Monday, August 15, 2011

Guilt


Something really terrible and scary happened a few nights ago...
I went to bed at 10pm and, as usual, Brees smelled me coming.  As soon as I entered
the room and climbed into our bed, her little eyes popped open and she peeked at me
through her crib, reaching for her Mama.  I pulled her into the bed with us and we lay side
by side, Brees quietly nursing herself to sleep, my own dreams swirling around my head
as I drifted off and rest took over.
Our nightly routine.
And then I heard a YELP, like the sound a puppy makes when you step on their tail,
a THUMP and a YELP and I jumped out of bed and screamed at the top of my lungs
as I realized that my baby HAD FALLEN OFF THE BED AND ONTO THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!
It all happened so fast, I was pulled out of my sleep in a panic, my heart pounding inside
my head, complete disbelief at the sound I heard her make: a YELP.  And she was on the
floor beside our bed and I scooped her up and held her so tight and she was breathing and
I was breathing and we were both breathing a little too fast: FEAR.  Shawn had to work
the night shift that night, because everything always has to happen when my husband is
at work.  But Isabelle was in the bed with me and she lifted her heavy eyelids to see what
all the commotion was, gazed at me holding Brees close in the dimly lit room, swaying
back and forth, humming softly in her ear, willing both of us to calm our beating hearts.
She gazed at us and said, "Awww, look at y'all!  You are such a good Mama, so sweet."
And then she drifted back to sleep.
I am not a good mother!!  My baby just fell on the floor!  How did this happen?  I took her
into the bathroom and looked her over, examining every inch of her body with my trained
nurse eyes, searching for any sign of trauma, any possibility of an injury.  She just smiled
at me, stroked my cheek, giggled as I turned her over and over.  She was fine, not a
scratch on her.  She was fine.
She rested her head on my shoulder, closed her eyes, trying to go back to sleep.  But I
was scared and worried that she might have a concussion.  I called Shawn at work and
told him what had happened, warned him that his baby girl might not be home when he
got off work because Child Protective Services was probably on their way to confiscate
her right now.  How did this happen?  We've been co-sleeping for months, I'm always
so careful, she's just a little baby, I'm a nurse, I should know better, how could I not have
kept her safe?
He calmed me as only Shawn can, reassuring me that these things happen, it was an
accident, babies are resilient, just think of all the times she falls throughout the day trying
to walk and crawl and climb, she's tough, just watch her close, you know what to do, you
are a nurse, trust in yourself.
I love you.
So back to bed we went, Brees already fast asleep.  I created a fortress in the bed
with pillows, protection on both sides, and held her close to me.  I didn't sleep for the rest
of the night: I timed her respirations, counted her heart rate, monitoring her for any signs
of distress.  I'm a nurse, but she's my baby.  All ability to keep calm in the face of crisis
goes out the window when it's your own child.
Dawn arrived before I knew it and Brees was fine.  We woke up the next morning and
started our day like every other, but I was shaken to my core.  I replayed the night's
events in my head a million times, the sound of her YELP screaming through my ears,
making my heart ache.  The guilt, the what ifs, the worst scenarios possible haunting
me.  Yes, it was an accident, but I am her mother and I should have
protected her better.
The guilt.
Motherhood is ridden with guilt, isn't it?  These things happen and people try to comfort
us but there is no comfort to be had when the guilt overwhelms you.  I told Shawn,
"If something would have happened, something terrible, I don't think I..."
He stopped me, put his hand over my heart, and we prayed.  We gave thanks,
acknowledged our blessings, because NOTHING bad happened, we were protected that
night, an angel put her hand down and caught our sweet baby girl, resting her gently on
the floor, keeping her from harm.  And all the worry and guilt in the world is just keeping
me from counting my blessings, preventing me from thanking God for saving us from
a terrible situation.
And so we are okay, another story to add to Brees's baby book, a night I am sure will be
the butt of many jokes as she gets older: the night she fell out of bed.  She will tease me
about it when she grows up, laugh about how this night is the source of all her problems.
The guilt will subside and I will eventually be able to laugh at myself and we will move on.
I keep thinking about Isabelle, her words that night, "You are such a good Mama."  
God speaking to me through my little girl, reassuring me.  This is not the first accident, 
nor will it be the last.  This is part of raising children.  I need to recognize that and be 
grateful.  This time, we were blessed.  
Guilt has no room here.

21 comments:

Caitlin said...

Aww, lady! I'm not a parent but I can sort of understand that kind of guilt - once I accidentally hit my dog in the face with our electric fly swatter and got a huge yelp, I burst into tears and apologized to her all day.

But from what I've heard from other parents, you're bound to drop your baby once or have them fall off the bed. Luckily they're pretty soft and bouncy :) And I'm glad Shawn was able to calm you down. You're a good mama, lady, don't let poisonous thoughts get the best of you! <33

Christa said...

i want to hug you :) as mothers we all know accidents happen but we cant control blaming ourselves sometimes. Even my daughters pediatrician told me that babies are built stronger than we think lol. My daughter fell off our bed at 5 months old cuz i didnt think so was mobile enough to get from the middle of the bed to falling on the floor in a matter of 30 seconds that i wasnt looking. It happens. You are a good mama :) *hugs*

Alicia Stucky said...

I honestly don't know anyone this hasn't happened to. In fact since I've started blogging I swear every one has it's post just like this. :-) Your perspective on this is beautiful. God certainly does send messages to us through our little ones, that's for sure.

Little Gray Pixel said...

