Tonight my baby had her first real accident. We were at Kohl’s shopping and Annabel was starting to get tired. She was stumbling a little bit like babies do and Derek and I were laughing at her. Suddenly, she tripped and fell face first onto the leg of a clothing rack, right on the corner and busted her head.
I know when Derek reads this post he will make fun of me and say I’m being overly dramatic, and say something like “Wow, I didn’t realize she was dying.” But he was so cool and calm about it, while I reacted in a way that was completely new for me. Looking at it from a clinical standpoint, all I can think is that I went into a state of shock. Most of you who know me know that I am not a histrionic or dramatic person, in fact I often err to the side of being too laid back in my parenting style. But this was different.
I picked her up from the floor and what I remember from there is bits and pieces, What I remember most is all the blood. Staring at it as it ran down and covered my beautiful daughter’s face, making her look grotesque and unrecognizable; just staring at the blood pooling in my hands and dripping to the floor, and her screaming. Derek ran to get paper towel, and I remember it seemed like he was gone for hours; I felt so helpless and unsure.
Then Derek was there and I shoved her at him, saying “Take her, I can’t…” From the floor we made it to an elevator, then a bathroom. I remember staring into a sink as I washed my hands, watching the blood come off my hands in clots and strings, trying to get it off faster, “get it off!”
Derek: “Take her into the bathroom and clean her up”
Me: “I don’t know what to do.”
Derek: “Take her in the bathroom and clean her up.”
Me: I don’t know what to do! You have to come in there with me.”
Another woman, a stranger: “Come on, I’ll help you.”
(At this point I’m sure Derek wanted to shake me and say “Get ahold of yourself, woman!”)
Then I was watching as a stranger seemingly in slow motion took off my baby’s blood-soaked shirt, washed each of her tiny hands, gently cleaned off her chin, her mouth and nose, then her forehead, ears and hair. At this point maybe I came back as I started to recognize her again. I did what I should have done all along: I scooped her up, held her to me and comforted her. Only at this point did her pitiful sobs stop and she began to calm down.
It turned out all she had was a tiny little gash in her forehead, more of a puncture wound really, and a nosebleed. But it sure was a gusher! We didn’t take her to the ER, but I’ll call the doctor in the morning to see if she needs a stitch or two. We’ve also been keeping an eye on her for concussion. It was just such a surreal experience for me and it gave me the tiniest insight into what a trauma victim must go through. Now, I’m not saying that this in any way compares to the trauma of rape, assault, abuse, war, terrorism or witnessing a violent crime. No way. All I’m saying is that through this experience I’ll gain empathy for those that have experience these things.
The funny thing is that in church this morning I prayed for greater understanding and empathy for my clients. As an addendum to God I added “though not at the expense of my family…” (i.e. I don’t really want to know what it’s like to lose a spouse, or lose a child.) So, was this a coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Some would say there’s no such thing as coincidence.