Her Bad Mother

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Heart, Dropped.

When WonderBaby was not quite four months old, she fell off of her change table. Well, fell isn't quite the right word. I can't say that she jumped - she still being in her infancy at the time - but there certainly seemed to be an element of will in the flight that she took. I had just bent down to retrieve the diaper, which - along with the baby wipes and the butt cream and the rectal thermometer and all manner of paraphernalia necessary for the tending of baby nether regions - had been flung to the floor in the frenzy of bouncing and struggling that was and is characteristic of WonderBaby's toilet rituals, when it happened. And in the split-second that it took for her to fling herself off of her change pad and into mid-air, it seemed that I spent an eternity lamenting my terrible, terrible parenting skills: if only I had belted her down, if only I hadn't bent over, if only I had kept a hand on her, if only I had three extra hands, if only, if only...

In the next fraction of a second, I threw out my arms and lunged forward and caught her, like a football, inches from the hardwood floor.

My heart still pounds when I think of it.

WonderBaby has, in the year and some weeks since that first dramatic fall, pitched or hurled or tumbled herself off of and onto a variety of surfaces. She's an explorer, and an adventurer, and there ain't no mountain (or chair or table or windowsill or bookshelf) high enough to deter her from her quest to conquer her known universe. There've been more than a few head bonks along the way. And with every thud, thump, bonk and bang, I have become more and more blasé. Pick her up, dust her off, kiss her head, sit back and watch as she climbs right back onto the rocking horse.

Until this weekend. This weekend thrust me right back into the abyss of heart-pounding panic and soul-searing self-recrimination. This weekend, we faced blood, and the emergency ward.

The blood wasn't actually the worst of it, although it seemed pretty bad at the time. WonderBaby was performing her usual dining room table acrobatics on Saturday morning - against the futile pleading and grasping of her mother - when she stumbled and banged her mouth; there was a shout, and there were tears, but it all seemed fine until I noticed that her chin and neck and chest were covered in blood. Drenched in blood. Oh holy mother of shit, I thought, she's knocked out her baby teeth or bitten off her tongue and I AM GOING TO HELL. But I didn't freak out, not totally. I could tell that she was fine - in the broader, she-has-not-broken-her-head scheme of fineness - that it was just a matter of figuring out what had been cut or bitten and pressing warm wet cloths against her mouth and administering kisses and mopping up the blood. My heart did not pound or spin, at least not at a speed that exceeded posted limits.

When, however, today, she flung herself out of a shopping cart and landed, with a dull thud, on concrete, on concrete, my heart spun - it spins, it's still spinning - with all the force of a cyclone and very nearly burst the confines of my chest. It was only a moment, a split second - I was right there, I was keeping near, because she kept trying to climb out, she's so good at climbing out, and in the split second that it took for me to turn away to quibble with the husband or he with I about some banality or another it happened, something happened and all we heard was the thud. And then, silence, for what seemed an eternity.

And then we were both there, on the ground, pulling at her, clawing at her, encouraging her screams, willing her to scream more, louder, because the screams were better than that terrible moment of silence, that moment that was just a moment ago that felt like forever when she just lay there, when she lay there, silent, on the hard hard concrete for only a second but also for an eternity. And then, grabbing her, both of us at once, and squeezing her between us and moving, quickly, together, one body, away from the cart, abandoning the cart and ignoring the eyes, the looks, the stares - I know I know I know I know I am terrible I let her jump I wasn't there it's all my fault bad mother bad mother bad mother - and hastening for the car.

She was calm by the time we arrived at the ER. By the time that we were ushered into Pediatric Emergency, she was fussy, and belligerent, and determined to make full use of the available wheelchairs and stretchers and bedpans for her own amusement. We sat, exhausted and diminished, while she dismantled the waiting room. She seemed fine, but we, we were not, we having clearly revealed ourselves as bad parents, the worst parents, negligent parents, our daughter having been hurt - for the second time in one weekend - while in our care. As my husband put it later, it felt as though we were made to wait in that waiting room, under the harsh glare of the lights and our consciences, for the sole purpose of sitting and thinking about what we had done.

What if you get one chance, but only one chance, to get it wrong, to make THAT mistake, he asked, and this was that chance, that mistake?

And later, after the doctor had said that it seemed that she hadn't hit her head, at least not hard, and that she seemed fine, that we just needed to watch her, keep an eye on her (those eyes that so fatefully strayed): did we dodge a terrible, terrible bullet? Did we get lucky? Did we get away with something? THIS TIME?

