“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mommy's First Nosebleed

Literally. As in, the nosebleed belonged to Mommy. Me.

In the morning, I did something that I cursed myself for all day. I promised Joey I'd pick him up from school. I have all kinds of issues with him taking the bus, mostly stemming from my own nightmarish bus experiences, but I've found that, for the most part, I do prefer him to ride the bus home from school.

When he asks me, eyes all glowy and pathetic, "Mommy, can you please pick me up from school? I haaaaaate the bus," it's not that I feel sorry for him. It's usually that it's 7:35 in the morning, and Noah is refusing to wear pants, I've forgotten to pack Joey's lunch, Daddy is leaving some long and pathetic message on the answering machine from Pittsburgh, and I only have one sock on. So what happens is I just close my eyes real tight and cry out, "Okay! Fine!" It's just easier that way.

I went to Target at 8:00 this morning, but forgot something and had to go back at 1:00 this afternoon. This made having to pick Joey up at 2:15 feel even more harried than usual, and I had a serious case of the Grumbles and Mutters. Noah was dragging his feet, so it should come as no surprise that when I snatched him up in my arms, flung open the door to the garage, and stepped down to the concrete, I had totally forgotten that earlier, I had placed a giant Hefty bag out there and left it. I'd thought, "Oh, I'll see it and grab it to put in the trash can as I leave to take Joey to school."

I didn't see it.

It was one of those moments when time slows down and you exist in your own cosmic realm. Forty billion thoughts raced through my mind during each millisecond, everything from, "Oh, yeah, the trash bag," to "Must protect Noah at all costs." And that was what I did. As I fell, I slowly--or it seemed slow because time had slowed down--twisted my body to make sure Noah would not hit the concrete. This meant that I crashed down awkwardly, my elbow hitting down first and then my tailbone, as all forty pounds of heavily clothed Noah smashed down on top of my face. I felt a CRACK and knew the gush was happening even before I managed to twist my hand out from under us, grasp as my nose, and pull away what seemed like three liters of blood. My elbow was throbbing and so was my face, and Noah was screaming in terror.

Not as much as he screamed, though, when he looked at my face and saw it covered in blood.

Oddly, because it's completely unlike me, I stayed really calm and promised him we were both fine. I lifted him up, checked him over while trying to remember what one does for a bloody nose, and brought him back in the house. I checked the clock--how in the world was I still self-possessed enough to think about the time?--and saw that I had about three minutes to spare before I had to be at Joey's school.  I raced into the bathroom--without taking off my shoes--and grabbed tissues and baby wipes. My mind raced. I've had students get about a hundred bloody noses over the years, and I desperately tried to remember all the things I knew (besides, "never ever touch the bleeding child"). Don't tip your head back. Pinch the bridge. Hold the tissue up to your nose. That last one seemed obvious, since I wasn't in love with having blood pour all over my face.

When I looked in the bathroom mirror, I could believe my appearance. Ten minutes before, I'd put on a light coat of makeup, you know, to look nice for all my mom-friends, and I now looked like a victim from Scream. Somehow, I was still calm, and used the baby wipes to clear away the blood. The gushing slowed and stopped pretty quickly, though I had to keep the tissues pressed to my face as I loaded Noah in the car and started the drive to school. On the way, I called the school office to let them know I might be running late, and not to let Joey get on the bus. They must have thought I was dying the way my voice shook. In the backseat, Noah kept asking meekly, "Are you okay, Momma? Is your face still hurt? Was it my fault?

"No, baby, it wasn't your fault at all," I assured him. "Mommy just tripped because she was really, really foolish."

"I'm sorry we fell, Momma," he said, still unconvinced. I mentally promised myself to give him a sticker for being extra kind and tough.

When I finally reached Joey's school, I realized that I had blood on my hands (hee hee--that sounds funny), and used yet more baby wipes to clean them off. I grabbed some sanitizer, completed the job, and raced into the school just as the afternoon announcements began.

Joey came around the corner then, all smiles. He said cheerily, "How come you were running late, Mom?" Apparently, the secretary had rushed to tell my message to Joey's teacher.

"I'll tell you in the car, honey. You won't even believe it."

We piled into the car, sanitized our hands, and began the short drive home.

"So what happened, Mom?" Joey asked.

I began telling the long tale, hoping it wouldn't sound too scary or upsetting for him. His mom all covered in blood? How would he take that?

As I reached the part about me having clean up with baby wipes, Joey interrupted.

"Did you know Iceland is formed from volcanic lava?"

I guess he handled it okay, then. Me? Well, once I realized I was safe I sent dramatic texts to my loved ones just to let them know that I'd nearly died and was, in fact, all right. But I will say, having a bloody nose is...exactly as bad as I'd always imagined it would be. I feel I've been initiated into a crowd of "tuffs."

And at least now, if this ever happens to my boys (and I'm told it assuredly will), I'll know just what to do.

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