It was June 18, the very day my son, Donovan, turned 6 months old. He, my husband, Donzell Floyd, and I were all sitting in our living room in Atlanta, Ga.
Donzell had been watching Donovan for a few hours when I decided to give the tired dad a break and take over baby care.
I started moving my things from the couch I was sitting on to the one nearest the baby’s things. I grabbed my cell phone, then laid Donovan down on the couch and sat next to him.
My husband was watching TV from his favorite chair when I noticed I forgot my laptop on the couch opposite the baby and I.
How my baby fell the first time
I turned for a brief moment to grab it and boom. Donovan fell onto the hardwood floor, which at the time had only a thin area rug with no padding on it.
Donovan hit his head on the floor and started screaming instantly.
I was mortified and rushed to pick him up.
I held him in my arms. He was crying and clutching on to me tightly, but he wasn’t holding or reaching toward any area of his body in pain. I think he was just startled.
“Well, now you know what can happen son,” Donzell said jokingly. “I’m glad mommy was the first.”
“Shut up, Zell,” I responded, smiling.
I patted and rubbed Donovan’s back.
In about 30 seconds, he stopped crying. In that time, Donzell had grabbed his phone to record the aftermath of the fall and sent the video to a text thread we shared with both our moms and his sister.
“I wish you hadn’t done that,” I told him.
What to do when baby falls
I spent the next few minutes keeping an eye on Donovan. No bruising or redness developed, and he still wasn’t pulling or rubbing at his head. He instead, fell asleep, so I called my mom.
She was equally mortified.
“My poor baby,” she said, dramatically.
He could have really hurt himself, she said.
I explained how it happened, and she ultimately said that all I could do was learn from it.
I got off the phone and didn’t think much about the conversation. I was still rattled from Donovan’s fall.
I tried to calm down. I took Donovan upstairs to his crib, and I sat across from him in my rocking chair. I told myself: it’s OK. Babies fall. He is OK. Learn from it, and prevent it in the future.
Expect your family to overreact when baby falls
That’s when I picked up my phone and noticed a flood of text messages in our family group thread mentioning how serious of a situation this was.
In hindsight, I think that probably had more to do with my husband laughing in the video than anything I did.
But at the time I just felt discouraged. I removed myself from the thread because at that point it wasn’t doing me any good.
Still, I got a few individual texts from my husband’s sister.
“Please make sure he is OK,” she said in one of the texts. “I just sent this article to Donnie. Just make sure he is OK.”
She included the link to an article about a baby who fell and was paralyzed as a result. At that point, my discouragement turned to anger.
Try not to overreact when baby falls
I was upset at Donzell for putting me in that predicament and upset with my sister-in-law for thinking any mother in that scenario needed to hear about all the terrible things that could have happened.
I was already thinking them. I’m usually thinking them.
When I’m driving alongside a truck on the highway, I think, that truck could crash into my car and kill my baby.
When I’m walking him around the block in his stroller, I think, a car could jump the curb, hit and kill my baby.
When I’m lying in bed at night unable to sleep, I think, someone could break into our house, shoot and kill my baby.
If anyone has advice about how to avoid those thoughts, I’m all ears. But I seldom need to be reminded of all the ways my son could die.
Reach out to your support team to ease the blow from the fall
If anyone understood how I was feeling, I knew the other Honeycomb moms would. I sent a group text message to Jessica Hawkins and Sacandice Burnett specifically. We all have newborns, and I knew they could give some encouraging words. They did.
Jessica explained that she has to be selective about who she tells what for exactly that reason, and Sacandice added that she completely understands.
“You know there is no judgment here,” she said. “You’ll know if something is wrong. Just wake him up every 30 minutes or so to ensure you can wake him up.”
I did, and Donovan turned out to be fine.
My husband ultimately apologized for hurting me, and I forgave him. Really, he didn’t have anything to apologize for.
He didn’t mean any harm; neither did my sister-in-law or our mothers for that matter.
I just needed something different in that moment than they provided.
I needed a sister. I needed to hear from another mom in the trenches right along with me that I was OK. I am normal. I am human, and mistakes happen.
“I’m sure we all have fallen more than once,” Sacandice said.