As a mom of three kids under 5, I’m the first one to joke about how many cuts, bumps, bruises, stitches, and trips to the emergency room we’re going to have in our future. Especially with a son who’s taken to playing hockey. I’m pretty sure that just last week I made a joke on instagram, wondering how it was that Anna hadn’t split her head open yet. I probably won’t be making that joke again (ok, I probably will, but next time it’ll be in terrible taste). Every family has to have that first thing happen. Something that changes the way they look at everything else for a least a couple of days (but hopefully for the rest of their lives).
My thing happened on Friday afternoon, when I went from laughing through the museum with the kids, to riding in the back of an ambulance with them in the blink of an eye.
Tradition dictates that we always take a quick picture in front of this guy. Anna is doing her best to be just like her big brother.
It all started on Thursday, when Oliver got an award for good classroom participation, and because this is the kind of Mom I am, I followed it up with a day of playing hooky and going to the museum. He obviously won’t be winning any attendance awards.
We started off downstairs going through the Canadian exhibit, the kids blowing my mind with wanting to hear the background behind each and every painting in the room. Next up, we hit the dinosaurs, where Oliver asked me to take pictures of his favourites to help him remember how to draw them.
Like every other trip we walk through and I quiz him on the dinosaurs names, and what the name means. Like ever other trip he stops in front of the Maiasaura and tells me this is my dinosaur, because the name means “caring mother”. Like every other trip, I beam at how lucky I am to have these kids.
Sophie doing her best to try and understand what her brother and sister find so interesting here.
While all the school groups were running around, yelling, screaming, and noticing nothing that was around them, my two
found an interactive video and spent 20 minutes going through it all. Did I mention how proud I was of them?
After the dinosaurs it was Anna’s pick, so off to the children’s area. The school group in here was younger kids and at a fever pitch, so my two stuck to what they loved (art centres), deciding to come back later in the day.
So we headed down to the basement, and spent the next thirty minutes eating lunch, talking about what we’d seen so far (the Komodo dragon skeleton was a bigger hit than I’d realized), and planning out the rest of the day. One promise from me: we would stay as late as they wanted and see everything, no rushing (we’d had to the last time we visited in the summer).
The plan: 4th floor to see the clothing exhibit for Anna, then 3rd floor to hit the Knights, Europe, and Egypt. 1st floor for the Native American exhibit, then one last tour through the dinosaurs to finish the day.
We went up to the fourth floor and were greeted by a giant sign letting us know the clothing exhibit was closed for maintenance. But the kids did see three big metal chairs, so they ran off to them, and I got my favourite pictures of the day. These are also the pictures that finally made me break down Sunday.
This picture did me in Sunday night. I started playing the what if game. What if she had hit a bit lower, on her eye, or what if she had hit the back of her head and blacked out. What if… What if she hadn’t been ok. The stupidest, freak little accident. What if…. I can’t help it.
It was literally 90 seconds after this picture that everything turned to chaos. We jumped in the elevator and headed to the Knights exhibit because Sophie started stirring and I was trying to get her to nap. I slowly brought the stroller down the five steps into the Knights, and watched Oliver and Anna start to head into the empty exhibit in front of me. Oliver shouted back “Mommy, we can start without you, it’s ok” and then he screamed. And he just kept screaming. For 10 minutes I heard nothing but my five year old son screaming, covering his face, begging me not to let Anna die. Asking me if his sister was dying.
Anna had slipped running around the corner and hit her head on the corner of the display sign by the floor. I assume, because I didn’t actually see it happen. I scooped her up into my arms, putting pressure to try and stop the bleeding, and walked down the hallway looking for help. My poor girl. My poor boy. It had finally happened.
WARNING: the next picture is a bit graphic.
That’s the thing about head wounds though now isn’t it. They bleed, and they bleed a lot. Anna took this pretty well, asking me once or twice if she would be ok, and then just telling me she loved me. That blood though, covering her gorgeous little face, covering mine as well, and my shirt and arms. All that blood was too much for Oliver to take.
This is where I need to thank the museum. The staff of the Royal Ontario Museum could not have been better or more helpful. I am forever indebted to them for helping me. From the Security and EMS team that helped to treat, stabilize, and clean up Anna while we waited for the paramedics and ambulance to arrive, to the other incredible staffers who gathered outside the first aid room, taking care of Sophie and comforting Oliver. It’s due entirely to these extremely caring people that my boy calmed down enough to understand that Anna was going to be just fine. If any of you ever read this: Thank you. I’m so upset that your names are all a blur to me right now, so I can’t thank you in person on our next trip.
The paramedics arrived, but three little kids made for an unusual ambulance ride. For safety reasons Sophie had to go on the stretcher in the only infant safe seat. This made for a lot of terrified looks on the walk through the museum to the ambulance. A baby wrapped up on a stretcher, a 3 year old covered in blood being carried by her mother (also covered in blood), and a 5 year old walking out with one of the paramedics. I worry that we scared people for life.
Anna got to ride in the jump seat, on her way to looking better now that she’s partially cleaned up. And Oliver got to sit beside me.
We arrived at Sick Kids, where once again, every person that we met, and that helped out the kids, was phenomenal. Thank you all! She was pretty darn happy to have a souvenir blanket from the ambulance ride too. It’s the little things.
Daddy had arrived now to help, and was on his way with Me-Maw to go and get the stroller and the van from the museum, so that when Anna was fixed up, we could go. As soon as I brought Oliver into the room, he just climbed up on the bed with her.
And here we were, just three short hours after it happened, completely fixed up and almost as good as new. And smiling, because that’s the kind of girl she is. Right after this picture she told me her tummy was starving, so off we went for some Italian food.
It is so scary though. In that moment, I think I did everything right. In the day and a half that followed, I didn’t think it affected me. Blood doesn’t make me queasy, and I knew exactly what to do for her until more experienced help was available. I was legit proud of myself: shit happened, but I totally nailed coping with it!
But then I punched in the camera card, and I saw all these pictures of my smiling girl. Of her playing with her brother. Of her looking at her sister. Of her just being her amazingly awesome, sweet, caring, funny, adorable self. I finally actually got that in that second, it all could have changed. In a second it could have been gone.
I still know that this is only the first of many trips to the ER. As a Mom of three kids under five, and with a son that likes to play hockey, this is probably just a fact. I also know that this was just a freak accident, likely to never repeat itself again.
But now I also know just a little bit better, how important it is to appreciate every awesome second that I get to spend with these kids.