Thursday, March 30, 2006

Falling Down, and Getting Up Again

These are the scary basement steps that our dog, Coltrane, refuses to go down. Nothing, not even a raw steak, will get him down these steps.

These are the scary basement steps that freaked my sister out when she came to visit last June, and she begged me not to carry the laundry up and down them while I was pregnant.

These are the scary basement steps that my son rolled down, barrel-style, on St. Patrick's Day.

I was cooking dinner. Super-Hubby had gone downstairs to get some tools for home improvement. Somehow, the ancient door didn't latch all the way. Our house is 90 years old, and we still have most of the original hardware on our interior doors. It looks cool, but it's not so great for keeping things closed.

Tommy, with his insatiable 7-month-old curiosity, decided to check out the box of corn starch on the bottom shelf of the "pantry." And then I heard ca-thunck, ca-thunck, ca-thunck, followed by some loud, panicked screaming.

I'm not entirely sure the screaming wasn't mine.

We did the broken bones check, the blood check, the bruises check. Nothing. He calmed down within minutes, but I called the pediatrician, just to make sure Tommy was ok. My regular, laid-back, I've-seen-it-all pediatrician wasn't on call, so I was referred to another doctor.

"How, exactly, did a 7-month-old fall down the stairs?" he asked incredulously, in a tone of voice that suggested he thought I might have thrown my son down the stairs.

"He's very mobile, and the door was left ajar by accident."

"It is very unusual for a 7-month-old to be that mobile," he said. "Are you sure that's what happened?"

Because of Tom's age, the doctor said we should take him to the ER for an exam. So we bundled up our perfectly happy, healthy baby and headed out. I was terrified the
ER doctors were going to call Child Protective Services on us after my conversation with the pediatrician, but to the ER we went anyway.

The nice resident at the ER gave my laughing, raspberry-blowing baby a quick once over and said nothing looked amiss. She said we could take him home and monitor him, or she could give him a CAT scan, if we wanted. We opted to take him home.

I have never been one to make a big deal out of routine falls and bumps. When Tommy falls down from a stand and startles himself into a fuss, I clap and cheer. Pretty soon, he is smiling and going about his business - and learning that the little bumps in life aren't really so bad. But I really wasn't prepared for these bigger bumps.

That weekend, we put up baby gates like maniacs. We were extra careful to make sure the basement door was shut. For the first time in my life as a parent, I began to act like all those paranoid mothers I always make fun of, in my head.

And that weekend, Tommy started pulling up.

Enter exhibit 2: The crib that Tommy climbed/fell out of on Wednesday.

I was downstairs folding laundry, and Tommy was napping. I heard him wake up, heard his happy babble as he conversed with his new friends, Kanga and Roo.

Then I heard a THUNK and a scream.

I picked him up, he quieted. My heart raced and my arms trembled. He laughed and pulled my hair, tried to stick his fingers up my nose. My knees trembled.

Somehow Tommy had managed to pull up far enough on his crib rail to flip himself over. It was my fault, because the mattress wasn't in the lowest position. I didn't think he could get out, yet. I was wrong.

My son was fine, but on Thursday, I was still trembling. It's Friday, and I can still feel a quiver of fear sliding up my spine as I write this.

I was reading The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving the First Year and she writes about how mothers are the ones in society who keep superstitions going. We are the ones that say "God bless you" when you sneeze. We knock wood. We wait, expectantly, for the other shoe to drop.

And so, I find myself waiting for the third fall.

I know it's coming, I just don't know when, or where. And I pray that it won't do anything to seriously injure my precious, precious boy.


Heth said...

Oh he is so CUTE!

Not to freak you out, but he is just beginning a life of dare devilry. It won't be long and he will be yelling. "watch this Mom!" and you will cringe.

It brings a mother to her knees in prayer.

Glad he's ok Goslyn.

mopsy said...

He sounds like the kind of kid who is going to keep you on your toes for the rest of your life (skydiving off the Statue of Liberty's nose, etc).

Fearless and curious---it can be an awesome combination or one that will turn your hair grey.

Chilihead2 said...

So glad he's OK. I know you must have been terrified. However, I think you will find that you get used to it. I did not say you don't pay attention, you don't worry, you're heart doesn't race, or anything else. You just get used to it and hope for the best. ;)

jessica said...

Scary! My first has had the same two falls - down the stairs and out of his crib. My second has yet to have a big fall. Ironically, he's the more adventurous. He climbs the furniture and runs around "blind" with a twoel over his face. It makes it so hard for us moms, doesn't it? It's never the baby or the place you expect that results in a scary tumble. I find (and sometimes accept) that you just have to let them explore. Believe me I do my fair share of obsessive hovering/watching, but when my son fell out of his crib right in front of me I realized it can happen anytime (even if your back's not turned :) So just enjoy your adventurous little one. I'm so glad he - and you - are okay :)

Linley said...

It's heartening to hear that I'm not the only mother that has stepped away from a perfectly content baby only to hear that heart-stopping "thud" followed by blood-curdling screams! Fortunately for Peanut, my daughter, it was a 12" fall from the couch and she was back to normal much faster than her mother!

Heth said...

Off topic but I just thought I would let you know, I just gave you a virus. Go check it out.

Nikkie said...

I'm glad he's okay! I fear its only going to get worse before it gets better!

I'm not looking forward to when my little guy starts falling!

Rachelle said...

So glad he was ok! I would have been for freaking out all over the place.

klimas said...

True story: I had pretty much the same crib escapade Tommy did. I don't remember what month or whatever I was on then, but after that point, an executive decision was made and I spent the rest of my tykely years sleeping in a nest of blankets on the floor, which was not so bad.

Anyway, I turned out ok. Right?

Diana - Teacher Mom said...

Oh my gosh! I have had moments like those and they frightened me to the core. I think I aged ten years in mere seconds.

Stephanie said...

The bad news is that he will indeed fall again sometime (it just happens...). The good news is that kids are amazingly resilient. Sydney's fall out of the cart at Costco onto the cement floor tops the cake of terrifying moments for me (I still have nightmares of it), but she was okay. In fact, I think she recovers from her falls faster than I do.

It's still scary though, when they fall. I'm glad Tom got through his ordeal without any major bumps! Hang in there...a life of raising a boy is sure to have many adventures :)

Bobita said...

Oh, my heart is pounding just reading this post! My 10-month old toppled down the stairs just last week! I was trembling and crying for hours...he was fine in 2 minutes.

I'm so happy to hear your little one is okay.

ubercyl said...


We have the exact same exersaucer, right down to the bar above the caterpillar, which is missing on yours. It also broke off of mine. Freaky.