Yesterday was traumatic and I’ve only started processing it now.
The last weekend of the school holidays. The kids arrived back from their dad’s on Saturday morning and immediately asked for friends to come round and play. I agreed this would be a good idea. Myself and the dog had stayed at my boyfriend’s house on Friday night (part of our bickering was the fact that I was putting off travelling to his because my dog gets so anxious in the car that he vomits everywhere – think of baby puke and multiply by 100 for level of grossness and you’re maybe close). The dog dosed up on travel sickness tablets (active ingredient – ginger) had not puked in the car and his level of anxiety was visibly reduced. I was feeling elated and triumphant! But I knew I had lots of washing to do from our holidays and a playdate would keep the kids occupied whilst I washed, hung, folded and hung up/stuffed into drawers (I don’t as a rule iron unless completely necessary hence I walk around looking artfully disheveled most of the time). Lunch was eaten, two friends arrived and fun ensued. The play date turned into a sleepover. Why not? My son had been awarded a distinction in his first piano exam. They both deserved to round off the holidays with a treat. My boyfriend arrived, dinner eaten we all walked down to the seafront with the dog for ice creams then up home to get into jammies. Both kids and friends slept well.
In the morning Boyfriend and I have a good honest chat about where we were and a lot of our issues were laid out thoughtfully and honestly by both of us. Things were looking good – the day looked bright. Breakfast served up and eaten. Four children bouncing on the trampoline in the back garden; well three bouncing and one lying in the middle being bounced. Then a few rounds of hide and seek then mums returned for pick up. My son was asked to go and play with his friend in return for the sleepover. The mum in question – a new mum for the third time – was experiencing her first hangover post-birth (red wine, her homemade stew uneaten – school boy error) and thought that they boys could play together and she could hopefully get some quiet time with the new baby who was herself recovering from the dreaded pox.
So that left me, Boyfriend and my daughter. And the dog. We took a short drive to a great park. We had it to ourselves for the first wee while. All the good folk at church or still in bed. Then we went on further down the road to some beautiful rock pools – some fairly large. A young couple in wet suits took turns jumping into them with one of those underwater cameras. The dog was super excited; I think he thought they were ducks. The boy helped the girl across the rocks. She slipped and he picked her up and dusted her off. I must admit I was a little envious. Wish I’d experienced young love on this beautiful coastline. Me and my daughter got our sandals off and it was lovely feeling the warm water and the sand between our toes. We collected shells for some future art project and my Boyfriend and I considered gathering the dry driftwood for firewood.
Our tummies started to rumble so we drove home, dropped the dog off and had lunch in one of our favourite cafes. Boyfriend left for home. He likes to prepare for the week ahead and me and my daughter did some grocery shopping and returned home. We settled infront of the TV. Thoughts of making a bolognese for Monday night’s dinner in my head but I couldn’t quite bring myself to stop snuggling and move from the sofa. A knock on the door sent the dog barking. My daughter’s friend asking to play. Earlier in the week my daughter had been in tears as the same little girl hadn’t wanted to play with her. The day before when she came to the door my daughter had firmly said that on this occasion she didn’t want to play with her (getting her own back?) but today they both seemed to want to play so instead of getting up to make the bolognese I stuck on Big Little Lies on Sky catch up (totally fallen in love with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon all over again!) and put off again. And then disaster struck.
The first blood curdling scream made me pause the TV. I ran into the hall, daughter covered in blood. Between tears she told me she had fallen out of the trampoline. She was clutching the back of her head, her face red, hot and wet. I took her bloody hand away and parted her dark matted hair. All I could see was a deep pool of almost black pulsating blood. I looked down at a few drops on her grey wool jumper and smeared them with my finger. Seconds passed. I grabbed a box of tissues, car keys, phone. I got my daughter to hold a wad of tissues to the back of her head and told her to press as hard as she could. I threw the dog into the kitchen. Locked the back door, tried to calm myself and my voice as I told her friend she would have to go home now (she lives in our cul-de-sac). I phoned a friend and neighbour in a panic. She was alone with her two boys – I don’t know what I needed from her I think I just needed to tell someone that I was driving to A&E. She texted saying her husband was returning from watching the match. She asked what I needed her to do? I said it was fine as I started the engine.
The drive to the hospital usually takes half an hour. I drove quickly, checking my rear view mirror for blue lights. My daughter was scared, I was scared. Just a few days previously she had asked my brother, her beloved uncle, about the time I had slipped in the bath as a child – probably the same age as she is now – and was rushed to hospital for stitches. Did it hurt? Do they put you to sleep? Will I need stitches? Am I going to die? I want to go home. I feel sick. I don’t want to stay in hospital. I held her hand between gear changes, I told her she would never be alone, I would stay with her always. It wouldn’t hurt, everything would be okay. Tissues were given to her to catch nervous vomit and spit. Her arm started to hurt from holding the back of her head. I got her to change hands and asked to see the tissue. Not as much blood as before, it was stopping, I told her this was a good sign. We arrived at A&E. I’m usually terrible at parking. The only space available was tight but I reversed in like a pro and ran into the hospital clutching her hand.
We were seen quickly by a nurse. Pulse rate was okay. Kidney dish infront of her now to vomit into. Light shone in her eyes. She seemed okay. Now the doctor. He got me to part her hair – sticky and congealed with blood, fresh tears appeared. I was hurting her but we had to see the damage. It was judged as ‘not too bad’. I got her to lie on the bed and water and glue were applied to knit the two sides of flesh together. A head injury leaflet was given and on the way out to the car her father was phoned. I waited for the blame and judgement but to be fair to him it didn’t come (not to my face anyway – he probably saved it whilst discussing my poor parenting skills with his girlfriend). We stopped at his on the way home so he could see her. By this point the panic was subsiding but the pain was ramping up. Calpol was needed. Home, jammies, medicine administered. Her brother arrived home. He had missed the whole emergency, thankfully.
We rounded off the weekend with a game of monopoly. It felt surreal but it was enjoyable all the same. My son following the same game plan as he always does; buy up all the utilities and train stations. My daughter being frugal as usual. Me taking pity on the poor streets – the pinks and light blues that give a meager £12 rent when an opponent lands on them. I had one glass of fizz leftover from Saturday night. Purely medicinal. I had to be able to drive in the middle of the night if she started being sick again or she couldn’t be woken. My friend who I had called in a panic texted to say she would keep her phone on and if needed could come over to sit with my son if a 3am drive to the hospital was necessary.
At 9pm I took my first proper breath and realised I had been shallow breathing for 4 hours.