to a head (literally)

19 Aug

Last Friday, 10 days ago, we returned after a glorious week of wedding + beaching culminating in a not so glorious shriek-filled car ride home, and we promptly put our girl down in her own crib.  Nearly three hours later, concerned she wouldn’t sleep at night, we decided to wake her up.  Ari was sweet but so hot to touch, and her cheeks looked like they could light the way in a moonless night.  Over the weekend, as long as we kept her fever in check, she did okay…different, certainly not always pleasant, with feeding and sleeping effected, but okay.  And we started to wait.

By day seven of a moderate fever, we had her pediatrician examine her.  Everything looked well, except for the fever and mild changes in behavior resulting, so he agreed to let us wait it out for a few more days sans antibiotics before considering further interventions.  I still shutter at the idea of catheterizing her to see if she has a urinary tract infection.  (I actually remember having to be cathed myself when I was three–it was traumatic and, though I know at 10 months she wouldn’t remember, I dearly wanted to avoid it.)

Jesus-family-portraits-Meadowlark-Botanical-Gardens-Vienna-Virginia-004Jesus-family-portraits-Meadowlark-Botanical-Gardens-Vienna-Virginia-486Jesus-family-portraits-Meadowlark-Botanical-Gardens-Vienna-Virginia-494(photos above taken by Julie at the end of our session last week, as Ari was starting to melt down…a prelude to the coming weeks)

So we kept at it, each of us getting progressively more sleep-deprived each day, since fevers have a habit of waking up lil’uns abruptly and often in the middle of the night.  We made it to Virginia for one of my closest friends’ wedding this weekend.  Wanting to scape up as much time as possible at the friend-filled toast and roast on Friday, John and I alternated bouncing Ari around in her carrier.  Concerned her squawking might interrupt a tender moment of a toast, I impatiently paced the hallway outside the banquet room, Ari strapped to my back.  As she seemed to be getting close to sleep, I decided to rotate her to the front of my body.  As a slipped one of the straps off my left shoulder, I felt her body weight shift oddly and suddenly fall away.

I heard the most unnerving, muffled but abrupt thwack (it was reminiscent of the sound a medicine ball makes at the gym when its exhausted user lets it drop to ground) before I turned to see her head below her body, against the thinly carpeted hallway floor.  Her mouth twisted in anguish, her face turned beet red, and there was a second of confused silence before Ari let out a deafening cry.  How awful it must have been to be so close to sleep only to be so cruelly and painfully woken up.  I immediately scooped her up, crying myself, and held her close, which did very little to console her.  I felt such an intense conflict of thought: logically, even in the moment, I knew she was fine (immediate crying, no confusion or loss of consciousness, no vomiting, etc.); but then oh-my-god-oh-my-god I broke my daughter!

My friend Ted, standing in the doorway to the banquet room, saw me, and I sobbed, “Please get John.”  And John was perfect. He gingerly yet firmly took Ari from my arms, we walked outside, he started to distract her while feeling her scalp for bumps, all the while answering my stuttering questions I knew were absurd but I just had to get out: Is there any chance she broke her neck?  No, babies are flexible–I’ve seen babies fall from two stories and not have neck damage (please don’t test it!).  What about a skull fracture?  No, and she didn’t fall much further than her standing height, so wouldn’t that be a horrible trick of nature.  OH god, could she have an intracranial bleed?  She’s already looking better, acting herself, no vomiting.  Is she aways going to hate me?  I asked this question as Ari started reaching for me…  (Only later, with Ari safely sleeping in her peapod and her parents sipping a malbec, John sighed, “Shit, that was scary.”  Love that he has feelings!)

Still, I was freaked and, after having calmed down, I restarted my snotty sobfest several times when I recounted the event while saying goodbyes and gathering up things.  And, of course, Ari’s fever raged on, her face got stuck in a crevice of her pod, and we had another bad night.  I was so lucky that my friend, despite being the queen of spreadsheets and the organizer of all things, was the most tolerate/loving/chill bride-to-be on the planet and supported my emotional roller coaster bullshit, which is just not cool to whip out on someone else’s wedding day.  Ever.  After leaving Ari in the comforting and capable arms of Vovi, I experienced a few more bouts of sobbing with flashbacks to when I heard the thwack of her head against the ground, but arrived at the salon heart full and happy to celebrate Erica and Dan’s marriage.  I was doing better, really.

And then I forgot my special underwear.  No, this is actually as ridiculous as it sounds.  I forgot the underwear I planned to wear: the uber comfy, no-line, tummy-tucking lucky spanx that I wore at my own wedding.  And while I recognize that this is counter to any measure of feminist pride and acceptance of one’s own body, dammit I wanted my spanx to make me feel better about myself!  There wasn’t a good solution to this problem, since I lacked time to go back or go shopping without missing something like watching Erica slip on her wedding dress.  So instead I cried.

