Ok ya’ll, I wasn’t going to write this. I had written part of the post already and then quickly deleted it. There’s just something in my gut that feels weird. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to be judged. I think we all have that fear! No one likes to be judged for their choices or their mistakes. And I feel like this is a case of both. It’s that mom guilt. That sneaky, pesky little thing that just rots in your gut. We all have mom guilt and it’s the worst ya’ll… right?! It’s also going to be long and in the history of MY blogging long posts are just tough to read, right?!
But… that poll on instagram… you guys! 100% of you said you wanted this story! You wanted me to write about it so I’m going to do it. I’m going to put it out there despite my fear and that nagging mom guilt feeling, I hope that at least one mama out there will be helped!
Maybe you’ll read this and know what to do or what to ask for when you baby gets stitches… Lord I hope that doesn’t happen! I hope you don’t have to get stitches! Or maybe you’ll say, yep we were there too and I get it friend! Maybe you’ll say hey girl, you aren’t alone… me too! Have you noticed that those two words.. ME TOO are just so powerful and comforting!!!
If I can do that for at least one person.. then I’m OOK!
So here we go! Please be kind!
Ya’ll it was a pretty tough night and I know so many of you have been here before! The dreaded “oh crap, we’re in the emergency room because we have to get stitches… in the face!”
Now I’ve been here before, loads of times! I’ve been through so many stitches I’ve lost count. Heck I’ve done stitches… on teddy bears! I could probably give myself stitches if I needed to! But when it comes to your baby, please rip my heart out first. It’s the worst ya’ll! It’s just the pits.
I want to tell you our story because I want to help any mama out there that hasn’t been through this yet. I also want to tell you our story because I want you to know that it’s OK to be a mess. I was a child life specialist working at a children’s hospital for 6 years. I’ve seen way worse trauma than stitches in my life but when it comes to your own child things are just different! And that’s OK! It’s perfectly fine and actually normal!! But there are ways that you can advocate for your child to make things better and easier for the both of you and that’s what I want for you!
So here’s how things went down… we think!
We have a pretty sweet dog. We have always told people she is amazing and like Nana from Peter Pan! She has always been happy go lucky with this goofy little smile on her face and very sweet with children of all ages. In fact, she is like the wal-mart greeter of our house! People always tell us how much they love her and how sweet and tender she is. She also ADORES Linc. They go together like peanut butter and jelly and always have. They play together, they sleep together and they share snacks together! We are always trying to give them a bit of space, but Linc thinks dogs are the worlds most awesome creation so we are fighting an uphill battle on that one.
That particular day, we happened to be in another room and we heard a growl, something we have never heard out of our lovable dog before… ever. Now our dog is a rescue so unfortunately we don’t know what she has been through in the past or what kinds of trauma she has experienced before. We also aren’t 100% sure what went down.
We heard a growl and we heard Linc cry. We came running and we saw his hands covering his face. There was nothing crazy, he wasn’t screaming! He was just crying and so we thought OK she scratched him with her massive paws and her toenails. In fact, that’s exactly what Linc told us.
When we pulled his hands away, it sort of confirmed that. It was just a really deep scratch and it was bleeding A LOT! We did our usual routine. Grabbed a wet washcloth, sat him down on the sofa, put on a favorite show and I grabbed a popsicle out of the freezer.
Ya’ll popsicles are amazing: They calm kids down. If your child is bleeding from the lips or mouth area and they refuse to put ice on the area, enter a popsicle. It’s essentially ice and it tastes great!
Linc was pretty amazing. He gave us a run down of what happened (which we found out later was incorrect, he wanted to protect his dog because he loves her so much).
He allowed us to put a bandaid on it and he went about his business. Unfortunately, I thought it was a little bit too deep and so about a half hour later I checked it out again and I ran him over to the ER.
