Recently my daughter turned one. We threw a party, her first birthday party. It was a big deal. Family gathered. Friends gathered. Other babies gathered.
My wife and I spent some time planning the day. Extended family arrived at the house shortly before friends. Cake was made. Balloons were inflated. Presents were set out on the coffee table. As we made last minute preparations the doorbell rang.
A loud thump followed. An even louder cry followed that.
Just as the first guests arrived our daughter had fallen. She fell badly, head first onto the edge of the coffee table. There was a cut right above her left eye. It looked like she’d spent four rounds in a boxing ring. Around the cut, there was some serious bruising. She was going to have a black eye. Happy first birthday.
It was the kind of wound that made it look like we were running a baby fight club. We’re not, by the way. Even if we were we wouldn’t break the first rule and mention it. So no baby fight club. Unless you’re interested in the odds, then message me.
The coffee table had been baby-proofed. The corners were covered with soft padded foam purchased from a baby-proofing store. We were always told that the corners of furniture were the most dangerous. No one ever warned us about the sides. Corners are sharp and dangerous. Sides are just the parts between corners. Sides must have better PR.
She’s fallen before, never this badly, but she’s fallen. She was learning to walk which meant she fell often. Other falls had produced bumps and bruises. This fall produced a gash, a wound and an eventual black eye. The side of the coffee table broke her skin. That was a first. A milestone, I guess. On you or me it would be a scratch but on her it was a gash. From a parents viewpoint it looked like it needed surgery.
For obvious reasons she was upset. It was her party and she was crying not because she wanted to but because of a throbbing head wound. Her mood changed to match the wound. We gave her some children’s Tylenol to help with the pain and put her down for a nap. Hoping she could sleep it off.
This led to guests arriving and wondering where the birthday girl was.
“Oh, she’s upstairs sleeping off a head wound.”
When she awoke her mood hadn’t improved much and the bruising around the wound was much more pronounced. We felt like terrible parents. Friends who had never met our daughter showed up to see her badly wounded. Saying “she just fell” made us feel guilty even though she had actually “just” fallen.
Even repeatedly saying, “you should have seen the other baby” didn’t assuage our guilt.
It was our daughter’s first birthday party and the first present she opened was head trauma. Of course, she also opened other presents and had cake for the first time. And cake makes everything better.