the mouth or on the lips are the worst! They bleed so much. But what you say is true. I thought I'd never be able to deal with this side of being a parents, but I've never had a problem. I quietly freak out on the inside when he gets hurt.:)

11:39 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Moms are so brave when they have to be, isn't it amazing? That's what true love is all about, having courage and not be scared to see blood. Good for you.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Waffle said...

Gorgeous, beautiful post and so true.

This really rang true this week of gastric meltdown in our house when I keep finding myself involutarily singing
"Many bottoms to wiiiipe"....

6:31 AM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

Beautiful. And you acquitted yourself marvelously! Yup, your *her* mom alright! LOL

Sounds like getting a few more hours of sleep is helping, too. :-)

6:40 AM  
Blogger Avalon said...

I love how you held her hand and let her jump again. Love it.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Mamalang said...

Beautiful. And I'm glad this happened after you started getting some sleep.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my, yes....We mammas are the bravest most battle hardened souls. We hold our babies in our arms and stay strong for them when we would otherwise pass out or wimp out. Motherhood gives us that strength. I think of what your sister has endured and what strength she has needed...so many other mothers too who's babies have wounds that are oh so serious and scary. I can only imagine.

A well-written post--the heart of a mother is so strong and so tender at the same time, isn't it?

10:00 AM  
Blogger zoĆ« said...

oh my goodness; what a story.

i remember when i got hit in the face with a baseball. it cut my lip open and there was so much blood.

i was 11-ish at the time and i still remember all i wanted was my mom to comfort me (and she did..all the way to the hospital and even as i was getting my stitches).

thank you for sharing your story; it's wonderful to read how other moms are their for their kids :)


10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to freak out a bit when my son is crying out of control and bleeding. It's always been that way.

Last night he tripped over his own boat sized feet (he's 13 now) and couldn't catch himself as he went down.

He came downstairs crying and freaking and I was amazed that this time I kept my cool and talked him through it.

This time I talked him through a very short meditation to calm himself and his blood flow so we could see what was going on.

His thumb nail bed is completely black and blue but luckily has a little blood draining ... he went to basketball practice last night because he was afraid his coach would give him shit, "so ya broke a nail huh?". So I think he'll live this time ;-)

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

such is the life of a mother of a stunt woman, sigh. Glad her teefs is still there. Watch to make sure none of them turn gray from the hit

11:42 AM  
Blogger Maria Melee said...

When adults bleed, I seriously have to run for the hills. But I've found that if any child is bleeding (even if its not my own) I get this crisis-mentality. Then later I shake and freak.

Any time S has hurt his mouth it bled a LOT. Yikes.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Mother/Doctor....we really should get to use the PHD before our names

11:53 AM  
Blogger Renee said...

I love how the little ones show resiliance. They get hurt, they seek comfort and when they are feeling better they do it all over again.

Still when Bunny cut her lip at gymnastics, my heart stopped for a good 10 minutes.

11:54 AM  
Blogger April said...

great post. i just hate that moment right before you've assessed the damage when all the potential awfulness flashes before your eyes.

11:56 AM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Blood, tears, snot, pain, hurt (oh the hurt) is what parenting is all about - it may not be beautiful all the time, but it is always amazing. Of course that only applies if you are an amazing momma, which you are.

12:11 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

oh yes and....

WONDER TWIN POWERS ACTIVATE: Emilia will be a monkey while Gigi will take the form of a bucket of ice and then they will torture us for another few hours.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Avonlea said...

Oh, yes, they can scare us so much, but also make us proud with their courage. My little guy fell last year and bit through his lower lip; there was so much blood.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Sarahviz said...

Man, those lip injuries bleed a copious amount, don't they?? I was worried when I read your Facebook status.
Glad she's okay and still jumping!

1:14 PM  
Blogger Jenny Grace said...

You captured the joy and hurt of letting your baby grow up and get hurt and being there for her...just perfectly.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Listen Up, MoFos! said...

I'm in tears, but smiling. You have the most wonderful goft, you can convey so much with your writing. I hope you write a book someday, it would be such a great gift to the world!

And when my toddler comes to me all bloodied I hope, just hope, that I can be half as brave as you were!

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sleep is good for you!

And that's an awesome story. I am working on the "freak-out" factor, myself, because showing one's fear just makes them more afraid. kudos to you!



2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a very beautiful (and bloody) story.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yikes. Why is it girls seem to suffer more injuries than boys? My 5-year-old son plays rugby and he never gets the "blood and tears and pain" his younger sister does!

3:06 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Tara - MY girl gets bloodied up so much because she is constantly trying to fly ;)

3:09 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

And to everyone who said, thank you god you had some sleep - YES. And also, ATIVAN.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Yazmena said...

Hi Catherine,

I have been a fan of your blog for two years now but I have to stop reading your blog during my daughter's nap time! Almost every entry wants me to just gather my little one in my arms and hug her tight before she wiggles out and runs away from me. I haven't had to deal with blood yet but I hope that I'm as calm as you.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! I am so bawling right now. My pregnancy horomones just don't do hurt babies well, whether they're mine or someone elses. I'm glad she's ok and I'm glad you're ok. You are very brave to let her jump again. I would have tied her butt to a tether in the floor so she couldn't do more than stand...at least I wish I could some days. My boys are just now walking and the bumps and falls are just starting for me. Yikes!!

3:36 PM  
Blogger Petunia Face said...

