by: Emma Aguirre

My daughter rolled off her changing mat, easily a three foot drop. She’s fine, not even a scratch, but I think I aged 10 years in 10 minutes.

It wasn’t like I laid her on the table and walked away. I know better. We had just been talking about how careful we were going to have to be because she is so mobile. She scoots and rolls across the living room in a blink of an eye. I simply turned the top half of my body to put the diaper in the diaper pail while I was changing her and in a split second she landed on the floor.

It was a horrible SPLAT face down onto our hardwoods. Like the noise a flip flop makes when you hit it hard on the floor. She was silent. I was silent. Time stood still and when I quickly regained my senses I grabbed her and she let out the most piercing scream I have ever heard. She was naked and cold and crying hysterically. All I could do was get her out of the nursery and into my room. Like that could change anything, maybe it comforted me more. She held on to me so tight, I could feel how afraid she was and after several minutes of loud, horrible screams, she quietened down enough for me to call the pediatrician’s office. The nurses were amazing. They explained that it happens more often than I would think and that 99% of the time the babies are just fine. They are so supple still. She went through some exercises to check her out over the phone and my daughter let me put a diaper on. She even giggled as I was feeling at her ribs to check if they were broken. I asked about the symptoms of concussion – vomiting, a change in the pupils, unusual fussiness. They put my mind at ease, albeit temporarily. I hung up and cried nearly as hard as she had done just minutes before.

I couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt. It still brings a funny feeling to my tummy when I remember how horrible I felt. How could I have been so careless? I’m with my baby 24/7. I am her primary caregiver and I know this child like the back of my hand. Rationally, I know accidents happen and it really was just a fluke. It could have happened to anyone who takes care of her; my husband, my mom, my mother-in-law…but why ME? I just felt so bad for her. She trusts me to take care of her, 100%, and I dropped the ball. Equally as gutwrentching was having to call my husband at work to tell him what had happened, once it was all over with and I was reassured she was ok. Thankfully, he kept the lecture to a minimum as there was nothing he could say that could make me feel any better or worse. Once I got passed all of that, I started to wonder about whether she really was ok. She let out two awful wails in the afternoon, randomly, which alarmed me. She also became really congested that afternoon. While the nurses did an excellent job of calming us down, I couldn’t help but wonder if her brain was secretly swelling, or if her nose was broken and she just couldn’t tell me. I became quite frantic and called the pediatrician again that afternoon for more reassurance, but I ended up making an appointment for the very next morning. After being checked out by the doctor, she got the all clear and the unusual wails were due to teething. TEETHING. She also had the beginning of a virus which was making her congested. A total relief, but what awful timing! For the next week or so we were up several times a night administering Tylenol and teething tablets and Triaminic. On top of that, she went through a growth spurt and began to eat more which took us a while to figure out as well.

That was two weeks ago and I only now feel like I’ve got my baby back. She’s happy and healthy and almost crawling and I look at her every day in amazement. I know there will be many falls to come in her life, and I know that my heart will break for her more than once. I wish it hadn’t happened, but looking back I surprised myself. I’m also not ashamed to tell people it happened – I’m not perfect – and surprisingly several friends had similar accidents. One baby fell out of her swing and another fell out of a cart at Home Depot. Both are now thriving two year olds! I dealt with the situation at hand the best way I knew how; I wanted to get her out of the area it happened and calm her down. I remember thinking about the emergency room and that I shouldn’t put her in the car seat incase she’s hurt and that I should call 911 if she doesn’t calm down quickly. I was in crisis mode, something I wasn’t very good at until I became a mother. I would likely have passed out in shock (and sadly, I’m not kidding). It wasn’t until after the fact, when the crisis was over, that I lost it. I think that’s what being a mom is all about, no matter how old your baby is. We automatically put them first and we go into automatic pilot. It’s a special gift only other moms understand.