When you know you’re a mom

garfield bandaidThis morning the kids woke up extra early so we could have a good breakfast before a 8AM lab appointment for Sage. It was a long overdue routine blood test and I figured hustling her in early before work would insure I could be there with her, holding her hand as she cried.

Yet, there would be no crying.

The bravest little almost-six-year-old in the world sat there cool as anything, watching the needle enter the crook of her arm and draw blood. “It doesn’t even hurt,” she said and we all cooed and oohed and praised her for being so tough and totally awesome, even as her older sister cringed.

She jumped out of my lap, ready to head to school. A totally routine day, only with a Garfield bandage on her arm.

And then she fainted.

“My head feels funny,” she said, and the nurse and I caught her just in time to watch her eyes go glassy, the color drain from her face, her knees buckle, and her her little body start to crumple toward the ground.

I felt the color drain from my face too. There is nothing more terrifying than those fleeting seconds when the entire Web MD List of Horrible Ailments runs through your head. In my mind (and probably yours?) it doesn’t take more than a fraction of a second in for a simple low blood pressure incident to turn into a yet unnamed seizure disorder caused by a dirty needle resulting in a condition yet to be discovered until this very second in this very lab room in Brooklyn.

I pulled it together, calling her name as the nurse cradled her in a fireman’s carry and started doing the things you see on medical TV shows. “What grade are you in, Sage? What grade are you in?”

“Kindergarten,” she said, as the pink came back into her sweet lips and cheeks. And then she laughed, was wondering why I would ask her such a silly question. Or why I would ask her teacher’s name. Or why I would ask the name of her school.

We steadied her and just sat and drank water for a while until she said she was feeling good. The world’s most awesome sister (now certified) hugged her with relief and scooped up Sage’s backpack for her.

I offered to take her home. I offered to sit with her in school for an hour to make sure she was fine. I offered to tell her teacher that today she has permission to drink orange juice in class despite any rules to the contrary. I left her reluctantly. But I left her happy, coloring, and feeling kind of special with that Minute Maid bottle on her desk and the cool Garfield bandage on her arm.

This week, with Mother’s Day coming up, I joked with the Bump about the time I first realized I was a mother. But you know, there are so many moments you know you’re a mom. Like when your daughter is hurting and you would give anything in the world to make it you instead.

She’s fine. She’s more than fine. Me, I’ll be shaky for the rest of the day.


30 thoughts on “When you know you’re a mom”

  1. Beautifully written! I’ve been there so many times; I know exactly what you mean. You always wonder how you’d react in an emergency, and then when your 5 year old starts to choke on a piece of candy, there’s no thought involved, just reflex, and afterwards you know you’re a mother. Did the doctor suggest that she has vasovagal syncope? I know two young ladies that have it.

  2. All sooo familiar feeling…
    When my son was just over his first birthday, he screamed terribly, just as my husband was closing closet door that my son was hanging onto from the other side. Quick look at his little, baby fingers, and redness was obvious, my son inconsolable. My husband was panicking and yelling at himself for breaking his little fingers, and granmtoher was crying, my husband could not find car keys, everybody was completely disheveled thinking that our baby has broken finger bones. I took a deep breath, wrestled my son into car seat, barked at my husband to sit next to him, and calmly (but rather quickly) drove to pediatric emergency room. Calmly explained the reason to the nurse, managed to calm my son down somewhat and showed everything to the doctor.

    Everything was fine, just a pinch, noting broken.
    Took some time to completely calm my son. Drove everybody back. Calmed frantic grandmother. Put baby to bed. Closed the door. Sighed heavily. And then, whole hell broke loose. I was scolding everything and everybody and I was beyond myself, crying, cursing, you name it.

    Yes, I became a mom. Someone who can hold it together even when my baby is under major distress and everybody is panicking. Or just exactly because of panic. I’ll never know.

  3. Oh, I hate that I hate that I hate that. Our school once called saying, “Your son is having some kind of seizure in the office can you get here now,” and I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast. Turned out to be some unexplained fainting episode and since then I just work really hard to make sure he’s hydrated in the the mornings, but ugh. I will never forget seeing him passed out on the stretcher and helping coax him awake (while I’m trying to look comforting and brave and not burst into hysterical tears) before the ambulance ride to the hospital to make sure everything was fine. And it was all fine. But yes, nothing like that deep to the core mother panic. (SO glad your daughter is okay.)

    1. Oh my God Korinthia–just the word seizure. That’s horrible. Here’s to hoping it never happens again.

  4. It’s always those unexpected moments, after you thought something bad might happen, that shock you the most. Sounds like both you and Sage handled the situation with much grace.

    1. Thanks Jay. And in a perfectly fitting ending to the entire story, I came home to her bragging about how she even tore the Band-Aid off herself during the day.

      Sniff. My little girl, taking care of herself.

  5. The couple of times my toddler has gotten hurt (not seriously), I’ve felt this bizarre prickly feeling of heat well up right underneath my skin. Not a good feeling. Glad she’s ok.

  6. Beautiful piece. I couldn’t agree more….I’d take the pain instead of my kids any day of the week.

    I was hoping to meet to meet you at Mom 2.0 but missed ya…next time!