Hmmm, I need to paint this picture.  I didn’t just cry.  I ugly cried.  Sitting on the floor of Erica’s hotel room while the other bridesmaids gathered, a breast pump suctioned to my breasts, and the rhythmic wompa-wompa accompanying my sniffles.  And in my head I heard the thwack of my baby’s head hit the ground on repeat.  And I thought, Oh God, what if her fever doesn’t break and she needs to get cathed this week–I can’t do that to her, and I won’t be able to hold her body down.  And I didn’t even have my lucky, make-me-feel-better-about-my-body underwear.  And what if I failed the boards?!?!?!

Clearly this emotional riptide was something I just needed to roll with for the moment.  Again, logically I knew I was completely absurd, but I could not. stop. crying.  I think for a moment I even forgot why I was crying.  In response to the underwear dilemma, John (on the phone) suggested, “Why don’t you just freebuff it?”   To which I snapped, “Have you forgotten how I leak?”

It’s amazing the wonders of a splash of cold water to the face, some carefully applied de-splotching make-up, a strong mimosa, and girlfriends who love you and think your hysterics are adorable rather than repulsive.  The wedding was magnificent, the celebration epic.  If substances impede our memory, we’ll always have the photo booth.

1175309_10102770841338641_994590246_n 1175317_10102770841288741_1303399095_n 1011456_10102770841213891_976036722_n 1150932_10101079118190306_956860670_n photo (49)

Ari’s fever finally broke yesterday (day 10), her energy is up, her eyes mischievous.   There continues to be no discernable bump on her head, although we did accidentally run it into some hanging apparatus at the local stop-n-go.  We lack evidence of any love lost between us, and she remains appreciative of Aunt Erica and Uncle Dan for getting hitched and bringing together such a wonderful assortment of characters.



14 Responses to “to a head (literally)”

  1. Orca August 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    When my son was about Ari’s age, I had him in a backpack while I was leaning down adjusting my daughter’s clothes in a restroom at a photog’s studio. In an effort to see over my shoulder, he pushed off my hip with his feet and slid like a fish right out of the backpack (no, he wasn’t harnessed into the backpack) and right onto the cement floor on his head. The melon-like sound of his head hitting that floor is a sound I will hear in my head until the day I die. I thought I would never stop crying, and didn’t, all the way to the ped’s office where my husband met us and the ped assured us that my son was fine. And he is! Not sure I will ever forgive myself, though…..

    • annaojesus August 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Oh Orca, I’m so sorry! Thank you for sharing your story, and I’m so glad to know that your son is fine. I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the sound either, but I think I have to forgive myself…almost seems like a rite of passage, almost every parent I know has done it :/ Good to know kids are built to tolerate our shortcomings. Thank you again for your note!

  2. Larry Oppenheimer August 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm #


    One of your very best blogs ever.

    I just need to get up there to see you all.



    Sent from my iPad

    • annaojesus August 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Thank you! We cannot wait to see you!

  3. ericrosoff August 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    You’re a good mom.

    • annaojesus August 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      You’re a good friend; things would be so much more not as good without you. xoxo

  4. corkandcake August 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Anna, you are amazing. Sometimes you need a good ugly cry! One of my coworkers tells the funniest stories – she was home alone with her baby, set her in the middle of the bed to fold some laundry and turned her back for a second. Her little girl managed to roll herself off the bed – hysterics all around. My coworker then, after getting her to sleep in her crib that night, threw herself off the bed a few times, just so she would know how it felt! Anyways, her little girl is now 15 – and all is well. Take care!

    • annaojesus August 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Oh my goodness, this story made me laugh out loud! I LOVE that your coworker threw herself off the bed a few times–what a sweet, hilarious mom. Thank you so much for telling me, and for encouraging me with my hideous, ugly crying 🙂 Miss you!

  5. Katie Kemple August 20, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    This post tugged at my heart strings and also made me smile. You have a gift for words and conveying the terror and humor of motherhood. You are a wonderful writer and mother. And, I’m so happy the evening had a happy ending!

    • annaojesus August 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

      Oh Katie, thank you! Goodness, I am just tickled pink that you think I’m a good writer, and I’m honored that you think I’m a good mother. You are someone I admire and look up to, so your kind words mean a lot! Thank you!

  6. Sue August 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Dear Anna,
    You are amazing. I had no idea any of that was happening. Because all I remember was you winking at me in rehearsal! 😉 I’m glad the fever is broken. I’m glad she doesn’t have a bump. And I completely understand the underwear situation.
    Love! You!

    • annaojesus August 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

      Sue! I’m so, so happy to be starting to get to know you better! Let’s absolutely be friends in real life, please 🙂 I’m actually glad you didn’t know this was happening–I was worried that I might have taken attention away from our girl (Erica, that is, in this case 🙂 ). Thank you so much for your kind words. Also, don’t you have a blog? May I read it? xo


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