Last night was, without a doubt, rough. Personally, I think panic attacks are completely overrated, but that’s just me. I don’t happen to enjoy the “oh-my-god-I-can’t-breath-what-the-fuck-am-I-gonna-do??” moments that tend to surround motherhood, which then are closely followed by mommy guilt. Seriously, it was awful.
For an almost two year old, Caitlin hasn’t had many instances of falling. I can only think of three actually in which there was mass amounts of crying; once when she was an infant and she rolled off the bed when Chris was watching her while I was in the shower and didn’t realize she rolled, once when she fell out of her swing because Chris didn’t strap her in or snap the tray in all the way, both of those she was rather young, an infant-ish age.
The final time was when we first moved in this house and she fell down a couple (not the entire flight) of the stairs on her way down. Yes, there have been bumps and scraps here and there, but those are the only ones I’ve ever actually been present to care for her afterwords. She’s never been seriously hurt, the falls just scare her more than anything while she does get maybe a slight bump.
But last night was completely different and it terrified me…
Chris was working and my brother, Patrick, actually happened to swing by home to make himself dinner. He’s been sleeping at my Gpa’s to keep him company until we figure out where to go from here. The last episode of Dora on NickJr was over and we had cleaned up all the toy cars that get strewn about the living room throughout the day.
I informed Caitlin is was time for bed, so we gathered everything we needed; I grabbed her blankets that she brought downstairs and her book that she wanted read, while she had her bottle.
It’s not out of the ordinary for her to walk up and downstairs by herself, and she has her own little system. She’s very confident in going up and down to her room, so I let her. She’s really good at it, and other than that time when she was first learning, she has never taken a tumble. But then, she rarely has to share the steps with my brother’s dog who can be a little crazy at times.
So, we’re heading up to bed, I’m in front with all her stuff while she’s trailing behind me with her bottle. When I reach her bedroom, I can hear her giggling and climbing so I get her blankets set up and her books ready to be read. But then the sound of her coming up the stairs stops and I hear her grunting as she does when she wants the dogs to get out of her way. Just as I finish putting the books on the ottoman to be read,
I hear two loud thumps that are NOT similar to her going down the stairs, so I walk (quickly) out of the bedroom, and look down the stairs just in time to see her final tumble down the last few.
And just as I thought it was over and I’m running full speed down the steps? She takes one more fall off the last few and lands on the tile floor beneath her.
My brother ran from the kitchen as well when he heard the first loud thumps, and so he reached her before I did. Both of us were unsure of what happened, all we knew was Caitlin fell and his dog was trailing right behind down the steps, so he promptly put her away and then picked Caitlin up off the floor and handed her to me when I finally got down there.
That was the longest flight of steps I’ve ever had to go down.
I rushed to her, grabbed her out of my brother’s arms and ran to the couch to sit with her and comfort her. She was sobbing and screaming. She hurt. I inspected while cuddling, running my hands up and down her legs, arms, back and neck, trusting my hands that have felt those areas over and over. Nothing felt broken, and there was no indication that it hurt anymore than she already did. I checked her pupils, but they appeared to be the same size.
After a few minutes I managed to get the crying to stop and giggling to start, so I asked my brother if he thought she had a concussion. He just told me if she threw up then she’d need to go to the hospital. He had to leave at that point so I was left alone to figure this out…
She was acting fine after that, not stumbling around or acting anymore tired than she would be at bedtime or cranky. She was acting like Caitlin, except sillier than her usual self. It didn’t even deter her from climbing up the steps anymore, because a few minutes after she was on her feet again, she was attempting to go up by herself. I put a quick stop to that.
I called the doctor and the after hours line told me it could be up to an hour before the doctor called me back. In the meantime, as she ran around acting silly and playing, I did what any mom would do. I googled it.
Surprisingly, “is it safe to put a toddler to bed after a fall?” or “how long should you wait before putting a toddler to bed after a fall?” just brings you a lot of “how to get a toddler to bed” advice sites and maybe one or two websites about actual concussions, but no personal experience stories, which is what I wanted. So I did the next best thing. Twitter.
In a panic, as she played, I tweeted the situation, and after a few moments, I got the responses I needed.
“Oh that happened to mine once, he was fine. Doctor’s sent us home.”
“My baby had a concussion once and doctor’s just told us to check on her.”
“If she’s acting normal, it sounds like she’s doing okay.”
“I think it’s safe to put her bed. Just check on her every now and then until the doctor calls back.”
I had these conversations while waiting, took the advice and experience everyone was giving me. Just as I resolved she needed to go to bed while I waited, the call came. And it was a quick recap and asking about symptoms. Since she wasn’t showing any other than super silliness (which, honestly, was the scariest thing. I’ve never been so scared by her acting silly), the advice was Tylenol to help with the headache that is sure to have developed and bedtime.
I gave her the medicine, let her finish her juice and read to her any story she wanted as many times as she wanted because of the guilt I felt. By the time she had finally fallen asleep, two hours since the fall had passed.
I cried most of the night from the heavy heart I had from the guilt. I stayed awake most of the night in bed, replaying it in my head. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see her taking that final tumble, but every time a different outcome happened, and none of them were the best scenario.
I finally fell asleep and woke up late this morning to her crying for me to get her. I got her and as she sat in my lap eating her breakfast (milk and M&M’s because I still feel guilty), my hands inspected the arms, legs, back and neck, just to check.
There are no bumps. No evidence of the traumatic night before hand. She’s acting like her normal self, getting into everything, climbing on everything, dancing and tricking Linux into thinking she’s giving him a treat when really she snatches her hand away before he gets it.
If there is one thing children are, it’s tough.