"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In which I almost called 911 and my daughter almost lost a finger...

I was pulling zucchini bread out of the oven this afternoon when the first scream came from the back yard. By the time I flung my oven mitts down on the counter and raced through the sliding door and down the stairs to the yard, Bethany's face was bright red and tears were rolling over each other down her cheeks. Her littlest finger was stuck tight in a tiny hole in the latch of our back yard shed.

I wiggled the finger once, tentatively, and knew there was no way it was going to move without help. Back up the stairs I raced, and the bottle of olive oil I'd used in making the zucchini bread was the closest slippery thing I saw, so it flew back down the stairs with me. It had now been maybe 20 seconds since Bethany's first scream, but as I doused her finger with the oil I was dismayed to see that the finger was visibly swelling on both sides of the latch in which it was stuck. It's ok, I told myself, the oil will save the day. And then I twisted, and smoothed, and poured on more oil, and silently begged the finger to move, and in front of my eyes it just kept swelling, and refused to budge.

The whole time, Bethany is just completely terrified, squirming and screaming, and her hand is way up over her head with her finger stuck in this thing so that she's standing on her tiptoes (and I know I should be a more seasoned mother than this by this point but I just can NOT help thinking, why on earth did you think this would be a good idea?!) and I feel like if I could stop and get her settled down it would go so much better, but with the finger swelling at the rate it is, I can't stop for anything. A horrified thought crosses my mind -- can her finger self-amputate if it gets swollen enough on either side of this thing?!

And now it's been about three minutes, and her littlest finger is bigger than any of her other fingers, and it went past red to purple about a minute ago. She is done screaming now and is just sobbing while she is collapsed against the wall of the shed, still on her tiptoes because I am holding her up by her hand so high in the air. And I am still trying with the oil, and trying and trying, but I just feel sick and suddenly I realize, I honestly can't fix this, and I have to call 911 but that means I have to go inside and get my phone, and that means I have to let go of her hand, but can she even hold herself up that high at this point, and if she can't and stands down normally, will her finger just come off?? And even if I call 911 and somebody gets here in time -- because her finger is going to come off!! -- then they are going to have to cut this metal latch thingy, and they will probably end up cutting her finger because it's so horribly swollen and THEN IT WILL COME OFF ANYWAY!!

And then her finger slid out.

For a moment I just stared at it...such a horrible deep purple color, and so unbelievably swollen except for the thin, starkly white area where it had been stuck. And then I sank down on the ground with my baby in my arms and we cried together.

There is no moral here, just a traumatizing story! I've never been at the point where I've even considered calling 911 over anything the girls have done, and I was so very horrified at the realization that I was facing something that I couldn't fix. It feels like I shouldn't be at that point yet, not with a two year old. That comes when she's older, I know, but...it was so awful in that moment when I thought it had come today.

Bethany is fine; her finger looks completely normal, and she spent another hour playing happily outside after she calmed down and we washed all the sad tear streaks off her face. Meanwhile, I am trying not to think about this new paranoid fear that I had never considered before: fingers......they might fall off, people. For real.