When one of your worst fears comes true…

Well we have certainly had an eventful time of it lately!

I was of course jinxing myself in my earlier post when I said we had cracked the sleeping thing. It always gets me – we’ll have 2 weeks of sleeping through and I think we’ve done it, then suddenly night after night she’s creeping up into my bed at 1am, 4am, 5am etc.

I’ve discovered that the only way to handle it is to be consistent. Even if it’s 5.30am and only an hour or so to go before we get up, SHE doesn’t know that, she can’t tell time, and therefore she needs to learn the principle of staying in her bed until the sun on her alarm clock comes up no matter what. It’s hard to be consistent as some nights I’m so deeply asleep I barely register her getting into bed with me!

However on Sunday morning, when she crept in a 4.30am I got up to take her back downstairs to her bed. We had the usual “NO I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP IN MY BED I WANT TO SLEEP IN MAMA’S BED” mini-scream, so I picked her up in one arm, held on to the bannister with the other hand and headed downstairs.

Until about 2/3 of the way down the stairs when I slipped and fell down the stairs, with my daughter in my arms.

It’s a scenario I’ve been terrified of ever since she moved in, and I generally avoid carrying her on the stairs for this very reason, but she certainly wouldn’t have come down the stairs by herself just because I told her to go back to her own bed.

Amazingly, luckily, miraculously, I fell backwards, (my feet slipped out from under me) with her on my front, so I didn’t crush her when I fell (I am a large woman and could have done some serious damage if I had landed hard on top of her). Instead, all 90 kilos of me, plus 14 kilos of her landed hard on my back and side as we crashed down the stairs in a moment of sheer terror.

The rest of Sunday I was VERY stiff and sore all over – especially all down my left side, my shoulder, hip, back and bum, but no serious damage was done, no broken bones or torn ligaments. A hot soak in the bath and plenty of ibuprofen helped, and I was still pretty sore on Monday but definitely on the mend.

I’ve had that vague fear in my mind ever since I became a single parent – what if I get injured or hurt when we are in the house alone? What if I had hit my head or lost consciousness? I know lots of people teach their kids what to do in an emergency, but she’s still a bit too small to learn how to use the phone, and teaching her to dial 999 means she’s likely to just do it all the time, she’s not quite old enough to understand that part. We have been talking about how she can go and ring on our neighbour’s doorbells if something is wrong, but it was 4.30am in the morning and the stairgate at the top of the other stairs was locked, so she couldn’t have gone for help anyway.

Asking my single adopter network what they do brought a whole lot of horror stories about people who had broken bones falling and had to wait hours for someone to notice and get help, or someone who had a heart attack when alone with their child etc.

Some pointed out they always carry their phone with them, but it’s not practical as my pyjamas don’t have pockets and my hands were already full of child and bannister at the time. Some had some really interesting and sensible solutions such as – “That’s why I have an Alexa, so I can shout “Alexa call grandma” in an emergency” or “That’s why I have an apple watch – it can detect a fall and call for help if you don’t move after xxx minutes, plus you always have a phone with you”.

It’s certainly something to think about. I’ve never wanted or needed an apple watch, as I adore my beautiful watch that I wear every day, but it might help me feel more safe in a crisis. It has also spurred me on to ensure that all my key emergency contacts know which of my neighbours have keys and could check on me, and that my neighbours know who in my family to call in an emergency, as well as making sure my boss has this info in case I don’t show up to work one day.

What worries me is that I just don’t know how long it would be before someone came looking for me, or my daughter. I don’t have anyone I always speak to every single day. I speak to different friends and family on different days, but no one would be overly concerned if they hadn’t heard from me in 2-3 days. My boss would worry if I failed to show up without sending a message, but he might assume I was sick or had an emergency with my daughter so he might not raise the alarm for a couple of days. Ditto the nursery – if my daughter didn’t show up they’d probably assume she was sick and I forgot to call in.

I’m terrified that my daughter would be left alone, crying and upset potentially for days until someone came looking for us. I will try to start teaching her what to do in an emergency, but I don’t want to frighten her and I’m not sure she’s old enough yet to be much help anyway.

So that’s all pretty scary and terrifying. Great thoughts to have right before Christmas…

But on the other hand, I’ve been scared of falling down the stairs while holding my kid for nearly two years, and actually, the worst thing I could think of happened, and we’re both totally fine (well, bruises and sore muscles aside!). Though that doesn’t help much as the next time it could of course be much worse.

So 2020, global pandemic and crushing economic fallout aside, you’ve also organised a hit-and-run that knocked my kid down crossing the road, and hurled us both down the stairs…. what else could possibly happen before new year? If bad things come in threes, I don’t know if I have the energy for whatever is coming next…

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