2016 · single mom

parenting: expect the unexpected

I didn’t recognize the number on my phone upon first glance, so I right-button silenced the ring and looked back at my monitor but something felt wrong. I looked at my phone again. In small text, it offered a suggestion based on contacts and other data stored on my phone. The suggestion was it could be our caregiver calling.

I answered.

“Is this F’s mom? OK, Ashley. F had an accident and we need you to come immediately.”

All I can hear is children crying in the background.

“F was playing and he put his head through a window. I don’t think it’s really too serious, but there is a lot of blood and he needs to go to the doctor.”

There is no chapter in What to Expect that prepares you for that call. Nothing. Nope.

I have never been so panicked in my life. I started to cry immediately, because what else do you do? I began throwing things into my bag; my coworkers asked me what was wrong. They sprung into action, grabbing my things for me and firing them into my bag. Do you need this? Do you need a drive? Are you sure you’re OK to drive?

Moments after picking him up, my phone rang: my coworker was checking in, offering advice on where we should go, where to park, how to handle a situation I couldn’t begin to navigate. F’s clothes, hair, face, and hands were covered in blood. He was wobbly, stumbling a few times as I tried to help him into the car.

“Am I going to die, Mama?” he asked as I buckled the seatbelt. “If I die, you won’t be a Mama anymore.”

Once we made it to the IWK Health Centre emergency department, F was brought in right away. A nurse checked his vitals and cleaned him up quite nicely. It was the first time I’d seen the offending wound that caused so much blood – about a half-inch in length. No stitches needed, but he was showing signs of a concussion so we went to cuddle on the little couch in the waiting area until the doctor could see us.


It was our first injury-related ER trip, which is pretty good when I consider how active F is. His hair was matted with blood as I tried to rub his cheeks to help him settle while we waited, and all I could think of was how bad it could have been. I have never been so thankful for anything in my life.

Kids don’t come with manuals. Nobody warns you that one day, you’re going to get a call that makes your heart stop and your stomach drop and your breath catch in your chest. There’s no preparing for the drive between your work and wherever your child is that helps you keep your shit together. Nothing assuages the helplessness when you know your child is hurt and you can’t simply kiss it better.

But popsicles apparently cure headaches. Or so Dr. John told us. (And F confirmed.)

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