Friday, February 23

The Picture; Then the Thousand Words

17 June 2006

We set off today for an adventure in the nearby town of Alphen aan den Rijn. There is a bird park there, full of exotic flighted creatures and a few that do not fly. It's a destination which comes highly recommended, and with a fellow bird lover in the house I thought it would be the ultimate way for my sister-in-law Wendy, Ian, Emma, Andrew and I to spend the day.

Sandwiches packed, diapers stacked, and buggy loaded, we took off together for the train station. The neighborhood station is about a 10 minute walk from our house. Andrew was insistent upon walking for this first stretch of the trip, because as we all know, he is now three years old and as such should be considered a big boy. I have mentioned before how Andrew can really keep us all giggling on a daily basis, and today was no exception.

He strutted.
He flounced.
He galloped.
He cavorted.
At one point he was walking backwards up the hill with a little rhythm of step-step-step--JUMP; step-step-step--JUMP! And we started to joke that this short jaunt to the train station was going to take us the better part of the morning.

Ian stepped in to help Andrew hurry along, and had scooped him into his arms and was carrying him as he ran to catch up with the rest of us.

That's when it happened.

The sidewalk is built of stone blocks and Ian's foot hit a spot where the block was raised.

He tripped.

As he began to fall forward his hands released Andrew. Ian fell to the right, Andrew fell to the left. Both boys skidded across the cement blocks. Ian took the impact with his hands. Andrew took the impact with his face.

I apologize to the squeamish readers for the gory details, but I watched the whole accident from trip to skid, and it was an incredibly uncomfortable four seconds, I am compelled to share.

As soon as he lit, I scooped Andrew up. He threw back his head to cry and immediately I knew that something was up, or out, as the case may be. As I looked for a place to sit down to inspect for damage, I called over my shoulder "CHECK THE GROUND FOR HIS TOOTH!"

It was only a few seconds later when the kids arrived by my side where I was comforting Andrew and offered me a sight of TWO perfectly shaped baby teeth, full root showing, cradled in the palm of a hand. I don't remember whose hand it was nor which of their voices I heard saying "Mom, it's two teeth".


Pause for a minute for brain to process the information.

Baby has fallen.
Baby is bleeding.
Baby's teeth are missing.
Baby's teeth are found.

Snap to it. We got up and headed back to the house at double time speed. I shouted out directions as we approached the house.
"Emma! Get me a bowl of warm soapy water. Ian! Make an ice pack. Wendy! Hand me a baby wipe so I can wipe some of this blood off his face before his dad sees him"
I was working completely on automatic at this point. Not feeling. Not looking at the damage to my darling boy's little face. Not thinking about anything past the moment. I just knew that I MUST find a dentist, and I must find a dentist NOW.

Don was at home working in the upstairs office on his thesis, and he heard us coming. It was hard to miss our approach. Through the open window, he heard Andrew bellowing and English being spoken. He opened the window fully and called out to us. I shouted the news to him and he got on the phone immediately to find a dentist who was OPEN ON A SATURDAY.

Then we were in the house where I could asses the situation.

Soak teeth in milk.
Wash Andrew's face, hands and arms.
Get ice on the wound.
Measure and administer Advil.
Contact a dentist.
Find the insurance card.
Inspect the injuries.
1. Road rash on right cheek under his eye.
2. Large goose egg above the right eye.
3. Contusion and bruising across his forehead.
4. The LARGEST fat lip ever seen in the history of mankind. Ever.
5. Two front teeth missing.

At this point Andrew is calm. He has his special blanket balled up around his fist and the whole contraption shoved in his mouth. In this way he has created the perfect pressure bandage for the wound. He's calm, but I can tell he's in shock. He shivers. He whines. He wants to sleep. Oh, boy.

We made arrangements with our visiting friends for the big kids to hang with them, and Don and I set off for the dentist. Toddler in arms, teeth in hand.

We generated a lot of sympathetic looks and conversation as we boarded the bus. And as we entered the dentist's waiting room. And, again at the reception in the hospital emergency room.

Andrew was a stellar patient throughout the day and cooperated beautifully with the doctors. The moment that really got me was when the doctor asked him to open his mouth, and as he happily complied I saw the full extent of the damage.

Words just won't suffice to explain the gaping space in his mouth where his teeth used to be. There were two dark knots of clotted blood in his gums. His upper lip swollen to ten times its normal size and the skin was torn and mottled. The remainder of the teeth on the upper deck appeared to be undamaged. It was an overwhelming sight.

After several hours with doctors, dentists and neurologists the consensus comes down: He's just fine. He's toothless, yes, but he's fine. They won't re-insert the teeth because of potential damage to the permanent ones behind, so he will have "the gap" in his mouth for years to come. But the wound in his mouth looks like it will heal well. He is sure to be a bit black and blue, and slightly sore for many days to come. I figure he can use that to milk the situation to get anything he wants.

Ice cream for breakfast? No problem.

All things considered, we are fortunate the accident wasn't worse. And as Ian told Andrew this afternoon,
"With two perfect teeth like that to put under your pillow--
just think what the Tooth Fairy will bring for you!"


  1. I am completely in awe of how well you handled your poor baby's tooth incident. Are you a nurse? And if not, you completely showed me up. I was so not calm when Reece's eye was bleeding and I've seen waaaay worse than that as a nurse.

    And I had to giggle a bit when you said, "English was spoken." LOL! I'm just glad your little guy was okay, albeit in pain, poor child. I remember when my little brother went over his bike's handlebars. It was a similar scene. BLood everywhere. I felt so bad for him.

  2. There's nothing worse than seeing your child hurt. He's lucky to have such a fast-thinking mom.

    And I bet that Tooth Fairy made up for some of it... :)

  3. owwww

    i hate everything teeth related

  4. I think I stopped breathing at the 6th paragraph -- what a terrifying experience for everybody. And wonderful to see how perfectly each of you responded.

  5. I NEVER KNEW THIS STORY!! Oh sweet goodness how scary.