The phone call you’re not supposed to ever get.

When you become a mom, you realize the moment they place your babies in your arms that your heart is beating on the outside of your body. That phrase is used so often because it’s just true. So true. It hits you every once in awhile: when you hear your babies say “Mama” for the first time, when you send them off to kindergarten, when they tell you they hate you and stomp off to their room. Hey – no one said having your heart outside, away from you was a good thing. It’s vulnerable and extremely hard to protect.

When my cell phone rang in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, I knew something was wrong. Stepmom and I text each other often. We almost never call each other out of the blue.

The Ex, Step-sister, and the girls were in an accident. The jeep rolled over. She only talked to the Ex for a minute before the EMTs showed up and rushed him to the hospital.

She didn’t know if the girls were okay.

She just knew that the Ex was in a considerable amount of pain. That they were supposed to go to the hospital two streets over from the crash. But no one was there. They told her the girls were rushed to the children’s trauma hospital downtown. That the Ex and Step-sister had been rushed to the trauma hospital across the street from the girls.

I knew I was hysterical, that the words coming out of my mouth had very little connection to the thoughts in my head. “You have to make them okay!” I told her. I know I said other, incoherent things, but that didn’t matter. I (kind of) knew what I was doing. I grabbed my cell phone charger and threw it in my purse. I put on my running shoes instead of flip flops. I grabbed a sweatshirt in case it was a long stay in a cold hospital. I called Mike and told him to meet me there – he was at least thirty minutes away, even if he drove like a maniac and there was no way I was waiting fifty minutes to see my girls if they had life threatening injuries. Or worse.

Find me a mom who hasn’t thought about getting that call and I’ll give you 1,000,000 leprechaun dollars.

Whatever you think, no matter how unprepared you think you are for that call, I can tell you – it’s not even close to what you will feel.

After figuring out how to make Google Maps finally give me the right exit for the hospital, I was off.  I was proud of myself for waiting for all of the red lights. I called my sister and demanded she make the girls okay. Kim immediately promised, which only freaked me out more. Kim is supposed to be logical. If she was being me and making pinky promises and using faulty logic, then everything was upside down. But I knew she was there.

Turns out, children’s trauma hospitals are pretty easy to find. And if a stupid fundraising group has blocked off valet parking and the street you need to park, it’ s okay because that’s when Stepmom called and told me where the parking garage was. So many moments of divine intervention happened, just like that one.

My ankles and shins are so sore from running full speed through the parking garage, through the fundraising throngs, and into the hospital. Turns out, if you’re crying and running towards a hospital, people get out of your way pretty fast. And direct you straight to the ER. Where everyone speaks infuriatingly slow like that’s REALLY going to calm you down.

I didn’t yell at them, though. I did yell at the attendant who walked me back to where the girls were. She was talking slowly and walking even slower and I might have yelled at her to just tell me how they were. I thought she was taking me somewhere private to tell me one of them didn’t make it and the other was terribly hurt.

I saw Gracie first, only I couldn’t tell right away which daughter she was. The girls look almost like twinners and being strapped to a back board with a neckbrace on, screaming and crying…well, that doesn’t help any. It was Gracie. Someone told me she was okay, but had hit her head on the window when the jeep rolled. She had a goose egg, some cuts on the side of her head, and that was it. I told them about her skull fracture over spring break. I asked for the third time where Bee was. One of the 22 people in the room told me she was next door, then turned her back to Gracie and asked if anyone in the car was bleeding because Gracie had blood all over her legs and they couldn’t find a source. The room swayed and I asked, “Is Bee…?” She was fine. Not a scratch on her. I told the doctor-nurse-person that the Ex and Step-sister were across the street, that the jeep had rolled a few times.

Bee was just getting cleared from her neck brace when I walked in. She started crying as soon as she saw me. She stopped as soon as I touched her and smoothed her hair a few times. They had to take a bunch of glass out of her hair and off her clothes, but literally – not a scratch.

I went back to Gracie’s room and went to CT with her. That kid is a pro at CTs by now. They were concerned about her head, of course, and we were waiting on xrays and bloodwork on both to determine internal injuries. Bee was cleared rather quickly. Gracie didn’t get released from her neck brace for another three hours.

But they’re fine. Gracie is clearly affected by it – she asked if she almost “D-E-I-ed” and has reenacted the accident while playing cars with her sister. They got to keep Gracie’s neckbrace and have added it to their doctor kit. Gracie asks what’s going to happen to the “bad guy.”

See, a guy in a pick-up blew a red-light (or a stop sign? I’m still not clear) and hit the back passenger wheel. Right next to Gracie. The jeep rolled three or four times. The roof disintegrated. The wheel that was hit broke into about 10 pieces. Not the tire. The actual wheel. I didn’t even recognize it in the pictures. The roll bars at the front of the car were crushed in. The windshield is smashed to teeny tiny pieces. The side windows blew out. It’s an honest-to-god miracle that Step-Sister survived. I saw the pictures of the jeep last night, went home, and threw up. It’s the kind of roll-over accident that usually results in fatalities.

It’s pretty squishy is mama’s bed, but the good thing is that when you’re getting kicked in the side, you know your little ones are okay. You know you’re okay. And that nano-second of irritation at needing to fall asleep distracts you from the endless loop of “ohmygod, what if…?”

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9 Responses to “The phone call you’re not supposed to ever get.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    I am so glad your babies are ok. I do know that feeling and it is awful. Squished in bed or not – you will keep them close for a while. Stop the “what if. . . ?” it is never good to “try those outcomes on for size”. Lots of hugs and prayers for everyone.

  2. Gayle Says:

    Oh, Katie. Thank goodness your girls are okay. Hugs to all of you.

  3. julie Says:

    So glad the girls are ok. Can’t even imagine how scary that was for them & you. Sending hugs to all of you!

  4. Mary Says:

    The angels were definitely watching over your girls. Scary, scary, scary.

  5. burghbaby Says:

    So glad everyone is OK. Oof.

  6. Puna Says:

    Thank God they are alright. Thank God.

  7. Leandra Says:

    Oh my god! How did you make it to the hospital by yourself, girl? I probably would have wrecked myself trying to get there. SOOOO glad everybody’s okay (understatement of the year, right there!)

  8. Susan Ayers Says:

    I have made that crying, run to the ER before… bless your heart. I know exactly how you feel and yes, getting kicked in the side is a WONDERFUL feeling.. It just so happens that we are both local and I am more than familiar with that parking garage.. steep isn’t it??

    I am so glad your babies are ok. I am glad that everyone involved is ok. Blessings to you and your family…

  9. Sometimes this month is harder than it feels. « Can’t Get There From Here Says:

    […] the Ex’s cell phone, my heart skipped a beat or twenty. I was afraid it was another one of Those Calls. I worried when no one answered when I called right back, but then I heard my cell phone ringing in […]

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