When my oldest daughter was only a few weeks old, I carried her down the stairs in the middle of the night and slipped. Thank God, I landed on my backside and she was barely jostled as she landed in my lap. The combination of being a klutz by nature and having not slept for a single full night in the weeks before made this accident more likely. For weeks afterward I wondered how I could have prevented the fall—we took the opportunity to put some carpet on the stairs afterward—but ultimately I had to conclude that even the most careful adults cannot prevent every accident.
I was thinking about this as I read about the experience of Eva Amurri Martino, an actress and lifestyle blogger, who wrote that a couple of months ago her night nurse fell asleep and dropped her infant son. “He cracked his head on the hardwood floor,” she recounted on her website. Amurri Martino and her husband “were sleeping at the time and were awoken by the sound of his head hitting the floor, and then hysterical piercing screams.”
“He suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on his brain, and was transported by ambulance to Yale Medical Center where I spent two harrowing days with him to receive emergency care and further testing. To say these were the most traumatic and anxious two days of my life is an understatement.”
The actress, who is also the daughter of Susan Sarandon, said she was reluctant to share this news publicly before now because she was worried about all of the people on social media who would say this was her fault for hiring a night nurse. She’s probably right. The shaming could have been merciless.
But the real pain she is enduring has nothing to do with other people. ““Well, let me tell you — the guilt I bore in the days and weeks after this accident was more intense and more damaging than anything I would wish upon my worst enemy.”
The good news is that it looks like her son is going to be fine, hitting all of his milestones, and otherwise thriving. And while she says that emotionally she is still dealing with the consequences of this event—she became hysterical at one point when her toddler daughter fell at the playground—she has forgiven the nurse and come away from the terrifying experience with the only reasonable conclusion:
“The truth is, even this woman who came so highly recommended, with a perfectly clean track record, could make a very human mistake. It ‘could happen to anyone,’ and as they told me repeatedly in the hospital, it DOES happen to anyone.”
In a culture that encourages us to blame someone or something for every one of life’s problems (and then urges us to take the culprit to court), and a culture that insists it is possible to remove all risks to our children, Amurri Martino has learned the hardest lesson of all: Some things are out of our control.