Written by Astrid Vinje
In this extract from her tale, Fall in Mexico, Astrid Vinje shares the anxious moment her daughter injures herself while on holiday in Mexico, and the chaos that ensues from this unexpected event.
© Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock
Willem and Lieve proved great hosts, treating us to a delicious spread of freshly caught tuna, grilled vegetables and free-flowing wine. Their three kids instantly got along with our pair. We made plans to do a sea safari the following day. After an evening of talking and playing, we settled in our respective beds to rest up for the marine adventure.
But at two in the morning, standing in the kitchen with Mira, trying to keep her calm, a sea safari was the last thing on my mind. Willem was frantically checking his phone to find a nearby hospital. I scrambled around the house, gathering clothes and shoes for Mira. Clint was waking Julian so that we could take him with us. Mira slumped in the kitchen, still wailing in pain.
The nearest hospital that was open at that time of night was half an hour’s drive away. We piled into Willem’s car and sped off. I held Mira’s hand, trying to keep her from falling asleep or, worse, falling unconscious.
At the hospital, our rudimentary Spanish sufficed for the nurse to garner an idea of what had happened. Following discussion with a doctor, the nurse determined that stitches were needed. Mira started to cry. Her body was shaking. ‘I don’t want to die,’ she whispered. I held her tight and kissed her on the cheeks, wiping tears from her face. ‘You’re not going to die,’ I reassured her. ‘These doctors know what they’re doing. You’re going to be just fine.’
With each insertion of the needle, Mira screamed in pain. I held her hand tightly and soothed as best I could. ‘I love you, Mira. You’re so brave.’ I had never felt more helpless as a mother than I did at that moment.
All I wanted to do was rewind time by a few hours. What could I have done to prevent this? Why didn’t I leave a light on so Mira could see the stairs? Why couldn’t both kids have slept closer to us? Julian had his head buried into Clint’s chest, closing his eyes each time Mira cried. He was suffering in his own way too.
After the final stitch was in, the doctor levied instructions for keeping the stitches clean. ‘Stay out of the sun,’ he told us. ‘Don’t go swimming. Wash the area with soap and water.’ ‘I will prescribe antibiotics and pain killers,’ he continued. ‘Come back in a week to get the stitches removed.’ We left the hospital and returned to Willem and Lieve’s house, relieved that the incident hadn’t been worse. On balance, we had got away lightly.
To read the full story or to discover more intrepid tales of travelling with children, check out our anthology: