Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Confessions of an Imperfect Mother: Thump!

This morning began badly. Elliot rolled off of our bed. She’s fine. As I write this, she is laughing hysterically while Joe tickles her back and feet. But it has been a rough day.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read that line in all the baby books: “Never leave a baby unattended on a bed, couch or changing table. Even infants can surprise you by rolling off.” Given that Elliot is 4.5 months old and prone to rolling over after toys now and then, I should never have put her on the bed, even away from the edge where I thought she’d be safe.

When I heard that thump, my heart just sank. I swore like a sailor (thankfully Maya doesn’t seem to have picked any of it up) as I ran over to pick my screaming baby off of the carpet. She stopped wailing after just a moment, and even though I stared at her non-stop all day, I haven’t been able to find even the tiniest scratch, much less a goose egg. A quick trip to the doctor (in -8 degree weather) proved that she was just fine.

We were lucky. She didn’t hit her head on the bedside table or my 800-page book. She didn’t suffer a concussion. Or worse. She’s just fine. We were lucky.

But throughout my day, as I physically shook from the horror of what could have happened and the guilt over letting it happen, mother after mother relayed similar stories of babies crawling away from near-disaster unscathed.

My doctor’s daughter rolled off her couch at 2 months old; her 10-month-old son fell down some stairs (that one did require stitches). My nurse’s niece somehow fell off their car, while buckled in her car seat, and landed upside down suspended in the bucket. Each story carried words of warning and commiseration.

Apparently I have been initiated into some sort of mothering rite of passage, and I responded exactly as I thought I would. I didn’t really fall apart into a puddle of tears until I was 99 percent certain that Elliot was just fine.

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