    1. I’m sorry I missed you too Tommy – it always flies by too fast. Thanks for the good wishes.

  7. I know this feeling. The feeling of overwhelming worry. The feeling that there is something horribly wrong. I get this feeling from reading too much WebMD, too.

    I am happy to ready our daughter is well, and I hope you are less shaky now too!

  8. Been there, done that. You feel your kid’s pain and suffering. You’ll do everything just to make him/her feel good again. That’s when you realize you’re a mom.

  9. My heart is racing just reading this. I can’t imagine what it felt like in real time.

    I remember reading someone said once that having a child is like walking with your heart outside your body for the rest of your life. (It was Lisa Kudrow). oof.

  10. You know you’re a mom when you are weepy over a blog post in the Walmart parking lot so you have to comment to said blogger to give you time to collect yourself. Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

  11. Liz,

    Great post. As a frequent fainter at blood draws, I can relate to little Sage’s plight! Glad she’s ok. From the second they’re born, you’ve struck a deal with the universe that you will worry, justifiably or needlessly…forever. The other side of the trade is all that we know it to be, but it doesn’t make the toll easier.

    Hey, I wanted to note that when you click on your link for the Baby Buggy event, it takes you to a web site that’s just a bunch of ads for various kids’ products. It clearly isn’t their official site; I think someone coopted it. I’m sure there’s a techie name for this, but I hate to think that people can’t get tickets for such a great event.


  12. Oh I so know that feeling…when my son dislocated his knee cap during basketball practice and he was rushed via ambulance to an ER, I had to keep myself from fainting when they wheeled him out of the ambulance. It’s quite a gruesome looking injury, but just looking at my son’s pale face, was enough for me to feel woozy and nauseous. It definitely took me longer to recover from the incident than it did him. Yup, I guess I know I’m a mom too. 🙂

  13. I knew things had completely changed for me when I found myself with my finger up another human being’s nose. Nothing really prepares you for that.

  14. My 11 YO son fainted a couple of months ago too. He had a slight flu, and I’d made him take a shower (because 11 YO boys should not go more than a day or two without having a shower). When he stepped out of the tub, I thought that since he’d been under the weather, I’d be all Mom-sy and wrap him in a big towel. Good freakin’ thing I did, since my arms were around him, pulling the towe light, when he said, “Mom, I feel weird” and his eyes went glassy and he fainted right under me….I was able to catch him on his way down so he didn’t slam his head into the tub. After a few seconds – that felt like a few minutes to me! – he came to, somewhat confused why he was lying naked on the bathroom floor with his Mom standing over him, yelling his name!

    A quick trip to the doctor, “Yup, kids will do that after a hot shower and if they aren’t feeling well…” – and he’s been fine ever since.

  15. I’m constantly astounded at how much I love my children more than I imagined. And it’s in moments like those: in immense fear, in the unknown, in all the time a part. And every time it happens again and you realize that depth of love is just never ending.

    1. That’s the beautiful silver lining of it all, isn’t it? Thanks for that perspective Marta.

  16. There’s nothing like a sick child to bring you into instant focus on your priorities! I’m glad your daughter is okay. There is also nothing that compares to that sweet relief.

  17. Seems to me that there is a little bit of shaky in every single minute once you open yourself to loving a child.

    So glad you are all ok.

  18. I’m a fainter… found out my brother was too when we were at the clinic to get routine blood draws. I passed out (as expected) and was taken to a little room to lie down and recover while my mom stayed with my brother for his blood draw. Suddenly I hear “Ben? Ben? Doctor!”

    Pretty soon they carry him in and lay him in the bed next to me. Convenient for my mom since she could just stand between us rather than running from room to room..

    The small, youngest sister? Oh, she was laughing it up in the next room with nerves of steel!

  19. I think the worst moment for me was when Amelia was 3 and she had her tonsils out. She was astoundingly calm through all the pre-op, but when she was post-op and coming out of anesthesia she was disoriented and cried inconsolably for about 5 minutes. Once she was completely out of the anesthesia haze, she was fine and wanted a Popsicle and couldn’t even remember crying, but I was a wreck in the inside and had to pretend I wasn’t so she didn’t freak out!

  20. My oldest (5 now, 4 at the time) has serious food allergies and we knew she was having an allergy accident after some take out but we made a bad call and I decided to drive her to the ER instead of calling 9-1-1 and while her and I were enroute (hubs stayed home with younger one), she went into full anaphalxis and I had to pull over while talking to 9-1-1 on speaker and pull her out of her booster and give her an epipen. I was completely calm while the 9-1-1 operator counted it down with me and I shoved the needle into her leg (nothing like the oranges I practiced on!). I was holding eye contact while it kicked in and then she started to breathe and then scream once she had enough air. Then I started crying and she was so surprised to see me crying. When the fire trucks and ambulance arrived about 2 minutes later, the fire fighters gave me a round of applause and told her she was alive because her mama wasnt scared. I was on the side of a road in rural colorado, covered in my little ones vomit, with the wind howling around me and the noise in my head as loud as the sirens and I couldnt imagine it being possible I could be more afraid. I have never been that afraid in my life and there is no fear like that My Child Is In Real Danger Fear.

    1. I am holding my breath reading this entire comment. You’re a great mom–and I’m so so glad she’s okay.

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