Linc is a super tough kid! He likes to do everything himself and so he removed the bandaid and the doctor confirmed, yep this one needs stitches. Linc went through his whole story again and that was when I began to question him and try to poke holes. The doctor had some questions as well. I didn’t think it was a scratch at this point because well, there was no other scratch marks, no lines leading up to the actual cut. The doctor wasn’t even convinced it was a dog bite because there was no puncture wound and it was incredible straight! We were all a little stumped. We also knew with a dog of our breed, if she meant to bite him we would be in an entirely different situation at this point! Either way, just to be safe we were going to treat it like a dog bite since no one was really sure what happened and that meant a round of antibiotics, some really good cleaning and of course the stitches!
Linc is truly my kiddo because he likes to know exactly whats going to happen before it’s going to happen; and also when it’s happening! I prepared him for his sterile cleaning procedure and also for the stitches procedure even though at the time I wasn’t sure it was going to happen where we were.
This is the deal friends: when it comes to stitches, always always ALWAYS request a plastic surgeon for your child! Especially if the stitches are on the face! I don’t care if they hem and haw at you, you are your child’s best advocate and the best person for the job, the absolute BEST person for stitches is going to be a plastic surgeon.
Here’s where I’m going to contradict myself! That’s exactly what I did. I advocated for a plastic surgeon, but we were at a small doc in the box! It was just us there and the staff was INCREDIBLE. Linc was completely calm. He was relaxed and chilled out and accepting of everything that was going. The doctor had 5 children of her own including one Linc’s age and one younger. She has been to the stitches scene with her children multiple times and we joked about the fact that she has her plastic surgeon on speed dial.
She spent almost an hour calling around to the different children’s hospitals for me trying to locate the on call plastic surgeon who would be coming in to do this small procedure for Linc (because it was a Sunday afternoon and he would have to be called in from hanging out with his family or the golf course). We ended up talking to the medical director at Arnold Palmer’s hospital where the medical director assured her, even promised her, that this plastic surgeon would indeed come in for a four suture laceration… but probably not until midnight, if then.
So here is my choice at this point: I want a plastic surgeon because Linc’s laceration is on his face and super close to his eye and I don’t want a scar. In order to get that, I have to drive to Arnold Palmer’s which is about 45 minutes without traffic (which is nuts in Orlando) and do this whole thing over again. Sit in the waiting room of their emergency room to be triaged. We are NOT an emergency so we will be sitting there for at least an hour probably. Have them take a look at his lac and access. Have them wash and flush the wound all over again. Then have them page the plastic surgeon and ask him to come in on a Sunday night. Then we have to wait for him to get to the hospital and consult with us. Then since the lac is on his face and Linc is 5, they will want to order sedation, yep sedation and I’m not about that! So at this point we will have to wait for medication.
Basically, you get my point. Our evening will turn into morning!
So while plastic surgeon to me is like a must- have I also know that I have to do what’s best for my kid and right now he’s incredibly calm and a busy ER will scare him. He is loving and bonding with the staff here at this small doc n the box. They are friendly and incredibly great with children explaining everything they are doing and letting me (the mom) take the lead. That’s a huge bonus in my book. It’s super clean and I appreciate that. This doctor knows her stuff and she and I are having an extremely candid conversation about her skills in suturing. I trust her!
We decide to stay here!
They apply numbing cream to the area and we wait while that takes effect. They offer Linc juice and a popsicle and he’s good to go.
When it’s time to suture, they start explaining the sterile field and what’s going to happen letting Linc choose how he wants to sit or lay down.
This is where things get hard… for me! The numbing cream doesn’t work as well as expected. The doctor begins her first suture and Linc can feel it. He starts to cry (which is not normal for him) but he is holding completely still. He’s my champion. I hold his hand and we talk through it. The doctor is walking him through everything so he knows what’s going on.
The whole time, I want to scream. I’ve done this a million times before but not with my own kid. Watching him cry and get all snotty but still holding still… it’s killing me! I hate it. The doctor is going sooo slow and I want her to speed up and get it over with but at the same time I am appreciating her doing her best work!
