“I want some books in my lovely cot!” were the words I heard first thing in the morning just over three weeks ago. I’d had a message from my friend and we’d arranged to meet at the park, two mummies and their toddlers together, me with my 34 week bump. It was a lovely clear, fresh morning, crisp and autumnal. Just right for a run around at the park.
My mind was already three steps ahead. It was downstairs working out whether we needed a puddle suit and wellies, and how long it would take us to get dressed and have breakfast. I stepped over from the cot towards the window, about to open the curtains, and got my foot tangled up in a floor cushion. As I felt myself falling I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to protect bump, so I managed to swivel my body around a little way, and heard a nasty snapping sound as I hit the floor. It was as simple as that. I’d broken my ankle. Unable to move from the spot, I fished my phone out of my pocket (thank goodness I’d picked it up before I went into get E out of bed!) and called my husband and my mum. The ambulance people phoned at some point, but the rest of the time I spent singing the Farm Song to E while she sat and watched me from her cot, clearly scared and worried about why mammy couldn’t get up off the floor.
Waiting for help was a long fifteen minutes, after which time my husband arrived together with his boss, mum in a taxi, and the ambulance team to get me to hospital. Mum took charge of E, and daddy and I went off to hospital for x-ray.
I don’t think any of us, myself included, really believed it was broken at first. Maybe just a couple of days with my feet up and a bad sprain was what was in the back of all our minds. A break just didn’t seem conceivable, what with my due date being so close, and a million and one things still to do, not to mention a truly lively toddler. The first couple of days there were tears, mine mainly, and E suffered a really vivid nightmare that left us all a bit shaken up for a couple of days.
The first week, I was in quite a bit of pain, and everything was sore. I’d say “ouch” or someone would nudge my foot accidentally and I’d wince with pain. E started to get cross with my foot because it was hurting me, and with typical toddler logic, stamped on it a couple of times. Hard. It was if she didn’t realise that it was connected to the rest of me. And then she cried when she realised how much she had hurt me. That was a bit of a low point.
But there’s also been a growth and maturity I’d never have expected.
E’s granny has stepped in to help. She’s kept to her usual routine, taken her to toddler groups and dropped her off at nursery. Made her lunch and dinner, and changed her nappy. And daddy has picked up the slack. They’ve been amazing. And E has done us all proud. There have been no tantrums or refusals. She’s been good humoured and cooperative. “I’ll cheer you up, mammy”, she says. She picks up my crutches and hands them to me if they slide to the floor. She smiles and cuddles me when she goes out and comes back. And yesterday she said “Alright”when I suggested she might like to go out and see her friends at toddler group with granny, because mummy couldn’t manage to walk far enough to take her. When I explained that I couldn’t push the laundry basket around the living room with her in it like daddy does, she made up a game of her own with her cuddly toys.
It’s been a learning experience for me, sitting back and seeing how she deals with it, and trying to help her through it. She’s always been so independent that this has helped me see that she does need me. As I’ve been ill, she’s taken real pains to sit with me, and colour and draw, read and do jigsaws and quiet games, something that doesn’t come easily to my little ball of energy. She has worried about me. She has been trying to look after me and I’m so proud of the way she’s risen to the challenge this has brought her way.
I’m hoping that my splint will be off this week. Hoping hard that we will have the chance to spend some time together as mummy and daughter for a last time before E’s new brother arrives in a few weeks. Most of all I’m hoping that living with a new brother will be a breeze compared to living with mummy’s broken ankle.
Whatever happens, though, we’ll get through it together.
Jenny Smith | The Supply Teacher