There are moments that define who are. Some of them are happy ones. Like meeting the person who will become your spouse and partner in life or when your baby arrives. And there are some that aren’t happy. Some of the most important moments of your life are soul crushing. It’s like your heart’s a piece of paper, and someone’s ripping it up into a million little pieces and you have to try and put it all back again. Thankfully, my life hasn’t been filled with many of these. The one’s that have been part of me stick out in my mind like a hangnail – careful to not touch it but boy does it hurt when you do. I remember two of those three moments in my life very distinctly. The first was when I was standing in St. Al’s church reading what I had written at my Grandpa’s funeral – the paper ripped. The second was hearing my mom’s voice on the phone saying, “Amy, Grandma’s gone” – shreds everywhere.
The third moment in my life that changed everything I don’t remember exactly when I felt everything rip and change. It was a longer process, very slow and painful. Now, in the grand scheme of human life and experiences, this moment is nothing. Barely a blip on a radar compared to war and famine and cancer and death especially considering the day it happened – September 11th. A day were people all around the world remember people lost in the World Trade Center, and mourn for those trapped inside a collapsed building because of senseless violence, but for me that day will forever be associated with Ellabelle. In my world, in my own little scope of reality, the worst moment in my life (and hopefully ever) happened on that day.
See, I remember the call I got from the babysitter. “Ellabelle fell in the kitchen. She wouldn’t get up, and, when I changed her, she cried and grabbed her leg the whole time. I have her on the couch eating snacks, but I think you may want to come get her.” It’s seared into my brain. I had taken a half day at work, and we were headed to a Reds game because Josh works for the police department, and we got free tickets for 9/11. I wasn’t concerned because this kid falls all the time. I called Josh and he agreed that if the babysitter thought it was serious enough to call that we should go get her.
Sure enough, she was right where the babysitter said she was – laying on the couch, not moving at all – a strange sight for our rambunctious two year old. I made Josh pick her up and carry her. She screamed when he picked her up and clenched him tight and cried the whole way to the car. Then she screamed the entire way to the hospital. Every bump, every curve, every stop made her wail. I still tear up remembering the amount of pain she was in. We still thought it was nothing. Maybe she pulled a muscle. Maybe she bruised it weird, and the carseat was hitting it.
Once they confirmed that it was broken and that she’d be spending at least 4 weeks in a hip spica cast, I went into mom mode. There was no time to stress over how I was feeling. No time for me to process everything going on. All that mattered was that this tiny person was as happy and comfortable as I could make her. I couldn’t let her see me be upset or let her see my fear. She had to know that mommy was there and everything was going to be ok. It was a brutal day and overnight. She slept for maybe 30 minutes at a time and would cry out in pain. I was there every time she woke. The weeks that followed were hard on all of us. You could just see the light go out of her eyes. Her spunky spirit was gone. My focus was still on her and making her happy. It was so hard and draining on all of us.
After it was over, after the cast came off in October, it was like a weight had been lifted off of all of us. She immediately went back being to her happy little self, and I pushed the whole incident to the back of my mind, not to be revisited. This is the first time I’ve sat and really thought about and relived that day and those days that followed. It breaks my heart all over again. And even with it tucked away in the back of my mind, it still effects Josh and I every day. We are constantly hovering at playgrounds, always yelling “walk!”, holding our breathes when she wipes out in fear that she may not be able to stand back up on her own. It’s changed the way we parent her. For 11 hours we watched our baby lay in pain, be twisted around while she screamed, and helplessly stood by as she looked to us for help and no being able to provide it. Like I’ve said, it’s small in the scope of other people’s realities, but, for me, it was hell. And I’m thankful that a broken bone is the worst we’ve ever seen, and I hope that it will stay that way, but it is forever seared in my brain.
I am so thankful she has no idea any of it happened. I showed her a picture of her in her pink cast today, and she immediately thought it was a blanket. I guess the silver lining is that it happened while she was so young. I can’t imagine potty training or having already potty trained her and having to deal with the cast. I can’t imagine how it would’ve effected her if she could remember the pain and cast. She might be more hesitant on playgrounds or playing soccer, and while I might like that I wouldn’t want it to hold her back. I’m thankful she’s healing right, and that this can all just stay behind us. I just hope that Matilda isn’t anywhere near as clumsy as her sister.