Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Powerless

I don’t even know how to start writing this...to admit this...

Sam fell from a piece of playground equipment yesterday. This is the third accident we have had in the past week. Last week he fell at the park while running on some uneven pavement and bonked his forehead hard enough for me to call the hospital and find out about signs of concussion and head trauma. The day before that he ran off the edge of our bed while we were playing on it. I couldn’t catch him in time as he sprinted in the other direction. Amazingly, the top half of his body landed in his bouncing Amby bed, which bounced him back up and gently onto the floor. It was like a cartoon, just a totally unlikely string of movement that resulted in him being scared but totally unscathed. I know that things happen and now that he is more mobile there are bound to be some bumps and bruises. What happened yesterday is different though, more serious, and I’m having a much harder time processing it.

We went to the playground in the afternoon and for once there was another mom there who I actually knew. She has a 2 year old daughter as well as a new 4 month old baby girl. While there her 2 year old pooped and needed a diaper change. I asked if there was any way I could help, and so I held the baby so that she didn’t need to be put back in the stroller that was currently full of other gear. As the diaper change took place Sam started to climb up onto the playground equipment. In the past I have always gone up there with him in order to help with steps and make sure he doesn’t run off the edge (like he did from the bed last week). Nothing has ever really happened that has required my assistance – I just follow him to be safe and cautious, and that’s what I was thinking when I made the decision to follow him up while still holding the baby. I figured if he needed me I could still hold his hand and that I was totally capable of doing both.

There is a bridge that connects 2 larger pieces of equipment that Sam likes to walk across. It has parallel horizontal bars along the sides but there is about a foot of space between each bar. We were on this bridge walking back and forth when the baby started to squirm some. I started to change her position and wondered if her mom was comfortable with me holding her while up on the equipment; it hadn’t occurred to me to ask her if it was ok. These are my thoughts when I look up to see that Sam is several feet away and standing near the edge of the bridge. He starts to lose his balance – I still have no idea why – and I know. I know standing there too far away that he is going to fall. The baby is still squirming; I’m trying to hold onto her while watching him. I still have in my mind that I can’t let anything happen to the baby up here and that I shouldn’t have come up with her. I think: he’s going to fall and I’m going to have to stand here and watch it happen. And then Sam sits back, trying to catch himself, but he sits down so close to the edge that his butt lands off the side, and because he is sitting he completely slips under the lowest bar and falls backwards off the bridge. I watch it happen. He’s laying on his back on the ground crying and now I am trapped with no way to get down to him while holding the baby. Her mom runs over and I hand her over the side of the bars. I turn back and jump off the edge to Sam, who has had to lay there crying for what felt like several seconds. It all happened so…slowly. That’s how it felt, and that’s what I can’t understand.

Why didn’t I run to him? I saw it happening. I knew it was going to happen before it actually did, and I froze. I always thought that when and if my child was in danger I would become Wonder Woman and rescue him as long as I was there to see what was going on. I envisioned myself as one of the women we hear about, lifting cars to get to their child trapped underneath. But that’s not what happened. Nothing kicked into gear allowing me a momentary feat of strength and agility. I just stood there…frozen. And that’s what I keep coming back to. I know I made the wrong decision when I followed him up while holding the baby. I should have either stopped him or given the baby back to be placed in her stroller. I know that. But that’s not the problem I am having for some reason. It’s to that point in time where it actually happened that I cannot let go. If I had moved faster…if I had moved at all…could I have grabbed him? I wonder how many times I will replay this, wondering.

Sam is fine. We took an unnecessary trip to the ER where he waved at everyone smiling, laughing, and playing with his cars on the seats in the waiting room. He doesn’t even have a bump. But this morning I still woke up unsettled. Do you ever wake up and feel good for a moment because you acknowledge that nothing bad is happening that day, like unwanted appointments or tasks, and then a realization descends upon you and your heart sinks? I woke up this morning with him smiling at me and then I saw him falling and looking up at me sobbing and scared while I was trapped on the top of a bridge…

We went back to the playground this morning. I didn’t want it to become a thing, you know, like a thing where I end up never taking him back or not letting him get back on the equipment and it just spirals into a big fearful inability to function. When we arrived it was like it never happened for him. He pushed his pink toy stroller around, right under the bridge and walked over the place where he had landed without even noticing. I felt nauseous and asked him for a kiss. I stood next to the bridge from the ground and estimated it to be about 4 feet high. It felt so much taller when I was standing on top of it looking down. He climbed up to the top of the bridge and walked across as I tried to stop myself from hanging onto him the whole time, feeling the color drain from my face as he had a brief misstep and teetered a bit. I asked for another kiss. And then we went on the swings, rolled the acorns down the slide, waved at the airplanes overhead, and followed a butterfly back to the car. He’s fine. But I still come back to it, that feeling descending as I watch him fall. Why didn’t I move?

14 Comments:

Blogger Mama D said...

Oh Beth... that's awful. I am so sorry that that happened.

As I read the story I knew that I would have done exactly the same things. Offered to help with the baby, carried her up on the equipment, stood there watching in horror.

By the sounds of it I really don't think there was anything you could have done.