We've been beating ourselves up ever since.

We know - I know - that we can't protect her from every bump and tumble. That even the best parents look away at the wrong moment, sometimes. Loosen their grip, trust that the safety belts will hold, trust that the safety belts are just in case and that it's no big deal if they're missing or broken and that even though you never leave child unattended it's okay if you look away for just a second, just a second.

But, oh, holy Mary mother of God, that second, that second is all that it takes and once that second passes you can't snatch it back. And then it doesn't matter, whether you were bad, or good, or a little bit of both.

The blood, I could handle; I know that motherhood, parenthood, is a river of blood and spit and shit and tears. I know this; I expect this, however hard it gets. But that silence, today, when I looked away, when she fell, when the world stopped - the silence overwhelmed. I know that it was nothing (although we are still watching, we will not sleep, listening for her to stir, listening for her breathing, reassuring ourselves that she is fine); I know that we will go through this again; I know that - given WonderBaby's daredevil nature - we will probably go through something like this many times over. I know that my heart will pound to the point of bursting again and again and again. And I know ( I pray) that it will all be fine, more than fine.

But how do we do it? How do we calm our hearts? Do our hearts ever calm? Or do the hearts of parents always beat harder, faster, always threaten to burst?

It's no wonder we drink.

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Blogger Catherine said...

Thank you for sharing your stories - my heart pounds reading them, and remembering how very likely my own wiggly 6 month old is to follow in WB's daredevil footsteps...

I'm glad she's ok...

11:14 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

How freakin scary is that silence. I guess the wind was knocked out of her. I far prefer screams and blood over a limpness,stillness a quietness.

A terrifying experience for both of you. They become so active at that age and they know NO fear.

11:24 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Anne Lamott said that being a parent means never passing another peaceful night - that there is SO MUCH to worry about...

But I quote Pooh, because I think children are Tiggerish in many ways:
The wonderful thing about tiggers,
Is tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs.

Good luck in getting your heart to stop pounding. You have the Suebobian Seal of Parental Goodness, FWIW.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

i had chills reading this whole post. i'm so sorry you had to go through that, but you're right in accepting that this will happen many times.

not sure if this will make you feel better or worse, but just imagine for a moment the heart-pounding my mom had to endure when she got a message from a random doctor telling her that her daughter had been admitted to the psych ward for an attempted overdose. i still feel bad for putting her through that hell.

i think maybe it's just the price we have to pay for a love so strong, so dear, so primitive.

but it's worth it... right?

12:51 AM  
Blogger kirida said...

How terrifying! That WonderBaby knows how to work your heart muscles for sure. I'm glad she's fine now and I hope there's a glass of wine within your reach. I know I'd need one.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad she's okay - and you will be too, promise. Maybe a few more grey hairs, but you'll be okay.

I had to read this out loud to my husband, after we (read: I) had the Icy Sidewalk Incident about a month ago. Both our hearts took a while to slow down that day...

1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it make you feel any better to know that with my daughter (firstborn), I never even used those belts? She would stand up in the cart seat and rest her rear end on the back of seat and total strangers would lecture me about how badly she would be hurt if she fell. My son is crazy and a daredevil that doesn't know fear and that scares the holy hell out of me. Suffice it to say, I use the nasty, crusty belt now and he STILL manages to wiggle out and stand up.
Some children cannot be contained despite our best efforts.


1:15 AM  
Blogger m said...

I'm glad WB is okay and you're surviving the scares. Terrible, heart clutching silences are the worst.

Just today my son managed to wiggle his way out of the lap belt in his high chair and stood. I was right there, but man oh man, just seeing what he can do while I'm watching was frightening enough. Imagine what he'll do when I'm not looking?

Enjoy your wine! (Or beer. Or tequila. What does goes best with a trip to the ER?)

1:32 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Not your fault. Not your fault. I know it feels that way, but it's not your fault. That's what we call them accidents.

I'm glad she's okay!!

2:45 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

My heart is pounding. I'm so glad that WB is ok. Q is not nearly as adventurous as she is, and still there are moments where I think "I just turned around, and how did you get up there?" Get as much rest as you can. I'm sure she'll be ready to be a handful tomorrow too. You are doing a great job, just keeping up with her.

3:08 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

My heart dropped reading this. The deafening silence must have been terrifying.

You are a good mom. You are doing your job. She loves you fiercely and you love her fiercly in return.

