I think every parent can probably relate to this: since the day our sweet little bundle of joy exited my womb and entered this big bad world, I've been waiting for her to fall or be dropped. Not waiting as in "I can't WAIT for this to happen!", but waiting as in, "Am I going to drop her? What if I did? Would she be ok? Would they call Child Protective Services on me? What if she falls off the couch? What if I fall asleep ON the couch with her ON me, and we BOTH fall off the couch?"....and so on and so forth. The thing is, you KNOW when you bring home that sweet, precious new life that the poor thing is bound for the floor. You just don't know when, why, or how.
So you wait.
And then, one day it happens. And so, here is how it happened for us.
I was getting on the freeway, in rush hour, to drive home from work. I'm on the phone with my friend Meredyth, kvetching about health insurance costs (sure sign you're getting old....), when my other line rings. I pick it up, and hear my sweet husband and the baby crying in the background. I ask "Is she having a bad day?" (he picks her up at daycare on his way home). What I hear sounds something like, "Baby...crying...has a boo boo...don't know what to do." (Please pause here for a moment to appreciate the sweet mental image that is my 6'5", 280 pound husband saying "boo boo"....)
I stopped breathing. I swear I did. I had to register her cry. Was this a "My finger got pinched and I'm mad!" cry? Nope, not that. Maybe a "Daddy accidently scratched me." cry? No, way too manic for that.
This was it. This was THE cry. THE cry that I knew could only accompany either THE drop or THE fall.
"Honey, tell me what happened?" I say tentatively. I am not really wanting to know.
"She fell. She hit her head. She is crying (well, duh, love)."
"Ok," I say, trying my best to sound composed, "Call the pediatrician. Or go to the E.R. I am going to hang up while you make a phone call, and you are going to call me back and tell me where you end up taking her, ok?"
So, I switch back over to Meredyth, and the calm dissolves into a fit of sorts. You know the kind where the person on the other end of the line is vaguely aware that you are sputtering and choking, and yet NOT clear about whether this is a laugh or a cry.
"Mere, I need you to calm me down. I need you to calm me down so I can drive home." I say. Except, remember the sputter fit previously mentioned? So it comes out something like, "MERE! I *SOB* needchooto *SOB* medow *SOB*. Calmedow *SOB* so I drive ho *SOB*!"
Fortunately, Mere is a smart girl. So smart, that had her own dad not dropped HER on HER head, we're sure she'd have cured cancer by now. She decodes my sputter fit, and asks what happened. I tell her, and then promptly abandon her to switch back over when Darrick calls me back.
This time he wants to know what the Pediatrician's # is. Like I know while in the midst of panic. I tell him where to find it, and just then my phone beeps.....because my battery is almost dead. I order him to call me back as SOON as he knows what's going on.....
What feels like 45 minutes later, he calls back. He says she's stopped crying, and sputter fit girl becomes wild mom trapped in rush hour traffic while her baby NEEDS her miles and miles away. I order him to call the Dr or go to the E.R. I care not if she is in perfect health. I must have it in writing from someone with an M and D after their name. And then I ask: "By the way....what happened?"
"She was in her car seat. On the kitchen table. And she fell onto the floor."
Furious mental calculation: table (T) height is 2.5 feet, carseat (C) adds about.5 feet and the floor (F) is tile.
T + C + F = one hell of a lot of bad possibilities.
And one hell of a spastic mom.
He hangs up, under strict order to take her somewhere - ANYWHERE - where someone with a medical license can assure that she still has a future as a quantum physicist.
And then...it happens....my cell phone battery dies.
And now I am stuck in traffic on a Tuesday afternoon with my baby needing me at home with who know what kind of permanent injury and no cell phone.
I race as fast as one can race during rush hour in a mini van, and get home. The garage door goes up and...NO CAR!
I am now convinced that something horrible is wrong. My child will be disfigured!
I run inside (in pointy-toe heels, natch!), frantically plug my cell into the charger and try to call Darrick. My phone shuts off. I power it on and try to dial. It powers off. I freak out and yell at it, "You WILL work you motherf%cker!!!! I pay $80 a month precisely so you WILL WORK WHEN I MOTHERF%CKING NEED YOU TO!!!" And then, adult that I am, I stomp my feet and throw the phone down and run around the house like a madwoman, cursing my husband for not leaving a note.
And suddenly, I hear a beep.....the answering machine! Genius! He left me a message here since he knew my cell was dead. I take the stairs as fast as I can, press the button and curse the automated man who is too slowly giving me the message intro.....and....
It's not him. But it IS our Pediatrician's office asking if we took Luca to the E.R.
I sprint down the stairs and speed the 3/4 a mile to the E.R., and run in the door, like a mad woman. Like a movie, where the manic mother tears through the door screaming "Where is my BABY?!??!" Except, no scream because I see them right away. She's in the carseat, not facing me.....I brace myself for something, anything. Blood. A giant knot. A broken bone. A lethargic, depressed, limp baby.
I tear into triage, where they are, throw myself on the floor and peer in to see Luca....a purple bump on her forehead and a HUGE grin on her face.
Yes, friends, she was fine. 100% perfeclty fine (the picture below was supposed to be of her bruise and was taken the night she fell...see it by my thumb?). In fact, the only other time she cried all day was when they took her temperature.
Darrick was not as fine. He was sweaty like only a dad who just went through hell could be. And, funny enough, he was SO apologetic to me and SO concerned over whether I would forgive him that the nurse asked if he was babysitting or if he was the Dad.
So, it happened, and it was dramatic and scary and horrible. And yet.....a little part of me is relieved. Now I no longer have to worry when she'll have her first fall and just how hard she can hit salitillo tile and from what height and still be ok (the answers are pretty hard and about 3 feet).
Now I can move on to obsessing over when she will choke on her first penny.