Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Humpty Dumpty

I'm officially a bad father. Emily fell out of her crib today.

I was doing the laundry in the hallway, just a few feet from her bedroom. She was playing in her crib. I heard the thud, then, of course, the screams.

Two steps and I was in her room where I found her on her side on the floor beneath her crib. She'd pulled herself up and over the railing which had been lowered half way to make it easier for me to get her in and out. I didn't realize that she'd reached the stage where she could easily accomplish the same thing on her own.

I scooped her up immediately and held her close to me, hoping that she needed comforting more than anything. It worked. After about a minute, she stopped screaming. After another minute, she acted as if nothing had happened.

I knew I wasn't out of the woods yet, though, so I called Misty and delivered the frightening news. She was still on her way to work, so she was frantic about whether she needed to come back home. I assured her that she didn't, but that I'd just wanted her to know what had happened.

My next call was to the doctor's office. However, I didn't reach anyone for more than an hour, so in the meantime I just had to assume that I was doing everything right. Emily played on the floor with her blocks and crawled around making happy sounds, so I wasn't too worried anymore. I squeezed each of her arms and legs, her hands, and her feet and pressed on her back and chest. She gave no indicaion of pain. I even measured the height from the top of the crib railing to the floor (2 feet, 10 inches — shorter than it seemed) in case the hospital inquired about it.

When I finally reached a nurse, she asked if Emily was still upset, whether she ever lost consciousness, and what sort of surface she fell onto. I told her that she seemed fine now, she'd been conscious the whole time and that she'd fallen onto a thick rug on top of carpet. She told me that I could bring Emily in for an x-ray if I wanted, but it was really at my disgression. There's no standard procedure to follow, she said; just watch her behavior. She told me to pay attention to Emily's sleeping, making sure that she wasn't napping longer than usual. She also recommended that after putting her to bed for the night, I gently rouse her an hour or so later to make sure she's still able to maintain consciousness; then to do so again during the middle of the night. She also said to check Emily's pupils from time to time, making sure they were dialated at the same level.

Everything ended up fine, which I pretty much expected even before I'd spoken with the nurse. Nevertheless, I was relieved. Since Emily was unhurt, I'm looking at the incident as a lesson learned in how to deal with an infant who has fallen. I also learned that I need to keep the crib railing up.

Upon hearing the news of Emily's fall, Misty's mother and Aunt were oddly well spirited about it. They threw out some old wive's tale about how if a baby doesn't fall off of something before it's a year old, then it will die before it reaches two years of age. I knew that wasn't the real reason for their enthusiasm, though. A couple months ago, they'd turned their backs while Emily was crawling on a bed, and she fell off onto the floor. Now the attention was on me, and they were off the hook.

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