Recently I had to take all four of my daughters in for blood draws at the clinic’s lab.

As you might imagine, they weren’t excited about this, and neither was I. The youngest two (ages 6 and 8 ) had never had a blood draw before so they were even more anxious.

At first I tried to use hype to lower their resistance.

“We’ll make it a blood draw party! Treats afterwards!”

Of course they didn’t fall for that. As a copywriter I, of all people, should have known better than to try a used car salesman approach.

Next I decided to tell them a story about how their six-year-old cousin had several vials of blood taken from him last summer and he handled it like a champ, no tears.

That didn’t lower their resistance either. I guess hearing a story secondhand about someone else’s success isn’t all that inspiring.

Finally I realized I needed to dig deeper and tell a personal story and show them I know what the fear of blood draws is like.

So I told them about when I was six weeks pregnant with their 14-year-old sister. I had unexpected bleeding and marinated in anxiety in the examination room chair, afraid I was having a miscarriage.

The doctor patted me on the knee and told me he wasn’t going to do an ultrasound because he thought it would be too emotional for me if we couldn’t hear a heartbeat.  His tone and mannerisms suggested I might well be having a miscarriage so he sent me to the lab instead to get a blood draw that would determine whether or not I was still pregnant.

“How do you think I felt while I was getting a blood draw that would tell me whether or not your sister was still alive?” I asked the girls.

Their eyes got big as saucers and they hung on every word.

Then I told them how powerful blood is and how it can tell us so many things about what’s going on inside our bodies. Information like this would’ve bored them if I was just lecturing them, but my story made them eager to hear all about the power of blood.

They literally started tugging on my arm and begged me to take them to the lab immediately for their blood draws.

They did this even though I also told them a story about how I once had a blood draw that ultimately gave me bad news.

I felt it was important that they know the full score in the event this blood draw, or one in the future, gives them news they’d rather not hear. Not every blood draw has a happy ending.

Ten years ago I found myself bleeding once again and I knew that this time there could be no doubt I was having a miscarriage. The midwife sent me off to get a blood draw to confirm what I already knew.

I told the girls how the cello and piano version of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise (the version I listened to was by local cellist Parry Karp on a CD called Postcard From Madison) was my soundtrack during the week after that blood draw, as my hormones came crashing back down and my emotions were all out of whack.

Even though the girls now knew blood draws don’t always result in happy news, they went willingly to the lab. There were no tears except for when my youngest cried with empathy during her 8-year-old sister’s blood draw and turned to her big sister for a hug. Scenes like that don’t make it into scrapbooks but fortunately remain in a mother’s long term memory.

The blood work came back normal. Whew. But that didn’t stop my 8-year-old from asking, “When can I go get another blood draw?”


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Filed under: ParentingStories/Storytelling


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