"She was taking a nap."
That's what Terri, our babysitter, said when she phoned my office at 1 o'clock.
"When she woke up she was covered in blood."
My mind starts on a loop.
Stay Calm. "O.K. Where was the blood coming from?" Stay Calm
I could tell she was unnerved but holding things together:
"The blood was all over her face and all over her clothes. It was even in her hairline where she wiped it."
Terri said she'd never seen this much blood. I could hear Annabel still crying in the backround, "I want my mommy."
She'd never had a nosebleed before and didn't know what was happening.
"When she woke up she was screaming and I couldn't see her at first because she'd pulled the blanket up over her head. When I finally saw her it looked like she'd smeared red lipstick all over her face. She just kept asking me 'what is this? what is this?"
I told Terri: "I'll come and pick them up," and she told Annabel, "Mommy's coming to get you, honey."
A few minutes later I was out the door and in the parking lot dialing her up on the cell phone.
"How's it going. Has it stopped?"
"Yes, it has stopped and she's calm. My husband looked at it and he doesn't think it's that bad at all."
I was relieved, but not enough to run through all the senarios in the 40 minutes it took to go from the parking lot to her driveway.
I know nosebleeds happen all the time. I get them myself. Jed gets them. We have the heat on but not the humidifiers. It's just a nosebleed.
But then I worry about her skin color. Does she look pale? She been acting like the same rambling almost-four-year-old whirling dervish she's been since she was almost three. Or has she?
I torture myself thinking about all the rolled eyes, clenched teeth and generally angry thoughts I've entertained while she's doing her job of pushing boundaries.
I just want the happy, nonsense-word uttering, spinning, singing little electric ballerina back. And as I drive up to the house, I want to take back every Stop fidgeting. Be still. Will you PLEASE be quiet. I've ever uttered.
When I get into the house, I see my pink-cheeked little girl (now in fresh, matching clothes) rocking in the armchair nearest the television. "Mommy, I can't go yet, I just have to see the end of this movie. ... But I'm gonna need an ice pack tonight for sure 'cause I had a bleednose."