The girls’ bathroom toilet is leaking. I turned off the water supply last night, laid a towel out on the floor to soak up the water that had spread across the tile around it and got on with my life. This morning I told the girls to get their teeth brushed and hair combed, but to go downstairs and use B’s bathroom to tinkle. Grace headed into the bathroom with Annie like she always does, and I turned my attention to getting Lauren out of her bed and into some clothes. This is a daily challenge. She is a world champion dawdler.
When I got Lauren going I headed back to the girls’ bathroom for something and was met by an anxious looking Grace who said, “Mom! I had to go so bad I couldn’t wait, so I peed in the garbage can!”
I completely flipped my lid. As in I yelled at her and maybe even asked her if she was crazy. She cried so hard and I began to feel like a real heel because her logic was probably very simple: 1. I can’t use the toilet. 2. I have to go really bad. 3. I can’t leave the baby and I don’t want to carry her downstairs. 4. So I’ll just pee in the garbage can and we can throw it away.
So I apologized for yelling and hugged her and told her I wasn’t really mad at her, it’s just really gross and now I have to wash a garbage can.
Next I headed downstairs with the offending garbage can in one hand and Annie in the other. I popped Annie into her high chair with some Cheerios and a sippy cup, and pulled on my purple rubber dishwashing gloves. I started transferring the peed-upon garbage from the bathroom can into the kitchen bag that had to go out anyway, dripping a little pee on the kitchen floor to add to the grossness. I poured the pee down the sink, ran the hot water, squirted soap into the garbage can and heard, “eeeeee….”
I turned my head and Annie was STANDING on her high chair tray and right before my eyes leaned back and FELL backward, right onto the hardwood floor. It happened in a second and yet my eyes saw it in slow motion. I can, even now these many hours later, see her in my mind’s eye flat on her back, parallel to the floor and airborne. She landed with a smack of her back and thump of her head.
I didn’t spend 110 days driving to the NICU for it to end like this.
I grabbed her up with my rubber gloves still on and clutched her to me. She was crying and clinging like a baby marmoset. I ripped off the gloves and started palpating her skull and shoulders and back, and just for a second I thought she stopped breathing. She wouldn’t lift her head from my shoulder. In an absolute panic I called my Dad (also her doctor) and probably shouted into the phone, “AnniefelloutofherhighchairontothefloorandhowcanItellifshehasbraindamage?!”
Did I mention it was now 7:10 am and we were supposed to leave at 7:15 to get Grace to school to volunteer for her Girls on the Run penny drive? (A fact she told me at 10 pm last night.)
He told me what to look for and the girls came rushing to the bottom of the stairs, no doubt having heard the thump and whatever awful noises were coming out of me. Lauren was still in her nightgown.
We were all in the car by 7:27. We were 10 minutes late to the volunteer appointment. Annie’s pupils were evenly dilated, her extremities were moving and she suffered from neither repetitive vomiting, lack of movement in her extremities nor lethargy. I was exhausted from two back-to-back freak-outs all before 8 am.
From now on I am implementing a new rule for myself: Two freak-outs a day. Max.