Sending giant hugs your way.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

When my boy was barely two, we were walking hand-in-hand down our steep, sharp staircase when he leaned forward to yell at his sister and suddenly his hand slipped from mine and he fell down the entire staircase headfirst. He was knocked unconcious and landed with a limp thud at the bottom of the stairs, unmoving.
And was that the worst moment of my life? Oh yes. But he's okay now. So I can truly, truly relate to exactly how you're feeling. Bad things DO happen and they can sometimes be prevented - but sometimes, they JUST happen. Toddlers hurt themselves while they're figuring out their limits - they always do.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God I hate that feeling. Deep down in your gut. That feeling of puke, vomit, fear and bile rising up into the air...because of the silence....

So glad you are ALL okay.

7:01 AM  
Blogger The Domesticator said...

It has happened to the best of us, Catherine. My son has had several trips to the ER and all his accidents happened while I was an arms length away. Knowing they will get hurt is part of being a Mom, but when it happens, all that "I know this is part of motherhood" talk goes right out the perverbial window!
Glad she is Ok....(You, too) *HUG*

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She does make you earn your keep, eh?

I'm so glad she is okay. I worry more about you. When Q broke all those bones last year -- she was fine... it was me that was a bit scarred.

Okay. A LOT.

7:54 AM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

my heart is pounding for you.
thank goodness she is ok - it will probably take you longer to 'heal,' but of course, we'd trade a million years of feeling horrible for the well-being of our children.

it happens to us all.
sooner or later, it happens to us all.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

My greatest fear is of accidents - because there is nothing more intolerable than that urge to grab those seconds back, to change any of the tiny variables that would have led to a different ending. The only way we make it from day to day is that we grow a thick skin over the part of us that is aware of how many things can go wrong, and how quickly. You've had that skin ripped off this weekend, and it will take some time for it to grow back.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Mouse said...

Very scary, glad she's OK.

I remember using the belt in a cart one time and Scooter managed to flip himself over the back of the seat. The belt held, but it twisted him around.

And he still believes that if we're holding him and he throws himself around, we won't drop him. Which is less of a likelihood as he gains mass.

8:44 AM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

This post took me spiraling right back to when Julia punctured her head on an antique auto harp when she was a baby, and how the blood just gushed from her head and seeped into her white-as-snow shirt...and when Oliver fell and smashed his mouth on the legs of our computer chair and chipped his front tooth something awful...and in both of those instances there was that awful moment of silence, where it's plain to see that the pain and confusion is flooding your child and you can't stop it.

So glad that WB is okay, and that you are too, though somewhat rattled.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

So sorry all of you had to go through that. As a parent, I know that heart stopping and deafening silence, things happen no matter what we do. The guilt, self recrimination, replaying the scenario, the "what ifs", can drive you crazy, just hold WonderBaby close and breathe.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Oh that silence. I can't even tell you how much I fear that silence. All THREE of mine have fallen from the top of our stairs to the bottom, head over heels, but thank goodness there was always loud cries at the bottom of the stair case. I'm so sorry you had to age so much this weekend.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scary, scary stuff. There is nothing more frightening than that silence. When Amanda from Mandajuice was featured on Mommy Bloggers this past week, I cried AGAIN (like I had the first time) rereading the story of when she had trouble waking her daughter from a deep sleep. It's the nightmare we can't escape as long as we are parents.

I am glad WonderBaby is OK, though. And that you mostly are. ((hugs))

9:18 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

you poor thing! i also had the changing matt experience when Jack was about 5 months. And then the ER when he was 18 months. A fall down teh stairs, an that silence just brings your heart to your mouth. And then yesterday, with Sam, is was coughing and coughing and I suddenly panicked that he was struggling to breathe and I just went cold. (he was fine).

yes. i've been torturing myself with images of them hurt..or much worse lately.

i think it's because i'm happy. i am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, how scary! I am glad that she's doing okay now! I wish that toddlers came equipped with wings, sometimes ...

9:58 AM  
Blogger NotSoSage said...

I'm so glad that Wonderbaby is okay. Oh, god, this is so evocative of exactly the way you feel when anything like this happens. It's so incredibly scary...

I am taking Mme L to the dentist tomorrow because she fell hard enough a few weeks ago to kill one of her teeth. I mean to post about it tomorrow once we know what's happening, but she might have to have the tooth pulled.

Now that I know she's not hurt, I'm worried about what she will endure (I know, it could be worse) going without a front tooth for the next four or five years and I am reliving the moment over and over and over again.

