Friday, February 1st, 2013
I am sitting here typing with one foot elevated on a bag of frozen blueberries. My butt is resting on frozen corn kernels. Over my elbow is a wine sleeve, typically used to quickly cool down a bottle of vino. My elbow is now replacing wine. How sad. I am in pain. I fell.
But the bigger story is this: I fell while holding Emmett.
It happened yesterday afternoon. I was carrying him down our stairs. I always wear my indoor crocs around the house because my feet get cold; I hate to think of walking on dirt (cue the cleaning obsession) and most importantly, for traction. But yesterday I came in with both kids and just slipped my sneakers off, leaving my socks on.
I was on the fourth step up from our brick landing when my feet simply gave out from under me. Our floors were recently polished, so they must be extra slick. Emmett was in my right arm, against the banister. Fia was at the bottom. As I felt myself falling, I pulled him tight into the crux of my side, falling hard on my elbow (the one that was holding him) and on my tailbone. My left hand went out to the wall to try and slow the fall. Somehow my left foot got jumbled up in the mess too. In the three seconds or less this all happened, so much went through my mind. All about Emmett of course. The theme of thoughts: “Oh god, please don’t let him get hurt.”
When my mom was alive, I told her about an incident in Costa Rica when Fia was 18 months old. Phil and I were walking to the beach from our hotel. It was down a steep concrete road. It had rained the night before so it was slick. He was carrying Fia much like I was carrying Emmett yesterday. He slipped on the concrete, both of his hands went down and Fia rolled out of his arm, head first on the pavement. I was about 5 feet behind and screamed. So did Phil. “Oh my god, oh my god,” we both said. She instantly started crying, which was a relief. No one wants a quiet, still baby after that. Phil felt truly awful, horrible, terrible. We rushed her to the ER (have you ever been to a third world hospital with your kid?? Yikes. Though I must say, even with limited equipment and supplies, they were so kind) where they x-rayed her, observed her, and after 5 hours let us go. She was fine.
When my mother heard this story she said, “You wouldn’t have let go.” I was kind of defensive. What? Huh? Phil is the most loving, responsible Dad I know. She said simply, “I know he is, but trust me. Moms just don’t let go.”
Now who really knows? Phil did slide down on a slant and his arm was probably only 12 inches off the ground when she rolled hard onto the concrete. It’s not like he instantly dropped her from chest height down. And the same thing could have easily happened to me, or worse. But there is a theory out there among moms that our instincts kick in differently in this sort of scenario.
If an intruder came into our house, I know I’d run and hide (with the kids) whereas Phil would meet him head-on. It’s the protection-of-family instinct that men have versus the protection-of-baby instinct moms carry. Do you guys agree or am I talking out of my bruised bottom here?
Anyway, I am so relieved to say that besides being shook up, Emmett was totally fine. Before I got up to see if I could walk, I sat on the floor in a stunned state, holding him and calming Fia down too (she had been at the bottom of the stairs and clearly frightened). When Phil came home he insisted I go to the doctor. She only confirmed what I already knew: no broken bones and even if there were, nothing they can do about a toe and a tailbone. (Though you should see my butt bruise. It is the deepest purple I’ve ever seen. Pretty, except…well, not really.)
Thus, here I sit amid frozen fruits, vegetables and my beloved wine sleeve. I feel especially achy today; I think simply from the trauma of it all. Your body and your psyche take a hit. However, my spirits are still up. Probably because when a “what if it had been worse” scenario happens, you are so grateful for your lucky outcome. But it is a good reminder of how much things can change in just one second or just one step. And true or not with moms versus dads, I’m grateful for my instinct that held him close, protecting him from what could have been.