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One mom fear I have that I try to block out (because I have enough mom fears already, thank you very much) is having some type of physical emergency while alone with my toddler girls. The kind of emergency like falling down the stairs and landing with my ankles by my ears.

I’m thankful I usually have my phone with me, but I often wonder: What did our mothers do before cellphones? Just lie there trying to get their toddler to go get help, like she’s Lassie?

“Hey, Cassie girl, come here, baby girl! Mommy fell down the stairs and appears to be in a bit of a pickle. Might be a broken pelvis I just know my leg shouldn’t be backward like this. Anyhoo, can you crawl over to the neighbors to get some help? Hello? Stop eating crackers from under the couch!”

Anyway, it sounds terrible, and what’s worse is that it almost happened to me.

I had breakfast ready and I needed to put the baby in her highchair. I dead lifted her off the floor, and that’s when it happened. I threw my back out.

My husband has been relentlessly hounding me for my poor form, like a larger yet slightly less aggressive Jillian Michaels: “Use your legs when you dead lift the babies, Anna! Use your legs!”

He didn’t make me cry like Jillian probably would have, but he was real annoying.

“Use your own legs and let me live my life!” I always wanted to snap back.

But he was right. And I paid the price.

I don’t think we fully appreciate all the crap our backs put up with until they’re done putting up with it. I knew I was in trouble halfway up. I was holding her under the armpits, my legs in a bit of a squat. If I went down, I wasn’t getting back up that I knew for sure. But I couldn’t stand up, and I was, you know, holding a baby. So holding her out in front me as if she had lice, I started to shuffle my squatted legs in a crablike motion. I needed to drop her off somewhere padded like a couch, because the only actual movement I could muster was releasing my fingers from a gripped position.

I started to pep talk myself: “You can do it. You have to do it. Going down is not an option. Just get to the couch . get to the couch. There you go, one centimeter at a time.”

When that wasn’t working and I felt panic rising, I started throwing out business cliches and phrases on motivational posters. “Whether you can or you can’t, you’re right! Reach for the moon and land in the stars!”

After what seemed like an hour of shuffling and making grunting noises like I was constipated or about to give birth, I made it to the couch, where I rolled onto it, stiff, while the baby just looked at me, like, “What’s going on with you? You’ve been real weird lately.”

Breathing heavily and still talking out loud to myself, I breathily said,
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“OK, where’s my phone? Call Rob, call mom, call Jesus. OH GOD NO.” Of course, my phone that is usually glued to my body was upstairs. In the bathroom.

“Lucy, honey,” I said to my just turned 3 year old who was eating eggs at the kitchen table and didn’t even seem to notice I was in a major life crisis. “Lucy, darling, can you go upstairs and get mommy’s phone?”

“Mommy’s phone?” she repeated.

“Yes, baby, mommy’s phone. It’s upstairs in the bathroom.”

“OK!” she said and ran upstairs. I wondered if she fully understood what I had asked, and that curiosity was soon obvious when I started to hear my electric toothbrush going off. Then I heard doors opening and slamming shut. Then I heard her tickle the ivories on her toy piano. Finally, I heard, “Uh, oh, Mommy. It OK!”

It was obvious she had gone rogue and I was now in a code red situation.

We have an Apple TV and the remote has Siri. I got desperate. Clawing for the remote, I spoke into it, “Siri, call Rob.”

Apple TV Siri was useless; I was on my own.

I did a stiff roll maneuver off the couch until I was on my hands and knees, taking sharp quick breaths like a goat about to give birth. I somehow got to my feet and then did the painfully slow quad shuffle to the stairs, where I white knuckled the railing through each agonizing step. When I arrived at my destination I found Lucy in my bathroom drawing on her face with my incredibly expensive liquid eyeliner. Whatever, I didn’t even care. I saw my phone on the counter, stretched for it and discovered it was dead.

“Take us home, Jesus,” I whispered. For the record, I’ve asked Him to do that several times since becoming a mother of two small children, with nary a response.

After much coaxing, threatening, then bribing, I was able to get my daughter to go downstairs with me. Five hours of scream shuffling, Lamaze breathing and 1,000 Tony Robbins motivational quotes later, I plugged in my phone, called my husband, then entertained the girls with Storybots while I waited for him to come home,
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lying in a terribly awkward position that happened to be the only position that didn’t feel like an ax in my spine.