Motherguilt. That monkey's never gonna get off my back.

10:05 AM  
Blogger S said...

When Jack was just under one, we traveled to La Jolla, CA, courtesy of a funding agency that had awarded my husband a stipend, and we stayed in a really lovely, fancy hotel, too fancy for the likes of us. Ben was happily splashing in the hotel pool , and Jack was poolside, right next to me and my husband, and then he was not. And then I found Jack, and he was under the water on his back, looking up at me with contentment and trust. I jumped in the pool with my clothes on, while California ladies sunning themselves looked distastefully on at the scene. No one offered to help. Jack was fine, of course, but sometimes when I close my eyes at night I see him through the water staring so calmly at me, and I want to scream. It will never go away, this memory. I doubt your moment will leave you, either. I am sorry.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Miguelita said...

Oh my. I am happy WB is fine and I am feeling your fears and pangs of guilt.
As another commenter said, the times when my children have
hurt themselves enough to draw blood, I was always at arms length. I still get cold sweats thinking about what COULD have happened, and then I have to keep saying "but it DIDNT." and for that we are very grateful.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Oh I feel for you! My husband and I were just talking about this kind of thing as our tot gets more adventurous. We are dreading the first trip to the ER.

So glad your little one is ok.

p.s the exact thing happened to friends of mine

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I call that the "breathe, baby" moment. Those terrifying seconds of silence where the mouth is open, but no sound is coming out. Where you fear no sound will ever come out again.

It's terrible. It's awful. And, sadly, it's life as a parent. The truth of it is, you are going to be tested many, many times. And you are going to fail, many, many times. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes spectacularly. But, you're also going to succeed. You're going to conquer your fears and allow WonderBaby to continue to explore and define her known universe, because that's the true test, and the only one you really need to pass: The smother test.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Nichole said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through all that torment. We've had our fair share of bumps and scrapes, and even a changing table incident. All are equally horrifying and scary, but I cannot imagine the terror you must've felt.

My heart is with you, and I'm so glad that WonderBaby is okay.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

The depths of the pain and joy that go hand in hand with being a parent never cease to amaze me. Sometimes I find it hard to imagine that after the toll of loving and worrying I'll have anything left 20 years from now. That said, the exhaustion and euphoria I experience from the privilege of being a mom are two things I wouldn't trade for all the king's gold. Thank you for so beautifully sharing your story.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, that silence. When Nemo fell out of my arms out of our bed when I fell asleep while nursing the SECOND night we were home from the hospital, he landed on his head and just let out a tiny squawk, and then he was silent. DH and I were so so so terrified that he wouldn't scream again. Obviously, he's fine now and none the worse for wear, but just reading your post made my heart pound in my throat once again, and made the feelings of guilt flare up again. I don't know if it ever goes away - it just becomes somewhat easier to bear, I think.

So so glad WB is just fine and dandy.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

My lovely pediatrician always tells me if they are screaming they are breathing. It's that silence that is soooo scary!

Kudos for Wonderbaby for bouncing back (sorry, couldn't resist) and for you and dad for hanging in there.

It doesn't get easier as they grow. The falls just get longer. (As I type this I eye the forty foot tree my kids like to shimmy up.)

Hang in there, chicky. Love that pic!

12:08 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Oh the silence, the absolutely nauseating and dreaded silence IS the worst. And the feeling of why did I do it that way and not this way, all the second guessing that comes with parenting. It's all so horrible. Is it the price we must pay in order to enjoy the times that make our heart almost burst with pride and joy? I guess it must be because that's the only way I can handle it.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how you told this story, the words you chose, it kept me hanging on til the end, holding my breath. As you were, waiting for that silence to be broken.

When Kaitlyn was just a few months old, I set her down in the carseat on the kitchen table to fix her a bottle, only I didn't fasten the carseat harness, because it was only going to be a second. While my back was turned, she leaned forward in the seat and flipped right out of it and landed on her stomach on the kitchen floor. I heard the SMACK of her body hitting the floor and my heart stopped. How could I have been so irresponsible? What the hell was I thinking? Etc. Etc.

Hugs to you, and WonderBaby. You are NOT a bad mother, despite what your blog title says ;p

1:16 PM  
Blogger MsPrufrock said...

I am a natural worrier, so of course this is one aspect of parenthood which scares me to death. Even at just 7 months, I have already managed to smack P.'s head on the car door, and drop a ceramic mug on her head from the countertop above. I dread to think what the next 18 years will bring.

