Anna lost her first tooth Saturday night. Another milestone among many in the last year. A joyous event that for us is streaked with sadness.
Anna’s been looking forward to this for months. A girl in her class has been losing teeth regularly since last fall. I think she’s down six now and she’s got the cute gapped-toothed smile to prove it. A few others have lost teeth as well, and each time a classmate discovers a loose tooth the rest of the kids gather around.
A hushed silence . . . someone asks “Where is it?”
The kid points—almost always to a lower incisor—and wiggles it just a bit.
The novelty never wears off.
The long wait ended Wednesday night. We were in the car on our way to pick up dinner. She was sitting in the backseat eating a fruit snack when it happened.
“Is it a tooth,” Julia asked.
After we got home, Julia told her what to expect when it fell out.
“There may be a little bit of blood. Don’t worry—that’s what supposed to happen—just get a tissue and push down on the hole. It’ll stop bleeding after a few seconds.”
The next morning she was surrounded by her classmates as they waited in line outside the school.
A hushed silence . . . someone asked “Where is it?”
She pointed to her lower incisor and wiggled it.
She wiggled it Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, waiting impatiently for it to fall out so she could get her first visit from the Tooth Fairy. Saturday night, after dinner, we were watching a movie together. Just as it was ending, she walked over to where I was sitting, grabbed a tissue, and put it in her mouth.
“You ok?” I asked.
“Yeah. I loss my toof.”
She had trouble speaking with a tissue in her mouth, so she took it out.
“Is it in the tissue?” I asked.
“No. It fell out over there.” She pointed to her big pillow where she had stretched out to watch the movie. I grabbed a flashlight and we got down on our hands and knees. It took a few minutes, and then she found it. I put it a Ziploc bag so we wouldn’t lose it again.
Julia and her mom were out at the coast that day to play bingo. They got back about fifteen minutes later and Anna got to show off her tooth to both of them. She slipped it under her pillow. The next morning she found four quarters in the Ziploc bag, and a doll and milk chocolate at her bedside.
For Anna, this experience is pure joy for obvious reasons: her first visit from the Tooth Fairy, presents, and a cute little gap to show off on Monday; for us, the joy is streaked with sadness, and not just because she’s growing up too fast.
Anna had her first—and so far only—cleft surgery at the age of four-and-a-half months. At the time we knew another surgery was coming to repair the gap in her gum line that matches the place where her cleft lip used to be. It’s been almost six years since that surgery and it’s easy to forget that she has another one coming. Now that her baby teeth are coming out, we know that it’s getting closer. It’s time to schedule a visit to Doernbecher this summer, and prepare ourselves for her next surgery: a year or two from now at the latest.
It was so difficult last time: leaving her at the O.R. doors, sitting in the waiting room, and seeing her with stitches in her lip and an IV line in her hand. Next time will be worse for us because next time she’ll know what’s happening.
I know she’ll be brave. I hope we can be too.