I never thought it would happen to me. I knew better. I was careful. I’d NEVER let that happen.
And then it happened.
I had my hand on my son. I turned to put the diaper in the diaper pail. In the blink of an eye, he flipped out of my grasp and hit the floor.
It was the loudest noise I’ve ever heard.
“SHIT!” I exclaimed.
My Charles began screaming and I fell to the floor to pick him up.
I had never heard this cry before.
I held him in my arms, terrified.
My husband rushed into the room. He didn’t say a word, and neither did I.
I stood up and began walking with Charles, my head spinning. I didn’t know if he was hurt. All I knew was that I had never heard that cry before. I thought I’ll offer him the rest of his bottle and see if that calms him down. Then maybe we’ll know if he’s injured or just upset.
Charles sucked the rest of the bottle down. I stood still, holding my breath. Then he started screaming again.
Maybe if I walk with him outside it’ll distract him and he’ll calm down.
I began walking down the street, his screams growing louder and louder as they echoed throughout the neighborhood.
I was halfway to my aunt’s house when I decided to have her check him out. She’s a nurse practitioner and I thought heck, it can’t hurt. She checked for any obvious injuries and found none. We left her house and began walking back to mine.
As we walked, I sobbed, “I can’t believe it. I’m one of those f***ing moms who let her kid fall off the f***ing changing table.” I had sworn that would never be me.
As we approached my house, my aunt recommended we take Charles to the nearby Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Emergency Room. She speculated that since he was inconsolable, there was probably something wrong other than a bump on the head.
We entered my house and I told my husband that Charles needed to go to the ER. My aunt stayed with our daughter, and Jeremy and I headed out.
On the way, Charles kept dozing off (he was way past his naptime) but all I could remember was being told, “if your kid hits their head, you need to keep them up for at least 2 hours.” So I kept nudging Charles to keep him awake. Every time I did, he began wailing again. It was awful.
We got to the hospital, got checked in, went into triage, and were taken to a room. We were asked at least 5 times in our visit what happened. Over and over I had to repeat my answer to their questions, “He fell off the changing table…about 3 feet…hard wood floor…he cried right away…he didn’t vomit…”
I felt awful, but also relieved to know what the problem was. They wrapped him up, immobilizing his arm to reduce pain.
By this point, I had finally let go of (most of) the guilt and could fully focus on caring for my son. Now, looking back at it, I was making it all about me. Me me me. I’m a bad mom. I can’t believe I let this happen. I am a despicable human being.
The doctor then asked us to feed Charles. As long as he kept it down, they would discharge us.
The nurse brought Charles an adorably soft and snuggly frog. Charles had calmed down and was now, of course, all smiles. He grinned at everyone that came in the room. They all commented on how adorable he was.
As Jeremy and I drove home, Charles smiled at me and then dozed off.
Will he harbor ill feelings towards me?
Will he know that I love him unconditionally?
The whirlwind that was those 4 hours (sure seemed longer than that!) made me extremely thankful. Thankful for family. Thankful for excellent medical personnel and technology. Thankful for my husband, who forgave me much more quickly than I forgave myself. Thankful to God.
I can still hear the sound of my child hitting the floor. The screams that followed. I’ll never forget it.
I know this is just the beginning. I’m sure there will be many accidents/injuries I will blame myself for. But if I learned anything from this experience, it’s this:
We’re human. Life happens. To all of us. We make mistakes. Things go wrong despite our best intentions.
We can’t spend our lives blaming ourselves for everything bad that happens to our kids.
Blaming ourselves goes hand-in-hand with self-pity. Neither is healthy. Neither is productive.
We have to let it go.
What was a time when you blamed yourself for something that happened to your child? Have you forgiven yourself? Share your experience in the comment section below.