I'm pleased to hear WB made a quick recovery and that you did too from the shock.

1:25 PM  
Blogger OhTheJoys said...

Oh, can I relate. Rooster has had stitches in her forhead, a staple (STAPLE!!!) in her head and now has gashed her lip open with her teeth. She has (willingly jumped) off the changing table and she just plain WIPES OUT every single day. What am I doing wrong?!

The Mayor on the other had, seeing an oportune moment last night when Rooster spilled an adult sized drink on the floor - ice skittering everywhere - left the restaurant. I mean, the kid (who is only 2 and a half) snuck away and went OUTSIDE. Out. the. door.

Mary Mother of GOD!!!

1:27 PM  
Blogger The Estrogen Files said...

Whew. Those breathless moments are the WORST part. Whether they come from falls and scrapes or just plain outgrowing our expectations, there will be more and more.

I'm so glad that Wonderbaby is okay. I have no good advice, just the reassurance that I've been there 4 x over.

1:37 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Oh god. That second you speak of... I know it well. Too well. Because MF is also a climber, an explorer, and has had more than his share of tumbles, bumps and thumps. I think my heart stopped when he tumbled down the bottom half dozen stairs once and I dove to catch him; and the next time when I wasn't quite fast enough and only could watch in horror as he landed at the bottom.

My conclusion:
active toddler = scared parents
there's just no way around it.

I'm really glad WonderBaby is ok. And have that drink. For all of us.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Had that drink. Brandy. Big freaking tumbler full.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

My heart was in my mouth as I read this. Had that moment sometime around 4 months. You know how they say to never leave them unattended when they are starting to learn how to roll over? Yeah, I did that. The Boy fell off the bed. We had the silence and then the scream. Glad to hear that WB is okay, and I hope you guys are okay soon.

Whoever said this was hard wasn't being descriptive enough.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hope all you guys are feeling much better today!

2:38 PM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

My God. I am so sorry, and so glad that she's OK.

Also, how cool is Suebob!?

2:43 PM  
Blogger Betsy Mae said...

Judging by all the comments to this post, I guess most of us have felt the same way before. It is such a horrible feeling, but at least your ending is good one.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Mayberry, Suebob is indeed fantastically cool and I will be singing that Tigger song to the husband tonight, repeatedly, after I've had another few brandy.

WonderBaby, on the other hand, does not need to hear it, because it might give her ideas. Springs and rubber, yikes.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Occidental Girl said...

Yikes, I know. When my daughter climbed and fell out of her crib at 18 months old, and I found her on the floor sleeping but thought she was...oh, an awful moment.

The nurse on call said her son fell out of a shopping cart and hit his head on the concrete, and was fine. You never lose that sense of culpability. She is a nurse, and felt like she should've known better.

The guilt of motherhood is tremendous!

But it's allright. Thankfully. Let's be a bit easier on ourselves, keep vigilant, but be gentle.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My second child has adjusted my heart rate to what I call "the new normal." I'm neither constantly panicking nor assuming things will be fine. My oldest was/is more naturally cautious and introspective, though being a mom for the first time kept my worry level high enough. My second child has taught me to have emergency preparedness and trust go hand in hand. I have to trust that he will be okay as he climbs the world and accept he'll get hurt; it's my new normal. He's almost three - I'm almost used to it. I've learned to enjoy this part of him, so part of my rapid heartbeat is pride in his accomplishments as he seeks to master these skills; his adorable self is so proud when he jumps out of the bathtub, I don't love it, but it's hard not to treasure the emotion he is having; of course it took me a long time to recognize that he had his own feelings about, I was so overwhelmed by my own feelings (namely, in God's name why we are jumping out of the tub?)

Happy for you today, that your girl is well and happy- hoping you and her bad father reach a place of peace and sleep tonight.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Southern jezeBelle said...

I was an only child until I was 12 and then the built in babysitter for my brother. My parents worked evenings and nights in the hospital and as I was bathing him and getting him ready for bed one evening he took an unfortunate dive from the counter to the floor. Ouch! I cried, he cried! I called 911 because I thought sure he would die and I wouldn't have a baby brother. He didn't even get a knot, but I was badly bruised.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my Robbie got old enough to fling himself off of the bed (and, thankfully, come up screaming), my very practical mother sent me a gift: two red washcloths. One for upstairs and one for downstairs, she explained, so that when he inevitably needed stitches I had something to soak up the blood with. The idea is that nobody can see the blood on a red cloth (and therefore, there would be no freaking out!), and I wouldn't ruin my nice towels.

