By Kerri P. Bond, Guest Writer
I came home from work around 4:30pm on a Thursday, expecting to load my infant sons into my minivan to go pick up my daughter from pre-school. I opened the front door and saw my mom, who watches my boys while I’m at work, and immediately knew something was wrong.
She was holding Ben, my youngest child by four minutes, while his twin brother napped peacefully nearby. My mom was white as a sheet and Ben was inconsolable. I’m talking wouldn’t stop screaming. I scooped him into my arms and started shushing him- my go-to trick that calms him down every time- and his screams got worse.
I quickly gave him the once over and didn’t see anything wrong. I asked my mom what happened but she had no idea.
“He doesn’t have any bruises,” I said, juggling this screaming baby in one arm and grabbing my daughter’s afternoon snack from the fridge with the other.
“Yes, he does. On his wrist,” she said. I grabbed his wrist and saw it. A small, maybe inch long purple bruise.
“We’re going. Let’s go.”
My son Ben has severe hemophilia B, which means he lacks a specific protein (called Factor IX) that helps his blood clot. He inherited this from me; my dad has it and I’m a carrier. My son Ben has it, while my other son, Eddy, does not. I didn’t know if either of them was affected during my pregnancy, but I was followed by a high-risk obstetrician. A vaginal birth would be too risky if one or both were affected so we scheduled a C-section at 38 weeks.
I developed pre-eclampsia and my boys were born at 34 weeks after a week of bed rest. I didn’t get to meet my babies until the day after they were born and by that time they had a good suspicion Ben was affected because his heel prick was still oozing blood. Three days later, he developed a sepsis infection. He was on antibiotics for 21 days. Thankfully when he came home on day 24, he showed no signs of infection. It’s been pretty smooth sailing since.
My dad has hemophilia. I grew up in a house that had blood products in the vegetable crisper. I watched my dad do transfusions at the kitchen table, sat with him in the ER when he had bleeds in his joints, and went with him to physical therapy after having both knees and both elbows replaced. I consider myself a layman expert, having grown up around it. But it’s different when it’s your son.
So when he had a bruise– even though it was only about an inch long, we went straight to the ER. I called the hematologist on call and she told me it probably wasn’t necessary to go to the ER.
I told her I don’t care if I’m “that mom”—I will feel better if we go, and the doctor told me she would support that decision. When we got to the ER, the doctor met us in the waiting room and sent us directly back. By this time we had stopped at my daughter’s school to pick her up and I had both twins with me, so they crammed us into an exam room in the pediatric pod.
The hematologist did a once-over on Ben and told me, without much fanfare, that he was fine. I didn’t realize it when I scooped him up and strapped him into his car seat that I remembered seeing him gnawing on this hand the day prior.
It turns out that “scary bruise” was a suction mark: My son gave himself a hickey and I dragged him to the ER.
I can laugh now, but I will not apologize or feel bad for rushing my baby to expert help when I thought he needed it. (Thankfully, the doctors didn’t scold me for bringing him in for nothing and his pediatrician didn’t laugh when I told her about it a month later).
Better safe than sorry—I will happily wear the “That Mom” badge this time!
Bio: Kerri Bond is a proud single mama to a 2-year-old girl and twin 5-month-old boys. She lives near Lynchburg, VA and works in higher education administration.