How we ended up paying $500 for an emergency popsicle

Her fall was awful. Worse: I was right there. I just wasn’t fast enough.

A few weekends ago, our toddler fell from a deck chair face-first onto our iron patio table. The blood went everywhere. Her dad panicked. On the outside, I was calm, stoic and rational. Inside I was a trembling mess.

Give me a towel.

Now, go get us some ice.

Yes, she still has her teeth.

Yes. I’m sure.

Check to see if the neighbor (a family doctor) is home and willing to take a look. 


OK, don’t panic. She’ll be OK. (More as a reminder to myself than anyone else.)

We headed to urgent care. The wait? Two and a half hours.

Of course, we weren’t about to wait that long with a screaming baby and a dad was nearly hysterical.

Maybe we should have gone home then. The bleeding had stopped, but the panic? It was far from gone.

Option 2 it was. The emergency room.

I answered the triage questions robotically, trying to ignore how terrible it all must look. Screaming baby, bloody mom, worried dad.

Was she supervised? Yes.

How old? 18 months.

Weight? Somewhere close to 20 pounds.

Any other medical issues? No.

The nurse closed the curtain behind her and we waited in silence, both lost in our own thoughts. What were they going to do? How had this happened? We’re attentive parents. Were we going to be questioned further?

What felt like an hour later (but was probably closer to 10 minutes)  the doctor popped his head in.

He tried to take a peek, but there was going to be no inspecting of her mouth. We were informed that stitches would be more traumatizing than leaving it to close on its own, and we should just watch her lip for infection as the gaping gash healed itself.

That’s it?


Give her a couple of popsicles and try not to brush her teeth for a couple days to let the lip heal. Here, try this one.


In that moment, emotions flooded through me.

Relief. She was OK. We weren’t going to be questioned.

Embarrassment. How many first-time parents take their kids to the emergency room for a busted lip.

Then, the worry set in.

How much was this going to cost us?

Two weeks later, as I slid open the envelope, I asked my husband what he thought the bill would total. Let’s just say he was several hundred dollars off.


Thankfully, the majority was paid through our health reimbursement fund. Nonetheless, we are filing this one away under “parenting lessons learned.” Future kiddos be warned. Just because we don’t seek medical help for you until there’s a bone sticking out, it doesn’t mean that we don’t love you.

Instead, it means that we’ve learned our lesson. For now.

That was one pricey popsicle.

The kicker: Our daughter didn’t even eat the world’s most expensive popsicle.  Her father and I did.

Please tell me we’re not alone in our panic. Have you ever taken your child to the emergency room when you probably could have stayed home and let nature take its course?

Natalie Feulner

About Natalie Feulner

Natalie Feulner is a journalist and “semi-crunchy” cloth diapering momma to a rambunctious toddler named after a county in California. She drinks too much tea and loves to climb rocks but not at the same time.