Nothing else matters
Every time I sat today or walked with a bounce in my step, which is how I naturally walk all of the time, I winced in pain. That’s because there’s a big bruise that looks like an angry storm cloud on the left cheek of my bum.
It was the early evening yesterday and as is typical during that time of day, I was tired and eager to get through with the bedtime routine just so I could have some quiet time. I’d just helped my 4-year-old pick out a clean pair of panties to put on after she bathed because she insisted that she needed my help in choosing the right pair of undergarments. We were standing at the top of a long set of hardwood stairs. Thomas’s chunky thighs were wrapped around my waist. He was spouting out happy gibberish and wiggling with joy. He takes happiness to the next level. He actually sometimes laughs and cries at the same time when he’s really tired but is still trying to look on the bright side of things.
My left arm held Thomas close to me. I started to walk down the stairs when Rae asked me something. I don’t remember what. I was about to turn around and look at her when I lost my footing, slipped, and fell hard on the stairs. I watched in horror as Thomas slipped through the canyon of my arm and began to crash down the stairs. He tumbled down two stairs before I lunged forward and grabbed him and pulled his trembling body against my chest. I started sobbing and rocking back and forth, and I began to scream, “My baby! My baby!”
I was too afraid to look at him. I was sure if I looked at him, I’d see blood or a cracked-open head.
Sweet Rae said, “I’ll go get Daddy.”
She didn’t need to. He had heard my screaming and came running to me. He calmly took Thomas from me.
“Is he okay? Is he okay?” I asked. “I fell down the stairs. I dropped him. I can’t believe I dropped him.”
My husband immediately adopted his doctor persona and began carefully examining Thomas. To my surprise, he didn’t look hurt at all. There was no blood. No swelling anywhere. My husband gently prodded his head and asked me where I thought he hit. “He fell on his butt first, I think. Then he rolled over once and hit his head. I think that’s all. I don’t know though. It happened so quickly.”
I was still crying and shaking. Once my husband felt Thomas was okay, he handed him back to me. The little guy was crying as hard as I was and had broken out in a sweat but when he was back in my arms, he rested his fuzzy head against my chest and his sobbing slowed down until he was just making soft, pitiful gasps.
“My baby,” I said again and again.
My husband asked me if I was hurting. I told him my butt hurt. He took a look. “You’re going to have a huge hematoma.”
That’s the kind of language we use around here because of Dr. Dad. My kids don’t get cuts; they get lacerations. They don’t get dry skin on their scalp; they get seborrhoeic dermatitis. But he was right: I have a huge swollen purplish-black lump (AKA a HUGE hematoma) on my bottom. I have a bruised ankle as well.
I nursed him and rocked Thomas for a long time that night. We checked him periodically to make sure he wasn’t lethargic. He woke up several times in the night as is his custom. I was very grateful for his wakefulness last night and didn’t care how groggy I’d feel come morning.
My husband texted me to see how I was feeling today. I told him I was sore, but so grateful that I was the only one bruised. Thomas was his happy self all day. He somehow survived rolling down two hard stairs with not so much as a scratch.
Last night when I’d finally stopped shaking, I said to my husband, “In an instant with one misstep, I could have ruined my life.”
One of my closest friends is a pediatric emergency medicine doctor, and I’ve heard the stories of fractured skulls, sobbing parents whose lives would forever be changed because of some freak accident.
I honestly thought my baby boy was going to be severely injured. My sobs and hysterics surprised me. The sick feeling in my gut. It was awful.
That night I promised that I’d never take my kids for granted. I would never make things or worldly pursuits more important than my children. I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff like being late to soccer practice. I’d focus only on my relationship with my kids, husband, family, friends, and God. Of course, the morning started out all wrong. I didn’t pray first thing. One of my children was acting like a complete negatron, and I was too abrasive with her. Then another child elbowed me right on my sore bum, which hurts even when my clothes shifts on it. Yet, when I felt that sharp twinge of pain, I relived the moment, the terror, but I also once again experienced the gratitude that my baby was going to be fine, that my life as exhausting as it can be sometimes was unchanged.
I apologized to my children, and I began to weep. The tears started flowing instantly, and they wouldn’t stop. “Do you know how much I love you?”
Their little eyes widened. They nodded. Thomas squealed, bubbling over with happiness just at his mere existence. We all looked at his chunky body vibrating with pure delight, and we started to laugh.
When I stopped laughing through my tears, I said aloud, “Nothing else matters.”
The room grew uncharacteristically quiet. My children nodded. They understood.