When Michael was a little under a year old he fell down the stairs to the basement. I managed to catch him midway, luckily, before he hit the cement floor below. He cried as I held him and called the doctor, then stopped crying and was fine. The nurse on call asked me questions about his reaction, his pupils, how he seemed. She deduced he would be okay and told me what to look out for over the next few hours. As usual, Michael was playing happily quickly thereafter and I never worried during his nap time. Almost 10 years later, and as memories fade from my mind, I will never forget that feeling of watching him fall down the stairs... the way time slowly froze frame by frame as his body bounced down the stairs. The feeling of helplessness and the wave of grief thinking he could die if he hit his head just so or cracked his neck. Almost 10 years later, and I can instantly recall that pit in my stomach.
Today I had it again. I was holding Brady, walking into the school for swimming with OT, when I stepped off the curb and fell. In the nanoseconds of going down, I was mindful of holding this little cherub in my left arm. I instantly tightened my grip and slowly watched the back of his head hit the pavement. It happened in such slow motion, I can't believe I couldn't stop it. He instantly started to cry, which relieved me immensely because this child never seems to cry when he should be hurt, I think. I was still on the ground trying to pick him up and waving to the grounds crew cleaning the leaves. One of the men waves back - and not until a few minutes later realize that I need help. One of the crew comes over and offers to bring me to the first aid station, but I pick Brady up and run inside to where the OT and lifeguard are. Tara, his OT, is looking at me, wondering what is wrong and jumps out of the pool. I am hysterical, although I was the only one - Brady is not crying anymore and is looking around, his face searching for the reason why he is not in the pool yet. Tara takes him and I start to calm down, and realize I am in pain. They send for a nurse, who examines Brady and says he looks fine - he got a couple prickly red spots and was starting to get a bump on the back of his head, but that was it. Of course, she checks my elbow and thinks I may need stitches, but after she. cleans it she states I could probably get away with not getting them. As the day goes on, I realize that my leg is scraped up pretty bad, my right hand has serious road burn on it, and my left elbow is allowing me no strength whatsoever - I am not even able to carry Brady to the car.
I called the pediatrician and told them I was coming right over since I was only a few minutes away. Of course, now Brady is getting cranky because not only did he not get to go swimming (which he loves) but now he is getting tired. Luckily, the doctor thought he was fine, told me what to look out for, and sent us on our way. Brady is fine. I, of course, am a mess. Physically my arm is killing me, and mentally I am exhausted over my petrified moment. Just like with Michael, all I could think of was Brady jumbling his brain. Someone my husband knows is in a coma right now after being punched in a fight and hitting the ground, so of course this is all I could think about.
Strangely enough, I have been concerned for awhile now that I would fall holding Brady. A premonition or have I been preoccupied with the thought that I caused it? Very strange. All I know is that once again, that pit in my stomach is there. That feeling of helplessness and despair, so overpowering that nothing can erase its memory. Yes, the angel sleeps now peacefully, as I go and watch him for a few minutes ....