No one is holding Linc down but I know I’m gripping his fingers so tight because I am just a mess on the inside. He asks me when it’s going to be over but they are only on number 2. At this point, I’m rethinking that sedation! I’m also cursing our dog and cursing myself for leaving them alone together. There’s that mom guilt.
She’s finally finished and Linc sits up wanting to see what they look like. I hand him my phone and he takes a peek. This kid…”mom, I look tough! Is that it?!” I manage a laugh as I try to wipe away a tear before he sees it. I snap a picture so I can send it to Tuck (he had to go out of town right as we headed to the ER… I know he is feeling horrible and he hates being away from us at this time).
We grab our instructions on care and the doctor gives me her best advice and a few of her favorite brands of scar creams. She really is an awesome doc. We have to come back on Halloween for a check up to see how well it’s healing and then the following Sunday for removal of the stitches.
I’m totally ready to get out of here as it’s already past bedtime for Linc and he’s just ready for target (I promised him a toy, I would have promised him the world at that point) and Panera!
On the way home, I ask Linc again what exactly happened. I make sure to tell him it’s nobody’s fault and no one is in trouble. That’s when I hear a slight pause and he says “well, it was Tippy’s tooth” followed by a quick but she’s such a good girl and she’s my dog and I love her and I don’t want anything to happen to her. My heart just sank in that moment, but I’m a mom and my purpose in that moment is to assure Linc that he did nothing wrong. It’s not his fault and it’s also not the dog’s fault. No one is as fault. My role as his mom was to explain and teach; and that’s what I did my best to do. I teach and I explain and reassure all through bed time stories and until he falls asleep!
At the end of the day friends, no matter what breed of dog it is or how sweet a dog is or how well trained they are (because our dog is ALL of those things) dogs are animals. They are instinctual and just like people, they have bad days or off days or just plain moments.
Our dog didn’t DO anything wrong. She is an animal and animals react to their environment.
My kiddo didn’t DO anything wrong. In these past few weeks, more of the story has come out and I think I have pieced together what “might” have happened. I’m not sure, I wasn’t there. That pains me every night when I go to bed. I will never know and I will never be able to take that moment back!
Linc LOVES animals, especially dogs. He is the kid that has “puppy death syndrome”. He might just LOVE too much.
From what I have pieced together… he didn’t do anything wrong either except maybe walked into her space at the wrong time on a day when she wasn’t feeling great.
Things happen and we can’t always explain why. It’s not our place.
Right now the best thing I can do is try to find the best solution for everyone in my family (and that includes Tipper) so that this doesn’t happen again… or something worse.
So that’s where we are right now.
Linc has had his stitches removed and of course he was a champion! There were no tears just incredible toughness! His scar looks amazing and the best advice I have to offer any mama is to buy all the stick sunscreen you can find and make sure you are applying it ANY TIME you plan on going outside! We love the sun bum brand but that’s just our preference.
It’s become just a part of our normal routine now. Linc asks for it and he puts it on by himself. We also bought a silicone based scar cream and that is doing wonders!
And life has (for the most part) returned to normal. Tuck and I are still working through what is the best plan for our entire family when it comes to Tipper. We aren’t taking this lightly and we want to make sure everyone’s quality of life is taken into account. Unfortunately we have lost some trust and I think that’s fair. So for now, we are just making lists (because that’s what I do) and reaching out to some very important people that are experts in this area!
So that’s our story!
I hope that you are never in this situation, but if you are I want you to know that as a parent YOU are your child’s best advocate! You have to trust your gut and go with it because it’s powerful! Don’t let anyone tell you what it right for your family or your child because they aren’t in your life every single day like you are. They don’t know the tiny details that make up your family and your child!
Advocate for what you know is best and don’t ever back down! You got this!