When Good Days Go Bad

At the moment my life is quite literally a mess. The state of my house provides proof enough of this. With two chairs currently occupied by laundry that has yet to be folded and put away, toys strewn all over the living room and dining room floors, and a sink full of dirty dishes, a visitor would not have to look very far to see that I am not on top of things.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Add to that the bills waiting to be paid, papers waiting to be graded, and a prescription waiting to be picked up, and my life looks even less tidy. Oh, and did I forget to mention that it’s mid-afternoon and I am still unshowered and in my pajamas?

It’s understandable that I would not be the picture of perfection. I’m 27 weeks pregnant and trying to manage a toddler, a household, and the online class I’m teaching this summer. I’m moving much slower than I normally do, and even simple tasks like getting dressed for the day can leave me winded. After sweeping up the food Early Bird drops on the floor at each meal or picking up the toys she leaves in her wake, I find myself having to sit down and rest for a few minutes before doing anything else.

Part of my problem likely has something to do with the phone call I received from my doctor’s office yesterday. About a week and a half ago, I went in for my glucose test. I passed, but the test revealed that my iron level is low (thus the prescription I need to pick up). And as I learned from my research, low iron contributes to fatigue.

All of this leaves my spirits a bit low as well. I like to have things done. I don’t like doing them, but seeing clean surfaces in my house and knowing that I have done the things on my to-do list gives me a sense of accomplishment. And often it seems that just when things are starting to fall into place, something happens.

Like it did just after lunch yesterday.

I had unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, put Early Bird’s toys back on the shelf, graded two sets of discussion posts, and even completed an article outline I started six months ago. I was getting things done and had plans to tackle both the laundry and a set of student essays after lunch.

That’s when it all fell apart.

As I was carrying Early Bird back to the bedroom to put her down for a nap, she dropped her pacifier. I bent down to pick it up and in the process banged her head against the corner of the dresser. She immediately began screaming, and I cursed my clumsiness as I tried to calm her down. Not knowing exactly where she had hit her head, I asked her where it hurt as I felt for any signs of a bump. Then, to my horror, I discovered blood on my hand.

Panicked, I frantically searched for the source of the blood and found a nice scrape on the back of her head. I could not see any active bleeding, so my frenzy turned from picking up the phone to call 911 to filling a Ziploc bag with ice and holding it against her head to reduce any swelling. Then, still holding her and the bag of ice, I speed dialed Roostler, who had left for class only ten minutes prior to the incident, to tell him what had happened. Somehow, I remained calm as I explained the sequence of events. Ever the concerned father, he wanted to turn around and come back home, but I told him he should go on to class and that I would call him if there was any cause for worry. We decided that I needed to wait for about an hour before I put her down for a nap. So to the couch we went to watch a video and cuddle.

After Early Bird had calmed down enough to loosen her grip on me, I got out my laptop and began researching head injuries in children. What I found was of little use. Apparently the signs of concussion include loss of memory and slurred speech. How am I supposed to check that in a toddler who has the attention span of a moth and speaks in indistinguishable phrases most of the time? The only thing I could find that applied to her age group was unusual fussiness or crankiness. Considering that her mother just knocked her noggin into a piece of furniture, this piece of advice was not that helpful either.

After the video, Early Bird seemed to have returned to her normal self, so I went ahead and put her down for a belated nap. The sense of accomplishment I had felt earlier in the day was long gone, and in its place was a nice sense of guilt. I had hurt my child. Yes, it was an accident, but this did nothing to lessen the realization that I was the cause of her pain. How on earth had I managed to bump my child’s head into that dresser?

Instead of spending my afternoon as I had planned, I ended up anxiously waiting for Early Bird to wake up from her nap. I checked on her every half hour to make sure she was still breathing — something I haven’t done since she first came home from the hospital. I couldn’t concentrate on student essays, and I didn’t give the laundry any consideration. She slept for an hour longer than usual, but I don’t know if the reason for this was related to her injury or the delay in her schedule. After she woke up, she seemed to be her normal, silly self, so my worries were finally eased a bit.

The rest of the day passed without incident. And today I find myself trying to get caught up yet again. Only this time, I’m steering clear of the furniture.

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