**That title is a little misleading. The truth is – we left that hospital with no “first stitches”, but this was definitely the first time that Eli has needed stitches. Unfortunately, I have realized that if he ever needs stitches again, I shouldn’t even bother going to the hospital.**
This is how it happened…
Last Friday, Dylan and Eli were playing with a beanbag in the lounge. Out the corner of my eye, I saw Eli fall into the small step-up below our tv. Face first! In an instant, I knew that he was either going to be missing a tooth, bleeding badly, or possibly needing stitches. His screaming hadn’t even started by the time I flew over to him. He has always had a delay in the beginning of a big cry, and the sound that follows is REALLY loud. I’m sure there are some Mamas out there that know what I am talking about. There’s that pause – almost too long of a pause – their face goes bright red, mouth wide open, but no sound… and then, like a loud siren, IT COMES!
Blood filled his mouth, and then started pouring onto the floor. I used to be able to handle the sight of blood, but in recent years, it makes me really queasy. I picked him up and raced him to the kitchen to get paper towels. I sat him on the counter-top so I could be almost eye-level with him. His mouth was FULL of blood, and wiping it did no good. It was pooling inside his mouth. That was when I realized that not only were there two cuts below his bottom lip, but also a BIG one inside his lip. I only know a little bit about wounds, but I knew that these cuts weren’t too deep. They were, however, gaping – and that usually calls for some stitches.
I put pressure on the cuts for a few minutes, hoping to stop the bleeding. Poor Dylan – who has now witnessed TWO of Eli’s ONLY TWO accidents – was standing at the kitchen door, completely shocked. **Read about the first accident HERE**. I wasn’t sure if I should take Eli to the hospital or not, because (to my knowledge) they don’t do facial stitches in the municipal hospital. I spent some time holding Eli, waiting for the major blood flow to stop, and in the meantime I messaged a Qingdao Mom group on We Chat. The responses that I got were so encouraging.
About 10 minutes later, the bleeding wasn’t as bad, Eli wasn’t screaming, and we were all at the door with our shoes on. I figured that there was no harm going to the hospital to have them look at his lip. Even if he didn’t need (or they didn’t do) stitches, I had nothing to lose. I gave Dylan three options: stay at the apartment, go home for the day, or come with Eli and I. He wanted to go with us.
Waiting for a taxi
It took forever to get a taxi, and then, even though he knew that we wanted to get to the hospital fast, the driver took his sweet time. I honestly pray that we never need to get medical help in an emergency while we live in China (or EVER, for that matter). Getting out the house, down seven flights of stairs, out to the curb, waving down a taxi, telling him the address in China,… and then having to demand that he drives fast — Well, let’s just say that if it were an emergency, we would be in trouble!
When we got to the hospital there was a traffic jam just outside. Of course! We had to climb out of the taxi and walk for quite a while (see what I mean… ). Once inside the hospital, we made our way up to the fourth floor to the international clinic. I am very thankful for this section of the hospital. Although the nurses here merely just take patients to other areas of this massive Chinese hospital, they really do make things simple for us. Going to a Chinese hospital is a rather hair-raising experience on it’s own, even if it isn’t an emergency. They saw Eli and quickly escorted us down to the dentist area of the hospital. Apparently the dentists here do the facial stitches!?
Waiting at the International Clinic
Dylan stood with Eli while I filled out some paperwork and paid. Look at those two together – so sweet! They are like bothers, and I know that even though Dylan didn’t cause Eli’s fall, he felt REALLY bad!
This room, with six dentist stations, was filled with people. There were numerous people having their teeth done.. right there, in the open. Either I have been here so long that these things don’t bother me as much anymore, or I was only really concerned with Eli, but I didn’t really care. I think after dealing with fertility related tests in China, I pretty much don’t care about any other section of the hospital. Anything gynecological gives me the creeps, but on the plus side, it has toughened me up to the rest of it!
The Fight Begins
From the very moment that the doctor came over to look at the wound, Eli flat out refused to co-operate. I had to firmly turn and hold his head, just so that the doctor could take a look! They told us that he should probably get three stitches because the cuts were gaping. The cut inside his mouth, although much bigger, would heal by itself. It was clear that this wasn’t going to be a simple affair because Eli wouldn’t lie down, or even turn to face the doctor. The nurse was suggesting things, but I know my son, and I knew that she was only going to keep annoying him. He was getting more and more frustrated. He buried his face into my chest, and didn’t want to look at anyone. I called Justin, who was at a big annual school event, and asked if I should try force Eli to get the stitches, or if I should just leave it. Not being there, and feeling very helpless, Justin said that I should do whatever I felt was best. I decided that we should at least TRY to get the stitches done…
What followed was so traumatic, that I now know that Eli will probably NEVER get stitches unless he is put to sleep! Five adults couldn’t hold him down!! The worst part was that we were only trying to get the anesthetic shot done. Only after that would the doctor begin with the stitches. I don’t even know why we kept trying for so long. Eli was not going to allow this to happen!
Lying on the dentists chair, I held my arms around Eli’s arms, and clamped his legs down with mine. Three nurses were trying to hold his head still, and at one point, Dylan was trying to keep his body from squirming. I was trying to talk to Eli, with my face right near his ear, but he was so worked up that it wasn’t helping. Dylan took this little clip…
Eventually I decided to call it a day. It seemed useless! Eli was happy in my arms and away from the doctor, but the minute I sat down to allow them to attempt stitches again, Eli would start trying to get away!
I have no idea this little human was so strong.
We went back up to the international clinic to get his lip cleaned up a little. As soon as we walked into the check-up room, Eli lay down on the bed. The nurse couldn’t stop laughing. He had fought so hard not to lay on the dentist’s chair a few minutes ago, but he felt safe here, so he happily lay down.
He wouldn’t let the nurse clean his lip. He wound’t even let me do it. I held him down to rub the swab on it, and then picked him up and told him that we could go home.
On our way out, Dylan hinted that it was lunchtime. I figured that sitting down and eating would be good for all of us, so we crossed the road and went to KFC to refuel. If you didn’t look at Eli’s swollen lip, you would never know that we had just come from a traumatic ordeal at the hospital. I took some toys out of my bag, and he played while we waited for our food.
Happy to be eating… And away from that doctor!
Through this whole event, I had numerous moms calling and messaging me. I was so amazed by the outpour of love, and after a mere group message from me asking if the municipal hospital does facial stitches. There have been many times in life, where I have felt utterly alone. On this day,, however I felt showered with love and kindness. The support, even in this small accident, was so comforting that I couldn’t help but be moved. One of my friends, Elisabeth, asked if she could come to KFC to bring some butterfly band-aids to put on Eli’s cuts. When she showed up, she had a whole bag of things for little man!
Not knowing what we had left the house with, she brought wipes and a diaper, some snacks, a book and some cars, the band-aids, and some creams for the cuts. Such a seemingly small act of kindness, but I have to say, I was touched!
As I got into bed that evening, messages were still coming in from moms, asking how Eli was. Even now, almost a week later, they are still checking in. I can’t tell you how loved and cared for I felt on that day. I didn’t think it was a big deal – especially after the coin-swallowing incident a week before – but so many of Qingdao moms poured out love to us. It was such a special feeling to know that so many people care!
It certainly isn’t easy living in a foreign country, especially one so vastly different to where we are from. When something happens and you need to support, it is so comforting to know that there are others here, ready to jump at the opportunity to help.
Eli’s lip is looking good, and in just a week it has healed quite a bit.
I would be a fool to think that this will be our last wound requiring stitches. I am, after-all, the mother of a boy.
I better make sure to have some stitch-alternatives, little skin glue, for the future!