James is, as I have mentioned in the past, full of energy. He’s also insane. He loves to climb things and jump off. He dives onto things face-first with alarming detail. He runs 95% of the time. So unsurprisingly, he falls down a lot. His legs are covered in bruises, and he’s had more scrapes and goose eggs than I can remember.

On Sunday night, we were winding things down for bedtime. I was in another room when I heard a thud from the kitchen, and then James crying. He doesn’t usually cry when he falls, so I started heading that way. When I walked in, Annabel said with the casual tone of a person who’s seen it a million times, “James hit his face on the counter.” Mike bent down to pick him up, then yelped, “Oh no, he’s bleeding!”

There was a ton of blood coming out of James’ mouth. I grabbed a towel and tried to clean it up so I could figure out the source of the blood, but I guessed he’d bitten his tongue. As the towel absorbed the blood, I quickly checked to see if he had all of his teeth. After confirming all the top teeth were okay, I started to look at the bottom teeth. That’s when I saw the gash on the inside of his lip…and the matching gash on the outside.

“James bit through his lip! Everyone get shoes on, we’re going to the ER.”

We live a quarter of a mile from a hospital, so we were there quickly. At this point, James had stopped crying but he was still bleeding. Mike kept constant pressure on the gash.

in the ER

We were brought back fairly quickly so a triage nurse could asses James and take his vitals. While he sat there, he never took his eyes off the nurse…I wasn’t sure if he was flirting or distrusting! At one point, he batted his eyelashes, pointed to his mouth, and said, “My mouf, it hoyts.” The nurse melted and said, “Your mouth hurts? Let me see what I can get you.” She disappeared and came back a couple moments later with a stuffed animal for him. This kept him occupied while we waited for the “stitches bed” (aka the bed with the best light) to open.

playing with kangaroo

When James was moved to the bed, an examination revealed that he hadn’t bit all the way through his lip, but he’d come verrrry close. It was decided that he needed to be stitched up on the inside, but that the outside of his lip could make due with glue. I was glad he hadn’t bit all the way through his lip, but also grossed out because, if you remember, I think stitches are the grossest thing on earth.

Giving a small child stitches is…not easy. The medical staff at first toyed with the idea of Mike wrapping his body around James to keep him still, but that ideas was quickly squashed in favor of their standard stitches technique. First they stuck James’ arms into a pillow case behind his back, then they basically swaddled him in a large bedsheet. James was not a fan, and started yelling. Mike had to hold his legs down, a tech had to hold his head still, and I sang into his ear to attempt to keep him calm.

Still, James was hollering things like, “No like! James no like!” and “Almost done! Almost donnnnne!” The doctor sewing him up was amazingly fast, and after only a minute or so said, “I’m done!” I looked up only to discover she was not, in fast, done, and lonnnnnng strings were still hanging out of James’ mouth. I almost threw up on the spot. When she’d finally cut the strings and we sat James up, he yelled out, “All done YAAAAAAY!”

Because of the location of the gash, the doctor told us to keep James out of the pool for five days, and do our best to keep the liquid glue on his face. “But I know he’s a three-year-old and this is by his mouth, so as long as you can keep it on is fine.” The glue lasted about 22 hours.

glue face

I’m relieved that he doesn’t seem bothered by the injury most of the time. He’s still running around and diving face-first into things (damn it, James), and he’s already learned the fine art of milking it (Me: It’s bedtime! James: No…my mouff hoyts!), but he’s going to be just fine.