This practical approach meant a lot to me at the time, since I was also going through that OMG HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN crisis, too. It was somewhat reassuring to me for her to send something like this that told me that this stuff was bound ho happen. The best way to deal with it is to know it was going to happen, stay calm, and take care of the situation without ruining the guest towels. :)

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh HBM... my heart goes out to you. Try not to beat yourself up. I'm starting to think that all children up to the age of 10 contain a certain percentage of rubber.

I hope that this is a slightly less heart-racing week for you, after the weekend you've had.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Baby in the City said...

Like we've discussed many times, having a baby opens you up to a whole new world of hurt. The worry parents feel for their kids is like no other emotion, no other experience really. I'm glad WB is OK, although I'm not surprised, she is invincible, that girl. You and Bad Husband however are not - watch out, that little one could very well kill you.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Baby in the City said...

Emily's mother's red washcloth idea is brilliant!!

4:37 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

No, it never stops, does it. From those first moments in the car with her, my husband sure that every driver was out to crash into us now that we had a baby along, to the kids running and jumping and crashing to every other thing - cars, boys, sex, drugs... (My mom, when I'd go out as a teen, used to tell me to have a good time and protect myself from AIDS.)

4:54 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Thank goodness she is OK. And it's true - that silence after the thump is the longest period of time in a parent's life.

When Cordy backflipped off the couch this past summer, landing on her head at a weird angle, that silence seemed to last forever. And when she wouldn't move after that, I was convinced that my split second of negligence would result in a wheelchair bound child. But toddlers are tough little things, and she was fine.

Try not to dwell on it. The image in your mind of her falling to the floor will probably be with you for a long time, and it's more than enough punishment. Sadly, parents are human - we can't be there for everything, even though we try.

5:42 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

I am often amazed at the physical abilities of my children. No. That is an understatement. I am always in awe of the physicality of my children.

Over and above the terror of their errors in developing strength their very inclination -- their drive for the physical bewilders me. It is something lost from my own childhood; if it ever was there.

I try hard to enjoy it but I am too much a nerd. It is fantastic. WB is a wonderful example.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

So glad she's okay. Does me telling you not to beat yourself up about it help? You really shouldn't - she's a wiley kid and it can happen in a blink of an eye. If it's any consolation I climbed a stone and concrete fireplace when I was a year old and (surprise, surprise) beaned my head pretty badly. Our family Dr. wasn't in that day and they did a through look over of me thinking I'd been abused (my poor mum!). I turned out (mostly) ok.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Mommy-Like Days said...

You can see how we've all done this, right? Somehow "let" (ie witnessed) our babies' falls. I remember when I thought I was the only one who had forgotten to buckle my baby into the car seat before taking off--good to be in community on these issues. Everyone's forgotten to strap in the children sometime, and we've all endured falls. I'm reliving the worst of my daughter's now, and even though we're well past the 48hr "keep an eye on her" window, like by 6 months, I still feel it.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god, yes.

I'm so glad that WB is okay. I know the panic and the guilt, and like you, when those accidents happen, I blame myself for growing blase.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Robbin said...

When my son was nine months old he threw himself out of a shopping cart onto the linoleum floor of a sporting goods store, and narrowly missed landing on his head. I thought my heart had stopped. He was fine, but I shook for two hours afterward.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oy vey my dear - you had me freaking out just reading about it so I can only imagine what you both must have felt. We've had a little blood and many goose eggs in our nine months and I fear, and yet I know, there is worse to come.

9:41 PM  
Blogger flutter said...

Sounds like SHE could use some booze! Calm down, kid!
Poor thing (you). I am glad your little heartattack is ok. She sure is cute

10:15 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

I'm so glad everything is OK. I reminds me of the moment when R. was a toddler and another mother assured me that frozen mini bagels wre the SAFEST teething treat, because toddlers could not bite off a piece and choke. That is, except for R. Who did. And did start to choke and turn blue and the scenario flashed through my head that I would have to call D. and tell him that I had allowed our perfect one year old to choke to death on a bite of a frozen bagel. Thank God I managed a semblance of the baby Heimlich and all is well ... but you're right, that moment, that silence -- the most horrific in the world.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Oh my Christ, that's scary. But there is no way, NO way, that a parent can keep their eyes on their child every second of every day.

Give Wonderbaby a kiss and know that you're a good mom, no matter what she throws herself off of.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be WAY to scared to try to have a drink for fear that if sober such a thing happened, wtf might happen if I caught a buzz?

