Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On First Injuries and Surprising Prejudices

The backstory: P. fell on Sunday and smacked down hard enough on the wooden arm of the futon to knock her left front tooth wiggly. And out of position. With an open mouth, she looks a tiny bit more like a bunny than she did on Saturday. The dentist's verdict as of Tuesday was that the tooth is still a little wiggly but the root and the tooth are fine; there's no way to tell yet if it will get discolored; and we'll probably learn more at the follow up appointment in a month.

Speaking of learning, I learned that teeth just freak me out. A bloody cut? Not a problem. Vomit? Disgusting, but I can handle it. Broken bones? We haven't had to deal with that and hopefully never will. But injuries involving teeth? *shudder* A bloody tooth is bad enough, but a bloody tooth that's been knocked forward and is tiny bit loose is just only slightly less horrifying than a tooth that's fallen out altogether.

I also learned that I have a long road to walk when it comes to P.'s appearance. She's not perfect. I know in my rational mind that no child is perfect any more than any adult is perfect. But I'm pretty ashamed at how much her tooth suddenly being out of whack bothered me. My brain was filled with visions of tears shed over taunts directed at that one tooth - particularly if that tooth goes gray, as many bumped teeth do. In fact, I was surprised at how much I was bothered and upset by something as simple as a little superficial injury, just because it was one that impacted P.'s appearance.

But having a bunch of family in town, all staying with us, has been a balm. All of our houseguests are experienced parents, many times over and had plenty to say about injuries to teeth (among other things). It's also been a nice distraction from... certain things. I made a citrus cake and the BabbyDaddy is making a homemade pizza. My aunt was sweet and came with me my initial appointment with the genetic counselor on Monday. We all listened to the baby's heartbeat at the birth center. There's nothing quite like having relatives around!


  1. Oh darlin, I can relate on the child's image issue. Caitlin was born with a hemangioma of infancy on her cheek -- basically a benign vascular tumor that grew rapidly for the first two years of her life. When it grew, it would bleed and then scab over before starting its next growth cycle. And, it was smack dab, center stage, on her face.

    It was incredibly hard to respond to people asking questions such as, "Oh no! What happened?" and "Oh, did she get burned?" In fact, I was pretty ashamed of how it looked. I felt like I was the world's most vain person for feeling that way, but then I came to realize that it wasn't that it bothered *me*, it was that I was worried about how she would respond to others' reactions. We took her to specialists who told us that they couldn't do anything at that point and that we would need to wait for it to involute (they shrink after the growth cycle stops) on its own as much as possible. The doctor recommended that we follow up when she started school, but that because of the size, she'd likely need to have surgery to correct the shape of her cheek.

    After a while, I stopped noticing it and was surprised when people would ask about it because I just didn't really see it anymore.

    So fast forward to earlier this spring and Cait told us, through tears, that her friends at school were pointing it out and that it was "annoying her." So we took her to a specialist in Portland and were able to have it removed. She was so happy about having, in her words not mine, a normal cheek that she can touch just like everyone else

    I guess in my long rambly way, I'm saying to not be so hard on yourself when you're worrying about P's appearance. Feeling upset, worried or anxious is normal and natural and it's part of the process of accepting changes. Further, we love our kids and want them to have a good happy life and being/looking like her peers is a very important part of that -- even if in our hearts we want it to not matter, it does.

    1. Thanks for sharing all this - I'm feeling a lot better about everything and it's always so awesome to know that I'm not particularly unique in what I'm feeling :)

    2. Also, I feel like I need to apologize because I'm a big advocate of accepting that every person's experience is indeed unique; otherwise we risk minimizing others' very real, unique, individual feelings. I guess what I really meant is that I've had similar experiences and that you're not alone. <3

  2. I think all mothers go through this, but very few have the balls to admit it. I don't think it's necessarily vanity or a stage mother's desire for perfection in her kids. I freaked out when M got a mosquito bite on her forehead that made her look like she has a third eye. It swelled up that big! Like Jennifer said, I was worried about other people making her feel bad. It's like each injury and the scar it leaves behind is a reminder that I won't be able to protect her from all the hurts and that makes me so sad

  3. Oh, Christa! This post took me right back to that embarrassing week. My then 1-year-old fell and had to get stitches across his brow. It was crazy how many scenarios I imagined in which every person was judging my parenting, horrified with my sweet kid's grizzly face. In truth, I was probably the only one bothered, but it sure didn't feel that way at the time!

  4. Oh, I feel for you! I remember my first born's first real injury. It was more traumatic for me than for her. Hope that little tooth is ok!


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