Today at about a quarter after four I found myself driving to the pediatrician's office to meet Juliette and Jason, he having injured himself falling face-first off of the toddlers' outdoor play structure at his daycare a bit under an hour beforehand. Juliette had already called me a couple of times by this point--the first time she hadn't seen him yet and the description of the accident she'd gotten over the phone had made it sound like he might have bitten through his lip and would need stitches. The second, it sounded like he had completely knocked out one of his front teeth. As I got onto the freeway, feeling disconcerted and vaguely panicked, it actually started raining. We've been in a heat wave for weeks and a drought for months--if I were the superstitious type it would be hard not to take this as some sort of sign.
By the time I got to the doctor's office, the receptionist there was already on the phone with the pediatric dentist next door, getting us an appointment. Jason was sitting pretty quietly on Juliette's lap. His lips were intact, and his tooth hadn't been knocked out, but only barely--it had folded almost all the way back against the roof of his mouth as well as jamming back into his gum a bit. All things considered, he seemed in a pretty good mood, though he did seem a little dazed. He didn't cry at all while we waited to see the dentist, and only fussed when we kept him away from the waiting room toys. (He has a tendency to put things in his mouth, and we wanted neither to get blood on the toys, nor for him to bite down on one and hurt his tooth even more.)
We didn't have to wait too long to see the doctor. We actually ended up seeing the orthodontist, the pediatric dental specialist being out of town. He took an x-ray--which Jason actually sat still for--then consulted with the dentist over the phone. When he came back in to talk to us, the news was relatively good: the root didn't look damaged, so they were going to try just pushing the tooth back in place. It would still be a little iffy after that--he said there was about a 50-50 chance that the tooth would survive, but that was actually much better that either Juliette or I had expected. By the time we got into the dentist's waiting room we were pretty much convinced that Jason would be looking like a jack-o-lantern just in time for Halloween. Which is funny, I guess, but we made the joke more than half to keep ourselves from crying.
I had to hold Jason while the doctor pushed the tooth back into place. The technician instructed me to face him toward me on my lap and then lean him back with his head resting on my knees. He was pretty calm at first, but when I leaned him back he became unsettled and started to squirm a bit. I smoothed his hair and then held his hands and told him everything was OK, and when he calmed down I felt like a liar. And, sure enough, Jason did finally start to panic a bit when the doctor put his fingers in his mouth, and when he started pushing, Jason screamed. I have heard Jason scream in anger just as loudly any number of mornings, but knowing that he was screaming from pain and fear this time just about broke my heart. People talk about time seeming to slow down in intense moments. Well, I wouldn't say that time slowed down for me--I was completely aware that only a few seconds were passing. But still, the amount of things that happened in those seconds seems like more than should have been able to happen, the amount of detail was more than I should have been able to notice. Like the exact moment when the tears rolled out of Jason's eyes, or the color of the blood that welled out of his tooth socket when the doctor pushed. When it was over, I picked Jason back up and held him to my chest. He clung to me, and his breath smelled like blood. I only just stopped myself from crying. Remembering it now is almost as hard.
Afterwards, he struggled a lot when I put him into his seat in Juliette's car. Juliette said he screamed all the way home, though he was quiet when I got him out of the car. As I was driving home there was a really bright rainbow directly in front of me. It almost seemed like the universe was trying to apologize. For some reason, the idea of a rainbow as some sort of consolation prize made me angry. And then I realized I was angry at a rainbow and couldn't help but see how ridiculous it was.
The rest of Jason's evening went pretty smoothly--he sat very nicely with us and let us feed him without making a mess, and he laughed when we played with him after and enjoyed his bath even though we took out all of his bath toys. Right now he's sleeping peacefully. Except for the bit of swelling under his lip it could be any other night. We have a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks, when we should be able to find out whether or not the tooth will survive. Until then, I'm just going to have to keep reminding myself that everything is OK. I expect Jason will be getting a fair amount of treats in the coming days.