I just realized that I never even told you about a terrible thing that happened! I mean, it wasn't a terrible terrible thing, but it sure wasn't an afternoon in a dive bar with Mark Ruffalo or anything. (Hey, did I say the number one thing I wanted for Christmas was sleep? Changed my mind! New plan!)
Sometime in late October, I put Hugo down to sleep in his bassinet—a major victory, involving much sssshhing and patting and investment of time—and then just before I tiptoed out of the room to go start a dance party with hookers and blow, or whatever it is that you do to celebrate the baby going to sleep for the night, I doubled back on myself and bent over his crib one more time just to see his sweet little face and confirm, once and for all, that air was going in and out of his nostrils.
(Side note: is everyone as paranoid as I am that their baby is simply going to.....stop breathing? Maybe I've just read too many Baby Center message boards or watched too many episodes of Call the Midwife—are you watching it? You should watch it! Nuns and babies!—but I live in continual fear that this will happen. I am constantly panning the beam of my lit-up iPhone screen over him in the dark to check that his little chest is still rising and falling, a behavior that my friend Jen has joked is going to result in him having an irrational fear of lighthouses when he grows up.)
(Side note to the side note, just while I think of it: My sister warned me not to watch Call the Midwife while I was pregnant, due to the various unpleasantnesses that often befall both mother and child, but I think the more important caveat may be not to watch it while you have a sleeping baby in the house because the soundtrack of this show is full of crying babies and every five minutes you will turn in alarm to the person with whom you are watching it and say "Wait, was that ours? Or on the TV?" and then you will have to pause it and both of you will freeze for a couple of seconds, ears cocked in the direction of the sleeping baby's room, before sighing in relief and saying "okay, phew, it was on the TV." You know how sometimes you're driving and a song comes on the radio that features a siren in the background and your heart starts hammering in your chest because you think you're about to be pulled over by the police? It's like that.)
Anyway, back to the terrible thing. So I'd put Hugo down in his bassinet and then backtracked over to make sure he was still breathing, and it was as I was straightening up from bending over his face that I caught my foot on one of the bassinet's legs and pitched straight forward—arse over teakettle, if you'll pardon the expression—into his bookshelf.
There was an almighty crack—which I realized in hindsight was my head hitting not only the wooden bookshelf, but also this vintage metal truck I'd found at an estate sale the week before; serves me right for being so pretentious and not just buying him some plastic crap, which would not only have been a little softer but also presumably have lessened my tetanus risk—and I am pretty sure that I did, for a few seconds, see stars. (Not the Mark Ruffalo kind. Sadly.) I also exclaimed in pain—loudly, which woke him right up—and then, when I staggered out of the room, wailing and keening, I caught sight of myself in the hall mirror and realized that the side of my head was POURING BLOOD.
Hugo, I apologize in advance for the huge bill you are going to get when this comes up one day in therapy. And did you have a good relationship with your mother? Well, my first memory of her is her standing over my crib, screaming and bleeding from the head.
I stumbled into the bedroom to find my phone and tried to hold it against my ear to call Sean, but the copious amounts of blood meant it kept slipping out of my hand, and when I finally got hold of him, he was all "Hey! I'm just on my way ho---" and I was all "I FELL AND HIT MY HEAD I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO THERE'S SO MUCH BLOOD"—no punctuation, just like that—which is clearly just what you want your wife to say on the other end of the phone when she's home alone with your 12-week-old baby and you're still half an hour away and it's raining and you've only got 2% battery left on your phone.
After he'd ascertained that Hugo was okay and that I was basically okay—albeit rather shaken up and in quite a lot of pain—he said he was going to abandon the MUNI and jump in a cab to race home, and that I should call my mother and stay on the phone with her until he got there, just in case I passed out, which did, at that point, feel like it could be a real possibility. After another "Hello, darling! How nice to hear fro—"/"I FELL AND HIT MY HEAD AND I'M BLEEDING AND I DON'T WANT TO WORRY YOU BUT CAN YOU STAY ON THE PHONE WITH ME SO I REMAIN LUCID" conversation—my mother says the initial five seconds of it took five years off her life—I calmed down a little bit and managed to chat quite reasonably (with Hugo in a death grip on my lap) until Sean walked in the door and did a double-take at the (incredibly attractive, I am sure) dried blood caking my face and neck and décolletage. I mean, forget feeling gross because you didn't have time to brush your hair and every shirt you own has spitup stains on the left shoulder; this is really letting yourself go.
Long story short, Sean took Hugo and got him back to sleep, cleaned up my face, asked me what year it was and who was president, ascertained that we probably didn't need to go to the ER, agreed with my weak joke that yeah, it could be kind of funny to take a picture of my blood-covered face and blow it up and print it out to make a Halloween mask but on second thought eh maybe not, canceled the dinner plans we'd had with friends, and got me settled in bed with some Motrin and some deep cleansing breaths. The next day, when my pounding headache still hadn't gone away and I'd read one too many articles about Natasha Richardson, we did end up making a quick trip to Urgent Care, where a very nice Canadian doctor did some quick tests on me and ruled out a brain injury, then sewed up my cut—thank goodness for swoopy bangs!—but I have, by and large, been totally fine since, with the added bonus of having a fairly badass little scar by my left eyebrow.
(The explanation, however, is not quite so badass. Ah, that's my vintage toy car injury! Exactly like your scar from jumping over three burning buildings in your motorcycle, yes.)
But here is the best part of the entire story, and the one that has introduced a very useful phase into our everyday lives. After Sean had hung up the phone with me after I'd called him, he ran back up the stairs of the MUNI station—he'd been about to get onto the train—and out into the street to find a cab so he could get home more quickly. After a few minutes of fruitless searching, he finally managed to hail one, but another couple ran towards him at the same time and tried to climb in. "Do you mind if I take this one?" begged Sean. "My wife hit her head and it's bleeding and she's home alone with our 3-month-old son. It's an emergency!"
"Well," said the woman, continuing to clamber into the cab. "We have an emergency too! We have to get to the Cow Palace!"
Now, in case you don't know, the Cow Palace is an indoor arena here in the Bay Area, and that night—I looked it up the next day—they were hosting the Grand National Rodeo. The Grand National Rodeo! And while I have spent many minutes since that night fuming at what awful human behavior it was to filch a cab from a man who needed to get home to his bleeding wife and infant son, I have spent even more wondering what sort of rodeo emergency they could possibly have been on their way towards. Perhaps one of the bulls had a terrible case of stage fright and this couple were experienced animal whisperers whose services were needed urgently? Maybe there was some sort of escaped livestock situation?
Either way, the whole experience has at least given us a wonderful new phrase to add to that couples' shorthand one ends up accruing in any long-term relationship. Now whenever either of us needs the other to understand that something is of the utmost urgency, all we have to do is turn to the other, look them in the eye, and say "No, seriously. I have to get to the Cow Palace."