Oh My God, What Have I done?!
Would you believe that I started a business because I fell and broke both my legs while I was 8 months pregnant with my second son? There it was, my 'aha' moment, and I didn't recognize it as such until about 2 years after it happened. There was a lot going on at the time, so I use ignorance as my excuse. Unfortunately, the really important moments in life take me totally by surprise, and I become a little slow on the uptake. At least I finally realized it, and I acted on it. That free's up a regret for some other dream I might leave on the shelf.
A great deal of skill was required for me to break both my legs at the same time. I'd like to say this was the result of a tragic auto accident, a harrowing ski accident or simply wearing 5" heels, but I can't. A unique series of events, which if they happened individually would not have even caused me to stumble, combined at one precise moment with my size 11 feet to change my life.
One afternoon in early September, 2001, with the sweet smell of California Indian Summer heat, my three year old son and I were invited to my neighbor's house to swim.
No, not September 11th, September 5th! I was lying in bed with my cast clad feet propped up on a pillow on that world-changing day of 9/11!
On September 5th, two days after my 38th birthday, we left the swim date around 4 p.m. so I could get ready for an evening meeting for my new job. I stepped out my neighbor's front door, and my little, insignificant world tumbled into chaos - literally!
Now, I had been to my neighbor's house plenty of times in the five years since we had moved to the neighborhood, but I had always entered and left either through the backyard gate or the garage door. My neighbor had two young children at the time, a boy aged 4 and a girl aged 5, and my 3 year old Evan played with them quite often back and forth between our two houses. He never went swimming without me, however. Because the kids had dried off to play with a new toy in the front room, this visit was unique in that we left like actual guests - through the front door.
This was my first obstacle.
The step from the front door threshold to the cement slab porch of my neighbor's house is unusually high. Over 9" in fact, when the local building code requires a stair riser to be no more than 7".
No, I didn't sue!
It may not seem like much, but those two extra inches made a huge difference in my landing that first step! Have you ever taken a step down the stairs and expected the bottom to be closer than it actually was? My stomach skipped just like my foot skipped that step!
Second obstacle - the three young children had also scrambled out the door around me. Kids this age don't wait patiently in line to march single file out a door after a raucous day of swimming. They are over-excited and exhausted at the same time, and not at all patient enough to wait for some pregnant old lady.
Since watching where I put my feet was almost impossible with the enormous baby hotel that had grown in front of me the previous eight months, I guess you could safely say this represented my third, and most important obstacle.
Fourth obstacle - I was wearing sandals with a hard, cork sole.
No, they didn't have a heel!
Pregnant, wearing a bathing suit AND heels?! I'm not that stupid, or that young! I threw away those shoes the next day!
So, when I stepped out of the door, all four of these things contributed to the fact that I was a somewhat comical, if dangerous, Weeble-like pregnant woman.
Too bad I fell down.
My first step landed on the outside of my right foot. The sole of that sandal did not give, and allow me to somewhat gracefully correct myself. My foot snapped sideways onto the outside. I started to fall, and caught myself with my left foot, but stepped on the outside of that foot, too, landing on my ankle. This time, I heard a "pop". I proceeded to fall - not so gracefully so as to avoid taking any of the kids with me - down the remaining three cement steps, landing on my well-padded backside. There was a full 3 seconds of shocked silence. I dimly registered hearing a baby cry somewhere in the neighborhood. Yes, all the spectators to this new "Mommy Tumbling" sport were staring at me with wide, shocked eyes. I expected someone to put up their arms and yell, "GOAL!" but thankfully no one did.
My neighbor anxiously asked me, "Which one is it?" as I clutched my legs as best I could around my nearly full-term bump.
To which I shakily replied, "Both!"
The outside of my right foot, between my pinkie toe and my heel began to swell, as did my left ankle. Not a good sign. I was making a conscious effort not to cry like that distant baby so my anxious three year old wouldn't either. I carefully scooted myself, butt first, back up the three steps, and onto a bench on the landing, where I was urgently reminded that the first thing I was going to do when I got home was head for the bathroom.
Never again will I wait until I get home!
~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
[Next installment tomorrow. All interested parties, meet back here to find out why I prefer 10 hours of hard labor to visiting the dentist. You think I'm joking?!]