When My Son’s Birthday Sent Me to the ER

This post could also be titled: The tips of your fingers WILL grow back!

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The finished banner!

A few months ago, I was preparing to throw my son his first birthday party. He was turning five and it was the first birthday we were spending together.

How does that work, you might wonder?

My son was adopted from Haiti, and I met him right after his second birthday. The process of bringing him home took a while, so for his third and fourth birthdays, I sent care packages and arranged for birthday cakes, but we weren’t together. It was truly as sad as it sounds. Last year for his birthday, knowing how depressed I would be to be away from him, I ate and drank my way through Paris. Tasty, but still miserable.

So this year, he was finally home and turning five! While I didn’t want to overwhelm him, I still wanted to make it an awesome celebration. He didn’t even know it was his birthday, so I planned a party for family and got to pinning!

My son loves all things Curious George, so the theme was clear. I bought invites and printables off Etsy and turned my home office into a party command center. The day before the party, I was multi-tasking, taking part in a conference call and cutting out pieces of the birthday banner. Using one of those circle pizza-cutting tools I was making very straight cuts and doing a great job. I was even getting really fast at it. So fast that I sliced off the tip of my left index finger. I didn’t realize what had happened at first, but then noticed the blood all over the place — on the keyboard, the floor, the desk. I hung up on co-workers, grabbed some tissues, picked up the part that had sliced off, and ran to the kitchen to check things out.

I immediately called my sister and made her come over. Together we debated whether to go to the emergency room. A call to the doctor’s office and still bleeding 45 minutes later, we headed to the hospital. They got us right in and the helpful doctor explained that he treats this sort of injury once a week — from sandwich artists who are slicing meat! He stopped the bleeding and put on a big bandage. He assured me the missing finger tip would grow back (and he was right, it did).

The happy birthday boy!
The happy birthday boy!

After that, the party command center pretty much shut down. The birthday menu was pared down, as making food with a bloody bandage was gross for everyone. My sister whipped up a cute collage and some tissue paper flowers. Helium balloons helped make it really festive. It wasn’t all that I had imagined, and that was OK.

Certainly, losing a bit of finger was worth it when I saw the pure excitement on my son’s face as he realized the party was for him. He was delighted to blow out candles, open presents, and have all of the attention for the day. He mostly was obsessed with the helium balloons and the banana-shaped candy.

In the end, I felt like the ER visit helped keep things under control. When his actual birthday came three days later, I might have gone and bought some toys so he would have presents to open. And bought a delicious cake so that I would have something nice to enjoy. I gave myself permission to go a little crazy and got to enjoy the happy, happy boy one more time.

Soon, I’ll have another birthday challenge: staying out of the hospital and not going overboard for my daughter’s fourth birthday. It will be my first party with her, and she wants an Elsa party. I’m ready to go just a little bit crazy and should probably confess I already have an Elsa Barbie to use on the cake and a Pinterest board full of party ideas!

What are some of your true-life birthday mishaps?

Michelle is the lucky mom to a young son and daughter, both adopted from Haiti. A KC-native, Michelle left for college in Iowa and then headed to Africa to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. She ended up in Washington DC, traveling to places like Botwsana and Nigeria for a company that improves the lives of people in developing countries. After earning her master's degree in PR and Corporate Communications from Georgetown (Hoya Saxa!), she moved home to KC to raise her kids near family. Still working for the same company, just from her Overland Park basement now, the best part of her day is picking up her kids from pre-school and hearing them holler "mom."