Lily fell head first out of her high chair yesterday morning. I was standing at the oven, stuffing a leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic, when i heard the thud. I whipped round to find her lying on her back, eyes wide with fright. Then she started screaming. My frantic efforts to soothe her were in vain. I checked her head to see a lilac bruise forming on the hairline above her left eyebrow. She was still crying five minutes later; after an invective filled hunt for the elusive car keys, i bundled her into the car and shot off to the hospital. She fell asleep almost instantly , which put the fear of God into me. I tried to rouse her, but soon realised that if i carried on driving whilst simultaneously scrutinizing Lily for signs that her life was ebbing away, i was going to crash. So i clenched my jaw, and tried to concentrate on driving, as tears poured down my cheeks.
We stopped at the traffic lights in Dorchester. I leant over and tickled her tummy. "Lily, please wake up darling." Nothing. Oh God. the lights changed to green and i screeched to a halt in a disabled spot outside A&E, ignoring the furiously disapproving looks of two old ladies on a nearby bench. I opened the passenger door and lifted her out. My legs were wobbly, my hands trembled and my heart was hammering in my chest as i prayed over and over "please let her be okay, please let her be okay". I rushed up to reception and told the nurse what had happened.
"Has she been sick at all?"
"Did she cry straight away?"
"If you'd like to take a seat, someone will be with you shortly."
I sat in the waiting area, rocking her backwards and forwards and tried to hold back the tears that were threatening to engulf me. Her pale face was utterly still. The bruise was an angry purple now, spreading towards her left temple.
After what seemed like an interminably long wait (about 5 minutes), a nurse appeared, and beckoned me into a side room. I caught sight of myself in a mirror. I was white as a sheet.
"Right then Mum" trilled the nurse in a jolly voice. "What's happened to Baby?"
"She fell out of her high chair." i managed to whisper.
"Oh dear oh dear, let's have a look at you then."
As she lifted Lily gently from my arms, Lily's eyelids fluttered open. She gazed at the nurse in surprise before smiling shyly at her and nuzzling her head into the ample bosom and yawning loudly.
I collapsed back against the plastic sofa, weak with relief.
I watched dazedly, as the nurse took her temperature, shone a light in her eyes and checked her oxygen levels. All fine. Gulp.
"I'll just put her on the floor to check she can crawl okay" she said, placing her carefully on the rubber play mat. Lily's face lit up at the sight of a Fisher price Camper Van and she shuffled off to investigate. There was a chortle of glee as she discovered Mr and Mrs Weeble in the back, enjoying a picnic lunch. Seconds later she was crawling back to offer Mr Weeble to her new friend.
"There's not much wrong with you!" smiled the nurse, scooping her up and rubbing noses, eliciting squeals of delight from Lily.
"You're rather scrumptious aren't you? yes you are. Yes you are. You're a little beauty."
"i thought she was dying." i tell her in faint voice.
The nurse chuckled. "Poor Mummy. You gave her quite a fright didn't you?" Lily smiles broadly.
"Is Dad at home?" the nurse asked as she stood up to leave.
"He's milking the cows." i replied wondering if i have the strength to stand up too. The pumping adrenaline that has sustained me for the past hour has ebbed away, leaving me weak.
"Ah yes, i guessed you lived on a farm." nodded the nurse, glancing at me as she wrote something on her clipboard.
I look down and realise for the first time, what i am dressed in. Cath Kidston Rose print pyjamas stuffed into a pair of horse poo encrusted Hunter Wellies. The pocket of my apron bulges slightly with baby courgettes from the vegetable garden and my hair is piled wildly on top of my head with an elastic band. ...
We go outside into the corridor and Lily flutters her eyelashes as a trio of nurses gather round to admire her.
One of them presents her with a teddy for "being such a brave girl."
I smile as Lily sings to herself on the way home and I marvel at her robustness.
I'm looking forward to having friends over for Sunday lunch. I suddenly realise that Jasper must be wondering where we are. We arrive home and walk into the kitchen. The cat's had the lamb and Tilly (Lily's miniature pony) is standing with her head in the kitchen sink, chomping away at the carrots.
Jasper calls through from the other room.
"Hello darling. Have you had a nice morning?"