I managed to make it through my now 14 yr old's toddlerhood with only one blood leak. She hit the corner of a table with her brow and it bleed a lot! As I was cradling her, the blood ran in her ear and my mom freaked me out royally for a second trying to tell me she was bleeding from her ear.

She broke an arm 2 summers in row once she was older though. Her 11th and 12th summers. Unsupervised... on her bike.

I am somewhat less paranoid with my 5 month old then I was with my first but other things freak me out. Yesterday, laying on the bed getting a clean diaper, he somehow got his baby nail clippers that I just used and layed way over to the side in his hand and they went straight to his mouth...

Choking is my biggest fear!!!! He may have actually dropped them in the direction of his open mouth as I yelled "aahhhhh", but I swatted and they flew across the room and safely out of his reach. Coulda been a freak disaster.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

For some reason Blogger always eats my comments when I try to comment here.
But, according to my mom, this is exactly what I was like when I was a baby/toddler. I was always hurting myself, climbing, etc. But, I made it through (and now I have a toddler who is much like this.)
But, here's the thing.
I put my son in gymnastics. It sounds silly, but they are teaching him how to fall safely. It's amazing because they teach them just ways of falling safely. I've noticed a big difference - less bruises, etc. He's still really risky, but I'm beginning to feel like he's a little safer. Maybe something to try in the theme of if you can't beat em, join em.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Michelle Fluttering Butterflies said...

Oh my god, my heart stopped beating just reading about it!

7:11 AM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Bossy can relate - those moments are more effective than a defibrillator.

7:33 AM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Bossy can relate - those moments are more effective than a defibrillator.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a Wonder Baby. My parent's drank. It gets worse. We used to jump out of the second story window of our house. Yet we all survived. But oh, I know what you mean about wanting to turn the clock back and get a do over. It's horrible. Parent's make mistakes. It's the other parents that don't let you forget.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

The silence is the worst. I would take ear-piercing screams any day.

We had two trips to ER in January (fractured foot and hand) and each time I felt the unspoken scrutiny.

What kind of parent lets this happen twice?! (For the record, she was holding her Dad's hand when her foot was fractured and sister dropped a very heavy not child-friendly toy box lid on her hand a week later.)

Both of my girls are the daredevil types and coupled with the clutziness they have inherited, it is a heart-stopping combination.

I'm with you, just how many near misses are we allowed? My oldest is six and I still have not figured this out, or figured out how to calm my heart.

My best guess is we are in it for the long haul. Once on the parental duty I am guessing there aren't many changes in the guard.

Glad WB is fine...hope Mom is too in a day or so.

9:32 AM  
Blogger megachick said...

backwards off a picnic table bench onto asphalt. lump on the back of her head. silence. terror. diagnosis: concussion. 2 1/2 years old. GUILT.
prognosis: 5 years old and doing fine.
the guilt's still there.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I'm so glad she is ok. My oldest used to do stuff like that, it's a miracle he never broke anything. I'm so glad that phase is over. Makes me wonder about the baby though! I'm sure as other women have written we all damage our kids in one way or the other. Mason has a scar on his face because I let him go to the pool with a chicken pox mark not healed or covered. So there is something you probably wouldn't have thought about and now you know!

10:03 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

My heart is totally pouding reading that story. My son fell off of our bed a few months ago, and it bothered me for days. He's not a daredevil-type, just happened to be napping on our bed because he wouldn't sleep in his crib, and I didn't keep a better ear out to listen for when he woke up. It's the worst feeling. But it's like what you said about the silence. The silence is worse than the cries. He, thankfully, burst out crying as soon as I heard the "thud" of his land from downstairs, so in the back of my mnid, even though I was totally freaking out, I knew he was OK.

Sorry to hear she took such a bad fall. Hang in there. On a lighter note, I hope she pursues a spot on the Olympic team for gymnastics because clearly she has no fear for mid-air acrobatics.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the horrid silent moment when time stands still and all illusions of control, of sheltering our children from harm, of keeping them safe disappear.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

I'm glad WB is ok.

I can't add much more than has already been said. You are not a bad mother. It happens, most often I think to the very best of us.

I fell out of the cart - on my head - as a toddler. My mom still retells the story and still says it was the scariest of all of her mothering times. And then she jokes that it explains a lot. So look on the bright side, someday you might be able to look back and laugh at this with WB like my mom does. ;)

12:32 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

oh, sweet sweet sweetheart.

no feel bad. please.

