When She Hurts, I…Almost Faint
So, my 20-month-old REALLY likes to balance on the arm of the sofa. She sits her tiny butt on it, and sways from side-to-side while daring me to make her get down. Inevitably, I tell her to “stop”, she tells me “no”, and then I stand up, pick her up and put her back down on the proper part of the couch. That is until last week.
Ellie was doing her normal routine of using the arm of the sofa as a balance test and when I told her to get down and she shouted, “NO!” I stood up to stop her from hurting herself, but instead caused her to spaz out and try to prevent me from winning this battle, and in doing so – she fell off the couch and landed on her face. On the wood floor.
It was not pretty. She immediately started crying, which I know is a good sign when little kids hit their head, and I scooped her up and tried to get her to breath because it was one of those cries where she holds her breath and her lips turn purple. As I pulled her little face away from my shoulder to see exactly where the point of impact was, I saw an ENORMOUS egg forming on her head. I literally watched it form in front of my eyes.
And then I get light-headed and woozy.
I told myself, “Cara, this is a one-woman team, if you go down, everyone goes down.” So I did what any logical person in my position would do, I video-called my mother (registered nurse, worked in an emergency room for over a decade, and mother of four). I showed her the injury, explained how it happened and then decided that I wanted to move back in with my parents so my mom could be on boo-boo duty until Ellie goes away to college. She urged me to put an icepack on Ellie’s head, and by urged me, I mean she said, “Cara, you need to put ice on her head even if she cries. Get up and get an icepack and an ice cream cone to distract her.”
I followed nurse’s orders and as I put the ice on Ellie’s head she let out another yelp and I felt like I was going to throw-up because here is one of my biggest secrets – I am a total baby when it comes to someone else getting injured. Which is really a terrible thing if you are a mother.
I come from a family of nurses and I have absolutely no idea how they do what they do every day. In my defense I am okay if there is no outward sign injury. When my daughter started vomiting blood after a very bad stomach virus, I kept it together just fine and got her to the emergency room with both of us intact. And although I hate being in pain, I can keep it together when I am – case in point - I did not lose my marbles during my c-section even though the epidural was not properly administered and I felt most of the surgery of the right side of my stomach.
But when someone I care about is hurt, the ground beneath me feels unsteady and I have trouble feeling my legs.
And my coping issues don’t end at the onset of injury. No, no…even after it was clear Ellie was just fine, I kept worrying that she had a brain bleed that I was not able to detect yet. (I work in news, my mind ALWAYS goes to the worst case scenario). So I had Ellie sleep with me that night, and I fell asleep with my hand on her chest so that I could feel that she was still breathing. As I watched her little sleeping bruised face, I thought to myself, “I never want to be any further away from her than I am right now. I want to make sure I can keep her safe and sound forever.”
And then at about 3am, when she had kicked me in the face for the 15th time, I decided her typical behavior was a clear indication of a normally functioning brain and I put her back in her own bed so that I could get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Motherhood has such a wild range of emotions – doesn’t it?