November 18, 2014 by by far one of the most terrifying days of my life.
The morning was normal: my son woke me up, I went in to take him out of his crib, then went to the bathroom. I always let him run around my room a bit before I change him so I can pee without dancing, I always close the door to the bedroom before going to get him so he doesn’t wander off down the hallway, and I always end up accidentally kicking the cat as I’m getting out of bed because she insists on sleeping between my legs under the blankets. My son always chases her around the room trying to pet her…she always scratches at the door because I’ve trapped her – along with my son – in the bedroom while I finish waking.
Normally, I take literally 1.5 minutes to pee and wash my hands. I’ve timed it. I beat the 2 minutes on the microwave to cook a HotPocket, and the commercials while watching a show on Hulu. I was diagnosed with an over-active bladder about ten years ago – and pregnancy just made it worse. So I got used to peeing a lot – but that didn’t mean I needed to take forever.
Normally, as I’m washing my hands the cat starts to scratch, and Damian has brought me a diaper insert to tell me he’s ready for his new diaper. Normally, I’m out fast enough that he’s barely had time to do more than pull a few things out of his drawer in the master bathroom. Normally my son sleeps like a champ, and normally he sleeps until at least 9am.
This day wasn’t normal.
Since having my son, my period has been substantially heavier. I started wearing tampons to bed to prevent waking up in a movie murder crime scene. I’m very freaked out about this because of the cervix cancer I got at 21, so when I wake up during my period I am in the bathroom as fast as possible. My son had also been teething like crazy – he has two top molars growing in as well as at least one more tooth on the bottom. He’s 14 months old… This means he’s back to a traditional New Born sleeping pattern: waking every three to four hours because he’s in pain. This day, he’d woken up five times in the night, I was on the second and heaviest day of my period, and it was only 8am.
I can’t tell you if my sleep deprived brain forgot to close the door, or if I just didn’t close it all the way. I can’t tell you if my cat or my son pulled it open, or if was as open as though it didn’t exist. I can’t tell you if my son followed my cat down the hall, or if he just new he wanted to eat down stairs. But worst, and I mean worst of all, I can’t tell you how many stairs he fell down, if he hit the baby gate at the bottom and started to climb back up to me, or if he stopped himself a few stairs from the bottom.
What I heard while still in the bathroom…was thumping down the stairs, and a scream from the bottom.
I don’t know if I actually changed my tampon. I don’t know if I washed my hands, and I don’t know how I got him dressed. I remember flying out of the bathroom, down the hall and down the stairs. I remember holding my son like someone was trying to take him from me, and I remember asking Siri for signs of a concussion (thank you Apple). I remember calling my husband, I remember going to urgent care after breakfast “just to make sure”…and then I remember the emergency room when Urgent Care told me they didn’t look at babies younger than 3 with possible head injuries.
Now, I am terrified of hospitals. I mean TERRIFIED. I even told my mid-wife that unless my heart stopped, she was under no circumstances to take me to the hospital while in labor. I shook the entire time my brother was in the hospital with his heart, and wouldn’t even go visit my friend who just had a baby. So bringing my son to the ER (in my mind) meant it was really bad…
It wasn’t. But I didn’t feel safe with him until days…even weeks…later.
When I brought him in to the ER, it was two hours after he fell. I felt obligated to tell everyone every detail (“I was changing my tampon! I really don’t take that long!”) except that I might have forgotten to close the door. “I would have been here earlier, but Urgent Care made me wait, then leave!”, “I don’t see more bruises than this one on his head, but he got some road rash from the carpet…this WAS NOT there yesterday!”, “He’s never had a major accident…ever!”
As I got him undressed to put the dumb gown on him, I felt detached, internally terrified for reasons I couldn’t explain. No one looked at me condescendingly or even frowned at me the whole time I was there, but I clung to my son like he would break if I let go. I gave him his snack crackers because it was now way past lunch time for him, and when he was obviously still hungry I asked the nurse for some goldfish or something. “We don’t like to give them food in case they need emergency surgery.” I felt sick…what if now I prevented a possible life saving surgery because I was feeding my child?!
An hour after we were there, my husband and a dear friend showed up and I felt relieved…like I had character witnesses. My husband said I looked alarmingly calm, and the bile started to rise in my throat (did I seem like I didn’t care he fell?!).
When the doctor came in he did a full once over, told us to just be cautious tonight while he slept, even said the bump on the head was not bad…and then said the most comforting words I’ve ever heard: “He’s ok. You’re a great mom, and you guys are doing a great job.”
I kept composure until we got in the car, then I broke. I sobbed. It wasn’t just that he fell, it’s that Social Media is ruining us as a human race. I never believed it before. But the WHOLE time I was terrified…it was because I was sure someone from CPS would come take my son because of neglect, or some other untrue and offensive reason. In fact, that fear was what kept me from saying anything to anyone about it for weeks. I even cancelled date night four days later because of the fear that I would be seen as indifferent about him falling.
This sounds stupid, I know. But outside of the normal mom fears, these articles pop up of CPS taking a mother’s children (a 1 year old and new born twins) because she had an unassisted home birth, or a mother dealing with felony charges after leaving her (very comfortable and contented) 4 year old playing his computer game in the car.
I’m far from a Helicopter Mom…and even farther from a Bleach Mom, but the truth of the matter is, social media and the instant access into everyone else’s lives is causing this wave of paranoia, terror, uncertainty, and (frankly) stupidity that, like any good invention (the Atom Bomb for example), has all good intentions…with devastating effects. Moms have enough to worry about and fear (like that boys will try to kill themselves at least twice a week while growing up). Our children being taken away because of some asshole outsider that saw one nanosecond into our lives shouldn’t be added to that.