(((Hugs)))
You ARE a good mama.
And these things ALWAYS happen when you're alone, don't they? I clipped the top of Alexa's finger with nail clippers when H was at work. She was three weeks old. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

Sarbear said...

You ARE such a good mama. Your little one is right. Accidents happen and that's all this was. Keep loving them with all your heart and everything will be okay. :)

deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

i want to give you the biggest hug ever! you are a great mama to your lucky little girls. :)

once, when gage was about 16 months old, we had built a tent around our couch. i walked into another room to answer the phone, and came back to gage attempting to walk onto the bed sheet that was just hanging in the air. (think Jesus walking on the water.) he smiled really big and said, "hi mama!!" right as he stepped off of the couch, and fell headfirst about four feet to the floor. i was absolutely terrified, and like you, filled with guilt.

it's a surprise that we're not all bitter and calloused from the things we have to endure on the daily. :)

deanna@delirious-rhapsody said...

oh, and i just read vanessa's comment. i refuse to clip either of our boys' nails, because i can't tell you how many times it's ended in blood.

Randalin. said...

Isabelle and Shawn are so right - you are a good mama and these things do happen. Have you thought about putting a bed rail on your bed or putting your mattress on the floor? Even if you're not bedsharing full-time, these pre-cautions might give you some peace of mind.

ARH said...

That would be so scary! We bed share as well and Charlotte moves so much that I am worried about her falling.

I am so glad she is alright and that picture is just adorable. Such big, beautiful eyes. :)

KimBerly said...

Oh NO!! This happened to Jake when he was her age. When I found him on the floor he had a bloody nose. I freaked out and took him to the ER. I thought that he had hit his head so hard that it made his nose bleed. But he was fine. We have hardwood floors so I was so freaked out. After that happened I moved the bed against the wall. Now he only sleeps with us when he is sick. Scary! I think all of us Moms know the Mommy guilt all too well.

Hilary@BabyMooHoo said...

so scary! i think the scariest parts of being a mama happen when you are RIGHT THERE, and start second-guessing and feeling guilty that you could have done something differently. keep reminding yourself what an amazing mother you are & that accidents will happen. i am so sorry you had to feel that awful gut punch when you heard brees, there is nothing worse than thinking your child is hurt!

Wendy said...

I'm so glad she's okay! Definitely scary. I think we all have those moments with our kiddos. I remember once when Hannah was only two or three months old. I was wearing her in my moby wrap while she took a nap and I did some laundry. I (like an idiot) bent over the washing machine to get out the clean clothes and she started to slip out of the wrap. Luckily I grabbed her in time, but I reacted just like you did.

Being a mom is a scary, scary thing. You have such a positive way of looking at things, though.

Hugs to you, friend!

Erin Dawn said...

OH NO! I would've started freaking out too if it happened to me. That almost happened one time with Ben...luckily I had woken up and caught him in time! So scary.

amy@agoodlife said...

yeah, you can't hold on to that guilt... it will eat you up! glad everything was ok :)

Gabriella said...

Please do not beat yourself up about it. Yes, it is hard to get the sound of a child's distress out of your head but you must also rmember that accidents happen and that is how you improve as a mother. You are right in saying that this is not the first accident nor will it be the last. Don't be too hard on your self. :)

The Poole Family said...

I love how you know that she will tease you about this when she's older and how this will be the source of all her problems!! Haha! Your perspective is AMAZING and right on! There is just no way to even fathom how many times God has had his hands on our families, specifically our kids, and has prevented so many horrible tragedies from happening!! It's so hard to realize that everything really is out of our hands... but the Lord's hands are much better hands, anyway. :)

Kate said...

I just cried my eyes out reading this! Us nurses can be our own worst enemies sometimes. We know the "right" ways, etc. to treat/raise children. And then you know what happens, life gets in the way. I felt the nurse guilt when going back to work, plus working the night shift had lowered my supply to the point we had to start supplementing with formula while I was working (try explaining that to the lactation consultants and I got the evil eye). I felt so down for such a long time thinking I wasn't giving her the best momma I could be. And then I realized I am doing a great job. We may drop our children. Feed them formula. Witness them eating dirt. Eating their boogers. We probably did most of those things as well, and we turned out great. So I have learned to sometimes take the nurse out of the equation and just focus on being momma :)

Raechel @ Our Island Outlook said...

Oh man, Evelyn has fallen out of the bed at least three times. Once when she was less an a month old, I fell asleep with her on my chest...I must've rolled over because I heard a THUMP and then she cried. Cue major freak out.

Then it didn't happen again until recently, when she's realized she can just roll around, crawl, etc on the bed. I drifted off to sleep again one morning and she had fallen. That happened TWICE. The first time she just slid right into a laundry basket full of clothes (I knew that there was a reason I hadn't put them away...) but man. Yeah, guilt is awful but we all make mistakes. Now if you pushed her off the bed, you'd have a reason to feel guilty but mistakes happen.

xo

Kara said...

You are too hard on yourself! Accidents happen and you are a wonderful mother!!!

So sorry that happened to you! :(

Hugs,
Kara

Ashley said...

First of all, that picture is so precious. 2nd of all, both of my kiddos have fallen off the bed as babies and it was so so scary for me and they were fine! I think it happens to everyone so please don't beat yourself up! Some how babies are super resilient!

Lindsay said...

Wow...looks like you got tons of advice and comfort already. I won't bother telling you what you already know, that you are an amazing mother and accidents happen (actually, I guess I just told you). So happy to hear everyone is good. And what Isabelle said to you in that moment is so sweet, honest, and heart warming!