Last year, as my belly swelled to its 32 week glory with a growing and seemingly impatient Isabelle, my 15 month old Zachary broke his leg. One of my best friends, who yes, has kept her standing as “best friend” offered to take my son around the corner to the park, giving my irritable uterus a break. This annoyingly frequent contraction scenario was nothing new, nor did it seem to mean my baby girl was about to make her debut in a matter of hours, which would often be the case. Nope. Just a fun little bonus to test my sanity before shaking up our already joyfully insane home with baby number two.
Once I had the house to myself, I quickly relished in the rare ability to get dinner prepared in silence. I had barely gotten through slicing half of a sweet potato when my phone rang, a hysterical best pal on the other line.
“Em. I don’t know what to do. Zachary just hurt his leg, I think. I’m freaking out. He was on my lap going down the slide and I think his leg got caught. He screamed really loud and no one would help me. Oh my god, Em. I can’t even think, how do I find your street?!”
I very calmly told her I would be right there and that I was sure he was fine. He was very dramatic and blood curdling screams were not out of the ordinary. As she searched for the “end call” button on her phone, I heard her sobbing through some sort of “Hail Mary” or “Lord’s Prayer” or some other desperate plea for heavenly intervention.
I found them in five minutes, swept up a whimpering Zachary from his stroller and calmed them both. It was 5:05 in the evening on a Friday, as most events such as this tend to occur. But, I didn’t have the sense that this was an emergency. I mean, how easy can it be to break a bone? In my 34 years, not one of my 206 bones have even been fractured. And I assure you that is not due to a cautious and graceful demeanor.
“He’s fine.” I thought. “I’m hungry, tired, and need to put this kid down because his added 25 pounds is not helping to ease the discomfort of my tightening beach- ball of a stomach, baring down on an overflowing bladder.”
We walked in the door and I put him down to witness what I was certain would be an agile sprint away from me toward his toys. Instead, he cried and crawled into my lap. I had always marveled at other children during library story hour as they seemed to sit contentedly in their parent’s laps. Until this moment, I had never had that experience with my energizer bunny. But I still wasn’t convinced that this needed “after-hours” medical attention.
Crackers. Crackers never failed to change the mood of a somber Zachary.
After handing him two Kashi TLC wheat crisps, I watched as his little knuckles clutched the crackers tightly, one in each hand, but neither trembling fist made its way up to his pouting mouth.
Time to call the doctor.
We were able to get into a highly recommended pediatric urgent care, which happened to be right around the corner, and he was prepped for x-rays within 30 minutes.
My friend was still in a panic as we awaited the results. I remained calm. All of my energy had been strangled out somewhere between contraction number 4,356 and 5,578. “How could anything more be added to our plate right now?”
This thought had barely floated from my head before the previously cheerful doctor popped her furrowed eye-brows back into the exam room, and with a quick but surprised voice said,
“He broke it”
Up until that moment, my attitude remained slightly concerned, but rather blasé. I was almost certain we would leave with an ace bandage and some baby Motrin and be home in time to eat that half of a sweet potato I sliced an hour earlier.
But, nothing snapped me out of my fatigued, third-trimester coma like those words. My eyes snapped past their half-mast position and my voice raised to pitches it hasn’t reached since flying high in Glinda’s bubble. The doctor, trying to calm me said, “He’s going to be fine. He will heal. The cast will be off in four to six weeks.”
“Six weeks!” I cried through another contraction. “I have to carry him around for six weeks?!”.
Please forgive me for sounding like an uncaring and unsympathetic mother. I still harbor guilt that my initial reaction was not for my precious baby boy and his first broken bone, but for my own bloated body and how it would bear the additional constant weight of another baby without crumbling in a pathetic, bulging heap to the ground.
Selfish, horrible me. I would try to defend myself, but honestly, if you ask anyone who had the unfortunate pleasure of being in my presence for any amount of time during that trimester, or who am I kidding, that entire pregnancy, they would agree that I was quite horrible. Miserable, cranky, mean and horrible.
But, in actuality, the following four weeks, although awkward, were not as much of a nightmare as I had anticipated. I kept telling myself and my poor, distraught friend that it could have been his neck and not his tibia. This was an enormous inconvenience and annoying as all get out, but that was it. For that I was grateful.
Two weeks later, at 34 weeks pregnant, I was admitted into the maternal fetal care unit, treated for preterm labor and released two days later. Contractions continued every two to four minutes, 24 hours a day for the next two weeks. Zachary’s cast (his 3rd of three as they kept slipping down his thigh) was removed hours before my body gave in to his sister’s persistence and answered her perpetual knocking.
Isabelle Ann gloriously barged into the world and officially joined our family at 36 weeks…four weeks early, but a healthy 6 lbs 5 oz and perfect.
Zachary walked proudly on two feet into our room on the Maternity Ward floor to meet his sister, his best friend, for the first time…..
….and then the real fun began!
Why do I tell this story now?
I found it utterly amusing that five different friends forwarded this article to me this week.
Chuckling, I responded….
“Um…guys? I didn’t do it.”
I love this friend with all of my heart and would still have no qualms about leaving my children in her loving care. Clearly, as this article states, this can happen to anyone and happens more often than we realize.