1:10 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Oh, god, how scary. It does happen, you're right. Pumpkinpie has been significantly banged a couple of times, my sister broke her collarbone, as did misterpie and his sister. But it's scary.

To be honest, though, I've heard some pediatricians say they are almost more worried about kids who have no bangs and scrapes, because they probably aren't getting enough exercise. It's the peril of having not-fully-developed motor skills!

Hope the poor little lumpy-headed thing is doing okay... kisses to WonderBaby (and hugs to you!)

3:07 PM  
Blogger Namito said...

Oh hug. big hug.

The silence is totally terrifying.

I think I have two opposing wishes, that at some point my heart will not stop, and that I will never get to the point where it doesn't.

Which leaves me back where I started, with my heart in my mouth.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't usually comment, I just read. I have to comment on this. My son [Big Head Ed] and I tripped over the dog coming down the stairs one morning when he was only 4 months old. We hit the bookcase at the bottom, well HIS head hit the shelf! I was so SCARED! The silence is deafening! Then he screamed and cryed and I cryed! Then a trip to the emergency room where they treat you like abusers and check for all kinds of things! It was the worst day of our lives! Big Head Ed is now two and a half and OH-SO-SMART!! He can count to 25 frontwards and backwards!
By the way, Wonderbaby is beautiful!!!

8:43 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

Holy B'jesus. I'm so sorry. What a scare! OY. Great big hugs! xoxo

9:00 PM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

Prima did the same exact thing at about the same exact age.

I remember it now as me standing across the store watching her fall forward and land face first, but in realisty, I was right there within grabbin distance.

Yes, that moment of silence was the worst.

I called my ped who asked a bunch of questions (did she pass out, was she throwing up now, etc.) and they determined that I should bring her into the office not because they thought she was hurt, but because they were worried about me being a wreck.

But yes...to this day it takes everything in me to not take parents aside in the grocery store and say, "Please don't let your child stand in the cart." As if by doing so, I could undo the moment when my child fell.

Thank goodness she was no worse for the wear.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

And that's why you call her Wonder Baby.

Yow, that must have been terrifying. My little brother (10 years younger) fell out of a shopping cart as a baby and hit his head. He was OK, but my stepmom couldn't get over it....

3:05 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

And that is why my friends laugh at me and call me "over-cautious" and "freaky".
Your experience, and thousands of others like it scare the holy crap out of me!
Thank god Wonderbaby is fine. Hugs.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

I hope you will still be writing this blog when she climbs Mount Everest.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Mamalang said...

Okay, I can tell from the large number of responses that you've had your it's okay moment. But I have to share. My son is a lot like WB...he climbs, he jumps, he has no fear whatsoever of anything. WHen he was about wonderbaby's age...he fell out of the cart at Target. And that silence...I was right there as well, but had turned my head for 2 seconds to find the other child...and BAM! Reading your post brought it all back. I still can't be at Target and not remember and feel that little knot forming in my stomach. That was 3 years ago, and I still worry about what damage he may have caused. Seriously, how do they bounce like that?

10:41 AM  
Blogger Mamacita Tina said...

So so I know you have like a million comments on this already, but I just have to add my own.

My heart started racing as I read about what your family went through. How horrible!

Parents, most of us anyway, do the best we can, and yes, our eyes will stray for a moment. That's when our world can fall apart.

I hate to admit it, but I've forgotten to buckle up my two year old in the car twice. TWICE! You'd think I would have learned my lesson after the first time. Thankfully, no accident to cause him harm. But I might have had a heart attack glancing back and seeing him lean forward enough to slide out of his car seat.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

You probably don't need any more reassurance and I'm late getting here.

You're right; the silence is the absolute worst. We've had more than one of those and I can remember the heart stopping terror and the seconds that seemed endless.

These things happen. They've happened to me and to millions more like you and me. You could have been looking right at her and it still might have happened.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Audrey said...

Hi, I just found your blog and happened upon this entry. No matter what you do, your kids get hurt because of the nature of childhood. They are exploring, they are testing their limits. Somehow I have been able to dodge the emergency room bullet but I have had my moments. Like when my daughter was 14 months old, walking and fell, bit her lip, and was COVERED in blood. So bloody she had to take a bath. The doctor had us give her ice cream, and we did not end up going to the ER but she has a little scar to this day on her lip.

You are not a bad mother, not a bad parent, you are human and shit happens sometimes, even when you are doing everything you are supposed to.

4:25 PM  

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