LOVED this post. Loved loved loved.

BTW, I left you an award on my blog. ;)

3:44 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Yes, head and mouth injuries bleed A LOT. Also, I thought my daughter was a daredevil and got hurt a lot until I had my son and he grew into a toddler and now a preschooler. Yeah he gets hurt way more often...and often on the mouth.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get so in a tizzy when I read your posts. I just wanna come hug you and I am not a hugger. I'm not as bad as Melissa but definitely, I"m not a hugger, but it seems, that you need some hugs. Anyway, I going to tell you that I had no intentions of bringing this subject matter up to you when I came here but when I read your post and you had managed to deal so well with the blood and stuff....well, I was hoping you might be in a different frame of mind, lol.

So, could you play along with the delurking game tomorrow, I have badges and codes on my blog if you would just do this one thing for me, I would definitely send you a cyber hug and oh, by the way, someone would have been needed to clean me up off the floor if there was that much blood. When Walker got his two front teeth knocked out, I looked at his teeth, look at my husband and said, "here, you do something and I went back to my computer chair to pass out.

So, see, you are a strong woman, you just didn't know you had it in you did you? Bah, you knew it all along!

5:09 PM  
Blogger Rachael said...

What an amazingly beautiful post. I wish that I was able to perfectly sum up motherhood the way you do - this is it. It makes us amazing, and it makes our kids amazing.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a ways to go before I get to those days (my daughter is only 7 weeks old), but I'm afraid for them! I don't know if I can be as strong as that when she's all bloody and blubbering!

5:45 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

So true.

My two little monsters LIVE to jump off the back of the couch. Or the windowsills. or any chairs they can find.

And my 'little' eighteen month old has been doing this for months! Just follows his big brother off of whatever. shudder

I stock a lot of cold packs, bandaids and spray bandaid stuff in the house.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes -- bodily fluids make a clear connection to motherhood. I myself have pulled teeth, which I swore I'd never do, because I had to do it for my kid.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the fact that you let her jump again. You did great, mommy.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Feefifoto: PULL TEETH? Aaargh....

7:35 PM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

Definite sign of being a parent - I can handle my own kids' gunk and blood and ick, but other kids? No way!

And way to go letting her jump again - I'd have done it too!

9:32 PM  
Blogger Mommato2 said...

Ahhh...the true sign of a Mommy....covered in blood, snot and tears! Hope you are getting some much needed rest, and glad Wonderbaby still has all those little teeth!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Allysha said...

A similar incident landed me and my sweet boy in the emergency room a few weeks ago. The mouth injuries are brutal! Would you believe I actually changed him out of his pj's and chose an outfit for him that wouldn't show the blood? Yes. That is calm for you. Or a little insane with the priorities.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's these moments that make us isn't it? I was never faint at the sight of blood until I saw my sons outside of his body for the first time.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Great post, even if I am all teary now!

Sometimes, when my two year-old hurts himself in a minor way, like by tripping and falling, and he comes to me crying, I almost enjoy the chance to hold him and comfort him, because I know that I can completely restore his happiness with a cuddle. And that won't always be true. But for now, I relish these moments, even with the tears.

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that she's okay in the end (and that you stayed upright). It's amazing what we can handle when it comes to our little people.

Getting right back to it when only the bloody shirt remains is just what I do too...sounds like you have a little dare devil of a monkey on your hands! Enjoy!!!

12:24 AM  
Blogger Lauri said...

That right there sums up what every mom feels - when they need you, you will do anything - ANYTHING - to make their world right again. Nobody can make it better like mom can make it better - once everyone is on the mend, then....and only then....do we fall apart...but very select few get to see that part...Thanks for putting it so eloquently...

2:08 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

Oh my god, I adore that little girl of yours. Blood and all, she's awesome.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love being a mom so much! I have to say, during the day when you get all pissed off at life or other stupidities, all i have to do is close my eyes and see my little boy doing what he does best, being silly and cute, and an instant smile comes on my face. then for some reason all the other stuff doesn't matter so much any more!

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderbaby is so sweet what a little daredevil she is...

11:11 AM  
Blogger Blog said...

Those lips bleed like CRAZY when they get the slightest nick! I know!!!

4:20 PM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

Bloody lips are the worst! I had a really bad accident with my teeth and lips and a kid and I shudder to think of that ever happening to either of mine ...oof!

What a brave little thing... (and mommy too, BTW ;)

9:50 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

What a wonderful wonderful daughter you have and what a great mother SHE has. Love this.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow - what a beautiful story! I just found your blog and am enjoying reading your stories, especially since we will be trying to start our own family soon. It's good to read about what it's really like, the ups and the downs!

5:02 PM  
Blogger Mommer said...

You, dear, are amazing. I can't wait to buy the book. (And there will be one, I'm sure of it.)

12:05 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

oh. i'm crying. that was perfect. my little one fell the other day and bit open her upper lip in two perfect half-circles. it was horrible for both of us. you really hit the nail on the head right here. thank you.

12:30 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Oh, mouth wounds bleed TERRIBLY. I remember Pumpkinpie's fall that was also a small cut, but I thought she might have put her teeth right through her lip, the way it was gushing.

(And for me, it was the moment that I reached out to catch vomit, handful after handful, that made me realize the same thing - I must be a mother now, because I sure wouldn't have been able to do THIS before! And certainly not without vomiting myslef.)

9:18 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home