Family Magazine

The Stairs and the Stroller

By Daisyjd

On Tuesday I took the day off of work to hang out with Gracie. Daycare was closed and after watching the Today Show for a little bit I had grand plans of a long walk with the dog, perhaps a trip to the zoo (Gracie had been asking to visit the monkeys), and while she napped, an episode of Serial while I wrote a blog post about our fun weekend. As we came back from our walk it started to sprinkle and I started to hustle to get us all inside  (so much for the zoo).

We live in a traditional Chicago style building with an elaborate front porch, about 5 steps from the sidewalk up. I got the stroller up the stairs from the sidewalk, and then, as I rushed, I must have let go without putting the brake on. I’ll question this 3 second window for the rest of my life, but in that moment, as it began raining harder, I dropped and then tripped over the dog leash. I then spent a moment picking myself up, getting the leash, grabbing the now wet dog, the wind was gusting, and then I turned back to get the stroller, except it wasn’t right there anymore and it was near the sidewalk. I have never felt such fear as I ran down, and as soon as I saw Gracie’s scrapes (she was conscious and just starting to wail) and the lump on her head, I just went into auto pilot. In the next few minutes I got us up 3 flights of stairs (I thought I left the stroller in the middle of the lobby, but turns out, I folded it up and tossed it in a corner), grabbed the diaper bag, and ran back out the back of our house to our car. She was awake but angry, and I wasn’t taking any chances with a head injury.

I called B, and made my way in the pouring rain to the Children’s Hospital. Gracie alternated between crying and trying to sleep, which terrified me. I was on the edge of hysteria but I just kept focusing on getting us there, parked. Once we parked I scooped her up out of her car seat and ran, through the rain, into the lobby, where a nurse took one look at us and began writing out a wrist band for Gracie. I just sort of half cried/yelled “My daughter fell down the stairs, help” and they whisked us back into a room.

We spent a long day at the hospital. The first attempt at a CT scan was a bust (she wouldn’t hold still) and she wasn’t perking up at all, so they ordered a sedated CT scan. While we waited we watched an endless loop of Disney movies on the in-room entertainment channels, Gracie on my chest, her not wanting anyone to come near us.

After her CT scan (which was awful, as she fought the sedation, and B and I stood in a cold hallway near the supply storage and just cried along with her), she was given pain medicine and a cup of milk, which was the beginning of her bounce back. We eventually learned she had no bleeding (yay!) but she had some small fractures in her eye socket. These types of fractures are evaluated by surgeons (although she does not need surgery) so we met with trauma, facial, and plastic surgeons along with ophthalmologists. Her eyes were dilated and revealed no internal damage. Her broken eye is swollen shut (and will be for awhile) and she’s pretty bruised.  B and I felt a lot of love and support from our family and close friends (thank goodness for text messaging and hospital wifi) while we spent those long hours waiting.

Gracie perking up was really the only thing that made us feel better, and in the last few hours as the doctors debated an overnight observational stay she returned to her usual ways- asking for crackers, coloring, playing with blocks and bubbles (the child life team was amazing) and telling me “No Pozen, no Brave” (no Frozen, no Brave, i.e. I just want to play Mom) and saying hello to everyone who came in to see her. The doctors decided we could go home, although we have a lot of follow up visits in our future, to make sure everything is healing the right way. Our sweet friend Elizabeth ordered take out to be delivered at our house, so we even had a (very late) hot meal at the end of the day.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so terrible and guilty as I did in those hours at the hospital, and I’m still struggling with the idea that my absent minded/dumb/idiot/whatever you want to call it move led to something so serious. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse, but I’m aghast that it even happened. I’ve had a lot of smart people assure me it was just an accident – my Dad reminded me of a pretty fantastic home movie we have of him accidentally dropping me onto my head when I was about 3- and while I know it was accidental, it was still dumb and led to something terrible.

So now we wait for the swelling to go down (maybe a week?) and the bruising to fade (much, much longer) and we schedule doctors appointments and decide how many weeks to keep her out of gymnastics.

I didn’t really want to write about this, this terrible accident, but it also felt important to write the words out, admit that I made a mistake, reaffirm that the doctors did a great job and the prognosis is excellent. Writing is a way of working through things (both good and bad) and while I don’t think I ever want to re-read this, I’m hoping this is another step in forgiving myself for letting go of that handle.

A photo posted by D (@d.chicago) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:53am PST

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