I had quite a bit of experience raising children before I actually had some of my own to ruin. When I was 17, I cared for the 1-year-old daughter of my mother’s roommate every night while they both worked third shift. For almost two years, I helped raise the twins’ older brother and sister before the twins were born. The little girl was 2 and the little boy was 6 when I began caring for them.
When I found out I would be a father I took it in stride. After I found out I had struck a two-for-the-price-of-one deal, I still took it in stride. After the initial shock wore off, of course. I was confident in the parental skills since I had so much experience under my belt. Of course, I was 22 and thought I knew much more than I actually did.
I did well after the twins were born. Caring for them initially was mostly on me since my (then) wife was recovering from the c-section she had just had. I fed them and changed their diapers. I got up with them in the middle of the night (every hour and a half because they refused to stay on the same feeding schedule – assholes). And so on and so forth.
When the twins both had double hernia surgery at just two-months old, I handled it like a champ. I calmly waited in the waiting room while doctors dissected my children and put them back together again. When they got their immunization shots I was able to remain calm and, in the process, keep them calm. Mostly.
All of my experience didn’t prepare me for the first time one of them would get injured, though. My calm evaporated like rum on hot pavement when I had to make my first ER trip with one of my children.
One night, my two two-year-olds were running in circles around my bedroom while their mother and I were getting ready for bed. That was literally what they were doing. They thought it was hilarious. I didn’t question them. They weren’t crying and that was good enough for me.
Suddenly, the sickest thunk I’d ever heard rang out when the twins ran face first into each other and smacked their skulls together at full speed.
They both fell backwards and immediately began to wail. I checked Baby A first, and he was okay. Baby B, however, already had a bump forming on his forehead and it was quickly turning 50 shades of black. Within seconds the bump on my child’s forehead had ballooned outward to the point where it looked like he had a chicken egg buried beneath his skin.
I. Freaked. The. Fuck. Out.
I frantically threw my clothes back on and scooped B up into my arms. I ran to my car, buckled him into his seat, and hightailed it to the hospital, probably breaking 98,746,321 traffic laws in the process.
I flew into the hospital parking lot and parked my tiny Ford Escort. I jumped out of my car, unbuckled B, and then sprinted into the Emergency Room.
There was a collective gasp from everyone waiting in the ER when I stormed through the doors. I even heard a woman exclaim, “Oh my God!” when she saw my son’s forehead.
I strode up to the intake nurse, fully expecting to be taken back immediately once she saw the growth on my son’s forehead. I didn’t even manage any words when she looked up at me. I just pointed to his forehead and grunted like Tim “The Toolman” Taylor.
The nurse gazed at my son stoically before asking me, “Has he lost consciousness?”
“No,” I replied.
“Okay, go ahead and sign him in and take a seat,” she instructed.
I’m sorry, WHAT? Do you not see the evil attempting to burst from my son’s head? Do you not see this thing I could crack open over a frying pan and cook for breakfast? This is not fucking natural! You want me to fucking sit down?? Do something about it NOW!
Those words were crashing around in my head like bumper cars. I desperately wanted to scream at this woman who was disregarding the emergency which clearly outranked every other emergency there. Instead, I signed my son in and took a seat, silently stewing in my own anxiety and imagined fears. I clutched my child intensely, like it would be my last chance to ever do so.
Some time later (I’m not sure how long – it all seems like a blur now) my son was finally taken back and attended to by a doctor. No, my son’s skull wasn’t broken. No, he didn’t have brain damage. No, he wasn’t dying. He simply had a busted blood vessel.
Evidently the impact had hit right on a blood vessel, causing it to burst and thus fill up his forehead with blood, hence the huge, egg-like bulge on his teeny-tiny forehead. They gave him a dose of motrin for pain, and sent us on our merry way.
I never felt like a bigger idiot in my entire life. Okay, I made that part up. I always feel like an idiot, but I did feel like an utter nincompoop when I realized all he had was a bruise. Sure, it was the most gigantic bruise I’d ever seen, but it was still just a bruise. A bruise I probably paid about $500 to have diagnosed.
A few days later it cleared up and it was as though nothing ever happened.
These days I’m much calmer in an emergency. For example, when C fell down the stairs a couple years ago I only felt like a failure instead of going spastic, freaking out, and having a heart attack before feeling like a failure.
*Post inspired by Kelly, who had a freak out of her own….