Monday, April 11, 2005

A New Family Tradition

When my mother was about 14-15 weeks pregnant with me, she was in a car accident. Crossing a state road, got clipped at the rear by an 18-wheeler. Did a 360 into a ditch and a 180 back out of it. Gave her some bruising and whiplash, decimated the groceries in the trunk. Probably rung my bell a bit, too, but I turned out just fine (except for a few pesky genetic issues that were already set in stone by then for me).

So Friday afternoon I decided that I couldn't let my mother outdo me and a root canal while pregnant certainly couldn't compete with a car accident while pregnant. Yup, good a reason as any to run a red light, right? Before I give all the fascinating details, be reassured that I am fine and Baby is fine. I have a small scrape on my arm from the airbag deployment, a tiny bruise on my knee from hitting the bottom of the steering wheel, and a few sore muscles on my neck and where my seat belt kept me in place. Oh yeah, and my ego's a bit battered, but it can take it. Baby's ticker is still going at 159-161 bpm (my nurse says this is an indicator of a girl), and we even heard some more kicking and punching today, not that I can feel it yet.

It all started Friday morning when I decided that Mark and I needed some Mommy and Daddy time. We arranged to take the afternoon off and grab some lunch together and then maybe pick up a baby toy or some baby books or something equally sappy. I was on my way to pick him up, listening to Tori Amos and getting a little day-dreamy about the whole "and baby makes three" thing. The sun was shining, creating all sorts of fun shadows, and I was about to head under a bridge just before a stoplight. The car next to me slammed on the brakes, my first indication that perhaps the light was red and not green. I checked, saw the red, immediately slammed on the brakes, and started swerving to the left to avoid the car already pulling out into the intersection. For a few blissful milliseconds, I thought I had stopped in time. I relaxed and exhaled, only to come to a half-second later, trying to catch my breath, staring at a deflated airbag, a bumper (not mine) twenty feet in front of me, and a neatly crumpled hood (mine).

By this point, the delusion that I had avoided the accident was looking mighty preferable, and I had a hard time getting back to the present. Then I started to freak. The baby, the car, the money, the bay, the car, the money, THE BABY OHMIGOD THE BABY WHAT HAVE I DONE WHAT HAVE I DONE. Then I started to multitask like I've never multitasked before. Other people were out of their cars, checking on me, bystanders were calling the cops, I was trying to answer everyone's "are you OK" questions, assess the damage of the car, my own personal "broken/good" gauges, apologize profusely to Baby, call my husband, and sob. While trying to assure Mark that I was OK, but to just get here now, I realized the car was smoking slightly. In a strange haze of "what do I save", I fumbled for my purse, took my glasses off because they had been knocked askew by the air bag (and in my disheveled state I had failed to realize that I just needed to resettle them on my nose), and got the heck out of my smoking, greenish-yellow fluid-leaking car.

I made it to the curb and the sobbing started in earnest. By this point, two people had attached themselves to me: an EMT who happened to be there, and a very nice woman named Linda who took it upon herself to get me calmed down. The driver of the other vehicle stayed with the cars, checking out the damage. I'm pretty sure he was the first to ask me if I was OK, but I honestly don't remember. Eventually Linda got me calmed down and joking about the fact that my mother had been in an accident while pregnant, how we had just the day before replaced the car battery, how a root canal wasn't excitement enough for Junior, etc. This gave the EMT time to take my pulse (an adrenaline-fueled 120 bpm). And then the cops and paramedics started showing up. This was a haze of very kind faces making sure I was OK, taking care of all the details like getting the other guy's info, clearing the intersection of debris, towing the cars away, etc. At some point, the put me in a neck brace and started to get me on a backboard. I asked them to wait a few seconds until Mark got there so he didn't have to show up just as I was getting wheeled into an ambulance, because this was all precautionary, not necessary.

For those of you who have never been on a backboard before, I really don't recommend it. For the first half hour, it's not so bad. But by the time you've been on the damn thing for two frickin' hours, you're ready to invent an entire new language using nothing but profanity. Any pain I had in my neck from the accident was nothing compared to the back pain from being stuck on that damn orange backboard for two hours.

Everything slowed down and became basically ordinary at the ER. Some Xrays, a CAT scan (here's hoping Baby takes the trace amount of scatter radiation and turns into the Stops On A Dime Xman), a quick fetal heartbeat monitor, and we were ready for our friend PJ to drive us home. All in all, while Mark and I got to spend quite a bit of extra time together this weekend, this was not the manner in which I had hoped to spend it. I slept away most of Saturday, waking up only long enough to pick up the rental car after Mark found out that his driver's license had expired. Sunday I was supposed to host a writing group, but we were hammered with a decently impressive snowstorm yesterday and had to cancel the meeting. And I didn't have to mess with Earl at all this weekend (excluding the intense conversation we had Friday evening; note to self: Baby does NOT like spicy pork BBQ).

I was quite content not having any exposure to the reality of what emergency response folks do. But now that I've experienced their skills firsthand, I'm truly amazed and grateful that we have people like that in the world. Everyone who helped me get through Friday afternoon was amazing. I felt safe, protected, cared for. It was nice to have a moment to look around and realize that everyone wants to help.

Now I'm just waiting for the phone call that will tell me whether or not the car is totaled. If it is, this will be the third car Mark and I have lost since we've been together, two of them within days after replacing the battery. I think I've satisfied my adventure quota for a while. Hopefully at least for the next six months.

No comments: