It dawned on me while talking to a friend at work today that I haven’t done a great job at continuing to share exactly why it is I started Richmondmom.com.
After five years it’s easy to forget sometimes but I need to tell you this story so you can tell it over and over again so it doesn’t happen to anyone else, ever.
Long story short: my daughter at four weeks old ended up in the ER with severe skull fractures. I felt like a failure. Even after having three kids. I thought I knew what I was doing.
Drawing on my inner English-major from Penn State, I sat in a chair next to her tiny body in a bed (that looked like a pitiful, stark baby crib with giant rails) at MCV (now Children’s Hospital of Richmond at MCV) in 2007 and began to scrawl out our story so that it wouldn’t happen to anyone else.
Long story not short: I hadn’t strapped her into her carseat as she lay swaddled on our kitchen island because, I thought, at four weeks old and sleeping soundly where would she go? She was near me and the boys were on the other side in their stools and I wanted to be able to see her. I made lunch for my two boys and turned to the microwave and seconds later I turned to heard hear screeching and the island was empty except for the boys’ plates.
When I was in the ambulance, hysterical, the sweeet, young EMT’s told me that this happens all the time–babies, toddlers, kids fall all the time from all kinds of places: stairs, couches, beds, and yes, islands. That didn’t seem to help the fact that I felt like a huge loser who put my daughter in danger because I wanted to see her and wasn’t thinking through the risks of having her car seat on that island with no buckles secured.
Two days we stayed together in that hospital room, she in the bed and me in the chair next to her.
Two nights the nurses were so sweet they let me crawl into the tiny bed with her (which wasn’t really allowed, but they looked the other way) because I just wanted to be close to her, hear her breathing, reassure her that I loved her and that I never meant for this to happen. I nursed her and held her and watched her breathe and looked under her tiny hat at her bruises and swollen little head and prayed to God that she would be alright.
MRI. IV. Another MRI. Blood samples. Temperature. Poking. Prodding. Shining lights in eyes and reflexes and temperature and reassuring nurses that it would be alright, it would be alright, there was no vomiting and she was eating and sleeping.
I remember laying my hand on her little body and trying to negotiate with God if you just please let her be okay, you can do anything you want to me. She is perfect and innocent–she is a tiny infant and I have had a wonderful life and if you just let her be okay, I’ll give up anything. As if God entertains such bargains.
Six months later, when the amazing neurosurgeon Dr. Tye reassured us that she was just fine, her skull fractures were healed and she was flourishing I found myself with a cool domain name and a website, neither of which I really understood but both of which for I was grateful.
The term “mommy blog” was a vague concept to me and, as a corporate gal, it was a world into which I started to dip my toe and ended up doing the Nestea plunge. And yes, I realize I’m aging myself with that reference.
Parents need to talk about this stuff. Not just successes and milestones but the stuff that scares the shit out of us and makes us prematurely gray did we not color our hair.
Parents need each other without judgements and with piles of support and learning and reading and improving every single day because the truth is, none of us starts out knowing what we’re doing.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and please share this, and any other story here that can help someone else.
After all, the hospitals don’t send these darling little creatures home with instruction books detailed enough for real life, and real life is what we’re all living with them every single day.