I am bracing myself for the day that I know is coming. The day when my baby falls. She climbs and I do everything I can to protect her but someday I won't be there. I know it's going to happen.

This stuff happens. It sucks. But they bounce back. They learn. And we learn that they are not made of glass and we do not have super powers.

Not so long ago you gave me a very good piece of advice about letting go of guilt. Now I'm returning the favor!

xo

2:14 PM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

This is so hard! I hope you are doing better. You will hear people say this: These Things Happen. Especially when you have boys. It may take a while to stop the constant "replay" in your head. I've had similar situations. And look- he's ok! Mama may be traumatized, but so glad that he is ok!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I know how scary it can be, but I'm glad everything was OK in the end.

Luckily, little kids are tough, and they can handle big falls and forget about it the next day. I think it was good that you went back to the playground. Had you avoided it, or had you freaked out, he would have picked up on your fear and possibly developed a fear of it himself.

The scary part is that we can't always be there for them, but as long as we are there as much as possible, I think they'll be OK.

3:08 PM  
Blogger sari said...

Beth,

BELIEVE ME, you're not the only mom this has happened t. And even being as careful as you can (without being stifling!) accidents happen.

I'm glad Sam is ok.

Both of my boys have had accidents that may or may not have been preventable, but they happened. So maybe it makes you aware of what to watch for, but things happen and you have to remember, it's happened to (most) all of us.

Please be gentle on yourself!!

5:16 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Don't feel so guilty! I can't count the number of times Haddie fell down the stairs of off something (it was the bed just yesterday whilst jumping).

Of course, we're all paranoid mothers who want to protect them but this is just one important part of growing up!

5:46 PM  
Blogger kate said...

i'm a big believer in "all things happen for a reason." and maybe (if i may so bold as to suggest a reason) this happened so that sam would learn a little something about himself and his world. and you too.

you both learned that when you fall you get right back up. he wasn't afraid to go back to the playground and go right back to the spot he fell. he's not going to let one little spill stop him from living, daring and having some fun. good for him!

it's good for us moms to remember sometimes that we can't always be there. he's going to fall, feel like a fool, fail and we can't fix everything.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous jaybee4000 said...

Now you know why they do those slow-mo scenes in movies. That's why they talk about your life flashing before your eyes. Just seems like there should be time to do something, but really it is just a couple of seconds. The eyes and brain don't slways stay in sync. Thus-- deja vu.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I know how awful it feels to watch things like that happen. As difficult as it may, try not to be too hard on yourself. As much as we moms want to be the Wonder Women of the world we are most times much too human.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I can totally relate. A couple years ago my middle son fell on playground equipment and broke his nose. I just stood there thinking, he shouldn't be running, he's going to fall. And then he did and broke his nose and I didn't even try to stop him. Of corse I would have if I knew he was actually going to fall and break his nose.

We've all been there. Just be thankful his fall wasn't bad. Probably way more scarey than it actually hurt.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I don't think that I remember Wonder Woman saving any toddlers from the evils of playground equipment, I think that is because she knew that part of being wonder woman is realizing you can't do everything. You have always been right there for Sam, and he is doing great! Its so hard to not feel guilty, but seriously take your cues for Sam, he is ok, he does not harbor any ill feelings for the playground. He is a happy well adjusted child, who just learned a valuable life lesson. That sometimes we fall in life, and the best course of action is to get up and move on the best we can.
You're doing great! Don't let that mommy guilt get in the way of being a happy mom.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous katie said...

It does happen sooo fast and you probably moved faster than you think. It just feels like slow motion. Try not to torture yourself about that, Sam is fine.
Jack once stepped off a five-ish foot drop on a piece of "big kid" play equipment at the park. I was right behind him, thinking that I was spotting him. It happened so quick, but like you said, while he dropped it felt like forever. I thought that he was going to break his neck. He ended up landing on all fours and getting up and running around. Phewsh.
I am glad Sam is okay and you went back to the park, you totally did the right thing.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Allie said...

Yikes! I am so very glad to hear that Sam is okay. I wish that I could say that you are going to be okay but I know from experience that it will take you a little longer to recover from the scare and all of the woulda, coulda and shouldas.

It is amazing at how resilient children are, but in the same breath, just how fragile they can be. I have learned through Kaelen's many accidents that the ones that catch them off guard are often the ones that they can just get up and walk away from.

Sam is about the same age that Kaelen was when he had his accident prone month. Within two weeks he had a black eye, fractured nose and knocked out four front teeth. I remember distinctly feeling like the worse Mother in the world and that social services were going to be knocking at my door any day.

Try not to be too hard on yourself because these things do happen. You are a good mom Beth.

3:10 PM  
Blogger New Mama's Nest said...

Beth, I'm so sorry. I want to offer a bunch of cliche phrases but I'll restrain myself :) I will say, you're an awesome mom- hang in there.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Poopydigs said...

Oh Beth, how awful! I'm sure sam is fine, but how traumatic for you. Kids will be kids. Boys will be boys.

Just focus on the fact that he's okay.

You're doing a great job. Don't question that--ever! :)

12:57 PM  

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