Apparently every mom goes through this moment: the I’m my baby’s protector, but I’m the one who knocked his head against the doorway and I feel sick that I caused him pain. I'm sad to say that I have been that mom, multiple times.
Henry (circa 7 months) and I were playing on the bed as usual. He flip flopped back and forth, giggling and grabbing at my hair. He wasn't crawling yet, but was already very active. I decided to strategically place a toy in the center of the bed while I whizzed across the room to the vanity mirror to examine a whitehead that had recently settled in the crease between my nostril and cheek. Before I could have any negotiation with the mini-pustule, I heard a thud. Oh No. I whirled around to find my little angel, faced down in the carpet wailing. I checked every precious digit, limb, roll, and found no evidence of trauma. But I knew there was trauma. Trauma to my confidence as a mother. I have heard so many mothers tell stories about their babies falling off the couch, bed, changing table, and I always knew I would never let that happen to my H-bomb. Apparently, the mommy gods knew differently. I wondered: should I call the doctor? Does Henry have a concussion? Did he hit his head? I watched him intently for signs of injury – nothing. He went down for bedtime without a hiccup. I decided to re-enact his suicidal dive off the bed. Henry had introduced me to an extreme sport: bed diving. I throttled myself from the mattress trying different scenarios. First I rolled off sideways. Then I tried head first. Did he roll off from belly to back, from back to belly, side to belly? Did he scoot off forwards or backwards? I deduced that based on his landing position – perpendicular to the bed on his belly – that he had scooted backwards and just barely missed hitting his head on the bed frame. This scenario I could not re-enact. My eyes welled up with tears of guilt. My poor little chicken pot pie could be dead because of my vanity. Shame on me for succumbing to the silly oil pustule burrowed under my skin. I said to myself over and over "Never again, never again."
Dive number 2 went down when we were in Milwaukee at Henry’s grandparents’ house. I laid him down on the hundred year old antique bed to change his diaper. As I reached down to rummage through his diaper bag, I saw him out of the corner of my eye sliding off the bed. Before I could turn to grab him, he landed face first into the weaved carpet and the hard wood floor. He suffered a few scrapes on his forehead, but nonetheless survived extreme dive number 2.
Henry attempted extreme dive number three a week later. Now that I had witnessed Henry’s true passion for bed diving, I never left him alone on high altitude terrain. I knew I had to watch him like a hawk. He has eczema, and his skin was looking particularly red with dry patches that day, so I reached over to the night stand to grab the tub of Cetaphil (we have a tub in every room). I was standing next to the bed blocking him from any dive attempts – you could say I was dive blocking him - and grabbed a gob of Cetaphil. As I reached down to slather the white goo on his face, he slipped out of my grip and did a head first dive into the floor. Seriously? That’s exactly what Chris said when I told him of dive number 3. Thankfully, I had just thrown a pillow down on the floor, and he gracefully landed into the fluffy artificial hypoallergenic feathers. For a second he froze, face down in the feathers, then he lifted his head and laughed.
Henry has yet to attempt dive number four. He seems weary of the edge these days. He’s started to show fear, and gazes with yearning over the edge. Just in case, I line both sides of the bed with pillows and block whichever side he’s heading for with the length of my body. I’m sure he will regain the courage to take up bed diving again, but when that day comes, I’ll be ready.