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Mar 8 2011

Bloody Lip, Brotherly Love

By at 8:51 am

Fred's bloody lip. Not even mama's milk could make it all better.

There was a lot of blood.

Fred’s 2 1/2-year-old body hit the cement hard enough that the lip split clear open, spilling blood into–and out of–his tiny shrieking mouth. I scooped him up, almost sure that his 18 perfect baby teeth were going to come rolling out of his mouth. They didn’t.  I felt a bit faint from the sight of the blood, but kept my wits about me and hurried inside with little Fred in my arms, who was continuing to shriek and now gasp for breath since his crying was so fierce.

It was at this point that 5-year-old Miles caught sight of bloody-mouthed baby Fred. He remarked a little too loudly but with a lot of concern, “That’s a LOT of blood! Wow! That’s a lot of blood!” I could tell he was going to keep repeating it over and over out of anxious nervousness, so I let loose a curt, “I KNOW!” and he took the hint and got me a shmatte and some water.

I immediately knew this was a boo-boo that needed the Mama Milk, and Fred was able to latch on and start nursing easily, despite gasping for breath and bleeding all over me. I was able to see that the bleeding was localized to the lip and 1/4 inch of skin above the lip, but the teeth were all intact, although they were hard to see from the instant profound swelling that occurred. Within five minutes of the fall, 75% of his upper lip was so bruised and swollen that he couldn’t make any sounds that involved his lips (m’s, b’s, p’s, etc), he couldn’t eat, and he couldn’t even form a smile. Not that he was trying.

By seven minutes post-fall, Fred was no longer bleeding, and our pediatrician’s office asked me a lot of questions to try and determine if we needed to get to a hospital (we didn’t), such as: “Is he disoriented?”

“Huh?” I said.

“You know, if you ask him his name and where he is–” I stopped the nurse there.

“He’s not verbal that way yet. But I think he’s okay.” And he ultimately was.

What transpired next, though, was about 45 minutes of Fred crying on-and-off; I treated him with arnica (for pain, swelling, and bruising), and tried to soothe him as he nursed. We tried toys, getting some fresh air, and even a bath. Nothing worked for more than a few minutes. But something amazing happened when I was in the tub with him. The crying ceased momentarily, and Miles came in. He had been keeping his distance while Fred was screaming and nursing, trying to let me figure it out without another set of eyes. But he sat next to the tub and proceeded to tenderly try and make Fred laugh by doing silly things with their sharks and monkeys and fish and cars that they play with together in the tub.

“Look, Fred,” Miles would say. And he would make the shark spit water at the monkey. He was trying so hard to make his little brother feel better. I was touched beyond explanation. It was so sweet, so spontaneous, and so genuine. Although they often squabble over toys and who sits where and which speck of dust they each want to throw out, this was a moment of pure and utter caring for the love of a brother.

Maybe I did something right to get this kind of interaction, I thought. And I started to wonder: what career will this skill be useful for as Miles approaches college! Will he be a doctor? A surgeon? A social worker in developing countries? Such empathy, such devotion, such gentleness and bravery! And then it hit me. I know what career this is perfect for: being a daddy.

Not to be overly dramatic, but this was one of those “Thank you, God” moments. Thank you for the opportunity to raise a child who will be someone’s daddy someday. Thank you.

For more Mayim, check out her controversial piece about extended nursing, her husband’s journey form Mormon to Jew,  and tips for wannabe actors.

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12 Responses to Bloody Lip, Brotherly Love

  1. Button says:

    I think it is wonderful what Miles did for his brother. Amazing!

  2. Sary says:

    Love it! The best parenting compliment your child could ever give you — by learning from the example you and your husband have shown him and in turn using that love and gentleness to soothe his little brother. My two littlest girls (3 & 1) are always comforting each other, holding hands and being so sweet. I think it’s partly the bed-sharing – they go to sleep with each other, cuddle through the night and wake up with each other. They don’t know any other way to be!

  3. Mandy says:

    What a beautiful moment! Your flash of insight about daddies took my breath away… it is amazing witnessing our little one’s capacity for gentleness and love. Times like these (when my firstborn sings to her little sister to calm her in the hated carseat) make me so glad we decided to try for that second baby – not just for the joy that is our second daughter, but for the chance both of our girls have to learn and grow and love from being together.

  4. Christie K. says:

    Poor Fred, but what a beautiful glimmer into the future and satisfaction for what Miles is as a brother and a person! I have to sons (7 & 4) and once in awhile get to watch these beautiful moments transpire between them. Enjoy, you’re a wonderful Mom! :)

  5. Anne says:

    I hate it when Momma milk doesn’t work! But truly enjoy the way siblings come to the “rescue”!

  6. What a beautiful moment that came from something traumatic. My children’s sibling love is “the most beautiful thing I never could have imagined.” And as you so poignantly pointed out, that level of compassion and sensitivity could never be applied in any way better than being a daddy.

    Well said!

  7. That is so sweet of Miles, the concern for his baby brrother. I am a grand mother now and It almost kills me when my little baby girl gets hurt. She reminds me of her mother at this age.

  8. Cheryl D says:

    Oh wow, your post made me tear up (in a good way :) )
    I hope Fred’s lip feels better!

  9. CJ says:

    Oh how I can relate! I’m hoping by the time my children have children, attachment GRANDparenting will be all the rage!

  10. Morgan N says:

    Thank you for sharing this! It gave me chills and such a nice reminder of those special moments on a day that’s already been a bit trying.

  11. paxye says:

    It is so hard to see our children get hurt…. It won’t be the last time either…

    It is amazing to see the genuine love and compassion that our children have for each other. As much as my children have their moments that I think that they are doomed to hate each other for the rest of their lives, they never cease to amaze me that all is forgotten as soon as another is is need.

  12. JewintheCity says:

    Great piece. I LOVE “which speck of dust they each want to throw out.”


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