Friday, April 1, 2016

The Best Time I Took My Baby to the Emergency Room

This is still a little too raw for me to really want to talk about it, but I got a bit of a guilt-nudge from yesterday’s post on criminalizing bad mothers.

All parents do something stupid at some point, and most of us get away with it. That’s the truth. Usually, it’s not doing meth while you’re pregnant, or putting your baby on top of a bear in Yellowstone so you can film it. But it’s something, and you usually get away with it. And if you get away with it, it’s a funny story, and you’ll eventually laugh about it with other parents. If you don’t get away with it, people will make themselves feel better about their own mistakes by pillorying you. But there’s no difference between people who do something stupid and get away with it, and people who don’t get away with it. It’s luck. Don’t kid yourself.

Me? I was making dinner, and I had my baby in a wide-based baby chair (not a Bumbo, for the record), on the kitchen island. Stable, wide-based. Not near the edge. I shouldn’t have done it. It’s on the packaging. Don’t do it. I was singing the Eagles’ “Take it Easy” to her, and I was chopping peppers, and then I heard a noise, and I looked up, and there was nothing on the island. She had somehow launched herself and the entire chair backwards off the four-foot-high island.

I wanted to kill myself. I remember thinking, very clearly, that if she died, I would have to kill myself. It was the worst moment of my life. I was filled with self-loathing, she was screaming, the chair partially broke her fall, but she obviously hit her head on the tile floor.

So I called 911. And the first thing they ask for is your address, and I started into this whole “I don’t even know if I should be calling, but my baby fell and hit her head” thing, and the very nice dispatcher just said “I know, I know, what’s your address?” And the paramedics were there in about ten minutes. And they were, again, very nice, and each of them, because it’s Utah, was about thirty years old and had six children, and six individual stories about how they almost killed their child, but didn’t, and it was okay. “I was holding my baby while drinking coffee, and dumped it on her leg.” “My baby reached out and touched the glass front of our gas fireplace and burned herself really badly.” “My daughter was tossing the baby in a blanket on the driveway and dropped him.” It was so kind. They told me she was beautiful, and that her vital signs were good, and that babies fall all the time, and that I in no way needed to kill myself.

by Nicole Cliff, Hairpin |  Read more:
Image: uncredited